Tuesday, April 25, 2006


So Lily asked me why on earth I have the straw hat that I have. I have this straw hat because of Gail.

Back in fall 2001 I moved into a one-bedroom apartment up on Park Terrace West in Inwood. It had this really large kitchen but zero counterspace. There was just this huge expanse of wall with nothing betached to it. So I determined to find a suitable counter replacement.

I went onto Craig's List and there was a woman selling a utility table that I thought sounded like good news. She lived on the Upper East Side so I went down there and met with her to assess the table before I bought it.

Gail's building had an old-fashioned elevator, which practically every building in the city has so you don't think it's a big deal. But this elevator didn't just have the swinging-open door; it had an enormous lever on the inside that made it go and a man there to operate the enormous lever which was good because I don't think I could have done it myself.

Gail was a fiftyish (though I would not be shocked if she were older because I would soon find out that she was a convert to microdermabrasion and saw me, 22 though I was, as a potential proselyte) , personable, jittery little brunette who seemed overjoyed to have somebody in her apartment.

The table looked roughly like this (only I don't think it was adjustable):

At any rate, Gail really sold it. She told me it had worked great for her for a long time as a surface for her jewelry-making endeavors, but that she had come into a fabulous antique sewing table (these details are a little shady, but I know she made some weird thing on the table and had come across a fab replacement). And then Gail got onto the table and lay down on it to show how sturdy it was (though I should have been doubtful because Gail probably weighed 85 lbs).

I told Gail I would buy the table and would come back later to get it when I could get some help.

And then the advice. I told my friend B about all of Gail's advice, and he actually heard some of it straight from her because he was the help I came back with later, and he saw how convinced I was by her advice and proclaimed me a Gailist. Here is some advice from Gail:

-Get microdermabrasion (I actually haven't done this one yet)

-Freeze milk because it's cheaper to buy a gallon at a time but who drinks that much before it goes bad. (This is my favorite Gailist tenet...milk that has been frozen has a richness of flavor that I had never experienced before.)

-Go to Chinatown and buy a whole bunch of vegetables for really cheap, take them home and steam them for 30 seconds and then freeze them. It is much much cheaper than buying frozen vegetables from the freezer aisle. (I haven't actually done this either. Mainly because I have never lived close to Chinatown. But I DO make a whole bunch of food at once and freeze it. So I'm following the spirit of this Gailist law, if not the letter.)

-Always wear a big huge hat to the beach, especially if you have such pale pale skin as I have. (I acquired the featured hat soon after in none other than Chinatown.)

I regret that I have not kept in touch with Gail. I was supposed to call her up to get the recipe she made up for whole-grain muffins but I was too shy (I think such things should be done over email) and never did. And thus she drifted out of my life after only two meetings. But her legacy...oh, it lives on. Yes indeed.

Racy Nun

Today I was on the subway and a fully nun-garbed nun came and sat perpendicular to me (if you ride the A or D or F or V trains you know the configuration). I noticed she was reading a normal-looking book, not scripture or anything. But I saw the title and it was Sacred Time.

I didn't pry anymore at that point (which is rare...everyone in New York is secretly nosy, myself included, and is always reading over your shoulder, listening in, etc.). But I know a thought flitted across my brain. I'm not sure what it was because the thing that I later noticed I think is coloring my remembrance of this thought. You know how that happens? Where you think you were all prophetic but maybe you really weren't? At any rate a thought about what this nun could be reading and...possibly...that it could be funny came in and out of my brain.

And then as I was getting ready to leave the train, I finally looked at the nun's book and my eyes fell on a passage, two words (both occuring more than once, I believe) leaping out at me: "sperm" and "snipped."

Naughty nun!

August Beleventh

So I have this Tradition with ma cousine (whom you can find over at FeMoHos) in which we go to a new place every August 11th.

