Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Decisions That Suck


I'm in a bad mood this week because a certain program I worked on for over a year is airing on PBS, and it brings back bad memories of being unceremoniously booted off the show and then never spoken to again by any of my (at that time fairly close) work friends. I know time heals all wounds, and that I'm happy and engaged and writing for a magazine, etc., but I still feel poisoned by the experience, mostly because I know I have a very bad reputation at my old workplace, one that I don't feel is deserved but that I'll never have a chance to refute.


Right before I got let go, I was on a work trip to Cambridge, MA. I hadn't even gotten my coffee the morning of my return when I was told to pack up my desk. Because of this I am now insanely paranoid. I had a nightmare on Saturday night that I would get fired from my current job, and I was so shaken that I came into the office on Monday feeling like I had something to prove. Everything's fine of course, mostly because I'm much better at what I do now than I was at what I did then (hey -- I never said I didn't deserve to get canned, I just take issue with the bedside manner). I guess the moral of this story is simple: do what you love first, but make sure you're good at it before you get too cocky. If you love doing something you suck at, it's probably a good idea to keep it as a hobby. Like what I do with poetry.


I'll be back soon, and hopefully more chipper.


XOXO ~U

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sundancin': Fin

[Witty opening line; I'm all out].

Today we had no movies scheduled (this is very unorthodox at Sundance, but I convinced Dad to embrace a day of slacking), so we took a scenic drive. I drove from Park City out to Kamas, Utah, my first time on an interstate highway (for those of you who don't know, I just got my license last January at age 25). I got to zoom around twisty mountain roads, and only made my Dad cringe once! Also, the scenery was beautiful. We saw farms framed by snowy mountains, and people ice-fishing on a frozen lake. There were many cow alerts (for the uninitiated, a cow alert is when you see a cow and yell "Cow Alert!") We stopped at a local diner in Kamas that turned out to be quite good, and convinced me once and for all that small town folk are mostly not flannel-clad yokels who own shotguns (an un-PC suspicion that I've harbored since an unfortunate trip to a store in West Texas in 1993, when I witnessed a man purchase a loaf of white bread and a box of bullets. True story.)

When we got back to the house, Dad retired to read his Julia Child book and I started nursing a nasty candy craving. I've been re-reading Steve Almond's book Candyfreak -- a must-read for anyone who has an unhealthy fixation on chocolate -- and the sensual descriptions of all of the confections got me kind of ... well, if there is a way that a mouth can be classified as horny, mine was. I went to the 7-Eleven to get my fix, and was overjoyed to find, among the Snickers and Twix bars, some of the nostalgic, old-school candy Almond writes about, namely, the Big Hunk and the Cherry Mash. I also spotted a box of -- be still my heart! -- chocolate-covered Tootsie Rolls. Tootsies are my favorite candy, bar none, but as far as I'm concerned there isn't much room for improvement (do not even say that there are fruit-flavored Tootsies. They are dead to me.) I bought an obscene amount of candy and returned home, where I dumped it all out on Dad's bed and we had a gluttonous picnic. The Cherry Mash -- an odd sort of giant truffle filled with sickly-sweet cherry filling and covered in crushed peanuts and milk chocolate -- was pretty gross, but, a true freak, I ate the whole thing. Ditto for the Big Hunk (which wasn't gross but also wouldn't qualify as good), a stiff bar of vanilla taffy filled with roasted peanuts. I also had half a Snickers and, though I found them severely disappointing (Tootsies, it turns out, are best in their natural state; chocolate overwhelms the delicate Tootsie flavor), half the box of my big find.

I took a bath in a sugar-induced coma, then prepared for the day's big event: the Sundance Closing Ceremonies. I wasn't sure what to expect, as Sundance is famous for shunning Hollywood glitz, but if there's one thing I love it's an awards ceremony, so I was pumped. We hopped the theater shuttle to the Park City Racquet Club, where the ceremony was being held. Upon entrance we got a ticket check, a bracelet, and a stamp, all of which were checked meticulously to make sure we belonged. We sat ourselved in the Donors section and waited for the magic to happen.

Okay.

