Monday, October 31, 2005

This IS My Costume. I'm a Sexy Blogger.

Happy Halloween and all that jazz, a very happy Halloween to every sexy maid, sexy cop, sexy mouse, sexy vampire, sexy witch, and sexy cheerleader tying her bows, hiking up her skirt, and heading to Accounts Payable.

Halloween as an adult is, as expected, less exciting than Halloween as a kid. What I wasn't ready for was how much weirder it is. Walking down Mead Street collecting Butterfingers as a seven year old cowgirl provided little in the way of real scares despite how dark and creepy it may have seemed. It is far eerier to hop on the subway on a typical Monday morning to find a pirate asleep between two bored commuters, or to see cat ears bobbing just above the level of my cube. No one has acknowledged the glow in the dark Snickers in the perpetually empty candy dish in seventh floor reception, and, for all anyone knows, they appeared via poltergeist. (They will disappear through peristalsis, but that's nothing out of the ordinary.)

What makes it all the creepier is the propensity for many, many women to dress as a Sexy Noun for Halloween. I am by far not the first person to make note of the Sexy Noun phenomenon (see also: The Coast of Akron, page 75; The Hazards' "Zombie Girl") and I'm sure I will not be the last to watch someone's mom walk down the street in stilettos, fishnets and an apron, holding a feather duster. She's not just a maid. It's Halloween! She's a sexy maid.

True Halloween horror is in knowing that, at any moment, I could turn around to find a Sexy Noun making photocopies behind me. Anticipating the awkward exchange between someone dressed as a Sexy Noun and someone like me, dressed in their civvies--that moment when the Sexy Noun realizes she's wearing a tiny skirt and her boobs are falling out when she could, instead, be not wearing a tiny skirt and not have her boobs falling out--is the festive chill that rides my spine like a playground slide.

Adrienne Miller, in her book The Coast of Akron really does put it best: "It takes a true beauty to want to uglify himself; at Halloween, it's the average girl who gets dolled up as a French maid or a sexy witch or a princess so she can, for one night, play at being a belle. A real beauty would have no problem going as a fork." True. I was thinking about making a feminist issue out of this, about how an astounding proportion of the female population doesn't just want to play at being someone else on Halloween, they want to be the stripperesque caricature of that someone else.

Instead, I'll save us all the soapbox speech and just say I'm peeved that adult Halloween has boiled down to slutty Madlibs. Halloween was never all out thrilling as a kid, but it was at least unpredictable. At school there would always be a couple of really fantastic costumes, like Carl's spider outfit in kindergarten with eight arms that all moved when he moved his. I've never thrown an egg in my life (except for that nerd-o experiment in some extracurricular honors class in middle school where you have to build a protective case for an egg and then throw it off the building). (Mine broke.) But at least our driveway would see some silly string and I would hear threats of how totally crazy it was over on the other side of town in Countryside, our ever-so-dangerously named split-level ranch development.

The contract of a suburban childhood is full of loopholes. "When you grow up, then you can" yada yada yada is the standard line for parents to placate their children with promises of total autonomy at legal maturity, but it creates a sense of anticipation that adulthood will be chock-full of crazy fun to complement every sub-par kid memory.

I did not forgo stink bombs for a couple of bite-size Snickers! I was promised paranormal encounters! I was promised masquerade balls! The scales of justice must be balanced! Where's a goddamn Sexy Lawyer when I need one?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Hung Up

Last Saturday night I walked to the subway half deaf, dripping drunk guy sweat, singing the new Madonna song in cowboy boots and tights and a K-Mart skirt I scissored to near obscenity (and accidental asymmetricality) and sweatshirt I bought for three-fifty at a Goodwill. Roughly six hours later I was rifling through a folder of work papers in Penn Station, looking for the correct envelope to save my reimbursable receipts and getting ready to board an Amtrak to D.C. for a huge medical conference.

Straddling adolescence and adulthood so thoroughly is starting to do a number on my metaphorical hamstrings.

An event that has been documented in several other places, last Saturday's MisShapes saw Madonna guest-DJ a large chunk of her new album. I was lucky enough to have found coattails to ride right through the doors and into the party, which was unbelievable when Madge was there, but equally fun even after she had left the building. I danced with some dude so drunk he yelled "IT'S LIKE THE BACK OF A RESTAURANT IN HERE" in my ear, which was at least comprehensible syllable-wise (though the logic train had clearly derailed at Coronaville).

