Thursday, December 30, 2004

Oh, Gwen.

What follows is the theoretical conversation that would take place between me and Gwen Stefani if I could respond directly to selected lyrics from the song Harajuku Girls off her new album, Love Angel Music Baby.

Ms. Stefani: Work it. Express it. Live it. Command your style.
Me: O--okay. I thought I was working it. I'll try harder next time, I promise.

Create it, design it. Now let me see you work it.
I'm supposed to sew my own clothes? Maybe that's why I'm not working it hard enough for you. Do you make your own clothes? If so, I'm impressed with your command of handicrafts.

Create it, design it. Now let me see you work it.
Yeah, I heard you.

You bring style and color all around the world.
Thanks! Oh, wait, you're talking to those Japanese girls. Nevermind.

You bring style and color all around the world.
Yeah, I--I got it.

You're looking so distinctive like DNA.
What?

Like nothing I've ever seen in the USA.
We have DNA over here. I think you can see it with an electron microscope.

Your underground culture, visurar [sic] grammar...the rangage of your clothsing is somesing to encounter.
Gwen, are you impersonating a Japanese accent? Hasn't anyone told you that that's...well, maybe just a little bit racist? I know that you're a really big star and all, and I can respect that, but, I mean, "rangage"? Hey, you, the girls standing behind Gwen--aren't you just a little offended by this? I mean, back me up here. Hello? Can you hear me? I guess you're not gonna...well, maybe you're just shy.

A ping-pong match between Eastern and Western...
Well, Gwen, let's be honest here. It's not so much table-tennis-esque cultural volley going on as it is flagrant and upsetting appropriation on your part. I won't even bring up the potential human rights violation with the four...well, let's call them "indentured servants." But maybe you're just talking about ping-pong.

Did you see your inspiration in my latest collection?
I smell a commercial. Gwen, are you trying to sell me something? I thought we were going to make our own clothes. Wait a minute; is this whole Japanese thing just some kind of twisted out-sourcing? Are you making those four girls SEW too?

Just wait till you get your little hands on L-A-M-B!
I thought this was an ad. Also, LITTLE HANDS? Excuse me, Gwen, I'll be right back, I'm just...well, you wouldn't happen to have the number for the ACLU, would you?

Becase it's SUPER-KAWA-II!
What?

That means "super-cute" in Japanese.
Oh.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Stop Right There! I Gotta Know Right Now.

Displaying a heretofore abandonded inclination toward social interaction, I went out for some drinks last night. Even though the call of the suburban wild (and the threat of a fifth parking ticket) beckoned me northward at ten and I had to miss the karaoke portion of the evening, it did actually feel good just to be out. Not to mention the great boon it was to my state of mind to hear my sixth-grade-geography-teaching friend's horror stories. I guess no matter how tongue-swallowingly boring my job can be, I can find solace in the fact I'm not a public school teacher in "Little Haiti," Miami.

I can also find comfort at the expense of another friend, who told me last night about his newest (bad) roommate's new (terrible) pet. My friend was introduced to the critter by his (bad, bad, bad) roommate's (univited, perennially present) girlfriend, who alerted him to this newest addition to their small apartment by yelling, from the couch: HIS NAME'S PINCHY!

Yes, folks, it's a scorpion. Again, no matter how brain-liquifyingly terrible my job is, at least I don't live with a potentially deadly animal.

One of my co-workers just pulled one of those "Hey, I'm kind of a bigot" moves. The co-worker sent someone in the publishing industry an e-mail that included pleasantries inquiring after her Hanukkah. The co-worker came to my cube right after sending the message seeking confirmation that the recipient is indeed probably a Jew, because, after all, she does have a last name of ambiguous origin which obviously rules out any affiliation with Christianity. There are something like forty moronic assumptions behind my co-worker's action, most significantly thinking her last name is necessarily an indicator of her faith, and, even if she is Jewish, that she necessarily celebrates Hanukkah. You know, Hanukkah? Ethnic Christmas? Yeah.

Welcome back to the internet, Brad. And hello Brad's mombi. See ya'll soon.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

An Open Letter to the Men of SoHo

To the many men I pass each day walking to and from my office,

I'll readily admit that I don't know much about genetics or statistics; my grasp of science as a discipline is weak, at best. Despite my lack of expertise, I am fairly sure that something is awry in Lower Manhattan. I don't know whether it's a demographic, geographic, magnetic, geological, psychological, physiological, or evolutionary anomaly, but I'm positive that so many of you should not be so attractive.

Allow me to introduce myself. I'm that girl with the kind of dingy white coat (it's from newsprint, not vagrancy), semi-grown-out curly hair, and black glasses that say "Look, I'm an intellectual, I don't need an active love life." You may not have noticed me, but I am keeping a running tally of you.

As such, I have a series of proposals up for negotiation. They are as follows:

A. Project Make-Out: A full-scale attack my lack of making out with attractive men, wherein you, one of the many attractive men in this neighborhood, approaches me on the street for approximately a minute of quality face time. The one minute time limit has been placed in effect for a number of reasons, the most significant of which include prior work engagements, MetroNorth schedules, and availibility of my person to several make-out partners on a single walk to the 6 train.

B. To ensure that I am only engaged in consensual making out, I have instituted the following protocol. You, the attractive man, will approach me, and say the make-out code word Yawanna?. If indeed I do wanna, I will respond with the the code word Sweeeeeeet, and making out will ensue. If I do not want to make out, the code word will be No go, HoJo, after which we will salute each other and proceed in seperate directions.

C. If you are an attractive man who (for some strange, idiotic reason) opts not to take part in Project Make-Out, you, of course, have the right to do so. However,

D. Any attractive man not taking part in Project Make-Out must wear a rubber mask of President George Bush (the first) while in my presence. Regrettably, masks cannot be provided and must be procured at the wearer's expense.

E. Any and all attractive men opting out of Project Make-Out with the audacity to have a sexy, non-Bronx accent must remain mute until I am out of earshot. That goes double for you, Mr. Italian-Guy-With-The-Really-Cool-Jeans-Standing-On-Broadway-Yesterday-At-Around-Four-Fifteen-In-The-Afternoon-Who-Was-Talking-To-His-Friend-In-His-Incredibly-Hot-Italian-Accent.

Hormonally yours,
Kathy

Tsunami Disaster Relief

The latest reports estimate 33,000 people dead in countries with coastlines on the Indian Ocean. One third of those are believed to be children.

The aftermath of the tsunamis--decimated towns, obliterated power resources, limited food supplies, and the spread of disease through contact with corpses--may prove to be just as fatal.

To those with a little extra Christmas cash: please consider contributing either money or time to one of the many organizations currently coordinating relief efforts.

I broke into the apartment fund for these guys, and lemme tell you, though it might take a little longer to get a futon now, I think it was worth it.

And now back to your regularly scheduled effluvia.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Christmas 2004 (A.iP.)

Merry Christmas-is-over and Happy not-quite-the-New Year! I really intended to post over the weekend, especially because I took a fabulous picture of myself with a demonic looking light-up Santa Claus, but you know, tough luck.

