Saturday, December 30, 2006

What is the Appropriate Level of Irritation?

Look, it's a coffee shop and so people should be allowed to engage in conversation. Right? It's not like we're at a library. If I were in a restaurant with other people, I wouldn't necessarily hear other people's conversations because I would be involved in my own. But...I don't really want to listen to two people hold court on the state of education for children today.

Large woman with two colored hair, a black lace shirt, and a matching fat baby: "I definitely encourage you to um...think about how if a child's behavior is negative over and over, something is reinforcing that."
Thin man, black knit cap, blue camoflague pants, long shaggy goatee and moustache, blue bracelet like tattoo on his wrist, and small round glasses. HATE HIM: "I am really interested in the possibility of pursuing an educational resource for small kids." (Sips coffee).

That's not the best example of the dialogue, b/c I'm just typing what they're saying right now. I did hear her say, I don't believe there are bad children. I believe there are bad circumstances. Now she's giving an example of how she taught her son? daughter? Jessie to dress appropriately for the season instead of wearing his/her pajamas to school in the winter. Why does this kind of thing bother me so much? Well, for one thing, he just snapped his fingers to make a point.

Two Days Left Until Your Entire Life Changes

That is because of this well-known phenomenon known as "New Year's Resolutions" wherein you make a list of all the things you'd like to improve or things to stop doing or start doing or do more or less often. I tend to do well with resolutions when they are fairly manageable. For instance, I have kept three promises to myself, all having to do with personal hygiene and health. I now take a multi vitamin every day, wash my face with soap, and apply face lotion (this last one is all due to Miss Liz McElroy, who persuaded me to buy Vitamin E lotion in the Body Shop or somewhere. I haven't looked back since and boy is my skin moisturized!). It's the more intimidating promises that I never keep. I believe that every year, I write "learn to cook." The closest I've ever come to meeting that challenge is consistently listing it as something I should do.

Meet up with KSK people at Ludwig's last night and I forced them to make their own lists. I wrote Shawn's myself. And you may notice that I have taken some liberty with these, adding other things to people's lists when I felt it appropriate:

  1. Smoke less or possibly even quit altogether.
  2. Love Stuart (his cat).
  3. Give Liz more $ (my addition).
  4. Learn a new skill (he completed this resolution immediately by learning how to text message from his cell phone).
  5. Be more social (I added that because while he was learning this new skill, he wasn't talking to anyone).
  6. Do something risky.

Marty (he wasn't really into this, as you will see):
  1. Exercise every day.
  2. Buy a yoga mat rather than stealing Marian's.
  1. Lose weight (she and her work friends have joined three months of Weight Watchers. She was already able to inform us that the piece of fried cheese or whatever it was Shawn ordered was probably worth 5 w.w. points).
  2. Be more engaged in friends lives.
  3. Learn a new language (I suggested Persian, but she narrowed it down to sign language).
  4. Meet some deaf people (my idea).
  5. Meet a man who appreciates you for you!!!!
  6. Upgrade kitchen appliances--specifically by buying more Cephalon.
  7. Teach others to appreciate country music.
  8. Accessorize outfits with fringe more to get people excited about country music.
  9. Learn to knit.
  1. Furnish new apartment.
  2. Throw a housewarming party requesting gifts to furnish new apartment.
  3. Become sane.
  4. Get a kitten (my idea).
  5. Go out on 5 dates with 5 different women.
  6. Improve work Web site.
  7. Beat up Marty.
  8. Buy a new watch.
  9. Don't go to strip clubs with credit cards.
  10. Don't fall asleep on the train and wake up at the 69th street station.
  11. Decide what to do with your life.
  12. Travel but don't move away.
  13. Buy new glasses (I suggested heavy framed tortoiseshell).
  1. Brush teeth more often.
  2. Clean the house.
  3. Clean the litter box like once.
  4. Be less stingy (Frank added that which I think hurt Shawn's feelings).
  5. Calm down.
  6. Be nicer to Aimee.
  1. Save $.
  2. Write every day.
  3. Stick to a budget.
  4. Birth the kittens.
  5. Exercise 3 times a week or more.
  6. Drink less.
  7. Knit something not square.
  8. Use my sewing machine.
  9. Water plants.
  10. Learn to cook!!!
  11. Floss.
Shawn's list for me:
  1. Get pregnant (though he didn't specify by whom).
  2. Add two more cats to the house.
  3. Get a promotion.
  4. Be a better girlfriend (oh, okay, that's one down).
Look! A new kitty for us:

Friday, December 29, 2006

Coffee, computer, and a new bank account!

I took the train downtown with Shawn today and am now sitting in a very orange coffee shop/bank. They have a flat screen TV playing CNN and music that's too loud. The screens of the computers are positioned in such a way that you will have a terrible neck ache if you go past the thirty minute time limit. I'm already starting to experience vertigo.

Today reminded me that I wish I still took the train to work. The people watching is great--we saw no fewer than 5 Ali G. look alikes in our car alone (I also saw two different men today blowing snot out of their noses onto the sidewalk. WHY is this okay? Does this behavior have to do with testosterone? I have never seen a woman do this unless she was on the last two miles of a marathon). Another thing about the train is the intimacy of it; public transportation is really the only time you're that close to people you don't know. You can read the titles of the books they're reading, hear the music on their Walkmans, observe their shaving nicks, gray hairs, ragged fingernails, low hanging jeans, smell the shampoo on someone's still wet head, watch people fall asleep, and today, there were three people sitting together and one of the guys suddenly pulled a large soft pretzel out of his pocket and divided it into three parts to share with his friends. Just reminds you that you're in the city. When I drive to work, I'm all by myself and am not paying much attention to what's around me except for other cars and traffic lights. At the end of the day, I drive home and go inside for the night. An entire week can pass without me remembering I live in Philadelphia. My world consists of Temple and Fishtown. I guess I could start taking the bus but I don't like it as much as the train. We might be moving offices and so the Number 3 would drop me off right where I need to be. We'll see what happens.

God, this music sucks: ("My father took me to the city when I was young and he said when you grow up will you defeat them, your demons and all the nonbelievers, the plans that they have made. Because one day, I'll leave you, a phantom, to lead you in the summer to join the black parade.") Pair these lyrics with a repetitious, slow, four note tune. And now they've burst into a drum filled cock rock sound. "Will carry on...will carry on...will carry on." Is this a religious song? Am I in a bank that serves coffee, offers the use of a computer, and brainwashes you to love Jesus? I feel like every mainstream guy band now sounds like Third Eye Blind (?) or Hanson with heavy guitar.

Okay, maybe I'll write more later when I get back to Fishtown and go to the one coffee shop in a twenty mile radius.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ten days without blog feels like a decade

How have I survived without writing down the miniscule details of my life? Christmas has come and gone again and I am thankful not to have to hear the incessant sound of holiday music for another 8 months (since radio stations start playing Christmas music immediately after labor day). Among many other things, Mom got me a sewing machine and sewing scissors in a clean metal box. and I promise I will actually try to use it, even if only to make pillows. Shawn bought me a pair of really nice earrings I wanted when we went to the NABR Fishtown auction. He also gave me Amy Sedaris' book, I Like You and will be taking me to get a bra fitting in Manayunk since I don't think I've worn the right size brassiere since I got my first one in third grade (not really. It was sixth grade). I told Amanda about it and she said she went to the same place and warned me not to wear a bra I like to the fitting. When Amanda went, the fitter woman forced her to throw away her comfortable cotton bra and wouldn't let her fish it out of the garbage can.

I honestly don't have anything of interest to say. Just went to Circle Thrift and received a compliment on the earrings Shawn got me by some Main Line-looking girl. Many of the people who shop at CT appear to have mild to severe retardation. What does that say about me? One of the things I frequently think of when I'm there is what if you worked in a store and absolutely hated the sound of people pushing the hangers back? You would go crazy. It's not a sound I like and I can imagine that I would have to grit my teeth and tell the customers to be more quiet with the hangers.

