Friday, December 30, 2011

"Nothing really matters, anyone can see. Nothing really matters. Nothing really matters to me."*

Freddie Mercury.

            Today one of my favorite Los Angeles radio stations, 100.3 (The Sound) played another installment of their newest week-long “Ten at Ten” series of “Cover to Cover”—a collection of original songs followed by covers of those songs.
            The Sound always plays ten songs at 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. that share a common theme: a year, a musician, a word or instrument, etc.
            But this week they are doing original songs and following them up with their famous covers. They hit a lot of classics—I agree with them in believing that Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watch Tower” is better than Bob Dylan’s original. And I also love The Bangles’ rendition of Paul Simon’s “Hazy Shade of Winter” (though I’m not sure they played that--I just like it). Joe Cocker’s cover of “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends” is another popular one.
            But today I heard something that both offended me and made me oddly happy: Weird Al Yankovic performing an accordion-based cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
            What? Think about it.
            It’s totally sick and amazing all at the same time. I guess life is all about not taking anything too seriously, folks.
            Happy New Years Eve Eve.

*"Bohemian Rhapsody," by Queen. We still miss you, Freddie! (A quick tangent: Freddie is one of my all-time favorites. I even named my fish after him in high school--which was big, because a fish was the only pet I ever got. Freddie (the man, not the fish) had one of the most beautiful voices in all recorded music. R.I.P. Freddie Mercury.)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

"If you are blue it's easy to shake off your cares and troubles."*




Ann Miller shakes the blues away in Easter Parade.
            I’ve been slow to post in the last few days (week) and it’s not just because I’ve been eating for six.

            At the risk of sounding like a bah-humbug, I have to say that Christmas, once again, depressed the shit out of me.

            It’s a beautiful time of year, sure. People put lights on their houses and trees, frosted cookies in festive shapes abound, and I saw several yahoos driving around with antlers on their cars.

            But it’s also kind of a bummer somehow. I always end up feeling fat from all those cute cookies, the music is somehow sad because it reminds me of being younger and more excited about gifts and parties, money flies out of my bank account at incredible speeds, and the days are short and cold.

            Are you depressed yet? I hope not.

            This post is supposed to be about what I think can make the most sullen Scrooge McDuck feel a little bit better about life, even if it’s often more fun to think that life is meaningless and lay on the couch in the fetal position watching Sarah McLachlan sing about saving all the unwanted dogs and cats of the world (always thought that song was supposed to be romantic—boy was I wrong!). 
Sarah McLachlan's ASPCA ad.

            Here are my suggestions for riding out the holiday season, such as is left of it:

1.     Watch a movie that has NOTHING to do with Christmas. In fact, I did that one better and watched a movie about Easter. Easter Parade, to be exact. Now Easter is supposed to be the really big deal in the Christian calendar, because of the Resurrection and all that, but it often gets passed over (no pun intended, though I’m chuckling as I write that. I’m so clever!) because Christmas involves presents. But Easter Parade has nothing to do with Easter, and it’s just so damn happy that you can’t help but feel a bit better after watching it. I’m a sucker for Fred Astaire and Judy is at her finest, as I know I’ve mentioned before.



2.     Throw some stuff away. I went through my storage closet and started rummaging through boxes I hadn’t opened since I moved into this apartment seven-and-a-half years ago. Scary. And fun! I found clothes I didn’t want, spools of yarn from my short-lived knitting phase, a bunch of college papers and the screenplay my friend Gabe and I wrote in high school.



3.     Find the screenplay you wrote in high school with your friend Gabe. Ours was entirely handwritten in pink gel ink inside a red notebook. I actually couldn’t tell my handwriting from Gabe’s. After reading that, I couldn’t stop smiling for days. I’m smiling right now just thinking about it. And I’ll probably read it again tonight. And not just because it’s brilliant.



4.     Start your New Year’s resolutions early. I put the kibosh on eating entire hams and batches of cookies when I realized that I wasn’t at my parents house anymore, the scale thinks I weigh ten pounds more than I think I weigh, and I hadn’t exercised in six days. It’s only been one day (or 9 hours), but I already feel a lot better about my prospects for 2012.



