Sunday, March 31, 2013

"What are you giving me with the flying fish?"*

   This blog has evolved, in its own strange way, into something that is sort of amorphous and while I’d like to take credit for anything good that’s come of it (I’ve got a hobby!) and deny responsibility for all the shitty parts (lots of bad writing, offensive jokes, hideous art and incompetent photography), I still don’t really feel like I control it so much as it controls me.
   Take, for instance, the fact that I have nothing to say about anything today/tonight. It still hasn’t stopped me from drawing pictures of sea creatures and feeling like, because I’ve drawn them, I have to show them to you. (And what is my deal with sea creatures? If I could afford a therapist, I'd be all over that.)
This is a risque Octopus. (Her 8th leg is behind her. This is not a septopus.)
   It kind of freaks me out, my ever growing need for show-and-tell. It makes me think that maybe I’ve become even more of a narcissist, even more of an exhibitionist; and it’s not how I had intended things to go. On the other hand, I feel like I’m becoming more immune to the feedback I receive in a way that doesn’t make me seem like a super sensitive, whiny bitch. But then again…maybe I’m just becoming inured to criticism, which is scary because it puts me in a head space that can’t possibly be healthy.
And this is a flying fish.
   No, this post has no point. And yes, I’m sharing it anyway. I’m an American in 2013. If I don’t share this with you on the Interwebs, there’s definitely a chance that I don’t exist. But still…
   I like making these pictures and I like writing this blog.
   That’s all this was supposed to be about in the first place, if I remember correctly. Which I may not, since I have the memory of a goldfish.
*From Some Like it Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959).

Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things, he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it's very fine that gay people should be married in civil ceremonies."*

   It’s almost Easter and I thought I should acknowledge that somehow. I don’t go to Mass anymore, since 13 years of Catholic school pretty much gave me more than enough cumulative hours for the rest of my life. I consistently cook and eat brisket and matzo balls with Jewish people, so that seems like a jaunt away from Jesus territory as well (even though I think he was considered a Jew…but later converted? I’m not sure how that works).
   So yesterday, Good Thursday if I’m not mistaken, was the day that I was sure they had gone ahead and crucified Jesus. But on the phone, my mom tells me, “No, that was Holy Friday.”(OKAY...I WAS mistaken. I had those reversed. It was SUPPOSED to be Holy Thursday and Good Friday. I'll fix it in the rest of the post.)
   “So,” I asked, “Is Holy Good Friday the day when we had to go to church and reenact all the stations of the cross and then listen to some horrible, bloody retelling of Jesus’ awful, humiliating death?”
   She said yes, but I was confused.
   “But on the third day he rose again?”
   “Yes. On Sunday.”
   “But Friday to Sunday is only two days.”
   “Well he died around 3 p.m. on Friday, I know that. We're supposed to be quiet and mournful at that time.”
   “But that makes it even less than 2 days. Friday afternoon to Sunday morning is more like 36 hours. That’s a day-and-a-half.” I wasn’t trying to be belligerent. The information was not computing.
   “Well, Friday is the first day and then Saturday is the second day, and so on,” my Mom sounded like she was caught between laughing off the conversation and screaming into a pillow. “I don’t know why you’re asking me this. You went to Catholic school.”
   “I just think that maybe they measured time differently in olden times. Like maybe a day was only 12 hours back then? And it got written into the Bible that way and no one ever bothered to fix it? Of course, I guess if he’d stayed dead for too long, people would’ve lost interest and no one would be around when he came back?”
   “Lacey, I can’t talk to you about this anymore. Would you be interested in talking to your dad?”
   Dad got on the phone.
   “On the third day, Jesus came out and saw his shadow,” Dad began the conversation.
   “And then we had 1,980 more years of Easter?”
   “But seriously, what’s with this three days thing? It just doesn’t ADD UP.”
   “The Bible doesn’t say, ‘Then, three days later, Jesus rose from the dead.’ It says ‘On the third day,’ so you have to start Friday as day one.”
   My brain was hurting a little by this point, but it didn’t change the fact that the Catholics had somehow duped me yet again. Somewhere in there, all those years ago and for so very long, they managed to have me at Mass three times in one week.
   I let the issue go for the moment—my Dad had had a long day.
   Here’s the thing: Christians, but Catholics really because most other Christians aren’t self-loathing masochists, can really find a way to ruin a good time. Mass itself is such a workout: sit, kneel, stand, kneel, stand, sit, stand, shake, kneel, kneel, kneel, kneel. Christmas is great because of presents and Santa and Christmas break. But Easter, the one that’s supposed to be the MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF ALL TIME, is so awful. You’ve got Mass on Thursday, which my mother tells me is NOT the day Jesus died, but the day he was SENTENCED to die. Then you’ve got Mass on Friday, where they go into extreme detail about just how awful his death was. You get Saturday off to rest up and then you’ve got to go back on Sunday, and now the Church is full of beautiful flowers, but sadly, Mass is an additional half-hour long. And let’s face it: the Easter Bunny is a weak tradition that gets dropped pretty quickly after you’ve turned 8 or 9. And, to top it all off, unless Easter happens to fall during Spring Break or you happen to go to Catholic school, you don’t get any time off. The Jews planned it right: all of their high holidays last a week or more and you get all kinds of time off from school.
   Where was I going with all this? I seriously don’t know. Oh yeah: so right now, in the height of the Passion and the horrendousness of the days leading up to the wonderful holiday that is Easter, the Supreme Court is doing some serious thinking about Gay Marriage Rights and whether or not to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act and so on. It seems like a great time to bust out the old: "what would Jesus do?" question. I’m told this guy was pretty nice and open-minded and a bit of a loving, free spirit type. Like, if you went to college with Jesus, he's be that guy that was always barefoot under a tree on the quad playing the three guitar chords he knows over and over and showing up at "Take Back the Night" rallies. When I try to wax political or religious I always come off sounding like a bona fide moron, so I’m not trying to do either. Alls I’m saying is: I think Jesus would be all about gay marriage.
My picture for Easter.

