Yesterday, my brother-in-law and his gf came up to spend the day in Boca, eating some crazy portabella burgers that we cooked up ala the directions of Rachel Ray and watching the Godfather with me after D left for work. The movie, immensely satisfying as always, finished up at around 6:15 and we started in on the second phase of our plan for June 29, 2007: go to the Apple store located in Town Center Mall and watch the craziness break loose. To our shock, what we found was minimal craziness, and instead a short, fast-moving line to be allowed into inner sanctum of iPhone. At first, only T wanted to do this and his gf and I busied ourselves with finding a restroom. When we got back, he was still inside and not answering his own regular phone, so when we got fed up with waiting and enticed enough by the little iPhone promo video they were showing, we queued up and were very shortly standing with our hands on display iPhones. That is when I fell in love. No suspense here–I did not drag out the credit card and fork over my 600 oysters for it, but part of me really wishes I had. Of course the joke would really have been on me, seeing as in my new unwired state of existence I don’t even have the Internet connection at home that it would take to activate it. Oh well. Next time.

For starters, apparently a lot of people didn’t get them last night, even after standing in line for hours. Our eyewitness in Miami said that lines stretched out of sight and that there were reports they had run out in all the non-Apple vendor stores. The NYT mentioned something about them being sold out in NYC and a couple of other places. Yet in Boca, iPhones walked out the door at a calm but steady pace. There didn’t appear to be any mad rush when we were there, and we could have easily marched ourselves up to the counter and gotten them. When I realized about an hour later just how coveted an item I had passed up buying on the first day of its existence, I was nearly drunk with the thought. There I was, so close I could touch. It’s a good thing I was pretty sure the line would have picked up, or I might seriously have gone back and gotten one. And this morning, when D’s phone rang at about 8am, I realized that I had been woken straight outu of a dream about iPhones and all I wanted to do was get to the mall and see if they had any left. I do have the money, if you count that thing called my savings account, and heck, didn’t I just cancel my trip to ALA? That would have run at least 500, easy. I had felt so close to magic last night, waving my fingers across its shimmering face and calling up the Lost season 3 finale, emailing Daniel, reading stories about the release of the iPhone on the iPhone itself. I wanted the magic back.

I’m not usually the kind of person to be overcome by such base materialistic urges, and I will admit that in my more cynical mode I can see the iPhone for what it surely is: one of the most beautiful, ingenious consumption-enabling devices yet created. You can shop the Gap online while you’re checking out sales at the store–and it won’t look like some funky text-based shadow website, it will look exactly like you’re used to see it at home. I’m guessing that movie and tv episode downloads from iTunes will shoot through the roof now that people will be able to buy and watch them at will, whenever they need to kill time.

I (and I know this isn’t very original, I’m just completely bowled over by my own response to touching the iPhone) also think that it’s a lot more than that, because just read that last sentence: with an iPhone, you will be able to download tv in your hands, wherever you are, whenever. (For a much more thoughtful and well-researched take on this holy grail called mobile Internet, see Farhad Manjoo’s discussion on Salon, which I didn’t really care to read when I was not an iPhone believer but now am hungry for.) You won’t just be able to do it, it will be easy, with no additional skills required. (I’m speaking in possibilities, ignoring the apparently valid criticisms that right now the network is running way to slow for that to be much, because the point is it is now kind of possible, and I remember when using the Internet to look up Shakespeare plays was kind of possible. I gave up the first time I tried because our dial-up downloaded the page way too slowly, but that problem obviously went away, and quickly. It was two years tops before connections got fast enough to live with after that.) It’s not perfect yet, but someone has gone and put Internet as we know it into our walking around hands. It might not seem like a big deal when you think about it, but I can tell you that when you have it in your hands it is a huge deal. The amount of dependence people feel on their Blackberries is going to be nothing compared to the way people will begin to mesh cells with their iPhones. Quick example: post-iPhone, Veronica Mars would never need to go home and do her sleuthing in front of even a laptop screen. She would just whip out her iPhone and go to town. Sitting in front of a computer for recreation is going to come to an end. Why would you? Once you’ve got the thumb keyboarding skills nailed, you’ll be all set. That alone will change our culture of information. I can also see the end of journalism as we know it (your move is looking better all the time, LCB!). As soon as a video is online, it will be in your hands. You will not need to wait to go home and open up Firefox. It will be in your hands–you will see the raw footage before anyone has even had a chance to write the notes for a story. Sure, we’ll still want the paper of record, but we won’t need it the same way. News, everything will travel faster. People like this guy bitching about the battery in the NYT are just plain missing the point: the iPhone is part of the future. Technical details will be ironed out later. This is a leap towards the way that we will come to live. You can get on the wagon now, or get on later, but the world around you will already be there.

And I was there to see it start 🙂

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I’m feeling quite summery today. In the Fla, we always feel somewhat summery, with our year-found flip-flop habit and our sunscreen, but today I feel embraced by the spirit of summer–the sugary, glorious time waste of it all, served best with fresh corn on the cob and the oasis of an air-conditioned apartment.