Brad and I headed home around two-thirty in the morning. The rain that had beaten us up on the way to the party had stopped, which was a mixed blessing since I knew I was leaving too late to be able to take a shower before my trip. This is how I wound up smoky and slightly beery, having forgotten both my cell phone and iPod, sitting on the floor of Penn Station at eleven in the morning trying not to fall asleep for fear that I would be mistaken as a vagrant and shuttled off to some shelter. "No," I would say, "I'm supposed to be on my way to a medical conference! I'm a professional! I'm white-collar!"

"Yeah," the cop would say, "that's why your boots are covered in Pabst. Get in the car. We'll get you some soup."

I made it to D.C. in one tired piece, albeit a piece whose hair was absolutely slick with day-old "molding paste." I grabbed a cab to my hotel, found my boss, got my room, and had a quick meeting with one of our authors. So began two days of pasting faces onto the vague conceptions I'd created of people I'd been e-mailing back and forth with for a year. Most turned out to be your basic academic type, complete with requisite firm handshake and gold framed specs. Many were very nice. I did a lot of nodding and pretending I knew what acronyms stood for, and a good amount of smiling and half-promising I could do something about the nine-month production cycle. I graciously accepted a koala from a doctor's pocket as he grabbed a croissant and made a mad dash for another meeting, as if the exchange were as natural as asking the time. I met an author whose last name is a euphemism for the male genitals and did not snicker. I did not, however, receive a one of the complimentary messenger bags reserved for MEMBERS and not CORPORATE SPONSERS. I tried not to hold this against anyone.

I was mostly there to keep my boss company and help out with the breakfast we hosted for contributors to our books. Again, this mostly included a lot of handshaking and smiling, though this time interspersed with directing people toward the scrambled eggs. The breakfast was two hours long, but it wasn't until the end that my boss and I sat down to ingest as much complimentary French toast as we could humanly contain. There were a few straggling invitees with whom we sat while we ate and maintained a mostly normal conversation.

Midway through my seasonal fruit bowl I noticed the genitally named guy looking at me in a way that was unreadable and out of the ordinary. Eventually I was able to discern that he was just that sort of guy who was always about ten seconds behind the conversation because his brain (and apparently eyes as well) isn't in the right place. However, because I am dramatic, I decided that his look was actually one of deep and unspeakable desire. He wanted to take me upstairs to his room and have sex, probably extramarital sex, possibly animalistic extramarital sex, with me.

It was a conscious decision on my part to interpret the "...uh...what was I going to say...?" look as anything other than what it was. I felt justified, however, because it was the corporate breakfast equivalent of playing that game where you can only walk on the furniture in your house because the floor is lava!! and you'll die if you touch it. There are certain times when boredom takes hold and willful denial of actual facts becomes provisional entertainment. It was much more fun at that moment to imagine myself as an other-woman-to-be than to stay stuck in the reality that I was an assistant sitting across from another person with an advanced doctorate and tenuous grasp of social decorum. It was more fun to make my life double and diverge over coffee than listen to the conversation about healthcare reform--while Real Life Kathy would tip her cup to sip her last sip, steal a box or two of Cheerios, head back to her room to take a nap, and watch a Seinfeld rerun, Bored Phantasm Kathy would eat her strawberries in an unknowingly seductive manner, find a room key in her pocket, and have a torrid affair with the kind of man she doesn't even find particularly attractive but who would stop women like her mother, who would still throw their underwear at Robert Redford or Sean Connery, dead in their tracks, and whom making jealous is a fantastic prize.

In real, real life, I didn't even steal the Cheerios. I did take a nap, I did watch Seinfeld, and then I had some excellent tofu at a Thai place. Then I went to bed, headed home, and went back to work. The trip, for me, was a strange alternative to my usual nine-to-fiver, but stranger still to me is the idea that there are people who spend great portions of their time traveling to and from meetings just like that. I know I turned into a total five-year-old while I was in my hotel room; I jumped on the bed, I took a bubble bath, I ate Pull and Peel Twizzlers in my underwear. Is it unreasonable to imagine that such buttoned-up professionals do the same? Or, better, that they turn into seventeen-year-olds and have sweaty affairs in D.C. this month, Phoenix next month, Brisbane the month after that?

It can't all be croissants and plastic champagne flutes. There's got to be a leopard print thong somewhere in the mix.

It Moves, It Breathes!

Not dead, just marooned at a Hilton in D.C. without my laptop. Update forthcoming...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Justice Say No!

So, Harriet Miers.

Despite the fact that kids on both sides of the partisan picket fence have decided to let their homemade volcanoes of rage finally boil over, I still feel pretty clueless about this woman. She's been called a "pitbull in size six shoes" by our fair leader, but from what I've seen and read of her she's considerably less than worthy of such a snappy moniker. Ms. Miers seems to me to be much more like the packet of oyster crackers that arrive beside your cup of beef barley--the kind of thing you didn't ask for, don't particularly want, and just can't really get into for all its blandness.

