Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Xmas, Happy Hannukah, Blessed Kwanzaa, etcetera!

I probably won't post again for at least a few days, and possibly for the duration of the holidays. Why? Because I will be eating.

I just wanted to thank you all for reading my blog, which was born of last year's New Year's resolution, and thus will turn one on January 2, 2007. Writing has helped and healed me this year. It has made me laugh and, if you calculate the hours I blogged at work, probably has earned me at least $800. Most importantly, it's given me courage. My New Year's resolution for 2007 is to submit writing to agents, magazines, and newspapers. Wish me luck, and have a wonderful holiday!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sleep in Heavenly Peas

This image reminds me of me and my sister. It seems every year around this time, we have the same conversation:

ME: (chewing on a cookie) I want to be excited about Christmas, but I have too many stresses. Including charging so many presents that I made my credit card explode.

ZOE: (gnawing at a chocolate Santa) I know. I'm sad. Want to watch 'My Super Sweet Sixteen'?

Emotional eating aside, though....
I love Christmas. I LOVE Christmas. During the days leading up to Christmas, my heart (and, less joyously, my stomach) grows at least three sizes. When I breathe, I smell nothing but fraser fir. When I blow my nose, tinsel comes out. Lest you doubt my Yuletide-itis, I'll have you know that I have seriously considered naming my kids Holly and Ivy (for their sakes, I hope they are girls -- fingers crossed!)

My parents have always made a big, BIG deal of Christmas. We had, of course, the Santa myth, complete with bitten cookies and half-drunk glasses of milk (and, later, scotch), the piles of presents, the stockings and carols and homemade cotton swab santa ornaments, but we also had a zany kind of humor that carried us through the holidays with nary an emotional scar (hey -- that was then). My father spun tapestries of obscenities as he strung Christmas lights, made all the more filthy when yelled over the CD player, out of which wafted the angel-bell voices of castrati English school boys singing carols from Kings. My mother taught my sister and I how to make roll-out cookie cutter creations topped with egg white and sprinkles, and always sang "sleep in heavenly peas" at the end of "Silent Night", in tribute to her girlhood misinterpretation.

Unsurprisingly, since I am of the VCR generation, movies play a big part of my Christmas rituals. Some of them are classics that anyone who doesn't have an icy hole for a heart loves, but some of them are much more suspect. Do you ever catch yourself watching a little-known, ridiculous movie (that, say, has Dudley Moore starring as an elf) and thinking, where did I find this? Was it a treasure passed down from your parents, or just a slow night at Blockbuster? Anyway, oops! Got a little cynical there. I LOVE Christmas! And I love you, you old Savings & Loan! And you, George Bailey! And you, Emmet Otter! And you, Joe, you little street urchin! And you, Natalie Wood, making that monkey face! And you, Bill Murray, and you, Carol Kane, and you Charlie Brown! (But not you, Linus, you pretentious, spoiled baby.)

Most of all, of course, I love my Heavenly Peas: my sister, my mother, and my Dad. Without you, I would not be so obnoxious this time of year.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bank of America: The U-Haul of Banks

I fought the Man, and I won. Behold, my story of triumph (this is a brief and much more comedic version of a longer, sadder story, the full writing of which would be too emotionally wearing. Just hearing the word ‘deposit’ could conceivably bring on a nervous breakdown).

One sunny, unseasonably carbon de-oxygenated, ozone-depleted day in December, I skipped to the bank to deposit a check from my mother, who was graciously saving my ass from overdrawing my bank account. I had been very sick with laryngitis for the past few days, and was strung out on DayQuil, hence, I had a senior moment and neglected to actually put the check in the deposit envelope. That night I realized my mistake and deposited the check again, for real this time.

Fast-forward three days. I try to use my debit card and am denied by the woman at Wholesale Liquidators. “This is a mistake,” I tell her. “I have plenty of money in my account.” She seems unmoved.

I return to work and look up my account balance online. My balance is $-888,888.88. Something is amiss.

I call Bank of America. They helpfully* explain that the bank suspects me of defrauding my account by falsely depositing funds. Apparently, when the bank suspects this, instead of calling you up, they take $888,888.88 from your account without asking. Apparently this is routine. When I helpfully* ask if they are trying to give me an aneurysm, for Christ’s sake, they hang up on me.

*In these cases, “helpfully” means “not at all helpfully”.

I go to Bank of America. The tellers there cannot help me. They give me more phone numbers. Each person I call is less sympathetic than the last. One even tells me that people “deposit empty envelopes all the time. You’d be amazed.” That said, I am still suspected of fraud and my bank account is in the process of being closed.

“You can close someone’s bank account without calling them?” I ask incredulously.

“A letter was sent out today, m’am,” I am told.

“Why not just toss a note in a bottle and pitch it into the Hudson?” I ask. This gets me the dial tone.

At the urging of my mother, I sit down and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. I write outraged, articulate letters to the CEO and President of Bank of America. I drink champagne and clutch my last remaining $40, cash, while indulging macabre fantasies of my disgraced credit score leading me straight to debtor’s prison, which I imagine to look like the bowels of the Delancey Street subway station, outfitted with cells.

