Thursday, January 31, 2013

"Men have become the tools of their tools."*


   I recently had the opportunity to spend a weekend without Internet, and I have to tell you it was such a great spiritual, enlightening experience.

   Just kidding.

   It sucked ass.

   It stormed and rained on Saturday and while that may not be related to the Internet situation, it seems too coincidental to be completely ignored. Not that I understand where the Interweb comes from or how it gets on my computer or how anything technological works, but I’m almost positive the rain or those kamikaze palm fronds caused the ‘net to be wiped out for nearly 30 hours. Boo. Or maybe it was just Verizon’s damn fault.

   But anyway.

   I felt like Laura Ingalls Wilder out on the prairie without plumbing or insulation or running water or electricity. (Or store-bought underpants or deodorant or tampons, for that matter.) It was truly just as bad as that.

   There are a bajillion things you can’t do without the Internet, and I’ll admit that some are more important than others, but in the end they're all highly essential. I have no idea what would have happened without my 3G cell phone (which also didn’t work too consistently). I most likely would have died. Really. I would have died.

   Here is what you can’t do without the Interwebs:

1. Check the blogs you like to read.

2. Find out if anyone has liked anything you did/said/posted on Facebook.

3. Check your bank balance.

4. Check your email.

5. Get directions to anything.

6. Find out a phone number. (Remember phone books? Yeah, they still exist. But who has one? I always throw away recycle the one they leave on my stairs, so they’re no use to me.)

7. Watch anything on Roku. (That means no Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu. What am I supposed to do? Watch a goddamn DVD? What am I, a farmer?)

8. Get a recipe that you had planned to make but to which you now have no access. (But you do have a crap-load of ingredients and no discernible clue on the planet what to do with them.)

9. Read the news. (Yeah, I don’t get the newspaper anymore so…)***

10. Find out how many calories are in the brownie you’ve been offered.

11. Check movie times.

12. Find out what a word means or if a celebrity is an Oscar winner or what your horoscope is or what the projected forecast might be.
13. Stave off the inevitable boredom and, upon losing, eat for the sole purpose of entertainment.

   Here’s the thing: I’ve trained myself over the last 12-13 years to be COMPLETELY DEPENDENT on the Internet. That’s what I thought I was supposed to do. I thought it was “the wave of the future.”

   And it’s sad, in a way, because I know I spent a good 18 years being perfectly sufficient without the Interwebs. I went to libraries to check out books for research papers. I looked up phone numbers in the phone book. I drove around aimlessly until I found whatever destination I sought (never have been able to read a map, maybe that's why I love maps so much?). I checked my horoscope in the newspaper (because, yes, I had a subscription). I called 4-1-1 from a pay phone to find out movie times, or I just went to the theatre and figured it out. I did those things, but…I don’t want to do them anymore. I really don’t.
California's cell tower power. **(


   In many ways, it’s easy to see how people in “ye olden times” kept it fit. They used to have to plow the fields all day and put a bucket down a well to get water and cut wood for the fire and then they’d go into the house and eat 6 pigs, four chickens, and a bushel of corn for dinner: you work hard, you get to eat a lot. Nowadays, we search the Internet from a seated position while eating microwave popcorn and can’t understand why we’re enormously fat.

   But imagine if Laura Ingalls Wilder’s well was filled with sand and her fields were blighted by insects and the trees were all wet and mealy and no good for firewood: then she’d feel as fucked as I do when the ‘webs go down.****
*Henry David Thoreau. Kind of a funny quote when you think of the new connotation the word "tool" has these days.
**Drawing inspired by Sam Resnick.
***I feel guilty that I implied that I read the news. I really don't. I did have a subscription to LA Times in college but since then my news-gathering has been mostly sporadic at best. I apologize both for misleading you and for not reading the news more consistently.
****I'm actually pretty sure all these things happened to Laura Ingalls Wilder and she did, in fact, survive. But that's not really the point I'm making.




Monday, January 28, 2013

"When it's 100 degrees in New York, it's 72 in Los Angeles. When it's 30 degrees in New York, in Los Angeles it's still 72. However, there are 6 million interesting people in New York, and only 72 in Los Angeles."*


   It rained** over the weekend and so today it was so clear that I realized that the San Gabriel Mountains were much larger than I thought they were. I’d never really seen them before and it turns out I’d just been looking at the foothills all these years. Ha! Weird, though, because if you can never see them, does it even matter that they’re there? (Whoa, that’s totally existential of me.) But we get so few clear days in Los Angeles that it was a real treat to find out about the mountains. Today it looked like this:
I love those hot air balloons. Love them.



