Friday, December 28, 2007

Made for Each Other

Disclaimer: May make you think differently of me, and of my husband. But he begged me to write this.

Jeff and I have been together for over four years, so our senses of humor have sort of combined and evolved into a crude and hilarious twinspeak. Jeff comes from a family whose in-jokes are almost exclusively scatological, while I spent my formative years developing a dark and acerbic wit, partnered with an almost childlike silliness. Our married humors, therefore, are silly and sinister, and generally favor parts of the body and things that emit from them.

When I have my period, Jeff takes it as a personal challenge to come up with a new name for it. "Falling to the communists" was a favorite. But the other night, Jeff very proudly unveiled a new euphemism. As I crawled over to him on the couch, he beamed at me beatifically and asked "Are you having your drippies?"

I know, I KNOW, that this is TMI. But he was so proud, and wanted me to post it. So, there you go. Now you know. I am having my drippies. And I think it says something that I love him all the more for his enthusiasm at finding new and inapropriate names for them. We are made for each other, or, at least, no one else will have us.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Out with the Old, in with the New, drink some Bubbly, don't be Blue

Hello, all. I am writing this from my desk the day after Christmas. People like to say -- in many situations, including going to the gym, going to twelve-step meetings, and the like -- that showing up is half the battle. Well, I'm here to tell you that when you have to work on December 26, showing up is the whole battle. I am not doing a goddamn thing. This is mostly due to the fact that none of my bosses are here ... in fact, I am one of four people working today ... so there are only a few goddamn things I could be doing even if I wanted to. I'll get my nose back to the grindstone tomorrow, but today I am blogging. Obviously. And wearing a festive pom-pom hat indoors, not so obviously.

Mainly, I'm working on my New Years Resolutions. This is generally an exercise in self-delusion, as every year I vow to exercise daily, eat vegetables, and limit drinking to once a week. However I do have some concrete New Years blogging resolutions that I think I can stick to. For one, I am going to blog more. This year I have (including this post) posted 168 items. I think I can make it to at least 170 before January 1. 170 posts a year means (hold on while I open the Calculator application) just over 14 posts per month, which means on average I posted once every two point one four days. I think I can beat that, so I'm gonna resolve to post at least 220 items in 2008.

I'm also bringing back Curmudgeon of the Week ... actually by popular demand, if you can believe it (also if you count three people's opinions as "popular"). Curmudgeon of the Week will appear every Monday. And every Friday I'm bringing in a new feature in which I recap my favorite TV shows. It will be called Holly Go Homely. A girl at my office writes a nightlife column called Holly Go Nightly, and I thought I could be a good boring, married, couch-potato counterpoint.

Lastly, I'm going to try to do more scathing fashion and movie reviews, as they are fun for me and tend to generate traffic. I currently get about 60-80 hits a day, and it would be awesome if I could expand that in the coming year.

In case you were wondering, I had a very merry Christmas this year, and I hope you did too. I always get kind of blue when Christmas ends and the new year looms ahead, but I have a feeling that 2008 is going to be a good one. So enjoy the rest of your December and indulge all of your vices, quick, before you swear off of them for two excruciating weeks!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!

Merry Christmas! I will be on hiatus from blogging until the 26th, but I wanted to take this opportunity to spread glad tidings of joy. What can I say? It is my special talent.

As I write this I am at my desk, my shoulders tensed up in a hunchback pose from stress. But thanks to all of my favorite Christmas stories (most notably the vastly underrated Scrooged, starring Bill Murray -- see below), I have faith that my own personal Christmas miracle will happen, and that I will emerge on December 26th a new woman with a smile on her face and a song in her heart. And, failing that, I will find my Christmas miracle in a bottle of cabernet.

I hope that you have a wonderful holiday. If you are Jewish, I’m a bit late in wishing you a happy Hannukah, but I hope you dreidled your assess off and ate lots of latkes. I have some new features in store for the blog in 2008, so I hope you stick around to read them. And thank you, from the bottom of my curmudgeonly (but surprisingly soft) heart, for reading my random musings and encouraging me to keep writing. It really is what makes me happiest, apart from the aforementioned cabernet and my brand-new husband.

I leave you now with my own personal moment of Christmas Zen. Put a little love in your hearts, y'all, and don't eat the yellow snow! Love, Una.


Thursday, December 20, 2007


As I have mentioned on this blog, my family is fond of traditions. Well, "fond" doesn't really cover it, actually; we cling to traditions with a passion bordering on zealotry. Christmas, naturally, is the time of year when our freak flags fly highest: Our annual tree-selecting outing, full of teenage humiliation and peppered with profanity, was so deeply ingrained that I wrote about it for my college essays.

Everyone, I realize, has their own Christmas "norm". I remember being horrified to discover that my best friend from college considered Amy Grant's Christmas album to be a timeless classic, and I'm sure there are people for whom the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack is among the deeper circles of hell. Little things like white lights versus colored lights on the tree make people crazy. Some people order Chinese and open presents on Christmas Eve, and some people roast turkeys and wait until after breakfast on Christmas Day. One tiny shift in the whole tradition vaccuum can ruin even a normally sane person's mood.

