Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Being Thirteen

Oh, God, if you ever want an exercise in hilarity or, I don't know, sadness or self-reflection, try reading your old journals if you have any. I've been keeping some sort of diary since I was ten and paged through one today from when I was twelve going on thirteen. You wouldn't believe the things I wrote--well, yes, you would--they are so...Twelve year old-ish, but at the same time, they were part of who I would become or who I am. Lots of lists of things; lists of what music I liked, of movies I'd seen over the summer, of boys I had crushes on and there's also this fear of sounding too corny while at the same time sounding corny. A sarcastic self-emerging at the age of 12. And boys. It's always and forever about boys. I had a three year crush on a kid in my church choir, Steve Crossett. He was a year older than me and had red hair and freckles and was in all of the honors classes which I thought was so cool. He wore gray corduroys and Izod shirts (collar unpopped. That trend didn't start until we were in high school). Here's an entry from my 12 year old self and it could've been written last night (picture the hand-writing as this sort of loopy, overly ornate style meant to convey maturity and an old world sensibility. This was also during the phase that I drew lots of girls in hoop skirts):

Only three more days until I turn thirteen!

Guess what I did today! I went up to Steve to give him this recipe that his mom wanted from mine. Mom could have given it to Mrs. Crossett Sunday but I thought that I might be able to muster up enough courage to do it myself.

So after first period, I saw him outside walking to his locker in E-Wing. I couldn't catch up to him, and I didn't want to lose my chance, so I yelled to him, ingeniously, Steve! To which he stopped and turned around.

I came up to him, showed him the recipe and said, Your mom wanted this recipe, so my mom asked me (lie) to give this to you to give to your mother. Understand?

He had been holding with a couple of fingers to the recipe as I showed it to him, and then he replied, still holding the flimsy index card, Uh-huh. Got it.

I let go and said, Thanks, and rushed off because I didn't want to linger or make him late for class.

When I got to second period, I don't know what the matter was, but I was shaky and triumphant and nervous. Mom says it's because I cared so much about it, and she doesn't like me so wrapped up and stuff. I keep thinking that someday when Steve is my boyfriend and we're engaged, I'll show him this and we will laugh and laugh. I hope there does come a day when I can look back at these "serious" notes and laugh.

I now understand why one should never be allowed to glimpse into your future. You would not want to face it. Nothing ever did happen with Steve except once, he held my hand on the bleachers by the softball field and told me that he thought I was a very special person.

Here's another one from later in the summer, after I'd turned thirteen. You can see the sarcastic self peeking out. It only got worse from here. This was after an evening where I had to eat dinner with another thirteen year old (a boy) while my parents ate together at the adult table:

That kid was pretty cute. He had blond hair and blue eyes. His name is Mark. At first, it was really hard to know what to say. We played some games, took a walk, sat on the dock, and yak-iddy-yakt.

We talked about our different schools, about different kids, and about The Elephant Man. Once, he asked me if I had gone with anybody and I said yes, and named about five people, only one of which was true.

I don't know why I thought to lie, maybe I wanted him to think I was really hot tamales. The Elephant Man is another story, though.

He thinks that the mother of the elephant man was human, and the father was an elephant. And I am not kidding, nor was he.

According to Mark, any animal (be it kitten and dog, giraffe and bird) can somehow produce off-spring. Did I say he was bright?

Torture. That entire age was torture. And I knew it. Here's the last little bit, after I started eight grade and had a crush on Jim Hurst and Billy Francis and about half a dozen other guys, depending on the day:

It's hopeless. Jim will never, not in a million years, decide he likes me. Oh, he likes me for a friend, but just like a classmate, nothing more. I'm sick and tired of waiting for something to happen when I know nothing will. It's impossible.

Why, why, why do I always have to wait forever? I think being a thirteen year old 8th grader is the pits. When do boys start noticing me? Some boys notice me, but none that I am interested in. How long before a boy that I really care for decides he feels the same way? I don't know what I expect from a stupid 8th grade romance. Certainly not picnics on the beach because no one is ready for that yet. Even if he decided he likes me like I do him, what could happen? Nothing great. And really, the main thing that attracts me to him is the way he looks, and then his personality and that's not right. What kind of relationship could physical attraction produce? Not a very true and loving one. I will have to wait until I mature, and for now, admire from a distance. Let all those other girls throw themselves at him and be let down. I am going to be the smart one and stick it out.

Flash forward decades later: guess what?

Startling

That's what I'm doing right now. Startling the animals in my house because I have decided to become a rock star and have been practicing my singing/dance routine in the living room. It's best to do this in your socks if you have faux wooden floor such as I do because it allows you to slide around much easier and it increases your repertoire of dance moves by at least 12%. Also, best to wear a tank top and blue jeans. Or a leotard if you're planning a lot of elaborate jumps. I guess I'm being kind of loud and probably not quite on-key (can't tell with my i-pod on) because my cats have their ears back like they do when they hear fighting outside or a sudden whistle or the lyrics of "It's the End of the World as We Know It" belted out with the necessary jumping up and down to accompany that particular piece. How about a less energetic one; how do you feel about The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights?" Nope, they don't much care for that either. Liz Phair's "Why Can't I?" causes EC to run up the stairs (prude). "Every Day is Like Sunday?" Definitely not a hit with them.

The problem is, I've just enough theater experience and you know, years of singing in the church choir, to have cultivated some confidence onstage and an okay voice (if I do say so myself). I asked Padhraig the other day if he would teach me the gee-tar and he said, "Feck no. Teach yourself like the rest of us." He's a good friend. I mentioned that I could play the piano. He suggested I buy one. We were waiting in line to get a drink and it was almost our turn, so he was really just trying to get me to shut up. In rereading my sad little middle school journals, I was reminded of how Wallis and I used to spend hours and hours listening to records and making up dances to go with them. I bet you anything that I could still do at least the first four minutes of our elaborate dance routine to "Allentown." I don't know when we expected we'd get to unleash this performance on the world. This was right around the time that MTV was getting started and so I'm sure we harbored fantasies about Martha Quinn coming to our largely elderly, retirement community in search of new performers, preferably awkward 8th graders in glasses and badly feathered hair held in place by cans of Aqua Net (we didn't yet understand about global warming).

Monday, April 28, 2008

And Now One For Julie

I've been remiss the last two weeks with a report on The Bachelor, and I do solemnly apologize, to Julie and possibly Jess and maybe Hasana, the only people (besides me) who might enjoy these posts.

That said, we are down to the final three gals...Shoshanna, Amanda, and that other girl. We know that he's going to end up with Amanda, so why must we go through with this charade? According to Julie, last week was an awesome freak show with the home visit, including Shoshanna's mom who has so much plastic surgery that she's unrecognizable as a human being. Lorenzo Llama told Matt that his daughter is really on the show for the TV coverage. On her date, Amanda fooled Matt by hiring actors to play her parents, something I'm sure that she didn't think of on her own; I'm sure that NBC or CBS or whatever stations sponsors this show came up with to be clever. Noelle was let go, but we don't really care, though we will miss her crater-like dimples.

Tonight, he gets the chance to get laid by all three of them women (on different nights, luckily for him) because he has hotel cards to offer each one of them. They will all say yes. They always say yes and then I wonder what does happen, because if he supposedly likes any one of them and sees himself ending up with just one girl, doesn't he realize how much shit he's going to have to face from her when she views the footage of him sticking his tongue down the two other's girls throats, plus whatever else they do in their luxury suites?