   Happy Easter.

*Jimmy Carter. Wow, I never thought I'd be quoting him, but stranger things have happened. Of course, the quote would be nicer if he hadn't tacked on the little qualifier at the end.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

"People who read the tabloids deserve to be lied to."*

   I haven’t written a lot in the past few weeks. I’m sorry. And you’re welcome because you know what? Sometimes I just don’t have anything to say. I think it’s important for me to shut the fuck up when I don’t have anything to say. It’s something I’ve been working on my entire life, and I think I may just be getting ever so slightly better at it.
   But see now I have a bunch of things to say and they’re, as usual, unrelated. So this is one of those rambling-type posts. Oh no.
   Let’s start with this cover from US Weekly:
Why wouldn't I buy this magazine?
   This pretty much says everything I love about US Weekly. Here we have a cover that gets right to the (embellished) point and almost makes it seem as though Lindsey Vonn has been quoted as saying, “I’m in love with a sex addict!” Which, as far as I know, she’s never said. But I like how US Weekly has no scruples
(PAUSE: I think my downstairs neighbor has recently taken up weed smoking. It wafts into my apartment in the afternoons and then, about an hour later, I hear him playing the very first line of chords from “Fly Like an Eagle” over and over and over again. You would have to be high to not be bored by just the first few chords, right? But who am I to keep a person from learning an instrument?)
about making the cover all about Lindsey Vonn and her penchant for sex addicts. They just know how to sell a magazine. And they don’t care if any of the things they write have to do with anything. And that’s why it’s fun in much the same way as comic books or psychic friends networks. Because it can’t possibly be real. And even if it were real, none of the stories in the magazine matter in the real world. But I have to read it every week anyway. And that’s why I call it the news: because it’s all the news I can handle (aside from my intense and sad efforts to read the WSJ). (Sort of like how this guy I once went out with told me he liked to pretend The West Wing was the news. He probably had a better case than I do.)
   And then there’s this magazine called Real Simple that is so amazing: all the articles are about organizing and cleaning and getting your finances in order and cooking recipes with only 3 ingredients. The fact that I love this magazine makes me feel at turns both mature and unbelievably lame. For instance, this month’s cover is a picture of cleaning products, which I may not have found exciting in past times but these days it’s like porn. I can’t wait for them to tell me how to clean my floor with bacon grease and Epsom salts. I can’t wait for them to instruct me on which documents to keep and which to throw away. I really can’t wait for them to tell me what delicious meal I can make from the three items that are always in my fridge (eggs, pickles, and string cheese, in my case). I really get on board with this magazine. And last night, they helped me figure out how to put one of my deeper concerns to rest:
I'm jealous of everyone on Facebook.
   I DO have Facebook envy. Everyone else on FB is always doing fun stuff and traveling places and I’m never doing anything! But now I know it’s because people only put good things on Facebook. People don’t brag on FB about how they skipped class Tuesday and made deviled eggs and watched the entirety of Burning Love Seasons One and Two. Because why would you tell anyone about that unless you were mild-to-moderately insane? Quit bragging about your baby or your job promotion! I painted my toenails green and refilled my water filter!
   And one more thing: and get ready, because this is one of those things where I try to put my life into some kind of manageable perspective by pointing out the adversity that others go through while I can’t tolerate waiting in line at the grocery store.
   Yesterday I took two of the kiddos to the Third Street Promenade to visit the Apple Store. We had some questions about a computer. We waited a while, and nobody came. While we waited, I pointed out the fellow that I hoped would wait on us. He was across the room, but you could see him from a mile away. He had short, wavy black hair and star-spangled skinny jeans and bright red lipstick. But he was helping another customer.
   We eventually talked to the “host” (William) at the front of the store who told us he would send someone over momentarily.
   Within moments (well done, William!), William brought over the very man I’d hoped we’d get. William introduced him as Dickie and explained that Dickie was deaf so he would have to type all of his responses.
   What he didn’t mention, but what Dickie soon explained, was that we’d have to type our responses as well. Dickie was very funny and very helpful. He typed the way you know he would’ve spoken, if he spoke. He wrote things like, “Totes. 8 GB is completely sufficient for photo editing.” And “No worries. You probably just need an external HD for storage.” And he didn’t make fun of my typos or my inability to articulate anything that has to do with anything technological.
   And here’s how Dickie’s life relates to me (because everything does, right?): I had this outfit all planned for the next day that I wasn’t sure I could pull off. The outfit involved different patterns and a slightly out-of-the-norm color palette. And I really wanted to wear it, but I wasn’t sure if I could make it happen without feeling silly. I haven’t been fashionably adventurous since I was a teenager.
   But Dickie, the deaf guy with red, star-patterned skinny jeans and bright red lipstick who went and got a job at the ENORMOUS Apple Store on 3rd Street Promenade, made me feel stupid for worrying about it. Of course I could wear my outfit. And then I started getting all deep, a few hours later, thinking about how we only live once and all that and what if, one day when I’m 80, I regret not wearing more often the things I felt like wearing? What a sad, avoidable regret. So I wore my neat, fun outfit today and I felt really good about it, and I’d like to give Dickie a mental high-five. He is getting it done.
Dickie's patterns + my patterns = America. Coincidence? I think not.
That’s all I’ve got for now. 
*The quote is from Jerry Seinfeld. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