5.     Reread a book you haven’t read since you were in fourth grade. I chose Island of the Blue Dolphins. I highly recommend it. And it won’t tax your brain, which is key if this suggestion is going to make you feel happy.(And don't start thinking about how you'd never make it on an island by yourself for 18 years. That's counterproductive and it's unlikely you'll ever be in that situation anyway.)



6.     Stop caring so much. I’ve decided to adopt a more hippie philosophy for the days sliding into the New Year. So what if life isn’t quite what I want it to be right now and I’ve not met my potential financially, romantically or artistically? There’s always the first of January looming and I can turn it all around then. In the meantime, I’m going to relax, bathe when it suits me, watch some bad television and let this year die with dignity.

            I hope this doesn’t make it sound like I’m really depressed. I am, but that’s not the point. This is supposed to be a funny blog, so I’m giving you the best I got at the moment. Here’s to the end of the old year!!

*This quote is from "Shaking the Blues Away", a song from Easter Parade. It was performed by Ann Miller and written by Irving Berlin. It was pointed out to me by one of my charges that most of the famous Christian holiday songs were written by Jews. He is so right. Love it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Tear down that bitch of a bearing wall and put a window where it OUGHT to be."*


            My family has had a few Christmas traditions over the years. We used to see The Nutcracker at the Orpheum every year until my folks decided it was too much of a bummer to have prerecorded music instead of live music. (I honestly wasn’t cultured enough to know the difference, and I’m pretty sure my dad fell asleep at every performance anyway so I wasn’t sure why he cared).
            We then hauled our butts all the way to Kansas City one year to listen to a legitimate orchestra play for the KC Ballet. That was fun, but when you live on the prairie, you run the risk of a last minute blizzard keeping you from getting back home after the show. Especially when home is two hours away.
             We may have also gone to the Omaha Community Playhouse to see A Christmas Carol a few times—I know I did, but I’m not positive I was with my family—but that only maintains it’s charm for so long before it gets old. It’s probably one of Dickens’ most preachy and self-righteous stories.
            But about six years ago my mom got the idea that we should check out a new show at the Shelterbelt Theatre—near 33rd and California streets (right by California Taco). It was called Christmas with the Crawfords.

           (A quick aside: my dad always insists on driving us to and from the theatre being as it's in what he calls "the rape capital" of Omaha. I always find this funny because my sisters and I attended Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart for high school--a mere two blocks up the street. It's one thing if it's the "rape capital" when you're going to a play. Totally different if you're just trying to pass biology.)
Joan Crawford as Mildred Pierce.
            Here’s what it is: on Christmas Eve 1944 Joan Crawford—recently fired from MGM—gave an on-air interview from her Brentwood home to Hedda Hopper. Joan’s career was in the crapper but she didn’t know that she was on the cusp of a comeback like few actors have ever managed (she would soon star in Mildred Pierce at Warner Brothers and usher in what many consider Joan’s “Golden Era”—the late 1940’s).
            Christmas with the Crawfords takes place on the night of Joan’s radio interview. She prepares herself and her adopted children, Christina and Christopher, for the interview, but unfortunately Gary Cooper is having a party next door and movie stars keep arriving at Joan’s house by mistake. They drink her booze, steal her thunder, and insist on performing Christmas carols when they realize they have a live radio audience. But the best part about the play is that every character in it—Joan Crawford, Shirley Temple, the Andrews Sisters, Hattie McDaniel, Gloria Swanson—is played by a man. (Except Judy Garland, but that’s okay.)
Ron Osborne as Joan Crawford.

