An Experiment, Part Two
11/12/04, date this document was saved, apparently:
The crew was swarming around the set, which was a small kitchen-like setting, with a table and chair and fireplace. Shari looked around and found Jessica doing her duties. She saw a few of the other actors hanging around; she was disappointed to see that Lij wasn’t one of them.
Eventually, Shari settled herself near the monitor. The lights had been set up around the table and leading to the closed door, which she could see. One of the cameramen was going to shoot it on a handheld camera. Shari anticipated more repetitive takes. Her jaw dropped when Amanda appeared, directing the cameramen and doing some last minute rehearsals with Orli. Amanda had on a relatively simple dress—simple for that time period. She wasn’t wearing a hood this time, but she did have a corset and a shift on underneath the voluminous dress. Orli was dressed in simpler clothes. Shari decided that she preferred the men’s costumes. They were practical. If she lived back then, she would’ve worn those clothes everyday. Amanda had only given Shari a look in response to that comment.
Eva hadn't left the house in three months. She spent her days in the lavender room at the corner of the house, where the sunlight came in the best and she could be comfortably alone. It was the most inviting room in the house and Dominic used to spend a lot of time there, lying on the daybed while Eva sat at her desk and wrote. When they'd moved into the house three years ago, they'd agreed that Eva needed a room to work in. She'd fallen in love with the corner room and its views of green, suburban Lancashire and promptly made Dom help paint it her favorite color. They ended up covered in bright lavender at the end of the day.
I try not to go home very often. I use all sorts of excuses when my mother or my siblings or one of my best friends ask me to come home and see them. "You only have to take the subway," they say. "It's only an hour. Not that far."
"Oh, I have to work,"I tell them. Or: "The Boy and I have plans. The fare's so much now. I can't go back to Queens all the time." The fact is that Queens isn't home anymore. My life is in Manhattan.
But I found myself on the subway going into Queens one Saturday morning. Occasionally, I glanced up and saw the advertisement above the opposite seats. Smiling college students. A list of majors. LaGuardia Community College.
January 31, 2006. Memoir writing class:
Rei's sitting on the end of her bed, wearing a T-shirt that says I Heart NY and pink, polka-dotted pajama bottoms. She sits upright at the foot of her bed, hands gripping the rail. Her intense, nearsighted state is on the TV, barely eighteen inches away. Her mouth opens and a loud gasp escapes. Then a litany of curses: "Holy shit! What are you doing, you idiot?" The one-sided conversation continues for the next hour. Most people would say she's completely lost her mind. But in fact, the girl does this sort of thing every week--Wednesdays, 9 PM--in the exact same position. It's almost religious in the way she does it, with the zeal of a religious convert. Sitting so close to the TV, she couldn't possibly miss anything. And no one in the TV can hear her yell. But she doesn't care. When "Lost" is on, she forgets everything else in the world.
April 2006: Ongoing Saga, Take One:
“I hate February,” Lennon declared as she sprawled in one of our beanbag chairs, Pippin curled up with her.
“You say that every February,” I reminded her.
“Yeah. ‘Cause it’s true,” Lennon mumbled back. I looked at Pippin, who was basking in the glory of being petted by Lennon. I wish I were a cat sometimes.
“Now that’s a happy cat,” I pointed out, stepping over Lennon to get to the kitchen behind her.
Lennon smiled down at the stretching cat. “Aw, Pippin loves me, don’t you? Huh, Pip?” Lennon’s smile turned into a scowl and then that terrible neutral expression shifted into place. It was two days after my birthday, about three weeks after the death of Lennon and Kevin and she was in a hole. And I couldn’t bring her out of it. She would have to dig herself out eventually, on her own time.
“Pippin’s very loving.”
“For a cat,” Lennon said, wiggling her butt to get into a more comfortable position. “Brian coming over?”
“Yeah,” I answered, reaching into the fridge for milk. “He’s working on some sketches with his comedy troupe. And they keep late hours.”
“Most of you performers keep late hours,” Lennon said, voice hollow.
“So do writers,” I replied, looking through the cupboards.
“Oh, but I’m not a writer,” she answered. “I’m an editor’s assistant. That play was a fluke.”
“Was not.” I opened the next cupboard, looking for my lime green bowl. I wanted cereal. “You’re always writing something.”
“Not for public consumption,” she said. “And thus lies the crux of the matter…what are you looking for?”
“My bowl,” I answered. “The lime green one.”
“Scottie, it’s right on the counter.”
I looked down. Sure enough, there it was. I picked it up and glanced at it for a second. “Thank you. This is why we still live together. Now where are the Lucky Charms?”
“Oh, because that’s real healthy to eat at ten o’clock at night.”
“Says the woman who used to eat Cocoa Puffs for dinner several times a week in college.”
My father says that when it comes to photographs, Athy men don't smile and Athy women always have their mouths open, ready to add an acidic comment to the conversation. He claims that this goes back generations through the taciturn Northern Irish men and the talkative Irish women who are my ancestors. By this logic, out of three brothers, my father is the only one with his full share of quirky Athy genetics.
I spent a good portion of my senior year of high school pretending that I was engaged to my friend Greg. I was not the one who started this twisted joke nor did I necessarily understand what deficient part of Greg’s brain came up with it. All I know is that one day, early on in senior year, Greg, who can only be described as doofy and very tall, came up to me in journalism class, put an arm around my shoulders and said, “We’re getting married in June.”
“Oh, yeah?” I replied. “Where’s my ring, you dork?”“You’ll get it later, cupcake.”
Summer 2008. Grad school thesis:
With only a minimal and passing knowledge of psychology and architecture, I quickly learned how to write sales pitch letters and emails for books ranging from geriatric psychiatry to the history of public markets to how to make paper out of plants and vegetables. Similar to an essay for school or the practice press releases I wrote for an undergraduate marketing class, the method for writing pitch letters came down to whom the letter was being sent to. As with any piece of writing, audience matters. Kevin Olsen, the marketing director at Norton Professional Books, told me that although he tried to read all of the books he was in charge of marketing, finishing them all was impossible. I learned how to write pitches based on scraps of information from flap copy, catalog copy, and sometimes from reading the first few pages of the book to gain a sense of the tone. Pitching includes writing to organizations with conferences or annual meetings who might be interested in a bookseller, or to academics who might be interested in buying books in bulk as part of a course adoption.