In Praise of Getting Back Together with the Dude Who Dumped You

Is the second time around just shoving your hand in a blender?

Does Vice Float?

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On Tuesday afternoon, the art collective Talibam! organized a public assembly in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The purpose of the assembly was, through collective effort and will, to levitate Vice Media up from its current location at 90 North 11th Street and to deposit it into the nearby East River.

One figures—conservatively—that the building that currently houses VICE Media weighs somewhere around two hundred and eighty-five tons.* For reference, a T-65 X-wing starfighter, such as the one piloted by Luke Skywalker and levitated by the Jedi Master Yoda, is thought to weigh five tons. Yoda generated 19.2 kW of energy lifting that vehicle out of a swamp on the planet Dagobah in 3.6 seconds; to lift VICE Media would require some ninety-one thousand kW, or over forty-seven hundred Yodas.

To levitate the building into the East River, Talibam!’s Matt Mottel invoked the incantation written and delivered by sixties avant-garde rock group The Fugs’ co-founder Ed Sanders when a bunch of hippies tried to levitate the Pentagon in 1967:

In the name of the amulets of touching, seeing, groping, hearing and loving, we call upon the powers of the cosmos to protect our ceremonies in the name of Zeus, in the name of Anubis, god of the dead, in the name of all those killed because they do not comprehend, in the name of the lives of the soldiers in Vietnam who were killed because of a bad karma, in the name of sea-born Aphrodite, in the name of Magna Mater, in the name of Dionysus, Zagreus, Jesus, Yahweh, the unnamable, the quintessent finality of the Zoroastrian fire, in the name of Hermes, in the name of the Beak of Sok, in the name of scarab, in the name, in the name, in the name of the Tyrone Power Pound Cake Society in the Sky, in the name of Rah, Osiris, Horus, Nepta, Isis, in the name of the flowing living universe, in the name of the mouth of the river, we call upon the spirit to raise VICE from its destiny and preserve it.

The Cost of Becoming a U.S. Permanent Resident, Part II

Green Card
Part one of this series is here.

In our household accounting spreadsheet, P and I almost forgot to make two separate categories for wedding and immigration expenses; right now they kind of seem like the same thing. The city hall wedding, while a pretty fun engagement with the municipal apparatus—was the first step towards staying in America above board. And like the I-693 described in my last post, the marriage certificate is just one of the many parts of the permanent residency application.

On the morning of January 12, we went to the marriage bureau office in Brooklyn and got a marriage license. You need to get a marriage license at least 24 hours before you get married, it’s good for two months (unless you’re on active military duty, in which case you get six months). We got to the office when they opened at 8:30 a.m., confirmed all the information we had filled in online (our names, birthdays, lack of previous marriages, parents’ names and places of birth). We paid $35 and received a fancy piece of paper that allowed us to get married anywhere in New York state. The woman in the fluorescent-lit drop-ceilinged room asked us if we were coming back to get married; we told her that we were going to Manhattan.

We got married the afternoon of Friday, Jan. 30 with the intent to send in our permanent residency application on Monday. Feb. 2; we needed to have the packet assembled before the actual wedding. The copy of Marriage and Fiancé Visas I had taken out of the library was an invaluable guide to figuring out all the specific pieces and walking us through what to type in every box. We had spreadsheets, checklists, and drop boxes to manage it all. I typed my married name over and over again even though it wasn’t my name yet. I went to the passport services office at the Brooklyn Public Library and got two sets of passport photos taken to include with the various applications. We gathered our evidence of marriage: printed out the statements from our shared bank accounts and affidavits from our friends who would be at City Hall swearing that we were really a couple and that they were at our wedding (they signed them after the actual wedding! We were very certain to make sure that happened in the right order). We assembled the documents that proved that my U.S. citizen husband made enough money so that I wouldn’t need government welfare benefits (form I-864EZ, W2s, and tax transcripts).

