Sunday, June 25, 2006

My iBook was at Woodstock

My computer clock has been weird lately. It's off by hours, sometimes days. No matter how many times I reset it it goes wonky again.

Yesterday I went to fix it yet again when I saw that, apart from having the wrong date and time ...

My computer thinks that it's January, 1970. I don't know how long it's been living in a time warp. Maybe it got freaked out by y2k and defected to a simpler time?

Oh, man. I can't even begin to deal with this right now.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Open Letter to Street Lobbyists

Dear Friendly Street Lobbyist,

No, I'm sorry, I don't have a moment to talk about Greenpeace. What I would like to talk about is you. Look, I know that this is your job, OK. I know that, for whatever reason, you feel that you have love to give, and smiles to share, and kittens to save. I'm not saying I don't care about Greenpeace. I like Greenpeace. I don't like kittens, but let's not even go there. Deep down, I'm glad you're out there, waving at me, trying to stop my 60mph stride, sticking out your clipboard. It's just on the surface that I hate you. See, here are my two problems: One, you're in New York City; and two, you're talking to me.

Here's the deal with problem number one: On any given New York street at any given time, there are only two states that a person can be in:

1. They are too busy/stressed out/crazy to stop (even if they are standing still -- it's possible they've just had a cerebral hemorrage).

2. They are blissfully free of work/stress/psychosis/major illness and are reveling in the fact that they have nothing to worry about and no one to bother them. Except, of course, YOU.

Why don't you go to Minnesota or somewhere where people, I don't know, actually like talking to strangers? You're in New York, buddy. We walk past homeless people. We let pregnant people stand on the subway. Even those of us who are nice, decent human beings have low tolerance for strangers. Wegive to charities, but we like to do it through things we actually trust, like credit cards and the Internet.

Here's problem number two: I personally hate you. I'm sorry to those of you who are advocating for gay rights and environmental action -- I actually think what you're doing is good (not that I'd stop to chat), but your causes are blighted by the assholes who ask me where I get my hair cut. A girl actually once said "Hi!" to me, like she knew me. Not, "Hi, can I ask you a question?", not "Hi! Save the Whales?" Nope, just an enthusiastic "Hi!". I stopped, wondering if I knew her from high school. That's when she raised her clipboard.

Here's a tip: I have a fake cell phone call at the ready a half a block away. I am impervious to all charm, all pleading, all reason. If you faked a heart attack I would just dodge. I will only stop to talk to you if I have been hit by a car and you are resuscitating me. Even then, I won't sign a thing. So, friendly street lobbyists, do yourselves a favor, save yourselves from another heartless asshole. When you see this face ....

[my stupid internet won't let me post a photo here, so just imagine me here, looking menacing yet pretty]
Turn away.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Dear Diary ... and Potential Employers

Today my mom showed up to breakfast brandishing an article from the front page of the New York Times (incidentally, the link I just gave you is from the Seattle Times, but it's the same text). In case you don't choose to read it yourself, the article is basically a warning to young would-be employees that potential employers now frequently check Facebook, Myspace, and Friendster profiles during the hiring process, and if they don't like what they see (i.e. a photo of you next to a giant bong), well, you might as well have printed your resume on toilet paper.

Although it is not expressly mentioned, I assume that this warning extends to bloggers, too. Just the other day I read an article about a blogger who was caught writing satirical essays about her industry and, when she was fired, found herself at the epicenter of a media maelstrom. Unfortunately, this particular story has no moral, as the woman in question became an insta-celebrity and now has a lucrative book deal (I should be so lucky).

The article got me thinking about privacy. We all know, in theory, that the Internet is an unstable and relatively untrustworthy universe when it comes to personal privacy. Everyone worries about credit card fraud and identity theft, and many of my friends balked at my new subscription to Gmail, Google's searchable web-based mail system. "Anyone can read your mail, you know," one friend warned. At the time it gave me pause, but then I remember thinking: Eh! Who cares? I mean, I often don't wash fruit and sometimes I don't (!) even (!) sign (!) out (!) of (!) online (!) banking (!) before (!) I (!) close (!) the (!) browser (!!!!!!!!!); in other words, I look at safety and privacy as big picture kind of problems, but I don't sweat the small stuff. Viruses (both of the tainted fruit variety and of the computer bug variety) have yet to get me.

