Thursday, September 29, 2005

Squid Pro Quo

It's slightly old news, but yesterday Japanese scientists released the first photos ever captured of the elusive giant squid. Prior to these photographs, giant squid have only ever been found dead or dying, most often washed up on shore and on their last legs (ha ha, I'm a freakin' genius).

Though this species of squid is notoriously difficult to observe, it apparently can't resist the delectable aroma of a bag of mashed shrimp. The scientists hung a small squid on long lines attached to cameras that took pictures every thirty seconds. The shrimp was the added come-hither finger beckon to the whole sexy package.

Eventually a squid went for the lowest hanging bait. What ensued was a four-hour struggle to untangle one of its longer tentacles. How it ended was a nine-armed squid and an eighteen foot length of still-sucking calamari being hauled aboard a research boat.

This fucked my shit right up.

To be clear: yes, scientific innovation, big strides in marine biology, blazing new territory, that's all great, but what's most important to me, the layman, the Average Joe consumer of scientific information, the occasional ocean swimmer is that this is an actual species of animal. With eighteen foot tentacles. Willing to rip off its own appendages to evade capture. Who recedes back into the uncharted deep. Who lives in unspeakable darkness.

And sharpens its teeth on pirate bones and plays the eerie soundtrack to its mysterious existence on four or five out of tune violins.

No, really, I'm not scared of the giant squid. Mostly because I've never been in close proximity to the giant squid, but that's neither here nor there. But how is it that there are things in the world with eighteen foot tentacles that we've never seen? Eighteen feet of space in Manhattan would cost you roughly $486.38 cents per year (according to a study I just read about the worst cities for renters. It's so cool how New York wins everything.) And that's just eighteen feet of unoccupied air (heat included). How is it even an option that there is eighteen feet of sucking, strangling, disembodied flesh in the world that we, for all of our history as a species, have never been able to get our hands on? This kind of news leaves me with no choice but to consider the millions of white-eyed, many-legged things that may live in the places we can't see. There are bacteria living in your intestines right now, and who's to say there isn't a species of unicorn that lives in the folds of their DNA or whatever. Very small, poop-bacteria-dwelling unicorns. You know what I mean? It's at once an awe-inspiring and totally nauseating thought.

additionally, how is it possible that they aren't going to make half a ton of seafood fra diavlo out of that tentacle?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Cell Block DeLay

Upon hearing the news that House Majority Leader Tom ("Scrot") DeLay had been indicted on criminal conspiracy charges, I couldn't help but wonder what was running through is mind. Turns out, in my head, he's a big Kelly Clarkson fan.

[Tom DeLay lays in his bed in a silk kimono. His hair is askew. The blinds are drawn. He smashes an empty champaign flute against a wall as he begins to sing the following to the tune of "Behind These Hazel Eyes."]

Seems like just yesterday
I was a-fundraisin'...
I used make a call
And then I'd rake it in...

My mouth was sealed so tight,
And everything, it felt so ri-iiight.
Un-indictable,
Like nothing could go wrong...

[Congressman DeLay gets up, runs to the window with newfound urgency, throws the curtains aside, and addresses the world that has betrayed him so cruelly.]

Now I can't leeeave
My home cit-yyyyyy
Or else they'll shoooot me dead

["Bum bum bum bum bum!" he pounds on the wall.]

Here I am!
Tom DeLay!
I looook like a scrotum!

I'll deny
I supplied
A hundred-thousand bucks

To the Gee
Oooo-oh Pee...
A jury's gonna send me right to jail!
[softly, weeping]
I'll have to poop in a pail.

[DeLay walks dejectedly through his living room, clutching the kimono to his hairy bosom.]

All I did was take a check.
I mean, seriously, what the heee-eee-eeeck?
Those liberals do it all the time!
Not to mee-ntion...
Those PRO-CHOOOOOICERS...
AND THOSE QUEEEEE-E-EEE-EEEEE-EEERS!

[softly, once more]
And those quee-ers.

["BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM," go his feet as he runs toward his front door. He throws it open and collapses on his front lawn.]

Here I am!
Once again!
I'm still all scroty!

On the lawn...
Like a gnome...
I'm looking quite at home.

That's not the point!
I'm screwed for sure!
I'm gonna wind up Lil' Kim's third string bitch!
(note: shut up, it doesn't matter if it rhymes)

[Face down in the grass, all fetal as a bus of school-children laugh. In a moment of supreme melodrama, he croons]

Damn my maze of lies...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

do it be that song

When gossip blogs have to pick up slack for the New York Times Book Review, any true literary enthusiast can feel the tides of change lapping at the shore of our notion of artistic merit. Every Sunday sees the same canon of writers (mostly male, mostly white, mostly old) lauded for their latest work. At whose expense comes this tunnel vision? Whose golden-penned words will go unread because one paper monopolizes the totality of current literary discourse? Which genius, even as we speak, is falling through the cracks, her books being boxed once again and sent off for pulping?

Amber Tamblyn, that's who.

Without the watchful eye of Perez Hilton I would never have known that quasi-starlet Ambler Tamblyn had penned not one, but two books of poetry, the most recent of which was just published by Simon and Schuster. How the NYTBR managed to overlook this is unfathomable; I choose to believe it was extreme oversight as opposed to willful omission, as the latter is inconceivable to anyone acquainted with the high literary achievement of many WB network stars.

