Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Adventures In Moving

Pretty much everybody’s favorite activity in the whole wide world, and it’s pretty obvious why. When else do you get to:

-Finally address the problem of those cockroach carcasses that you, uh, just sort of swept to the side of the stove once they were dead, vowing never to look in that particular space again,

-Ask yourself why, exactly, you needed eight cans of spray freshener,

-Rope your significant other into helping you move from your apartment to his in exchange for a healthy 60% of your stuff, including furniture,

-Sit on the floor of the cab of a particularly bumpy U-Haul all the way to Manhattan with your head down so the NYPD doesn’t see you, which is so comfortable you would not believe it, I want to travel this way all the time,

-Practically lose it seven or eight times because despite the fact that you’re getting rid of tons and tons of your stuff and you didn’t have a lot to begin with, the piles of stuff you ARE taking are not getting any smaller, DAMMIT,

-And, of course, sit around for forty or fifty minutes of anxiety while your vindictive little worm of a superintendent (unless he's somehow reading this, in which case he is a very handsome sweetheart of a man, and I'm pretty sure he's been working out) inspects your apartment and arbitrarily decides whether or not to sign off on you getting your $2,000 deposit back.

However, I have a secret weapon at my disposal: I am a master mover/packer. Yes. It’s not quite as exciting as being able to fly or see through walls, but it is a superpower all the same judging by the awestruck looks I get from friends after I finish packing their 3 bedroom apartments into a single van.

An thus far, my plan seems to be working fairly well. About a month ago, my charming boy and I agreed that he would rent a truck on Sunday and, with the help of his roommate, help move my/their stuff from my Queens apartment to their Manhattan one.

This made sense on any number of levels; for one thing, I think we’d get some pretty funny looks trying to schlep a sofa on the subway. For another, I will be staying with them until my departure next Friday—just about ten days and six or seven mental breakdowns away at this point. I would leave only a few items at my apartment until Tuesday night, when he would come over and help me bring them to the apartment.

Give or take a couple of back spasms, that’s exactly how it all played out.

My apartment is now empty, desolate, emotionally spent at the idea that after one last short visit today, I will be gone for good.

I’m lying. It doesn’t care. Hello, it’s an apartment.

I care, though. Nearly two years, I’ve been in this apartment. That’s longer than I’ve lived anywhere absent my parental units. It was my fifth residence since leaving college, third apartment I was paying for, first apartment I lived in alone, and the place in which I finally got my shit together. It’s where I grew up, learned to operate as an independent agent, loved two incredible men, survived heartbreak and loneliness, resolved past missteps, made decisions that would shape my future for the better, and became happier than I have ever been in my life.

Most importantly, it is the place where I finally learned how to play strip poker. Do you know how embarrassing this knowledge gap has been at parties?!

(Just kidding, Mom.)

(I already knew how to play.)

In a very real sense, I am moving on to bigger and better things. I was recently honored with an actual writing contract, so I will be writing my first book for publication. I will be returning to school and finishing the degree I am so ready to earn now. I will be getting to know my extended family much better than ever before. I will be living in a quiet place, a welcome change after the frenetic pace of the city.

I’ve lived here before, but I am returning a different person. By the way, I’ll be going by Fred from now on.

It’s the last two years that have made this possible. No risk was spared in the creation of this life, and as a result I have become a person with whom I can be pleased and proud. Emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, fiscally, socially, I am more ready to take on these challenges than I have ever been in my life.

I am at peace. The decision I made this time was the right one.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And Then It Crashed Kaboom

I used to live with a little kid. One day she was telling me a long, rambly story the way kids do and at one point she used the above phrase. I stopped her.

“Hey, what does that mean?”

“It means it went CRASH and made a KABOOM sound,” she replied in a patronizing, “you complete moron” kind of voice. The way kids do.

Well, that is sort of how I feel about this blog right now, in much the same way that McCain sort of didn’t win the election (woot!).

Here has been my month so far, in the summary form we all know and inappropriately lust over:

-Wrote. Wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. 25,000 words in 12 days is no mean feat, my friends.

-Finger began hurting somewhere around 13,000 words. Pain became fruitful and multiplied throughout my hand.

-Continued writing anyway, since I am such a “tough cookie.”

-Finger was amputated.

Okay, the last is a complete lie. Actually my finger is doing fine now, in the sense that I can use it to type without actively weeping.

Other than that I’d say the above list was fairly accurate. I also squished in a trip to Baltimore, another trip to Philly, and still haven’t packed a single box for my apartment.

I should really get on that soon.

Anyway, all of this is my rationalization for not writing more in this blog. And my backup plans didn’t exactly work out either. I did get two very good guest blogs submitted by two writers who are at least as funny as I am, but then something strange happened. I didn’t want to use them.

Not because they weren’t good, more like because I got weirdly jealous and possessive.

My blog. Mine. MinemineMINEMINEMINE!!!, is how the thought process went. Also, I was sort of scared everyone would think they were funnier than me and stop reading my blog.

As for the CCS marathon, I would have been happy to continue with that (I still have plenty of backlogged favorites) but unfortunately the entry offended someone very close to me who regularly reads this blog. As a result, I do not feel entirely comfortable running a similar entry at this time. Perhaps after this person has had a chance to proofread the entry.

As a sidenote, I should point out that censorship is like a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. I heartily disagree with it and almost never employ it, but this particular situation is so delicate right now, and this person means so much to me, that I don’t feel okay about pushing the envelope just for laughs. Cost-benefit, my friends.

So both of my blog-fillers turned out to be epic failures. I guess I’ll resign myself to a light posting month, here. Hopefully when December hits, I’ll have a) more time to write and b) some good stories that don’t involve my occupational injuries.

December involves a cross country move, Vegas, friends, family, copious traveling, and proximity to death in the form of skydiving, so there’s a really excellent chance of that.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

CCS, Edition One: Questionable Theology

As I mentioned last week, due to my wretchedly busy schedule (which isn't really all that wretched at all; I am quite enjoying it) I will not be posting much this month, and since I wasn't exactly breaking records in this department to begin with, I figure that on the somewhat rare occasions this month that I do post, I should have something a lot funnier than my own drivel to entertain you. I am sure we're all thinking of the same obvious source of this hilarity: the church.

Now, I know what you're going to say: It's not very nice to make fun of a thousands-of-years-old institution that has brought us such fine figures as George W. Bush and Shirley Phelps-Roper, not to put too fine a point on it. And you are right, of course.

But I simply cannot resist when they make it this easy. And I am not alone in this. Thus, with all due credit to Crummy Church Signs, which has made my workdays so much more pleasant and abdominal-muscle-surgery-inducing than they would have otherwise been, I will now share with you some of my personal favorites from his website. I've got a bunch, so this will likely be the first of four or five installments.

Not wanting to make this a completely Lady-Snark-free post, let me assure you that all sarcastic comments on these signs are my own. Joel's original commentaries are plenty funny as well, and I highly recommend that you spend some quality time with his site.

Without further ado...

A Step By Step Tutorial:

Step One: Love God and live a really good life...

Fake it till you make it. Arr.

Normally, we worship Satan. But we like to mix it up a little.

Think awful thoughts however, and they will cast you into hell.

Tamie, I just thought you'd like to know that you've been leaving out a word. It's soooooo much more sincere this way.

After death, they sink into a deep depression.

Way to hedge your bets there, First Pentecostal Holiness Church.

THE FOLLOWING SIGNS HAD NO PICTURE:

"Live Drive-Thru Crucifixion. March 31-April 1, 7-9pm"

Yeah, I'll have the two-for-one nail-through-the-hand special with ketchup down my side and an extra large Chalice please.

