Monday, April 24, 2006

What's Next, Arianna Huffington Reading My Middle School Diary?

My dad called me last night:

Dad: “Hi, honey, I’m at George Soros’ house, and we’re looking at your My Space profile.”

Me: "Uh …. okaaaaaay."

Dad: “Do you have your middle finger up in that picture?” (Laughs)

[Sounds of world’s most famous billionaire typing in the background. Suddenly I am really glad that I changed my tagline; it used to read “More Pussy, Less Bush”.]

In my life to date, my encounters with celebrities have only been completely humiliating. I met Malcom McDowell with the word “STACKED” written across the tops of my boobs (don’t ask). Dave Pirner, of Soul Asylum, went to my prom, but promptly fled when my date requested “Runaway Train”. I tripped over Larry Flynt’s wheelchair at a Texas Observer function. My friend and I, as children, once threw marbles at Joe Cocker. He was not pleased.

Oh, and I shouldn’t forget the time that I was given the task of escorting Bebe Neuwirth into a film screening at the American Museum of Natural History, and all I could think of saying was that I was terrified that the giant whale would fall and crush me. To her credit, she nodded politely.

And now George Soros knows that I list my hero as “Darryl Hannah in Steel Magnolias”. Sigh.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Word to the Wise

It behooves you to wear comfortable shoes to work, even if you are trying to look sexy, because if you don't, you will have to make the following decision:

Would you rather endure searing pain and potential bloodletting for the remainder of the day or spend $60 on a new pair of shoes that you don't need?

Or, if you are me, TWO pairs of new shoes you don't need, because they were on sale...

And also cab fare to drive you to the shoe store...

Which is three blocks away from your office.

But, hey, at least I went out.

Oh, Hilarity.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Let Me Work It

Today I got my hair did (I'm sorry, Missy Elliot, I know that you didn't write "Work It' so that little white girls could quote it after getting a blow-out at Jean Louis David, but I have always wanted to say that and now I did. And it felt goooood. And I would like to add that, yes, I am a fly gal.)

I so wish I had my camera, because never before has my hair been so silky, soft, and straight, and I'm afraid it may never reach perfection like this again. My normal hair tends to exist in a hellish identity crisis limbo between wavy and curly, a purgatory that forces the follicles to magically appear shapeless and poufy at the same time, a feat that I have seen accomplished on the head of only one other person, and that is Sasquatch.

Oh, David of Jean Louis David, what I wouldn't give to have you blow me every morning.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Una's Medical Mysteries Vol. 3: Shopping-Specific Laziness-Which-I-Will-Call-Agoraphobia Edition

I have become one of those people who orders in EVERYTHING. Sitting under my desk right now are:

1. A cumbersome bridal shower gift for a friend
2. A box full of Amazon goodies
3. A box of 25 "Vita-Muffins", which are muffins (my favorite food group) masquerading as health food.

If I ever got off my lazy ass, I would have gone up to Whole Foods and bought one muffin, but things being what they are (read: me being a lazy spendthrift) I now have 25 fiber-packed muffins. 25! How and when am I going to eat all of them?

It forced me to realize that I no longer interact with humans when I shop for any of my basic needs.

To wit, here is what I buy online: Groceries (Fresh Direct); shoes (Zappos, or Sole Struck); books, CDs, DVDs (Amazon); gifts; snacks (such as the aforementioned muffins); movie tickets (Fandango - I am a sucker for those paper bag puppets!); clothing; concert tickets; hotel rooms; rental cars; plane tickets; magazine subscriptions; custom invitations; greeting cards; photos (Kodak Gallery); and, of course, candy in bulk.

Here is what I buy in person: my MetroCard (step lively, MTA!).

I can and do also pay my electric, phone, credit card, and insurance bills online. I make donations online and make transfers online. The only checks I write are for my rent and my gas bill, but rest assured that if I could pay them online, I would.

My life is now rich in cardboard boxes. The reason I titled this a "medical mystery" is to remind me, when I wonder aloud years from now why I am so obese that I cannot walk and why my house was taken away after I failed to pay my credit card bills, how this all began.

Katie's Baby

Okay, so apparently Katie Holmes gave birth sometime this morning to “Tom Cruise’s baby”*. I am skeptical. She has been pregnant for like 11 months, her “baby bump” kept changing size, seemingly with a retractable protruding belly button … I don’t usually get too emotionally involved in celebrity business (and for those of you who are laughing right now, let me say that there is a difference between being interested or entertained and actually caring. There’s a difference.), but this whole thing is a little too “Rosemary’s Baby” (and note, here the quotations are un-ironic) for my tastes. I mean, you’ve got Katie playing Mia Farrow, only more docile and Fembot-ty; Tom Cruise playing that cheesy actor husband who gets mind-fucked by a cult; Kirstie Alley and John Travolta as the scary neighbors who worship Satan … I mean Xenu. Or whatever.

