Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What Did The Thieving Frog Say? Robbit.

Friday night someone stole my wallet and my iPod out of my purse, which was sitting right behind me at the Annex. They used my debit card to purchase a pizza and, presumably, have been listening nonstop to a music collection that alternates between stereotypical indie-rock and the absolutely abominable. Yeah, it sucks that someone has my Social Security card, Barnes & Noble discount card and my Valentine’s Day Starbucks card from my mom that still had about ten dollars on it. But it’s way, way worse to consider that this same nefarious individual is in possession of my Oberlin ID with the second ugliest picture of me ever taken printed right on it and knows what I hide under the artist name “Embarrassing” on my iPod.

(For the record, because it’s out there anyway, it’s Eric Prydz’s “Call On Me.” Hillary Duff’s “Wake Up” used to be in there too, but I moved her out when I decided there’s nothing wrong with liking Hillary Duff, you snobby piece of crap.)

Losing my cards and ID and stuff is irritating and frustrating, but not the end of the world. It’s unfortunate that now I have to present the number one worst picture of me ever taken (my passport photo) as identification when I want to do as little as return a shirt at Forever 21. The only part that really bothers me is the stuff that I can’t replace that’s gone, because my wallet had become sort of a portable scrapbook without me noticing. There were photo booth pictures in there, and my favorite fortunes from cookies, and my high school ID that made me look like a big hippie. A Columbia University ID with a laughably MySpace-ready photo. Ticket stubs from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when I visited with my family the first time I was ever in Ohio and the play I took my mother to see for her birthday before I had to pay rent and the one movie I ever saw with this guy I had a big crush on one summer. My handmade old-man-shaped felt iPod case!

I’m not the kind of person who wears a watch every day or a necklace that I never take off. My wallet is the only thing that goes with me everywhere and having it stolen is sort of like losing the keys to my entire life. I can’t get into my bank accounts or my office or behind the wheel of a car, and I’ve even lost access to the things I liked remembering when I opened certain pockets. Fishing for a quarter and accidentally grabbing the pink movie stub, it was nice to recall that time when elbows almost rubbed.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

No Thanks, But The Hot Vanilla Shake Sounds Good...

I read a self-help book, beginning to end, which I liked enough to loan to a co-worker with the caveat that I saw it on Oprah, and yes, one of its more credible “experts” is the guy who wrote Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. Once you cut through the feel-good muck, the main tenet of the book is the law of attraction. You’ve got emit goodness to get goodness back.

I know, get me a bongo and some tempeh.

But for real, I’ve noticed that trying to smile more and generally be happier around people, particularly people like cashiers with whom I have brief interactions, has made a big difference. The guy at the deli I sometimes go to for lunch has taken to drawing smiley faces on the lid of my salad. The normally silent soup guy down the block had a nice conversation with me about the weather.

But I think the whole scheme backfired this morning with the coffee guy.

“Want a bagel with that?” the guy asked.

I refused. Politely, I think.

Then he offered a scone, a muffin and a Danish, in succession. I declined.

Then: “Have you ever had a chocolate chubby?”

I’m not even sure if that’s legal to ask with children in earshot. That is not the kind of friendly pastry offer I am equipped to deal with before he’s handed over my coffee. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, I’m emitting ridiculous double entendres.

It's That Time of Year Again

Doings and happenings over at JUNK, including my several-times-a-weekly American Idol liveblog. Do read it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Sun is Bright Enough

by Shel Silverstein

I've done it! I've done it!
Guess what I've done!
Invented a light that plugs into the sun.
The sun is bright enough,
The bulb is strong enough,
But oh, there's only one thing wrong...

The cord ain't long enough.

There it is, the new one. Meet the big, fun, exciting thing I did with the money I found a while ago in the mall, the $781.00 in an envelope labeled "Jean," dutifully turned in to the police, and collected again (in an evidence bag and everything!) around two years later when it was far more appreciated than it would've been had I just pocketed it when I found it. The rest went to my credit card, financing some new necklaces and an airbrushed pony t-shirt from Beacon's Closet, and buying everyone a lot of food. It's mostly gone. I'm mostly okay with that.

There's this Sleepy's mattress store commercial that has played in New York since I was a kid. I'm not sure if it's a national chain. Anyway, the tagline is: "Trust Sleepy's...for the rest of your life." Nearly every time the ad plays Brad points out how ominous a motto that really is. Trust Sleepy's...UNTIL YOU'RE DEAD. Trust Sleepy's, because our mattress will be the last mattress you ever pick out, because we guarantee our product for at least as long as your finite little life, so stick that in your pipe and smoke it, or at least dwell on it every time you lay down to sleep, on your mattress, a convenient reminder of how you're going to bite it.

(I'm trying so hard not to make a "mortal coil" joke.)

Anyway, what got me thinking about Sleepy's was how getting a tattoo is sort of like that. You know going in that you're going to have this thing with you forever, but really, it doesn't dawn on you until you look down at it the next morning, and the morning after that, and the morning after that, that you're never going to see your naked arm again. Forever! I will forever be the kind of person who has a Shel Silverstein illustration on her arm.

You're not just committing to an image. You're committing to a whole identity. Can you imagine if every personality you've ever inhabited had a lifelong physical manifestation? Okay, so, once I was a twelve-year-old who felt strongly enough about Bon Jovi to write them a fan letter. ("Always" got to me, okay?) What if that was written on my arm, plain as day? Right on top of "NKOTB," and next to an artistic representation of my membership card to the Cool Club, which was both created and disbanded on the third day of first grade by a girl named Jody and myself.

Anyway. I really like my tattoo.


