The Blog of Chloë and Pete  

Two characters (that would be Chloë and Pete) looking for love, safety, and Krispy Kremes. A book looking for readers and a publisher. An author (Jessica) looking for an agent, a life, and a region-free DVD player.

email: jessica_lynn -at-

About Me 23.07.02

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The WeatherPixie


A Series of Notes

Note to the good people at Bookslut: I've read both Anne Tyler and Don DeLillo. Tyler is better.

Note to Dennis Rogers: Thanks for the link!

Note to my future car: I promise not to hurt you, baby. I promise that when I take you out on I-85 late at night, speeding up towards God knows where in Gwinnett County, neither you nor I will be afraid. So come soon.

Note to Omar: I don't know where that feeling comes from -- that wherever you are, you ought to be further ahead -- but you put it into words far better than I've ever been able to. Admittedly, my first thought was, "Omar, who's bought his own house and kicks newspaper ass daily and could probably raise his own army with the lifting of a little finger and a quip about it being the Gayest Little Finger Lifting of the Episode -- Omar has got the mean reds?" They don't play fair, those mean reds.

But I know where you're coming from. For a little while I dreaded turning 23, since it would be the first time I could remember that I was where I was supposed to be -- out of school, working a full-time job -- as opposed to ahead of it (since I skipped eighth grade, I was 16 when I graduated high school, 20 when I graduated college). Which is silly. Had I known that at 24 I'd still be working on the same damn book, that it would not, after all, be set to hit the shelves this fall with everyone flocking to me as if my name were Jonathina Safran Foer -- well, then what have I been doing all this time? Also silly. But try telling that to the little voice of continuous disappointment in the back of my brain. The apparent gap between potential and potential realized: I can see it, and it looks like a big, ugly chasm, and the little voice warns me that if I'm not careful I'll burn the bridge altogether. And meanwhile another day goes by when I haven't touched the book or even the comments on the book. So what am I doing? Fighting with Bellsouth, mostly. Playing video games. Reading about Hrithik Roshan.

So there's at least two of us with self-created Swords of Damocles hanging over our heads. Why, I'm not sure. My parents reassure me they're proud of me, but . . . ack. I'd be prouder of me if I hadn't already mentally begun filing the book under C, not for Chloë but for Crap.

And, finally, a note to Lileks: I don't care how good the movie was, Mary Kelly deserved better than friggin' Heather Graham in a Manic Panic job. She wasn't a waif. The reason she gets more attention than the other four combined is that, in the factual and fictional accounts both, she's the liveliest: she's the one who was heard singing on the day of her death, who was nicknamed Ginger, who ran around to Ireland and France, renamed herself a couple times, and generally did her damnedest to keep the combination of society and her own worst impulses from sinking her. I haven't seen From Hell: I've avoided it specifically for fear that any supposed chemistry between Heather Graham and Johnny Depp (when Abberline (a) was married and (b) there's no evidence that he and Mary Kelly even met) would leave me yelling at the screen. This site is where I go to indulge my Ripper fascination, and it both makes proper hash of the Sickert theory From Hell uses and treats the victims with respect even as it publishes their autopsy photos. If you've seen From Hell and not the Casebook site, or not read Donald Rumbelow's account of the case, then phooey on you.

  posted by Jessica @ 12:37 |



Actual email, received today, from my sweetheart's father:

Are you LIVING-IN-SIN with my son? If not, WHY NOT???

No, is the short answer; but I laughed so very hard. This after my boy's little brother and I discussed my first motorcycle ride at length. If you're heading for sin and delinquency, it's good to have your potential in-laws cheering you on.

Anyway -- you failed to come to the rescue of a damsel in distress, O Blogosphere; shame on you. Bloggers will flirt and flirt and the instant I ask for a little tech support, I'm left high and dry. What? Am I not flirty enough? Do I have to do the online equivalent of flashing the crowd? What is the online equivalent of flashing the crowd? Y'all would be disappointed, anyway. I'm a 36A on a good day.

My poor Vaio is sitting quietly to the side, having had its hard drive wiped after two different tech support people (one at my office, one at BellSouth) couldn't come up with any better ideas. It boots now, but it's forgotten how to run Microsoft Word. Meanwhile, I still don't have DSL. I just finished writing a complaint letter to BellSouth. It's five pages long.

In lieu of working, since it's awfully hard to do online work on a 48K dialup -- yep, I'm popular at the office right now -- I've been reading a lot. I keep bouncing back and forth between odd combinations of books: a biography of Squeaky Fromme and one of Edna St. Vincent Millay; The Armada by Garrett Mattingly, which I remembered fondly from AP European History nine years ago, and Bollywood Boy by Justine Hardy, which reminded me -- and this is a compliment -- of BollyWHAT?. If nothing else, it made me realize how firmly I am in the Shah Rukh Khan camp, since all those photos of Hrithik Roshan's bulging biceps didn't do much for me.

Of course, reading is a good thing, and I'm in no real hurry to get my TV set hooked up. Writing is another story, especially now that I've self-tech-supported myself out of a word processor. Maybe once I get DSL (ha) and catch up on work (sigh) I'll start writing again.

In the meantime, with any luck, I'll make an appearance at the big scary con this weekend, to hang with The Artist and his devoted fans.

  posted by Jessica @ 21:42 |



My computer is shot. It went down yesterday, mysteriously, after I unwisely tried to resolve an IRQ conflict.

Here's what happened: yesterday I received my BellSouth DSL modem in the mail -- that's a long story in and of itself -- and went about trying to set it up. But it didn't seem to recognize the existence of the modem. Okay, I said, I'll reinstall the software from the CD. (One of the earlier complications was that both my CD and my modem function from a PC card slot.) So I went to reconnect the CD -- only to find that the computer, unusually, didn't recognize the new presence of the CD drive.