I accept that my blog is something that people can freely read. I am responsible for everything I post, every last expletive, every last reference to my own drunkeness or personal failure (neither of which, I might add, are habitual). If a potential employer were to Google me, the first link on the list would lead them right here. What could someone glean about me from poring over this blog? In the best-case scenario, someone might imagine me to be a talented writer who is smart, funny and thoughtful. In the worst-case scenario, someone might decide I'm a flippant, unemployed whiner who procrastinates, over-shops, and goes on drunken boating expeditions. In effect, you could read this blog and make a lot of judgments about my personality or my social life (that may or may not be true), but as I rarely blog about my work, how could anyone make accurate judgments about me as an employee based on what's written here? That's right; they couldn't.

The Facebook-Myspace-Friendster issue is stickier. As someone who is a member of two out of three of these sites, I'd like to think that I can see the debate from both sides. On the one hand, it is widely understood (at least by the people who subscribe) that these sites are places to network, to find friends and dates, and to have a sort of homepage where you can post the pictures, music, and diary entries that you think will show people who you are (or, perhaps more commonly, that will show people how you want them to see you). On the other hand, the sites give you the option of making your page private - thus warning you that your profile may be visible to the Web at large - and many, many people don't take advantage of this feature (myself included). I understand both sides of the debate, but here is what I think: for potential employers to look at kids' online profiles in order to make professional decisions is in poor taste. I'd even go so far as to say that I think it's bordering on an invasion of privacy. Yes, these sites are not entirely private, but a lot of people don't know that. In our increasingly computerized and Internet-centered world, places like Myspace, Friendster, and Facebook are basically modern diaries. The fact that some kids (and adults) choose to share their private information with others is less a testament to their lack of modesty than it is a testament to the lack of modesty of society at large. If we live in an age when, at the click of a button, you can see the latest celebrity sex tape, an animated cartoon satire about the president, or the beheading of Daniel Pearl, how is it surprising that our definitions of privacy and propriety have changed?

Let me tell you two little stories. I know a girl who is an extremely responsible, smart, and talented girl. If she showed up for a job interview, she would impress you as being all of the above. Furthermore, she would work hard and excel. If you looked on her Myspace page, you'd see a photo of her posing provocatively in lingerie. Why? I don't know, I guess she wanted to feel sexy, and show other people that she is sexy. Is it a good idea to have this photograph online? Maybe not. Is it reflective of her potential job performance? Not at all.

My second story concerns a guy I know. He's a great guy and a great friend, but he drinks too much, smokes too much pot, and indulges in cocaine every once in awhile. He's thrown up at work before due to hangovers, but he still gets hired. His Friendster profile? Clean as a whistle.

Oh, wait, one more. There's this powerful guy I know who had an amazing job, but then had an affair with a co-worker -- actually, an underling -- and when it became public he almost lost his job. He was married, and had a kid. It was all over the 'Net. You don't have to look him up on MySpace, though. I'll save you the trouble: it's Bill Clinton. Wanna hire him?

Look, I know that Bill Clinton never posed provocatively in underwear (that we know of), and I'm not saying that people shouldn't be held accountable for their judgment in terms of how they choose to present themselves on sites like MySpace. Everyone should think long and hard about how they present themselves to the world. What I'm saying is that an online profile is, at best, a true refelection of a person's social life and cannot, under any circumstances, be used to envision what that person might be like at work. I would understand if potential landlords wanted to look at these sites, because a person is much more likely to hold beer pong tournaments at home than in the office. When it comes to the working world, though, call me crazy, call me naive, even call me (gasp!) modest, but when it comes down to it, I guess I still believe that a resume and a list of references should do just fine.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Look! I row!

This was me on Sunday ... after two vodka cranberries.

Whee! Look out, boaters!

I'm drunk now, too. Is this becoming a trend?

Bye now.

Friday, June 9, 2006

Kitties, Birdies, and Other Things I Hate

So, I’ve been gone a long time, but I have a really good reason.

I’ve been watching The West Wing starting with Season One. Also Laguna Beach. I like to alternate the two so that I get a good balance of culture and politics. I’ve also been taking exercise classes with my Mom, trying out some new nail polishes, and avoiding packing for my upcoming move.

Oh, and I also planned a benefit reception for the new film I’m working on which totally kicked ass. I know you missed me, but, you know, I’m a busy girl. Watching a Laguna Beach marathon is a serious commitment.

A lot of good things have happened to me over the past two weeks, but keeping with tradition I’ll get straight to the part where I complain.

