Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."*

    It’s official: I am one of the greatest trendsetters of all time. I always suspected I was, so this feels really good.
    When I was about 13 or 14, I bought a pair of high-heeled tennis shoes before they were a thing (I swear). They looked like this:
Except mine were tan. Hot.
    But I also had a pair a lot like this:
These look awesome with flared jeans.
    And guess what? Everyone started wearing them, and I’m almost positive it was because of how awesome I made them look.
    And they’re back, and I think I want them again. This just shows that you should never throw away anything that was hot in the 80’s or 90’s. Ever. Because those decades were a cutting edge fashionista’s dream.
The modern take on high-heeled kicks. Da-yum. Ash Footwear.
     I don’t have the same confidence for new trends that I had in those wacky times. I pretty much have a uniform that I wear everyday because I don’t have the time or the energy to think outside the sartorial box. (I do have time and energy for TV and eating, but not for clothes. Sigh.) I've inadvertently turned into a jeans-and-a-t-shirt kind of gal sometime in the last 5-to-10 years. And if I’m not wearing that outfit, I’m probably wearing stretchy pants or pajamas.
   But once upon a time, I could be seen sporting an ankle-length, leopard print coat or a pair of plastic white clogs or pants with psychedelic patterns or jeans torn to the thigh and held together with safety pins.(Those pants, by the way, mysteriously disappeared sometime in the late nineties. I'm looking at you, Mom.)
    I don’t claim any of this was attractive or well thought out, but it was definitely "risky," and I really didn’t care whether anyone else enjoyed my ensemble. I felt fierce and unique. Maybe it was because for the vast majority of any given week I was wearing a uniform skirt that looked a lot like this:
Very close to the Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart Uniform. Hot.
    And while it was gross and uncomfortable and hideously ugly and fire-retardant (as was the one I wore for nine years before that), it turns out I kind of appreciate not having to figure out what I'm going to wear. I wear the same damn thing every day anyway. Maybe I'll go apply at the post office.
    So anyway, high-heeled sneakers are back in vogue and I’m so going to rock that look. Probably with a t-shirt and jeans. And maybe with my hair crimped. In a side ponytail. Held together with a banana clip.
*Oscar Wilde.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Now, I know what you're thinking."*

    I know I’ve mentioned that I like “spy” shows (it’s the little, old grandmother in my soul), but did I also mention that I particularly love “old” television? When I moved into my new apartment, I elected not to get cable. Not because of any great plan to do more reading or knitting or thinking, but because cable’s damn expensive and I’m steering this ship by myself now. And so I got Netflix again.
    Here’s my thing with Netflix: I really loved it for a while. I got that package where you could rent one DVD at a time and still have instant streaming all for $7.99 (which is a fancy way of saying “eight bucks.” I'm on to you, Netflix!). And so Netflix ran every video store in America into the ground. And then they DOUBLED their prices. They Walmart-ed us, if you will. But we were so in love with the price and the convenience that we allowed it to happen. Oh well.
    So I left Netflix, because at the time I did have cable, and I also realized that 90% of my queue was dedicated to lofty films that I’d never end up watching because they were depressing and devoted to themes that were way more important than what my brains can handle. Why did I think I’d ever watch Breaking the Waves or The Piano? I’m not saying they’re bad movies—I’ve been told they’re fantastic. I just would rather watch something more along the lines of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure or Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? When I sit down for a movie, I like it to be funny and smart or dark or full of dick-and-fart jokes, or some sort of combination of all of these. I really don’t want to cry, reminisce about The Depression or The Holocaust, or be forced to sleep with one eye open. I guess I’m feeble-minded or weak-hearted.
    But as I said, I did get Netflix again (only instant stream this time) and now I watch all kinds of spy shows that I didn’t even know were wonderful. My parents introduced me to Get Smart, The Rockford Files, McMillan and Wife and Monk (and I’ve seen pretty much every episode of each of these) and my delightfully irreverent Grandma Millie, clued me in to Murder, She Wrote and Diagnosis Murder. But last night I introduced myself to my new crush: Tom Magnum. That is, I’m now thoroughly ensconced and in love with Magnum: P.I. And all 156 episodes are on Netflix! 
Magnum and the Ferrari.
    For those of you who’ve already discovered (or simply remember) the wonder of this amazing show, please bear with me or feel free to ignore this post. I feel as though my whole life I was walking around like a zombie, not knowing what I did and not caring. And now I can see things clearly. Magnum: P.I. is so good I don’t know how I ever lived without it.
    See, so Magnum used to be a member of the Naval Investigation Agency (Office of Naval Investigation in real life) and he realized when he was 33 that he’d never really been 23. He was sent to Vietnam in his early twenties and barely escaped with his life. But he did learn a badass military tactic or two hundred and decided that he’d quit the Navy and enjoy life putting his skills to use working as a private investigator in Hawaii.
    But what he does is, see, is he solves crimes and romances women and races his absentee landlord’s Ferrari and says funny things and looks sexy despite having jeans that go up to his nipples and the world’s most famous mustache. I’m looking at you: Tom Selleck. You are one of the most attractive men in the world. In my mind it will always be the 80’s. 
Magnum wearing one of his better ensembles.
    I’ll drop the subject here, but I want to just point out that now I have one more reason to never leave the house/living room/couch. This is both dangerous and sad. Friends, please write or call to make sure I am still alive, because I’m going to be holed up with Magnum (or Tommy, as I like to call him) for months.
*Tom Magnum says this quite a lot on Magnum: P.I. Isn't he witty and clever even without context?

