Thursday, December 31, 2009

Y2K to WTF: Ten Years of Twenties

I was going to make a list.

One of those wrapping up the decade kind of lists. Not Best Movies or Best Albums or any of those ubiquitous lists that are done better and more thoroughly by Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone. No, at first I thought I'd maybe do a funny, kind of irreverent list, like my Jersey Shore/Christmas Gift post (Celebrities of the Aughts Who Most Resemble Potatoes? ...ahem, Mickey Rourke... Top Ten Now-Deceased Paris Hilton Pets?). Then I thought maybe I should do something relevant to the blog: Curmudgeons of the Decade! But that didn't really inspire me; it would've ended up just being a list of assholes ranging from the despicable (Dick Cheney) to the lovable (Barney Frank) to the sociopathic (Dr. House).

I was telling this to Jeff, reclining after a rib-sticking supper of potato leek soup, when he suggested I scrap the list idea. "Write about your decade," he said. "Your twenties." It was so obvious but so perfect. Of course. My twenties.

I was born in 1980, which means that the decades of my life are neatly packaged within actual decades. My childhood was the entirety of the 80s; my pre-teen and teenage years began and ended with the 90s. I turned 20 in April of the year 2000, and in fewer than four months I will turn 30. So my twenties and the 00s or the aughts or whatever these past ten years have been (this week's New Yorker has a fun little summation) perfectly parallel. This calls for some motherfucking reflection! Warning: this may be a pretty long post.

Before I get to my twenties I feel I should revisit the night, ten years ago today, when I watched the clock tick down to Y2K. Even writing Y2K is so 90s. It makes me think of people stockpiling flashlights and worrying that their giant iMacs would explode at midnight. But we did think that, didn't we? I spent New Year's Eve of 1999 at the upstate New York home of my friend Charlie's parents. They weren't there, and Charlie, our friend Greg and I had the house to ourselves. It was just the three of us, in a retirement community in Wappinger's Falls, with two spastic dogs, some crappy booze, and a bag of weed. It felt, fittingly, sort of post-apocalyptic.

We got stoned and just sort of sat around the living room, if I remember correctly, until about ten minutes to midnight when the paranoia kicked in. "Dude," Greg mused from his prone position on the floor. "What if the world does end?" Note to my future children: If there is even the slightest chance of the world ending in fire and brimstone, you do not want to be high for the countdown. It will freak you the fuck out, and while other people are blowing into noisemakers and popping champagne you will be frantically attempting to stuff yourself into a cabinet under the kitchen sink, which takes flexibility and dexterity under any circumstance but especially when carrying a plastic handle of vodka.

Luckily, the world did not end. Those flashlights and bomb shelters went unused, and everybody's giant iMacs still worked on January 1, 2000. I have no recollection of New Year's Day, as I assume I was rather massively hungover.

To recap my twenties, I'm going to start at the end, i.e. now. Back in September I was asked by a wonderful upstart theater company called Effable Arts to write a letter to twentysomethings that would be read aloud as a performance piece. I was supposed to channel all of my hard-earned wisdom into one page of writing. Here is what I submitted:

When I was 22, a 28 year-old friend of mine sat me down and gave it to me straight. “The next four to five years are going to suck,” she said. “But then it gets awesome.” I smiled and nodded and truly believed that life would not suck for me, because I was starry-eyed and ambitious and different, and she was fucking old anyway, so what did she know? She was right, of course. Being 22 through 27 just kind of blows. It’s not a constant state of blowing, though—it’s like a fine wine; the blow ripens over time until you get a nice, full-bodied suck. Here are ten tips to making it to the finish line without losing faith, prostituting yourself, or projectile vomiting:

1. If you are a woman living with a group of men, do not believe them when they say that one of the house rules is “If one roommate takes their shirt off, everyone has to.

2. Don’t worry about saving money right now. If you can pay your rent and feed yourself, you are fine. Suze Orman can go fuck herself and you can tell her I said so.

3. Your liver is too good for any liquor that comes in a plastic bottle.

4. If any of your friends have a lot of money, whether from a trust fund or a high-paying job, avoid them for the duration of this decade. Otherwise you will find yourself making $25,000 a year and eating cereal for dinner and hating their guts for inviting you to their birthday party at a bottle-service-only club that necessitates both an outfit and a cab you can't afford.

5. You haven’t lived very long and you don’t know very much. That’s not an insult; it’s the truth. Remember it, and it will take you far.

6. This makes me sound super old (which I am—right when your twenties stop sucking you get to a new stage which should be called Oh Christ I Am So Ancient That Naturalizer Shoes are Looking Kind of Comfortable and I Don’t Recognize Anyone on the Cover of Us Weekly Anymore. But I digress.) Anyway, at the risk of sounding like the Crypt Keeper, any photos of you drinking, smoking pot, or posing provocatively in your underwear do not belong on the Internet. Under any circumstances. (Obviously, mentions of you doing the above on your ridiculously oversharing blog are fine provided that you stress that these brief episodes of poor judgment are firmly in the past.)

7. We live in a society obsessed with youth, so it will seem like all you hear about on the news is some wunderkind who has hit it big at 23. Try to remember that these people are freaks of nature. Finding fantastic success in your twenties is highly unlikely. Colonel Sanders didn’t start KFC until he was in his sixties! Doesn’t that make you feel better?

8. Forgive yourself often. This is the decade for fuck-ups of all varieties. And they can pay off: I got fired from a job when I was 25 and working in documentary film, which is what I thought I wanted to do since that’s what I majored in (and addendum to this tip is that your college major has absolutely no relation to anything, unless it was in something like neuroscience). If I hadn’t lost that job, who knows if or when I would have started writing.

9. Do something you love doing, even if you do it after work and on weekends for no pay. It will sustain you through the shitty cubicle and/or table-waiting years.

10. Watch Reality Bites. A lot. No better twentysomething angst movie exists. But resist the urge to get your hair cut in a shag pixie like Winona’s—that doesn’t work on everyone. Trust me, I have pictures.


Obviously I do not have it all figured out as I write this. I'm sure that if you are over thirty (and certainly if you're over 40) you are shaking your head and kind of wanting to throttle me and cackling "Just you wait, princess. After the next ten years you will be begging for a Winona shag and some Dubra vodka. Begging." But I will say that I cannot imagine having another decade as schizophrenic as my twenties. Unless you have a particularly rough childhood, your twenties are your birth into the real world, by which I mean a world that doesn't involve trading "points" for meals or having a third party pay for your cell phone. They are painful and joyful, exciting and despondent, infantile and terribly grown up-seeming, drunken and sobering. Since writing about all of the formative experiences I had from 2000-2009 would make this insanely long missive even insanely longer, I'll summarize them in the list form I swore at the beginning of this post I would shun. Dammit.

