Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolve to Do Nothing

Liz and Luke are at my house right now, staying over so that we may celebrate the New Year by going to a party in Fishtown with C & P. I had a little time this morning to write the last pages of my current notebook, something I really wanted to finish b/c Jodie bought me this nice, new, big journal (and a DVD player. Thanks, my bitch), and so I ended up writing about the important or significant events of the last 12 months; working at Drexel, new regular writing gigs for two publications, the summer of dating two people at once and getting migraines from it, the fact that no one I know or love died this past year (the most shocking death for me was the suicide of David Foster Wallace. And I didn't even attempt to read Infinite Jest), that I didn't get ill or sustain any physical injuries, that I didn't get any more cats or incur additional debt. In fact, this has been my most financially prosperous year to date, and I have made big strides toward paying off my credit card and also finished my last car payment in December. Have not saved a lot of money, but I'm hoping that once my credit card has been paid off, I can save lots and lots per month. So then I guess you're supposed to think about what you want for the next year. I prefer odd numbered years to even ones. I'm not going to make any resolutions though except to try to be more physically present and attentive on a regular basis. And to take a trip. I want to go to Spain this year, maybe for my birthday. I'm not quitting anything. I don't have any big purchases that I want. I'd rather save $ this year and buy a house next year. I have pretty much everything I need right now.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Yes, Philadelphians, the World IS Your Trash Can

Jodie was in last week and she commented on how much trash we have lining the streets of historical and non-historical Philadelphia---pop and beer bottles, cigarette butts, diapers, the weird random white tennis shoe, a syringe, a penny. Not ALL of Philly is like this but A LOT of Philly is. My street is no exception. How does this happen? you might wonder. First, it's because you have lots of renters who don't take pride or ownership in their place (I am guilty of this--it's not like I sweep my front step every day) and second, I have seen many, many city dwellers just drop their shit on the ground. You could blame this in part on the fact that we don't have a lot of city trash cans around or the fact that we are lazy mo-fo's. I saw a man do this today while waiting for the Market Street line. He had a piece of paper that he just let flutter from his fingers onto the subway tracks. Yeah, hey, who cares, right? Why bother to walk the twenty feet to the garbage can when you could just release the trash from where you stand? This drives me crazy. So much so, that I appreciate when I see anyone not littering. For instance, another dude at the subway, some construction guy, walked over to the trash can and spit a loogie into it and I was like, Hey, thanks for hocking that in the can rather than the steps, man.

Friday, December 19, 2008

How to Become...

My new Maven piece is up. If you're an ardent, ardent follower of the blog, you've seen this before b/c a version of it was briefly posted as an entry here. I wrote it this summer at the Rosemont College writing retreat. It's called "How to Become a Slut: Part I" (Part II will appear in January).

If I have time this afternoon, I'll post my South Philly window photos...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Inventions I Came Up With After They Were Already Invented

Okay, so another feature of this i-touch thing is that you can download books to read on it for very little $ and so I took advantage of this feature and bought a set of mysteries to read, including one called The Circular Staircase, an Edgar Allan Poe piece, and a Sherlock Holmes mystery, among others. I wanted to see if I would actually read the things or if I had misused my $3. I actually have been reading them while on the subway, though somewhat self-consciously--feeling slightly over-gadgeted. You know, who needs her book to be on a device? Why not just bring the book? At the same time, the story I'm reading is pretty engrossing, so I enjoy it and often wish I could read it while walking down the street. This is dangerous though, so the other day, I thought, Why don't they invent a book that you can read while you're walking? For a little while, I was thinking, Yes, genius, that would be great, and it would also be fabulous if you could continue to read while you're doing other things, like driving or taking a shower or any of the other activities that require some amount of physical focus. Then I realized, OH, right, podcasts. Books on tape. Duh, no duh. But really, that's not what I mean. I don't necessarily want to listen to the book--I still want to be able to read it; I just also want to be able to do the things I have to do at the same time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Shows I Watch on Commercial Breaks

Another scintillating topic, I know. Here is how exciting my life is: most nights, I go home, listen to NPR for two hours while on the computer, maybe make something to eat from a box (I am happy to stir a spoon in hot water or push buttons on the microwave, but I don't really like the idea of any other kind of preparation to make a meal), and then turn on the TV at 8 and work on one of these holiday projects I've got to get done in the next 72 hours. At 8, really the only thing going is House or one of the Law and Order's. I usually pick House because I love the Hugh Laurie character (though I do wish they developed more plot lines where he was romantically interested in someone. I know this goes against his cactus-y persona, but it would still be nice). And I hate commercials, so usually, I'm not just watching this one show, I'm watching House and sort of watching another show for two minutes in between the ads. The in-between shows are mostly all reality programs that I can never imagine watching for longer than 90 seconds at a stretch. They include:

1. The Hills: Anything more than 2 minutes of this show in a row and I start to feel like I might be sustaining brain damage. I read or heard somewhere that The Hills is bad mostly because it's this fake show pretending to be a reality show, but none of the characters can act. That's exactly how I feel, like it's hard to watch because no one on the program has the talent or brains to even muster up what might pass for sincerity. Or else it's like watching a really, really high quality film shot in real time by a group of fairly unimaginative 10th graders. Nothing much happens and no one being filmed is interesting or funny or even trying to be interesting or funny. So, it's also sort of like looking at an aquarium with these pretty fish in it that swim around in the same small pool and not much happens.

