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....I haven't posted here in what? four years? But I've been around. Here's the deal: I really have two LiveJournal personaes, one of whom is identifiably me, and the other of whom is this made-up personality named RedThroatedLoon. I love reading RTL's friend's entries, but she hasn't felt the need to actually post an entry of her own in a while.  

But she doesn't want to exactly go away, either. So she'll try to post occasionally. Just to keep this account alive.

So there it is. Sorry.

Signed, 

RTL
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Coffee: $ .85
Bagel: $1.00
Bagel w/butter: $1.25
Bagel w/cream cheese: $1.50
Frontal lobotomy: Free
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God fucking dammit.

The guy who recruited me into this job almost a year ago, the first seriously stable and enjoyable job that I've had for about six or more years, called me up this afternoon and told me that he'd taken a job at a rival publication, and not only was he leaving, but he was leaving today, because since it was a competitor, they didn't want him to stay the entire two weeks. So here I am, a kite whose string has been sliced, waiting to find out what, if anything, is going to be done with me. They'll pretend to find me something to do, but they won't want to. I've been in other jobs before where my boss/mentor/sponsor left, and it never, ever works out. Nobody is going to fire me outright, but I'll be lucky if I'm still employed six months from now.

Fuck.
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When I go to work in the morning, I take the R train from the first stop in Brooklyn and change, a few stops later, for the N express. The N is usually fairly populated, sometimes full; this is, after all, the NYC subway at rush hour. I usually have to stand for the first couple of stops and then I can find a seat when a lot of people get off at Atlantic Ave./Pacific St., a hub for several train lines.

Today, I see there's a seat next to the window. I go over to it, and see there's a bundle of clothing there. It's not unusual for less mindful people to put their stuff on the seat, so I ask the woman seated next to it politely if it's hers. (Translation: If it is, take it off the seat, you bitch!). She says it isn't.

Well, I could just leave the clothing there and stand -- but I'm feeling obstinate, so I gingerly brush the clothing onto the floor. Much to my relief, there's nothing under it, and I sit. And notice that, under the seat perpendicular to mine, there's a grubby-looking cloth suitcase. I asked, and it doesn't belong to the woman sitting there, or to the woman sitting next to me. They seem unconcerned.

Ooookay.

Now, I'm a native New Yorker, and like everyone else, (a) I've learned to mind my own business to avoid going totally insane, what with street musicians and beggers and obnoxious phone callers and the like, and (b) I've been bombarded by ads on public transportation urging people to notify somebody if you come across an abandoned bag. So after a brief momoment of doubt, during which I picture the several hundred subway riders who will hate my guts if they stop the train because of me, I get off at the next stop, jog over to the middle car, and tell the conductor.

She motions to a guy wearing bright cotton clothing, a neat beard, and a tiny earring in one ear. A musician? No, the subway dispatcher. I show him the bag and the loose clothing; he looks at it for a second, pulls it from under the seat, thanks me, and takes it off the train. I'm not sure what happens on the platform after that, but I notice some of the people watching him, so my assumption is that he put the case down and called the cops to take it away.

I lost my seat, but I had a nice conversation with a young woman about how she once found a backpack on a train, and I had fun wondering how anybody can comfortably sit on a subway train, especially after what happened in London and other countries, knowing there's a strange satchel under your seat...
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A group of young Iranian women were attacked by Iran's State Security Forces yesterday when they protested outside Tehran's main football stadium. They had bought tickets for the game, but women aren't allowed in the stadium, so they stood outside the stadium with banners. Threatening, right? They were attacked, forced into a bus, and driven away. I heard about it on the morning BBS news, but could only find a couple of articles online. Here's one.

The courage of these young women in the face of a hostile police force is amazing.
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On Saturday, I went to see a play called "The Lieutenant of Inishmore" at the Atlantic Theatre. Written by Martin McDonagh, it is a very black comedy about a splinter group of a splinter group of the IRA -- and at the end, there was so much fake blood and body parts strewn around the stage that some people stayed behind to watch the cleanup. Really -- there were several times where somebody got shot, a squib went off and an actor got sprayed with red stuff; there were two fake dead cats (and one obviously healthy real one), and several fake bodies that got sawed into during the last act. Most of the people there -- it was a matinee, so a lot of ladies past the age of retirement -- wouldn't have been caught dead watching a movie that had one quarter of that amount of gore, and I saw several cover their eyes during much of the second half. Hell, I had to drop my eyes occasionally.

