Thursday, April 27, 2006

ohmigod look at the time

I have not been able to post all week because it's been busy, busy, busy here--I can't even believe it's Thursday already. My friend Tamara and I are going to eat out to support AIDS research tonight--at least I think that's what it's for--she arranged it. It could be against AIDS for all I know, just that we have an excuse to eat at a Steven Starr restaurant and not feel too guilty about it.

We had our house inspection yesterday with the same guy who said on our last report that the dishwasher looked fine (though there wasn't one) and then on this report wrote, "no info on dishwasher as one didn't exist," (though there actually was one in this place). $275, please.

The only thing I have time to say right now is that I saw Mickey Rooney on a news broadcast the other day and thought, Wait, isn't he dead? Is he? I also thought Elton John was dead for awhile because I kept hearing his songs and seeing his picture and then I realized it was not because he died, but because he's auctioning off tons of his ugly clothing to charity. Other people who may or may not be dead: Katherine Hepburn, Telly Sevalas (Kojak), that other detective guy with the squinty eye (not Barretta--I know he's alive b/c he's been accused of killing his wife and then acquitted), McKenzie Phillips, Courtney Love.*


*I know she's still alive, but she will most like OD within the year.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Jennifer Love Hewitt's Eyelashes Cause Tsunami in Thailand

You ever hear of the Butterfly Effect? You know, a butterfly flaps it's wings in China and the resulting wind movement begins what will eventually become a natural disaster across the continent? Well, if the Butterfly Effect in fact exists, Jennifer Love Hewitt, by virtue of the false eyelashes she wears in her show Ghost Whisperer, may be the cause of global warming today. So, the truth is, I don't often go out on Friday nights. Shawn does. Shawn goes to happy hour every Friday from 5-11 PM. He can handle that kind of drinking and he likes to talk about airports and roadways for hours on end with fellow urban planners. I prefer to stay home, smoke cigarettes, read Lorrie Moore short stories, and watch 3 hours of bad network television while knitting scarves or baby blankets. For those of you who have social lives, Jennifer LH's show is about a big chested girl with sunken cheeks who can see ghosts and uses this power for good to bring families back together, solve mysteries, and have at least one scene per week where the curtains billow outwardly as the ghost "goes into the light." But that's not the freaky thing about the show. The freaky thing are the false eyelashes worn by JLH, which make her look like (1). A Butterick pattern drawing from the 1960s; (2). A very attractive drag queen; (3). An aging actress who's trying to appear as beautiful and young as possible. She also uses a heavy black liquid eyeliner on the upper lid which doesn't help to dispel the 60's mod look. I was so distracted by the eyelashes that I couldn't pay attention to the plot of the episode (well, yes, it was very easy to follow. Some 8 year old came back from the dead to bring her estranged parent's back together--a macabre Parent Trap). I kept waiting for one of the characters to ask her if she was on her way to a costume party--it was all the more noticeable because everyone else had normal sized eyelashes. Maybe they need to work it into her character, confront it directly, maybe she had a stove related accident as a kid that singed off her eyelashes and brows, and one of her struggles is to give up the falsies and embrace her true beauty. I can imagine the actress in make-up before a shot, having the lashes glued on, being "super sweet" about it, and then batting her eyelashes at herself in the mirror and sending Thailand into imminent destruction.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

How Do I Get There From Here?

Brooklynn Liz visited this weekend and I persuaded her to stay Sunday night so we could continue to indulge in an orgy of knitting and Sims playing. I took her to the Chinatown bus on Monday morning and then drove to work and parked at Temple for a mere $9. I forgot how aggravating it is to drive in the city. On the way home, I saw a driver reclined so far from the steering wheel, his head was in the back seat window. It looked as though no one were driving. Is this comfortable? Then later, I saw a girl riding her bike home from work wearing a skirt and backless, high heeled shoes. Change your shoes! Put on sneakers, for God's sake. That can't be safe. I decided I like to take the subway. I can read and people-watch and interesting things get to happen such as seeing that guy Mikey again (see entry: "My Name is Mikey, Yo"). He wasn't wearing his jacket this time, but I recognized his face and the poorly done tattoo on his hand. He happened to know the black guy sitting in the seat behind me and slapped him a high five. He said, "Whoa, your girlfriend looks tired!" (the guy's girlfriend had her eyes closed and her head on the window). He had a voice I wouldn't have expected, very Jerry Lewis'. He said something about not using anymore (drugs or alcohol, I'm not sure which), but how even when he was using, he managed to make it to work every day. It never effected his job. My stop came before I could learn more about Mikey, but odds are good that we might meet again.