Here are some things about the Sundance Awards Ceremony that are better than the Oscars:
1. There is an open bar and snacks throughout
2. People wear jeans to present
3. People (okay, one) say 'fuck' in their acceptance speech

Here are some things that could use some tweaking:
1. People who get drunk at the open bar feel compelled to share their opinions with me while I am trying hard to be anti-social
2. There is no orchestra to tell the winner 'Okay, wrap it up', which results in (justifiably thrilled) first-time winners going on for ten to fifteen minutes, with no notes, about how awesome their craft service guy was
3. You can't make fun of anyone's clothes because the playing field has been leveled; it's all jeans, all the time.

All in all, it was really fun, mostly because my favorite (okay, the only one I saw, but still) documentary, Hear and Now, won the audience award. You have to see this movie. The old couple in the film, the Taylors, are the most adorable people on the planet and I need them to adopt me. I know how to sign "I love you", "bullshit", and the chorus of "Joy to the World" (the Jeremiah was a bullfrog song, not the Christmas Carol), so you know, I'm pretty ready.

The party after the ceremony was kind of crowded and full of people we didn't know. Dad and I both are very social when we're with friends, but when we're faced with a crowd of strangers, our instinct is to hit the bar and then go home and read, which is exactly what we did. So here I am, tired, happy, looking forward to going home to Jeff and my New York life.

It's been a great trip.

Thanks for reading.
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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sundancin', Day Three

This morning I awoke to my father yelling, “Una, get your bitch ass out of bed!” (I can only hope this was an homage to my liberal use of the word ‘bitch’ in yesterday’s post).

We had to get up early to make our first screening of the day, “The Good Life” at 8:30 am. I had joked earlier that I hoped it wasn’t a downer, because to see a depressing film before breakfast would set a maudlin tone for the day. Well. Let’s have a look at the film’s description in the Sundance Guide:

“Jason Prayer (Mark Webber) works two jobs, struggles with his uncaring family, is tortured by a bully, and in general is quietly suffocating in the provincial insularity of his town … But when he is courted by a mysterious stranger (Zooey Deschanel), his desperate life takes a turn. As a response to the lessons of Capra-corn in It’s a Wonderful Life … Berra offers a ray of light in these dark times.”

Sounds uplifting, right? Uh, no. If Frank Capra saw this movie, he would shoot himself in the face, it’s that depressing. The opening sequence implies that our main character, after describing in detail via voice-over the physiological effects of a bullet entering a human head, shoots himself in a crowded pep rally, and then we get to watch all of the terrible events that drive him to such an act. I’ll admit that the end of the film has a little twist, but for two hours, you’re basically watching It’s a Shitty Life, Definitely Not Worth Living. I don’t mean to sound as though I won’t watch bleak films, but there’s bleak and then there’s the kind of film where they might as well hand out vodka and sleeping pills at the concession. I personally prefer the former, at least before noon.

Side note: Dad is obsessed with a game on his BlackBerry called ‘Brick Breaker’. It’s kind of like Tetris, and he plays it any time we have, like, five seconds to spare. He sheepishly admitted to me that he lost while playing one-handed at the urinal. I may have to stage an intervention.

This afternoon the gloom of the morning was completely lifted by an amazing, touching, inspiring documentary called “Hear and Now” by Irene Taylor-Brodsky. The filmmaker tells the story of her two parents, both deaf since birth, who, at age 65, decide to have surgery to restore their hearing. The parents, Sally and Paul Taylor, are incredible characters, both extremely vibrant, smart, and engaging, and their love for one another forms a beautiful framework for the story. I don’t really cry at movies, but I smiled through most of it, the only exception being five minutes of graphic surgery footage. The great thing about Sundance is that after the screening the filmmaker is often on hand to answer questions. In this case, Ms. Taylor-Brodsky brought both of her parents to the stage, and we gave them a standing ovation.

We had some time to bide before dinner, so Dad and I tried on giant fur hats at a local clothing store (FYI all clothes in Park City are made from leather or fur. Vegans beware!). We then wound our way to Zoom, an upscale Park City eatery where we were meeting Ken Brecher and Cara Mertes of Sundance as well as a number of World Filmmakers. I have to digress here to give a little ode to Ken Brecher, Executive Director of the Sundance Institute. Ken is like sunshine. He is so warm and happy and funny and interesting, and he makes everyone around him feel radiant. He is also my biggest fan. I met him for the first time at my father’s urging, to show him a (now, in retrospect, cringe-inducing) musical screenplay that I had written for my senior thesis at Wesleyan. We met for one hour, tops, but soon afterwards he became a reference on my resume. Ken and I just adored one another from the start, and ever since I’ve been lucky to call him a friend and a mentor. Also, he’s been reading this blog, and I wanted to finally say something NICE for a change! Whew! Glad that’s over. On to more bitching.