You may know Amber best as the main character in the (still running?) television series Joan of Arcadia. Wait, cry the naysayers, how does acting in a lousy TV show with mild Christian overtones qualify you to be a poet? To them I say: She also portrayed Emily Quartermain #1 General Hospital as well as a Sister of the Traveling Pants in the recent film of similar title. Amber also played "Young Jill" in something called Live Nude Girls, according to IMDB.

Not that I have to justify anything to anyone, but if that doesn't make for a brilliant poet, I don't know what does. I hold a B.A. in Creative Writing with a concentration in poetry. I know from good poems.

Besides, teen tragicomedies be damned! Amber is about to don her black turtleneck, fine tune on her spoken word voice (translated for slam poets: spo...ken WORD? VOICE...), and take the poetry community by the reins. Get on her flaming chariot now and charge, charge with us into the avant-garde, the earth-shattering, the very cutting edge of modern poetry. Amber Tamblyn is the voice of a revolution.

This, this is the dawning of the Age of Amber Tamblyn.

A quick look at "amtam.com" reveals that her first project, entitled The Loneliest, is a collaboration between Amber and an artist friend. Together they have created a limited edition "book" comprised of collages and haiku inspired by their deep appreciation for Thelonious Monk. Well, that and that one time that Amber tried to buy a painting of Monk from a bum in California and he refused to sell it to her because she was clueless and "too white." For real, it's on her website.

Inspired by "sheer cultural embarrassment," Amber experienced "an internal Monk-related vision that lasted for over two months." She wrote nearly a poem a day (all haiku, so that's, like, a hand-cramping seventeen syllables a day) about the musician, though she doesn't specify whether she ever listened to any of his music. She later paired with her friend to create a book from her writing and his collages, into every copy of which she herself printed this poem:

dear thelonious
make beatz break them start awkward
do it be that song


After I stopped sobbing from the sheer power of her poem, I reapplied my Mary Kate and Ashley mascara (first things first, duh...) and then sought Amber's wise counsel once again. Spaketh from her website: "I still need to go see that man on the beach and trade him this product of my inspiration for that painting. He owes me." How true, and how poetic an ending it would be.

"I suppose," she concludes, "we owe each other."

Now having fully transcended her "white girl from Santa Monica" upbringing and embraced the entirety of the African-American experience, Amber has moved on to pen and publish Free Stallion, now available through Amazon.com. Please don't immediately purchase it (however badly you feel you must) as I suspect the influx of orders may cripple the entire corporation. Instead, please bide your time and mull on this excerpt from "Face Me," available on her website as well:

Face me, so that I may know the man
Who sticks me with goodnight kisses
like a shadowless blade.

Like all the silences
in which we were made.

Baby, my mouth is an exam
you cannot afford to fail.

Take me.


I dare anyone to read those words, look me in the eye, and swear that something didn't move deep inside them. When I hit those last two words, something begins to churn in my gut and I defy anyone to claim they were not similarly affected.

Buffygirl115 agrees that Ambler Tamblyn is the greatest living poet. Her amazon.com review states that, though she is only fifteen, she believes "every girl between the age of 12 and 18 should be forced to read [the poem Pipe Dreams]." She also says that though it is marketed toward teen readers, "the sheer brilliance of this novel [sic] will be appreciated by readers of all ages." I, for one, completely agree.

Amber Tamblyn has a gift I cannot fully express. In the words of Buffygirl115: "This line, my favorite line, is water stained from tears..." I don't actually own a copy of Free Stallion, but I am, myself, weeping directly on to the screen of my computer and ruining my keyboard and receiving small electrical shocks in my fingers and in my very eyes but O! it is cross I gladly bear to read a small-screen actress's book of poems.

Not only have Amber's actual words fortified my spirit, the very act of her choosing to publish poetry has given me hope for my future. Should I ever decide I am unhappy with my career path, I now know that it is possible just to throw any words in any order on a couple of lines, leave some white space, insert a "baby" or two, use "fucking" once because goddammit this is a poem and you're a goddamn adult, and sell it to Simon and Schuster for what was undoubtedly a six figure advance plus royalties.

Because that's what poetry IS, man, it just IS. It just HAPPENS. You like, have a dream about Thelonious Monk and then, like, you fuck up how you spell "beats" because it's, like, a poem and you're not going to be bound by any fascist grammar and then when your sit-com is on hiatus you do a totally fucking artsy black and white cover shoot and you're a poet, you're so totally a poet.

I'm glad it's so simple, because I'm looking for a quick way to recoup the $100,000 in debt I accrued to procure my poetry degree.

And, just in case I do ever publish a book, I've decided to include this poem that I've written for my idol, Amber:

let's go amblin', tamblyn.
ramblin' through the jazz streets
like a pair
of delicious plums
that i stole from the fridge
they were so cold

but i'm no pied piper of hamlin, tamblyn
so i
won't lead this poem astray
i should say something about
angels
right now
because i think i'm legally required
it is a poem
after
all

oh yeah,
"fuck."

(joan of arcadia
is a fantastic
show.)

Monday, September 26, 2005

A Very Rigid Search

I went to bed on Friday night in the same bedroom I've occupied since I was in third grade with little hope that I would be laying my head to rest anywhere else anytime soon. I went to bed last night with keys to my new place in my jacket pocket, a couch and loveseat and fancy bed trucking their way here from Sweden (via Elizabeth, New Jersey) and the knowledge that this is, once and for all, the last Monday morning I will ever begin by hopping on the 6:46 express.

