Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Ego trippin'

Every time I hold my head high, I trip.

This is a literal truth; I'm not straining for metaphor here. I'm clumsy and tend to wear stupid shoes; this combination causes me to stumble around pretty regularly unless I keep an eye on my stride.

But distractions intervene. Sunday night I went out to dinner with a couple of friends. Feeling good, feeling fine, I was checking out the decor and making casual eye contact with my fellow patrons as we were being led to our table.

And then, just like that, my very own Tom Cruise on "Oprah" moment. One knee to the ground, one arm outstretched in what could have been a fist pump but in fact was a last-ditch effort to catch myself on a nearby chair.

The strange thing was, I wasn't embarrassed. I laughed and then didn't think much of it for the rest of the night. This may well have marked a crucial step in my maturation process: learning to accept and then devalue my everyday idiocies. To each their own personal growth.
Friday, August 26, 2005

Short hits

-As is my fortnight wont, I got lunch today at the cheap 'n' grody Thai lunch counter around the corner from my office. Two bites in I started to feel nauseous, so I paused for a little while and then dug back in. Because, well, so cheap. At this rate I'll be downing 33-cent cans of plankton in no time.

-Umlauts have been the bane of my existence this week. A profile I'm editing features a woman with two umlauts in her name, and I keep forgetting how to insert them. It's gotten me to reminiscing about the fight my sister Zoe and I kept revisiting circa 1979: If you left the umlaut off of the "e" in her name, was her name misspelled or mispunctuated? (I came down on the mispunctuated side, although I think I'd rescind that opinion today.) We'd fight about this forever until eventually I'd hit her over the head with one of our child-sized wicker chairs to silence her. No wonder our parents sent us off to nursery school when we were barely out of diapers.

-For no reason at all, I've started a mental list of songs that have monkey noises in them. The Time's "Jungle Love," George Michael's "Monkey" and Baltimora's "Tarzan Boy" is all I've got so far.

-Off traveling for a couple of days. This will be the first time in five years I've been back East during the summer months. Weird.
Thursday, August 25, 2005

Crazy email du semaine

From a Mr. Huang:

"Request you denounce and prevent the American DuPont impudently forcibly occupy intellectual property of Mr.Huang!
Impudent DuPont Co.! Impudent Holliday! Impudent! Impudent!! Exceeding impudence!!! DuPont and CEO Holliday are transnational scoundrels!"


My Most Awesome TV Moment of the last 10 years

One night I tuned in to College Week on "Wheel of Fortune." I was just in time to catch Pat introducing the night's three contestants. Two of the three were about what you'd expect: boring blond(e)s from Midwestern state schools with generic career aspirations and screaming audience posses. Instantly bored, I moved to change the channel.

But then Pat introduced us to Walter. Walter was a returning student of maybe 70 years of age from an obscure community college. He had no posse, but boy did Walter have courage, and pride; even as the audience tittered at his incongruity, he wore his community college sweatshirt with the beam of a first-time father.

Immediately designating myself head cheerleader for Team Walter, I put down the remote and settled in to watch.

Alas, Walter wasn't competitive for most of the episode. He kept hitting Bankruptcy; when he did land on a dollar figure, he'd guess consonants like "K" and "B" and promptly lose his turn again.

But then came his moment. The category was "Movie Phrase." Walter had the first spin and did not waste it: finally seizing upon the tried-and-true LNRST strategy, he filled in the puzzle's letters like a seasoned vet, buying a few vowels along the way for surety's sake.

Eventually the puzzle looked like this:


Walter told Pat that he would solve. With a deep breath and a smile, he decoded the puzzle:

"Who ya gonna kill, Dustbusters!!"

I wept that night -- for the end of innocence, the darkness of Pat Sajak's heart (he totally sold the poor guy out to the audience), and the proverbial fall through the air of a misguided new friend called Walter.

Mostly though, I wept and wept from uncontrollable laughter.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005

My dream last night

Ben Affleck died, and the nation mourned. I was in charge of comforting my BFF, Jennifer Garner, who was strangely stoic about the whole thing. Meantime, Johnny Depp kept driving by in the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car, until the car was stolen by a gang of thugs led by Ali G. alter ego Borat.