Monday, May 28, 2012

"Try this trick and spin it, yeah."*


Coachella Part V  
    This is the fifth part of the story of my trip to Coachella in 2004. If you feel the need to read the earlier installments, go here: One, Two, Three, Four.
    It should be mentioned (in passing) that Scott and I had a relationship that consisted largely of twisted humor, going to bars and having petty arguments. We were thrown together by circumstance (acting in a very emotionally disturbing play) and had come to rely heavily on each other and the ability to be complete assholes together. We were both bossy and demanding but found ourselves and each other hilarious. We had a lot of fun, and we fought continually. And usually, everything was his fault. We are still friends, though less so. There, now everything is out in the open.
    “So,” Scott said between bites of French toast, “where are we headed next?”
    “The nearest, cheapest hotel we can find.” I attempted to eat eggs and drink coffee at the same time—no easy task, as my keys were clenched so hard in my hand they were leaving indentations.
    I was attempting to inhale bacon through a straw when our check arrived and Scott suggested that I pay it.
    “You’re the one who locked the keys in the car,” he reasoned.
    “Yeah, and? You’re the reason we’re here in the first place. You’re the reason $200 of my money is gone!”
    “Money you didn’t have to begin with!”
    “But money I had at one point and had grown to enjoy!”
    “True as that may be, you are the reason that we’ve been here all night!”
    “You are the reason that we left LA at midnight!”
    “The fact remains that you locked the keys in the car.”
    “Bitch, you’ll be lucky if you get a seat in the car.”
    We fumed and ate and stared hatefully at each other for a minute.
    “Fine,” I said. “We’re splitting everything from here out. Breakfast. The hotel. Gas. Decision making.”
    “Fine.”
    I threw my half on the table and stormed out in the most dramatic way I could. Functioning on zero sleep, it wasn’t a challenge. 
    Anyway, by 8 a.m. Scott and I were back on I-10 East, looking for any exit near Indio that boasted a hotel. Sadly, we were coming up pretty short. Did I mention there’s nothing in the desert between LA and Palm Springs? Because I lied. There are windmills. And they creep me out because they remind me of Mac and Me.
Windmills in the desert. Shudder.
    We passed a sign: Indio Next 3 Exits.
    “Alright,” I said, “we’re just going to have to get off and look. I don’t want to pass Indio.”
    We exited. Almost immediately we came upon a run-down motel advertising HBO and showers. I considered only briefly what exactly would have to be wrong with a place in order for showers to be a selling point. It didn’t matter. We were exhausted. I was struggling to keep my eyes open.
    I parked and we went inside.
    “We’d like a room,” Scott said. “Preferably one with two beds.”
    “We’re booked.”
    “What?”
    “It’s 8 o’clock in the morning,” the clerk said. “No one checks out until 12. There’s a concert here this weekend, you know.”
    “Yeah, we know,” Scott sighed. We walked back to the car.
    We began driving up and down the busier looking streets we could find. A few times we got lost in residential areas that reminded me of Phoenix: dry, dusty, cookie-cutter. Occasionally we’d see large landscapes of what appeared to be working farmland, dotted with pink and yellow houses and impossibly thriving flowers. But no hotels/motels/RV parks or even campgrounds.
    Every time I ended up in a residential neighborhood, Scott would get mad and I would remind him that he was free to drive at any time and then he would be quiet again. Fatigue had taken its toll on our bickering.
    Eventually we found another hotel. A Spanish-style, yellow building with pretty flower beds. We parked again and went inside. Tiled floors, fountains, flowers all around. But all the pretty had a $200 price tag, and for 6 hours and two college kids that was absurd.
    So we drove some more. We drove for 400 hours. And we died in the desert.
    Just kidding. At 9:30 we found a hotel near the freeway (how had we missed it? Who cared?) that would let us stay until noon for $80.  (I think this is where the term “highway robbery” comes from, but I could be wrong.) But Scott paid.
    We crawled up to the room. It looked like a run-down apartment complex, complete with lawn chairs and holiday decorations outside each screen door. In retrospect, it’s highly possible that we spent the night at some conniving slumlord’s tenement housing. Noisy children frolicked in the dirty pool below. Old ladies fanned themselves and drank lemonade or maybe horchata on the porch. Did they live there? It’s hard to say.
Nicer than the place we stayed. I can't find that place online.
    The inside matched the outside, but there were beds (one king-sized, one a single) and a shower (hooray!).  Scott gave me the king-size and went into the shower, and since I hadn’t brought PJ’s I just chucked my jeans and crawled into the bed. Within seconds I was asleep.
*The Pixies "Where is My Mind?"

