amyscoop.com

APRIL 2006
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Tomorrow, I am shooting a new project. It's an all day shoot -- literally. We're going to have cameras running for 24 hours straight, which means I am working for 24 hours straight. So, I expect that on Friday, I will be sleeping all day.

Monday, April 24, 2006
Today, for the first time in 13 years, I donated blood. I used to do it in high school, and I always thought it was important and something I should do on a regular basis, and back then I thought it was something I would do on a regular basis for the rest of my life. But then something bad happened. In college, during my first or second semester, there was a blood drive in the student union, and so I stopped by to donate. The people were kind of rude, I remember, and I was getting a weird vibe. When they took a drop of blood to make sure my iron levels were okay, they took it from my ear. I remember I said something about how I'd always had it taken out of my finger, and the woman was like, no one takes it out of the finger anymore! Whoever did that to you must not have known to do it this way! So that was odd. And then when I got to the chair to donate, I asked for it to be done in my left arm. I'm righthanded, and I can't do much with my left hand, so I didn't want any dull aches on my good side. But for whatever reason, they insisted on using my right arm, even though I begged them not to. And then the NP slid the needle in my arm and said, "Whoops!" And then she walked away! Just walked away, and I was there with a needle in my arm and a "whoops" in my ear. She walked across the room and came back with someone in a better-looking lab coat, who took the needle out of my arm right away, and said my vein collapsed and thanks for coming in anway. But veins don't just collapse -- people who don't stick needles in properly collapse veins! Long story short, my right arm was sore and black and blue for close to two weeks, and I didn't try to donate again until today. Thirteen years later.

Anyway, there was a blood drive today, and I'm not sure why, but it just sort of seemed like the right thing to do. So I went in and signed up, and when they went to test my iron levels, I was expecting a poke in my ear, but they got it from my finger. (It's a good thing I have no idea what that high-and-mighty ear lady from college looks like, because I'd like to stick some needles in her ears.) Oh, apparently I have good iron levels. And then they asked me which arm I wanted them to draw from, and I said the left, and the needle went right in, no problem. I told the woman who was there about my vein collapsing last time, and she checked my right arm, and said something like, I don't know why they'd take blood from your right arm when the veins on your left arm are so much bigger. Yeesh.

It was all over in ten minutes, and then a nice old man volunteer brought me juice and cookies, plus a voucher for one free item of my choice off of the McDonald's value menu (sweet!) and a heart-shaped sticker that says, "Be nice to me. I gave blood today," which I keep pointing out to Paul. And I didn't feel weak or lightheaded or dizzy afterwards, which I thought I might. And I just took the bandage off, and my arm looks fine. It's not even bruised -- there's just a little dot where the needle was. It's a tiny bit sore, but it really isn't bad. So I think this is something I'll start to do more regularly again.

Saturday, April 22, 2006
I don't know why -- maybe it's all the Japanese history I've been reading lately -- but whatever the reason, for the past week or so, I've really been wanting a big bowl of noodles. Japanese noodles. And it's more than wanting -- it's like serious craving as soon as I get up in the morning, like I can smelll them and taste them even though it's only quarter after six. It's like some mornings I don't even want to get out of bed unless I know that when I get downstairs, there will be a big steaming bowl of udon waiting for me.

Tonight, I got Paul to go with me to the Chinese restaurant with the noodle bar inside. Paul isn't so into noodles, and he's not always in the mood for Chinese, but he agreed to go, and we did, and I got a big bowl of seafood hor-fun, and oh my god was it good. I ate the whole freaking thing, and the whole time I kept saying, this is so good. And the people who work there must not be used to people eating the whole freaking thing, because when we were done and our waiter came to take away our plates, he looked at the giant empty bowl in front of me and said, whoa! And I just kind of smiled and said I was hungry, and that it was really good, figuring I shouldn't get into how much I've been craving noodles lately, and oh by the way, I eat like a truck driver. I think eating like a truck driver is much more forgivable than swearing like a sailor. Don't you?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
I'm always a little hesitant to say that spring is here, since a few days of 70s doesn't mean that it can't snap down to 20 in a few hours (and sometimes yield the oxymoronish but still quite real thunder snow). And it's certainly not summer yet; the calendar assures us of that. But I can say with full confidence that winter is officially over! How do I know? Because today, for the first time since a very unseasonably warm day back in November, I got my superfly Yamaha Vino scooter out! And I rode it! I went to the store, I took something to Paul at work so he wouldn't have to come home, and I just plain rode it around the block. It took a few tries to get started, since it was sitting idle in the garage all winter, but once the gas lines filled up again, it ran just fine.