Brad and I signed our lease on Saturday after successfully stealing our new apartment from a couple of kids who weren't employed, but instead had someone sufficiently under their thumb to cough up hundreds and hundreds of rent dollars each month. The lease signing went smoothly enough; with my luck, any major event with fewer than five big disappointments is a success. We found out we are not allowed to paint (landlord: "What, you don't like the color?"), we're not allowed to have any candles in the apartment (landlord: "You mind if I smoke in here?"), and there is a reason we're paying much less than we should for the place isn't the giant graveyard(landlord: "You know that's a federal prison across the street, right?").

Whatever. Brad has suggested we keep a small stash of hacksaws by the door in case of a prison break--aiding and abetting perhaps, but when a couple thousand manacled inmates come running towards your house, you'd also think the best plan would be to help them flee your doorstep at the highest possible speed.

I think the hacksaws might come in handy should something go awry with our other neighbors as well. I hear you have to separate the heads, right?

I think it'll be exciting living at the crossroads of every action-adventure and horror movie. Either way I'll probably be sleeping with the lights on, but the leading men in either genre tend to be pretty easy on the eyes so maybe this isn't such a cross to bear. Unless I get stuck in a Nicholas Cage movie, in which case I want my money back.

Mainly it's just such a relief to have everything settled. It's been impossible to think about anything besides where I'm going to live, never mind write anything coherent. So, I apologize for my half-hearted blogging in the last month or so, and promise a return to form in the next couple of days. I can finally throw out the six-thousand pages of printed Craigslist apartment ads, delete the real estate brokers from my phone, work on junking all of my crap, and finally bring you the absurdly long piece on Donald Trump I've been meaning to write for like, seriously, a month and a half.

Until next Saturday keep all of your appendages crossed that nothing goes wrong. Psychically transmit me vigilance in throwing out my entire childhood.

And most importantly, do not go see Everything Is Illuminated. This has absolutely nothing to do with moving. It was just that lousy.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Six Feet Underpriced

Despite the fact that we were 1. technically supposed to be at work and 2. our broker nearly missed our appointment because he had to appear in court, Brad and I viewed and put a deposit on an apartment this afternoon. Closets, windows, giant rooms, new appliances, we've got it all--provided that the other bunch of people vying for the place don't get it. They technically submitted their application first, but they're also technically unemployed and living on Mom's tab. I think our situation puts a technical boot in their technical ass.

The broker (a guy who looked like someone poured half a cup of Vin Diesel and three tablespoons of sugar in a blender and hit frappe) was honest about the other set of roommates having already submitted an application for the place. When we said we loved it and would also put a deposit on the place he did a little dance, then tried to dispel our guilt about most likely leaving our jobless competition homeless. I had no such guilt. I gave it a shot, though, trying the guilt on for size saying something like "I feel a little bad," as I peered in the brand new microwave.

"Uh, I don't," said Brad.

"Yeah," said me.

Them's the breaks, kiddos. We lost an apartment to god knows who, and now it's our turn to steal the metaphorical musical chair right out from under the slow kid.

The apartment is not without its, well, let's call them distinctive qualities. Some people in New York brag about their Central Park adjacent apartments. Should this apartment work out, Brad and I will be able to brag that our place is also situated on one of the largest green plots in all of Brooklyn. That's right fellas, line up: we're graveyard adjacent. The apartment is situated a mere two or three blocks off Greenwood Cemetery, which definitely the largest (and possibly the only?) burial ground in the five boroughs. You live near Chris Robinson and Kate Hudson? Whatevs. We live next to fifty-thousand dead people. You know what kind of cred that will get me in the goth clubs I don't go to?

The best part of finally having the question of where we're going to live all settled is that neither Brad nor I will have to entertain any more absurd suggestions about where we should live. If the pushy editor around the corner suggests living in Tuckahoe (a town I wouldn't live in based on name alone, nevermind the fact that it is half an hour outside the city, twenty minutes away from where I currently live, and would still leave us with a Metro-North ride into Grand Central every morning) one more time, I'm going to attack him with my stapler like he was a yard sale sign.

We're looking at another apartment tomorrow in case birthday residue gums up the lock we've got on this place, so I'm hoping that between the two one will become my new place of residence. I really need to move out of my parents' house, if only for the sake of my waistline; last night I had to eat a decoy hamburger, so as not to offend my father who had grilled them, before going out to Taco Bell.

That's too much love for my metabolism handle.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

What's the Matter? You Got Something in Your Earneck?

My perception is all fuzzy today.

There are once again workers working on the outside of the building, and while I would like to use a more descriptive verb for what they're doing than just "working," I'm unsure what to call it when someone appears to be a window washer but whose true function is to coax the entire harmonic scale out of the building's exterior with a hammer and drill. Whether or not this has to do with my cloudy thinking I cannot conclusively prove, but let's just say I would love to lean out the window with a pair of garden shears and liberate their hanging platform from its cables.

I realized I might not be thinking completely coherently when, while flipping through the online edition of the New York Post's Page Six gossip column, I thought Paris Hilton had an ear growing out of her neck. In all fairness, look at this picture quickly:

(From the AP/New York Post)

I wish it was a fact that Paris Hilton had sprouted a third ear off her clavicle, one they had to decide whether to airbrush out of or defiantly include in her Stuff Magazine photo shoot. Would she have it removed? Would she position herself to be the world's most prominent spokesperson for those with physical abnormalities? Would her jewelry line now include rhinestone ear chokers, so the kiddies can emulate the coolest of cool deformities?