Somehow I managed to open a window that said that the CD drive was trying to get to an IRQ port reserved by another device. I disabled two of the devices, one of which was my graphics card, apparently, and then the computer restarted. Or tried to. Thus began my descent into impotence and misery.

Since then (about 4 p.m. yesterday) the computer has refused to finish booting: it gets as far as to bring up the "Windows 98" screen, then shuts itself down. I can only get it to run at all in safe mode. It was originally giving me an error message which I managed to get rid of by deleting the offending code (relating to the program monitoring battery life) in SYSTEM.INI; now it refuses to name any cause for the crashes. I think it's the graphics card driver, on the evidence that when it boots in safe mode it presents me with odd "Display" settings, claiming "(Unknown Monitor) on (Unknown Device)".

The driver itself is currently coming up as disabled. I haven't found a way to un-disable it. I tried disabling everything that asked for the IRQ port it was asking for (9, if that helps), which included the Ethernet card I would need to run the DSL, but that did nothing except give me more little Xs in my Device Manager.

Specifics: the computer is a Sony Vaio Pentium running Windows 98; it's about 4 1/2 years old. The graphics device that seems to refuse to work is listed as "NeoMagic MagicGraph 128XD." I can't get any information about device conflicts, ScanDisk hasn't turned up anything, and I last defragmented yesterday during the endless rounds of trying to get the DSL modem recognized.

If I were still in New York this would be a mere annoyance, but this is the only computer in the southern half of the United States that has on it the software I need to do most of my work -- I've already gotten yelled at by London for being unavailable this morning. I'm borrowing my boyfriend's laptop right now -- he was working on my computer, and trying to get the needed software onto his, until 2 a.m. last night, to no avail.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I usually consider myself fairly computer-literate, but I'm completely stumped, and now stressed out and frightened of losing my ability to work remotely. Please help -- you might well be saving my job.

  posted by Jessica @ 10:54 |


Last night, at trivia:

Hannah Beth: I'll tell you one thing -- and it's the same thing [a beta reader] told me about what I wrote [for NaNoWriMo last year] -- don't include detail just to have detail. I'd write that they were driving down Crescent Avenue, and [the reader] would say, "Why do we care what street it was? They're just driving."
Me: Yeah, I had a lot of people say that to me about the first chapter -- "Where's Buckhead? Roswell Road is what, now?"
HB: Yeah, exactly. But I mean, I had people driving everywhere, so I kept saying things like, "He turned onto Lakeshore Drive."
Me: And when they're driving -- I was surprised, when I read it [Chloë and Pete], how many conversations took place in cars. They're forever in cars, or about to get into cars, or they just got out of a car, so when are you supposed to include downshifting? Or "They merged onto the Downtown Connector"?
HB: "She looked out the window." "She turned back to him." "She recrossed her legs."
Me: "They saw the sign for the exit."
HB: But they have to be in cars. They have to be driving.
Me: And talking while they're driving.
HB: And having A Moment while they're driving.
Me: Damn characters.

The irony of this is that after trivia ended we piled into her car, since I still don't have one.

I still haven't looked at the book in a while. I'm out of excuses now, I know.

  posted by Jessica @ 09:40 |



Though the world grows darker
And life goes starker,
I'm all for a luncheon
With Dorothy Parker.

(Bill Benét, 1939)

Today she would be 109, and probably not particularly thrilled about it. I'm 24, and frankly I couldn't have picked a better lady to share my birthday with.

Drink and dance and laugh and lie,
Love, the reeling midnight through,
For tomorrow we shall die!
(But, alas, we never do.)

Not much drinking and dancing tonight, alas; dinner with my family instead. But that has its own advantages.

By the way, Watchmail has been on the fritz all week long, so if you've sent me a message since Sunday, I haven't gotten it.

Update: 109, not 119. And Watchmail and I have happily reunited. So what does a girl have to do to get birthday wishes around here?

  posted by Jessica @ 13:21 |



I have a headache this big, and no Excedrin -- or Tylenol, Advil, aspirin, or equivalent thereof in my apartment. What I do have: a bottle of Knob Creek. And a hammer.

It's Wednesday, 21 August. Tomorrow is my birthday. So this is my last day of being 23. And can I tell you? I've had better starts to days.

I get like this sometimes -- "like this" being two different states, one being "keyed up and too full of energy to sleep or do anything that requires more than a very short burst of concentration" and the other being "suffering from an intense headache." If I were at a radio microphone my listeners would swear I was on drugs. And unless the DeKalb Farmers' Market puts something in their loose chamomile tea that really ought to be reported to authorities, my listeners would be wrong.

I could just rant for hours, and feel at this darkest-hour-just-before-dawn that no one's listening. Which would be provincial: it's just after 9 a.m. in London. Hi, London. Bon matin, Grenoble, tu me manques, surtout le tram de Gares-Europole à la Université et la glace chartreuse. I tried to get "grenobloise" for my AOL instant messenger ID, but some other Grenoblophile had gotten there first.

I'm really rambling now. I should go back offline, get work done. But man, a four-hour headache and nary a yawn in sight . . .

On the bright side, trying to stuff myself onto a subway train in four hours is no longer a job requirement.

  posted by Jessica @ 04:21 |



I believe it's official now . . . crazy night. Nikki gives the best cumulative performance on American Idol, I have a very long talk with my mother, and both Cynthia McKinney and Bob Barr have gone down. Even Liane Levetan is back. And Simon Cowell was nice all evening. And Instaman is in favor of an income tax. I'm half afraid to surf more, for fear of finding out that Virginia Postrel thinks technology is scary, Sars thinks Tom Cruise is hot, and Rabbit is actually Sean Combs in disguise.

Bloody hell.

Fortunately, I work from home now, so I can work from 2 a.m. to whenever I actually feel sleepy, and look at cars, and no one can tell me otherwise, long as the work actually gets done.