“Employees who receive work-related emails and texts after hours become angry more often than not, which can interfere with their personal lives,” finds a survey from the College of Business at the University of Texas at Arlington.“People who were part of the study reported they became angry when they received a work email or text after they had gone home and that communication was negatively worded or required a lot of the person’s time. Also, the people who tried to separate work from their personal life experienced more work-life interference. The after-hours emails really affected those workers’ personal lives,” notes the study’s author. A follow-up to the survey is expected to determine whether those who actually welcome off-hours emails and texts from work are either desperate to distract themselves from the horror of their own personal lives or so profoundly afraid of their own cosmic insignificance that they need to convince themselves that the work in which they find themselves employed in has some actual value and that they are a vital component to it.#

The News Just Came in From the County of I'm Looking at the Internet

zeld

The news
Just came in
From the County of Keck
That a very small bug
By the name of Van Vleck
Is yawning so wide
You can look down his neck.

This may not seem
Very important, I know.
But it IS. So I’m bothering
Telling you so.

I never noticed, until Zelda was born, my very odd need for repetition and order. Only now, where chaos is born and reborn in the space of a child’s room each day anew do I see it: I do the same things over and over. I write in my journal each day, no matter how mundane the activities I log. I note the temperature and the time. I sometimes count in my head while doing other things for no reason other than I feel like it. I silently stand at the kitchen drawer sorting the silverware after opening the drawer just to get a spoon. It feels satisfying in a way I can’t make sense of. It’s not that I’m overly neat or fastidious; don’t open my clothing drawers, because they are worse than a teen’s.

And so, because I am insane, I take the “make your baby’s bedtime routine the same every single night” thing to heart. Like, seriously: I do the exact same thing down to almost the minute, night in, night out, in the hopes that my daughter, like her mother, will one day grow up to list “sleeping” in her top five life activities. I read Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book to Zelda every single night.

Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book is one thousand, seven hundred and seventy-six words long and has fifty-six pages. It used to take me approximately twelve minutes to read, but now I can mow through it in about eight. By my count, (I counted), I have read the book to her two hundred and ninety-eight times (once I subtract the first horror-ridden weeks where bedtime didn’t exist and the very few nights when someone else has put her to bed). I know the book inside out and backwards. By August—when Zelda was six months old—I was already bragging to friends that I had it memorized (cool brag). My memory was tested a month or two later when I turned down the lights as Zelda finished off her milk, laid her down in her crib, cranked up the white noise, and began, as always, while still cleaning up: “The news just came in from the County of Keck,” I said, reaching for the book which wasn’t there. “Shit,” I realized, “I took it downstairs to tape one of its pages back together earlier today. I can’t leave the room; I’m going to have to wing it.”

I did. I could. I didn’t fuck up, not once.

Sam Prekop, "Weather Vane"


Yes, that Sam Prekop. He’s doing this now. Anyway, further proof if any were needed that words are unnecessary. Enjoy.

gutty“An Op-Ed article on Feb. 21 about national dietary guidelines incorrectly described the change in cheese consumption in the United States. Americans have been eating more cheese, not less.”#

New York City, March 2, 2015

★★ No sooner had the gray lifted and one’s guard lowered than the blue sky went away and snowflakes fell again. A rainy-day dampness was on the air. An oncoming extra-wide stroller filled all the space between snowbanks. A man walked by wearing bright blue-white low-top canvas sneakers, the toes gravely besmirched with slush-grime. Downtown the sun was coming out but the sidewalks were even slushier. Stray snowflakes still blew down, so bright in the sunshine it seemed as if they ought to have melted. By early afternoon the sky was clear and everything was dripping. The melt had come on so fast that the little islands of surviving snow in the wet bicycle lane hadn’t had a chance to lose their whiteness. In the intense shade and shelter of Jersey Street, the snow looked new-fallen. Back uptown, the sun shone on the red eye of a white pigeon, and on the thin stream of water pouring from a scaffold, landing with a rattle and spray on the top trash bag in a curbside pile.

