Thursday, June 30, 2005

Oh, the Movie Never Ends--It Goes On and On and On and On

I guess I was asking for it. I'm the one who insisted wearing flagrantly inappropriate work attire today and believed wholeheartedly there would be no payback. In my world, flip flops elicit accusatory stares. Ebay-begotten Journey concert t-shirts, therefore, invite weirdness on a whole different cosmic level.

This morning--after waking to find that someone in my house had eaten my lunch sometime between midnight and five a.m.--I was nearly all the way to the train station before I realized I had not a single dollar in my wallet for parking. Last night's War of the Worlds festivities (see Brad's journal for details) drained me of my liquid assets like so much blood sucked from a human into an alien tripod. With a fancy last minute left turn, I screeched up to the only bank before my station and withdrew twenty dollars from the ATM.

Parking costs three dollars. If you put anything greater than a dollar bill in the machine, it gives you back your change in Sacagawea coins. Not wanting six pounds of the most unwelcome of all currency, I picked through my bag and managed to find $2.85 in change. The ten minute interim between parking my car at the station and paying for the space was spent fishing change out from under the passenger seat with a ballpoint pen. There is no greater way to spend the wee hours of the morning than ass-up in your car, sorting through the mire under your floormats, picking through old french fries and ponytail holders all covered in eyeliner, which fell under the seat sometime in the fall, to find fifteen measly cents. Which I did, eventually, find.

The minute I got to the parking meter, though, it ate my first quarter and I ended up having to use the twenty anyway. Needless to say, I played the pissed-off reindeer on my walk to the office, what with the festive jingle of seventeen Sacagaweas in my pocket.

Not that this is necessarily strange, just irritating.

What is strange is the uncapped bottle of water appearing in my favorite office bathroom stall every day for the past two weeks or so. At first I assumed that someone had filled a Dasani bottle to brimming and left it on the tile ledge by accident, and that its continued existence was due more to shoddy custodial service than some kind of weird compulsion. Until the bottle started changing brands, at least. I've seen a Poland Springs bottle, an Aquafina bottle, and a few encores of the Dasani bottle, but every day I face off with some confoundingly mysterious full-to-the-meniscus bottle of water as I pee.

This is also something. These girls are staging some kind of public art project by attempting to teach everyone in New York City the choreography from Michael Jackson's "Beat It" video, and inviting all of their students to perform the dance in its entirety in Central Park on July 4th. Happy Birthday, America! I guess there is no way to better celebrate the freedom of our nation's consitution affords than by dancing, en masse, the choreography of a man who just hit the jackpot in the big American Justice System slot machine.

And then I came across this little gem, which is more than just strange, it's downright disturbing. In an interview between Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, and Time Out New York about the new Bobby Brown reality show, this dazzling tidbit came to light:

TONY: Evidently, you’re very close. There’s a moment in the show when you describe helping Whitney with constipation by using your, uh, hand. Were you kidding?
BB: Oh no, I had to. She couldn’t go boo-boo. Sometimes, when people are constipated, you gotta help them out.


Yeah. I know. I won't be able to go to sleep tonight without seeing that playing out in my mind either, so you can just keep your bitching to yourself.

It turns out, though, that the Journey shirt may still bring all the power of Steve Perry's vibrato to my luckless life; I just got an e-mail telling me I'm getting paid today instead of tomorrow, and that they hope this doesn't cause me any "inconvenience." I mean, it is kind of rude to hand me my paycheck a day early, a paycheck that I want so badly my mouth tastes like nickels and I see George Washington's face when I close my eyes, but I'll persevere.

If anyone else is having such a great financial windfall (maybe try humming the first couple of lines of "Don't Stop Believing" and see what happens?), an author of some really good stuff on the internet like this, and this here, is having some moneytroubles. There's a donation button down at the end of that second link, so, should you feel inclined to maybe send a dollar north of the border (it's like eighty cents! the conversion rate's in your favor!), it would be a very nice karmic thing to do. Throughout the day it has become an increasingly important thing to me that a bunch of strangers will keep someone's lights on, just because they can.

And, also, because they are STREETLIGHT! PEOPLE! Oh-ooh-OOOOHHHH! Don't stop! Believin'!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Me and Dubya, Sittin' in a Tree

A couple of months back, I took the opportunity to respond to our President's State of the Union address on my blog. It's rare that one actually finds themselves with Bush face time (or, y'know, Bush blank stare time) to do that kind of thing in person, so blogging my responses seemed like a close second.

Last night GW Prez addressed the nation once again, this time about the war in Iraq. I didn't see the speech on TV but the Times was kind enough to provide me with a complete transcript. The following is the fictional conversation that would ensue were I able to respond directly to sections of President Bush's speech to the nation.

BUSH: I am pleased to visit Fort Bragg, home of the airborne and special operations forces. It's an honor to speak before you tonight.
YOURS TRULY: Well, it's been a while, George. Where've you been? I mean, besides the Social Security Ozzfest tour, or whatever it was you were doing. You seem chipper.

The troops here and across the world are fighting a global war on terror. The war reached our shores on September 11, 2001.
You don't waste even a second, do you? When I was little, my family had a "cursing jar," and you had to put in a nickel every time you called someone a butthead, or a fartsmeller, or, in my dad's case, a colorful combination of Italian profanity. Congress should make one of those for you. Every time you drop the 9/11 bomb, you cough up a grand into the jar.

The terrorists who attacked us and the terrorists we face murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance and despises all dissent.
Need we bring up your "town hall" meetings again? If anyone despises dissent, I think it might be the dude who rigs every press conference with fake right-wing reporters to pitch the easy ones right at him. Just sayin'.

The work in Iraq is difficult and it is dangerous. Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed. Every picture is horrifying, and the suffering is real. Amid all this violence, I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it?
We do indeed. We ask this all the time. In fact, polls show that not only are most of us asking this question, many of us have decided that it's not worth it. So please, seriously, justify the loss of thousands of lives, because I'd love to understand why we're fighting a war in a country that did not attack us.

It is worth it.
Oh. 'kay. That clears it up. Thanks.

Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate.
"...which is the way I like it. No debate."

Here are the words of Osama bin Laden: This third world war is raging in Iraq. The whole world is watching this war. He says it will end in victory and glory or misery and humiliation.
"Heh. That Osama bin Laden is a real smart feller. I often turn to his words of wisdom in times of personal...what? Whazzat? He's not? That's not him? Who is that fortune cookie guy, then? Confu...aw, whatever."

The lesson of this experience is clear: The terrorists can kill the innocent, but they cannot stop the advance of freedom.
"Do you hear me, terrorists? You can kill aaaall the innocents you want."

One year ago today, we restored sovereignty to the Iraqi people. In January 2005, more than 8 million Iraqi men and women voted in elections that were free and fair and took time on -- and took place on time.
ER-ROR. ER-ROR. SYNTAX ER-ROR. Abort. Retry. Fail. ER-ROR.

We continued our efforts to help them rebuild their country. Rebuilding a country after three decades of tyranny is hard, and rebuilding while at war is even harder.
You don't have to convince us, George. Rebuilding after eight years of tyranny right here is gonna be a bitch.

Our progress has been uneven, but progress is being made. We are improving roads and schools and health clinics.
Man, Iraq sounds totally sweet! I wish they were improving our roads and schools and health clinics!

The progress in the past year has been significant, and we have a clear path forward.
Well, mostly clear. Once you get all the bodies and shrapnel and rubble and bits of flesh and twisted metal and skeletons of cars and crying mothers out of the way, it'll be totally clear.

We've learned that Iraqis are courageous and that they need additional skills.
"...I have also learned that Iraqis do not think that Towelie jokes are funny, and that they cannot, in fact, speak to monkeys."

Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake...It would send the wrong signal to our troops, who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve.
Don't want 'em sprinting for the finish line on one stumpy leg, huh Dubsy? Everyone knows that troops are much happier and much more serious about a mission when there is no prospect in sight that they will ever see their families again.

We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed and not a day longer.
To infinity....and beyond! Haaaah, oh, but seriously folks...what is up with VCRs? They are so hard to program!

As we determine the right force level, our troops can know that I will continue to be guided by the advice that matters: the sober judgment of our military leaders.
As opposed to the coke-binge machismo of our president.

Under the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Shia and Kurds were brutally oppressed and the vast majority of Sunni Arabs were also denied their basic rights while senior regime officials enjoyed the privileges of unchecked power.
George, is that--wha--are you drooling?

Before our coalition liberated Iraq, Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear--
NUKE-LEE-AR.

--weapons. Today the leader of Libya has given up his chemical and nuclear
NUKE! LEE! AR!

--weapons programs.
It's been like FIVE YEARS! I think you're doing this on purpose.

Our strategy to defend ourselves and spread freedom is working. The rise of freedom in this vital region will eliminate the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder and make our nation safer.
Just so you know, George, your "freedom" count is at thirteen.

But Americans have always held firm, because we have always believed in certain truths. We know that if evil is not confronted, it gains in strength and audacity and returns to strike us again. We know that when the work is hard, the proper response is not retreat, it is courage.
Well, y'know, except for the South. And Vietnam. And environmentalism, and No Child Left Behind, and switching to the metric system.

We live in freedom because every generation has produced patriots willing to serve a cause greater than themselves. Those who serve today are taking their rightful place among the greatest generations that have worn our nation's uniform.
"...in hundreds of gay pornos."

Achoo.
May God bless you all.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sick-a-dee-do-dah

I'm not feeling so hot today, and the only thing better than being slightly ill is looking at pictures of knee surgery when you're slightly ill. Did you know that when they replace your knee joint, they hold your meaty flesh apart with implements that look like little shrimp forks?

Seriously, I love my job. Between the surgery pictures, the perpetually broken bathrooms, the freezing vent directly above my neck, the minefield of unsavory acquaintances, and the fact that once again, they have replaced my very favorite vending machine food (animal crackers) with one of my least favorite vending machine foods (trail mix), I may never want to leave.