Monday, May 21, 2012

"Oh but the kisses are a long way off yet. Well, we just started a'courtin, and next month we start the walkin' out, and the month after that there'll be the threshin' parties, and the month after that--" "Nope."*


    My parents raised my sisters and me rather strictly. We had to go to Mass each weekend (despite having already gone at school during the week: lame). We had to do chores and be in bed on time. We couldn’t do anything fun until homework was finished. And we were not allowed to watch TV during the week. On weekends, we were allowed television on Friday nights and on Saturdays and Sundays after noon.(If I ever have kids they'll be allowed to watch TV all the time. Otherwise I'll probably have to entertain them myself.)
    But my parents were decidedly nervous about the things on television, so they took additional precautions. Anything on prime time was probably rife with sexual content and curse words (things like “blast it!” and “gosh darn it!” and “tarnation!”), so they pushed us to watch the things on Nick at Nite and American Movie Classics. It is probably telling that the first song I learned in childhood was the theme song from Cheers, but that I never got to see an episode of Cheers after the age of three. (Mom also let me watch Moonlighting until I had some sort of grasp of the English language.)
    As a result, Ouisie and I (and eventually Penelope, when she came along) wound up loving shows like Get Smart, Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. We didn’t realize these shows were thirty years old; we just knew they were cutting-edge and hip.
Don Adams and Barbara Feldon as 86 and 99 in Get Smart.
    What is even stranger is that my parents would rent Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies for Ouisie and me when we were barely out of diapers, and we LOVED them. We’d practice for hours trying to get the dance moves down, and it never seemed to matter that the films were entirely in black-and-white and featured hit tunes from the 1930’s.
    Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about those squeaky-clean films of the ‘30’s, ‘40’s and ‘50’s. I’ve been thinking about how, for instance, in Easter Parade, when Fred Astaire says to Judy Garland, “Why didn’t you tell me I was in love with you?” she hugs him really hard instead of kissing him. Or how at the end of the same movie, when he puts an engagement ring on her finger, she just smiles at him.**
Fred and Judy get engaged in Easter Parade (Charles Walters, 1949).
    I used to think that romance could be (and most likely was) utterly bereft of sex, and that people in “olden times” didn’t ever do it until they were married. They didn’t and couldn’t! Some examples:
1.     In High Society (the 1956 remake of The Philadelphia Story), Mike (Frank Sinatra) sings a song to Tracy (Grace Kelly) while they’re both intoxicated. The song is called, “Mind If I Make Love to You?” If “make love” meant “have sex” in 1956, then how could they write a song about it in a major motion picture? Imagine a song that went, “Mind If I Have Sex With You?” I don’t think the studios would’ve gone for it, especially with all the censorship at the time. By the way, “Mind if I have sex with you?” is not a romantic thing to say to someone. It kind of sounds like the second party isn’t really going to be involved.
Frank Sinatra asks Grace Kelly is she minds if he makes love to her (High Society, Charles Walters--again!--1956).
2.     Let’s fast-forward to 1959, when Cary Grant says to Eva Marie Saint in North-by-Northwest, “The moment I meet an attractive woman I have to start pretending I have no desire to make love to her.” Now the idea of sex is sort of out there, but is it really? Because what follows is one of movie history’s longest make-out sessions (beaten in length only by that between Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot) but no one actually goes to bed with anyone. Or do they?
Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint do everything but in North-by-Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959).
    My parents were quite clever: they showed us movies where people talked a lot, kissed occasionally and NEVER HAD SEX. At our sleepovers at the Meisingers’ house, we were only allowed to watch the final dance number from Dirty Dancing, and not the movie itself (a quite innocent movie, if you ask me, because I’ve seen the whole thing now).  But having re-watched these films as an adult, I’m realizing that people did, in fact, fornicate prior to marriage prior to 1967.
    Do you remember Scarlett and Rhett doing “it” in Gone With the Wind? Of course not. But do you remember him carrying her up the stairs, kicking and screaming? Yes. Yes, you do. And you knew what was going to happen. You never saw a thing, but you were a little turned on, weren’t you?
    Same goes for The Quiet Man. Once Sean (John Wayne) throws his wife Mary Kate (Maureen O’Hara) in the bedroom (after valiantly proving to her entire village that he doesn’t want her for her money), you know things are going to get sexual. But you don’t see a goddamn thing. And my parents were in love with that film and we watched it countless times (you know how the Irish feel about Ireland).
    So see, sex had to be implied once upon a time. And for some reason, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that implied sex is much more enjoyable to watch than the blatantly “realistic” sex that’s becoming increasingly available on HBO and Showtime. Sometimes I think the actors aren’t even “simulating” sex but actually having it. I’m sorry, is that acting? I think that’s just pornography. (Which is funny, because I used to stay up past my bedtime in junior high to watch "USA Up All Night" because I was convinced something dirty was going to be shown at some point.)
    And if the numerous golden age movie star biographies I’ve read have proven anything, it’s that people did, indeed, have a lot of sex outside of marriage in “olden times.” But the movies had to have a code, and so they tried to give you just enough to be exciting without ruining your day with close-ups of actors’ genitalia. Let's face it: genitalia ain't so attractive.
    I’m truly grateful for my love of classic films. Because I don’t want to look at movie stars’ naughty bits any more. 
*The Quiet Man (John Ford, 1952). Probably one of the sexiest movies of all time. No sex shown.
**I've read in numerous "classic" era movie stars' biographies that Fred Astaire preferred not to kiss his costars out of respect for his wife. That's sweet, but kind of silly at the same time. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member."*