            If you’ve never seen Mommie Dearest, you may be a little lost, since Christmas With the Crawfords borrows liberally from the film. Mommie Dearest is the tell-all book Christina Crawford wrote in the 70’s about the hell it was growing up as the psychotic Joan Crawford’s adopted daughter. It was adapted into a movie starring Faye Dunaway in the 80’s and became a cult classic.
            It’s kind of sad that Mommie Dearest is all that many people know of Joan Crawford as, in many ways, the movie about her life overshadowed her actual life and her kick-ass career. She may have been a whack-job, but that’s part of the reason she was such a damn good actress. And hardly anyone remembers My Mother’s Keeper, for some reason, so it seems unfair that Mommie Dearest has such a following. 
            We didn’t really know what to expect that first year and had never seen anything at the Shelterbelt, but we were so completely blown away that we’ve been going every season for the past six years (excepting the years when the theatre opted not to do it). With each year, our group has grown to include more people--my Aunt Mel and our family friend, Steve always go; and this year my sister's boyfriend gave it a shot, though my Uncle Tom still would not. My dad won't go because drag just isn't his thing, though he'll acknowledge its place in the performance world (who can deny it?). But it's become my favorite holiday tradition, melding the rites and songs of Christmas with a more unconventional spirit and flavor.
            Along with the many awesome movie and musical references in the play, I just genuinely enjoy watching a bunch of men in drag playing famous actresses of the 1940’s. I love the gays and this is as gay as gay gets (add on the fact that it's an Omaha production and your whole world just flew over the rainbow in a totally unprecedented way). Additionally, it’s a SNAP! Production, meaning that some portion of the proceeds from the show go to benefit the Nebraska AIDS Project. It’s a nice way to feel like you’re doing something worthwhile as you sit on your butt drinking wine while men dance and sing in dresses. This show has everything!
Shelterbelt Theatre.
            Okay, so I’ve blabbered on about this long enough. Here’s the important info: it was created by Richard Winchester and written by Wayne Buidens and Mark Sargent. This year’s Shelterbelt production was directed by Michal Simpson (I think he directs every year). It ended its run early (Dec. 18th), so I apologize for bringing it up now, but keep your eyes peeled—it may be back next year! (And if it isn't, I will complain to the management.)

Happy Holidays.

*The quote is a famous line from Mommie Dearest, purportedly uttered by Joan in real life but for our purposes it's Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford. The line also appears in Christmas With the Crawfords.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Remind me to send a thank you note to Mr. Boeing."*


LAX.
            I haven’t been to LAX in a while and my memories of it are hideous. If I can somehow manage to con one of my friends into giving me a ride, all I have to contend with are the long, snaking lines through security, the inevitably delayed flights, the ridiculous prices for water and food (I just paid $9.99 for a bag of beef jerky, for instance), and the epic wait at baggage claim.
            But today I have to say that the Los Angeles International Airport has really outdone itself. The terminal I’m in looks like a bomb went off: temporary plywood walls everywhere, long sheets of tarp taped over the windows, garbage strewn all over the floor, a very unpleasant stench AND my flight is delayed 45 minutes.
            But wait! That’s not the best part.
            In an effort to explain the appearance of the terminal, the powers that be at LAX came up with some clever catch phrases to slap onto the fake walls. Picture black lettering over grainy images of clouds and blue skies. These are little witticisms like,
            “Like a fine California wine, this airport is getting better with time. [Please excuse the construction.]”
And
             “Everyone wants to be an actor here. [Please act like you don’t mind the renovations.]”
Please forgive the graininess of these photos. I have a hand tremor!