They named the baby – a girl, or “female spawn” – Suri, which, I think, is Hebrew or Persian for “public relations stunt”.

*Here are some possible fillings for those quote marks: “Some dude’s baby”; “L. Ron Hubbard’s demon seed”; “An adopted baby who was whisked from its REAL birth mother into Katie’s waiting arms”; “A large pillow”.

**More fun with quotes: “prosthetic pregnant stomach”; “large pillow”; “head of lettuce”; “stuffing”.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Face Lift!

I was feeling a little bit bored with my old template, so I decided to nip and tuck a little bit. More youthful, no? It's as though my blog has been bleached of its verbosity-and-profanity-stained posts of yesteryear.

Oh, who am I kidding? It's only going to get worse.

Quarterlife Kiss My Ass

From an Im conversation I had today with a close friend, who currently works at a well-respected media company but is having pesky "What am I doing with my life?" thoughts:

unamatata (5:01:05 PM): all i'm saying is that there's no need to move quickly if you don't know where you want to go
unamatata (5:01:31 PM): it will come ... if you try and move fast, you might waste time
unamatata (5:02:31 PM): i just hate that I feel so stressed out, and when I think about it I realize that I need to stop putting so much pressure on myself to know immediately what I want to do and where I need to go. And I think we all would be a lot happier if we stopped worrying.
My friend (name withheld to protect her anonymity) (5:06:09 PM): I hope you're right.
unamatata (5:07:56 PM): I AM right
unamatata (5:08:15 PM): and if I'm not, still, what's the fucking point of making yourself sick worrying?
My friend (5:09:07 PM): It's true.
My friend (5:09:27 PM): but i feel sometimes that i need to worry or i won't ever move.
unamatata (5:11:22 PM): yes, but here's my perspective: you've been at this job how long? - six months? there is such a thing as getting TOO nervous and moving TOO quickly.
unamatata (5:11:56 PM): if you move too quickly from thing to thing, you never let the natural progression play out.
unamatata (5:25:50 PM): i'm going to write a book
unamatata (5:26:00 PM): called "quarterlife kiss my ass"
unamatata (5:26:18 PM): i am really sick of all of the pressure put on us to act like we're 45 when we're 25.
unamatata (5:26:51 PM): we're supposed to "get on the right career path" and "manage our finances" and basically have the kind of stability that used to be reserved fro old married couples
unamatata (5:27:21 PM): we're in our fucking twenties! If we can manage to pay our rent and not end up with negative account balances, we are doing just A-fucking-OK!
unamatata (5:27:44 PM): what happened to the time when your twenties was supposed to be your decade to fuck up?
unamatata (5:28:20 PM): they are supposed to be the "me" years, not the "me and my future real estate prospects and retirement fund" years

So, apart from seeing that I kind of didn't let her get a word in edgewise, you can tell that I'm rather vehemently filled with venomous hatred for the term "quarterlife crisis" and all that it entails. I cannot count the number of conversations I've had with friends lately in which someone brings up feeling stressed out and worthless because they don't have a perfect, stable, happy, financially sound, success-filled life at the age of 25. I am seriously going to write a book. Either that or turn into a crazy prostheletizing drunkard.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Happiness is a Cigar Called Una

Click here if you don't believe me.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Sacrilegious Arts & Crafts: Stale Sara Lee Pound Cake Edition

Happy Easter!

Just Six More Floors To Go ...

Yesterday was my birthday. I took the day off, dusting off my faithful "quarter-Jewish" card and claiming Pesach exemption. I spent the morning watching America's Next Top Model, which my mother lovingly taped for me (What? It's a really good show!) and eating chocolate. Then I met my friend Meredith for a picnic lunch in Murray Hill. She is awesome, and just got into grad school.

At three o'clock I met my main squeeze, Jeff, for a trip to the top of the Empire State building. Neither of us had ever been before. I am ashamed to admit that, as a native New Yorker and "Sleepless in Seattle" aficionado, I honestly believed that one could simply step into an elevator at ground level and go straight up to the top. As an avid consumer, I should have known better.

For those who haven't been to the top of the Empire State building, or who haven't been in awhile, let me tell you: it is INSANE in there. It's like one minute you're on 5th Avenue smelling hot dogs and steam and the next you are in corporate Disney Land, only with no actual rides, only lines. After a brief, unclogged trip up an escalator, the first line you happen upon snakes around the second floor about 40 times and leads you around a partition to ... another line, that snakes around about 40 more times and leads you to ... the security checkpoint! Once it has been established that you have no firearms or explosives, you get to run down a narrow hallway to ... another line, that snakes around 60 or so times and finally leads you to the ticket area, which has 6 windows but only 4 employees. Of course, in keeping with code standards, one lone fat man types on a keyboard in one of the "CLOSED" windows so that you are forced to ask yourself, as you wait a half mile away, Why isn't that guy selling tickets?

