Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Entire Hair

It is impossible to take a flattering picture of yourself using this so-called digital camera. But since my mom has requested a photo of my new haircut, I give you:

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Stars of Track and Field We Are

I have a temperamental relationship with my i-pod. Half the time, it doesn't work. It's acted funky ever since it got wet and so it sometimes doesn't shut off and then runs out of steam in the middle of an important walk, leaving my soundtrackless. I was thinking the other day how so many of the bands or songs that I have on it can be attributed specifically to certain guys I dated for either a short or long period of time:

Lemonheads, Toad the Wet Sprocket: The Bartender with the Concave Chest. We went out a few times but he was too young for me and had super skinny legs.

REM (Monster c.d. only), Cracker's "Low": The Other Bartender with the Drinking Problem.

Flaming Lips: Not Over His Wife Yet. I said, I love you. He said, Oh, I think of you fondly! That was the end of that.

Aimee Mann's "That's Just What You Are," Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me": The Poet Who Made Me Numerous Mixes. But who was also too young for me and I think we both just liked making our relationship impossible. Life was more interesting that way.

Belle & Sebastian, Death Cab for Cutie: The Blue-Eyed Academic with a Temper. He always had great taste in music but often misread my clues to him, either assuming I was into him when I was really thinking what an idiot he was or else not recognizing when I wanted him to kiss me.

Eagle Eye Cherry, "Save Tonight," Marcy's Playground, "Sex and Candy": The Writer in Chicago Who Neglected to Tell Me That He Had a Girlfriend for like Three Years. We never got together, but he did write me this really great letter before I left Chicago confessing his attraction to me.

Liz Phair, particularly "Extraordinary," "Flower," and "Why Can't I": The Political Activist with the Philly Accent Who Was Only Around Four Days out of the Month. Another great and doomed romance. He did help me buy my car though. Before we went to look at cars, I said, I don't want to spend a lot of money. I don't need a new car. I ended up leaving with a new 2003 Mazda Protege. It will be paid off in one year. I can't wait. It was actually a good choice.

There are more, I'm sure, but I must get out into the wider world today.

Friday, December 28, 2007

My New Year's Resolution List

Can't believe it's been a week since I wrote; mainly because I was out of town for a couple of nights to have Christmas at Jodie's brother's house, but also because I've been taking long daily walks and knitting and this has exhausted me completely.

Since I never manage to keep my even most well-meaning resolutions for more than two days, I have decided to create a list that I am sure I can handle:

1. Gain at least twenty-pounds, mostly in my ass and face so that I am disproportionately large and will have to start wearing size 14 pants.

2. Drink more, preferably hard liquor such as cheap gin with tap water.

3. Have meaningless, unfulfilling one-night stands with numerous stupid men.

4. Read fewer books.

5. Stop taking vitamins. Consume more sugar and processed foods.

6. Drive everywhere instead of walking.

7. Discontinue recycling. Insist that produce and such be wrapped in extra plastic bags at the grocery store.

8. Procrastinate as much as possible. Pay all bills late. Leave cat litter alone for weeks at a time.

9. Get more cats.

10. Start bringing cigarettes to work and taking long smoke breaks at least once an hour.

In other news, I got my hair cut today at the wonderful Chop Shop on South Street. My hair is now officially short. You can see my neck. I can't decide if I like it or if it makes me look as though I'm on my way to attend an elementary school soccer game with the other moms.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Farewell, Joseph W. M. or "Sadly Missed"

Yesterday was Joe's last day and he has spent the three weeks since giving his notice locked in his office trying to finish a feature and tie up loose ends. I did manage to drag him out to the dollar store where he bought me a Diet Coke (50 cents). Later, we all went to Lucky Strikes for a fare thee well hurrah and I had the lowest score, mainly because I can't throw the ball without spinning it or thunking it directly into the gutter. I discovered that Joe is excellent at recognizing movie quotes in like one line, particularly those related to Top Gun. He also got ones from Bull Durham and The Princess Bride ("As you wish.") Did not get the one from Pretty Woman.

Joe wore a bowling shirt and approached the lane with his quiet confidence. Alberta, who claims to have never been in a bowling alley in her life, beat out Joe by a few points to be the surprise winner. I had secretly hoped I would be a natural bowler, but I was not. The only real casualty of the day was my pride. Next, we went to McSomething's Irish bar and ordered pitchers of beer and told Joe stories all of which were innocuous because he's fairly opaque; or rather, uber professional and does not bring much of his personal life to work with him. He is also unfailingly polite. He never just says "thank you," he always says, "thank you very much." And if you really get him stirred up, he will sometimes say, "Enough" and then you feel like a puppy who has been hit on the nose with a newspaper. That said, you can occasionally get him to reveal something surprising such as the location of his tattoo.

After a few beers, the party dwindled. People had trains to catch, bags to pack, food to eat. Joe announced that he was going home. I said, Yeah, but maybe first we should go to Dirty Frank's for a beer. Was surprised to find that he agreed and also that he knew how to get there. Dirty Frank's is this really divey bar with locals and regulars and a dart board. We played darts and in between each turn, I suggested that we ask each other questions, one last ditch attempt to know something more about him. His first question to me was: "What's your favorite color?" I hope he doesn't ask these kinds of questions during his story interviews. "How did you like school?" Of course, my questions were perhaps too personal like, What are you most afraid of? And, What's the worst thing you've ever done? And, Tell me something nobody else knows about you. He took it in stride and did eventually ask me more interesting questions like, What's your favorite animal? (No, better than that).

Before we left, I borrowed a pen from him and wrote on the paneled wall "Joseph William McLaughlin taught me to play darts here. 12/21/07." Thirty years from now when he moves back to Philadelphia to retire, maybe it will still be there. Or not.

In his empty office, he left behind only one single personal possession, a dead, phallic cactus leaning slightly to the right. I suspect he did it as a symbolic last message of his feelings. I'm also guessing he's not the kind of person who looks back and it is quite likely we'll never hear from him again. Maybe I'm mistaken and he will surprise me again by being a prolific letter writer ala someone from the 1700s, sending hand-written notes on thick paper sealed with red wax. That seems unlikely. "But you're already gone, aren't you?" Name that movie and let me know when Grace finally takes her first steps.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

More windows (or: When Will Someone Yell at Me?)

Here are the most unhappiest Christmas dolls that ever existed, followed by the most ornate reindeer that ever existed. South Philly is the best place for finding superlatives.

Find the kitty:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I hate you, I hate you, I love you, I hate you

I am having some difficulty lately keeping my emotions in check, must be the whole dark weather thing and no sunlight and my toe hurts and also I really, really need to take a shower. I can't wait to get home to do that. But something that does make me laugh is this video that I finally figured out how to upload to blogger. This is what my cousin Steph, my Aunt JoAnne and I did on Friday night. We made lego constructions; JoAnne's was the most abstract. At one point, she said that we wouldn't be allowed to go to bed until all of the 5,000 pieces were used up. I like this video b/c you can see how often she uses her hands to express herself. Like, she didn't know I was focusing just on a close-up, but still, she's very expressive. She could be a hand model for QVC for sure.

Here are two other photos of windows I passed in South Philly on my way to work and then on my way back. The first has a sign you probably can't read that says "God Bless America with a new a new president." The second one is much cooler than it looks in this photo--it's a bunch of ornaments and pretty lights.

I love my new digital camera. I am wary of taking too many photos of my house though because then you'll see all the cat dustballs like tumbleweeds cartwheeling across the dirty floor.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Safe and Sound

I have made it home, though to do so, I spent sixteen hours at the airport before my flight was due to taxi down the runway. Mom's plane left at 9-ish from Omaha so we had to leave Giltner at 6-ish and then my flight to Minneapolis took off at 2:30. I finally arrived at 9:45 p.m. and was giddy to see the cats. Nothing of note on any of the flights, except that I sat next to a guy on the ride to Philadelphia who didn't bring anything to read or look at or do. He just stared at his hands. He tried to talk to me, but I'm not very friendly. He said, Did you go home for the holidays? I said, Yes, no. I mean, I went to Omaha but now I'm going home to Philadelphia. He said, Huh. I didn't ask him any questions. I pretended to be suddenly interested in my NY Times crossword puzzle. The woman on the other side of me snoozed most of the way, which was fine. Even though I had a long day, the flights seemed to go quickly--must be faster coming back to Philly, plus we had the wind on our side, guiding us home more quickly. The only thing to do on a flight is to close your eyes and to try to fantasize about kissing one of your crushes (I currently have three). But I am not good at this fantasizing thing, because something always gets in the way. For instance, I was trying to imagine kissing this one guy and trying to be very realistic about how that would happen but still trying to make it interesting, so I imagined him cornering me in the coat closet and saying, We could hop up on here (the counter), but then that made me think of the movie Top Gun and how Maverick tried to seduce Kelly McGillis in the bathroom and then I thought of their love scene and how Tom Cruise is so short that KMcG had to slump against the wall and then there's this one part of the scene where they're kissing and you can see their spit which is completely gross and then I thought about how Tom is probably gay and the whole thing is this big PR initiative to make him seem straight and then I wondered if Katie Holmes was really happy or just brain washed by Scientology and next I thought about going to the Chop Shop to have my hair cut like hers as it appears in the latest issue of In Style. Finally, I realized that I had totally lost the thread of my supposed fantasy, but didn't have the energy to start all over again.

