Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Even scarier than a murder

I recently rewatched Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window.  The first time I watched it I was in 9th grade.  I would not say that it left a great mark on my impressionable mind, despite being the tender age of… Lord, I have no idea how old I was in 9th grade.  If you remember, I had watched Leprechaun in kindergarten, and I looked under my bed for the little man until 6th grade every night.  I wish I were kidding.  I was scared of leprechauns grabbing my ankles and biting me.  I also VIVIDLY remember watching a TV show about extreme encounters with animals, where a boa constrictor slithered out of a toilet and a few rattlesnake bite victims talked about the tremendous pain they experienced after they were bitten.  These anecdotes might seem comical in a way (A boa constrictor in the toilet, everyone!) but I remember the people on the tv show were genuinely scarred, looking around as if they expected a rhinoceros to charge out of their bedroom closet next.  What I took away from that show was that I had to get to a hospital 11-13 minutes within being bitten by a rattlesnake, and that I should always look in toilets for boa constrictors.

Anyhow, Rear Window did not scar me in this same way. One of the only things I took away from it is that I remember the person I watched it with told me New York was like Alfred had portrayed it: one could see into another’s apartment and just sit around looking at everyone go about their business. 

I guess this is sort of true.  Let’s take a look at what we can see outside our windows.


Not too much from this window.  This happens to be the view out my bedroom window.  A couple of inches over to the left is my neighbor’s window, from which I can hear him pushing snooze every 10 minutes from 6 AM on.  He, on the other hand, probably didn’t hear my alarm clock this week because I put it on silent.  And I wondered why I wasn’t waking up on time.  Silly me!


This is the view from our bathroom window.  Unfortunately.  I feel an apartment has much more character when you can see people outside while you shower.  However, let’s move on to the south facing windows.


Nice, no?  We have great full sunlight in the afternoon, which brings the temperature in the apartment up to a comfortable 95 degrees upon occasion.  At night we can sit around and look at the city lights, and during the day we can look down at the neighbor’s yard and observe bunnies hopping around.  Due to its enclosed nature, if someone is having a party with any sort of music involved every note reverberates off the buildings as if it is being played on a timpani. 

Let’s return to this same scene at night.  Ala Alfred Hitchcock, something sinister takes hole once the sun goes down.


Maybe I have an overactive imagination (I did major in liberal arts.  I guess I thought I would be able to support myself with it.) but I think this seems like the perfect setting for murders to take place.  What's going on in that lit window in the bottom right corner?  Oh, nothing, Ben is just strangling his wife.  And in the window with the big lampshade?  That's where Joe is dismembering his son Al.  And what's going on in the top left corner?  A closer look you need?  Is that what you said?

My roommates and I have each, on separate occasions, sat down on the couch, looked outside, and jumped up exclaiming something to the effect of "HELPTHEREISANAKEDMANINTHATAPARTMENTIJUSTSAWHISUNMENTIONABLES!"  Now that I think of it, this should phase me no more.  I walk down the streets here and everyone is nearly as naked as the day he was born.  I guess we just weren't bracing ourselves for the sight.

So no, this is NOT a naked man.  This is not George, who just can never seem to find his underpants.  This just happens to be a mannequin perfectly positioned to give us a full front view whenever we happen to glance outside, sometimes giving us a start, but by now just a normal fixture on the horizon.  And something that provides me endless entertainment when we do have visitors come over to see what the world outside our windows is up to.

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's rained here for about 10 days straight

I will be the first to admit that I am a pretty sub-par interior decorator.  This skill has mostly gone unnoticed to the unobservant because I have been lucky enough to live with people who put a lot of thought into surrounding themselves with pretty things arranged in pretty ways.  

I wouldn't say that I don't have the eye.  I can definitely tell you what colors look good together and what don't, mostly based on my knowledge of the color wheel from 9th grade art class, and I can also tell you what is a piece of junk and what isn't.  And I wouldn't say I don't have style.  No, the biggest drawback I have with decorating and domesticating a place is that I lack the experience.  You see, all my friends and their friends grew up in households where they were allowed to decorate their room within reason.  I suspect this is because they all spent a lot of time in their respective bedrooms, either grounded or on the phone talking about boys, perhaps doing the occasional homework, so the parents were all right with them decorating their space with things they wanted to see, since they spent a good chunk of their lives there.

In my home, the situation was very different.  After we were old enough to move into separate bedrooms and when my sister and I randomly decided for about 10 minutes what our favorite colors were one month, my mother's deft hand and quick thinking transformed our rooms to reflect our preferences.  And so since about 5th grade, my bedroom in California has remained very blue, and Agnes's has remained very yellow.  Arranging furniture, buying appropriate colored rugs, and the correct colored comforters all announced to the world what color our favorites were.  The fact that we spent very little time in our bedrooms (we were never grounded, punishment was as public as possible and going to hide in our bedrooms was not an option as a method of discipline, as then we would run the risk of not being reminded every 10 seconds what we had done wrong), so it never bothered me that I was not the one who had called the shots with the decor.

To illustrate how little I thought about what went into my bedroom, let me tell you the following: I was in a summer program in St. Louis for 5 weeks.  During those 5 weeks, everyone unpacked, decorated, some even put up curtains and posters in their room.  I placed my opened suitcase under my raised bed for easy access to clean clothes, and so it stayed until the very last day.  Unpacked.  Unloved.  And unwanted.

When I went away to college was when I started to have problems.  The first two years in the dorms were okay, there is only so much you can do with an extra long twin bed and a 4'x8' space, but I viewed moving into apartments with apprehension.  My secret would be exposed!  And so the first year I moved into a place, I had an air mattress for the whole year, and the second year I got a bed so big there was no way anything else would fit into the room with me.

In New York I've had a rough time.  The layout of my room changes with the weather.  I've moved things this way and that, dragging furniture out into the common area so I have enough room to maneuver the dresser two inches in one one direction or to shove my bitty bed into one corner.  I think I've finally hit on arrangement where the furniture and decor combination isn't completely offensive, and I think this is due in no small part to what I've been surrounded by at work.  

Here we have the Avenging Narwhal Play Set brightening someone's day a couple of desks over.

This is a model of an actual exhibition traveling the world.

(just kidding)

Here we move closer to home as we get a shot of my desk.  A while back I was sent several broken fish from one of our exhibitions and I decided to take it upon myself to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the sorrowing, and here they shall remain.

This is the Terminator Pup Sam. 

I'm not saying my room is decorated with any or all of these items.  But hopefully some of the inspirations stick.