It all started in my astronomy class winter semester 1998 at BYU. My professor (an ancient man who proclaimed that women made very good astronomers except when it comes to developing new equipment and who wrote his final test in 1974 and didn't bother to hide the fact) made reference to a coming event: a total eclipse of the sun on August 11, 1999 that would be visible in parts of Europe. Immediately the wheels started spinning in me head. I knew I was planning on being in Europe that summer (I was a German minor and needed to go to the Vaterland to improve my skills--I ended up in Switzerland, but that's another story), and I knew that ma cousine and best friend both had European plans on the horizon. So I proposed to them that we make a concerted effort to meet in Germany on August 11th and watch the eclipse.

As a sort of precursor to the tradition, ma cousine and I were in Prince Edward Island together on August 11, 1998. I think we were aware of the fact that exactly a year from then we would be witnessing the eclipse and it may have been then that we made the decision to spend all subsequent August 11ths together. I'm not sure.

At any rate, very early in the morning of August 11, 1999, we boarded a crowded train at the Zurich Hauptbahnhof headed for Karlsruhe, Germany. The best view was supposed to be in Stuttgart, and everyone knew it so everyone took up all the trainspace and we had to settle for Karlsruhe. But it turned out that we were the Luckiest Girls in Europe because that day a huge cloud settled over most of Germany and all of the eclipse-gazers got gypped. But not in Karlsruhe! We sat there at the zoo next to the flamingos, and though it was cloudy, there was a break right where the sun was. So we saw the whole eclipse (which, at its peak, I thought looked like someone had stuck a thumbtack on the sun) and pretty much as soon as it was over, the clouds covered the sun and it began to rain. I think it was one of the few places in Germany where anybody saw anything, and we were sure that our ending up there had been divine intervention because how could God stand to see us disappointed after we'd waited and planned for a year and half?

At any rate, the next year the three of us were together again, but since then it's just been me and ma cuisine (it's easier because we live in the same city). We've had to make things a little less grandiose since at least ma cousine is a Real Live Adult with responsibilities, bills, blah, blah, blah. But here is a list of the places we have gone since Karlsruhe. Someday maybe I'll write about all of these...who knows?

2000: Bicknell, Utah/Capitol Reef National Park

2001: The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

2002: Coney Island

2003: Le Cirque

2004: The Algonquin

2005: Flowell, Utah and Ely, Nevada/The Loneliest Road

Coming in 2006: West Virginia!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Very Frightening Straw Hat

Last night, I took down my enormous straw hat:

I put it on my head and Mr. Burkett was very disconcerted. At first she just looked at me with very wide eyes and bobbed her head up and down. And then I think she did not want want me to come near her, but also didn't want to be rude. She'd just kind of casually walk away when I would walk toward her.

Here's another picture of this delectable creature:

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Possible Conversion and a Dubious

Well. So tonight I was watching Sex and the City and it was the episode where Carrie and Mr. Big decide to finally go out for a real "drink thing" after running into each other over and over and over again. And he keeps lousing it up and Carrie keeps not accepting the louse ups and actually, like, gets up and leaves when it turns out he has a friend along to their rendez-vous, declines an invitation to join him and this same friend for lunch when she randomly bumps into them, etc. Because what Carrie wants is to spend planned time alone with Mr. Big. She does not accept substitutes.

And I suddenly wanted to be just like Carrie. So cool and demanding. So brave and confident in her knowledge that her actions would not close the Mr. Big door for good.

I think I've wanted to be this way before, but it smacked so much of the Rules I couldn't bear it. But now I don't care. If this means I'm a Rules girl from here on out, so be it. Much better than being desperate and ingratiating. Heavens.

Here is the problem: I am so NOT like Carrie it's laughable. I have like 2 pairs of shoes, I wear clothes I've had since 1997, and I certainly don't have Sarah Jessica Parker's lovely hair and perfectly petite figure. How can I play hard to get when it's really very likely that no one is trying to get me?

This is why this possible conversion to a Rulesy way of doing things is dubious. I don't see how such an attitude is sustainable if you don't have the goods.