Let’s see ... shall I begin with the cab driver who ran over my foot or the two dead birds that fell on me during lunch today? I’ve decided not to rant about the United States Postal Service, who are holding my mail (and TWO unemployment checks) in the limbo that is mail forwarding, even though I specified that my mail not be forwarded until June 30, because they are RETARDS ... but I digress. I will also make peace with the stress-induced tongue sore that developed just in time for a public speaking engagement, which forced me to numb my entire mouth with ointment so that I sounded like I’d thrown back a couple of martinis with some vicodin prior to taking the stage. No, instead I’m going to direct my ire at defenseless (or dead) animals and a hapless cabbie.

The aforementioned cab driver and I met on an unfortunate day that began with me picking up a kitten for my mother at 9:45 am on a Sunday. The kitten - Dinah - was freaking out as I dragged her down 26th Street. I reached the corner, hailed a cab, and told the driver I was going to Brooklyn. He looked at me blankly.

“This is my first day,” he said. “You direct me?”

I said OK, and pointed him toward the Brooklyn Bridge. I never thought I’d say this, but I wish I had been able to back seat-accelerate, because brother was driving like an eighty year-old in a school parking lot. I’ve never seen a taxi go so slow. We didn’t even block the box or sideswipe pedestrians. It was like an alternate universe.

Now, I felt sorry for the first-time driver, so I was very patient, which was a considerable feat for someone trapped in a small space with a spastic kitten. I was patient when the FDR entrance was closed and we wasted ten minutes circling alphabet city. I was patient when construction work on the bridge slowed traffic to a halt. I was patient when the cabbie drove so slowly that we hit every red light, every time. He pulled up to my mom’s house and I paid him, tipping generously. I stepped out of the car, pulled the cat out, and realized that the cab had not stopped. Motherfucker proceeded to roll over my foot. IT HURT! I yelped in pain, but the nervous cabbie was already rolling down the street at a steady 5 mph.

The moral of this story is, don’t be nice to people on their first day on the job, because they could maim you.

Lesson number two for today is: always sit under an umbrella.

My dad and I had lunch today at Pete’s Tavern in Manhattan, on 18th and Irving. It’s one of the oldest establishments in the city, boasting famous clientele like O. Henry, who wrote “Gift of the Magi” there. It’s a nice little tavern that serves burgers and seafood and beer on tap. It was a beautiful sunny day, so Dad and I decided to sit outside. We had been sitting for twenty minutes or so when a small object fell, hard, right next to our table. It looked like it could have been a glob of bird shit, or a small ball.

“What was that?” I asked.

“What was what?” -- Dad hadn’t seen it.

“Something fell,” I said. “Over there.”

Dad looked and instantly recoiled. A waiter came over.

“What ... is that?” Dad asked. He and the waiter were both looking at the ground.

“It’s a bird.” said the waiter.

Dad turned to me. “It’s a dead baby pigeon.” he said.

“Um ... I’ll sweep it up.” said the waiter.

Dad and I looked up at the sky above our heads.

“It must have fallen from the roof,” Dad said.

“Ew.” I said.

“I hope there aren’t any others.” Dad said.

We continued our meal.

About fifteen minutes later, I felt something ricochet off my shoulder and land on the ground behind me with a thud.

“What the hell was that?” I asked.

Dad looked over at the ground behind me. “It’s another one.” he said.

I leapt up and stood a few feet away from the table. I hailed a busboy.

“Hi,” I said. “Two birds have fallen on us. Dead birds.”

The busboy looked up, then looked back at me questioningly. The hostess, an older woman who looked like she had wandered out of Bergdorf’s by accident, was called. She seemed very upset that the bird was nearly dead. I had, it seemed, not treated the matter of the bird’s untimely death with the gravity that it deserved.

“Um, can we move to another table?” I repeated. The hostess instructed the busboy to put the bird out of its misery, and went off to console herself.

What followed was a comically long time in which none of the wait staff seemed to worry about the customers being pelted with dead fowl. There was a discussion of unfurling a canopy, which was quickly vetoed by the hostess because it would block the sun.

“It would also block the dead birds from falling on my veggie burger.” I added helpfully. They seemed unmoved.

Finally Dad and I moved ourselves to another table, where we immediately squished ourselves up against the wall and picked joylessly at our food.

Nothing like dead pigeons to whet the appetite. As if New Yorkers weren’t jumpy enough.
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