Saturday, September 29, 2012

"The casual conversational tone of a blog is what makes it particularly dangerous."*

   Here are the things I like about blogs:
   1. They’re free.
   2. There are 8 bajillion of them, so you never need to be bored, even if you have no friends and can't afford a magazine or book.
   3. They are a voyeur’s wet dream.
   I’d like especially to talk about number three.
   Sometimes, in the course of cruising the Interwebs for new reading material, I’ll stumble upon a blog so completely full of one person’s minute-by-minute experiences that I can’t really fathom it. It’s a lot like watching a train wreck: it’s awful, but you can’t look away. (Only it's not as exciting as a train wreck. It's more like a tricycle collision. It's way too boring to be a train wreck. That was a terrible simile.)
   I felt this way about Facebook when I first joined. Actually I still sometimes feel this way about Facebook. You know when you get on Facebook, you usually look to see if anyone “Liked” anything you did, said, or were tagged in? You want to know if anyone thought you looked hot in a picture or thought something you said was witty. At least, that’s why I go on Facebook.
   But some people get on Facebook every minute of every day to let you know what they’re up to:
“Just finished my run. Boy, am I tired!”
“I’m about to do laundry, but I’m out of quarters.”
“I just pooped, and wanted you all to know about it.”
   Or they comment in the voice of their baby or dog:
“I’m so happy because Mamma just changed my diaper!”
“I love my new chew toy.”
   Just show me pictures of your amazing vacation, tell me you had a kid or bought a house, or invite me to attend a party you’re hosting. Don’t tell me about anything else. I don’t want to know anything more specific than that.
   Anyway, there are blogs out there that take the idea of over-sharing to a whole new level. This one chick--I’ll call her Eunice--wrote a four-thousand-page (I’m exaggerating, sue me) blog post about giving birth. I read it this morning and I wanted to stop but I couldn’t. She talked about her cervix and blood and gunk and poop and doulas and dilating until I wanted to puke. But it was impossible to look away. I could’ve shut the computer easily, but I didn’t. I just kept reading.
   Ok, I think this isn’t a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Experiencing natural childbirth and then talking about it is actually pretty epic and exciting, even if I don’t know you or care about you in any way. You shoved a human being through your vagina without pain meds? Just to see what it felt like to be a woman giving birth? Good for you. Seriously. That sounds like a hot nightmare.
   What I’m really talking about are the bloggers out there (and Eunice is usually one of them) who will talk about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, most of it completely useless, boring, and unimportant.
I've created a faux blog post below as an example of what I'm talking about:
   Today I woke up and brushed my teeth. 
 Then I used the toilet. It was only number one.

   I washed my hands in the sink.

   I went to Joann Fabric because I’ve decided to build a couch out of cotton balls and a swing set out of pipe cleaners and tell you all about it (wait until next week). While I was there I bought these spoons.

   And this crafty kit. I know what I'll be doing tonight!

   I was hungry so I had some licorice.

   I found a fork by my TV set.

   I wrote "BOOBS" on my calculator.

   I went to a store and took a picture of a sign.

   Then I had a couple drinks before going to bed.

   I did a lot of other things I didn't write about, including going to the bathroom and brushing my teeth again. I guess I'll write about that tomorrow.
   ********************END OF FAKE BLOG*************************
   Now, I didn't create this faux blog to poke fun, but rather to teach (you're welcome, bloggers of the web as well as all of America at large). I guarantee you that the only people who wanna read that kind of crap are your mom (and only because she loves you and is genuinely interested in your life) and really bizarre people who make pillows out of human hair and collect troll dolls and dead cats. Seriously, you can just share the interesting stuff. And if it's not interesting, take a day off and go out and have some semblance of a life so you can write about it tomorrow. 
   I'm just saying.

*Quote above is from Daniel B. Beaulieu, a businessman/entrepreneur I know virtually nothing about.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"She looks like Bigfoot Appalachain, Lil' Abner Barbie."*

