Crucial Minutia
it's the little things...

You are currently browsing the Crucial Minutiae weblog archives for October, 2007.

Kimberlee Auerbach
5 Comments | posted October 18th, 2007 at 04:06 pm by Kimberlee Auerbach Unabridged (v 1.1) - in·ti·ma·cy
Pronunciation - [in-tuh-muh-see]

1. the state of being intimate.
2. a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.
3. a close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, subject, period of history, etc.: an intimacy with Japan.
4. an act or expression serving as a token of familiarity, affection, or the like: to allow the intimacy of using first names.
5. an amorously familiar act; liberty.
6. sexual intercourse.
7. the quality of being comfortable, warm, or familiar: the intimacy of the room.
8. privacy, esp. as suitable to the telling of a secret: in the intimacy of his studio.

I’ve been preoccupied with the concept of intimacy lately.

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Cristina Pippa
Red Robes and Blackberries
No Comments | posted October 18th, 2007 at 03:51 pm by Cristina Pippa

Dalai Lama“Oh my god, do I have a Crucial Minutiae for you!” My friend called me from her double suite in an upscale hotel in Washington, D.C. She’s there for a conference, and can you imagine who else is staying there? After her description of the hotel’s hipster bar, I could only think of Hollywood actors and visiting royals. “You’ll never guess,” she said. “The Dalai Lama! I’m staying in the same hotel as the Dalai Lama!”

You already knew, didn’t you? I gave it away with the picture. What a great smile.

But that wasn’t enough for a Crucial entry. No, we needed this juicy bit of minutiae: Not only did the flurry of red robes make for a striking contrast to the swanky hotel foyer, but my friend reports that she saw one of the monks– who looked a lot like the Dalai Lama– on his Blackberry!

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Jennifer Gandin Le
Exposing Your Guts in Public
No Comments | posted October 17th, 2007 at 06:18 pm by Jennifer Gandin Le

On Monday, I held a cinematic reading of my latest screenplay, called Tuesday. (Yeah, that’s a little confusing; I hope that it didn’t keep anyone from coming.)

It was a first reading that every writer dreams of — the space was gorgeous, the actors phenomenal, the projections and music exquisite. Several friends brought wine to kick off the evening, and at least 50 of my favorite people sat in the audience with me and heard the words read aloud for the first time.

I spent most of the reading sitting in the back row, shivering uncontrollably. I was sitting under an air conditioning vent, but it was mostly my nerves that made me jittery. I couldn’t tell how the audience was reacting; in fact, I spent most of the reading convinced that everyone was bored out of their skulls. Perhaps this is because I’ve read these words a million times and they can sound stale to me. I’m not given to false modesty, either; I’m usually confident about my work. But on Monday, the standing applause after “the end” seriously shocked me.

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Courtney E. Martin
Where were you…?
4 Comments | posted October 16th, 2007 at 09:06 pm by Courtney E. Martin

I’ve always heard people from my mom and dad’s generation ask that question with reference to, of course, JFK’s assassination. I can see in their eyes, I can hear in their voices, that it was one of the defining moments of so many of their lives. It changed the way they understood politics, leadership, even their own possibility.

But not until last night, did I really realize that my generation has equivalent questions that we must ask ourselves now. Where were you on 9.11? How did it change the way you understood politics, leadership, your own possibility?

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Kate Torgovnick
Worse than a Nightmare.
4 Comments | posted October 16th, 2007 at 12:45 pm by Kate Torgovnick

I’ve always sworn to myself that I wouldn’t use this blog to tell personal stories—no one wants to read my diary, right? But I just have to tell you this story from Thursday night. It definitely qualifies as something you can’t make up.

So Thursday night, I was fast asleeep and must have been sleeping on my hand in a strange way. I woke up and felt something moving under my face. In my mind, there was only one explanation for what it could be—a rat. I panicked and sat up in bed, flailing my arms. All of a sudden, I felt whatever it was hit me hard in the face. It was a rat and it was attacking me. I flailed harder and again it hit me in the face. By this time, I was screaming (bet my neighbors loved that) and had jumped out of bed. I thought, “Kate, you have to grab it and throw it as far away from you as possible.” I felt tears well up in my eyes as whatever it was hit me in the forehead again. I reached up and grabbed it.

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Kimberlee Auerbach
Dream Board Party
2 Comments | posted October 11th, 2007 at 10:09 am by Kimberlee Auerbach

dreamboard.jpgMy friend SZ threw a dream board party last Sunday. She put out cheese and crackers, hummus and carrots. I brought cupcakes. Five of us sat around, noshing, talking, taking turns giving updates. Then it came time to dream.