"My singing voice is somewhere between a drunken apology and a plumbing problem."

   I’m not saying I grew up in a one-horse town, but when I was sixteen a force of change moved to Omaha and everyone in the theatre community (of which I was a peripheral part) seemed to know about it. Her name was Jolene Radish and she was famous in ten minutes, just like in a movie Western when a new horseman rides into town.

   Jolene came from Texas and was really proud about it. She was the first person I ever knew to sport a “Don’t Mess With Texas” bumper sticker. As common as those stickers may be in California and the southern states, they’re virtually nonexistent in Nebraska. Or at least they were at that time. She drove a tiny, yellow pickup truck and had pretty lips and her hair was as big as the state of Texas. She seemed to always have lots and lots of things to say and places to be. 
Dr. Radish also had a huge rack.

   Seemingly within months, she was the musical director of this and the star of that play. My friend Cari started taking voice lessons with her and suggested that I do the same. I was obsessed with musical theatre at the time (still am, if you want to know) and my parents agreed, so I signed up as soon as I could.

   Soon I was making a weekly Friday trek to North Omaha to a little Lutheran church to learn the standards as taught by Dr. Jolene, who was extra important because she had her PhD in music or singing or something like that. I thought the whole thing was very impressive, but I also thought that it would look really good on my acting resume that I’d studied voice with a real voice doctor.

   Okay, so I can carry a tune and I’ve never been shy about performing, so I grew up singing at Church and in plays. This wasn’t because I was talented, but because I was willing. My voice, at its very best, is only decent. And I can imitate different singing styles (especially if you’re hungry for an Ethel Merman impersonation without the power or style), but I’ve never really been good at singing. But I didn’t really know that when I was 16. At that age, I thought I had it all going on and couldn’t understand why I was never cast as the soprano lead in the musicals. If you want to know, I’m an alto, and no amount of falsetto has ever managed to get me cast as Maria in West Side Story. (And I guess I’m a little too pale to play Puerto Rican. And I can't dance.) BUT ANYWAY.

   Dr. Jolene Radish’s voice lessons were conducted in a tiny room in the basement of this Lutheran Church. She had a really cute accompanist named Debbie who was probably 45 or 50 and sweet as could be. Debbie would pound out “The Glory of Love” or the tunes from State Fair and I would warble along to them, attempting to affect a vibrato and sound more like how I imagined the Broadway ladies sounded. I kept trying to get Dr. Radish to let me perform something from Cabaret or Gypsy, but she seemed to think that I should learn to walk (or at least crawl) before I could fly. I often resented this, as I figured she was holding me back, but let’s be real: I smoked cigarettes to and from my voice lessons, so it’s not like I was taking my singing career super seriously to begin with. But she was nice and kind of supportive and told good jokes, and we spent the vast majority of the lessons gossiping and laughing. And she usually spent a good portion of my lessons demonstrating how the song was SUPPOSED to sound, so that filled up some time, too. But it was fun. She had a pretty awesome voice--especially compared to me.
I got carried away with my radish drawing and tried out some stuff. Fun!