In other news, I signed up for a summer fiction writing class at Temple beginning in May. We meet twice a week for three hours. Please let this help me to work on a story or two. I'm curious to know what the writing level will be like. The only other experience I have with workshops in Philadelphia is the TUCC class. Liz and I were talking about it this weekend and I struggled to articulate why I'm not attracted to taking that workshop again. Some basic logistical reasons--the instructor's class cap is around 20 and he allows others to sit in, so in one session, there were 24 people.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bad Bunny = No Easter Eggs for You

I remember when I used to love Easter because it meant I got a new Laura Ingalls/Gone with the Wind inspired mom-made dress and sometimes, even a hat. I have a picture of me from when I was 13 and I'm wearing a peach sailor outfit and a wide-brimmed straw hat with fake flowers on it. I am sure I thought that Kimble Frazier would see me and fall instantly in love because of how romantic I looked (I believe I even pressured my mom into making me a white eyelet petticoat to wear underneath. I remember being disappointed because it didn't puff the skirt out as much as I thought it would. I had pictured a hoop skirt type effect). Now, I barely noticed that it was Easter this weekend. On my way in to work on Friday, I was wondering why no one was on the train until I realized that everyone was home celebrating the crucifixon. We saw several little girls in frilly dresses and patent leather shoes on South Street on Sunday and I tried not to be envious of their outfits. I remember a time when I would have killed for white patent leather shoes especially if they had been tap shoes.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Living in the donut hole

(The Condos Lewis Downey)


My friend Tara and talking today about how our experience of Philadelphia is most likely quite different from many many other residents. Shawn once described Centre City as the donut hole--a small, insulated area of cute little row homes and Whole Foods stores and byob's--while out in the wider donut is the real Philadelphia with its mean streets, boarded up buildings, violence, and poor who are largely ignored and certainly not assisted or even seen except by each other. I saw some of this from looking around in Fishtown; everything is delineated on a street by street basis as good or bad with little falling in between. I was thinking about this yesterday b/c I saw this small black man crouched down near a doorstep, facing a building and it appeared like he was lighting a pipe. It seemed very unlikely to me that some guy would be smoking crack at 5:30 PM near 9th and South, but it's not impossible. So, my reaction is either me being really naive (of course there's shit like that happening all over the place; my eyes just don't pick up on it) or me being really racist (of course a black man is smoking crack); because I don't know for sure what he was doing, I only know that my reaction to it was surprise and suspicion. And it's not like violence doesn't happen in Bella Vista. Most mornings when I walk past Whole Foods on South Street, I have a fleeting thought about that female medical student who was beaten over the head with a baseball bat by a man she barely knew on a Sunday afternoon this fall after she exited the grocery store. She died. And last week, I saw a white guy take hold of a black guy on S. and 8th and punch him repeatedly in the face. This was again right after work. The black guy's lip split open and he stepped in front of a truck to stop traffic, plastering himself against the grill and yelling, I'm not moving! Everyone on the street slowed to watch. I dialed 911 and shouted at the operator until she told me to lower my voice. I hung up on her. Sometimes, we hear couples yelling at each other on the street, usually late at night and then Shawn and I turn off the lights in our apartment so we can peer through the mini blinds without being seen at all.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Easy Come, Not so Easy Go

A battle has been raging between Shawn and I--we are both Taurus' (our b-days are one day apart), and both stubborn and opinionated (even though I am always right). He has wanted to buy this house in Fishtown on Oxford Street--the one I mentioned in anearlier entry. I could see why he was swayed--the pretty hardwood floors, the woodburning fireplace, the cement back yard, the dirt in the basement, the tiny, tiny, tiny itty bitty powder room next to the kitchen, the mud room with the fridge in it, the challenge of building closets, the creativity that would've been enhanced in searching for plugs in the kitchen, the clogged pipe in the side yard, the charming and mysterious bump in the floor, and the termites. But let's just say that I was less than excited to take on this potential liability. We went back and forth on it--the deal seemed shady to me because in the disclosure, the seller didn't mention any of the problems the inspector noted and b/c they turned it around so quickly--bought it in October for $56,000 and were selling it six months later for $179,000 because they installed a new tub (without shower curtain rack, might I add). Because of some of the problems with the house, we had the option to get out of it at any time; we agreed instead to ask Dominic to offer to buy it if they'd take $15,000 off. The sellers said no. They said they would pay for the termite extermination (which, duh, they'll probably have to do when they put it on the market again) and build a hand rail in the basement. No offer to move the fridge or the door, and no big sum off. Shawn's dad came in to look at the place today and he wasn't certain about it either--they ate at Johnny Brenda's and had some beers and Shawn seems to have accepted that we will have to start looking again. Being the ultimate voyeur, I don't mind--I like to go into people's houses and see what they've done to it. I hope Dominic doesn't give up on us. But I am so so so so relieved.