Thank you to all my aunties and uncles and cousins who were so nice to me and mom on our visit. And thank you to Carrie (and Padhraig) for watching the kitties and leaving me three presents under the tree to open for Christmas (one from each cat). And now, off to bed to dream of snowbanks, horses, and horses in snowbanks.

Friday, December 14, 2007

My Friend, Flicka

Here is the pony who shall star in our film. Her name is Shasta. Is she not beautiful, for spacious skies? Now all we need is a Ken doll and we shall be in business.

Tonight, we ate macaroni and Velveeta cheese and chicken nuggets. Even as I type this, Sam is putting together a train display for the holidays. He is meticulously setting up Lego tiers so that we can see all of the trains.

The Virgin Mary is Watching

This is a quite blurry photo of the Virgin Mary that lives on my grandma's back patio. I tried also to take a picture of the trees in the back yard, but couldn't get them in focus. I was hoping that I would be really good at photography, you know, like some kind of instant prodigy, but I'm not. It would help if I would read the instructions that came with the camera, but why would I want to make it easier?
In other news, my cousin Stephanie is going to help me with this stop motion photography project that Lisa Marie and I want to do. Did I write about this before? Can't remember. Well, my parents brought me my childhood dollhouse when they last visited and so I thought it would be fun to use it to make a short video for YouTube or whatever. The song I want to use is Tracey Ullman's "They Don't Know About Us" and it will involve these secret loves that each member of the family has. So Steph is finding me a rugged Ken doll and will also supply a plastic horse. That is all I can say about it for now. I will give $20 to anyone who can find me an Earring Magic Ken doll. I never had Ken growing up. My mom got me a G.I. Joe doll with a buzz cut and combat boots. His hair fell out in patches. My Barbies scoffed at him, but he was the only thing in town, so they often had to put up with his heavy-handed advances.
Today, we will go to lunch and then over to grandma's and then I guess us cousins are getting together to drink wine and talk trash on everyone not present. I am lucky enough to have lots of girl cousins within five months of my age (our mother's all decided to have baby girls at the same time).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cheetos: The Opiate of the Masses

I'm staying at my Aunt JoAnne's and she has some of the best food that I never get to eat such as Cheetos. I don't know how much actual cheese or real food are incorporated into Cheetos (I believe it's 1% cheese powder and 99% chemicals), but I really don't care because they are so good. I am leaving orange fingerprints everywhere I go. I must be careful not to commit a crime before I shower as they will surely be able to track me down.

Yesterday, we went to the mall and Best Buy and got my Christmas present. Can you guess what it is? Are you wondering if from here on out you might be inundated by various photos of the cats doing really nothing exceptional? Over and over? You will. Pictured above, you will see a lovely photograph of my one and only mother. Below, please find my most artistic photo to date. Those are the legs of my grandmother. As you can see, I am a natural with the digital camera. Please note that it is 3 degrees above zero and she's wearing sandals. I asked her about this yesterday and she said that it didn't matter because her toes are usually numb. I said that it does matter because socks and sandals are a total fashion faux pas at any age.

Not sure what we're doing today, though it may involve pizza and soap operas. Mom is making a list of movies to recommend for my grandma to rent. I suggested Little Women, but she's probably already seen it. If you have any age-appropriate suggestions (she's 89), please feel free to send them. Nothing with extended car chases though such as Smokey and the Bandit.
Oh, yeah, and I have been emailing with Julie today and she suggested that I write a novel about all of my bad dates/boyfriends. I wrote back to tell her that it would have to be an encyclopedia because A-C would take up like 400 pages. But I don't know how I would structure it. It would have to span from age 5-current since I was precocious and had crushes on boys from the moment I was allowed in public. I remember being in kindergarten and trying to position my sleep rug so that I could be next to this cute little black boy named Daryl. He would put his hand on my knee while we napped. I was a flirt for the word go.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Snow and snow and fields and more snow

Oh, and cute little rabbit pawprints in the snow which I spotted last night in JoAnne's front yard. We also saw several pheasants dorkily running across the road and Grandpa's farm lit up with white lights. Very pretty and strange too to keep running into these achingly familiar yet distant things like the Hoffman's mailbox and the Giltner water tower and the long stretches of white dotted with cows and horses here and there and brown stalks of corn peeking out of the ground. My Aunt M. brought over a shoebox of old photos from when I was little and also my mom's childhood pictures and it's great and sad to see all of us there, particularly grandpa. There's a photo of him holding me, I'm one year old or so, and he's about to give me a bath in a tub in the kitchen and he's kissing my cheek and seeing it, I thought, Oh, he loved me so so much. How lucky I was to have that and also how hard it was to lose it.

Today, we will go back over to Grand Island to see grandma. We already ordered our suppers (I first wrote "dinner," but here, "dinner" really means "lunch" and supper is what you eat in the evening). I think we might also go to the mall for awhile or maybe to the library. You have to kind of try to be Zen here because there are so many people and each one has an opinion about the way things should go and so you sort of have to just let yourself go along for the ride.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Heart the Heartland

After traveling for 72 hours yesterday, finally made it to Omaha and then on to Grand Island (where my grandma lives) and then to Giltner (population 204 + me now) . Oops, have to run. More later...


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Artsy Girls and Boys:Entry Rated "R" b/c of Willies

Went with Lisa Marie and her bf John and my other friend Ingrid S. to a couple of art shows this weekend. For the occasion, I attempted to look more alternative by putting my hair in two side buns ala Princess Leia. I believe I looked slightly like a very special girl who should've also been wearing a crash helmet. At one place, we were crammed into a room with 1,001 hipsters and a man dressed as a woman who was the photographer. Please, please, please God do not let my photo appear on any art web sites; I don't photograph well when I haven't had five minutes to practice my fake smile. I always come off as appearing shocked and discombobulated as though someone has just told me that my skirt is tucked into my underwear. I couldn't tell you what the art was like; there were too many people blocking it. Then we walked 500 blocks to Vox Populi, this great loft space in Chinatown. They had a video installation on running loop; I only saw two of them. The first was a girl fake performing an ice skating routine in her socks. I thought it was funny and clever. Lisa Marie was less impressed. The other video was a send up of Sex in the City, four girls wearing wigs and having unwitty, badly acted dialogue in a diner + nakedness (the woman playing Samantha showed her boobs). I yawned. I can be a snotty bitch sometimes. Next, we went to see the work of Lisa Marie's friend, Josh Rickards. I think this is the second show of his that I've seen; can't remember if the previous one was also at Vox, though I think it was. Josh is a hipster boy with funky black glasses and snappy blue eyes. I ran into him on the street the other day when I was carrying home my artificial pink Christmas tree from Circle Thrift. I made him hold the tree while I showed him the equally bright white wreath with lights. Occasionally, I meet people who don't immediately react to my quick familiarity with fear. He is one such person. His work is also bright--lots of bold colors and portraits of people with phallic noses (please note that I did not use the word "penis." My friend Hillel hates the word penis and whenever I try to use it, he asks me to say "willie" instead. Not that it comes up often).

My favorite piece in this show was a painting of a majestic lion dressed in 70s clothes; I believe he had on stripped pants and a belt buckle. He might have been even holding a glass of brandy in his paw; not sure (if not, it should be added). Lisa Marie and I interrogated him about the use of the phallic noses. I said, So, are you a big fan of Freud? He had three reasons at the ready as to why he does that. I can't recall exactly the three things, but one of them had something to do with the nose being the easiest facial part to remove or change ala Michael Jackson. I said, How does that relate to your artist's statement about human connections? He said, It really doesn't. In searching for his images, I read a review of his work that compares it to the Simpson's. I think that's a stupid comparison; his work is cartoonish but it's also a little dark; I mean, none of the figures he paints are particularly attractive; reminds me more of Crumb; edgy, shocking, a little grotesque but still very human and exposed.