Shoshanna is first, wearing a hat larger than her brain (not hard to do). She's 100 percent sure that she's falling in love with this camera, whoops, she means, this man. They're on jet-skis. They always go on jet skis. Shoshanna has never been outside of the United States. I wouldn't exactly call Barbados a foreign get away, but okay. Wow, Shoshanna can do air splits. They're making out in the ocean, but she's still wearing gigantic Hollywood sunglasses. "Do they have palm trees in London?" she asks. He pretends that she's joking because he still wants to nail her. How much of Shoshanna is the real person, and how much of her is just a person in baby doll dresses of varying colors? Oh, whoops, her name is Shayne. It should be Shoshanna. Where did I come up with that? She is explaining to him how to do a stage kiss and how romantic it isn't because you don't use tongue. He says, "That's rubbish. You don't use tongue?" He's funny. He's trying to invent her into something she's really so obviously not. He's saying, "I know you are pretending to be a stupid sex kitten." She says, "I know. I love being blond. I've been blond since I was like, twelve." (She's not kidding). "As far as politics goes, you know, I'm smart in that, and you know, I'm intellectual. Is that how you say that word?" She explains to the camera that she thinks acting stupid is part of what keeps it spicy. He says, "When I look into your eyes, I look into the eyes of someone I could easily be with. You could just be my little monkey." I just stopped liking him. She confesses that she's falling in love with him. Yes! He knows he's going to get some tonight. He says that he's falling for her as well. He says that he loves being with her. Notice that he has not said that he loves her. Oh, look, she can sort of read. She's reading about how they can stay together in the villa's fantasy suite. She's keeping him waiting for three long seconds, but then she says yes. No shit. She's exclaiming about the little rose petals on the ground and now they're kissing in the pool with her gymnast legs wrapped around him. He is a swine. But I would probably do the exact same thing if I were him.

Amanda is up for the next date. He's dressed like a slob in a gray t-shirt and shorts. She talks like a baby. Today, they are going zip lining, which I guess means wearing ugly helmets and zipping across a canyon on slender ropes. She gets her nervous hiccups. How sweet. This doesn't look that scary. He kisses her a lot, but as though they've been dating for twenty years, those peck kisses. We just got a crotch shot of Matt. Awesome. How many times do they have to do this? They are almost a little too comfortable with one another. She says "like" too much. She's said "like" like 50 times in three like sentences. She's trying to say how it's the first time she's felt this way for anyone. It just happens that the one time she falls in love is on this TV show where there are cameras everywhere and where she only sees him for fifteen minutes at a time. She's being very cerebral about it in a Valley girl way. "I like feel like I could like like you like you, not just as a friend, but like as a friend's friends boyfriend's who I have a huge crush on. And I don't like like know how to like do that." Plus, their kissing is too loud, again. She said that she's really excited that he like, pulled it out and like, offered it (I'm assuming she means the fantasy suite key, but maybe not). Again with the candles everywhere. "I want you to know that I really enjoy being with you and I think we make a good couple," he says. She says, "Every time, I like see you, I am like glad I met you and it's like a fairy tale like Little Red Riding Hood and maybe like Hansel and Gretel if there was like no witch, you know?" Shut up! Her legs are very waxed. I admire that in a woman.

Okay, last date with what's her name, Chelsea. He wears a pair of obnoxious white and black shorts. They're going out on a catamaran. He's telling her that her parents were brilliant. I am not sure how I feel about Chelsea. Oh, he thinks they're interactions are awkward. They can't think of anything to talk about except for the size of the island. Of course it's weird, because they're being filmed. She's letting her boobs show in her bikini. Good move. He says, I think about you a lot. She says, Well, good. She won't give him anything back. Ha-ha. I don't know why she's so standoffish, but why shouldn't she be? She barely knows this guy. He's hoping they can turn a corner and find romance as a giant turtle swims by. Meanwhile, all she does is snorkel and not come that close to him. The turtle is also a paid actor. He's having more fun with the turtle than Chelsea and it now appears that he will give the suite key to the turtle. He says, "I had better eye contact with the turtle than I did with Chelsea." I like him again. She does have a cute body. Why doesn't he just say something to her about it? Ask her why she's acting like a weirdo. Ask! Okay, he's asking at dinner. She confesses that she's very disturbed that there's other girls involved. She's saying that she doesn't want to act that way, but she can't help it because she's afraid that she will get hurt. That pleases him. Why can't these girls read these cards in a little less stilted way? It's still awkward. He's telling her that he thinks that they would be a great couple. You know what I think? I think that she only knows how to connect with him in a sexual way. In fact, she's changing into a negligee and she took off her panties. This is how she wants to show him another side of her. They still don't know how to talk to each other about anything, except in clich├ęs. "I just want to be here with you because I care for you and a rolling stone gathers no moss, you know?" Oh, product placement of The Hilton.

And now, the moment that only a few of us have been waiting for. The final rose ceremony. Who will he send home?? I think it will be Chelsea. I will like him better if he sends home Shoshanna/Shayne Llama. He won't though. Amanda first, I am betting...NO. He picked stupid Shayne. What a fucking idiot. She pretends to be surprised and to care. There is no way he's not picking Amanda. WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He picked Chelsea. What the hell. She tells him she thinks he's a fucking jackass. She's not crying. Good for her. Why would he pick these other two? One is such a total actress and the other one is boring as hell. Not interesting at all. He must be nuts. I hate him. I never want to see this show again. Maybe we are not seeing what Chelsea is really like...

Next week is the Tell All. I don't want to see that. I am so disappointed. I feel like he just broke up with me, because she's the one I liked the most.

Blue Monday

I still don't like Mondays, because they remind me of that feeling of facing a week of things you're supposed to do, i.e. the beginning of the school or work week and how far away the days are where you get to pick what you want to do. I suppose now would be the perfect time to attempt to change my perception by shaping Monday into anything I want it to be. Monday is cupcake day! Monday is library day! Monday is likely "buy one/get one free" at least one Philadelphia thrift store. I could make Monday the day where I do something indulgent for myself like having my knees waxed (?). But it would be a fight to shake that feeling of drudgery that accompanies the start of the week.

I dreamt the other night that I was scheduled to do a one hour stand-up routine at this used bookstore in State College. I was with two other comedians and I had to go first. I realized five minutes before the show began that I didn't have any material. I was like, Oh, shit, I guess I can wing it for awhile. I wasn't even too stressed, though I did ask the bookstore owner if I could borrow a sheet of typing paper and a pen and then I went into the bathroom to brainstorm and wrote "George Bush" at the top of the list, figuring I could do at least twenty minutes on him without really trying. Again, the dream pretty much perfectly encapsulates my psyche at this moment in time.


Went to see Feist last night at the Kimmel Center per a generous gift from Padhraig. Hayden opened for her--this cute, bearded harmonica/guitar/piano playing guy who offered funny asides between songs. He was adorable and we fell in love, married and divorced in my head during the fifty minutes he had the stage. His songs are about jealousy and wanting to save or defend the honor of the woman he is with (including a song about an ex-girlfriend killed by a bear while camping with another man) and a song about his promiscous cat, Woody, and one about a rock star staying at his house and coveting his wife. He looked exactly like Bret from FOTC, I swear. He did not notice me and pull me onstage ala a Bruce Springsteen concert. He couldn't have even if he had wanted to; we were all civilly seated in velvet chairs more accustomed to opera enthusiasts.