The only sign of life I've seen out of this woman is her adamant support of George Bush and his every political endeavor. By now we've all seen the syrupy notes from the nominee to the President (then Governor of Texas), but this can't really amount to a condemnation of Miers as a nominee. She likes the president and she said she thought he was "the best governor ever."

I can't find the letter from which that quote was taken, but I believe I read it was a thank you note. I have a childhood's worth of thank you notes to my grandmothers declaring each of them "the best grandmother ever," but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm ready to testify to the truth of those statements before the Senate Judiciary Committee, you know? Didn't you ever learn about white lies to spare someone's feelings?

So I'm not so much concerned about good ol' Harry's pledged allegiance to the Prez. I'm also not entirely ready to write her off for being a Christian because she hasn't yet spoken about how her politics and her faith interact.

This is the problem, though. She hasn't yet spoken about anything in any way as to allow a decent look at her judicial philosophy.

I'm not sure what to think about her lawyering because no one seems to be able to tell me about the cases she's worked on. No one (including Miers herself) has illuminated her stance on basically any issue sizzling on the collective American plate. Like many, I was hoping that her answers to the nominee questionnaire would give me an inkling as to why this woman was chosen above every other law professional in the United States to sit on the Supreme Court, as well as how she might act in that capacity.

Yeah, well, no dice on that. According to the New York Times:

...One inquiry in the original questionnaire pointedly asked her about reports that in conference calls with conservative supporters the administration and its allies had offered private assurances about her views on abortion and other matters.

The first part of the question asked if she had made any statement to anyone about how she might rule from the bench, and a second part requested information about "all communications by the Bush administration or individuals acting on behalf of the administration to any individuals or interest groups with respect to how you would rule."

Ms. Miers's one-word answer to both was "No."

I am trying to think back on how many job applications I have filled out since the very beginning of my working career. I worked as a camp counselor when I was in sixth grade, a library volunteer throughout middle school, a birthday party assistant at around the same time, a music teacher and administrative assistant in high school, a counselor at another camp, a vitamin salesperson at a health food store, a gym monitor, a bartender, a Resident Assistant, a Conference Assistant, and an editorial assistant. So, at a conservative, off the top of my head estimate, I have filled out at least twelve job applications. For a more accurate count, I could probably add another twelve applications to that total to include jobs I applied for but didn't get.

Twenty-four job applications completed in twenty-three years of life, and most of those completed far before I even had a college degree. Many were filled out before I'd even taken the PSAT. Still, I can honestly say that I have listed a phone number for every reference. When asked, I have written out every single computer program in which I am well versed. I have included strengths and weaknesses galore. I could write my social security number in my goddamn sleep.

I stood in the middle of Mrs. Green's Natural Market not two days after finishing my finals and driving halfway across the country with all of my belongings and came up with six lines of decent prose about why I felt deeply about organic food, lines that I wrote into the proper box on my application while kids stuck their fingers in the bin of bulgar wheat and a hippie waxed poetic about the Deodorant RockTM.

So it is that I can understand Ms. Miers's uncomfortable position. Imagine her walking up to the Supreme Court bench, and, just like the rest of us, uncomfortably filling out her (fifty-seven page!) application in front of her potential employer while here potential colleagues sized her up. Who among us doesn't know the tension of standing in a bustling business and having to ask for another pen when the one the manager gave you ran out halfway through your former babysitting family's address? Now, imagine filling out that application while standing in pumps (sensible, of course, but pumps nonetheless) in front of the entire Supreme Court. Imagine how her hand must have cramped. Imagine how Ruth Bader-Ginsberg must have snickered at her eyeliner.

What? Filling out a Supreme Court Nominee Questionnaire isn't like applying to McDonald's? You don't have to do it right there in a booth covered in ketchup? She had, like, days and days to come up with answers? She got to use a computer, a computer probably connected to the internet, which means that even if she was stuck and couldn't come up with anything but a one-word, two-letter answer on her own she could at the very least plagiarize something off the freaking Drudge Report?


Harriet, from one frequently employed woman to another, let me share with you a trick of the trade: even if you don't really care about the job, you're supposed to make them think that you do. See, I fucking hate homeopathic remedies, but I lied and wrote like four sentences about how much I love them and bam, I got the job! And I haven't even had, like, eight years of post-high school education!

"No" does not a justice make, Harr. I have been asked stupid things in job interviews, for crappo jobs nobody else would ever want to do. I've been asked whether I can lift fifty pounds. I answered. I've been asked how I became interested in the field of health informatics. I came up with something. You can't just say "no" if you want the job, not to a dude named Walter who listens to "Afternoon Delight" as he logs expired Ephedra, not to a tired HR guy who's quitting at the end of the week anyway, and most definitely not to a bunch of senators.


