Monday, January 31, 2005

Golden rules

One of my neighbors posted a sign last night imploring tenants to be quiet and respectful of the people who live below them. After a few sentences about jumping, stomping, and excessive noise from above, she (it had to be a she, if my handwriting analysis is as good as I assume it is) moved on to the music that is audible in the hallway and in the stairwell. Considering that I live on the ground floor, and don't disturb anyone with my stomping or jumping, I can only take that little bit about the music as a backhanded slap in the face.

Many people could tell you about one of the most important things in my life, the D.H. [No further explanation necessary.] I fear that my nightly need to unwind with some music is causing a problem. I realized this is why I scurry away from my neighbors when I hear them approaching; why I bashfully held the door and stared at my feet as my seemingly normal (and potentially befriend-able) neighbor came through. I know my music is too loud. I know I should turn it down, especially when it's something embarassing like vintage Destiny's Child. But I can't. I need it.

So today I'm turning a new leaf - quieter music, better relations with my neighbors. There is a strong hipster element in this building, so I need to be cool. So I will turn the music down. That's my January 30th resolution.

Saturday, January 29, 2005


Sapphire Lounge, Friday night, 11:30 pm. L and I have come out to celebrate Tara's birthday. I'm on drink number three (second beer after a weak vodka gimlet), we are still near the wall, not quite dancing yet but shifting weight rhythmically from side to side. There is this black couple grinding acrobatically nearby. They are good dancers and the woman seems like her center of gravity is somewhere in her shins, with the way she is bent over in any direction. They are like the Gumby and Pokey of the dancehall.

L and I are chillin, chillin. The black couple sidles up near us, because there is a mirror on the wall and the woman is transfixed with herself. "Dogg, do this," the guy says, and takes his girl's hands into his own and holds them against the wall and begins grinding into her. L looks at me. What is worse, the sudden confrontation or the realization that you're going to do what you're told? I begin tepidly grinding my pelvis into L's stomach (height difference). "Naw, naw, man, like this," the guy says, and he is dropping down, squatting in front of the girl. I follow and try to find a middle ground between the way he wants me to copulate and they way I just want to dance. He drops down and simulates licking his girl's nipple. "Bite the nipple!" he says.

No, no thank you. "Bite it!" he says, but I don't. Then he takes the girl away from the wall and suddenly she's lying limp over one of his arms as he grinds away. Stupidly, feeling like an idiot, I get L and me into a similar position. At this point Tara walks up and starts defending me. "He doesn't need this," she says to the dude. "My boy can dance!" She talks to the dude for a while as I lean down to L. "This is getting weird," I say. L agrees. "This is kind of weird and uncomfortable." I feel incredibly white and awkward, like trying to dance was a huge mistake, I feel like I am lumbering around in wet cement, I feel like L has become a stranger with whom I've never danced before.

Tara comes back. "I told him you were my boy and that you can dance," she said. "I said you need some time to get ready, so you're gonna show him what you got in an hour!"

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Courtroom drama

Last night L and I went to see "Twelve Angry Men," which was incredible. It made me excited about democracy and the court system, but the play had enough Grisham-esque elements to keep it interesting. It was a good story about underdogs and standing up for what you believe in - a real Atticus Finch kind of work. It was suspenseful, touching, thrilling. At one point, during a particularly nasty character's equally nasty and racist diatribe, somebody else suddenly slammed a chair against a desk and everybody in the audience jumped. The people on the stage froze, in this simmering moment of anger and violence and tension, and nobody made a sound. There were no cell phones or whispering, you could practically hear them breathing on stage. Just these twelve men looking like somebody was about to get beat up. After a long, surprisingly pregnant pause for a play without any female characters, one of the other men said to the nasty guy, "Don't open your filthy mouth again."

Oh, SNAP! It was awesome. It was the greatest bitch-slap beat-down in all of broadway.

Then L got me tipsy, we had some lovely conversation, I made my way back home, James and I watched "Project Runway" and "Road to Stardom" (Put a huuuummp in yo back!), got sundaes at McDonalds, and I was in bed by three. Just another awesome Manhattan Wednesday. Bright lights, big city, homeboy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

This could have been avoided

Today I feel uneasy, like the desk has tipped over and all my papers are strewn on the floor. I am stressed by a bunch of little financial hiccups I am trying to sort through - between moving downtown and leaving the country for two weeks, my bills are in a state of disarray. I missed one payment all together, so one credit card has ballooned into this horrifying pool of unpaid debt that I want to cover with a plastic tarp of willful ignorance rather than buck up and pay using the pool-cleaning implements of maturity, fiscal prudence, and manliness.

