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|Friday, January 15th, 2016|
|Welcome to hell
In my 2 years spent as a 30-something single woman, I can't say I recommend it. If I could time travel and talk to myself, I might have urged 20-something Alisha to focus on finding a partner. I would have told her that "better" wasn't coming down the road, and that I would never be more attractive to men than I am at the moment. But, to my knowledge time travel is still only the province of fantasy, and I'm left to try to course correct after years of getting things so wrong.
After spending 3 years of my early 20's in my first and only monogamous relationship, I was happy to be single again. I was eager to see what else was out there, and I promised myself I wouldn't tie myself exclusively to one man, unless I could see a long-term future with him. Since then I've been "single, but dating". For me, this means that I am always "technically" on the market. In practice, that's not exactly true. I've dated some men who I saw regularly for extended periods of time, and while seeing them I neglected to meet and date other men, so I've been monogamous in practice, if not in spirit.
Personally, I might have been happy remaining single if not for two things: One is that many of my friends are in some sort of serious relationship. That means that while I still see my friends, I see them far less, and usually in contexts where I'm less likely to meet single men or have wild and crazy nights. Secondly, I don't feel like it's as easy to meet men these days.
I can't pinpoint exactly when or why it became harder for me meet men. Here are some non-conflicting theories:
- I don't go out as much.
- I don't hang out in hookup or meet-up spots as much.
- I'm not as pretty as I used to be.
- I'm not as young as I used to be.
- I'm not as patient as I used to be.
- Most of the age-appropriate men are already paired off.
- Single straight women outnumber straight men in the city where I live.
- Dating technology makes it so easy to assume that there is always someone better around the corner.
Last year I completely neglected dating, telling concerned or curious friends that I was just going to die alone. In reality, I wasn't determined to die alone, I was frustrated by how fruitless online dating seemed. More recently, after a few more engagements and another friend moving from NYC I realized that I was literally going to die alone, unless I put myself out there again. And where, exactly, is "there"? Apparently it's the hell of dating while in your 30's.
|Wednesday, February 27th, 2008|
I don't know what it is, but Hillary supporters are a bunch of haters. Two friends have tried to convert me to Team Hillary. They did a terrible job at it.
First, when they approached the topic, they insulted my intelligence (which immediately gave me the right to ignore what they said next). Both Hillary supporters insinuated that I hadn't put any thought behind my decision, because one demanded that I list the reasons I supported him, another insinuated that I was just dazzled by his speeches (I've never actually heard any full speeches of his). Instead of talking up what's so great about Hillary, and why they are supporting her, they just bash Obama. Which is kind of ineffective, since no one has anything truly damaging on him.
The two candidates are so similar in how they vote, what they believe, and what they propose, it is hard to differentiate between who's the best based on the usual issues--(Hillary has yet to convince me that she's got much of this experience that she keeps harping on). So given that they share only slight differences you do have to make a judgment call based on personal preference.
Despite their similarity on the issues, both Hillary and Barack are very different people, and each would have different strengths and weaknesses as a leader. Despite all her strengths, I don't like how Hillary plays the game. She's way too macho and rigid, and she fights dirty. Obama seems much more flexible, willing to work with people and talk issues out, instead of taking a stance and aggressively sticking to it. Maureen Dowd (whose writing I occasionally read, but don't really like) wrote an article stating that his leadership style was very feminine, and hers more masculine.
"The bullying and bellicosity of the Bush administration have left many Americans exhausted and yearning for a more nurturing and inclusive style. Sixteen years of politicians in Washington clashing in epic if not always essential battle through culture wars, the right-wing war against the Clintons, the war-without-end on terror, and the war-with-no-end-in-sight in Iraq have spawned a desire for peace and pragmatism."http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/24/opinion/24dowd.html?scp=3&sq=maureen+dowd&st=nyt
In addition, Barack seems completely unflappable and genuinely principled (although I don't think one should ever fully trust a person egotistical and power hungry enough to think that they can run one of the most powerful nations in the world). On the other hand, I see why people like Hillary. She's a hard worker, extremely bright, strong, sure of herself, and able to get what she wants. But I personally appreciate a much less aggressive approach to conflict and don't think this tough, macho approach has been working out so well for America, (re: war on terror).
Also, another thing that worries me are allegations that Hillary's campaign is suffering because she chose employees who were loyal as opposed to competent, (Bush fuck up #1
--i.e. FEMA / Justice department) and because she doggedly stood by a failing campaign tactic (Bush fuck up #2
i.e. War on Terror / Donald Rumsfeld)
Actually, the day of the primary I resolved to vote for the person I most agreed with, Mike Gravel. A man who was against wars, for abortion and gay marriage, has no allegiance to corporations, and all kinds of other awesome liberal things. Hillary and Barack are cool, and everything, but I stand to the left of them. Unfortunately, Gravel wasn't on the New York ballot. So I voted for the black guy.
And I'll leave you with a quote from Gravel:
"Wars do not solve problems, they merely beget other wars. That's the tragedy of history... Iraq is not a problem. The problem is that we will go into another war, in part because the military-industrial complex needs conflict to justify production. The underlying structure that permits this to go forward is this attitude of American imperialism. We have a military presence in 130 countries and 700 military bases around the world. If Americans understood this, they wouldn't be for it. They don't want to to be the world's policemen- not when we have an educational system that is shameful, a health system that is shameful and a crumbling infrastructure. What we're doing is following the pattern of prior empires, particularly the Spanish empire who became the sword-makers to the world and were lost in the fog of history."http://jezebel.com/351252/mike-gravel-the-candidate-you-didnt-know-you-wanted-and-probably-didnt-vote-for Current Mood: "This edition is only availabl
|Friday, January 11th, 2008|
And while I'm complaining, something else pissed me off yesterday. I commandeered this book cart and started putting books on it with records that I needed to modify. I'd been putting stuff on this cart for months and was slowly emptying it off. Anyway, yesterday I went downstairs to look for the cart and it had disappeared. So I look all through the sub-basement and the upstairs library, not only for the cart, but most importantly, the books that were on it. I had no idea where the stuff had been placed, (but a good idea of who would have moved it). And I was pissed, because I remembered putting a sign on the cart saying that I was working with the cart and that neither the cart, nor its contents should be moved.
Anyway, I finally found the books. They'd be carelessly placed on the wall shelf behind where the cart used to be, in the middle of, other, unrelated books, ensuring that no one would ever find them again. Someone had clearly placed the books onto the closest available surface, so that they could put the cart to some other use. Having found the books, I calmed down, but then this afternoon I found the cart, empty, at the back of the workroom. The sign I remembered putting on the cart informing whoever not to mess with it, was still attached to the side, only, someone had written over the words I'd written with the word "FREE". And then I got all pissed off again.
|Titles are always the hardest part
I'm not receiving much mail at the new apartment. Not even forwarded stuff. So far, I've noticed that 1 paystub, 4 Netflix movies, and 1 metrocard have not arrived. I've changed my mailing address a month ago and had these changes confirmed. Furthermore, I also should be having mail forwarded from the old address, so even if stuff was sent to the wrong place, surely it should have found me by now? It's just an alarming amount of stuff to go missing in less than a month that I've been living here. Pretty much every piece of mail that I expect to find in the mailbox on a regular basis hasn't been finding me. Since living here I've received 5 pieces of mail: a bill from Con Ed, 2 letters from Chase forwarded to me from the old apartment notifying me that I changed my address (well, duh), and 2 statements from HSBC.
I don't expect a lot of mail, but the little I do get I consider extremely important. I've had some Netflix films not find me before, but not with such frequency, and almost everything else I mentioned arrives promptly and without fail. I had to purchase another almost $80 Metrocard to replace the lost one, and will have have to wait months before they'll reimburse the cost for the lost card, I prefer not to have my pay stubs roaming around the universe (thank god a check wasn't attached), and what's the point in paying for Netflix if you only receive half the movies you request per month? Anyway, the paranoid side of me suspects foul play and is extremely pissed. I'm expecting more mail to come today. If I'm still missing important pieces of mail by the end of next week, then I guess I'll have to alert the post office.
Funny, when you google "Missing mail postal service". There's very little of relevance. And then you add the word "bed stuy" and the first results have to do with Brooklyn postal service sucking.
Also, missing: My pay from the freelance work. I submitted a time sheet for a little less than two weeks work about a month ago according to my records. I was sure that it would be in this pay cycle, but my bank doesn't seem to have gotten the deposit. How annoying, the extra money couldn't have hurt this week considering this latest paycheck will go almost entirely to rent.
Yesterday, I interviewed for a job in another department. I think the interview went well, although the person who interviewed me didn't ask me many questions about myself. She spent more time explaining the job and answering my questions. I'm not sure what the next step is, but I'll probably find whether or not I got the position in a couple weeks. I think the HR recruiter is usually supposed to interview me next. But since I interviewed with her a couple months ago, and she is the one that recommended me for the position, it seems unnecessary.