The only thing I can say for sure about Harriet Miers is that she's got a pair the size of grapefruits.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Franz Ferdidamnation

Normally before a show I spend three or so hours picking out an outfit that tightrope-walks the line between "cool" and "what?" I'm not saying I didn't change my clothes thirty or forty times before the Franz Ferdinand show last night, because I did, but my routine was slightly altered by the disgusting amount of White Castle Brad and I ate for dinner before we left for Madison Square Garden. As a direct result of my being absolutely full of "sliders" I wound up dancing to "Darts of Pleasure" in my hippest of hip hooded sweatshirts and ancient Old Navy jeans. I was just too full of upsettingly soggy bun to wear anything else.

Lest you begin to think this isn't a review of the show, let me qualify; what I wound up wearing was profoundly related to watching Franz Ferdinand perform.

First and foremost, the Theater at Madison Square Garden is a less than ideal place to see any band, most of all a band who you really wish you had seen when they were playing tiny clubs. From row Y, section 206, the Alex bouncing back and forth across the stage may well have been a Lego figure. Brad and I got to our seats shortly after Franz Ferdinand's set had started, so I wasn't able to get a handle on the crowd with the lights on like I usually do before a show. It was all the more shocking, then, to hear the kind of drunk baritone usually screaming "FREEE BIRDDD!" at, I don't know, Lollapalooza, actually yelling "DARTS OF PLEEEASURE" at four stick thin Scottish dudes in girl pants.

How does this relate to my sweatshirt--specifically a sweatshirt I'd spilled Diet A&W root beer on? Somewhere along the line, Franz Ferdinand exited the arena of dandified audiences in clubs where people go to look at each other as much as the stage and entered the world of major concert halls populated with that familiar combination of diehard fans (who line up midday for a late evening show), high school kids, middle-aged folks with disposable income who recognized the band's name, and, of course, the omnipresent bunch of drunk dudes doing the straight guy headbob. "DARTS OF PLEASURRRRE!" [Bob, bob, fist pump, bob].

I'm not saying this is a bad development in the least. I would prefer to slap on a sweatshirt and head to every show I see. It would be better for my overall self-esteem. I'm also glad to see Franz Ferdinand has met the kind of success that can populate a several thousand seat theater. What I'm saying is that I wasn't paying attention when it happened. I suspect some of their success is due to the payola scandal in which their record company is embroiled (though I'm sure it's why Take Me Out appeared frequently on K1o4 in between Nena Sky and the Pussycat Dolls), but they also played the Grammys last year, and have been prominently featured on The O.C., and are, in general, one of those bands that people outside one countercultural clique appreciate.

Back to the stained sweatshirt. I felt completely comfortable looking kind of schlubby, dancing along to the impeccably dressed, magnetically attractive band with the rest of the slightly schlubby audience* in the huge hall.

This is the pillar of my theory that Franz Ferdinand is the rock band that plays in hell.

I don't mean that in a disparaging way. Firstly, Franz Ferdinand is comprised of a bunch of lanky guys wearing red and black, sneering and playing snaky sixties minor riffs on guitars they wield like weapons. They look like the lounge act that plays in hell, if hell is (as I suspect) a big 1960's Technicolor affair with the contrast flipped toward red. Each member is himself only a tail away from being the kind of imp that hops around in cartoon visions of the Inferno; replace the instruments with red hot pokers and you've got yourself functional damnation.

Second, they sound like the rock band that plays in hell. Every song is fast and intense and wears you out by its end, but before you can take a breath they've launched into an even faster, catchier song whose danciness you can't possibly resist. In hell, your pleasures become your tortures in exactly this way.

Thirdly, and perhaps most poignantly, Franz Ferdinand is the rock band that plays in hell because they are unbelievably attractive and charismatic. They have obvious assloads of fun up on stage. When these factors combine, row Y, section 206 is a Sisyphian distance from the stage, and your (now kind of sweaty, and still stained) sweatshirt is the boulder that will always keep you laboring towards and ebbing away from any kind of close physical proximity to Alex Kapranos's person. Franz Ferdinand is the rock band that plays in hell because they are excellent at what they do, but in that way that reminds you that you, you there in the sweatshirt with the soda stain right on the boob, are not a rock star.

Now chew on that for all eternity while the flames flicker, Franz Ferdinand plays "Evil and a Heathen," and your intestines are endlessly cranked out of your abdomen for thinking impure thoughts about Ryan Olmstead during your Confirmation Mass.