I'm at work, listening to my brand new, perfect, virginally white iPod. This is the greatest gadget I've ever owned. Not only can I listen to virtually anything my heart desires, it'll play games with me when I'm bored! It'll play "name that tune" with your whole music collection! It's fantastic! Also, I listened to Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself for Loving You" on repeat during my walk to work today. Combined with the cowboy boots I'm wearing, there was no stopping the total model-walk I did for about ten blocks (except for that little leap to the side to avoid some dog poop) (which was still totally suave, though). There's nothing that makes me happier than indulging the delusion that I am in my own movie and can hear my own soundtrack, and that the people giving me those weird looks are admiring my obvious status as protagonist, not wondering why the hell I'm walking so funny.

Okay, rewind to Friday (an age I will refer to as B.iP.), when my family decided that we were going to go to church after all. I had run into my former choir director in the supermarket on Thursday night, and I wasn't too keen on going after our awkward discussion that only slightly veiled her belief that I have become a heathen. My mom kind of convinced me though, and once I was going my brothers decided they should go too, but not without wearing the most inappropriate clothes one could wear in church without being denied the Body of Christ. They loosely interpreted the inappropriate-dress clause by wearing jeans, t-shirts, unhappy grimaces, etc. I, however, wore a dress I bought for four dollars on E-Bay (which kinda resembles a vacuum cleaner bag, but, you know, in a good way), one of my Grandma's horrible giant gold pins, and a white leather spiked belt. Praise Jesus!

I almost got through a whole mass without being completely pissed off until the priest made a big deal about not saying "Happy Holidays." "JESUS is the REASON for the SEASON! Forget that Happy Holidays stuff! This is CHRISTMAS." Yes, well, Father, it may be Christmas in here, but outside, it's pretty much just Saturday for the big-ass population of Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Atheists, and Catholics alienated by guys just like you. So give it a break, please? Celebrate Christmas till your heart's content, but don't foist it on everyone else. He had the nerve to go on and thank God we live in such a free country. So free we all have to be Christian! Whee! Yay for the First Amendment! Don't say Happy Holidays or we'll stop you at the airport and have your bags searched, you terrorist piece of crap!

Anyway, post-mass, my family ate half a ton of Chinese takeout in front of the TV, as God intended. I think it's actually in Deuteronomy somewhere.

Christmas morning my brother (who sleeps till four in the afternoon citing the effects of mononucleosis) woke me up at the crack of dawn to open presents. I got some wonderful stuff from my family, and gave them some (hopefully) pretty good gifts in return. In my brother's case, at least, my gift was wildly inappropriate, which is often a decent substitute for "good." I got him a copy of Surf Nazis Must Die, the pinnacle of cinematic achievement, as well as a light-up pink neon mudflap girl.

With Brad permanantly in Ohio and Kai in Boston temporarily, I spent Sunday in solitude, which was actually very nice. My brothers went somewhere to see some band or something, and my parents went out to see someone and have coffee or something. I wasn't involved, so I didn't really listen. Protagonist, remember? No, my brothers were at a concert in Connecticut and my parents were over their friends' house, so I went to see The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, which I loved with all my heart. I think I was the only one in the theater who enjoyed it at all, though, because not only did nobody else laugh even once, the guy behind me actually fell asleep and started snoring during the first half an hour.

After picking up a few Christmas presents that aren't due until next week, I went home and contented myself with some leftover Christmas ham and The Office on DVD. I'm convinced Tim Canterbury and I would make a great couple.

If only he weren't fictional. I have to stop falling in love with TV characters.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Photograffiti

The promised pictures from Fairfield Hills:

Like I said.  Fairfield Hills.
A pictorial title page, if you will.

Peeling paint is creepy.
I can't remember anything particular about this building, but I think it's safe to assume something eerie happened here.

There is no one lurking behind this curtain.
Decor by Norman Bates's dead mother.

Where the zombie hands busted through.
I would like to say I had the guts to look through this window, but I was convinced something was going to grab my face, so took a picture of it instead.

Vines of DOOOOOOOM.
Yes, there was an art installation like this in Oberlin for Intro to Sculpture.

Sign of DOOOOOOOM.
In very tiny print, on the bottom, it says "Home of the Whopper."

4-H: Hellish screams, Hairy palms, Headshrinkers, Hatred for your mother?
I'm willing to bet they didn't take home any blue ribbons from the state fair. Or, if they did, they were promptly confiscated because they could be shredded and used to fashion a noose.

This is a tourist, not a nutjob.
Kai looking fabulous.

This is a tourist, not a ghost.
Kai looking fabulously spooky.

My real life head is not as disproportionate.  Right?  RIGHT?
Me looking like every single video on "America's Funniest Home Videos," where funny = dog in extreme close-up.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Get on the Bus, Gus.

While making my last cup of cinnamon apple tea about five minutes ago --

Interruption for breaking news: the weird old woman in the next row of cubes who hates everything and everyone is making sounds like a ticked-off walrus doing lamaze.

-- I had one of those existential moments wherein you realize you are much crazier than the people around you probably perceive. I was pouring hot water from the designated hot water spigot and absent-mindedly looking out the window at the building across the way when I noticed I could see the building's elevator shaft (I know, I know...shaft, teabag. This story will be a disappointment to anyone looking for an exciting climax--I gave you that one on a platter--to some drivel about the mundane machinations of my psyche.) Though I was finished with tea preparation-related activities by this point, I was unable to leave the window until I saw the elevator descend completely out of my field of view.

This happens to me all the time; I'll have to sit in front of a clock until I see the numbers change, or stay in my car each morning until the exact point in the broadcast on Z-100, or watch the TV Guide station until the listings get all the way back around to where I've started. Related, I think, I am compelled to re-order the little marmalades at Denny's (Brad can attest to this) so the grapes are with the grapes and the oranges are with the oranges, as God intended.

Let me just get it out there that I'm not claiming I have obsessive-compulsive disorder or anything (although, if that's enough of an excuse for me to collect some kind of disability check, I've got it bad). Really, I'm just a little nuts. I prefer to believe it adds to my quirky charm, which, in addition to my devastating good looks and razor-sharp intellect, attracts the menfolk like flies to the outhouse.

Last night while I was out with Kai, I realized that I had forgotten the best part of the Hot Dad update of a few days ago. It's so funny I couldn't have written it any better myself. He was talking about his being a drummer and all, and he told me he was trying to learn an especially difficult part of a very particular Paul Simon song. It's pricless. Ready?

Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover.

I shit you not.

I'm fresh out of things to say in long, unrelated paragraph form (my very favorite). I promise if I come up with anything worth your while, I'll post it after lunch. Pinky swear.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

But Soft! What Slime From Yonder Nostril Leaks?

I am an unwilling audience member of a grand mucous choir. The train, the subway, the walk to work, and the surrounding cubes are all filled with the heavenly music of snorts, horks, honks, wheezes, hocks and gurgles, whose varied timbres weave a tapestry of aural delight. O the bacterial joy of a cold season spent on public transportation! O the fine oceanic mist that sprays forth from yonder old man's mouth! O pea-green gob, arcing from trachea to concrete!

Not even half a cup of tea into my morning, I broke the heel of my boot. This has proved much more distressing than I expected, because the boots were my favorite shoes--it's paining me to talk about them in the past tense--and they were also high-heeled. I'm precariously balanced on even heels; on one high-heel and one jagged stump I'm a menace. My new gait has an up-and-down quality which makes people think I'm peeking over their cube walls when I pass through their peripheral vision, so I've gotten a fair number of full-on accusatory glances, most of which have melted into general looks of pity or amusement.