   I’m fully invested in Project Runway Season 10, though I missed the first handful of episodes. It was the first time in years I wasn’t sitting around in my ‘jammies ready to go on day one, because…I don’t have cable anymore. I don’t not have cable because I’m a lofty, brainy type person (though I am), but because I am a poor, working-class type person.** I would love to have cable. The more channels the better. Leaving home wouldn’t even be an option, and I’d be really, truly entertained always. No friends required. And I could finally stop pretending to enjoy reading.
   ANYWAY, I couldn’t figure out how to watch it and people (I’m looking specifically at my new friend Brett) kept making me feel left out by discussing the new designers and Nina Garcia’s insults and eye rolling and Tim Gunn’s sweet, back-handed insults (that’s the thing of where you tell someone something’s wonderful because you don’t have the heart to say it’s awful). I knew nothing about anything this season, and it was killing me. So I bought all the episodes on Amazon, dedicated a full day to watching, and now I’m all caught up on the show, Tim Gunn, drama, fashion, and so on. 
   See, Project Runway is sort of a game: the outfits come down the runway and I pick the ones I like. And then I wait to see if the judges tell me I'm right. Something can be truly amazing and get utterly shit on, because they always have to have high scores and low scores. But when there aren't enough contestants left, they have to talk smack about good designs so the better ones seem even better. Make sense? Without Project Runway, I wouldn't know what to hate.
   And, since whatever I’m watching at the moment seems to inform almost all of my conversation topics and decision-making processes, I’ve been thinking a lot about clothing design. And, further inspired by an episode in which the designers had to make an outfit for a “Woman on the Go,” I drew a design for an outfit, too.
       This garment speaks for itself. (They always say "garment" on Project Runway. Never "outfit" or "ensemble" or "get up.")

Something you should (I play fast and loose with the term “should”) know about me is this: I really like drawing the bottom half of mermaids. I suck at drawing the top half because my people drawings are atrocious at best. But then I realized that maybe it had more to do with drawing perky, little mermaid boobies in shell bras than drawing people. I didn't grow up drawing boobies in my notebooks the way some people do. And I don’t want to contribute to the oversexed depiction of mermaids you see so much in the media these days. Some mermaids surely wear tank tops or t-shirts at least some of the time. And I’m sure some of them have jobs. So I drew an outfit for a business mermaid on the go. I think young girls should see more of that. You’re welcome, Society!
It occurred to me that it would be difficult for anyone other than a mermaid to model this costume, so I also have an idea for a runway that is basically a huge aquarium. The models swim down the runway. I’m sure Tim Gunn would look confused if I said that to him, but I can just picture Michael Kors stealing my idea for the fall collections this coming Spring. He loves swimwear. 

*Michael Kors waxing poetic about an outfit he didn't like on Project Runway
**How about that awkward double negative? I’ve stopped trying to impress anyone other than university admissions essay readers.

Monday, September 24, 2012

"I have only the courage for a perfect life."*

   If you care what people think of you, writing can be really hard. This blog has been a good experience for me because I don’t really care what I write down here. It doesn’t really matter. No one has to read it and I’m not getting paid. Plus, if I cared a lot about what people thought of me, I wouldn’t have the ability to put anything on the Interwebs where any old person can read it.
   But in the course of writing Statement of Purpose essays for grad school applications in the last week or so, I’ve come upon a large, brick wall (Fortress! Skyscraper! Taj Mahal!) of fear and frustration that at this, yet another dramatic moment in my life, seems impossible to penetrate. You see the specific job of the people who will read these essays is to judge me. So what I say matters. I can’t be trite and clich├ęd, like I am every time I write my blog posts. I have to be original. And more than that, I have to sound intelligent. And even more-est than that I have to make them like me. And all of those things are becoming really difficult the more I think about them.
   For instance, leading with “All my life I have longed to communicate,” would be starting off on the wrong foot. It doesn’t make a lot of sense since everyone “longs” to communicate when they’re babies. That’s why we cry so damn much. And yet, this is pretty much all I’ve written so far. And since I immediately erased it, I don’t even have that. I have a really long, tedious outline that reads like a list of the shitty jobs I’ve had over the years, but somehow I don’t think that’s going to wow anybody. Though they might be wowed by the amount of time I spent unemployed. Now that is impressive.
   Have you ever heard that perhaps apocryphal story of the kid who was applying to college—I don’t know where, it was some posh Ivy League school--and the essay prompt was “Define Courage,” and he just sent in a piece of paper with “This is courage” scrawled on it? In my mind he scrawled it. And it was scrawled in blood. Probably he typed it unless he was some sort of murderous hillbilly. And lets face it: Ivy Leagues love a weirdo or a sob story. I think it does something for their demographics. Or it just makes them feel good. So he was probably a hillbilly. Here is a quick reproduction of what his essay probably looked like:

   Anyway, I’m starting to think that might be the way to go. Only I’m not quite as brave as he is so mine might look something more like this:
The question mark shows that I'm rethinking this whole idea.
   And then, as an afterthought, or to show that I was really unique, and that my heart was in the right place and I was trying really hard to wow them, I’d add on a reverse rainbow. It would prove that I was thinking outside the box and also that I'm pro-gay but I take it one step further. I'm so pro-gay I've got a reverse rainbow. I'm pro-EVERYTHING IMPORTANT.