Am I 12?
Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Stealing from myself

The hubby came to meet me for lunch last week. Sitting in my office while I finished up nothing of importance, he suddenly laughed and exclaimed, "There are FIVE mugs from our house sitting on your desk right now." And so it was.

This week's inventory isn't quite as impressive, but I do have three Tupperware holders sitting on my floor just itching to go home and take a bath. Neglectful tight-sealing food container mother that I am, however, I just don't feel like dealing with them right now.

I've been in a bit of a fog this last week and a half, which also explains my lack of posting. Forecasters predict that my mental marine layer will lift sometime this week. Stay tuned.
Thursday, August 18, 2005

Is mine the unsexiest stripper name ever?

Name of my first pet + name of street I grew up on =

Spiro Commonwealth.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Dear Len (lastname):

You think you're the only one mired in late-summer ennui? You think you're the only one sitting at your desk on a midweek afternoon, second-guessing what you've done and where you've been and where you're going and what you'll be and all the while wondering why your friends never email you back and your parents always do?

You're not, my friend. You're not.

But most of us refrain from dumping our angst all over the laps of strangers. So would you mind taking that cue and not sending me professional correspondence that has the following words and phrases scribbled all over the envelope?

"What I've been, what I've done -- unimportant."

"Even losers can succeed at doing something if they but try."

"Just correspondence.... doesn't matter anyway."

"Mr. Nobody. Woof!" (His mailing label has a dog on it.)

I mean, come on, man. Teddy bear stamp aside, yours was the most depressing piece of work mail I've received in ages.
Monday, August 15, 2005

Just another manic Sunday

You know how you wake up the morning after an '80s-themed party and your hair has become a tangled beehive and there are still traces of coral blush and blue eyeshadow on your face thanks to the "Dynasty" look you were after the night before? But how you take a quick glance in the mirror and in a weird way think it all kind of works and so you pretty much let it ride and spend much of your day smugly thinking you've mastered the sexy rumpled retro look that has pervaded your city of residence for the last nine months? And then how late in the day you take another look in the mirror and realize that you've actually been walking around looking like some 50-year-old destitute divorcee who starts her mornings with a trough of gin and a Zoloft chaser? And how in the midst of this horrified reverie you suddenly stop and say to yourself, "Wait a minute, I'm sorry. Did I do a JELLO SHOT last night?!"

I know absolutely nothing about this. But I'm very sorry if you do.
Friday, August 12, 2005

Digestive aids

You know what I miss reading? Reader's Digest. When my family would go visit my grandparents in the summer, the periodical was my refuge. My grandparents occupied a scary alternate universe full of soft-boiled eggs and prayer and puffed wheat and 8 p.m. bedtimes, and oftentimes my sister and I would find ourselves sitting in their plastic-wrapped living room with nothing to say or eat or do. So we'd head down the hall to their retirement home's solarium and rape the bookshelves of their large-print RDs.

My sister, ever the entrepreneur, was enamored with the "Laughter: The Best Medicine" section, which offered $300 for all accepted joke submissions. She'd pore over examples and then send off her own little humor chestnuts, which were invariably of the "What do you call a sleeping bull? A bulldozer!" variety.

Macabre me, I loved the "Drama in Real Life" stories. Sometimes they were man versus nature dramas, like the one about the mountain lion who ate most of the scalp off of this kid who required like 1,500 stitches to get his head closed up but was okay in the end, albeit horribly disfigured (yay, pictures!). Sometimes they were emotional dramas, like the mom who had to wrestle with raising a daughter who was born with her facial features lodged in her internal organs (nose in the spleen, eyebrow in the stomach etc.). And then you'd have your more generic "I escaped a burning car wreck unscathed thanks to the power of prayer" stories, which I still enjoyed because, you know, burning car wrecks.

But in the end, I just don't think I can start reading RD again, at least anytime soon. These are the US Weekly decades, after all, and I have a reputation to uphold.
Thursday, August 11, 2005

Last with the scoop

The hubby and I broke the blogospheric fourth wall last night and attended the Los Angeles "Drinks with Bloggers" event at the Cat & Fiddle, organized to great effect by Hilary and Paul.