Dinner was lovely, or would have been, had I not been doubled over in pain. The truth is, a gas bubble had lodged itself in my stomach and was slowly expanding so as to force me to bend at a 90-degree angle. I want to be clear that this was simply a gas bubble; I was not expelling anything. Say the word gas and people just think farting, but this was not the case. The gas bubble felt like someone was slowly twisting a scalpel into my ribs from the inside. I should have been so lucky as to have been farting, though perhaps I would have made a less savory dinner companion.

So here I am, bloated and blogging. Perhaps the title for an autobiography??

Good night.
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Friday, January 26, 2007

Sundancin', Day Two

I am so tired right now, but I promised myself I would do today’s write up tonight so that I don’t fall behind.

We should have seen four movies today, but we only saw three. We had tickets to an 11:30am showing of a drama called “Dark Matter” about a foreign cosmology student, but Dad had the theater wrong, and even though we raced to the finish, we arrived five minutes late and thus were shut out of the screening. They don’t fuck around at Sundance; no late entry is allowed and the theaters are so packed that no one dares to step out for a pee, they all just hold it. To tell the truth, I wasn’t too upset. ‘Dark Matter’ sounded kind of boring, even though it had Aidan Quinn in it (all you ladies who have watched Desperately Seeking Susan know what I’m talking about).

I drove us downtown for lunch (don’t tell Hertz! I’m not on the rental agreement!) We opted for Vietnamese food and beer, and enjoyed the most labyrinthine bathroom trip ever. Afterwards, Dad and I walked up and down Main Street, which is a typical Main Street, full of shops and restaurants. No celeb sightings, with the extraordinarily weak exception of sitting next to Owen Gliberman, film critic for Entertainment Weekly, at lunch. We made sure to arrive extra early for our next movie, a drama called ‘Starting Out in the Evening’, which turned out to set the theme for the day, which I like to call ‘Bitches Who Need a Good Smack’. The film starred Frank Langella as an aging writer who is the subject of an eager young grad student’s thesis. The grad student, played by Lauren Ambrose, is quite simply a bitch who needs a good smack. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVED her in Six Feet Under. But seriously, in this movie? Bitch needs a smack. She’s cloying and pretentious and … this is the worst part … she macks on Frank Langella. It is the most uncomfortable May-December romance I have ever seen. Lili Taylor is in it too, and it says something that I did not want to smack Lili Taylor once. On Six Feet Under all I wanted to do was smack her. I am getting off topic …

The next film was a romantic comedy starring Parker Posey for which I had high hopes, and I am happy to say that I really enjoyed it. It’s called ‘Broken English’, and is essentially about a thirty-something woman searching for love. The great thing about it is that it’s very unconventional. It doesn’t employ too many romantic comedy clichés, it’s very subtle, and, in fact, it’s not that funny. The humor is there, but it’s an undercurrent; there’s a lot of sadness, too. Parker Posey’s character is an interesting heroine because she’s not that likeable (although she’s very relatable). She’s kind of a mess, depressed, awkward … while it pains me to say it, she is at times in need of a slap, and thus she continues my theme of the day.

It was dark when we left the theater, and Dad and I were forced to walk in the road (no streetlights, mind you) to get our car from the church parking lot in which we’d illicitly stashed it. Now, I know a lot of my readers know my Dad, and I want to be careful not to say anything that will sully their opinion of him as a brilliant professional. However, know this: the man walks in front of cars. He always has. He wanders in and out of traffic like he’s got blinders on. If you value him as a friend or a colleague, I beg of you: get the man some reflectors. He should wear them at all times, really.

Back to movies. Well, OK, first we had dinner. It was good, but not good enough to keep me up an extra five minutes writing about it. Our third and final movie of the day was ‘Interview’, starring and directed by Steve Buscemi. It was, essentially, a two-character, one-room drama, and it was riveting. Really great psychological drama. Sienna Miller, who normally I feel kind of eh... about, was impressive as a famous starlet being interviewed by Buscemi’s journalist. However, she completes my bitch-smacking trifecta because there were times at which she did things like: attack someone for no reason, fall on the floor laughing for no reason, have the sound of a barking dog for her ring tone.