   Sometime in the fall, after I’d been going to lessons for a month or two, Jolene was cast as the lead in the Omaha Community Playhouse production of Anything Goes (one of my all-time favorite musicals). Cast alongside her was my past boyfriend and present good friend Mark. Jolene was playing Reno and Mark was playing the seventh sailor from the left on the cruise ship (don’t you love shows that take place on boats? I sure do). Before long, he was telling me stories of raucous cast parties where everyone would get wasted and crazy together. And, after the play went up, he told me that at one of those cast parties, Jolene made out with him. The way he described it, it sounded like she’d drunkenly mauled him at some cast member’s house. He thought it was funny. I thought it was kind of funny, but also kind of gross. I mean, after all, she had to have been at least 32 or 33 at the time, and he was 19 or 20. I guess it was all legal, so no big deal. But when I think of myself now, at 30, making out with a 19-year-old, I throw up a little bit in my mouth.

   At my next lesson after hearing about the make out party, I mentioned to Jolene that Mark from the play was my ex-boyfriend. I did not mention the making out. But it seemed sort of obvious that she knew I knew. Her demeanor seemed to change instantaneously. She smirked knowingly and said, “Oh I know that. He mentioned that you two were friends.”

   The lessons had officially become awkward.

   Gone were the jokes and the fun times and in their place was actual singing, and since I was actually having to sing through each lesson, it became increasingly clear that I wasn’t practicing my singing between lessons and also that I wasn’t very talented.

   I started getting anxious about going to voice lessons and began to have performance anxiety around Dr. Jolene. Things were becoming progressively less pleasant. They became even more unpleasant when Mark told me that the two of them had again made out—this time backstage during a performance. I didn’t have romantic feelings for Mark anymore, but I felt like Dr. Jolene wanted me to know that she’d made out with my ex-boyfriend. I don’t know why making out with a 19-year-old made her feel superior to a 16-year-old, but I guess you can never tell what’s going to float a person’s boat. Especially a theatre person's boat--and in this case there actually was a boat, if only on the stage.

   One Friday night, a few weeks into the soap opera that my working relationship with Dr. Jolene had become, I showed up 5 minutes early for my lesson. I walked into the little practice room in the basement and Dr. Jolene was teaching some other kid.

   “Lacey, didn’t you get my message? Your lesson was cancelled for today.” She was kind of snappy, and no, when I’d left my house 20 minutes before, there’d been no message.

   “Well, that’s just completely unacceptable! I quit!” I was joking. I was being theatrical. Seriously. But I stomped out of the room, and walked back in LITERALLY 3 seconds later and said, “Ok, no big deal. See you next week!”

   Debbie laughed weekly, but Dr. Jolene looked like she was going to kick my ass.

   “No, you don’t need to bother to come back. Ever.” Her voice was steel and her eyes were cold and angry. The other student just looked uncomfortable and confused.

   “Um, okay,” I muttered. I was somewhat baffled. I HAD been joking after all, and it was her fault I was at my "cancelled" lesson in the first place. I had a nervous stomach and sweaty hands all the way home. I wasn’t sure what had just happened, but I knew that Dr. Radish of a month ago would’ve laughed at my little faux-dramatic outburst and thought no more about it.

   When I got home my mom told me that Dr. Jolene had called and discontinued my lessons because I was “disrespectful” to her. I explained to my mom what had happened and she asked if I wanted her to call Dr. Jolene and explain. I said thanks but not to bother.

   Dr. Jolene reentered my life the next year as the musical director of our senior play. We managed to function with each other quite cordially, mostly because I only had one song in the play: more proof that I wasn’t the hardcore singing sensation I’d always hoped I’d be. But she was complimentary of my performance and we got along okay.

   Dr. Jolene and Mark did not end up together. I later heard that she married a guy that was widely considered among the theatre scene to be a homosexual, but maybe things worked out for them. At least, if he was gay, there was sure to be plenty of drunken make-outs in their future.

   As for my vocal career, now the only time I sing is on karaoke night when the entire audience is drunk.
*The truly amazing quote above is from the brilliant, talented, and incredibly handsome Colin Firth. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

"More than anything embrace yourself. Know you are perfect, even with all your flaws and all your pettiness. Include that. Say, 'I am a fool and I'm also magnificent.' We're the whole deal. Leave nothing out."*

   By this point, anyone who could possibly give a shit knows that Valerie Harper is dying. Rhoda Morgenstern has a rare form of brain cancer and maybe only months to live. Shit.

   I think it’s great that her outlook on life is so positive and reassuring. She says things like, “We’re all terminal,” and “None of us are getting out of this alive” as precursors to things like “We all need to live in infinite possibility,” and “Don’t go to the funeral until the day of the funeral. Live this day.”

   But I’m so sad.
Rhoda and Mary. (Photo Source)

   As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up watching Valerie as Rhoda on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. And no, I didn’t grow up in the 70’s, but I did grow up watching—predominantly—reruns. This kept my parents from worrying about Ousia and I hearing the f-bomb or seeing boob shots. TV shows couldn’t get away with anything that wasn’t subtle back then, so you had to have life experience to understand any kind of tacit sexual or drug reference. I was little, so I understood neither. Not until I re-watched Season 5 of MTM a few months back did I grasp that these girls weren’t the saintly knitters and coffee drinkers that I thought they were. Seriously. I didn’t even get it 5 years ago. I’m a moron.

