Monday, February 27, 2006

Life Patterns

Most of us are aware that certain life patterns haunt -- or delight -- us over decades. Some people have commitment issues, or Freudian preferences for partners. Others have repeated good or bad luck with things like jobs, apartments, or pets. What I've noticed, lately, though, are smaller, more intricate and mystifying patterns in my life, and I wonder if other people have them, too.

Example # 1: THE BAD DAY

On February 27, 2002, I was dumped.
On February 26, 2005 I had a big fight with my boyfriend.
On February 25 and 26, 2006, I had another fight with the same boyfriend.

To be totally fair, I have not kept records of other February 25ths through 27ths, but these three occurrences lead me to believe that this group of days may be a truly horrifying astrological match for me.

Example #2: NAMES/THE ALPHABET

From grade school through college, one male name ruled my life: Charles. When I was ten I developed a deep crush on Charles Kee that lasted through seventh grade. In high school I obsessed about Charlie Hofheimer. In college, I met and fell in love with Charlie Meyer (it was platonic love, seeing as he was -- and still is -- gay, but still, for two years he was, decidedly, the man in my life).

When I finally started dating straight men, three of my only four real boyfriends had names that began with the letter 'J': Joe, Jake, and (still my main squeeze) Jeff.

Example #3: THE CLOCK

This one is the strangest one of all.

At least five to six times a week, I look at the clock when it is 4:13. This stands out to me because the numbers happen to correspond to my birth date, April 13. I often wonder if I really see 4:13 more than any other time of day or if I just notice it more because of its affiliations, but I'm fairly certain that it is a bit uncanny and special.

And, no, I don't mean "special" like Special Olympics.

Feel free to share your strange patterns. I want to know if I am alone in this.
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Thursday, February 23, 2006

PMS: A User's Guide



EMERGENCY PMS PROCEDURES

“For the frustrated boyfriend”



FAQ

Q: What is PMS?

A: PMS is a serious psychological and physical condition brought on by hormonal changes having to do with the fact that our bodies are freaking out at having been fed synthetic hormones that have prevented us from becoming pregnant, which is what our bodies were made to do, and you should be thankful that we take our pills every day when you have to do nothing but carelessly ejaculate.

Q: Ohhhhh-kaaaaaay. So how should I deal with it?

A: Well, there are two main expressions of PMS: sadness/depression (SAD), and rage/frustration (MAD). The first category can be recognized by the following behaviors: crying, pouting, making self-destructive comments like “I’m so fat” or “I’m ugly”, or feelings of deep despair and hopelessness similar to clinical depression. If your girlfriend fits into to the “SAD” category, you should pamper her and tell her how much you love her, how beautiful she is, how everything is going to be OK. She might not believe you, but just stick to the script. If you say something wrong she could flip over to “MAD” in the blink of an eye. Remember that she is unwittingly irrational during PMS. She does not know what she is doing, nor can she help you deal with it. She doesn’t know what she needs, but she knows that you’re not doing it. I realize that this can be frustrating. Just remember that that she doesn’t mean to burden you and you should do your best to remember all of the wonderful things that she does for you that have earned her a night of acting like an evil, retarded baby.

If she is MAD, you should lay low. You’ll recognize MAD by the following behaviors: screaming, ranting, throwing things, yelling at you, glowering, pushing you away, berating inanimate objects. Don’t abandon her – this may cause SAD symptoms to return – but stay in another room and try to check up on her without being intrusive. If she snaps at you, remember that she doesn’t mean it. Try not to get yourself into a fight. If you find yourself in a fight, immediately do the emotional equivalent of a STOP, DROP, AND ROLL: APOLOGIZE, APOLOGIZE, AND APOLOGIZE. I realize that this goes against everything that your gender stands for, and I realize that apologizing is frustrating when you may not be wrong. However, if you want to have a bearable evening, you must acquiesce. You are on defense, buddy. Never underestimate how much worse things can get. They can always get worse.

When SAD and MAD combine, you have a little Linda Blair, head-spinning kind of situation on your hands. You’ve gotta go with it. You’ve got to be ready to either pamper or apologize and you’ve got to make sure to do the right one at the right time. This is actually a good workout for your brain. It’s like emotional Tetris.

