Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Handover

I have a post on Fahrenheit 9/11 in the works, but I was having trouble finishing it. In the meantime, here are some interesting perspectives that are available on the web from people in Iraq about the handover. Back to Iraq is a blog by a New York Daily News reporter, and he has posted the complete story he filed with them on his blog, describing much ambivalence among Iraqi's about the transfer of power.

Baghdad Burning describes the anxiety that the handover has inspired in lots of people in Iraq. She says:

"Beyond the unsure political situation, I have spent the last few days helping a relative sort things out to leave abroad. It is a depressing situation. My mother's cousin is renting out his house, selling his car and heading out to Amman with his three kids where, he hopes, he will be able to find work. He is a university professor who has had enough of the current situation. He claims that he's tired of worrying about his family and the varying political and security crises every minute of the day. It's a common story these days. It feels like anyone who can, is trying to find a way out before June 30. Last summer, people who hadn't been inside of Iraq for years were clamoring to visit the dear homeland that had been 'liberated' (after which they would clamor to leave the dear homeland). This summer, it is the other way around."

Also, via Baghdad Burning, it has come to my attention that we can read Salam Pax on the web again. The Iraqi Civilian War Casualties site documents the impact the war has had on civilians and includes a link to a log by Salam Pax describing the survey as it was conducted.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Grrr

A few updates on the housing front. As one might expect, nothing is going as planned:

I have still not occupied my apartment. The lady who sold me the apartment reported that she was unable to move last week. Hopefully tonight she will be out and I can do the final, final inspection.

I didn't sell much of anything at my yard sale. The little old ladies who go to yard sales came, but I didn't have much of what they were looking for. There was one man, who announced when he walked in the door that he had four cats and smelled like it, who accused me of false advertisng for having said I had books. In my defense, there were about 20 paperbacks that were for sale, which seems to me to qualify as "books," but he said it wasn't what he was looking for and he had gotten up early for nothing. To my great satisfaction, I did sell my boombox with the broken cd player, the serving plate with the strawberries on it, (although no one was interested in the matching dinner/dessert plates,) an Ikea bookshelf, which I bought from someone else two years ago, and most of the ugly jewelry given to me by a particular aunt over the years. I think the fact is that I mostly have junk, and most everyone else in my neighborhood has their own junk, which serves as a disincentive to acquiring more junk, no matter how cheap. All the stuff I am getting rid of is in a big tower in the middle of my living room.

So there is nothing particulary interesting to report except that I have verified that moving is one of the most dislocating activities in the world. It's exciting and all, but very, very trying.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

I wish I were half this funny

I've read the last two posts and I realize that newyorquina is coming dangerously close to becoming a fitness/weightloss blog. Which is not what I had intended at all. So let's get back to politics. Here is The Poor Man on why he's decided he is happy that John Kerry is the (presumptive) Democractic nominee.

"He may not be quite as blinding intelligent as some failed candidates; nor have had quite as impressive a military career as others; nor have displayed quite the same winning combination of boyscout earnestness, down home regular guy attitude, and searing contempt for bullshit as other candidates; nor have been quite so much from the South as some; nor have single-handedly pulled Richard Holbrooke out of fucking ditch in Kosovo while taking enemy fire like some kind of insane real-life action movie to quite the extent that some people did; nor did he give one the uncanny impression that he had been cunningly constructed in a secret lab to turn every Republican attack back on itself like some kind of Matrix "you are The One" shit as much as certain other candidates did; but, still and all, he's pretty good."

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Considerable

I did bench presses and leg presses in the free weight room last night. I'm just starting to feel the soreness in my chest and upper thighs. I usually find that the time of onset of achiness is a good indicator of how sore I am going to get, ie if I worked out harder, then I will start to hurt earlier in the day, so I have achiness to look forward to. It's really good.

I also feel I have mastered some of the moving-relocation-and-change-is scary-and-sad demons. For today at least. Everything feels moderately under control. This morning I went and posted flyers for the moving sale, tonight and tomorrow I will throw up a few more. The goal for tonight is to get ready for the sale, to put prices on everything, to put everything not for sale (like all my roommate's things) out of the reach of yard-sale goers.