I think that’s all I’ve got in me tonight. We have an 8:30 am screening tomorrow, God help me.

Good night.
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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sundancin', Day One

Hello from scenic Park City, Utah, where you know things are crazy because I am considered a V.I.P.! Well, really by proxy, because my Dad is a V.I.P., but I get a superslick nametag and access to lots of schmoozy events, which facilitate heretofore unheard of dreams such as my being in the same room as Justin Timberlake. But more on that later.

This morning I woke at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am to catch a ride to the airport. My flight to Salt Lake City was relatively uneventful, except that about five seconds before take-off, I was about to move into the unclaimed aisle seat next to me when an older gentleman enthusiastically plopped down, saying, by way of introduction, "I'd rather sit next to a pretty lady." Don't you hate it when you are forced to fake sleep for five hours? I sure do.

You may be asking yourselves, what does one do in Salt Lake City? Why, meet the mayor of course! Upon landing, Dad had a meeting with the awesomely named Rocky Anderson at a local Mexican joint, and I played fly-on-the-wall while enjoying my flautas. Rocky (as Rocky himself pointed out, you can't not call a Rocky by his first name) is somewhat of an anomaly, as he is a very progressive liberal mayor in a largely conservative state. He's pro same-sex marriage, pro legalization of marijuana, you name it. He had a kind of first term Bill Clinton look about him, hugged the hostess at the restaurant and seemed to know everyone by name. The reason Rocky was meeting with my Dad was to discuss some human rights/environmental initiatives he hopes to devote himself to after his second term ends, and while I had very little part in the discussion (except to exclaim over the fact that there is an annual convention of mayors -- for some reason this struck me as hilarious), I enjoyed it.

After our meal, Rocky took us back to the ornate, 18th century City and Council building, to meet his parrot, Cordozo, who lives in his office. We also got an awesome tour of the bell tower from Security Guard Jacobsen. Dad and I felt really bad when, after huffing and puffing up fourteen or so flights of steep, rickety stairs, our guide paused and muttered, "I should have brought my asthma inhaler." We soldiered on nonetheless, and it was worth it, because up the stairs, under some low-hanging beams, past the four clock faces and the 18th century bells, we came out onto a tiny platform about 6 feet across, from which we could see the city, the mountains, and all the sky beyond.

From there it was on to Park City. I guess with all the Sundance hoopla I was expecting to see celebs packed three abreast in the street, but Park City is basically a small, sleepy ski town. It's really cute, with lots of buildings that look like the outside of a Lincoln Logs box. Except instead of woodsmen, there are lots of agents and angry-looking PR people with BlackBerrys. Fun!
We stopped at the swanky Sundance Headquarters at the Marriot to pick up our tickets and V.I.P. IDs, and then wound our way to our "unit" at the Deer Valley Resort. The "unit" turns out to be a totally rockin', two-story apartment with a full kitchen, living room with leather couches and TV (Grey's Anatomy, I will not forsake thee!), and two big bedrooms, each with a private bath. I have to admit, I was not feelin' like a V.I.P. until I saw this pad. And yeah, maybe some V.I.P.s don't sleep in bunk beds, but some V.I.P.s can suck it because my bunk beds RULE. I have four of them and I can build forts.

Our first movie of the festival was "Black Snake Moan", a sort of dark southern gospel with Samuel L. Jackson that I was surprised to see on the schedule since I'd already seen previews in theaters back in New York. It seemed like a hot ticket, but we didn't realize until we got there that it was the premiere, which meant that director Craig Brewtser (Hustle & Flow), and the cast, which included Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake, were there. It wasn't like a big NY or LA premiere with red carpets and such, but there was still a kind of fever in the air. The movie was actually quite good, with great performances by Jackson and Ricci, and after the last credits rolled the cast got up on stage for a question and answer session. So I was pretty close to Justin Timberlake. That, to me, is a good day.