A few days later, I open an account with Commerce Bank, which I know must be nice because they have a mascot with a cartoon face and legs. Bank of America has an American flag; I should have known I was doomed. As soon as I get to the office after opening my new account, I get a call from someone named Matthew, from the CEO’s office at Bank of America. He tells me that he’s received my BBB complaint. He tells me that he’s personally overridden the decision to close my account. In fact, it’s open now and all of my money is available. I thank him and hang up. And then …

And then, a strange feeling comes over me. I feel powerful. I feel like I just kicked someone’s ass. I feel like the luckiest wretch in all of Christendom (and of Jewdom). There’s a skip in my step. I buy myself a celebratory Peppermint Mocha, pay my overdue credit card bill, and fantasize about closing my account with Bank of America, possibly wearing a fedora, possibly throwing around words like “morons” and “good-fer-nothins”.

I beat the Man, and I must gloat. One little letter from an indignant customer who never has more than $1,000 in her checking account and they fold like a bunch of pansies. Let this be a lesson to us all:

Bank of America got beat up by a girl.

This is what I get for not posting in so long ...

Oh, GOD. I can’t believe I have left that rapping post up for so long. It was meant to be one of those silly posts that soon gets buried under better ones. I didn’t KNOW that I was going to lapse, that I was going to spend weeks running around like a Peppermint Mocha-fueled madwoman, falling into financial ruin (more on that later) and drowning my sorrows in vats of honeyed ham and medicinal (read: rum-infused) eggnog. I NEVER would have purposefully left my lackluster rap stylings up at the top of my blog for so long. Sigh. I bet a bunch of book publishers looked at it in my absence and clucked, “America doesn’t need a white-girl rapper, especially after that Northern State debacle. What we need is a modern-day, a little less Greek, a little less gay David Sedaris in the form of a cute girl who excels at writing self-possessed essays of no more than 1,000 words.”

Sigh. I'll bet that's exactly what happened.

Friday, December 8, 2006

One Time Only: Una Raps!

I don't freestyle, EVER, but I feel inspired by my incredibly talented friend Lin's new musical, In the Heights:

We met in 7-7 when I still had one eyebrow

And holy shit! It's been fourteen years now

You're such an inspiration 'cause you're showin us all how

To sack up, pack up and follow our dreams -

Just like Billy Joel you always go to extremes

Promoting your new show

Your passion we all know

You've stayed up so many nights

So many rewrites

You've poured your heart and soul in and I know it'll be tight

And all your biggest fans'll say we knew you when in hindsight

The famous Lin-Miranda who blew up with In the Heights

Go to NOW, before it becomes the next Rent.


Thursday, December 7, 2006

If Santa himself was blocking the entrance to Hammacher Schlemmer, I would tell him to move his fat ass.

Because Christmas Una must be anesthetized with Captain Morgan's-spiked eggnog at all times, she is unable to summon the snarkiness required to unleash her vitrol at the masses of assholes Christmas shoppers clogging the city streets. Luckily, the Gawker editors can read her mind.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Deep Thoughts: Larynx Edition

One of my favorite “Would you rather …” questions asks if you’d rather be blind or deaf (not a great choice, granted, but a telling one). Most people immediately answer that they would rather be deaf, but I have always maintained that I would rather go blind. Don’t get me wrong - I’d be devastated if I lost my sight, but I think I’d feel more disconnected from the world if I lost my hearing. Closing my eyes right now I can hear my co-worker’s alt-rock CD playing. I can hear people talking, the hum of fluorescent lights. If I listen harder I can hear the thrum of traffic outside on the street, the Shaolin monks upstairs jumping on the floorboards, the click-click-click of typing at the other end of the office. I open my eyes and imagine what it would feel like to see everything but, instead of the chaotic cacophony I'm used to, hear only silence. That, to me, would be the loneliest feeling I can imagine.

I’m bringing this up because, for the past two days, I have been unable to speak. I have lost my voice completely to laryngitis, so severely that if I try to scream no sound comes out, as though I’m stuck in one of those nightmares. The best I can muster is a gruff cough, and I have to write things down, or perform frantic mime, in order to tell someone something. It has been unspeakably (ha ha) frustrating not to be able to communicate, so much so that I realize how much I take speaking for granted. I think it’s true that many of the most important things in life require no words, but take away my ability to easily communicate with other human beings and suddenly I feel invisibly quarantined. I guess it just makes it all the more clear that, to me, connection is being able to hear and be heard rather than to see and be seen.

Also, you know, I can’t order Chinese food and that really sucks.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Ode to Mucinex

My friend … Lana (names have been changed to protect the innocent), once upon a time, had a job working as an assistant to a busy, corporate type. He had various friends and colleagues who would call up and joke with her, or flirt, as middle-aged pencil pushers are wont to do. One day, Lana picked up the phone and a very strange, robotic voice was on the other end.

“Hello,” it wheezed. “Can. I. Speak. To. Rob. Ert.”

“Hello, Mr. Martian!” Lana chortled, assuming it was one of her boss’s friends. “How are you doing today?”

“Can. I. Speak. To. Rob. Ert.” The robot implored.

“Of course!” Lana laughed, “I’ll put you right through. Goodbye, Mr. Martian! Have fun on Mars!”

She put the call through, and a few minutes later her boss popped out of his office.

“That was my Dad,” he said. “He’s had a tracheotomy.”

BA-DUM bum.

Anyway, thanks to a cold, that’s how I sound today. Like Mr. Martian crossed with Lindsay Lohan after five straight packs of Marlboro Lights. It’s kind of sexy, if viruses turn you on.

Have a great weekend!

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