Another piece I like of his is this one he has of a reclining nude man with a moustache and a li'l vulnerable penis (sorry, H.) lying to the side like its just exhausted. I love it because you don't often see paintings like this; we're all totally fine with naked gals and we have The Vagina Monologues and women have been objectified since God was a baby, but you just never get to see naked men posed in reclining postures, offering themselves up in all of their bare pink, white or browness. I thought he was doing a satire of a female nude; a tribute to a Modigliani or a Lempicka or a Matisse or any one of a number of photos in Penthouse. It turns out that he was inspired by Burt Reynolds suave nakedness in a 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan or Playgirl, depending on what kind of Google search you do. I offered to buy the painting from him, saying I would pay him $10 a month for the next 20 years. He said, It doesn't cost that much. We then struggled to figure out what $10 a month would amount to in that span of time and both came up blank. He said, Well, it's only $250. So then I guess I could pay him a quarter a month for the next two decades. Does that work? Also, he copied me and bought a red Christmas tree from Circle Thrift. I take full credit for it. He also promised to let me drive him to the shelter to buy a dog after the holidays. I hope we can go to a no-kill shelter; otherwise, I will end up bringing home two one-legged dogs, five blind cats, a llama and a miniature pony. But if you really want to be nice to me, buy me this painting:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"The Horror, The Horror," of Our Last Class

We had our last painful graduate class with our theatrical teacher and the assorted cast of characters minus the angry lesbian and the dude who answered his cell phone during class, left to buy soup and slurped it up while we were discussing Lawrence, and checked his email from his laptop. Occasionally, he also said something. Who else? Agnes, whom I love because she has a beautiful accent and is shy and pretty and shares the same name as my grandmother. Molly, my friend and co-worker, who would never look at me during class for fear of bursting out laughing and several times unsuccessfully attempted to open bags of pretzels and failed because of the crinkling noise. The Jesus guy, and a few other people who tried very hard to pretend we were learning something and not just stuck in a show starring our loud, dramatic instructor who boomed out pronouncements in voice loud enough to induce Molly's migraines.

On the last night, I presented my analysis of "The Death of Ivan Ilych" along with another woman, Suzanne, and we offered cookies. After we finished our presentation, the teacher first fakely told us how much she enjoyed our conversations and found them to be stimulating and interesting (she meant her monologues). Then, we went around the room to tell everyone what our favorite book was even though none of us much cared to know.

The worst/best/worst moment occurred when it was the turn of this girl who has a physical disability; I don't know what it is, but she uses a walker. She said that her favorite book was Kafka's Metamorphosis because she identified with Gregor Samsa as people often look at her as though she is an insect. An honest and brave pronouncement told with not an ounce of self-pity but our teacher cried, Oh, no, Katie! (You're name is Katie, right?). We don't think of you like that! We think of you as one of our own. We would never think of you as an insect, unless, of course, it were a katydid! (I made the last part up). Katie said, Well, I didn't mean you guys do...The teacher said, Kandy, we have grown very fond of you. Never think of yourself that way, never! It was a perfect surreal moment.

I've signed up for two classes next semester, one that I think is about pop culture and the other is a Saturday graduate playwriting course wherein I will be the only pupil. No one else has signed up for it yet. I believe it will be cancelled. I also tried to register for a graduate fiction course by asking the department head for special permission, but she hasn't responded yet. I doubt she will let me do it. I've tried and failed before. We'll see.
Last night, read Steve Martin's autobiography about his decades as a comic, Born Standing Up. My favorite part of the entire book was the caption to one of his childhood pictures showing his family sitting around a kitchen table: "Our family in a Texas diner, circa 1949. Me, my mother, my father, and Melinda. I don't know who the woman in the middle is, unless we happened to be having lunch with Virginia Woolfe." She did bear an uncanny resemblance, down to the demure bun. I'm also reading Mansfield Park, which is entertaining, but I am kind of sick of Miss Fanny Price and her blushes and sweet demeanor. How does Austen manage to write in almost all dialogue and still paint a vivid picture? Almost all of her writing is telling what's happening next with very little description of place or characters or things. Still, you can see it all. I'm guessing that Fanny and her cousin Edward will end up together. They were allowed to marry their cousins in those days. That's why everyone's eyesight is so bad now.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Our President is a Fucking Idiot

I should not be surprised that instead of admitting any kind of wrong-doing or lying or bullshit or intentional cover-up for financial gain, the president responded to the knowledge that Iran has absolutely no nuclear weapons and halted production four years ago, by saying we should still be afraid. We must still blow them up. I cannot listen to this primate masquerading as a human masquerading as a leader speak. He sounds like an illiterate Southerner. We have a president who cannot pronounce words, you guys. Who sounds as though he's speaking through a mouthful of cotton or the haze of Oxycotin. I'm sure I've said this before, but how is it that we twice elected someone who cannot pronounce the word "nuclear" and instead says "newclur" every single time? I like Barak Obama but I am sure he won't win. I am not confident that Hillary will win either. I honestly don't think our country is progressive enough to elect a female president. We're still too backward. We still worry about what will happen if Hillary has to meet with Putin when she's "on her period." Get thee in the hut! Although, shouldn't she be going through or finished with menopause already? I do not know.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Channel Six Presents Extreme Home Manipulation

I swear to you that I never watch these prime time make-over shows, especially after I read that some of the families who had their houses made over later found themselves in big financial trouble because they couldn't afford the taxes on the much bigger property (I think this problem was resolved in later episodes). However, NPR was playing some kind of nerve-jangling jazz and Bravo had on a rerun of Criminal Intent and so I started watching this network show and I swear to God, within four minutes, I was in tears. And you know how I mostly only cry when physically wounded.

But come on, this family was ridiculous; a wife and husband and their four adorable tow-headed children, all of whom were suffering from some life-threatening illness that would likely kill them before the end of the hour. It was some kind of blood disease or boy in the plastic bubble disease where they were allergic to oxygen and couldn't eat food but had to be fed through (discrete) feeding tubes. But of course, they were all also well-mannered and sweet.

I tried not to blame the parents for continuing to have kids after the first two were born doomed; I didn't see the beginning of the show so maybe they didn't know about the rare rare disease until it was too late. But if they did know, why did they keep having children? Anyway, that gross looking guy from EHM with the craggy voice and boy band haircut came in and asked each of the kids what they loved the most and they picked Star Wars, Winnie-the-Pooh, cowgirls, and I forget what the other one was. So, of course the people on the show then decorated the kids' rooms in thematic ways and gave them tons and tons of toys and Star Wars figures directly from Steven Spieldberg's house! And they sent the whole family to Philadelphia to a specialist who informed them that their kids could eat grapes and melon balls. We all cried.Next, they told the dad that CVS was going to pay for all of their kids medication and medical bills AND pay for the dad to go through medical school. We cried some more. At the big reveal, the family was informed that air ducts were built into the house so that the kids would only be breathing hospital quality air and they even had a separate, completely sterile kitchen for the mom to prepare their fruit and formula. The children loved their rooms and sang Winne the Pooh songs. Father was taken out back and given a huge SUV. I forget what else. But good Lord!

Next week, they're featuring a family where the daughter is severely handicapped and twisted up on herself in a wheelchair. Because of her physical difficulties, she can't communicate with anyone and I think the show centers around giving her the ability to "speak" through some kind of computer program. I will not watch it, I promise.

Spent some time this weekend walking around the city with Lisa Marie who needed to take pictures of words and images for one of her classes. She also took a few for me, namely those below. Look, look at the super scary Mrs. Claus who is about to attack the demure Virgin Mary in the forefront. And in the same window, we have the very cranky Baby Jesus surrounded by
cows, horses, and elves (not pictured). Finally, above left is the sign I passed for several weeks and thought it read "gentle" killing and was relieved.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Blood-letting: It is What it Is

Instead of wearing hairnets and dumping instant mashed potatoes on plastic trays at a shelter, our office opted to give bodily fluids for the holidays. We all signed up, went to lunch at the Draft Horse beforehand, and then bravely headed to Liacouras Center where we were each asked in turn in three different ways if we had slept with prostitutes, had unprotected sex with someone who was HIV+, had the skin on our body replaced in the last several months, any new tattoos or piercings, or been partying it up in Africa. I held my tongue about my years in the early eighties turning tricks in Haiti while recovering from my heroin addiction brought on by difficult my kidney transplant.