That is why, last night, running like crazy -- in heels, in the rain -- across four lanes of traffic on Broadway seemed like a good idea. Because if I hadn't I would have missed The Nutcracker. And I have never missed The Nutcracker.

Every year since 1983, my mother has taken me to Lincoln Center to see the New York City Ballet perform George Ballanchine's wacky fairytale. We've missed a few years, but altogether I bet I've seen it about 23 times. At this point it's all about the tradition, by which I mean you can only see a ballet so many times before you stop really wanting to see it and start feeling more compelled to see it. I can still remember a time when just hearing the overture got me totally nuts. I would sit there in my red velvet dress and patent leather shoes and I would practically explode from joy at the thought that Christmas was mere days away. Now, much like building up tolerance to a drug, The Nutcracker doesn't really do anything to me anymore. I enjoy it, don't get me wrong, but I don't get all fluttery inside anymore. I find myself engaging in grinchy adult activities like trying to figure out how on earth they can fit a 50-ft tree in the rafters above the stage, or whether the marzipan shepherdesses hate their outfits as much as I do. My first impulse, when an excited child leaps up to clap after a particularly enthralling solo, is to say, 'Sit down, I can't see!' What in the world has happened to me?

Luckily, my mother is a hardcore Nutcracker believer. She watches with rapt attention every year, delivering blow-by-blows afterwards like a seasoned sports caster: "The children were very strong this year, but the mice have been more convincing, don't you think?" God love her. The Nutcracker may not thrill me anymore, but the tradition of going reminds me that Christmas is, indeed coming. And after the show, enjoying the grown up pastime of drinking a bottle of wine, I can bask in the sense of peace and joy that comes from having a Christmas heritage that involves dancing candy canes. Not everyone is special like my family, and I mean special without quotations.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Learning to Count, Circa 1982

This weekend Jeff and I had a truly amazing idea: watch all of the trippy old clips from Sesame Street that we had enjoyed as children of the 80s.

Aside from being awesome in general and incredibly stimulating after three scotches, these animations triggered a kind of instant long-term memory switch, whereby one second I had completely forgotten that such a thing has ever existed and the next minute everything came flooding back with amazing clarity: my corduroy pants and striped sweater; hanging on the monkey bars at the playground; the black and white TV I watched until we went color in 1986 or so.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did (altered state not required). Also, do you think the people who made these were probably on acid? Because I do.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saturday Song

(To the tune of "My Favorite Things", from The Sound of Music)

Magazine closings with bitching and whining,
Levels of sanity quickly decling,
I look like I've just been hit by a truck.
These are just some things that make me say “Fuck!” .

Bank account dipping to negative numbers,
Alarm clock insisting on ruining my slumber.
Missing “The Office”; this writer strike sucks –
These are just some things that make me go “FUCK!”

In my fat pants!
In a bad mood!
When I’m feeling mad,
I think of all these things that make me yell “FUCK!”
But then I just feeeeel ... more mad!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday Procrastination

See it live here. You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Numbing the 9-5 Pain

We had a champagne tasting at the office a few weeks ago:

A picture really is worth 1,000 words sometimes.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Where is Christmas When You Need It?

I've had enough of this adult shit.

I haven't been able to get into my usual Christmas cheer yet because a) I'm sick with my annual bout of plague and b) my job is trying as hard as it can to kill every last drop of joie de vivre I have left (read: I am in deadline right now, which sucks. Some people in the magazine world call this hell week 'putting the magazine to bed,' but that to me suggests a gentle, quiet time, punctuated by lullabies and glasses of warm milk. Instead it's a tense, frantic week punctuated by wails of distress and bottles of beer.)

This weekend I was supposed to make roll-out cookies with my Mom, a Rockwellian tradition passed down from her mother. Every year since I can remember, we have rolled out the dough on our dining room table, dusting our cutting boards (and our faces) with flour. We have painstakingly extracted whisper-thin silhouettes of candy canes, stars, bells, and reindeer using a rag tag bunch of cookie cutters collected from decades worth of mail order catalogues. We have waited while they baked, listening to the sweet trills of Ella Fitzgerald Wishes You A Swinging Christmas!. And then we have decorated the still-hot cookies, painting on swirls of colored egg white and sprinkling colored sugar and jimmies on top until they stick.

Instead, I worked on Sunday. I nursed a nasty cold (or pre-plague, as I have come to know it). My grown up responsibilities -- to my job and to my health -- kept me from my cherished cookie ritual. And I just don't know how to deal with that. It's December 11, but I'm not jolly or hopeful or rosy-cheeked; I'm an over-worked, phlegmy, glass-half-empty Grinch! I only have fourteen days to turn it around ... maybe what I need is a Christmas miracle.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Gingerbread Blues

Maybe I sealed my fate by saying that I knew the gingerbread brownstone I planned to build would be a disaster. Or maybe I just know myself too well; I don't follow recipes or directions and have the deluded confidence that everything I do will work (I blame Aries, the ram). Anyway, this weekend I spent a few hours making and rolling gingerbread dough and baking it into pieces. Here's what happened when things stopped being polite and started getting real:

Okay, so I made a GORGEOUS facade for my gingerbread house (note the stained glass LifeSaver windows):

I also made a back, side, and roof. But then I decided to try to move the thing before it was dry ... and I dropped it:

Only one side was ruined, but my resolve was broken, too. (My resolve is the brown pieces on the floor).