SZ walked us through a guided meditation, in which we met our higher self, who happened to be standing on a stage talking about us to a very large audience. We had to listen to what our higher self said about us. My higher self kept saying I was love. Afterward, we had to write down what we could remember, and from that, we had to come up with our life purpose. It’s a little out there, I know, but it really resonated for me. I like being love. Who would have a problem with that?

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Cristina Pippa
Assumptions About Gender
6 Comments | posted October 11th, 2007 at 12:01 am by Cristina Pippa

I thought she was a boy. She sat with the boys and was rowdy like the boys. She wore her hair short with a sweat band over it. Her jeans were baggy, and she layered several shirts with a Michael Jordan jersey on top. Her gestures, voice, features– all struck me as masculine. And I hope with all my heart I didn’t add to the the hell that is middle school for her.

“I’m not a sir,” she told me.

Leading a playwriting workshop, I had playfully said, “yes, sir!” in answer to someone’s request to read a scene they had written. I had just been told at another workshop, “Don’t be calling me by my government name.” So I stood there and tried to figure out why “sir” was not cool. Honestly. Then she repeated herself. “I’m not a sir.”

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Joie Jager-Hyman
Broken Curfew = Broken Arm
1 Comment | posted October 10th, 2007 at 06:01 pm by Joie Jager-Hyman

It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your kidz are?

Hundreds of city governments across the country want to make sure that you do. In fact, they even have curfew laws to ensure that the police can stop and arrest kidz who stay out past 10 p.m. on a school night.

Wanna know what happens to kidz who break curfew?

Click here to watch a video of 15-year-old Shelwand Riley getting punched and pepper sprayed by a policeman in Ft. Pierce, Florida

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Theo Gangi
Passing Judgment on Bang Bang
No Comments | posted October 10th, 2007 at 05:07 pm by Theo Gangi

Reviews make me jumpy. You pour your heart and soul into a book. You grapple with demons, you soar with angels, you challenge, you push, you pull. Sometimes you enjoy it, sometimes you don’t. The gratification of seeing that finished product all wrapped up between covers with a price label is, for me, unequalled. Reviewers underscore the reality that people may just not like it. Might not even have anything to do with the book. You always hear stories of great writers getting trashed by reviewers—John Updike and William Faulkner among them. Authors taught in schools have been called irrelevant in their lifetimes.
So far, I’ve been lucky enough to get some favorable nods from the grim judgment of reviewers. Knock wood.
Here is a review from the #1 reviewer on Amazon, Harriet Klausner, and Publisher’s Weekly:
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Jennifer Gandin Le
Beauty, Bulleted for Your Pleasure
No Comments | posted October 10th, 2007 at 10:08 am by Jennifer Gandin Le

Inventor Whacked in Head by Shovel to Prove a Point

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Kate Torgovnick
Dentists Scare Me.
3 Comments | posted October 09th, 2007 at 12:50 pm by Kate Torgovnick

On a trip to Los Angeles this week, I kept passing billboards and bus-stops ads for one Robert N. Nolan, D.D.S. The ads were strange because a man, presumably Dr. Nolan, was holding a kid in the photo—possibly his own. But the ads were even more confounding because of their slogan, “We cater to dental chickens.”

The first time I noticed the ad, an image of a farm where chickens ran around with the best teeth ever popped into my mind. The next time, I thought maybe it was some LA cosmetic procedure—a la chicken cutlets which women stuff in their bras to make it look like they have bigger boobs. Then on the third reading, it finally clicked. Dental chickens—people who are afraid of the dentist. Aha!

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Courtney E. Martin
The Joy of Work
8 Comments | posted October 09th, 2007 at 07:52 am by Courtney E. Martin

When was the last time you heard a woman raving about how much she loves her work?

I started thinking about this after a fascinating conversation with women studies professor Heather Hewitt. Heather and I have both thought a lot about the so-called work-life balance. She is the mother of two young children and a full time professor who writes often about motherhood (in addition to post-colonial lit). I’ve been pretty obsessed with ideas like shared parenting, workplace policy, and ambition ever since…well ever since forever.

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Ethan Todras-Whitehill
A Travel Writer’s Tips for Keeping Personal Space While Only Kinda Pissing People Off
7 Comments | posted October 08th, 2007 at 11:51 pm by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

I travel too much. This is both the perk and curse of the travel writer. I just got back from Panama a week ago and I’m going to Guatemala Wednesday morning.