More tomorrow. And if you want an account of the festival without the sarcasm, head on over to my Dad's blog (cross-blogging at Sundance! Oh yes we are!), at http://garala.typepad.com/garalog/.
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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tuesday Thoughts

I have a headache. I think it’s because I never seem to get enough sleep. A good night’s sleep eludes me, mostly because I am too crafty for my own good. For instance, I will get into bed at 11:00 but will read or do the crossword (yes, I’m a nerd) until 1:00. I only think I went to bed at 11:00. On the other end, I do a truly optimistic and idiotic thing: I set my alarm clock for 7:00 am every day. To most of you, that may not seem early, but it is a full hour before I actually have to wake up in order to get to work on time. Why do I set my alarm for seven? So that I can indulge in a cruel fantasy game called ‘Today I will go to the gym.’ I never go to the gym before work. I just don’t have the willpower. And yet my alarm continues to go off every morning in the hopes that today will be the day everything changes. Waking myself on purpose only to fall back asleep can’t be helping my lethargy. I am also lucky enough to sleep next to someone, but two bodies have a tendency to wake each other up during the night in their unconscious, ever-shifting configuration of limbs.

I’ve also been stressed lately, over the wedding. I am super excited, don’t get me wrong, but … how do I put this without sounding like a spoiled princess? … I am feeling guilty about the money involved. I, what with my -$888,888,000.000 checking account average, am not paying for my own wedding; instead, my very generous father and slightly more wall-eyed (but nonetheless generous) mother are hosting the Big Day. The thing is, I had no idea how much weddings cost. Granted, I’m not having an intimate gathering in a backyard, but I’m not going crazy either. I’m having a pretty standard, if “big”, wedding. Somehow, though, I vastly underestimated the costs. The initial budget I presented to my father (which caused him to inhale sharply) has since grown by 50%. As a former boss of mine would say, this is a “high class problem”. I know I shouldn’t whine about which trappings and trims I’ll have to forego in order to have what will surely be, no matter what, an incredible wedding. Still, the princess guilt is weighing on me. I have always had a problem asking my parents for help, and to ask them to willingly fork over more than one year of my salary for my wedding seems very spoiled indeed (Who did the spoiling, though, I’ll never know; my parents got married at City Hall!)

Luckily for my stressed little ass, I am off to Park City, Utah for four days at the Sundance Film Festival! As far as I can tell, it will involve a lot of movies, food, and quality time with Dad. What with the snowy mountains, my Rodney Yee Power Yoga DVD, and lots of red wine, I’m sure to return to New York a blissed-out bride to be …

I’ll miss my sleeping buddy, though.
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Friday, January 19, 2007

Encyclopedia LaMarche and the Case of the Office Poo


You know, I’m pretty lax when it comes to manners. I am never able to keep my elbows of the table. I have been known to eat things out of the garbage or off the floor. I am told that I always interrupt people, and I often sit in the handicap seats on the subway (in my defense, I do move, however begrudgingly, when a handicapped person actually boards). Why am I telling you this, you ask? Well, to make a point. To make a point that even a girl who will spill her drink all over a handicapped person at a party while bending over to pick her canapé up off the floor knows how to flush her own feces down the toilet.

You’re probably thinking, who doesn’t flush? Someone at my office is who. Today I had a very unpleasant and unexpected surprise, which I will call The Case of the Office Poo.

The Scene: My office
The Time: 3:00 pm
The Discovery: I entered the (already prison-grade) bathroom to find the lid to the toilet closed. I assumed someone was just being polite. But I found with horror that someone was being actually being VERY VERY rude and also that someone had recently eaten a lot of fiber.
The Suspects: The eight of us in the office convened. It couldn’t be someone in the office, we figured, as our loud discussion of their transgression would surely shame them into admission. Suspiciously, many were missing. Was it Intern A, a gangly and skittish gofer who had mysteriously disappeared on an “errand”? Was it Executive B, who was just the type of bitch to flee the scene, but whom we all agreed had normally immaculate hygiene? Or was it Mr. X, a recently fired employee who had stopped by earlier under the auspices of “picking up a check”? Could he really have been dropping something off, we wondered? Was this … a revenge poop?
The Moment of Truth: I really had to pee, so something had to be done. I prepared myself to plunge the toilet when I realized that our plunger, in keeping with our office’s poverty, was broken. I was thus dispatched to purchase a new plunger. I bought two, just to be safe (note: running down Broadway holding two plungers will not go unnoticed by passersby).