First I was devastated ...

Jeff was shocked (shocked!) that my elaborate baking experiment had failed!

Then, a true Aries, I got a little ... angry.

Here, I am deciding what to beat the icing out of next.

Then, suddenly, my spirit broke...

Until I realized that my broken dreams were edible (sure, there was some Gorilla Glue on there, but easy enough to avoid).

What, eating your broken dreams off the floor is pathetic, you say?

Well, I don't care. Yummy!

Nom nom nom nom nom.

Oh, beautiful LifeSaver windows!

If I can't have you, NO ONE CAN!

The roof was the next to go ...

The wreckage.

But, hey, the market is so bad, might as well try to offload it.

My tantrum over, my gingerbread brownstone in pieces, I was a broken woman ... with a sinkful of dishes to do.


I hope this (slightly violent) parable can teach you all a lesson: egg whites and confidence do not a brownstone build. Buy the pre-made kits.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Just Another Night on the Subway

Oh, subway. I haven't written about you in so long. No, I don't mean the restaurant known for its delicious sandwiches and questionable weight-loss programs. I'm talking about the New York City subway, a mode of transportation that is almost mystical in its ability to be simultaneously the world's most advanced and most retarded urban rail system.

For those of you not familiar with the 3rd-class-steamship-cabin-meets-futuristic-cattle-drive experience of riding the New York City subway, let me lay down the basic rules for you:

1. Somewhere in your car, there is at least one person who is mentally ill; and
2. S/he is sitting next to you.

Last night I had one of those classic New York subway commutes, the kind where when you first board you are sort of mildly tired and looking forward to getting home and when you get off you would push over a baby carriage to get to a bottle of scotch. I got on the R at Union Square, but after it took 25 minutes to go three stops to Canal, I booked it over to the Q, making it just in time. As the door closed, I was feeling incredibly self-satisfied, while, unbeknownst to me, the universe was thinking, 'Sucker.'

Now, I'm not bragging, and I don't mean to offend you vegetarians out there, but if I had walked across the Manhattan bridge with deer carcasses strapped to my legs, I would have made it home faster than that Q train. We sat on the bridge for 45 minutes, at which point all of us got a little surprise. Remember a paragraph ago when I was talking about crazy people? Well, there are the obvious crazies and then there are the ones I like to call Sudden Onset crazies. They sit there like logs as you read your Us Weekly, and then suddenly there's a can of crazy open and it's spilling onto your seat. A brief dramatic reenactment:

Conductor's voice: Ladies and gentlemen, we are still being delayed due to train traffic ahead of us.
Sudden Onset Crazy: YOU'RE FULL A SHIT!
Conductor: There are signal problems at DeKalb Avenue. As soon as they are resolved we will proceed.
(When the conductor didn't respond to this personal attack, it continued)

(Ed note: Now, in crazy's defense, he had a point ... in fact, he was, in a way, speaking for all of us. But in a city that prides itself on hostile anonymity, screaming in a packed subway car doesn't tend to endear you to anyone. Also, his crazy eyes and drunken, guttural drawl didn't help.)

So to recap: stuck on a stalled, crowded train with a crazy person yelling at the top of his lungs. And the best part is that this is par for the course. Apart from making me pissed that I didn't bring any reading material, it doesn't really phase me anymore. Just another night on the subway.

Monday, December 3, 2007

No Plans, No Pants, No Problem!

I spent all day yesterday baking. Such a little housewife already! No, but seriously, Jeff was jonesing for some chocolate chip cookies and I wanted to get my gingerbread house on, plus it was snowing ... and I find cooking very comforting when it's cold outside. Also I was baking with no pants on. How many housewives do that? (Not counting "The Real Housewives of Orange County").

Friday, November 30, 2007

I Can't Take Me Anywhere

This is a photo of me, last night at BlackBook's New Regime issue party, with Melonie Diaz, a lovely young actress who I profiled for the issue. Like that white silk camisole she's wearing? It's pretty, right? Yeah. I spilled red wine all over it about six minutes after this picture was taken.

I have a poor history when it comes to meeting celebrities. As I believe I have previously shared on this blog, I've accidentally flashed Malcom McDowell (with the word "STACKED" written across my cleavage, no less), tripped over Larry Flynt's wheelchair, and weirded out Bebe Neuwirth with my paranoia about the whale in the Museum of Natural History falling and smushing me to death. And now I can add "doused an actress in a red wine ... at a party in her honor" to my list of shining accomplishments. Luckily, Melonie had a sense of humor about it, but I kind of don't think we're going to be BFF now.

After the party (read: when I slunk away with my tail between my legs, humiliated), Jeff and I were standing outside when Bryan came out with his friend Keith, who is also a quasi-celebrity, having been the only contestant ever to be kicked off of Project Runway. You may remember that I met Keith at another BlackBook party, where he told me about peeing on a house plant. Good times.