The only thing I wish I had now was the text of McKinney's concession speech. Or her father's commentary. I suspect either one would make me laugh.

  posted by Jessica @ 02:04 |


Y'all. What can I say? I haven't been reading Lileks. I haven't properly thanked the Sexy Scourgers of Spanish Socialism for giving me a permalink or Donkstein for a templink. I have nothing to say. I am boring.

[We hereby interrupt this post so Jessica can check with Bartleby on the correct noun form of the word "scourge."]

As Paul continues his exploring of relationship issues . . . namely, dating a blogger: quite frankly, I wouldn't do it. Never have -- with a blogger, that is -- but my boyfriend did briefly keep an online journal and led me to find it on my own (including the entry in which he said things like, "She's not a curvy redhead; I have no idea why I'm attracted to her." I found it funny, but Hannah Beth thought he was an ass; I think we were both right). (And for the record? I am a brunette. And not that curvy. Let's just say no one's going to call me fortysomething any time soon.)

Where was I? Okay. As someone who tends to write far too much about her Relationship Issues online -- my former journal readers just collectively busted out laughing -- I don't think it's the greatest idea to be dating someone who writes a lot about personal stuff online, unless you're comfortable enough with that person to go to him or her and set boundaries as to what can be discussed and what can't. (For example, I'd bet any time the MOC shows up at Hate Your Daddy, it's with his full permission.) If you can't exercise veto power, or you can't at least anticipate things before they appear online, then your blogging partner has just laid down an unnecessary communications minefield. Even when he/she doesn't mention you, you might be all, "What? Am I forgettable, all of a sudden? Or is she preparing her readers for our impending breakup? Oh God . . . "

Because, you know, you might be that insecure. Fortunately my boy is not. He finds it mostly amusing.

Dating writers is hard enough: Sturgeon's Law seems to apply to writer marriages as well as anything else. There's an anecdote in Henri Troyat's biography of Tolstoy in which Tolstoy turns his uncensored diaries over to his bride-to-be, on the grounds that if she's going to marry him, she should know all of him. Well, said sheltered, protected, very young, virgin bride-to-be was not ready to read all about her beloved Count rolling in the hay with one servant girl after another, and from the way Troyat presents the incident, the diary-reading seemed to cripple the marriage (which proved stormy) before it even began. (And then they kept reading each other's diaries, annotating each other's diaries, having fights about each other's diaries . . . it's a great biography, but on the list of Writers You'd Rather Not Be Married To, Tolstoy is near the top.)

And that was a private drama. Imagine enacting such a dysfunctional ritual online, with the unhappy couple leaving snippy comments in each other's comment sections. Y'all know it would be spectacularly ugly. And considering how nasty people can get about, to, and on each other's blogs without the prior benefit of a nasty breakup . . . well. Granted, in many cases the two involved would be quite mature about such a problem, but . . . well.

In short, only date bloggers, journalists, or other writers if you're not Whiny McInsecure, and if they in turn are willing to tell you things before they tell their adoring readers. Don't be like me and my man, kids. We're happy so far, but it could have easily dissolved into "Just because I'm not Julia $£^*@$ Hayes you had to tell EVERYBODY on the INTERNET that you don't LOVE ME!"

(Yeah. And Nikki Cox. And Angie Everhart. Did I mention I'm not a redhead? I tease him about them, he teases me about Amber and Eliza Dushku and Thierry Lhermitte, and we're even.)

  posted by Jessica @ 22:41 |



I know I'm home because my legs are covered in mosquito bites; because the planes from Dobbins Air Force Base occasionally roar over my parents' house; because I'm wondering if Clark Howard will let me call him and rant about BellSouth's inability to give me DSL; because my apartment smells like fresh paint; because the air feels like a thick, wet blanket. In New York it felt like a thick, wet, smog-filled, trash-scented blanket.

We only shouted at each other on the last part of the trip between Bridgeport and Brooklyn. Afterwards, my roommate said knowingly, "I would've told you not to take the BQE."

The rest of the trip was I-95 to I-85 to home: miles and miles of trees punctuated by stops in just-south-of-Richmond or just-north-of-Charlotte gas stations, with me reading Much More Than a Game and him cursing every no-signaling lane-changing idiot from the New Jersey Turnpike to Spaghetti Junction. Someday we might well be telling our kids about this trip.

  posted by Jessica @ 20:08 |



Was Devdas funded by gangsters? Who wants to be the first to say, "No shit, Shahrukh"? Seriously, hit the Mobius posters up for all sorts of unsavory stories about the Indian and Hong Kong film industries. All that money has to come from somewhere, and frequently it hasn't been somewhere good -- stories of actresses being blackmailed into starring in Category III films, for example.

Y'all will have to get your juicy gossip without me, since I'll be spending the next couple days in the company of my sweetheart, a bunch of boxes, and a U-Haul with, we hope, functioning air conditioning. I'm not panicking. Yet.

Scott is a lucky man, and Sammy is a lucky cat. But y'all knew that.

And for what it's worth, lover boy, this has always been my favorite verse from the Rubaiyat, and I'm aware that it's first edition, not fifth:

Come, fill the cup, and in the dawn of spring
Your winter garment of repentance fling;
The bird of time has but a little way
To fly -- and lo! the bird is on the wing.

It isn't spring. It's the end of summer, and I'm leaving the city where I was born, the city I loved from afar for a long time, and returning to the city I've loved and hated depending on my mood and my relationship with my parents. I've got a lump in my throat and I'm not even sure what I'm scared of. I don't even have a 30-day MetroCard anymore.