Okay, I'm in Rocket Cat and there's a bearded, flannel shirt wearing hipster dude sitting next to me who is knitting something green. And he appears straight. Totally hot. Now he is going out to smoke a cigarette. His yarn is on the floor--oh, wait, he's not knitting, he's crocheting. Less hot. He's back in now and has run into some friends. His name is Patrick. All the little hipsters know each other. Most all of the girls have side ways fringe bangs and often wear pigtails and braids. The mean barrista has been very nice lately and in fact smiled once. I am sure it sucks to make bagles all day, particularly when you are somewhat captive. The other day when I was in here, some guy was asking her about her religious faith. She said, I'm an atheist. He said, But how can you live like that? I forget her answer, but I mean, that's none of his business and she can't escape him though she could throw scalding hot coffee in his face. I am suspicious that someone who works here does a daily Internet search for Rocket Cat and has read my blog and told her about it. Do I really think I have that much influence in the world? Yes, I do. Oh, God, she's wheeling her bike in right now. If someone does read this, are they puzzled trying to figure out which of the customers is writing this? If so, I am the nice quiet girl who tips well and does not have bangs or braids. I also don't wear tight-legged dark jeans or ride my bicycle to the coffee shop in a black knit hat. Now I've given myself away. P.S. Santa picture is courtesy of Shawn.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Li'l Pregnant Orphan

I think we have discovered why this new girl kitty is so friendly. She appears to be pregnant. She has all the signs. She's very friendly, her nipples are starting to appear, she's hungry and sleeps a lot, and she has somewhat of a Buddha belly. She will most likely hatch 2 dozen kittens in our bed while we are at work. I still think she has about six weeks to go though.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

News Flash: Riding Your Bike in the City Provides Greater Mobility

I just discovered this morning that I can get to Northern Liberties on my creaky British-made bike from Shawn in less than ten minutes. It's a whole new world over here in Liberties Walk.

Fishtown: One coffee shop that serves burnt coffee, has slow service, and plays the same whiny emo music over and over.

NL: I'm sitting in Shot Coffee--a clean and friendly place that give you gigantic cups of good coffee and plays contemporary, slightly pop though nevertheless upbeat music. They have a bowl of water set out for the dogs that may visit with their people.

Fishtown: Good luck tying your bike up to a dying and lonesome tree.

NL: Bike rack.

Fishtown: Stray, starved dogs roam the streets in ragged packs. Abandoned cats dart across the road.

NL: Just petted the biggest, fattest black dog I've ever seen tied up outside one of the stores. He is obvioulsy too well-fed.

Fishtown: Streets and curbs are lined with a thin layer of trash.

NL: Wide streets, trees, and clean sidewalks.

Fishtown: The only place to shop is Circle Thrift. The only places to eat are the many corner delis.

NL: I'm in a shopping area that has a pet store, several restaurants, and a few quirky (though overpriced) boutiques and art stores.

Fishtown: The numerous dive bars are not divey in a diverse way--where you have the old school people and the hipsters . The bar two blocks down from us features mostly the local alcoholics. The last time I was there, someone passed out face down on the floor. No one really seemed to notice or be surprised. It was like, Oh, there goes Bob again. I ended up talking to a couple and the woman had the most crossed-eyes I've ever seen. I didn't know which eye to look into--each was pointing in its own direction and neither was looking straight ahead. It is not unlikely that you could get into a fist fight with a drunk regular.

NL: In the restaurants, they have both food and bars.

God, I sound like a total jerk--superficial and snotty. But honestly, it's depressing to live in a place that is extremely poor, violent, poorly educated, and ravaged by various forms of addiction. It's not the fault of the people living there; the city does exactly nothing to improve the conditions. There are no parks, very few trees, no library, no retail, and too many bars.

Here is a typiccl photograph of Fishtown:

Here is a photo from Northern Liberties:

We cannot afford to live in NL, however. I can barely afford to shop here.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Dealing with Fans and Street Recognition

I am preparing myself for the inevitable growth in my popularity and general fame across the United States and probably also in Germany. It's going to be difficult sneaking out the back of our house, and climbing the fence to avoid the throngs of fans outside of my front door. I have purchased a blond wig, gigantic sunglasses, and a floppy hat--did not wear them out today, as people in this neighborhood are slow to catch on to the latest thing. It's the same old story--person gets book published from small academic press that circulates three hundred copies on obscure Web sites and her life is never the same due to the overwhelming response of the nation.

I am in Rocket Cat again, listening to the inane conversation between the barrista (not the mean one; this girl is nice, she's just loud) and a slight bearded kid in a hoodie. The girl is one of those people with a big voice who periodically does something really theatrical liking yelling, Ta-da! when she pulls a bagel out of the toaster. She just said, I was going to mean to people today and not talk to anyone but I just can't do it! He said, I know! It's not in your personality. (And also, it's kind of your job). Girl: "Is your dad British? Does he ever want to go back to the Motherland?" She thinks she's clever but she isn't.

We're supposed to buy a Christmas tree today, but Shawn has also had a hell week and so doesn't feel like doing much of anything. I have most of my shopping done, but not all. I can't stand to leave things until the last minute, though I will most likely put off cleaning the house as long as possible.

Woke up yesterday to find a kitty cat nesting in our window flowerbox. I opened the door, thinking it would scare the cat away, but she leaped out and over the mailbox to butt her head against me. I immediately had to bring her in. Shawn was irritated but also intrigued to see how the other cats would react. Henri hissed and hid, of course, and Ernesto trailed after her, curious. (I think she's a she). She didn't mind--was just happy to be inside and given some food and water. Like Ernesto when we first got him, she immediately fell asleep in the ghetto box top bed with towels in it. This morning, I came back from Circle Thrift to find the cat curled up in Shawn's lap. He's a sucker. He wants to call her Eleanor. She is an Eleanor. She isn't that cute, but has cool orange eyes and meows like Gretel did. We are not keeping her, I don't think. Please ask around to see if anyone wants a cat. Three is just three too many. Stop us before we become this:

Oh, shit, the mean barissta just wheeled her bike inside. Maybe she's just stopping in? She's wearing a self-righteous t-shirt that reads, "I Don't Do Windows and I Don't Do Drugs."

Padhraig is moving to Philadelphia today, or he did yesterday or something. He got a tenure track job in New Jersey and so now he will be within a five mile radius of us. I am sure we will never see each other. That's what happens when someone moves closer, you find it easier to put off seeing them since they're nearby and you can kind of visit them any time. We are going to a party with him and Carrie tonight. I'm attempting to steal all of Carrie's friends (and turn them against her).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'd Like to Offer Sincere Congratulations To Myself

Got a call on Tuesday afternoon from some woman with a soft Southern accent telling me that I won the Katherine Anne Porter literary prize for fiction. I was like, Oh, that sounds good. I thought she meant that one of my short stories won a prize. I send out work sporadically and so couldn't remember what I'd given them. She said, So your book of short stories will be published by the University of North Texas Press this fall and we'd also like to invite you to give a reading here. I get some prize money and royalties on every book sold. Please buy many, many and give them to your friends and neighbors. As well as entertaining reading, the book can serve as an excellent door stop. The other cool thing is tha I get to pick or suggest my own book cover. It has to be really, really good for all the shallow people like myself who actually do choose books based on their cover. Just an aside: what does the word "japed" mean?

I also get to choose a back cover photograph of myself. Nick Kelsh, a professional photographer we work with, has agreed to take the picture so now I'm investigating what other authors do. A few more ideas:

Monday, December 11, 2006

It has come to this

I am now for sure a person who posts numerous photos of her cat. It's not totally my fault--Shawn continues to take them. I feel bad for Henri, the red-headed stepchild, who is often neglected and made fun of for his fatness. Still, admire the cuteness that is Ernesto.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

I Have Found Jesus

He was in my old shoebox.

I do not have an update for One Tree Hill because Carrie was over last night and we talked and talked. One of the things I did observe in passing is that it's difficult to distinguish the teenagers from the parents. Many times did I wonder why that one blond woman was walking down the hallway in the high school. I first assumed that she was there to attend a PTA meeting, but then she put on a cheerleading outfit and so I guess she's meant to be a student. Perhaps there was a plot line I missed where she was a high school drop-out who decided to pull her life back together at 30 and enrolled in high school. Or maybe she's an undercover cop posing as a student in order to bust the rampant popper problem at the school. I vaguely recall from this episode--oh, yes, now I remember! After replaying the ridiculous events from the final five minutes of last week's show, they opened with a scene from It's a Wonderful Life. For the rest of the time, Bobby or Chad or Tiger or whatever his name is--the kid who had the heart attack last week, walks around the town with an old dead friend (his father? his older brother?) who is there to show him what life would be like for everyone in town if he died. Here's the bestest, bestest part: the actor playing the dead character is a guy who never quite made it into the Brat Pack in the 80s. He was in one of my favorite movies, Some Kind of Wonderful and he played the bad guy. He might also have been in Lost Boys, but I'm not sure (I feel like every not-quite-Brat Packer was in Lost Boys). Oh, okay, I obviously haven't been watching the show, but according to IMDB, he was in 55 episodes of One Tree Hill. He had by far the worst sort-of-not-really moustache I've ever seen. It was very faint, like a five o'clock shadow, except only above his upper lip. It looked ridiculous.