I only have two ears and they're still full of drilling noises, and a the tiny little bit of the Ramones I can still hear through my headphones. I got my (final) new iPod for my birthday, along with a two year protection plan that should insure me against any theft, loss, damage, Acts of God, Acts of Godlessness, Acts of Accidental Rocking Out and Dropping It On The Pavement, and so on. I've named it Alexander (Our older brother! Who went off for a--a great adventure!).

Today marks Day One of my Ramones Appreciation Project, another reason why I can't distinguish between ears and necks, or now and two hours ago. I know that every Ramones song doesn't sound exactly the same if you know anything about the band; I don't know enough, hence the self-tutorial. I've been listening to the first thirty-four tracks of their career retrospective Weird Tales of the Ramones (which, by the way, clock in at about seven minutes--every song is twelve goddamn seconds long) and everything sounds the same, and the time is passing very slowly, and I can't gauge exactly how long I've been staring at the wall of my cube when I don't know how many songs I've listened to.

Also, "Rockaway Beach" was redone as the jingle for "Rockaway Bedding," a mattress company somewhere in the tri-state area, which I heard roughly four times a day from my conception until I went to college. I can no longer distinguish between ears and necks, between now and two hours ago, between a seminal rock band and a bedding warehouse.

It's all kind of confusing. And they're still drilling. If yesterday was a repeat, today is a scratched DVD.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Writers' Block! O, Writers' Block!

I'm feeling particularly at a loss for what to write about today, as evidenced by the fact that it is now 8:31 in the evening and I'm just breaking into this here opening sentence. But what a sentence it was, eh? Let's pause for a minute to admire those verbs and commas while I stall and try to conjure the next witty boxcar to couple to that engine.

I mean, insert the crickets, folks, I'm fresh out of ideas. Put the needle on the Muzak and invent some topical humor about Lil' Kim's sojourn to the slammer, because that right there is about all I've got. She's short! And in prison! But seriously, folks!

These past two days have felt like a strange new interpretation of September of last year, when Brad and I gave a half-hearted stab at getting out on our own. I was temping in the Human Resources department of Pace University (Scanning papers, then shredding papers, and occasionally printing the scans and then shredding them again. I have no idea what my actual job was.) and Brad was alphabetizing Dave Matthews singles and ringing up Ann Coulter's political Black Masses at Borders. It half worked for about a month, until Brad went back home to Cleveland and my furious resume sending landed me my current plum sitch. A year of saving money (and gathering more information via surgery manuals than I have ever desired about my eliminatory functions) started the whole process over, and though we were supposed to be moving into an apartment we're once again bidding each other goodnight at the foot of my parents' staircase and going to sleep, each in one of my childhood bedrooms.

I think this is why I'm out of things to stay. Aside from living my own repeat (I'm hoping this is because the new season is about to start), there's now a witness to the whole looping filmstrip of my day. Look Brad, there's the really old dog that hobbles down the street. Look Brad, there's the newspaper guy who causes me to fear the northern side of the street. Look Brad, there's the Hot Dad, and Obvious Toupee, and Braces. With someone to eat lunch with, there's less time to dedicate a thousand words to the disgusting chewing emanating from an adjacent cubicle.

Let's drink to the revival of mind-numbing boredom, and the return of Comatosia, my muse of tedium-induced blogging.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The New Kid

I had managed to avoid getting McDonald's for lunch for almost an entire year. Today Brad started working two cubicles down, and now I'm full to the brim with Big Mac and french fries. He is some kind of fast food divining rod, or--let's cut to the chase--a lard magnet. I didn't even know where the McDonald's was, but walking down Varick with Brad it appeared in front of me, a shimmering red and gold oasis with a beef tallow reflecting pool.

Over our burgers in the lunch room/hallway, I thought about how much I've complained about my job during the last year. It has occupied virtually all of time. I spend most of my daytime hours at my job, and the remaining hours complaining to people about my job. I've gone on about six interviews for alternate jobs, and received none. And clearly, when I am so desperate to get out that I consider taking a job as an administrative assistant at Reader's Digest, the Xanax of magazines, the obvious course of action is to finagle one's best friend an interview at the same misery-inducing corporation.

It's true that my job isn't as bad as I occasionally (or, y'know, incessantly) make it out to be. My direct boss is one of the nicest people I've ever met, nevermind worked for, and nothing I've ever been asked to do has been difficult, or back-breaking, or life-threatening. My biggest complaint is boredom or frustration and neither of those, to my knowledge, has ever killed a man. My other problem was the concentration of bizarre and occasionally infuriating co-workers, but Brad's presence has tipped the scales in my favor.

Plus, they're paying for me to stay at the Hilton in D.C. for two nights in October. I'm the kind of kid who nearly throws up at the prospect of spending a night at an Econo-Lodge (Free shampoo! A free pen! So, so many washcloths, and all so stiff!), the idea of staying at the Hilton is forcing me to consider making one of those kindergarten-style calendars for exing off the days one by one with a marker attached with string.

Everything is more exciting when you can count down towards it in Sharpie.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Keep on Keepin' on

I managed to live through my birthday, so I guess I can officially welcome my twenty-third year now that I'm somewhat convinced I'll live to see its remainder.

I've got a whole assload of work to do so I can't write anything important right now, but it seemed prudent to let people know I'm still kicking.