   It’s hard to write things when you know people will read them. That’s why I think it’s easier to be a great writer if your parents, siblings and spouse are dead, that way they aren’t around to be horrified by the things you’ve said or the confessions you’ve made. It’s like an actor or actress going naked for a role: I don’t care if you’re nominated for an Oscar! Your father had to watch that! He doesn’t want to see your naked body!  (Of course, I suppose it would be monumentally worse if you did it for some direct-to-video piece of crap you got paid $500 to make.) The bravest writers are the ones who know that peoples’ feelings are going to be hurt or their sensibilities offended and they DO IT ANYWAY. But see, I’m not that kind of person. I’m a big, old weenie and I’m afraid that my life choices are going to make this essay the equivalent of confessing to a crime. (The crime of inherent laziness and the knack for incessant failure.)
   If only I were a gay, minority hillbilly with a small supply of blood lying around. That’s how you get into college. 
*Another quote from Louie. It's soooo good! And Louis C.K. won an Emmy last night for comedy writing, thereby reinforcing my belief that everything I like is right and wonderful.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"I mean, in the last few months alone, I've been pinned in a big set of white water rapids, been bitten by an angry snake in a jungle, had a close escape with a big mountain rockfall, narrowly avoided being eaten by a huge croc in the Australian swamps, and had to cut away from my main parachute and come down on my reserve, some 5000 above the Arctic Plateau. When did all this craziness become my world?"*

   Remember last week when I said Siri was the devil? Well, I was right and apparently she knows what I was saying about her because the very next day I got trapped in the elevator. I shouldn’t use a passive sentence structure, but it sounds weird to say “the elevator trapped me” because 1) the elevator isn’t a sentient being and 2) it was Siri that made the elevator do it: the elevator is entirely blameless in this event. (I know my logic is off here, as many don’t believe Siri is a sentient being, but she definitely has A.I., which is more than I can say for the elevator.)
   I went down to the garage to move my laundry into the dryer and then took the elevator up to the first floor to get my mail. My gay mailman gave me a friendly hello and went to work stuffing those horrible pages of useless coupons into everyone’s mailbox. I decided not to wait for mine, but took my mail from yesterday and got back into the elevator.
Look at the creepy elevator in my building.
   I pushed “2” for my floor and the door started to close. And then, just inches shy of completely closing, it stopped. I couldn’t see out. I tried to push it closed. Then I tried to pull it open. It wouldn’t move. So I started pushing every button inside the elevator (useful trick, that) and shouted to the mailman from inside, asking if he could push the outside button. He did it. I could hear him, even if I couldn’t see him. It didn’t do shit. Then I very methodically began kicking and hitting the door and pushing every button I could find and hitting the elevator alarm button over and over and over. I felt like I was dying. I could literally feel the oxygen being sucked out of the tiny room. There was a sign right next to me that said there was “little chance” of the elevator running out of oxygen. But it didn’t say there was "no chance". It was nearly 100 degrees that day, which made the elevator 175 degrees, so I started sweating and turning in circles and pushing the emergency button again and again. I considered crying, but I thought that if they found me crying, I’d probably be embarrassed. I also had to pee. It was a true emergency of the very most serious kind. What if I peed my pants in the elevator just seconds before they opened it, and then I’m standing there shrugging, going, “I thought it was going to take longer?" I would have to hold it unless day turned into night and I had to figure out a way to drink my own urine like Bear Grylls taught me to do in a life-threatening emergency.
It looks like someone was clawing at the door. It's like that scene in Silence of the Lambs where Catherine's in the well at Buffalo Bill's house and she sees all the bloody scratch marks and broken finger nails in there and freaks out.
This looks like the poster image for a horror film.**
   Hours later (it was probably about 30 seconds, total), Robert showed up outside the door and called in to me.
   “I’m going to reset the elevator, okay?”
   “Yes, oh god! Thank you, Robert! Thank you. Thank god!” I leaned my head against the door of the elevator, something I envisioned Meryl Streep would probably do in the movie version of this situation.
   “Is that you, Christine?”
   “No, it’s Lacey.”
   “Oh.”(Pause). “Lacey. Please don’t push any more buttons, okay?”
   It kind of sounded like he didn’t want to reset the elevator for me. Only for his precious Christine who most likely doesn’t call him once a week from work to ask him to check and make sure she blew out her candles or unplugged her curling iron.
   “I won’t! I promise!” I pounded every-so-slightly on the door with my fists, picturing how dramatic it probably looked.
   “Just don’t touch anything. This will probably take about 2 minutes.”
   “Thank you!” And as his footsteps faded away I said, “I love you…”
   He restarted the elevator within the next 2-4 minutes and I came out expecting the fire department and all my worried neighbors to be waiting in the lobby. But no one was there. Not even the mailman had stuck around. So I walked back to my apartment and I haven’t gotten in the elevator since.
   Siri: 1, Lacey: 0
*Bear Grylls, a man who drinks his own urine every chance he gets. 
**I shouldn't show you pictures of the elevator in my building, because it sort of reveals how crap-tastic my building is.