This summer, I plan to ride it a whole lot more often, and I will really try to use my car a whole lot less. In addition to it just being a lot more fun, have you seen what they're charging for gas these days? Yeah, the scooter's a little less peppy than the average car, and it gets over 30 mph only on a downhill, but at 85 miles per gallon, those are quibbles. Bring on the warm weather and hold back the rain. I am ready to ride.

Monday, April 17, 2006
Now I remember what I didn't like about college! It's the end of the semester crunch, when you have to write a paper for every class and take a final, and somehow (how? how?) it all gets left until the very last minute, and suddenly what seemed like weeks and weeks to get everything done is just a few days. So I'm feeling a little crunched right now.

And then there's all this campus parking crap. I didn't have to go through this in college or grad school because I didn't have a car, but now I do, and it's a huge pain in the ass. The large state university that is right nearby and at which I am currently enrolled in one class provides all kinds of metered parking spots at outrageous prices (ten minutes for a quarter!). Or, you can buy a campus parking permit for a similarly outrageous price. I'm not sure why these huge campuses charge so much for parking. It's not like I'm going to park there and then go downtown for the day -- the campus is a mile or two from anything else, and there are closer (and freer) parking spots to downtown and everything else. It's like Wal-mart charging you to park in their lot before you shop in their store: with all the tuition and fees and more fees they want you to pay, you'd think the least they could do is let me park my car for a few hours while I go read a book that I'm not allowed to check out because some professor has put it on course reserve.

(An aside: the very expensive private college in town lets me and you and anyone else in the world park on their campus for free, regardless of whether or not they are affiliated with the university, which I am not. And their campus is practically in downtown. And they have fewer parking spots. Anyway.)

The large nearby state university provides change machines near their metered slots so that you can get change to put in their meters. But I think most people use those for change for laundry. And then today, when I went up to change a few bucks for parking, the machine was out. Well, of course it was out. It's Monday, and everyone knows that in college, Thursdays are for drinking, Fridays are for more drinking, Saturdays are for recovering, and Sundays are for laundry. So, on Mondays, that means every change machine in a ten mile radius is out of quarters. I should have known.

I called the number posted on the change machine, hoping that the person in the parking office on the other end would tell me that oh, it's no problem, just park and we won't ticket you today, since you're so conscientious and since you always pay your meters. But do you know what she told me? She told me that those machines are a courtesy! A fucking courtesy! And that I should really carry change with me! I should carry a roll of quarters on me! And oh, was I a student? Because technically, I wasn't allowed to park in the spots near the library, because those are reserved for visitors. Yes, visitors who have no reason to use the library are allowed to pay to park near the library, but students who want to and need to use the library need to park in the other metered lot half a mile away. Techinically, she said, I could get a $25 ticket for parking near the library. I refrained from telling her to do a few choice things with a parking meter, thanked her, and shut my phone.

Then I figured, fuck it. I'll just find a spot half a mile away without a meter and take my chances. There are literally thousands of parking spots on that campus, and they can't check them all, can they? I found a ramp that I'd parked in before when I was on campus for meetings and other non-class stuff. The signs in the ramp said I needed a permit, but I had parked there before without one (the people I was meeting with told me to park there and it would be okay), and I didn't see any parking trolls checking windshields. So I parked there for a few hours. I didn't get a ticket. But, the book I had to read through was like 600 pages, and after about two hours, I was getting hungry and annoyed, and I was only about halfway done. So I have to go back tomorrow. Hopefully my cool new free parking scheme will continue to serve me well.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Paul's birthday was on Monday, and for dinner we went to this place in town that opened not too long ago. I guess I'd describe what they serve as upscale soul food. Lots of deep fried fish, buttery cobblers, buttery everything. And it was all really rich, but man, it was good. It seemed like the place to get ribs, which is what Paul got. They were very saucy, and Paul started eating them with a knife and fork. It wasn't the fanciest place in the world, but we still had work clothes on, and I could understand his desire to remain neat and all. But when he was done, there was still all kinds of meat left on the bones, and I wasn't having it. So picked up about half of the bones on his plate, one by one, and ate what was left on them.