I'd say that 90 percent of my fellow attendees have already weighed in on the night (gee, maybe I should start posting in the mornings), but in brief, it was the most successful collective blind date I've ever been on. It was especially great to chat with Hilary, Lindsay, Mike, Justin, Kristin, Keith, Nanette, Brent and Annabel Lee.

If I didn't get to meet you last night, please, blame my residual high school social retardation. If I met you and forgot to list you, see the last sentence.

A few lessons learned last night:

-I am not alone in my belief that Electric Dreams should join the upper echelons of 1980s movie classics.

-There is at least one civilized Yankees fan in this world.

-The tenuous personal link that Slappar and I once shared has long since dissolved. Guess we can't be friends anymore.

-If you thought it was hard trying to remember people's names at a social gathering, try remembering URLs.

-I need to shut my pie-hole when it comes to other people's weddings. (Sorry, Nanette!)

-Three beers and two Taco Bell gorditas on a Wednesday night do not make for a well-digested Thursday morning.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Dog and cat days of summer

I tend to slap the stray label on any uncollared animal that enters my orbit. The habit first developed circa summer 1979 when I "rescued" a "lost" purebred Doberman Pinscher who was wandering the alley behind our apartment. I tied my jump rope around his neck and hauled him upstairs, where he promptly swallowed my sister’s McDonald’s hotcakes and sausage meal. In delight, I christened him Greedy.

I have no idea why my mother indulged this; post-divorce guilt, I suppose. So for a week or so we had this bestial Doberman hanging around our house, ignoring us completely except for the occasions when he bit me. Finally my mom grew impatient and took the dog to a local shelter, where he was claimed by his original family about 30 seconds after we pulled out of the driveway.

Right now there’s this aimless little cat who who’s been pacing our block for a couple of days. He’s runty, mangy, Roman-nosed and altogether temperamental. And if he remains unclaimed for another day, I plan to make him mine.

The human personality is largely formed by age 5. I truly believe that.
Monday, August 08, 2005

The Jessica Simpson Dissertation

Chapter 1: Research Question
With this research project, I aimed to answer a central question: In the name of all that is soul-suckingly sacred, how has Jessica Simpson become one of today's iconic -- I'm sorry, "iconish" -- celebrities?

From that central question arose several attendant queries, such as “When will she go away already?” “Did she really sleep with Knoxville AND Bam?” “Nick’s so handy around the house! How’d he get that way?” and “Is my husband totally lying when he says he doesn’t find her to be that hot?”

Chapter 2: Literature Review
As has been my habit over the last eight years, I took significant time out of my workdays to read and review a great many entertainment websites. Source materials included E! Online, People.com and the A List (mostly useless, but still completely awesome). Using skills refined during the Bennifer years, I then cross-referenced as many sources as possible so as to come up with the most preposterous set of rumors, conjecture and hearsay possible concerning my subject matter.

Chapter 3: Methodology
Given the inanity of my research topic, I felt that a hugely subjective qualitative method of research was best. Interview subjects were chosen largely on the basis of their proximity and/or email prolificacy; interview questions were written on the fly and were usually of a leading nature. Sample questions follow below:

"Okay, what is it exactly, besides the obvious?"
"But you're a smart guy! I don't get it."
"I burp and fart and do really stupid things around the house too. Why does that not augment my appeal?"
"Speaking of augment, don't you think they're totally fake?"
"In that 'Boots Are Made for Walking' video, doesn't her spray-on tan totally make it look like she fell in a mud puddle?"
"Babe, c'mon, you don't really think she's hot, right?"

Chapter 4: Findings
A clear pattern of response emerged along gender lines. Brilliant female respondents astutely noted Jessica's complete lack of singing, acting and dressing abilities and concluded that her popularity was purely the result of a bored tabloid corps; they predicted its demise once her dadchild-manager Joe "Check out my awesome new earring!" Simpson channeled his inner Michael Lohan and suffered the inevitable coke-induced breakdown.

Stupid fat male respondents, meantime, clearly didn't understand the questions posed to them. Their responses were thrown out.