And oh dear, am I really looking to Carrie Bradshaw as a role model? Me?

Very Excited about My New Phone

I got me a phone that takes pictures! I have had the same old Nokia phone for about 4 years, so when the Cingular folks called me up last week and said "Say, do you want us to send you a new camera phone for free?" I said "Sure!"

At any rate, I feel like I am a bit behind the times for being so excited about this. I hear they got phones these days what take videos and play music.

But it is because of the phone that you could finally see Mr. Burkett in the last post. And it's because of the phone that you get to see my beautiful Isis:

Mr. Burkett in a Word

I found this over at Harlem Snowflake and thought "Why, that is Mr. Burkett!"

And here is a photo to prove it:

Seeking subletter/cat-lover

Seeking subletter/cat-lover for a beautiful, large furnished studio in Inwood from late May to mid-August. The monthly rent would normally be $925.65. However, since the sublet involves caring for my two wonderful cats, I will knock the rent down to $800/month.

The apartment is on a quiet street around the corner from the final stop on the A train. The train ride to midtown is about 25–30 minutes. The building has laundry facilities, easy access to a fabulous park, and is close to a large grocery store. The studio has a separate kitchen and a large front entry way. The living space is large and sunny. There are three closets in the apartment; I will probably use one of them for storage. I have two window air conditioners and cable internet. Furniture includes a single bed, fold out couch, dresser, various chairs, kitchenware, and a large table that I use as a desk.

The cats (being cats) sleep a lot and are not a lot of work. They just need to be fed, watered, played with, and brushed everyday. They also need their litter scooped everyday. They are both black, short-haired, spayed females.

Friday, April 14, 2006


So I promised a post on Isis.

Oh, Isis! She is a very sweet little lammy (yes that's what I call her...bug off).

Isis is 3 1/2 years old (she was born Sept 13th 2002, according to my niece whose cat she used to be).

Isis was given to my niece as a Christmas present and I was home in SLC at the time. I was the one who suggested Isis as a fitting name for her, so I think it's most happy that she ended up being mine.

Last summer when I was home in SLC, I was down at my sister's house. My niece had just found Isis, who had been gone for about a week (she was an outdoor cat), and the poor cat's left eye was covered in pus. We were all horrified. We took her into the bathroom and my mom washed her eye out (my mom has The Touch when it comes to creatures) and we put some Neosporin on her eye. But her iris was all cloudy, so by that time she was already blinded.

This all happened at about 10:30 at night, so they didn't take her to the vet till the next morning. She had a deep puncture wound in her eye that looked like it was made by a BB or something, but there was no BB to be found, so they thought it might just be an extra bad claw wound. The vet said she'd have to have her eye removed. Of course this was going to cost a pretty penny, but my sister loved Isis and didn't want to have her put down. Thus came about Isis's first surgery of the summer.

My sister and her family would be moving to Morocco in August and had wanted to take Isis with them. However, she was not spayed or anything so they took her in to get her globally transportable. When the powers that be were getting ready to spay her, they discovered that she was pregnant and only about a week away from delivery! My sister made the choice to have the litter aborted because of the whole Morocco thing. But it turns out you can't have an abortion and be sterilized at the same time, so a while later Isis had to go back and have yet another medical procedure.

Then my sister decided they were no longer going to take Isis with them. Since I had already said I'd take one of my parents' kittens, I volunteered to foster her for a couple of years. She and my new kitten could keep each other company.

So then my sister and her family left, and poor Isis had to come live at my parents' house, where we had to keep her away from their very protective mama cat (there were a couple of deafening and gravity-defying run-ins). And THEN she had to get put into a traveling crate and flown off to New York City. And THEN her demented owner (me) got really excited one day and picked her up and danced around the room to Paul Simon (she took a very long time to forgive me of this). And THEN, Mr. Burkett arrived with my parents and disrupted her quiet haven. Because of all this chaos she's had to endure and because I adore her, I have determined not to give Isis back to my sister when she returns from Morocco. She just deserves to have a predictable, stable life from now on. I think my sister has gotten wind of this, but I haven't actually told her yet.