Except I do, and I am, earlier than I technically should if I expect to work my legal 35 hours per week. I'll write more from home, where I'm sure I'll still not be feeling so hot, but at least I'll be in the warm embrace of Advil.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Kathy Thermador

I'm pretty sure that by tomorrow I will be able to slither out of myself like a snake. I'm not talking "slither out of myself" in some kind of spiritual, Jewel's-book-of-poems kind of way; I mean I will literally be able step out of my own skin. I am so sunburned I cannot laugh or smile without causing serious pain, so it's a lucky thing I work in a place where I have little occasion to do either. I'm hoping that when everything sunburned peels off I'll be able to carefully step out of my excess skin like I was taking off footie pajamas and use this extra me as a decoy. You know, prop it up at my desk, put its hands on home row, and then have a leisurely two hour lunch at the good Italian place around the corner.

Brad is here visiting. He got four new tires for his birthday and I'm glad he's chosen to immediately wear down their treads trekking to New York for a week and a half. He got in on Thursday night, sufficiently hopped up on Red Bull and pissed off at Yorktown traffic to tear a man to pieces with his bare hands. After unloading his entire wardrobe from the car, we decided to throw caution to the wind, let our hair down, and really live it up.

Our grand aspirations led us to Starbucks, that most intrepid of destinations, and the only place in Yorktown that is not my house and requires less than a five dollar investment. We had a frappucino in the shadow of the Firemen's Carnival's rickety ferris wheel. The sweet music of the steel's complaints was an excellent soundtrack to the thirty eavesdroppable adolescent conversations going on on the unusually crowded patio. After we met up with Kai, we took a quick spin through the carnival that was just long enough to remind me why it was I wanted to go to college in the middle of a cornfield.

Abandoning the prospect of fried dough, we instead headed over to the crazy diner for some cheese fries, consumed under the familiar (but nonetheless upsetting) eerie stare of forty porcelain dolls.

On Friday, I tore through my daunting four-hour work day with all the speed of a coked-up Olsen in a paparazzi car chase. I got home at two-thirty despite traffic in my lane being held up by a schoolbus and traffic in the adjacent lane being even more held up by a backhoe. Brad and I had lunch at Pasta Cucina, which was totally empty inside. I suppose that's what it's like if you're famous enough to have a restaurant cleared out for you, so, in retrospect, I'm glad we're getting the practice in now. After the legally-required trip to H&M, we tried out a new ice cream shop expecting the usual two scoops and sprinkles and instead found the pinnacle of human achievement: the rice krispie treat ice cream cone.

Man. So good.

On Saturday we took a ride to the monastary to visit my friends the ducks, who have grown hearbreakingly large since the last time I saw them. After a good half an hour sitting and watching them fall off of rocks and step on turtles, I can easily understand those old guys who sit on benches and feed pigeons all day. I made Brad hike up four flights of stairs to see what looks like a card catalog of dead Buddhists. We left shortly thereafter. That night we headed to the snob theater in Pleasantville where I finally saw Mad Hot Ballroom, which I recommend to anyone who ever pretended to wipe the germs off your hand after you had to dance with someone in grade school.

And then Sunday, yesterday, we woke up unbelievably early, dragged my brother out of bed (sustaining a swift kick to the shin in the process), and headed down to Jones Beach for the day. Our car was stuffed with all the necessary beach accessories: towels, sunblock, water, flip flops, and a cooler crammed to the brim with homemade food, soda, and a negligable and basically decorative amount of ice. We managed to get to Jones Beach state park with little difficulty.

Once inside, though, we became all too well acquainted with the rotary at the far end of the park.

Jones Beach is full of impossibility. It's impossible to find the West Bathouse where you're supposed to buy your parking ticket. It's impossible to find a parking space in lot 6. It's impossible to find lot 4, and, even when you do find it and find space, it's impossible to find the underpass below the highway. It's impossible to walk through the underpass without having something drip on you.

It's surpisingly possible to find a decent spot on the beach, but only if you've woken up impossibly early like we did. Once there, it's impossible to go swimming if you can't find your lousy bathing suit. It's impossible not to count the camel toes. It's impossible to take your eyes off the couple whom your brother has aptly named "Fat Tony and Tits McGee," especially when Tits is canoodling on Tony's lap and her top is slowly slipping. It's impossible for your brother to dig to China, though it is possible for him to make a pretty decent sittin' hole.

I'll tell you, though, what it is possible. It is terribly, terribly possible for a piece of American cheese to fall out of your sandwich onto your crossword puzzle. When you flick it off, it is oh-so-incredibly possible for this cheese to arc a huge distance across the sand to land square in the middle of a girls back, where it will stay for an impossibly long time.

It was a good day. Well, until we got out of the sun and realized that by "SPF 60", our sunblock actually meant "succulent marinade." Chris's and Brad's backs got burned, along with Brad's calves and my everything visible. I would say I'm pleasantly pink if I could think of one pleasant thing about feeling like someone was holding a hundred-watt bulb to my forehead. Plus, I've had the What happened to your face?!?! conversation two or three times already today. I'm beginning to run out of ways to say I got sunburned, and am wondering if it might not make the day go faster if I just started lying.

"Don't ever open the microwave before it beeps!"
"Chemical peel. Ah, the price of beauty. I think I look good for seventy-one, though."
"Strawberry Tang incident."
"Just. So. MAD."
"My mother demanded I wipe that look off my face. Turns out that's impossible."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Me Versus Verses

I would like to present my walk to work this morning, as told through a series of poems written in the style of myself at particularly embarassing points in my literary growth.

AGE 8:
I was walking down the street,
Walking, walking on my feet.
What is up ahead of me?
There is a dog and also a tree.
There is a dirty cigarette butt.
There is an apartment but not a hut.
There is broken glass from a bottle.
What else is there? There is a model.

AGE 13:
It is morning, and the sun is warm.
Beautiful patterns the shadows form.
Up ahead on the city street
Stand ten male models, on ten model feet.

They talk about Australia as their hair gets combed.
The smoke their cigarettes and talk on their phones.
They do not notice me as I walk by.
I fear that they will see me cry.

They are so hot it is like they are a danger.
I look at them and they look like angels.
Their hair is blonde and their faces are perfect.
I cannot even find one measly defect.

I hope that one day I will a model be
So that the model men will want to model me.
And then I can tell them to go to H-LL.
And then everything in the world will be well.

AGE 15:
i walk down the city street
ALONE
with a sun that shines
in patches on the dirty sidewalk
though i am always
in
the
shadows.

like lightning from a
beautiful storm
a camera flashes
again and again
and makes pictures of the
beautiful faces
and
beautiful clothes
on the
MODELS
running down the street
PRETENDING to be
HAPPY.

they stand around a catering table
the food rotting
untouched
unwanted
in the morning sun
they smoke
and talk
about going home to australia

i pass.


UNTOUCHED.
UNWANTED.
UNNOTICED.

Age 22:

A Model Sonnet

Cheese cubes on the corner are a tip off,
with an intern stationed as the pigeon
guard. She's trying not to laugh as her boss
wrangles a tent leg. The models fidgit.
Ten blonde, tall, Australian men. Hot, also.
They're not the brightest bulbs, but all the same,
they make way more than me. At least I know
that a volta isn't just a band name

and an iamb is a noun, not a verb.
That's right, lit snob coming through, fellas. Move
yer tight Aussie rear ends and let me through.
I win. I'm so the Moses of book nerds,
parting a self-tanned sea. That's right. I'm smooth.
I'm suave. And I will so (paper) cut you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Your Curiosity May Mean Success

So says my fortune cookie. I just finished some delicious pork mei fun, and boy was it! Ho ho ho, but seriously folks...take my wife. Please.

Today has been a long, boring, and stupid day, broken up with simple math. I was asked to add thirteen two-digit numbers today. I did. Things were summed. Then I swallowed my tongue just to have something to think about.

Apparently Solstice 2005 has decided to dump strange past acquaintences on me in abundance. By which I mean two of them. By which I mean one who I actually saw, and one who Friendstered me. When you live with your parents and see an average of six people a day, this is an abundance.

Last night, Kai and I were parked at the track in her big senior citizen sedan, enjoying a couple of Crunchwrap Supremes. I noticed a car pull up next to ours and the woman inside do they "hey, I know you!" double-take. Before I could deactivate my smile reflex, I found myself grinning at a girl I've known since we were in third grade and systematically avoided since then. I turned back to Kai and hoped that the smile and wave had been sufficient. Besides, she was at the track! She was probably exercising! She has better things to think about than catching up with me! If I shove my face full of refried beans, she won't want look at me!

All wrong. She made the universal sign for "roll down your window," and I made the universal eyeroll for "oh please, please let a helicopter fall on me."

It's not that this girl is a bad person, and it's not even necessarily that I dislike her. It's just that she can talk, talk, talk talk talk, talktalktalktalktalktalktalk until the sun is sets, even on the longest day of the entire year. It wouldn't be so bad if she was filling me in on her life, but every conversation we have feels like she's mining me for information on our high school classmates. I've kept in regular touch with virtually no one from high school, but still, she treats every baby I've learned of, every marriage, every dejected return to Yorktown Heights as a brand new vein of gold.

"So, who ellllssssee...." she'll say, just when I think we've run through every one of our mutual acquaintences. "Who else?"

I just kept shoving more taco into my mouth and hoping the sight of half-chewed guacamole would prompt her to wrap up the conversation.

"Oh! Have you heard from [blaaaah]?"

And there the road forks. Either I have heard about Blaaaaah, in which case it is likely that Blaaaah and I have had a brief awkward conversation at Starbucks, or Blaaaah has had a baby that everyone knows about, or I have not heard about Blaaaah, and I have nothing feed her probing anteater gossip mouth.

Option two is the more difficult. Given no new information about our friend Blaaaah, she will push me to reveal everything I've ever felt about Blaaaah. Every time she ever pissed me off, every time he ever said something nasty to me at a pep rally, every blah blahed to me by Blaaaaah makes her eyes light up with a slanderous gleam. I'll talk for a little bit, babbling something about how on Blaaaah's dad's an Elvis impersonator or that I saw Blaaaah in a car at a red light and he turned out really hot. Really, really hot.

