pushing20

maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets. -arthur miller

8.31.2005

onnnnnnnnnne.


Yesterday I woke up early to meet Nanno and Crazybrains at our favorite diner, a 24-hour joint that we have been frequenting for close to ten years now. It was CB's sendoff breakfast before she headed back to Ohio for her junior year. One last time before our company of three went our seperate ways, we sat down and ate greasy eggs and perfectly toasted muffins and burnt home fries and steaming cups of coffee. All served by the increasingly crazy Manny, whose age seems to have a direct relationship with the likelihood that he will say something strange in the course of serving refilling our cups.

Since CB left a few days before me, it didn't quite feel real to say goodbye to her. I hugged her and gave slipped her annual going away present into her carry-on bag (always a book-- something for her to read as she tears up in the cab on the way to the airport. This year? Green Eggs and Ham. A classic.) But like I said, it didn't feel like a real goodbye. And then a few hours later I was sitting on the couch in a happily bored kind of way and it was the kind of moment during which I almost always call CB to come sit and watch TV with me, or meet for iced coffee or a walk.

Onnnnnnnnnnne.

That's the sound of me dialing the first speed dial on my phone. My direct line to CB. I think right then it hit me: summer's over. I hung up quickly, before her machine picked up.

So I leave for school tomorrow, moving in on Friday morning. Am I excited? Of course, for all kinds of reasons. But I'm also totally bummed because I know there will be a moment in the next few months when I'm watching Sex and the City at school and during an establishing shot of the City I'll get teary and wish that right at that moment I could be on a blanket in Central Park with Nanno and CB, a huge spread from Eli's and the Sunday Times all around us. It's just the way things go, when your best friends are a thousand miles away.

Until then? Onnnnnnnnnne.

New Toys

New cell phone and camera this week! Because everyone needs two digital cameras in their bag every day. The phone is a schmancy motorola v-something with a 1.2MP camera. A fairly significant step up from my last phone, which had a black and white screen, flaking silver paint, and had bite marks on it from where my dog chewed on it.

The camera is So. Awesome. It's a Casio Exilim EX-Z55, 5.2 MP, 2.5" screen, and it's the size of a deck of cards. It's cute as hell (and takes very nice pictures). Here are a few shots of Abe that I took with it:





And one of me and Nanno, who after a brief health scare got very good news today. We simply couldn't be any more relieved if we tried.

8.30.2005

the Tri-Not-Birthday

With the end of summer more or less upon us, Crazybrains, Nanno and I finally got around to celebrating all of our birthdays since we never get to be together on the real dates. First we tried to average the three, but more or less ended up with my birthday, when we aren't together. So then we gave up on any date that had an actual meaning, and settled on August 28th as our collective non-birthday.

Fancy dinner ensued. Lovely in every possible way.

I love exchanging presents with my best friends-- it's one of those times that giving is truly much much better than getting. (Not that the getting is so terrible...) CB and I got Nanno a very cool watch that she ended up loving and has been wearing since that night.

The funniest thing, though, was that CB and I got each other pretty much the same thing. We've been working on becoming tea snobs over the last year or so, and I think we're finally getting there. I got her a really pretty glass teapot and a bunch of loose ginger tea, and she got me an IngenuiTea and some loose green tea.




The IngenuiTea is basically the best tea invention ever, and everyone should check it out (watch the video on the site...it's awesome).









The best part of CB's present for me was a mug that she convinced our favorite 24-hour diner to sell her. It's heavy cream-c0lored porcelin and when I hold it in my hands it feels like I'm sitting in a booth in the middle of the night across from CB. I love it.


We spent about ten minutes on the floor laughing about the fact that we got each other the same damn thing. And then we made tea.

8.27.2005

Dylan McKay, Animal Lover

This summer I've taken full advantage of the family Tivo, mostly to tape old ER's and Beverly Hills, 90210's. Today's 90210 was one of the very best: the one where Dylan McKay gets married to Toni Marchette, daughter of his father's murderer (also named Tony Marchette). Nice wedding on a bluff by the sea, loving toasts to the couple from rest of the gang, and general happiness ensues. All lovely.

And then, of course, Toni gets her brains blown out by her mobster father's henchmen who were under orders to kill the new son-in-law. So then we get a spectacular scene where Dylan opens Toni's car door and her body spills out onto his lap and he screeeeeeams into the rainy night sky. Poetic.

Dylan decides to skip town after the funeral. You know, ride off into the sunset, away from Beverly Hills and the evil grasp of Aaron Spelling. Dylan is supposed to be this James Dean-type guy, a tough, misunderstood loner.

There's one major chink in the armor though-- Strapped on the back of Dylan's motorcycle? There's a CAT CARRIER. That's right. Dylan is bringing his kitty on his big Brood Across America?

He ain't no Easy Rider, is all I'm saying.

8.23.2005

Floating

News O' The Week: I will soon be the proud owner of a Casio Exilim Z55 digital camera. 5.0MP, 2.5" screen, the size of a deck of cards. I'm very excited.