            I really don’t mind the renovations, but why are there empty McDonald’s bags and newspapers and used syringes all over the floor? Are they somehow related to the construction? And why is my flight still delayed? Because it kind of seems like the first improvement this airport might consider making is figuring out how to get a plane to leave on time. I’ll drive to the smallest, ugliest airport in the world if my plane will actually take off at the scheduled hour.
            Okay, but in addition, there is one amusing sign that reads,
            “Look on the bright side. After this, coach will seem spacious. [Thanks for your patience.]”
            Um, screw you, LAX. First of all, way to admit that the seating in coach is a nightmare which should also probably be addressed before any new wings get added on to this inefficient behemoth.
            Secondly, how do you know everyone who reads your sign is flying coach? Are you just assuming that anyone willing to put up with these kinds of construction-related shenanigans must be poor? (Okay, they kind of have me on that one. If I were wealthy, I’d march myself over to a different terminal and get on the first flight out of this place.)
No. Thank you, LAX.
            And lastly, don’t thank me for my patience. You don’t know that I have any patience for this crap. And the more I write about it the less patient I am. A better thing to write might have been, “If you were to be patient, we’d be super grateful.” Then I might feel like LAX knew what a jackass it was being and felt really bad about it, instead of feeling cheeky and smug about having inconvenienced a ton of people and then pacified them all with some stupid signs.
            I know LAX isn’t a person, and so I’ve decided to take the high road and not be mad but—
            Holy shit! I just heard a rustling behind me inside one of those fake walled-off sections, so I have to move. I’m convinced it’s a rat coming after my raucously overpriced beef jerky. The little girl across the aisle is staring under my chair which makes it seem even more likely that Ratatouille is hanging out down there.
            I’ve relocated.
            Anyway. Not mad, just amused and baffled. And slightly grossed out (partially because in the grand tradition of Skateland, I’ve been sitting with the heinous odor so long that I honestly can’t smell it anymore. I was reminded of it when a lady walked into the terminal and was so overcome she had to cover her nose and mouth with her hand. Cringe.) Going to read a magazine and pray that my flight leaves soon.
Sad news: Skateland closed. About five years ago, apparently.
            Happy Thursday and if you’re traveling over the holidays, I hope it goes off without a single hitch.

*Quote from Captain Anson Harris (Barry Nelson) in Airport (1970).

Monday, December 19, 2011

"It's so good that you're feeling pain, but you better get yourself on board the very next train."*

Evil Woman Part V

           The never-ending saga of my trip to New York City with the middle-aged famous "musician" and his beastly wife twenty years his junior goes on. If you are new to this story, please find the previous installments here, here, here, and again here

From computer diary entries written in 2009:

-Monday
-Do not leave the hotel all day because Conor is sick. Just like Lucia’s been sick for days, but unlike Conor, she didn’t get to be sick in a bed. All she got were couch cushions on the floor.
-I mention I like doing laundry and that it is the only chore that gives me a sense of satisfaction. So Beth gives me a shirt to clean. Isn’t that sweet? I wish she’d quit spoiling me!
Tuesday
-Lucia tells me a story in front of Beth and I ask about the story using the word “murder” (it was a story about a murder!) and Beth snaps at me in such a way that I can’t help it—I start tearing up. She says in her serpentine, litigator hiss, “I am really not okay with those words! Don’t ever use those words around them!” 
-I try to control myself but the tears start coming, and I have to leave the room. I really don’t want Beth to have my tears. Part of me knows I’m crying because I’m tired and afraid of her and tired of being afraid of her, but I have to cry a little.
-Beth apologizes for snapping at me saying, “You didn’t know. I’ve never told you before that I don’t like those words. “Murder” and “kill” are just not okay with me. Something can “die” but the action of murder just isn’t okay.” It seems like a mostly semantic argument, but I understand the point, I guess. I just didn’t need to be snarled at. And it’s odd to me that treating human beings like garbage in front of your children is acceptable, but using words like “murder” and “death” is verboten.
-We go to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Beth asks the driver to stop in front of the Dakota (knowing my obsession with all things John Lennon related) on the way so I can look at it, but I’m too cowed by Beth to bother to get out of the car. I look out the side of the window and thank her for stopping (it’s on the way to the museum). She asks if I’m sure I don’t want to get out of the car, but I don’t want to end up owing her anything, so I stay put.
The Dakota. John Lennon lived and was killed here.
-Lucia and I are made to wait in the lobby of the museum with the baby because Beth doesn’t want to pitch an extra $20 so we can look around too. She says it’s because they might make us check the stroller by the door and Sophie’s sleeping. I’m sure that’s it. It’s not that she’s an unbelievable skinflint or anything.
-Sophie’s stale bagel falls on the floor. I pick it up and give it back to her. I feel very evil about that, but I also feel that germs are important. She'll probably be eating gold the rest of her life, so it's good to build up resistance to germs now.
- We eat at Artie's Deli and Conor throws a pickle at my face. He starts laughing maniacally and I can tell that Beth is trying her best not to join him. It would be funny if I didn’t have the feeling I was in an alternate universe and might actually be able to murder a child. (And would the act of murder make Beth as mad as the word does?) I get up and walk Sophie around the restaurant. Lucia eats quickly and comes to replace me, but I tell her to go back and enjoy her meal—neither one of us has had a chance to sit down and eat an entire meal in over a week. And I don’t want to be around Conor. Or Beth. 
Artie's Deli. Where I decided I didn't care anymore.
-Beth finds us after 10 minutes or so. She apologizes for Conor. Beth is worried now—I can tell. She wasn’t sure how Conor's behavior had affected me. She’s been really nice to me all night. The part I don’t understand is why she didn’t reprimand her child for throwing food at another person—an adult, no less. The other thing I realize is that as long as I can get a flight home, I really don't care what happens to me anymore. I'm feeling more clearheaded than I've felt in years, somehow.