Formative experiences, 2000-20009
In general, but not exactly chronological, order

-Lost virginity
-Purchased pair of faux-snakeskin pants (possibly as a result of newfound libido)
-Cut own ill-advised bangs
-Participated in overly dramatic college dance concerts set to the music of the Kronos Quartet
-Fell in love for the first time
-Watched the Twin Towers fall on TV, seeing my hometown crumble before my eyes
-Got my heart broken for the first time
-Took first international trip unchaperoned
-Buried brick of hash in jar of Nutella, possibly carried it across international borders
-Attempted to bleach hair while drunk
-Forged David Arquette's signature on a Bulgarian visa application
-Subsisted for entire days on nothing but scones
-Acquired first credit card
-Ran up impossible, shoot-yourself-in-the-face amounts of debt on said credit card
-Got first full-time, non-receptionist job
-Joined Friendster
-Lost first full-time, non-receptionist job
-Began seeing first therapist
-Moved into first home not owned by parents
-Discovered temporary Craigslist roommate was parole-violating thief
-Wore overalls unironically
-Broke up with first therapist
-Joined Myspace
-Began dating future husband
-Broke up with future husband
-Started dating future husband again
-Started blogging
-Hired for job I was wildly unqualified for and that paid me more than I deserved
-Fired from said job for no reason other than that I kind of sucked at it... and was unqualified
-Got first and only Brazilian bikini wax
-Began seeing second therapist
-Rented and moved into first and only solo apartment with a dishwasher and washer/dryer combo that still makes me tear up when I think about it. It had the holy trifecta of New York real estate. I should have made Jeff move in. So what if it was only two rooms? We could have managed!
-Broke up with second therapist
-Learned my parents were separating after 30 years of marriage
-Took horrible work-related two-week road trip to Virginia during which I went into a dark place, watched a lot of Entourage, and sent Jeff nudie pics in the mail
-Began seeing third therapist
-Went on anti-anxiety medication
-Discovered websites like Gawker and Jezebel on the magical Internet
-Developed Internet-specific ADD
-Moved in with future husband
-Got first freelance writing gig followed by first magazine job
-Went from being office manager to managing editor
-Got engaged to future husband
-Planned wedding
-Married husband
-Joined this thing called Facebook even though at the time I thought I was too old
-Got out of a bad job and into a better one, but still make less money than I did at 25
-Broke up with third therapist
-Sprouted first gray hairs (and not just on my head, which is so, so wrong)
-Got first pair of glasses
-Started blogging for the Huffington Post, which quickly devolved into recapping Project Runway for the Huffington Post
-Started Tweeting, even to my own chagrin
-Vomited into two purses, but not at the same time

So basically I joined a lot of masturbatory social networking sites and made a few really bad hair calls, aside from loving and losing and growing and changing and marrying and writing.

It's so bizarre to that I used to be this person:

Passport photo taken just weeks after my 20th birthday, just before the trip to Germany that involved the hash-burying and hair bleaching and dancing in a micromini at a gay bar called the Sudhaus (not formative enough to make the list, but worth mentioning)

... and now I am this person:

Self-portait with nerd glasses and Banana republic silk shell. (Not pictured: Graying hair, sensible flats)

Of course we are the same person, but we seem worlds--not just a decade--apart.*

I can't wait to see what the next ten years have in store.**

*Also--it must be said--I look way better now. Which is comforting. In the first picture my eyebrows look like little sperm swimming towards a head-on collision.
** What age-inappropriate websites will I join? What therapies will I try? What new body parts will sprout hair? Will I finally succumb and buy some Naturalizers and a subscription to People? The world is my oyster!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pedro Lacks Political Experience, Whereas I Am Hilarious and Awesome

OMG you guys. Look.

My site was nominated for Best Humor Blog!
(Pssst! Click on that thing and you can vote for me, the Napoleon Dynamite of the blogosphere!)

Who on earth could have nominated me?

This girl:

More spaces in my mouth than in my eyebrows. That deserves a pity vote, and you know it.

Yup, I nominated myself. I know you would have, if you had known, so I forgive you.

Seriously, though, vote for me. They make you log in, but that is but a few moments of your time, whereas a unibrow is forever. That's right. If I win, fake unibrows for everyone!

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Scenes From a Marriage: Fun With Species

THE SCENE: Suburban Massachusetts, inside Jeff's mom's Audi.

JEFF (pointing to dog peeing by side of road): Is that a Sloughi?
ME: I dunno. You know I'm no good at identifying dogs... or trees.

(We ride in silence for a moment.)

JEFF (pointing to an ash tree or something—like I said, I can't identify trees for shit): Tree or dog?

Oh, my husband thinks he is just so hilarious.

Bitch or birch? Apparently I am kind of retarded.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Loathe the Bus, Take Two


Here I am, gentle readers, easing back on to the Internet. I hope you all had merry Christmases and happy Hannukahs and krazy Kwanzaas.

So here's the deal with today: I'm going to cheat a little bit. My brain is all warped from visions of sugarplums and probably inhaling some errant tinsel, so I'm going to re-post. BUT. It's relevant to my present day life, I promise.

This weekend Jeff and I took the bus from NYC to Boston and back. We took Bolt bus, which is like the Chinatown bus but less likely to catch on fire. We took it because it was $32 one-way for both of us. We took it because we are poor.

Every time I take a bus I vow never to do it again, but then I forget and convince myself that taking a bus is romantic in a quintessentially American, Jack Kerouac kind of way. I think about It Happened One Night, that scene when they're all singing as they whiz across state lines, and I convince myself that taking the bus is rustic and romantic, a way to see the countryside and contemplate life.

No. That is what road trips are for. Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady were in a car, not a bus. And no one who has ever looked even remotely like Clark Gable has ever waited in line at the Port Authority.

While I must admit that the Bolt bus rides were not as terrible as what I describe below, which I wrote back in my days of Greyhound travel in 2006, the essence of my general misery remains the same. On our return trip yesterday, I had no sooner sat down than I noticed a brown smudge on my finger. Jeff was eating a Whatchamacallit (Yes! They still exist!), but a quick sniff test confirmed that the smudge was not chocolate. So when I say my bus ride was shitty I am being literal.

Anyway, here is my seminal work on bus loathing.

Monday, January 9, 2006 (On Friendster, y'all--throwback!)