*Brad Walsh is a notable exception.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Dream A Little Dream of Me

Last night I dreamed that, in my dream, I was able to go back in time. However, I went back to a point in my dream past that had never occurred in my actual, conscious, three-dimensional past. The details of my dream past are fuzzy and getting fuzzier, but I seem to remember being about seven years old (with a full grown me accompanying me, field trip chaperone style) and walking around a smallish town I don't think I've ever actually visited. There was something about watching a baseball game, a little league game, and when I looked up from the field my grandfather was standing on a corner across the street. I immediately felt as though I had been paying attention to the wrong thing, like watching TV out of the corner of your eye when your mother's telling you about her bad day. Just as I'd noticed him, though, he grabbed his chest and fell to the ground. There was a crowd of people between him and me so I couldn't get over to where he was standing. Dream running and dream chasing ensued, the kind where you can't actually get where you need to go no matter how hard you try, like running in a pool.

My grandfather's already dead, so there's no need to worry I'm having upsetting premonitions about the demise of my kin. He did, in real life, have a heart attack, but not when I was seven and not on a street corner. To my knowledge, he had never once been to a little league game. My grandfather, from what I can remember, did a lot of TV watching from his armchair and fought with my grandmother during the commercials. He also once painted an entire floor of his house a bizarre shade of brown because he was colorblind and had no idea it wasn't the mauve my grandmother had requested. When my grandmother threw a fit, he also refused to admit it wasn't pink.

It's so unsettling to dream about deceased relatives. I haven't seen my grandfather since I was in fourth grade and he was transported from a golf course parking lot somewhere in Yonkers to that great, endless nineteenth hole via cardiac arrest. So either my dream is otherworldly and Grandpa is reaching out from some other plane of existence and poking me on the forehead as I sleep, or it's intrapsychically weird and my subconscious is coughing up a relative I haven't had any contact with in thirteen years for reasons I can't control.

I'm going to see Franz Ferdinand tonight at Madison Square garden, and I'm trying to extrapolate any lesson I can glean from my weird dream. Am I not supposed to pay attention to the show, lest I miss something critical in the audience? Am I going to resuscitate an old man? What was it you were trying to tell me, Grandpa?

What's that? ...Throw...throw my bra at Alex Kapranos, follow him to his bus...get pregnant, have our little Scottish babies play baseball? Is that what you've been trying to tell me?

The wisdom of my ancestors will have me fellating rock stars in alleys yet.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Fake Advice to Celebrities Who Didn't Ask For It, Vol I

Since I never know what to write on Fridays, I've decided that every Friday from here on out is going to be "Fake Advice to Celebrities Who Didn't Ask For It" Day. I got the idea last night during a commercial break in the third consecutive episode I'd watched of the VH1 modern classic Breaking Bonaduce. While washing pop-tart crumbs off a plate and mentally lecturing the ex-Partridge, it seemed pretty clear that I could manufacture at least one weekly blog out of my smug sense of superiority over the marginally to overwhelmingly famous. This would also prevent me from both writing and forcing anyone else to read another five hundred words about why I hate my photocopier.

Dear Kathy,

Though I think of myself as an actress, a recording artist, a marginally talented dancer, and general girl-about-town, it seems as though the press can only see me as a cokehead car crasher. It's true that I lost a ton of weight, I may or may not have slept with Bruce Willis, and I genuinely enjoy the soulful melodies of 30 Seconds to Mars, but it's not because I'm on drugs. How do I get the world to see me for my talents and not as a vacuum-faced quicker-coker-upper?

Liable to Inhale Nothing! Zilch!

Dear LINZ,
I know you spent your childhood being tutored on the set of the Parent Trap, so its possible you missed out on the crazy lengths the rest of us went through to keep ourselves from falling asleep in fifth grade math class. To fill you in: one classic of grade school humor (popular, at least, in the Hudson Valley circa 1993) was a long, calculator based joke that involved Dolly Parton, several visits to a doctor, and a varying a dosage of a mammary-decreasing pill. The result on the calculator by the end of the joke was 55378008, which, when flipped upside-down, spells...


That, my dear LINZ, is the problem. Had you been told that particular joke at the delicate age of your own flowering, the equation that boobless=punchline may have stuck with you as it has me. I won't venture to say why it is you've lost so much weight (though I'm willing to bet in line at Dunkin' Donuts your more likely to ask for a powdered than a glazed, but that's just me) but in your quest for total skeletonnage your boobs disappeared.

I'm sure you've noticed that most of your paparazzi are men, and straight ones at that. My advice? Implants. Give 'em something to look at below your neck and they'll never notice the rolled up dollar in an orifice above it. Plus, should the whole acting/singing/dancing thing not pan out, big fake hooters will always get you a job where you can act like you're interested in sweaty businessmen while Whitesnake sings and you dance around a greased up pole.