Here are some pictures taken on other people's digital cameras this weekend, at my parents new lake house. Nanno and Crazybrains came up, and we all pretended not to be city people for a few hours.

The setting:












a float so giant the three of us almost passed out blowing it up:



and some tasty, tasty, gazpacho (courtesy of The Mom).





It's been a good summer.

8.15.2005

Baseball Season, Jr.

I'm a Mets fan. It's a masochistic endeavor, especially in August when their record gets so abysmal that there's just no hope of clawing up to the wild card. Every year I get to a point where my frustration and disappointment which I find a way to savor in April and May becomes totally depressing and I stop trekking to Shea, stop watching the games, everything. The only info I get on the Mets right now is my daily glance at the standings when I scoff incredulously at how last year's freakin' Expos, a team that couldn't find its way out of the cellar with a ladder and a flashlight, are STILL winning games when my Mets are eight and a half back and falling fast.

So I have to find something else to watch, something else to follow obsessively in my fallen-from-grace-Mets' stead.

Luckily, mid-August means one thing on ESPN2: the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. Twenty-nine games aired on national television, and that's not even counting the regional championships. And you know what? I'm going to watch as much of it as possible.

One does not watch the Little League World Series for the athleticism. Not since Danny Almonte has the athletic prowess on the LLWS field dramatically exceeded what you would expect from a bunch of twelve year olds.

The real draw are the commentators, former MLB players reduced to saying things like: "Bobby Henson might weigh only 83 lbs, but at 4'10" he sure does have speed! And his favorite movie is Space Jam. Good choice." Or "The boys from Oahu sure have traveled far. But these Hawaians know how to party! They invited their rivals from Idaho to share in a barbecue, where each team prepared their own local specialties. Gosh, these young men are good sports."

I guess every player has to fill out a survey before they get to Williamsport with their favorite food, subject in school, tv show (Does this even have to be a question? It's always SportsCenter.) Favorite baseball players, football players, college basketball teams are all at the commentators' fingertips, ready to be peppered into the game coverage. Brilliant.

And nothing, nothing, tops the fact that the ESPN cameramen have somehow figured out exactly what middle-American woman belongs to which middle-American preteen. After every double, every ball caught in the outfield and every slide into third base, there is a closeup of the players' mothers to catch the reaction. Because without Mom's crestfallen mug on screen, lil' Derek "Jeter" Finklestein's bottom-of-the-sixth (there are six innings in little league) strikeout wouldn't have been painful enough.

I mean, come ON. The kids CRY when they lose. Sit down, Hogan family. Outwit, outlast, outplay? You're outta here. This is reality television at its very best.

Oh, and about the international teams? Pfft.

8.10.2005

Six

Scenes from the job:

"I'm six years old and I've been playing chess since I was five."
"Fine Kaia. No more tips. Your turn."
I won, cuz I got game. That and I learned to play chess like eight years before she was born.

Fast forward to two hours later.

"So that's a no on the popsicle stick art? How about Parcheesi?"
"Nah."
"Wanna just hang for a while?"
"mmhm."

We covered day camp, kindergarten teachers, school uniforms. The playroom was quiet.

"I'm too young for this."

'This' being the thing that has kept her in the hospital all week, chart as big as a phone book.

"Yeah," I said. "You really are."

8.07.2005

Queer as WHY DO TV SHOWS MAKE ME CRY


The Queer as Folk series finale ended tonight, and god damn it, I got a little emotional.



Despite the fact that this show's heavyhanded political posturing is a little hard to take sometimes (like, everyone who watches is pro-gay marriage, gay adoption, gay everything. Bible-belt Christian Republicans probably don't make up a large part of the QaF audience), the characters are among the most appealingly realistic and well-rounded on TV.

So aside from being totally bummed that the show isn't going to be on anymore, I was pretty satisfied with the ending. Of course the Notting Hill-loving, Notebook DVD extra-watching part of me wishes that Brian and Justin had ended up living happily ever after, but I'll have to live with the ambiguous and character-appropriate ending they got. My only legit complaint is that Emmett got totally shortchanged-- his storyline got tied up too quickly and in a random (albeit happy) way. I feel for Peter Paige, who took what was initially a joke of a character and gave him such depth and meaning, and then was cheated out of a proper ending for his story. Poor guy.

Mostly I'll miss Sunday nights when Nanno and Crazybrains come over and my family sits down and ther we are, four 20-somethings and my 51 year old parents, enjoying the highly attractive men simulating gay sex and sometimes, just sometimes, making us cry.

8.04.2005

Summer Reading: Two Months, a Whoooole Bunch of Books

A few weeks into this summer (once I had more or less recovered from finals), I wrote about what I was planning on reading this summer. At the time I was rereading Sedaris's Naked and reading Sarah Vowell's Partly Cloudy Patriot for the first time. Partly Cloudy Patriot was so unbelieveably awesome-- Vowell is like the smarter more eloquent version of the voice inside my head. I've been lending the book out to anyone and everyone in my life since I finished it in mid-June. Out of five stars, this book gets like seventy-three.