I do feel bad for my boss. I know she wasn't happy when I told her that I'd had an interview, just because if I get this job, she won't have any catalogers left. She probably was hoping that I'd be around for a little while longer to help train whoever is hired to replace Julie. And, who knows?, I might be. I don't want to get my hopes up about actually leaving, but...wish me luck.
|Monday, January 7th, 2008|
I'm not kidding myself with resolutions this year. Whether I make them or not, doesn't mean any action will happen.
Moving was painful but is now over. I'm more or less unpacked. The new apartment is smaller and has less storage space so I'm still trying to figure out where to put things, although I should also be figuring what needs to be thrown out. During moving, I came to the conclusion that I own way too much stuff. I'm just one person, how is this possible? Exactly where all the excess lies, I don't know, but I'd rather not have to deal with buying more shelves.
My visit home was blessedly short. I can't stand being around my folks. Or my dad rather, who also had the week off. So two things really pissed me off. First, I just tended to throw my clothes around my room (or my old room), cause, honestly, who cares? Its not in anyone's way, and I was only there for four days. Anyway, that didn't stop my parents from complaining about my messiness multiple times. What was really weird is that my brother, who just moved to Connecticut after being home for 5 months, left the day after Christmas, and just an hour after coming back from the airport my dad immediately started to deep clean his bedroom, like he couldn't wait to get all the Michael cooties out.
Anyway, the second thing that pissed me off, (and I'm showing restraint stopping at 2), is that Dad got me little for Christmas. And I'm not that materialistic, I have everything I need. It's just the way he did it. For one, I'm not sure how Mom and Dad do gifts. It's very clear that almost every gift under the tree was chosen by Mom, if not entirely paid for by her, because even though the tags say "From: Mom and Dad" they are written in Mom's handwriting. And while opening gifts Dad had no clue what was in my boxes. My assumption is that every gift "from Mom and Dad" was chosen and paid for by only Mom. I even got a decent amount of money from Mom. Then I get a card from Dad with $25 dollars in it, and a note saying that he was getting me a gift card from a store I like, but hadn't yet because he didn't know my new address to have it sent to me. And that's fine. I know that my parents keep their finances pretty separate, and that Dad has a lot of medical bills to pay off so his finances are much tighter.
Anyway, I didn't care for a purse Mom got me so she kept it for herself and took me shopping for a new one. The bag I picked was fairly pricey, but the sign next to it said 50% off plus a coupon Mom had which gave her an 25% off. But when we go to the register the bag was really only 25% off and Mom's coupon was expired so it was a lot more than either or us expected. Mom still got the bag for me ( to which I was grateful, 'cause I love it), but I did feel a little bad 'cause I know Mom wouldn't usually spend that much on a bag (although her home is a different story). Anyhoo, when Dad found out how much the bag cost he later informed me that I wouldn't be getting a gift card because "we" had spent to much on me already.
And I was like "what the fuck?" cause I'm pretty sure Mom did all the shopping and spending, and Dad just gave me a card, a couple bucks, and an unfulfilled promise at the last minute. Just a note: Dad told me later that the ties he bought Michael were "really expensive" (although from the glance I got of those ties they looked pretty tacky, so perhaps he paid too much?). And really, its not about the amount of stuff I get, (although, the more the merrier!) because Mom did more than enough. And if money was a factor, then by all means he shouldn't feel obligated to spend a lot. I just thought it was pretty messed up to re-neg on a gift, take credit for gifts you didn't even buy, and then brag about how expensive your other child's gifts were. Classy.
Anyway, I'm over it. On another note on why Mom was particularly generous this year: I received a Christmas card from Mom and Dad (in Mom's handwriting, of course) and it was addressed to "Alicia". My social security card, birth certificate, passport, license, degrees and every document that matters, all say I'm "Alisha". Unless, we're all just confused. I mean, the woman did name me...
I didn't do anything on New Years Eve . I'm over New Year's Eve. Most New Year's were spent in MS, but they few that weren't were overwhelmingly disappointing experiences and that made me realize that I would have had more fun in bed, and if you don't have a house party to go to, then they become insanely expensive affairs.
On a work related front, I've been offered a promotion. My coworker is leaving for another position in the company, so I can have her position if I want it. My boss told me to think about it. There's no benefit to taking this job, save for the pay raise and the ability to twiddle my thumbs for another year or so on this whole career front. I don't want to discount the sway of extra cash, which is alluring, but the idea of staying here any longer than necessary or learning anything new about this library, is absolutely dreadful.
The problem is that I've reached a new level of boredom. For awhile the job was boring but I found ways to keep myself from being bored. Then I started to get bored, but would still manage to be fairly productive and find bursts of enthusiasm. Now I'm still bored and can't will myself to be productive. I feel bad, but everytime i pick up a book my mind starts to wander. Most people advise me to take the new position and jump ship when I find something else, but my boss made it clear that upon accepting this job I'd couldn't just up and leave in a month, I'd have to stay for a little while more (I think a year is acceptable). And while I realize that there would be no contract keeping me here, I don't think it's right to do that to a boss that has been really flexible and supportive.
So, I was inquiring about another available position in the company that two separate people in the company said I should look into. At first I looked at the description and thought it looked about as boring as my job does now, but faced with the prospect of staying the library another year, It's not looking so bad. At least it involves travel.
I read the "His Dark Materials" trilogy which kept my occupied for a few days. It's quite good, although much more complex than I expected. And two of my favorite shows are returning this month, The Wire and Lost.
And I reckon its that time of year where I try to see potential Oscar nominees. I haven't seen many movies this year, so I'm relatively behind. I've got to admit that the Golden Globes list isn't appealing to me, maybe I'll just see the 4 or 5 movies that interest me and not even bother with the rest.
Not like these movies look bad. It's just alot of movies are starting to seem familiar to me. Great Debaters seems like the most recent in a long list of inspirational movies about and unlikely group of African Americans excelling in a field previously dominated by white people. Kind of like Pride...or that other Denzel movie, Glory. And then there's Men of Honor. And who could forget that one about the Jamaican Bob Sled team? Even American Gangster, though less family friendly, has a current of that can-do spirit. And then there's Juno, which I'm sure is perfectly affable, but all that witty banter kind of reminds me of an episode of Gilmore Girls, which is kind of amusing in small doses, but after awhile the improbably witty dialog, dry humor, and quirky characters can really start to work the nerve that craves a little reality in my entertainment. Why is Ellen Page getting nominations for awards? According to the trailers for the movies she doesn't see like she's really pushing herself artistically. Since when is acting sarcastic Golden Globe worthy? Even Charlie Wilson's War is seeming familiar, perhaps because Julia Roberts always plays the same type of character. And the movie, despite it's factual basis, seems very fluffy to me.
So I'm judging these on what I've seen in the trailer, and not on actually sitting through any of these films. All three movies look perfectly entertaining, but also run of the mill and light weight. I don't think anyone is going to be talking about them in 10 years. Anyway, the whole idea of paying money to see this type of stuff just isn't going to happen. Maybe next year will be better.
|Monday, December 10th, 2007|
|We've only just begun
Sometimes it feels like every time life starts to look up, then all of the sudden something happens and it gets depressing again.
On Friday I'm moving to another apartment. I had the money for the move thanks to a loan from Kareem. I didn't ask for the loan. In fact, I just wanted to get out of my apartment, and was very seriously considering getting a roommate for the time being until I could save up the money needed for the down payment. Kareem convinced me otherwise and practically insisted on giving me an interest-free loan to cover first month and last month's rent. (I had to pony up the broker's fee). I was hesitant. It was a lot of money, and I had a feeling that its not good to take a loan from a guy you broke up with but are still in a sort-of relationship with.
Anyway, so last week I tell him I'm going out dancing, and that it's time for me to start meeting and dating other people. He gets upset about this. Wants to know the moment I exchange numbers with someone else, so he's not surprised to find a out I'm dating someone new.
I tell him that this is a ridiculous request, and refuse to do any such thing. He pretty much says that he doesn't want anything to do with me if I start dating someone new. And I tell him that if he plans to leave, he should go now and get it over with. Then he accuses me of trying to push him away. Finally, he claims he needs transition time to get used to the separation.
I have no idea what this means, seeing as how we're already broken up, so, technically, this should be the time for transitioning. Anyway, I agree to a month of transition time and tell him that he needs to use this month for what it's meant for, and then after the month we need to move on.
Anyway, fast forward to this weekend. We get in an argument which is an extension of an earlier argument that has something to do with this whole "transition thing". I said something that really pissed him off. He leaves pissed off. This morning I get an email from him saying that he needs to rewrite the loan agreement to include a stipulation that says he can call in the loan with 30 days notice. He includes that he's "not trying to be a jerk." and he "just wants to protect his interests". At first I agree to do it to call his bluff. Then he tells me to include this language in the contract, and send him a signed copy. And I'm like, "Do it yourself!" But as I think about it, I decide that he has no right to change a contract that already been signed. The contract is to protect my interests too, and if we'd had this stipulation in there before, then I never would have taken the money.