Lest you think I'm not a resourceful gal, know that I tried taping the heel back on (an unqualified failure). I am currently investigating snapping off the other heel. Such a plan requires either a cooperative heel or complete boot removal, neither of which has been a viable option. The remaining heel appears to be hanging on for dear life, no matter how hard I pull on it. I just wonder what people suspect I'm doing when they see me red-faced and straining at my desk. I briefly toyed with the idea of putting up a sign that says I SWEAR I'M NOT POOPING!, but decided against it.

Though I'm sure this topic is no longer of interest to any party besides myself, I find the Hot Dad terribly exciting, so at every possible juncture I'm going to inflict news of him on anyone reading. Yesterday was the first day I had seen him in something like a week, and I didn't even know he was on the train until he poked me in the arm to say hi as he walked to the door. A good conversation yielded difficult-to-obtain personal data, including the fact that he's a drummer (though it's unclear whether that's his profession). This is so hot I want to puke.

O peristalsis of emotion! O fount of Lo-Carb Breakfast Bar!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Certifiable

I love Frozen Face, and it's everywhere I look today. My favorite product of an eight-degree morning, Frozen Face is that state just shy of frostbite where your face is still pleasingly pink, but you move it kind of funny because it's very nearly solid. Everyone looks a little bit like a malfunctioning Disney "It's a Small World" animatronic guide.

Needless to say, when you spend half an hour on a platform in sub-zero weather waiting for a train to arrive on frozen tracks, you get your kicks where you can find them.

My dad had to drop me off at the station today due to a complicated shuffling of cars around which ones had good snow tires, which ones my mom was willing to drive, and which ones would make it to Stamford where my brother had a hot date with a traffic court judge. The architecture of one's illusion of self-sufficiency crumbles so easily under the pressure of having to hop out of the passenger-side of your own vehicle at the curb, your parent waving from behind the wheel.

The excitement of the morning continued with my first company "town hall" meeting, which was run by the elusive, German, two-scarf-wearing CEO. He began the meeting by telling us he would be speaking softly because he had gotten a cold from his recent polio vaccination (side-note: what?), and proceeded to speak in a barely audible, heavily-accented croak about financial figures I wouldn't understand in even the most perfect English. He paused only twice in the hour and fifteen minute session to ask if we had "inny kveschuns." I had tons, but most would put an abrupt period at the end of a very short career in publishing.

This weekend was pretty good, as it contained both the end of my Christmas shopping and the most festive pursuit of all possible seasonal amusement: a self-guided tour of another abandonded mental institution. Merry Christmas! Here's where they fried the crazy out of rapists! Ho ho ho!

Actually, Fairfield Hills (doesn't that name positively reek of false hope?) is a beautiful place, full of these giant, castle-like brick buildings. It is palpably eerie, though. I'd like to think I was only creeped out by the mythology that's sprung up about missing people, murders, stabbings, the site of the first lobotomy in America (definitely, factually true, performed in the Yale Laborotory, which also served as the morgue), networks of underground tunnels (true), strings of suicides among the doctors' wives (possibly true), and hauntings (who's to say? I'm not gonna be the one to say "There are no such things as ghosts," and tempt whatever restless--and certifiably mad--spirits may be lurking around).

I don't think it was just the horror movie caliber stories getting to me, though. I'm not going to say I saw ghosts, but there's something sort of metaphysically disturbed going on there. Maybe it was just being in such a large and empty place on a very bleak day, but I'm inclined to believe that even the most skeptical, most level-headed and most un-seasonally-affected person would feel the oppressive strangeness of the whole place.

Anyway, I'll post pictures of it tomorrow. Creepy as it may have been, the trip yielded a couple of excellent photos of Kai which need to be broadcast to any and all possible suitors, each of whom should e-mail me a resume that I will evaluate for date-ablilty and, perhaps, if you are very lucky, pass on to the Mystic of Yorktown herself.

Much of the rest of the weekend was spent watching My So-Called Life, the greatest of all high school dramas, and a little bit of Sex and the City, which is essentially still about high school, except everyone's shot full of botox and has a platinum credit card. My So-Called Life has ruined my entire adult love life, because whenever I get bored, or I'm sad, or I'm walking down the street and making a mental inventory of guys I find adorable, I'm always secretly hoping that Jordan Catalano is parked juuuuuuuuuust around the corner, leaning against the hood, smoking a cigarette and combing his tortured hair from his tortured brow and tucking it behind his tortured ears.

I realize this is a Fairfield Hills worthy delusion, but I challenge anyone who used to watch that stupid show to honestly tell me that, every once in a while, they don't pretend they're leaning against their locker, and Jordan is walking down the hallway, and Buffalo Tom is playing, and you know that a primo car make-out session is going to ensue.

The problem is I will do this in public. It's all about committment to the vision, folks.

Friday, December 17, 2004

There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Can dogs get food poising? Seriously, if anyone knows the answer to this question, tell me. It would be a crime to leave me this curious about something so inane.

The question got stuck in my head this morning when I passed a very nearly untouched takeout container filled with shrimp fried rice in the gutter. Honestly, my very first thought was something along the lines of Ooh! Free Chinese!, followed very closely by You're gross. It's free E.coli is what it is. I consoled myself with the fact that I had packed a decent lunch today, and even though someone had just thrown away a perfectly good meal from my favorite geographic region of food--food that I will most definitely not enjoy for lunch because I can't bring myself to part with ten apartment-savings bucks--at least one of the stray dogs in the neighborhood would probably have a field day with it.

This is my question, though. If I can't eat shrimp that's been sitting in the sun all day, can a dog? Why? How is that fair? Dogs are getting a lopsided share of the world's free food. I have to wait around for office parties with sparse hors d'oeurves, but a dog can eat that shrimp fried rice with no chance of acute gastro-intestinal distress. I think. Correct me if I'm wrong on this.

If this were a top-ten radio station, here's where I'd give a shout-out to my peeps (well, peep, technically) in Ireland, whose correspondance gave my day a sense of purpose, at least for about fifteen minutes. But that's fifteen more than I usually have at work, so I'll take what I can get.

Actually, I think I'll just stick with the shoutouts. There'll be one for every person I'm at all confident reads this fucker. So, here's a big up to B-Wa, maneater of Clevland, heartbreaker of the heartland, a true Taco Supreme amongst a crowd of bean burritos. Hi, Kai, pass on by. Ciao to Jessie G-K, whose e-mail was all too kind. Hey Chris, don't forget to FIGHT OFF THE BAT. Bienvenue to Doc Rock, which was actually the name of a lite-FM cover band that played at the Yorktown Heights 4-H Grange Fair during the late summer of my fifteenth year. Howdy to Mike McComb, who is so eerily good at Text Twist I fear he may be a robot. Hola to Andy Monk; you better call me the second you're in town, sprint down to Spring Street, and meet me at my cube with your dancin' shoes on (or, you know, your sitting-around-and-bitching hat. Either or). And Gutentag to Antoine, who, I concede, has a worse job than I do.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Entry-Level Brain Chemistry

The verdict on the office party is...it wasn't bad. I met some hip biochemistry kids. I was sure liked them when the conversation took a turn towards gay porn, as well as the commercial viability of opening a brothel (or "Home for Unwed Boys"). In a superhuman feat of strength, I did not consume a single alcohol-based carbohydrate and ate only South Beach approved hors d'oeurves, minus a couple of little bread chunks which were more vehicles for meat-tidbit transport than nutrition.