*ELO's Evil Woman.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"If the phone doesn't ring, it's me."*

            I don’t like it when I’m trying to get off the telephone with someone and they cut me off and say, “Well, I’d love to talk more, but I’m really busy right now, so I’m going to have to let you go.”

            No! I’M going to have to let YOU go.

            It’s not a popularity contest. Don’t act like I am the one trying to continue the conversation and you are the one with a busy social calendar and a pressing need to hang up. I was ALREADY trying to hang up! I beat you!

            I’m not sure why it’s important to be the first one to end a telephone conversation. It’s not like there’s any shame in being the person who doesn’t come up with the idea. But somehow it’s become the telephone version of getting stood up or dumped, or being the first one to say, “I love you.” It just feels desperate to be sitting there on the line ready to keep talking when another person suddenly realizes that they’ve had enough of you.

            But it’s not fair when you are the one who was planning to get off the phone and the other person steals your thunder. It’s like breaking up with your boyfriend preemptively, because your best friend told you he was planning to break up with you.  

            No one gets to think they have the upper hand over me in THIS conversation!

            Why don’t we just start ending the phone calls twenty seconds in? Or say “Hello” and then see who can hang up faster? It’s a game of telephone chicken.

            This issue doesn't really matter. It just makes me mad.


*The quote is the title of a Jimmy Buffett song.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."*

          Thanks to all of you who have been reading my blog. It means a lot to me, especially when I consider how juvenile and unprofessional it looks. But I’m learning to do stuff, and hopefully it will look better soon. Though it may not happen before the New Year.
            I want it to be pretty for you. And for me, too.
            I am slow when it comes to technology. And doing things. For instance, I just got my Blackberry synched up with my computer, even though I’ve had it for three weeks. I couldn’t understand why my email didn’t just magically know how to get into my phone. The phone may be smart, but I’m not.
Me now. Working on my blog.
            Technology is my one weakness! (Please picture me shaking my fist at the sky like a super hero.)
            Okay, that’s clearly a lie, but it does rank up near the top along with salty snacks and buying things for myself that I can’t afford.
            I went through college and three years of post-college “real life” with roommates who were technological wizards, and I didn’t realize how good I had it. Now, between my roommate and I, I’m the “wizard.” So you can imagine how hopelessly screwed we are.  Sometimes it takes me 12 minutes to figure out the printer’s not working because the USB plug is hooked into the Ethernet port (even though it doesn’t really fit in there). The fact that I even know those words is astonishing.
            I’m just lucky that my mom taught me not to put metal in a toaster while it’s plugged in when I was still pretty young. In many ways it's miraculous that I've lived this long.
            But this is a promise and a thank you. I promise I will make my blog more user-friendly (okay, Word is saying I should write “user-friendlier.” Can that be right?), prettier, and more fascinating in the New Year. And I thank you for reading this blog in its current condition. If you are reading this, I love you so much. Mental high-five!
Me in the future. Maybe by the New Year...