"Salvation: Apply Within"

Please allow four to six weeks for your application to be processed. We regret that there are only six open slots at this time and encourage candidates who are not selected to reapply next year.

"After the darkest night, perhaps the brightest dawn."

But you never know. Perhaps the even darker morning.

"When you step out, God steps in."

And he turns your life around (no thanks to chickenshit you)... that's what it's all about.

Clap clap.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Annoyingly Happy

Perhaps it’s the proximity to Christmas that’s making me feel this way. Perhaps it is the fact that I have been playing happy music. Perhaps it’s the fact that I have really fun things planned for the next few weekends, including this one. Perhaps it is the fact that I have never felt so deliriously excited about the prospect of my future, so secure in my choices, so certain of my path.

Whatever it is, it’s making me smile a lot.

This is sort of becoming a problem (not a big problem, I grant you... more like a problemet). It’s considered rude to be openly happy in New York City, since so many people are not. So I’ve been getting some Weird Stares, even some Grim Looks (as well as some returned knowing grins from people who are ALSO celebrating clandestine happiness for whatever reason).

I don’t blame them. I’d probably kick my own ass if I saw me acting this way.

But I can’t help it, you know? The smile, it is completely involuntary.

The happy, it is in me.

And I am not unhappy about that.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Epic Fail, Party Of One

You know, I started this blog thinking that it would be a hoot, a source of laughter and merriment, a venue for getting wealthy beyond my wildest dreams, etc. I figured that it would be a casual thing, that I would have a bevy of devoted readers who would enjoy reading my babble just as often as I pleased to write it, and that it would of course be tons o’fun.

And this blog has certainly exceeded my expectations in those respects. If by “exceeded” I mean “completely destroyed,” which I do.

Oh, not that I haven’t come close enough to spit on some of these goals. Hey, I was even “I Love Your Blog”-d in what was possibly the proudest moment of my existence so far, mainly because the author of this blog is not only my own personal American Idol but also a much cooler representative of Alaska than, oh, I don’t know, anyone currently up for the VICE PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES.

But enough about that.

The thing is, in a giant stunning upset, people are suddenly wanting to pay me for writing stuff. Don’t get the wrong idea; there isn’t a Pulitzer involved or anything (except in the private dinner theater of my imagination, that is). But nevertheless, I’ve been writing a bunch of pieces for this online magazine. For the first time in my life, I’m a paid freelancer (as opposed to being unpaid and, um, not a freelancer at all). A positive development, to be sure.

However, a blog AND a weekly column AND a bi-weekly article AND two big, top secret writing projects that are also expected to yield me some money at some point in the future are suddenly adding up to a lot of work, especially since I still have a job. At least for the next five weeks.

Oh, didn’t I mention? I quit last week. Resigned, actually. I did this so I could move to Arizona in five weeks time.

Where am I going with this? What is my very subtle point here? Why is the person who handles your money referred to as a broker?

I AM BUSY.

Busy writing, busy packing (well, technically I haven’t packed anything yet but I’m definitely thinking seriously about starting), busy working, busy selling stuff like couches, busy traveling (I’m out of town the next two weekends and either coming or going for three out of December’s four weeks), busy hanging out with friends I probably won’t see again for a very long time, busy trying to keep the sweet guy who keeps bringing me flowers happy.

Considering that I spent a big chunk of the summer (something like 89% but I’m sure no one was keeping track) as a slothful wretch who basically did nothing, this is quite a change of activity pace for me. I’m not complaining, mind you. These are all good changes, if they do make me want to occasionally pound my head into something equally hard repeatedly.

But something has to give, and I think it’s going to have to be this blog. For the month of November, I will not be posting.

I KNOW. Please stop wailing and gnashing your teeth. You have such pretty teeth. I would not have them gnashed on my account.

All is not lost. As I am traveling so much in December (a trip to Vegas is involved, and I think we all know what that means… I may well come home a different gender), not to mention moving to a new city and getting a new job and getting to know my new family (well, technically they’re not new but living with them is), I am sure I will have plenty to write about when that time comes.

In the meantime, I will not leave this blog completely unattended. I have two or three people in mind whom I plan to ask to write guest posts on here. They are all extremely funny, wonderful people from whom I regularly draw inspiration, hope and blood (they don’t actually know about this; they think the bite marks on their neck are from their loved ones, and I am all about having other people take the blame for my nefarious activities for as long as possible). It’s quite possible that you won’t even want me back after having them in your blog-life. I will try to have one guest-post per week.

IN ADDITION, I have recently made the best discovery of my entire Internet life ever. It stimulates your funny bone to the point of orgasm, and reading it while at work is nothing if not an exercise in containing laughter the way you try to contain unwanted gas at a nice dinner party.

With (ir)reverence, I give you… Crummy Church Signs.

Because Joel Bezaire does not mind people reposting the signs he gets as long as credit is given (I hope he considers a modest shrine sufficient), I will post some of my favorite signs along with my own snarky comments. I will also try to aim for one of these per week.

So, there that is. Sorry for the horrifying news. Grief counselors are available in the lobby.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Must Be Nice To Have Those Crystal Balls

It was a dark and stormy night.

Actually it wasn’t. It was a bright and chilly afternoon. In autumn. This weekend. But I’m about to tell you what an encounter with pure evil looks like, so go with me here.

I was with a certain handsome, gregarious fellow that I like a little bit. We had just finished a picnic lunch in Central Park, which is not at all a cliché, so you can all stop humming annoying Chicago songs right this minute.

Being the perfect fall afternoon that it was, things inevitably grew a little chilly. So we decided it was a good time for hot chocolate (in this context, “good time” is loosely defined as “anytime between September and April”).

By and by, we found ourselves in the Trump Tower, a building that boasts an indoor waterfall, a hideously expensive (I assume; we decided that it was in our best interest not to know for sure) bar, and a lot of floors that common folk can’t visit.

There is a brightly lit café beneath the main floor. It offers tasty hot chocolate and decent tourist watching. Someone should try combining those. “Tasty Tourist” would be a good new coffee flavor, plus I bet a lot of them would have improved demeanors if they were to be submerged in a hot beverage.

We were a little sleepy. I was leaning against the boy, he was playing with my hair. (It is not at all advisable to do this to someone who needs to stay awake, such as someone who is actively participating in a surgery. By the way.) We were talking sporadically, but mainly just enjoying the bustle around us, enjoying each other’s company, and most importantly, minding our own business. Probably this is implied, but I really want that point to hit home.

We were about to make a very important discovery about life.

A woman came up to us. Now, I am not going to lie to you. This woman was old. Grandmother at a minimum, at least she could have been if anyone had ever wanted to have children with her. And she had obviously learned a thing or two in her day, like how to be a completely pessimistic bitch to total strangers. We were about to benefit from her sagacious charm.

Pollyanna walked up to us from behind, so we had no warning that her veritable tornado of cheer was about to descend upon us. She tapped my friend on the shoulder and said in a loud (smoker-coated, Brooklyn-bred, cranky) voice, while gesticulating wildly at the two of us, “THIS… RIGHT HERE… YOU TWO… THIS IS JUST TEMPORARY.”

Our reaction, predictably, was a rather dumbfounded and unoriginal “Um…” This did not stop Pollyanna from continuing to expound on her theory.

“THIS ISN’T GOING TO LAST. IT’S ONLY FOR NOW.”

The boy recovered first (he’s good like that) and thanked her politely for coming over to tell us about that. Her response?

“AHAHAHAHAHA—cough—HAHAHAHAHAHA.”