Q: Is there anything I should NEVER do?
A: That is a very good question. Yes, there are a few things that you should never, ever do when faced with PMS.

• Never utter the words “crazy” or “irrational” in reference to us. Never. In other words, never point out the obvious.
• Never ignore us.
• Never leave unless you are going to the store and are coming back with chocolate.
• When we try to bait you – and we will (though it is unintentional) – by asking questions like “Am I crazy?” or “I’m not as bad as your ex-girlfriend, right?” or “Don’t I look heavier to you?” NEVER tell us anything other than what we want to hear. On a normal day you might be able to get away with being honest, but not today. You MUST tell us what you know we want to hear.


EMERGENCY PROCEDURES
(These should work at all times. If you find yourself flailing, refer to the above FAQ section for troubleshooting)

1. Tell us how much you love us. (We may say, “Even when I’m [insert some derogatory comment here]?” You must dodge this bullet by simply replying, “I love you unconditionally.” Leave it at that. Don’t add, “Even when you’re [insert derogatory comment]. Don’t ever repeat the derogatory comment or suddenly we will think you said it.
2. Get us a snack (Chocolate preferable. We will refuse it, saying, “I’m so fat already.” The correct response to this is “You’re beautiful, and nothing’s going to change that. This will make you feel better.”)
3. Massage us, rub our feet, or stroke our hair. (If we attempt to dissuade you by saying “But I’m so disgusting!” return to the “I love you and you are beautiful” script and rub us anyway. We like to be rubbed. )
4. Watch a funny movie with us. It MUST be funny. Otherwise we may start crying. Oh, who are we kidding, we’ll cry anyway. Just kiss us when we do.

ALWAYS REMEMBER YOUR DEFAULT POSITION:

You are on defense. You apologize. You pamper. You remember that we will reward you for your good behavior.

--
P.S. I do not want any belligerent women's lib comments about this. I am a very strong and progressive woman, but I created this for my boyfriend after a night of .... questionable behavior on my part that ended with him comparing me to a "live grenade". If you do not see that this was intended as funny, keep your comments to yourself. Did I mention that I currently have PMS and will beat you down?
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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Would-Be Life of a Secret Writer

The title of this blog came to be because over the past year I couldn't help but notice how many books bore titles beginning "The Secret Life of ..."

We've been let in on the secret lives of lobsters, germs, God, families, water. kids, DNA, cells, dogs, puppets, plants, dust, cats, food, nature, sharks, the brain, and the Seine, not to mention a few real people (Bill Clinton, J. Edgar Hoover) and multiple fictional personalities.

I figured I would capitalize on title gold, but when it comes to secret lives, I have few that people would be interested in reading about. Try these on for size:

The Secret Life of a Historical Documentary Film Archivist
The Secret Life of a Former Member of the Babysitters Club Fan Club
The Secret Life of a Hunt-and-Peck Typist
The Secret Life of Someone Who Thinks She Might Be Lactose-Intolerant

In truth, the secret life of a would-be writer isn't very secret: we write, and we try to get people to pay us for it. I did get a great idea for a screenplay today, which I'm very excited about. It springs from the shallowest part of my life, so I figure it's bound for fame. I'm saving my dark, personal drama (about a young girl with a unibrow and a dream to dance) for later in my career.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Birthdays I Have Known

Last Friday night I celebrated the birthday of my dear friend Chessa, who, besides being a gorgeous and disturbingly gifted karaoke performer, is the woman whose train I'll be holding come July 15th when she gets hitched!

We went to a kitschy 80s dance club/ karaoke lounge where I learned a few important life lessons. First of all, never perform vigorous hip-hop dance moves within two hours of consuming McDonald's french fries. Secondly, a dancefloor designed to look like a Rubik's Cube attracts a special breed of man who is well-groomed but frisky. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, if you are going to sing "Sweet Child Of Mine", you had better have the range for it.

Chessa brought the house down with some Kelly Clarkson ( I LOVE that the cast of 90210 are cheering her on from the left):



I am just starting to realize that the Roger Rabbit has upset the delicate balance of my fast-food-filled stomach:



The next morning I boarded a train for Philadelphia so that I could help my friend Kerry ring in her b'day. I also saw my beautiful sister, Zoe, but you won't see any pictures of her because she has a clause in her contract that she may not be photographed by family members under any circumstances.