My poor sweet Isis. She had such a rough time of it last year. She has just now in the last couple of weeks started to come out of her shell shock.

She is a very tentative, dignified little cat with all black fur and the most amazing green gem of an eye. She is Mr. Burkett's biological grandma, and I think because of this status I hold her in reverence and can't imagine that she isn't ages and ages older than me.

She reminds me every night that it is time for her to be brushed, and I know it is her favorite time of the day. It is fascinating to me that she never asks to be brushed at any other time. It's like she enjoys putting off and then savoring the brushing as a ritual.

She is so very different from Mr. Burkett, who is extremely affectionate and aggressive, that I am often in despair that she will ever love me. She sometimes seems to dread my coming near her. But then every so often she'll creep slowly up to me, crawl onto my lap or chest, and let me pet and massage her. And she'll reward me with her very rare, very quiet purr.

From the Mechanical* Archives, or Major Tired

From this date in 1996, when I was a senior in high school:

Dear Naomi,

I'm major tired. I got home from CA today at approx 1:00 pm.

I had so much fun, but I'm so glad to be home. I got a total of about 17 hours of sleep the whole time!

The A'Cappella trip was quite different from how I expected it. I've got to tell you everything, but I'm major tired.

I don't want to go to school tomorrow, except that I want to see Dan. I'm so pathetic. Why can't I get over him?

We'll, I'll give you a run-down tomorrow.


P.S. Some pretty awful stuff happened on the trip that makes me want to throw up. I can't wait to vent to you! School will help, too.

*Sorry, Edje, but meatspace gives me the total grodes.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Quick observation

Every blog that I've linked to, with the exception of Lucy's Spleen and Celibate in the City, is pink.

This May Be a Little Too Graphic for Some

Today I was on the toilet (as I'm sure most of us were at some point today).

My pants were down around my ankles and in walks Mr. Burkett (my youngest cat) and plops herself down in my pants. This is the sort of thing she does and I was not surprised at all. But I was overwhelmed by her exceeding cuteness. She is the cutest thing on the planet.

Since I'm talking about my cats, I may as well REALLY talk about my cats (the only thing I'm truly good at talking about):

Mr. Bob Burkett is 8 months old (today! Happy Birthday Mr. B!). She is all black with Dijon-mustard eyes. She was born in my closet last summer when I was staying with my parents. Her mother, Roxy, had taken a liking to me and insisted upon my being her midwife (i.e. she meowed like crazy whenever I would try to walk away when she was in labor, plus she bit me right before giving birth to the first kitty). So I've known Mr. B all her life. She got her name in the following ways:

When I was a child I loved the movie My Favorite Wife with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. There's a scene in that movie where a pageboy is paging a character named Steven Burkett (played by Randolph Scott). He wanders the Pacific Club yelling "Paging Mr. Burkett," and even sometimes sounds like he's singing. So I started wandering the house singing "Paging Mr. Burkett," modulating up and down and up and down and driving my siblings crazy. Last summer I took to calling Roxy "Mistress Baby" (don't ask) and I would call to her in the tune of "Paging Mr. Burkett." So I decided I must name my kitten Mr. Burkett because it would be so jolly to have a reason to sing the Mr. Burkett tune on a regular basis.

Now for the Bob part. One day, also when I was in SLC last summer, my sister C and I were coming out of her apartment and there was a nice-looking short-tailed black and white cat hanging around. It was wearing a collar and tag, so I approached it and found out its name was Bob. This was obviously because of its short tail, but I thought it was very funny for a cat to be named Bob. So anyway, the address on the tag was a couple of blocks away, so C and I decided we might want to take the cat closer to its home. I picked up Bob (which I realize was not the best of ideas), and he turned around and boxed my ears (really he missed and hit my cheeks, but I don't think you can say "he boxed my cheeks") and leaped out of my arms. C and I nearly died laughing at this tricky cat and I then determined I must name my cat after him.