This wasn’t a normal laugh, the sound a person makes in response to an amusing statement or occurrence. This was what a nice cocktail of bitterness, old age, chortling at one’s own “jokes” (epic failures), and throat cancer sounds like in auditory form.

“I’M JUST MESSING WITH YOU, HONEY. I’M OLD.” (No kidding.) “YOU TWO LOOK VERY CUTE TOGETHER.”

At this point, my companion was laughing. He even wished her a nice evening as she walked away. Me, I was trying to remember where the good voodoo doll vendor stands were located. (This is New York—of course there are voodoo doll vendor stands. I think.)

OF COURSE, the good comebacks started coming to me well over an hour later:

Yes, this is temporary—fortunately for humanity, so is everything else, including your life!

Who, him? He’s actually my brother.

(sad look) Yes, the doctor pronounced it terminal yesterday. I have two months left. How did you know?

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Plague Of Gnats

This is the one they don’t really say a lot about in Exodus. It just blitzes by, and the totally irresponsible lack of detail might cause a reader to think, “Gnats? Oh, gnats! Little tiny bugs that can be swatted! Gee, God, some ‘plague’! Surely you can do better than that.”

Then God (who is apparently listening) proceeds to slaughter all the firstborn, and the reader thinks, “Okay! Yeah! That’s what I’m talking about, God! Way better than gnats! Go Moses!”

Yes, in the wake of having one of your children murdered by an angel with an Uzi, gnats might seem relatively minor. But not all of us are lucky enough to have that historical perspective, and those of us will proceed now to whine heavily.

We have a gnat problem in our office. (No shit.)

What does this mean for you? Well, nothing. Unless you happen to work with me. If you do, that’s unfortunate. Not least because I do the food ordering in this office and no I will not order you some more cookies, you have to make them last a whole month and it’s not my fault we’re out already.

Here’s what the Bible doesn’t explain, selective-reporting gossip magazine that it is. Gnats, though tiny, are not so tiny that they do not cause annoyance when they fly around one’s head by the dozen. They are VERY hard to kill by swatting. They may look slow, but they have these little piston engines that they can turn on in the blink of an eye and then you, my friend, are screwed.

When you do manage to kill one, you feel good for a second. Almost like you really accomplished something, as opposed to most days in the office. But then, three more swarm around you, sort of a Hydra for the new millennium.

And God forbid you open your mouth at any point during the eight-hour day. Please don’t ask me to explain any further.

Gnats are small and nasty and I hate them. New scourge, please.

I’ll take Plague of Darkness for $300, Alex.

That sounds kind of nice actually. Like a long nap.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Experiencing Technical Difficulties

If there’s a better, more efficient way to go through life than the way I have been going through life for the past few days, I frankly cannot imagine it. Here are just a few little snippets:

-I hardly ever sleep at all anymore, so during those special times when the sky goes all darky dark and normal people engage in what I assume must be very pleasant REM cycles, I lie in the dark and stare at the wall. After awhile, I turn and stare at my desk. Then when that gets boring, I turn and stare at the wall some more. In the meantime, thoughts are volleying through my head at an absolutely unbelievable speed. It’s fucking Wimbledon in there, people. This goes on for hours and hours and hours and then suddenly it’s time to get up. My functionality decreases by about half every time this happens, and it’s been going on for something like a straight week.

-During the day—ah, yes, the day, right after the night during which ordinary people enjoyed a refreshing rest and not a bout with insomnia that would normally require a cause of not less than five consecutive Stephen King movies—my brain periodically shuts down. Really. I can hear it. Whirr. Silence. Dark. Blank. No brain activity. Usually this happens at a really great time, like when I’m in the middle of writing a column that’s due in an hour, or paying bills, or having a conversation with my boss.

-My frustration is becoming a physical being. I call him Tony. He’s big, strong, well able to overtake other, less endowed mental characteristics like “organized” and “pragmatic” and “not an alcoholic.” Tony is argumentative and selfish, constantly wanting all of my attention for himself. And he gets it, too, because he gave “emotional control” a sound beating last week and I haven’t seen it since.

-I just started dating a fantastic person who, like me, is in the process of losing his mind due to titanic levels of personal stress. I’m pretty sure that’s why we’re so happy. If becoming insane together isn’t romantic, then I would like to know what is.

-Running is the only way I can relax at all right now. That would be fine, except for two things. It is getting darker earlier, so even if I go running the second I arrive home, the sky grows dim around me in a matter of minutes, almost like God is screwing with the stage lights. I wouldn’t mind running in the dark, only I keep having this vision of myself getting a) shot in a drive-by, b) mugged… of my iPod (seriously, there must be better targets out there), or c) killed with a meat cleaver and hacked into thousands of bite-size pieces for the millions and millions of dogs I already have to accommodate during my run, inasmuch as they refuse to get out of my way even when I’m coming right at them and they can obviously see me. And God help me if I kick any of them. Not that I have. (More than once, that is. Look, it was an accident, lady. Let it go.) In other words, they are already in my way and messing up my momentum and I really don’t see why I should also have to be their dinner. All of this is more likely to happen after dark, when the people who might come to my aid are engaging in what I assume must be very pleasant REM cycles.

Oh yeah, the other thing: in my admirable quest to find “The Zone,” attainable only by running far and fast and past one’s dinnertime, I have torn blisters into my feet the size of potholes. Running is less enjoyable with bloody socks, for the record, but more fragrant.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Have Discovered My Drug Of Choice

I will now proceed to become an addict, and happy about it.

You see, not two hours ago I was sitting in this very seat, in this very room, writing on this very computer about this very day. It was not going well. I have since deleted the entry, but to summarize, it basically went, "I am lazy, I suck, I am not getting anything done, I might as well dig a hole and rot into it." Et cetera, with a few self deprecating, not-all-that-funny remarks thrown in.

Well, that's all changed now, and it's all because of this beautiful thing I discovered only a few weeks ago. Some like to call it ecstasy; some like to call it nirvana. I like to call it free, legal, and of course, something that leaves me sweaty and spent.

(That's what she said.)

That drug is, of course, running. I'll be frank with you, my friends. When I started this experiment of sorts just about a month ago, I wasn't really sure how well it would take. I haven't stuck closely to a fitness regimen in years, and while I had a fairly positive initial experience in the sense that I didn't actually die, I wasn't sure if I would find the motivation to stick with it.

Well, friends, that doubt is now banished to the land where unhappy thoughts go to die. The "runner's high" is a real thing-- granted you have to run for miles and miles and miles and wonder just what the hell you are doing with your life a few times in order to get it, but if you keep going, eventually it will find you.

Today, I ran for 1 hour, 1 minute, and 52 seconds. I ran 10 laps around my block. If you'll recall, I could only manage TWO my first time out, barely a month ago. And until tonight, the most I had managed was six.

I still don't know how far around my block is, but it's definitely between a third of a mile and half a mile. Heck, it might even be a mile. There's no real way to tell when you're as bad at judging distance as I am. But I think it's safe to say that I ran somewhere between three and five miles tonight.

Proud. Happy. Feeling much better about this whole universe-spinning-no-matter-what concept.

All is right with the world.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A For Effort?

Note: This is a repost from a different blog which most of you would have no reason to read; therefore I feel no compunction about reposting it. If it's "new to you," it's new, right? Good rule of thumb for cars, jeans, boyfriends, and blog posts.

"Tolstoy wrote for the masses, the common man. It's completely untrue that you have to be some sort of genius to read his stuff."