One of the best things about my job is the people I work with. Everybody is great in a different way; Greg is unbelievably funny, Alberta is calm and caring, Joe will answer any question you pose without pause or judgement (yesterday, I asked him if he thought he was born in the wrong time period. He didn't say, Why are you asking? He said, I used to think that), and Stephanie is a mixture of earnest and cynical that I really like. When we get together as group, I laugh until I have tears in my eyes.
The donation process was not bad at all. The thing that hurt the most was the finger prick at the beginning. It is only grody if you think about the fact that you are voluntarily letting your blood drain out of your body. The really weird thing is seeing your co-workers blood or other odd things, like Joe was across the room from me lying on the gurney with his feet facing me. I thought, Huh, so that's what the bottom of Joe's shoes look like.

As we were nibbling on our cookies after donating, we had a collective moment of hysteria. Granted, we were all a little punchy after having a pint of blood drained out of our bodies, but we couldn't stop laughing when I pointed out this unfortunate little man who was lying on a nearby gurney and had the hairiest, most ape-like arms I've ever seen in my life and bare shiny elbows. It didn't help that he had both arms in the air and so appeared as though he were about to swing from a vine. We had to use the napkins to wipe our eyes. Also, when we were all lying there on these gurneys waiting to be stuck by needles, Greg sat up and said, If I don't make it out of this, please know that I have always loved you. Then he laid back down. A few minutes later, he said, Aimee, don't go into the light!

The experience also brought Stephanie and I together as she experienced a wave of nausea after giving blood. I think part of it was brought on by the detailed explanation given by one of the volunteers describing the joys of platelet donation. She got up to go to the restroom and I asked her if she wanted me to come with her and she said yes, which surprised me. I would probably rather die than throw up in front of someone. But she was completely calm the entire time. Did not get upset and was very matter-of-fact about the whole thing, even had the presence of mind to ask me for my hair tie. She did not get sick, though I don't know how she managed because the bathroom was disgusting. We returned to the cookie table and one of the Red Cross people asked her if she was okay and she said she felt a little woozy and they immediately went into Operation Something's Finally Happening Mode and made her lay down and put really cold compresses on her forehead and neck. She was ashen. I have not ever really seen anyone go pale and wan in a matter of seconds, but she did. I guess the Red X people knew what they were doing because a few minutes later, she bounced back, rosy-cheeked.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Watch 30-Rock Tonight and See Someone I Almost Made Out With!

Well, if by almost, you count that we have been at a few of the same social gatherings, and if you count that he might have just been pretending to have zero interest in me, and if you count that if we were introduced again tomorrow, he would politely shake my hand and say, Hi, Annie. Be that as it may, I do sort of know this guy--Val/Matt of Val Emmich, the indie pop band with all attractive members. Val/Matt is the lead singer and also adorable and has an agent and so got this part on 30 Rock wherein he gets to kiss Tina Fey. Look, look at his dirty li'l hipster cute pensiveness!

We first met at Julie and Danny's wedding, where my other friend, Jess and I were single gals living it up in our high heels. I danced a song (or two?) with Val and at the end of the song, put both hands on his face and said, I think you will go far. I think you are a very special person. Apparently, I had been watching way too many Dawson's Creek reruns. I think he said, Gee, thanks, ma'am. You're not driving yourself home, are you?

Reminds me of another time when I said the dumbest thing--this was at a Psi Kappi Phi party at FSU. My friend Cindy Harris and I were little sisters there, which basically meant that we were invited to parties and seen as options for making out with the frat boys. My big brother was the president of the frat so I felt really singled-out, then colossally disappointed when he informed me that he had a girlfriend and would never consider making out with a little sister anyway. I said, Haven't you read any Faulkner? It's okay to kiss yer sister! Anyway, what I really said that was reminiscent of my comment to Val/Matt occurred at the end of the party. There had been a band and we were dancing to 80s music on the basketball court outside of the frat house and as we were getting ready to leave, my big brother asked me if I had a good time. I said, Yes! I had a great time! I danced real hard! The record scratched and we were taken home to pull out our scrunchies and dream of future keg stands.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I Have the Musical Tastes of a 23 year old frat boy from 1993

Now that I have nearly 500 songs on my i-pod (had more but accidentally deleted them all and had to start over), I am starting to realize that my taste in music is pretty goofy. I almost always listen to the i-pod on "shuffle," and then fitfully hit "next song" if I don't like what comes on until I find something I do want to hear. More often than I'd like to admit, the song I settle on is by Greenday or BareNaked Ladies or Blind Melon or The Lemonheads. Tragic.

Got to meet Padhraig's sister and her boyfriend on Sunday. Padhraig made brunch and we got to taste real, smuggled in Irish bacon. Then we walked downtown and the Suzanne and Carrie went to the spa and Padhraig and Richard and I went to Macy's. We walked down to Borders and Padhraig found my book. They had five in stock at the Philadelphia store and a few in other area stores. Very exciting. They also had them alphabetized in the wrong place, but I asked the guy and he moved them. Richard bought one which I thought was very nice since I don't think the stories really appeal to 20-something men so much. Not one single narrator is a guy.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Everything That Rises Must Converge

Felt like that old woman in the story by Flannery O'Connor today as I browsed Circle Thrift and found myself followed by two little African-American kids--one was about three (the boy) and the other was maybe 6 (the girl). They were with their grandma and something I said to them made them think they could talk to me and then the little girl came asked me if I could help her look at some baby clothes. She said she had two dolls and wanted to buy booties for one of them. I took the box off the shelf and we went through it and she said, But I can't buy this. I only have two dollars. I said, Well, go ask your grandma if it's okay if I give you a dollar. She went over and asked the silent older woman who was browsing through the kitchen stuff and seemed utterly unconnected to the children. I didn't want to be insulting, I didn't want to be like, Oh, you poor li'l Negro chillren, here you go, here's a penny! At the same time, what's a dollar to me? So, the little girl went to ask her grandma if it was okay if this strange white person gave her a dollar and then she returned to me and said, She won't answer me. I surreptitiously slipped her and her brother 4 quarters each and tried to say something life changing to them like, When you're all grown up and you meet someone who needs something, be sure to give them a fucking quarter. Then I waited for the grandma to become indignant and hit me with her pocketbook. She did not. I don't know if the little girl got the booties she wanted or if the little boy got the puzzle book, but it was strange. If they had been white, would I have thought to offer them money or been so accepting of their asking? Maybe not.

In any case, I bought a very fuscia Christmas tree and also a silver wreath with pink. blue and yellow lights that I like very much.

I am listening to Prairie Home Companion (please see previous post where listening to Garrison Keillor gives me an unpleasant tickle up my spine due to his nasalness). Billy Collins is on the program, reading his poetry. I met Billy Collins when I was a student at Penn State. He's an older man with that halo type monk hair cut. He is an excellent poet and a good reader and I was enamored because even though I had never heard of him before, I knew he was famous and a good writer. He drank too much whiskey and propositioned me, only after having been rejected by this other girl, Molly, can't remember her last name, just that she was very sweet and boring and had a gigantic head. I think I overheard him saying that she had the face of an angel. I am not sure if he told me the same, but he pretended to have noticed me in the audience while he was reading. He wrote his hotel number in red colored pencil on a napkin, inviting me to visit him later so that perhaps I could inspire a new line of Victoria's Secret poetry. I was flattered but did not for a second consider taking him up on it, because he had a lot of nostril hair and was older and was drunk.

"Victoria's Secret," by B Collins

The one in the upper-left-hand corner
is giving me a look that says
I know you are here
and I have nothing better to do
for the remainder of human time
than return your persistent but engaging stare.
She is wearing a deeply scalloped
flame-stitch halter top
with padded push-up styling
and easy side-zip tap pants.

The one on the facing page, however,
who looks at me over her bare shoulder,
cannot hide the shadow of annoyance in her brow.
You have interrupted me,
she seems to be saying,
with your coughing and your loud music.
Now please leave me alone;
let me finish whatever it was I was doing
in my organza-trimmed
whisper weight camisole with
keyhole closure and point d'esprit mesh back.

