Tuesday, April 17, 2007

On Posterity

Job posting:
[Our magazine] is assembling a team of energetic photographers to shoot the likes of portraits, venues, and event design/décor in the Southern California region. Per-shoot compensation may be about $100 to $250, and strong images are likely to get prominent placement. Prompt turnaround essential. To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, and a few low-res digital samples to Southern California bureau chief [me] with ''PHOTOGRAPHER'' in the subject line.


From: [redacted]
To: Me
Subject: $100?
Shove it up your ass.


From: Me
To: [Redacted]
Subject: Re: 100?
I can't actually believe I'm dignifying your email with a response, but clearly I put the fee right in the posting because I am dealing with a very small budget myself and didn't want to waste anyone's time. Needless to say, I got about 100 qualified resumes anyway. I would gladly pay photogs $10K/day if I could magically manufacture that kind of budget. But you sound like an understanding guy, so I'm sure you know what I mean.



From: [redacted]
To: Me
Subject: Re: Re: $100?
I apologize, for what it's worth. My IQ seems to run up and down on some kind of rollercoaster, and I sometimes forget that an actual person may read corporate emails. There's something really fine about your response, and even in the fact that you reponded.

I keep this pseudonymous address for sending nuisance emails to corporations, corporate media pooh-bahs, and corporate politicians, and 99.99% of them richly deserve whatever miniscule annoyance I can inject into their day: " Aber die Herrschenden Saßen ohne mich sicherer, das hoffte ich."

Of course it's ridiculous to quote Brecht in the context of nuisance emails, but it's even more ridiculous to do nothing because you can't do more, and I do a little more, when I can. This sounds like a collateral-damage defense: "I dropped a bomb on that email because I thought there were enemy combatants in it." Well... That's exactly what it is, but as a defense it always sounds a little better when it's packaged with some sort of compensation. Nothing perfectly appropriate occurs to me, so... the rest of this email is an English version of the great and beautiful poem To Posterity by Brecht. I hope it washes away the unfortunate impression I made on you when I was aiming at some generic corporate persona.

To Posterity
by Bertold Brecht(translated from German by H. R. Hays)

Indeed I live in the dark ages!

A guileless word is an absurdity. A smooth forehead betokens
A hard heart. He who laughs
Has not yet heard
The terrible tidings.

Ah, what an age it is
When to speak of trees is almost a crime
For it is a kind of silence about injustice!
And he who walks calmly across the street,
Is he not out of reach of his friends
In trouble?

It is true: I earn my living
But, believe me, it is only an accident.
Nothing that I do entitles me to eat my fill.
By chance I was spared. (If my luck leaves me
I am lost.)

They tell me: eat and drink.
Be glad you have it! But how can I eat and drink
When my food is snatched from the hungry
And my glass of water belongs to the thirsty?
And yet I eat and drink.

I would gladly be wise.
The old books tell us what wisdom is:
Avoid the strife of the world
Live out your little time
Fearing no one
Using no violence
Returning good for evil --
Not fulfillment of desire but forgetfulness
Passes for wisdom.
I can do none of this:
Indeed I live in the dark ages!

I came to the cities in a time of disorder

When hunger ruled.
I came among men in a time of uprising
And I revolted with them.
So the time passed away
Which on earth was given me.

I ate my food between massacres.
The shadow of murder lay upon my sleep.
And when I loved, I loved with indifference.
I looked upon nature with impatience.
So the time passed away
Which on earth was given me.
In my time streets led to the quicksand.

Speech betrayed me to the slaughterer.
There was little I could do. But without me
The rulers would have been more secure. This was my hope.
So the time passed away
Which on earth was given me.

You, who shall emerge from the flood

In which we are sinking,
Think --When you speak of our weaknesses,
Also of the dark time
That brought them forth.
For we went,changing our country more often than our shoes.

In the class war, despairing
When there was only injustice and no resistance.

For we knew only too well:
Even the hatred of squalor
Makes the brow grow stern.
Even anger against injustice
Makes the voice grow harsh. Alas, we
Who wished to lay the foundations of kindness
Could not ourselves be kind.

