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?


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 cafĂ© 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.


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


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.


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.


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!!