Throughout my childhood I loved bus trips, so much so that I repeatedly worried my parents, declaring at every opportunity (i.e. whenever I saw a bus, which, in New York City, was a lot) that I wanted to be a bus driver when I grew up. Buses are very kid-friendly: bouncy, loud, full of the kinds of stimulation that can only be appreciated by people whose brains are not fully developed. On long trips to exotic destinations outside the city, I liked to watch the landscape pass by, green trees melting into gray cement with a dancing telephone wire vibrating in between. As an adult, however, I have lost my appreciation for the trademark sounds and smells of buses. In fact, I have come to regard bus travel as one of the deeper circles of hell, a notch or two above being given a jalapeno enema while listening to an Ann Coulter book on tape.

Why, for instance, do the movies shown on buses appear to have been selected by a panel of blind people who have recently emerged from comas? A true story: I was once on a bus from Washington, DC to New York, and my friend and I had forgotten to bring reading material. As the bus started moving, the driver announced over the intercom that he would be starting a movie momentarily. My friend made an excited noise, at which the intercom once again buzzed to life. “You say that now,” The driver cautioned. My friend and I laughed and looked at each other. How bad could it be, we asked ourselves? Was there really a movie out there that could make a three-hour bus trip worse? Actually, yes. Its name is Pluto Nash. Another time I was subjected to Cody Banks 2.

Now, I don’t mean to be picky, but I was a film major and I know for a fact that there are approximately three hundred bazillion movies that are better than Cody Banks 2. I’m not asking for Citizen Kane here, but let me explain: to take a person who is poor to begin with, so poor that they cannot afford even to take the train, let alone rent a car or fly, and then to make them wait in long lines in the bowels of the Port Authority Bus Terminal with even more disgruntled, even poorer people carrying fragrant fast food containers and wearing expressions most often seen in mug shots, and then to herd them onto a vessel that looks and smells like a carbon monoxide-filled Port-O-Potty circa 1985, that would have been punishment enough. But to then offer, as the sole distraction from the crying babies, guttural coughs, and inane cell phone conversations (sights and sounds that have already made it near-impossible to read, assuming one has the kind of X-ray vision required to see through the soft, urine-colored light shining down from above), to then offer up a steaming piece of celluloid crap like Cody Banks 2, well that is just cruel and unusual, not to mention completely fucking tasteless. Unless Frankie Muniz himself selected the movie, there’s just no excuse.

Oh, and wait, wait. I haven’t gotten to the punch line yet: this fabulous experience – which did not include beverage service and took me approximately 175 miles each way – cost me $76 dollars. I would also like to point out that it is nineteen times more likely that you will die in a car than in a plane, and that this statistic only gets worse for buses. And so, in summation, if you are poor and you live in America, your last moments are probably going to be spent watching Gigli and smelling feces as you and fifty angry strangers bounce slowly but surely down I-95.
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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Santa Claus, Voyeur

First Cary Grant watches me shower, now Santa's taking nudie pics in a public bathroom at the Burlington Mall.


Hey Santa, thanks and all, but I thought a photo with you was supposed to be in a public place, fully clothed, and not while I'm peeing.
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Put A Little Love In Your Heart

Okay, I know I said I wouldn't blog anymore until after the birth of Jesus, but somehow I feel that leaving a post with "shart" in the title at the top of the blog is un-Christmas-like. So please accept my most sincere wishes for a merry, happy, healthy, joyful, chocolate-filled today and tomorrow with one of my favorite holiday movie moments of all time.

Love,
Christmas Una (and Jeff)

UPDATE: I had the video embedded but it played every time the blog page loaded, which was annoying. So here is the link.
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fun With Crosswords 5: The Boy Who Cried Shart

Disclaimer: Jeff is a huge help with the Sunday NYT crossword puzzle. He knows, for instance, that the Army of the Potomac commander during the Civil War was "Meade" and that a British gun is called a "sten," whereas I excel at clues like "Laura ___ Giacomo of Just Shoot Me." However, he also has the sense of humor of a twelve year-old, which sometimes throws me off.

Last night we were cuddled up in bed at like 9:30 doing last weekend's puzzle (and, you know, donning our nightcaps and taking out our dentures).

ME: OK, 41-Across. William ________, longtime editor of The New Yorker.
JEFF: How many letters?
ME: Five, and we have S-H-A-blank-blank.
JEFF: Shart! (Cracks up)
ME: No. First of all, Shart is not a last name. Secondly, I don't believe that's listed in the OED.

(Moments later...)

ME: OK, 69-Across. French seaport. Starts with a 'B.'
JEFF: Breast!
ME: Shut up.
JEFF: No, really. B-R-E-S-T. Port de Brest. I swear.
ME: Well, how am I supposed to listen to you after the William Shart suggestion?
JEFF: (Cracks up again).
ME: "The Boy Who Cried Shart," that's tomorrow's blog post.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's Time To Play... Jersey Shore Housemate or Christmas Gift?

1. VINNY versus THE SLANKET

Similar traits: Sexless; cuddly; devoid of personality
How to tell them apart: Only one has freakishly groomed eyebrows.

2. J-WOWW versus SHAM WOW
Similar traits: Orange; hold 12 times its weight in liquid; machine washable and bleachable
How to tell them apart: ShamWow comes with a 10-year warranty, is slightly more effective at cleaning up pet stains

3. PAULY D. versus 1991 TOTALLY HAIR KEN

Similar traits: Metrosexual; gel-obsessed; make me imagine an alternate universe in which Samantha Micelli from Who's The Boss was a lesbian auto mechanic.
How to tell them apart: Pauly has Cadillac logo tattooed down his side; Ken has no penis.

4. SNOOKI versus WOOKIEE

Similar traits: Brown; hairy; unintelligible
How to tell them apart: Wookiees are gentler and do not wear Ed Hardy trucker hats as a general rule; Snooki looks slightly more like Christina Aguilera in blackface

5. THE SITUATION versus What Would You Do?: A Kid's Guide to Tricky and Sticky Situations by Linda Schwartz

Similar traits: Cautionary; colorful; abs of steel (unconfirmed)
How to tell them apart: The book uses "sticky" metaphorically. The Situation will make you sticky, literally.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Dyker Heights + Satan + Methamphetamines = A Very Special Christmas

My Dad and his girlfriend are going to be in California for Christmas this year, so yesterday Jeff and I, along with my sister Zoe, celebrated five days early (our first of three Christmases, the secret upside to broken homes). We started with a Zipcar ride through Dyker Heights, a neighborhood in Brooklyn known for its over-the-top Christmas light displays. Think Clark Griswold meets Walt Disney.