Crazy City Lady

I've realized recently that I talk to myself. Out loud. In public. And not just to grumble at cars racing through intersections or bikers whizzing by too close on sidewalks; not TO anyone, just a general thought that escapes my mouth, like I'll be thinking of something idiotic someone said and a "Whatever!" will pop out. Not loud, but if you happened to be looking at me from across the street, you would see my lips moving. I also occassionally laugh out loud. Walking home from the subway yesterday, I was thinking about a scene from the British version of The Office which we had rented the night before, and I laughed. And speaking of the subway, I was waiting for the train when a guy dressed in fairly normal clothes walked over to the pay phone, picked up the receiver, and started talking into it. I wasn't sure if he'd put coins into it or was making an actual call; it struck me as odd that anyone would elect to use a pay phone in the subway because trains roar by every three minutes. I peeked over at him and he was holding the ear part away from his head and speaking directly into the receiver without pause. From what I could hear, he was giving a long list of celebrity names, like this, "Courtney Love, Nicole Richie, Stephanie Zimbalist, Jack Johnson, Julia Roberts, Eric Roberts, Robert Duvall, DeNiro..." I didn't want to get too close or stare directly. The ironic thing about schizophrenics (if that's what he was) is that they can be under the impression that everyone is watching them and b/c they sometimes do act strangely, this is often true.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Rock Stars* (amended to correct names)

So, Padhraig's girlfriend Carrie spent a summer in Glasglow and, as a result, she is friends with Bob from Franz Ferdinand (she also knows a guy from Belle and Sebastian. She is quite well-connected which you would never guess from her unassuming nature). Whenever FF plays in Philly or nearby, Bob (yes, he and I are now on a first name basis, thanks) sets aside several tickets and backstage passes for her. In this way, Shawn and I were able to go to Tweeter on Saturday and see Franz Ferdinand and Death Cab for Cutie for free and we were very close to the stage so you could see the sweat stains of the musicians. FF was very good---energetic and funny and unpretentious. The lead singer wore a red shirt and tight black jeans and he looked like he had just stepped back into the present from 1986 which is cool now, I guess. Unfortunately, halfway through their set, three teenage girls getting "so wasted" on plastic bottles of Bud Light showed up in front of us. One girl kept trying to climb up on the seat in front of her and then apologizing for it to the people behind her and then doing it again. All carried tiny little purses that they kept swung under their armpits. With them was a kid with a shaved head and long underwear. I got distracted from the show by trying to figure out who he liked and who liked him. They left for awhile, but came back when Death Cab for Cutie played (is it just me or do two of the band members strongly resemble Jack Black?). Standing next to that group were two girls who pumped their fists in the air and sang along to every tune. Shawn explained that DC for C had touched them deeply and spoke to them about their own teenage angst. I couldn't stop thinking about how that one song "so this is the new year" appears on a collection of Christmas songs put out by Fossil (the company that makes the watches). My friend from Chicago Blair loved them too. I appreciated them from a distance, still watching the teen with the shaved head try to get the girl in the short ponytails to pay attention to him. He changed seats about 15 times in as many minutes. She didn't notice at all.

We were given back stage passes afterwards to hang with the band. I imagined a smokey room with bottles of booze scattered about and maybe a mirror or two with traces of white powder. Carrie said that her friend Bob and his counterparts are vegetarians and pacifists and so most likely don't snort cocaine. What is wrong with people who like nature? It turned out that I would never go backstage to hang with Indie, environmentalist rockers b/c FF had already gone back into Philly, though Bob left Carrie a note written in what appeared to be crayon.

We forced Padhraig's friend, John to drive us all into the city to North Star. To make a short story shorter, we were introduced briefly to Bob. I said, "Oh, so you were at the Weezer all day?" Luckily, he didn't hear me or couldn't understand my American accent or something, because he just said, Yeah, long day. I kept thinking, I'm next to someone who is almost sort of kind of a celebrity! It left me witless (I don't even own either one of their CDs and Shawn had to correct me earlier when I was talking about Franz Ferdinand as if the band were simply one person--you know, that one guy Franz Ferdinand who sings). A pint or so later as things were winding down, I met another band member--he gave me a bag of Utz pretzels to eat. I said, Who is your favorite person that you ever met? He said, Why, you, of course. I kept asking him questions about his family and life and dumb shit. He humored me somewhat and I think before I left I said, You did a good job tonight, even though I couldn't tell you what instrument he plays--some kind of guitart that is not the bass. (Okay--I just looked it up--his name is Nick McCarthy--he's a handsome, sharp faced guy with dark hair).