Anyway, Keith (very inebriated) wanted to go to a Chinese restaurant called Wo-Hop, and Jeff was hungry, so we ended to night sharing Peking Duck with Keith, Bryan, and my friend Ariel. Which begs the question: if you ruin the clothes of one minor celebrity, but then break bread with another, does that, like, cancel out? God I hope so.

Have good weekends. I'm going to bake a gingerbread brownstone! No reason. Just letting Christmas Una out for the season. It will probably go poorly, so I'll be sure to take photos.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sometimes Google Just Blows My Mind

I will never cease to be amused by the Google advertising on my Gmail. It's so immediate and aggressive, kind of like a pack of sincere-yet-desperate lonelyhearts responding to Village Voice personals ad. You type the word "tired" into an email and suddenly a whole column of Vivarin links spring to life. Write to someone about your honeymoon in Rome and you'll be reading about cheap rentals for weeks.

And then, there are the inexplicable ads that seem to be born of some cruel, yet semi-psychic higher power. "Butt fat solutions", for example. Or, today, "Lobster for 30th birthday". Why is it so specific? 30th birthday... that's weird, right? Why not just Lobster Anytime? Who knows that I'm nearing 30, huh? And who gives someone an overnight lobster as a gift? Not that I wouldn't take it (hint, hint ... April 13, 2010). I'm just saying.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Me and Sisyphus, Sittin' in a Tree

I am a bad writer.

I don't mean that what I write is bad -- obvi, the bon mots that pour from my brain are the linguistic equivalent of Tootsie Rolls, by which I mean sweet, tough, surprisingly palatable, and so solid they will last until time immemorial -- rather, I mean that I am bad at being a writer. Almost every book on writing you read will say the same thing: writers -- real writers -- write every day, no matter what. Neither sleet nor rain nor America's Next Top Model marathon (marathon!) will keep them from writing. Why? Because they are serious about practicing their craft. They grin and bear it. They buckle down. They may not get anything good, but they write like some people pray -- they prostrate themselves in front of their iMacs and hope for the best. They have faith, and, more importantly, they have patience. I say "they" because I am not one of them. I am a faithless, impatient, procrastinating TV addict who will do almost anything not to write. The only reason I blog so much is to avoid doing the only other thing I avoid more vehemently -- namely, working.

I have tried to be a good writer. I have made the New Year's resolutions many, many times. "I will write every day!" "I will finish my story!" "I will start my novel!" I make intricate writing calendars, buy books on story structure and memoir style, clean out my hard drive to make way for the Great Work that is sure to pour forth from my fingertips any minute. But then I stray. I start and I stop. I sell my books on Year after year, I become a Fallen Writer, usually no later than February.

I don't really know what to do with this problem of mine. In my fantasy, I am given a huge sum of money (sometimes for a book advance, assuming I've actually managed to write something, but mostly just out of nowhere, by some act of God) and I quit my job, which gives me the time to spend all day writing. That, in my fantasy, is what kick-starts my creative juices: time and money. I spend all day typing, occasionally gazing out the window to take in the sunshine and bask in the glory of my perfect life. Obviously, this fantasy has some kinks. That whole huge sum of money thing? Not likely to happen. And even if I did get to quit my job and write full-time, I have spent enough Saturdays parked in front of the TV to know that I am not the buckling down type. I have the unfortunate disposition of being both self-abusive and self-indulgent: I beat myself up for not writing and then I feel so bad that I decide I should treat myself and watch the entire third season of Desperate Housewives instead.

Woe is me. What is to become of someone who excels in such a specific and not-so-in-demand art form, the trivial, self-possessed essay of under 1,000 words? Damn you, David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell, for already cornering the market, and for being better at it than I am!

Okay, rant over. At least I wrote today. I'll try to write tomorrow. I'll continue to push my self-created Sisyphusian rock. I want to be a good writer -- doesn't that count for something?

Monday, November 26, 2007

More Procrastination-fueled Wedding Pics!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So just pretend I blogged, like, a lot.


Scene From a Marriage

Me: I would jump in front of a bullet for you.
Jeff: Even if I was the one shooting?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pre-Thanksgiving Mush

Look at me, still not recapping my month-old honeymoon! How else can I procrastinate ... how about posting photos? They take up lots of space!

Happy turkey day! Jeff and I will be dining at my mom's house with a motley crew (not to be confused with Motley Crue) of neighborhood friends and Thanksgiving orphans (not to be confused with literal orphans, who should never, under any circumstances, be forced to break bread with Tommy Lee).

Monday, November 19, 2007

I do NOT think this is cute. You will understand why I chose this picture when you read the post.

I know, I KNOW.

I didn't post all of my Rome blogs this weekend like I said I would. But I have a good excuse.

Saturday morning, I woke up to the sound of Jeff talking on his cell phone frustratedly. Seems the second photographer for the wedding they had that day called in sick, forcing my hubby, the studio manager, to try to find someone else to fill in with only hours to spare. I gave him a loving, concerned look and began to read my Entertainment Weekly in bed. Finally he came over and sat down, looking dejected.