This is what the inside of Jesus' heart looks like.

One house had a plexiglass manger in which Joseph (or a wise man) had his staff positioned in an unfortunate manner. "Look!" cried my sister. "Joseph is beating Mary!"

We returned to my Dad's Brooklyn Heights apartment and commenced the present opening. One of the first gifts was the traditional Amazon-fucked-up-my-delivery card-in-lieu-of-actual-present, given to my father from Jeff. The card announced that the board game Diplomacy had been held up in "Satan's workshop" and would be arriving imminently.

"Did you mean to write 'Satan'?" my dad asked.

"What? No!" Jeff looked stricken. Hahahaha. Diplomacy is for Satan worshippers. No wonder the UN looks like a high school gym.

I got quite a haul, including some books I've been wanting (The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis and Mary Karr's Lit) and an amazing compilation called Lost Crafts by a woman named Una McGovern that teaches you forgotten skills like building stone fences, making rope, coopering ("I want to make barrels!" Jeff cried, a tad too enthusiastically for my liking), and blacksmithing. This is totally my Julie & Julia ticket to fame, y'all (Una & Una?). It is going to be like Old Sturbridge Village up in my house in 2010.

This freakishly looks exactly like Jeff. Welcome to my future.

Another gift I got was Season One of Breaking Bad, a show that I've never watched but which is on my list of shows to eventually become obsessed with to the point where I stop leaving my house. (Others in this category include It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Battlestar Gallactica.) As soon as we got home, laden with our repulsive number of gifts, we cuddled up on the couch to watch.

Wow.
If cooking crystal in your undies is wrong, then Bryan Cranston doesn't want to be right.

I'm a big fan of Weeds, and Breaking Bad makes Weeds look like Dora the Explorer (with Dora and Boots heading to Mexico, naturally, to pick up a few pounds of chronic and learn about the division of una onza). Breaking Bad, about a cancer-ridden high school chemisty teacher who partners with a former student to cook meth, is fucking hardcore. Which is not to say it's not great... it's just hard. Fucking. Core. Like, in the second episode a dude gets dissolved in acid in a bathtub which eats through the porcelian and drops his entrails onto the floor below. It has set the bar pretty high for the next narcotics-based show, which I have just decided should be a heroin-centric HBO dramedy called Horse starring Thomas Jane as a drug-peddling ranch hand.

As always, Hollywood agents may contact me in the comments.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowed In!

Ok, not really. But that doesn't stop me from watching Santa Claus: The Movie in my underwear and a Santa hat while wrapping presents with the radiators on full blast.

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Unbenownst to Dexter, the Trinity killer's first victim was a fey elf named Arthur Patch!

Seriously, though, you must watch this movie. 80s-era live-action Christmas movies set in NYC are the best. See also: Scrooged.

(Real posts will start back up again tomorrow, promise.)


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Friday, December 18, 2009

Top 5 Reasons Why Today Was One of The Top 5 Days in December (Largely Due to a Top 5 Sandwich and Also My Awesome Hair)

#1 My landlord came over this morning and finally fixed our leaky bathtub faucet (Thank you, Santa!). Jeff, who stayed home (you know, to make sure the landlord didn't steal any of our broken umbrellas or bleach-stained towels), took the phone into the bathroom so that I could hear for myself how it no longer sounds like the Teeny Little Super Guy is frolicking in a waterfall at all times. Maybe now I will stop needing to pee in my dreams.

#2 I had, for lunch, the. Best. Sandwich. Ever. As soon as I finished I awarded it a coveted spot on my Top 5 Sandwiches of All Time list AND gave it a star on my Intestinal Walk of Fame. How awesome was this sandwich? Fucking awesome. It was a Vietnamese banh mi, with two kinds of pork, pickled carrots, cilantro, cucumber, and mayonnaise. I got it all over my desk, and my face (a co-worker kindly told me that I had a very NSFW blob of mayo on my lip, which is so fitting because I made love to that banh mi. Sorry Jeff.)

#3 From two separate neighbors in my building I have learned that I CAN get cable. This means that three years ago when I moved in, Time Warner and Cablevision lied to me, and I must consider the possibility that my mother orchestrated the whole thing so that I wouldn't ruin my eyes and rot my brain. Well I have news for you, mother. Watching The Real Housewives of Orange County on my tiny iPod nano is probably why I needed glasses. Plus, it's really hard to tell whose boobs are real on such a small screen, which is an integral part of understanding and appreciating that show. But help is on the way!

#4 I didn't wash my hair this morning and I do not resemble John Cusack or Cameron Diaz in Being John Malkovich.

#5 Tonight is my office Christmas party, Ludachristmas. It is named for Ludacris, who once called me on the phone (true story), and who sings my favorite revenge fantasy soundtrack song, "Get Back."


(Yup, I have a special soundtrack for imaginary cage matches/face-offs between myself and people who have wronged me. In the fantasies I am a mixed martial arts master and can also float like in The Matrix. For some reason "Jump Around" by House of Pain is also part of the soundtrack. This parentheses just gets more and more embarrassing. Luckily, this post is over now.)

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sweatpants: A Love Story

I realized last night that Jeff and I share a pair of sweatpants. On me they are big and roomy; on him they are 70s gym clothes. For me they are sleeping sweatpants and eating sweatpants, and every fourth Monday or so they are my half-assed yoga DVD-doing sweatpants. For Jeff they are his playing-my-nerdy-war-game-on-the-internet sweatpants and also his I-don't-feel-like-putting-on-underwear sweatpants. Sometimes they are my I-don't-feel-like-putting-on-underwear sweatpants, too. We both go commando in these sweatpants, often without washing in between. And yes, since you asked, the magic is gone.

I don't think there is a more perfect item of clothing than sweatpants. They are stretchy and comfy and perfect for all occasions. Or at least, they will be once the genius who popularized formal shorts finds a way to blow up formal sweats (come on, asshole, you owe us).

My very first pair of sweatpants made me so happy that I wore them for 1st grade picture day:

Don't even be jealous, Soleil Moon-Frye. You know I look awesome.