That paragraph is my long-winded way of saying, I just finished the second season of Lost on DVD and I am so heartbroken that the third season doesn’t come out until September and the fourth season doesn’t start until 2008! I have succumbed. I am a Lost viewer. Not to the point where I would write an entry for Lostpedia or even spend much time other than when I’m actively watching an episode thinking about what it might all mean, but definitely to the point that I crave my next 43 minute fix of non sequitur plot points and lush scenery.

Lost has gotten me revved up into full pop culture savoring mode, and for that I am grateful. I had been a bit of a slug bug this summer, not really looking forward to much and not really enthused about any of my vernal prospects. As late as last week I was wallowing in a pool of Under the Tuscan Sun and a novel about five hardened men building a barn in frozen Utah wilderness (a good book, I am sure, but not a summer book). Now I have something to live for, and that is entertainment. Why fight it? Yes, I’m writing more and listening to better music than ever before and eating yummier food, but those aren’t the things that are getting me out of bed in the morning. It’s the dvds in my mailbox and the books on my nightstand, a smorgasbord of trashy fun sure to give me a welcome break from the all too real vicissitudes of life in the twenty-fifth year.

So, a rundown.

Watched: Lost, The Vanishing, History Boys, The Painted Veil, The Heart of the Game

Read: Little Stalker, What the Dead Know, several volumes of the Best American Short Stories (maybe some actual short story writing ability will rub off on me?), Sheer Abandon (with the protagonist name mentioned in the title) in progress

Imbibed: not enough! but a fair number of Lamar St. Pale Ale’s and a bottle of wine found at WF called Riven Rock Shiraz. But I really need to get to my favorite wine store, where they are selling something called Big Daddy for 2.99 a bottle… also, will somebody please come visit me so I can my mojito on? Mojitos taste best when made for guests.

Still to go: The New Yorkers, Broken Shore, Denis Johnson’s Jesus’s Son for fiction workshop, lots of beer, Children of a Lesser God, Freaks and Geeks, other suggestions welcome at all times.

Oh summer, you are looking so good right now.

Not quite, but reading this NYT piece is probably a little dangerous for me considering my current disillusionment with living in the real world and possible susceptibility to kooky lifestyles that sound like great material for a novel but a horrible way to raise children. I don’t think freeganism is in my immediate future, but some of less dogmatic people in this article are saying things that I’ve been thinking for a while now. Namely, every single time I think about the state of my mother’s basement and attic, filled to the gills with crap we haven’t looked at in years. An interesting exercise might be to keep only what we could remember having put there. I think that would get rid of over 90% of it. Anyway, after reading this article, I can see that there is bound to be some hypocrisy in living off the scraps of global capitalism in order to reject it, but that doesn’t necessarily invalidate the critique: the developed world lives beholden to an often counterintuitive, destructive system that deems usable food in the trash can as progress. That said, why do so many funky movements still inevitably seem to come with hardcore dogma attached? Why do there need to be internal conflicts and more freegan than thou attitudes? Isn’t it enough to set an example, educate yourself and in turn others, and encourage everyone to begin adopting whatever measures of conservation and personal economy that they can? Maybe this impression is just some of the reporting in the piece (which talks about “true” freegans doing this and that” and not so much a reality on the ground), but haven’t we all known some mean anarcho-punks in our time? Okay, not many, and I’d still rather hang with one of them than a nice Republican most days, but I’m so thoroughly converted to the Maxine Hong Kingston school of peace and social justice that I get a little weary when I see a potentially awesome idea getting bogged down in dogma. But, as MHK would say, ideas have their own power and can take care of themselves, and I’m considering changing the tagline of my blog, nay, my life, to the title of the afore linked-to article, Not Buying It.

One scientific reality that I am currently lamenting is the fact that nobody really knows what hormones are or how they work or what they are truly capable of doing. At least thats my impression and my experience, and in the year 2007 isn’t that all that really counts? I feel strongly in my gut that I may, more often than I would like to think about, be more controlled by chemicals in my body than thoughts in my head.

Exhibit A: Senior year

In brief, starting the pill and being anemia do not a happy year make. The effect of the pill is still pretty much unquantifiable, as it varies widely from person to person and I was never particularly conscientious about taking it at the exact same time every single day. So that narrows it down… not at all! Maybe the pill made me crazy, maybe Iraq made me crazy, maybe being just about to graduate made me crazy, maybe a lack of iron in my blood (which creates many of the same symptoms as depression all by itself) did it. The point is, I was crazy. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to not be crazy, with moderate success. Still, it’s hard to know if that is because I just wasn’t good at getting uncrazy or whether there was something physically wrong with me. Who knows? Either way, it was a craptasm of a year in many regards.