In my travels, I have acquired one great skill: walking the lines of politeness in pursuit of personal space. You know what I’m talking about. The Greyhound bus ride, convincing that new passenger to crowd the person across from you instead of you. Grabbing that open row of seats on a flight. The “Oh, I’m sorry, let me move my leg that is fractured in six places and hemorrhaging AIDS infected blood so you can sit.” That kind of thing.

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Kimberlee Auerbach
Medication Versus Mindful Awareness
18 Comments | posted October 04th, 2007 at 10:57 pm by Kimberlee Auerbach

The reason I call this column “Therapy Thursdays” is that for the past six years I’ve been going to therapy on Thursdays. Seemed like a cute, catchy name. The alliteration and all. What is it about though? What I am trying to say?

Today I asked my therapist about medication.

In addition to going to therapy for years, I’ve read a ton of self-help books, taken weekend workshops, gone to lectures. I try really, really hard to be good, to keep my head straight, to go deep, to be deep, to learn from my mistakes. I’ve even inspired others. People feel safe with me because I’m honest and don’t hide. But all this work makes me wonder.

Is being human supposed to be this hard?

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Cristina Pippa
Yin in a Yang World or Stevie Wonder’s Wisdom
3 Comments | posted October 04th, 2007 at 03:57 pm by Cristina Pippa

YinYangThe first draft of my new play was due on Sunday, and at about 4:30 p.m. with a good 15-20 pages left to write, I found myself at the library, picking up a book called, “Time Management for Creative People.” Reading this now can’t possibly be a good use of your time, I told myself even as I walked out through the anti-theft detectors. By the way, who steals library books? I decided not to read the book that afternoon and to stop switching coffee houses and to stop erasing what I had just written and to stop googling. I simply had to reach the last scene (which I had already written) by writing what I had already planned to write (but didn’t trust). End of story: I did.

But by the time October rolled around that night, I was so hopped up on caffeine or nerves or ideas for my other projects that I couldn’t sleep. I put the time management book down and vowed to take a couple of yoga classes to undo all the doing I had just done. The first was Bikram– and if you like that, you have all my respect but I probably won’t join you at your next class. The second was Lunar Flow or Yin Yoga, and this is where everything in my world made a little more sense.

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Joie Jager-Hyman
The Cheating Curve
6 Comments | posted October 04th, 2007 at 03:32 pm by Joie Jager-Hyman

Last August, I got a hysterical phone call from an 18-year-old girl in California.

“Joie, Joie. Thank God,” she said after I picked up the phone. “This is Amanda, Mrs. T’s niece. I’m standing outside the admissions office at USC right now, and I only have a second to talk, but I really need your help.”

“What happened?” I asked, sensing her urgency and wondering in the back of my mind how she even got my number.

“They kicked me out! I’m supposed to start school here in two weeks, and I just got a letter that my offer for admission has been rescinded.”

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Courtney E. Martin
A Sketch of the Female Journalist
5 Comments | posted October 02nd, 2007 at 05:08 pm by Courtney E. Martin

womantypingI spent the weekend in Door County, Wisconsin. Or more accurately, I spent the weekend in a conference room in Door Country, Wisconsin. I am newly committed to accuracy, you see, after the Journalism & Women’s Symposium.

It was powerful in so many ways. I learned a lot about the business of print publishing–both short form and long. I made invaluable contacts with editors and writers in the business. I hiked, ate cheese curds, and learned that you must learn not to pop your p’s while on the radio.

But the thing that will stick with me the most–indelibly printed in the memory of both my mind and my heart–is the women I met. Women journalists are a fascinating medley of contradictions. If you haven’t had the pleasure of befriending one, let me explain.

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Kate Torgovnick
The future’s so bright…
1 Comment | posted October 02nd, 2007 at 04:34 pm by Kate Torgovnick

blade-runner.jpgI’m feeling inspired today by Blade Runner: The Final Cut. Even though Blade Runner is one of those movies I’ve seen again and again over the years, I’m probably going to head to a theater this weekend to see the “new version,” the one Ridley Scott is finally happy with. As Fred Kaplan points out in his piece in the Times, the plot of the movie is secondary—the reason people like it is because of its vision of what the future, 2019—not so far away anymore—will look like. It’s dystopian, sure but it’s also a shiny, off-kilter metropolis. I feel the same way about the Fifth Element—I’ve seen it maybe 15 times, but if it happens to be on network TV, I will always flip to it, just for those scenes where you can see that the city is miles and miles high.

But here’s the thing. I’m not convinced that the future will look like either of these movies.

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