My next pair of sweatpants were my so-called "warm-up" sweats for high school track. Underneath them I wore tiny shorts with built-in underpants that exacerbated my saddlebags, which was an added incentive not to ever take them off. Long after I quit track I kept my sweatpants. They came with me to college. They absorbed the smoke from my first joint and did not judge me when I gained ten pounds in my first semester (probably a direct result of the pot-smoking, and the entire blocks of cheddar cheese I would consume while stoned). They became my study sweatpants and then, senior year, my mourning sweatpants when I first got my heart broken for real. The summer after college I cropped them, because nothing is sexier than cropped, saggy sweatpants and you know it. I wore them to the corner bodega with tank tops and those flimsy Chinese slippers, and as I stood at the register clutching my toilet paper and Cheez Doodles, I noticed that not even the old men sitting outside on milk crates with their 10 am beers were looking at me. They became my invisibility sweatpants. My freedom sweatpants, if you will (like freedom fries, only more covered in ketchup). One day, under circumstances that I have since forgotten or blocked out, I discovered that I could pull the elastic waist up over my boobs and create a strapless, cropped sweat unitard. I wore it on my first date with Jeff.

Kidding. He wishes.

I don't have any photos of these magical sweatpants, because they were too awesome. Their beauty could not be captured on film. When a hole began to form in the crotch circa 2007 I thought yesssss, now I don't even have to take them off to pee! What I didn't realize is that it also meant I couldn't wear them to greet the Thai delivery man anymore--that is, without showing him my Pad See Ew. Eventually, and with great sadness, I got rid of them. Which brings me to my new marriage sweatpants.

Jeff bought them a few years ago, for himself, foolishly thinking that I would not fall in love with them. They're not much to look at—gray, bulky, nondescript but for an Old Navy logo on the left hip—but they are lined with cozy, fleece-like cotton and when I put them on they sink down to the floor, pooling around my feet so that it looks like I'm melting a la the Wicked Witch of the West. The baggy hips conceal even the most egregious PMS bloat, and I could probably walk out of a grocery store with an entire ham hidden in the soft, elephant-like folds of the ass. They are perfect, and I've grown not to mind the joint custody arrangement.

After all, it's pretty fucking sweet that after almost seven years together, we still want to get in each other's pants.
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Meet The Project Runway Season 7 Designers

Hey, guys, guess who's competing on season 7 of Project Runway?

Rufus Humphrey:


Todd Oldham:


and Jesus!


There's also a fucking crazy psycho killer who collects dolls. No joke. Read my super-scientific analysis on HuffPo.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Now All I Need Is A Record Label

Um, wow.

This is Spencer Pratt's album cover.


It's not so much that I'm surprised by the lack of subtlety and creativity at work in the title and overall concept. It's not even the overwhelming toolishness that emanates from this like little sleep zzzzzs silently rise from Lauren Conrad's head at all times.

It's the production value. I mean, really? Maybe Spencer should stop using his money as a fan and invest it in a graphic designer. I could do that shit in Photoshop in five minutes.

And I think I will.


Buy my album, in stores soon.

Tracks include:

"Recycled Underwear"
"Cashin' In (The Coinstar Song)"
"Balllin' (At the Duane Reade Sale Shelf)"
"Final Notice" (samples Destiny's Child's "Bills, Bills, Bills")
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm On An Xmas Gift Theme Today, So...

One more thing: When I was younger I used to watch my parents unwrap historical biographies and tubes full of socks and think, 'When I get old enough to become excited by socks, please kill me, Santa.'

Well.

2009 Christmas List Items That Would Make Fifteen Year-Old Me Want To Die of Shame


Socks—like I'm going to spend my hard-earned money on socks instead of wine and iTunes downloads

Sheets—what? Sheet are expensive, son.

Shampoo/Conditioner—see also: Socks

Of course, it goes both ways...

1995 Christmas List Items That Make Current Me Want To Die of Shame

More truly amazing (and highly embarrassing) list artifacts can be found here.

“The Complete Guide to Melrose Place”—JK, I wish I still had this. But my official position is still “die of shame”

Carpenter jeans from dELiA*s—to go with my two-tone platform sneakers from dELiA*s, obvi

Butterfly barettes (sic)—sparkly—because how could I match un-sparkly barrettes to my oversize Hole tee-shirt? (a band I had never listened to but which my friend Anna liked).

“Showboat” soundtrack—See? Of course I didn’t listen to Hole.


P.S. I like to think that "not kidding" parentheses about the pom-pom hat was directed at 2009 me. My sarcasm—and hatred of hats—hadn't fully developed in 1995

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Premature Unwrap-ulation

I am a terrible gift-giver.

The stress there is on giver. I am awesome at picking out meaningful gifts, but I am challenged in the customary way to actually present them.

Meaning, like, on Christmas and not, say, ten days early in a fit of excitement.

Here are two telling stories from my childhood:

1. 1982. Italy. My dad and I buy a piece of pottery for my mother and I am so excited that I shake it out of its paper bag onto the stone steps of the Duomo. It shatters. I cry.

2. 1984. A week or so before my dad's birthday, my mother and I go shopping. We get back to the house, I run inside, see my father and cry "DAD! We got you PANTS!!!!"

It is physically impossible for me to keep gifts a secret. Which really sucks for me because then I have to replace the gifts I spoil with new gifts so that the person actually has something to open. It can get expensive. One year for Jeff's birthday (which is in March) I bought him Red Sox tickets for like $300 on eBay and then announced it in early February. Last year I bought him a gift membership to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but like a moron I got excited and bought it in October, and since it's only a year long I had to give it to him right away.

This year I had resolved to break the habit, but I constantly set myself up. I'll go shopping and as soon as I get home I trill, "I just got you something!" To which Jeff, naturally, replies "What? What is it?" "I'm not telling," I sing, but he knows I have absolutely no willpower.

Which brings me to last night. Tired after a long day, I flopped on the couch and started watching old episodes of America's Next Top Model. Jeff emerged from his man cave/office to go to the bathroom and I accosted him.

ME: Honey, are you going out?
JEFF: No, I'm going to the bathroom.
ME: Oh. Well if you had a reason to go out, would you get me some wine?
JEFF: If I find some Pinot Noir in the can I'll let you know.
ME: Like, if you needed to take out the trash or get some fresh air...
JEFF: It's ten o'clock at night.
ME: Just if, honey.
JEFF: (Sighs) You want me to get you wine? Would that make you happy?
ME: (Beaming)

I was so grateful when Jeff returned ten minutes later with wine that I leapt up and ran to my closet.

"Do you want an early Christmas present?" I yelled as I rifled through bags. "You deserve one!"