I wet my thumb and flip the page.
Here, the one who happens to be reclining
in a satin and lace merry widow
with an inset lace-up front,
decorated underwire cups and bodice
with lace ruffles along the bottomand hook-and-eye closure in the back,
is wearing a slightly contorted expression,
her head thrust back, mouth partially open,
a confusing mixture of pain and surprise
as if she had stepped on a tack
just as I was breaking down
her bedroom door with my shoulder.

Nor does the one directly beneath her
looking particularly happy to see me.
She is arching one eyebrow slightly
as if to say, so what if I am wearing nothing
but this stretch panne velvet bodysuit
with a low sweetheart neckline
featuring molded cups and adjustable straps.
Do you have a problem with that?!

The one on the far right is easier to take,
her eyes half-closed
as if she were listening to a medley
of lullabies playing faintly on a music box.
Soon she will drop off to sleep,
her head nestled in the soft crook of her arm,
and later she will wake up in her
Spandex slip dress with the high side slit,
deep scoop neckline, elastic shirring,
and concealed back zip and vent.

But opposite her,
stretched out catlike on a couch
in the warm glow of a paneled library,
is one who wears a distinctly challenging expression,
her face tipped up, exposing
her long neck, her perfectly flared nostrils.
Go ahead, her expression tells me,
take off my satin charmeuse gown
with a sheer, jacquard bodice
decorated with a touch of shimmering Lurex.
Go ahead, fling it into the fireplace.
What do I care, her eyes say, we're all going to hell anyway.

I have other mail to open,
but I cannot help noticing her neighbor
whose eyes are downcast,
her head ever so demurely bowed to the side
as if she were the model who sat for Coreggio
when he painted "The Madonna of St. Jerome,"
only, it became so ungodly hot in Parma
that afternoon, she had to remove
the traditional blue robe
and pose there in his studio
in a beautifully shaped satin teddy
with an embossed V-front,
princess seaming to mold the bodice,
and puckered knit detail.

And occupying the whole facing page
is one who displays that expression
we have come to associate with photographic beauty.
Yes, she is pouting about something,
all lower lip and cheekbone.
Perhaps her ice cream has tumbled
out of its cone onto the parquet floor.
Perhaps she has been waiting all day
for a new sofa to be delivered,
waiting all day in stretch lace hipster
with lattice edging, satin frog closures,
velvet scrollwork, cuffed ankles,
flare silhouette, and knotted shoulder straps
available in black, champagne, almond,
cinnabar, plum, bronze, mocha, peach, ivory, caramel, blush, butter, rose, and periwinkle.
It is, of course, impossible to say,
impossible to know what she is thinking,
why her mouth is the shape of petulance.

But this is already too much.
Who has the time to linger on these delicate
lures, these once unmentionable things?
Life is rushing by like a mad, swollen river.
One minute roses are opening in the garden
and the next, snow is flying past my window.
Plus the phone is ringing.
The dog is whining at the door,
Rain is beating on the roof.
And as always there is a list of things I have to do
before the night descends, black and silky,
and the dark hours begin to hurtle by,
before the little doors of the body swing shut
and I ride to sleep, my closed eyes
still burning from all the glossy lights of day.

I most certainly have gotten some of the line breaks wrong, but you get the idea. I wish I could find one of my poems, but they are lost somewhere, perhaps under the sofa with a sock I have also forgotten.

When I'm an Old Lady I Shall Be Unwise

Have perhaps been reading too much Alice Munro as of late. This is due to the fact that instead of buying the book for this comedy of a grad class (an anthology), I checked out most of the novellas from the library (and borrowed others--thanks, Stephanie--and owned others already), but can't remember which one we're actually supposed to read for class. Consequently, I have overdosed on her stories; having read about six of them in this library book. I do like Alice Munro though her stories are somewhat dense with disgruntled Canadians. She always seems to have an interesting secret at the heart of each piece. A murder, a mistress, a cutting betrayal from a loved one. But the drama is muted, not sensational and is more interesting this way. Anyway, a lot of her characters are looking back on their lives or the narrator is a child trying to puzzle out the behavior of adults. This of course made me think of myself (what doesn't?) and about the kids who live in the house behind mine and how they sometimes see me, this slightly friendly single woman who appears every morning in various stages of night clothes to pour cheap cat food into plastic bowls for every cat in South Philadelphia. And what does this tell them about the world? That not everyone gets married, that not every woman cooks dinner (very seldom will they glimpse me toiling over a meal in the kitchen window), that not every adult puts on all of her clothes before stepping outside.

Friday, November 23, 2007

No Actual Fires Were Started

As it turns out, Lisa Marie's oven broke at the last second and she had to come over here to finish cooking the turkey, the stuffing, and some potatoes. We were not able to cook the frozen pumpkin pie because neither one of us could figure out how to remove the oven racks. You will likely not find two less qualified people to be attempting to put together a dinner for ten. I did nothing actually except at the end, I suggested we could baste the turkey in some of the juices. We both did this for awhile, wondering if it would do something toxic to the meat, unbeknownst to us. But we made it and turkey was served (though it wasn't cooked all the way through in every place, it was mostly done).

Got to meet baby Ruby who is a dream child--didn't cry or fuss like the rest of us. I suspect she's not fully human; she must be part Sainted baby. I expected her to bless us at any second, holding up two fingers and waving them our way as most baby pope statues do. Didn't help at all at the house, except for being sure that the wine bottles were properly opened. Luckily, no one made us go around and say what we're thankful for because that inevitably turns cheesy and sad. We briefly played charades, but since I cut up all of the tags, I wasn't allowed to guess and could only act out movies. Stephanie's husband got one right away--I forget what it was--but I just did one gesture and he was like, The Fall of the House of Usher! Brilliant.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Oh, Good, Christmas Songs

So, like, at what point is okay to start hearing Christmas carols? Because in flipping through the TV channels, I have heard no fewer than 5 Christmas songs, most featuring animated snowmen (note: why are snow people always men? Or am I just assuming that they're men? Maybe they are actually snow women. I mean, what does the carrot symbolize, anyway? Obviously, I should stop drinking wine and just go to bed).

Maybe I'm being over sensitive, but there seems to be something desperate about all of this sudden holiday cheer, something Wizard of Oz about it, like, don't look behind this curtain, don't fret about this "war" in Iraq, stop thinking about how we might possibly be spinning into a recession and/or depression--instead, go to Old Navy or Macy's or Home Depot and buy, buy, buy in the name of Jesus' birthday. Or possibly I am all out of sorts because it's 60 degrees in November. Is this winter? Does this unseasonable weather have anything to do with global warming? Or should I just ignore all of this and go shopping for a bathing suit?

Am Thankful Also Not to be Cooking

My contribution to the Thanksgiving dinner will be brie, crackers, celery and carrots with dip, and wine. None of which required any sweat or tears on my part. Lisa Marie is making a turkey and everything else.
Here are some great Thanksgiving crafts you can do to make this joyous holiday even more fabulous (as taken from Martha Stewart's Living magazine):

1. Catch a few squirrels and dress them up in traditional pilgrim/Native American wear (probably just hats) and put on a play re-enacting the first Thanksgiving.

2. After eating the turkey, separate all of the bones and glue them to a large piece of paper and label each bone with its proper anatomical name (tibia, fibia, ulna, radius, etc.).

3. Fill the bathtub with hot cider (requires approximately twenty gallons of juice) and bob for cranberries.

4. Get a copy of Pilgrim's Progress, cut out relevant passages and replace and fill in the blanks with random verbs and nouns to rewrite the book ala a Mad Lib.

5. Gather 500 pine cones and build a two-room tepee.

6. Take turns giving each other traditional Native American hair-cuts while wearing blindfolds.

7. It's never too late to enter your balloon in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

8. Invade the home of your neighbors wearing pilgrim garb, tie them up, and feed them turkey.

9. Put saddles on 4-6 live turkeys and have turkey races in the living room.

10. After you're bored with the turkey races, pluck the birds and use the feathers to weave together skirts and head-dresses and then perform a traditional Native American rain dance on the front lawn.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What in the World Has Come Over Me?

Had a fairly innocuous Tuesday...Nothing crazy happened at work, I was in a pretty happy mood, good music on my ipod and then, very close to my house, I crossed the street after one car had gone past the stop sign, but apparently, the SUV behind that car didn't want to wait his turn and barreled forward without stopping. I probably would have been hit, except for this little hipster couple waiting to cross next to me who said, "Watch out!" I stopped and was not hit, but this upset the driver, who pulled forward and then stopped his tank. In the SUV was a fat man, his wife, and this twenty year old guy.