But then I run out of things to say. She gives me that blank stare, tugging that last piece of conversation duct tape, the one that's glued to the cardboard. And I shrug my shoulders, take another bite of burrito, fiddle with the radio, comment on a weird bird, do anything to break the Blaaaah spell and move through the rest of the yearbook before I want to kill her.

That was last night.

Then, today, out of nowhere, a kid I haven't seen in more than a year Friendstered me. This kid sort of has a spot of infamy in my sordid and, that's a lie, utterly boring past. We lived next to each other for the entirety of our freshman year, and he managed to think my name was Claire the whole time. When we finally sorted things out, he returned sophomore year, called me the wrong name, and then argued that it was "close enough." A sort of sweaty hug over the bar where I was working during Senior Week patched things up our final year, and I suppose now we're friends. Ters.

So, thank you, Summer Solstice. It's been a fun trip down memory lane. How about you do something nice and don't let it rain on me on the way to my interview? Eh?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

By the Power of Three Times Three

Not that I'm usually one to walk around casting aspersions on those struck by Cupid's arrows, but could Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes get even one iota creepier? Yes, I know it's a Fox news report, but when it comes down to salacious gossip I find that the less reputable the news source, the better the slander. I don't hit up the Times for my celebrity news. I'd much rather hang around on page six of the Post, who, if newspapers were seventh graders, would be the girl at the back of the schoolbus writing things like "KYRA SMELLS LIKE FISH" on the seats in purple Sharpie.

Is Scientology the new Kabbalah? Is it the new yoga? Christ, is Scientology the new Oprah? I can't keep up with the celebrity spirituality trends anymore. I really pity the junior high girls who actively try. It was all so simple when I was in Mildred E. Strang Middle School. You are raised Catholic. You watch The Craft a few times. You pick up a Rider-Waite tarot card deck at your local Barnes & Noble.

You watch The Craft a few more times. You exercise your spiritual freedom by declaring yourself pagan in front of your grandparents.

Then, when your parents tell you if you don't get confirmed you'll never be allowed to get your learner's permit, you don your red robe, pick a name, and get oiled up by the bishop.

Religious fad cycle complete.

But these kids today, they've got it tough. One minute you're concentrating on trying to fit your leg behind your head, the next you're supposed to be able to cure schizophrenia with vitamin E. Can you use "thetan" as a new code word for the creepy kid who you've watched peel gum off the bottom of a desk and then sniff it? Should you change your name from Teresa to Ruth? Is it trendy to put the DARWIN Jesus fish with legs on your car, or does Scientology think evolution is a "Nazi science" too? Can a red Kabbalah string go on the same wrist as your LIVESTRONG bracelet?

It was so much simpler when you could just buy some Wet & Wild black lipstick and start celebrating the Solstice.

Which is, actually, today.

[Okay, side note. I just spent a good five minutes debating whether or not to tell my one and only Solstice-related story. I wasn't going to because it's so stupid it's embarassing. Then I decided I absolutely had to, because it's so stupid it's embarassing.]

I can remember exactly where I was on the summer solstice eight years ago, because I was almost arrested. My one and only near brush with the law came in the form of an irate suburban mom, confused as to why there were four figures huddled around a flame in her backyard in the middle of the night.

It was the summer after my freshman year in high school. Kai and I [names kept the same to incriminate the moronic] were friends even back then because we lived so close together. We hung around with a third girl from our neighborhood whom I'll call Tempeh [name changed to protect knife-enthusiasts turned organic farmers]. Given that we were young suburban teenagers in the mid-nineties, Kai, Tempeh and I spent most of our summer days walking around, complaining about how hot we were, watching The Craft, and searching for ways to convince the Universe that guys like Heartthrob McJnco [name changed to protect the terminally hot] should like us. And have a burning crush on us.

And specifically look for us at a dance, even though when we find out he wants to talk to us we just walk away and go hang out with that dorky guy, Kaileen Farrell [name kept the same to RUB IT IN].

So I don't remember how exactly the three of us met Roofie [name changed to protect my physical body, and to reference another incident with this particular nutbag] but we did, much to our detriment a few months down the line. But, at this point in time, Roofie seemed less like a psychopath and more like a quirky, fun, slightly off-the-wall girl to hang out with. Roofie, Tempeh, Kai and I became quite the foursome.

When it was discovered that our love for all things witchy was shared by our newest friend, we realized that we now had the perfect number for a coven. Our birthdays were ideally distributed to "call the corners." At the time this seemed like a really great, intense, magical thing to do, but in retrospect I believe this actually involved lots of eating ice cream and sitting on Roofie's couch, and little to no magic. Sure, we had some candles, and Kai had her tarot cards, and Roofie insisted on playing The Craft soundtrack every time we were in her house, but we gave pagan worship about as much attention as an episode of Sifl and Ollie--good for about ten minutes, but then you wanna see what else is on.

And then it was solstice. The problem with summer vacation is that there are so few holidays to celebrate. Yeah, there's the Fourth of July, but June and August are pretty barren. Solstice was our chance to have a real holiday, one that we could make even better than Christmas by magically forcing boys to like us. We were sleeping over at Roofie's house that night and somehow it was agreed upon that we, as a coven, would venture out into Nature, bringing with us our Magical Supplies, and conduct a Sacred Ceremony under the Moon.

In actuality, this meant that we would raid Roofie's mom's kitchen for candle stubs and matches, grab the witchcraft book we bought at the mall, then follow Roofie through some tick-infested bushes to a spot of lawn that looked pretty well cared for despite her promises that we were really in the middle of nowhere.

As the mosquitos began to chug our blood like a Wendy's Frosty, we sat in a circle and struggled to read the ceremony instructions in the book by the light of our crummy candles. I don't even think we'd uttered a single "so mote it be" before we heard someone crashing through the bushes.

"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!" screamed the voice in the shrub. We froze, hoping the Tyranosaurus couldn't see us if we didn't move.

A woman in a robe burst through the bushes.

"I SAID WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!?! It's after MIDNIGHT! And you're in MY BACKYARD!"

Kai and I were more or less petrified. And pissed that Roofie had indeed parked us square in the middle of her neighbor's lawn to conduct our sacred rites.

"Are you kids doing DRUGS? I'm calling the cops RIGHT NOW!! WHY THE HELL ARE YOU KIDS DOING DRUGS IN MY BACKYARD?!"

We looked around desperately at each other, but remained in terrified silence. Until Tempeh opened her stupid hippie mouth and spewed forth a river of speech so dumb that its force knocked down our every attempt to shut her up.

"We're having a RELIGIOUS CEREMONY," Tempeh said. "Don't persecute our beliefs. We're just doing witchcraft."

Our senses on kid-about-to-get-busted red alert, Kai and I could've pummeled Tempeh into the ground. Somehow, in the depths of her unfathomable mind, she truly believed that mentioning the word "witchcraft" was the way to calm and reassure a woman who'd woken to find four shadowy figures hunched around a flame on her private property. Telling her we'd been cleaning our needles would've been a better idea. Or that we'd been having a lesbian orgy. Or that we'd been trying to take pictures of her sleeping children to trade to convicted sex offenders for crystal meth and Nazi paraphernalia.

While we fully processed the stupidity of Tempeh's declaration of witch's rights, the woman's shrieking grew shriller and nearly unintelligible. She sputtered out a string of threatening syllables joined by the word "cops," and we grabbed our belongings and ran like hell back to Roofie's house.

Back in the quiet of the basement, Tempeh mourned the lack of religious tolerance in the United States. Kai and I contemplated escape routes. We knew if we could get to the 7-11 in town, we could call my parents and they could rescue us. "We've been kidnapped by a coven!" we'd explain. "They almost got us killed!"

We celebrated the rest of Solstice in a decidedly unmagical fashion, eating Carvel and driving around in some senior's car, which was strange and also exceedingly cool. We managed to keep Tempeh from ranting about witchcraft while he was around, at least.

From that point on, the coven began to grow apart. Kai and I began to have "Earth Sign Bonding Days." We convinced half of our coven to keep their crazy asses away from us by insisting that earth and water "corners" needed spend magical time alone--which meant baking cookies in my kitchen and watching MTV. Kai points out, "We justified everything with astrology instead of sanity."

Eventually, Tempeh moved to California, Roofie nearly killed Kai and I, and the coven was effectively dissolved. It was too bad, because I think we were really on the brink of Skater McHotpants asking me out.

Dude, so mote it be.

Monday, June 20, 2005

...But you don't have to take my word for it.

Consider this your throat-clearing "ahem" and your spritz of Binaca. I'm getting up on my soapbox and I'm not gonna stop yapping until every last person reading has gone here and written a letter to their representatives urging them not to cut funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

It's not just some online petition for you to add your name to (though they do have a couple of those as well). These people are great--you write an actual letter to your representative and they'll hand deliver it for you. It makes a huge difference when a politician receives a physical letter at their office door instead of just an e-mail, or a signature on a petition. But it makes an even bigger difference when they receive a thousand letters in the mailbox.

The deal is, Congress wants to cut almost $200 million from Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds PBS and NPR. Kenneth Tomlinson, the Bushie head of the CPB, has been on a liberal witch hunt since Buster had two mommies on his show. Despite polls showing that eighty percent of Americans believe that public broadcasting is fair and unbiased, conservatives seem hellbent on tearing down what they perceive to be government sponsored liberal propaganda.

If you have ever driven around listening to NPR because commercial radio was playing that gross 50 Cent candyshop song again, you have to write a letter. If you ever loved Mr. Rogers so much you were willing to watch his show despite the fact that every monster in your nightmares had Lady Elaine's face, you have to write a letter. If you know the name of Bert's pigeon, you have to write a letter. If you too can make yourself cry by thinking of that one time when Lavar Burton spent an entire episode of Reading Rainbow searching for ice cream and when he finally got two scoops of vanilla on a sugar cone it fell onto his shoe, you have to write a letter. If you learned to sound out words because of the two-headed monster, you have to write a letter. If you know how orange crayons are made, you have to write a letter. If you ever heard Miss Molly say your name at the end of Romper Room, you really, really have to write a letter.