Chapter 5: Conclusion
Jessica Simpson is a no-talent squirt of fermented Cheez Whiz. Boycott all future enterprises.

Oh, and my husband SO TOTALLY doesn't think she's hot. I can just tell.
Thursday, August 04, 2005

A land flowing with Land O’Lakes

So, margarine. I hate margarine. I've always been a butter fiend, and growing up, my mother indulged my every butter whim, be it popcorn and butter, "bascetti" and butter or peanut butter and butter sandwiches. (And yes, I was a wee bit of a chubster.)

But when I headed off to my father's for the weekend, all butter bets were off. My father only stocked the house with some crappy no-name margarine that would sit in the refrigerator for weeks or months at a time, slowly absorbing its bologna aroma.

This was no surprise, really. We're talking about a man who sent me to nursery school every Monday morning with a raw-hotdog-in-a-pita-pocket sandwich; a man whose spice rack today boasts grocery store-brand seasonings from my preteen years; a man who once dropped an egg on the floor, scooped it up, stored it in a bowl in the refrigerator and fried it up a few days later. His kitchen has never been a bastion of high-class cuisine.

And now I'm married to a man who grew up eating only margarine. He even calls margarine "butter," which to me is akin to calling Mark Bellhorn "Manny Ramirez." Margarine may adequately serve your purposes on occasion, but on an 0-2 count in the late innings of a one-run game, does margarine come through with the clutch hit? No, margarine whiffs at a pitch well off the plate and then trudges back to the dugout with an annoyingly inscrutable facial expression.

So I buy my own butter and store it in the freezer, where it's free from the garlic-tinged odors of our own refrigerator, and silently stew about the true compromises that come with marriage.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Inside the writer's studio

A writing professor I had years ago posited that two signs of bad writing were an excessive use of parentheticals and a over-reliance on adverbs.

Rereading some of my blog today, I realized that this professor would consider me a very, very bad writer.

(Also, I really need to knock it off with the one-sentence concluding paragraphs.)
Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Just to assuage some fears....

Tan Man never seemed aware of my presence. I think the "fucking bitch" he was referring to was an old girlfriend or wife. There was a crazy old man in my neighborhood growing up who would walk up and down our street also screaming about a "fucking bitch," and through some other things he yelled I pieced together that his wife had left him for another man and that he was a tad bummed out about it.

But, still, mom, don't worry ... from now on I promise I will bring someone with me when I go walking in "Rayon Canyon." Can't hike those synthetic slopes solo!
Monday, August 01, 2005

I didn’t like me this crazy

Saturday evening I went for a walk by myself in Runyon “tube-topped hikers welcome” Canyon. The sunlight was already fading by the time I got there, so I figured a quick traipse up, a quick traipse down, a little quality dog-petting along the way and I’d be out of there in an hour, tops.

As I started up, there was a shirtless, deeply tanned middle-aged man ahead of me walking with grave purpose, twirling a paint-splattered visor as he went. Something about him made me wary. He quickly bore out my hunch.

First came the cone-kicking. Several orange traffic cones had been set up along the edge of the trail to warn hikers of erosion. One by one, Tan Man punted the cones over the edge of the trail so that they sailed out into the ravine below.

Then came the sign-slapping. “Warning: Rattlesnakes in Area”: BAM. “Off-leash Dog Area”: WHAP. If a sign stood too high, he’d run and jump in order to hit it properly. Once he double-backed to fisticuff a sign he'd initially failed to spot.

Time for a detour, I thought. I veered left and headed up a side trail I had never taken before, winding up further into the mountains until eventually I landed at a pretty little viewing spot.

I considered resting a bit to assure no future Tan Man run-ins. But my hour-long hike had already stretched into an hour and a half, there were no hikers left on my trail and the sun had completely set. I decided to head back.

As I meandered down, I saw that Tan Man was standing at the intersection of the two paths, staring out over the canyon, completely motionless. I got a little closer and he started yelling, a staccato series of ARGHHHHHs, maybe four or five total.

Then, just as I reached his standing spot and turned to head down the main trail, he screamed “FUCKING BITCH!” at the top of his lungs.

And that’s the story of how I ran my fastest downhill mile ever.