*Arthur C. Clarke is responsible for today's quote. He was a science fiction writer. He wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey. Cool!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

“We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like, ‘I feel a bit lightheaded. Maybe you should drive.’”*

Road Trip Part I         
A Joshua tree, though not a fair likeness because this picture makes them look tall and most of them are really short.
            Mike and I were nowhere near the edge of the desert because we were in the desert because the desert pretty much starts four minutes away from East Los Angeles. We were still feeling pretty friendly towards one another because we always get along for the first 24 to 36 hours we spend together and then the casual nit-pickery begins.
            He’ll say something like, “Maybe we should plug in my iPhone and listen to some tunes.”
            As though the rocking-ass tunes I’m playing from my iPod aren’t really doing it for him.
            Then I’ll say something like, “Maybe we can revert the temperature from 64 degrees to a more temperate 78 degrees.”
            As though I would rather live ON THE FACE OF THE SUN than in the freezer he’s turned my car into.
            Sigh.
            But really, it was fun. Mike had his laptop and his iPhone (and thus, thank the lord, a map of where we were going, which I hadn’t bothered to calculate) and a bunch of tunes.
             I had a cooler packed with healthy snacks that would prevent us from falling prey to fast food temptation along the road, a suitcase full of wardrobe changes, a couple of bags full of board games, my laptop, some movies, a basketball, a tent, a hat rack, a magic lantern, and a house plant. Just in case.
            We were heading to The Grand Canyon and then to Las Vegas.
            Mike has been my friend since we were both five-years-old. He is probably the closest thing I have to a brother. That means this: I compare myself to him, he makes more money than I do, he’s smarter than I am, he tells me how to do stuff, he tells me when I’m “wrong,” we fight sometimes, and, maybe most importantly, I love him a whole lot, even when he’s being a butthead.
            That said, we were only 40 minutes into the desert when he started to piss me off. (Mike if you read this, I wasn’t really pissed off: I was irritated. Totally different!)
            I could tell the feeling was mutual.
            We were both sipping our $5 coffee drinks and agreeing—for the most part—on what to listen to, but we were both irritable and somewhat sleep-deprived and it made for a bit of hyper-sensitivity in the car.
            My theory is this: road trips are actually kind of boring.
            Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I’d like to point out the fact that I used to be something of a road trip aficionado. 
            I love to travel and I love maps (though, as it turns out, I’m hopelessly inept at reading maps. Short segue: I used to score abominably in the map skills portions of the ITBS standardized test they made us take each year. The fact that we took that test at all was bizarre because the “I” in “ITBS” stands for Iowa and we lived in Nebraska. Okay, two segues! But the mere sight of a map just enthralls me! I’m sure that’s somehow indicative of a psychological disorder.).
            But back in my road trip days I used to smoke like Humphrey Bogart (i.e. profusely), stop at a whim to sample the various chicken fried steaks of the great U.S. of A., and be perfectly willing to veer 200 miles off course to see an unknown “marvel” of the United States. (I’ve been to Carhenge three times, for instance.)
Carhenge. Alliance, NE.
            But now that my time is money and most of my trips involve getting to the destination rather than enjoying the journey, I’m kind of over the whole “road trip” thing. Also, I’m not a pothead or an acid freak, so what’s fun about driving in the desert for eight hours? “Look! Another Joshua tree!” It’s just miles and miles of desert. And it’s mostly a truly hideous sight, reminiscent of that movie Mac and Me (you know, the E.T. rip off about the aliens who drink Coke in Palm Desert by the windmills? My sister and I used to love that creepy movie). 
So creepy. Or good? I don't remember.

            And yet I’ve always romanticized road trips, likening them to the times when Jack Kerouac wrote that boring book about his road trips or when I actually liked Tom Robbins’ novels or when Laura Ingalls Wilder kept having to get back in the covered wagon and go farther into the unknown with all her pathetic crap in one tiny, little trunk.
            I have four times her luggage and none of her patience.
            So, in order to prevent you all from having to read the poetry journal I wrote under the rainbow skies that are America, I will fast forward to our actual arrival at Grand Canyon National Park.
            We were really eager, toward the end of our eight-plus hour journey, to just get to the damn park. We were bored with each other and bored with the scenery and bored with driving. And, despite all our better-laid plans, we’d eaten lunch at In-n-Out! So we also felt like a pair of fat assholes who’d lied to ourselves about how this whole trip was going to go down.
             At Grand Canyon’s south rim, there’s a stretch of highway where there are only two lanes and one is prevented from exceeding the 60-mile-per-hour speed limit. And after exceeding speeds of 75-miles-per hour to get there, it’s torturous.
            But we arrived and filed into one of the multiple lines for entry into the park.
            Dusk was setting and I was dying to see the Canyon before the sun went down. But, just like my mother before me, I have a habit of picking whichever lane wants to move the slowest.
            There must’ve been an RV-load of morons in front of us because every line filed through in no time but ours and the sun waits for no man. So we finally made it through the line and were tempted to bee-line it through the three or so miles of forest at the entrance of the park, but since, apparently, there are deer and such all around the woods, we kept it real and hit the park just as the sun was setting.
            And it was breathtakingly beautiful.