    My dear friend, Chad, and I decided to start a French Club. Cleverly, we named it Le Club Français (even though Ron had suggested we call it Bored White People Club), and came up with a list of by-laws and a plan for our weekly meetings. We had decided to get an authentic French meal and watch a French film each rendezvous, speaking only in French throughout our time together. Our goal was to improve our current French-speaking skills (we both studied in college) and maybe, one day, eventually get some opportunity to use them. (Quebec? Burkina-Faso? Vanuatu?) 
    Last night was the first meeting (la première réunion ?) of The French Club and we made it halfway through dinner before we were exhausted. Which was really too bad, because our waitress had gone to a French school in Africa (I should’ve asked her where in Africa, but I was too paralyzed by my lack of vocabulary) and had agreed to speak only French to us throughout the meal (le repas?).
Outside Cafe Stella. C'est tellement mignon!
    We ate at Café Stella in Silverlake and were surrounded by other people who were trying too hard at life, so it should’ve been easy to fake our way through dinner and not care what anyone else thought. But we sounded and looked like deux imbéciles, or at least I did because it turns out Chad is actually quite amazing at French. He underplayed it because he’s a sweet guy, but he was basically playing basketball with a midget. I was the only moron at the table, and I was looking up every other word to the point where I was dying for the waitress to replace the bread so I could stuff something in my mouth and avoid talking. I was mostly speaking Franglish anyway.
Chad and me at dinner circa 1933. The French don't smile for pictures.

    Luckily, Chad got tired of trying to carry me through the conversation (and pausing every few seconds to explain to me what he'd said—which was absurd in itself, as we’d agreed to speak in French accents when we were speaking English. I know, ridiculous, but remarkably enjoyable.). So we lapsed into English after the cheese platter (plateau de fromages) and started rewriting our charter. Now it will say that we must improve our language skills with each meeting and try to get a little farther into the evening each time before resorting back to English. Phew!
Plateau de fromages.
    After dinner we watched Delicatessen,** which everyone says is a wonderful film, not to be missed! And I like the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet (I’ve only seen three: Amélie, La Cité des Enfants Perdus, et Un Long Dimanche des Fiancailles). But Delicatessen made me feel even dumber than dinner had. It seemed like one of those bizarre, dark-comedy French films (which are quite a few) that seem to rely too heavily on my ability to 1) suspend my disbelief and 2) infer meaning from an overabundance of visual symbolism. That said, it was pretty funny for the most part and I always feel smart after I watch film in another language. Like maybe I’ve added a few wrinkles to the gray matter. 
Jean-Claude Dreyfus as Clapet in Delicatessen.
    We haven’t decided on a location or a film for our next meeting, but suggestions are always welcomed and appreciated. And even if I never get any better at French, I’ll have a good time hanging out with Chad, who is incredibly patient with my insufficiencies (Word is saying I made up the word "insufficiencies." I always said I couldn't spell, so I'm leaving it. Sounds good to me. And if it isn't a word, it should be). 
*Groucho Marx. 
**Delicatessen (Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, 1991).