(Jesus God, when is this NPR fundraiser going to end?).
Feist came on next, beginning with a shadow trick where she goes behind a white screen and sings in silhouette. She has a beautiful, achey voice. The show was good, though it's not normally what I'm drawn to because she's sort of hippy-ish with her onstage projector that flashed images of flowers and birds and hearts and her little white mini dress and the matching white outfits of the accompanying musicians (three of them are brothers), but at some point, it's helpful to stop evaluating everything and enjoy it for what it is instead. She sang all of the songs I know (all five of them); I like her faster pieces better, there are several that make you want to jump up and dance, which some girls did, though they got admonished by the KC usher. My favorite, favorite part of the whole night was when, after Feist had been playing for about 15 minutes, a guy arrived to take his seat two rows ahead of me. He was sporting a gigantic frizzy Afro. I mean, two seats wide. I whispered to Carrie, My view has just been eclipsed, but this guy immediately pulled his hair back into a ponytail, restoring my vision, clearly aware that his hair would be a problem for those of us behind it. It was a sweet and funny moment. I realized too that I am jealous of musicians. I wanted to be Feist in a short dress, playing the guitar with confident abandon. I think it's sort of an artistic jealousy because the show also reminded me how you can impact others through whatever your medium is--playing music, writing songs, writing stories, telling stories, blowing on a saxaphone--and I feel like I've been extraordinarily lazy about doing the same.
We did ride our bikes though. I did not fall off and was not hit by a car or an opening door. Have survived another day without obvious injury.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Stonily Unmoved to Give to NPR Despite Numerous Pleas

I know they have to hold the member drive and raise money for "Car Talk," etc., but I am still not even a little bit motivated to send a pledge to NPR. I keep waiting for even the slight tingling of the tipping point where I'll start to feel a little convinced, like, "Wait, what kind of tote bag are they giving away? A subscription to which magazine?" So far, I haven't even felt the littlest bit like calling in and hearing my gift make a pling noise on the other end. Maybe if I were more flush.

Play writing class today and I have nothing to bring in and I decided I don't care about that either. In other news, my bike has finally made it out of the basement to sit next to the radiator for the next couple of months. No, I am going to try to actually ride it soon...Still need to take it to the bike shop and get the tires filled and find the key for the lock and buy a helmet and so I'm certain that by August, I will have ridden at least up the block a piece. I really think that working at GOL has freaked me out about bike riding, since every third story about brain death started with, "She was riding her bike down 8th Street in South Philly when she was hit by a garbage truck. Yes, she wore a helmet. Yes, she had the tires filled. Yes, she was a responsible citizen though not necessarily a philanthropist." Plus, how do you ride a bike in a skirt? Or do I have to wear Speedos and those amphibian-looking biking slippers?
Dreamt last night that I was moving into a huge high-rise filled with undergraduates on Temple's campus. They spelled my name wrong on the directory key, and included tons of personal information like my ss# and IM address for anyone to see. Then, a nurse in a tri-cornered hat and Red Cross cape came to ask me personal questions about my physical and sexual history in front of a few of my friends. My dreams are sometimes just so unsubtle, it's laughable.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Blogger is Messed Up, Please Disregard Dates on Posts...

I don't know what's happening or why my posts have all suddenly huddled together on April 19, but the last post is from today. Was there some kind of weeklights savings time that no one told me about? Just wanted to clarify.

Window Dressing

These are the people in my neighborhood. You can click on each photo to get a larger view. How would you caption the photo to the left? "What's for dinner? Please don't tell me it's African deer pot pie again." Or this next photo. Hmm...Do you think a woman has been in this house for the last ten to twenty years? If so, what is she like? I particularly love the unlit Bud Light sign in the middle pane. The other window photo is difficult to see. I tried to take the picture from several different angles, but they all turned out wonky because of the way the light was falling. In any case, you can see that the family loves Winne the Pooh (far left), Tigger, Pikachu, and these sort of Buddhist looking figures or maybe they're Asian wisemen.Finally, meet Barbara, the exotic parrot who hangs out in front of this house on 8th Street (my friend Mary Beth told me her name. Apparently, the bird is a well known fixture in South Philly). You can't see it, but to the left of Barbara is a cool fountain with goldfish in it. There's also a cat who lives here and doesn't seem at all interested in killing Barbara, who is as tough as nails.

On another note, per a conversation with someone we will refer to from now simply as "Clark," I was reminded today of this phenomenon Dave and I used to call "Dumb with Desire" or DWD. That's the thing that happens when you are around someone who you're really attracted to and you can be having like this normal conversation and then something will happen, like the person will brush against you slightly or say something mildly provocative and you are suddenly in the midst of DWD and your brain stops functioning normally. If you're walking, it might cause you to stumble. If you're trying to talk to the other person, it can make you question the correct arrangement of words needed to create a coherent sentence. For instance, you might want to say, "Oh, that's interesting," but because you have been struck DWD, you instead say, "Interesting that is," as if you had suddenly become Yoda. And you try to work through it, because it can happen at any time, in broad daylight, and so you're trying to keep your cool, you know, you can't just become a cave person and knock the other person over the head with a large tree branch and drag them back to your house. Well, you can, but it's harder as a girl to accomplish that act with any grace. This used to happen to Dave and me all the time when we first started grad school. I don't know what it was with us--we're both Tauruses? Is there some cosmic thing that draws you to particular people and makes you just this creature driven completely by biology? I don't know the current population count and so can't accurately calculate the numbers; but, just from my own personal experience, this doesn't happen all that often. I suppose I'm attracted in this way to 1 in...200 men who I also find conventionally attractive. In other words, I'm talking about how, of the 200 men who I find cute and attractive, only one of them causes the DWD reaction. Is that a lot or not? It's probably much different for men, who, if you believe a recent story from NPR, can come unglued by the glimpse of an ankle or the slope of someone's neck or the sound of her voice.

Hillary Clinton Just Emailed Me and We're Not Even Facebook Friends!

The truth is, I haven't yet decided who I'm voting for tomorrow. Well, obviously not John McCain, but I'm on the fence about H and O. My friend Ben has been trying to get me to send an email to the Hillary peeps saying she should drop out and though he can be persuasive in many, many ways (he's an attorney and so cannot stop arguing and saying things like, "Permission to redirect, your honor"), I have not caved. Philadelphia seems to love Obama...there's a million and one of those blue and red drawings of him and not even one caricature of Hillary to be found in the whole city.Walked to Rittenhouse today to do some writing and was given a flyer by a random Democrat running for court jester who luckily didn't try to talk to me further, but I did get to see a few disgruntled teens with skateboards drinking huge cans of beer and attempting to catch pigeons with their bare hands. I'm ambivalent about both candidates. I want to vote for Hillary b/c I would love to see a woman be president, but she's also kind of shady and in bed with the people from Walmart. I like Obama too, but am afraid that he can't ultimately be elected b/c of how racist we are as a country and also how ill-informed (heard again someone on the radio go, "I don't know about that Osama bin guy. Ain't he a Muslim and don't them people want to kill Jesus and make me wear a caftan?").

Did not finish my profile for Philadelphia Stories or start my other piece for Maven (due May 1), in part b/c it's about ex-boyfriends (tentatively titled "The X-Files") and every time I try writing it, I get hung up on how specific I should or can be. Like...for instance...Well, the focus is about how much easier it is to learn about your exes b/c of the Internet and also to stay in contact with them in these weird ways. Like, I'm Facebook friends with this guy I worshipped in college because he wore ripped jeans (when it was cool) and was a great actor and basically didn't know I existed and now I could play Scrabble-iscious or whatever with him and see the latest photos of his dog. And then there's B., who I email with every once in awhile and who is sometimes more flirtatious than he should be (this is an understatement. I'm guilty of this as well though). Can't write about him, can I? And Dave, but there's really nothing juicy to say about him and we're still friends and actually see each other on occasion, and so I'd have to invent some weird IM intrigue. And, of course, SR and his marriage proposal on-line. That's the best thing that's happened for this article so far, but again, don't know if it's appropriate since the real details would cast him in a highly unfavorable light, with little or no exaggeration. I seem to have this uncanny ability to continue to be friends with people I used to date or sleep with or fall asleep with while on a date and frequently get emails from random exes, such as my first long term bf from when I was 19 who emails me out of the blue about every year or so and has talked about visiting Philadelphia which would likely be a colossal mistake. We dated/lived together for 5 years, but there's stuff about that situation I can't mention either (I'll tell you later in person if you don't know what I mean, though most of my friends do). So, instead of writing the article, I spent most of the time people-watching and doodling pictures of girls in hoop skirts and knights on unicorns (I am excellent at this--both at procrastination and at drawing horses).