There was definitely a kids table at the party, and I was most definitely sitting at it. Everyone under the age of thirty gravitated to one table (shockingly, it was the one closest to the bar), and unfailingly began conversations with each other by asking, "So, what is it you really want to do?" However, when an editor would sidle up, creepy uncle style, to talk to all of us at once, some kind of shared, entry-level brain-chemistry instantly switched everyone into "Oh, yeah, we love it here!" mode. It was too funny to be revolting. You do what you have to do to keep your crappo job. This explains my heavy make-out sesh with the CEO in the bathroom.

No, just kidding. It was in the alley out back. And totally h-o-t, might I add.

Of course, no evening is complete without at least one thing seriously pissing me off. Last night, it was the editor who routinely waltzes over to my desk to make jokes which aren't actually jokes at all. Yesterday, for example, I was talking to my editor in my cube and he came over, plopped his catcher's mitt of a hand on my shoulder and said "God, you talk so loud. I can hear you in my office all the time. Ha, just kidding." Obviously, he just wanted me to shut the fuck up. I feel it's important to note that I am completely silent all day, except for the ten minutes I make weird small talk about the Peterson case with my editor in the morning (again, she is so interested she has crossed the line from "enthusiast" to "suspect"). Also, this guy is in the office two times a week at most and coughs incessantly when he is.

Last night the same guy came up to our table and immediately began haranguing me and Brian about how we eat lunch together. "So, are you two attached at the hip? Do you ever do anything seperate? You're always eating your lunch, all that, like, weird food you eat out of that Tupperware." Brian kind of laughed, but the editor really pissed me off. This is a guy who makes, literally, three times as much as I do a year, and he's gonna give me shit for bringing my lunch to work instead of spending eight dollars on a cup of soup around the corner?

"Well, that's what happens when you're BROKE. You. BRING. Lunch." Someday, I'll learn not to piss off everyone directly responsible for my upward corporate mobility. The editor took that as his cue to leave, and has yet to even make eye-contact with me today.

It's times like those I wish I had lasers in my eyeballs. I just read an article about eyeball jewelry which can safely be implanted under your cornea, so I think it's safe to assume they're working on eyeball-laser-gun technology even as I type this.

The only other terrible, terrible development during last night's soiree was learning that my secret work crush, Senor One-Shirt-A-Week-Is-Good-And-Plenty, has a girlfriend. Lasers, I tell you. Friggin' lasers.

After I had fed my last spendable paper buck to the parking machine this morning, I found a Sacajawea dollar in the coin return that someone had forgotten to pick up. This means I can buy the paper today, which means I'll have something to read on the way home, because like a jackass I left my book in my car. I'm about thirty pages into Fierce People by Dirk Wittenborn, but it's excellent so far. This paragraph is really, really boring. Let's all move on.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

In Case of Emergency

I just realized that my favorite tea, Tazo "Passion," is not named after passionfruit, but rather the state of emotional arousal. Add this to the list of foods I feel stupid ordering. Can I have a hot Passion tea? How could Tazo have let me say that in front of so many strangers at Starbucks? It's entered the ranks of B-g n' T-sty, or M--ns Over My H-mmy, or any of the other abominable food names I can't bring myself to say. This one isn't so much that the word itself grosses me out; it's more my fear that ordering a tea named after the chief emotion of Victorian poetry will turn me into one of those women who wears sticks in her hair. From there I won't be able to stem the tide of embroidered vests and large wooden beaded necklaces. I'll have to buy a cat, and I will have no choice but to name it Ani.

I know I can be somewhat neurotic. Before I dropped "The Psychology of Personality" last year (which qualifies me as an expert, I know) I took a bonafide psychological inventory that scored me in the highest possible neuroticism bracket. This seemed a little high at the time; I really believed I wasn't that neurotic. However, today is definitely one of those What If days, which I am beginning to think may be the manifestation of my psychic imbalance.

For example: Today on the train, I was almost asleep when we stopped at Croton Harmon. I was sitting by myself, and my eyes were closed and my hood was up when someone sat down next to me, so I couldn't see who it was. I immediately began thinking what if it's a guy, a really weird middle-aged guy with a moustache, who I definitely don't want to talk to, and he only sat down with me because he saw a girl asleep and vulnerable and alone on the train, and dammit, I left my bag slightly open on my lap and I should move my wallet from the top of my bag to the bottom because what if he wants to steal it after I wake up and catch him trying to touch me inappropriately and he settles for taking my money instead of copping a feel and sprints off the train at 125th street with not only my money but my credit card and my MetroCard and my train pass so I'll be stranded in the city with no way to buy a ticket home, but now I can't move my wallet because he thinks I'm asleep and it'll look fishy if I "wake up" just to move my wallet to where he can't get it, and besides, I don't even know if this is a guy or not, what if it's some nice old lady who'll be offended by my thinking that she wanted to steal my wallet in the first place?

Which started off a whole different chain of what if the old lady next to me falls asleep and starts leaning towards me and her head is going to touch me, which is gross, because what if her hair gets on me and gets stuck in the fur on my hood, or God help me what if she gets gross eye stuff stuck on the sleeve of my jacket?

I'm beginning to understand that not everyone maps out escape routes off of public transportation in the event that it crashes and lands in water and the electrical systems go out and you can't touch any of the metal like in that one Lassie episode. Most people just look out the window.

(Which is removable if you rip off the rubber seal, and since rubber isn't an electrical conductor, you'll live.)

Today is my office Christmas party. I can't say I'm looking forward to it, but it starts at four and I'm aiming to stick it out for forty-five minutes if it's really bad. That way, I get my socializing bonus points and I can still make my ususal train home. God, please, please let someone get rip-roaring drunk and start making inappropriate passes at co-workers.

Wait. Please, please don't let that person be me.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Vocabulary Lessons

DEFINITION:
Pro rata: adverb. Proportionately according to an extremely calculable factor. Etymology: Latin.

Alternate definition: the last clue I filled on on yesterday's crossword, as Hot Dad was getting on the train. I, of course, had to pretend that I hadn't been giving myself whiplash for the twenty minutes prior by checking to see whether or each and every person getting on the train was him. I also had to pretend that I wasn't going to strangle the man who had just taken the seat next to me, a man who looked like the main character in a sci-fi horror flick (circa 1953) about nuclear radiation from some commie Soviet bomb contaminating the water supply and mutating all the fish into big fish-men who secure white collar jobs in finance and take the MetroNorth to work.

But anway, I was sitting in the outside seat because I made FishFace sit by the window. I had my legs crossed and one foot sticking out in the aisle, as usual, because it's the only remotely comfortable way to sit and also because I can more easily get footprints on the trenchcoats of men I don't particularly like. Hot Dad got on the train and (get ready) squeezed my foot to say hi. Touchdown! Boo-yah! It was my most exciting retroactive eighth grade moment yet, finally paid back at the ripe old age of twenty-two.

I thought it would be more difficult to hide a puddle of urine on public transportation, but it's suprisingly easy. I managed to be suave enough (in my own head, at least. I actually may have come across looking like the OTHER Other Sister) through our usual crossword conversation, during which he used my puzzle as an answer key and gave it back to me promising that one day he'll beat me. I said no problem, you tell me the time and the place, and then I purred like a cat.

Actually, what happened was he started reading Middlesex, which spawned another book conversation because that's probably the second-best book I've ever read. He told me there's a book he thinks I should read, but he couldn't remember the name of it, so he's going to look it up for me. Yes. He's doing research on books he thinks I will like, because why? All together now: Because. I. Win.

