Wednesday, November 12, 2008

If I Had A Breath...

It’s been a banner bunch of days for me at work as my manic depressive product decided to take both uppers and downers simultaneously so as to plateau into perpetually asininity. I’ve barely had a chance to eat much less breathe since last Wednesday and the end has yet to even take a peak over the horizon and tauntingly wave at me.

So what better than a top eight list (I couldn't come up with 10) of favorite things keeping me one step ahead of the loony bin this week

Stop and Shop Asiago Bagels
You made have noticed that I have a great affection for bagels. Could be the Jersey thing, could be because they fill that carbohydrate comfort-food need, or it could be just because they’re so darn good. When we were at Oxford, my housemate/friend Moyra’s mother Paula Fed Ex’d a bagel from Westchester County, New York so that it would arrive fresh for breakfast the next day. Now that’s commitment. Ask either of them about it today and I’d bet they’d each yet recall the intimate details of Paula’s food-mailing adventures.

It was January before we discovered the joys of George and Davies Ice Cream Shop that, incongruously, had fresh, as-close-as-we-could-get-it New York bagels. Four months without a bagel, people!! Still in therapy for that one. G&D also had fantabulous Bailey’s Irish Cream Ice Cream, long before Hagen Daas ventured in that direction.

In this, George and Davies was our salvation.

As for the asiago bit, I first discovered the delights of asiago cheese – and, weirdly, Nickelback – in Italy, so besides being crisp and tasty, it has special meaning for me. I have gorged on its delights ever since (the cheese, not the band) and finding it melded with a bagel was like manna sent from on high. Originally, I was stuck on the rich, luscious asiago bagels as Bagels 4 U in Springfield where they melted actual asiago cheese on top of the bagel. Sadly, the store has long since discontinued them (the fascists). Then I found out that Wide World of Bagels in Hawthorne had created its own brand of the delicacy. They bake huge dollops of the cheese into the top half of the bagel, but crushingly (though better for my wallet) they only display the delicacy on the weekends. Fortunately, the Super Stop and Shop stores carry a daily stash of asiago bagels. Their modus operendi is to bake the cheese straight into the full bagel, so each half is a connoisseur’s delight. I prefer the extravagance of WWoB personally, but the S&S do for a daily start to my day. When I toast one in the kitchen at my office, the tempting scent wafts down the corridor and sometimes inquiring heads will pop out from offices and cubes like merekats on the African plain.

Finding a Favorite Author - Again
I hemorrhage books. They seep out of my walls, my dresser, my tote bags, my bookcases, my bed – anywhere and everywhere a book could be stored, I’ve already stuck them there. Part of the reason for my overflow is the joy I take in re-reading my favorite novels. One series I really enjoyed in high school was about a girl whose mother is elected the first woman president of the United States written by Ellen Emerson White. The titles are The President’s Daughter, White House Autumn, Long Live the Queen, and (as I only just discovered today) Long May She Reign. Besides being very well-written, engaging, and many other superlative adjectives of praise that I’m too tired to come up with right now, it was the first real glimpse I had into the workings of the White House. This was pre-The West Wing, pre-CNN, pre-a lot of things. It was the 80s after all.

I thought these books would be reprinted when Clinton was elected; what with Chelsea now the First Teenager, it seemed apropos. I even had a sales clerk at the local Barnes and Noble or whatever do a search but to no avail. This was before the Internet and the great white hope that is Amazon.

Now, thanks to author Megan Crane (an author for whom I occasionally have written back cover copy) and her blog, I found out today that the series had been reprinted in trade paperback last year when the fourth book was published. I’m so excited!! It’s like realizing that you just found your junior high-school best friend on Facebook, (which, incidentally, happened to me last week). I ordered up the first and third book from Amazon’s used section (I found my copy of White House Autumn when I moved in August) and I’m having the new, fourth book sent to my local library. I can’t wait to dig back into Meg and her ongoing journey to survive (literally) being the President’s daughter.

Coming Home Every Night to My Own Parking Spot
I think that little piece of heaven speaks for itself.

Spending Two Hours Every Night Writing
Many nights everything I’ve written seriously sucks. But at least it’s something.

The Music of Cowboy Junkies and David Gray
I still don’t have Internet at home – Verizon installation got postponed in lieu of my mom’s CAT scan – so I’m cycling through the itunes songs I’ve uploaded from my own disks or elsewhere. As I boot up the laptop, I keep returning to the Cowboy Junkies and David Gray playlists (they follow one after the other when I list songs by artist). They somehow seem to suit my writing mood; I can tune them out and be supported by them at the same time.

Shakespeare Applies to Everything in Life
I spent most of last week reading and re-reading the same Powerpoint decks, each averaging anywhere from 20-40 pages of slides with notes. Imagine my joy to discover at 1:30pm on Friday that I was reading the wrong deck! Again! Someone had printed out the wrong deck and put it in the right job bag. What made the situation worse was having this revelation delivered to me by one of the most clueless people with whom I’ve ever worked. As I was having a minor breakdown at this total WASTE of time and energy, wallowing in an unfamiliar feeling of blind stupidity brought on by these idiots, I thought of this incredibly apropos Much Ado About Nothing (a personal favorite) quote: What your wisdoms could not discover, these shallow fools have brought to light.

Continuing proof that Shakespeare really does apply to everything in life.

Listening to 101.9 WRXP Radio Station
What used to be jazz station CD 101.9 is now WRXP, a rock station that does just that – it rocks. I’m worn to the bone by pop music and the endless repetitions of WPLJ. Even my once-beloved rock-oriented WDHA has succumbed to classic rock saturation (which is what I have Q104.3 for) and only rarely (to my ears) spins the new hard rock that drew me to the station in the first place. Since moving, I’ve discovered WRXP and just love it. In the morning, they play music and they have guests who talk about music and I barely understand a third of it, but it’s fascinating and interesting and awesome. Finally I’m hearing regular play of the bands that I’m always hearing about but never hearing play: Kings of Leon, Kaiser Chiefs, The Strokes, Wilco, TV on the Radio, Panic at the Disco, Ryan Adams…the list goes on. Plus there’s a good amount of the oldies I actually want to hear – The Cure, The new Pretenders track (okay, that one is getting quickly worn out), etc. They also play Local Licks – songs from local bands, both famous and not. There’s a morning segment highlighting songs currently rocking the UK. They had Chris Martin of Coldplay in the studio for TWO HOURS one morning last week, spinning his favorite tunes and chatting about music. They play U2 B-sides. Sigh.

Come the afternoon, it sometimes gets a little dodgier and the old tired favorites come out, but I’m still happily streaming it on my computer every day nonetheless.

Realizing I’m Part of a Functional Family – Sort Of
Never fear, it’s not my actual family that’s suddenly flouted convention to become a reasonable, cohesive unit (what fun would that be?) But spend enough time in a small department and those people will become a type of family. Our 5-person department (4 editors and 1 word processor) certainly functions in a familial way. We share highs and lows together, we fight, we annoy each other, we manipulate one another to do the work (only a little and mostly when our boss is gone), and we all lay all our cares and foibles and gripes and pains on our boss. Recently though, we’ve each been spending some time at our sister company, bailing out their own proof/edit department, and never have more repentant children returned to a roost. The rampant dysfunction over there makes our tiny patch seem downright normal – and when has normal ever been used to describe a situation involving me?

Honestly, I don’t know what to do with myself.

But apparently, Ive remembered how to breathe.

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