It's a sickness, I tell you. Luckily Jeff thinks it's cute.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Fun With Crosswords IV: Friend of Dorothy

ME: Baby, which muppet had a goldfish named Dorothy?
JEFF: I don't know. Gonzo?
ME: No, he had the chicken girlfriend named Camilla.
JEFF: How many letters?
ME: Four. I want to say Bert, but...
JEFF: But what?
ME: That means he's definitely gay. I mean, that's not even subtle.
JEFF: So you don't want to fill in the crossword because you don't want to accept once and for all that a muppet is gay.
ME: I don't care if he's gay. I guess I just enjoyed the "is he or isn't he?" game. This ruins it.
JEFF: (Walks out of room).

Ed. note: The correct answer, it turns out, is Elmo, Sesame Street's second biggest queen.
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Oh, Tannenbaum


By the way, I'm not a satanist; I just think the little transvestite devil finger puppet is supercute.
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Friday, December 11, 2009

The Sassy Curmudgeon's Holiday Gift Guide, Part 7: Hookahs For Pimps

BFF and West Coast correspondent Anna drew my attention today to what she calls "the holy grail of douchebaggery": The Ed Hardy hookah.

$269. Heh... 69.

Now, Jezebel argues that using the word "douchebag" is passé, not least because The New York Times has finally printed it, and they are approximately four years behind any trend of any kind.

But this hookah defies any other descriptor. It is douchier than Jon Gosselin in an ad for Summer's Eve. It's the perfect gift for the man who already owns every other item of Ed Hardy merchandise, not to mention the entire Limp Bizkit musical canon, including Greatest Hitz. But make no mistake: this is also art. From the website:

"Ed Hardy's art surrounds the water-bowl. Quickly the tempo of the Hookah builds up across small shades of art cutting across the Hookah's body-sparkle. A third up the Hookah throat on the disco-ball are beautiful snippets of Ed Hardy's art. This art enters the Ash balcony constructed of glass. The Hookah is topped by a Beautifully shaped and smoothed Tobacco head. The Lightweight and aerodynamic hose is lightly touched with glittery-impressions running down the hose and then with its Ultra durable and flexible frame shapes itself across the Hookah's body."

Let's hear that again, with the homoerotic parts bolded:

"Ed Hardy's art surrounds the water-bowl. Quickly the tempo of the Hookah builds up across small shades of art cutting across the Hookah's body-sparkle. A third up the Hookah throat on the disco-ball are beautiful snippets of Ed Hardy's art. This art enters the Ash balcony* constructed of glass. The Hookah is topped by a Beautifully shaped and smoothed Tobacco head. The Lightweight and aerodynamic hose is lightly touched with glittery-impressions running down the hose and then with its Ultra durable and flexible frame shapes itself across the Hookah's body."

I think this calls for a protest, friends and countrymen. And I think I have just the made-up movement...

antidouchestablishmentarianism  
[an-tee-doush-uh-stab-lish-muhn-tair-ee-uh-niz-uhm]
noun
Def: Opposition to the proliferation of douches or douchebags, including but not limited to state support or recognition from an established church, esp. the Anglican Church in 19th-century England (William Wordsworth? Giant douche.)

*best euphemism ever
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yo, Santa!

When letters to Santa stop being polite and start getting real.

Yo, Santa!

I would like for someone to fix the leak in my bathtub that sounds like a neverending stream of pee. You know how in public bathrooms it’s almost impossible to pee when someone else is peeing in another stall? Like your urethra suddenly becomes an air-tight bomb shelter and you can actually feel the pee retreating back into your bladder (does this happen to men)? And you know that the muscle contraction is probably good for your Kegels, but the downside is that if you don’t start peeing within ten seconds the other person will think that you are pooping? And so you try to relax your muscles and coach the pee out, but you also have to will yourself not to nervously fart? It’s all very stressful. Anyway, point being, I have to put my fingers in my ears and hum every time I use my own bathroom, which is humiliating. Please fix.

Yo, Santa!

So I dropped my phone in a glass of Shiraz the other night. I was trying to hold my phone and the glass in the same hand so that my other hand was free to grab my Amy’s mac n’ cheese frozen dinner out of the microwave, and it slipped and was totally submerged. My immediate instinct was to wash it off, which I realize now was maybe not the best idea. Good news: the wine tasted okay, although my husband reminded me that I drop my phone on the sidewalk about as often as Oprah has one of her aha! moments, which is to say with the regularity that other people move their bowels. But that’s neither here nor there. The point is my phone still kind of worked but it started making a static-y noise every time it rang so I took into T-Mobile and the lady there told me that my warranty didn’t cover water damage. She told me that I would have to buy a completely new phone and the way she said it was judgy, especially for someone wearing adult braces. So for Christmas, Santa, I would like you to smite that woman at T-Mobile. Or just get me a new phone.
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's A Thong! It's A Hoodie! It's A...Hooded Thong? And Other Adventures In Oxymoronic Fashion

High boots with no toes and thick lensless glasses...



Armless knit sweaters and chaps without asses...



These I can live with although they are wrong,
But I draw the line at this gray hooded thong.


Rompers on adults and babies in leather...



PVC leggings and undies with feathers...



These should be burned for the world's common good,
But they don't come close to this thong with a hood!


Formal shorts and
high-heeled sneakers...



Always make me mad.
But then I remember this gray hooded thong:


And then they don’t seeeeeeeeeem so bad!

(Thanks to PeaceBang for linking to this and getting me so much traffic on this post!)
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Twihard With A Vengeance

Image from Roflrazzi.com

So, Twilight. I feel like I have to address it. It's become like a pop culture swine flu (TwiFlu?), infecting loads of people and causing mass, shitstormy hysteria all over the world. All of the blogs I follow talk about it. It's taken over magazine covers, gossip columns, blind items, even Etsy. I feel like I'm being bullied into joining the sparkly fray; if I don't, I won't have any idea what's going on in, like, 90% of my guilty pleasure magazines and websites.

I've never read the books the series is based on, but I've seen Twilight. Twice, actually. The first time was after a particularly rowdy viewing party for ANTM, so I was drunk, and I just kept snorting and yelling "SAY IT! VAMPIRE!" at the TV and glugging more wine and I'm pretty sure we turned it off after an hour or so because it was so bad.

BUT.

Then a few weeks ago I was home sick and I was weak and I decided to see what all the (sober) fuss was about so I watched it online. It was melodramatic and ridiculous and full of Intense Staring and Olympic-Level Moping, not to mention truly hilarious contact lenses the color of creme brulée (which means VAMPIRE, so run if you see them, do not stare into them licking your lips and thinking about the cracking sound when you rap your spoon into the burned, sugary top). But you know what? I kind of finally got it. Sure, Jacob looks like a butch Pocahontas with that hair, and Edward's longing for Bella makes him seem perpetually constipated, but the angsty fourteen year-old in me ached with pleasure when they finally kissed. I KNOW. I am NOT happy about this.