Okay, but the best part, the real best part happened because of a jackass in the seat behind me broadcasting every minute detail relating to (and sometimes having nothing to do with) his lame job. Hot Dad kept turning around to look at the guy, and at one point he caught my eye while doing so. I whispered, "I'm gonna murder that guy." At which he laughed, and responded (IN MY EAR, where he was WHISPERING, because that's where people whisper. In my EAR.) "Yeah, you think this is bad...I talked to that guy once, and heard the same stories verbatim."

There's nothing better than a guy who hates the same people you do. Especially when said guy is technically one of them, but for some reason is choosing to speak to you every day, though you are clearly not one of them, as evidenced by the fact that Jackass would never, ever speak to you about his job, even though you don't want him to in the first place.

Anyway, we got off the train at the station, where his WIFE AND BABY WERE WAITING FOR HIM AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIRS.

EXAMPLE SENTENCE:
The presence of Hot Dad's wife and adorable child grew more ubiquitous pro rata Kathy's enjoyment of their train rides.

If we ever actually do have a conversation in which we introduce ourselves and I finally find out just what it is he does for a living, Wife will be waiting on the platform with a freshly-baked batch of homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. If we were to, say, make out like crazy, there is no doubt in my mind Wife would be waiting in the parking lot in her wedding dress, priest in tow, daughter dressed as a flower girl, ready to renew their vows.

I gotta learn to stop feeling guilty for having a crush on someone. I don't really intend to ruin his family with a torrid affair; I just like to think about it sometimes. I'm tellin' ya, when you gets up before the sun, and you goes to sleep right after Wheel of Fortune, your romantical side gets a little rowdy. I'm just pleased I have someone to talk to on the train. FishFace is nice and all, but all I end up with is a nagging craving for flounder.

I would like to end with a public service announcement regarding Ms. Kelly Clarkson: yes, her new song is not good. This is a given. But, she hits one helluva high note right at the end of the bridge. You should all be so lucky as to hear my in-the-car-alone approximation. I could shatter glass.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Of Pecan Balls and Paranoia

In order to keep up with our neighbors--who already have several inflatable, light-up, winter-themed figures sitting like huge menacing Weebles on their lawn--my family shot for the bare minimum of Christmas spiritry and bought a tree this weekend. Like most of our fellow red-blooded Americans, we avoided having anything to do with hiking, sawing, heavy lifting, or any of the other unsavory business that accompanies felling a pine. Instead, we went Stew Leonard's, the amusement park of grocery stores, to buy a tree (and also bread, cucumbers, eggs, and one of those cheese-ball-rolled-in-nuts things, at my personal request).

Pictorial highlights:

I'm Chiquita Banana, I make a great meal, with so many good things under the peel.  There are vitamins and minerals in every bite, and best of all they've got the taste you like (dum dum dum dum). Chiquitas are delicious!  And they're very nutritious.  A Chiquita a day is great for you health...so good and good for you CHIQUIIIIITAAAAA...almost a meal in itself (cha cha cha)
This is Chiquita Banana. She is audioanimatronic, and looks like her boyfriend has been smacking her around a little. Mouse over her for the lyrics to the song she sings and dances to, the song I memorized as a child while my mother fondled nectarines for ripeness and my brothers stuffed their cheeks with free chicken nugget samples.

Little known fact:  they're up for a grammy for Best Song Performed by A Non-Vegan Food Product.
This is the milk band. Inocuous and even somewhat pleasant on first viewing, you eventually find yourself fighting the hypnotic power of their siren song: "We love shopping at Stew Leonard's! We love shopping at Stew Leonard's! We love shopping at Stew Leonard's!"

I thought I'd had great balls, but then I had Stew's.
Just down the aisle from "Stew's Famous Salty Nuts!" and "Stew's Famous Giant Teabags!"

Try this...STEW.  You'll like this STEW.  STEW is delicious.
The packaged meat aisle becomes a hellish horror movie when the sign includes the owner's name, an owner whose bodily integrity I cannot vouch for because I've never seen the dude in person.

I'm so fucking pretentious.
(C)art.

Though none of those show it, we did buy a tree. It's green.

This weekend I entered the ranks of those who receive free beverages at the Yorktown Starbucks, by virtue of my being there so damn often. This is both a great development for my bank account and a sad statement about my life. I had a good reason to be there for three and a half hours on Saturday night, though. That morning I went to the library, shrieked, and did a little booty dance when I found Philip Roth's new novel A Plot Against America was actually on the shelf. There's usually a ten-year waiting list for any book anyone would ever want to read. I can only have it for seven days, though. Since it's pretty meaty hunk of prose, I went to Starbucks to escape my family's decorating spree and knock out as many pages as possible before the week started.

I've managed to read about 220 pages, but this is not the kind of book someone should rush through. It's this intense vision of what would happen had Charles Lindburgh won the presidency instead of F.D.R., made nice with the Nazis, and started rounding up American Jews. Of course, political echoes of the current administration abound. Reading so much of it so fast has made me certifiably paranoid. Like, checking the back seat of my car, didn't want to fall asleep on the train paranoid.

In fact, I don't know who could be reading this. Over and out.

Friday, December 10, 2004

A Fruitless Search

No one should ever have to utter the phrase "God, what is that, SAUERKRAUT?" and engage in a company-wide hunt for "that weird smell" before nine o'clock in the morning.

It was a fruitless search. The maintenence guy conspiritorially confided that he thinks it's a dead rat and left me with a can of Lysol to defend myself. The smell might finally be fading, or else it's killing my olfactory receptors. I can live with either, as long as I don't have to sit in stink for the rest of the day.

This morning I heard from both the TV news and Z-100's "sleaze report" that Jason Biggs is having such a hard time finding a girlfriend he's posted a profile on Match.com (under some kind of pseudonym). I had a good time picturing hundreds of American Pie fans flocking to the site, like ugly step-sisters to the digital ball, and posting their pictures in hopes that the Mr. Biggs, romancer of pies, might pick them as his red-carpet ornament du jour.

I can't say I'm seeking an e-arrow from Cupid via Jason Biggs's Match.com listing, but I did redo my incredibly dumb profile today. I was faced with eight idle hours at work in front of the computer and got to thinking that if a well-recieved Broadway actor isn't too good for Match.com than neither am I. I had originally filled it out because you had to before you could search for people who had genuine Match.com profiles, people who, say, you recognized from middle school and wanted to make fun of. I know this makes me a horrible person, but I have amended my ways and sheepishly joined their ranks. I'm not gonna hide it, though. In fact, "wink" at me (vomit); my ID is runninglola, zip code 10598.

It has just occured to me that this may have been a big Match.com commercial stunt.

I feel so used.

Last night Kai and I ran into the Jordan Catalano of Yorktown High School. He turned out even more beautiful than I expected him to, but, true to form, did not remember ever meeting me despite the fact that we hung out every single Friday at the Teen Center for the duration of my eighth- and ninth-grade years. He's just one on the long list of people who have some kind of cognitive aphasia affecting only my face. I must've been introduced to him four thousand times, and one of my best high-school friends even dated his older brother for three years. Still, blank stare every single time I see him.

I would be more pissed off, but seemed truly delighted to see Kai which is so My So-Called Life it's hard to do anything but cover my mouth and squeal. They once held hands during my piano teacher's son's birthday party. It would be a Lifetime Movie of the Week if they ended up together.