Monday, September 17, 2012

"You know a woman is sentimental and so easy to upset. So make her feel like she's for real and she'll give you happiness. Strange as it seems, you know you can't treat a woman mean."*

   When I was 18, I had some really bad shit going on in my “nether regions” (that’s the poetic term for anything that happens in an embarrassing part of your anatomy below the waist). I didn’t know what it was and I spent a lot of time vacillating between diarrhea, nausea and constipation and occasionally passing out ever so briefly with mind-numbingly painful cramps.
   So the summer after my freshman year of college, armed to the teeth with my then Grade-A health coverage, I went on a journey of medical self-discovery.
   It began with an internist who suggested that I might have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), the bowel equivalent of “dermatitis.” This is how doctors say, “There’s something wrong with your parts, but I don’t know what the fuck it is.”
   The thing with IBS is that it’s a disease of ruling out other things. The doctor ordered a bunch of tests to decide what was wrong with my guts and innards.
   I took a lactose intolerance test first off. I could have told them I wasn’t intolerant to lactose. Milk is pretty much my favorite non-booze drink, and if I had to pick one food to subsist on for the rest of my life, it would be cheese. Dairy can do no wrong in my eyes. But I showed up for the test because I love to feel sick and be the center of attention.
   So this test is the thing of where they feed you some god-awful concoction of candy-flavored lactose drink and then they draw blood from you every half hour for four hours. Being as I have shitty, slippery veins, the process left me looking like the world’s most committed heroin user just in time for my shift at the classy Mexican restaurant I worked at that summer that I’m pretty sure was, coincidentally, a front for drug dealers.
Look: here's someone pulling up in front of El Aguila to make a deal.
   Even before the results of my lactose test came back, I was at appointment number two: an ultrasound. It was weird and cold and let me tell you, if you’re ticklish an ultrasound is kind of a nightmare/really amazing and fun! I was relaxed with the technician—she was a nice, young woman and she made me feel better about my constant squirming and laughing by making pleasant conversation about nothing. I have to say that innocuous chatter was much easier at that point in my life because I had it all going on: a concrete goal (graduate from college), a job (albeit at a shitty restaurant), and the skin of an 18-year-old.
   The conversation was stilted whenever another technician or nurse would walk into the room, which was kind of a lot, but I didn’t mind too much. Until my technician said, “Uh oh.”
   I wasn’t immediately nervous. I had the comfort of knowing that I wasn’t pregnant and also I was 18 and never going to die.
   “There’s something showing up here, but I can’t see it too well. Would you mind if I did a vaginal ultrasound?”
   I gave her the uncertain go ahead and she changed wands as I took off my underpants. Shudder. And as she probed around down there, the technicians kept coming in and going out of the room, which was awkward, to say the least. But my gal found what she was looking for: a corpus ludeum. It was a benign cyst on my right ovary, and it was taking over the whole damn thing.
   So I was instructed to get a pap smear.
   A girl’s introduction into the world of gynecology is a truly momentous and shitty occasion in her life. Because once you go into the stirrups, you just have to keep going into them. Not because you want to, of course, but because they find ways of making you. You want birth control? Gotta come in every year. You want to not die of Chlamydia? Better get in here. You want this baby born with one head? I’m going to have to watch it through my magic machine. And I think it’s probably a good idea, health-wise, anyway, just to make sure there aren’t any unwanted developments down there or just so you can get the cobwebs knocked out once a year.
Now imagine the theme from Jaws in your head.
   I didn’t have a gynecologist, so my mom suggested hers: a quite brilliant and capable physician who had been her OB/GYN through her pregnancies with my sisters and even delivered Penelope. Hooray!