But you, when at last it comes to pass
That man can help his fellow man,
Do not judge us
Too harshly.


A disorder marked by making unnecessary online purchases in the wee hours due to insomnia.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Crazy Cat Lady

...But not in the way you might think. More like Crazy-Cat Lady. That is, I am a lady who has a cat who is real crazy. I love him, and have historically let him do whatever he's wanted, and generally spoiled him, and made excuses for some suspicious behavior. But it's time to come out from behind the veil of secrecy.

(<---Cali holding down the mini New York fort before the move to his namesake state.)
My cat's pathology is that he eats clothes. This started out as a more manageable, occasional deviance. He would eat things that were stringy, like bathing suits, bras, camisoles, and nightie straps. I thought this seemed OK-ish because it's commonly known that cats like yarn and string and stuff. Although I did think it was a bit odd that he wasn't just severing these strings, he was chewing them up and swallowing them into his belly.

Lately, it's gotten way worse. He's emboldened. He slides the closet doors open with his head, knocks pants and other knit garments on hangers right off the closet rod, and gnaws holes in them and leaves them right there on the floor (R.I.P perfect, classic off-the-shoulders sweater, 09/2001-10/2006). He's insidious. When I went to meet my newborn play niece in the hospital, I came straight from the gym. From my gym bag, I pulled my red-and-gray striped shirt--actually the same soft shirt I had worn on my first date with the blue-eyed-guy--and it was then I discovered all the holes in the arms. And it was all I had packed to wear. Nice, right?

A few days ago, I caught Mister Baby red handed, in the hallway, looking all Urkel-style did I do that? with bits of my brand new bikini around him (it's one of the two new ones I bought after he spent the last year destroying the rest of my vast collection), which he had pulled somehow from a closed bathroom cupboard, and drawn out of a basket where it was hidden, on top of which I'd placed a box as another line of defense. See how well that worked.

That last event was the catalyst for me taking the little guy to the vet today. Needless to say, this dude was not happy about the trip and did some nasty things to demonstrate that. Nearly $200 worth of blood work later, the vet tells me my cat might benefit from Prozac, which they can call into my local CVS pharmacy.

Prozac. My cat is going to have Prozac. Have I already made him that neurotic after only two and a half years in my charge? Jeez. Oy. Apparently it runs in the family.

Update: Some Web research has revealed that this condition is called Pica. Treatments vary. Has anyone experienced anything like this with a pet? Would appreciate any input.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Sniff. Times infinity million.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Famous Last Words

Last night over dinner, after a long weekend of birthday partying and related activities, I told the girls, "I'm beat. I'll sleep like a baby tonight." Instead, I woke up to put the cat out of the bedroom in the middle of the night and was seized by a bout of insomnia for hours.

I tried to focus my thoughts and do breathing exercises, like I've learned in yoga and meditation. I tried to do the one where you imagine that every time you exhale you're breathing out billows of black smoke that represent all the toxins and negative energy you're harboring, and on the inhale you're taking in a bounty of bright white light, which is supposed to be purifying and salubrious. But what I ended up doing was picturing this activity diagrammed as an illustration, like they do to demonstrate medicines becoming active in the body on TV commercials. And then I started thinking about those medicines, and TV, which led to other wildly unhinged chains of thought which only perpetuated the insomnia. Then I heard the cat barfing in the foyer, which made me think about how I'm going to have to clean that up in the morning, and about how I have so much else to do today, and about how maybe I overscheduled and overdefined my day, which made me feel burned out before the week even started.

Then I was thinking about seder tonight and how I'm glad I won't be the youngest at the table so I won't have to do the four questions, thank heaven. And what's so bad about the four questions, anyway? I guess I don't like to be on the spot so much anymore these days--even though I thrived on the spot when I was younger--which is probably why I try to get away with wearing cute jeans to most things I would have so enjoyed getting dressed up for years ago.

At some point it was 7:50 and the alarm went off, and I had an 8:30 meeting and the day barreled onward.