Win/win sitch, Linz. Go for the double-ds.


Dear Kathy,

When the fuck did I get famous?

Rachel McAdams

Dear Rachel,

I don't know, but ride it like a bull until everyone realizes you're not Katie Holmes.


Dear Kathy,

I agreed to participate in the E! show Filthy Rich Cattle Drive because every other heir to a family fortune seems to have a reality show these days. I am not the kind of guy to sit around while Hiltons and Gastineaus have half an hour of prime-time air dedicated to them at least once a week while I have to manufacture my own fame by calling bouncers "negroes" and insisting they retrieve my Prada sweater from the club I was just kicked out of.

I digress. My point is: I hate this show, and I would very much like to go home. My father says that if I call the lawyers one more time he'll move my office to the opposite corner of the building, which means I'd only have a half bathroom. No tub! Who can work without a tub?! Where would you chill the kegs?

How can I get off this godforsaken ranch without losing my work tub, pissing off the network, and coming across like a whiny rich kid on my first reality show?

Fabian Basabe.

Dear Fabian,

Let me say first that I understand the pain of wanting what all your peers already have. In high school, everyone got a car before me. I was forced beg rides off of acquaintances for years to avoid walking home from literary magazine meetings and Amnesty International letter writing campaigns. I'm sure you can relate. When I finally did get a car that I was able to drive to school two or three days a week, I was ecstatic beyond comprehension. I had been handed my very dream.

So, Faby, I understand your unquenchable desire to have your own reality show. How you managed to sit idly by while Nicole Richie slutted her way across the heartland is beyond me, and above that, a model of self-control that from which many a Zen Buddhist could draw a lesson or two. You must have a deep well of spirit and character I can't even begin to fathom.

It is true, though, that your dreams are not always what you expect. My car, for example, stalled in the winter. The crank to its manual sunroof fell on my head if I drove more than thirty-five miles an hour and it wasn't positioned at exactly three o'clock.

Your show is just as difficult. You signed up for a cattle drive, but who ever thought a cattle drive would mean cattle? Or dirt? Or, for the love of everything sacred, dirty cattle? It's a shame you were swindled.

As for a way out of the show, I have only one suggestion:

Kill yourself.

Kathy Cacace

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It's What You Wear from Ear to Ear

Dorothy, my computer, has been Medivac-ed to Japan for some serious CD-ROM drive surgery. In her absence it's been difficult to turn unbloggable molehills into hilarious mountains, which inevitably leads to four day silences broken only by pictures of myself. I never claimed I'm not a narcissist, but I swear, I have more to write about when I have something on which to write it.

Had my trusty (well, I mean, trustyish--the CD/DVD drive did break after a whopping two months of ownership) laptop been available to me yesterday, I would've been able to bring live, kernel-by-kernel commentary of the woman who pulled an entire, cooked, cold, wrapped-in-cellophane ear of corn out of her Tigger purse and ate it on the D train.

I'm very sensitive about food noises. I'm also a giant hypocrite, because I know I'm not the quietest or neatest eater in the world, but that doesn't change my near pathological inability to handle chewing noises produced by mouths other than my own. When I eat dinner around particularly enthusiastic masticators, I have to crumple my napkin next to my ear to drown out the noise. Or else talk incessantly, or kick my chair, or just take my plate up to my room and slam my door if it happens to be 1995 and I had a bad day at Mildred E. Strang Middle School.

So it is that being trapped on a moving subway car crammed so full of people I can't get up out of my seat, which is located directly across from a woman who is attacking an entire ear of corn while the rest of the Brooklyn-bound crowd, including her husband, watches with reactions that range from vague interest to unconcealable nausea is my absolute worst nightmare.

It was so awful I couldn't take my eyes off of it. I noticed her rooting around her bag in that particular way that old ladies do when their blood sugar is low and it's time for a Vicks or a little packet of oyster crackers or something, dang it. I couldn't even tell what she had removed from her bag until eight inches of Saranwrap had been rolled down off of it, condensation dripping from the plastic into her purse like sweat off a pale old guy. She attacked the thing with a gusto that made her onlooking husband wince and cross his legs.

From there on it was all a fog of spit and corn and bits of yuck wedged between teeth and the near end of my short, neurotic life.

See, if I'd had my laptop, you would've gotten a much more vivid picture.

The really surreal part was that when she got about halfway down the ear, it became clear that the cob itself was crooked. Not only was the entire production gross, it was now awkwardly and tragically sexual.