"Want to assist a wedding?" he asked.
"Um, what?"
"I hate asking you, but there's no one."

I froze. When I was younger, after reading Freaky Friday , I used to imagine what it would be like to wake up as someone else. It would be cool, I figured, until you had to go to work as the other person, at which point you'd have no fucking idea what you were doing, which would likely result in humiliation or unwitting career sabotage. Assisting a wedding photographer -- I knew the drill from Jeff's numerous tours of duty -- involves holding a light on a giant pole and positioning it so that people are beautifully lit. So to fuck up potentially means to ruin someone's wedding photos.

I wish I could say that I was immediately supportive, and agreed right on the spot. But I didn't. Instead I totally freaked out. Luckily after about ten minutes that subsided and I agreed. I then had exactly 45 minutes to run to Target for a black dress (mine were conveniently wrinkled in a heap at the bottom of the dry cleaning pile), shower, and be ready for a black tie event.

We arrived at the bride's tony Park Avenue apartment right on time, at 2:45, to find her seated with her tiny dog, Cuddles (seriously), having her makeup done. Among the things in her apartment:

1. A modern art painting with the stenciled words "DOG DEAD", which seemed an odd choice for a household that included Cuddles;
2. A GIANT Helmut Newton photography book (giant like you could stretch out and sleep on it if only you had a pillow) on a silver stand; and
3. A fat roll of twenties laid out on the coffee table like a centerpiece (granted, that was probably for tips, but if I was super rich I would leave money out just so I could look at it).

Do you ever have those moments like, "How did I get here?" Well, I had one of those moments standing in my Isaac Mizrahi for Target dress, in a multi-million dollar living room, holding a light so as to better illuminate Cuddles the dog.

Thankfully, I was relieved of my position soon after. I don't know if I would have made it through. I don't know how Jeff does it.

P.S. You do not even want to know how many images came up when I Googled "dog wedding dress".

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wintry Weekend

I know I have forsaken you, my literally dozens of blog readers, but the travelogue writing kind of feels like a chore, and I've been putting it off. A true type-A, I can't let myself blog about normal things until I've gotten all of the Rome stuff down, which I will do this weekend from chez Mama, who is out of the country (in Italy, no less) and whose internet connection is the stuff dreams are made of. In the meantime, I hope you are bundling up and drinking wine as the weather gets colder, and I promise to regale you with stories of my good-intentioned-but-nonetheless-ill-advised attempts at being a good wife very soon.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Daddy's Girl

I meant to put this up weeks ago. How sweet is that? Also, how much did I look like an alien spawn in the literally-just-born pic on the far right?

Honeymoon in Rome: III

Here are my notes from October 25:

(dictated by Jeff, who remembers things)
-We got up, Jeff forced me to look at sunrise.
-walked past Patheon (again)
-Yosemite Sam lives there!
-past Piazza di Collonia - giant phallus
-to Trevi Fountain
-coin vaccuum - wishes nullified!!
-From there, we walked all over.
-Spanish Steps
-got to top, made Jeff walk down
-specify "no defecating"
-"no make dirty eating"
-"no shout and sing"
-Piazza del Popolo - bad public art
-Castel St. Angelo - costumes of random Italian actor
-None of Rome more than 5 stories
-walked until pants got cranks
-Tomato/mozz sandwich! Big ups!
-more broken stuff
-Augustus, Nirva forum
-Massive basilica of Constantine
-I freaked out because trash on fire!
-We walked around Palatine hill but it cost $ and we cheap
-saw giant grassy field which Jeff correctly ID'ed as Circus Maximus (Ben-Hur)
-Isola Tiberina = Bermuda triangle! Was I there?
-Packing musket

Translation below, for readers who care:

(dictated by Jeff, who remembers things)
Yes, my husband had to tell me what we did that day. What can I say? His brain is a sponge, mine, a seive.

-We got up, Jeff forced me to look at sunrise.
The bastard.

-walked past Patheon (again)

Pretty self-explanatory. And pretty!

-Yosemite Sam lives there!
Look at this statue and tell me it doesn't scream “Rackin’ Frackin’ Varmit Rabbit”:

(and look, Hewey/Dewey/Louie are with him!)

-past Piazza di Collonia - giant phallus
Why are all monuments shaped like penises? Then again, all of the duomos in Italy do look like breasts ...

-to Trevi Fountain
After it had been so crowded, we were excited to see the place where millions of wishes had been made over the years ...

-coin vaccuum - wishes nullified!!
...only to find a dude there vaccuuming up all of the coins! This blew my mind! All of those wishes, voided!

(Vaccuum dude is in the orange.)

-From there, we walked all over.
Yup, we did.

-Spanish Steps
-got to top, made Jeff walk down

What this means is that somehow we arrived already at the top of the Spanish steps, so I made Jeff walk down and then walk back up again, because that is how I roll.

-specify "no defecating"
-"no make dirty eating"
-"no shout and sing"

A sign at the top of the Spanish steps specified "no defecating", which delighted Jeff to no end. New York MTA, how about some of those signs for the subway? As I have personally witnessed, not everyone takes this seemingly obvious social guideline as a given. (The other rules were just funny because of the bad English grammar.)