Here are some photos of Kerry and the rest of us at the Walnut Room, a swanky club in Center City:



Word to the wise: any cocktail with rosewater in it will taste like shampoo.




I guess I didn't make enough of an ass of myself to make any funny jokes. Well, actually, I DID manage to get shut out of the club without my hat, which was holding my left-over pasta from dinner.

That is pretty stupid.
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Monday, February 20, 2006

You Seem To Have a Lot of Ranting To Do

The title of this post is a comment I recently got, by phone, from a reader. OK, it was my Dad. At first I thought, you know, 'God, here I've been trying to make sensitive yet witty observations about my life and it comes off as bitching.' Then I realized that bitching is my special talent. Without the ability to bitch, I wouldn't be funny. I'd be ... wholesome. Kind. Unable to read US Weekly with a clear conscience.

I also realized that, like or not, I learned it from watching you, Dad. My father is extraordinarily intelligent, caring, generous, and successful. However, he has also been known to call inanimate objects "assholes", as in "Come on, you asshole!" to a key that won't fit in a lock. I have inherited this trait and taken it to a new, more complex level. I sometimes passive aggressively mock things, as if to humiliate them into compliance. I'll look witheringly at my computer as it freezes, saying "Oh, yes. Thank you. THANK YOU SO MUCH. That's EXACTLY what I wanted you to do right now." I can't wait till I have kids!

So there, I admit it. I rant and rave at the slightest provocation. I have a whole Seinfeldian list of things that irk me. So that I don't pollute my later postings with idiosyncratic whining, I present to you, in no particular order, the top 10 reasons I am glad that I don't carry a gun:

1. People who lean against the pole in a subway car so that you can't hold on to it. I think that if the fare price rises above $2, everyone should get a free taser.
2. People who stand at the entrance to the subway talking on their cell phones. Even worse are people who stand halfway down the stairs doing this. If you are standing at the top of a flight of stairs and are blocking people, as long as you are not elderly or disabled, I think that I should have the right to kick you in the ass.
3. People who block the elevator button while you are waiting so that you can't track the progress of the elevator (I realize that seeing what floor it's on won't make it arrive any faster, but still, I like to know).
4. Men who wait until you have already passed them and then whistle or whisper something at you. If you're going to publicly harass me, sack up and do it to my face.
5. Any sales clerk or employee of a place that provides a service who asks me repeatedly if I need help. I realize that this is their job, and probably a factor in their take-home pay, but I'd like for there to be two entrances for every store: one for people who need help and/or enjoy speaking to strangers and one for misanthropic snobs who know exactly what they want like me.
6. Anyone who uses the phrase "deja-vu all over again". This is redundant.
7. Anyone who uses the phrase "let's all get on the same page". Unless you are referring to a specific page in a book that we are reading simultaneously, I am not on the same page as you are.
8. People who call me Uma (although, really, this is Uma Thurman's fault).
9. People who sign their emails "Peace". I believe in peace. I really do. However, how can you ever really trust a sign-off used both by Joan Baez and Kriss Kross?
10. Inanimate assholes, including, but not limited to: my computer, my keys, my dishwasher, my purse, my wallet, my cabinet doors, subway turnstiles, door handles, locks, elevators, printers, fax machines, telephones, televisions, VCRS, DVDs, remote controls, my hair, various cosmetics, shoes, zippers, clasps, buttons, loud noises, rain, wind, snow, excessive cold and/or heat, and puddles.

Yes, I just called puddles "assholes". Poor, defenseless little puddles. I also hate cats. You may send hate mail to the attention of Uma LaMarche. Peace.
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Friday, February 17, 2006

Movin' On Up

Well, here I am in the worldwide web. I refuse to unpack my old files in these new digs, so if you are new to the site and want to read two months worth of my writing/ranting/shameless self-promoting, you can visit what is perhaps the smallest and most globally insignificant "archive" on the planet at: http://volcanicensemble.blogs.friendster.com/my_blog/

My friends will be happy to know that this new site will not prompt them every time I post. Those who like my blog can visit at their lesiure, and those who don't can be rid of me.

Also, my parents will be happy to know that they can now comment. I urge them, for their own good, to use aliases.
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