I'm worried about turn-out but people assure me that I will be amazed at who comes and how little I have left at the end of the day. I do remember doing a yard sale with my girl scout troop in the basement of the congregational church on a very cold and rainy morning. I remember that about five minutes after we had finished setting up the fellowship hall people were suddenly there poking around. Even at eleven, it was clear to me that these people had made a special point of getting up to come to this, they wanted to be here. There are a lot of little old ladies in my neighborhood, so I am hoping that they will be the type that get up early in the rain for yard sales. (And it is my understanding that it will be raining on Saturday.) I'm hoping for lots of little old ladies who want to increase their collection of mismatched coffee mugs and who wear size 12-14 clothes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Lessons from a Leader

3:40 pm The counting of points is proceeding well so far. I hate to do this to you all. Can anyone see where this is going? I promise to try to talk about other things besides weight watchers points, but it's a very readily available outlet for venting.

I'll try to keep it funny, how is that?

OK, so based on my weight, I am allowed 20 Weight Watchers points a day. That works out to 1000 calories. Which is, actually, not very much. I am allowed 1750 points as a sort of point "slush-fund" which can be spread out throughout the week evenly, or blown in an massive orgiastic festival of eating (or drinking) at one go. As of right now I have eaten 16 points, which leaves me with 4 for dinner. Which is, actually, not very much. The secret is that I go to the gym this evening which will give me latitude of 4 additional points for a total of eight. Eight is doable.

The thing is, I'm hungry now.

Chaotic

There's been a lot going on. I did close on the house. I had the first walk-through the night before, but it's hard to do a real walk through when there are clothes and furniture everywhere, so I have to do a more thorough check of things this weekend. Loyal newyorquina readers will know that although I have closed, I do not yet have occupancy, because the seller is not able to move out until Saturday. The whole situation makes me a bit nervous, because after all is said and done it's going to be me which has to deal with anything that has to be fixed or changed. Being as it's my house now.

Closing was a funny experience. It's lots of people sitting in a room signing papers, passing things back and forth, everyone is the tiniest bit on edge, but at the same time it's the most mundane set of tasks. People exchanging checks, signing papers, asking questions.

I started packing officially yesterday. I have scheduled a yard sale, although that is only as good as the publicity I do, so there are plans to paper the neighborhood in fluorescent flyers starting this evening.

I have to-do lists, and a schedule of deadlines. I have obtained recommendations for movers, floor sanders, and insurance brokers. I had a bad moment in the middle of the closing when I informed my lawyer that I had not yet gotten homeowners insurance, but I was able to get that into place pretty easily. As complicated as it all seems, I am reminded that actually it's cake compared to how buying a house, like a real house with a roof and a yard and a sewage system, would be.

It is all very exciting and yet anxiety-inducing. In the midst of this there is an deeply ideological and very personally-felt culture war raging between myself and the guy I go out with AND I am starting a job search. I spent Sunday writing the first cover letter.

In the midst of all this, I am managing the thirteen week excercise plan pretty handily. As of today's workout I will be in to the third week. I have a list of scheduled days for working out on my refrigerator at home and in my office. When I do something, I fill in the space provided. So far that is very helpful. Also, I signed up for Weight Watchers online. This is something I resisted all through the times I was going to WW meetings, but lately, I have been more conscious of large meals, eating to assuage stress, and the tiniest bit of softness where before I was more angular. So I feel the need to start monitoring myself a little bit more. In a time of great flux, it might be comforting to implement control over one thing I often feel like I can't control, which is eating.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The Liberal Media

Oddly enough, the first review that I read of Michael Moore's newest film, Fahrenheit 9/11 was in Fox News. And it's overwhelmingly positive. Moore's film takes aim at the Bush administration's handling of September 11 and rush to war in Iraq. Reviewer Roger Friedman says:

"It turns out to be a really brilliant piece of work, and a film that members of all political parties should see without fail. As much as some might try to marginalize this film as a screed against President George Bush, "F9/11" — as we saw last night — is a tribute to patriotism, to the American sense of duty — and at the same time a indictment of stupidity and avarice."