Anyway, the whole show was about Chad seeing what life would be like if he were dead and listening to dumb cliches from Craig Sheffer. What would've been awesome is if everyone's life improved drastically after his death, but no, I believe they were all heartbroken, down to the bus driver who knew him in grade school. But, okay, the parallel between this show and It's a Wonderful Life doesn't quite work because the whole point of It's a Wonderful Life is that George (played by one of my favorite old time actors, Jimmy Stuart) thinks his life is worthless and that no one would miss him. He's actually standing on a ledge of a bridge in the beginning, ready to plunge to his death. Seeing what would happen to his family and friends and business partner if he were to die is what saves him because the central conflict is that he thinks he's worthless and the angel shows him that he's not. As far as I can tell from my three episode expertise, Chad has it pretty good and knows it. It's not like he's debating whether he wants to live or die. Right? So, what's the point in showing him how crappy the world would be if his heart gives out? I don't know what happened in the end, but he probably lived or came out of it suddenly while everyone from his high school was gathered around the hospital gurney. They may have mixed movies and had him look around in wonder, saying, "I had the strangest dream. And you were there. And you, and even Toto was there too!"

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

This must be brief

I have 14 thousand meetings today. I hate meetings. No one really wants to be there. I also hate doing interviews (and we have one of those today). It's so fake. It's the worst kind of equivalent of a first date without the meal. I hate asking the stupid questions as much as I ever hated answering them:

Question: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Honest Answer: I have no clue. I don't really have a plan at all. I just really want this job so I can make some money.

Question: What would you say is one of your weaknesses?
Honest Answer: I procrastinate. I like to surf the Web and sometimes feel like work gets in the way of that.

Question: What are your strengths?
Honest Answer: I can tell you pretty much anything you want to know about Paris Hilton.

Question: Why are you interested in leaving your old job?
Honest Answer: I'm bored and want to make more money and I hate my boss.

Question: Why do you want to work at XXX?
Honest Answer: I have no idea. I looked at the homepage for about 5 minutes at midnight last night and so I'm not really sure what this place is about. Also, I can't quite remember what job I'm applying for here. I just randomly sent my resume out to a ton of places.

Question: Why should we hire you?
Answer: You really shouldn't. Knowing me, I wouldn't hire me if I were you.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Have a Heart? Donate it!

I’m trying to write a story about organ donation and it’s impossible. I know a thousand horrible, engrossing stories from working at an OPO. I could write about a family whose three month old baby died of SIDS, about the hostile doctor who didn’t want to pronounce brain death and about the family on the other end—the family with a baby who needed a heart transplant in the next twenty four hours or would likely die. What else? The twenty year old at a football game who kept ingesting something which he thought was innocuous but what actually contains cyanide. If you were to have maybe ten of these things, you would be fine, but he ate them by the handfuls and died. A teenage who accidentally impaled himself on a sharp instrument trying to stimulate himself by sticking it where it shouldn’t have gone. Dozens of pedestrians and bicyclists who weren’t paying attention or driver’s who were talking on their cell phones and didn’t even see it coming. Drug overdoses, suicides, drive by shootings, drownings—you only have a one percent chance of dying from brain death but working at this place made it seem as though it were as ordinary as catching a cold. But it’s not something you can write about—at least not in fiction. I could probably write an essay, but I never actually went into the O.R. to see a donation. I did go out on a case once—an Hispanic family whose mother was brain death. I saw her laying on the hospital bed, looking like an ordinary sleeping person except for the ventilator that keeps the oxygen going in and out and the machine that keeps the heart pumping since the brain can no longer tell the body what to do.

More later.

Friday, December 1, 2006

For KG

My friend is dating a guy who is doing almost everything wrong. I came up with an initial list of things that are immediate deal breakers. You must break up with him if he:

1. Refers to sex as "making love."

2. Burns you a CD with love songs on it and a cover he made himself from scratch ("see the paper? I cut down a tree at my parent's cabin and made it. Then I took a newspaper and carefully scissored out the letters to spell 'Our Love is King' and then I Photoshopped the images on top of all of that. I had to buy Photoshop to do it, but it was worth it").


4. Says "I love you" before you've known each other a minimum of three months.

5. Buys you jewelry--even if it's a Christmas gift. I'm sorry--guys do not know how to pick out jewelry. In fact, I don't even know how to. Same goes for the following Christmas presents: any type of underwear/bra/nightie (ditto anything uber sexual like some type of "costume" or cinnamon jelly that heats up when you add champagne. ), absolutely anything he's made himself (but most specifically a scrapbook of, like, the one photo he's taken of you while you were sleeping with cut-out of his head glued on next to it), anything from the Winnie-the-Pooh collection (but most specifically sweatshirts), something that is way too expensive an inappropriate like say a diamond, a trip to any location outside of a five mile radius, cooking utensils/apron, any appliance, any object that is engraved with your name on it. I think it would be funny if you purposefully got him something totally insulting like a self help book, Co-Dependency and You.

Please add your own.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

One Tree Hill of Dookie

It is probably not fair to snarkily critique a WB show geared toward preteens and it is also probably embarrassing to admit that I even had the channel turned to such a show. However, the other choices included: Some stupid and very aggressive game show led by Captain Kirk, a reality show about fat people, and Jericho which requires that you have been watching it since the season premiere, which I have not. So, while playing Solitaire on the computer, I did have One Tree Hill on in the background. And actually, I faced the same conundrum last week and had it on then too, so I kind of knew what was going on, not like you would need too much background to understand it. Suffice it to say it’s a show about chiseled high school basketball players and their pretty cheerleader girlfriends, all of whom speak and act as though they are thirty-five years old.

Well, apparently, the star player, a black haired hunk we’ll call Tyler (or Ty or Ty-Bo), owes money to some older bad guys who want it back. They have ordered him to throw a bunch of basketball games so that they can make the money through betting on the other team. How there would be a gigantic amount of cash running on a high school basketball team is not explained. These are bad guys. They can pull strings.

Well, Ty threw one of the games and now the team is about to play their last championship game. You can imagine how much is riding on this for every single player of the Benneton Buckaroos. Not to mention the coach, some vaguely recognizable old actor, who is about to retire. If his boys don’t win, he will go into retirement amid a black cloud of shame and failure which will surely lead to alcoholism, male prostitution, and cat abuse.

Ty has a best friend on the team, a thirty five year old blond fox we’ll call Cal (or Cal Bo or Coco). Coco knows about the bad men, and when Ty confesses that he plans to throw the final game, Coco flexes his jaw with emotion and tells Ty that he is going to have to fight him on the court because, gosh-damnit, he is not going to let everyone down like that!

The plot is further complicated by Ty’s wife (???) the sixteen-year-old cheerleader named Taylor who is pregnant with Ty’s baby. During the big game, the other cheerleaders find her on the floor of the girl’s bathroom, having mysterious cramps. No one seems shocked that she’s knocked up; they all rush her to the emergency room and fight with the nurse, telling her that she’s a bitch because she’s too ugly to have ever been a cheerleader. Back at our town, the game has started (meanwhile, nobody notices that all the cheerleaders are missing). It doesn’t matter anyway. There are no less than one hundred-thousand people packed into the high school gym—all fans of the Benneton Buckaroos.

I’m too tired now to go into all of it. Synopsis: they win the big game in the last millisecond (shock!) because Ty finds out he’s having a boy and his young wife innocuously says, It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but I hope our baby boy doesn’t think you’re a loser. So, for the second half of the game, Ty plays his heart out and throws the ball to Coco who makes the three pointer. After the game, Coco finally realizes that he’s in love with this other blond cheerleader (they all look identical except they have slightly different hairdos) named Piper and they kiss with confetti falling on them and literally millions of fans cheering and swarming the gym floor around them.

Cut to: Ty and Taylor walking out of the gymnasium, arm in arm, happy and in love and ready to start their new life when suddenly, some bad guy swerves into them with his car, crashing into Taylor and knocking her unconscious. Then Coco comes running out, sees what has happened and has a heart attack. For real. I may have missed the episode where he has a heart arrhythmia or a hole in is heart, or a baby baboon transplanted heart, because otherwise, I haven’t heard of many teen athletes who have heart attacks out of nowhere. Maybe on the next show, we’ll learn that he’s secretly been snorting crank.