Given the state of public schools in the US, it's a miracle any of us are literate. PBS is the reason I care about books. I can draw a straight line from watching Reading Rainbow on the orange carpet in my old living room to wanting to be a book editor. PBS not only taught me to read when I was four, it taught me to love writing, love learning, and to think about things on a grander scale. I'm not saying I was always enthralled watching Masterpiece Theater, but I watched it, and it made a difference.

Once, during my senior year of high school, someone brought up Sesame Street during a discussion in AP English. My class was filled with the smartest kids in my grade, though I was definitely on the low end of their bell curve--I could hold my own in AP English and History, but in Honors Physics I was passing through sheer probability. You fill in enough Cs on an exam and it's bound to be the right answer at least SOME of the time. Anyway, I think it was this kid Scott who brought up Sesame Street. All of the educational PBS shows in New York were sponsored by the same foundation, and they broadcast the same thank you message after every episode of a children's program. Scott jokingly mentioned the phrase ...with support provided by the Helena Rubenstein Foundation...

And in perfect Pavlovian fashion, the rest of the class blurted out ...a longtime supporter of outSTANDING children's television.

If the entire Yorktown High School AP English class of 2000 watched enough Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow to have that message programmed in their collective subconscious fifteen years later, there has to be some correllation between PBS's educational value and academic success.

The proposed 45% budged cuts would bankrupt the public broadcasting system. Without it, educational programming for kids would go right down the shitter. National Public Radio would be out--and without that, is there any hope to ever, ever hear a song that isn't by 50 Cent? Public broadcasting is the only way for the majority of Americans to see a ballet, go to a broadway show, or hear a symphony orchestra perform. The idea that all this can be taken away because it also teaches tolerance and equality is sick.

Please, please, please, please write a letter, and cross your fingers, and change your sweaters and sneakers, and don't forget to feed the fish.





This has been brought to you by the letters F, U, and W.

Friday, June 17, 2005

I'd Like to Grab That

The DJs on my radio station get a little punchy on Friday mornings. The usual progression of my morning show goes from phone-in contest, to conversation of Seinfeld-esque issue (Didja ever notice that when there's gonna be a hurricane, people always rush to the grocery store? And that they always buy hot dog buns? What's up with that?), to the reading of daily horoscopes at 6:30, after which I leave my car and head for the train platform. On Fridays, though, the DJs tend to sing along to that "sunshine day" song from the Brady Bunch movie, or run through thirty seconds of fifteen different songs trying to find the best way to kick off the weekend.

Today, the first thing I heard on the radio was "Flagpole Sitta" by Harvey Danger.

This was, of course, followed by thirty second segments of "I Like to Move it," "OPP," "The Tootsie Roll," and several other seventh-grade dance in the gym favorites, but I was stuck thinking about Mr. Danger.

What happens to celebrities so slight that even a show like Hit Me Baby, One More Time wouldn't deign to invite them? What do you do after your fame registers a blip so slight on the America's air traffic control screen that most of us just rub our eyes and pretend it didn't happen? I mean, Harvey has to make his living somehow. Does he sing back-up in Vegas reviews, starting from the bottom again with a snappy new name (Johnny Jeopardy? Percy Peril? Rodney Risk? Man, someone pass me the butter, cause I'm on a roll!) and praying for the remaining twelve and a half minutes of his allotted fame? Or did he give up altogether? Did he enroll at ITT Technical Institute? Does his resume list "Tiny Pop-Culture Footnote" as his current employment?

I worry a little bit for the Harvey Dangers, and I hope they're not lonely. Maybe they get together. Maybe there's a Former Tiny Celebrity Poker League, or Quilting Circle. Maybe Harvey invites them all over to his apartment on Sundays so the whole gang--Harvey, Soy Bomb, Sporty Thievz, everybody--can drink lemonade and make squares for a giant quilt of former near-stardom.

One of the members of Sporty Thievz stitches a corduroy X over a gray flannel pigeon. They all share a hearty laugh.

I'm heading out soon, today being a summer-hours Friday. I've gotta pick up my little brother from school after his regents exams, and I'm thinking a trip to Taco Bell may be in order after six hours of bubble-filling. Tonight I may indulge my (shameful? I haven't decided yet.) desire to see the new Batman movie, despite the fact that I'll have to look at Katie Holmes's crazy face for two hours. This was filmed pre-Tom Cruise, though, so at least she won't have that pregnancy glow Scientological gleam in her eye.

In the name of Friday, an unintentionally poetic CraigsList post:

Crossing 20th Street

I was driving and checking you out.
You were walking on 4th Ave and
crossing 20th St. You are pretty
tall and have a big package.

I'd like to grab that package.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I Swear, Today Is This Boring.

Word on the (adjacent) street is that Ludacris and entourage are lunching in a diner around the corner. Firstly, I am amazed that word of hip-hop stars' whereabouts travels in a company as uptight and thrilled by advances in electronic medical records. Secondly, I thought about going down to check it out myself, but then I remembered that the list of celebrities for whom I will descend and then re-climb seven flights of stairs is a short one, and, sadly, 'Cris ain't on it.

Besides, it's much more fun to sit in an office whose climate control is clearly in the hands of a menopausal woman. It's a fun game to walk to work betting whether it'll be pitstain hot or nips-out cold, and today the latter has won.

You know, I kind of have nothing to say today. Basically this whole post was an excuse to use the phrase "nips-out," and now that you know my secret, I'm not sure how to proceed. So, how are you? Yeah? That's great. Good to hear. What? No, that wasn't me. Must've been someone who looked like me. I was at Barnes and Noble last night. Yeah. Weird. Uh-huh. No. Yeah, I think so. Yup. Guava. Right.

'Kay, bye.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Happy Birthday to Brad

1.
Brad likes tiny things.
Here are twenty-three haiku,
'cause they're real tiny.

2.
Heartworm pills for Zeke.
The wallpaper slowly peels.
Brad's dog is gassy.

3.
When one's mother sends
Out one's packages for them,
They are well insured.

4.
Meaning your damn gift
Cost me an arm and a leg
Just to send to you.

5.
Now I'm missing limbs.
If it gets me out of work:
I'll take it. For real.

6.
Back to your birthday.
That's what these poems are about,
Or supposed to be.

7.
You are twenty-three.
You are now a prime number.
(Last time was nineteen.)

8.
Next comes twenty-four,
Which is two dozen, which is
Plenty of donuts.

9.
Twenty-two was lame,
For the most part. But maybe
I'm just projecting.

10.
[Here's where I would be
Halfway to the end if you
Were turning twenty.]

11.
You have four new tires.
Get Grandma Barb to buy you
Some hot friggin' rims.

12.
Drive around Euclid
With your rims, and your dance-rock.
Oh, the dissonance.

13.
Or better, drive here.
Sell your body on the street,
For a studio.

14.
Finkel is Einhorn.
In turn, Einhorn is Finkel.
I hate you so much.

15.
The phrase "Happy Birth-
Day" is not conducive to
Good haiku making.

16.
The coolest people
Were all born on the 15s.
Me, you...other schmos...

17.
A few days ago
I had Birthday Cake ice cream.
Seriously good.

18.
If you were eighteen,
I could stop right here and then
You could go buy porn.

19.
Whatever. I know
You are such a porno freak.
Steamers galore. Ew.

20.
Remember that time
You put porn in everything
I owned? You still suck.

21.
Remember that time
You woke me up for Willow?
God, you really suck.

22.
I am almost done.
Soon it's back to printing out
Informatics texts.

23.
Happy Birthday, Brad.
[Oh, wait. That works. I'm stupid.]
Go blow some candles.*


*Didn't have enough syllables for "out." But, you know, then I thought that maybe it'd be a fun alternative to the same old birthday same old.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

NY Post-al Service

Yeah, so the verdict's in and Jacko's a free man. What is there to say that hasn't been said by every pundit, "fundit," late night talk show host, news anchor, magazine writer, blogger, and water-cooler-kibbitzer? Nothin'.

Gawker astutely pointed out that the New York Post and the New York Daily News, to their extreme horror, used the same tacky headline this morning. This is a rare stalemate in their ongoing battle for punniest newspaper. Both front pages screamed BOY, OH BOY! with an accompanying photo of the King of Pop's Head of Plastic.

Gawker went on to compose a list of alternative, scathing Jackson puns that could've been used in lieu of the tastefully reserved "boy" line. I prefer to take this one step further.

Who knows which celeb is next in line for their moment in court? Solicit the wrong hooker, snort the wrong powder and any one of our A-, B-, C-, or (dare I even dream it?) D-list celebrities could be next before a jury of his (much less fabulous, but whatever...) peers. I've taken the liberty of composing a list of anticipatory headlines for the New York Post, should the press suddenly find any of the following celebrities Jacksonianly escaping criminal conviction.

DODGING THE BULL-BRIT!
Britney beats shoplifting charges.

FREE-K AT LAST!
Jocelyn "The Cat Lady" Wildenstein's overturned assault charge.

BOURNE FREE!
Matt Damon beats public urnination charges.

NOT GUIL-T!
Jury does not convict eighties icon of fraud.

BALED OUT!
Batman star found innocent of reckless endagerment.

INNO-FITTY-CENT!
Hip hop star declared "Not Guilty" of bank robbery.

VER-DICK? NOT GUILTY!
Jury says comedian Andy Dick did not expose privates.

NOT EVEN JAIL!
Rock group Interpol beats counterfeiting charge!

DMX-ONERATED!
Rapper defeats parking tickets.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Sitting in my Melker at my Tovik

I fell in love this weekend at IKEA.