Before the played started, my mother asked me what it was about; I hadn't done any research about it (we have a subscription at the Atlantic, which is why we were there), but I'd seen one of McDonagh's other plays and thought it was extremely good. And this was very funny in parts, and extremely well written and acted. But gawd -- what a gorefest....
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Just wanted to say that my sweetie gave me a dozen roses for Valentine's Day with a picture of a penguin stuck in it.

heh.
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I actually broke two boards today -- yes, I did. Really.

You see, I've decided to try taking karate again (I took it for about eight years back in my youth), and found a small women-only school that operates out of a rehearsal studio in the West 30s. It's a fascinating place -- chairs and sofas in the hallways, scads of nervous 20-somethings who were clutching scripts for various auditions, good-looking actor types there to rehearse a scene... And there I was, all flabby 50-something and feeling like I was in the absolutely wrong place. Scared the shit out of me. First time I was up there, I nearly gave it up then and there.

But I'm enjoying the class, even though I'm in terrible shape and can't stretch hardly nowhere. Today the teacher had us break boards (because she says it gives confidence). The other three newbies chose to do it with their fists; I chose to do it as a kick, because, quite frankly, I have more confidence in my legs than in my arms. (Why everybody seemed to think I was especially brave I sure as hell don't know -- as far as I was concerned, I was taking the easy way out.) The first board was four inches thick, and not much trouble for anyone. The second was six inches, and twice I kicked it out of the teacher's hand rather than breaking it. She said it was her fault, because her hand was tired from holding the board -- so she put it between two chairs, and I was able to get it.

It was sorta cool, I have to admit. But I'll be glad to get back to relearning stances, and katas, and stuff.
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Did my usual Saturday trip to my mother's house in Long Island this morning. On today's agenda: Help her research and fill out a form so that she can have her property taxes reassessed, and pull together all her 1099s to send to her accountant. Underlying all this was the knowledge that it was going to snow like crazy this evening, and so neither of us wanted me to hang around past, say, 3 p.m.

Much to my surprise, we actually finished by 2:30 and I was on my way home. Within 40 minutes (which has to be some kind of record), I was home, and lo and behold! a parking space right outside my house, which had to be some kind of miracle. It was either god making up for the stressful week I had, or the snow demons left that space there because that's going to be where there will be an especially large pile of snow, and they were waiting for a suitable victim. Or something.

Anyway, I'm home, and while the sources of my usual stresses haven't gone away, I can shove them to the back of my head for the evening. Jim's making fish for dinner (and I love fish, so I'm pleased), we'll watch some film or other on TV, and I'll worry about tomorrow...tomorrow.
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As we get older, we spend more and more time doing what we need to do instead of what we want to do. Over the course of a week, I exhaust myself sitting eight and nine hours at a desk, helping friends with their tech problems, absorbing my mother's 80-year-old angst and poring over her paperwork every Saturday, babysitting my second (freelance) job every evening, trying to spend at least a couple of hours with my partner each evening, worrying about the fact that the house is slowly being buried under a layer of dust, dirt, and detritis...and convinced that I will, finally, find that my entire life has been wasted in an avalanche of trivialities.

I am no longer young enough to be able to console myself with the reassurance that things will get better a year, two years, ten years from now, because then I will be old, and it will truly be too late. It's too late for many things right now; I'm not sure but that it's too late for everything.

My advice? Do it now. Today. "I'll do it tomorrow" came sometimes lead to it never happening.
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So in another 36 hours or so I'll be wending my way to Minneapolis with my mother, visiting my brother and making up for the fact that he won't be able to be with us on Thanksgiving. My mother is thrilled -- she's been feeling restless and wanting to travel. She's was in such a good mood today, she spent an hour lecturing the S.O. on why he shouldn't even allow butter or salt in the house, and then called me at work to give me the shorter version.