   But the thing about Rhoda was this: she was the girl you could maybe someday be, even if you didn't happen to be beautiful and flawless.

   I never felt pretty—then or now (I know, it’s crazy, right? I’m sooooo beautiful)—and Rhoda was always depicted as pretty Mary’s funny, dumpy sidekick. And men always ignored Rhoda to talk to Mary, to ask Mary out on dates, to flirt with Mary. I remember one episode in the first season where Rhoda introduces herself to Mary’s date, Howard Arnell. She says, “Allow me to introduce myself. I’m another person in the room.”(Meanwhile, Rhoda's date consists of a man she hit with her car and his wife, whom Rhoda didn't know existed when she asked the guy out.)

   But Rhoda was so much more real than Mary. She had neither the poise nor the self-control that Mary had, but she was interesting and funny and smart and inventive. She made me believe that the funny friend could be just as awesome, if not more awesome, than the pretty leading lady. At least, sometimes she could. I was hopeful.

   Quick aside: Valerie/Rhoda wasn’t the ug-o that everyone on the show pretended she was. It wasn't super apparent, especially when they dressed her in tablecloths or curtains or bulky sweatshirts or caftans. When they actually let her dress in nice clothes, you could see that she had a banging body. And her face was (and still is) beautiful. But, when you’re watching a good sitcom, you just blindly accept whatever they tell you. Mary’s the Mary and Rhoda’s the Rhoda. Mary has it going on, Rhoda is a comedy of errors. Mary will marry a crown head of Europe, Rhoda will eat 300 peanut butter cups and die.

   What does it mean to be the Rhoda? On The Mary Tyler Moore Show it meant constant bad dates, incessant failed diets, annoying, prying parents, a dead-end job and endless self-deprecation. But it meant something different to me (and a buttload of other people, I'm sure). Rhoda always turned a terrible situation into something tolerable or even funny. She dressed only to please herself and looked amazing as often as she looked insane. Rhoda talked to her houseplants and painted her apartment fuchsia and kept different flavors of Manischewitz from her mom on the shelf in the kitchenette. To me, Rhoda was much more interesting than Mary: she had character and chutzpah and she was always, always funny, even when she was down.** And she messed up all the time. Sure, Mary messed up, too. But with Mary it was always so adorable. With Rhoda, when she messed up, you got the feeling that she was going to go to the 7/11 and buy a huge supply of garbage and go eat it out of her lap. It seemed so much more realistic than going to bed at 9:30 in shortie pajamas, after allowing oneself only a moment or two of shame.

   As I’m writing this, I’m feeling a painful bump on my chin, which will most likely erupt into a huge zit sometime tomorrow. That shit never happened to Mary. But even if it did, Mary wouldn’t mention it. Rhoda would enter the room proclaiming it. 
Rhoda finally gets into Lotus position...then can't get out of it. (Photo)

   I make fun of myself a lot and have referred to myself as "a Rhoda" in the past. I think that’s a good thing, though I hadn't intended it as such. It's hard to have friends that are exquisite looking and disciplined and successful when you are none of those things. It takes courage to be okay with being...hmmm...unique? (I'm searching for a word somewhere between "special" and "pathetic.")’s to the ladies who don’t have it all together, don’t look exactly perfect, and don’t feel too bad about it, either. Sometimes celebrating the imperfections make those same imperfections look pretty sort-of amazing. Rhoda did that for the ladies, and I think it television, in literature, in movies and in life. 

   As for Valerie…she will be missed. She was responsible for Rhoda, after all. I talk about Rhoda like she was an actual person, but that's just because Valerie is and was such a great actress. But I won’t talk about it anymore, since she ain’t dead yet, and I'm not supposed to.
*The title quote is Valerie Harper.
**Did you know Valerie isn't Jewish? It SHOCKED me. Mostly because she was my first idea of what it meant to be a Jew. And now, having known a lot of Jewish people, I realize that she did it pretty authentically. Nice.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"A silent mouth is sweet to hear."*