Got a cute and funny email from a cute and funny guy today that reminded me of this debate I have been having with LM; or rather, a debate I sort of had with this guy Josh who I tried to have a crush on. The crush didn't sustain in part b/c he's highly skittish; like a little pony, he frequently seems to be on the verge of bolting across the field to hide under a willow tree hoping to camoflague himself. He's an artist who does these great self-portraits where his nose resembles a penis. LM and I have debated the meaning of this choice. Does it signal that he has a tiny, tiny one? Huge? Average? Does it indicate that he has sexual hang-ups, some weird nose fetish or, conversely, is he extremely confident? Or is he just being funny? The other reason I couldn't sustain a crush on him is that he never seemed to remember me. I tried to puzzle out why; all of the ego saving mechanisms you use: he’s intimidated by me…He’s not over his ex…He’s secretly gay…He’s in the witness protection program and can’t get involved… But, at a certain point (say, the fourth time we’re introduced and he says, “Oh, hi, Annie”), I had to admit defeat. It really didn't matter because I barely knew the guy and he’s not really very tall and he could use some hygiene tips (see, but now I’m just doing that thing you do in junior high where you pretend not to care. “I didn’t ask you to dance. I said, ‘You look fat in those pants.’”). But I digress. The debate centered around the difference between being a hipster and being a nerd. He seemed to want to be seen as a nerd rather than a hipster...can't remember why I know this, except I think maybe LM told him that I thought he was a hipster and it offended him on some level. So, here's a simple quiz you can take to determine if you are a male hipster:

1. Is your wallet connected to a chain?
2. Do you have tattoos (visible or not; doesn't matter) and/or multiple piercings and some sort of facial hair such as sideburns or a moustache or a full beard?
3. Do you weigh less than most of the women you know?
4. Are you an artist of some sort?
5. Do you shop at thrift stores to buy ill-fitting/1950s type clothes that are meant to be viewed ironically?
6. Do you order Pabst when frequenting dive bars?
7. Do you wear expensive retro glasses?
8. Is one or both of your pants legs rolled up because you rode your bike to get to wherever you are?
9. Do you know most of the lyrics of Bright Eyes, Death Cab for Cutie, or Feist by heart?
10. Do you live in Fishtown or Northern Liberties and know exactly what you're doing on the first Friday of every month?

If you answered yes to four or more of these questions, you are a hipster. Embrace it. It's fine. I think most guys would rather be nerds--it's suddenly become more hip to be a nerd than to be a hipster. In truth, I prefer nerds. So, let's see...A quiz to determine if you're a male nerd (in a cool way):

1. Do you have at least five vivid memories of middle and/or high school wherein you said something super awkward to try to impress "cool" people and failing miserably?
2. Do you sometimes find yourself over-explaining something and realizing, mid-sentence, that the person you're speaking to has a glazed look in his/her eyes?
3. Are you a good chess player?
4. Do you secretly love science fiction or fantasy (such as The Hobbit or anything involving aliens or knights or time travel)?
5. Do girls still make you nervous because you think they can see behind your fairly together adult self into the goofball that you used to be?
6. Could you easily spend more than twenty minutes accurately quoting dialogue from certain movies such Star Wars, any of the Star Treks or Indiana Jones movies, Napoleon Dynamite, numerous 80s flicks, The Last Unicorn, Harry Potter, and/or Woody Allen films (this question, actually, doesn't quite work for separating the nerds from the hipsters, b/c it could apply to both)?
7. Are you good with cats?
8. Are you involved in some capacity with the sciences or math?
9. Do you over prepare for things (i.e. have you ever considered making note cards before going on a date so that it will go more smoothly)?
10. Do you find yourself focusing more on your partner in bed because you can't fucking believe you're actually with a girl?

If you answered "yes" to four or more of these questions, congratulations, you are a nerd and I would like for you to take me out for dinner.

The Scintillating Business of Waiting for Nothing Really to Happen

I could not be a reporter. I can't imagine trying to fill airtime with b.s. and guesses and sounds of people shouting and making pronouncements based on little information from various even less informed sources. According to NPR, it appears that Hillary will win PA and this gives me a stomach ache. Not that I hate her or anything, but I just really don't think that the American public will elect her for president. Probably not Obama either, but I was (am) rooting for him. So does this mean that we will have another f-ing Republican president? I will have to defect. I'll move to Montreal to become the nanny of Hasana and Will's pending baby. For real. I can learn French or at the very least, can do an excellent French accent and just tell people who are speaking to me in French that I am trying to practice my English, please, if you do not mind to speak avec moi only in English, Frere Jaqcues, et parlez vous Pig Latin, if you si vous plait?

Heard today that President Bush has formally denied that we are in a recession. Instead, he explained, we are in an economic downturn. Um...That's otherwise known as a "recession," no?

Poetry Contest

I somehow accidentally voted for George Bush today. What the hell is going on?

The weekend before last, Liz and Luke were up visiting from Park Slope and I told them this story about an email I got wherein the guy used (and misspelled) the word "masterbation" three times in two sentences. I can't remember who said the phrase first, but after I told that story, someone referred to the act of "sadly masturbating." We could not stop laughing. I almost choked on my eggs from hysteria (this is how we are all emotionally about 10 years old). There has also been some debate about what poem I'm going to read at their wedding in July. Liz wants "i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)," a lovely e.e. cummings poem, but it's been in a couple of movies so recently so now we're possibly looking for a different poem. I suggested a couple of others and then wrote one for them that referred to our conversation about sadly masturbating. Here it is:


"i diddle myself while in tears at your absence"

once you had gone i found myself
online
it was a lonely night
and so many of the buxom girls did have your pretty eyes
and teats of white like wheat

i could not stop myself (did not want to, could not)
-it was as if
you were there
while i pitched that tent
i remember then in a sudden moment
like the breaking of the sky during a sudden
summer
rain
that she was not you and you not here
while i sit in the dark
sadly masterbating (sic)

Then, just got one from Luke in response. He has suggested that maybe it could be incorporated into the wedding vows. Here is Luke's version. It's called:

"Ever Upward"

In light of this mood
I could go take a walk
But I would inevitably pass
women with smiles just like
yours the night you showed up
at the party
with him.

You were pleased and
he was pleased
and no doubt your mother is pleased
but I am not and so
Excelsiorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

I'll stay in and masturbate, sadly.
It will be faster than eating a whole bag of corn chips,
but I just might do that, too.

You may wish to write one as well. It could become a collection, perhaps with a sad clown on the cover with a single tear streaming down his face.

Being John Malkovich's Sister

For some reason, John Malkovich came up last night at Royal. Can't remember why...Maybe it had something to do with horoscopes? But why would that be? Or maybe because I recently heard an excerpt from the seduction scene with Uma Thurman in Dangerous Liaisons. That's probably what it was; Uma was being interviewed by our friend, Terry Gross, the woman who sometimes asks interesting questions and sometimes asks really dumb ones like, "What's your favorite color and why? Growing up, what was your favorite lunch or did you brown bag it?" Oh, dear, I just googled an image of Terry Gross and now I have to rethink my entire impression of her. Just look. See, I had an entirely different picture in my mind; sort of this buxomy lady in a power suit with shoulder-length hair that flips up on the ends and here she really is, looking like the female version of Bill Gates. I like her better now. Isn't it weird how voices can be deceptive? I guess I think my voice matches what I look like...except that's not really true either because sometimes, I get random calls from telemarketers who ask if they can speak to my mother. So, I guess I have the voice of an eight year old. And also the voice of someone who is less intelligent than I actually am. Lisa Marie told me the other day that she thinks I must have really low testosterone (this stemmed from a conversation from a program on "This American Life;" a piece they did on how testosterone effects your body, the way you view the world, how aggressive or non aggressive you might be as a result of the levels of the chemical in your blood stream). She said I must have low testosterone b/c I'm so girly. I never think of myself as "girly," but I guess I am. I think I would prefer to be tougher. Though I like to wear skirts, I don't want to be a moo-moo girl; one who cries during romantic movies or reads chick lit or wants to talk about her goddamn feelings all the time. I resist sentimentality at every turn, but then feel a pang somewhere in the heart region when I see a neglected dog tied to a short leash or an old man shuffling along the sidewalk in his bedroom slippers on South Street or an angry and confused teen being forced to hang out with her hippie parents who just don't get her at all! So, I guess I have to face the fact that I am, in fact, a girlie girl who still rolls her eyes too much and does not believe in angels or fate or horoscopes or kismet, while at the same time, I sometimes do believe in those things (see previous post about magical thinking). For instance, I was walking down 8th Street the other day and it was a really beautiful afternoon and I had recently purchased a $2 brown corduroy jacket from Circle Thrift and walked by a dogwood tree just as the pink petals were falling and so a few of them got caught in my hair. That sort of seemed like a perfect instance; a cinematic moment where I felt like I should glance over my shoulder to see if it were being filmed; if maybe possibly someone had captured this second in my life for posterity so I wouldn't forget it. Which is why I write this down, to be sure to remember.