-Rory Gilmore

Okay, so a couple of things here. First of all, have you ever noticed that the only people who make statements like that are, in fact, geniuses (or at least much smarter than you)? Because, you only have to watch 5 minutes of Gilmore Girls to be fully aware of the fact that Rory Gilmore is supposed to be a smart cookie. Definitely smarter than the average cookie (although the average cookie has chocolate chips in it, which are yummy, so it all evens out in the end).

And, I think she has read more books than the Library of Congress contains. A bold statement? Indeed it is, but consider the following. TV time is different from our time. TV time is kind of like Santa time... basically, an hour lasts just as long as it needs to last in order to get from Point A to Point B in the plot. And people are whatever age they feel like being for as long as they feel like being that age. Rory was 16 for two years, as an example. That's the kind of time this kid has to read all the books ever written by Tolstoy and Dickens and whoever else wrote really long, confusing novels. She has had A LOT of time to read and absorb aforementioned really long, confusing novels so that she could then go on to make moronic statements like that, not realizing that it's easy for her to say everyone should be able to understand this stuff when she already understands this stuff!

The point I'm trying to make here (yes, I do have one) is that when it comes to reading Dostoevsky (he's not exactly the same as Tolstoy I realize-- some nonsense about being a "different man" who lived a "different life" but for the purposes of this rant he's close enough-- I might even call them Tolstoevsky from now on), I am a complete hopeless idiot. I can't even spell his name, for God's sake. I had to look it up, and then use the copy paste function. Never mind actually slogging through an entire novel. I have been trying for around three years to read The Brothers Karamazov. Can. Not. Do. It. Where. Is. Stove? Must. Stick. Head. In!

So my dear, sweet, gentle, well-meaning sister who I'll stab to death one of these days, recommended I start with something easier (not in quite so many words, naturally, or the aforementioned stabbing would have already occurred... I don't take constructive criticism particularly well, especially when it comes in response to copious whining). She handed me a copy of Notes From Underground, which certainly is easier than The Brothers K, provided you define "easier" as "just as fiendishly difficult, but at least it's shorter."

It is shorter, almost to the point of being short-- just over 100 pages, which I actually think was kind of malicious of my little pal Fyodor, because it makes clueless morons like myself think that we actually have a shot at successfully slogging through the thing. I can just see him finishing this devilish little book, giggling to himself as he pictured all the people who would try to read it and then experience failure on such a massive scale that they gave up reading and writing altogether, thus eliminating his competition forevermore. I know what you're thinking-- yes, that is quite a journey he had to take there, but this is a guy who thinks nothing of fifteen-page sentences, so you can see how long journeys come somewhat naturally to him.

AND I TRIED!!! I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY TRIED!! IT'S ONLY 130 PAGES LONG!! GOD, ANY IDIOT CAN GET THROUGH 130 PAGES!!! WHY AM I SUCH A HOPELESS MORON? WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING, LEARNING TO READ? TALK ABOUT SETTING MYSELF UP FOR EPIC FAILURE!

I spent the last week sitting on the subway trying to gut this thing out. Now, for those of you out there who, for whatever reason, such as a will to live, do not live in this grand cosmopolitan snake pit I affectionately refer to as NYC, here is some advice for you should that will-to-live thing ever reverse itself without warning (perhaps after reading some Tolstoevsky!): always bring two books on the subway. This is sage advice, my friends. It's right up there with "Look both ways before crossing the street" and "Don't pick your nose in public." Trust me, you'll be glad you listened to me.

If you do not have two books, if you only bring one, and you finish that one before your ride is over or it gets boring or stupid or whatever, then you will have no alternative but to focus intently on the body odor of the large man sitting beside you. Or, it could be a woman. Or possibly a well-groomed Newfoundland. There's really no way to tell. Anyway, a good book isn't a complete guarantee against noticing the body odor, but it does help to stave off the nausea. Well, sometimes. Don't ask about the other side of sometimes-- some stories are better left untold (Notes From Underground, as a completely random example).

So, bring two books. I, silly little dear that I am, did NOT bring two books while I was reading NFU. Or trying to read it (kind of ironic that I was underground almost the whole time). I brought ONLY THAT BOOK, for exactly that reason-- I didn't want an alternative book, because I knew if I had one I would definitely not ever get around to reading Notes From Underground.

And God knows, that would be sad. Tragic like the Holocaust. So, I did read the whole thing, and I even understood what was going on during a whole solid eleven pages, and now here's my question: how much does reading comprehension count when one is reading a classic? I mean, do I get to claim that I read Notes From Underground by sheer wish-fulfillment? Does it matter that I couldn't understand the words, so long as I read the words? Also, do I get kicked out of the I Read Books For Fun Club because I am not Rory Gilmore and also not my sister, because they can understand these books and adore these books and I can't, because I am thicker than a concussed troll when it comes to classics, because I know I can't read them because they have words longer than two syllables, but I try sometimes, because I feel like I should for personal growth and attempting this has obviously strengthened my run-on sentence skills a little, and damn it, that should count for something, right?

What do you think, guys? A for effort? Please?? Help me out here, I'm just an average cookie!! I have yummy chocolate chips, though!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What Not To Wear... Ever, Ever Again

We all have things that we are not good at. Some people have trouble saying no. Some people have trouble keeping things closed (mouths, ovens, liquor bottles). Some people—who shall remain nameless—are not terrific at managing companies without losing millions of dollars in the process.

For example.

I myself am not exempt from this. Though I realize that I normally appear flawless—an image which is relentlessly encouraged by my PR agent—I, too, have things that I do not do well.

One of those things is shopping. Any kind of shopping, really—I experience the Christmas season the way a blind person experiences pinch hitting for the Mets. There’s lots of darkness and blunt trauma to the head. But it is shopping for clothes that really makes me want to mainline strychnine.

No, I am definitely not a “fashionista” in the same way that I am not blonde, age seven, a boy, et cetera. When I was in high school (an age where most girls need to be tied to a chair to keep from spending other people’s money), my mother used to bribe me so that I would go shopping with her. (I realized years later how nice it is to have other people pay for your clothes. Fortunately, my former viewpoint still stood, and I still had the same generous mother.)

It is much the same now, and as a result I own approximately four outfits:

-The Work Suit. As I have mentioned before, I wear this so often it’s basically my default setting. Black pants, ugly but sensible shoes, some sort of blousy thing, and a blazer. It is almost never a problem to go straight from work to a funeral.

-The Weekend Lounger. Jeans and a shirt. The shirt may change depending on whether I am going on a date, hanging out with a friend, vandalizing public property (in which case it would be a black shirt), et cetera.

-The Bedtime/Workout McComfy. Boxers, T-shirt, sweatpants and/or sweater, camisole, or any variation thereof depending on the weather and my mood.

-The Dressy Dress. Until this weekend, I had one. It is black, strapless, and inexplicably sexy even on me, hater of all things strapless. I bought it for ten pounds in London when I was sixteen, and it continues to fit me like a glove to this day. Allergic to wrinkles, machine washable, and very tiny (thus placing little demand on storage space), it is the perfect dress for me. Utterly low-maintenance. I have no accessories for this dress. No shoes, no shawl, no jewelry, no nylons. I wear it approximately once every two years.

That’s it.

You probably think I’m kidding.

Another thing: I don’t do dry cleaning. I have always washed my blazers with the rest of my clothes, which was fine at my first job when I wore a kiddie blazer that I’m pretty sure was made out of cotton. But with an actual blazer, that doesn’t really work. As a result, my solution to a blazer being dirty is generally to buy another one. Either that or wash it, which I can usually get away with once before the thing is completely shredded.