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Your head will collapse if there's nothing in it."*

Coachella Part IV
    This is the continuing saga of my trip to Coachella in 2004. Previous chapters are available if you’re feeling masochistic: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.
    The kindly man from AAA had just left me in the parking lot after his heroic (and unsuccessful) attempt to break into my car and rescue my keys. And then I did what I always do when things go wrong: I focused on positive thoughts and meditated. Just kidding, I cried like a little bitch, slumped on the concrete next to my car.
    After I’d cried for a couple of minutes, I got up and went back inside to look for Scott. He was back at the roulette wheel throwing away one of the twenties I’d given him.
    “You got the keys?” he asked.
    I explained how my car was a fortress of impenetrability. Something not nearly as cool as it sounds.
    “And he didn’t even offer to call anyone for you? Not a locksmith or anything?”
    I just shook my head and started to cry again.
    “Okay, okay. Stop that. We’ll use the phone book at the front desk. They’ll help us.”
    I felt completely deflated. Despite my insistence to the contrary, despite my being very nearly a college graduate, I was still a great big baby who didn’t know how to take care of herself.
    I followed Scott to the front desk and he requested a phone book. Not surprisingly, the Cabezon directory was rather limited. We picked the only locksmith listed, a Mr. Joe Falcone, and called the number. It being 5 o’clock in the morning, I shouldn’t have been shocked by the voice mail greeting instructing me to leave specific details about the problem, my location, and my phone number.
See how there's nothing in Cabezon? The only thing on the map is the f***ing Morongo Casino.
    I did what the answering machine told me, but my heart sank.
    “Come on,” Scott said. “Maybe there’s a hotel nearby and we can crash until the locksmith calls you back.”
    We asked at the desk.
    “Well,” the remarkably perky receptionist said, “there is a Best Western ten miles west on the 10.”
    Oh sweet. Just a short walk.
    “Aw, fuck, Scott. I’m sorry. I suck so bad.”
    “Naw, it’s okay. Quit crying about it. Why don’t we go play a few more hands of blackjack and then we’ll eat some breakfast buffet. It opens at 7, I checked. No problem.”
    I gave him a weak smile and tried to lighten up. Two hours? No sweat. And maybe I could call my friends Brian and Marah before they left and ask them to bring along my spare car key (if they were willing to swing by Pasadena on their way out of town--a big "if"). 
    So we went back to the table. Mostly I watched and mostly Scott “borrowed” money from me, which he seemed determined to lose. But frequently I stepped out to the front of the casino to look around, check the bars on my dying cell phone, and make sure I wasn’t missing calls from the locksmith. Joe Falcone had become synonymous with the second coming of the Lord in my mind (something I've always been excited about). An overall, pervasive exhaustion was creeping into my veins. The sun was coming up.
    As luck would (finally, something!) have it, the breakfast buffet actually opened at 6:30. I managed to lure Scott away from the tables with the promise of food. We sat and examined our place mats, which had not only the menus but also mazes and word-find puzzles printed on them. We were given crayons to fill them in. Luck had struck again! We were getting on a roll.
    We ordered enough food for a hungover fraternity house. Eggs and toast and bacon and French toast and hash browns and orange juice and more. And we got busy coloring our menus while we waited for the food.
    At the precise minute the food arrived, I got a call.
    “Uh…Lacey?”
    “YES! This is Lacey! Yes!”
    “Hi, Joe here. I’m on my way to the casino right now. I should be there in 10 minutes.”
    I grinned at Scott, took two swigs of coffee and ran down the hill. I was now $20 in the hole instead of $200 ahead but I’d never been so happy in my life.
    Here is why Joe Falcone** is the greatest man in the world:
1.     He showed up early.
2.     He explained that his shop didn’t open until 7 a.m., but he got my message and felt so bad that he came right away.
3.     He actually opened my car.
4.     He refused payment, saying he’d send the charges to AAA.
    It was like that scene in Adventures in Babysitting*** when Vincent D’Onofrio lets them leave without paying the entire amount for their new tire because Sara is convinced he’s Thor. I love that man (Joe, not Thor. Although I love Vincent, as well.).
    I ran triumphantly back up that heinous mountain of a driveway and skipped into the breakfast room waving my keys. I sat down and dug into my eggs. We were functioning on zero sleep and very little money and we had a two-day, outdoor concert to attend in about 8 hours.
    It was 7 o’clock in the morning.
    I need to stop again. This is entirely too long. But I’ll explain more later. (Read part five here.)
*A little repetitive because "Where is My Mind?" by the Pixies actually doesn't have that many lyrics. Deal with it.
**Joe Falcone is real, and if you're ever locked out in the middle of the desert between LA and Palm Springs, he's your man. Seriously.
***Adventures in Babysitting (Chris Columbus, 1987--pre-Harry Potter). 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Hello? Was I the only one paying attention? I thought it reeked." "I believe that was your Designer Imposter Perfume."*