The Secret Lives of Boys

Had a conversation tonight with my new bff, Iona (sp?) this cutest girl in the world with big brown eyes and pretty black hair pulled back into a kind of Jackie O meets Dita von Teese thing. We were trying to figure out how it is exactly that guys think about relationships. She's slightly interested in this awkward, shy guy who wears Converse sneakers and says cryptically relationship sounding things like, I'm old-fashioned. I like to take things slow. And yet, he does not seem to be even a little bit ready to kiss her. They've hung out about 25 times and talk on the phone for hours at a time, and he still just shows up and laughs at her jokes and then yawns and goes home without trying any funny business. What does this mean? On what plane is he operating? Was he born in the wrong decade and is he waiting to meet her parents over tea so that he can request a carriage ride through Center City wherein he will offer her a handkerchief to cover her delicate face and perhaps let his thigh lightly touch hers for a brief second at a stop light? What goes on in the male brain? Are most of them really as out of touch with the proper mechanics of dating/courtship/trying to get laid as they seem to be? Let me tell you this. It's not that hard to get what you want from a girl--whatever that may be--sex, kissing on the mouth with tongue, children, a small loan--all you have to do is listen and respond and ask questions (short cut: L, R, Q). And not necessarily in that order. Any order of LRQ will do. Trust me. That's all we want. Feign interest in our stories, nod in the appropriate places, maintain eye contact, say something nice, ask good questions, and we will be yours, for at least fifteen minutes or so. Try it. It works.

Play Right

We went over my first date scene in class today and it was okay, except that it seems that the guy character isn't as developed as the female. Or they're too similar or something. Too clever and glib. What I need to do is sit my ass down and write the whole thing instead of these dribble and drabble of scenes that may or may not be adding up to a coherent piece. We read another scene by a guy who has very little playwriting experience. It was called "Leave Behind." Excerpt:

Son: Mom, I am a grown man, but I understand that in your eyes, I will always be your baby and that is something you can not (sic) leave behind.

Mom: Its like how you can't leave the Jersey Shore behind, I can't and will not leave being your mother behind. (Side note: I wish, I wish, I wish there had been a typo so it had read: "I will not leave being your mother's behind behind.")

Son: You will always be my mom, mom.

Mom: I better be!

The guy and I reading the two parts out loud in class started laughing after reading that part, but luckily, the stage directions called for laughter, so it wasn't too noticeable. Afterwards, the guy reading "son" said something like, "It reads sort of like fortune cookie dialogue" and that made me laugh again. I am a mean, mean girl.

I feel super spacey today, partly from spending a couple of days in New York with not a lot of sleep and partly from staying up too late again last night playing "getting to know you, getting to know all about you" (what musical is that from? The name escapes me. Annie? Annie Get Your Gun? Jesus Christ Superstar, She's a Greasey Fair Lady from Oklahoma with Cats on 42nd Street?). I need to take a nap, but I also drank about fifteen cups of coffee today. Here is a photo of Luke and I at Fat Cat in Greenwich Village on Thursday night and then another of Liz and I seconds later. I wish there were a bar in Philly where you could go to play games (they had pool, shuffle board, ping pong, Scrabble, chess, darts, water polo, etc.) I do not mean Dave and Buster's. Look how super adorable we are, even in black and white.

Just as an aside, would it be possible for the ice cream truck guy to get a new tune? He just drove by and will probably circle the block 100 more times before night fall, playing the same maddening tinkling, head-ache inducing, scary clown music.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

NYC

No Bachelor post for Monday as I was indisposed (i.e. out and about picking up strange men in local bars). Julie told me that the black girl was kicked off, along with psycho Robin. She also sent me the link to nbc to watch the show, but I haven't had time to do that, because I am so busy, people. 

Right now, I'm sitting in Mary's living room has wonderfully big windows and overlooks an important river whose name I'm too lazy to look up on the map. As soon as Renee fixes her glasses, we will be jumping on the #7 subway line to Grand Central and then getting another subway to Canal Street and Chinatown and then Soho and Tribecca. I love New York--we've had about five conversations with strangers so far today and I petted 3 dogs and one very old cat in the pharmacy store (Charlie, an orange Tom who is twenty and likely to die within the next twenty minutes). Yesterday, we walked around near Times Square and then out to dinner at Vnyl with Mary and her two co-workers. I ordered fried chicken and mashed potatoes.  Then we came back to Mary's place and watched In Treatment. This is the life. Tonight, Liz and Luke may come out to meet us for drinks at Fat Cat and then we'll probably grab dinner nearby. Tomorrow, I will get to have lunch with Joe and see what's happening in his world. 

We must go. We are missing things!

 

Friday, April 11, 2008

Dreams That You Weren't In

I dreamt last night that I fell asleep for three years. The first thing I saw when I woke up was J-Lo, looking much worse for the wear; many wrinkles and come-back movies. What does this mean?

On ER last night, Abby half-quoted one of my favorite e.e. cummings poems. "I Carry Your Heart with Me." Here it is, in it's entirety:

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without (anywhere
i go you go, i go, my dear; and whatever is done
by my only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for you beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)

While doing laundry today, that Elizabeth Bishop poem kept echoing in my head: "The Art of Losing Isn't Hard to Master..." All I could really remember by heart was "practice losing farther, losing faster." I have been practising losing, or at least, practicing not being attached to the things I think I have. The message, I guess, is that you should lose something every day, maybe just so that you understand that things aren't important; that you will always be losing something whether you recognize it or not. Your youth, your memories, your house.

I give you, "One Art:"

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones.
And, vaster, some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.---

Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture I love)
I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Boy Friends

It occurred to me today that I currently happen to know lots of really good men. I've always had good girl friends; women who are giving and thoughtful and willing to listen to me go on and on about cats and SVU and Flight of the Conchords and library books and the other things that disproportionally occupy my thoughts. And I still have lots of those girls around. But just noticed that I also happen to have a high number of good boys in my day-to-day life. There's Dave who will read my scenes and forgive me my trespasses. Padhraig who lets me steal back books I just gave him and makes CDs for my ipod. HH who said to me on the phone the other day, I wish I could hear you better on your cell phone. Your phone cuts out and I feel like I'm missing some of your Aimee-ness. The boy from Circle Thrift who offered to let me use the new restroom they've put in and who looks exactly like Bret from Flight of the Conchords (I swear to God).G. from my philosophy class who gave my teaching vita to the chair of the English dept. where he works and also M. from the same course who only ate half of his chocolate chip cookie so that I could have the other half (and this was without me begging for it).