   Minus the hot air balloon. And the regular balloon. And I didn’t draw in the mountains. I guess this is just what today felt like in my head.

  I was feeling pretty awesome this morning even without the mountains (though those made it even nicer) because I’ve FINALLY lost the weight I put on over Christmas and the New Year. That’s right, folks. I gained 6 pounds in two weeks at my parents’ house eating the following: Christmas cookies, my dad's brownies from-scratch (Grandma Begge's recipe), Kraft mac-n-cheese, and copious servings of buttered toast. (Disclaimer: these items were either gifts from schadenfroh*** neighbors or purchased by my mom for my sister Penelope, who can apparently eat whatever the fuck she wants and drink six regular cokes a day and not gain weight. The last time I could get away with that kind of diet, I was 8.) Turns out flour and sugar are bad for you and I had the gut to prove it. But now I’m back to my pre-holiday weight so I can start again with my regular 15-lb weight loss goal. Hooray for baby steps!

   So I went to my appointment for laser hair removal. (Yeah, I do that. You never know when Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue will need a last minute replacement for Marisa Miller.) So anyway, I had consciously made the appointment with Aren, seeing as how she is the technician I always visit. But it turns out my technician’s name has been Linda this whole time. Wow, I feel like an asshole leaving all those tips for Aren. And...wait for it...Aren is Linda’s SON. And he was the only technician working today. The receptionist, Annabelle, informed me that he’s really good and he’s an R.N. so I shouldn’t worry about showing him my vagina.

   I said, “Have you ever been to him?”

   She said, “Well, he’s my brother, so…”

   “So, no.”

   She said, “No. But people love him! He’s really good! People request him specifically.”

   I think that the “people” specifically requesting him were me. Last week. And notice she said "people" not "women."

   But then Annabelle told me that she has a male gynecologist. Helpful.

   Anyway, long story short (TOO LATE), I sucked it up and had my appointment with Aren. 
   Aren came out and Annabelle said, "Aren, take really good care of Lacey. It's her first time with a male technician and she's really excited!"
   I said, "Well now, that sounds wrong somehow."
   But you know what? Aside from not having much to say while he was working, Aren was truly excellent. I would see him again (just as friends). I think he’s better than his mom, even. And I feel like he probably deals with a fair amount of sexism (not to mention skepticism) in his line of work, what with being a man and all. On the other hand, maybe that’s a weird profession for a man. But on a third hand, I’m sure dudes that are getting hair lasered off their butt cheeks are happy that he’s doing what he's doing. Okay. I’m totally sold on Aren. (Which is apparently pronounced like “Aaron” and not, as I previously thought, an exotic, Armenian name pronounced like “are-en.” Or R.N., which he is!) And at least my tips were staying in the family.

   That’s enough/more than enough for now. Happy Monday!

*Neil Simon. Not to shit on LA, but have you ever noticed that when people who live here talk about it we always say, "Well, you can't beat the weather." That's because if we didn't have the weather, we'd kill ourselves.
**Due to the rain, my power went out for an unknown period of time over the weekend, which explains why the milk I poured all over my oatmeal led to a near-brush with vomiting.

***Schadenfroh, according to my sources (the Interwebs), is the adjective form of schadenfreude. It’s not really used in English, but it was the only word I wanted to describe people who bring plates of cookies to your house during the holiday season and call it "a gift."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"You know what my Aunt Agnes says about men. 'Man is like the drifting snow. It comes down in small flurries and piles up against the door, and before long you can't get out of the house.'"*

   Why are people so concerned that I’m single? Do they think I’m sad and lonely? Are they embarrassed for me? Maybe they think I’m so awesome that it’s unbelievable that I should be going along in life without a man. That’s probably it. It is shocking that I’m not already married to a rich, handsome secret agent (or just engaged to and pregnant by a rich, handsome secret agent: that’s more in vogue right now). But on the other hand, who’s good enough for me? Right? Right? (Don't answer that.)