Anyway, I need help moving this weekend. I was going to hire a mover for the big shit like the dresser and the bed. But for the little stuff I was just going pile stuff in a cart and make several trips back and forth. I'm moving about 6 blocks away, so I thought it was feasible to do that with some help. Except I don't have that. I asked Teresa initially, but she's moving on the same day and beat me to the punch. I asked Jane. She doesn't want to help. She won't flat out say "no". She keeps trying to wriggle out of it by saying she has a paper to do, might need to go to campus. She's just suggested that I ask James. James and his wife, Sarah, are acquaintances of mine and close friends on Jane's. You don't ask random acquaintances to help you move. That's what good friends are for...supposedly.
I'm just not prepared to move. I haven't called the cable company to cancel service. I haven't hired movers. I haven't called to turn on gas or electricity. And then there's all the change of addresses. And I was hoping to have keys to the place now, but I don't, so I can't start the moving out process.
And then I got a call saying that the landlord wants to show my apartment today at 5. I say no because: First, I changed the top lock and haven't told them. Secondly, this is my fucking home, I don't want people in there without me, unless they need to be in there to fix something. Third, I'm gonna need some advance notice, I have no idea what's lying around in my apartment right now, except that it really needs to be cleaned and I don't want anyone in there until I'm out.
Anyway, it's weeks like these that make me want to admit defeat and go back home.
|Monday, November 26th, 2007|
Oh! I had this super long LJ Post that I was sure no one would read, and then I accidentally activated a macro on my computer which erased it all. So instead of writing it all over again in, I'll give you gist:
The original post is a long list of complaints. Which I'll repeat in a semi-list form
1. My apartment still has water problems and they appear to be getting worse.
2. The landlord was really rude to me on the phone.
I've decided to move. Soon.
I'm might be signing a lease on Wed. for a new place. Same neighborhood, just about 6 or 7 blocks from where I am now.
Trying to decide when to tell current landlord that I'm bouncing. I don't want to say anything until I've signed a lease on a new place, but I also owe them this month's rent. I haven't paid rent this month, due on the 15th. I bought myself a time extension with a lie about a payroll mistake, but they left a message today asking about it. I wanted to use my security deposit to cover the last month's rent, since I have reason to believe that I'll have trouble getting my security deposit back, even though there's no damage to the apartment. This is obviously not the purpose of a security deposit, but--I just don't trust those people, and this ensures that everyone involved gets the money owed to them.
1. My parents and brother were in town for Thanksgiving week.
2. And staying at my tiny apartment.
3. With the water problems.
4. And my parents did not stop complaining about stuff from the price of food to my crappy apartment.
5. Especially Dad who pretty much went over all the reasons why he hates my city. Including (but not limited to):
c. Too many black folk.
6. Dad also had not failed to mention how much his knees hurt or how much he dislikes cats (including my foster cat/temporary roommate, Alice).
7. Acted all uppity and annoyed when I told them to take their shoes off as not to disturb my downstairs neighbors (who I'm certain can hear dad's heavy footsteps regardless).
8. And Dad for not being grateful that I brought him back a very nice wallet from Argentina, plus a bottle of wine, which he asked for.
I treated Dad and Michael to a Knicks game, and Mom and I to Wintuk, a Cirque Du Soleil performance, which Mom probably enjoyed, but which I thought was pretty terrible. Apparently the Knicks game was similarly bad with the Knicks playing poorly and the "fans" being very vocal about their dissatisfaction. Michael, Dad, and I saw No Country for Old Men, which was awesome and also much scarier and more violent that I thought it would be. I also watched the Lives of Others on DVD with Mom, who fell asleep (she hates reading the screen). It was also very good.
1. For having the nerve to think that black men are the only demographic that have struggles in America.
2. For being generally dismissive of women's issues (I'm not talking about menstrual cycles).
3. For getting angry at me and calling me selfish, because I was browsing the shelves of the public library for too long, therefore we missed the 4:40 showing of No Country for Old Men (That, from the way he acted, must be the only showing of the movie happening. EVER.)
4. And then for ignoring the fact that in two years of knowing him he has consistently been making me late for all kinds of things for selfish reasons (i.e. Boat to Uruguay)
4. For lecturing me on safety in the neighborhood where I've lived for a year and a half.
5. For asking me five times in a row not to lose the jump drive that he left in my apartment, and getting angry at me for suggesting that I leave it in the bag that he also left in my apartment.
And that's it. I'm done complaining. Parents are gone. This is weird, but whenever I spend time around people non-stop for days, no matter how annoying they may be, I always feel lonely immediately after they leave. Now my house feels empty. Just me and the cat.
I'm awaiting the arrival of my new flat iron, the Maxiglide, which is advertised on late night TV infomercials. I ordered it over two weeks ago, and I'm so impatient for it to arrive. I imagine it being this miraculous flat iron that will ensure that I never have a bad hair day again. But then I was reminded of that Calvin and Hobbes strip where Calvin wants this Beanie, and he's eating all this cereal making himself sick, so he can get enough UPC codes to order it. When Calvin finally gets enough he sends off for it and waits for weeks--all the while imagining that the spinner at the top of the hat will enable him to fly. He finally gets it in the mail and there's a problem with assembly which almost destroys the hat. His father fixes it, and when it's ready to wear, it's a complete and utter disappointment. There's no flying, just a hat with a spinner on top of it. This will probably be how I feel about the flat iron. The only difference is that the beanie was free.
In general, I'm in a shallow stage. This week's expenditures on hair products alone is kind of shameful, especially since the total doesn't even my new flat iron. And I'm suddenly deciding that I need to buy certain items of clothing: boots, a new coat, black dresses, heels, more winter tops, more underwear. And even though I'm moving soon and should be conscious of every dime I spend, I tempted to be so wasteful these days.
Otherwise, I haven't done much with my days except for work and volunteer. This is what I expect much of the winter to be like, but I should jump start my social life. It's looking kind of depressing these days.
|Monday, October 22nd, 2007|
|Back to the daily grind
Buenos Aires was nice. I wish I had more time, though. Vacations are never long enough. Kareem and I did the basic sightseeing: the buildings, the monuments, a few museums, parks. Took in a soccer game and a tango show. Did a day trip to a neighboring town in Uruguay. (One more passport stamp!) There were some frustrations.
Kareem did bother me a bit. Long story short, he slowed things up. In the morning, because he had to check football/basketball stats, we would never leave at the time we agreed upon the night before. And he thought it was unsafe for me to go places alone so I always had to wait around for him so we could do stuff together. And like an idiot, he failed to bring a jacket, so we had to go to multiple stores in two separate malls until he found a jacket he liked, instead of something that would suffice. And I'm still a little pissed that our Uruguay day trip was only four hours because he was late leaving the house, so we missed the first boat out and had to wait for the next one which was 3 hours later.
Also, I felt rushed to do everything of interest before I left, which is why Kareem's slowness made me extra bitter. Kareem says I'm being pessimistic when I say this, but it's likely that I won't make it back to Argentina, so I feel pressured to do so much while I'm there. But rushing around trying to make sure you've seen the sights, is kind of stressful and not very fun or relaxing. And if you aren't having fun, what's the point? Besides, I realized that I don't like monuments or museums. I mean, who cares about a monument of a famous person when you have no idea what his significance is? In my own city, I don't waste my time with the tourist attractions, why would I in someone else's? Also, I need to limit myself to planning to do activities that I can't do elsewhere. For some reason I actually listed the zoo as a place to go. But why would I need to go the zoo? I must have been to the zoo at least 10 times before in my lifetime, and as much as I like animals, I've seen everything that zoo had to offer multiple times before. Besides, usually when I go to the zoo the animals aren't doing much but sleeping or grazing. So that activity got cut. Even tango was looking expendable, seeing as how I've already seen a Buenos Aires tango company.
Anyway, I guess the successfulness of a trip can be judged on whether or not you want to go home at the end of it. And I definitely could have stayed a few more days despite the frustrations.
Of special note:
-Buenos Aires was not as pretty as I thought it would be. It probably was once really pretty, but a lot of the structures were run down now. Despite that, it was kind of charming. I think my opinion of the city definitely improved once the weather got warm and sunny. Colonia, Uruguay, however, is gorgeous.
-Dogs were not curbed in the neighborhood where we stayed. Watch your step.
-Do Argentinians do breakfast? The one breakfast we ate in a restaurant consisted of carbs, carbs, carbs, coffee and orange juice. It was the only breakfast choice on the menu. The restaurant, though huge, was empty except for us. Very few real restaurants appeared to be open for breakfast at all. No wonder. Also of note, not easy to find chicken on the menu.
-Despite not being a meat lover, the beef is, in fact, pretty good.