And I've been trying to pay more bills online (saving on stamps and checks -- excuse me, cheques) which has already led to one late bill. Yesterday I tried to pay another one, I clicked it, everything seemed fine, and yet! The charges remain apparently unpaid. To try to sort this out I have been setting up special online accounts for every fucking credit card and regular payment I have -- cable, electric, cell phone, etc. So now, all I have to do to get my information is log in, using my name and one of 24 passwords I've devised for myself. And the best part is when I fail to log in correctly three times in a row, and the watchful and benevolent website decides to LOCK ME OUT of my account. For my own security, you know. Wonderful!

Anyways, I figure it will take a billing cycle or so to get this all straightened out. But I'll be fine - a couple of paychecks, a few smooth weeks of bill-paying, and I'm back on the straight and narrow. But what happened to me? I was the responsible one! I was the one who clucked with fake sympathy when other people told me about shit like this!

So much for my sterling credit. No homeownership for me - not now, not ever.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Stopping by Chipotle on a Snowy Evening

Whose sign that is I think I know.
On the outskirts of the Village, lo--
Into that franchised haven I veer
To find my respite from the snow.

The sullen clerk must think it queer
A guest, alone, flushed with good cheer
Amidst the slush and salt and ice
On the wintry’est evening of the year.

A burrito stuffed with beans and rice
Dappled with salsa will suffice!
Cheap and gastronomic thrills
Have never been more sweet and nice.

A savory moment from a test of will:
I would trudge through many storms or ills
For burritos and cokes with free refills,
For burritos and cokes with free refills.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Hail to the chief, he's the one we all say 'hail' to

I really enjoyed watching the Inauguration yesterday. It made me excited for democracy. The peaceful transition of power is something we take for granted, but it's pretty stunning, all things considered. I really like it when all the ex-presidents get together and compare blue ties, and then all the congressional leaders and Supreme Court kids are up there on the podium like some kind of Hall-of-Justice, Flintstones-meet-the-Jetsons, We-Are-The-World-style lovefest.

The pageantry is awesome, I like the populist idea of the parade, and I like a speech full of lofty generalities that every red- or blue-blooded American can endorse. Of course, I was thinking too about how I read that the decline and fall of the Roman empire happened over the span of a measly three generations, and some historian was attempting to draw parallel lines between then and now. But that couldn't happen here, right? No middle-eastern misstep could be that harmful and irreparable, right? Somebody knows what they're doing, don't they?

God bless America, and the rest of the world. Seacrest out.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Transfer is available

Today on the subway coming home from work I accidently smacked a woman on the head. I was raising my arm to grab the safety pole to hang on to, and I kind of back-handed this poor little asian lady. I apologized but she didn't say anything. Then she sat down, seemingly unfazed, and lost control of her shopping bag as the train rounded a turn. She was not having a good day.

Moments later, this dude sitting behind me (I was standing in the aisle, holding on and trying not to assault anyone) says, "excuse me." I replied, "Oh, I'm sorry," immediately regretful for some transgression I hadn't realized I had committed. "No, excuse me," the man replied. At this point I was confused, wondering what exactly I had done and if this was how fights got started. I looked down and felt reaffirmed that, unlike the asian woman, I had not attacked him in the last five minutes. "I stepped on your heel," he said. "I owe you an apology."

"Oh, don't worry about it," I said, eager to end the conversation. At this point the dude started speaking a little louder, kind of addressing me and kind of addressing the comely young woman standing near me. "I stepped on your shoe, stomped my foot down, so I owe you an apology. You have a nice smile."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Winter wonderland

On my walk to the subway this morning, I saw the following items on the ground:
an opened condom wrapper
a condom
a pool of vomit

What a magical city this is!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Gym rat

Today marked my triumphant return to the gym, after a gap of about five months. It was almost exactly a year ago that I decided to reclaim this temple of mine by going to the gym regularly (as well as start taking improv classes) and the quality of my life greatly improved. So with the new year I decided to head back in. At work I felt no enthusiasm for going, but I just tried to make myself do it without even thinking about it.

Not even thinking about something is not a good method of preparation, though, as I forgot to bring socks. So I could either rock the business-casual brown socks or go commando, podiatrically speaking. I chose the latter and had a fun time lifting some weights and trying to keep my feet ventilated. Blissfully unaware of my surroundings thanks to the Ipod, I was caught completely off guard when a freakishly muscular he-man asked if he could work in. Trying to hide my irritation at being disturbed during a crucially important moment of "Toxic" (ba ba danana na na NEEEEE NEEEE NEEEE NEEEE), I assented and he proceeded to nearly double the weight I was using, and I think he kind of wanted to laugh. Whatever, dude. That's cool. You do you.