I mean, it is the New York subway, and I guess I should be happy that what I had to deal with yesterday was just an old woman with a fistful of phallic produce and not a schizophrenic with a fistful of his own genitals, but the latter is, at least, an offense. There's cops a plenty on the subways these days, but so very few who are willing to intervene in a malicious corncobbing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


New hair. Strange face. Aveda stylist-in-training sitting behind me. Tuna melt en route.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Don't You (dada da daDA)...

As is contractually obligated by every Oberlin graduate who relocates to Brooklyn, I am now rocking a homemade haircut complete with bangs and layers and various (artistically) missing chunks destined to make the Aveda kids next door shudder right down to their Diesel sneakers. I don't know how it happened. One minute I was watching hour three of The Tenth Kingom (the best worst ten-hour-long miniseries network television has ever produced), and then next I was standing in the bathroom as a fistful of hair dropped into the sink.

Maybe it was this week's episode of America's Next Top Model that prompted the change. I haven't watched the show at all before Wednesday night, at which point I tuned in because I was promised a tranny-outing. Rumor has it one of their contestants may be hiding her candy, and while this may make for an exciting bikini shoot during some later show, I was given no such gender-bending, "WATCH OUT THIS IS A REALITY TV MINDFUCK!!!!" moment. Instead, a former pageant winner from Texas refused to cut another inch off of her already short hair and decided to leave the competition. The possibility exists that I may have internalized her total pussitude and taken it out on my own head, but whatever the motivation, I'm happy with how my hair wound up. Most importantly, I didn't have to spend even one thin dime on a haircut that inevitably wouldn't have turned out how I wanted it to anyway. I've had more than my share of cuts bungled by either language barriers or evangelical straight hair preachers and I think I'll take care of my own head from now on, thankyouverymuch.

(But if Tyra said cut it, I'd cut it. That's all I'm saying.)

My first week as a tax paying resident of Kings County and the New York City metropolitan area at large has felt like second third of a teen movie in fast forward. Take the "dork" scenes through the "makeover and beginning of rise to popularity" scenes (but stop before the "critical moral error, loss of old true friends, and learning of lesson" final act). New haircut, new bag, a plan for new clothes, access to places I've never been, and an excellent stellastarr* show last night make for the feeling that I'm being sucked face first into some other echelon of society who doesn't have to entertain themselves by hating everyone who walks into Starbucks. It's a good echelon. It's an echelon that probably won't get "that look" frozen on my face. Or sent straight to hell, for that matter.

The other reason I know I've entered Act II of my teen movie is because a new male character has just been introduced.

But he doesn't even know I exist.

And we are so woefully mismatched.

For real, though, there's just a new dude at the office; a really exciting day around here is when the copier accidentally gets unplugged, so a new possibly eligible bachelor is some serious shit. Even more fascinating is that instead of the typical bespectacled button-down type who tends to flock to scientific publishing, this kid looks like someone who's probably played lots and lots of lacrosse. The jury's still out on whether or not I think he's any kind of a looker, but many of the other women in the company have already turned in their guilty verdicts. For the first three days he was here I heard--at least once an hour--a woman sidle up to his cube to individually offer her welcome and extend a helping hand should he ever need assistance with his computer, the editorial database, his belt, his fly, etc.

When I started working here my boss gave me a bottle of 409 to spray down my desk. That was my welcome in its entirety.

Whatever, this is my teen movie and its high time I rode off in a jock's Camaro towards the dance, even if he does turn out to be a bonehead, or a date rapist, or worse, a chauvinist who wants to squelch my dreams of becoming an artist or some crap. There is also the possibility that I am, actually, three weeks into my season of America's Next Top Model, I just got my makeover, and he's actually a chick.

Either way, scientific publishing is about to get way rad. Gnarly even. Excellent. It'll be the most.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Es Muy Caliente

According to the Village Voice's "Neighborhoods" column, my neighborhood boasts "a booming Mexican community." They go on to call it a "quintessential melting pot" where "you'll catch glimpses of the odd kielbasa purveyor or halal butcher between omnipresent Spanish signage."

See, when I read that before I moved in, I thought they meant "omnipresent" in the sense of "next to the regular old English signage." Then I found myself having a particularly Sesame Street, sound-it-out! moment in front of container of self-serve rolls and bagels at the grocery store last night, muttering "No tocar...don't touch?....con los manos...with your...DON'T TOUCH WITH YOUR HANDS!" at the handwritten sign taped to the front. The Village Voice, my friends, is not to be read lightly.

Whatever, for just over a hundred dollars Brad and I were able to stock our kitchen to brimming with everything our heart desired, much in the way of Goya rice mixes, a tiny container of Abuelita hot chocolate mix, and my favorite brand of instant noodles whose label was conveniently translated from Korean to Spanish. Fuck music; small cartoon chickens and cows are truly the universal language.