-People are friendly, although unintelligible. Apparently, they speak Spanish in Argentina, but the accent is so weird to me, that even though I studied Spanish for many years (although I'm by no means fluent), I could hardly pick out a familiar word in a string of sentences. Note to self: learn foreign language to stop embarrassing self.
-Argentina made me feel rich. I think the most expensive meal Kareem and I had was the equivalent of $50 for the both of us, including two meat entrees and several drinks. Other less expensive meals included a whole bottle of wine. I could even afford real estate in a good neighborhood in Argentina.
Now, I guess I should ponder the next trip. I was thinking that maybe I should set a goal to make one international trip per year. It wouldn't be hard if I learned to be better with money.
After feeling so rich in Argentina, I came back to New York to discover that I was once again poor. Very poor. I'll definitely overdraft next week, (I have overdraft protection, so it's not big deal), but I did get some good money news. I've gotten a raise. Also, I'm almost done paying the IRS the taxes I owed them. I'd been accidentally paying twice the monthly payment, so, by my calculations, this month should be the last that I owe them. Although the fact that I didn't notice I was paying them $200 dollars more per month, is bad, seeing as how I should be watching my finances more carefully. I might move into the studio Asit is vacating. Before he moved in, I talked to management about moving if the cost was cheaper. They didn't seem to be interested in lowering the cost much, so I passed. But I got a call while I was away, asking me if I was still interested in moving in and mentioning that we can discuss lower rent. But this is only if they are willing to make the rent significantly lower.
I kind of drop away from contact when I leave, but now that I'm back I find that not much has changed in my absence. Although, I'm gonna have some intense podcast/blog reading to catch up with.
|Tuesday, September 18th, 2007|
|Another day, another dollar
Like usual, it's been awhile since my last update. And, like usual, nothing much has changed.
I'm mourning the loss of summer. I took advantage of much of the free/cheap stuff that I wanted to. I noticed that every time I think of leaving New York for some place cheaper and less competitive, it always happens during the cold weather seasons. Coincidence? I think not. The weather is starting to cool and I'm wearing jackets for outdoors temperature as well as indoors.
But I have a lot of stuff to do in the next few months, though, so I shouldn't be bored. I started volunteering with New York Cares. Mainly because my resume needs it. I've also started taking research requests at work for the same reason. I'm applying to be a NY Cares team leader (once again, for the resume) and I'm applying to take the Foreign Service exam although I'm stuck at the six short essay questions, five of which require a reference to verify your claims. But should do that soon, I want to take the test in December. I'm also midway through a Peace corps application, but am still too chicken shit to complete it. It seems like I've heard more about more bad, so/so experiences than good when people talk about the peace corps. On the other hand, I want to leave the country for awhile and this is an excellent resume addition.
I also have a lot of foreign service exam studying to do. I'm just applying and taking the test. I'm not getting my hopes up. Only a small percentage of people pass the written exam and only a small percentage of those that pass the written exam, pass the oral assessment. And then, even if you do that and get through the security clearance, there's still a chance you might not get placed and you'll have to repeat the process all over again. But I'm still studying. Worse come to worse, I'll be better at Jeopardy. The test covers American government, American history, Economics, World Geography, World History, English Grammar, Pop Culture, Math, and People Management. In addition, there's a 30 minute essay writing section. When I went over the practice questions (although I didn't time myself or anything, I did much better than expected at guesstimating, but not good enough). I bought some books about particular topics. And I heard the Economist was a great resource so I've been trying to read that, but one issue takes me forever to finish so I have a lot of catching up Economist reading to do, especially when trying to finish reading my other study materials at the same time. Then, I still need to keep up with blog reading. I only have one news specific blog, but the others tend to provide me with so much valuable information that I can't pare my list down to a more reasonable size. And then there's the podcasts which I listen to at work, mostly news related, although usually more opinionated than straight up news, but not as world news focused as I need.
And I've been trying to improve my Spanish with the Rosetta Stone, which I actually think would help if I kept up with it more regularly. I would like to finish with the level one disk my mid-October, but considering I haven't been doing it regularly, maybe not. I also have all these travel Spanish podcasts. And I have these multi part documentaries to watch that I ripped on to my computer, one about WWI, another about American Presidents, and another about Slavery in America. Anyway, I have a lot of information intake going on and relatively little time. Perhaps I should put things like socializing and sleep on hold.
Luckily, the new television season looks like it's going to be terrible, so I won't have to worry about keeping up with shows. I think I will pick up Gossip Girl, conveniently situated next to Top Model, my other keeper. Since Lost won't arrive until February, I've dropped the other fall primetime shows, and nothing new looks remotely promising, I won't have to worry about fictional shows gobbling up my evenings.
Also, I'm going to start with another freelance project at work. It will be 185 hours over 5 months (now 4, I guess, since I should have started at the beginning of this month) about 40 something hours a month, I think? My boss just needs confirmation from HR before I can begin. The last freelance project I was doing was much quicker about setting up my pay situation. But my last boss was the CEO's personal assistant, so naturally, everything happens much quickly for her than for my current boss. Hopefully I can start soon. I could stand to have some money in the bank.
On top of all that other stuff, I want to take dance classes with Char. I was thinking either African Dance or Mambo/Salsa dance lessons, but it seems like both of us are short on time. And I just remembered that I won ten free yoga classes so I should fit those in one of these days.
I always find out about music concerts less than a week before they happen. Next Monday Bjork is in concert at MSG. There still seem to be available tickets, which I found surprising, but I can't really afford to go and don't know anyone who would want to go with. If I'd known sooner, then perhaps I could have budgeted appropriately but, whatever. I didn't really care for her last album all that much anyway. I'm also not a huge fan of concerts, but will make an exception for exceptional musicians. Sometimes I send concert announcements to Michael. He's a huge music fan and I'm trying to convince him that he wants to get a job on the northeast side, but he's been offered a job in Seattle and it looks like he wants to take it.
And that will be the bulk of the next three months, applying + studying + dance + plus work.
|Friday, August 10th, 2007|
So, it's been 13 weeks since my last update.
Where did this summer go? Yesterday, I signed up for this meeting on 8-9-2007 thinking that I wouldn't be going to it for a month or so. When I went to add the date to my calender I realized that the meeting was starting in 6 hours. It's so bizarre that I totally blanked on the fact that we're in month 8 of 12. Meaning that the summer is closing. I had grand plans to make the most of this summer. Every previous summer I regretted that I didn't take advantage of all the free events that were happening in the city. This summer I was more prepared: I checked every free events list that I was sent, and signed up for multiple email listserves, and added dates to the calendar.
I didn't have plans to attend every single free event, just the few that interested me, but I'm kind of behind. I missed just about every free dance performance that happened this summer. I love dance, but most of those performances were clumped together in the past two weeks. Michael was visiting, so I just couldn't make them. Hopefully, I'll do some catch up this weekend. And I need to make my own list of free event resources for next year.
Anyway, summer was pretty good. Nothing truly exciting happened. I went to NC in the days I would have been in Costa Rica (no longer bitter about that), which was pretty dull, but it satisfied my curiosity about whether I would like to live there (I won't).
I'm still in a pseudo relationship with Kareem. By name, we are "broken up", "ex's" etc. I have no desire to get back in a relationship with him, but we're still doing all the stuff we're used to do as a couple. Except argue. We get along much better these days. I'm not gonna analyze this too much. It doesn't feel emotionally unhealthy, so I'm not gonna worry about it.
The bad news is that I'm having apartment issues. The water pressure is really weak sometimes, and sometimes cuts out entirely. I and other neighbors have complained about it, but nothing has improved. The landlord's secretary keeps insisting that it's DEP and the whole street is having this problem, but I actually had someone from DEP come out and look at it and they said it was a building problem. Even the plumber the landlord sent over said that it was a plumbing issue. I still haven't followed up with the city because that means I'll have to take a day off from work to let them into my building which I don't wanna do. But the whole business puts me in a very sour mood, so I should get this resolved as soon as possible.
I had a mouse visitor a couple weeks ago although the exterminator thinks that he found the hole it was getting in through and that I won't have a problem anymore. And then I've been seeing roaches with surprising frequency as opposed to rarely seeing any before a couple months ago. Neighbor Jane was having a problem which I attributed to the fact that her kitchen looks like she cleans it twice a year, and now I think they've spread to me. Kareem said that the Combat roach motels are really effective so I bought a bunch and he's going to help me distribute them all over the place.
I'm just really annoyed with the whole situation because, as Kareem pointed out, what the hell are the doing with my rent money? With the exception of the water problem, which comes and goes, the apartment is fairly livable, but its just so ugly. The building is pretty shabby, any repairs that have been done were done poorly and sloppily. Even if they just retiled the entryway, it would make a world of difference and not even cost that much for them. It's a little embarrassing to invite people over because the entrance looks so bad.