   For the record, I don’t mind being single. I don’t mind it at all. In fact I don’t mind it so much that the idea of being in a relationship terrifies and even sometimes horrifies me. Every time I’m in one, I start plotting ways to escape. I’m guessing, and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, that if I were to meet someone who I actually WANTED to be in a relationship with, I wouldn’t immediately start making excuses to not hang out with him. Excuses like, “I have rabies/lice/gonorrhea/diarrhea,” or  “There’s a good chance my cousin might die, so I can’t see you for a few weeks while I go stay with her in the insane asylum.” I’m all, “Hey, look over there!” while I climb out the window onto the ladder I placed there before dinner. I’m just guessing this means I’m not totally sold on anybody just yet/maybe ever. I’m just guessing.

   I was out to drinks a couple weeks ago with one of my best friends. Her sister and her sister’s boyfriend were with us. The boyfriend was very eager to find my BFF a man. He suggested that they (he, his girlfriend, and my BFF) start going out every week and that he would help her get a boyfriend of her own. My BFF, sweetheart and open-minded person that she is said that sounded fine. She was very elegant about it.

   Inside my brain I was thinking, “Is that how this works?!? We're saying: Let’s not let this perfectly functioning, beautiful single woman waste away in singledom with only friends and the occasional hot date: let’s get her a man! NOW! Or she will DIE!!! Really??”

   It was nice that my BFF’s sister’s boyfriend (confused yet?) wanted to find my BFF a life partner/one-night-stand, but I also thought it was weird. I think, at least to a degree, it’s because he didn’t feel super comfortable about being out to drinks as a couple without another couple. It probably would’ve been more awkward if I hadn’t been there taking up the space where the other man should’ve been sitting. Or maybe that just made my BFF's singleness more obvious. Hmmm...

   My theory is that couples don’t like hanging out with single people. It makes them feel like they can’t be affectionate or talk about plans for the future or discuss all the boring crap they do together like watching their programs or walking their dogs or making quinoa and lentils to eat in front of a roaring computer or picking insects out of each others' hair. So that’s why they want the rest of us to get matched up, already. Because then us single folks will be fucking boring, too. Boring-ness for everyone!

   I’m kidding. To an extent.

   I have great friends that are “couple friends.” Tom and Jess. Richie and Jerome. And they don’t seem to feel weird about me going out to dinner with them without an escort.

   And to be honest, if I really wanted a man I could find one. When you’re female, it’s relatively easy. It’s kind of like shooting fish in a barrel.** The problem is finding one that’s worth the trouble. See, other people are, in general, really annoying. And the older you get the harder it is to overlook certain shortcomings. What was attractive when I was 22 or 25 or even 27 is no longer attractive (e.g. unemployment, disgusting apartments, roommates, bad hygiene, etc.). And I just get pickier and pickier with time.

   I’ve been watching a lot of reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show lately (who's boring now, bitches?) and Sally, played by the wonderful Rose Marie, gives me pause in nearly every episode. Now I’m pretty sure she’s supposed to be in her early 30’s on the show. She was, in fact, nearly 40 when the show began. And her character’s whole shtick is talking about how she’s not married and how she wants to be married and how she’ll go out with anyone, anytime, anywhere, just please let her get married. But here I’m looking at this woman who has an amazing job as a comedy writer on a hit sketch show, an apartment in Manhattan, a great group of friends, and a new man every week. I’m sorry, but Sally is living my dream. Is that sad? I mean, if she wants a diamond ring, she can buy one. If she wants a kid, she can rent one (adopt one?). If she wants to watch something on TV, she doesn’t have to ask anyone else’s opinion on the matter. If the kitchen’s a mess, it’s a mess she made so she can’t be too mad about it. She has the perfect life.
Sally Rogers at work on The Dick Van Dyke Show. (Photo Source)

   Oh sure, love is important, it is. I just feel like what most people are aiming for is “good enough.” I want way better than good enough, and I’m not really into the idea of settling. Most of my couple friends are in amazing relationships and can't seem to remember what it felt like to date the wrong person. And the wrong person is EVERYWHERE. Being single is preferable to the wrong person, can we agree?

   Once again I’m comparing myself in my head to my heroine, Mary Richards. She didn't want the wrong person. And yes, I’m probably more like Rhoda…but Rhoda got married, so...? 


*Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show (Carl Reiner, 1961-1965).