Somewhere between the Klippan and the Gorm, around the corner from the Tullsta and not too far from the Humlarp, I saw him. The fact that he was browsing the selection of Lindmons and Varloks with his girlfriend didn't stop my jaw from hitting the Stapp.

By the time I saw my dear, my darling, my love, Kai and I were carting at least a hundred and fifty pounds of do-it-yourself furniture for her new apartment towards the register. We'd walked what felt like fifteen miles through the cavernous, endless showroom selecting pieces for her living room. Technically if I walked fifteen miles, Kai walked twenty; once she'd made her choices, she decided to spice up IKEA's unshakable efficiency by misplacing her order form. I watched the cart and sniffed the Ligonberry flavored Tindra and Jubla while she lapped the showroom one more time.

Anyway, the important part of the story is that fate had us get in line right behind my heart, my soul, my cosmic match. His arms were covered in tattoos, which were only barely visible under a longsleeve black button down shirt. He had that hair, and those jeans, and that face, you know? You know.

I was doing a good job of pining for him mostly under my breath. Then they closed our line. We had to relocate to another cashier. He and his girlfriend collected their Varloks with ease and began to walk towards the only other short line in the place. Kai and I turned on the backup beeper and began to slide her seventy thousand boxes over the slippery concrete floor, around a lawn chair display, and towards the new line.

"I HATE IKEA," I found myself screaming. "I HATE THIS STORE, I HATE WOOD, I HATE THE KLIPPAN."

My Romeo, my Lancelot, he turned around, looked me square in the eye, and laughed right at me.

Whatever, he can go home to his Varloks and suck it.

In the spiralling freefall shitfest that is my life of late, I hesitate to say that I've hit rockbottom, but really, this time, it has to have happened. Barring catastrophe (hit by a bus, sqashed by a plane, spontaneous combustion, really flat hair), I cannot possibly fathom how any day could be worse than today.

Aside from last week's bad news being, I believe, in full effect, my train was a full hour late this morning. Well, that's not entirely correct. My train was actually only thirty-five minutes late. But it was so crowded when it arrived (on the wrong track! So all the latey-late lateys got on first!) that Cortlandt station's caffeinated, irate throng couldn't board it in its entirety. I was stuck on the platform with a couple of other people waiting for the next train to arrive.

The back of my neck is sunburned just from standing at the station.

For those of you who don't want to march in my downer parade, I'll change subjects. To impotence.

If anyone is looking for a great, great song about old Mr. Softee, find "Rusted Guns of Milan" by Art Brut right now. In fact, get the whole record. It's only out in the UK but the inflated import price (for my stateside friends) is well worth it. Their album "Bang Bang Rock & Roll" covers subjects ranging from modern art to enduring grade school crushes, from new girlfriends to rock criticism, from pretentious little brothers to the city of Los Angeles. It's great.

The frontman can't sing a note, and doesn't. Instead, he delivers his half of an average conversation over some snazzy drums and those same three chords they quiz you on at your rockstar final exam. In between lines like "I'VE SEEN HER NAKED, TWICE! I'VE SEEN HER NAKED, TWICE!" and "FORMED A BAND! WE FORMED A BAND! LOOK AT US! WE FORMED A BAND!" you get incredibly sweet lyrics like "I hope this song finds you fame / I want schoolkids on buses singing your name."

That's the kind of love song people should write. I suppose I didn't really care for IKEA guy if all I could come up with was love, heart, darling, Romeo. Anyone could've thought of that. It would've been truly true love if I had seen him and thought I wish we had been kids together so I could've shared the tire swing with you, or You make me like waterslides or Now I understand why movie theater seats are so close together.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Asexual is the New Black!

They say you shouldn't believe everything you read, but the New York Times is pretty much my bible. Everything Frank Rich speaketh I believeth. Manohla Dargis says don't see Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Ye olde Cortlandt Town Center ain't gettin' my $9.75. Except for that crap from Jennifer 8. Lee about "the man date," and pretty much everything David Brooks writes, the New York Times is, to my reared-Catholic-brain, like the pope speaking ex cathedra.

Um, until yesterday.

First, there was this gem. I was (for lack of a better phrase) totally stoked to see an article titled "Fashion, the Mirror, and Me" on the front page of the Style section. It's hopelessly passe to talk about body image any more--I blame The Biggest Loser and Oprah's Be Your Best Self! campaign--despite the fact that it's more prevalent an issue now than ever before. In the self-esteem revolution of the nineties, the waif look was vilified and Oprah was discussing books like Reviving Ophelia. Ten, fifteen years later, the waif look is back with a vengeance (cough, Paris fucking Hilton, cough, Lindsay Lohan is going to die shortly after her hair starts falling out, cough), and plus size models like Sophie Dahl are losing half their body weight and writing books about their former "gluttony" (not "weight", not "eating disorder", not "food issues", but one of the seven deadly sins). Every third show on TV is a competition to lose weight, which makes weight loss seem simpler than it is. When three weeks of weight loss at a jobless, NBC-funded retreat are compressed into half an hour's worth of TV, it makes a very time-consuming, very difficult, often very expensive, and most importantly a very slow process seem like nothing. Which, in turn, makes it easier to believe that people of a certain size are large simply because they're lazy. It's easy! Look at Oprah! She went into reruns for the summer, and now she's skinny! Why aren't you?

Okay, that was the preamble. Back to the article. I was excited to see a piece that seemed to deal with what it is like to enjoy high fashion, and even make your living off of reviewing fashion collections, but not be able to participate in it because of your size. It seemed like a great way to call attention to the issue of size bias in fashion from a powerful vantage point; when the fashion critic of the New York Times says "Hey, I'm heavy, and I love y'all, but this is kind of dumb...", designers would be more inclined to change the tropes of haute couture than if, say, a scientific editorial assistant rants on her blog about it. Which I believe I have admirably refrained from doing in most of my posts. Thank you, thank you.

I dug into this article with a spoon. Too bad it turned out to be a fifteen hundred word request for a pat on the back. The writer began her career at a size 14/16 and became the lead fashion writer for one of the country's biggest papers. Then she lost a bunch of weight. Now she can buy better clothes, she muses. She recounts a charming anecdote about standing in a department store modeling an off-price Balenciaga dress.

Great, I thought, waiting for the kicker. Now what does this have to do with bringing equality to the fashion industry? Cathy Horyn, you've seen the issue from both sides of the size 10 divide. How did it effect what you wrote? Give it to 'em, Cathy!

Narciso asked me if, knowing what I do now, I would revise some of my early reviews of designers. That's a good question, I said. But, no. I've always taken a big-picture view of fashion, working in elements of pop culture and whatever else interests me as a writer.


So, it didn't. This article has nothing to do with her experience of writing about fashion. Or body image. Or inequality. Or anything, really. Cathy Horyn used a full half-page of the New York Times to come out of the skinny closet.

Strike one.

Strike two against my beloved paper was this article on asexuality. It's an entertaining look at a growing community of people who choose to identify themselves as asexual. They highlight the difference between people who are celibate (desire sexual activity but choose to abstain from it) and those who have no sexual desire whatsoever. They are an orientation just like heterosexuality or homosexuality, they assert. They even have t-shirts to prove it.

It's all very interesting and makes for a nice, light human interest piece for a Thursday paper.

Except they're ripping off an article I've read twice already. Once here, in Salon a couple of weeks ago, and then also here in New York magazine. They've even got similar quotes from the same guy.

What does this prove, besides the fact that for someone who claims asexuality, David Jay is one hell of a publicity whore?

That Santa's not real, that's what. It's naive and stupid, and not entirely uncliche, but I grew up in a Daily News house and always conceived of the tiny print, no funnies Times as the newspaper you graduate to when you've reached adulthood, or Enlightenment, or something. I had this vision of the New York Times being oak-paneled and full of people in academic-looking glasses sitting around heavy mahogany tables arguing over Bush foreign policy. A librarian-like copy editor runs up from another floor. She's having a crisis! On Bullshit made it to the bestseller list! But she can't print that title in a family paper! What should she do! Oh, the fickle nature of English! They all put down their teacups and light their pipes, and negotiate a wise, New York Times solution.

And then they troll the internet for stories they can rewrite, and the fatty fat fatties purge in the bathroom. Then they sit around and watch Dr. Phil. He's great! they laugh, as they flip through the Post.

The New York Times killed Christmas.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Good News for People who Love Bad News

As I just explained in an e-mail to Brad, I thought this job was pretty much rock bottom for me. Then, last night, I recieved some news. After hearing it, my sneakers sprouted drills.

This morning, I recieved some more news. Fuck rock bottom.

This is Kathy Cacace, reporting live from six feet below the surface of the earth, and still tunnelling straight into bedrock.

Seriously. If my life were a movie screenplay, recieving this unbelieveably bad news would be the point at which the big studio executives forwarded the script on to LifeTime (Television for Women), because it was written too heavy-handedly to be anything but a Movie of the Week. That's how unbelievable it is. This news was so incredibly, astoundingly, heart-stoppingly bad that the word "unbelievable" ceases to have any meaning whatsoever. We use the word "unbelievable" to describe very good chocolate cake. The degree of non-believability of the bad news I received was such that a whole new word needs to be invented for the situation.

Brainsplodingly bad. Titsquashedly terrible. Assforafacedly awful. Splinterinyercornealy shitty.

That's how bad this news is. Unbelievably, incredibly, impossibly bad.

If my bad news were to enter a three-legged race with all the other bad news I possibly could've received, it would've won. But the race would've been delayed because none of the other contestants would've wanted to be its partner. When someone finally took pity on my bad news and strapped their legs together, my bad news would've cheated by jumping the gun. When its partner tripped halfway to the finish line, it would've kept running. My bad news is the kind of bad news that would've crossed the finish line dragging a grass-stained, bloody, bruised partner by the ankle.

If my bad news were a Spice Girl, it would be Posh Spice. You would think it would be Ginger Spice, who ruined the Spice Girl zeitgeist by leaving during the height of their popularity, but my bad news wouldn't just rain on the parade. My bad news would stick around. It would sing hopelessly off key, then marry a stultifyingly hot man just to make you feel inadequate.