-Piazza del Popolo - bad public art
The public art in Italy was by and large so much worse than in the states. There's one thing we've got! Better bad public art! Eat that, Europe!

-Castel St. Angelo - costumes of random Italian actor
We went back to the catle/pope-haven that is Castel St. Angelo and paid admission to see the insides. It was a really cool, old castle that reminded me of Disney's "The Sword in the Stone" (yes, all of my historical knowledge is culled from medieval Disney cartoons. Oh, and "Ladyhawke", starring Michelle Pfeiffer.) While there, we accidentaly wandered into areally boring exhibition of some actor's costumes.

-None of Rome more than 5 stories
True city folk, we couldn't believe that, looking out over the city from the castle, Rome had not a single highrise. It's a good thing, obviously, but to New Yorkers seems kind of Twilight Zone-y.

-walked until pants got cranks

Meaning, we walked until I started bitching and moaning. In my defense, my little legs can only carry me so far before they begin to cramp.

-Tomato/mozz sandwich! Big ups!
Meaning, sustenance was found, and Jeff let me sit down.

-more broken stuff
My way of saying we saw the sights.

-Augustus, Nirva forum
-Massive basilica of Constantine

All large and impressive, but after a few days, a ruin is a ruin is a ruin.

-I freaked out because trash on fire!
Jeff thought I was overreacting when I ran in fear from a smoking trash can, but again, I'm a New Yorker. If you see something, say something run!

-We walked around Palatine hill but it cost $ and we cheap
We tried to do free activities for a few days, but we eventually caved and bought a ticket to almost every overpriced attraction in town.

-saw giant grassy field which Jeff correctly ID'ed as Circus Maximus (Ben-Hur)
I don't actually know anything about Ben-Hur, but when Jeff said his name by way of historical reference, I just nodded and wondered whether the Circus Maximus was as good as Barnum & Bailey's.

-Isola Tiberina = Bermuda triangle! Was I there?
On our way back to the hotel, Jeff gave me a tour of where we went on our first afternoon in Rome. I had no memory whatsoever. Which just goes to show, I don't generally pay attention to very much.

We napped.


We bought books (a history of St. Peter's for Jeff and a Stephen King for me ... each of us was digusted with the other one's taste).

We took a tram across the river into Trastevere to pick up keys from my Mom's old friend Margie, who was letting us house-sit for her for four days. The apartment turned out to be big and comfy, looking out over a quiet, urban street that would have been right at home in the West Village. Margie served us some mouth-watering mozzarella di bufala and tomatoes and got us tipsy on Chianti before sending us on our way with the keys.

We had dinner at a small, rustic tavern in Trastevere called Taverna della scala. The food was so good, we were beside ourselves. We got drunk and ate tiramisu and had that romantic dinner I had been waiting for. Which just goes to show, you can't make a romantic moment -- it will happen when you stop worrying about it.

-Packing musket
This is a scatalogical reference based on a phrase David Sedaris used to describe his inability to ... go during a stay in France. I am sorry you had to read that.

Well, if you've made it this far, you must really love me, because even as I was writing this, I was like, oh my God, other people's trips are just like other people's dreams! No one wants to read about this! So, if you made it here, I apologize, especially for the penultimate comment. It is true, though. When things go in one end and not out the other, it really does feel like you're packing a musket.

I just lost you forever, didn't I?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Honeymoon in Rome: II

I'm going to stop writing the honeymoon diaries in the present tense, because after the second day I stopped writing altogether and just wrote down key words (which I will post, because they offer some frightening insights into my subconscious shorthand). Anyway, the versione breve of Day Two:

1st married fight! Boo boo stories at the Colliseum! Arch named for Tito Jackson! Fountain named for Frankie Valley! Rome overrun by cats! Creepius maximus!

So, remember when I left off the last entry about wanting a bottle of wine? Yeah ... turns out bottle of wine + jet-lag = drunken angry tirade at new husband! Not so fun. Part of it was realizing -- too late -- that I didn't really speak Italian well enough to act as our little family's main communicator. Get this: we arrived at the restaurant the first night and I managed to get us seated (Simply repeating the word "due", or "two" generally worked for me in this regard). However, when the waiter came to ask us our drink order, I couldn't understand what he was saying. So that waiter asked if we spoke French, to which Jeffy responded "Oui, un peu." So then a French waiter came over and Jeff was our main communicator for the night. So I was shamed. And then drunk. And also tired. I think I started picking on Jeff for not being romantic enough, which is retarded. He is hugely romantic in day-to-day stuff. It's just the "romantic dinner out at a nice restaurant" that he doesn't really do. And I've known this about him for years. I guess a honeymoon is just a big romance pressure cooker; every minute you're wondering whether you're doing enough lovey-dovey couple things, forgetting that you've just gotten married, which is pretty fucking romantic as a stand-alone event.