The driver said, "Watch it, you jerk-off! What the hell are you doing?"

I yelled back, "It's called a stop sign! Learn to read."

He said, "Hey, jerk-off, take off your fucking ipod!"

I said, "Ever take driver's ed?" The twenty year old jumped out of the back seat, to do what? Beat the crap out of me? I don't know. At the same time, the driver started to pull forward. I cried, "Don't forget your son!" The kid jumped back into the car, more "jerk-off's" were thrown my way. I finished with, "Happy holidays!" The car sped off.

I said to the hipster couple, "Sorry about that. Awesome way to end the day."

I don't know what came over me. I typically avoid conflict at all costs and normally would've apologized for not allowing myself to be flattened. It was liberating, in a way and also scary. Maybe I should scream more often.
Tomorrow, I will have Thanksgiving dinner at Lisa Marie's house. I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for crafts that we could do for fun. As a result, we will be coloring pictures of pilgrims and perhaps also making turkey finger puppets.
Here are 10 things I am thankful for right now (not in order of importance):
1. My health
2. A sense of humor
3. My awesome awesome friends
4. Those goddamn cats
5. Books
6. My mom
7. Being fortunate to be white, American and living in this century
8. My brain
9. Trader Joe's
10. That digital camera that I hope to get for Christmas!!
Okay, now you should send me your thankful lists.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Postal Service Special Delivery

Went with Celia this weekend as a passenger in her Philly car share extravaganza. We stopped at IKEA where I had just enough time to eat lunch (meatballs and soggy garlic bread) before racing to Home Depot where I had again just enough time to find a shopping cart before she had finished up. On the way, she put in a CD of The Postal Service, and I said that they sounded familiar and she said that they had one of their songs in UPS commercial, but I am fairly certain that I've heard them before outside of advertising. So I downloaded a few of their songs and can't stop listening to "Such Great Heights" (from the UPS ad) and am wondering if it's something they stole from Iron & Wine or am I confused? The writing is great, great, great and listening to it while walking to the subway or while riding on the subway or wherever I am always makes me feel like I'm in an indie movie and perhaps the next thing you know, some scruffy hipster dude while accidentally bump into me, nearly spilling my coffee and we will fall instantly in love and that would become our song or perhaps the one from the Old Navy sweater commercial would be better?

You'll notice that I have not been giving running commentary on The Bachelor, in part b/c I keep missing it and also b/c I think there are only two of my friends who want to read about it and the rest find it irritating. But, I'm sorry, I have to say that last night's finale was the best/worst/best ever, because The Bachelor opted for neither of the women. None. He said, Pass! Next! to both. I wish, wish, wish, wish he would have then said, And I am also gay and in love with my twin brother, Chad, but this is prime-time network TV after all.

I really really want to start working on this Philadelphia window project. Every day, I pass these amazing decorations in people's front windows and wish I had a camera. I'd like to take the photo or have someone take the photo and then post the photo and a story next to it.

One basement window, for instance, has this drawing some kid probably did in his 10th grade English class in 1978--it's a sketch of the members of Kiss and it's sun-faded and I can't imagine why it's still in the window b/c whoever did it must have left years ago (reminds me of this boy I liked in the third grade, Rawl Brown. He was from Georgia or Tennessee or somewhere and had a Southern accent and all he did during class was draw members of the band Kiss on his folders. He once gave me four of the drawings to keep. I may even have them squirreled away somewhere. I thought he was an excellent drawer. From him, I learned and still remember the names of the band members though would be hard pressed to tell you even one song they sing. Wait! I just thought of one, "Beth." Didn't Peter Criss sing that? "Beth, I hear you callin'/But I don't know what to do..." Cast members: Gene Simmons--scary, bit the heads off of bats, had an extremely long, surgically enhanced tongue and white guy Afro; Paul Stanley --is that right? Can't recall what he dressed as; Ace Frehley--the space dude; and Peter Criss--the cat, and of course, my favorite. I imagined he was the sensitive one, probably because he played the drums and drummers seem to be the shyest members of any heavy metal rock band. ??).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Here's What I've Been Doing

I am not that popular of a girl. So sometimes, on Saturday nights, I find myself at home with the 1,000 cats, watching free Comcast movies. Tonight, it's Philadelphia, a Tom Hanks movie about a lawyer fired b/c he has AIDS. Normally, I hate Tom Hanks b/c of Castaway and Sleepless in Seattle, two movies that I think are highly over-rated. But he is pretty fucking good in this movie and his eyes are really blue. It reminds me of the only personal encounter I've ever had with AIDs. This guy I went to undergrad with, Chaz. I can't remember his last name. While we were in school, I was intimidated by him. He was this very vocal black kid who had a caustic sense of humor. I think that maybe he slept with this other guy I had a huge crush on in school, Michael Chick. And then, in my last year of college, my roommate Michelle and I went to visit Chaz in the hospital. Because he was dying. I recall going into his hospital room and feeling apologetic, not knowing what to say; he barely knew me. In the middle of our conversation, he had to get up out of the hospital bed and slowly make his way to the bathroom. He was not the person I remembered. No longer was he intimidating. He was pale and thin and not snappy. I think he's dead now. He must be dead. This was the early 90s, before better drugs, before HIV didn't mean a death sentence. That's it. It effected me because I realized that I wasn't really that far away from him; that I too was mortal. It didn't sit well with me. It still doesn't.

Intellectual Programming

I have been listening to NPR nonstop; shows including Car Talk (the one with the two brothers who laugh manically the whole time but know what to do if your car is making a funny ticking noise) and whatever that show is after it...Garden Talk? And "This American Life."
And "A Prairie Home Companion." Does Garrison Keillor narrate that show? I suppose he probably does and I have a love/hate relationship with his voice. Often, it seems as though he is talking while resting his nostrils on the microphone. It creates this muffled, intimate effect that causes me squirm. And who is the woman who does all of the female roles? Some of the shows are slightly entertaining and others sort of suck or aren't as clever as one would hope. Interspersed, they present folk singers who I imagine are on-stage wearing square dancing skirts ala the Lawrence Welk show. Perhaps I should try to write for NPR? But, like, what? Also, does GK sing on these shows? I think he does. I hate Lake Woebegon where are all the women are whatever and all of the men are whoever and all the children are above medium. And then at the end, they thank pancakes for sponsoring the show. Yet I continue to listen with a skeptical, knitted brow.

Wrote 2 book reviews for Philadelphia Stories today and have been rereading this story I've worked on for about a year; a crazy sister story. It's a mess. Some okay moments, but it's pretty derivative of Amy Bloom's story about the same thing (schizophrenia). Regardless of any complaints I have about my current job, it has taught me to be precise. To get rid of unnecessary sentences and words and to be suspicious of adjectives. Finished reading The Death of Ivan Ilyich, really a beautiful story that could make one feel less afraid of death. I need to read Goodbye, Columbus for class on Monday. I used to have a copy of the book, but I think I loaned it to Luke. It's one of Jamie's favorite books. I vaguely remember the beginning; some girl asks the narrator to hold her glasses. I often confuse Roth's book with The Graduate for some reason.

Had many vivid dreams last night, including one where a co-worker and I just decided to say fuck it and hook up, regardless of the negative consequences. It was so real that I woke up feeling guilty. I think this means that I need to start dating again. Meanwhile, even as I write this, the fat Henri sits on my lap, staring at me with wonder and fear, certain that I will strangle him if given the chance.