What is my bad news?

I'm not telling.

Unless I already told you what it is*, I'm not going to reveal the news because doing so would take twenty hours (pages?) of back story to explain how unbelievably bad it is. But, more importantly, I believe keeping my bad news to myself may prove therapeutic.

Why?

I want you to guess what it is.

No one outside the five individuals who know it already will guess correctly. But I'm hoping that people come up with a bunch of other horrible things that my news could be, and leave them in the comments. That way when I read them, I'll hopefully realize that there are way worse things that could've befallen me besides my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad news.

That's right! Guess! It's a game! Virtually ruin Kathy's Life! Pretend Whack-a-Mole with Kathy's will to live! A prize to the person who comes up with the thing that would've made my job the very, very worst had it actually occurred.

For real, I'll send you a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad prize in the mail.

That's it from the Miserable News Desk. On behalf of all of us here at Rotten Horrible Channel 13, I bid you a good night.






*Or else you really want to know. I'm a gossipy whore.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Stockholm Syndrome

This is the first time since I was eighteen years old that I haven't spent my summer stripping dirty bedsheets on the third floor of a college dorm. I read books about summer trips through Europe, and I hear songs about dizzying summer romances, but I suppose when your medium is a blog (a word that itself so aesthetically unpleasant I can hardly believe that we, as a people, have allowed it to go this far) it's fitting that your summer stories all feature you sweating profusely into a baby blue, collared uniform shirt.

Bryan Adams: Those were the best days of my life! O-ooh yeeah!
Kathy Cacace: The half-functioning radio clipped to my belt loop slowly dragged my pants further and further down my ass as I descended the stairs, but I couldn't do anything about it because my hands were full of linen packets! O-ooh yeeah!

Being a Conference Assistant at Oberlin College is a terrible job. Really. It's awful. You are the underpaid labor by which the college is transformed into a hotel while school's out. You spend all day walking around campus in the sweltering heat, popping from dorm to dorm replacing dirty bedsheets with clean ones. You haul keyboxes across campus in a golf cart and pray to God the moron driving doesn't hit the curb too hard and upset a box, necessitating hours of key-code matching. You withstand three weeks of Ohio Scottish Arts School students greeting the dawn with a fifteen-bagpipe salute. You fill out the log. You fold the blankets. You unlock the chapel for the big hick wedding. You comb all of north campus for the keys your manager lost. You count hundreds of pillows with maybe one of your coworkers, which was a really big job and you could've used some help, but there was no one else in the office to call as backup because everyone else on your shift was busy at the reflecting pond trying to knock out the goldfish with their retractable keyrings.

You sit for eight hours with a rotating cast of Socialist overseers as you check in hundreds of members of the Socialist Workers Party, and you stay there through your dinner, which, at least, was probably take-out since you can't get to the dining hall, which just would've been serving turkey tetrazzini again anyway, and you return three days later to collect all the keys again, this time sitting behind a big plastic barrel into which the kindhearted Socialists donate their five-dollar key deposits as a tip for the Workers, because, after all, the Worker is what they're really all about.

You will not see a dime of this. You will instead enjoy a box of middle-eastern pastries, which you know they bought at Java Zone because you live in this town year round, goddammit, and they can't put one over on you.

It's a terrible job. And I miss it like crazy.

Conference Services was the best bad job I ever worked. It's how I know that I'm right when I say I wouldn't mind editing medical books for the rest of my life, as long as the people I worked with were fun. The three summers I worked as a CA allowed me to meet the vast majority of the people I think of when I think of what made college good (or bearable, at times). Not to mention that even if I don't see these people for thirty years, until we too are invading the dorms for our reunions and leaving inappropriate stains on our bedsheets, I know that all I would have to say to strike up the old rhythm is "noties."

For every great person I met, there were easily three awesomely bad ones. The standoff between the good CAs and the bad CAs only cemented the friendship, though. I don't know if I would've been so close with some of them if our co-workers didn't stink to high heaven (enough to force a manegerial intervention), or walk so slowly they could've gestated a baby from their creepy beanpole boyfriend to term by the time they got to Wilder Hall, or knock on other CAs doors in their underwear, or fellate an eggroll in front of our boss.

Or come to work loopy on painkillers, announce they'd also had a few beers, and then disappear into the night in Bubba (the golf cart) with crucial sets of keys in their possession.

Except that last one was a manager. Let's call him Leaky.

Now, according to the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary, "manager" is defined as "one who manages," which is further defined as "to handle or direct with a degree of skill." I believe that describes Leaky perfectly. Leaky handled many things well: talking, pacing, blinking a lot, and combing his pompadour, for example. He also directed many things well, most notably our attention to the many inadequacies of Asia, Asian cuisine, and Asian people.

Leaky also had many, many skills. He was excellent at drinking beer on the college account without realizing that his receipts would be sent directly to his boss. He had a great talent for talking into his radio at extraordinarily close range so all we could hear at the desk was a garbled string of guttural syllables and the crackle of spit. He was a pro at making veiled allusions to his former life as a "total stud" who downed "eighteen-packs" like they were water. He was amazing at misplacing keyrings that contained masters to every building on campus and blaming his underlings. He was wonderful at narrating his own life [Well...uhh...let's see...we should probably get some dinner...the office gave us that DPO so we don't have to buy it...lemme just walk over to this desk and get it...yeah...there it is...ahhh...I'll get whatever you guys wanna get, so long as it's not that Asian crap...they always cut the beef in triangles instead of cubes...yeah...gives me heartburn...yeah...so I'm just gonna walk over here and put this on your table...]. He was the best at conducting long conversations with his mistress on the phone. (Corrollary: he was also really good at having a mistress, considering he looked like an Ewok Buddy Holly impersonator.)

The thing Leaky was really the best at, though, was being re-hired summer after summer despite his illegal, immoral, and impossibly stupid antics.

I hope that one of the current CAs is reading this from work. I hope they are sitting at the desk, their view behind one of those stupid turquoise iMacs just permitting them to watch Leaky's big head bob across the room like a bowling ball on a trampoline. I hope he's rubbing his stomach and muttering to himself. I hope you know that I would rather be there, Leaky and all, than looking at one more picture of knee replacement surgery.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Alms for the Poor

Brad has guilted me into guilting all of you into feeling guilty for not buying me this stuff. He seems to believe that if I put up a link to the many things I want I will recieve gifts from the many rich philanthropists who read this blog, because they are kindhearted people and understand that I cannot afford to buy a $109.00 copy of an out of print Amy Hempel book, because medical publishing isn't as lucrative as one would think.

I think that is a very selfish idea.

If anything, everyone should be buying Brad presents because he's turning the big 2-3 in a mere eight days. Because God is dead, Brad will be in Ohio for his birthday while I will be in New York. I figure if I can't be there on June 15th to rat him out to the drag queens at Bounce--who would pull him on stage, pour complimentary Jager down his throat and force him to drop trou all in the name of a happy birthday--the least I can do is plug his birthday wish list and hope a few of you kind strangers see fit to give a growing boy the LCD Soundsystem album he so desperately needs.

I've probably said this before, but I have terrible birthdays. I'll tell anyone about my bad birthdays. It's a great sob story because, really, what's sadder than a terrible birthday? A terrible birthday where your party gets cancelled because your birthday fell on Yom Kippur and there's no parking in all of Manhattan. Check, that's sadder. How about a terrible birthday where your three-year-old brother overturns a pot of boiling hot coffee on his leg and has to be rushed to the hospital before you can even open your presents? One more in the sad column. How's about a birthday where your brand new college friend hooks up with your brand new college crush? Big ol' sad-wich. What about a birthday where you go to work and no one cares it's your birthday because you're just a temp, so you shred I-9s through the first 12 hours of your twenty-second year, only to go home and not even eat cake because your mom didn't get one because you're on the South Beach Diet, and finally when an old friend unexpectedly calls you to go out, even though you've had a bad day you get all dressed up and hope to polish off the night well, and you sit on your bed watching TV waiting for her to call you back when she "gets out of the shower," but you eventually fall asleep fully dressed and made up with your phone in your hand waiting for her call, which never comes, even to this day, making it the longest period during which you haven't spoken since you met her in third grade?

What's that rumble? Is that--quick! Duck! IT'S A SADALANCHE!

Yeah, my birthdays are, on the whole, not so hot. I have had a couple good ones, but mostly September the 15th is marked by awkwardness, tragedy, natural disaster, etc. My good birthdays are good simply by virtue of their not being terrible.

I thought I was on the upswing of the bad birthday parabola, too. 18 was bad, 19 was terrible, but then 20 improved back up to just being bad. 21 was actually pretty good. And then twenty-two was probably the worst birthday I ever had.

Which, moral of the story, is why everyone should buy Brad Walsh a present for his birthday. I'm not bitter that I have bad birthdays; to the contrary, I love birthdays and try my best to ensure that other people's birthdays aren't so terrible (speaking of: happy birthday Andy, and Andrea, I have a more month-old birthday card for you serving as my bookmark until I find a stamp). But all the collaged birthday cards in the world from yours truly can't make up for the kindess of strangers.

Send Brad a present. You know it'll make you feel good. He deserves it, he's a good kid. He's a snappy dresser and a killer dancer. He makes excellent electropop, fried polenta, and memories. He's the kind of kid who'll give your parents a framed picture of you for Christmas. He has home videos of him and his little brother that'll make you cry. He also wears bright green satin short shorts.

Probably right now.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Fruitcake with Extra Nuts

When the phrase "she talked for, like, twenty minutes straight" is employed in conversation, it usually betrays a certain measure of its speaker's hyperbolic tendencies. The person who insists that someone bored them for "literally, I swear, like, half an hour" without interruption is usually the same kind of person who will insist that they are "starving to death," that they drove "like ninety-five the whole way home," and that, no matter how well rested they look, they got "like forty-five minutes of sleep last night. Seriously."