Grand Canyon. More on that later.
            But this has gotten a bit long, so I’ll regale you with the rest at a later date.
Find Road Trip Part II here.
*Quote from Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Monday, December 12, 2011

"I think that carrying on a life that is meant to be private in public is a breach of taste, common sense, and mental hygiene."*




She-Ra, Princess of Power
            Sometimes showering and putting on clean clothes is a task to which I don’t feel equal (why is it so hard to end sentences without prepositions without sounding like a pretentious ass?). There are days when lying around in my pajamas actually feels like not only a good idea but the ONLY idea.
            I went over to my friends Tom and Jess’s house the other night, and we all sat around their fire pit in the back yard and had a few too many cocktails and caught up on life and all that good stuff. And then I ate a bunch of their Thanksgiving leftovers and slept on the couch—where their two Boston terriers and long-haired cat (Hammy, Ribs and Frankfurter/"Furtie" respectively) like to relax— in Jess’s pajama bottoms.
            I’m so glad that adulthood doesn’t preclude me from going to sleepovers.
            But this whole hygiene thing can be a real bitch.
            So I lay around most of yesterday in my own filth, reeking like pork products (and pets named for pork products) and not feeling up to the job of washing the fur and the smell of fire smoke out of my hair or trying to make the skin around my mouth stop peeling off my face (I think that was a combo of Retin-A and flames flying at my face; not, like, old yogurt or something).
            But then I did it. I showered. And it felt great. I even flossed and shaved my legs for the first time in a couple of weeks (the shaving, not the flossing—though the flossing could happen a little more often). I was further inspired to wash my sheets for the first time in...we'll say, "a little while."
            And then I felt like Wonder Woman or She-Ra, Princess of Power. Like I could take on the day (or what was left of the night).  And I did a little bit of writing, cleaned some dinner dishes, and read a bunch of pages of a book that many consider to be an important work of literature.  
            It was Twilight. (I'm kidding! Or am I?) 

            So, here’s to hygiene! It lifts you up, rescues your day (even if your day is almost over) and makes you feel less like an unemployed jackass with syphilis or one of those weird diseases no one talks about anymore, like Hansen's (the cute name for leprosy).  

*The above quote is courtesy of one of America's finest film actresses, Myrna Loy.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry."*

            I started the Fall season wanting a classic, black blazer and having none. I have since purchased 5, returned two, found one and possess four. I think I have a problem with shopping and, extrapolating from that theory, a problem with greed.

            It should be said, first off, that I never intended to own four black blazers, and I don’t really WANT to own four black blazers, but I kept looking for the perfect one and even after I’d found one that would suffice, I found another that was even better and then I found a third that my highly fashionable sister had discarded in the basement. (She’s got really good taste—even a blog about style choices—and I envy her good taste so much that no matter what she has or wears, I think it’s fashionable and I have to have and wear it, too—even if I end up looking like a fat schlub in it. I mean, she could easily trick me by wearing a vacuum cleaner bag as a hat, because I'd surely be wearing one the next day. And did I mention that she’s four inches taller than I am and about twenty pounds lighter? Sigh. See? I have envy in addition to greed.)

            The same greed can be seen if one happens to look at my shoe collection, which consists largely of boots. The boots are not all the same but there are enough similarities that it seems as though I’m just mindlessly buying boots because they’re there. (But I love them all! I do!)

            But the truth is this: I get an intense, physical high from purchasing clothing or accessories. Clothes are my crack when I'm not smoking crack (kidding, Mom!).