Thanks for all of the birthday felicitations.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Variations on a Theme

Happy Birthday to me...
Happy Birthday to me.
Happy Birthday dear mee-eee...
Happy Birthday to me.

Happy Birthday to I...
Happy Birthday to I.
They've been drilling in my office all da-aaaay...
Next stop: Su-i-ciiiide.

Happy Birthday to me.
You live in a tree.
You look like a monkey.
Nothing's funnier than third grade song par-o-dy.

Happy Birthday to me.
I'm now twenty-three.
Because I'm a prime number...
I don't divide evenly.

Happy Birthday to me...
Happy Birthday to me.
And also Erin Dorrien and Ashley Abrams and Joshua Graa-aaaay,
And also Prince Harry.

Feliz cumpleanos a me...
Feliz cumpleanos a me.
I don't speak Spanish at all...
Babelfish told me what to say.

Happy Birthday to moi...
Happy Birthday to moi.
Let's drink and bang fellers
Like Blanche DuBois.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

And then, of course...

So, to extend a particularly belabored metaphor: If yesterday afternoon I was the drugged and weepy sixties mom bracing a bag of Chef Boyardee cans against her polyester thigh, then yesterday evening I was the same mom, only full fledged blubbering with a half-lit cigarette hanging out of my mouth, watching as a Malibu squashed one of my fallen cans of lasagna as it rolled away in the parking lot, blowing my nose into the pieces of the brown bag still hanging in my hands.

That's right. I will ride this metaphor like a motherfucking pony.

Brad and I no longer have an apartment. Despite my signing larger checks than I have ever written in my life over to the landlord and the real estate agent, we don't have an apartment. Oops. Weird. The landlords "gave it to another couple," the agent said in the message she left on my phone after getting my number from Brad, because she "lost it."

She had my application. She had my checks. She had my number. In. Her. Phone.

She called to say that, weird, the landlords were "assholes," and despite the fact that she argued for me and "my boyfriend," the landlords had already signed a lease with "another couple."

I'm either psychic or just used to my bad luck, because I knew something was going to happen. Either way, I'm cursed for sure. By the time I got home (and my neighbor with the realtor sister-in-law was already making shrill and urgent phone calls to every person in Greenpoint), Brad was considering how I could possibly dodge the cartoon-style cloud that hovers over my stupid head. Especially right around my birthday.

Any ideas? Brick dust? Chicken feet? Invite Fairuza Balk to bind my picture with some craft supplies? Anyone? Best curse breaking idea gets my heartfelt attempt and possible photo documentation, provided it doesn't involve any running naked under the moonlight. Or any naked at all.

Or, for that matter, running.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Her Royal Highness of Melodrama

I don't know how this happened, but my birthday is the day after tomorrow.

Duck and cover.

As previously discussed, my birthdays are usually pretty atrocious. I don't know what possessed me to think that beginning a lease on the unluckiest day of my year was a great idea, but something did and now I am and I'm waiting for the bottom to fall out like a grocery bag filled with one too many cans of Beefaroni.

It's my birthday, and I'll use as many melodramatic metaphors as I please. Furthermore, I reserve the right to be the archetypal victim in what is growing to be a full-blown scene in my head, a head full of pink curlers covered in a scarf, big black sunglasses leaking streaks mascara, blubbering in the middle of the parking lot over dented Chicken of the Sea.

Even I don't know where I'm going with this anymore. I guess it boils down to the fact that my heart is a sixties sit-com Valium addict. Or something like that.

I spent all of last night watching a pirated copy of Mysterious Skin on my laptop and throwing out everything from my sophomore year of college. It would be right on par with my usual birthday celebration if that last sentence caused the feds to arrest me for downloading a movie I fully intend to purchase. I'm sure they wouldn't get around to picking me up until Thursday. Anyway, I threw out copies of poems so bad I wanted to bleed on them, not just to cease the pain they cause but to obscure the very words. [I told you. It's my party and I'll exaggerate if I want to. Which I do.] I put my many K-Mart stuffed animals in bags to be donated (so long, Purple Bear). (Who was actually green.) I threw out birthday cards, photos of people I don't like, and photos of people I tragically do like and would probably marry if they ever asked. Had to go.

Then I found, at the bottom of a box large enough to sleep in, two CDs filled with pictures from 2001-2002. While I should've been sorting through my containers of soap and investigating whether hair products expire, I cycled through several thousand photos taken during a year that remains foggy, at best.

And Joseph Gordon Levitt was being beaten by a shampoo bottle in the corner of my screen, and I was sitting in a circle of light from a bare bulb on my basement floor and sneezing, and I was throwing people who once meant a great deal to me into a giant black garbage bag, and what was the single, saving grace of a thought going through my mind as a year of debauchery and depression and cheap, cheap liquor streamed past?

PLUCK YOUR GODDAMN EYEBROWS, KATHY! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Moral of the Story?

Though I wish I could make this a weekly column, I now bring to you the one and only installment of "Trucker Jokes" likely to ever grace these virtual pages. This trucker joke was heard over the CB radio somewhere on 1-80 in Pennsylvania, headed east towards New York.

A rich farmer was doing some work on his farm out in the country and he left a big hole in the middle of one of his pastures. One morning a horse fell in the hole and couldn't get out. The horse yelled and yelled for help and finally a chicken heard him and ran over. "What's the matter," asked the chicken. "I'm stuck in this hole and I can't get out," yelled the horse.