Luckily it's much easier to make fun of Twilight than it is to genuinely like it.

For example, the fans? Are crazy.

I'm not even talking about the person who constructed Bellas' uterus out of felt.

I'm talking about the girls (and perhaps a few gay boys) who are so obsessed with the saga that they would give anything to have Twilight be their life. Seriously, check it: My Life Is Twilight.

Did I ever tell you guys about Fuck My Life aka FML? It's this site where people post stories of how much their lives blow and then other people vote on the extent of the blowage. Well, My Life is Twilight operates on that same idea, except people write about how much their real life is like Twilight (usually by manipulation, i.e. "My best friend, who is female, is in my phone as 'Edward' our other room mate, who is male, is in my phone as 'Jacob'. Every room in the apartment is required to have a twilight poster.")

Some choice entries:

Today my boyfriend brought me into the woods and said we had to talk. Come to find out he was moving to Arkansas! I was so excited because he said it like exactly the same way Edward said it in New Moon! But then I realized he was breaking up with me. When I turned around he was already gone! MLIT!!

Today I was sunbathingand my bf came out shirtless to join me. I looked over at him and his chest was sparkling. When I asked him what he was doing he just smiled and said “I wanted to sparkle because I know how sexy you you think that Edward guy is”. He used a whole tube of body glitter. MLIT

Ok, fine, I'll play.

Hmmm....

OMG! today I was putting on this shirt I got from Forever21 and I noticed that the tag said BELLA. What a unique brand name; what are the odds??? MLIT

Twilight is set in Forks, Washington, and there used to be a diner near my house called Silver SPOONS. Now it is an ill-advised theme restaurant called Fish N' Sips, but whatever. MLIT

My husband is Armenian, so his legs are hairy like a werewolf's. Team Jacob!!!! MLIT

In seventh grade I had a really pale lab partner with blond hair named Jared (ED!!!) Cohen (CULLEN!!!). We dissected owl pellets and he invited me to his bar mitzvah. MLIT


I suggest a new site for people who can smell desperation and who appreciate irony: F...MLIT!
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Monday, December 7, 2009

Love, Loss, and What I Drank

Chances are I have only vomited in 1.333333 of these bags

I saw Love, Loss, and What I Wore with my mom on Sunday. It was great—like The Vagina Monologues but for clothes.

Seeing the show made me want to sit down and write about clothes, ideally items that had meant something to me and seen me through hard times, or pieces that reminded me of great laughs, loves, or friendships.

Obviously I forgot that I am me and that I can barely make it through a single day without dripping some condiment or other on myself, let alone find the time to make very Special Memories based around my whimsical wardrobe. Here is what came out instead when I sat down to write:

As I was leaving the house the other day to meet friends for drinks, my husband said, by way of goodbye, "Try not to throw up in your purse!" I wish I could say that this was a metaphor, our colorful twinspeak way of saying "Break a leg!" But I can't. He's being completely literal.

I have vomited in two purses, which, in the grand scheme of things, doesn't seem like a lot. After all, I've owned probably 30 purses since the brown LeSportsac bag I bought in tenth grade, which means that I've only vomited into 1/15 of my purses, historically speaking—respectable odds! Also I feel I should point out that the purses were used as vessels in order to avoid sullying a hardworking cabbie's floor with the product of my poor judgment (which generally involved tequila). I would FURTHER like to point out that I had the good sense to first remove my wallet, phone, keys, and iPod, although it is entirely possible that a cardigan accidentally ended up taking one for the team.

In short:

Dinner: $30
Bottle of wine (shared): $16
Ill-advised tequila shots at a house party where you don't know anyone and everyone looks fifteen: $0
Purse: $50 (on sale at Filene's)
Cardigan: $28
Not having to ask the cabbie to pull over on Chrystie Street so that you can puke in front of all the pretentious d-bags waiting outside The Box: Priceless...probably not really worth it, in retrospect
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Monday Minutae: Hoarders, Cocks, & Bob Villa

1. I am so, so sad that I cannot watch Hoarders on A&E (if you are new to this blog, know that much of my life is spent bemoaning the fact that I live on a cruelly cable-free block in Brooklyn.) This show—about people who live, basically, in piles of their own filth and bundles of movie stubs—looks like it might even be better than I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, only without the reenacted drama of someone staring down in horror as a human being they did not know was incubating inside of them is pulled from their vagina, which always adds a certain zing.

2. I’m constantly making mental notes of stuff I want to Google, and if I made a list my family would probably have me committed. Today’s included “Kristin Chenoweth,” “Russian roulette,” and “Bob Villa gingerbread house.”

3. If this waxing ad doesn’t make you want to shave your... rooster, guys, I don’t know what will.


(Over at Copyranter there are images of a hairless cat and beaver, just to, you know, bring the message home. Naked tennis balls would also have been a nice touch...)

4. This weekend I was re-introduced to spiked eggnog, which kind of makes me want to do a happy dance and throw up at the same time. It is like the expressway to becoming a fat alcoholic, and I am fucking speeding with the top down (the top of the car, not my top, but after a few, who knows?). Please send help.
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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pigs N' Pie

Apologies for the lack of posting. (I've gotten so good at doing it every day! That's what she said.)

It's 4:46 in NYC, and despite the above sentence I am not already tippling.

I am, instead, cleaning and cooking like a madwoman for my 5th annual ladies-only* holiday potluck.

A month or so ago, a friend forwarded me a recipe from (now-defunct) Gourmet magazine's website. It was for frozen peanut butter pie with candied bacon. "Seriously????" she wrote, and I replied "Mmmmmm I would totally eat that."

And so I made it for tonight.


My friend is coming. I'm going to make her eat it.

If you're on the East Coast, I hope you're enjoying the slushy snow. If you're on the West Coast, shut up, I don't want to hear about it. Happy weekend!

*I would call it Girls Gone Wild, but that's trademarked...
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Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Twelve Days of Runway

"Sorry kiddo, but your ass does look like it's in the front."

I am kind of in denial about the end of Project Runway, as boring as the season ended up being and as stressful as it was to recap within 14 hours, especially considering that 8 of those hours were spent sleeping. Tonight is the first non-Thanksgiving Thursday that I will be without ProjRun, and tomorrow will be the first Friday morning (again, excepting last week) that I won't be kicking myself for the fact that, even though I dutifully pounded a Diet Coke as I walked home from the viewing party at Jess and Kerry's, I managed to write exactly three sentences before I fell asleep spooning my warm laptop.