   No posts for several days and there are many reasons. As a forewarning, let me tell you that this post will probably involve a lot of minutiae and various boring crap along with a lot of complaining. You will feel, most likely, like you have been hanging out with me in person. But not in the good way.
   Okay, so my marketing professor is always talking about how great it is to read The Wall Street Journal and how we should all take advantage of the student discount and try it out for a few weeks. I was feeling really scholarly and inspired that night in class and so I signed up for it, thinking I’d get an email and never respond, but everyone else in class would think I was a baller for signing up (as though they’re paying attention to what I’m doing). But it just sort of started arriving and then they asked me to pay for it and I felt like I’d better, since it was already there and so now I get it on the regular. Oops.
   And my professor was right. It’s pretty great. I grew up in Omaha, so the newspaper I was first familiar with was The Omaha World Herald, which, to this day, features hard-hitting front-page news items such as “Summer’s Greatest Baked Bean Recipes” and “Bellevue Girl Wins 4H Competition Raising Two-Headed Sheep.” So, while I’ve since read other papers (I’m not a complete moron), it was neat to see things printed that have to do with what everyone else seems to already know about: things like war and anarchy and laws and votes and crimes. You know, interesting things.
   Here’s the problem: that paper comes every goddamn day. I have maybe read 4 of the 25 newspapers I’ve received. I feel like I’m drowning in Wall Street Journals. I put some in the bathroom, hoping I’d take better advantage of them in there, but it doesn’t help. So then I had a few days where they were on the couch and by the bed and on the table. But that made me panic. So then I just shoved them all into a kitchen cabinet. And now I feel awful. I set out to be responsible and read the news and all I’ve done is cut down an entire forest and put it next to my toilet (and couch and TV and nightstand and refrigerator). Sad. But also edifying, when I actually read them (which I fully intend to start doing again). And it’s something I like to tell everyone about, so clearly I’m proud on some level. And I’m pretty sure it makes me seem smart. It’s all so confusing. I don’t know what to think.
Potential idea for my newspapers.
   In other news, I took the kids to see Oz: The Great and Powerful today and I have to say it probably ranks in the top five worst movies of all time. In the history of time—even time before movies—this was probably one of the worst. I can’t explain it to you with my words, because I can’t determine exactly what was supposed to be happening up there, but I made four trips to the bathroom just to escape from it (and I’ve sat all the way through several Mandy Moore movies).  I can’t say any more about this. I feel like it stole my brain and two hours and eight minutes of my life.
   And now (with no segue of any kind) about St. Patrick’s Day. I made corned beef and cabbage this weekend and it was amazing. I’m not trying to toot my own horn or anything—I think the people that put the corned beef into the package for me did most of the hard work. As, of course, did the delicious cow or bull who provided her or his behind for consumption. But good lord, there wasn’t anything wrong with it. I ate it way beyond the point of fullness. I ate it until it hurt and then I waited until it stopped hurting and ate some more. And today I learned why I loved it so much. See, I thought it was because I’m so authentically Irish and one just naturally loves all the things that are passed on by her people. But actually it’s this: corned beef is a salt-cured meat. I LOVE ALL THE SALTED, CURED MEATS. I love salt. Salt, salt, salt. But here’s the kicker: Irish people (as in, people who LIVE IN IRELAND) only make it for tourists, since it didn’t really become associated with Irish people until those Irish immigrant people started snarfing it up in America. At that time, they considered it a luxury that wasn’t accessible back home the way bacon was. So my life continues its basic trajectory: I like meat with salt in it. Whoop-de-doo. I also like beer. I must be super duper Irish. (Or German. Or Mexican. Or in a fraternity.) Life can be so disappointing.
   Alright, I hope you’re good and bored now. Just kidding, I really don’t want you to be bored. But I have to write this stuff down in case someone decides to write a biography of my life one day. I want them to have the full picture of all the exciting experiences that made up my existence. You know the interesting biographies always include information about what newspapers the subject read or what movies she saw or how much salt she consumed. Ugh. I have to stop. I’m sorry! I can’t stop. No. I’m stopping now.
   But I’ll send you off with an Irish saying:
“Here’s to me and here’s to you. And here’s to love and laughter.
I’ll be true as long as you. And not one moment after.”

*Another Irish saying. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

"Here is the world of imagination, hopes, and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment, the age of chivalry, magic, and make-believe are reborn--and fairy tales come true."*

   This morning I had to drive to Santa Monica College to take my math assessment exam. (You can read more about my adventures in math placement here. It's way more exciting than it sounds.) It was a long, annoying drive and I was super irritated that the test isn’t offered anywhere in LA County besides Santa Monica and Whittier. But oh well. Life goes on, no matter how fucking tedious it may be.

   I parked for TEN DOLLARS at the lot reserved for plebs without parking permits and got out to fork my money over to the attendant. He was about 800-years-old and didn’t see or hear me pull in. I walked up to his little hut.

   “Good morning!” His cheerfulness was a complete surprise. (What, no surly assholes running this lot? Had I accidentally stepped into Wonderland or Oz?)  “Are you taking morning classes or evening classes here at the college? You know, this lot has in and out privileges, so you can leave and come back if you need to.”

   “Oh wow, thanks. I’m just here to take a test.”

   “Well, don’t come back and talk to me unless you pass it!” He winked and laughed.

   “Then I hope I do pass it.”

   “Are you thinking about getting a degree?”

   “I’m trying to take a math class so I can start my graduate degree in the fall.”

   “School is very important. I have a couple of degrees myself. It can open doors for you. Just make sure it doesn’t open the wrong doors!”

   He gave me my change and sat back down to his Enquirer.