The chicken ran and got the farmer, who hopped in his Mercedes, drove down to the field, and pulled the horse out of the hole.

A few days later, the horse heard cries coming from the same hole he had fallen in. He ran over and found the chicken stuck in the bottom of the hole. "What's the matter," asked the horse. "I fell in this stupid hole and I can't get out," yelled the chicken. "Go get the farmer and tell him to bring the Mercedes!"

"No," said the horse, "I can handle this." The horse straddled the hole and instructed the chicken to grab onto his penis [Note: the trucker actually used the word "penis."]. The chicken held on for dear life, and the horse managed to pull him out of the hole.

Now what's the moral of the story?

If you're hung like a horse, you don't need a Mercedes to pick up chicks.

As if the joke isn't good enough on its own, the comedian trucker was telling it to a girl from "The Body Shop," a truck-stop strip club that advertises solely over the CB. She read out her usual advertisement ("The Body Shop has free showers, free coffee, and live dancers for only a five dollar cover charge! Dancing right now are Krista, Alexa, and April. At seven we have three more dancers joining them on stage. Take it over to channel 16 for more information.") and this one particular trucker, apparently thrilled at hearing a female voice over the radio, whipped out his classiest horse cock joke to impress her.

Her entire reaction: "Yeah."

Aside from this golden nugget of trucker humor, I finally (finally, finally, FINALLY!) heard some drivers talking about "lot lizards." I read Sarah by J.T. LeRoy several years ago and have since hoped against all hope that I would one day be on the right channel on the right interstate to hear truckstop prostitution discussed in a non-fictional sphere. I hit the jackpot when a woman broadcast a request for a ride to Atlanta from somewhere around Lamar, PA. She sounded incredibly young--possibly what prompted a driver to offer his passenger seat, provided she didn't mind a quick pitstop in New York. The woman came back, confirming that not only was she of legal age, she was forty-eight years old.

I'm not positive that the trucker ever picked her up once he found out she was probably not the seventeen-year-old runaway of his dreams, but it was her presence on the CB that turned the conversation turned toward hookers. There was some debate as to whether or not their services could be employed in central Pennsylvania. One driver adamantly insisted that in his six and a half years on the road he had never encountered one and all but claimed they were a myth; another driver, however, declared he sees them all the time and implied he had procured their services more than once.

I was just excited that someone actually used the term "lot lizard." "Smokies" was starting to lose its panache.

This was all on Saturday night. On Sunday morning I listened to two truckers parked at a rest stop discuss why it is that women don't like the profession (everything from just not interested to can't hack it). The more gregarious of the two then began to wax poetic about life on the road, how the job is changing, the trials and tribulations of the trade. He lamented having to go on short runs--he'd been to New York City, Maine, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh that week, and was heading down south somewhere later that day.

"I'm a long-haul driver," he said. "Send me out for three weeks. What the fuck do I wanna go home for? My kids are all grown, and I sure as hell don't wanna see my wife."

"Yeeeaup," said the other. "I told my wife I was gonna be near home later on this week and she wants to meet up with me now."

"HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA," said the first. "That's what you get for telling her where you'll be. My wife has no idea where I am, man. No idea."

"Heh," said the other.

"My girlfriends do, though," lied the first driver, right through what I pictured as his very yellow teeth. "All my girlfriends got my schedule."

Why don't women want to be truck drivers? I could hardly stop myself from sprinting towards a semi at a rest stop and begging to be hired on the spot. The idea of spending twenty hours a day in the company of such fine men rivaled the unshakable allure of running away to the circus. I could almost smell the intoxicating aroma of jerky, naugahyde and chaw emanating from a cab, the fantasy beckoning me thither with one stinky finger.

Why don't women want to be truck drivers? Total mystery.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Roses are Red. Violets are Appropriate.

There's a plague o'er the seventh floor of my office. It's not rivers of blood or locusts, although my boss did observe and report (with mimed antennae spasms) a cockroach near the women's restroom yesterday. The plague I'm talking about is less gross and probably less creepy, but equally unsettling in its utter inexplicability.

There are bouquets of flowers (as my dad would say) all over the gee-dee place.

I mean, they're nice and they smell good and all that, but they're not "beautify the office" bouquets by any means. They're "marry me?" bouquets, or "sorry for your loss" bouquets, or maybe even "Happy Birthday, Grandma!" bouquets, but most definitely not the kind of antiseptic floral arrangement one feels comfortable admiring on the edge of the receptionist's desk. Our decor isn't anything fancy (gray carpet, gray walls, gray cube, giant, incongruous blue support beams), and until now all of our plants have fallen comfortably within the corporate color scheme. In between grayish couches on a grayish table ou might find one spindly orchid tied to a stick for support, looking like a strapped-down surgery patient with all kinda fuchsia organs on display. This is the medical floor, though, so, y'know, it works.

Today though there are flowers on desks, and an arrangement of pink and purple roses on the abandoned reception desk, and, the kicker, a VAHZ filled with a dozen red roses. The last one qualifies as a vahz instead of a vase because it's heavy and expensive looking, and it has a bow around it, and is the kind of thing one might request on a wedding registry.

Vessels aside, see what I mean about the flowers? These are "I just called to say I love you" bouquets, and most decidedly not "Please enjoy our reception area, but not for too long" arrangements. They are "I am heartily sorry for my sexual transgressions and please, please do not divorce me because that pre-nup will break the goddamn bank."