Friday, November 16, 2007

City Life

Molly told me a story the other day about how she was riding the bus and this frazzled, homeless woman was asking passengers for change to help poor children in a Christmas choir. She appealed to Molly directly and explained how every donation would receive a small gift as a thank you. Molly said, I only have fifty cents. The woman said, Every little bit helps. So Molly handed her the quarters and the woman gave her a pen without a top, something she had obviously picked up off the street. Molly was like, Oh, thanks...Similarly, I watched a homeless guy reach into the trash last week and pull out a McDonald's drink cup, sip what was left in it, and then throw it back into the trash. I also saw two guys walking a chihuahua after dark. They were using a tiny little flashlight to find the dog's poop. In other news, there are too many cats in my life. I actually made Liz allergic to me last night simply by sitting next to her in clothes that didn't appear to be covered in a fine dusting of cat hair, but were apparently saturated with catness. Emma Carol is everywhere at once and into everything. At this moment, she is on the kitchen counter drinking out of my water glass and I supect after she's done, she will run across my computer on her way to the window. Often, I am just an impediment to her. Here she comes...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday Night Life

I am doing nothing exciting tonight, unless you consider dyeing my hair and painting my toenails to be a scintillating proposition. I did something I'm not particularly proud of today. I bought dollhouse furniture. A sofa and a chair and a baby in a pink crotcheted dress and a lion cub, to be exact. I went with Lisa Marie to A.C. Moore and they have an entire section devoted to dollhouse furniture. LM said that we should do a stop motion film for You Tube using the dolls. Brilliant. I already have a narrative for the dollhouse family in my head. The dad is a closeted gay man (come on, he wears a tight flowered shirt and tie and pants that appear painted on) and the Mom, consequently, is a drunk who often wakes up on the kitchen floor with her head resting on a pat of butter. The daughter tries to ignore it by playing piano all day and torturing the baby. I don't know how the baby will factor in, though I suggested to LM that the baby could be a hermaphrodite who the parents are trying to force to be a girl.
What I should be doing right now is finishing the rest of As I Lay Dying for my Monday night class, but it is a frustrating book to plow through, particularly b/c there are about 15 central narrators named Tull and Vern and Cash and no one's voice is very distinct and you never really know what the fuck is going on, just that they are very poor but also philosophical, even the four-year old (Cardaman?). And also because Faulkner writes like this:

Ma come to the house and had the face of an angel and I thought about the fish and the horses and I said in my head, Ma is a horse too maybe a Palomino and then the dog barked and daddy shot off his rifle into the white sky, killing a broken-winged peasant or so I imagined as the sun streamed down onto my head sending stars and stars and stars around my burning eyes. What you doing, Jude? said Julian and he disappeared into the lake like something from hell or heaven, I don't know which. But that was long ago and I might have dreamt it all. Where did I leave them fishes?

I wrote a poem once that sounded a lot like Faulkner. It was meant to be tongue in cheek but I won this poetry prize for it accidentally (she said, modestly). I don't know what happened to that poem, otherwise, I would retype it here for your benefit, so you could wonder why I chose to use dialect.

If you are not highly focused and if you are not trying to bat a myriad of cats off your bed while reading Faulkner, you could easily get confused and frustrated and throw the book across the room.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Me, Me, Me

How does one balance self-promotion and modesty? I don't know. So, like, I want to tell you good things that are happening to me, but at the same time, I feel like apologizing for being so self-centered. Pretend I'm writing about someone else. Not me. Not me got an e-mail the other day from a literary agent who read my story, "Wanted," in Cimmaron Review and said that he thinks that I could do well with a novel. He suggested that I send him 50 pages of a novel and he would read it and potentially shop it out to publishers. I wrote back to tell him that I do have a book of short stories coming out and that I had a couple of ideas for a novel. He responded with an anticlimactic e-mail that basically said, Well, when you have 50 pages, let me know. I think I could write an Evie book, but I don't know what it would be about. I am resistant to writing this Bridget Jones type book where everything works out in the end and the fat girl gets the hot guy. I'd rather write a novel where the woman doesn't end up with a man. Where she discovers that her entire identity doesn't rest on her ability to attract a man. But maybe that's not so marketable.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Top 10 Recurring Nightmares

I didn't sleep well last night even though the bed is really comfortable here (I'm dog-sitting for Stephanie in King of Prussia). My first mistake was to read a quarter of the way through In Cold Blood before turning off the light. Next, my brain decided it was a good time to remind me that the house is located across from a huge cemetery. So, I don't know if I was worried that real people or ghosts would break in. Anyway, it made for a fitful night of sleep filled with at least three of my more frequent bad dream patterns.

1. The Return of the Ex-Boyfriend. In this dream, I am either faced with an ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend and their exuberant happiness or, worse, I dream I am still dating the ex and haven't, in fact, freed myself of his body odor.

2. You're Late and You Forgot Something Very Important! This dream centers around school anxiety. In it, I suddenly realize I haven't been attending my M/W/F calculus course for weeks and am likely failing and there's a test in five minutes but I'm about forty miles away from the classroom and riding a bus going in the wrong direction.

3. Let's Put on a Show for the Dying Orphans. This type resembles the previous one; it has to do with a last minute production and having forgotten something; namely, the lines of a play that I haven't performed since I was 17 but the curtain is going up in ten minutes to a huge crowd in Yankee Stadium and we are without microphones and have only minimal props and costumes (though it's often a very traditional play which requires both swords and hoop skirts).

4. Hi-Ho, Kitties, Away! It occurs to me that these are all anxiety dreams and not so much nightmares. The kitty dream involves me having to look after dozens and dozens of kittens who keep slipping away from me under fences or getting caught in ravines or a pack of them will take off in five different directions across a meadow of knee-high grass. It doesn't always involve kittens; sometimes it's dogs or rabbits, but the point is that I'm faced with the impossible task of saving all of them when I can't even catch one.

5. What I Should Have Said. Purely an anger dream where I'm screaming the truth at someone who I have never before in my life said one cross word. This dream is often somewhat cathartic along with being frightening.

6. Bridges and Cars. I have two real life fears and they are high bridges with small guardrails and getting into car accidents. I can trace the first fear back to the collapse of the Sky Way Bridge when I was in high school. A ship crashed into one of the pillars and knocked over a huge chunk of the bridge. Dozens of cars careened over the edge and plunged half a mile into the Gulf of Mexico. We used to drive across this bridge while it was in a state of repair and you would look over to the other side where the bridge used to be and see nothing. My bad driving dreams involve me driving a brake-less car at high speeds while not having my contacts in.

7. A Date with Death. I've only had this dream a few times in my life. It's an apocalyptic moment where I come face to face with the Devil and he whispers in my ear, You knew this was coming all along. It's a mortality dream; the end, my death and everything else that has happened previously in my life is suddenly meaningless because I'm about to die and I know that afterwards, there will be nothing.

8. Gross. Occasionally, I'll have dreams that seem straight out of a horror movie; scenes of extreme violence and mayhem, decapitated bodies and blood and general ickiness. Frequently, they seem related to the Holocaust probably because of a short phase I went through as a teenager where I was morbidly fascinated with concentration camps and checked out way too many library books filled with black and white photographs of dead bodies piled on top of one another like firewood. My time working at Gift of Life Donor Program didn't help because every week, I heard at least three true stories of untimely deaths and sometimes, they even had PowerPoint presentations to accompany them.

9. Being Thirteen. Any dream which involves me going back to the time in my life where I wore Coke-bottle glasses and dressed in hand-sewn frocks and pinafores with lace and the occasional straw hat and sported a badly done Dorothy Hamil haircut which never feathered right because I was at that time taking a political stance on vetoing aerosol hair-spray, any dream that whisks me back to those days is a nightmare.

10. Crazy/Retarded/Really Old People. As someone who craves order and good behavior by all, dreams featuring individuals who do not follow the norms of behavior are frightening. I think this stems from a Downs Syndrome kid in our neighborhood when I was seven who once cornered me and wouldn't stop kissing my face. I was horrified.

11. Doll Within a Doll Within a Doll Syndrome. Oh, wait. One more. I can't believe I forgot this one; it's my most common nightmare. For some reason, I think it has to do with the epilepsy because the sensations in it are so real that I feel like it must be the result of some erratic brain activity. It's the dream within a dream within a dream where I keep thinking I've finally woken up, but I haven't. I can really feel things in this dream, often I imagine that one of my cats is attacking me and biting my arm or that I am stuck in my blankets and fighting to get out of them. The main objective of the dream is to wake up out of the nightmare. The scary thing is that I keep thinking I have woken up, only to discover over and over that I haven't. These dreams usually end with me finally waking up and having to force myself to stay awake for a little while or risk falling back into the same pattern.

Luckily, I don't have any of the other classically bad dreams such as being buried alive or trapped under heavy things. I guess this means that I have escaped the fear of claustrophobia. I don't have the falling dream either--the one where you hopefully awake before you splat on the pavement.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sitting on the Dog

I am currently living in a two-story home in the suburbs of King of Prussia, watching a very intelligent and happy Eskipoo dog, T.J., named after a literary figure; I forget whom, maybe a character in To Kill a Mockingbird? We have done mostly nothing today, aside from watching ten episodes of the first season of Project Runway, flipping through back issues of Domino and In Style, and folding laundry. I realize from being here that I am completely sick of my bathroom; more specifically, I hate the tiny, free-standing sink that seems more suited to a small boat than one in a home. Every time I attempt to wash my face, I end up standing in a puddle of water. What a luxury to be staying in a place where you can actually put things down on the bathroom counter. Is there anything I can do to make my bathroom more user-friendly? Aside from shrinking my body down to child-size, I don't think so.