So that is how my little girl cat came to be named Mr. Bob Burkett. She is crazy. She likes to hop into the (empty) bathtub and scratch really fast on the sides of the tub. I think she can see her reflection in the porcelain or something. But she just goes absolutely crazy. When I play with her she likes to wrap her front paws around my arm and kick me with her hind legs and bite my fingers. Then she remembers that it hurts me when she bites my fingers and she switches to licking. She purrs at the drop of a hat and makes really creepy clicking noises when she sees a bird or squirrel in the outside tree. She likes to jump up and swipe things that are magneted to the fridge. She wakes me up with insistent meowing every morning very early even if she has food in her dish. She is VERY bad. She is currently sitting right on my mouse pad. She always finds the most inconvenient places to sit. It is among her most endearing traits.

Okay. I am tired! I think I will save the woeful tale of Isis (my older cat) for another post.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Bad Neighbor

So late last night, I saw a white envelope poking under my apartment door. It looked just like the envelopes that contain rent statements, and I was confused because I had just sent in my rent. Luckily, there is no confusion about my rent. Unluckily, this is what was in the envelope:

Apt. X-X Occupant
To: Apt X-X occupant
Hereby you are asked for your cooperation with the following requests:
-1. Try to avoid wearing noisy shoes on bare wood floors while walking around your apartment.
-2. Prevent door slamming - in particular the closets doors.
Those sounds are really bothersome and unfair to the other apartment tenants.
This is a multiple dwelling building, therefore private house conduct is not the way to go.
The other tentants above, below and beside you (as well as you), deserve respect and consideration.
A Tenant's Association is currently being formed and issues like this can be brought to their attention as well as to the "Building Management".
Please, be understanding of this request. It will be very much appreciated by all of us.
We Thank you for your cooperation and respect.
Well, I was very saddened by this. I nearly never wear shoes in my apartment, and I certainly don't go around slamming my closets. The only thing I can think is that I scoop out the kitty litter usually pretty late at night and wear these little hard-soled mules when I do. I guess I will change to flip-flops. It is true one of my closets is pretty temperamental and gets difficult to close, but I rarely use this closet and when I do it's usually during the day.
I would think that the main complaint my neighbors have against me is that sometimes I play my music too loud or have the TV on too loud (I'm a trifle deef), though not generally late at night; I'm not that rude. But as you can see, there was no mention of this. For this reason, I wondered if this was some kind of form letter given to everyone. So I peeked into the hall to see if there were white envelopes poking under my two immediate neighbors' doors too, but there weren't. Of course, two doors is hardly a survey, but I feel that I have indeed been singled out.
Who wrote this? The people right below me? How many people live there (i.e., who is "all of us"?)? What should I do in the face of this veiled threat to be reported to the nascent Tenant's Association?!

Typhoid Lolly

So last night I took my first typhoid vaccine pill. Which means, of course, that I am going to India.

I have to take these pills (four total) every other night on an empty stomach. This is very hard because my stomach isn't so often empty except when I wake up in the morgen. But if I can do this, I will be immune from typhoid for 5 years.

I also have to get a polio booster, a tetanus-dyptheria shot, hep A&B shots, and I have the option of getting the rabies vaccine and the Japanese encephalitis vaccine. Since the latter two would cost more than $600 combined, I have my reservations. On the other hand, what if I get bit by a monkey like my friend did in Malaysia (and yes she did get rabies)? The thing about the rabies vaccine, though, is that it does not keep you from getting rabies, it just extends the time you can wait to get treatment after you've been exposed to rabies. And since I'm going to be in Mumbai almost the whole time I'm in India, working very closely with a physician, I don't really see the point. And Japanese encephalitis is a rural disease, and I will be in rural areas for probably only about a week. Should I risk it?