   I had never been to SMC before, and assumed it would be a lot like LACC. You know: dirty, disorganized and overrun with mean people who don’t want to help you, but may, in fact, spit on you if you get too close.

   But it’s like Rich People City College. It has lovely walkways with actual flowers and plants and shaded courtyards with picnic tables. It has buildings that look new or at least like they’ve been painted or cleaned in the last 50 years. It has a security guard who was nice to me and gave me directions. It even has students that don’t look like they’re headed home to commit suicide. It’s like Disneyland for people who haven’t quite figured it all out yet.

   The people in the testing center were both friendly and kind, which was strange and wonderful. And when I went to the bathroom, I saw this:
Some girl caught me taking a picture of this. But it was okay, because she was normal and we laughed about it. Never would have happened at LACC. None of the girls there laugh/are normal.

   Not totally sure what this is about, but I’m for it! Here’s the thing: on a regular college campus (you know, the kind that have dorms and beds and such), this would not only make sense, it would be kind of brilliant. Buy condoms in the security of the ladies' restroom! But on a city college campus, it seems sort of odd. Are they assuming that students are having sex right there on campus? I mean people don’t have sex at Disneyland! They wait until they get back to their hotel rooms. No way are people having shady sex in empty classrooms at Rich People City College. That would defile it and make it sort of sad. Unless it were, like, one of those "we met there and it was so magical, let's go do it there for the sake of making a memory" sex. Maybe at LACC (though that image gives me scabies), but not at SMC. So, while I think SMC’s general vibe is only enhanced by the ready availability of condoms, I still think they’ve somehow miscalculated. But good for them for promoting safe campus sex. LACC doesn’t even have working toilet paper dispensers. Stupid LACC.

   So, I took the test. And I passed it (I think…I didn’t realize there’d be trig on the ALGEBRA test, so my trig remains my ONEWEAKNESS! I got a 16% on the trig portion. Not too shabby!).

   Then I walked back to the parking lot.

   Mr. Old Man Sunshine stood up from The Enquirer and asked me if I planned to come back that afternoon for class.

   “Oh, no. I was just taking a test.”

   “Are you planning to get a degree?” he asked me.

   “Um, yeah. I’m going to get my Masters.”

   “School is very important. I have a couple of degrees myself. It can open doors for you. Just make sure it doesn’t open the wrong doors!”

   “Okay, I won’t.”

   “Hey, but if you’re not coming back today, would you mind giving me your parking permit? I have a friend coming by to visit later.”

   “Of course.” I handed it to him.

   “You have a great day,” he said.

   “You, too!”

   As I drove away he gave me a huge grin and a wave.


*The quote is Walt Disney talking about Disneyland. Santa Monica College is like Disneyland in many ways: including how it takes a million hours to get there and costs a buttload to park.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

"The way I feel about The Rolling Stones is probably the way my kids are going to feel about Nine Inch Nails, so I probably shouldn't torment my mom anymore, huh?"*

   I read a very informative article in O! Magazine last night that stressed the importance of de-cluttering your home and how that can help you be a better person and add simplicity to your atmosphere and make you more like Mother Teresa.

   I found it very useful because I am currently trying to streamline my life, both by doing things I’m supposed to do in a timely fashion and by physically getting rid of things (in most cases, for money). To that end, I’ve been donating lots of clothes to Out of the Closet (‘cause I love them) and selling things on Amazon and eBay (because they give me money).

   Tonight’s project is directly informed by Oprah’s life-affirming, eponymous magazine (and yes, I get why it’s called O! Magazine, but does she need to put herself on every cover?). I read in O! that if you put CD's in the trash or the recycle it’s somehow super harmful to the environment. And they also said something about how you should really get rid of your CD's if you’ve decided to go digital, because if you’re keeping them, you’re just contributing to your debaser hoarder instincts.

   While I hadn’t fully committed to a digital lifestyle, I figure it couldn’t hurt. I don’t have a CD player anymore, unless you count my computer. I play most of my tunes on my iPhone. (iPhone, iPhone, iPhone.)

   So tonight’s project involves uploading all my CDs to my computer so I can dispose of them in a humane fashion at this special place downtown (that is most likely located in some dark alley just behind Skid Row).

   I’ve started with my Purple CD binder, which includes all my musical scores, movie soundtracks, and homemade CDs from my friends (which are a pain in the ass, because iTunes never recognizes ANY of the songs on homemade CDs).

   I’ve had the Purple Binder since high school. I used to have a binder just like it, except the second one was silver. I kept all my favorite CDs in the silver one: my huge Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Beatles collections, but also an inexplicable number of Tori Amos and Ani DiFranco CDs (I was still an angry teen, after all).
   Once, during my sophomore year of college, someone broke into my car (I left it unlocked, so I guess really they just opened the door) and stole JUST the silver binder. And I was really offended. If you’re going to steal my CD's, I reasoned, you should take all of them. Not sit around in the parking garage and rifle through everything and decide what appeals to you. A worse thought is that maybe they did take both and then, upon looking in Purple Binder once they got home, they decided it was too lame and therefore I was lame and they should really give me back my stupid musical soundtracks. I can picture them looking at my Purple Binder CD's and laughing. Those people were and probably still are assholes.