Bitch.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I'll Box Your Ears!

A new day, a new tiny Kathy. I think this one looks eerily like me. Note the pink love-struck background:
Katharine Maria Cartoon
That's what I look like on the train home, when the hot dad specifically looks for me and sits with me so we can talk. Yesterday he was really, really thrilled I knew that "okra" is the four-letter vegetable in gumbo, and, downward, that "turk" is a native of Istanbul. I thought that one was kind of a gimme, but if he wants to consider me his crossword oracle, I'm not going to fight it.

Come to think of it, I used to rant semi-anually about the lack of oracle positions available in today's job market. Those ancient Greek bitches had it made. People brave deadly journeys to see you and bring you gifts, and in exchange you spout something vaguely mystic-sounding and send 'em home. Your prophecy don't make no sense? "It will become clear in time." There's no greater excuse for incompetence than that. You get to be the ultimate infallible earthly authority, with full pay, yearly vacations on the Greek isles, and benefits including all the free goats your heart could ever long for.

Let's pretend this is a witty goat-related segue right into the subject of work, yesterday during the course of which Brian got a call from the IT department. "Get out of the test database!" they exclaimed. "What are you talking about?" Brian inquired. "You're in the fake database. Only log into the real one," they curtly replied. "I'm in the I use every day, the one that you told me to use during training," he countered. "Yeah, well, that's the wrong one," they snipped, and hung up.

There are four versions of the database, each named something completely inscrutable like KAPMIG or PROD. They told us to use KAPMIG. We did three months of work in KAPMIG. Turns out that KAPMIG is the computer equivalent of Mr. Rogers's Land of Make-Believe. Every bit of my work has been in the just-for-shits database.

You would think I would be livid about this, wouldn't you? I should be thisclose to quitting. I'm not. Why? Because I updated everything in three hours. Follow me on this one; I have stretched three hours of work into three months of work. THREE MONTHS. I don't know whether I should be given a medal or...I don't know what, but be aware I tried really hard to work in the phrase "box your ears" right here.

Today is December 9, known in some circles as Brad-and-Kathy-mas. We've had Christmas on the ninth since sophomore year, and it sucks SO MUCH that we're 535 miles apart, and all his Christmas presents are sitting on the floor of my room, which is not in Burton. I may give Kai her present tonight just to keep the tradition alive, but it won't be the SAME.

Another change of subject before I start blubbering in my cube and getting snot all over valuable Health Informatics documents. In a moment of total unprofessionalism, I just decided that the gray tights I was wearing didn't go with my outfit so much that I couldn't bear to keep them on any longer. I'll leave you with the image of me slithering, snake-like, out of my pantyhose in a bathroom stall the size of a Kleenex box, replacing my Chuck Taylors on my feet, and speed-walking back to my desk praying no one stops to chat while I've got balled-up lingerie in my hand.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Let's Make it / Yeah, We'll Cause a Scene

Brad made this picture of me last night. I wore that exact green shirt today, so I'm including it as a tiny surrogate narrator for the duration of this post.
No, I'm not holding a bone.
Don't be fooled into thinking my eyeshadow looks this good, though. Brad's given me too much credit in the using-makeup-without-looking-like-I'm-from-Jersey department.

Anyway, I am pleased to announce that I have officially formed a functional, healthy, and even pleasant relationship with the Crosby newspaper salesman. He used to be the dark cloud over my walk to work, greeting me every day with some kind of lip-smacking noise and the sentence "HellohowareyouIlikeyourlegs." A couple of days ago, I interrupted him after the "how are you," and answered "I'm fine. How are you?" before he could croak out anything lewd.

He looked thoughtful for a second and said "You know, nobody ever asks me. I'm okay." And that was that. Now, every morning he says "Good morning, how are you?" and I say "I'm fine, how are you?" and he responds "Good, thanks." Today he complimented my blazer, without so much as a word regarding any of my womanly parts.

This has really inspired in me an Anne Frank-esque belief in the fundamentally good nature of the human spirit. Consequently, I expect to be mugged and raped on my walk home.

From the Department of Extra-Marital Affairs, I'd like to report that the hot dad was indeed on the 5:12 yesterday. He's subscribed to the Times crossword online. He told me he's "in training," starting with all the Monday puzzles. He asked me where the Taj Mahal was (Agra) and then stumped me with one he couldn't get. I told him it'd probably hit me in the car on the way home, or else I'd yell it out just when I was falling asleep. Then the clouds opened, sunshine filled the cold, rainy night, a chorus of angels rang out in perfect harmony, and he said:

Don't worry, you can tell me tomorrow, 'cause I'll still be working on it.

What's that, hot dad? Do I have a date to talk about your crossword with you tomorrow at oh, say, twelve minutes after five? Second car? I'll be there with bells on.

And nothing else.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

You Can Run. You Can Run. You Can Run. You Can Run.

To my very great delight, last night my brother asked me to edit a short story he had written for Writer's Workshop, the very same class that traded my habitual adolescent literary offal for a sweet G.P.A cushion.

I think we may have more in common than myopia and an unpronounceable last name, because, like my Writer's Workshop stuff, his piece was obviously not just the bare minimum Mrs. Calhoun asks in exchange for her (very, very easy) "A." In fact, it was way better than most of what I turned in in high school. It also definitely surpassed a few of the abominations I shamefully handed to Dan Chaon in my college fiction workshop. I think the prompt just smacked him right in the head; he was instructed to write about "a recent job you've had," in a David Sedaris-style first person narrative. Chris has rarely displayed more emotion than when asked about his (brief) tenure as a 7-11 clerk, so this was perfect for him.

The piece was hysterical, and terribly, horribly truthful to his actual experience. From his silent co-clerk (a woman he christened "Lotto," for their only interaction and the fact that she never introduced herself) to customers unfamiliar with Slurpee self-service, I loved it. I hope he sticks with the whole writing thing. Because, you know, look at all the fame, fortune, glamour, and luxury it's brought me.

Well, there is that very little bit of fortune. My gift for bullshit did get Kai a $75.00 gift certificate to Bloomingdale's. I can't remember if I ever mentioned this, but I wrote an irate letter for her to the president of Bloomingdale's after a debacle with their White Plains bridal department, who royally screwed up a gift on her friend's registry. Fifteen minutes worth of feigned outrage produced a letter that had the Bloomie's execs leaving her messages a few days later. Apparently, they sent every member of the bridal party a gift card for the same amount. Long story short, this is how I'm getting the $15.00 Urban Decay lip stain I urgently, viscerally need.

Don't tell anyone, but I'm at work listening to Enrique Iglesias and enjoying it so, so much. It's been raining and sleeting for the last twenty-four hours, effectively turning the entire island of Manhattan into one, large, slightly diluted puddle of dog urine. If it weren't for "Singing in the Car Mix 2," I don't know if I could've greeted the day with my normal charm and effervescence.

Since I don't have anything else to say, I figure I'll leave you with this intensely creepy Missed Connection from craigslist.com. These people never let me down:

Girl Reading Da Vinci Code on northbound 6, 6:30 last night
Light brown hair with a pronounced curl when it reached your shoulders. Large nose, and an upper lip which projected over the lower, while laterally it spread and descended from the middle, like a bird's wings. to the corners of your mouth. Straight eyebrows, fluttery eyelashes. A slightly narrow face, hint of dimples, the upper cheeks delineated from the lower by a kind of gentle crease.

