K is still my favorite letter

My very first online identity was JKBosco.  Bosco was my cat’s name.  In this case, J/K didn’t mean “just kidding,” and they didn’t stand for “Jack’s kiss,” which is what every girl in the eighth grade wanted to talk about after seeing Titanic (the first time, the second time, the twelfth time).  J and K were my favorite letters of the alphabet.

You know, George Eastman formulated the name of his camera company based on his favorite letter of the alphabet.

Titanic was on TV over the weekend.  I’ve learned to turn it off right around the 94-minute mark, which is when this colossal crag creeps out of the darkness and wields its bitter chill at the young lovers, Jack and Rose.  It’s hard to believe that I sat through this movie in the theater on four different occasions, and then went home, logged in to an AOL chatroom, and engaged in serious discussion and analysis as JKBosco.

This is the last you’ll hear about it from me

I wrote an e-mail today “to the many members of my urban tribe.”  I’ll write the same message here to visitors, feed readers, friends, foes, and to tribe members not in my Gmail address book:

This is merely a reminder, a gentle prod to your ribs, and not a politically partisan overture.

I get a paycheck and health benefits, recycle, pay taxes, and have been called for jury duty in New York State. I’m still registered to vote in Connecticut. For the rest of you who have relocated to a new state since you first registered to vote or since the election in 2004—it is not too late to register to vote in your new state or to request an absentee ballot from your home state for the Presidential General Election on November 4.

I requested an absentee ballot from my home town clerk by mail last week. This website walked me through it: Long Distance Voter. It was easy. Seriously. If you’re looking for a challenge, get your voting rights squared away and then come by and help me try to fit all my clothes into my closet.

I would consider either one a personal favor.

To expand:

In a way, Republican candidate Senator John McCain inspired this general petition to exercise your voting rights. Today, he opted to participate in the debate with his opponent, acceding in his actions if not with his words that, as Barack Obama said, “it’s more important than ever that we present ourselves to the American people and try to describe where we want to take the country.”

But in fact, John McCain first inspired this message when I met him four years ago, less than one month before the 2004 Presidential election.  By chance, we were seated at the same table at a bicentennial celebration at the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, Rhode Island.

He introduced himself and then asked my two friends and me, all three of us Mount Holyoke students, if we knew who we’d vote for.  One declared herself undecided; the other said, “pass;” I said that I would vote for his party’s opponent, John Kerry, because I preferred his positions on education and the environment.

McCain told us that it’s important for young adults to know which issues matter to them and to vote accordingly; that it’s important for us, as young women, to cast our votes.

I did vote, Senator, and I am voting again.

It goes, “verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, chorus” or something like that

There was an episode of the Nickelodeon series The Adventures of Pete and Pete where little Pete, the brother with the wiggling mermaid tattoo on his arm, hears a garage band playing this one song and then can’t get it out of his head.  He realizes he’s discovered his favorite song, but he doesn’t know the band’s name or the song’s title.  Everybody he tells about his favorite song thinks he’s imagining it or making it up.

I was probably in fourth or fifth grade, just starting to explore new music, when I watched Pete and Pete.  And I wish I could remember the songs I recorded from the radio at that age, the ones I intended to play for the clerk at Volt Records, who I sort of perceived to be the oracle of chords and lyrics and could identify the title and artists.  

Those were the days before Google.  Thanks to the internet, so favorite song will ever get lost in a garage.

There is only one song that I’ve never been able to identify with a Boolean search.  It’s by a children’s duo that played a concert at an elementary school in town and sold low-budget recordings when I was a small child.  It’s about a leprechaun who jumps over a rainbow and I think its melody was inspired by Seven Wonders Fleetwood Mac, so I think of it every time I hear that song.

And now I will identify the songs I’ve been listening to this week:
21 Reasons by Frank Black and the Catholics
It’s You by Annie Stela
Don’t Mess With the Radio by Kelis (“she’s only Nas’ wife!”—sales associate at Jo Malone)
Already Gone by Sugarland
Sun’s Gonna Rise by Citizen Cope

I won’t put on tomorrow’s bra before I get in bed tonight.

Highly Notable Events in August 2008

  • Browsed wedding dress possibilities with my dearest friend Jill (her dress, not mine)
  • Tuned in to coverage of the Democratic National Convention
  • Tried a new Thai restaurant in Park Slope before my roommate did
  • Acknowledged my compulsive need to be “the favorite”
  • Visited Camp Jewell for the first time in almost five years

I started this blog five years ago today by summarizing the highly notable events of Summer 2003.  For two weeks, I coded every entry in Notepad and loaded them page by page to my web space on the school server.  Then my HP laptop crashed (surprise.) and I started posting to Blogger.  Google had just acquired Blogger, and as an early-ish adopter, I was one of the first ‘citizens’ from outside the Googlesphere to receive a Gmail invitation.  I’ll keep boasting about that even though I switched to WordPress in February 2006; and, nobody cares when I was invited to Gmail.