We arrived home at 3 AM and dropped into bed, exhausted and exhilirated and slightly disappointed by that one too small dose of fame.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

All I have to do is dream........................

Vivid dreams last night, probably b/c I was so exhausted and yet kept waking up--Gretel had a lot to do from 1 AM-6 AM and so was up and down on the bed, scratching every half hour to get under the covers. I should thank her though because I dreamed of Mr. Darcy (as played by Colin Firth). We were at a pep rally and he was paying attention to me (Elizabeth Bennett had gone off to buy popcorn). He flashed me the same look he gives her; this adoring, searing glance that illustrates his undying love. But then EB returned and he forgot all about me. His character morphed into a guy I had a huge crush on in college. In the dream, we ran into one another at a FSU reunion (he would never, ever go to one and neither would I). He looked the same, blond mop of hair, blue eyes, not very tall but not short either. I remembered what it was like to be around him; I morphed into a 13 year old girl with glasses and dangling arms; self-conscious, trying to decide what to say or do to make him laugh or like me more, feeling inadequate and not cute, and then becoming achingly hopeful while also dreading rejection any time had paid attention to me. Uncomfortable at all times but attempting so hard not to show it. HORRIBLE.

Young love is supposed to be romantic and the associated pain to be a rite of passage, but I never, ever, never, ever in a thousand years want to go through that again, would never want to give anyone the power over me that I let him have (although since then, I could list 6 other guys who I allowed to dictate my happiness/unhappiness/worthiness/unworthiness based on how they felt about me). I visited him years later after college and believed that I had grown up enough to relax around him. Not true. The second I saw him, I shrank back into myself and turned into a paper doll version of who I usually am.

I've finally decided that it was a combination of my insecurities and his personality that exacerbated the situation--like, if he had stopped trying so hard to be enigmatic or nonchalant or theatrical, I might have been able to let down my guard or not worried so much. Even this morning, I thought, Yeah, but if I saw him again, I'd be more confident and less in need of his approval. Unlikely. There are certain people who cause you to behave in ways you normally wouldn't if they were anyone else. That's not to say that I'm blameless; just that those feelings are dangerous if you start to believe they're rooted in a trembling, deep love gone awry instead of what they usually are (for me, anyway), which is a serious need to win the attention and favor of the supremely self-involved man (stepdad issues anyone?).

Thank you, that is my serious post for the year. Tune in tomorrow when I will return to being flippant.

Monday, April 3, 2006

Kitten babies

It just so happened that I hung out with two babies this weekend who were both 2 months of age--Stella on Friday and Carson on Saturday. Before this, I didn't realize that babies at this age don't see very well--they're like newborn kittens or puppies who have a vague notion of what's around them. Aside from the general baby stuff, here's what else they can do at this age: smile, frown, wiggle, make "huh-huh" noises, and look at you intently with their scary little blind eyes. That's it (*oh, except babies at this age have a serious problem with static electricity and their wisps of hair, but that's not like something they do). You can set them in the center of the bed without worry because guess what: they can't move. They can't roll over, they can't lift their heavy heads, they can't shimmy along the quilt and plop off the end of the bed. They can look up at the ceiling with their heads turned to the side until you wonder what it is they're staring at and realize it's probably nothing. By two months, even kittens are smarter than babies of the same age.

Carson arrived with the rest of Shawn's family on Saturday. They set off to look at the house, leaving me with THE BABY who was supposed to go down for a nap. Of course, ten minutes after they left, the wind forced the bathroom door to slam shut and the noise startled said baby, waking him up and causing him to wiggle his fists and feet and make distressed coos. I picked him up and held him and that made him quiet, but when I tried to put him down on the bed, he fussed again. I hoisted him up on my shoulder again. He started to give me a hickey by sucking on my neck. I took him into the living room and set him in his rocking car seat. Inexplicably, I started talking to him in baby talk--the higher pitched gobbledy-gook sounds you make like some kind of cave person--and he responding by smiling, flashing his dimple, and opening and closing his mouth ina pleased way. I figured out that if I turned the seat towards me and kept rocking it with one hand, he would stay quiet and I could continue to play Sims (thank GOD!).

Who looks more aware and alert? Kitten or baby?