   Her name was Mary, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
   I showed up at the appointment not knowing ANYTHING about what to expect. They made me pee in a cup and then they took me into one of the examining rooms. The nurse told me I wasn’t pregnant (Thanks!) and asked me a series of questions.
Her: When was your last period?
Me: I don’t know. A couple of weeks ago?
Her: What kind of birth control do you use?
Me: None.
Her: None? Not even condoms?
Me: I’m not sexually active.
Her: But you don’t even use condoms?
Me: Not really. (I was confused.) I’m not sexually active.
   At this point she sighed and shook her head, judging the shit out of me for not using condoms while I was studying for exams, rehearsing for plays or sleeping.
Her: Smoke?
Me: Yes.
Her: Drink?
Me: Yes.
   Maybe I shouldn’t have been so honest, but I’m the daughter of a physician, and he always told me to tell the doctors everything so they could do their job as well as possible. He also told me not to smoke but I can't always pay attention to every little thing now, can I?
Her: Alright. Here’s a robe. Take off everything and put this on with the opening in the back. The doctor will be in in a minute.
   I took off all my clothes and put on the robe. I didn’t know where or how to sit without my butt crack showing. I opted to sit on a chair on top of my clothes with the gown wrapped around behind me.
   Dr. Mary came in and introduced herself. She was middle-aged and succinct, cold even. She went to my chart.
Her: It says here you don’t use condoms.
Me: I’m not having sex.
Her: At least you’re not pregnant. Yet. You should really be protecting yourself.
   I felt like I was losing my mind. Could no one hear me say I wasn’t sexually active, or did they think I was a big, fat liar? Maybe I was having sex and I didn't know about it?
Her: You smoke and you drink?
Me: Yes.
Her: You’re eighteen.
Me: Yes.
Her: Nice friends you must have.
   I sat, burning and freezing at the same time. I was furious, but shy and too young to defend myself appropriately. This was years before I started picking fights with everyone from the landlord to the person driving behind me to all medical professionals I encountered.
   She got me up on the examining table and into the stirrups. She told me to scoot down farther (the words you hear at your first 15 pap smears before you finally just show up, take it all off, grab an US Weekly and get your crotch right off the end of the table before the doctor even comes in). She was relatively gentle with the speculum, but I only know that in retrospect. At the time it felt like she was driving a butcher knife into my vagina and then using hedge clippers to break off parts of my insides. But at least she didn’t hang out all day doing it and making conversation about her kid’s violin lessons or excellent chicken recipes while I sat wondering if I could just yank the thing out myself (that’s happened to me). Picture getting an internal exam from Edward Scissorhands.
"This speculum looks like the right size."
   She verified that I had a cyst and she decided that the best solution would be birth control pills. She said the hormones would regulate my ovaries better.
   Then she said, “And at least now you’ll be avoiding pregnancy, if not diseases.”
   I said, “I swear to you, I’m really not having sex.”
   But she was already walking out the door.
   She stopped before the door closed behind her and leaned in, “You should really stop smoking and drinking, too.”
   I would like to talk more shit about her and that appointment, but she died a couple of years ago, and it seems wrong. My mom said Dr. Mary was the kind of woman who hated it when people were careless about their health, because she had so many congenital health problems herself. But that doesn’t make up for it entirely, in my mind.
   I went to 7 other gynecologists before I found one I liked, and then she jumped ship and went to Kaiser Permanente, so I can’t see her anymore. It was like going through a break-up to lose Dr. Chang. But now I see her partner, and she’s going to have to do.
   In the meantime, I stockpile condoms and sit (alone) with them on the couch watching reruns of Magnum, P.I. (how fitting) or The X-Files. I'm avoiding pregnancy on a whole other level. It's important to be safe.