    When I was in junior high I smelled like this:
It was actually shaped like an exclamation point. Get it? This was the basis of its appeal.
    And occasionally like this:
Barf. This stuff smells bad.
    Ew! Does anyone else remember these? Or the one my buddy Richie reminded me of:
Richie's sister used to wear it. So did I. It was cool because it had a cord inside. Like an electrical cord. Get it?
    I’m kind of surprised I had any friends at all at that time, seeing as I smelled like burning hair mixed with baby feces and Febreze, but then I also seem to remember that almost all the girls were smelling like some sort of Designer Imposter funk back then. It seems like it stayed that way until high school when all of a sudden everyone I knew smelled like ck One. A unisex “cologne.” Reek. Thank god that one was out of my price range.
A CK One Ad. Men and women, mostly topless. Get it? Because anyone can wear it.
    How about this: Sex Panther. Probably what I smelled like.

    If I really wanted to make a ton of money I’d design a scent for adolescents that neither stinks like a whore's bikini nor costs a month’s allowance. It would smell like something sweet and honest, like clean laundry or Cap’n Crunch or grass. (Actually, I think I used to wear a Gap perfume called “Grass.” I also wore something in high school that smelled like tomatoes. I was such a dirty hippie. When I didn’t smell like Nag Champa incense I smelled like top notes of patchouli and tomatoes with underlying hints of weed. Yum.)
    Nowadays I wear Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker (my sister, Elizabeth, wears it too) and I think I smell pretty good, but I may be in a rut. I’ve been wearing it for a good 7 years. But nothing else smells good on me. Once, when Richie and I were at the mall, I tried on Gucci II, because I had a friend who always wears it and smells delightful. But I ended up stinking like baby oil and bedpans. Scents truly do differ from person to person.
    Or maybe I’m just naturally malodorous. In which case it was never the perfume that really stank, but me.
*Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995). This movie was made around the time I was actually wearing Designer Imposter perfumes. Most often this:
Awesome.

Monday, May 14, 2012

"Was it Kierkegaard or Dick Van Patten that said, 'You label me, you negate me?'"*

    Here’s what’s exciting: I got a chalkboard. Or rather, I made a chalkboard and now I write things on it and take pictures of the things I write. Socrates (maybe) said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Does it necessarily follow that the un-photographed life is not worth living? Let’s hope not, because my photos (as anyone who’s been here before can attest) are horrible. But I’ve got some for ya!
The first thing I wrote on my chalkboard was obvious. The second thing was, "I need an eraser."
    I took the GRE today, so maybe I can calm down and focus on more important things now, but maybe not. Here’s the thing: I’m not entirely sure how well I did. They give you your verbal/quantitative (hint: “quantitative” is code for “math”) scores right away. Ah, the miracle of technology! But the two scores were disturbingly close together so I figure that maybe I did surprisingly well on the math or maybe I did surprisingly poorly on the verbal. Maybe I sucked at both. Maybe I aced it! I’m not really sure. I did some research online, but I’m still not feeling informed. The only thing we know for sure is that I don’t know anything (about figuring out GRE scoring).  (I think Socrates also said something extremely similar to that. Too bad I didn’t take a test on Socrates. Ha ha. I'm hilarious.)
Not that I'd forget the GRE. I just want to thoroughly document my life, you know?
    I thought I would come home from the test and feel elated and calm, but mostly I feel like an athlete who’s been doing steroids and just got off the field/court but is still amped up: warm and anxious and somewhat aggressive.** I feel like screaming or punching something. Weird? I don’t know. I know nothing, remember? (If you don't, see above.)
    It’s a short one tonight. I’m off my game. You're welcome.

*The quote is from Wayne's World (one of the best movies ever made). In the movie, the quote is spoken in Cantonese. But no one wants me to try to go there, right? In any event, it was Kierkegaard (and not the loveable star of Eight is Enough and Spaceballs), who said "You label me, you negate me." Thanks, Mike Myers, for making me do the research. I definitely would have assumed it was Dick.
**I actually got a steroid shot one time. I don’t think I mentioned this in bees part one or two, but something bit my eyebrow one night and in the morning my eye swelled up so bad I could barely see out of it. So I went to an Urgent Care center and asked if I was going to die, and the doctor said not to worry, I just needed a shot. Then the nurse came in and I rolled up my sleeve. But she said to bend over and pull down my pants. I was really confused for a minute. Shots go in your arm! Then I realized she was going to put the shot in my derriere (code for "ass"). All right, fine. Still better than a pap smear. But the shot made me sweaty and punchy and hot. Long story medium long, I liked it and I can see why athletes abuse steroids.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Where is my mind? Way out in the water can you see it swimming?"*