People have made fun of me for doing so, but when I eat any kind of meat on a bone, like chicken wings or ribs, I'm not done until the bones are clean. I mean it: meat, skin, cartilage -- I eat it all. I'm not at all squeamish if there are tiny little veins, and I kind of think gristle tastes good. I like the crunchiness of the cartilage on chicken wings, and supposedly it's good for me. (My mom spends hundreds on chondroitin pills to improve her own cartilage and minimize pain in her joints, whereas I just go right for the source.) I know I'm in the minority on this issue, and I think that's wrong. It kills me when people order chicken, ribs, or anything other food like this and then leave half of it clinging to the bones. And I'm not coming from the people-are-starving-in-Africa standpoint on this, though I guess that's probably true. No, I'm coming from the it-tastes-fucking-good standpoint! That stuff tastes fucking good! I chew up every last bit, and when I'm done, you could take the bones on my plate, drill a hole in each of them, string them on a piece of soaked hemp, and wear the result as a necklace. Well, usually. If I'm really hungry, I'll try to break the bones and see if there's any marrow inside. That tastes good too.

I think I can trace this back to my childhood and Chinese take-out spareribs. When I was little, I used to love spare ribs from Chinese restaurants. Maybe it was the tangy sauce, maybe it was the cool foil-lined take-out bag they came in, maybe it was the whole forbidden-fruit-ness of it all (Jews aren't supposed to eat pork, remember), but whatever it was, I really liked them. Problem was, you get four to an order, and there are five in my family. Even with my brothers splitting one, that left just one each for my mom, my dad, and me. I got one rib, when I really wanted the whole bag, or even two bags -- I've always had a healthy appetite -- so I had to make the best of it. My solution was to eat everything I could possibly tear, pull, or scrape off of that bone. And then when I had finished that and my dad suggested I put it down and maybe have some chicken, I'd practically gnaw at it until that very thin filmy skin (for lack of a better word) on the bone would loosen and peel off the bone, and then I'd eat that. Most people probably don't even know you can do that, and to be honest, that part maybe isn't so great -- it's not bad, but it's not great -- but I was going to get everything out of my one Chinese spare rib. Everything.

So now, with the exception of the filmy skin part, I do that with all ribs and wings, and with any chicken on the bone. And actually, when I lived in Buffalo and chicken wings were a more substantial part of my diet, I was applauded by home cooks, restaurant waitstaff, and impressed natives for not leaving anything on the bones, because that's what you're supposed to do. But everywhere else, people have made fun of me. I'm okay with it, though. Not only does all that stuff of the bone taste good, but my joints feel fine, and if I ever need to fake an archeological dig, I should be all set.

Monday, April 10, 2006
Whew! After 23 hours in the car, 6 hours on in-bound and out-bound busses, and two or three hours on Queens-bound and Manhattan-bound subway cars, we are back from our big big spring break trip to New York. I'm a little tired, but it was fun.

We managed to hit three (three!) museums in two days. We went to the Museum of Modern Art -- or as the hipsters, the wannabe hipsters, and the astoundingly unhip call it, the MoMA -- to check out the Edvard Munch exhibit, and also because Paul hadn't been there and wanted to see it. The last time I was there, the design galleries weren't open, but this time they were, and I love looking at that kind of stuff. The Munch exhibit maybe wasn't my thing, but it seemed to be good, and it was really crowded, which I guess is a good sign. The weirdest part of the day was, in this behemoth of a museum, running into my boss. Yes, my boss from Kalamazoo. I knew he'd be in New York last week, and two weeks ago I even joked that maybe we'd run into each other, but I never thought that in one of the biggest cities in the world, in one of the biggest museums in the city, that would actually happen. What are the odds? I have no idea.