But, bird, wing, career, boyfriend, little brother I have to call tonight, Hannah Beth's number in my Palm, boxes to pack, new business cards to print, my grandmother excited because she'll see me when she flies up from Florida for Labor Day weekend. I'm moving on. We all do it; some of us just hold on to our winter garments more tightly.

  posted by Jessica @ 17:29 |



My boyfriend took sculpture classes in college, and it left him with a craftsman's approach to art. It's the reason why he liked the Cloisters, with its many intricate medieval wood carvings, so much; and it showed in his running commentary as we wandered around the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday. The modern section, for example, he greeted with mostly disgust: "Color studies, color studies, color studies!" By contrast, we lingered among the musical instruments. They're housed in a pair of dimly lit sections between European Paintings and the American Wing on the second floor; the labels for the vertical violas and Burmese harps clearly haven't been reprinted in quite a while. But the instruments -- the sleek trumpets, the oddly Cubist viola that Carleen Hutchins created at the request of Leopold Stokowski, the ornate harpsichords, the elaborately decorated Korean ceremonial drums -- aren't merely beautiful; they're full of potential. I could imagine some musician -- I'm not one -- standing in those galleries and feeling her fingers itch to break in and start playing.

My favorite painting ever is at the Met, which was one of the reasons I dragged the boy all the way to the Upper East Side. Young Woman Drawing is now suspected to be a self-portrait of the artist, Marie-Denise Villers (and if she has any other paintings around, please let me know) but when I first saw the painting, the woman in it was identified as a noblewoman named Charlotte, so I still call her "Charlotte" in my head. (My boyfriend is not the first person I've dragged to the Met with, "I want to introduce you to Charlotte.") Anyway, if you go, Charlotte's in great company: the David portrait of Antoine Lavoisier and his wife, and David's Death of Socrates, the Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun self-portrait at an easel; and at least one other famous French work from the Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary period. In a weird way I'm proud of her, and in a similarly weird way glad that she doesn't get lost among all the Impressionists.

Charlotte is an exception to a rule I discovered yesterday, which is that I'm not a huge devotee of non-functional art. I have my favorites among paintings (Botticelli's Venus and Mars, Charlotte, a Lucien Freud painting of a woman lying next to a dog), sculptures (Rodin's statue of Balzac), and photographs (anything done by Weegee, really), but I end up among the furniture, the carved staircases, the Byzantine jewelry, the musical instruments. I love the idea of art that's meant to be used rather than preserved. It's a rather democratic idea of art, actually, drawing a straight line from a Greek urn to a Persian incense burner to Michael Graves products at Target. In a tiny modern design section, the boyfriend admired a work by Sir Norman Foster, and I wanted immediately to show him Chek Lap Kok Airport. Because why can't airports be art? Or coffee makers? Or armchairs? (But at least make armchairs people actually want to sit in. The primary goal, when creating an armchair, should not be a theoretical statement.)

The interesting thing about today's Bleat is that Lileks doesn't even bother to draw a line between functional and non-functional art. For him there's no question that discussing Interior Desecrators requires looking at Pop Art and Warhol and the collapse of artistic norms. But at the Met they're almost ruthlessly segmented: instruments in one gallery, modern art in another, furniture in a third. Other museums I've seen are a little more flexible. At the Sackler Gallery in D.C., for example, Chinese wall hangings and beds are displayed side by side. It's not an attempt to re-create what the living space of a wealthy Chinese scholar-official, but it's an acknowledgment that beds and paintings can be art simultaneously without the functionality of the one making any difference to the aesthetic "purity" of the other. It seems to me, thinking about the Met's displays, that the line between functional and non-functional art becomes more pronounced the closer we get to modern Western culture. You can put a staircase from the Chicago Stock Exchange in the same (obviously artificial) area as a Tiffany window and a bunch of Romantic-era sculptures, because there's enough nostalgic patina over all three to lump them together as "art," but the Roy Liechtenstein paintings and the theory-over-practice armchairs, despite the fact that they might make more sense together, are ruthlessly separated.

One of the best exhibits I've ever seen was on post-World War II design at the Brooklyn Museum of Art: Lileks would've loved it. They lumped everything, everything together -- pulp novel covers, chairs, teakettles, the TWA terminal at Idlewild, architectural magazines, clothes, paintings, Calder mobiles (I have a very soft spot in my heart for Calder mobiles that dates back from a third grade book report) -- and traced the artistic elements as they leapt from one form to another. It was the application of postmodernism to form rather than to content, but respect for the content gave the exhibit its purpose and made it worthwhile. It's a similar attitude that informs Lileks's non-Bleat work -- he's open to seeing beauty anywhere, but he knows beauty when he sees it, and he's not willing to compromise his standard on content.

But it's a tough attitude to take. To say anything can be art in terms of content (like the vomit Lileks saw at the Whitney, or the uniquely disturbing combination of Nike shoes, mannequins, and genitalia I saw as part of the "Sensation" exhibit at the BMA) is to have no standards; to say that anything can be art in terms of form is to apply a higher standard to everything. So you have no excuse for that '70s wood paneling, because your walls could be art; you have no excuse for that ugly T-shirt, because you could be wearing art. That's hard to live up to, I suspect. I know the few times I've tried to make an aesthetic statement -- with my dorm room my senior year, for example -- the combination of boxy PowerMac 7200/75, purple extra-long-twin sheets, banal David Hockney and Picasso prints, and teacups bought at a thrift store in Philadelphia added up not to art but to . . . well, a college senior's dorm room.

By Friday I'll be in a new, white-walled apartment, and the aesthetic statement I make will be entirely up to my own self. Me, eleven boxes of books, one framed Attack the Gas Station! poster, one Ikea bookshelf I originally intended to sell . . . yeah. Art. We'll see.

[Ed. note 19/8/02: Yes, it took me this long to realize that Botticelli, not Titian, did Venus and Mars. Correction made. Now I'm going to smack myself in the head a few more times.]

  posted by Jessica @ 11:29 |


I fucking loathe these self-satisfied, centre-of-everyone's universe Korean men, and I loathe Korean politicians, who are not coincidentally almost without exception male, with a special nauseated red-eyed hatred that makes my head hum like a generator. Line these wrinkly old upper-caste cocksuckers up against a wall and mow them down, say I. The greedy old boys' networks in this country will guarantee that it remains the shithole that it is for anyone who's not part of their cadre.