    
 Coachella 2004 Part III


        Okay, so we were at the Morongo Casino in Cabezon (read previous installments here and here), my buddy Scott and I, and I’d just realized that my keys were inside of the car and we were outside of it.
        He asked me if I had Triple A and I nodded.
        “Well, I guess you better call them.” 
        I nodded again and began to turn away from him slowly, my hand digging in my purse for my wallet.
        “You okay?” Scott asked my back.
        “Uh-huh,” I squeaked, hoping he couldn’t tell that I’d started silently weeping as I grabbed hold of my wallet.
        “Well, let me know if you need anything,” he said. 
        I turned around.
        “Wait, where are you going?”
        “Back inside. No sense both of us waiting.”
        “Oh, yeah. Uh-huh. Okay. You’re right. You go on back inside…”
        This is the part where I started openly weeping. I didn’t care if he saw me. He was going to leave me in the parking lot of Morongo Casino so he could go lose some more money? Fine. Then he could take the memory of my tear-stained, helpless, exhausted face inside with him.
        To my disappointment (usually I find tears to be a great manipulator of men), he saw my tears and chose not to respond. He walked back on up the hill and into the nasty, horrible, ugly, stupid, buttface casino.
        So I cried harder. And as I cried, I rifled through the cards in my wallet. It was curious how many cards I had considering I had no credit score and could probably have disappeared into Tijuana without a record of my ever existing on this planet. I had a Ralph’s Club, a Von’s Club, an Albertson’s Club card; I had my hilarious student ID from high school (still do, as a matter of fact), my current student ID; there was a debit card, a couple different library cards, a few punch cards from the classy restaurants I like to frequent (Subway), a Blockbuster card (remember Blockbuster?), my blood donor card and about 47 business cards. (I’ll take anything a stranger hands me in a Trader Joe’s parking lot). And, thank all that is holy, the AAA card my Dad had insisted I get when I started driving (and, incidentally, he was still footing the tab for said card). 
Emily added the "Fucking Hot" to my high school ID. I know I am, but I'd never write it myself.
        Sorry I wrote the word “card” so many times.
        So I called the three A’s and the nice lady on the phone said they’d send a truck to Cabezon (location: Nowhere, CA). And I sat there, leaning against my car for a few minutes thinking about how I was going to punish Scott for making me go to the casino and then abandoning me in a parking lot in my hour of need. 
What my baby, Phillip, looked like. Sigh.
        But then I got bored, so I went back into the casino and played a few more hands of black jack. And I didn’t win. And Scott didn’t win. And I was panicking because my phone battery was at half-mast and I didn’t want to miss the triple A’s. So Scott gently suggested that I go back to the car and wait, and he promised to check in every 10 minutes or so.
        So I waited and shivered and Scott came outside, as promised, every so often, to check in on me. The first time he said, “Hey, how’s it going?” and the second time he said, “Hey, how’s it going?” and the third time he asked for a favor.
        “So, I’m out of money. And since you won tonight and we’re still here…because of you…I was thinking maybe you could spot me a twenty.”
        I was tired. I was cold. I was grateful for the momentary company (to this day I keep a book in my purse for situations like that). But mostly I was feeling really sorry for myself and didn’t really care about anything anymore (I’ve been known to be somewhat dramatic on occasion). So I gave him some money and watched him as he sprinted back into the casino.
        And then, an hour and fifteen minutes after I’d called, I saw the triple A’s truck lumber into the parking lot.
        I jumped up and ran after it, screaming and waving my hands. “I’m over here! Honda Civic! Hooray! This way! Over here!”
        He parked near my car and I stood waiting at the foot of the massive semi. Not one of these inner-city AAA trucks, but a truck so big it could tow my car all the way home. A truck full of tools. A truck that could change my oil and give me a new paint job if it wanted to, or replace the sparks in the rotor-nut or whatever parts needed help…I gotta stop talking about car parts.
It was like this size AAA truck--but without the front part open.
        A pleasant fellow wearing a white t-shirt and a spare tire (pun totally intended) stepped out.
        “So, keys locked in the car, eh? What’s the year?”
        “2001.”
        “Ooooohhhhhhh.”
        I shit you not. That’s what he said.
        Scott took this moment to pop down and “check in on me.”
        “What’s going on?” he asked.
        “Here, don’t worry about it,” I said and thrust a $20 into his face. I was mad at him, for real now.
        Scott ran back up the hill, shouting over his shoulder, “Call me if you need anything!”
        “So,” said Mr. AAA, “I’m going to try to get in through the passenger door, but here’s the problem: a few years back, Honda started making their locks a little harder to jimmy. You know, so people wouldn’t break in. So…it’ll be tough.”
        And so I watched as he pulled one tool after another out of the amazing AAA truck and tried them on my super safe little car. Nothing worked in the slightest. The desert was freezing, but Mr. AAA was starting to sweat when he finally admitted defeat.
        He explained again about Honda’s fancy new locks. I said I understood, and mentioned how lucky I was to have a car that was so difficult to break into. (I may have started silently weeping again by this point.)
        He smiled and got back in his truck. He apologized once more and drove away. And then I sat down on the concrete, leaning against the driver’s side door and started to sob for real.
        This story is kind of long, right? Sorry.
 *The Pixies' "Where is My Mind?"
The fourth and fifth parts of this story can be found (respectively) here and here.