In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with the show. The writing sucks, the plots are the worst kind of teen soap opera crap, and the characters are as interesting as hand puppets. But you have to expect that from the WB (another show I hate is The Gilmore Girls. I hate how the writing is supposedly quirky and funny, but sound smarmy, smug, and irritating).

The two things that make this particular show utterly despicable are the following:

1. In one scene, the ugly teenage announcer says something like, “We’d like to thank our sponsors, Chilis!” And the other ugly teenage girl sings, “I want my baby back, baby back, baby back ribs. Chilis!” Now, a less cynical person might read into this a more symbolic meaning—maybe something to do with the girl whose with child—maybe it’s a way of explaining her own fears and need to have her childhood back while at the same time fearing she may be losing her fetus (“I want my baby back”). Or, you could see it for what it was; the most disgusting example of product placement ever.

2. The entire show is really an MTV video for a different type of product—the fake-Indie bands whose soundtracks attempt to infuse the show with emotion. Every scene had some type of slo-mo-awful-pop-emo soundtrack either humming underneath it or played at full volume as the characters do things in slow motion like sink the final basket to win the game or kiss each other chastely with hands on face, or spit off a balcony. As the credits roll, a voice-over says, Tonight’s music was brought to you by The Afghan HeadWigs, the Black Eyed Susan’s, and Li’l Sad Man. CDs available in stores now.

But you should tune in next week.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Our Houses, Ourselves

We spent the holiday sanding the living and dining room floor. And when I say "we" i really mean "Shawn." I helped move the furniture and pounded the nails into the wood to avoid sparking a fire with the sander, and I helped sweep and sanded for about 15 minutes, but the rest of the time, I sat outside smoking cigarettes and solving Suduko puzzles until it was time to help him move something else. It's back breaking work, especially when you do the edging because you have to crouch over the whole time. Shawn did very well. He wore a mask and kept pretending he was an astronaut by breathing heavily through it (or he might have been pretending to be Darth Vader, I'm not sure).

Above is the living room before--not our decor, but the decor of the previous tenants.
Below are the floors, half not sanded, and half sanded but with no polyurethane

And here is our beautiful new room!

And here I am, not working.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Eat Your Turkey and Shut Up

We are not going to any family outings this week or weekend in celebration of the pilgrims eating a meal with the Indians after invading their continent closely followed by the subsequent slaughter of thousands of Native Americans. Instead, we are at Rocket Cat right now--Shawn using my laptop to research how to repair squeaky floors and I using the coffee shop computer and procrastinating any fiction writing. Tonight, we have reservations for a prix fixe (sp?) dinner at Astro Plane. You get appetizers, entrees, dessert, and coffee for a mere $36 each. Then tomorrow, we will venture to Home Depot to rent a sander and scary the living BeJesus out of the cats by shaving off part of our hardwood floors. I have this great hardcover home book that tells you how to do almost anything to your house short of building your own out of Lincoln Logs. I "oh" and "ah" over the projects, but can never imagine actually hot-gluing embroidered daisies to a handmade shower curtain, no matter how cute the result. Most of the projects are like how to paint a room, how to build a desk, how to put in track lighting, but the chapter called "soft decorating" explains how to make your own sheets, a hanging shoe caddy, pillowcases, a down comforter, seat cushions, tablecloths, etc. But why would you spend ten hours and a good amount of money to measure, cut out, and sew a shoe caddy when you can go to Target and buy one in less than 30 minutes? I suppose it's the satisfaction of DIY, but I am often too impatient for that.

Jess and Scott came in last night and we went to eat at Pura Vida, a byob in Northern Liberties where I had maybe the best penne pasta with shrimp in my life. We talked and talked and talked and drank wine and Jess gave us a yummy smelling candle for a housewarming gift and two pretty decorative pieces from New Hampshire, a belated b-day present. We must go visit them in Pittsburgh soon. It's only a four hour drive; just a little more than driving to State College. We can compare houses and I'm sure we will be jealous.

Okay, have a good Thanksgiving. Right now, I am thankful to be able to sit here with a warm cup of coffee in the company of fellow coffee drinkers with Shawn a few feet away.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I Am a Widowed Bride

Shawn has been gone to Syracuse for work since Tuesday and I remember now what it's like to be single. The up side--I get the whole bed. The down side--no Shawn and no one to play with Ernesto and so he walks on my head and chirps in my ear when he wants me to wake up at 8 a.m. Today, he stepped on my face. It worked; I got out of bed. I'm teaching Ernesto to fetch using this little rubbery mouse we bought in CA. I've been reading this book about how baby animals learn, and the author talks about how, with the right reward system and reinforcement, animals can obey commands. She also writes about how animals learn by watching other animals perform tricks. I know this must be partially true because Henri knows how to sit for a treat and it only took me about three times to get Ernesto to do the same. So, Henri was watching me throw this mouse back and forth and watching Ernesto showered with praise when he returned with the mouse, but then I tried to get Henri to go after it and he was frightened by the mouse and ran away. Not a shock.

Had this story accepted in a journal some time early in the year but I forgot who took it... I would periodically conduct Internet searches to see if it was published online and never found it until today, when I got an email from Passages North. Oh, yeah. That's the one. Some day, I hope someone will pay me for this stuff. It's extremely gratifying to have a story published, but what's the end goal? No one is going to just discover me because I've appeared in Permafrost or whatever. I don't think editors do Web searches specifically for my name just to see what the hell I've been up to. So, must figure out how to send out a short story collection. I have sent it to a couple of contests and was a finalist for one, but that's so competive and you have to pay for them to read it. How do you get a collection published? Please send literary agents my way.

The barrista at Rocket Cat is being very nice to me today. I am suspicious.

Did a little writing yesterday here at RC and then last night for like an hour---got about 2,700 words on another Evie piece called "Evie's Neurosis Explained." I don't now know what to do with it and was thinking today that I should write a story about an adjunct teacher at a small college who ends up having an affair with one of her twenty-one year old undergrad students. It wouldn't be tawdry; it would be sad. Like, I picture a scene where she finds herself at a frat party, standing in line for keg beer with a plastic cup clutched in her hand and surrounded by drunken young girls in tank tops and guys in baseball hats saying, Dude! I'd love to call it "Student Body" but I believe that title is taken by a dumb movie, most likely starring Tara Reid's breasts. My problem is that I'm too frenetic. I start a story and then the next time I sit down to write, I begin a different one and so on and so on and so on.

(A guy just walked in wearing paint splattered jeans with a pencil tucked behind his ear. He is an artist. Another girl in here has really horrible dyed green hair. How about instead of fiction writing, I just continue to catalog the various hipsters who walk in such as this super tall thin guy in a puffy jacket covered in black and white cartoons and fur hood? I suspect he is an artist as well).

Okay, I just spent the last half hour adding some of my older stories to "Amazing Adventures..." Doing this has provided an excellent way to procrastinate any actual ficiton writing. Okay, here's the deal. I either have to write for 45 minutes or until I have 2,000 words and then I have to do about 500 words later on today. DEAL OR NO DEAL?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Saturday Report from the Rocket Cat

Not as many hipsters in here today as there usually are. The fashion item for today is men in black knit caps. I spy four of them right now (there are only about a dozen people present). Also a couple of ironically ugly sweaters (I'm hoping they're ironic). My least favorite barrista is here. She never, ever, never smiles, wears a blank, expressionless face, moves with absolutely no sense of urgency so that you wait for a minimum of ten minutes to get a cup of coffee even when there's just one person ahead of you, and uses the least amount of words possible to complete the transaction no matter how nice you are to her:


B: Yes?
Customer: Could I please have a cup of coffee for her?
B: $1.25.

I'm sure if she could manage it, she would just stand looking at you until you pointed at what you wanted, thus requiring no real interaction at all.

Here's another exchange Liz and I once witnessed with her.

(Confused man standing at counter).

B: Yes?
Man: much are your muffins?
B: (looking at the sign where the prices are posted and pointing to illustrate the man's utter stupidity): $1.75.
Man: Okay...
B: So?
Man: How about...I'll have a bagel.
B: (wordlessly gives him his bagel): $1.85.
Man: (pays her. Looking at the change): Oh, could I get change for $1?
B: We don't give change here.
Man: I just really need to make a phone call.
B: There's this thing? I don't know if you've ever heard of it. It's called a bank.
Man: Oh...
B (turning to me): Yes?

Now, I understand that it must be irritating to have indecisive customers, and to wait on people in general sucks, but she could at least refrain from being a dick. I'm actually nervous about asking for a refill because all I have is a $20 bill and I'm scared she'll say, Don't you have anything smaller, for the love of God??!