            It’s not all bad. During the holiday season (a time largely devoted to materialism) I get equally excited about buying things for other people. I get a similar high finding something amazing to buy for a family member or friend that I know they’re just going to love (never mind the blinding fury that comes when I feel they don’t appreciate the gift as much as they should).

            But there’s a problem with all this generosity towards others and spoiling of myself: I don’t have a very large disposable income. That word “disposable” is sort of a misnomer—all of my income is disposable. I dispose of it every chance I get. But I really shouldn’t, especially if I plan to do things like pay rent, have running electricity, and eat food.

            And I noticed something else, looking in the closet at my four black blazers—pretty maids all in a row: it’s not as much fun to buy something when you already own a crapload of versions of it.

            In case you’ve gotten the wrong idea, this isn’t a post about giving rather than receiving. I think, if you’ve got the dough, you should give and receive gifts as much and as often as you like in equal measure. Or receive way more gifts way more often, if you want. But I can’t. And so, in honor of one day retiring before I’m 105-years-old (haha! Like I’m going to live that long! Not with all the crack I'm smoking. Kidding!), I’m going to make a concerted effort to put the damn wallet away.
The Christmas spirit in full effect.

            Happy shopping!
*Edgar Allan Poe wrote the quote above.

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Ha ha funny how you broke me up, you made the wine now you drink the cup."*

Evil Woman Part IV
Here again I will relate the events of my trip to New York with the Satan Family (a wig-sporting, middle-aged "rock star" and his much younger wife, who also happened to be the devil) as I have spoken of here, here, and again here. Yikes! It's like a never-ending story! (But it does end because that trip was only two-weeks-long, even if it felt much, much longer, so never fear!)
On a separate topic: I think I suffer from a comma abuse problem. But I'll talk about that later.
From my Doogie Howser computer diary in 2009:

-In contrast to my excellent day yesterday, today was a big, fat snore. John and the band had the day off and he gave Lucia a car and driver to take her to all the neat places in Manhattan since her aunt had cancelled on her and she had nowhere to go and knows nothing about the city. She gets lost on her way to buy coffee in the morning (although she told me secretly that she does that on purpose so she can get a little extra time for herself—I think she’s a genius).


-So while she was off driving all over town looking at New York City, I was in a van parked on a side-street off Times Square with Giovanni, our driver for the afternoon, and a sleeping Sophie while John, Beth and Conor were inside Toys R Us. The van was better than being back inside the Toys R Us because that place made me want to hurl. But after 20 minutes, Giovanni saw John standing in the street looking for us. They all came rushing back to the car freaking out that Conor was sick and maybe he had the flu. Oh get over yourselves!
Where I went.

-Lucia had an excellent time—she went to Ground Zero, to Battery Park to take pictures of the Statue of Liberty, Intrepid Museum, Central Park, The Brooklyn Bridge, and Gray’s Papaya. John kept insisting that she eat a grilled hot dog at Gray’s (he’s from Queen’s, so he can be bossy about what one should do in NY) so she went and took a picture of herself there, then she and Jesse (her driver) went and ate a slice of pizza. Hilarious. And, I’m starting to realize, typically Lucia. I went out to get dinner for us and used the time to buy some stress cigarettes, smoke one of them and call my mom, so everyone was happy. Especially John who can't stop talking about how amazing it was of him to so generously offer Lucia the use of a car and driver for the day. He's a real saint-like human being. 
 
Where Lucia went.


-Tonight I saw John naked. I did not want to. Sophie was screaming and wouldn’t go to sleep and I wanted to tell Beth that I figured I’d just let her wail it out (and hopefully prevent Beth from coming into my room). I walked toward their room where the light was still on and the door still open and just as I rounded the corner, there he was. Wigless, butt-ass naked and talking on his cell phone.  I did an about face and scurried back down the hall. Thank god he didn’t see me. I’m mortified enough being the only one that knows about it. Moments later he came to the room and got Sophie himself. Then he brought her back, 20 minutes after that, sound asleep. Acted like he knew what he was doing and playing Daddy was something he was really super amazing at. Hey, try being an actual parent and doing it every night, jackass.

*"Evil Woman" by the Electric Light Orchestra.
Read Evil Woman Parts I, II, III and V.