Anyway, I was being a superbitch and -- possibly as a direct result -- when we got back to the hotel Jeff started complaining that he was having trouble breathing, and possibly having a panic attack. Having had all that wine, plus being premenstrual (Happy Honeymoon, baby!) and then faced with my greatest fear after being attacked by a pack of NY subway rats, namely, illness in a foreign country, I responded by getting hysterical. Happily for all involved Jeff did NOT need medical attention and I eventually stopped crying.

The next day we started a do-over.

We woke at 6:45 -- 12:45 am New York time -- and breakfasted on fruit and rolls in the Arenula's little cafe. Then it was off to the Colliseum. Jeff was excited to take pictures of the ruins; I was excited by bloodlust. As a child, I was famously fascinated by what I called "boo boo stories" -- tales of injury past and present. Broken noses, bloody knees, a mishandled ax -- I couldn't get enough. So to see an arena where people fought to the death ... this was, as far as I was concernes, Boo Boo mecca.

After the Colliseum, we toured the Via Sacro, where I discovered the Arco di Tito, or, as I preferred to call it, "Tito's arch". It's named for the emperor Titus but makes me think of Tito Jackson.

No Arco di Jermaine, though.

We went on to the Pantheon, followed by the Piazza Navona, a Roman square that had been a favorite of mine the last time I visited, in 1996. Sadly, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi -- the fountain of the four rivers, which I incorrectly remembered as being the Four Seasons -- was under construction. I still did my best tour guide impression, telling Jeff that the fountain he could not see was "the only statue of Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons ever erected." Here is Jeff in the piazza:

We lunched on pizzas as big as our heads (Jeff says they were as big as my torso, which I take as an insult because they were HUGE) and returned to the hotel for a much-needed nap. I slept for five hours.

In the evening, we took a long walk. First we walked around the Largo Argentina, which is a mass of ruins right near our hotel that doubles as a cat sanctuary. In case you can't imagine it, let me tell you: Dozens of cats wandering around in ruins at night is creeeeeepy. It's like Pet Sematary meets the History Channel.

We tried to go to the Trevi Fountain, but it was obscenely mobbed, so we crossed the ponte Garibaldi into Trastevere (literally "across the river" -- kind of the Brooklyn of Rome). We found ourselves with a choice between approximately 50 restaurants, so we picked the cheapest one we could find. It was a cute family-style place. The waitress seemed to understand my command of "Due!" and sat us near an elderly German couple who were being entertained by a magician who had, seemingly, wandered in off the street. Jeff ordered the spaghetti alla carbonara, which I had eaten for dinner the night before. I have to give a shout-out here to the most delicious and artery-clogging dish I have ever come across. Spagetti alla carbonara is spaghetti with prosciutto, egg, and cheese. It's like a bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich, but better because it's pasta. Oh, I love it so.

When we got the check we saw that the waitress had charged us for a grappa that we had not ordered. "Shit!" Jeff said. "How do we say we didn't order that?" Luckily, I put my best stupid baby Italian forward. "Una grappa ..." I said, pointing to the check. "No." She took it off the bill.

We took a very long walk home, passing by the Castel St. Angelo on our way back into the city. It's a mammoth castle-looking thing that was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family and was later used as a fort when Rome was being sacked and all in the 16th century (imagine me pushing my nerd glasses up on my nose right now). Later on in our trip, I learned the coolest thing: there's a secret passageway between the Vatican and Castel St. Angelo so that popes could go hide there when they were being attacked!

I have in my notes a note to self that says "write about Rome traffic". I'm kind of tired of writing, but let me say this: Roman drivers are totally nuts. Half of them are on Vespas and the other half are in Smart Cars, but all of them want to run you down.

Have a great weekend! More installments next week.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Tom Everett Scott was in my building last night. I passed him on the stairs on my way to my apartment. Don't ask me why.

I am Stanley Tucci's Kind of Woman

On Monday night my Dad scored me a seat at the Sundance Institute's benefit celebration. Despite being racked by illness, I showed up -- partially to see my Dad and partially to gawk at the celebrities serving booze. You can read my account of the evening here.

I know it's super fucking lazy to redirect you instead of just writing something original, but "super fucking lazy" has been my middle name lately. Seriously! Those name change kits they send you when you get married are fun!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Things Not To Say at Work

While checking my email this morning, one of the links that popped up was an article on "Things Not to Say At Work". With high hopes, I clicked, only to find a tepid essay on general work etiquette. Come on, there are a MILLION things not to say at work. Here are some of my suggestions:

Has anyone seen my bong? I keep it at work for the late nights.
In case you hadn't noticed, I was wearing these clothes yesterday.
Drinking at lunch makes me sleepy.
Fuck you AND your Powerpoint presentation.
For Halloween I dressed up like a whore from the seventies. You know, no bra.
Well, sir, watching 'The Office' at work is kind of like working.
Petty cash? I thought that was like a bonus.
Vagina (it makes some people uncomfortable).
I have a blog.

Honeymoon in Rome: I

In the interest of not boring the bejeesus out of those of you who don't like to read long blocks of text, no matter how insanely witty and interesting they are, I will summarize each honeymoon entry in one, Cliff Notes-style paragraph. Those who want to read the expanded version can continue. Sound fair? Andiamo!