I'm going to try to get some writing done today, but it is difficult because I can get on-line here and that makes me want to procrastinate, you know, to spend three hours downloading custom content for Sims even though I seldom play it anymore. I may have mentioned that Shawn created a household of three cats--Ernesto, Henri, and Gretel. It makes me sad to play that house because then I miss Gretel.

I am signing up for an advanced fiction course in the spring semester. I hope this commitment will force me to write something decent. Three of the five stories I wrote in the other workshops at Temple all got accepted for publication, and so I just need to put in the time in (this is the secret to writing that we learned in grad school: "Ass in chair"). I would also love it if someone approached me to publish a collection of short stories, but that just doesn't happen. You have to send your manuscript out and though I have done that three or four times, it's always been to contests which are very competitive.

Am reading Augusten Burroughs' latest book, and he has this great chapter about how writing saved his life. He wrote Sellevision in one week because he spent hours and hours writing it. I know that when I start something, it starts to fill my thoughts (a much more satisfying feeling that thinking obsessively about my job or the lives of my Sims). My favorite thing is when I am not writing at the moment but something occurs to me for the story and I absolutely have to run back to the page to get it down.

Another book I recently finished is Random Family. It's a nonfiction book about kids growing up in the Bronx and it will break your heart. You only have to walk around my neighborhood to see that Fishtown has similar problems. Leaving my house today, I encountered a woman (though she looked about fifteen) and her little girl (who looked about eight). She was wheeling a huge cart filled with laundry; about four full duffel bags and the little girl was trying to lug a heavy bottle of detergent. I offered to carry the detergent to the laundromat and on that short walk, I learned that she had four kids, three by one dad, and one by the other dad, that she just recently started working again, that she was trying to save up enough money to buy a car, and that the second dad was a deadbeat, and that she's been dating the father of the first kid for nine months and he is the one currently left alone at home watching the other 3 kids. The laundromat was small, dirty, and stuffed with people.

Nute was back the other day continuing to hack away at his house by knocking down walls, tearing off wallpaper, and basically gutting the place. He told us how we had missed some serious drama while we were away on vacation.

Apparently, two teenage girls knocked on Haley's mom's door. They were sent to collect money owed to their mother by Haley's mom. The two women used to be friends, but had a falling out. H.M. stood on the front step, yelling, Get away from here! Your mother is a f-ing slut! Youse are all outsiders here! One of the girls said, Uh, we live two blocks away. HM's said, Outsiders! Tell your slut of a mother to come here herself if she wants the money. A little while later, a man (the friend's husband or boyfriend showed up to get the money). HM let him in and a few minutes later, he and HM's boyfriend came flying through the front door, punching each other and rolling on the ground. HM boyfriend was shouting, You're worse than a (derogatory term for an African-American)! You like a dirty Iraqi terrorist! Nute went over to break it up and the guy left, only to show up a few hours later, staggering drunk, to retrieve his truck, at which point, HM called the cops and told them that he was harassing him. The man was arrested for public drunkenness. HM: 1 point. The Outsiders: 0.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Andrew Firestone still has not contacted me

And I thought we had a connection! I was sure he was going to give me a rose!

Here's the extent of our conversation: I was on the floor petting his dog before I knew whose dog it was. The dog was really sweet and just laying there like a fallen deer. Andrew said, Yeah, be careful, he's a real killer. I said, Yeah, he's super aggressive. Then Andrew said something about the tile, how it wouldn't stay up without him or something. That's it. That is my entire brush with faux fame except for later when I asked him what the dog's name is and another time when I mentioned that my notes on the different wines were unintelligible. He said, Well, that's good. That means you're having fun. And yet somehow, it just felt right...It just felt like we shared something meaningful, you know? Luckily, I was au natural--no make-up, ill fitting shirt, baggy jeans, wild hair, and pit stains. I was my real self, the self I never want to be in front of anyone remotely attractive (except for Shawn--he's used to it). But what about my inner beauty, Andrew? Well, that's pretty rough as well, most of the time.

I've tried watching The Bachelor Rome but I just don't like the guy. He's all haircut. Andrew was at least funny, even if they did make him say the same stupid things each week. On the very first episode: "This is the hardest decision I've had to make yet." Next show, "No, wait. This is the hardest decision I have ever made." Following week: "I cannot believe how very hard this decision is to make." I think they just start mixing up the same words. "Believe how hard this making of the decision is for me." And there is no Jen on this show like in III. We all liked Jen. We rooted for her. The last three girls were: a religious virgin, a crazy bride who already has her wedding dress, and a blond girl with the personality of a Pez dispenser. I think he nixed the crazy one.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Where, where, where do I start?

I cannot possibly recount everything we did in California since we went to about 5 kajillion places. Highlights, only in the order upon which I remember them:

1. Aquarium in Monterey. We saw lots of otters frolicking and playing with balls and penguins standing in the faux sun with their beaks in the air. I touched a bat ray and wasn't stung. The most beautiful exhibit had to be the jelly fish--even though they gross me out a little because they are so alien looking. Do they have eyes? Brains?

2. Sea lions. Shawn kept calling them fat Henri's. In fact, any animal we saw that was even slightly fat, he compared to a Henri.

3. Trying on clothes at Buffalo Exchange in the Haight district. I know that is totally lame to go a Buffalo Exchange when they have them here, but I am in love with thrift store bargains, as you know.

4. Seeing the big fat round moon through the telescope in San Fran.

5. HDTV (sorry--shallow again, but we got to watch several episodes of the new Laguna Beach and another show called True Life where the kids had gay parents and this other one featured three horrific brides).

6. Riding the trolley cars, taking bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge and stopping to see how effective it would be to commit suicide by jumping, taking the ferry--all the modes of public transportation.

7. The Elephant Pharmacy in Berkeley where you can rent movies and buy slightly overpriced good-for-you organic items.

8. The Wacky store in L.A., ditto Dave Eggers pirate story in the Mission, ditto the World Emporium thing somewhere else (Shawn would remember where. He almost bought wind chimes and outdoor lights and a dining room table. I almost bought chocolates with kitty cat heads engraved on them. Go figure).

9. Dinner with Chris and Liz and Chris' brother Steve and Shawn in L.A. Best food I had on the entire trip. I also sort of enjoyed going to the bar afterwards--same place where a scene in Swingers was filmed (see #1 under "didn't like" for why I wasn't having the most fun ever and enjoying the aging lounge singers).

10. Having a glass of very cheap and slightly bad wine with Zena at 4 p.m. outside of the same cafe in L.A. where some famous authors used to go to write at the litter round tables. We were approached by a swaying guy in his late 50's who wanted to talk to us. Zena told him we were having a very important conversation. I said, Yes, we're both pregnant and trying to decide what to do about it. He continued standing there. I said, On top of which, we're alchoholics and drug addicts. He said, Huh. Who are the fathers? I said, We have no idea. Could be any number of people, really. He then advised us to think long and hard before we had the children. Finally, he left.

11. Our lovely, lovely shower in L.A. that had two showerheads--one that sprayed above your head and one that sprayed at waist height. The room also came equipped with a gorgeous basket of lotion, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, a sewing kit, Q-tips, and a shower cap.

12. Meeting the real live true bachelor from Season 3 and our favorite, Andrew Firestone at his family's Firestone Vineyard where we went for wine tasting. I didn't want to go (had no idea it who was associated with it), but Shawn insisted and we walked in and I noticed this really cute, familiar looking guy and then the woman pouring the wine told us who he was. I immediately became self-conscious and tried to hide it by refusing to look in his direction, as though he would interpret this as not being star struck even as Shawn was obviously trying to take the Bachelor's photo with me on the side. We met Andrew's lovely dog, Tucker and I looked like a goofball b/c I kept talking about and petting the dog and insisting I wanted to get my picture taken with Tucker because I had earlier been positively reinforced by the Bachelor who spoke to me when I was first petting the dog. Just afterwards, we went to the smaller winery next door (b/c it was a package deal) and met this absolutely adorable woman who was pouring the wine and she turned out to be his girlfriend.

13. This would go under the bad category if it didn't have a better outcome. I lost my cell phone on the beach at one of the places and the next morning, Shawn said we should go back and at least look for it. I was like, No way we're going to find it on the flipping beach. We went anyway and he dialed the phone. A guy sitting on the peer about ten feet away from him answered. He'd found the phone earlier and picked it up--even tried to call some of the numbers to see if he could figure out the owner. Shawn gave him $3.

14. People watching and making snide remarks about everyone in the room to make ourselves feel better for not being more famous or beautiful in L.A.