And in the past two buildings I lived in they sent over an exterminator every month. This place with a known roach and mouse problem only sends people over when tenants complain. There's no live-in super like my previous apartments had. In my last apartment the super cleaned the hallway floors every morning and came over immediately when you had a problem. He even accepted deliveries. In addition, ever since I moved in, I've been receiving notices from both Con Ed and Keyspan that the landlord hasn't been paying the buildings utility bills and it might affect utility services in public areas. Both Kareem and Jane say not to worry, Con Ed threatens, but won't actually cut out electricity to the building, but still...Where the hell does my rent payment go? They are fairly responsive with addressing my complaints, but always send over half-assed solutions. Inept exterminators, plumbers that look at my faucet when they know the plumbing is the problem, terrible carpenters that can't make a drawer that properly fits my kitchen cabinet. If they aren't paying any utility bills, setting up regular maintenance visits, and hiring competent service men, the least they could do is invest in proper plumbing. Otherwise what am I paying them for? I'm just waiting for them to give me cause enough to insist on rent abatement, just waiting. I could use the extra money.
My dissatisfaction with my apartment is increased because of the fact that I just discovered Nice Bed Stuy. Just a few blocks north and a few blocks east of my apartment is the good part of Bed Stuy. While my street is close to transportation and fairly safe due higher traffic, it is also very ugly commercial space filled with an insane amount of of hair salons, nail salons, beauty supply places, fast food joints, bodegas, and litter. On the other hand, Nice Bed Stuy is one of the nicest areas I've seen in the entire city. Macdonough between Lewis and Stuyvesant Ave's frequently places in the Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest. It was absolutely beautiful display of townhouses and gardening.
The area has businesses that aren't in the beauty or junk food industries. Like a bookstore, a gardening store, a tiny Saturday Summertime Green Market, and food establishments with waiters. And where's the litter? I even ran into a block party featuring a jazz band that was playing one of my favorite jazz songs, "Autumn Leaves". Nice Bed Stuy makes me happy. It's just a nice place to walk around. My area is simply functional. The price is right, and I appreciate being located near a full sized grocery store and reliable public transportation, but its just a place to live. Nice Bed Stuy is a place to hang out in. So I'll keep an eye out for affordable apartments in the area, though there probably isn't much, we saw a two bedroom condo selling for 500 grand. Rent probably isn't all that cheap and I certainly am not excited about going through the hassle and cost of moving just yet, but it doesn't hurt to look.
I picked up a freelance project in another department, which is over now. It kept me pretty busy for the past month+, which is probably why the time flew by, I spent at least half of July not doing much but working and keeping up with my two favorite summer shows: Hell's Kitchen and So You Think You Can Dance. I think in Sept (perhaps Oct) I'm starting another freelance project within my own department, which will take a bit of my time.
Once September comes, I'm gonna focus on other things: meeting new people, volunteering, learning more, and perhaps taking a couple classes at the 92nd street Y. I'm excited.
|Monday, May 7th, 2007|
Sometimes it seems that the more productive I am at work, the more I dread my job. And I also think there's an inverse correlation between how much I like my outside life to how much I like my professional life at any given moment. Either way, outside life is fairly good and I'm getting much more done at work. I'm also having trouble rising out of bed in the mornings. And could this day pass anymore slowly?
I planned the Costa Rica trip in detail. There's still some kinks to be worked out: making sure I've chosen reputable tours, found the cheapest service providers, and figured out transporation. But I'm quite proud of myself. I think it's a good mix of activities, while still leaving a significant portion of R&R time. I still haven't figure out how we're going to travel between hotels (we're staying in 3 over the course of 5 days) I'm usually opposed to planning trips in detail. I like to go with the flow. But usually I staying in one city. A city I can navigate. Things become a little more difficult when you're traveling all over a country.
We leave in about three weeks so I started to prepare. Costa Rica is also difficult in the fact that I just don't have the wardrobe to deal with it. I'm a very casual dresser, but I just don't own activewear- things that I can get wet and dirty. So I have to buy some of that on top of unfashionable/functional sneakers and a swimsuit. It kind of sucks.
I owe the government alot of money. I know, I'm stupid. Part of me is fairly responsible with money: my rent comes in on time. I set up automatic payments to make sure every bill gets paid. I overdraft only when I mean to. I contribute to a 401k, for chrissakes. On the other hand I owe the IRS alot of money. I knew I would, and I didn't even prepare for it. So I set up a payment plan with the IRS, thats going to make money tight for the next year or so. But I need to make a lifestyle adjustment to ease the financial burden.
First, I'm considering moving...downstairs. They still haven't evicted the crackhead, but I was thinking that I should move into his place when they do. He lives in a studio, as opposed to a one bedroom, so I'm guessing that the the rent will be at least about $125-150 less than what I pay right now. I'm not dying to move. I was just getting settled. I deverminized. I painted. I waited for the cable guy. I hung things up. I forwarded my mail. I figured out the best times to use the shower. So it's a hassle to go, but its so much cheaper.
And I've considered cancelling internet connection. For the past two weeks I've been stealing neighbor Jane's wireless because my internet went haywire and I just don't feel like taking time off from work to wait for someone to come by to fix it. With the exception of downloading, the speed of browsing the internet is the same. And internet is costing me $50 per month. It makes me nervous to cut it off, just in case Jane's wireless goes out for some reason, but there's really no reason for me to pay for it either.
|Monday, March 26th, 2007|
My life has been extra slow. Alot of people I know were out of town so I didn't have many people to hang out with. Besides, I cleared out my bank account paying off debt so I couldn't afford to do anything anyway. All in all, I just watched a lot of tv shows.
In a relatively short period of time I became a tv person again. I went from not even living in a home with a tv to having to keep up with "my stories". Luckily due to internet and Netflix, television viewing isn't the commitment it once was. In these three broke weeks, I watched a lot of tv shows (strangely, alot of my television viewing happens on my computer. I discovered The search for the next Pussycat doll reality show, I developed opinions on American Idol contestants, and watched The Office from the beginning to the most recent episode. All that I have left to watch is season 3 of Battlestar Gallactica. I've been taking it slowly because it's the only really good television show that I haven't watched yet. I'm running out of media events to look forward to. With the exception of final season of the Wire and the final Harry Potter, the future is looking pretty bleak. I guess I can try out some new shows out on DVD.
The librarian assistant I don't like just gave her notice. I did a happy dance when I found out. It's hard to explain exactly what was wrong with her. She performed her day to day tasks accurately. It was her personality that was all wrong. She was just so childish about everything: she couldn't take criticism, she didn't always listen to direction from her superiors (especially if it contradicted with what she personally thought was best), she had a skewed sense of logic, she was inarticulate, full of excuses, bossy, manipulative, and unable to accept responsibility for anything. Yet for some reason, she really had it in her tiny little brain that she knew how to run this library better than the rest of us. She's just one of those people who does not know how to work with other people (without infuriating them). I know that a couple librarian assistants in the past found her insufferable, as do most of my coworkers. So...good riddens.
My hair has been pretty rough in the past, but usually I can get a comb through it. Last week, I couldn't. And it was breaking off everywhere. It was depressing. I was thinking of cutting it, starting anew, but then I got it relaxed. Now that it's all straight and manageable again, I don't want to get rid of it just yet. I do need to improve my hairs condition though. The relentless radiator heat in my apartment has been killing it. I'm on a mission to find hair products that will help it.
I've been trying to gain more trivia knowledge. I know people say Wikipedia has inaccuracies and what not, but I need to improve my Jeopardy game, and most of that stuff seems accurate enough. I've been focusing on people, usually politicians, and reading an article on whoever pops up throughout my day. The other day, I watched a preview of The Tudors online, so I went to learn more about Henry the eighth. I watched "All the Kings Men" yesterday, and decided to learn more about Huey Long, who is said is the basis for the lead character, Willie Stark. And did you know that Huey Newton was named after Huey Long? (and Huey from the Boondocks was named after Huey Newton?). The more you know, the more you grow.
|Friday, March 9th, 2007|
|A tico tico tic, a tico tico tock
Home-wise it's been a productive week. I painted the living room (again). I did laundry. I stained a couple unfinished pieces in my apartment. It's nice to see progress being made. But there's still so much to do.
The boy and I just booked a flight to Costa Rica in June. It seems like everyone I know (and that's a short list) is going someplace cool soon: China, Australia, Papa New Guinea, Colombia, Ecuador. Michael's traveling all around Eastern Europe these next few months before he leaves the army. Even my parents and my grandmother are planning to go to Germany in May to visit Michael. They want me to go with them, but I've been refusing.
The official reason that I tell my parents of why I can't go is the expense, and the fact that I have been to Germany already. It isn't the best excuse. Especially since my mom has offered to subsidize part of the flight and they will be taking a mini trip or two to other countries as well. The real reason is that I don't want to travel with my folks. Dad, who probably won't be going, is the most miserable traveler ever. He can suck the joy out of any trip. My grandmother is so leisurely, the slow pace we'd have to move at would drive me insane. Even at the discounted price, I don't know that a trip to Europe with my family is worth the cost.