**The expression “shooting fish in a barrel” had me confused for a long time. It has always seemed to me that shooting a fish would be rather hard, even within the small confines of a barrel.  Sort of like trying to dig eggshell out of an egg white. But the Interweb has informed me that it comes from the idea that even if you don’t hit a fish, the shock waves created by the bullet will probably kill at least one fish.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

"For what do we live but to make sport of our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?"*


   Well, it’s official: I’m an asshole.
   Remember how I told you about my neighbors Jay/Jaye/J and his/her mystery roommate/boyfriend/girlfriend/buddy? Well, the mystery is officially solved and I solved it in a terrible, asinine fashion of which I am ashamed and can’t stop thinking about and obsessing over. (Yeah, I ended another goddamn sentence with a/two preposition/s. It’s a stylistic choice. IT’S A CHOICE.)
 
   So, I was heading out to pick up Chad and meet some friends for bowling the other night when I ran into Jay’s roomie (lover? Best buddy?) outside their door. Roomie was wrangling a pair of the most adorable twin boys I’d ever seen.
   I immediately dropped to my knees to chat with the kiddos (I hate children as a rule because they’re inherently evil, but these two were quite fantastic looking) and since I was already in good humor (what with having social plans and all), I used it as an excuse to chat up Jay’s companion.
“Hi, I’m Lacey! And who are these boys?”
“Oh, they’re my sister’s kids.”
“So you’re their aunt?” Fucking rookie mistake.
“No, I’m their uncle.”
   I decided to just keep talking as though I hadn’t made one of the worst possible of faux pas in the world.
“Oh, their uncle! Of course. What’s your name?”
“C.J.”
“It’s so nice to meet you finally!”
   C.J. was holding one of the twins and had a stethoscope around his neck that the toddler was trying desperately to get hold of.
“Where did you find a stethoscope for them to play with? Are you a doctor or something?”
   (At this point I was kissing his ass in the hopes that he’d forget that I called him their aunt. I should’ve corrected things immediately and said something like, “Oh, crap. I misspoke. Of course I meant uncle, but my friend from Oklahoma just became an aunt and she talks about it so often it just flew out of my mouth and how about those Dodgers (see—I remembered he liked baseball).” But I was so thrown that I felt compelled to just keep on talking like the moron I am. Why a DOCTOR would live in this shitty apartment building is beyond the scope of reality anyway, so there's no remote chance that he bought any of my brown-nosing bullshit.)
“No, I have asthma, so I keep a stethoscope around.”
“Ohhhhhhhh.” I tried not to let him know that this was a huge revelation and was answering so many questions. EUREKA! Finally I understand why the tuberculosis-style coughing happens in the bathroom every night.
If I were a doctor (which I'm not), I would totally have one of these...
“Well, your nephews are completely precious. Are they living with you?”
“Thank you! Yes, but just for a little while. My sister’s moving to L.A. so she’s staying with us while she's in transition.”
   While he held one twin, the other kept coming to the door with random objects and saying what they were.
“Shoe.”
“Phone.”
“Stethoscope.”
   I gave the little genius as many compliments as I could. Mostly so C.J. could stay standing with the one while my face tried to cool down from my intense mortification. Whenever I’m embarrassed I flame red and immediately run a mild fever. It makes embarrassment a million times worse when everyone knows how embarrassed you are, so I thought I’d crouch low to the ground and interact with the toddler. The way I acted, you would have thought the kid was reciting Tennyson.
   C.J. could not have been nicer. Which made/makes me feel EVEN WORSE. He was so sweet and friendly and warm. Everything Jay/Jaye/J had not been on our one and only encounter.
   It breaks my heart to think of C.J. sitting in his apartment with those two noisy twins and thinking about how his dumb bitch neighbor thought he was a woman. AND I DID. If you’ll recall, I definitely thought he was (maybe) a lady.
   But I feel like as many questions as were answered, a million popped up in their places. I mean, IS that a one-bedroom apartment? In which case, he and Jay are clearly the gay lovers I initially thought they were. UNLESS Jay is a woman, which is clearly possible. BUT, if C.J.’s sister and the twins are staying for what has clearly been well over a month, how can that possibly be a one-bedroom apartment? 
   And why does C.J. have better breasts than I do? And a higher voice? I've heard of hormones in people's foods doing such things. Maybe he has a dietary deficiency?
   Okay, so sometimes when I start diagnosing people and their issues, Em will say to me, “Is Dr. Rouse making a house call?” It's obvious that I think I know a lot more about everything than I ever actually do. If I were a doctor (which I’m not, for the record) I’d say, “Physician heal thyself!” Which, in this case seems to mean: I gotta do something to make it up to my neighbors.
   Stay tuned for what is sure to be a foray into some ill-conceived baking.
*This quote is from the divine Ms. Jane Austen. I certainly hope my neighbors are "making sport" of me, because I fucking deserve it. Sigh out loud.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"Technology is cyclical."*