God bless the Web for bringing Canadians living in Korea and their political rants to my screen. If he hasn't already copyrighted "wrinkly old upper-caste cocksuckers," I'm going to start using it.

  posted by Jessica @ 14:39 |



Frankenstein is not optimistic about the long-distance relationship I've got going. I know. New York to Los Angeles is such a killer. Plus he has a wandering eye. But what do you do when the man has a way with words?

Claudio. Can the world buy such a jewel?
Benedick. Yea, and a case to put it into.

Kidding aside: this isn't my first long-distance relationship. My college boyfriend and I were apart for the better part of the last two years we spent together, and broke up before the reunion; he was going to come down and live with me in Atlanta, and I realized that wasn't the right idea for either of us. He's in grad school now, preparing to make a sci-fi name for himself.

With my current boyfriend I'm hoping we have a better idea of what we're up against. We're not moving in together, thank goodness; he'll be working and going to school, so we won't be spending every minute of the day together; et cetera. I figure if we can survive two days in a U-Haul truck together, and two days before and two days after of packing and unpacking, we should be able to handle anything.

And frankly, Paul, being a woman, I'm surprised guys take a chance on us sometimes. Women (namely, me) can be insecure, wishy-washy, clingy, overly demanding, bitchy, snarly, passive-aggressive, and then there's the whole "Well, just because I was in the mood for sex two hours ago doesn't mean I am now" thing. I think that alone has earned me a couple cumulative months in hell.

All that said -- man, will I be happy to see the boy tomorrow.

  posted by Jessica @ 12:21 |


Finally got around to adding links to some of the fine people who have linked to me in the last couple weeks. Because I'm not enough of a link ho.

Boxes. And more boxes. And more, more, more boxes. There are few downsides to bibliophilia; this is one of them. Did I mention there are five or six boxes full of books sitting in my parents' house waiting patiently for my return to Atlanta? And that that doesn't count the books I didn't pack because I wanted easier access to them, or the books my father has temporarily appropriated? My hope is to unpack quickly so I don't feel like I'm drowning in boxes.

Of course, I own one bookcase.

Meanwhile, Sars has redesigned, and her swag is the swaggiest. Maybe I'll get myself a Tomato Nation messenger bag for my birthday. Maybe you'll get me a Tomato Nation messenger bag for my birthday. Maybe you'll get yourself one. You should.

  posted by Jessica @ 14:09 |



Australian readers -- if I have any -- should check out the Sydney Asia Pacific Film Festival, which starts, well, today, by Australian time (the 8th). Christopher Doyle, Wong Kar-wai's longtime collaborator, will be there, and screenings include My Life as McDull, Friend, No Blood No Tears, Zhang Yimou's Happy Times, and Takeshi Miike's Dead or Alive and Dead or Alive 2.

(Via the guys at Heroic Cinema.)

  posted by Jessica @ 18:15 |



Weather Pixies! Cool!

To compare weather between my two homes, first at Peachtree-DeKalb Airport --

The WeatherPixie

-- and then at Central Park:

The WeatherPixie

New York wins, for now.

  posted by Jessica @ 17:10 |


Did everyone else know about PhotoDude, and I'm just behind the times? You have to love a man who headlines one entry "McKinney, Slime, and Pond Scum." Hi, PhotoDude. Remind me to buy you a drink one this move business is completed.

The McKinney/Majette race is really going to be interesting. Does anyone know who Ali Reema and Zulfiqar Adnan are? They're both listed as "consultants" under McKinney's expenditures. Being sort of a newbie as to political reporting, I don't know the first thing as to what "consultant" might mean.

Rather amusingly, you can see here that one of McKinney's largest donors is . . . WorldCom. Yep, that's exactly the type of support a left-wing Democrat needs right now. And one of Majette's is Emory. Definitely interesting.

  posted by Jessica @ 15:01 |


Yesterday's gloom and doom have been dispelled, thank goodness. I had a long talk with a friend that cleared up some misunderstandings, and I talked to my boyfriend, who is sweet and charming and here in four days. I don't know how many of y'all have ever been in a long-distance relationship; I think everyone should go through it at least once, to see if they can handle it or not. We have so far, thanks to technology (cell phones, email, instant messages) and mutual stubbornness. But we've been long-distance since November 2000, and it's about time we got to be in the same city.

Sadly, my boyfriend is not Alton Brown. But my boyfriend knows the wonders of Your DeKalb Farmers Market, where Alton, mysteriously, has never filmed.

To stop rambling for a moment: Larry sweetly inquired a few days ago how things were going with the book. The short answer is that Chloë and Pete and I are currently not on speaking terms; they're annoyed with me for (a) giving them such a crappy last chapter and (b) flirting with other ideas. (Larry knows what I mean about the last chapter; for those of you who haven't gotten to it yet, keep in mind that in the third draft, that chapter will be almost nonexistent. I've already decided that the Dramatic Revelation That Actually Isn't should be moved up rather than asked to carry dramatic weight it can't.) Between work and moving and boyfriend and mood swings and more work, the book is currently on the back burner -- but I'm not worried; it will grab me by the throat and demand my attention soon enough.

  posted by Jessica @ 11:22 |


To end the day on a more cheerful note: Alastair got laid.

Pretty boys, don't fret: his body may be faithful but his mind remains joyously promiscuous.

  posted by Jessica @ 18:39 |



So you have a series of tasks at work -- not particularly enjoyable, but necessary -- and a set amount of time in which to do them. Plenty of time, most likely, but in the past you've procrastinated until the 11th hour on similar assignments, so you know you should get cracking.

Suppose you finish one of the tasks. Not a big one, just one among many, but you have finished it, and while it's not perfect you have plenty of time to make it better.