VERSIONE BREVE: Planes! Travel! Yonkers of Italy! Hotel Arenula: Ghetto-fabulous! I speak Italian like a learning disabled infant! Jeff leads me at an Amazing Race-like pace through the sights before we collapse at the end of the day, ready to get drunk.

Ciao! Today we arrived in Rome after many hours of travel. Yesterday (?? It feels like today, but I have to pretend that the forty minutes of fitful sleep I had while crossing the Atlantic -- woken up every two minutes by the weight of my own head falling towards my chest -- counts as a night) we left Brooklyn at 4:30 and since then we've been through the five time zones, in and out of the UK, and, finally, into Rome. I still don't really get air travel -- it still feels like magic (but it would be even more magic with more leg room -- Virgin Atlantic, I am talking to you).

We got to Fiumicino/Leonardo Da Vinci at 1:30 and took public transportation into the city. It was easy as pie, even with the language barrier, further cementing my theory that if you can navigate the New York City subway system, you truly can make it anywhere. We took a train first, passing through some unnamed area that Jeff dubbed "The Yonkers of Italy" before arriving at stazione Trastevere, where we caught a tram over the river and into Rome.

We are staying at the Hotel Arenula, a simple, family-run two-star hotel in the old Jewish ghetto of Rome that my parents have stayed at since the early '80s. I have to admit, I remember it being nicer than it is. Then again, I also remember having a massive collection of Troll dolls, so my judgment was obviously impaired. What with the wedding and everything, I kind of dropped the ball on my Italian studying prior to the trip, but when we got to the front desk I had my opening line practiced: "Abbiamo la prenotzione por una camera doppia." (We have a reservation for a double room). Unfortunately, I had failed to prepare for any follow-up questions -- assuming, I guess, that the concierge would just cry, "Bene!" and hand over the keys -- so I stared blankly when he asked for our passports. I tried to make up for it with another practiced line: "La prima colazione e inclusa?" (Is breakfast included?) ... but then I couldn't articulate what time I wanted breakfast. In Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris says that he speaks French like an evil baby. I just speak Italian like a stupid baby.

Below, Jeff and I do our best impressions of the Arenula's in-house statues:

Jeff and I dumped our stuff and set out for a walk around the neighborhood. We crossed the Ponte Fabrizio onto the Isola Tiberina, saw the theater of Marcellus, walked up the steps to the Capitoline Hill, or Campidoglio, the Roman Forum, the Vittorio Emmanuel II monument, and the Colosseum. We're going back tomorrow morning when we have more time (Jeff insisted on breakfast at 7 am). I'm hungry and tired, so forgive my lack of snark. It'll come back after a bottle of wine and some jet-lag.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Honeymoon Taste

I'll start the honeymoon entries on Monday. In the meantime, you can look at some photos here.

P.S. My Dad gave me the photo you see above, along with his diaries from when my parents took me to Italy in 1982. With his permission, I might excerpt from them on this very site! Of course, you can read his modern-day musings on his blog.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Morning After

So, I just had to share this. The morning after the wedding, my dad and his girlfriend hosted a brunch for the LaMarche family. As I was greeting people, one of my relatives (who shall remain nameless) whispered in my ear, "We all know what you did last night!"

I'm pretty sure she thought I was a virgin on my wedding night. People, my dress was ivory.

The Wedding Post

Hi y'all! I'm back from my honeymoon in Rome (look for a new blog to temporarily take over this one tomorrow -- Il Sassy Curmudgeon a Roma. Apparently the title of my blog doesn't exist in Italian, and "The funny misanthrope" or "The grumpy, feisty one" didn't seem as fitting). I'm sorry that I haven't posted in so long, but I'm also glad that I'm not the kind of person who would blog from her honeymoon. That's a slippery slope, one step from live-blogging a birth.

Anyway, I'm married now, which changes nothing. I feel happily, exactly the same. But the wedding was fantastic. It really went off without a hitch, except for the moment when I suddenly decided I might want to wear my hair up, right as we were leaving for the ceremony, and my Mom yelled at me, "Una, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO YOUR HAIR???!!!!!!" But, I have to hand it to her, she had a point. Brides, don't re-do your hair an hour before the wedding. You are experiencing cold feet through the follicles, that is all.

The whole thing was kind of a blur. People warned me that it would be. It was an excited, giggly, wonderful blur. I hardly got to see any of my friends, which was too bad, but I did say hello to everyone at least once, and I danced and I drank, and I ate, which everyone warned me I wouldn't be able to do. I made sure I sat down and ate my dinner, even though it was a little weird -- kind of like an actor in a play sitting down in the audience for a rest.

Here are some pics, sent to me by friends wielding digital cameras:

Me and my bridesmaid/Pinoy Princess/personal chanteuse Aileen striking poses pre-ceremony:

The wedding party:

My proud parents, walking me down the aisle:

The kiss!

The tango (better ones to come):

There are sooooo many more pictures. I will try to post more today, but for now, I'll leave you with my favorite photobooth moment:

Despite the rain, it was a very nice day for a white wedding.
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