Oh, and it turns out that the mama cat has defected to another, better cat hotel. She still shows up but hasn't brought the kittens back. I noticed today that she was hanging around outside and sort of glancing over her should. I figured that the kittens couldn't be far away. I stepped up on a milk crate to look in the direction she was facing and found that a rival neighbor has built a more elaborate home for the kittens, a sort of kitten nativity scene with a thatched roof waterproofed by garbage bags. Bastards! So, now, I have to come up with some kind of heating and plumbing system and perhaps a skylight and jungle gym to even have any hopes of her returning. At least I know they're okay.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Most Influential TV Show of Your Life

In class tonight, the question was raised: what TV show most shaped you as a child? I had to think for a moment. Others were saying The Addams Family, My So-Called Life, Sabado Gigante, Leave it to Beaver...Mine was Little House on the Prairie. I started reading books when I was about seven or so and I remember that my grandma would give me a Little House book every birthday. So, I was reading the books and watching the TV show at the same time, a double whammy of calico. I loved Laura Ingalls so much because she was dorky and sweet and had great braids. My hair was boy short, and so I would sometimes walk around with red tights placed on top of my head, believing that I was fooling others into thinking they were my real hair. People probably thought, Oh, that poor little girl with leukemia! I loved her freckles and wished for crooked teeth like hers (that wish came true. Among all that I made, why was that the one that was answered?). I felt for Laura because of her dorkiness and because she wasn't as beautiful as her sister Mary with the long golden hair and light blue eyes. I was secretly thrilled when Mary went blind (I believe this happened in the later books...Not in The Long Winter...can't remember what came after that). I supposed I identified with this book so much because they lived in the Midwest (Minnesota?) and I was born in the Midwest, in the prairie, but we left and that was the biggest tragedy of my life. The show was mostly about how hard it was on the prairie, and, more specifically, how life was hard for Laura because she didn't quite fit in and she was too sensitive. I also very much loved her Pa, probably because I didn't have a Pa like that, no Michael Landon's with his curly hair and perpetual hat to tell Laura how to be a better person. I wished so much that I could own a butter churn and wear a petticoat and boots with buttons and have a friendly dog named Jack. We had a dog on the farm that I loved, Oscar, a German Shepherd. I have this really vivid memory of walking with Oscar into the field and crying because I knew that he would die. It wasn't that I was afraid he would die that day, but just the simple fact that he wouldn't be with me forever was crippling. I also understood that dogs didn't live as long as people. I have a distinct memory of sobbing by him while he lolled about in the dust by the garage. Missing him while he was still alive. We left soon after. I wasn't there when he got hit by a car. All farm dogs die this way. But...can I really make the argument that watching the show and reading the books really formed my vision of what life should be like? I don't think so. I don't yearn for a traditional household where the dad goes out and bails hay and the mom stays home and breastfeeds while shucking corn. On the other hand, I suppose I did base my idea on what family is on that show, probably b/c my three person family life was so different. It at least taught me to recognize that what I was experiencing growing up wasn't normal. Or, that it could be better. I should have a Pa who called me Half Pint instead of Bertha. I should feel safe and believe that someone would be looking out for the dog. I should have a long-sleeved dress made out of wool to wear to school each day along with a bonnet (my mom did make me bonnets and dresses with petticoats. She was the best at this). I also remember asking my grandma what it was like to come to Nebraska in a covered wagon and her saying, Well, I'm not that old.

But Enough of That: London Calling

Missed the first fifteen minutes, but apparently, it' more of the same. Robin is hated by everyone and Shayne is giving her the what-for and telling her not to keep interrupting the other girls during their one-on-one time.

Crazy Robin: I'm not here to play fair. I haven't had a lot of close girlfriends.
Shayne: When you don't want words to be said about you behind your back, then you have to respect us.
Crazy Robin: I don't want people not to like me or like me or not to like Matt though!
Shayne: Huh?

Now, Robin is crying and laughing at the same time and pretending that she cares that she's hurt people. She won't stop laughing and crying in her faux Gucci sunglasses. Matt's dressed in bright tennis whites--both the shirt and shorts are bright white. Maybe that's why they're all wearing sunglasses. He's giving the rose to Chelsea and I can't figure out who the hell she is. All I know is she is wearing a terrible sweatband around her head ala Flashdance and Jewel is dressed in a Top Gun fighter jacket. Was this 1980's themed date? Robin, who did not get the rose, says through clenched teeth: "It is what it is..." Can I tell you how much I hate when people say that? It doesn't mean anything. No, what it means is: It sucks but I can't do anything about it.

Amanda gets the one on one date. They're both dressed in leather jackets. This one is for sure a theme--it's got a 1950s theme. Oh, dear, they're going to a drive up diner in this Chevy. She's cute, she's joking with him. She is telling him that she's a tough girl and now they're going to dance. Horrible. He can't dance. You know what that means. She tells him that he looks like a ballerina and that he needs to loosen up. He gives her the rose because she's a smart ass and makes fun of him. I wish she would hiccup. They are kisses. He seems to be a better kisser than a dancer. God, he'd have to be. Now they are going to an amusement park that has been shut down and riding a roller coaster and the Ferris Wheel. They should totally be making out on the Ferris Wheel...Oh, wait for it, wait...Yep. Uh-oh, her teeth are huge.

It looks like I am going to get to write my philosophy and pop culture on The Bachelor, if you can believe it. Something about gender stereotypes; maybe comparing The Bachelor with The Bachelorette and how it's always such a different dynamic when you have 25 women vying for one man and 25 men trying to catch the attention of one woman. The men never seem to know what to do with themselves. They really only want to play beer pong and wrestle, not wait around to see if the girl wants to go out with them again.

Okay, now it's time for Marshanna and Holly to go out on their two-on-one date. The drama in this date is that one girl gets to stay and one girl has to go. Holly is pretty sure that she will get to stay because of her perkiness. Marshanna has not had time to sew the outfit she wanted (a wedding gown) and so is nervous that he won't pick her. Actually, she's wearing a gigantic hat that looks like she's a baker. He's asking them what they would do if they had to move to the UK. MArshanna is saying that she would move to London in one and a half second. Holly says, Wait! No, I was already going to move to London even before I met Matt! Look, I know all the lyrics to London Bridges. He is taking Marshanna aside to roast marshannamellows by the roaring fire. She says, No guts, no glory. And then they kiss on the mouth. He says, That was a nice kiss. It wasn't. It was horrible and loud. Stop with the loud kissing! And now he's with Holly on the bed and she's confessing that she just likes to watch movies and that she cannot think of anything challenging to ask him. She's telling him that she really does care about him and really like, likes him, like, how she should, like, like him.

Shayna is great in that she always, consistently looks like a dope. She's wearing a big polka-dotted ribbon in her hair and betting that Holly will be the one coming back. I don't know. I would guess...I guess that he's going to send Marshanna home--I am wrong!!!!!!! He's sending Holly home because all she does is say whatever she thinks he wants her to say. I wouldn't be surprised if she says, I wasn't going to give you a rose either, even though I don't have one. He tells her that he had a strong physical connection but that he found it hard sometimes to talk to her. What he meant to say is that he finds her boring and not a good conversationalist. She is crying in the limo because she poured her heart out to him. No, actually what you said was that you liked him. Marshanna is cuddled up under his armpit as she always is. She's like a kitten (speaking of which, kittens are still MIA).

The final rose ceremony approaches. Marshanna is dressed in traditional Indian garb for some reason. They are all wearing gowns except for Shayna who is wearing a trenchcoat. Jewel/Ashlee is giggling and saying how she lives out of a suitcase because she's homeless. She's not being articulate enough. All that she has going for her right now is black nail polish. Noelle with the dimples will be joining him for her four seconds of trying to connect with him. Connect, connect, connect, connection, connect 4, connectualization. It's all that they talk about, that and having something special. She says, I definitely have feelings. Uh...could you be more specific? What feelings exactly do you have? Now, he's talking to Cameron Diaz and telling her that she seems more interested in the other girls than in him. Her response? She shows him her breasts. She flashes him her sparkly bra. That's her reaction. Clearly, she needs to check in to AA right after he kicks her off, which is what he's going to do in about three minutes.

Two peeps going home. I'm guessing it will be Cameron Diaz and possibly Robin.