When I returned, I was relieved to find that Colleague K had taken pity on me and had volunteered to do the dirty deed. He took the plunger and marched into duty. A moment later, he surprised all of us by announcing that the toilet, in fact, did not need to be plunged. It flushed. This brought a whole new level of malice to the case. Could this failure to flush have been … on purpose? Who forgets to flush, especially after the effort that the product clearly must have required? Was this a drive-by, by some delivery man with an axe to grind? Was Mr. X, a very clean man by all accounts, angry enough to leave us such a vengeful gift? The case remains open. Please send tips to ulamarche@gmail.com

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Monday, January 15, 2007

I Haven't Posted an Image Up Here in a Long Time



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The Bad Girlfriend Files: I Will Let You Die For A Chance to Hit the Snooze Button

So, OK, you all might be in sweet, sweet love with UPS, but I bet you don’t like food poisoning, do you?

Neither does my fiancé, Jeff. Unfortunately, it likes him. We spent a lovely Sunday morning in the emergency wing of New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn. Jeff got to wear a cute little housedress and got hooked up to an IV. Who knew pork fried rice could do you so wrong?

As I’ve previously mentioned, I am a terrible sick person (note: not a terrible, sick person. A poor sufferer of illness), and am convinced that sickness is a sign of personal failure and weakness. I thought that this applied only to my own sickness, but I was unpleasantly surprised to find that I practice tough love when woken up at 7:00 on a Sunday:

Jeff: Baby, I think we need to go to the hospital.

Me (still sleeping): Unnnnnhhhhhhhh?

Jeff: I haven’t slept at all, I’ve been puking all night and my stomach really hurts.

Me (eyes closed): Drink some Ginger Ale.

Jeff: I did already. It’s not helping. Come on, let’s go.

Me (annoyed) : Are you sure we have to go? Maybe it will pass.

Jeff: I don’t know, but I really don’t feel good.

Me (finally opening eyes): I’m soooooooooooo tired.

Jeff: Fine, don’t come then. (Jeff begins limping towards door).

Me (reluctantly): Fiiiiiiiiiiiiine. I’ll take you to the goddamn hospital. Geez.

What a bitch! Luckily Jeff forgave me. We took a car service to Methodist Hospital, or, as I affectionately refer to it, Ghost Town. Last May I took Jeff to the hospital (also early in the morning I might add – baby, can’t you wait until I wake up? Kidding. Kind of.) because he was having heart palpitations. It was 3:00 am or so and we walked into the emergency waiting room to find … a homeless woman asleep in a wheel chair. No nurses, no receptionist, no guards. We had to literally yell to get someone to come back from the break room to see what was going on.

Anyway, apparently people are on the job by 7:30. Jeff checked in and got himself a nice little cot and some IV fluids. I got myself the new ELLE magazine. I have to say that hospitals are pretty boring. From ER and Grey’s Anatomy, you’d never know that doctors aren’t always running around, shouting dramatically or, alternately, exchanging rapid fire repartee. Most of the doctors and nurses I saw reminded me of cubicle workers with med school degrees: kind of tired, kind of nonplussed, just plugging away at their jobs with a modicum of tolerance. I suppose if Jeff had been impaled on a metal rod or something, we would have gotten more attention, but I guess food poisoning isn’t the stuff of great drama, unless you count the race to the bathroom. It’s hard to run hooked up to an IV.

Last time we were at Methodist Jeff’s neighbor had been a totally out of it woman who cooed like a baby and had to have her diaper changed. This time we got an elderly man who couldn’t understand the term “catheter”. Needless to say, he got a big surprise. It was kind of like listening to a really cruel radio program.

After six hours of relative inactivity, Jeff was released and we ambled home. He is still sick, which just goes to show that I’m a bitch. Also a moron, because even if I was impaled by a metal rod I’d probably try a home remedy. Lesson of the week-end: Going to the hospital may be a pain in the ass (literally, in Jeff’s case – ha! Sorry, baby.) but sometimes – oh, what the hell, a lot of the time – it’s a good idea.
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Thursday, January 11, 2007

OK, UPS probably doesn't suck everywhere

A lot of you (okay, 2, but that's a lot of comments for this blog) have come out in defense of UPS.
I should have specified that UPS sucks if you live in Prospect Heights. If you want to argue me on that one, I will get out my fisticuffs.
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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It's a Snail! It's a Coma Patient in a Wheelchair! It's ... UPS!