We’re talking 20+ years of this attitude, my friends. That is a long time to remain ignorant of fashion basics. I consider it something of an accomplishment, but it can also be a liability. I have literally never cared about clothes, and this extends to other people as well. An ex-boyfriend of mine once showed up for a date wearing an obscenely ugly pink-and-green horizontally striped shirt. It took me half the night to figure out why I was throwing up in my mouth a little when I looked at him—this was a handsome guy. I kept thinking something was wrong with me.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that when I enthusiastically agreed to come to Washington DC—a city to which I had never been before and about which I had heard no end of good things—to hang out with some friends of mine, shopping was not on the agenda. It never crosses my mind that some people find that a fun way to spend an afternoon. To me, it's every bit as enjoyable as flying.

But here’s the thing about hanging out with four people who like to shop and complaining loudly about how badly you suck at shopping: You might just wind up shopping. Or “being shopped,” as I like to call it.

And I’ll be damned if being shopped wasn’t—I can’t believe I’m about to say this—fun! Before I knew it, we were in a store called Express.

Express sure has a lot of clothes.

I felt very vulnerable.

“I am totally in your hands,” I said to my friends. “I’m your Barbie doll.”

“What’s your budget?” one of my friends asked.

I laughed. Lately my fiscal management style has been a combination of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Dumbo the Flying Elephant—out of control and completely out of touch with reality. Parenthetically, this is a really bad time to be experiencing a bout of financial immaturity. I’m hoping it passes soon.

“I need everything. Just have fun.”

Boy, did they take that seriously. It was like their own personal commandment.

Before I knew it, I was trying on dresses. Me. I think the last time I looked at dresses was, literally, five years ago when I was planning to get hitched.

Not just dresses, though. My friends drew on their deep, impressive reserves of fashion knowledge and picked out quite a lot of stuff that looked good on me. I definitely remember at least one pair of pants that didn’t make me want to immediately amputate my legs.

Other things too. But mainly I remember the dresses. Despite my friends’ patient and insistent proclamations that I looked good, judging from the pictures, I was quite obviously not of that opinion. Even I can tell that the pictures are hideously unflattering not because of the dresses, but because I radiated tension the way the sun radiates warmth. My slumped-over body language and pained expression do not an attractive fashion statement make.

Alas, getting out of that store without buying anything would have been harder than getting through an obstacle course on a land mine while being chased by ravenous wolves in an acid rainstorm. I ended up buying a blazer (remember how I needed a new one?), two nice work-friendly sweaters, one of which I am wearing right now (it’s cute and keeps me warm), and…

…a dress.

A cute dress.

Don’t ask me how it happened. I wasn’t involved in the selection process.

I wore this dress on a coffee date the following day, and I was absolutely stunned by the reception it received. I’ve never had so many cute guys checking me out before that I can remember. Leaving aside the obvious feminist implications, I must admit that this was flattering.

Okay, I kind of get why women dress like this more often than every two years.

On Thursday, I am going to a Broadway show. I will be wearing a dress. Yes, two times in one week! Stay tuned for updates on the Apocalypse.

In summary: Being shopped doesn't suck too much. There’s a lesson here, friends, and I think we all know what it is.

Lady Snark could really benefit from having a team of personal shoppers at the ready.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tips For The Weary Job Hunter-Gatherer

In this distressed economy, many of us will at some point or another be in search of gainful employment. Most of us would prefer that gainful employment to be, on a social acceptability scale, a little higher than bank robber.

Since I am an expert* at finding jobs, I have taken it upon myself to compile a handy list of tips for the weary job-hunter that are guaranteed** to have you back to work in no time.

*In the sense that I am not on welfare.
**Not a guarantee.

Resume Writing: How To Feint With Impunity

-A resume is a piece of paper that documents your greatness in order to get you within shouting distance of important people that would normally scowl at the sight of you so they will give you a job. The deeper the scowl, the better the prospective job and the less likely you are to get it.

-If you do not know how to write a resume, ask a friend to write one for you. This friend should have a few creative writing classes under their belt. A nice history of compulsive lying and getting away with it doesn’t hurt either.

-A resume generally includes things like your work history and educational background, plus really self-indulgent lists of your best qualities. However, you don’t have to include every little detail. When applying for work at a Fortune 500 company, you should skip the pole dancing and the drug peddling. If your resume is a little skint and you need to fill space, leave them in but describe them creatively. “Customer Satisfaction Expert” and “Marketing/Sales Director” are much more corporate-friendly ways to describe those occupations.

Getting People To Look At Your Resume: A Guide To Stalking

-I personally get resumes all the time. I throw them out, mainly because we’re not hiring. Don’t let that stop you! A good way to make sure that the person receiving your resume will actually pass it on is to include a nice crisp Benjamin Franklin with it, along with a thinly veiled bribe note indicating that there is “plenty more where that came from.” Of course, this may backfire if you are actually hired by this company and suddenly find yourself under pressure for more bribes from that person. Every job has its drawbacks.

-To circumvent the first tip, it helps to send your resume to places that are actually hiring for a real live position. However, doing so will place you in a nasty circle of capitalist competition—suddenly a lot of people are going for the same job opening you are (as opposed to the nonexistent job opening of the company that is not hiring), most of whom are probably better qualified than you! This is a problem, unless you have some background as a hitman (“Solutions Manager”). Do not lose heart. You have a tool at your disposal that most people have too much pride to utilize: stalking.

-Call early, call often, call incessantly. Believe me, you will make an impression. If you don’t end up with a job, you will at least end up in a place where people speak softly and feed you nice meals and even provide prescription drugs, thereby eliminating the need for a job altogether.

-If all else fails, include a naked photo of yourself with your resume. If you do not think that this tactic would work in your favor, choose a naked photo of someone of the appropriate gender that will. Most likely, the person receiving your resume will try very hard to score you an interview, just to see if you live up to the photo. Obviously you won’t if you borrowed the photo, but it will not matter. This is called “getting your foot in the door,” and it’s an accepted part of the job-hunting process.

Interviewing: The Fine Art of Making People Think They Like You

-Show up on time. It helps if you schedule the interview sometime between Oprah and House so that there are no conflicts.

-Don’t smell bad. If you are unsure of the process to ensure this, most bottles of shampoo and deodorant contain instructions on the back.

-Wear clothes, preferably clothes which contain ingredients like collars and buttons and unflattery. Not only is this corporate-friendly gear, it may fool the receptionist into thinking you might yet live up to the photo you sent, if only you were naked.

-Be prepared to explain the “gaps” in your resume, such as your three years in prison. It is a true fact that if you mention the words “Witness Protection,” all inquiries stop.

-You might meet one person during the interview, you might meet eight. Keep the names straight. The old “Post-It-On-The-Back” trick is always a winner.

-If the interview seems to be going south, don’t hesitate to mention your “special skills” and throw in a wink or two. You’ve got nothing to lose.

I personally do not see how you could fail to land a job, if you follow these tips to the letter. But if you do, don’t despair. There’s always a perfectly viable alternative to living on the street, and we all know what that is: A government bailout.

Best of luck!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Day So Far, In Haiku

Holy non-haiku word
What is the sun doing here?
Go away sun.

Stomach turning tricks
Perhaps fourth Monday drink
Was a bad idea.

Why would I mind
When your stinky dog licks my clean face
On the subway?

Where am I?
I really need to develop
A sense of direction.

Oh, okay.
Just took a different subway exit this time.
No problem.

Lots of work today.
I think I will procrastinate
First, then often.

I would rather not pay for
My plane tickets, Continental.
Plzthnx.

Why are people unreliable?
I rant
As I procrastinate.

I think that my friend would like
To pay for dinner tonight
Well, okay.

Friday, September 19, 2008

No Sleep Till Brooklyn*

I can’t sleep!