September.  It was the time of year when new pens still smelled new and I had all kinds of plans for a school year more productive, accomplished, and fulfilling than the last.  Before my notebooks got dogeared and my penmanship got sloppy.  Before a leaky highlighter in the bottom of my bag bled through half of Tuesday, and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday on every single page of my planner.

I used to resent this time of year in this sort of subterranean way, veiled by typical complaints about the end of the summer and by the goody-two-shoes excitement to go Back to School.  In my unseen heart, I considered it a mean trick. I wondered if the summer off was worth the consequence.  It was a false start—a new year in September?  It promised all these new chances and beginnings, but nothing seemed to change.

I remember staying up later than I’d ever stayed up on a school night before my first day of fourth grade.  I was organizing my closet.  Sorting troll dolls and amateur pottery.  I cleaned my room like it had never been cleaned before.  I thought if it looked like a Pottery Barn catalog (or like the set of Full House) when I woke up on The First Day of School, it would stay that way all year.

In the days right before the seventh grade, I dropped hints to my mom that I wanted my first real bra because the narrow straps on my First Day of School dress would expose the sports bras I usually wore.  I also refused to kneel on the carpet, which is how I usually watched TV or worked on craft projects, because The Dress revealed my knees and I didn’t want them to look chafed.

Every night for three weeks before my senior year in college, I sneaked out of the house and drove into town to walk the length of Main Street and loops around the Middle School for an hour or more, sometimes into the next morning.  Ever since, I’m tempted to go for a long walk when I can’t sleep.  I’ve tried to think of a safe place to go in the middle of the night.  At home, my biggest concerns were distrustful cops and groups of stoned teenagers.  In New York, I have to wait until the gym opens at five if I need to outrun insomnia.  I’ve done it before.

Outrunning—that’s what it’s always been.  And when I tried to dodge bad habits, quick fix damage, or elude depression, they always caught up with me.  They’ve chased me down.  I decided to expunge ten years of slobbery on the night before fourth grade?  Perfect timing.  I had really started to believe that life worked that way; that time was defined either from one day to the next or over the span of three seasons, and never in between.  Time dropped paperweights and bookends in the same spots every year until graduation.

Since my days of First Days of School, I’ve been more free to take each day as it comes.  To take.  Each day, individually.  For what it is.  As it comes.  Not before.  Nor after.  One at a time.  In chronological order.  I know it sounds indifferent, like how you live when you’re just getting by.  But, honestly?  I would rather get through every day without walking all night just to get to it.

Syndicated television will unite the masses

When I stay at work so late that the cleaning service bustles through, I never know what to say to the woman who collects our trash and dusts over the office. Her name ends with “-rina,” I think, but starts with something I couldn’t understand when she told me one evening last year. After she discovered me at my desk after hours a few nights in a row when I introduced myself officially.

Now, we have the same rudimentary small talk whenever we meet. “How was your weekend?” “It’s so hot.” “Your desk, it’s clear! And the floor! I will vacuum!” “No, no! It’s Friday! Let’s both get out of here!” We often
exchange fatigued sighs and empathetic grins.

“It’s been one of those days,” I told her tonight, blotting perspiration from my temple, an effect of the heat as much as of the long day itself. She chuckled and said, “for me, too. What a day.” She snapped open a fresh garbage bag and her bangs puffed up in the air it expelled.

Gloria was the housekeeper in my dorm my senior year at Mount Holyoke. She put a name tag and a collage on the door of the supply closet on the first floor, the same we tacked photos and postcards outside our rooms. She had pictures of kittens torn out of a calendar, macaroni art by her daughter, a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign.

We used to watch ER re-runs on Tuesdays and Thursday mornings. The show started at 10, so I usually got back from my 8:30 class as the opening credits were rolling. Gloria took her break in the common room, watching Luka (I liked the Dr. Ross episodes) and eating Ritz crackers and peanut butter out of an insulated lunch bag. I invited myself to join her a few weeks into the semester. While we watched, I’d finish my second cup of coffee and skim my Indian Art reading. During commercials, she would dust here and there or make a phone call.

Except for a stray remark about an absurd medical condition and the occasional question about the plot or “wait, what did she say?” we didn’t speak much. She knew where I grew up and what I majored in. She told me a few basic biographical facts about her daughter and showed me a picture from her First Communion.

I wish I’d thought to leave a picture of Goran Visnjic on Gloria’s door at the end of the semester—when I came back to school in the spring, my class schedule interfered with ER in syndication. And I wish “-rina” could take an ER break with me.