After you buy your tickets, you move to another line in which you wait for the elevator. Finally, unbelievably, you find yourself actually inside of an elevator, and you watch as the numbers jump ten at a time. You are almost there - almost there! - when the bell rings and the doors swing open at the 80th floor and an attendant guides you to the left, saying, "Only six more floors to go, folks." Then you find yourself being funneled into yet another line, the sole purpose of which is to force you to have your photo taken against a fake backdrop of the Empire State building, and you suddenly totally understand why the security check was done first. Since it was my birthday and I had no where else to be, I was admirably Zen about the annoying lines, but I have to say that I think it's awful to add 20 minutes to people's wait time just to take a photograph that you will try to force them to buy for $20. You don't even get a choice -- you MUST have your photograph taken, even if you're by yourself. Then, as you're nearing what you think is the end of the line, there is a display that strongly urges that you buy an audio guide so that you'll know what you're looking at. The voice on the audio guide is advertised as "Tony, a real New Yorker." Apparently Tony is a ladies man: "I instantly fell in love with Tony," reads a testimony from Audrey of Hannibal, MO. Tony is also an impressive linguist, as he speaks French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and, of course, Long Island.

After some time you are herded into a second elevator and a moment later you are there, on the 86th Floor observation deck. If you can squeeze your way past the gift shop, you will eventually hit fresh air, and I have to say that once you get outside it's totally worth it. The views are amazing, and it feels like another world, albeit a world that still has lots of tourists. The city looks just as impressive from above as it does from down in the streets. The late afternoon sunlight hitting New Jersey made even the Hudson look kind of glorious.

Sadly, Jeff and I had to jet to make sure to be on time for my family's annual Seder for the Marginally Jewish. We passed up purchasing our obligatory photo, but were overjoyed to discover that the trip back down dropped us off at the lobby, where we spilled out, grateful to be back on the ground, and out of line.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

UBW06: A History

As you can probably tell, I take birthdays seriously. Notice I say “birthdays” and not “my birthday”. I certainly enjoy my own, but it’s not an exclusive syndrome. If you are my friend and it is your birthday, then I am probably plotting something elaborate for you.

My parents, God bless them, started all of this. I’m not even making fun. I am really glad that I give such good birthday. It’s like a talent. Legend has it that my Dad first made my Mom a banner spelling out “Happy Birthday Ellen” in the late seventies. He made it using pieces of origami and string … I guess back then no one had invented Happy Birthday letters. Primitive!

Anyway, who knows who started it, but suffice to say that we ALL eventually got birthday letters, and the tradition was that they would go up in the living room the night before your birthday and stay there for the duration of the month (the birthday month, for fairness’ sake, began on the actual birthday and continued for 30 days afterwards). On the morning of your birthday, you’d wake up to a birthday breakfast (which you got to custom order, last-meal-before-execution-style, from the Parents), during which you’d get presents (enough for four kids in a normal family) and cards. Then, you’d get a separate birthday dinner out at the restaurant of your choice. Needless to say, on your birthday you could pretty much demand anything at any time and Mom or Dad would get it for you. It was like gaining control of a small fiefdom for a day.

The best thing about birthdays growing up was the big deal my parents always made of them. I didn’t make up the term “Una Birthday Month”, if you can believe it. Each of my family members had their own Birthday Month and Birthday Week. During the Birthday Month you’d be reminded constantly that it was almost your birthday, and the other members of the family seemed so excited for you, they were like groupies waiting for a big concert. During your Birthday Week, you’d get to feel, essentially, like a celebrity. It was over the top, sure, but you’d be surprised how good it makes a person feel to get so egregiously pampered.

As we got older, my sister and I were able to reciprocate the birthday excess. We’d spend nights in our bedrooms, sending our parents away with cries of “We’re doing secret things in here!” We’d bake cakes and orchestrate elaborate breakfasts in bed and even, on occasion, offer ourselves up as slaves for the day. You think I’m kidding, but I’ll bet my Dad still has coupons for “1 hour of not bugging you” or “1 night of doing the dishes” in a drawer somewhere.

My father’s birthday always fell during our family vacation in Block Island, and he more than any of us treasured his birthday routine: he’d get up before anyone else was awake, bike out to a secret spot on the island, and read or meditate for a few hours (I still don’t know what he did those mornings, but since he’s a reflective type of person I assume he spent time thinking quietly, and, more recently, taking pictures). Upon his return, true to form, my sister and I would be waiting with bated breath, clutching our homemade trumpets (complete with paper flags to make them look courtly … and again, no, I am not kidding). We’d leap out and trumpet his arrival like we were receiving the king. Then we’d do the breakfast and presents as usual, and then we’d get our first clue.