   I spent some time brainstorming things to write about so none of you would think I was dead…but be forewarned: this post is not really about anything. So stop reading now if you want. You jerks.

   I kid, I kid.
Look! I drew you a picture of a brainstorm.


   In the interest of clearing my brain of the clutter that’s built up in there over a lifetime the last week or so, I’m doing another Pu Pu Platter of crap I’ve been thinking about. Sample at random.

   1. Let’s start with the term “pu pu platter.” Growing up, I always pictured that spelled “poo poo platter” and assumed it was a platter of various pieces of feces. Then, when my family went to Hawaii in 2003, a witty/bitter tour guide informed us that pūpū was a Hawaiian term for snail but had come to denote a variety of bite-size foods on a platter for sampling (snail frequently being one of them). When I looked it up just now, the Internet claimed that it was a Chinese-American term for a big ol’ mish mash of small foods on a plate. So it all means the same thing, essentially: a big pile of crap. And so, in a way, I was right all along. I love being right!

2. I had to use a payphone the other night for the first time in…10 years? I was on my way to have dinner at Richie and Jerome’s new apartment in Pasadena and realized I didn’t have my phone. It sort of forced a series of terrifying realizations: a) I didn’t know where I was going; b) I wasn’t sure if I still had Richie’s number memorized (who memorizes phone numbers these days? They’re all in our mobiles!); c) did pay phones still exist? And where would I find one?; d) did pay phones accept credit cards? Because I never have any cash or coin on me because I tend to spend it like it’s already been spent so why save it for later, right?”

   I found a pay phone (the last one in America?) at the Shell Station near what I thought was Richie and Jerome’s apartment and saw from my car that it was 35 cents to make a call. Thank fucking hell that I had some change in my wallet…but then I had to touch and hold that phone and put my change in. Then the phone told me it wanted more money: turns out pay phones are still the 50 cents they were when I was in high school. I dug for more change and prayed that I was actually calling Richie and that he would answer even though my number would be a strange one.

   I got Jerome on Richie's phone and everything was good. I started to get back in my car and a man’s voice said, “I can tell you the funniest joke you’ve ever heard in your life.”

I jumped and looked around.

A black guy was sitting between two trees on a ledge about 6 feet from the pay phone. I only mention that he was black because I’m pretty sure if he’d had lighter skin I would have noticed him sitting there while I made my phone call. (We pasty folks reflect light.)

   Shaken up by the surprise right after the scary re-entry into pay phone usage, I told him I didn’t really have time for a joke.
   And I didn't. And I was a little weirded out by the fact that he was lurking in the dark between two trees in a Shell Station parking lot. I was nice about it, but I left.

   But then I read a funny joke on one of the blogs I most enjoy.

   "How many Mexicans does it take to screw in a light bulb?"

   "Just Juan."


   HAHAHAHAHAHA! So funny. Seriously, I’ve been thinking about it for days. Maybe that's just my lame sense of humor. Sometimes you like a joke that doesn't hurt too many people's feelings.

3. Jodie Foster came out of the closet at the Golden Globes. I don’t know why this makes me sleep better at night, but it does. We clearly always knew she was gay, but it’s nice to hear her say it. It makes things feel right with the world. Even though she was incredibly vague, I feel like I finally read a page out of her journal. Can I get an amen for voyeurism?

4. My buddy Chad (who you know about from here and also here) is now in the coffin-making business. He makes them small. He makes them for fish. Check out his handiwork:

Coffins by Chad. "Isn't your pet better than the toilet?"