So after refusing Germany because of expense issues, I couldn't exactly tell them that I'd just booked a flight to Costa Rica. Not yet, anyway. Costa Rica wasn't even on short list of places to go...or the long list. I just never really thought about it much. But when I saw that we could get cheap flights there I got really excited. One of the hotels we're probably staying in (we're splitting the trip between San Jose and Playa Herradura) looks really beautiful. Apparently Costa Rica is a great place to go if you're into eco-tourism. I'm into urban habitats, but I'm still really excited about all the things to do there that I never get to do elsewhere. Horse riding, hiking, zip lining, scuba diving, animal spotting. It's all seems so new and exciting. I just have two concerns. Spending all that time in the rainforest and coming back with some weird health affliction like a flesh eating virus or a strange tropical parasite (I know it's random, but it truly is one of my great fears). And what will I do with my hair? All that humidity and rain won't be good for it.
I'm seeing where travel with Kareem might be a problem. He seems to question the safety of everything I suggest. He asked if the croc tours were in a big boat because he's seen croc's snatch people out of small boats. He flat out refused canopy tours. He was skeptical of visiting the area around the active volcano. Even horseback riding invoked doubt. And he can't swim so water related adventures are out of the question. I'm hoping that he'll lighten up and relax. I told him that he was much more likely to die driving around than doing anything I suggested. He was unconvinced. The weird thing is that he kept suggesting Costa Rica as a place to visit. I'm starting to wonder why.
|Saturday, March 3rd, 2007|
I just woke up. And for a second I looked at the time and dreaded going to work. But then i realized that it was Saturday. I would have liked for this to be an empty weekend with no plans, nowhere to go and nothing to do. But I'm not too busy which is good because I'm kind of broke. I just paid down a lot of debt, so I'll be in the hole for the next couple weeks. On top of that, I had to put a lot of money on a credit card to pay for the CO trip (I'll be reimbursed, but I just submitted my expense report, so I don't know how soon). That card is pretty nearly maxed out, so I don't have a lot of back up monetary sources. I should be cool if I'm careful.
Which means that I just can't spend much more than the $40 in my wallet, at least not until this coming Friday, which would be easy enough, but i have to do laundry soon, and I'm meeting up with a couple people today, and then some on Monday, and maybe another later next week. And usually that involves restaurants and bars and tax and tips. So it might go pretty quickly unless I'm careful. Teresa, who I'm seeing this afternoon is particularly hard to not spend money around, cause whenever I say I'm broke she offers to pay. I'm like, no, I'm broke, it's my fault, I'll just consume less, but she's pretty persistent about paying, and then I feel bad and just pay for whatever myself, even if I can't really afford to.
I've been singularly focused on decorating my apartment these days.
My bedroom is kind of sorta of done. I'm happy with it. There are some minor improvements to be made, (more book space, new laundry basket and side table, fix closet door) but nothing pressing. My living room is still problematic. It doesn't feel homey: it's bland, cold, and I don't think it reflects me (although I can't tell you what reflecting me would even look like.). The sofa is a major problem. I bought it in off-white, and ruined the white slipcover. Bought a black slipcover, hated the black. Ordered a printed slipcover. Waited a long time for the slipcover to arrive. It finally did, I decided that the print wasn't what I wanted and am now returning it and going back to the white I began with (I'll just have to be a nazi about what I allow myself and others to do on that sofa). What a waste of money and time, and only to come back to where I started months ago.
The living room seems to need revision after revision. I'm being optimistic, so I'm going to say that things are looking up. I just got a rug (as a gift), which I think is an improvement over the bare hardwood, I reaaranged a couple of things to create a better setup. I got the paint for a new and improved (and hopefully permanent) paint job. I put up a wall shelf and some pictures (although I think I'm replacing the artwork over the table with some of the really pretty gift wrapping papers at Kate's Paperie)
And I've gotten all arts and crafty. All of the sudden, I'm seeing places where I can make improvements or make things myself. I have an apartment to-do list that only seems to grow as the days go by.
I created a flickr account for my apartment (although I'm considering moving all my pics over to flickr entirely). It's mainly because I like talking about this type of thing, yet no one else I know is interested. I can discuss photos to my hearts content to no one in particular. And can document my changes. I'll try to do most of the painting this weekend, and I also have some light furniture staining to do, which I've been putting off. But all that should keep me busy enough without making me spend extra dollars.
|Friday, March 2nd, 2007|
|Cease and desist
Today I got a letter from Cablevision informing me that a copyright owner (NBC) contacted Cablevision and claimed that someone at my IP address transmitted copyrighted materials (an episode of Battlestar Gallactica) over the internet. They urge Cablevision "to take immediate action to stop this infringing activity". They aren't taking any legal action (not yet, anyway. And it would be unlikely that they would waste lawyer fees on one measly file). When I spoke to someone at Cablevision over the phone, they asked me to remove the file and they said they would respond to NBC saying that I now understand that downloading is wrong, and that I deleted the file.
Now, in true O.J. style, I'm going to continue this discussion by saying how I would react and think, had I actually done what they say I'm accused of. First, why would I get rid of the file? I haven't even watched it yet. Besides, the damage is done. They know I downloaded it. And I'm not sharing it, so there's no way I'd be caught an additional time. Even if I got rid of it just to cover my back (in case they want to search my computer), they could still retrieve evidence of the file in my hard drive. And do I have to delete if from my ipod, too?
And why is Cablevision being NBC's bitch? If they ask you to reprimand me, JUST SAY NO. Why is Cablevision wasting time, money, and staff enforcing some other industry's policies? Besides, Cablevision's penalty to frequent copyright "infringers" is to drop their service. That's not good for business. At $50 dollars a month, my business gives them $600 a year. If the law requires them to pursue their own customers for something that is really none of their concern, then the telecommunications companies should change the law. I know they hold just as much sway in the government as Hollywood does.
And what is NBC thinking? The problem with their copyright logic is that they contend that by downloading something I'm getting content for free that I otherwise would have paid for. Therefore they think they are losing money when I download. That's not true. I have no intention of paying for Battlestar Gallactica or anything else I may or may not have downloaded. I definitely pay for DVDs, but I also won't buy something I've never seen before.
Even if I want to go the legal route and rent it, they still don't make any money off of me (And why aren't they going after movie rental stores? They've shared many more movies than I ever will). I prefer to download, though, because my Netflix queue is so long that if I add something new I won't see something at the bottom of the list for another 3 years. Ok, so we've already assessed that NBC neither gains nor loses money if I download something, but they still do stand to gain from my viewership. First, if I like something, I can provide good word of mouth. Secondly, I might end up purchasing a DVD of it. I downloaded the entire first season of Boondocks, but once it was released on DVD I deleted the files and bought it, even though I'd watched all the episodes multiple times by that point.
If they want to curtail downloading, maybe they should implement streaming videos of their shows online, like Fox and ABC have done. That way eveyone wins. Networks still get to advertise to an audience and make money. And the viewer gets the show they want to watch when they want to watch it
For example, before they put it online, I would download episodes of Lost and 24, because I wasn't home to see them. If I couldn't keep up with these episodes through downloading, I would have abandoned them long ago, because you can't enjoy these shows without watching all the episodes in the proper order. I think only allowing people to watch shows as they air or making them pay for individual episodes through itunes is prohibitive. I would guess that tv networks stand to lose more money as people walk away from shows they can't keep up with, rather than them "losing money" because a couple folks download here or there.
I doubt most people who download are trying to profit off of companies. Most people just want to watch something they haven't seen for whatever reason. They don't burn it and sell it for money. They don't share it with everyone they know. They watch it, and they delete it, because these files take up valuable hard drive space. It's just silly to try to take legal action against someone for watching something that is aired on television for free. I'm not modifying the file for my own purpose. I'm not passing it off as my own. I'm not profiting off this in any way whatsoever. I just want to keep up with my stories.
...Or that's what I'd say if I illegally downloaded
|Monday, February 26th, 2007|
|"Abortion is always wrong" -- God
The subject heading is a billboard I saw upon riding in a shuttle bus from the Colorado Springs airport (although I believe I've seen it somewhere else before). My boss claimed Colorado Spring was a hotbed of Christian conservatism. I figured that she was just being a cynical, liberal New Yorker until I saw an article in Glamour documenting the 7th annual Father-Daughter Purity Ball, where fathers and daughters exchange rings under the condition that daughters pledge to remain virgins until marriage. Creepiness. The movie Jesus Camp said that Colorado Springs is home to tons of mega churches and numerous organizations for the religious right.
If I had enough money, I'd counter that billboard with one directly behind it, saying "J/K -- God".
