Low Resolution

New Year’s resolutions have never been my bag. I tend to do things as they arise, rather than waiting for a particular calendar-based occasion (friends who’ve received out-of-the-blue presents from me can attest to this). I already treat my friends with love, and I’ve tried opening up to my family much more in the past few months (the broken heart and the grandeur of the New Zealand trip have done wonders for shaking me out of whatever rut I was in).

I’ve had some time off this week, so I’ve taken care of some things that have been nagging. So they’re kinda like New Year’s resolutions:

Yesterday, I quit the gym I belonged to. A rep asked why, and I said, “It’s my resolution to get fat and out of shape in 2004. Know where I can buy some cigarettes?” (In fact, I plan on buying a treadmill and setting it up in the living room, so I can run while watching basketball a couple of evenings a week.)

I let a many of my magazine subscriptions lapse. New Yorker, Publishers Weekly, The Forward, New York Observer, Wired: all done. I plan to read less in 2004, or at least to let fewer magazines and papers pile up in my house. For some reason, I retained my subscription to The Atlantic Monthly, even though it tends to be the least-read magazine in my house.

I returned to work on Gold/Stopwatch, my essay about the Cold War, the parallels between espionage and intimacy, the parallels between the ABM treaty and French movies, and the ways in which we translate love. (It’s that last part that I’ve been turning over again and again, these past few months.)

I started reading a pile of manuscripts that were submitted for my publishing company. They’ve really added up in the past six months, and it’s been unfair of me to let them sit so long, especially when I have no idea what Voyant’s next book is going to be.

I bought a home theater system (just a small one from Samsung: nothing super-extensive), then set up an audio-input switcher and an IR remote so I can hook up the iPod to the thing. So I guess the resolution is this: in 2004, I’ll incur the enmity of my neighbors, who surely never bargained on living near a 32-year-old bachelor with an insatiable taste for music.

I’ve already dropped the 40 lbs. I wanted to lose, and there’s little possibility that I’ll make the time to read the last 5 volumes of Proust in the next 12 months, so this sounds like a good set of resolutions.

Co’ Kikin’ It

Last night, just when I planned on kicking back on the official Virtual Memories fainting couch and reading some of Herodotus’ Histories, I got a call from my buddy Adam, who was planning on going to some chanukkah parties in NYC.

Before I left the house, I considered grabbing my digital camera, but thought, “Ah, I’ll end up dropping it in the sink when I’m washing my hands, like I did in NZ.” So I left it on the hall table.

I seriously regretted this decision two hours later when, at the Manhattan Jewish Experience party, we were treated to the rap stylings of “50 Shekel.” You can’t imagine how dismayed I am that I don’t have any photos of this for you. When he went onstage, I was in the midst of explaining to a Frenchwoman how NYC is sorta defined by plasticity, by the capacity of reinvention, both in its architecture and in its inhabitants. She gestured up at the stage and said, “Say no more.”

After this party, Adam & I headed down to a club near 12th St. for another gathering of Jews (as well as some, um, members of the lost tribe, if you get my meaning). We gallivanted and debauched in a fun way. It was fun to be clubbing at a time when most of New York was asleep. While the gentiles were having their dreams of sugar-plum fairies, a girl took one look at me, grabbed me by the lapels and pulled me close so we could dance to Sean Paul. It was a little Jewish wonderland. I just wish it hadn’t been so loud.

The lowlight of the evening, though, had to be when Adam & I double-teamed some poor girl on the dance floor, a la the Butabi brothers. Or maybe the real lowlight was when we were hitting a street-meat kiosk at 2am. It’s all a bit of a blur, I’m afraid.

Anyway, for any of my Christian friends who are so bored that they’re actually reading this on Christmas day, I want to extend my wishes for a good holiday. God is love, and the constant unfolding of creation is our daily miracle.

Time Bomb

In the Auckland airport, I sent myself a postcard. It showed up today, ten days later. Since it’s the last one I sent, it means if you didn’t get one, I didn’t send one. This one’s of the Waitomo Caves, and the back reads:

Hey, man,

You did something right.


Feel the Burn

Nine days after getting back from NZ, I finally have heat back in my home. After a couple days of jury-rigging, the furnace gave up the ghost on Saturday. I spent Sunday coming up with ways to keep the pipes from freezing, and now I’ve got a brand-new furnace installed. All it took was a few days of suffering with the cold (and several thousand dollars)!

In other news, I’m having a little trouble with FrontPage’s FTP, so I can’t send up the first few days of the NZ slideshow. But it’ll be up soon, and then you can wade through pix of the most beautiful place on earth.

“We got him”

My buddy Adam woke me up after 4 hours of sleep (I was crashed out on his living-room sofa), following a drunken Saturday night in NYC, to let me know that Saddam Hussein got nabbed by the U.S.

He’s calling all his friends & family now. Here’s a great quote:

Adam: “Turn on the news . . . No, Brent, it’s not about Nomar!”

It was great to see the reactions of the Iraqi press at the conference. They must be partying like it’s 1999 out in Baghdad. Wonder if the BBC’s going to refer to it as the “kidnapping” of Saddam.

Adam’s hoping that the guy at the press conference who they keep showing making the “first down” sign gets a job in the NFL. He just handed me a glass of champagne.

Around the World in a Day

Home at last: 10,000 miles in 24 hours, with 19 hours of flight time.

I landed with a busted filling and terrible weather, and when I walked in the door I discovered that the furnace had shut off days ago. This meant the house was around 40-45 degrees (5-7 degrees C to my metric buddies). I’ve spent the last two days trying to get it up and running. I think it’s working now, but even the repair guys who showed up today (responding to my “emergency” call Saturday night) were befuddled by the inability of the pilot light to stay lit.

I’ve been optimizing images from the trip, and hope to have a slideshow set up by this weekend.