Given that I do, y'know, maybe once in a blue moon take you for a flight on the wings of exaggeration, I don't expect anyone to believe me when I say that my boss and I just spent the better part of an hour between us on the phone with a raving lunatic. Of the roughly forty-five minutes this woman was on the other end of my phone, my boss and I spoke for a combined total of less than one minute.

I don't believe I have ever in my life spoken uninterrupted for fifteen minutes. I've been told I have a big mouth, and I know that I'm kind of a storytelling junkie in conversation, but on my longest possible talking jag I don't think I could've spoken for more than five minutes. I think the only occasion I've ever had to speak for fifteen minutes in a row, uninterrupted, were classroom presentations in high school; even then, though, I always included at least a five minute question and answer period as a life preserver. There's nothing worse than drowning in a sea of your own monotone.

I think the best way to elucidate the conversation I just had would be to transcribe my notes, taken within the first three minutes of the phone call when I still thought the woman on the other end was asking me a question. They read:

Down's Syndrome ---> Poison in hospitals ---> Studying in journals ---> Index? ---> Genetics ---> More reading...? ---> Glandular disorders ---> Skin diseases ---> Hepatitis ---> WHAT?

On the rare occasion my phone rings, it's usually our production lady on the other end with a quick question on the ongoing epistemological debate over healthcare vs. health care. So when my phone rang at 8:45 this morning, I didn't quite know what to expect.

"Hello, this is Kathy," I answered.
"Kathy Haas?"
"No, Kathy Cacace."
"WHAT?"
"Kathy Cacace. My name is Kathy Cacace."
"Oh. Lemme ask you about this index that I've been getting from your company, and whether or not you can find out about hemoglobin--"
"Wait, ma'am, are you looking for a Kathy Haas? Because I could find her extension--"
"No. See, when you have people with Down's Syndrome in hospitals, see, I know a man with Down's Syndrome who just died at 106, and he didn't die from pneumonia, lemme tell you..."

And she just kept going from there. For the next, say, ten minutes, I sat as she talked her way from Down's Syndrome to boils, with a quick pit stop in the middle to discuss her relatives in Europe who speak several languages and, she was sure, as an international company we would want to employ their services at some point in the future. I assumed she was getting to a question, so I didn't interrupt her. However, when it seemed that she was losing steam I took the opportunity to jump in and say:

"I know you mentioned an index. I'm not sure we publish that, but I can refer you over to the journals section? I think they'd know--"
"I already talked to journals. It's not them. It's an index, and in it I need to know about protein, and cancer, and how it can develop..."

And she went off on another tangent. I could not discern a point, a gist, an anything to her speech. I didn't know if she was pitching a book idea. I didn't know if she was supposed to be part of a conference call but had dialed the wrong number. All I know was that I completely tuned out while thinking about how long I had been listening to her talk, and tuned in just in time to hear:

"...women's vaginas, or even men's rectums! And the--"
"Wait, wait, wait. Let me get my editor."

At which point I ran into my boss's office and said "THERE IS A WOMAN ON THE PHONE AND SHE HAS BEEN TALKING FOR SO LONG AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT SHE WANTS FROM ME."

My boss came out to my desk to talk to the woman. Ten minutes passed. My boss tried to ask her a question, but the elephant stampede of this woman's sentences trampled her query flat. Twenty, I swear, twenty more minutes passed. Every few minutes my boss would look up at me incredulously, and would mouth I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO, or THIS WOMAN IS INSANE. Eventually, I heard on my boss's end of the conversation:

"Ma'am, whatever index you were talking about, I don't think we publish that."
Then: "No."
Then: "Ma'am, we're not in New Jersey. We're located in Manhattan."
Then: "No, we're not in New Jer--"

And then she put the phone down, looked up at me, and said:

"That woman is deranged."

She said that the woman raved on and on about diseases and lancing boils and what not for as long as she'd spoken to me. Before my boss interrupted, she said she'd begun talking about how it all boiled down to rabies, and something about the "cute wittle puppy" she has, and how she "named him Whiskey." Then she started talking about "Mrs. Whitman," which was when my boss cut her off.

The conversation had actually gone like this:

Boss: Ma'am, whatever index you're talking about, I don't think we publish that.
Nutbag: Of course you do, you've published it for years. Do you know Mrs. Whitman?
Boss: No.
Nutbag: Of COURSE you do! She's your GOVERNOR [Christine Todd Whitman, who is not even the current governor of New Jersey.]
Boss: Ma'am we're not in New Jersey. We're located in Manhattan.
Nutbag: Don't be ridiculous. You're the ordering division of medical scholastic books, and you're located in New Jersey.
Boss: We're not in New Jers--
Nutbag: Thank you, goodBYE.

Of course, I've spent the rest of the morning trying to envision the scenario on the other end of the phone. Despite my best efforts to believe that it was a frazzled grad student pitching a book, or a retired editor with Alzheimer's left unattended to dial familiar numbers, what I'm left imagining is slightly more gruesome (though a much better horror movie). Somewhere in New Jersey's state mental institutions, a schizophrenic swipes a scalpel. When an orderly comes to bring her her watery eggs and dry toast, she slices his hand and pushes past him out her door. He is yelling for help, but the nurse at the desk is half-asleep, and can barely distinguish his cries above the ravings of the other patients. The schizophrenic slips past her and into a psychiatrist's office. She pins a chair under the doorknob. She moves to slide into the Doctor's heavy leather chair behind a heavier oak desk, but is startled by something moving in the corner. A small dog emerges. It seems the Doctor has stopped into the hospital for just a few moments, new pet in tow, to pick up a case file or two on his way to the Hamptons. The schizophrenic picks up the pup.

"I'm gonna call you WHISKEY," she announces.

She puts Whisky down on the desk and has a conversation with the devil about whether or not he's living in the dog's stomach. After the brief chat, she is convinced she should remove the devil from the dog's digestive system, but she doesn't want sever any necessary arteries. Looking for a book on veterinary medicine on the Doctor's shelves, she is unable to find what she wants, but locates the phone number of many of his book's publishers.

"Hello," she says to the receptionist on the fifth floor, just as the door to the office begins to jiggle, then shake under a barrage of blows from the outside. "I understand your company publishes indexes, and I need to know about hemoglobins, and rabies, and dogs, because Whisky here has got something in his stomach."

The scalpel glints, and so do her crazy, crazy eyes.

Yes, ladies and gents, it's chills, thrills, and spills in the world of medical publishing. Hide your kiddies and don't look the freaks in the eye.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Sterling Silver Lining

It's Friday, payday, and the first day of my new summer hours and still, I've spent more time fishing an earring out from behind my desk with a ruler than I have doing anything I should be getting paid for. I don't feel the least bit bad about pissing away my measly three hour workday; the VP told my boss and me that we could leave early today after getting a particularly late and difficult manuscript into production yesterday. I was touched by his gesture until I remembered that everyone is allowed to leave at noon, even the people who've been sitting at their desks watching the Daily Show for nine months, not that I'm naming any names, cough, kid who sits near me, cough.

I think I'm going to celebrate my three-hours-longer weekend by exploiting my snobby independent movie theater membership. They're (finally) playing something I want to see; there's a documentary called Mad Hot Ballroom about eleven-year-old kids in New York City public schools learning ballroom dancing. Sounds riveting, I know, but Spellbound was about spelling for Christ's sake, and I was on the edge of my seat.

Plus, I once was an eleven-year-old New York public school kid subjected to the peril of in-school dance lessons, only we weren't even learning ballroom dancing. We had to do square dancing. A month's worth of gym class rehearsals ("ALLEMANDE RIGHT! ALLEMANDE! STEVEN! So help me, I will send you straight to the principal if you don't allemande right! NO, Steven, your arm is NOT broken from the Do-Si-Do. NOW ALLEMANDE!") lead up to the schoolwide square dance assembly, presided over by ancient caller Slim Sterling. The man was eighty if he was a day, but he hobbled over to Mohansic Elementary every year. His appearance, like some redneck groundhog, announced the three-quarter mark in our journey towards summer.

I don't know who it was at the Board of Education who labored under the delusion that preadolescents enjoy militaristic choreography set to fiddle music, but we had to do this every year. And, what do kids enjoy more than dancing?

Assigned opposite-sex partners with whom you have to hold hands, that's what.

I remember my last square dance, which must have been in third grade. I wound up with a kid named Mike as my partner and he was a total catch; he was cute and didn't want to talk much, and he didn't try to knock me down during the "swing your partner" bits or switch for another partner during the "promenade."

Now Slim Sterling, as old, deaf, and batshit insane as he may have been, had the killer laser eyesight of a super robot hawk. For some reason, he found gum chewing to be a sin worse than unwed fornication on the Sabbath and he used his unbelievably powerful peepers to scan his dancing minions for any flapping jaws. To be fair, my gym teacher had warned all of us to spit out any and all wads of gum before we entered the auditorium, but come on--when you're nine, gum is like currency. When you get it, you hold on to it. Who knows when you'll be able to wheedle your mother into another pack of Trident (Trident for Christs's sake, not even Bubbleyum) at the supermarket register?

I kept my gum clamped under my tongue for most of the square dance. There were were easily a hundred dancing kids in the gym and there was no possible way he could detect a single piece of Trident gum in my mouth, a piece of gum which I had chewed for at least two hours already, so at best it was about seven gum molecules held together by wishful thinking.

Yet still, when I switched my gum from one side of my mouth to the other (not even a chew! I could've been swallowing! I could've had a perfectly acceptable cough drop!) as I bowed to my corner, I heard the needle screech off his record (record, for the love of god, the old bastard used records) and an announcement for "THAT GIRL IN THE PINK SHIRT" to "GET RID OF HER GUM RIGHT NOW. RIGHT NOW. MARCH."