First rose: Shayne. Omigod, Jewel is so pissed.
Second rose: Robin. Gross. Hate her. I wonder if she's a plant, like the one we are supposed to hate.
Third and final rose: This all goes so quickly. It will have to be Noelle. Yep. That means Cameron and Jewel are going home. Marshanna like runs head long into Jewel because she knows how much Jewel sort of liked him.

Cameron Diaz is great because she's not crying and she's like, "I don't care if he doesn't choose me. He's an idiot." I wish more of the girls would say that. She also said, "He's crazy. I would date me." Oh, poor, poor Jewel. She just spontaneously burst into a sad, sad song. I'm not kidding. She said, "I wish he would see me as more than just a songwriter." Don't worry, after this show, no one will see you as a songwriter.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Ex

I promised I would never write about anyone in my life in terms that might be disparaging to him or her. I plan on keeping that promise, except in this case. I just found out via a newsletter from a bar that my ex-boyfriend recently proposed to the girl he dated after me, Miss Burlingcoatfactory. This is the girl who, while we were dating, would just happen to show up at the same bars we were at and would come to our Halloween parties dressed in creative costumes such as a baby and I forget what the other one was...Possibly a cat or a pirate or something else that requires little intelligence. The same girl who told him while we were dating and living together that she was really into him and would love to blow him in the bathroom of Locust Bar after she finished her cigarette. She's fine, there's nothing really wrong with her...I can't blame a girl for crushing on an available guy; not like I haven't done that. But...I wonder if she knows that he and I went to lunch about two weeks before he left to go on his hike up the Appalachian Trail for six months (for real. He told me that he's still trying to puzzle out our relationship and why we broke up). And if she does know this, I wonder if she knows that he teared up and told me that he still loves me very much. And possibly she understands that. But I wonder if he mentioned that he also said he wouldn't mind hooking up one last time before he left. He would never really cheat on anyone, except maybe if you were broken up for a couple of months and then both of you were a little drunk one summer night and ended up having one last fling. Everybody does that, right? Even if the guy is dating someone else at the time? Not that he would mention that to me; he was and always will be opaque about other women just in case an opportunity arises. He needs the space to be able to calculate what he wants to do and what the odds are that he'll get caught. Pretty slim, especially if you are unaware that he's seeing another girl or two or three (like Sarah, the other woman he had a thing with after me).

I know how I sound and I don't care. It's one thing if he and I hadn't talked in months and months. It's another if you keep in contact with the person and if you have just heard him saying confusing things about loving you and your breasts. And then, instead of him telling me himself, I get to read about how he proposed to her at a bar (which makes perfect sense if you know him at all). So now he's off in the wilderness, communing with nature and his body odor and she can use the time to plan the wedding. Because who wants the burden of having your partner contribute to wedding planning? It's best to plan a wedding while your fiance is hiking so that when he returns, everything is set and he can come in and change nearly all of it. Liz reminded me that he once told her that you get married only after you accept that you're not going to find anyone better than the person you're with. Maybe they can work that into the wedding vows: "I take you to be my bride as I have given up any hope of doing better."

Fuck These Cats

You know what, forget it. I am not raising the cat population in Philadelphia. I give up. The kittens have gone on vacation again, perhaps to the Jersey shore for a brief respite from the free food and water and shelter provided by yours truly. I suppose the mom will return with them in another two days, and I will be relieved and then worried that they'll go away and on and on until the cats are old enough to reproduce and give and take away their offspring with the same illogical frequency.

Sex in the City: Philadelphia Style

Went to a happy hour girl party at Celia's last night. She had a punch bowl full of sangria which I resisted. Heard tales of what it's like to be in love with your roomate and how one might try to deal with this from a purely cerebral approach. Then went home and made chocolate chip cookies with oatmeal for my class on Sat. and watched Sex in the City, a show I typically resist. However, this particular episode featured SJP saying goodbye to Mr. Big, who was moving to CA and may or may not have called her before he left. I kind of hated Mr. Big and SJP b/c she kept tilting her head to one side like a terrier. But then Mr. Big put on a record, "Moon River" sung by Henri Mancici and from the soundtrack of Breakast at Tiffany's, and I had to grudingly admit that it was slightly romantic. He held his hand out to her. She took it. They danced in his empty apartment. And I thought, Does this ever happen in real life? How many cinametic moments have I experienced? Not many. Maybe two. But still, it's nice to see it. Even if you know it will end badly. One can still hope.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Philosophy, Koan, Orange Pop

And in some weird life convergence, I have been reading about five different books and finding that they all seem to share similar ideas. Or maybe it's that I am looking for a particular thing and recognizing the pattern because I want to. For my philosophy class, we're reading this series of pretty surfacey books about philosophy and pop culture. Despite the fact that the writers seem to be targeting their essays to undergraduates (making off-color jokes, relying heavily on oft-quoted lines from TV and movies), a little real philosophy leaks in every once in awhile; brief explanations of Plato's idea of the forms, the different categories of love (eros and philia), and the three stages in development (aesthetic, ethical, and religious? I believe I am stuck permanently in the aesthetic phase; that's the "Kramer" ideology according to Philosophy and Seinfeld; a person who basically just seeks pleasure and distraction).

Then I'm also reading this library book called Bring Me the Rhinoceros and Other Zen Koans to Bring You Joy. This is a difficult books for me to get through because it requires me to allow the more moo-moo side to have some reign--the slight part of me that doesn't cynically dismiss every reference to spirituality or meditation or other abstract Buddhist ideas that seem so so far out of my reach. "Koans" are basically riddles or questions meant to teach you something about how to live a better life.

One koan goes like this: "Someone asked Zhaozhou, 'Does a dog have a Buddha nature or not?' Zhaozhou said, 'No.'" You are then supposed to take this puzzle and mull over it to try to uncover the hidden meaning. I cannot, for the life of me, even begin to understand it, despite the author's attempts to explain it in ten different ways. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you expect and want Z. to say, "Yes." Yes, dogs, those animals that we love, our best friends, must have a Buddhist nature because that's what we want to be true. The author talks about facing the "no" in every day life. Or maybe it has something to do with accepting that you will never know the "true" answer; that the search for a solution always ends in disappointment so it's better to stop trying so hard to find the right solution and accept what exists now, in the moment. Acceptance is a big thing for these Buddhists. It reminds of a scene from the memoir, Autobiography of a Face. If you haven't read this book, it's a painful, beautiful first-person account by Lucy Greeley, a person who, as a child, developed a rare form of jaw cancer that caused half of her facial bone structure to be removed. She struggled for the rest of her childhood and adult life to come to terms with this deformity. The scene I'm reminded of is a moment when she goes into the bathroom while at the oncologist's and sees that someone has written on the bathroom stall, "Be here now." And she tries. She tries not to dwell too much in the past, or in imagining what her life might have been like if she didn't have cancer, and also not to project into the future and worry about what her life will become. Instead, she realizes that she has only the moment in front of her and that she should pay attention to it, always. The book ends on a positive note, with her accepting to an extent this idea. But here's the thing: she killed herself a few years after the book was published.

And I'm also continuing my Ian McEwan kick by reading Black Dogs. This is a love story told by an outside narrator and it's about loss and desire and the pivotal part of the novel seems to rely on this turning point the female character experiences decades earlier--I haven't gotten to that part yet, but she has a terrible scare because of two black dogs and it causes her to have a spiritual epiphany about the true nature of the world and she becomes a sort of Buddhist too(the title reminds me of...Is it FDR who talked about struggling with the "black dog" of depression?).

THEN finally, all of this reminds me of a scene from The Color Purple, a similar moment of clarity where Celie is talking to Shug and Shug explains how she sees herself connected to all things in the world. I can't remember how it happens. Do I still have a copy of the novel? Oh, yes, I do, in the little teeny African American part of my library:

Here's the thing, say Shug. The thing I believe. God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don't know what you looking for. Trouble do it for most folks, I think. Sorrow, lord. Feeling like shit.

But what do it look like? I ast.