As to the trip, I'm not looking forward to it -- my mother is becoming more and more, well, her as she gets older, and I'm beginning to feel like one of those older, harrassed, unromantic woman who puts up with her querulous, elderly mother. I'm turning into a cliche. I can see it -- it's progressed beyond my elbow and is heading for my shoulder. Doctors say there is no cure short of an amputation. I'm done for. [sob]
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I'm pissed.

SciFi.com, the purveyer of good shows such as the Stargates and Galactica, and of truly miserable shows such as -- almost everything else -- had a wonderful area that hardly anybody knew about called SciFiction, where Ellen Datlow, who has been an editor of science fiction and fantasy for more years than she probably cares to admit, gathered some of the best short fiction around. The section was almost impossible to find -- it was buried at the bottom of the main page -- but those of us who looked for it, loved it.

And now they're shutting it down.

According to the announcement on the SciFiction main page, "As SCIFI.COM gears up to expand with exciting new ventures utilizing the newest technology, it will discontinue SCI FICTION, the online publishing division of of the site, at the end of 2005."

Of course it will. Actually, those of us who actually (gasp! choke!) read were wondering how long it would be before some of the suits looked around, found SciFiction in its happy little corner, and said, "Hey! What's this doing here! It's not about speaking to dead people, it's not about dripping blood and nasty monsters, and it's not a successful franchise. Why are we paying for it?"

But damn! It was at least some acknowledgement that SciFi.com was about something other than visual media -- that there was actually a literature involved here. And now it's going away.

Dammit.
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So it seems that there is a "credible" report of a possible threat on the NYC subway system for sometime in the next few days. So maybe I'll take the bus in to work tomorrow....
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Okay, since I know a lot of you went to see Serenity on Friday, what I want to know is: Was your theatre empty or full or what? My partner and I went to a theatre in NYC on East 62nd St. on Friday evening, and there were maybe 20 people or so in the audience. On the opening day of a scifi flick? Not good.

(By the way, were any of you there? It was the 7:40 show, and there was a group of 20-somethings a few rows behind us who were obvious fans, and I couldn't help thinking that it would be funny if any of them were LJ folk...)
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This morning, as soon as I got downstairs, my neighbor Jane came to my front door and asked me to come outside, because she had a "cockatiel" on her front lawn. It turned out to be a little blue parakeet, sitting there looking stunned. Jane knew I was a bird watcher, so she figured I'd know what to do.

I found a shoebox, put some holes in it, and carefully picked up the bird. It was clutching onto the lawn and pulled some dried grass with it, but we didn't want to leave it there for the cats and squirrels. I put it in the box and put in a jar cap with some water in it. I steered it toward the water, and it clutched the edge of the cap with its claws, which I thought was a good sign. I thought about trying to feed it with a dropper, but thought that it would be better if it wasn't handled too much.

My S.O. was on his way home, so I figured when he got home, I'd go to the supermarket and pick up some bird seed, and if the bird survived the day, we'd get a small cage for it and equip it properly. I knew it would probably not live, but I couldn't help hoping I'd found myself a pet. (I had parakeets when I was a teen, so I knew how to care for them.)

About half an hour later, we heard some scrabbling from the box. I opened it, and saw the parakeet stretching out its wings, which I thought was an excellent sign. Then it toppled over, and died.

Poor thing. I know that this is a very, very small thing in the middle of a time of great suffering, but I still felt sorry for the poor little parakeet.

Follow-up

Aug. 27th, 2005 09:26 am
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According to the newspapers, the woman's name was Lea Zimmerman. She was an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor who was on her way to a doctor's appointment. She was crossing the street a few yards from the crosswalk. She was 4 foot 9 inches, and the driver couldn't see anyone under 5 feet high from where he was sitting. He wasn't drunk, or racing, or careless -- he just didn't see her. A true accident.
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I came out of the HSBC bank at the corner of 14th St. and Sixth Ave. at about 12:30 p.m. today, and I saw that across the street, on 14th headed toward Fifth, the east-bound lane had been cordoned off for several yards. There were police everywhere: guiding traffic, guiding pedestrians, speaking to each other. A small crowd had gathered on either side of 14th St.