*From "Treat Her Like a Lady" by Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose. I have a love/hate relationship with this song, but my goodness it's catchy!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"I wish I was 25 again and had all my mistakes in front of me."*

   I was cleaning out the contacts in my gmail account yesterday (hoping to avoid another mass email debacle) when I did a face plant onto a horrible memory. I hit on the email address of a woman whom I’ll call Jane Emerson. She was listed as jane@lasthespot. That’s close to the real URL, because that’s where I worked when I worked for Jane Emerson. I worked for Jane for four whole days.
   In the Spring of 2007 (one of the shittier years of my life, it would seem—at least, the first half certainly was), I answered yet another job ad on Craiglist. You’d have thought I’d have learned my lesson mere months before when meeting Ty, the “producer” who had adult acne and braces and wanted to pay me to be his girlfriend. But no, I had to go out and apply for more jobs on Craigslist. Because I’m a goddamn idiot.
   But this one seemed genuinely awesome because it was a writing job and it involved social media and online publications and all the stuff I wanted to learn how to do. So I applied and had a phone interview with Jane. She seemed kind of great. We talked for a full hour on the phone and it was a good chat, though she did seem really concerned with whether or not she could trust me. She kept saying that her fabulous, up-and-coming, online magazine, LA’s The Spot, was going to be really cutting edge and giving people a glimpse into shit that hadn’t even happened in the city yet. As a result, she really needed an employee she could trust to keep her mouth shut and write content. I said I could totally do that. And she hired me.
   I met her at a huge apartment/condo complex in Marina del Rey, a really fun one-and-a-half hour drive from my apartment. Sigh. Just thinking about that drive makes me mad to this day. 
I will add a better map of how far this actually is when I have more time.
   She was a chunky, middle-aged woman with a long, black ponytail and even longer fake nails that did nothing to hide the fact that she was…chunky and middle-aged. She was nice enough, though, and offered me a soda or a cup of tea. I opted for water, since I usually feel weird taking refreshments from people I don’t know very well. I always feel like I’m imposing, even when they offer.
   She said, “You should really have a Diet Coke. I’m going to have a Diet Coke.”
   I accepted the Diet Coke. She directed me to the couch next to her desk.
   The apartment was a pretty nice, one-bedroom place with a big, airy glass door that led onto a balcony.
   “I rented this to use as office space, because if I stayed at home I’d never get anything done what with my husband and my son always bugging me,” she said.
   “Oh sure, that makes sense.”
   She set about explaining what my job was going to entail: essentially, I would take articles published by the AP and rewrite them in my own words so she could copy them onto her website without any fear of people being mad about that pesky little copyright infringement/plagiarism thing. I didn’t really understand it as such at the time because a) I’m an idiot and b) I really didn’t know any better because c) I was an even bigger idiot in 2007.
   I was excited because it was going to be my very first writing job and I was going to be paid: $8 an hour! Which was $8 more an hour than I’d ever made as a writer.
   She was excited. I was excited.
   Jane spent an hour showing me how to use the website and setting up my email account. She gave me my first assignment right away: she wanted me to “write some copy” about a hotel that was reopening in Hollywood. I felt great. It was the quickest first day at the office I’d ever had and I was going home to write for money! I took the AP article and stood up with my laptop.
   “Okay, Jane. I’ll get on this as soon as I get home and post the copy this afternoon.”
   She gave me a weird look.
   “No, you need to write the article here.”
   I sat back down with my mostly empty Diet Coke.
   “Oh. Okay. So, this will be my office, too?” I asked.
   “Yes. Until I know you better, I can’t really trust you to be honest about how many hours you’re working. But don’t worry. It’ll be fun! We get to sample all kinds of fun products. People are always sending me samples so I’ll write about their products online.”
   “Fun,” I said.
   “Yeah. For instance, I just got these today.”
   She pulled out a green box with the words “DietLife Chews” printed on the side.
   “They’re weight loss chews with ephedrine and caffeine. So they stimulate weight loss and they keep you alert. You should try one.” She offered me the box.
   “Oh, that’s okay. I’m good with the Diet Coke.”
   “Come on, try one! You look like you could use them. Plus, if you try it, I’ll let you write about it on the site!”
   I tried really hard to wrap my head around what she’d just said to me. Had I been called a fatty on my first day of work? By a fatty even fatter than I?
   And you know what I did? I took a chew and opened it and put it in my mouth. She was watching me try to eat it and probably would’ve watched until I swallowed it, but her Skype phone rang (she had to have been one of the first-ever people to use Skype on a regular basis).
   “Hi,” she said by way of greeting to whoever was calling her. Pause. “I don’t know.” Pause. “Well, it’s your turn to pick him up so I don’t know why you’re calling me.”
   As she talked, I ate my fat girl candy and looked around at our office. It was dawning on me that even though she said she’d only rented the apartment for “office space,” an awful lot of personal things were in there: artwork and clothes and framed photos and skis. It kind of looked like somebody actually lived there.
   “I’m working right now!” she shrieked into the phone.
   I looked out the big, glass door to the balcony, so it would seem like I wasn’t listening, even though the apartment was really small and I was sitting two feet away from her.
   Then she started crying, “I don’t know why you’re doing this to me!” Pause. Tears. “Wait…no wait! I—well then fuck you!”
   She slammed the headphones down on her desk. Then she swept everything off her desk onto the floor. I'm talking keyboard, headphones, cell phone, papers, REAL PHONE...etc...
   I sat there and tried not to move. Like when spiders or rabbits think you can't see them when they're immobile.
   “You know what, Lacey?” she asked me, looking up through her tears.
   “Um…what?” I swallowed my chew.
   “My husband is a fucking asshole.”
   “Oh yeah?” I sipped the very last drop of my warm Diet Coke.
   “I’m going to take a Vicodin and go lay down in my room for a while. You can get started on the article.”
   She went into the kitchen and poured herself a very large vodka. Then she went into her bedroom and closed the door.
   I worked for about an hour, waiting to see if she died and then I turned in the article and went home.
   That was the first day. I worked for three more days and then on Friday, she fired me over the phone. I WORKED FOR THREE MORE DAYS. When she fired me, she said she didn’t feel like my heart was in it.