Every year until very recently, my father made a tradition of buying us little presents on his birthday. The best part was that he would hide them somewhere in the house and leave us a series of elaborate clues to help lead us to the hiding place. The clues were always well-planned and often funny riddles, told from the point of view of the object the clues were hiding behind. My sister and I would run through the house, puzzling out the grown-up jokes, squealing as my father yelled “Cold!” or “Warmer!” to alert us to our progress. We would collect the clues and, after six or seven, would find two small, wrapped gifts nestled in the record player, or stuck in the spokes of a bicycle. In addition to the gifts, Dad would divvy up all of the change he had collected over the course of the vacation. We usually walked away with $10 each, at least.

I guess I never understand people who hate their birthdays. Of course, I understand the stress of getting older, and of having more to worry about year after year. I understand that some people don’t want all that attention. But my reverence for birthdays is so innate and unwavering that it borders on the spiritual. I could have gone without the presents, and I could have gone without the dinners out, but I’m deeply thankful for the joy of celebration that my parents passed down to me. Sometimes I send too much money on people. Sometimes my efforts get me into trouble (I once had a friend who mistook my overly thoughtful gift as a sign of repressed romantic love). Still, I’d rather give too much than give too little. I don’t care if people think I’m weird or spoiled as long as I can make them feel insanely special for one day a year. I know that when I have kids, I’ll continue the birthday traditions that my parents started. I’ll carry on the letter-making and the clue-writing. I’ll show them, like I was shown, that allowing yourself to feel special, and allowing yourself to feel loved, is a luxury that no one should be denied.

Passover Haiku

I did not write these, but felt that they were prudent given the impending Pesach.

Lacking fins or tail
The gefilte fish swims with
Great difficulty.

On Passover we
Opened door for Elijah
Now our cat is gone.

Her lips near my ear,
Aunt Sadie whispers the name
Of her friend's disease.

Today I'm a man.
Tomorrow I will return
To the seventh grade.

A lovely tattoo,
Excuse me while I put my
Head in the oven.


Monday, April 10, 2006


I hope you’re not at work reading this because, if you are, your employer clearly hasn’t updated his calendar. You do know what this week is, don’t you?

Passover? NO. I mean, yeah, but that’s not what I’m getting at. Are you SURE you don’t know what this week is? I’ll give you a hint. Let’s see … OK, April 13.


Yes, I know it’s a full moon, but full moons aren’t exactly a big deal, like, nationwide.

OK, OK, here’s another hint: 26.

No, not April 26, the number 26.

Give up?

It’s Una Birthday Week. I didn’t announce Una Birthday Month because, you know, April Fools, people could get confused. But it’s here, you guys. The Official Una Birthday Week ’06.

I love this week; it’s got great perks.

You could say my family does birthdays big. I’ll elaborate tomorrow.

For now, shut off your computer, go home, and participate in some traditional Una Birthday Week activities:

• Buy yourself flowers
• Read US Weekly while eating Coffee Haagen Dazs ice cream
• Collect money from relatives
• Examine your face for wrinkles

Happy UBW!

Friday, April 7, 2006

Google suce.

A few months ago, the director of the film I'm working on freaked out and demanded color images of the French Revolution, ASAP. Being somewhat crazed, I went online and pulled what I found, not really bothering to check the sources.

Now, three of these images are slated to appear in our film and it is my job to get permission to use them. They are part of the collection of the Musee Carnavalet in Paris. Here is a fax that I wrote using Babel Fish:

À qui de droit :

Je fais un film pour PBS et je voudrais commander des reproductions (des photographies ou des images de JPEG) de trois des peintures dans votre collection :

1. " Massacre du Marquis De Pellepont le 14 juillet 1789", par Charles Thevenin

2. "Prise de la Bastille et arrestation de M. De Launay", par Charles Thevenin

3. "Une execution capitale", par Pierre-antoine Demachy

Veuillez me contacter à 1 212 582 8211 x175 ou à
Je fais des excuses pour mon Français faible ; Je ne le parle pas bien.

To those of you that speak French, don't tell me how incorrect my syntax is; I don't want to hear it. Just heed my warning: never rely on anything you find using a Google image search. Google won't write your embarrassingly backwards international emails for you. Or, they
will, but they'll do it badly.

Google est la ma béquille et le fléau de mon existence.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

This May Not Be Worth 1,000 Words, But ...

I never really celebrated my new license, so I made this today.

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