Then I ran three miles on the treadmill, which felt awesome. I tried to go a good .5 mph faster than the girl next to me, just to keep it interesting. I listened to Seal, which L had recommended, and I zoned out to some early nineties classics like "Crazy" and "Kiss from a Rose."

So it was a good trip to the gym, except for the nascent case of foot fungus I contracted. Hopefully I'll go back tomorrow - now that I'm commuting and living on a different kind of schedule, I want to make a trip to the gym completely automatic. I felt good and I scarfed an entire burrito tonight (to celebrate some good law school news) and I will sleep like a rock in a couple of hours. I'm also trying to eat more fruit, even though I resent the hell out of fruit. I'm more of a veggie guy.

And that's my fun fact for the night. Welcome, any readers.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Also known as

I met my improv friend Jack for a drink tonight at these seedy place on Houston and Mulberry. He was coming up with wretched names for this blog o' mine, including "Dunnecdotes," "What I've Dunne" and "Dunne'cha Hate It When....," which would be perfect for an Andy-Rooney-esque series on the piccadilloes of things like soup cans and potato chip bags. [For you would-be Internet stalkers, all of these titles are a pun on my last name, "Worthington."]

Jack is balls-in when it comes to trying to make it in the world of comedy. He writes like a fiend and always has many different things going on - shows, open mic nights, contacts with other peoples' agents. On the other hand, I have taken an incredibly passive approach to this whole comedy thing - I think I have tacitly reached the conclusion that this is a fun little hobby but will not amount to anything more, really only because I'm not pursuing it. I mean, I have a lot going on, right? There's the job/hobby which fills most of the daylight hours. There's the whole law school thing. And there's the immense amount of screwing-around time that is just so crucial to my happiness and well-being. How can I be expected to write or perform or take a class when "The Apprentice" is returning for an underwhelming third season, or when there are songs I need to listen to and mimic for the umpteenth time?

That's an example of bitter sarcasm, along with a dash of self-loathing, for all you humor-impaired types. Tomorrow night I should check out Harold night at the theater - it would be good to see the pros at it again and I think it would inspire me too. Writing comedy, though, is challenging for me. I think I can write pretty funny when it comes to essays or letters or emails, but writing in script form kills me. When I'm able to be funny in real life, it's usually in reaction to other things - I don't usually introduce funny ideas, I just respond obnoxiously to things that are already there. This is why initiating scenes in improv is a bit of a challenge, I purport.

On another note, I really enjoyed walking to the bar tonight. It was wretchedly cold out, and dark, with the salt from this morning's abortive snowstorm still dirtying the ground. But I saw some interesting things: a woman sitting at a table by her window, a man in a bar plunking away on an old-fashioned piano, innumerable people sitting in pairs enjoying their dinner in the restaurants. Looking back I see that these are in fact barely interesting, but it gets your attention - everyone has a story, and I wonder what their lives are like. Sometimes I try to take a cinematic view of things, and think about my place as I walk down a street passing people by. Of course the camera's on me, but as I pass someone, I pretend the camera follows them - I recede into the background as someone else gets the focus - someone else with their own cares, fears, passions, questions. I don't know, it's just interesting.

Or is it? That's a dunnecdote for you. Mildly interesting, barely coherent. [BOMP]

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Easy like a sunday morning

I had such a pleasant morning that I don't want to forget it. I am quickly falling in love with my apartment, thanks in large part to this spasm of domesticity I've been going through for the last couple of days. I bought a mirror for the bathroom, an awesome curtain for the main window, and, from Ikea, a kitchen table, two chairs, a dustmat, and a kitchen rug. Now I have multiple places to sit and actual table surface, which I like a lot. The boxes have been cleared and groceries have been purchased; normal life can now commence.

This morning L and I went for a wintry stroll through my new neighborhood and we ended up at Cafe Angelique on Bleecker and Grove. I had the french toast, she had the omelette. It was a great morning for a walk - and it was so different from the Upper West Side weekends I had come to love. Slightly grungier people - maybe younger - losing themselves among the twists and turns that define this area beyond the all-too familiar grid. Winter mornings! Is there a better reminder that you are alive, healthy, mobile, fashion-savvy and gainfully employed? No, my friend, there is not.

I am beginning to enjoy having this blog. I like thinking about what I should write, I like seeing what I've written before. We'll see how this thing ages. I think I may tell a few people about it soon - so that these words don't just vanish into the ether. Although the idea that I have this secret little corner of the web all to myself is pretty appealing. I mean, would I expect my friends to be reading this all the time - more importantly, would I be disappointed if they didn't? This is where the vanity of this project rears its ugly, meticulously-groomed head.

Time to scrounge for some dinner and eagerly anticipate the Golden Globes and my favority Gritty Urban Crime Drama - "The Shield."