I suspected that coming to Colorado Springs for this conference would be a bad idea, but a free trip didn't seem like something I should pass up. The flight arrived on time with no delays or cancellations, despite my coworkers fears. The flight from NYC to Minneapolis was pretty rough though. There was a family of four. The father and daughter sat in row 13 next to my coworker Julie. The mother and the boy sat directly behind them in row 14. I was behind Julie The children were awful. The boy was loud, sullen, and whiny. He was rude to his mom and sister, he was opening and shutting the window, he was kicking the wall of the plane so hard that I woke up and thought someone behind me was kicking my seat. The girl was squirmy and loud. And the parents weren't even trying to control the children. Neither child was wearing their seat belt as the plane landed. I mean, it's one thing to let your children run amuck in the confines of your home, but you definitely need to nip that shit in the bud when they are around other people in confined spaces. Or at least apologize to them for raising a monster.
Anyway, I booked my hotel late so I got the Mariott two miles from the Broadmoor resort, where the conference was being held. Julie was staying in the Broadmoor, and it is very nice resort. She had the best view of a half frozen lake and there are deer on the resort. The weather was nice. I was expecting it to be all cold and snowy, since Colorado is known for it's skiing. It was, like, 50, during the day. My boss registered me for this extra, full-day, pre-conference, sleep-a-thon workshop on Sunday. I bounced at lunchtime and went to the major Colorado Springs attraction, Garden of the Gods (for some reason I kept referring to it as Grey Gardens). It was a nice adventure, I meant to go to the zoo the morning before my flight back (you could hand feed the giraffes!), but decided to sleep in and take advantage of cable tv instead.
The terrible thing about this conference is how useless it is to both Julie and I. First, it's a conference centered around our library catalog software. We're using a 3 year old version, because our IT department is impossible and doesn't know how (and frankly, doesn't try to learn) the software we use in order to faccilitate an upgrade (yet they are strangely opposed to allowing us to hire competent technicians). Some conference topics were focused on using feature offered by the new software. Some were focused on things we don't implement in our library (paying fines, acquisitions, programming, consortium library problems). I went to this workshop on training library staff members (which I thought would be useful because I actually train people), but this woman was talking about organizing training for a staff of 900 people. Our library only has 7. Other topics were so advanced that I didn't even know what they were used for. And then other workshops were about products the library could buy to do certain things, the few products that would be helpful (but not necessary) in our library were far too expensive for anyone to even think about asking for in the budget. So really, this was a waste of time and the waste of a long weekend (I think we're getting comp time, at least).
I was in a similar family situation on the flight from Minnesota to New York. While the plane was boarding, I was praying that the two seats in my aisle remained empty. Finally after most people boarded, a family of four entered, and the father and his small daughter took the window and middle seats next to me. The mother and son were directly in front of them. While I was mouthing complaints to her Julie, we both had aisle seats next to each other, and the woman next to Julie offered to switch seats with me. She said that since we knew each other we should sit together. I wondered if she knew what she was getting into. Maybe the woman just wanted to switch her middle seat with an aisle seat. Maybe she was just being kind. Perhaps she was watching as I mouthed expletive-laced things about my aisle mates to Julie. Whatever it is, that woman was a hero, because she saved a small child's life that day. The child was significantly better behaved than the two we encountered before. That being said, she was still annoying, even four seats away. She talked the entire flight, and like most children, she has absolutely no control over the volume of her voice.
I brought back a nice souvenir for myself. Usually, if someone goes away somewhere and asks what I want as a souvenir I always suggest earrings. I usually like and will wear any kind of earring, and you can never have too many pairs. The Broadmoor had this beautiful handmade jewelry shop. I love jewelry. Since it's unlikely I'll own any anytime soon, I never developed much of a taste for expensive gems or precious metals, but I do like the less expensive stuff, as long as it's funky, chunky, and slightly odd. After a few days of consideration, I finally decided on this fruit charm bracelet that was much more that I usually pay for jewelry (I always take pride in paying very little for this type of thing), but it will be one of my few pleasant memories of Colorado Springs. It inspired me to one day learn how to make my own jewelry.
Every once in a while I hunger for Taco Bell. I always finish the meal feeling mildly grossed out by what I just consumed, but it's so good going down. And this morning I found out that the only Taco Bell I go to, the one closest to work, has been shut down by the health department due to it's gregarious rat population. After the lettuce incident, and the fact that I always feel nauseous after consuming it, I think I'm never going to eat Taco Bell again.
|Thursday, February 15th, 2007|
|...while you're waiting for moments that never come
They're evicting the man who lives on the floor beneath me. He has some problems. The first time he was a problem was the night before Thanksgiving. I heard someone yelling and banging doors in the hallways at 2 or 3am. I couldn't understand the words and I didn't know who or why. I just assumed it was a drunkard that had found his way into the building that night. (It was a little embarassing. Charlene was spending the night. I get the feeling that she's scared of the neighborhoods I live in. Bed Stuy has rough edges still, but the bad reputation it earned in the 80's and 90's isn't quite appropriate anymore. I'm not tough enough to live in a truly bad neighborhood. And since I live a block away from the subway on a major street in brooklyn, I'm less likely to be outside and alone long enough to be attacked or anything.)
Anyway, it didn't happen again until last month, when the yelling and banging happened on and off for 4 nights in a row. By Friday, still not knowing exactly who was yelling (but assuming that it must have been one of the two men on the 2nd floor), I called the cops and the landlord. The yeller said some interesting things. Like his full name, "William C. Francis". And that he was not "a crack dealer" but "a crack user". Sprinkled in between the "fucks" and the "motherfuckers" I came to understand that William was locked out of his apartment. He seemed to think that someone had locked him out, but given his state of mind who's to say if that's true? I called Jane, who managed to never be home when the yelling happened. I asked her if there was a neighbor named William C. Francis. She didn't know the names of the two men who live on the second floor but she did mention that the one above her was a former crackhead.
Kareem came into the city that night, and not knowing who was in my hallway making this violent-sounding ruckus, I was scared to go downstairs to let Kareem into the building. While I was on the phone with Kareem, working up the courage to pass the screaming madman in my hallways, the screaming madman was leaving the building and let in Kareem. Kareem passed him and being friendly, asked him how his day was, William said, "I've had better days". Kareem and I muted the tv to hear what else he was going to say when he came back, because in the safety of my apartment, William's ranting was kind of humorous and amusing. And later that night we heard a drill. The next morning, we came downstairs to find that William "I'm not a crack dealer, I'm a crack user" took the locks and knobs off his apartment door.
Over the weekend, I got the full story from Jane, who has the landlords' personal numbers. They are currently in the middle of eviction proceedings to remove William at the behest of my jackass of a downstairs neighbor who is being "terrorized" by him. I certainly don't feel for that miserable motherfucker in 2B and am certain that he probably provoked the crackhead (this is the man who called the landlord on me because he heard too much walking going on in my apartment). I'm also a little pleased that, sharing a floor with William, he gets the brunt of the ruckus (and a recent string of nonsensical letters left on his door). I only wish that the downstairs neighbor were going to be leaving the building as well. Jane is already trying recruit another friend to take the crackhead's apartment. She's gentrifying the building, if not the neighborhood, and if she installs one more friend in our building of 6 apartments it's going to start to feel like a college dorm.
Being that my entries are typed incrementally over the course of time, I now found out that William has been arrested. For what (noisiness perhaps?), I don't know. And I do really feel bad for this guy, especially since building gossip has given me a glimpse of his life story. I know that he was/is? part of a employment/life assistant program for people living in poverty, he's HIV positive, and has a substance abuse problem. I don't believe he's currently employed, and he is a court order away from homelessness. Perhaps he's in one of those houses for homeless programs and they'll get him another home and not mandate that he be sober or mentally healthy before hand. I hope so. It's too cold right now to be homeless. He has a cat. After he took the knobs off his door, I saw it the hallway a few times, I'm not sure if it gets fed since it has tried to dash into my apartment a few times. But it's cute and sweet and I wonder if I shouldn't have kidnapped the thing when I had a chance, just to make sure it had a decent home to live in.
The knobs are back on his door. I saw papers folded up and wedged between the door frame and door knob. Eviction notice, maybe? I feel sad for him, he probably hasn't had many breaks of advantages in his life, and now it's falling completely apart.
|Wednesday, February 14th, 2007|
|Day two of copy and paste
Happy Valentine's Day!
I was thinking of adding livejournal to my rss feed. I know how to do it with individual journals, but what about my combined friends list? Does anyone know how to get my entire friends page into Google reader? Would it access private entries as well?
I've cut off my friend/neighbor Jane from asking any more favors of me. She's just a needy person. She's emotionally needy, attention needy, and just regularly needy. She's the type of person who can make the most minor incidents in her life into major drama. Anyway, she's been asking for an excessive amount of favors recently. I foresaw Jane being an annoyance when I decided to share the same apartment building with her. But I thought she just would want to hang out all the time. We don't hang out that much. But since we live together, and I also work next to her place of employment (although she works from home so she doesn't need to go into the office except for weekly meetings and dropping paperwork off), she's managed to turn me into her errand boy. It's little stuff, like, 'can you pick this up/ drop this off', but two and three times a week, which is far too much.