Monday, May 7, 2012

"Grown men who wear skinny jeans may as well put on a t-shirt that says, 'I MAY NOT BE AN ORGAN DONOR, BUT Y'ALL CAN HAVE MY TESTICLES.'"*


    I think it’s important to realize when things have become inappropriate for you to pull off any longer. Case in point: I no longer stay up on the phone all night or wear skirts that are the size of headbands. I don’t have the body for a headband/skirt, I don’t have the energy for an all-night conversation, and I would much prefer to clean my floors and hit the sack at 10 pm (after a few episodes of Battlestar Gallactica) than get crazy at one of these popular “discothèques” or “sock hops” all the kids are raging about. Battlestar seems pretty nutso, so I feel totally up to speed on what the young folk are doing, even if the young folk aren't really watching that particular show. Don’t worry about me. I know what's up. Furthermore, I don’t dye my hair wacky colors or date dudes that don’t have a place to live. I don’t read Cosmopolitan or get tattoos over my butt-crack…not anymore, anyway.
Battestar Gallactica: Super Mature.
    But sometimes I think maybe I need to leave my cave a little more often—breathe some fresh air, talk to fellow humans (Cylons?), etc.
    To that end, my dear friend, Jess, and I had a “Just Us Girlfriends!” date on Saturday and it was so delightful. We hit an antique shop, stopped into a home-improvement store, and took a sewing class.
    Yes, friends, it’s true: I’m a fully-fledged, trained and certified housewife.
Here I am in glorious black and white. I love not having a dishwasher!

    I can sew, plant, clean and cook. And make babies (I think, though I’ve never tried. I’m guessing it’s not that hard.)
    Does this make me old/washed up/boring?
    I actually think it doesn’t. Jess is a homeowner and can do all kinds of crafty/amazing things: paint walls and ceilings, sod the yard, plant things that aren’t exclusively succulents (the only things that can survive in my home), replace ovens, build furniture and built-ins for closets and recessed walls, make light fixtures work, fix roofs, install sconces and chandeliers, and so on. She’s ridiculously gifted.
    I want to be like Jess. Here’s what I can do: buy bottles of spray paint and then spray paint things. But it makes me feel productive somehow. I’m not suggesting this is some sort of primordial house-wifery instinct. I just like to be creative and crafty. I actually find, more and more, that there are numerous things I DON’T want to do. But most of the things I want to do are "old people" things.
    Like this: make tea, vacuum, watch episodes of "spy shows," sew (so far I just make stitches on a piece of paper, but you never know), read, watch hummingbirds, spy on my neighbors, and clean my counter-tops. Yikes.
    And here are some other things I don’t want to do anymore:
-Go to a blockbuster movie on opening night. (Why would I want to stand in a line for a movie that will clearly be showing next weekend and the 20 weekends after that? Plus, nine times out of ten, I’ll be standing there with t'weens whose parents dropped them off and who insist on talking/making out throughout the entire movie? I pass.)
Lining up for Harry Potter and the Order of Those Who Have No Life.
-Have a sleepover. Unless I’m too drunk to drive, why would I want to be in a bed that isn’t my own? (I would be willing to amend this rule for a girlfriend who was willing to help me dye my gray** hairs (yeah, I'm elderly) and watch Wayne’s World or Rocky Horror Picture Show or the entire first season of Lost with me (missing you, Em and Gabe), or a man--one that doesn’t turn my stomach— who has professed his undying love or at least his short-term respect).
-Listen to current music. I’m sorry. Justin Beiber might be the greatest artist of our time, but I’ll never know because I don't plan on listening to him.
-Send a forward. As far as I’m concerned, these are the modern day equivalent of chain letters. Chain letters always let me down.
Of course, there are more. There always will be, but I’m too mature to keep writing. More later.
*Blake Shelton. Don't know him, don't know country music, don't care. Best. Quote. Ever.
**Had to look this up, but the official verdict is in America, we spell it "grAy" and in England, they spell it "grEy." Easy to remember, but super odd, nonetheless. Names are different: anything goes. Shenanigans.