99 Rooms

For something a little creepy and at the same time beautiful visit the 99 Rooms. Just go look!

Via Tower of Hubris.

Summer Mornings

I love summer in June. By July or August, I'm sick of being hot and sweaty, sick of going out in and out of air conditioning, tired of the way you feel suffocated standing on the subway platform, or the rot of garbage on the curb, but the first few weeks of June are always wonderful for me.

I try to live without air conditioning because I love the feeling of waking up to a hot day when the windows are open. The way the floor feels on your feet when you step on it that first morning in June that you wake up to heat. It reminds me of visiting my grandmother in North Carolina and waking up in the front bedroom, that was filled with ancient cake tins, tupperware, afghans, and holiday decorations. The bed sagged in the middle and squeaked every time you moved, but the front window looked out onto her front porch and the porch swing, and the gigantic tree in the front yard.

Also, its lovely to be here in New York now that it's warm. Last night, I sat and ate dinner in Washington Square Park and walked across town to a literary reading, of all things. I was a great night to walk across town, to people watch, to watch the neighborhoods change. I have a friend who lives right next door to the Hell's Angels location, which is how I found her house. I was thinking, I know this is where a friend of mine lives, because I remember seeing the Hell's Angels the last time I was here. Then I did something almost unknown in New York, which was to call her home phone and announce I was in the neighborhood and could I come in and say hi? It's fitting because that's a very southern thing to do and she is my pal from South Carolina. She was ready with the bourbon. It was a perfect New York evening.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

No Justice, No Peace

A nice round up of everything that is wrong with John Ashcroft on the New York Times Op-Ed page today by Paul Krugman.

Crunchie

I finished my Advanced III Spanish class last Wednesday, ending the eighth thirteen-week cycle in which I have haltingly and inexorably pursued my mastery of castellano. In the tortoise and the hare parable, I am definitely the tortoise, and I haven't finished the race yet. However, now having completed my course leaves me with the rest of the summer with no committed extracurricular activities. On Thursday I inaugurated a thirteen week commitment to physical activity, which seems to be a arc of activity that will be sustainable. My ventures into language have taught me the value of setting small goals. For example, if in 2001 when I started taking Spanish I had said to myself, by 2004 I would like to be able to argue in Spanish with an Argentinean boyfriend about the feminist critique of the marriage institution as it existed in medieval Europe, I would have thought, "I am setting myself an impossible task." Yet there I was in Borders last month, doing that very thing, in broken Spanish.

So, what this means in practice is that between now and September 2, I have committed myself to do something active every other day, or some reasonable approximation of that. Spreadsheets have been prepared for completion. Entries have been made in my Outlook calendar. Documentation will be kept contemporaneously. The idea is to alternate between swimming, weightlifting, walking and biking, with allowances made for vacations and travel days.

Anyhow, this was all meant as a lead-in to the workout I had in Crunch fitness on Thursday, when I and the said Argentinean fell victim to a slightly manipulative marketing strategy. I was going to explain why I thought Crunch fitness kind of sucked ass, and why I like my gym at the Y better, but I won't elaborate right now. Suffice it to say there is lots of red and purple and orange, loud techno music blasting, weird machines and lots of bulky men in the free weight room. I like the Y so much better. It has the feel of a real gym and not a fitness club. In fact it was a physical space built for physical activity, rather than the first floor of a cheesy apartment building built for various commercial uses. I think that was part of it.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Fat Camp

This New York Times article profiles one researcher that calls the obesity epidemic into question, suggesting that there are not necessarily more people who are obese. Rather the people who are obese are substantially heavier than they were in 1991, by 25 to 30 lbs. But the rest of the population remains pretty much the same.

Body weight, he says, is genetically determined, as tightly regulated as height. Genes control not only how much you eat but also the metabolic rate at which you burn food. When it comes to eating, free will is an illusion.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Anxiety Dreams

This morning, I dreamed that the lawyers, and the person selling me her apartment, and my staff person, and the real estate agent all came and got me out of the shower to tell me that something (I can't remember quite what it was) was going wrong with the house deal. And then I was in a deli, trying to order breakfast and on the subway, trying to get to work on time, running late, competing with overly verbose customers for attention.