Exhibit B: Yesterday

For the former RA’s among us, no, I did not have a plan, but yes, I felt cosmically crappy about almost every single choice I had ever made (notable exceptions being learning to play the oboe, marrying D, making friends with people who have exquisite musical taste). I know everyone has these days. They are normal. But it was just fucking relentless. Everything I looked at wham, there was it’s bad side. The fantasies I generally use to get myself through the library workday, such as moving out of Florida into an apartment with hardwood floors and a location north of Mason-Dixon line, all seemed out of reach and likely to cause doom anyway. I was pretty sure that I had sold myself out in every way possible. I was pretty sure I could feel a mole on my face turning into skin cancer. I do not recommend a day like yesterday to anyone. Neither does Anne Lamott, but she does give one reassurance that they can be lived through, so I’m glad I’ve been in a heavy Lamott phase of late.

So, I help my day out with a few gmail chats and a couple beers and the Lost second season, all seven discs of it, in my hands, and I come to that time of going to Bedfordshire. I have the foggy notion that (TMI alert) it was about time for me to remove my current form of birth control, the ring. I do so, and then I get to thinking, did I wait too long? It turns out I did, but a full week. So instead of using it for three weeks I’ve been using it for a month.

Now, there is no scientific evidence for what I am about to suggest, but it did occur to me that perhaps my relentlessly, atypically miserable day could have had something to do with that little extra week. Come to think of it, the past week had been on a bit of a downward spiral in the absence of any additional external stressors. I mean, nothing really changed. I got home from NYC to a dually employed husband and an acceptable grade on the most recent paper for psycho prof, and the joyous birth of LL (to whom I am rapidly becoming addicted) so why did I spend so much time trying not to cry? Again, there’s no scientific evidence for this and I normally don’t even bother to try and figure out a reason why I feel like crying, but it did seem a little weird, like something that was happening to me from the outside not from the inside.

Exhibit C: My lunch

I took a bite into my sandwich today, the first sandwich fully of the Whole Foods Era, with natural turkey and natural colby jack cheese and organic black pepper on WF baguette. I guess I figured I would taste something different going, since my fare of late has been the cheapest Publix food I can find, but I was genuinely taken aback. It tasted like actual turkey. Like actual food. Like actual something. Could this be related to the fact that natural turkey has no extra hormones of antibiotics attached to it? Of course, it was also better quality in other regards, but my point is, I tasted something more like the real thing and it was a lot better.

So, are there any conclusions here, other than the fact that I really need to stop being a cheapskate on my food supply?

Who knows, certainly not me as usual. But I had a much better day today. I just turned my second of three total library papers for this summer (so just one big headache left, and a few little ones). I have a thought about how to make the shitty first draft of a story I just completed (yay) a little better, and while I’m not sure that it will actually pan out I have the will to at least try it, which is a nice change from 24 hours ago. I’m listening to The Tragically Hip, but that doesn’t feel tragic at all.

After a week which was eventful in mostly all the best days, I am back at home, looking around a world that is the same as I left it but with a couple of big differences. First and best difference… well, I’m torn. It’s a dead heat between D landing two jobs while I was out and the birth of Frida and Diego’s first son, L-L (pseudonym perhaps forthcoming). Those are two big wonderful changes. Also, T & N are here for a bit of a hiatus between graduation and moving to Philadelphia for at least the next three years.

The only other difference is, I just spent a week in New York herding teenagers and spooning out big gloppy plates of soup kitchen food (which actually wasn’t all that bad, despite “gloppy” being the best adjective to describe most of what we served). The trip rocked. We stayed in the upper west side of Manhattan, at the International Youth Hostel a couple of subway stops south of Columbia University, but most days we trekked to the outer borroughs to work at various organizations serving the homeless in some way. Mostly, that meant soup kitchens but on my small group’s final day, it meant a place that provides childcare for women who had children in prison. (Youngest SIL’s take: “I’m practicing for Older SIL’s baby!) The Quaker group we worked with to set up all the volunteering locations was awesome and every day we got to meet up all together at Friends Seminary, so even though I will never have enough money to send a kid there, I can say that I have walked the halls where Susan Sarandon’s kids are educated and Amanda Peet got married.  We did a little sightseeing, most walking stuff like Times Square and Chinatown. The only time I was seriously scared for the general safety was at Coney Island… the sooner Disney tears it down the better. It was basically Thugland, with more guns tucked in waistbands than I cared to count. Yikes. The kids were pretty happy to get back on the train and leave that whole scene behind once they had taken their requisite ride on the Cyclone. We headed back to Miami on Saturday afternoon, and although I miss the energy and push of navigating through the city every morning, I missed D a whole lot more and so I was glad to get home. I still keep thinking I should have a New York phase, but the fact that I am also thinking about what NYC rent would do to my savings account probably means I’m a little too old to get started on one. Oh well.

So, here I am, back in the world of libraries and peed-on couches and a husband who now works 3-11 but brings me home great organic beer. For some reason I’m not quite back in the flow of things, but I guess that will have to change soon because a whole new round of discussion board postings for Psycho Prof is about to come due. Even when I’m pretty much doubting everything, I know I need to muster up the energy to keep moving. Forward, that is.

First I’ll take

June 2, 2007

Well, maybe I won’t exactly take Manhattan, but I will be visiting certain parts of it for the next week. Here’s to hoping my can of whup-ass holds out long enough to keep 14 teenagers out of trouble!