Ever since I said, "no more favors", I haven't really heard from her much in the past couple weeks. Which is probably a sad statement on the true value of my friendship to her, but a nice break from her neediness, nonetheless.
Anyway, she called Thursday of last week, for the first time since I cut her off, and the first sentence out of her mouth after hello is "Can you do me a favor?" She needed to leave her cell phone at the Verizon store near my job for something. She was told that that something would take 45 minutes. She said that the technicians wouldn't let her wait in the store and she wanted me to pick it up for her tomorrow, because otherwise she wouldn't be able to pick up her cell phone herself until Wednesday.
This doens't make sense to me. First, she called me from her cell phone, which must mean it works, so whatever she's dropping it off for isn't that urgent. Why couldn't this wait until she does have time to pick it up herself? And she has a home phone. Is being without a cell phone a true crisis? And--why couldn't she just wait the 45 minutes? Even if she couldn't wait within the Verizon store (which sounds like bullshit), she was in the middle of SoHo with multiple shops, boutique, and restaurants within a one block radius. Surely she could have found a way to kill 45 measly mintues. And I know she wasn't pressed for time. Because every Thursday night is her standing date with Sarah, in which they go to her apartment, eat dinner, and watch Grey's Anatomy together. She could have postponed the meeting time and still made it home to catch the end of Ugly Betty. Additionally, Wednesday is awfully far in the future when you consider that it should be a quick stop by a store. It's Thursday today, she can't seriously be telling me that she's so busy that she can't possibly drop by Verizon until the middle of next week. The store is probably open ten hours a day every day of the week-- surely she could find the time. Furthermore, if it were so inconvenient to leave it at that particular Verizon why couldn't she leave it at any one of the hundreds that are strewn about the city that would work better for her? But instead of doing any of this, she does what comes naturally: asking me to pick up the slack. It's just silly. She overuses favors. Instead of doing what most adults do, which is only asking favors sparingly and only asking favors when it's extremely hard or impossible for you do to something on your own, she asks favors all the time, not simply for things she can't do, but for things she simply doesn't want to do herself.
The Verizon she's referring to is on my way to the subway station. I pass by it every day. It would have been easy, although still inconvenient (because it would require me to go out of my way), for me to go in the store and pick it up. But that's not the point. Jane was taking advantage of the situation, expecting to inconvenience me, so she didn't have to inconvenience herself. Like her time was more valuable than my own. She was treating me like I was her personal assistant, like I owed it to her to do all these things for her.
So I tell her no, that I'm not going to do anything else for her, like I said a couple weeks ago. She persists, and I tell her no again, that she's going to have to work this out on her own. And the bitch actually hangs up on me. And it's like, what the fuck? Instead of being appreciative of all the things I've done for her in the past, she's gets pissy when i say no to a request she could have easily handled herself. After hanging up on me, I wrote her a short email basically saying that I don't appreciate being hung up on and that she needs to do things herself, because I won't be doing it anymore. Her response wasn't exactly an apology or an acknowledgment of anything I said. She doesn't understand what an imposition she's become. Self centered people never do. They somehow convince themselves that their problems are so big that it's other people's duty to shoulder some of the burden.
Anyway, I learned my lesson. The moment the words "favor" leave her mouth, the answer will be no, and I'll tell her than I'm hanging up unless she has something else to discuss.
|Tuesday, February 13th, 2007|
|Read more, learn more, change the globe
I write my LJ in my Gmail inbox. Usually I start to write about one topic and it just spreads to writing additional topics that are on my mind. Usually the entries are composed over the course of days or weeks so they become these behemoth entries and I end up doing one of three things with, paring it down alot and posting it, deleting it, or posting the entire thing. I started writing the current draft a month or more ago. This time I've decided to split it up it all over the course of a few days.
Anyway, day 1:
I'm now part of a book-club-type-thing with a few friends. It's more like a book and arts club, where chosen events aren't so specific. The first task is watching a few select movies that were nominated for Oscars (I think it's 6 in total, most of which I'd already seen before they were suggested) and the second is reading a Coehlo book. It's a nice opportunity to do and explore things I don't have the motivation to do on my own. I'm especially having trouble finishing books these days so I appreciate the extra push.
I just realized that the Oscars are less than two weeks away and I still have many more movies to view. I'm trying to see a majority of the nominees, even in the less competitive categories. I have seen most of the major players by now, except for the two Clint Eastwood pics, which I will definitely see by Oscar time. I'm annoyed with the Lead Actor nominations because all but one of the movies (the terrible Blood Diamond) weren't nominated in any other categories.
Currently, I have a three nominees at the top of my netflix queue. Four that I downloaded off the internet and need to get around to watching. And there are three that I plan to see in theatres. And even then i still would still only have seen about 2-3 each in the foreign language, the best actor, and the best documentary categories.
I'm going to Colorado Springs Saturday for a work related conference (more on that later) so I've started to prepare video content for my ipod. I figure that between travel, and nights in my hotel room, I'm gonna have lots of free time for movie watching, but not necessarily access to the movies, unless I bring them with me. I started downloading episodes of season three of Battlestar Galactica, and I need to convert episodes of the Office to an ipod friendly format, but perhaps I should put Venus and the Pursuit of Happyness on the list? See what foreign language films or documentaries have made it to the net? Will Colorado Springs be so dull that I'll actually be compelled to watch Apocalypto if I bring it along? I was also thinking that for the first time ever I should see the short films. I think unless you hit up a film festival, the only way you see the short films is by downloading them illegally (although not many have made it online), or through itunes. Kareem gave me a gift card to itunes a while back and I need something to waste it on(I don't like DRM protection on my music). I also prefer watching short things, shows and the like, on my ipod as opposed to full length movies. Oh so much sedentary viewing, so little time.
|Wednesday, December 13th, 2006|
|Most wonderful time of the year
Thanksgiving was more or less nice. It was me, Char, Kenneth, and Kenneth's friend, Will. Will was a jerk, Kareem was acting like a jerk over the phone, and I have an asshole for a downstairs neighbor. All of which put me in a sour mood by the end of the night, but the better part of the day was enjoyable
For some reason this holiday season I feel...in the spirit. I was even thinking of getting a tiny tree for my apartment. We are in 3-paycheck month: the 1st, the 15th, and the 29th. Unfortunately the third pay check really needs to be spent on christmas gifts and paying down my debt. And other joy is that I'll be off from work between the 15th of December and the 3rd of January. And I've managed to limit my home visit to a mere week so I don't have to spend my entire vacation bored, miserable, and wrapped in five layers of clothing, cause the folks don't turn on the heat. And winter movie season makes me happy. I'm really excited about this crop of movies and I've no idea why. I'm attracted to movies that I would usually only have mild to no interest in.
I'm working on behavior modifications and living a better lifestyle. I'd always assumed I was a fairly healthy eater. But I've realized that there is definitely room for improvement. I'm cutting back on the amount of sugar and eating more fibers, fruits, and vegetables.
And then there's eco-friendly Alisha. Thats the one that cares about how many tons of carbon dioxide I release into the atmosphere on a yearly basis. Because I don't drive, I'm doing better than the average American, but I feel like I could reduce the amount of carbon I release by making a greater effort to recycle, buy the foods that don't use a lot of carbon between production and transport, and by creating less garbage.
Finally, I am going to start dressing like an adult. Inspired by Frenchwomen For All Seasons, I'm giving up super casual clothes and outfits. I'm going to build a wardrobe consisting of timeless, high-quality basics, mainly in neutrals and solids, although some colors and patterns will later be incorporated. I will buy and wear dresses and skirts. I will limit my wearing of sneakers and jeans. I will bring in color and interest to outfits through the skillful use of interesting accessories and costume jewelry, of which I will collect alot.
I need a new job. I had my annual job review. And as a testament to how little my boss knows about how I actually spend my days, she gave me a glowing review. Her only kind-of criticism was that she knew this wasn't what I wanted to do and she was worried that I'd soon get bored with my job and stop working (too late!) and that I should probably move on to something else before that happens. And she's right.
There's added pressure to move on, because the only other cataloger is interviewing for jobs. Neither of us wants to be the second person to tell Kerry that she's resigning. Not that Kerry is mean, but she's got alot of anger built up, and between the trials of buying a new apartment, renovating that apartment, corporate bureacracy, and menopause she's not the type of person you wanna give bad news to.
I just don't always like or respect the people I know, and they don't make it difficult to feel that way. I'm not the best friend (especially when it comes to keeping in touch), but I usually stick to a few simple policies: Be reliable, don't burden other people with your baggage, don't give your opinion unless it's solicited, ask few favors, pay your part of the bill, meet people halfway, don't overdo apologies or excuses, be respectful of your friends' things, remember that the world does not revolve around your wants and needs, and don't participate in arguments just to prove you're right. I find that if people would stick to these rules, they're generally an okay person to be around. Not annoying, anyway and generally.