T.J. has been a dreamboat this whole time. All he wants me to do is to throw the ball in the back yard and to let him lean on my leg. He even followed me down into the basement, a place Stephanie told me he doesn't ever visit because of some dark, puppyhood memory he has. I have also realized that I am somewhat OCD. I find it difficult not to arrange things by size or function, not to tidy up and put all of the grocery coupons together or make sure the small pots on the back porch are facing the same direction. It reminds me of when Lynn visited me in Chicago and I returned home from work one day to find that she had rearranged my living space to suit her aesthetic. She had a lot of time on her hands while I was gone and most likely thought she was doing me a favor, but I was slightly offended to find that she had squirreled away my charming Pez dispenser collection and vetoed my doilies. So, I do not want Stephanie to come home and feel critiqued because of my overwhelming urge to make things line up in a certain way.

Eight copies of my book arrived on Thursday. So weird to actually see it in print. I know that everyone will think the girl on the cover is me, though clearly, she's dressed from the 1950s and I'm not that old. I do love the old yellow cat on the cover. And it's true that the photo works well with most of the stories; all of which are about this awkward girl (not ME, of course).
What do I do now? The book doesn't come out until November 28, but I feel like I need to be proactive and start selling myself. For some reason, all of this stresses me out. It has to do with being the center of attention. Most of my friends probably think that I love to be in the spotlight because I am often loud and silly, but the truth is that it's hard for me to have too much attention focused my way, or maybe it's hard for me to accept that this is a good thing. My co-worker, Joe, said the other day, You must be ecstatic. I said, Not really. My range of emotions is fairly contained. He said, But this is a big thing. How many people can say they've had a book published? I said, Lots. He said, No, not lots. I should be past the point now where I need other people to tell me how I should feel about my life, but I'm not. When Padhraig said he bought the book on-line ahead of time, I wanted to be like, Oh, no, you don't have to do that! I don't want to be this person who is self-depreciating to my own detriment. Maybe it's that I feel like a fraud because I haven't written a new story in so long. That's probably a big part of it. I feel like I should make an announcement, Enjoy this now because you will never read anything else of mine ever again. I've given that up. I'm into decoupage now. But fine, if you want to pre-order the book, you can here. And if you happen to have a personal connection with Oprah or The New York Times Review of Books, feel free to recommend it to them.

Monday, October 29, 2007

El Bachelor

Here we are again. Tonight in class, we talked about Katherine Anne Porter's short story, "Old Mortality." I wrote my paper on the wrong story in the series, "Pale Horse, Pale Rider," which I highly recommend. Excuse me for mentioning here that Katherine Anne Porter was the name of the prize my book won. I refrained from dropping it into my commentary during class. I confess I wasn't listening most of the time, was instead trying to read the middle story, "Noon Wine." It ended in suicide. Our teacher managed to tell us about KAP's sex life (she was married four times). The guy whose cell phone rings during class had to present and it wasn't clear if he had read the story or not. Next time, we are going to read As I Lay Dying which I kind of hate. I vaguely remember that it starts with them talking the corpse of the mom across country.

In other news, Emma Carol has decided in the colder weather to plaster herself to me during the night, not allowing any of the other animals on the bed.

Okay, tonight, the Bachelor will be going on four hometown dates. I have no idea how we got this far into the season without me liking at least one of the women. First, we must do a twenty-minute recap and preview before we can watch any of the actual show which is only about four minutes long. Jenni with an i is a from Witchita, Kansas, someone else is from Atlanta, another person is from CA and another is from Mars. First, the date with JennI. BChad loves her still. He's running up the stairs to meet her at the place where she had her very first dance competition. Oh, dear, I think she is going to dance for him. Why does she keep scratching his chest? I hope she sucks at dancing. This is what I do like every day. She's tap-dancing. She's pretending to be embarrassed. Maybe it would be better if she had actual music. She's really not that great. They are now going to meet her mom at her mom's hair salon. What is she wearing? Black shorts and a terrible t-shirt. Turns out that JennI is white trash. They have a hair salon in their dining room. Granny is a pistol. Doesn't look like Granny likes him that much. JennI's sister is trying to get BChad to notice her. I think Granny is drunk. I can't tell if she's German or just really poor. JennI's mom is now washing his hair and putting her boobs on his forehead. She's giving him dandruff. Please, please, please, shave his head. Ths less pretty sister is now curling JennI's hair. Excuse me, but do people say "ya'all" in Kansas? I don't think so. Did we go back in time, because BChad is now negogiating the dowry. Oh, JennI made the team. F BChad. Go be a Phoenix cheerleader. They're making out in the hair salon.

Next date: Sheena and her drunk mom. I think they are in CA. Sheena is not for him. Mom and Dad are on a huge boat. Sheena has slowly surprised him into thinking she's just a tiny bit better than average. They are off on a tube boat ride. Sheena's parents have been married for 25 years. Mom wants to know his sign. He's a Scorpio, and so is Sheena's dad!! Mom is into the stars. Sheena makes sure that BChad knows that she isn't into horoscopes. Mom is ruining it for her daughter by going on about the Big Dipper. I think she must be high and she might be hitting on him too. BChad now hates being there. Sheena can't seem to notice that he doesn't care too much for her.

DeAna is next. It looks like this will be the most fun date since it's a Greek family who loves to drink ouzo. Canton, GA. Oh, horses!! I like DeAna, but why is she bringing him a basket of peaches? He admires who she is. I do like DeAna and her huge Greek family. He seems nice. The sister is cute too. Everyone is wearing red. She's adorable. BChad was born and raised in Atlanta. Dad seems nice; he's very friendly and not obnoxious. Another dowry question to dad. "Do you believe that this could be real?" Oh, crap, she brought out her photo album of her dead mother. I think he might like her. I can't tell. Oh, now the sisters are going to make out. The sister asks what she would do if he doesn't pick her. She says that she'd be extremely sad and thanks sis, for mentioning that possibility. No matter what, you know that mom's going to be watching over you, even though she's dead. They are crying and about to kiss. Here comes the adorable grandpa saying, Let's party! How cute. They are Greek dancing in the living room and doing 400 shots of ouzo. How does he stay sober. Stop yelling OPPA!! Are they going to make out or not. Yes. Again with the hands on her face. She won't go home. It will be between her and JennI.

Next up: Bettina and her snotty family who will tell him that he's a grave disappointment. The disaster date. Bettina weighs about 10 pounds. They are in DC. I wonder if she could have possibly dressed up a little more. She's wearing sweat pants and a tank top. The parents have a lot of money. What is that animal? I can't tell if it's a cat or a dog. Dad is a professor and is disappointed that ChBrad didn't go to college, that he owns four bars and that he has to stay out late every night. Stepmom is kind of a bitch. Dad loves the ex-husband. Stepmom is saying that he can't screw around with other people's hearts. Dad is telling Bettina that there are disadvantages--he doesn't have an education, owns a bar and lives far away. I think ChBrad is going to cry. Bettina just said, by way of making him feel better, Hey, I don't look that good on paper either. He said, Wow, I feel blind-sided. I may not have a college education, but I am smart enough to know better than to judge other people. Why doesn't anybody ever ask their political affiliation? He's probably a Republican.

I am pretty sure that Sheena will be going home and she can thank her mom for that. This is boring.

Okay, the rose ceremony. Three girls will stay and one will go home crying. Maybe Bettina will disqualify herself. I bet that if she doesn't win, she will be on the next Bachelorette.

DeAna is first. She's my favorite.

Second rose goes to JennI. Of course. JennI, will you do a little dance for me and why are you wearing your hair like that?

Third rose will go to Bettina. I bet. Sheena thinks it will be her because the stars said it would be so. Bettina wins. He only picked her because she's the beautifulest.

Sheena will be fine. She's only fourteen. He's walking her out to tell her why he didn't pick her. She's not crying. I can't believe it. She just told him that he looks nice. She's sweet. "I wish I was that guy for you, but I just don't think I am." Now she's crying on his shoulder. She needed a date the senior prom and now she'll have to find someone in her fifth period English class. He had to send her home because he didn't have the chemistry with her that he felt with the others. She is digging her claws into him.

Next week: 1 Bachelor and three women in Cabos San Lucas. The overnight dates!!!