So, you're patting yourself on the back, right? . . . Right? . . . Why not?

You're not, for some reason. You're just pissed at yourself that that task took so long to complete, and there are all these other tasks that have to get done, and there's a voice in the back of your head reminding you that somebody else could have gotten this done much more efficiently, with better results.

Meanwhile, there are all these other tasks remaining. You know you need to do them. You already fear you're not going to get any more satisfaction out of doing them than you did the first one. You say to yourself, "Okay, I really ought to hunker down," and then your fingers type in URLs like this one or this one. And then you're even more annoyed with yourself.

(And then you remember why no one has tried second person narrative since Bright Lights, Big City.)

  posted by Jessica @ 18:21 |


My grandfather would have been 82 today.

What else is there to say? I miss him, I think of him, but I'm not sorry he's gone. He died in July 2001, just in time: September 11th would have broken his heart.

And on a slightly related note, my condolences to Welch, Layne, and all the other Lakers fans out there upon the death of Chick Hearn. Amazing how much a broadcaster's voice can mean. Larry Munson is alive and well and still calling Dawgs games (knock wood), but grown men all over Georgia are going to cry when he moves on.

  posted by Jessica @ 12:47 |


Andrew Olmstead has me listed as a "contact hitter." I'm flattered. Maybe Andruw Jones and I could give each other tips. I could teach him the valuable art of, oh, hitting the ball, and he could give me lessons on how to get women to sleep with me.

Speaking of "contact," for those of you watching last night, Leomont Evans suffered a contusion of the spinal cord, not an actual severance, and has regained feeling in his upper body. I turned on the game mainly because John Madden beat anything else available, and pretty soon was thinking, "27 minutes into an exhibition game and already we've got a man down? Bloody hell. When does Gregg Easterbrook start writing for Slate again?" Sigh. Say what you will about soccer, it has far fewer instances of grown men rendered unable to walk.

(And yeah, some of the tics of the Tuesday Morning Quarterback column get annoying, but I'm way too fond of "Chesapeake Watershed Region Indigenous Persons." Besides, Easterbrook is a Jeri Ryan fan too, so I'll cut him some slack. Lileks also likes Jeri Ryan. See? Come join the Jeri Ryan fan club! But really, any time Lileks writes about Star Trek, it's a must-read. Anyway. Ahem.)

I'm rambling. Froth! There must be froth! And my subway ride wasn't even that bad today. I have a new song stuck in my head: I put on my makeup / Turn up the 8-track / I'm taking the wig down from the shelf . . . But I can't be mad about that; Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a good movie. And she who showed it to me hasn't seen Velvet Goldmine yet.

Froth. Right. I hate boxes. My room is now 30% boxes, sealed up with tape and marked; looking at my half-packed room last night, with books at angles on the bookshelf, I felt transitory and lonely. When I moved to New York I had no furniture; I took a suitcase full of clothes and my parents shipped up some things. This is my first move as an adult, really -- I have to get the truck from U-Haul, I have to call BellSouth and get phone service installed in the new place, I have to get my things into all those boxes; no one else will do these things for me -- and I've been blithe about it so far, but really, moving? Scary. Boxes? Bite the big one.

My ex-girlfriend-turned-beta-reader is en route from California to Boston, and her chosen law school is trembling at her arrival. I bet she hates boxes far more than I do right now.

Sorry: I seem to be having a non-frothy day, and avoiding the temptation to direct all my froth at myself (you should be doing work, young lady!). I'm under deadline at work, and my usual response to deadlines is to procrastinate myself silly. Hence my rambling here, and surfing elsewhere, where I get reminded how lucky I am to be here, safe, and employed.

  posted by Jessica @ 10:51 |


Here's an interesting little tidbit: according to the Weekly Standard -- add salt to taste -- Yahoo!China is voluntarily complying with the Public Pledge on Self-Discipline for the China Internet Industry. (Via Megan, apparently up early this morning.) (And here's a similar report from the South China Morning Post via UCLA.)

Leaving aside the implications for Internet access for free speech, etc., in China -- which are, it goes without saying, not positive -- what raised my eyebrow is that Yahoo! is probably one of the most prominent American companies co-founded by an Asian-American -- a Taiwanese-American, to be specific. And he's apparently still involved with the company. The question then becomes: does Jerry Yang's Taiwanese-American-ness oblige him to take a particular political stance in regards to China? Especially since Taiwanese-Chinese relations are not that great right now.

It goes without saying, or ought to, that nobody else, especially not some random gweilo chick with a website, should make demands on what Jerry Yang should or shouldn't do based on his ethnicity. Indeed, Chinese internal politics can be so complicated that Jerry Yang and the rest of Yahoo! might reasonably conclude that it's better to sign the pledge and help Chinese information-seekers covertly, rather than refuse and risk getting kicked out. (As always, with Communist Chinese politics, it depends on which horse you back.) It appears to be a dumb move from here; the question is whether Jerry Yang's ethnicity makes it a dumber move.

To put the question another way: if an American celebrity -- actor, singer, writer, whoever -- made anti-Israel comments, would the person get off more lightly for being Jewish? Or less? My guess would be less.

And who makes the decisions as to when a member of an ethnic group is "betraying" the group? It's a more complicated question for the larger "group" of Asian-Americans (and Hispanic-Americans) than for American Jews, because the existing "group" is newer and much more fragmented by language, culture, history, and existing political structure. The differences between Latvia and Hungary were not a big deal to my grandparents when they met and married; it would be a bigger deal to, say, a Korean-American and a Japanese-American, or a Chinese-American and a Vietnamese-American. (The United States government played with these differences during World War II, with posters showing how to tell a "good" Chinese immigrant from a "bad" Japanese one.) It could potentially run both ways: if Jerry Yang has to answer to the larger "group" of Asian-Americans, does that "group" have a larger obligation to demand one from him? And to whom would that obligation be -- the Chinese Internet users? Asian-Americans? Is it better to publicly support a successful Asian-American businessman regardless of the political implications of his company's actions, or to insist on a particular political stance?