*This is a song title, and not reflective of any sincere belief on my part that things would improve if I were to visit Brooklyn. If anything, the guns and drug lords would make it more difficult for me to sleep.

I have insomnia, and it’s been getting worse lately. Quite frequently I will bolt awake at four in the morning completely convinced that the house-size green elephants who were chasing me with pepper spray and handcuffs really caught me and now I am done for.

And some nights, I can’t get to sleep at all. I discover my blankets on the floor as often as not because I am an eggbeater with an attitude problem once I get horizontal, and this goes into hyperdrive when I am lying awake.

Possible Causes Of This Disorder That Is Making Me Feel Like A Character In A Scary Stephen King Novel:

-I have read too many scary Stephen King novels in my lifetime. Which is to say, two or three. I’m kind of a wuss like that.

-I am stressed out, something that could easily be remedied with a few pretty Italian boys to give me aromatherapy massages around the clock (in shifts, okay, I’m not a total despot—that’s why there are several of them).

-Too much meth abuse. I knew I should have been more wary of that cross-country truck driver and his “candy.”

-Estrogen. This is what I get for being a woman. Thanks a lot for not controlling my gender, Mom.

-Sleeping at odd hours. So falling asleep at work is a bad idea? That’s what you’re telling me?

-The government is testing a top-secret torture weapon on me that wakes people up as soon as they fall asleep for no discernible reason**

Possible Effects Of This Disorder:

-**Paranoia, but I’m sure I don’t have that.

-Hallucinations. Those damn green elephants. I thought that was a dream.

-Impaired functionality during daytime hours. “Oh hi… this is [Lady Snark]. Wait a sec… I didn’t mean to call you.”

-Eventual death. Well, we all have to go somehow.

This is, in a word, not fun.

Okay, so that’s two words.

Give me a break, I’m really sleepy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Baby Got Published!

Remember the self-congratulatory/egomaniac entry I mentioned? Here it is.

It’s true.

A person (who was no doubt drinking heavily at the time) actually read my stuff and thought to herself, “Hey, that’s pretty good! Lady Snark is one hell of a writer! I think I’ll publish this and pay her for it!”

And no, that person was not me. Of course, I do pay myself to write and praise myself copiously, because I have an ego the size of Montana. But somehow, it’s just different when someone else has these thoughts about you.

My friend Kelly and I have been writing together for months now. Our shared interests in personal finance and writing, plus the fact that we’re almost too cool to function, threw us into the following chain of events:

-I think to myself, “Hey, I like to write and balance a checkbook, mainly because I’m a freak of nature. Also, I am young. I should write about money for other young people!”

-I meet Kelly on a money message board devoted to personal finance, on which I have been posting for over a year. I decide that she is cool.

-I learn that she is my age, also likes to write, and has in fact published her writing in the past. I decide that she is cooler than me.

-The food processor of my mind takes this information, mashes it up, and produces the following thought: Kelly and I should write personal finance articles for young people together! A little butterfly flaps his wings…

-I share my idea with Kelly. She likes it and thinks we will work well together. I decide that her coolness, much like mine, cannot be measured.

-Kelly and I write a mess of articles about finance. Because we both have a work ethic and the ability to type really fast, we soon have more material than we know what to do with (100+ pages).

-We begin submitting our work to the editors of MSN.com, which is the website with which we’re most familiar and believe we have the best shot. Excitement and New York Times Bestseller fantasies ensue.

-Weeks go by. We do not hear back from MSN.com. Happiness does not ensue.

-Kelly is a rock star and gets herself published in a local paper. Then she gets a cover article. I am simultaneously pleased for her and concentrating on keeping my jealous rage under wraps.

-Kelly uses her considerable persuasive powers (I suspect hypnosis was involved) on a mutual friend of ours from the same message board, and convinces her what a good idea it would be to have us writing a mini-financial column for her website, SparkNotes.

-Said mutual friend agrees to take a look at our work.

-Said mutual friend likes our work! She is just amazingly cool. Shows it to her editor.

-Editor likes our work! Agrees to publish a weekly advice column and a bi-monthly mini-financial column! We are officially freelance writers!

-Kelly and I do a happy dance! With multiple exclamation points! Yes, of course a happy dance can have proper punctuation!

-We run around telling our friends and family that we have a column. Happiness ensues.

-And today, holiest of all holy days, our first column is published.

Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the world premiere of…

SNARK BITE!

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Am Not Pregnant, And Other Great News

“And I’m FREE! FREE FALLING!”

-Really annoying Tom Petty song from the 90’s that made my eardrums mutiny whenever I heard it

OR

-the Stock Market as of last night

Yes, I am sure this is probably one of the happiest days of Richard Fuld’s life, right up there with his eighth birthday (when his mom planned the amazing party with the clown that ended up murdering his three best friends) or his wedding day (when his bride-to-be ran off with the groomsman).

No, this is not a happy day for anyone with even a passing interest in the United States economy. The dollar might as well be an empty Snickers bar wrapper for all the value it holds at the moment, the federal government finally decided to put its foot down after the damage had basically been done, and AIG needs to somehow come up with a few more (40 billion) dollars which, oddly, no one is clamoring to give them.

Gotta love how this great big grizzly bear of an economy can be traced pretty much directly back to the housing crisis. As a nation, we have the money management skills of a drunk toddler in a toy store, which seems to be catching up with us at long last.

And me? I’m feeling a bit under the weather this morning. See title.

Beats the alternative though!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Some Heart Stopping Terror With Your Moonlight Swim?

As firmly as I believe that the universe should always work in accordance with what is convenient and/or pleasant for me, alas, such is not the case.

I promised an entry Wednesday which would detail my recent accomplishment. And I had every intention of following through on that promise. I wrote the self-congratulatory entry and everything. All was set to go.

Then I found out that my brilliant achievement (I should probably quit talking it up as though I cured cancer) would be delayed for a week.

This is unfortunate, but at least it’s still happening.

As nothing else in my life is currently blog-worthy, I look to an anecdote from my recent road trip with BP, a very nice guy who apparently gets his jollies from scaring me half out of my wits.

We were driving from Massachusetts to Vermont, on our way to a campsite we were hoping to reach before dark and thus avoid putting up the tent by headlight as we did the first time. (Never do that.) It was mid-afternoon, a very warm and sunny day, and it felt good to be on the road with the windows down and some quality music playing. It was like if Bambi were a road trip.

Then we drove past a quarry. The nation’s oldest quarry, to be exact.

If you’ve never been to a quarry before, they can be really gorgeous swimming spots and there are a lot of different ways you can get killed. They are basically rocks with big man-made holes that are made to remove minerals or rock for building materials.

Over time, they often fill up with water, creating a sort of marble pool.

Of course, we had to get out of the car and check this out.

Of course, it was decided that we would need to go swimming.

In a rare (you have no idea) moment of sensibility, BP and I decided to find the campsite and put up the tent before our swimming shenanigans. This was smart, because our campsite had a lot of twisty turns in it, and we would never have found it if we’d waited until nightfall. Especially with no headlights.

Then we went to the grocery store to procure supplies for our picnic dinner by said quarry.

INGREDIENTS FOR A PICNIC DINNER BY A QUARRY:

-Bread. If you forget, manna will be provided, but it will not taste as good as fresh French bread.

-Cheese. Stinky and with spots is the way to go, according to BP. I picked out some sharp cheddar for myself. Much safer.

-Wine. We sort of skipped this one, but only because we happened to be in Vermont, which is apparently the Mecca of cheap liquor. Earlier in the day we had purchased at least $100 worth of booze, which was already in the trunk.