Last night as I walked up my block towards home, I was greeted by the sight of not one, not two, but three UPS trucks stopped at various points on the street. This was quite a shock at first, because I had never seen a UPS truck on my block with my own eyes; once I stayed home all day waiting for a package, going so far as to pee with the bathroom door open so I would hear the bell, and lo and behold the next morning there was a “Sorry, We Missed You!” slip on my door, as if left by a sneaky and malevolent Tooth Fairy with no regard for my personal time.

I wouldn’t go so far out of my way if there was a way for me to get to my assigned UPS location without a sherpa. Unfortunately for me and the other residents of Brooklyn – which, by the way, is hardly a podunk town – the nearest UPS storage facility is waaaaaay out in Queens, so far out that the subway doesn’t go there. And, as all New Yorkers know, if the subway doesn’t go there, don’t even bother trying to hail a cab. The cabbie will laugh at you, and then will charge you $2.50 for your humiliation.

As it is, I am forced to order only from companies who use FedEx or the US Postal Service. If, God forbid, I find myself with no choice (as I do whenever I order shoes from Zappos, and no I can’t order them from anywhere else, Zappos has the best selection and the best prices, and yes I could go to the store and buy shoes in person so that I could test them out but shut up.), I have to constantly check the UPS tracking website and, as soon as they post an estimated delivery time, sprint home. Of course, the estimated delivery time can be off by hours, even days. And no matter how sympathetic your boss is, no one gets time off in the name of shoes.

Back to last night. Seeing three UPS trucks in a row, my first instinct was to raid someone’s bottle recycling bin and start slashing tires. Luckily – for them – I was holding a bottle of wine in one hand and a pizza in the other, so I was both calmed by the culinary goodness awaiting me and unwilling to sacrifice either purchase in the name of postal justice. I wouldn’t allow myself to fixate on the fact that I’ve never once seen “7:53 pm” as my estimated delivery time. I happily ignored the peaceful way that one UPS driver appeared to be sleeping in the front seat of his truck. You see, I love this city. There are a lot of things that we do better than anyone else (pizza, skyscrapers, “Hava Nagila” on the steel drum), so I guess it stands to reason that we get the shit end of the stick sometimes. UPS, U-Haul, I believe these businesses can offer a pleasant experience and good service in some parts of the country, particularly in parts where people regularly make eye contact on the street and where no one has ever called another person a “punk-ass motherf***er” on public transit in full view of small children. New York is … how you say? … colorful. You can get marijuana delivered any time, right to your door, much more reliably than you can expect to get your insulin refills from the ghost town pharmacy at Duane Reade.

That’s a really good idea for a New York Times headline, actually: “City’s Weed Dealers More Responsible Than UPS Drivers, and More Friendly Than Government Postal Workers”.

The truth hurts sometimes.
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Saturday, January 6, 2007

Inside the Actor's Faker's Studio

I’m at work today. Don’t feel too sorry for me – I’m researching Pamela Anderson and ordering in sushi. Lest you get jealous, though, remember, I’m not getting paid. Small companies do not recognize words such as “overtime”, “paid vacation”, or even “bonus”. In fact, this year the joke around the office was, “Your bonus is … you’re not fired!” This line had the best effect when delivered holding a glass of champagne with a slight slur. At 4pm. But I digress.

Since we’re -- I guess it’s only me, but I like to use ‘we’, as if you, dear reader, and I are having a conversation, rather than the truth, which is just me talking to myself. I talk to myself much more than I’m comfortable with, and not even in any interesting, borderline-schizophrenic way. Instead, I narrate my activities when I’m alone, usually when I’m stressed out or cleaning. Typical bon mots include “What was I looking for?”,Scissors, scissors, scissors.”,And now, I’m going to email Dad and tell him …. [narration of email as it’s being typed]”, etc.

Aaaaanyway, let’s start that paragraph over. Since we’re on the subject of work, I was thinking of a book my sister got me for Christmas, called “The Sick Day HandBbook: Strategies and Techniques for Faking It”. It’s by some girl named Ellie Bishop, and I’m totally jealous of her because she’s pretty snarky and funny and, mostly, because she’s published a book in my area of expertise. She has some good points (you must set up the sick day the day before; diarrhea is always a great malady because no one wants to hear about it, etc.) but the work is far from complete.