The next day, Paul and my brother Evan and I took a ride out to Astoria to check out the Museum of the Moving Image, which was really, really, really good. I was surprised at how good it was (and a little surprised at how empty it was). It was fun and informative and interactive, and they had this amazing motion-based sculpture-thing where a bomb turns into a paper airplane, and that was worth the price of admission alone. And we got to make stop-motion animations at these stations they had set up, and they had all these cool, old film cameras. And one of the exhibits was about motion graphics in video games, and they had a Karate Champ console! I used to totally kick all kinds of ass in that game, and I got to play for about a half hour before I got tired of the pixely 2-D graphics. Seriously, the next time you're in New York, if you're ever in New York, this was a great place. If you take the train from Times Square, it's just a few stops out to Astoria. And, it's near a bunch of Cuban eateries; all of us got a huge plate of awesome, homey Cuban food for like five bucks each.

After the Museum of the Moving Image, we went over to the American Folk Art Museum. Like a lot of other museums in the city, it's free on Fridays after 5:30. I'm not a huge fan of Folk Art, but they did have some interesting stuff, including this Nek Chand exhibit. He covers these concrete sculptures of people with cut-up bangle bracelets, and the result is really nice. (Click the link to see what I mean.)

The next day, we had tickets for the Mets game, but it got rained out. But before they made the call, we had already taken the train to Shea, had some warm beverages, watched a recap of the 1986 postseason on the screens while we waited, and had our picture taken. I was very bummed that we didn't get to see a Mets game, as I had really been looking forward to it, but I guess we would have been cold. It was sort of hailing, and our seats weren't under an overhang, so we would have gotten pelted pretty bad. It stopped a few hours later, and of course yesterday was beautiful. Next time.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006
That stupid bird has been at it again today. Only now, instead of just smacking into the window on the side door, it's been smacking into the kitchen window too. I'm not sure why it wants to get into the kitchen so badly (or yikes, why it wants to get me so badly), but you'd think it'd crack its wee birdy skull at some point.

(And in case you were wondering, yes, I am disappointed that I posted a picture of our cat yesterday. Yeesh. Now I'm one of those people.)

Also: why do we need this? What will we learn from it? Is this going to teach us anything? My guess is that it's just a way to make money off a horrible, horrible event. How does this better society? How does this forward our thinking? Why not just take the millions you knew it would cost and donate it to an appropriate charity? Why why why?

And finally: Spring break! It's spring break! Although, to be honest, it hasn't felt like spring break yet. I may be off from work, but I still have my stupid college classes to contend with, and exams to study for, and MF-ing term papers to write. But screw all that. Tomorrow, we're going to New York for a few days of family power time! And also to loll around Manhattan and go to museums see friends and eat (knishes and pizza and sushi and black and white cookies oh god oh god oh god) and go to a Mets game. Do you know how long it's been since I've been to a Mets game? Too long! Seriously, I think it's been since like high school. Anyway, we're gone. Back next week. Possible updates.

Monday, April 3, 2006
Waiting for a stupid bird. Today was like right out of a Hitchcock film! This morning, I was sitting at the dining room table studying, and I heard a kind of scratching and banging noise. It sounded like maybe an animal in the house, so I started to get a little nervous. I tried to ignore it, but the noise kept coming. It sounded like it was coming from the kitchen, so I walked over to check it out, hoping one of the raccoons dind't find its way inside. I didn't see anything at first, but then I saw a robin try to fly in through the window on the side door! The window is solid glass, of course, so it just banged its head, regrouped and perched back on the bush next to the door, and tried again. That's what the noise was! A very stupid or very aggressive bird was trying to get in my house! Our cat Jinx probably wanted it to come inside, and he's been at the foot of the door for most of the day, instead of his usual spot in front of the heater vent.

Now it's the afternoon, and the bird is still coming back. And it's not just after me: Paul was home for lunch and I was out, and the bird was still banging its stupid little bird head against the window. I guess it's not a huge deal, but it was a little unnerving. I don't look anything like Tippi Hedren, but it still seemed, in a very paranoid way, like this bird was after me.


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