-Fruit. Grapes and apples are good, because they are not messy.

-Peanut butter and honey or jam.

-Hummus. The secret ingredient. Before this picnic, I had tasted hummus once or twice, and it simultaneously reminded me of mud (texture) and Kleenex (taste). Just to be sure, I added a bit of salt. Then it tasted like salty Kleenex mud. Hummus is made of mashed up garbanzo beans. Left to its own devices, it is some nasty, bland shit. If you mess with it enough, however, you get the radiant sandwich spread to which I have decided to consecrate my life.

The kind that BP picked out was “Tomato Basil Squish” (or somesuch). It looked revolting, but I agreed to try it (mainly to silence those pesky “you are the pickiest eater I’ve ever met” accusations).

It’s hard to talk about this without getting emotional. Just trust me. Once I put it on my bread, my life was never the same again. You can find it in your local grocery store—check the “Odd Things That Look Nasty But Aren’t” aisle.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, as we didn’t eat until after we swam. We arrived at the quarry around twilight. The heat of the day was basically gone, and though it wasn’t cold by any means, the prospect of being submerged in icy water was, shall we say, a little less inviting than it had been four hours prior.

But BP and I didn’t get to where we are in life by fretting about these things, so we set up our picnic nearby, took off our outer clothing, and stood at the quarry’s edge, contemplating deep concepts like God and Frostbite.

BP may be the more fearless eater of the two of us (similar to the way a Great Dane may be a little bigger than a Chihuahua), but in terms of sheer nerve, I am way ahead of him, as the following sequence of events clearly demonstrates.

-(Speaking of dogs), there is a little tiny white dog whose owner is standing on the bank of the quarry, fully dressed, with a smirky expression on her face that clearly connotes that she does not intend to get in the water and is completely ready to mock anyone that does. She keeps throwing a Frisbee onto the water, which her dog is supposed to chase down and retrieve (you dog owners are familiar with this game; I think they call it “catch”). Of course the dog is happy as a clam—dogs have no temperature control, so they don’t know any better. Anyway, we stand there watching this little hound make the jump-in-and-swim process look soooo easy for a few minutes.

-I decide that I am not going to be outdone by a freaking dog.

-I jump into the water.

-OMG THAT WAS SUCH A BAD IDEA!!!

-Cold. Cold. Coldcoldfuckcoldcoldcoldcoldcoldicycold.

-I scream for awhile.

-BP laughs. Mistake.

-I climb out of the water. Merciful heaven. The air is warm. I am not a dog. I am a person. I do not have fur. What in. God’s name. Was I thinking. People are not meant to swim. No fur. No swim. I do not have fur.

-I go right up behind BP.

-I strategically place my hands in front of me and push.

-BP falls into the water. It may or may not have been a direct result of what I did.

-BP comes up screaming. I laugh. Karma’s a bitch.

-I get back in the water. It is not quite so bad this time. We swim.

-Eventually hypothermia sets in and the temperature is very pleasant. We swim some more.

-There is a waterfall. There are big rocks. We jump off them. Again, I go first.

So as I said, I think this conclusively proves who’s got the bigger garbanzo beans, so to speak.

Anyway, while we were swimming around, BP told me about quarries. How they were made, and so forth.

Then he added, probably as revenge, the following interesting tidbit:

People die in quarries fairly regularly during construction and their bodies are left there.

Gulp.

“Uh, haha, so does that mean there might be some dead bodies in this quarry where we’re swimming right now?”

“No.”

Whew. Thank God.

“It means there are definitely dead bodies in this quarry where we’re swimming right now.”

Some of you may remember that I don’t handle the idea of buried bodies particularly well. Plus, whether you admit it or not, you’ve read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and you remember the scene with the lake and the Inferi as well as I do.

Suddenly I felt something brush my leg.

“Uh, I think I’m going to get out now. I’m uh, getting cold. Yeah. And hungry.”

“Don’t you want to swim over to the island?” BP asked.

Malicious male. There’s a reason the first three letters of those words are the same.

Kids, this is peer pressure at its finest.

“Um, well, okay. But then I’m getting out.”

We swam. Island was pretty. All I could think about were dead bodies floating beneath me. One of the rocks had a bump covered in moss, and I thought it was a decaying finger. I nearly lost my marbles.

Did I mention that by this time it was dark?

I managed to escape from the Quarry of Death without becoming one of Them.

I brought with me a brand new shiny resolution not to do mean things to people who carry disturbing information in their heads.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Run, Forrest, Run!

I went running yesterday.

No, not from the cops and not on a dare.

I did it voluntarily. For real.

Why is this? Well, a few days ago I was on Facebook (fantastic invention, that—allows you to easily keep track of just how far behind your peers you really are), and I began chatting with an old friend of mine from high school.

Me: So what’s going on in your life?

OFOMFHS: Oh, not too much… just working and training for my marathon!

Me: …

OFOMFHS: Yeah, it’s in a couple months! I am having a lot of fun. I ran 19 miles this morning.

Me: …

OFOMFHS: You still there?

Me: Just dying a little bit inside, OFOMFHS.

OFOMFHS: Haha, why?

Me: Well, the last time I ran was a few weeks ago when I was drunk and thought I was being chased. You are much cooler than me. I am very impressed.

OFOMFHS: Aw, thanks. Well, I’m very impressed at your [RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENT OF WHICH I AM ACTUALLY PROUD AND WHICH I WILL WRITE ABOUT TOMORROW ASSUMING ALL GOES ACCORDING TO PLAN].

Me: I guess that is okay. If we’re both impressed with each other, the Circle of Life is complete.

Now, I know what some of you may be thinking as you read this little exchange. “Wow, Lady Snark is so insecure that she needs to compare herself to her OFsFHS?”

The answer is, yes. Also jealous. Don’t forget jealous.

This is the ugly side of only-child syndrome (I say that like there’s an attractive side). I like to be number one, the star, the center of attention, the winner. If someone beats me at something, I feel small inside.

And my friend being capable of running twenty six miles in a span of time shorter than, oh, fifteen years—while I am an unequivocal couch potato who used to be semi-active in various sports and now consider intense physical activity to be taking the stairs instead of the elevator to my fifth-floor apartment—definitely qualifies as beating me. Like a cheap piñata.

Don’t get me wrong: I am happy for my friend, as well as deeply impressed. I could not run that far on a death march. It’s very cool that she can run a marathon.

But the very natural, predictable result of this discovery was as follows: Hey, I want to run a marathon!

I crack myself up. Literally. By the time I was done laughing at that one, I’d broken a rib. Me running a marathon? Maybe if they don’t consider driving to be cheating.

However, the basic idea of running for fun wasn’t so crazy. The more I thought about it, the more it sounded like a capital idea. This shows how delusional I can be in the throes of jealousy.

But nonetheless, I decided to give it a shot.

So when I got home from work yesterday, I got right down to business. I knew that if I sat down at my computer or started fixing a snack, it would be all over. The Lazy would set in again, laughing with childlike glee, and by tomorrow I’d have given up on the whole idea.

The timeline of the next half hour was as follows:

6:10 pm: Change out of suit and pull back hair. Gel causes hair to stick straight up behind headband. Looks stupid. Pause long enough to lay out work clothes neatly on couch. Don iPod, the running-girl’s best friend.

6:13 pm: Leave apartment. Wait for elevator.

6:13 pm: Elevator is taking too long. Grow impatient. Remember that I am supposed to be working out. Take stairs.

6:14 pm: Arrive in front of apartment. Contemplate how to run in an unfamiliar neighborhood (yes, I’ve lived here for two years and yes, it’s an unfamiliar neighborhood) without getting hopelessly lost. Decide to run around the block until I get tired.