DISCLAIMER: The following statements in no way reflect the author’s habits or beliefs. They are just awesome insights.

For example, Ms. Bishop neglects to mention stomach flu in her suggested list of ailments. Vomit and diarrhea go hand in hand (oops, sorry for the mental image there) as great sick day excuses because no one – NO ONE – wants to be anywhere near either one. And I always (or would always, if I ever faked being sick which I don’t because it is wrong) choose vomiting because who wants their boss to picture them pooping? Not I.

To fake a good “I’m about to vomit” voice (I’m just speculating here, people), try to sound weak and – this is where the art form comes in -- swallow after every other word you say. It will sound like you’re holding back chunks.

Ms. Bishop also stretched the art of sick-faking to include a lot of bad excuses, citing pet sickness, a forgotten wallet, and other minor annoyances as valid reasons for staying home. I disagree. I think that if you’re home sick, you should be sick. Don’t get too creative – fake broken bones or dead grandparents are bound to get you in trouble. Have a small but potent arsenal of viruses in your repertoire and save only roll them out when it really matters, like if there’s a Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica marathon on MTV (FYI that show is so great now that they’re divorced because now every single little sweet nothing is like a big neon IRONY sign and, if you have an evil place in your heart like I do, you’ll cackle every time they kiss. Also, J-Simp is pretty dumb.)

I think this post has to die now. Obviously I have no chance of staying on topic today.
Scissors, scissors, scissors.
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Friday, January 5, 2007

Una's New Years' Dance Party: All Awesome, All the Time

Okay, first get ready:



1. Make sure you are alone in your room (or in your office with the door closed -- if you are in an office skip to #4)


2. Remove clothing, except for underwear/bra.


3. Outfit yourself with any special accessories that make you feel good (examples: feather boa, sunglasses, ice cream)


4. Grab a microphone (examples: hair brush, curling iron, lead pipe)


5. Click on the link below and play the clip


6. Pump up the volume!


7. DANCE PARTY!!!!!





Sing it with me ...

AND IT'S ALLLLLLL RIGHT AND IT'S COMIN' ON

WE GOTTA GET RIGHT BACK TO WHERE WE STARTED FROM!
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Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Only in New York: Sick Passenger, No Stab Wound

Sorry to start the new year -- and my blog-o-versary - off this way, but what the shit is this? In case you aren't intrigued enough by my hyperlink and use of the word shit, let me explain that this shit is an article I read in AM New York (You know you read it, too, when the winter months come and Vogue gets too heavy) about sick passengers on the subway.

Now, I am a veteran subway rider, and I would like to think I have all of the MTA code down by now: "Congestion in the tracks" usually means "Fire on the tracks" or "Rush hour suicide"; "There is another train right behind this one" means "Please stop hurling yourself at the half-closed doors." "Sick passenger", admittedly, is trickier. I think what immediately comes to mind when you hear "sick passenger" would be a good personality test. I like to imagine an elderly person who has emphysema and is having trouble breathing, but a friend of mine once told me that she assumes somebody's been stabbed. In any event, I tend to expect age-related illness, bloodshed, or at the very least motion-induced vomiting when my commute is interrupted. So you can imagine my surprise when the real culprit, oftentimes, is revealed to be ...

Women trying to lose weight.

Yes, that's right, ladies who have skipped breakfast or are in the midst of a self-punitive algae-and-cayenne pepper regimen are passing out and making me late for work. To this I say, what is up, ladies? First of all, woman to woman, I know you read Self and Shape and all of that brainwashing nonsense like I do, and although they generally promote a grotesquely unhealthy picture of female health in which happiness and weight are inversely proportional, they also stress, time and time again because all of the articles are exactly the same every single issue, that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast! BREAK FAST. "Lunch" and "dinner" are made-up words (I also made up that fact, but stay with me), but breakfast has a very special message, just for you. Breakfast says, Bitch! Eat something! And if you listen really close, I'm pretty sure it also says, And if you must faint from hunger, please do not ride the B or the Q between 8:30 and 9:30am!

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