   But I’ve been going through purple binder this evening and I have to say…there is a lot of garbage in here. How is it that I own not one, but TWO Weird Al Yankovic CD's? What is wrong with me? And sure, there’s great stuff in here, too: I’ve got scores to Singin’ in the Rain, Oklahoma, Guys and Dolls, The King and I, and Fiddler on the Roof. But I’ve also got the soundtrack to Bed of Roses, a particularly terrible movie that I only liked because Christian Slater was in it. But what in the world made me so desperate to own the soundtrack?
Weird Al times two. Creepy. And unintentional creepy camera effects courtesy of my inability to take pictures.

   I’ve got the single of Jann Arden’s “Insensitive” that was really popular in 1996. The Pulp Fiction soundtrack is good. The City of Angels soundtrack? Not so much. There are also the soundtracks from Michael (that John Travolta movie which I alone, out of everyone in the world, enjoyed…but again, I was 14 when it came out) and Batman Forever (which I think I bought because “Kiss From a Rose” was on it) and an Adam Sandler comedy album. Yikes. I suppose, if I were to rob me today, I would probably leave most of these CD's behind as well.
Purple Binder: 1998-2013. Pictured here with CD children.

   There are some good memories in this pile here, though. Aside from the homemade mix CD's (which we transitioned to from mix tapes somewhere in the early 2000’s…and I’m still sad about it), there is a copy of The Fugees’ album The Score. I remember walking from my house all the way to the Blockbuster Music (remember that short-lived business venture?) to buy that album, and I was terrified they wouldn’t let me because it was an “explicit” album and you had to be 16 to buy it. But I bought it, no problem. Except for the 2-mile walk (4 miles if you count both ways). And there’s an unbelievable amount of Cranberries albums in here, as well. And you know what? I forgot I ever liked them and I STILL DO like them and I may just give them a listen tonight.

   Okay, I’ll sign off. There’s nothing else in here that’s embarrassing or worth mentioning. Except Mary Chapin-Carpenter’s Come On Come On and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s E. 1999 Eternal. And the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack. And A Boy Named Goo by The Goo Goo Dolls. And I should probably stop now.... 
*Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995). 
**Equally creepy? I've mentioned Weird Al Yankovic in THREE blog posts. Shudder. What IS wrong with me?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

"Living is a pretty grim joke, but a joke just the same."* OR "The universe may not always play fair, but at least it's got a hell of a sense of humor."**

   Over the weekend I thought of a really great idea for a sexy, smart, new sitcom for the younger set. It’s about four fun, plucky gals living in Los Angeles and dealing with dating and men and life and careers. But what makes my show different and relevant in today’s fast-paced world is that they’re also Scientologists.

   Okay, I’m just brainstorming here, but I feel like this is exciting. I’m guessing date nights for the gal pals and their men could include “acting workshops” at the Celebrity Center and couples' auditing sessions. The girls could drink cocktails and discuss who has achieved the highest Thetan level. For jobs, they could all belong to Sea Org and stress out over projects having to do with membership training and ecclesiastical development. They would simultaneously be working off their one billion dollar contracts with the Church, so that could also be a source of drama. But they wouldn’t have to worry about rent or food because that’s included with their jobs. So it wouldn’t be like that time on Sex and the City where Carrie worried about how to buy her apartment when it went co-op and Aiden moved out. Or like that time when Charlotte couldn’t find a paying job after her divorce from Trey. They’d always have jobs and a place to live. But, oh crap: Miranda couldn’t belong to Sea Org because you have to give up membership if you decide to have children. Oh well. She could still be a lawyer, then. Wait, this is a new show! None of them have to be the characters from Sex and the City. They can be whoever I want them to be.

   But…if we were to imagine that it was like Sex in the City, this is how the billboards would look:
That's the official Scientology logo up there. NOT easy to draw. But it looks really snazzy, so I'm glad I made the extra effort.

   The fact that they all have to wear naval-looking uniforms to work would really change things up a bit. They wouldn’t get to explore their fashionable sides quite as much. But I have visions of each of them tailoring their outfits to their individual tastes (I've made Samantha's very low-cut, for instance). Sort of like that part in Troop Beverly Hills when Phyllis makes her troop leader uniforms look elegant and fabulous. Or when Molly Ringwald destroys Annie Pott's beautiful prom dress to make it her own because she's a "fashion designer" in (Not So) Pretty in Pink.
   There's a lot you could do with this premise. I'm tired now so I can't write any more about it. But there's a small chance I'll tack some cool, hip ideas onto this post at a later point in time.
   'Night 'night.
*This first quote is L. Ron Hubbard.
**And the second is something Carrie says on Sex and the City.