This is making my head hurt. And I ought to be working myself into a good froth: good froth means more readers. So, froth: after the bad year it had last year, this is a dumb. ass. move for Jerry Yang and David Filo and all the rest of Yahoo!. What, did they think that their nice friends in China weren't going to tell anybody? It's called public relations, you online nitwits. If you're trying to make a reputation as a freewheeling purveyor of information, then don't do things that clearly run counter to that image without at least having a good cover story. It never fails to amaze me how companies make one boneheaded move after another without considering the potential PR implications.

As for the rest, I'd rather hear what Cris has to say: partly because he's a bit more qualified (being Filipino-Canadian) and partly because he's thought about it a lot more often than I have.

  posted by Jessica @ 12:24 |



Sorry, can't resist:

They've found Brian Bosworth. He's playing for Tennessee.

  posted by Jessica @ 19:06 |



Another Friday night and I ain't got nobody . . . which is a bit of a relief, actually. I've been running hard all week; it'll be nice to go home, make myself dinner, maybe pack a bit, maybe not.

I realized that in the last post I used "we" to refer to New York City. That's a first.

I was born here, and I used to think I belonged here; when I first interviewed for my current job in May of 2000 I was in a happy daze of springtime urbanity: "Ooh! Subway! Ooh! Watch vendors!" It has since developed, however, that it makes more sense, personally and professionally, for me to be in Atlanta. In eight days my boyfriend is flying up, and the following week we're packing up a U-Haul and getting me back down. My job, and my legal residence, will remain in New York (long story), but in all other respects I will be down south again.

I feel I should point out that I was hoping to get this worked out long before September 11th, and September 11th didn't cause me to speed up my plans, except for that whole realization that life is, indeed, short and that if I want to spend time with my parents, brother, and boyfriend I better do it now. Spending more of my life than I care to think about in the ovens masquerading as subway stations may have helped me get moving, but terrorism didn't.

I've missed Atlanta. I've missed the ribs at Fat Matt's, which aren't even the best ribs in the city, and the cornbread and buttermilk combination my ex-boss always gets at the Silver Grill. (The first time I tried it, I told him the buttermilk reminded me of crème fraîche. That tickled him.) I've very much missed my Scottish dancing class, which can out-dance any branch in the five boroughs. I've missed the cool air of a late summer evening with a Braves game on the radio. And I've missed my family.

I know what I'll miss here -- my favorite coffee shop a few blocks from my apartment, Prospect Park, looking up and feeling simultaneously overwhelmed and comforted by the skyscrapers -- but I'll be back quite a bit; I suspect I'll find New York easier as a semi-tourist than as yet another bone-weary commuter who will shoot somebody if the F train goes to Hoyt-Schemerhorn Street again. I keep saying this isn't the last time I'll live in New York.

But, really: right now it's one part wistfulness to twenty-four parts Whoopee! Going home! With a dose of complete denial as to how much I have to pack.

  posted by Jessica @ 19:01 |


If you have RealPlayer, go to this WABC tribute site; you can listen to recordings of radio broadcasts during the citywide power blackout on 13-14 July 1977. Great fun for city history buffs -- and a little spooky each time the deejays refer to the World Trade Center being dark.

Of course, there is some irony in my using two separate computers, during a heat wave, to tell you this. Remember last year and all the ominous articles about ending up like California with rolling energy brownouts? I'm not sure how we avoided a power crisis, in retrospect.

I'll have to send my mother the link -- my parents, who had been married about a year, were living in SoHo at the time of the blackout. She told me they sat at their window and watched the cars crash.

(Correction: it was the night of 13 July, not 25 July as I originally posted.)

  posted by Jessica @ 11:13 |


Quoth Pejman, the blogosphere's Marie de France:

The ultimate goal of any man is to find a woman whom he doesn't deserve in the slightest, somehow make her fall in love with him, and then spend the rest of his life trying to deserve that woman. We men, being the tragically flawed and imperfect beings we are, always fall short, but we do have fun trying to repay our debts to our lady loves.

A recommendation: those should be figurative debts, not literal ones.

(It's a long story, but one of my errands today is to send a tuition check to Georgia State. I love my boy dearly, and he's been trying to get back to school as long as I've known him, and I'm proud of him for finally taking the plunge, and I wouldn't do this if I didn't have faith that he will eventually pay me back. That said, I have made it clear to him that if he does not pay me back -- the GSU tuition, among other debts -- he can count on losing his testicles. Slowly. And not figuratively.)

It brings to my mind the quote from W. H. Auden: If equal affection cannot be, / Let the more loving one be me. It's true on both sides -- for me, at least. There's a difference between a partner who feels lucky to have you and a partner who thinks he doesn't deserve you; between the two, I'll take the former.

A lot of men I've met, especially those who self-classify as "nice guys," don't understand this. They say, "If she chose me, I'd adore her, I'd love her, I'd give her anything she wanted -- but no, she has to go for that guy, that asshole who stands her up and says 'Uh-huh' when she says, 'I love you.'" They conclude that the way to get women is to be an asshole. Well, yes -- to get an insecure, frightened woman who, deep down, believes she doesn't deserve to be treated right. But it is possible to go too far to the other extreme. Put it this way: tell a woman you don't deserve her often enough, and eventually she'll believe you.

(I'm discussing this in a heterosexual context because that's how it came up -- Pejman wishing Mr. and Mrs. VodkaPundit the best of luck -- but it would hold true in a gay relationship, too.)