We walked home four blocks with our heavy bags to find Eunice, the elderly super, and her friend once again sitting in their lawn chairs on the sidewalk. Last night they set up shop on the stoop specifically to watch a police helicopter circle overhead, searchlights sweeping the area for something or someone doing something shady.

As we unpacked our bags to the sounds of the BQE buzzing outside the window and the chopper searching out some possibly armed, probably dangerous suspect, or at the very least a traffic disruption, all I could think was that the door was chained, the buzzer's broken anyway, and goddamn, living on my own is nice.

This morning, walking to work, I saw a woman wearing a tank top that read "Single and Fabulous" in gold writing. I had trouble making out exactly what it said because the letters were stretched over her hugely pregnant stomach.

My neighborhood effin' rocks.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Trip the Station, Change the Channel

The thing about living in the town where I grew up--the Wonderbreadiest of suburbs--is that the illusion of diversity is undercut by certain common denominators. Old Navy jeans, for example. Across the board, everyone in suburban Northern Westchester owns at least one pair of Old Navy jeans, whether they be the mom-fab "Weekend Jean" roomy taper or the ass-slung "Carpenter" popular with the crowd who falls off their skateboards and picks their knee scabs in front of the A&P. There is the 7-11, a necessary stop for scratch-off lottos at rush hour, or Sour Skittles after school, or a sweaty hot-dog at midnight for the cops who tour Y-Town in cruiser 513.

There's Starbucks for all. There's the mall, which is for runners in the morning, and the retirees at midday, and the families in the afternoon, and the kids at night. There's the Texaco, a necessary stop for minivans, exterminator trucks, and souped-up Hondas. It's a universal destination, whether for the weekly drudge of filling up or the buzz of the under eighteen social epicenter in the back parking lot.

Moving in on Friday and Saturday was like a shedding of old skin--nearly literally, having snagged my arm between many an unwieldy box and our front door. My belongings are all shuffled and shoved in new places and I've completely shot to shit my usual rhythm of going to work, taking the train, eating dinner, watching Jeopardy!, putting on an absurd outfit, and spending the last hour before bed on the Starbucks patio drinking a Venti cup of ballsacino with my sunglasses on. The rest of the patio would be the same every night as well: the goth-circa-1995 kids in one corner shifting their queen bee's baby from lap to pleather lap, the quiet professor type on his laptop in the chair in the window, the three Clinique salespeople who are also ex-members of Girl Scout Troop 1379, a couple of moms, a couple of people in spandex buying a courtesy cup of coffee in exchange for using the bathroom.

The fabricated boundaries between them are severe and uncrossable. Six unoccupied chairs around a mom or two will remain unfilled despite thirteen alternaturds lurking around a single table in the opposite corner. Each social caste (which run more parallel than vertical) has cultivated an identity that sorts it from the others despite the fact that everyone drives up 202 to buy bagels; everyone rents their movies from Captain Video; everyone pays their water bill through the window in the vestibule of Town Hall.

My first two nights as a legal resident of one of the five boroughs, however, were spent flipping through the disparate demographics of New York like television channels. I'm in a Dunkin' Donuts in Sunset Park where no one speaks English, then I'm walking down the street to find a salsa band playing in the basement of a deli, then I'm covered in hipster sweat at MisShapes, then I'm eating White Castle and watching the Muppet Movie with my little brother and parents, then I'm navigating a crowd of upper-crusty gay men at Hiro (I know it's not possible for all of them to be employed by Logo, but I swear to God I heard at least four people say it), and then I'm having dinner with guitarists and career reality personalities and professional gossip bloggers.

To get a little ninth grade algebra for a moment, the Venn diagram of life in a suburb overlaps in the stupidest of places (the gynecologist's office, the annual summer Gazebo concert series, Yorktown Auto Body, Sue and Hai...) despite how vehemently the members of individual circles claim autonomy. Here, the circles really are just floating around. Everywhere I turned at Hiro I was eye-level with a pec (all of them shapely, many of them lovely, some of them naked) attached to a man with impeccably coiffed hair who was the kind of person willing and able to drop ten bucks on a dixie cup full of Stoli. Their circle will never ever cross paths with the circle Eunice, my seventy year old super, belongs to.

This is strange to me.

I guess the moral of the story is that even when you're in a small and classy club, with a classy soul trio classing it up on the mic, and everyone around you is so slick you'd lose their grip like a bar of soap if they tried to shake your hand, it's important to look up.

Chances are there's at least one very well dressed guy in the crowd across the way picking his nose and eating his boogers.
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