*The quote is from Louie, my new favorite television obsession, written and directed by the incredible Louis C.K. I don't really wish I were 25 again. Clearly, that was a bad year for me.

Monday, September 10, 2012

"Your name is Gilly, but since we are good friends, I get to call you Jesus."*

   I got an iPhone 4S last week and my life is now complete. I’m so in love with iPhone that I take him everywhere and dress him in different, cute little outfits. He’s adorable and the closest thing to a child I can ever imagine owning (you do own children, right? If you have them yourself out of your vagina or adopt them legally?).
   Anyway, iPhone is great and I’ve never been happier with an electronic device (thanks, Momma and Steve Jobs!).
   But you know who’s a huge bitch? Siri.
   I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get Siri because I’d talked to her on Chad’s phone in the past and found that she didn’t particularly understand anything I had to say. It was like talking to the automated voice system on the phone with the bank or fucking stupid AT&T: it hardly ever knows what you’re talking about and keeps saying, “It sounded like you said, ‘Go fuck yourself.’ Did I get that right?”
   Anyway, I was convinced by Ouisa to go ahead and get Siri anyway (Ouisa’s like a cartoon drawing of a devil on your shoulder whenever you’re wondering whether or not to buy something), because she can do so many amazing things! You can text without typing! You can look for directions! You can have her play a song from your phone!
   While I was working this weekend, I let the kiddos I watch play with Siri for a while (a truly annoying thing to listen to) and I started to feel kind of bad for her. One of them was telling her she was stupid and the other was saying "I hate you, Siri!" (what have I done to these children, btw?) and Siri’s responses were sort of calm but hurt. She kept explaining that she hadn’t done anything wrong or that she didn’t understand why they would say that kind of stuff to her. The whole thing made me feel kind of weird, like how when I was a kid I use anthropomorphize my dolls and toys and worry myself to death making sure they were all in comfortable positions at bed time (I'm talking even toy tractors or Lincoln Logs...I was a weird kid). I started irrationally defending Siri to the kids, saying stuff like, “Hey, that’s mean! Don’t say that!” I was aware as I was speaking that I sounded insane, but I genuinely thought maybe Siri would get fed up and turn into a murderous monster like HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Maybe she’d smother me in my sleep or—far worse—trap me in an elevator. How was she to know it wasn't me talking to her but those devious children?
This is Siri all bent out of shape because people were being mean to her.