I could feel every beady third grade eye on me, every corresponding third grade head happy it wasn't the one on the chopping block. I had to march through the entire crowd, out the door, and into Mrs. Martino's office to get rid of the smallest piece of gum ever to be detected by someone who wasn't chewing it. It was the only time I was ever in the gym teacher's office, and I remember thinking that she had way more papers than I thought a gym teacher would need. And then I had to slink back through the crowd of kids who were now sort of bitter that they had to stand still holding their partner's hands for a full minute while I purged myself of the sinful gob. Holding a strange kid's hand while you're dancing is a necessary hazard of Slim Sterling's visit. Holding that same strange kid's hand while you're standing still is too much like a nine-year-old's concept of romance to be acceptable.

When I finally got back to Mike, my partner, I seem to remember him saying something about my face being the same color as my shirt. I can't prove that this ever happened, though, because it smacks of sit-com-style embellishment and that's what happens when you spend your life in creative writing workshops. Either way, he's an asshole. Everyone's an asshole.

Anyway, my point is, I think I'm going to the movies tonight. That should be fun.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Railroadrage

The grief I am giving myself, in my own head, about finishing the discussion of my weekend is throwing a huge black cloud over everything else I want to write, which is mainly about how nauseatingly unfair life can be sometimes. Especially when you are a girl wearing pants and a skirt at the same time and you want to get home on public transportation, and girls who are wearing skirts with no pants under them and, worse, tube tops throw a big wrench (a big fucking floral-print wrench, with hot pink accents and a fun fruity scent) into the works.

But more on that later.

To finish up my weekend: I went to a barbecue at Kai's nursing friend (and now coworker)'s house, which was fun in a way that occasionally made me feel like the little kid allowed to sit at the grownup table at Thanksgiving. The majority of the nurses-to-be are older and married, which I suppose I shouldn't hold against them because it's not technically a character flaw. All the nurses and their spouses are great people, but there's a balance to married couple events that I haven't quite perfected. I always seemed to be on the wrong side of the metaphorical gender volleyball net. For example, when the women were doing something with brownies inside, I was helping put up a tent. Not that Kai wasn't around too--I just don't think there's any way to prevent feeling like a kid on your cool uncle's heels when you're 22 and hanging out with a bunch of married thirty-somethings. Not that I didn't have a good time. It's just weird.

From the barbecue to the Hot Dad's show, I traveled from the land of friendly twosomes to the kingdom of awkward spousal introductions. That's all I'm going to say about that. I will say, however, that I'm a little in love with the lead singer of the band, who is of appropriate age and marital status and everything (I think). I'm going to put our MetroNorth-forged friendship to the test and see if he can hook it up.

Which brings me nicely to the point of this post, and the root of my anger.

The MetroNorth. Nothing more than a fancy name for a few regular old trains, that run on regular old tracks to and from the great buzzing beehive of New York City. You drive to your station, you purchase a ticket, you board your train, and you are whisked to Grand Central Station or any number of stops en route. Or, perhaps, you wish to travel north from the city. In this case, the process is much the same; purchase ticket, board train, sit down, exit train at desired location.

Let's imagine you and your friend want to ride on the MetroNorth railroad from, say, Grand Central Station to--lemme just pull a station stop right out of the air, here--Beacon, NY. You purchase your tickets in the station. Easy. You investigate any number of up-to-the-minute monitors to find your track number. Simple. You board your train. Cake.

Prior to the train actually departing the station, though, maybe you second guess yourselves. But fear not! The MetroNorth has built-in, fail-safe mechanisms to insure you will reach your destination in both a timely and comfortable manner. Before your train moves so much as an inch, the stops it is making will be announced while you sit in the station, then again ten minutes before it leaves, then again five minutes before it leaves, then once every minute until the train departs the station, and then again at 125th street just in case you really, really made a mistake and need to get off while you're still in the city.

But how could that possibly happen? You are obviously capable individuals. You managed to secure tickets, you have disposable income enough to buy the gum you are cracking directly in your fellow passenger's ear, you have successfully dressed yourself in an outfit that one could safely bet you found on a Bratz doll, and you have even planned a jaunt into the country which you are discussing loud enough for the whole car to hear. (Not that we mind! We on the MetroNorth are happy for you!) A child could navigate the MetroNorth, so an adult like yourself should be able to get to Beacon with nary a hitch.

Still you fear you are not on the right train? Despite the fact that you are literate women who are probably at least a year or two out of college, who should no doubt be able to read a track number and then match that same number to the giant painted number next to an actual track? Simply question the man on your right. He is a fine, upstanding business man who will assist you (though he has not spoken to other commuters of your age and gender in the nine months they have been riding the train together) by stuttering out his bottomless knowledge of the rail system as he gazes, hypnotized, at your spray-tanned thighs.

Oh no! You have boarded the wrong train! Poor little lovelies, it'll be okay. In the event of a mishap as dire as this, just contact the conductor.

He will sit next to you, his blue polyester shirt blushing navy at the armpits. You will giggle at him, and adjust your tube tops. You will explain that the monitor DID say your train was on track 32, you SWEAR. You don't understand how everyone else got on the right train when someone so clearly made a mistake. The conductor will wipe his damp brow and say he'll see what he can do.

The MetroNorth cherishes its tiny, miniskirted passengers. Should you count yourselves among their fold, don't fret if you find yourself aboard the wrong train.

The conductor of your mistaken ride will arrange to stop the entire locomotive for you.

Please do not roll your eyes at the other passengers as you exit the train. They may be irritated that their own journey has been delayed by your divine and fragrant exit, but they're wearing both a skirt and pants at the same time, so who the fuck do they think they're kidding, anyway? Besides, their glasses are all fingerprinty and they probably don't even own foundation.

The conductor will usher you gently from your car to the stairs of unscheduled station stop, where he will watch you ascend like angels into the climate-controlled bliss of Croton-Harmon's waiting room. There, undoubtedly, a new railroad-employed admirer will herd you to your destination.

We hope you've enjoyed riding the MetroNorth.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Laser Beams

Because I know everyone's as concerned about Phil (my iPod)'s well-being as I am, I would like to say that I am cautiously optimistic about his prognosis. He's not entirely back to his old self, and perhaps he never will be, but who am I to discriminate against the differently abled? I'm as proud to know him as I ever was, even if he stutters a little and needs to take a break in the middle of every third song.

Thank god Phil was around today. I don't understand how I'm expected to keep a clean criminal record when I work with people like the Evil Editor. E.E. Dumbings is the editor whose bizarre phone conversations I've occasionally transcribed for your enjoyment, but more importantly for corroboration of my mental health. Between me and him, I occasionally wonder if I'm the crazy one; he's a terrible person, and a total sexist, and he is incapable of speaking in what my kindergarten teacher called "our inside voice," yet somehow he's everyone's buddy. This makes me question my faculties of perception. After taking Psych 100, I'm always a little concerned that I have one of those cognitive aphasias, whereby your wife looks like a hat. Or your co-worker looks like a total fucking fuckhead.

I was talking to my boss this morning when the Evil Editor interrupted to fling a nectarine around my cubicle. He informed us that this was how he used to practice his curveball when he was in grade school. Then, in perfect "guy from Northern Westchester" fashion, he yet again struck up the only conversation he is capable of having with me. I'm positive he doesn't listen to my answers because it allows him to have that same conversation again the next time we are faced with an awkward silence. Whatever the reason, no matter what I say, he always asks: "So, are you gonna wear a glove over that tattoo the next time you see your mom?"

E.E. is like a toddler who thinks he's hiding by covering his eyes; just because he can't see you, you stop existing. Because he noticed my tattoo a week ago, I've only had it for a week. Since then, he's assumed on virtually a daily basis that:

1. My mother has not seen this tattoo.
2. I intend to hide it from her.
3. She will be angry when she finds out I have it.
4. I don't think about jamming a letter opener up his left nostril and skewering his brain like a cocktail weiner when he speaks to me.

No matter how many times I explain that, indeed, my mother has seen the tattoo on my hand and doesn't love me any less for its existence, he refuses to listen to me. Again today he asked me what my mother would do when she saw the star. My boss and I said that she's definitely seen it.

"Wait, do you live with your mother...?" he asked.
"Yes," I responded.
"OH, COME ON! You LIVE with your MOTHER!!" he sneered.
"Yes," I responded.
"Oy," he muttered, walking away. I could see his fucking stupid nectarine bouncing up and down over the next row of cubicles as he left.

(Along a perfectly vertical trajectory, so he can take his shitty curveball and shove it up his ass.)

"Do you wanna give her a raise?" my boss yelled to his back. I appreciated the gesture, but I already felt like he'd pressed on a black and blue. There's nothing lousier than someone giving you shit for something you already give yourself shit for, especially when that someone is more than twice your age, and makes more than three times your salary, and, also, tucks his turtlenecks into his khakis.

So Phil and I went to the bathroom, where I hide out. In the bathroom on the other side of my office building, near the working photocopier and the Psychology department, there's a handicapped stall with a window in it that looks down on another building. When I'm particularly bored or pissed off I sneak to that bathroom to sit on the window ledge and watch the building across the way, because if I sit in the right place I can see directly down into some kind of wood shop. I haven't been able to figure out what they're making, but watching a big goggle-faced guy jigsaw a giant plank of plywood is infinitely better than filing permissions for an editor who interrupts me to rag on my socioeconomic status.

Phil and I are back at my desk now and, like the total trooper he is, he's played the whole album I'm listening to twice through without so much as a skip. He's drowning out the Evil Editor's phone conversation, which is great because all I was able to catch before I ran back to the embrace of Phil's skinny white arms was the phrase "...I'm telling you, she's just a big bitch."

I know I'm supposed to update about the rest of my weekend but I didn't send myself the pictures yet, so you can all go to hell. Also, I went to see the Hot Dad's band and I'm still trying to think of a way to describe the experience. Specifically, I'm looking for an adjective that combines "fun" with "what it feels like to have burning laser beams shooting into your eyes from someone else's eyes."

Until later, occupy yourself listening to Brad Walsh's latest (available) song,
What You Know, What You Don't (The R&B Mix). It's real good.
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