I've been worshipped. I've dated guys who thought I was a gift from God. I've actively looked for said guys, and, in all honesty, when I've found them I haven't treated them well, because they were too scared and grateful to ask for what they deserved. I have a guy friend who's not speaking to me right now, because I unfairly blew him off when I was in Atlanta, and I completely deserve it; I'm glad he's making me ante up. Part of the reason my relationship with my first college boyfriend is much, much better now than it was when we dated is that he's got a lot more confidence in himself now, and he wouldn't put up now -- from me or anyone else -- with the bullshit I treated him to then.

(Hi, Joe.)

My current boyfriend, by contrast, was not "nice" when I met him. He would be the first to admit this. He was pushy, arrogant, vulgar, annoying. (And, he admitted at the time, scared to death.) But he had the confidence to back up the obnoxious behavior. It wasn't simply that he was hot (which he is) or that we talked all night (which we did), but that he smiled at me and sent me a message: I like you, and I can tell you like me, and if we both hang in there we're going to have some fun. The worst problems we've had since then was when he was down on himself, or I was sick of myself, or both at once.

And maybe things won't work out in Atlanta and we'll end up breaking up, at which point y'all can have a good hearty laugh at my expense and I will strenuously resist all offers to come visit Los Angeles, because if we were to break up I would definitely need some time to get my head together, and figure out what to do next. But one thing I have learned from this relationship, whether it lasts or not, is that I want neither a partner who thinks I don't deserve him, nor one who thinks he doesn't deserve me. I want to say, "I'm really glad I found you," and for him to say, "I'm really glad I found you too."

Which I suspect, on the limited information available, is what the VodkaCouple will be saying tomorrow, and for a while to come.

  posted by Jessica @ 10:27 |


Today is Wimp Day, apparently.

I went out a few minutes ago to get lunch, and the air was so thick and hot I had to turn out after a minute or two because I was having difficulty breathing.

Please note that dozens of other New York were striding along on the same street without any apparent trouble.

  posted by Jessica @ 13:34 |



Last night L and I went to a double Evans Chan screening, of Crossings (the first half hour of which I missed due to a subway-related brain fart; it's okay, but The Map of Sex and Love is better) and a second film that takes place in the month after September 11th, in New York. I knew the subject matter before I went in, but I wasn't expecting the film to start with replayed footage of the second plane crashing -- which I didn't see live, since at the time of the attack I was cozily reading a book on a slow-moving F train -- and the towers crumpling.

I'm not particularly proud to say this: I bolted. Made for the door and the ladies' room so I could have my unexpected crying fit in peace. Nobody else in the audience did, including a woman who had worked for Cantor Fitzgerald for a while. I went and got a sandwich, and came back and waited for the movie to finish so L and I could take the subway back to Brooklyn, but I didn't go back in. "There wasn't that much footage," L said afterwards. I didn't care.

I didn't watch the 9/11 documentary on CBS -- my roommate, whose father had an office in the towers but fortunately had a doctor's appointment that morning, taped it but couldn't bring herself to watch it; I turned it on for three seconds, saw smoke, turned it off. We don't have cable, but I probably wouldn't have watched the HBO documentary even if we had. Maybe when I'm older I'll change my mind, but right now I never want to see that footage ever, ever, ever again.

Yesterday I put in a box some papers I'd been saving at the office: September 12th editions of the Post and Newsday (the Newsday being the only paper I could get at the time; I acquired the Post copy later) and a September 13th edition of the Times; and then, though I didn't remember printing it, a printout of a September 13th conversation I had with my boyfriend over instant message. Mostly we exchanged rumors, and speculation about new security procedures, and then he tried to calm me down as I was almost twitching with tension. I think that was the night I stayed till 9 p.m., crying and posting online.

I didn't lose anyone. I didn't know anyone who worked at the towers or anyone killed in the attack. I know people who witnessed the collapse and the attack on the Pentagon, and people who lost friends, but personally I don't really have much right to be such a wuss. My co-workers picked themselves up on September 12th and set to reporting; I was pretty much shot for the week. I went home and tried not to admit to myself that the peculiar smell that the wind blew from lower Manhattan into Brooklyn wasn't sulfur. I went around convinced that somehow the attack had received God's seal of approval, that the bright sun and cloudless sky on September 11th was set up so He could get a better view. I felt helpless, and hated it.

None of this makes me a particularly good candidate to cope with the next attack. A couple weeks ago, while taking the subway to Queens, I heard a station announcement about a power failure in Manhattan; my mind, remembering where I'd been when the towers were hit, immediately jumped to the worst conclusion. (It turned out to be a fire at a ConEd plant.) When I get on the subway I still find myself wondering, though less often than I did in the fall, whether everything will be in place when I emerge from underground. I'm not afraid of flying; I'm not anticipating an envelope full of anthrax; somehow I never see these things happening to me. My worst fears are always somewhere else: the federal building where my mother works, the New York office when I'm not there. And then sometimes, on an uneventful day, a little voice says in my head, When the next attack happens, you'll wish you had this day back. Lileks is right: every day is September 10th, only we don't have the luxury of going to bed not knowing what might come for us in the morning.

Sometimes I wonder what my children will feel. They'll never know a time without September 11th, just like I never knew a time without the possibility of death camps with special crematorial ovens, or deadly sex. (Caveat: non-deadly sex is a luxury that lasted about three decades. I'm more normal than my parents in that respect.) I saved the messages and the newspapers in part so they'll know what a shock it was, how it seemed to throw the entire world off its axis, and thus have a hint of what September 10th was like. But to them September 11th will be just one of a long line of horrors, alongside mass rape in Nanjing and Berlin, death by suffocation in Bhopal, "republican marriages," the Great Leap Forward, Amritsar, Rwanda . . . it's funny how evil comes in big doses and good seems to come in tiny, individual acts.

But the kids will adjust, like every generation has adjusted before them. When their mother goes on and on about how horrible it was they'll roll their eyes. And it won't be disrespectful, simply The Way Life Goes On. Which I'm grateful for, even if I seem to have a hard time getting with the program.

  posted by Jessica @ 11:27 |

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