They are not "We have purchased these at the bodega because the employee handbook required a pleasant environment."

You do not cut out a Valentine to your mother in the shape of a vagina. We have social conventions that put convenient fences around all things belonging to the province of romance, and I am all for those fences. There's something too intimate about an arrangement of red roses for them to be an anonymous office decoration. I've seen people snoop for a card. An abandoned dozen roses can only mean a relationship has ended with flourish, and in an eighties, red-rose sending flourish at that; there is large hair, there is running mascara and a kimono with shoulder pads, there is a pink Ferrari peeling out of a driveway blaring "I Drove All Night" in the scene that I am forced--forced, I tell you--to imagine every time I need to buy a bag of Goldfish from the vending machine to which they are situated uncomfortably close.

Even if they haven't been sent and discarded, a bouquet of red roses (baby's breath and all, people, I'm talking serious flowers here) is a strange and uncomfortable choice to prettify the office. The company loves you.

I mean, the company really loves you.

It is harrassment, and I don't have to take it. All I wanted was a bag of Goldfish. There is no reason why I should have to withstand implied eyebrow wiggles from a vase of improperly chosen botanicals.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Still, though.

I'm tapping my final days as a commuter on the shoulder, and I'm all but ready to give them the requisite goodbye hug and settle into a lifestyle where the subway alone is sufficent. Soon I'll be able to wake up at eight in order to get to work by nine, instead of hauling my ass out of bed at five to get to work by eight-fifteen, so I can leave by four-fifteen, all to get home at six-thirty. I'll miss the constant blog fodder the train provided, but that's about it. I was getting just a little bit sad about leaving the Metro-North behind this morning, until a man smashed into my foot and gave me a really nasty look. I mean, my fault. My foot had the audacity to be where his entire body needed to go. Y'know, which happened to be in the space designated for my feet, where any idiot knows not to put their stupid feet.

In a year I can't believe how little has changed with the people on the 5:12 express. One man did get braces--heartbreaking, shiny, silver braces on his middle-aged teeth. And the woman with the strange, floorlength Oscar the Grouch coat disappeared; I later found out she was a Danish jewelry designer and totally rolling in it. While I've gone through three hair colors and at least eight purses, worn everything from a Journey t-shirt to a full suit, and lost two iPods, the business men and women of the 5:12 seem to photocopy their days. I'm not being judgmental or superior, because I think their approach makes sense when four hours of your day is spent getting to and from a place where your time is completely not your own. Maximum efficiency can be gained through minimal change; while I spend twenty minutes in the morning trying to figure out what I'm going to wear, Braces knows he'll wear the gray suit because it's Wednesday and gets to sleep half an hour longer. Which means he probably got to stay up half an hour later the night before watching the Daily Show with his wife, who I have heard is pregnant. Way to go, Braces.

But still, I could sketch you their complete wardrobes, show you where they sit and what they're still reading (the woman who sits across the aisle has been working on Lonesome Dove for a solid six months) and name their beer of choice (MGD for the big guy who snores, Coors Light for his really skinny friend). I know that the woman with the long black hair wears white sneakers on Fridays, which is the only article of clothing she will wear that isn't black. Surprisingly, though, her iPod is pink.

It's all been virtually the same since last October, when I started taking the train and strategizing how to steal the seat next to the one hot dude.

Who is, I suppose, my dangling narrative thread. The Hot Dad grew from "that guy across the aisle," to "that guy who sat with me once, holy crap," to "that guy who talks to me about books," to "that guy who's screaming in the background of that voicemail I left you, sorry," to "that guy whose band I saw, and his lead singer was very cute, so I guess the original guy isn't that exiting anymore." Still, though, y'know?

I broke it to him yesterday that I'll be moving in about a weekish, and he must've said "wow," and "man," at least six times apiece while looking at the floor in a way I would describe as "sort of dejected" if it didn't sound so stupid and conceited. Still, though. Y'know? I think the fucker's grown kind of fond of me, and now he's going to be all by his lonesome once again on a train full of people who don't wear jeans or Converse All-Stars (with toe holes) completely inappropriately to the office. I picture many of them relaxing in some sort of loafer. I have trouble believing they own sneakers at all.

Unless we're talking about a whole company, which some of them very well could.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pack Rat, Pack!

I am a sick person. I must be stopped.

All you have to do is look in my purse to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I have a disorder. My bag, which once contained a hammer, nails, a baby shoe, and a tiny rubber pterodactyl at the same time, is home to an unspeakably large collection of the most useless, most ridiculous, and most confounding junk in creation.

Multiply this by three rooms full of belongings and one will begin to see the extent of my dementia.

I cannot throw anything away. Nothing, nothing, nothing. I spent several hours this weekend in my basement going through boxes upon boxes of God knows what, none of which I've even touched since I left Oberlin. Considering I haven't needed anything in them in a year, one would assume that I could throw most of it out. No. Instead, I have to open every notebook to search for precious doodles, which will be added to my folder of doodles for...for what? For framing? For use as currency should bored eleven-year-olds stage a coup? To send to Sallie Mae as proof that my loan repayment should be cancelled on the grounds that the most I got out of History of Geology was a really great martian picture?

After a few hours I did begin to throw away some things, but still not nearly as much as I should. All the programs from freshman year classical concerts my friends convinced me would be fun and not boring, for example. Some of them were fun and not boring. Most, however, were deadly. It is not healthy to keep a paper record of all the hours one spent in a chapel counting decorative light fixtures.