Smog Thick

Running at 104 minutes, shot like a TED talk and with echoes of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, Chai’s film discusses the damaging impact of pollution on health, and she discusses how her own infant daughter had to have an operation straight after birth to remove a benign tumor.

“This is a personal issue between me and the smog,” Chai says in the movie.

The movie has reached more than 200 million views on Chinese websites, not counting Wechat or other social media, which makes for nearly one-third of China’s online population of 649 million.

One thing the internet is still not good at, relative to the effort it expends on all kinds of other things: translation of extremely common human languages. You don’t have to be generous with “Wechat or other social media” to conclude that Under the Dome has been viewed at least partially by an incredible number of people over the last four days, or to conclude that it is a historically significant document. But there doesn’t yet appear to be a full English translation available, and the responsibility of creating one has fallen to a student’s crowdsourcing project.

Spaghetti the Squash

squishOf all the winter squashes, my favorite is the spaghetti squash, because it is a weird mutant that makes no sense. What possible reason could it have to produce a fruit that transforms from rock hard when raw to silky strands when soft? What is the point? Some mysteries are unsolvable. Or, like, maybe this one has been solved and I just can’t be bothered to look up the answer.

In any case, spaghetti squash is a wonderful fruit. It take weeks to go bad, so just look for one that feels heavy—this means a higher sugar content—and doesn’t have any soft spots. It’s hard to mess up buying a spaghetti squash. It is also fantastically healthful; it has few calories, but high levels of fiber, vitamin A and C, and potassium, and it’s extremely high in beta carotene, which is probably good for your skin and eyeballs.

Typically the spaghetti squash is treated as if it were spaghetti, topped with tomato sauce and that kind of thing. This is an okay way to eat it, but because spaghetti squash lacks the starch of pasta, the squash will never really absorb sauce or be coated with sauce in the same way, which can lead to watery dishes. Spaghetti squash is in a category of its own, a crisp-tender mildly sweet filler. According to my cursory searches of Pinterest and food blogs, though, spaghetti squash is often cooked incorrectly. Here is a popular way it is cooked and also a way in which you should never, ever cook it.

Jesus Christ.

Talking With a CPA: Expectations vs. Reality

500 days expectations realityI am currently in the process of working with my CPA on my 2014 taxes. Having had no experience with CPAs prior to last year, I did not know what to expect, and in many ways the process has been about adjusting my (overambitious) expectations. I think I thought my CPA meeting would be an in-depth conversation about every aspect of my business, a combination “tax prep and business health” service, and it turned out to be much more “let’s look at the problem in front of us, which is inputting numbers into your 2014 tax return.”

Here are some examples of my expectations vs. reality:

Expectation: My CPA meeting would take, at minimum, two hours, and we’d discuss both my income and my deductions in detail.

Reality: My CPA meeting took about 15 minutes—”You’re a freelancer with some 1099s and some deductions? We can handle that.”—and the rest of it is me sending additional documentation over email.

Expectation: I’d have to provide proof of every number I brought to the conversation. Some of my clients, for example, don’t send me 1099s because I only wrote one feature for them and it didn’t cross the minimum income threshold. So I showed up at my CPA meeting with a stack of printed-out bank transactions to accompany my 1099s, to prove that I had earned the income I’m claiming.

Reality: My CPA wasn’t too worried about whether or not I had proof to back up the numbers I brought him. He also wasn’t interested in seeing the receipts for the deductions I’m planning to claim. I do have this documentation if anyone might need it in the future, but there’s also a part of me that’s thinking “Wait, I could say anything and it would go on my taxes? I could say that I stayed at a more expensive hotel during that business trip and claim a bigger deduction?”

I mean, obviously I am not going to do that, but I’m very curious if your CPAs also accept your income and deduction statements without asking to see original receipts. Part of me wants to bring in all of the receipts just so someone else can make sure I added them up correctly. I usually run everything twice on my phone’s calculator app, just to make sure the sums match, but, you know, what if I made a mistake somewhere?