15. The Japanese restaurant we ate in on the last night in CA. Shawn begged me not to order chicken for the 100th. Instead, I got cow tongue. They brought it out along with a little mini fire thing and you cooked it yourself to your liking.

16. The Musee Mecanique where we put quarters into slot machines and saw old mechanical toys and machines and we also went into a photo booth and did that thing where you take four pics in a row and I liked every single one of them.

17. Even though it's touristy, I liked the Hearst Castle. All I kept thinking though was wow, this would make an awesome Sim house!

18. The boardwalk in LA with all the crazy people and performers and the veggie burger we ate there.

19. Driving up the winding streets of Beverly Hills and speculating who lived behind the many iron gates. At first, we were going to do a mini tour recommended by Lonely Planet, but then we realized they had stuff like, A House Where Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson Used to Live In. I was hoping we'd see Jennifer Aniston jogging or Angelina Jolie doing yoga and blood sacrifices on her front lawn, but no such luck. We did see Slash, the guitarist from Guns & Roses standing on the street for a photo shoot, but that's about it for the celebrity sightings.

20. The Lonely Planet California guidebook which we followed like it was the Bible and it only ever once led us astray (see #5 under "didn't like").

21. The monarch butterflies Zena took me to see--she explained that they only rest on three continents in the world at certain times of the year and so we were lucky to see them.

22. The apt. in San Francisco with its claw-footed tub even though I could never have such a tub because I know I would fall every time I stepped out of it since the sides are really high and you have to practically straddle them to get out.

23. Shawn teaching me how to play Suduko. It's very absorbing.

24. The hippie coffee shop where they say hippie things to you on the way out. The woman said to me, You are courageous. I was very proud of myself for being so brave.

Didn't like:

1. Tripping over my inappropriate uncomfortable sandals on the way the the restaurant in LA. and falling on the street so that I now have two skinned knees--the last time I had skinned knees was in seventh grade. I look like I had a roller skating accident. I was so so so embarrassed b/c I did that in front of Chris' cool brother and looked like an idiot.

2. Shawn having a cold the entire time and having to hock up snot every ten-fifteen seconds.
3. Feeling in LA like everybody sizes everybody else up with narrowed eyes to see if they are recognizable stars, agents, writers, producers, millionaires, or duds.

4. The aggressiveness of the homeless people. That sounds so horrible. It is horrible and bourgeois but particularly in San Francisco and Berkeley, there were tons of homeless men. At one point, a homeless guy jumped out at me from behind a tree, crying, Boo! I screamed and said, Please don't ever do that again. He apologized. Did he think we would then give him money?

5. Walking at nearly a ninety degree angle from the ground up the hills in San Fran.

6. Our hotel in Cambria (?) that was more like a hostel because there weren't bathrooms in any of them except for the luxury suite. We decided to take that one (for $119). Absolutely the only reason it was a suite was because of the bathroom--everything else was crap.

7. The floor in Santa Cruz. Ditto the crack addict who showed up the next morning wanting a haircut. Ditto letting a pet rat crawl on me--that was an ick later because at the time, I was trying to act all cool like a rat on my neck was normal. Later, I had to go into the bathroom b/c I was having PTSD.

8. The chattiness of some of the people in CA. That's when I realized that I am truly an East Coaster now, because I don't like trying to make small talk with strangers. The kid at the coffee shop would not stop making inane comments for the forty-two seconds I was in there. I learned that he was from New Jersey, that he thought it was a beautiful day, that the oranges for the juice were the freshest ever, that I could have soy milk if I wanted, that he would pour the coffee out and give me another flavor if I didn't like the hazelnut, and that he hoped I'd have a great day. I was almost nostalgic for the bitch who works at Rocket Cat.

9. Being delayed in the Ohio airport for four and a half hours on the way home. Same with the three hour time difference which caused serious jet lag on the way out there and on the way back.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Santa Cruz= Sea Lions, Monarch butterflies, and Surfers

Now we're in Santa Cruz--staying at Zena's friend's house with their two cats and rat named Sparky (?). One cat is a fat gray animal with one blind eye and the other cat is MIA--she's a Henri type cat--very shy and easily upset. Zeus, the gray cat, is a love. I suggested they buy an eye patch for him. My suggestion was not received with much enthusiasm. Zena and I spent most of the afternoon driving down a highway with the ocean and cliffs on one side. I told Zena that I was glad she was at the wheel. She asked me why and I explained that I would surely veer off a cliff if I were in charge. We stopped at a Mexican restaurant where we had good tacos. Okay, now we're leaving for dinner...Tomorrow, Monterey.

I don't care about the view

What is wrong with me? I like a nice view--I prefer a nice sweeping, star-studded sky with a full moon to, let's say, looking out the window to see a dumpster and a brick wall. At the same time, I am not like Shawn who will climb a hill to see the view of the seven sisters Victorian houses in San Fran or who took 503 pics of the skyline from various angles. I do like a view if it includes animals. We went to the waterfront the other day and stood watching the fat blobby mermaid sea lions bark at each other and bask in the sun on floating rafts near the dock. I could've watched them for a long time. Yesterday, we rented bikes and rode them up the hill to the Golden Gate bridge and then rode all the way across it. That was beautiful and amazing. I wondered before we got on the bridge if you could really kill yourself by jumping in b/c it didn't look all that high, but once we were on top of it, Shawn said, See what I mean? And yes, you look down and the water is a far, far away pane of dark swirling glass. We rode down to Sausilito and then took the ferry back, passing alongside Alcatraz. I stared at it thinking, Wow, I can't believe Al Capone was kept here...Later, I realized that he never was. Where did I get that idea? Another bike ride to drop the bikes off and then we took a bus trip to the Mission to see Dave Eggers pirate store/writing workshop for kids place at 826 Valencia. The only part of San Fran we didn't see was the Castro, though we did spot a couple of well-dressed queens.

Okay, must go. We're driving to Santa Cruz today with Zena and then onward to LA on Friday. I may not get to write again and I miss it.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Like, How Do you Feel about California So Far?

i've not been writing about this vacation at all--we've only been here one night and one day, but I still feel bad about not recording something--not writing down the flight here, the flight where I sat for 5 hours next to a very large woman. The seats are small as it is, but even worse when you're crunched next to Large Marge. Shawn said he felt like he had arms like a brontosaurus, you could only make small arm movements. We made it. Zena picked us up at the airport and then we drove into Berkeley--love that city--lots of hippies, lots of green. Zena showed us the campus and we took an elevator in Barrowes ? Stepped into the elevator with an older man who was seriously irritated by the fact that we pushed the fourth floor button instead of seven. As we exited the elevator, I waved my hands in the air, "omigod, I have so much research to do!" The professor didn't notice.

Zena lives in an awesome apartment with hard wood floors and bulit in cabinets. We had wine at Zena's and a shot of tequilla (I had whiskey) and then we went to get coffee and then after walking through campus, we stopped at Free Speech and saw a huge squirrel eating a banana. We went to a bar and had a beer and went to look for CDs at Amoeba and then went to Jupiter to eat pizza. Zena was almost picked up by an older man named Paul. He took her email. Back to Zena's and watched Fargo--one of my favorite movies and fell asleep on the fold out sofa and slept well.

Shawn woke up early and took a walk while Zena and I drank coffee. Had breakfast at this cute coffee shop and then Shawn and I took a trolley down to the waterfront (someone on the trolley sang "Rice a Roni" which was embarrassing. At the waterfront, we went to the Musea Mechinque where we put quarters into slots to watch antique mechanical carnival machines. My fortune from the grandma fortune teller machine told me I shouldn't travel too much. I won a contest in a firefighter machine and then we took our pictures in one of those booths. Next, my favorite part of the day--the sea lions. Oh, have you ever seen sea lions up close? They are cute and fat and clumsy and loud. They loll on these floating plank boards, drying in the sun and barking into the sky--fighting each other and scratching themselves with their fins.

We're leaving soon, so I'll try to write more later.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

How did the party go?

Well, about ten people showed up, maybe 15? Not many. No one wants to come to Fishtown because it's hard to get cabs from our neighborhood and also because Haley lives across the street (my mom e-mailed me today to tell me not to be too specific in my blogs b/c Haley's mom or someone else might read my journal and tell on me. This is why I never write about work or about anything too too personal. Now I am being a defiant daughter). After I saw Padhraig in the coffee shop, we drove to pick up Liz and Luke at the bus station while Shawn went across state lines to buy beer and wine and alcohol to make punch. Then we went shopping for food and for costume ideas and then back to my fav place in the entire world, Circle Thrift. I was making fun of Padhraig b/c when he was claiming he could go as a French aristocrat and lo and behold, he did it. He found a white George Washington wig, a ruffled shirt, a tie, and leather leggings. If we had prizes, he would've won. I'll get Shawn to send pics from the party. I wore a blue sequined dress and devil ears and a tail. Get it? I would've been cute except for at the last second, I added all of this Halloween make-up--white powder and black around my eyes and blood. Who knows why. Shawn shaved off his beard and became unrecognizable to everyone. He went as a half-dressed, one armed Ken doll. More later, with photos.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Party Planning!