Today the New York Times features an article by Neela Hanerjee entitled "An Alternative to Evolution Splits a Pennsylvania Town." The whole thing is depressing - it discusses the currently successful efforts of conservative Christians to add elements of the "Intelligent Design" "theory" to the science curriculum alongside good ol' Darwinian evolution. It also features this heartening little gem: "In a November 2004 CBS News poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans said they favored teaching creationism alongside evolution in schools."

When people try to bring religion into the public sphere, I think the whole thing basically boils down to one of two situations: enough people believe in an idea, and it is seemingly inoffensive enough to just put it out there and no one will care, like the White House Christmas Tree.

The second scenario is one of religious insecurity - we see a threat, so we're going to yell just a smidge louder than we did before. I think the evolution/Intelligent Design question presents one of those times. My question is: whose faith is threatened by the idea of evolution? Is anyone's belief in the existence and utter power of God diminished at all by the possibility of evolution? Evolution and the existence of God are not at all mutually exclusive; lo, I think they are complementary. Like those old Jeffersonian (I think) notions of God as a watchmaker, sitting back and admiring his work, why couldn't God have set up all these evolutionary dominoes and then, on the first day/at the start of the Big Bang (take your pick, or all of the above), given the first domino a little push?

It frustrates me to see religious conservatives take the religious ideals and tenets I believe in and then warp them into something I don't recognize. Yet I can see where they are coming from, and what their intentions are . . . it just ain't right. In sum, religious conservatives need to get some more science education (or at least a gift subscription to National Geographic, or Scientific American, or Ranger Rick, for pete's sake) and liberals need to stop thinking they're smarter than everybody else.

Here's the article, by the way.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Women we love: Amy Sedaris

I just watched Amy Sedaris on Letterman. She is so effervescent and funny and manic and just bizarre. She thinks of these funny things that would just never cross my mind, and her delivery is so sharp. She makes me want to quit my job and kiss law school goodbye and do improv full time. If I could do anything in the world, I think I would be a comedian. Who moonlights as an occasional gogo dancer. Who also owns a restaurant. And writes books that win prizes.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Writing for the sake of writing

Ok, this is the second blog of the day. That does not bode well - an initial burst of enthusiasm is usually followed by a swift and tragic decline. Ultimately in 9 months I remember about this thing again, and come back and read these half-hearted entries that will stop in, say, four weeks or so, and remember what a mundane January this was.

But now I want to write on this thing because: I am reading Tom Perrotta, whom I consider one of the most accessible writers out there - he makes me think I can write too, and that this motley collection of experiences and ideas could somehow become something coherent and perhaps meaningful; and I want to write because I am half-watching "Dinner for Five" on IFC right now and they're talking about screenplays, a format I would avoid simply because of the crazy margins and shit. Who needs it.

In Costa Rica James and I talked a lot about writing. I think the books I read have conditioned me to think that all writing must be about the rich interior lives of the characters - like a boring New Yorker story where nothing happens. Instead of writing about, say, a plane crash, you write about the moving emotional journey of a man refilling his xanax prescription. But thanks to Michael Chabon and Dave Eggers and (a timeless classic) John Grisham, my faith in writing in which shit happens is being reaffirmed. I would be happy just to write a potboiler, a good adventure story like I used to try to write when I was little. Except now I am mature - excuse me, matoor - so I could add a sex scene if I liked. No smoking though.

Tonight has been a good evening. I put up the bathroom mirror and the curtain over my window, went to get chipotle and made pleasant eye contact with many different people en route. I felt very confidant, as I usually do when travelling with a New Yorker and my Ipod (Oscar). And then I came back and flipped around the tv for a while, and now I am here.

Ok, I guess that's it. We'll see how this goes. I'm trying to see what kind of tone I'm using. I feel like I am writing for a cocktail party - or at least trying to write like I'm talking to one of my very smart friends whose very presence keeps me on my toes. Some kind of witty, erudite, Mark Twain/Winston Churchill tone, or something. But without the pretension, and with a dash of red-state sensibility. Ok then, somewhere between Jeff Foxworthy and Winston Churchill. Thomas Friedman? Or his lovechild, borne by Maureen Dowd? I don't know.

Humble beginnings

So I think I am starting a blog . . . I'm not sure what I intend to do with this thing, but I want to have an outlet for writing. I'm more likely to type than to write, so I want to give this a try. Hopefully this will neither be excessively political or gratuitously personal. I also have no idea who my audience is - who am I writing this for? Will I tell anyone about this? Maybe the inner circle, but I don't know. This is such a vain project - kind of self-indulgent. But we'll see how it goes.

How's that for a start . . .

Reading: "Little Children" by Tom Perrotta
Listening: Van Hunt's "Down here in hell (with you)", Best of Seal