I threw those out.

I also tossed tins upon tins of pennies, all of which would be perfectly redeemable had I not managed to enclose a few batteries in each one. I put the tins aside with the intent of sorting the nontoxic pennies from the ones coated in some kind of fuzzy blue acid crystal chemical complex, but then did a little math and realized I might be touching battery acid in order to gain approximately three dollars.

I threw those out too.

I still can't get rid of birthday cards, or markers, or this roll of pink metallic streamers that I stole from the leftover Drag Ball supplies in 2003. Paired with the unopened bag of heart confetti I can't throw out, I've got all the decorations I'll ever need for the Valentine's Day party I will never, ever throw.

Those went in the "keep" box.

At least there's only one "keep" box. It used to be six.

And this is just my college stuff. I will need superhuman strength to tackle the boxes of stuff stored in the empty room upstairs, all of which I cleared out of my room when I entered high school on the grounds that it was "little kid stuff." I had to have thrown some things away at that point, but I must've had very strict requirements for what qualified as garbage. I can clearly remember putting my entire fifth grade math binder in one of those boxes, though, because "I'll want to see that some day."

What day? What goddamn day? Long Division Refresher Day? Prepubescent Handwriting Analysis Day? Show My Children How Poor I Was At Adding Fractions Day? Make Paper-Mache Out Of Vintage Math Assignments Day?

I am a sick person who must, must be stopped.

The next time anyone sees me put a parking receipt in my purse, grab my hand and smack it until I let go. I think I have found a parking receipt for each business day of the last eleven months. If you see me try to purchase a coffee cup, punch my head until I'm bleeding. You have my permission. I have more coffee cups than effin' Pottery Barn.

However, I'm allowed to have as many scarves as I want. I found a whole boxful and I'm thrilled. Easily thirty-something and counting. I'm a scarfoholic and ain't nobody gonna hold me down. Oh no.

I will win, hands down, on Who Can Keep Their Neck Warmest? Day.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

CNNebriated

I've got the house to myself tonight and I'm practicing living without my family. Lest anyone picture me weeping in the dark and gazing on a picture of my mother, picture this instead: I'm sitting on the couch, eating noodles, watching Rear Window in my "1960s outfit" consisting of cuffed black pants, a leopard cardigan, and ridiculous gold loafers.

I like this.

After a week's worth of viewing pretty atrocious apartments, Brad and I found a great place in Greenpoint that we can afford, that probably only needs one lock on the door, and that has no less than four places to eat pierogi and kielbasa within a six block radius. I'm thrilled. The big move happens on my birthday, which is somehow only twelve days away. I don't know how it's possible for a year to pass so quickly and so slowly at the same time, but I'm beginning to fear that that's how things happen once you're old enough to worry about crap like health insurance. Time runs by less significantly, but then when you're cleaning out your purse you find months of receipts and paystubs to prove it occured.

I wanted to write more about searching for apartments, but I feel wrong thinking about anything besides the people on the Gulf Coast whose lives have been washed away by Hurricane Katrina. I've spent the last two days watching CNN around the clock because I feel completely impotent. If there's nothing I can do for these people, it's at least my responsibility to know what they're going through--as much as that is something that can be extracted from television news. I've been sitting in front of the TV, often with my mother, trying to fathom what we would do if the radio suddenly told us to leave our houses. We don't have any family to go to, but we at least have money and cars, and the physical consitution to survive outside our house. But still, the thought is terrifying.

The people stranded New Orleans and Biloxi and the countless towns in between leveled by hurricane winds and water were left to survive an unsurvivable force by local, state, and federal governments that turned a blind eye, not only to reports that their hurricane protections were insufficient, but also to a system of class and race that left the poorest citizens in the path of destruction with no escape. How is it that in a country that considers itself to be the most advanced in the world (however arrogantly and erroneously) the poor are determined by their race, and then denied exactly the kind of assistance we are so quick to ship around the world in exactly the same kind of disaster? Why are our poor so invisible?

I don't want to make it seem like I don't think we should've sent aid to tsunami victims, or that American victims of disaster are worth more than foreign victims of similar disasters. My point is that all victims in these situations are equally at the mercy of the world's kindness and should be given the aid they need with equal urgency. It's an often repeated question in the last few days, but how is it possible that we were able to get supplies around the world to tsunami victims in two days, yet the thousands of people trapped in the Superdome had no food or water for more than five? It's unthinkable.

I'm sick at how our government has responded. I'm glad that each of the newspapers I saw this morning, from the liberal New York Times to the staunchly conservative Daily News and New York Post, each proclaimed their outrage at the inhuman treatment of Katrina victims. This country hasn't been this united since the last national tragedy, and though it's not worth the thousands and thousands of people who have been unfathomably hurt by the storm, it's a small comfort to know that this may be the factor that unites the population enough to demand that our government take responsibility and take care of its people. We are all outraged, and we all want these people to recieve the support they so desperately need. I wish I knew how to transform the former into the latter.

I've donated my money to the Red Cross, and I've kept myself informed of what's going on. It's not enough, but I don't know what else I can do when I live in New York and the people so in need live a thousand miles away. If anyone knows any organizations who need volunteer hours or another pair of hands, please let me know.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Home Sweet Home

Greenpoint it is, my friends. I am Oberlin graduate number 638,029 to find solace in Brooklyn's sweet embrace.
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