We're throwing a Halloween party tonight and I am very excited to see how it is that Shawn and I will be able to stay awake to attend it.

Last night, Shawn went to a work happy hour and arrived home promptly at 4 a.m.---a full eight hour work day of drinking and socializing. I was fine with him being gone until about 12:30 when I still couldn't fall asleep and hadn't heard from him since 8:30 p.m. when I called him and he said he'd be home in about an hour. At 2:30, I called his cell phone. No answer. At 3:30, I called him again--no answer again. At 4, he stumbled in, soaking wet because he had decided to walk home from downtown (in the rain) which took about an hour and a half. I was relieved that he wasn't dead (kept thinking, if he had been hurt, who would call me? Would anyone know to call me?), but livid that he was so late and that he didn't call at all and that it kept me up until 4 in the morning, especially since we're having a party tonight that doesn't start until 9 p.m. Then he woke up at 8:30 a.m. because he has some walk to do for this new committee that he's on. That means I've had a little less than four hours of sleep and we haven't yet bought any of the food or beer or decorated, though I did clean last night and put up some window decorations last Sunday.

I told him that he should consider being single--that he would be much better off if he didn't have to worry about niggling things like calling me or returning home at a normal hour or having to think about someone other than himself. But why would he want to be single? He has someone who helps pay the mortgage, whose car he can borrow, who buys groceries, who cleans the bathroom and washes the sheets, who is obviously more of a home body and so there's little danger that she'll be out carousing and flirting. It's the best of both worlds except when he has to deal with me actually being upset that he's not thinking about me or contributing to the house hold at all. But I'm not mad. I understand. I want that too.

While I was laying there playing out the possible scenarios for where he might be, I thought of a good short story idea about a woman whose boyfriend is killed and how she is not sure how to feel about it--how on one hand, it's really sad and horrible and how on the other hand, this might mean she can keep all of his furniture. A good title for the story could be something like, "My Boyfriend Went to Heaven and All I Got Was This Lousy Sectional Sofa."

I'm in Rocket Cat again with Padhraig who has come up from State College to see Carrie and to attend this certain-to-be-anticlimactic party. He doesn't quite have a costume yet, but he'd like to come as a French aristocrat, which should be easy to pull together in a couple of hours. He's sitting next to me right now, grading badly written history papers about Nazism where the students write sentences like, "Fascism at this time allowed for many changes and made certain parties gain some kind of rights that were guaranteed to alter the course of history somehow." I told him to write in the margins, "Mysterious!" or "Intriguing...I wish I knew more." Padhraig would like me to mention that he has had a haircut and that it makes him look years younger.

(Aside: there is this utterly obnoxious dad/uncle/kidnapper in here with a two year old boy . The guy has a scratchy loud voice and a Camel cigarette tucked behind his ear. He said, "I'll have a cup of coffee and a child-shutter-upper." HA HA HA! He looks a little bit like Julia Roberts semi-ugly brother, Eric. He also said, "Hey, I'd be crabby too if I woke up at 5 a.m. every morning with my pants wet! I'd be arrested!" It doesn't seem right that I should be able to hear every word he says even though he's forty feet away. He's one of those guys who sincerely believes that everything he says is funny. Please don't let this be the kid's dad).

Friday, October 27, 2006

These Philadelphia Folks Are So Nice!

You would think I was from small town in the Midwest (well, I am), the way that I behave sometimes in this city--as though everyone is looking out for me and has not intention of bad vibes. For instance, I decided while at Rocket Cat this morning (took today off as a personal day), that I had to go to Circle Thrift next door. But I had a problem--I wanted to return to the coffee shop afterwards but didn't have enough money to buy yet another coffee. The solution? Leave my laptop and jacket on the table and trust that these nice city people won't steal anything of mine. I did a bit of speed shopping at CT (which is quite difficult with everything I must look at, try on, touch, contemplate). I came back here about 35 minutes later--laptop still in place. Still, I don't think it's the best idea to expect the employees/patrons of the coffee shop to watch my stuff. A similar event occurred on Tuesday when I went out with Kelly and Amanda. Since the new stupid smoking ban in Philadelphia, you have to smoke outside. All three of us are smokers, and so we tottered out the door, leaving our drinks and asking the guy in the next booth to watch them to make sure, as Amanda said, "That no one spikes them with roofies. The guy rolled his eyes and sarcastically said, Oh, yeah, sure no problem. I watched our table through the window. No one approached and none of us left drugged.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Most Wonderfulest Time in the Year

We are about to descend into the holiday season in just a few short weeks--sooner, probably, if Hallmark has anything to say about it. The season of cliches, Target, and the little baby Jesus and another year of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty, the Snowman, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and other slighty terrifying shows produced in the early seventies that continue to return again and again and again, no matter how much you might hate animatron or little green monsters who mistreat their dogs. I suppose they might play Nightmare on Christmas Street or whatever that Tim Burton movie was called, but it seems that the film reels from the olden days will sustain, especially now that all those people who were kids when the TV programs appeared now have kids of their own to watch them with. Here's the thing about Rudolph: I don't like the way he talks. I know he has a problem with his nose, but why does he have to sound like he's stuffed up? Can't he just blow his nose? And I don't like the way those little puppets close their eyes--it reminds me that they're not real. And I really hate the part in Grinch where the dog is teetering on the mountain with his waist cinched in by the belt. And I also don't like Cindy Lou Hoo, for that matter. If I remember correctly, she doesn't have feet and also, why does she have antennaes? That's creepy.

SEE? This year for Halloween, I cut out a bunch of construction paper things--a cat head, a witch on a broom, a red devil, vampire, Jack-o-lantern, etc. but nothing terribly frightening. Nothing as scary as Cindy Lou Hoo, though I did suggest to Shawn that we put a big picture of George Bush up--the most terrifying thing in this world.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Saturday Report from the Rocket Cat

Three nearly identically dressed thin twenty-something guys with brown hair. They are all wearing hoodies, jeans, and sneakers--one with a black knit cap tight against his head. All are artistic and by "artistic" I mean effeminate (cross their legs, gesture with their hands, speak with a certain drawl). We also have a husband and wife and their blue jumper clad eight month old--a bald headed baby boy (also wearing a hoodie) who is behaving pretty well aside from his persistent "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh"-ing. Seems like everyone knows everyone here--how do they meet? Should I introduce myself loudly to the room? "Hey, guys, I live just down the street and I like interesting things and will wear quirky clothes on occasion."

I could brag about my recent publishing accomplishments even though they are not based on anything I did really recently. Philadelphia Stories is republishing "Wonderful Girl" in their first anthology and I just got an acceptance for another story in Cimarron Review. The CR story is one I wrote for the summer fiction class--so that makes that entire experience worthwhile. If I were a really nice person, I would email the teacher and tell her and thank her personally for her suggestions for revisions. I plan on taking advancing fiction with the visiting writer whose grad class I tried to sit in on this fall--she said I could take this course and it's on Main Campus once a week at a great time--4:40-7:00, so I can easily go there without having too much of the work day. I'm excited. In the meantime, I need to keep writing at least something or revising the other story I wrote that summer.

But more importantly, I introduced my friend Amanda to Sims II by bringing my laptop to work yesterday. I felt a little bad about it--not about loading a PC game at work--but at giving her a taste of Sims. It's like I just introduced her to crack so I could have another buddy to smoke with. She liked it immediately. She seemed to get the game much faster than I did and then asked a bunch of questions about it and was amazed with every answer. We created the "Proulx" family so she could see that process--a teenage girl and her single dad, a fat black cat named Iggy, and a super unattractive and mean love interest/roomie--I forget what we named her. I usually don't make unattractive or hard to deal with characters because it makes the game less harmonious, but it was fun to do the opposite of what I normally do--to make the character's nose really big, her eyes tiny, her lips protruding, her stomach a big beach ball, and an ass to match. We dressed her in terrible clothes all around, including a gigantic bra and granny underpants and gave her a personality that when illustrated on the screen, showed her beating up a teddy bear (she's not very nice). Amanda then wanted to come up with a back story--another thing I seldom do (you can write their bios on the page; you can also keep a running story line going on by writing in each family's journal. Why do I never do this?). We decided that the dad, Billy, was attracted to this horrible woman because she had red hair and green eyes, just like his wife, who died five years before. The teen daughter and this lady will fight all the time because the daughter, Megan, resents her. I can't wait to move them in and try something different with the Sims--something with a narrative.