Why were you so pretty?


Because your knife has yet to pierce her delicate, petal-soft skin? I think that might be why.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Christmas Shopping Guide

In the tradition of last year's contribution to the Christmas JUNK issue, I've put together a new list of holiday gift-giving ideas for those hard to shop for loved ones. If the Christmas season has got you dizzy with holiday cheer, don't despair! Follow my simple suggestions to make anyone's Christmas a little brighter with that unique, perfect gift.

For your boyfriend (hetero):
-Something you knit yourself. Can't knit well? Baby booties are so simple.
-a more beautiful girlfriend through constant excercise, starvation, and purging, because he deserves it and I'm so ugly, god, when did I get so fat, I don't deserve to EAT and I don't care if I do ruin all the enamel on my teeth I'm going to puke until he loves me again and stops fuc-
-New tits.

For your boyfriend (homo):
-Closeted teen drama star chained to bed-post.
-Access to your half of the Express for Men collection.
-New tits.

For your little brother:
-Playgirl magazine subscription, sent directly to his college mailbox.
-Swift smack upside the head, for old times sake.
-An intervention.

For Mom:
-Half the money you made off selling her Vicodin, in a nice card.
-The dedication of your next pole dance.
-The rest of this bagel.

For Grandma:
-Casket pillow, with card promising that when you "hit the big money," she'll get the "whole Cadillac."
-"Agita"
-Hermit crabs, nature's shut-ins.

A Kick in the Christmas Balls

I may have just hit rock bottom on the "I-don't-do-work-at-work" scale. I'm shopping. I just bought The Futureheads album on trusty Best Buy dot com and I am excited for its arrival exclamation point.

This is sort of the cherry on the financial sundae that was my weekend. I'm almost five-eighths done with my Christmas shopping (almost five-eighths because I found Kai's present and I'm going to pick it up on the way home from work today). Proving I have some sort of diagnosable psychosis, I went with my parents and little brother to The ChristmasTree Shoppe (extra "e" added to up the c-l-a-s-s factor). For those of you who've never been to a ChristmasTree Shoppe, allow me to elaborate.

Similar to its trashy cousin the dollar store, a ChristmasTree Shoppe is more of a $2.99 store. They're still chock full of every typical knick-knack, doo-dad, tchochke, collectible figurine, holiday cookie tin, and plastic beach toy you would find at a dollar store. The difference is in quality. Whereas a dollar store may sell swollen cans of chicken noodle soup, the ChristmasTree Shoppe offers you swollen cans of lobster bisque. Also, the store has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, making the name both confusing and annoying.

The ChristmasTree Shoppe used to be a blight reserved for the fourth or fifth day of my family's yearly trip to Cape Cod. These stores were once confined to New England, but like some kind of fungal tree disease they are slowly spreading down into unsuspecting Mid-Atlantic states and ruining the scenery. I can painfully remember my mother picking through every bin of suncatchers, wrapping paper, note cards, spatulas, and trial-size shampoos at not one but FOUR separate ChristmasTree locations (Harwich, Yarmouth, Dennis, and either the big one in Hyannis or the one near the bridge with the big windmill where you had to pay a quarter to use the bathroom). ChristmasTree excursions would last somewhere in the neighborhood of seventeen hours, with my brothers and I marooned on a bench outside the store when we couldn't stand to look at the porcelain dolls, picture frames, kites, small army guys, or clip-on earrings anymore.

So I don't know what it was that made me go. Kai was at her all-day bachelorette fest, I didn't want to make Chris suffer alone, and I thought maybe having reached adulthood would've kick-started some kind of biological compulsion to stock up on gift bags.

Wrong. Three vignettes from my ChristmasTree excursion:

1. I stand stupefied in front of a wall of nailpolish, all of which has separated into its component chemical layers. Caught mid-shake on a bottle of purple sparkles I'm considering buying for one of my Salvation Army kids who asked for make-up, I can't see the rabid woman behind me, about to smash my rib with a cart full of near life-size nutcrackers and sugar-free wafer cookies. "Have a Holly-Jolly Christmas" is playing. In the next aisle, a kid is asking, "Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Can I get this? Mom? Mom? Mom? Can I get this, mom? MOM? MOM? MOM?MOMMOMMOMMOMMOM? MOM? MOMMOMMOM? MOMMOMMOMMOMMOM?"

2. I've paid, and I sit on a bench at the front of the store, next to an old guy. We are surrounded by bags. He shrugs at me, understanding my anguish. My family is nowhere to be found. We could be here for weeks. I begin searching my bag for food, or a pocket knife and some matches should I have to sacrifice this old man and barbecue him on a fire made from $7.99 collapsible card tables. Suddenly, his face lights up. "I'm being collected!" he exclaims, and putters off with his wife.

3. Chris has joined me on the bench. We are sitting next to a life-size, inflatable Santa. Our family is still nowhere to be found. An unattended four year old (he seems at home here; I secretly speculate he may have been born in the store and was raised in Housewares whilst his mother made a particularly arduous choice between the white lamp with the cream shade, or the cream lamp with the white shade) loiters around us for a while, looking pathetic. He notices Santa, gives him several sharp uppercuts to the inflatable testicles, and ambles back to the nest I'm sure he's built in the toy section.

I did manage to make a couple of worthwhile purchases, which include a two-part gift for Brad, some Christmas cards, and cinnamon apple tea that's making this Monday morning much more bearable.

Kai called, and it's snowing in Yorktown. Vive la X-mas!

Friday, December 03, 2004

A Hypothetical Situation

Say that sometimes you walk to the subway in the evening after work. You enjoy the SoHo store windows, and maybe you stop to scout out a few Christmas presents. Sometimes you pass three men, three chubby, middle-aged, jeans-and-a-sweatshirt kind of guys, and sometimes one will yell to the other:

Hey, I'm fuckin' GUMBY, here.

Sometimes, you think this will be the greatest thing to happen to you all day, because it was pretty great, and your day has only been medium-okay so far, and greatness doesn't seem like it's anywhere on the horizon, but that's not so bad.

Sometimes, though, you will take the crowded 4 express to Grand Central, and, because you got there a little early, you will stop and buy the Times because you're going to treat yourself to the crossword puzzle, even though you already read the whole thing online and you should really save the dollar for parking.

Sometimes you get to the 5:12 to Beacon on Track 32, and the doors aren't open yet, except for one all the way on the end of the car that the conductor left open by accident. So, you stand around while the cheaters sneak onto the train and sit in the good seats. You are vigilantly moral until your purse arm gets tired and you want to take your coat off, and everyone else is walking right onto the train, even people who haven't waited at all, even people who have contemptible daily tickets, so you get on, and sit in a different place than usual because someone took your regular seat.

Sometimes, because you are in a different seat, the hot dad ends up sitting next to you. Occasionally, he notices you are doing the crossword, and realizes hey, you're that girl he always sees doing the crossword.

But only once in a blue moon will he slide across the seat and lean over your shoulder, enough so you can feel his breath on your hand, and say "I think one-across might be paella."

You will argue that paella has two l's, so it doesn't fit, but point out that you already tried to spell it out in the margin because you thought of it too. The two of you will talk for a really long time on the way home, mostly about books and crossword puzzles. He will tell you he's impressed that you know Zeus's mother's name, and you will finally get to make fun of him for reading an Oprah book. He will only mention his wife once.