   I almost want to buy a goldfish, have it die on me 4 days later (as they inevitably do), and stage an elaborate funeral. Maybe one that would rival the amazing service I gave my hamster, Holeakala, back in 1995 (complete with my sister Ouisa on the recorder playing "We Are One in the Spirit"). If you want to buy a goldfish coffin (or a coffin for any other kind of fish), let me know and I’ll have Chad handcraft the most amazing final resting place a tiny pet could ever hope for. It beats the toilet, right?
*Dennis Duffy from 30 Rock. Turns out, he was right. If I had a barrel of money, I'd invest in a buttload of pay phones!

Friday, January 11, 2013

"The rate at which a person can mature is directly proportional to the embarrassment he can tolerate."*


   Hi from Austin, Texas, y’all! Yee-haw!

   I’m visiting Gabe again…but now she lives in Austin instead of Minneapolis. I have to say I never would have visited her in Minnesota this time of year, but the weather in Texas is jeeeess right. Although it’s not as sunny as California, but what are you gonna do? Move everyone in the world to California? Oh wait, that already happened. That’s probably one of the reasons everyone there is leaving. That and it’s freaking expensive. And everyone is a narcissist. And it’s the place where dreams go to die. But I digress…

   I had a meeting at U.T. Austin because it’s one of the schools I’m considering attending next year. Halfway through my meeting with the kindly Graduate Advisor, Dr. Wilcox, I realized that I had something sticking out of my nose. It was sort of a white, flakey booger-type thing. (Okay, it had to be a booger—what else comes out of your nose besides snot and occasionally blood?) I hate typing those words as just thinking about things one finds in one’s nose makes me want to vomit all over this keyboard. It's pretty much the only thing that legitimately grosses me out. But that’s what happened, so I had to write it. (Did I?) Fuck my life. I’m sure he’s advising his whole committee to write me out a scholarship check right this very minute.

   “Hey, team! Let’s get this booger girl a scholarship! She showed some real courage coming in here today with crap coming out of her nose. This woman deserves full tuition, and I won’t rest until she gets it!”

   Gabe tried to reassure me that it probably wasn’t obvious to Dr. Wilcox, and suggested that maybe it was IN my nose and hidden rather than sticking out of my nose. This is one of the reasons I am friends with Gabe. Thanks, Gabe! I’m going to tell myself that she’s right and that there’s no way Dr. Wilcox would let me sit there and talk about internships and graduate housing with a booger on my face. If I were he, I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate for one goddamn second. And now that I think about it…he did seem a little distracted. FUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

   Oh well. I’ve already been accepted there, so he can’t do anything about it now! Haha! The day is mine!
Here's a picture of campus. Sorry for the lack of original images in this post. (Image Source)

   At least I made a lasting impression?

*Tony Benn.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"You're having a lousy streak. I happen to be having a terrific streak. Soon the world will be back to normal. Tomorrow you will meet a crown head of Europe and marry. I will have a fat attack, eat 300 peanut butter cups, and die."*


   I thought that by the time I turned 30 I would have myself all figured out. I’m pretty sure I’ve brought this up before: I was convinced that 30 was the year when everything got settled.

   So…yeah…that didn’t happen. And that’s okay.

   Here’s something weird, though: a few days back, when I was still in Omaha, my youngest sister, Penelope, said the following: “Lacey’s the smart one; Lizzy’s the most fashionable; and I’m the nicest…?” I actually don’t know how the statement ended because I was immediately offended by not being considered the most fashionable (though I’m definitely not) and incredibly proud of being considered the smartest (also a stretch). Penelope probably said something to the effect of “the most ignored whilst handing out superlatives.” Sorry, P. (And for the record, Penelope: you are the weirdest, quirkiest, kindest and most original...among other traits.)

   Before I left Omaha, Ouisa gave me a pair of GORGEOUS brown leather, high-heeled boots that she said she could never wear because, at five-foot-ten, she feels too tall for three-inch heels. She described it as feeling like a “giraffe on roller skates.”



   And then my Aunt Mel had me over for coffee and we spent a good twenty minutes playing with a feature on a plastic surgeon’s website that allows you to see how you’d look with a few less chins, a bigger rack and Angelina Jolie’s lips. And Aunt Mel, despite being one of the most beautiful, smart and confident women I know, copped to feeling like she spends most of her day thinking about her meals and how much she’s exercised and if she should do 40 squats before bed to make up for the cream in her coffee.

   So, okay, most of this is self-evident: women hate themselves. Yes, yes, everyone knows that. But I really don’t want to spend my life feeling like a fat, ugly cow when, in all actuality, I’ll probably be 87 some day (if I make it that long) and I’ll look back at pictures of myself now, at 30, and think: damn, I was pretty hot!