The other day, Brad and Robynn and I ordered some food from this diner. The delivery guy is dependably strange. The first time he ever dropped off our order, I opened the door and he said it was good to see me again and asked if I'd changed my hair. I had, that was true. But also, he'd never seen me before in my life. The other night he showed up as usual and questioned me about my new airbrushed pony shirt, complimenting the detail in the pony's eye specifically and lamenting the lack of good airbrush shops around today. While I was signing the receipt, he asked me if I wanted the PC Richards electronics catalog someone had dropped on my stoop. No, I told him, that's okay.

"You're not into electronics?"

"Nope, not really," I answered.

"Oh. I'm electronic," he responded.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Rejected Conversation Hearts
















Friday, February 09, 2007

The Dangers of Taking Only One Philosophy Course

I realized, looking back at the two and a halfish years of this blog, that I tend toward a few things: writing about my childhood, out of control metaphors, and grandiose and probably easily refutable proclamations about how “life is like” a something.

What follows will contain the latter two of these. In buttloads.

Oh, let’s just do this thing; life is like a stuffed octopus. (Come with me my darlings, kick off your shoes and run with me into the flowery Meadow of Stupidity!).

I’m talking about a kid’s plush toy, maybe like an orange spotted octopus with big plastic eyes. If you take life as this thing, this thing that’s a product of craftsmanship and has a purpose, it’s basically system wherein a material of structural integrity (aka stuffing) must be evenly distributed throughout a bulbous little head and eight adorable legs to produce an attractive, functioning unit.

Capeesh? Capeesh.

So you’ve got this thing, this octopus, and let’s say there’s some lucky lady whose job is stuffing stuffed animals to their capacity and stitching them up, kissing them on the head, and sending them on their way down some candy-colored conveyer belt into the arms of a waiting child (most of that isn’t metaphor, just blind hope that that’s how a toy factory works). She makes the perfect octopus by stuffing all eight legs equally before he goes on his merry way.

But my octopus? Maybe stuffed by the Stuffer-in-Training. Or maybe, even likelier, the old, crochety, three-weeks-from-retirement stuffer, who doesn’t really give two shits if three legs are empty and one is so full you can’t close it up and the others are kind of weird and lumpy too.

This is what I’m getting at. If the legs are categories of life achievement (break them down how you will…career, health, family, friends, money, love, whatever), you’ve gotta stuff them all to be happy. My octopus, the stuffed animal of my life, is basically trucking along on like four good legs, with a couple of empty polyester tubes dragging around behind it.

Oh my god, the love leg? Let’s not even talk about the love leg. Actually, let’s talk about it right now, because you and I both know that the sentence to follow this one, which promises to be both the stupidest and best thing I’ve ever written, was what all of this foreplay was for, the whole laborious and wordy octopus metaphor construction, all for the following:

My love life is like the leg of a defective toy octopus, empty except for maybe, like, a used Kleenex or a cough drop or something else sort of creepy that shouldn’t be in there, because my stuffer is an old lady three weeks from retiring to Boca.

[Quasi-spiritual implications of the stuffer, specifically, whether it is me or, like, the Prime Stuffer, to be examined at a later date. By which I mean never.]

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Baby, It's Cold Outside

To say I’ve been in a fog lately doesn’t really cut it. For the last month—well, actually, probably since Christmas, life has felt like the commercial break between two shows. But maybe not even shows you’re that interested in? Like episodes of Top Design that you’re watching in a marathon? I don’t know, my point is that everything is a little tuned out with just a few products or people or situations hitting home. Thinking back to Christmas I basically come up with: static, static, nachos. Static, Purina. Static, static, MySpace, e-mail, static. The American Revolution. Static. Big crush on Top Chef Ilan. Static. Bean curd. Starbucks gift card. I Am Charlotte Simmons. Going to bed at eleven. Static.

Is this just what happens when winter kicks in like a vacuum cleaner? It went from nothing to full power with the flip of a switch, it seemed, and it sucked the heat out of everything in its path. I was sleeping with my fan on and my windows cracked. Then, click, winter’s on, and I feel like a corpse they’re keeping on ice. Stuff the towels in the windows, look at heavier curtains on Get up. Forget to return the Netflix. Go to bed again.

According to Merriam Webster, “February” comes from the Roman festival “Februalia,” named for Februus, god of the dead and also god of purification. (I tried to do some further research on the festival, but pretty much failed. Depending on which unreliable Geocities site you check, Februalia involved either candles or fasting. Apparently its legacy lives on only in poorly coded internet resources with pagan poetry on a black background.) It sort of makes sense, though. You kiss something goodbye in December, and you welcome something home again with your pale arms poking out of short sleeves in spring, but February sits mournful and empty between the two.

It’s not that I don’t like winter, because I actually really do. I look forward to snow with as much enthusiasm as I did when it could magically relieve me of my scholarly commitments. But there’s this way that people (by which I mean, like, everyone who lives somewhere cold) are in the winter that makes me kind of sad. I think it must stem from the bodily change we have to make every year when the temperatures hit single digits and the wind turns your face into frozen steak. In the fall, you walk down the street. But then winter hits and when you’re outside you hunch down, you pull down into your jacket, you hug your arms to yourself and stick your hands in your armpits, or else cram them way down into your pockets, you bury your head in a hood and breathe into your chest. My coat might as well be a bank vault, and I travel like heat is gold. But anyway, my point is, all of a sudden your body is completely turned into itself, and I suspect there’s a psychological change that mirrors winter posture. Not so much secrecy, but this sort of lonesome autonomy and privacy. More quiet. I don’t know, there’s something sad about it.

Thank God astronauts are driving cross-country in adult diapers to have catfights, right? February has given me at least that much.
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