Don't look like nothing, she say. It ain't a picture show. It ain't something you can look at apart from anything else, including yourself. I believe God is everything, say Shug. Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you can feel that, and be happy to feel that, you've found It.

Shug a beautiful something, let me tell you. She frown a little, look out cross the yard, lean back in her chair, look like a big rose.

She say, My first step from the old white man was trees. Then air. Then birds. Then other people. But one day when I was sitting quiet and feeling like a motherless child, which I was, it come to me: that feeling of being part of everything, not separate at all. I knew that if I cut a tree, my arm would bleed. And I laughed and cried and I run all around the house. I knew just what it was. In fact, when it happen, you can't miss it. It sort of like you know what, she say, grinning and rubbing high up on my thigh.

I love that part. And, just now, the reason I started writing this, was I was listening to a program on NPR about a man who wrote a book about his father dying of a heart attack, and you know, they always have callers and so this one awkward older man called in and said something about how he has heart disease and how he's somewhat overweight and has other physical problems, but how he wants to fight to keep alive for the sake of his children, how he wants to see his daughter get married, and how he wants to be there when he has grand kids and he was such an ordinary, stumbley person, you could hear that he was nervous and that he maybe didn't talk about his feelings too much, and normally, I can't tolerate this kind of vulnerability, especially in men, but it just struck me. I find that happening to me often these days, particularly when I see older people struggling. I saw an elderly man shopping by himself at Super Fresh the other day and he had an entire case of orange soda in his cart. It broke my heart a little, which is possibly extremely condescending, I don't know. But I kept thinking how like, well, how revealing grocery carts are, you know? Like mine always has stacks of frozen dinners because I don't cook and I always feel slightly embarrassed by it, and want to stack hunks of beef and veggies on top of the boxes to pretend I live a different life. Anyway, when I saw this old man with his orange soda, I thought about how that is this small, small thing that makes him happy and it seemed sad. I don't know why. Maybe he buys it for his twenty grand kids who visit every two days. But it seemed more likely that it was for him, and I could imagine him thinking with a vague sense of pleasure about how at 5 p.m. when he has his dinner, he'll also have an orange soda.

So maybe all of this reading has effected me somehow, made me even more sensitive than I usually am because I can't stop seeing the vulnerability in other people, strangers mostly.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

ISO Gay Boyfriend

I just finished writing on the last page of the journal Jodie gave me for Christmas and so was flipping through to see if there was anything brilliant which I should type up before retiring the journal to my bookshelf. Typically, once the journal has ended, I have a difficult time ever opening it again b/c there is something slightly depressing about looking back in time, knowing in some ways how it will turn out and feeling bad for my former self for not realizing the finale. At the same time, I often write fiction or story ideas and then, if I don't put them down somewhere else, they can evaporate into the nothingness that is my memory. Anyway, I stumbled on a list I made on January 14 of this year; a list of 100 things I want in my ideal partner. I believe when I decided to make this list, I'd read some stupid article in Oprah or one of those magazines proclaiming that you can't always get what you want UNLESS you know exactly what it is you're looking for. This idea is extremely appealing to my magical thinking self; the person who secretly half-way believes that certain random behaviors can influence the course of my personal universe (for example, if I win 3 games of Solitaire in a row, I will get "X" or "Y" won't happen or whatever the thing is that I want. It's not rationale).

In reviewing this list of 100 things I'm looking for in a partner, it became suddenly clear that I need to find a gay man to partner with. This will run counter to some of the things on my list (anything to do with sex or desire), but it does fulfill many, many, many of the requirements that I have, if, I guess you accept many of the stereotypes about gay men. Which are not necessarilt true, at all. Here's a sampling of some requirements and I can't really say why I wrote down these particular things. Listing 100 qualities makes you have to think about some slightly odd and superficial items.

*Has a creative side
*Owns a king-sized bed
*Dresses well
*Likes pop culture
*Is a liberal
*Is politically active and aware
*Has a good haircut
*Can dance
*Can cook and likes to cook
*Has good taste in decor
*Takes care of his hygiene
*Wants to travel through Europe
*Listens to me and takes my feelings into consideration
*Loves the NY Times Sunday crossword puzzle and reading the New Yorker
*Buys good presents
*Likes to shop at thrift stores
*Likes old movies and retro stuff
*Smells good
*Has been in a committed relationship
*Wears argyle socks in an ironic way
*Has an open mind
*Is tidy and clean
*Knows how to give a good compliment
A gay man. I need to date a gay man. Of course, there are a few qualities I listed that run counter to the gay man solution including:

*Is straight (I actually wrote this down, as if there were a God who would somehow perversely answer all of my dreams except make the guy a homosexual. So I listed it, just in case).
*Great in bed (I suppose this could work for either a gay or straight man, but I doubt that most gay men would be great in bed with a woman)
*Is very attracted to me and vice versa
*Likes to kiss (women)
*Wants to have kids (with me)
*Knows how to fix things (not that gay men do not, but it is more of a stereotypically hetero trait)
*Is masculine and will sometimes take charge but not in a weird alpha male way
*Loves to (insert sexual act here)
*Is sexy as hell (again, not necessarily a gay/straight dichotomy...Many sexy gay men...Think Anderson Cooper, think the closeted host of American Idol).
Bummer.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Life of Fame and Fortune

I've been meaning to write about being invited to a book club recently. A friend from Temple suggested Wonderful Girl to her club and they said yes. And so on Sunday, we took the train to New Jersey and I was greeted by about eight women who really wanted to hear what I had to say about writing the stories. It was a different experience from doing a reading. At a reading, not everyone has read the book (probably most haven't) and they ask general questions about writing. At the book club, the women had specific questions and a lot to say about the stories. One lady said that she found them funny and vivid and really sad. I told her about my aunt reading the book and then immediately calling my mom because she was worried about me. I tried to explain about how writing the stories is cathartic and that I realize that I have a dark streak and do mean things to the characters. They wanted to know if everything I wrote about had happened to me. I said something about how no, not really, but my experience of the world is similar--a sense of disconnection, loss, shame, wanting to fit in. Another person mentioned that she identified with a lot of the feelings the little girls in the story experience and then someone said that they thought the stories said a lot about what it's like to be female. Someone else said that she was afraid the read "Ducklings" because she was so worried that something terrible was going to happen to the baby. When talking about "In Mem" they agreed that it pained them that Mem gave away her necklace and they cringed at the awkwardness of the birthday party scene. I said that I had written a version of the story where she takes the necklace back but that scene didn't make it into the final version. One lady said something like, The stories are so vivid. Sometimes, you can read a novel and come away remembering nothing about it, but I had to read these stories one at a time and stop in between to think about them. Someone else said it was like eating truffles; you couldn't read them all at once, but had to read one and then set it aside and think about each story before going to the next. Afterwards, an RN asked me if I knew someone who had died of cancer ("Another Cancer Story"). I said no, but that I had a friend who had to endure the slow, slow, slow death of her dad and how that struck me as one of the hardest things I could ever imagine having to take. It was so cool to be able to hear direct feedback like and they were so nice and generous. Another woman said that she was going to send the book to Oprah and tell her to put it on book list. I told her I would give her a cut of the money if that worked. It also made me realize that I really, really, really need to write more. I don't know what I'm afraid of or why I'm not motivated to do it regularly, why I can't write something when I'm not in a class with deadlines.
In other news, the kitties are still living out in the back yard with the mama kitty. Here she is in an Owen Mills portrait studio (I added the dogwood tree flowers to make it more glamorous and romantic).

Below are two photos of the loudest kitten; he actually makes a sort of hissing, spitting noise even though he can barely see. So cute and already psychotic. Their eyes are blue right now, just like babies. I am likely jinxing the situation by even writing about them. Tomorrow, she will have moved them away to Rio. I pretty much stopped picking them up so as not to upset the mom, but it's really hard because they are fuzzy and I want to squish them. But I will persevere all the way until next week when it's supposedly okay to pet them.