They were staring at a yellow tarpelin in the center of the cordoned-off area. At one end of the tarp, some white towels had been spread. At the other end, I could just see two feet, one clad in a white low-heeled pump, the other bare, its shoe sitting a few inches away. The woman was face down. She was light-skinned. And she was dead. That's all I know about her. It's probably all I'll ever know about her.

As I crossed Sixth Ave., a stocky guy with a large video camera on his shoulder walked right up to the cordon; the police immediately shoo'd him away. Two other guys, apparently with him, paused to argue with them for a moment, but then left as well, and all three took up stations across the street. Two other guys in civvies with badges joined the police; probably detectives. They all looked serious, quiet.

I continued to walk east. A few yards down from the woman, on the same side of the street, was a large -- very large -- white truck with police tape across the front. It was parked there; there was no sign of a driver. Two police officers were examining the front left tire carefully.

In NYC, there are a lot of ways you can get hurt at an intersection, and a lot of ways you can hurt others. I've spent my life crossing streets here, and I've also driven here, and it's nuts. You can get hit by somebody racing to get across before the light changes, by a frustrated driver trying to turn while dozens of pedestrians cross, by a truck driver who simply isn't paying attention. You can hit somebody who crosses against the light without even looking to see if you're coming, because they know they have right-of-way, or who starts across the street right after the light changes under the assumption that it will take the cars a minute or two to start up.

I was very careful walking back to my office.
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Had a really lovely pre-July 4th evening. Our neighbors across the way have an 11-year-old who is away on a special trip, and this was their last night before they had to pick him up from the airport. They love their kid to pieces, but they've had 10 days of being a couple on their own, and wanted one last evening.

So first we went to an absolutely fabulous barbeque restaurant called the Bar-B-Q on 6th Ave. and 20th St. (this is in Brooklyn, y'all). Great food, wonderful atmosphere, good jazz over the audio system, and not expensive -- generous portions served on paper plates, and really good beer.

Then we decided to go to Coney Island, so we piled into their car and drove over there. Parked in the Aquarium parking lot, took a brief walk through the amusements area, which was absolutely swimming with people. I remember coming over here 10 years or more ago, and everything looked tired and run down, but things have been changing -- it was noisy, tacky as hell, everything lively with bright paints and amplified screams from the funhouses, and people yelling from the rides, and kids eating sticky stuff. Really fun atmosphere.

But we decided to walk along the boardwalk to Brighton Beach, and it was just a lovely, cool evening, and there were fireworks in the distance in several locations, and then we got to Brighton Beach. Several hundred Russians wandering along the boardwalk, sitting at outside cafes, an according player playing a Russian song which I'm ashamed I can't remember the name to but which I've always liked, two young couples in their 20s dancing to it in fake-authentic Russian manner, giggling all the time, lots of yappy little dogs on leashes -- just a real scene. We went into one of the cafes and three of us ordered espresso (which took awhile, since the guy in the net shirt behind the counter couldn't speak English), and my S.O. ordered a vodka, because he felt he had to. We sat outside at a table, and watched the drunk Russians wander in and out of the place, including a guy with a little dog who should have been fluffy, but who had been totally shaved, which he explained to us in careful English, which he obviously wanted to test out on us. "Was shaved," he told us solemnly. "All except head. We took to woman, told her clip him, she shaved him. Looks funny, yes?"

They started closing the cafe up at 11 p.m., so we walked back and went home. Stood around gossiping for another hour, and then went in. Great evening.
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First of all, I was astounded to find that a drabble I posted some months ago actually got recommended for a Stargate Fan Award. Since I can count the number of fanfics I've written on the fingers of one hand, it was very unexpected. Thanks to the person(s) who nominated me.

Second, the S.O. and I watched the first episode of Casanova, the recently series by Russell Davies (who is, I think, the lead writer for the new Dr. Who). It is a lot of fun. Cut for those who don't want Dr. Who spoilers )
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Just saw the latest Doctor Who. Really creepy -- there was one scene that was really nasty, in a good, head-under-the-covers way.

Spent the day wandering around the Metropolitan Museum. Went to the Temple of Dendur for the first time in years. Noticed all the 19th century graffiti that had been etched into this several-thousand-year-old Egyptian temple -- English gentlemen using their penknives to carve their names into incredibly ancient ruins. And they complain about spraypaint on the subways....
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