I like rereading, so I went back to Harry Potter books 4 and 5 in anticipation of the upcoming fourth movie and sixth book. I'm glad I went back to four and five; the first time I read books two through five I ran through them at a quite a clip, since my boss was lending me one each week. I timed the re-read pretty well this summer-- by the time I finished rereading book five my brother had finished book six and I didn't have to buy my own copy. I had one major complaint about the latest installment: the first 400 pages were a slow, leisurely path through Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts, and then the last 200 pages had SO much going on that it was almost overwhelming. I guess I liked it overall, but I'm not a Harry Potter nut so meh.

I keep trying to read Loose Change, which was assigned for one of my classes and I never quite finished but had started to enjoy during the semester. Still haven't gotten more than halfway. I think I give up.

Hands down, my favorite book this summer so far has been The Island at the Center of the World. Subtitled "The epic story of Dutch Manhattan and the forgotten colony that shaped America", this book was right up my alley. First of all, Russell Shorto is fucking brilliant. Like Joseph Ellis did in Founding Brothers, Shorto manages to bring history to life so vividly that I practically felt the events happening. The notion of Manhattan as forest crisscrossed by rivers and surrounded by rivers that have never seen a sail has always seemed too distant to be real, and Shorto made me believe it viscerally. I read most of it during my lunch hours in Stuyvesant Square Park, sitting near the oversize, cartoonish statue of peg-legged Peter Stuyvesant while reading about him tromping through the Dutch colony that just south of there. It was so completely awesome. I can't wait to read it again. (Shut up.)

Last weekend I read Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies. It only took me like five hours over a few days. I guess I'm not big in to fiction right now, but I liked The Namesake when I read it for a class, so I read this one. She's got a great, clear voice in her writing that I really enjoy, but I think when I'm reading such phenomenal nonfiction it's hard for me to get in to the fake stuff. (I am shockingly nerdy.)

Right now I'm reading His Excellency, by Joseph Ellis. I read another one of his over Spring break, which, ok, not exactly beach reading. Like I said then: I'm in college, I'm allowed to be an intellectual snob. I've never read much about George Washington so it's good.

The plurality of nerdy nonfiction is a little unsettling, now that I look at it all together. I swear, I actually spend a lot of time reading gossip at perezhilton.com, sending midday emails to my friends about how funky looking Zahara Jolie is, and watching summer reality shows like Kept and Hooking Up. God, I love summer reality tv. And nonfiction, I guess.

8.02.2005

How to Ruin a Great CD

(or, The One Where I Talk About My Job).

Like many jobs, my summer job is incredibly awesome about some of the time, totally terrible sometimes, and most of the time it's somewhere in between. The hours aren't bad, my coworkers (for the most part) are smart and hard working, and the paycheck doesn't suck.

In the details though, my job veers pretty far off of the traditional college summer job track. I work in the Child Life department in a hospital-- essentially, I work in a playroom for sick kids. I've been there for about three years (off and on), and I consider myself indescribably lucky to have had the experiences there that I've had.

First off, I'll just say that every cliche you've ever heard (and many you haven't) about working with very sick and terminally ill children is true. You think it's the size of the dog in the fight? You haven't seen enough six year olds with brain tumors. It's the size of the fight in the dog, and these kids just know that if their fight isn't big enough, if don't want it bad enough, they're done. And by "it" in that last sentence I mean an eleventh birthday. (Want to be inspired? Read If I Get to Five.) Brilliant physicians treat the disease, but there's more to it than that, and anyone who tells you otherwise has never been sick.

To make a sick kid laugh, to challenge them to an Uno tournament, to sit and watch a movie with them while their chemo drips in from a bag above our heads-- these are the moments that I have learned to savor. To know that I am part of the team getting these families through the hardest experience of their lives is incredibly rewarding.

On the other hand, the crappy part of my job is so much worse than the crappy parts of other summer jobs. Most of the time I can keep a certain amount of distance-- I've learned that when I leave for the day, I don't have to feel guilty about going out and laughing. But there are days when I leave the hospital and feel like I can't breathe, like the sadness and the unfairness of it all has taken a hold of my heart and it squeezing hard and will. not. let. go. I seem to hit a wall every summer with this-- a point at which the patients' reality begins to edge out my own, at which their fights become my own.

And this is where ruining good music comes in to the picture. I started listening to Coldplay's Rush of Blood to the Head every day on my way to and from the hospital shortly after I started working there, and at this point I've rewritten the soul of the record. I call it my twenty minute rule-- I give myself the twenty minutes of my commute to be heartbroken for the kid whose cancer has spread, for the one whose infection has them stuck in the hospital for the third week this summer. When I get home I turn off my music, and hopefully my heartbreak with it. It allows me to go back to my "real life", to seperate who I am from what I do at work.

I love the job. It's rewarding, it's hard, and it makes me want to be a doctor more and more every day.

Still, I don't think I will ever be able to hear Chris Martin sing the "the Scientist" and not think about some of the kids I've watched win their fights, and the ones who were not so lucky. But not for lack of trying.