You will stand by the doors together from Croton Harmon to Cortlandt, talking about Barbara Kingsolver, and how it's funny that one of the clues you couldn't get was a palindrome, and a character in the book he's reading collects palindromes as a hobby. You will notice that Pinchy-Faced Limp Hair Woman, the slut of the 5:12, is shooting you daggers because the hot dad has never once spoken to her, or anyone else.

You will be the first two people up the stairs at the station, where he will hold the door for you, and you will be the first two people in the parking lot, where he will say "Well...have a good night..." and you will say "Yeah, you too..." and try to walk suavely to your car while frantically dialing your best friend's number, and you will scream into the phone the minute your car door is shut, "I JUST TALKED TO THE HOT DAD FOR SO LONG AND HE'S SO MUCH OLDER THAN ME AND HE'S SO HOT."

Then--only then--you too will find yourself wondering what's so wrong with destroying a marriage and ruining the rest of an infant's life, should the opportunity fully present itself.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Pain Awareness

I opened this entry intending to write a love letter to Frank Rich. Instead, I read another article in the Times and found something so enraging that my declaration will have to wait.

In an article titled Changing Senate Looks Better to Abortion Foes, I learned about the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act recently proposed by Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas. Not convinced it could truly be what the Times briefly described, I found the actual text of the bill (on the National Right to Life website) and read it for myself.

To paraphrase, if passed, this bill would require a doctor to inform any woman seeking an abortion that "expert testimony" has conclusively determined a fetus of 20 weeks can experience pain. The doctor would have to read a statement, give the woman a brochure, and have her indicate on a signed document whether she wants to administer an anesthetic to the fetus before the procedure.

The text of the legally-required oral statement includes the following:
Congress finds that there is substantial evidence that the process of being killed in an abortion will cause the unborn child pain, even though you receive a pain-reducing drug or drugs.

Yet, the bill goes on to state that the text of the brochure (and I think it's safe to extrapolate and say the authors believe this sentiment applies to the oral statement as well), "shall be written in an objective and nonjudgmental manner."

It's subjective and judgemental for a bill proposed by 24 senators, all of whom are men, to force doctors to read a statment that implies women seeking an abortion are "killing" their children, and acting selfishly because they will be anesthetized during the procedure. "Even though you recieve a pain-reducing drug or drugs," it says. The implied emphasis on you is a brutal judgement, and it can't be dressed up as anything else.

Aside from the biased language of the proposed oral statement, the bill makes very clear that the brochure of information will be made available at no cost to the woman seeking the procedure. However, it makes no claims for eating the cost of the additional anesthesia for the fetus. Abortion is an issue handcuffed to economics; contrary to a somewhat unspoken pillar of the pro-life platform, many women choose to terminate pregnancies because they cannot afford to have a child, not because they "cannot afford" to have a child. To struggling working women, teenagers, and even married women with several children in their household already, the cost of providing for a child is unfathomable. The cost of an abortion itself is often nearly unmanageable. How is it anything other than cruel to pass judgement on these women for now being unable to provide anesthesia for a fetus?

I won't say much about the shaky science on which this bill is grounded. As best I can find, it's based on the work of a single doctor at the University of Arkansas. Greater than that, though, I think it's ludicrous for the government to legislate against pain. Wouldn't passing this bill would imply that we should anesthetize every cow before it's slaughtered? And, if even a fetus is a life, wouldn't it be the responsibililty of the government to prevent every person from feeling pain? Wouldn't it be clearly obvious that we should anesthetize every Iraqi insurgent before he's shot, and every death row inmate before he's fried in the electric chair? Those are fully-sentient adults, and if no thing under God's sun should experience pain, how can the government allow and endorse such barbarianism?

I think the thing that really gets me about the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act is the latent judgement woven into its text. How dare a woman kill her baby? How dare she lay blissfully unconscious when a fetus is destroyed? How dare she wake up from a nap to find herself unfettered from responsibility? How dare she live out her whorish life pain-free?

Links to all of the documents are below. Read them yourself; maybe I'm misconstruing things to fit my pro-choice agenda. If nothing else, this has made me much more likely to investigate actual senate propositions in the future.
"Changing Senate Looks Better to Abortion Foes"
Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas
Unborn Child Pain Awareness act (full text)

Completely unrelated: my dad quit his job. His boss was mean and the work was much heavier than what he was promised. He was supposed to be doing oil changes and inspections, and they had him changing bus tires on his third day. The real reason he quit, though, is that the garage frequently ripped-off its customers. My dad is honest to a fault, and so now he's out of a job. Anyone want to hire my dad? He makes really good sausage and peppers and looks a lot like Santa. Or Mario. Or Chef Boyardee. Working with him will be like eating a big bowl of Beefaroni in front of your brand new Nintendo on Christmas morning.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Dummy

It's December, it's pouring, and my favorite Mormon finally broke his winning streak on Jeopardy. My CD is skipping. My tea is cold. I'm wearing an itchy sweater, I didn't wash my hair today, and the Killers are on The OC this week. The Preservationist by David Maine was a waste of six hours. I've spent the morning re-typing figure legends from the corrupted computer files for Biomedical Informatics: Computer Applications in Health Care, Third Edition. I took the C instead of the 6 today, which is a thoroughly depressing train. I've rejoined the Church of Low Carbosity. I blew through my last paycheck like a hipster with a rolled-up dollar, and I have not received a single e-mail today.

Though:

Brad may be a model. I have one of the Murakami novels I've yet to read in my bag right now. I sent a care package yesterday. There is a good deal of gas in my car. It is nearly lunch, the Rockefeller Center tree is lit, and the two-month-old gourds on my desk have miraculously not gone bad. Dr. Butman's manuscript is no longer in my possession, and I have a new, fashionably winter-white parka with a zipper that works. I have tickets to see Tarnation on Friday at the Jacob Burns Film Center and I have the opportunity to chat up Mr. Caouette afterwards, provided his last name hasn't used up the evening's supply of vowels.

I suppose, in actuality, the cosmic scales are balanced.

But indulge my whiney thirteen-year-old for a second: couldn't I just be a rock star? How about if I say please? If not a rock star, I still maintain that I'd take a Bijou Phillips-y job any day; there's nothing better than being a B-list celebrity due to your frequent proximity to the fame of others. In my universe, it is brutally unfair that I will spend the next fifteen minutes trying to figure out whether "waveforma" is a highly technical medical term I've never heard of or just "waveforms" with a typo, while in all likelihood Paris Hilton will spend the next fifteen minutes dropping more money on a tank top than I'll make in a month, filming her own naked ass banging a hot guy, and then going to work on her album.

Mostly, I just want my life to involve more drinking, music, and excellent clothing, and not as much MetroNorth, Microsoft Outlook, and German-database-wrangling. There's gotta be a way to swing that without becoming an alcoholic shoplifter on COPS. More realistically, I think I just need to distract my inner-seventh-grader with the glitter lipgloss in my bag so 22-year-old me will realize that today (and this job, my life, the world) is not so miserable.

Kai just informed me she has to go to the ribbon-cutting ceremony for her nursing program's new dummy. News 12 "may or may not be there." This has raised a number of questions:

1. Where is the ribbon tied?
2. Is this an umbilical metaphor? Should this be taken philosophically?
3. Is this truly "breaking news"?
4. Am I obligated to commit a few acts of arson to liven up the 6:00 show?
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