   I put Siri into a random Google search just to see what kind of technology I was actually dealing with and found something shocking:
   This article talks about how when you ask Siri for an abortion clinic or a pharmacy with the morning after pill or a RAPE CRISIS CENTER for gods sake, she gives you none but instead directs you to pro-life pregnancy counseling centers. What’s even more disturbing perhaps, it seems that she willingly gives out info on Viagra or “penis mightier” drug sources. So…she’s apparently only opinionated about women’s sexual health issues.
   This made me feel a lot less sorry for Siri. And a lot of other things started falling into place, too.
   For instance, if you ask Siri where to dump a body, she’s full of suggestions from metal foundries to crematoriums. And that seemed funny as hell to me at first. But since she doesn’t have any advice about where I can get a rape kit, it seems fucked up that she’s so eager to help me dispose of a corpse.
   Also, when I asked her who was the fairest of them all (yes, I’m a dork, move on), she asked if she was talking to Snow White. But when one of the kids asked her, she basically said, “You are.” Huh? She’s MY Siri, so how come she’s nicer to other people?
   And she keeps popping up when I don’t want her services (also eerily reminiscent of HAL) and asking what she can help me with. She can help me with minding her own goddamn business!
   She has her uses, don’t get me wrong. I’m learning how to talk to her so that she understands and actually helps me rather than frustrating the shit out of me. It’s a lot like a dating-type relationship. I repeat myself ad nauseum, she doesn’t understand. I get mad and she gets confused. I apologize and try again, she’s turned herself off. Yep, we’re dating alright.
   I will continue to be nice to Siri, despite our fundamental philosophical differences, because she scares the hell out of me. But iPhone I will love forever. Beautiful iPhone. IPhone, iPhone, iPhone. 
Siri is the Devil.

*This is a quote from Siri on my iPhone. Hmmm...
More news on Siri...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"You ever have moments where your self-satisfaction runs so deep that you don't know what to do with yourself? I just had one."*

    Okay, so I’ve been AWOL for a while, but I have some really good excuses. For one, I got sick last Thursday. Today is the next Thursday and I’m still sick. I didn’t take enough Zicam and I haven’t gotten enough sleep, so it’s not so much my body’s fault as mine (is it weird that I consider my body a separate entity from my brain/personality?); nonetheless I’m still kind of upset at my body and not myself. But I’m hardly ever upset with myself, because I like myself so much (does saying it a lot make it true?).
    Secondly, I got back from Omaha on Monday to find a stranger living in my apartment. This is a true statement, though the stranger wasn’t a surprise. My friend Dara’s been in Poland studying for the last year or so and her new Polish friend Marta got a Fulbright Scholarship to do research at Cal State LA. She needed a place to stay for a few days until she scored an apartment, but a few days has become a week and god love her, she’s overwhelmed as shit and hasn’t found a way to get to CSULA on mass transit, let alone found an apartment. But…I don’t really play well with others. That’s kind of why I have to live alone. And Marta’s been sitting in my spot in the living room, so I don’t know where to go. And I can’t really write while she’s there, because I can’t settle into the proper headspace. So I’m hiding out at Chad’s apartment while he plays shuffleboard up the street with some friends. And no, Chad isn’t an 87-year-old retiree. 
Chad's fish tank. The best part of my new writing environment.
[It would probably be in my best interest to simply tell Marta she’s in my spot and offer her a new spot, but my cold is making me stupid and tired and so I just keep going to my room and since my room is pretty much wired in my brain as a resting space, every time I go in there I immediately fall asleep. That could also be the cold’s fault.]
    Thirdly, Chad is running for Neighborhood Council and I’m his campaign manager. Just kidding. But he is running. And his upstairs neighbor has a crush on me and keeps trying to give me CDs he finds in the trash or old VHS tapes of “classics” such as the little-known Judy Garland animated flick, “Gay Purree” in which she voices a Parisian cat.
    Allow me to describe him: long hair, British teeth, pot belly and he's about 45-years-old. Every day he wears the same outfit: long shorts, wife beater (today no shirt, however), backwards baseball cap, white socks pulled up and black sneakers. He works as the apartment manager here and seems to think he and I would have a lot in common. He took Chad and I up to his apartment one time and it looks like Buffalo Bill is living there, except for the poster of Audrey Hepburn he has taped up over his bed. I will tell you more after we start officially dating. I’m not really sure why I get all the sexy men. It’s a blessing. And a curse.
This Buffalo Bill, not the famous American showman. (Silence of the Lambs: Jonathan Demme, 1991.)

    And d. I have some raucous mosquito bites, courtesy of the Midwest, which are making me feel gross in general. Plus I scratched the shit out of ‘em so they look disgusting too. AND, since I’ve turned thirty, I’ve found that it’s much harder to keep up with shaving my legs. I think my leg hair has started growing faster. What’s next? Ear hair? 
I am intentionally not zooming, as then my leg hair would be all up in your face. I also have a couch print going on.

    Anyway, as you can probably tell (since I’ve told you), my life has been a little crazy of late and that is why I haven’t been posting. I wish I’d been spending this time productively, but that, sadly, is not the case.
    Poor me.

*Quote is courtesy of my dear friend, Erin, who left this very phrase in my voice mail. Sometimes the quotes just fall in my lap.