As it happens, in real life, there is a little monkeywrench thrown into the works, relating to the vacating date versus the closing date. I'm trying to keep cool, but apparently my psyche is feeling some heat.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Wettie

So yesterday I went out and did the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure in New York in the rain. I rode 33 miles, from Morningside Park in Harlem to somewhere beyond Englewood, NJ. I believe Demarest was the name of the town that I reached. Biking 33 miles is fun, because you get tired, especially when your socks are squelching, but you find that the knowledge that you are a little bit of a bad-ass, even for just a couple hours, carries you along. If anyone from NJ stumbles across this post, there is a really big hill on Knickerbocker Road (Route 505) in Englewood. I went up it, and it was on mile 20 or 21 too.

Eulogies

When I heard that President Reagan had died, I knew we were going to be hearing an awful lot about him this week. It does give us a lot to talk about, most of which won't be aired in the election-year eulogizing. This includes his unwillingness to mention AIDS until the epidemic had been building steam for several years, his foreign policies in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and the rest of Central America, nuclear proliferation, and his slashing of domestic progrems. There is lots to say and I'm the least well-qualified. Unfogged has a wrap-up of blogger opinions on the issue. The one I liked best is Billmon. He concludes

"So, while Reagan - like the entire decade of the '80s - has faded into history, I certainly won't mourn his passing. And I suppose I'll just have to grit my teeth and do my best to ignore the glowing tributes and bipartisan praise we'll be subjected to over the next few days - just as I did when Nixon died. The ritual deification of Ronald Reagan has become one of the essential bonds that holds the modern Republican Party together - not to mention a lucrative fundraising vehicle for some of its leading lights. The rest of us will just have to make the best of it."

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Spiffy

Yes, Newyorquina has a new look. I am open to feedback, on the color scheme for the blog, if nothing else.

How Things Change

Hendrik Hertzberg makes an interesting point in this week's New Yorker:

"It isn’t every day that the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party is a junior senator from Massachusetts who was educated at an √©lite boarding school and an Ivy League college and whose political career was founded on his war heroism as a young Naval officer in command of a small boat and who has family money and a thick shock of hair and a slightly stiff manner and beautifully tailored suits and an aristocratic mien and whose initials are J.F.K. So rare is this phenomenon that the last time it happened was fortyfour years ago, way back in 1960. That was also the last time that the nominee of the Democratic Party—or of either major party, for that matter—was a Roman Catholic.

There are plenty of other similarities between now and then, each of which comes equipped with its own corresponding difference. Here’s one: in 2004 as in 1960, a large number of evangelical Protestant ministers have been alerting their followers to the danger posed by the man from Massachusetts. The difference is that last time they were against him because they were afraid he might be subservient to the Vatican. This time they’re against him because they’re pretty sure he won’t be."

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Been Breaking Down

My musical obsession this weekend is Freedy Johnston's song "Bad Reputation." I bought a CD by him in a record store in San Francisco's Mission District when I was there a few weeks ago.

Before I get into this, can I interject that New York doesn't have any good used-alternative record stores? There is virgin, borders, tower, yawn... This record store, I can't remember the name, but it is on Valencia, near the 16th street BART stop, had the coolest little reviews written in ink on all the cd's that the owners thought were excellent, and it was the best buying guide to music I knew I should probably know but don't.

Anyhow, the Freedy Johnson album ("This Perfect World") was in the used section, and I thought, "I don't know this guy, but I think he is kind of folky-alternative or country and I probably would like it and hell its ten dollars." Actually for the more loyal readers among you, this was the same used disc section in which I found Achtung Baby. I said, "Hell it's ten dollars" on several occasions that day.

I had definitely heard this song before on the radio or some such. (I can't remember where, I think when I heard it I thought it was Weezer. That's probably sacrilige to someone.) It's a nice song, a little folky, a little poppy, but it has a little hook that gets under your skin. It's one of those songs that lends itself to being on the soundtrack to the movie of my life. The lyric that got to me was "Suddenly I'm down in Herald Square/ looking in the crowd your face is everywhere."

I think I am a sucker for New York City-based love songs. It relates to the soundtrack of your life thing.