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.
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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!
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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.


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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Nutcracked-out

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.
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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.




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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!
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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday Procrastination


See it live here. You're welcome.
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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.
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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.
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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.


Defeated.


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.
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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.
S.O.C.: YOU'RE FULL A SHIT!!!! YOU'RE FULL A SHIT!!! THE MANHATTAN BOUND TRAINS IS RUNNING NORMAL. GET A NEW EXCUSE!!! YOU'RE FULL A SHIT!!!!
(When the conductor didn't respond to this personal attack, it continued)
IT'S ALWAYS THE SAME EXCUSE! GET A NEW EXCUSE! RAISE THE FARE AND THIS IS WHAT WE GET YOU'RE FULL A SHIT!!!!

(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.
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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").
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