   So I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to quit hating how I look, despite the fact that I’m not 5’10, I’m not the stylish one, and I consistently appear to be 4-months-pregnant, despite the 9 million crunches I do every week. Life’s too short. And seeing how beautiful the women around me are, who also think they’re heinous trolls, I have an idea that I’m not as hideous as I think I am.

*From Rhoda, my soul sister on The Mary Tyler Moore Show,who always thought she was ugly but was truly beautiful all along...

Friday, January 4, 2013

"Be careful who you're calling a child, Lois, because if I'm a child that makes you a pedophile. And I'll be damned if I'm gonna sit around and get lectured by a pervert."* Or, alternatively, "An ounce of perversion is worth a pound of cure."**


   The first time I saw a penis was at a fabric store.

   It may not have been the actual first penis I saw, because I’m not sure if babies’ penises count (and lord knows I had already changed a fair amount of diapers at that point), but it was definitely the first adult penis I saw and it was something I hadn’t been planning on seeing maybe ever. Mostly because I was 8 or so at the time and I wasn’t really in Penis Mode. (I’ve since seen thousands of penises! Just kidding, Mom. I’ve only seen that one.)

   Anyway, my mom had taken Ouisa and me, along with our best buddies, (who are also sisters) Erika and Morgan, to the fabric store during a play date because she just had to “run in and grab something.” If memory serves, as soon as we entered the store we were all over the place: rifling through buttons and hiding behind bolts of fabric and finding amazing build-a-bear kits that no parent ever wants to buy for fear they’ll have to keep that hideous, tacky bear in their home for the next five-to-eight years. You know how it was: we were being kids. The way you do.

I learned how to sew over the summer and took lots of romantic shots of my sewing supplies. This becomes relevant: wait for it.

   While wandering through the aisles, I saw a man squatting on his heels, examining a display. It was weird to see a man in a fabric store, so I think I paused briefly out of surprise more than anything. But then I saw that his athletic shorts were hitched up on one side and his penis was lying on his exposed thigh. Right out there in the open for anyone to see.

   I immediately started giggling and got Morgan. I pointed it out to her and we both thought it was hysterical. Here this poor man had come on his errand to the fabric store, and accidentally let his penis flop out of his pants while perusing miniature doll furniture (it probably wasn’t miniature doll furniture, but the memory wants what it wants). 
Then I made them all 70's and nostalgic (and bad, let's be honest) by editing them...but I didn't know what to do with them.

   We immediately grabbed Ouisa and Erika so they could see the unfortunate man with his penis accidentally COMPLETELY HANGING OUT OF HIS PANTS. One of us told my mom, who was several aisles away looking at fabric or thread or whatever it was she needed. I don’t remember who told her. I just remember her reaction:

   “Where?” She was seething. It had stopped being fun in an instant.

   “Over there,” one of us pointed.

   I think we sensed danger in the air. I had that same gut-wrenching feeling I had every time I thought things were about to get really real. Nowadays, I tend to relish that feeling: back then it made me tense, embarrassed and somehow keenly aware that life was not the wonderful time I thought it was.

   My mother took off after that man and chased him, screaming, out the door. I can’t remember what she said, but I’m sure it was to the point.

   It took me awhile to realize that he’d shown us his penis on purpose. I mean, why would anyone show you his junk in a fabric store on purpose? Life is embarrassing enough as it is. But that was my first and, sadly, last flashing experience. And now that I think about it, that man was a genius to hit up a fabric store for his penis show: it's mostly women and a lot of them too old to chase him.

   I have to hand it to my mom: she was a superhero in that moment (as well as many other moments during my life) and she did exactly what one should do in such a scenario. At the time, I felt sad that I’d thought it was funny and scared that my mom would get hurt or get in trouble. Now I know I’d behave in exactly the same manner if someone tried to show his wiener to a bunch of kids I was watching. Maybe especially at a fabric store. I’d probably add a lot more profanity, though. Mom is much classier than I am. 
Sammy made me a sewing kit for Hanukkah, because I love sewing so much (despite being terrible at it). And I think my adoration of the crafty arts shows that I wasn't permanently scarred by the Penis Incident. There. I've managed to devise a point for these photos I'm forcing you to look at.