6:15 pm: Begin run. Yay! This is fun! I like this downward-sloping part!

6:14 pm: Turn corner. Road begins slanting uphill. Oh.

6:18 pm: Still going strong. If by “strong” I mean “I am such a wuss, but it’s been three minutes and I have not yet given up, damn it.”

6:20 pm: Merciful heaven. The road is slanting downhill again. My, this is a big block. I wonder how far it is. Am I going to get lost?

6:21 pm: There’s my apartment! I am not lost! I decide to go around a second time.

6:21 pm: Oh dear, is that a cramp? I continue. No pain, no gain.

6:23 pm: I reach the end of the block. I am in agony. Cramp. Crampcrampcrampcramp. I contemplate walking, then tell myself I am here to RUN and to stop being such a wuss.

6:23 pm: Still running. Upward. Cramp is getting worse. Begin to ponder idea of self-flagellation.

6:23 pm: I begin walking.

6:25 pm: I have reached the corner where the downhill slope starts again. Yippee. I begin running again. My good friend Crampy is still along for the ride, but I have already decided that twice around this long, long block is more than enough for my first day out.

6:27 pm: I turn the last corner… home stretch… I am a MARATHON RUNNER… except not.

6:28 pm: Reach apartment. Hey, that was fun! Check stopwatch (another handy iPod feature). I was running for… wow… okay… a whole 12 minutes! Go me!

6:28 pm: Get in elevator. Sweat bullets. Discover that I do not enjoy sweating.

6:30 pm: Shower time!

So the whole procedure took less than twenty minutes. That was pretty painless. Except for the agonizing cramp. Those will go away once I start doing this more regularly, right?

Oh yes, my friends, I am going again tonight. And the next night. And the night after that. Why? Because, to quote someone who once sang this, it hurt so good! I felt fantastic afterward! My legs hurt and everything! My breathing took an hour to return to normal! Like I had really accomplished something! And darn it, if I only have to work out for twelve minutes a day to get that feeling, then I will part with twelve minutes a day. Imagine how I’d feel after twenty minutes.

I refuse to speculate past that point because I think thirty would more than likely kill me.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Shoo Fly, Or There Will Be Serious Consequences

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Nice sound, right? Kind of like if a chain saw was a musical instrument that only played one note. Now add the weird light smacking noise that comes from an insect flopping back and forth between blinds like a Pong ball, and you’ve got yourself a regular orchestra my friend.

I don’t know what this insect was. A mosquito, possibly, or a really oddly-shaped praying mantis. A flying cockroach—look, it was big and it was loud and it was in my room last night. That is all you need to know.

I keep my apartment meticulously neat. Not on the order of Monk or anything, but I like things generally orderly and pleasing to the eye and un-smelly. I find it incredibly unfair that I still get bugs even with all my preventive measures, which do include exorcism.

But alas, bugs are a part of city life (if I recall correctly, they are also a part of suburban life, even in my mother’s surgically clean kitchen, so there’s basically no cure for this atrocious aspect of sentience). I do the traps (ick). I do the sprays. I even specially request that the person who fumigates our building come and do my room separately twice a month. I never leave food out and I put everything that could be remotely considered food inside my fridge, unless they are unopened and basically impenetrable, like soup cans.

And still I cannot escape them. So be it.

The cacophony started around 2:30 am this morning. I was awake, which is unusual even for me, but I was having a conversation with someone via text message. Before I knew it, the lovely symphony described above was all I could focus on. It started in low, then it started to grow, as Mr. Grinch would say.

I did not have my contacts in, and I was half asleep. I knew that my chances of hitting this tiny mutant were slim to none, and I was “too tired to care.” So I decided to ignore it.

Which I did, for about 30 seconds. Then I could stand no more.

How did I rectify my vision/alertness problem?

I didn’t even try to aim.

I pulled the blinds up.

Reallyreallyfast.

Let’s just say there was a crunch and then a thud and now the problem is no more.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Satan Wears A T-Shirt

How evil? So evil. It’s gotten to the point where I—and I think I speak for every New Yorker here—throw up in my mouth a little when I see this hideous image on the street.

And since this image is more ubiquitous than teenage girls at a Backstreet Boys concert (yes, I know that reference is a little dated but cut me a break here—I try to stay as far removed from that world as I possibly can without being on another physical planet, and I know the Backstreet Boys only because I was a teenage girl when they were hip, and thus absorbed a little of the auditory cruelty by purely involuntary osmosis), you can no doubt deduce that I spend a lot of time popping antacid tablets like M&Ms.

By the way, it’s not just on T-shirts. Oh no. The makers of this brilliant little icon (does anyone know who they are, by the way? I’d like to have them dragged into the street and shot, then burned in a pile of I “Heart” NY T-shirts. Or would that be overkill?) have somehow managed to work that image into every conceivable tourist item, including:

-Stationary (“Oh yeah honey, we got your letter, but Daddy accidentally left it too close to the lighter fluid while he was barbequing. Ha ha! Isn’t Daddy silly?”)

-Cattle brands (“A Taste Of New York”)

-Condoms (pretty much guarantees you’ll never get laid by a New Yorker)

-Kleenex

-Cell phones (ringtone: the “I Love You, You Love Me” song by Barney)

-“Business cards”

-M&Ms (it’s really, really small, but it’s on there)

-Spray tattoos (I have also seen it on real ones, God help us all)

-Window stickers (bring the tourism home to Kentucky!)

-Fake nail polish for little girls (the stick-on kind)

-Keyboards (hopefully you’re a good typist, because every character was replaced by the icon)

-The Statue of Liberty (you have to get up close to see it, but it’s there, millions of times. Kind of a Magic Eye sort of thing)

-Magic Eye posters

Okay, maybe that last one was just a feverish part of a particularly gruesome nightmare. But I’m pretty sure about the others existing.

Some initial thoughts:

1. I don’t know who said, “A fool and his money are soon parted,” but I would guess that it was one of the creators of this icon on the day of its conception, and he was probably rubbing his hands together and laughing so hard tears were running down his face as he said it.

2. Since no one who lives here would ever be caught dead in one of these monstrosities, it makes it really easy to spot the tourists. However, that hasn’t done us much good since New York outlawed that sweet "as long as they’re being REALLY annoying and taking WAY too many pictures of tall buildings and you run away REALLY fast” exception to the murder rule.

3. However, think about this, New York Tourists. That heart is designed to sit right on top of your actual anatomical heart. Do you want to wear such a wanton target right on your body? No, of course you don’t.

4. Question—what happens to these shirts after you go home? I assume they go where all the other embarrassing, “I Got The Crabs At Big Dick’s” vacation T-shirts go to die, the back of your closet. When you see it there, does it assault you with warm fuzzy vacation memories the way a bookie assaults your knees with a baseball bat? Or does it inspire you to take a moment and really examine your drinking habits?

5. Since I’m totally convinced that Satan wears one of these things even on days when he goes to court (to the Prince of Darkness, what's not to "heart"?), doesn’t that mean that we should immediately arrest everyone wearing one and take them in for questioning until we find the right fallen angel? Please?

Just a little tip, people: If you want to go around New York dressed appropriately (in the sense of not making everyone around you want to accidentally shove you into oncoming traffic), there’s one simple rule you need to follow: Wear black. Lots of it. Even in July. That’s how New Yorkers dress. That’s how decent people who visit our fair city SHOULD dress. You should blend in so that we don't know you're here. No one needs to know you're here. Let's just keep it an appalling secret.

And if you’re wearing this T-shirt underneath your black sweater, I don’t want to know about it.