Amanda called last night and said it was taking everything in her power not to rush over to my house to play. Meanwhile, I played for a couple of hours until one of my Sims caught fire grilling hot dogs and burned to death and then I had to close the game without saving or else she'd be dead forever. A tragedy.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Yo, Whyn't Youse Come Over Here So I Cans Beat Your Ass?

As uttered by some white t-shirted kid on the corner down the street from me last night while I was attempting to watch ER and knitting a sweet little baby blanket (not for me). At first, I thought the noise was coming from the TV (when you knit and watch TV, it's more like listening to a radio program b/c your attention focuses on the task at hand. Most TV shows now don't require a visual component anyway, particularly not ER or Law & Order where the dialogue usually just supplements the action for those viewers who may be really, really dumb or toddlers.

Example from last night's Grey's Anatomy: "So you're saying you don't want to have the double mascetomy because you feel guilty about being mad that if you hadn't been breast-feeding, you wouldn't noticed the lump in your breast?" Mom: "Yes! Yes!" (a nod would've been fine, but a nod might be too subtle.
Example from any episode of Law & Order: "I get it. You were angry. You took the knife and stabbed your wife's boyfriend in a jealous rage and then planted the knife in your wife's purse and then faked your own stabbing in hopes of framing her for both crimes, right?" Perpetrator: "Yes! Yes!").
Anyway, after looking up from my knitting, I realized that the yelling was coming from outside. I poked my head out and saw a bunch of identically dressed dudes on the corner, challenging each other in some kind of fight or precursor to a fight. "Yo, dude, do it! Hit him! Hit him!" I had my glasses on which reduces my vision by about 50%, but it didn't look like anyone was actually punching, but lots of guys were shouting back and forth so it seemed imminent. I dialed 911 and gave the operator the wrong street name (said Tulip instead of Memphis), but in about one minute, two cop cars whizzed by. I was very impressed with their speedy response until I heard one neighbor lady who had her head stuck out the second story window say, "Yeah, I called the police like fifteen minutes ago when I heard all that bullshit start up." Haley's mom also had her head out the window. (By the way, Haley's parents decorated the front of their house with all of this Halloween crap, but it's not the typical stuff (scarecrows, jack-o-lanters); it's really scary and ghoulish like with this big black witchy monster that moves and lights up and has red eyes that glow at you. That must be fun for Haley). All the neighbors had their heads out the window or "winder" as it's called in Fishtown. The crowd dispersed. I went back inside knowing that if I were ever called to be a witness, I would be destroyed on the stand. "Isn't it true that with your glasses on, you can't see more than four feet in front of you and everything else is fuzzy and out of focus and so therefore, you couldn't really tell if it was a fight or maybe if they were just street dancing?" "Yes! Yes!"

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pitying and Judging Others, Even as I Am Being Pitied

I blushed yesterday for the first time in about 15 years. As you may know, I have a slight addiction to Sims II, a PC game wherein you basically play life--creating characters who then have to fulfill mundane human needs like eating, sleeping, socializing, going to the bathroom, and having fun--which you fulfill endlessly at the expense of your own appetite/social life/bladder. And because I love my Sims so much, I had to buy the latest expansion pack as soon as I came out (it's about pets. I love pets!). I went first to Best Buy and was looking around at the PC selection but didn't see it. I approached an employee and before I even opened my mouth, he said, Let me guess. You're looking for Sims Pets? That is when I blushed. What was it in my appearance that hinted that I spend a not insignifcant amount of time playing a simulation game most popular with pre-teens? Was it my Hello Kitty purse, my ponytails, or my I HEART THE SIMS tee shirt? They did not have Pets yet. I left in shame.

I went to Target, only to find that they don't carry PC games at all. I walked out and told myself to give it up and just check Best Buy tomorrow. Then I remembered that there was an evil chain whose name I cannot mention (see Liz, it's not like I'm promoting it) and since it was on the way home...I was shocked to see that they had plenty of copies of Pets. I bought it, along with a 10 pound bag of cat food and a 25 pound box of cat litter, and was gleefully headed back to the house. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, I spotted this hot guy who looked really familiar pushing a cart outside of Home Depot. I racked my brain, but couldn't at first remember who he was. Then it dawned on me that he's a friend of this guy I sort of kind of not really dated. I thought, How sad! Ryan is working at Home Depot and he's not even really working there, he's just the cart guy! Then I realized that I was rushing home with a kid's video game that features pets and 35 pounds of cat paraphenalia.

Shawn made an awesome invitation to our Halloween party. Yes, you are invited too!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Hasana Made Breakfast AGAIN today

Or maybe Will did--I'm not sure. I was still asleep, but after they left, I went down to the kitchen to get my own breakfast (a cup of coffee) and saw a skillet out as well as some pepper and a spatula. Being a brilliant deducer of clues, I quickly figured out that someone quite possibly may have fried an egg or two. The other smart thing I accidentally did was to not notice that Ernesto slid out the door some time last night and so consequently, he spent the entire night outside where it was very cold. Hasana spotted him the morning, clinging by all fours on the top half of the screen door. Why was this smart of me? Because now he will never want to go outside ever again. See? Tricky!

I'm sitting in Rocket Cat Cafe which is why I'm able to get on-line. Always an interesting mix of people here. Currently, we have a guy with intentional Elvis hair (slicked back, long sideburns. He is being ironic. He also wears Dickies jeans and has a chain wallet), an older man in a Red Phillies hat and blue blazer with brown elbow patches, a guy with Jesus hair and a bad camo shirt, an older woman in a red turtleneck and very red lipstick. She is writing something--a letter or maybe it's an entry in old fashioned style blog; I believe it's called a journal? Maybe she's writing about who is in here too: "woman sitting by the window with a black eye. Should I offer to help her out? None of my business. Still, it is a shame. She must've deserved it." A dorky nineteen year old kid with his dorky parents (mom has a backpack). The assorted mess of hipster kids--another guy with a chain wallet and boots, tons of thin, pale girls with purposefully disheveled hair and low slung cords, arm tattoos everywhere you turn and one or two semi-cute hipster guys though they tend to look as though they might have a certain unwashed, pee-on-the-jeans smell.

Okay, like, there's like this girl behind me who is like, talking like this? "That night, I like, wait, was it that night or like another night? Well, anyway, I like was walking down like the sidewalk you know and then this car like drove by--I mean, it was on the street and everything, but still, you know, it was so loud the way the car turned and I was like, Jesus! Learn to drive!" She has not paused for the last ten minutes and has used the word "like" no less than 456 times. "You know, I'm like, am I being selfish for wanting to like have everyone think about what I need all the time? And then I like decided that no way, dude, that is like a perfectly legitmary way to be, right?" Now she's talking about running into some girl who did something to her once and how scary it was. "And he's like and she's like..." I just can't get over how much she is saying LIKE. Great, a baby came in and now we'll have to pretend that everything it does is adorable. Even the babies in this place are hip--this baby is wearing velour, multi-colored bell bottom pants. I am not kidding.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I only write about my cats

Shawn sent me an email yesterday with these two pics and headings:

And: Almost a Lemur:

Pretty much all we do is take pictures of the cats. But they are so photogenic!
Hasana and Will are visiting from Montreal and Pittsburgh respectively. We bought a bed at IKEA on Sunday with a real bed frame and a shitty little mattress, but at least it's better than the fold-out couch. Now we have an actual guest bedroom (sans closet and sans dresser). Ernesto is confused because when we got the bed, he assumed it was for him only and now he has to share. Not to mention that fat Henri has decided the box lid ghetto bed I made for Ernesto is his and he now lays in it or rather, wedges himself in it.
Hasana woke up this morning and actually toasted two English muffins and put jam on them and she and Will had breakfast. I was amazed. I almost never make breakfast. I scarf cereal out of a box by the handfuls and drink coffee and maybe have a piece of fruit, but I don't think my toaster has seen any action in years.
One more thing about this black eye. I was thinking how it would be great if you had some girl in a short story whose boyfriend really did hit her in the face and when people ask her how she got it, she would say, My boyfriend beat me up, and everyone would laugh, assuming she was kidding and then she would start laughing too, and this would keep happening (fyi: this is not a veiled plea for help).