   Anyway, so the other night, I was over at Morgan’s house visiting with her and Erika and I said to her at one point, “I found a picture of us at Lake Okoboji from fourth grade. You know what it reminded me of, for some reason?”

   Without a pause Mo said, “The time we saw the penis at the fabric store?”

   I shit you not.

   I couldn’t believe she remembered it, or that she ever thought of it. I don’t think we were traumatized the way we probably should have been. It made me feel better that Morgan's reaction was similar to my own (this is how I measure my sanity). This is also, I think, largely due to my mom grabbing that man by his ear (or his too-short gym shorts?) and throwing him bodily out of the store. And maybe Mo remembering it has something to do with the fact that she’s a mom now, so she probably has to be more alert about perverts than the rest of us.

   But it was fun to reminisce about our "My First Penis" story.

   And, incidentally, I think that place used to be called Northwest Fabrics; but I’m almost positive it’s now called Hancock Fabrics. Perfect. And somehow a much more appropriate name.
*The quote is from Peter Griffin on Family Guy (Seth MacFarlane, 1999). You know how I love circular logic...if that even happens to be an example of circular logic. That's a post for another time.
**This is a Ted Baxter quote from The Mary Tyler Moore Show (James L. Brooks, Allan Burns, 1970).
***Sorry for all the sewing pictures. I just really like to take pictures of things I care about and share them here. Whatever. It's my blog. I do what I want.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"All of us every single year, we're a different person. I don't think we're the same person all our lives."*


   It’s snowing again today. I think I’ve almost had my fill of the snow. It's very cold and slippery and in this particular case it's covering a layer of ice from a rainstorm two weeks ago. Every time I go outside, I pray that I won't break an ankle. Especially since my favorite boots are essentially made of plastic.
   I was, however, inspired enough to draw this picture for you to enjoy:
This is a sort of Russian Doll snow globe. 


   It’s a nod to the snow and has nothing to do with Christmas, which is LONG OVER. It’s over, Hy-Vee and KGOR and Whole Foods and A.B.’s, and Dundee Presbyterian, so stop with the damn Christmas music! I HATE IT! (Except for “Last Christmas,” which is awesome and I love.)
This is Dundee Presbyterian. Their bell tower plays music all day. I took this picture while walking home from Emily's parents' house. After taking this picture I slipped off the curb in my plastic boots and bit it on a short snowbank.

   Anyway, it’s the New Year (why does that have to be capitalized? Dumb.) and I have a few resolutions that I’d like to pass along to you. This is going to be my best year ever, especially if I can keep my resolutions going at least as far as February.

   Resolutions for 2013

1. Exercise every single day of the entire year. This will ensure that this year will finally be the year when I get in shape for once and for all. Maybe sometime around September or October, once I’ve gotten a decent exercise groove going, I’ll throw in a couple marathons or something. I want one of those 26.2 bumper stickers that everyone else has.

2. Stop sleeping for 12 hours every other night. I used to think that 12 hour sleep-a-thons made up for the nights when I logged about 5-6 hours (work nights, super productive nights, cleaning rampages), but truly I don’t think sleep is cumulative. At least not for me. So I’m going to attempt an average of 8-9 hours every night. Which leads me to…

3. Stop going to bed at 4 in the morning. That creates a ridiculous lack of sleep and the whole next day is essentially wasted because I’m too tired to function. Instead of having one day be super productive and the next day be completely unproductive, I’m going to aim to be sort of average every day of the year (hooray for average!). I feel like that’s how grown-ups do it.

4. Wash off make-up every single night. An easier solution would be to stop wearing make-up, but I look like a 67-year-old woman without make-up…and now that I think about it, it’s possible that my face is old and wrinkly because I don’t wash off my make-up. But I doubt it. I think it has more to do with years of smoking, mild-to-moderate sun exposure; too much smiling and heinous bad luck. But I’m sure the make-up I’m sleeping in isn’t helping, either.

5. Find a hobby. (This is probably self-explanatory.)

6. Make some new friends. (Embarrassing and sad but necessary. And it's always good to meet new people.)

That ought to be enough to keep me busy until February.

I am so glad it’s 2013! Not that 2012 was super bad, but it wasn’t the best and I hate numbers that end in two, so the whole year was somewhat destined to be stressful. 
*Steven Spielberg said this.