So. I've decided to get nostalgic and festive at the same time.

Ahem....

On the first day of runway, Michael Kors gave to me a barefoot Appalachian Li'l Abner Barbie.

On the second day of runway, Michael Kors gave to me two paper brioches and a barefoot Appalachian Li'l Abner Barbie.

On the third day of runway, Michael Kors gave to me three disco pumpkins, two paper brioches and a barefoot Appalachian Li'l Abner Barbie.

On the fourth day of runway, Michael Kors gave to me four elongated marshmallows, three disco pumpkins, two paper brioches and a barefoot Appalachian Li'l Abner Barbie.

On the fifth day of runway, Michael Kors gave to me FIVE ASSES IN THE FRONT! Four elongated marshmallows, three disco pumpkins, two paper brioches and a barefoot Appalachian Li'l Abner Barbie.

On the sixth day of runway, Michael Kors gave to me six French maids at a funeral, FIVE ASSES IN THE FRONT! Four elongated marshmallows, three disco pumpkins, two paper brioches and a barefoot Appalachian Li'l Abner Barbie.

On the seventh day of runway, Michael Kors gave to me seven pieces of toilet paper caught in a windstorm, six French maids at a funeral, FIVE ASSES IN THE FRONT! Four elongated marshmallows, three disco pumpkins, two paper brioches and a barefoot Appalachian Li'l Abner Barbie.

On the eighth day of runway, Michael Kors gave to me eight power bitches, seven pieces of toilet paper caught in a windstorm, six French maids at a funeral, FIVE ASSES IN THE FRONT! Four elongated marshmallows, three disco pumpkins, two paper brioches and a barefoot Appalachian Li'l Abner Barbie.

On the ninth day of runway, Michael Kors gave to me nine popes at a sex club, eight power bitches, seven pieces of toilet paper caught in a windstorm, six French maids at a funeral, FIVE ASSES IN THE FRONT! Four elongated marshmallows, three disco pumpkins, two paper brioches and a barefoot Appalachian Li'l Abner Barbie.

On the tenth day of runway, Michael Kors gave to me ten Tims a-tisking, nine popes at a sex club, eight power bitches, seven pieces of toilet paper caught in a windstorm, six French maids at a funeral, FIVE ASSES IN THE FRONT! Four elongated marshmallows, three disco pumpkins, two paper brioches and a barefoot Appalachian Li'l Abner Barbie.

On the eleventh day of runway, Michael Kors gave to me eleven Ninas scowling, ten Tims a-tisking, nine popes at a sex club, eight power bitches, seven pieces of toilet paper caught in a windstorm, six French maids at a funeral, FIVE ASSES IN THE FRONT! Four elongated marshmallows, three disco pumpkins, two paper brioches and a barefoot Appalachian Li'l Abner Barbie.

On the twelfth day of runway, Michael Kors gave to me twelve Heidis aufing, eleven Ninas scowling, ten Tims a-tisking, inexplicable guest judges, nine popes at a sex club, eight power bitches, seven pieces of toilet paper caught in a windstorm, six French maids at a funeral, FIVE ASSES IN THE FRONT! Four elongated marshmallows, three disco pumpkins, two paper brioches aaaaaaaaand a barefoot Appalachian Li'l Abner Baaaaaaaaaaaaaarbie.

Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rollin' On The River

I was at a karaoke bar for happy hour this evening, but I didn't sing. Instead I sat back with my probably bad-idea glass of Cabernet and appreciated other people making fools of themselves. That and watching the videos that accompany karaoke songs, because WHERE DO THEY COME FROM? Why does Patricia Clarkson's doppelganger star in Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody"? Why is there ALWAYS a role for a man wearing overalls? Who produces these magical vignettes and did they film anything post-1987?

Just before I left, two very drunk women performed a rousing rendition of "Proud Mary" that made me want to come home and have a dance party with Jeff. If even one of you clicks on the video below and dances around like an asshole, my heart will grow three sizes.

Doo doo doo doo
doo doo doo doo
doo doo doo doo...


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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cementing the Future

I did not do this. I swear.

This morning I was awakened at an ungodly hour by the sound of drilling, so loud that I feared I would look out my window and see Sarah Palin riding a rig. Eventually it stopped, and when I stepped outside I saw a fresh square of concrete right in front of my building.

Write in me, it seemed to say. I mean, how awesome would it be to have Jeff’s and my initials carved in a spot marking the location of our first home together? That way when everything is a big sizzling mess of post-apocalyptic Walmart ruins, our grandchildren can still find a family landmark.

Then of course I remembered that my landlord would see it, and would be none too pleased that we (I) had desecrated his sidewalk. So I kept walking.

And then I came to another wet square of cement, a few yards down the block and totally out of landlord range! Someone had already carved LM & SS into the lower left corner, but so what? I could always add SUCK after that and then carve UL & JZ RULE.

But then I noticed that the block was getting kind of busy. I had pedestrians approaching from both sides, plus an old woman was eyeing me suspiciously from her stoop a few doors down. Our names would last for decades, maybe longer, but in order to make my mark I had to kneel down in full view of passersby and desecrate public property. I don’t think it’s against the law to write in cement, but it seems like a violation of neighborly ethics, kind of like letting your dog shit on the sidewalk, only the shit stays permanently glued to the curb for eons.

Jeff and I carved our initials into a tree on his family’s farm in Spencer, Massachusetts a few years back. His grandparents did the same thing in the 1940s, and we were hoping to use the same tree but we couldn’t find it. Even though it’s only been a short time, the carving is weathered and gray; it’ll probably be illegible soon.

It’s such a powerful human impulse to leave a sign of our presence. Of course we hope that it’s in the deeper sense—that we leave a legacy that amounts to more than scribbling on the back wall of a childhood closet or writing furtively in permanent marker on a beam deep within the Eiffel Tower, alongside countless other “I WAS HERE” declarations... but the scribbling works, too, as long as it can’t be washed away. Maybe it’s the fear of not leaving a real impression that makes us scramble to make such small, impermanent ones.

Eventually I kept walking. I decided not to make that particular mark. As I passed the old woman on the stoop she nodded approvingly, and as I looked down I saw why:

In a third swath of wet concrete just below her bottom step, someone had scrawled “Maniac.”

Man, what a waste of an opportunity. Maniac could be anyone: Manson, Animal from The Muppets, one of the 10, 000 that sang “Because the Night” on MTV Unplugged in 1993.

The only justification for the choice of that particular word is this video:



Because a Steel Town girl on a Saturday night will do anything. They all say she's crazy.
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