2. Wife Swap: I have a hard time sustaining interest in this show too, because it also seems pretty fake-y or at least formulaic. Each week, they take take two diametrically opposed families (let's say the Redneck vs. the Intellectuals) and switch the families. In fact, it's almost always that same pairing of opposites...A really down-home traditionally-modeled household where mom stays home to school the kids and dad is a lumberjack and then you pit them against a namby-pamby looking family where the kids go to day care, mom works, and dad stays home. As I am not a fan of conflict (real or made up), I can only watch this show in snippets and have to change the channel anyway when the faux husbands and wives are yelling at one another.

3. Any of the Real Housewives series: You just cannot believe how full of money and shit these women are.

4. Intervention: It's fascinating, but also distressing. Except when you see an episode like the one I watched in 2 minutes stretches last night--this one was about an alcoholic woman who used to be married to a rich drug dealer and so got involved in the drug life-style that way, but it was like watching a Saturday Night Live skit about the show--she would get so drunk and they would have these scenes of one-on-one videotaping of her, but she wasn't making any sense and was difficult to understand and her hair was flying all over the place and she would begin crying in this loud, tearless way that sort of sounded like she was barking, so then that started to be more surreal and funny than sad.

I heart TV!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Not a Home-Maker

Word on the street/suite at work is that people here tend to buy each other presents for the holidays. I decided this weekend to get all of that taken care of and to do it in an assembly line style. There are 6 people in my immediate area. I bought everyone some little individual gift (small stuff like coffee or Burt's Bees stuff or a journal) and then burned CDs with my favorite holiday songs on them, then worried that maybe it's not appropriate to include Marilyn Monroe's "Santa Baby" or Bright Eyes' slightly painful-sounding"Blue Christmas" or--okay, here's the list. Two of the songs are unattributed, but what can you do; didn't have time to research them. Let me know if you want me to make you one a holiday mix too. It's easy:

Santa, Snow and Reindeer Glow, 2008
1. Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! –Frank Sinatra
2. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)—Death Cab for Cutie
3. Santa Baby—Marilyn Monroe
4. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel—Belle & Sebastian
5. Blue Christmas—Bright Eyes
6. Merry Christmas, Baby
7. All I Want for Christmas is You—Mariah Carey
8. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus—The Jackson 5
9. Do They Know It’s Christmas? –Band-Aid
10. Jingle Bell Rock—Hall & Oates
11. Last Christmas—The Beatles
12. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas—Perry Como
13. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer—Dolly Parton
14. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas—
15. I’ll Be Home for Christmas—Billie Holiday
16. White Christmas—Elvis Presley
17. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town—Bruce Springsteen

So, yeah, it's a little strange maybe. I like all of the songs though. And that is the important thing to remember when giving a gift; not how the recipient will feel about it but whether or not you like it.

Then I also decided to make sugar cookies using these little cookie cutters I bought last year. I didn't plan on baking from scratch--got one of those Betty Crocker mixes where you just add an egg and some butter, but even that was more challenging than I anticipated. The butter wasn't melted and wouldn't really melt and the recipe said to stir and not use a mixer, so I stirred it all together by hand, but I just knew that somewhere, a glob of butter was going unmixed and someone is going to get a cookie shaped like a gingerbread man that's made of pure lard. Next, I realized I don't have a rolling pin to flatten out the dough. I ingeniously took out a bottle of soy sauce, sprinkled some flour on it, and used that to roll out the dough. All was fine until the soy sauce started to leak (so there will also be a soy sauce cookie in the batch). I switched over to a peanut butter jar. Each little cookie turned out to be about the size of thimble, so making them took forever. I would put a batch in the oven and then see that it didn't look like I made a dent at all in the ball of dough. I probably ended up making about 500 Christmas cookies due to the tiny-ness of the cookie cutters. I realized pretty quickly that I wasn't enjoying the process much at all--that I just wanted to get it finished. They all turned out fine, but once you put frosting on the cookies like I did, you can't even tell what each shape is. I mean, they had these cute teddy bear and gingerbread man ones, but unless you're going to use an eye dropper to add features, it's impossible to see what the cookie is meant to be. So everyone got a little holiday bag of Christmas-y blobs this year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Photos, Filled with Christmas Cheer

Behold Frosty in neon lights, which ironically, would melt Frosty. Santa and another Frosty who looks as though he's about to doff his hat. He seems to be a bit of a British Frosty. You can imagine him saying, Cheerio, Father Christmas!

A window filled with Santas.

I don't know why a person would buy a statue of a Labrador Retriever to display on his/her front doorstep, but if you are going to have one, you might as well decorate it for the season.

Little doll girl whispering to a reindeer.



I kind of hate this window and love it at the same time. I'm not a fan of Disney characters, but you have to give these people credit for going all out. I mean, look, they have made floating Mickey Mouse heads out of styrofoam balls.
This is just an elaborate display of gold and silver and the little baby Jesus.

Okay, this is out of sync, but it's the window of a nursery school place that I would've loved to go as a kid. Tons of toys and books and dolls and fun stuff.


You sort of have to click on this pic to fully appreciate St. Francis. He's got his hand pressed to his chest like a girl, as if to say, My stars, Mary!
This window is kind of creepy to me. Mrs. Claus and Santa look slightly unhinged.

Tonight, will go to a pot luck in Fishtown to celebrate all of the Sagittarius birthdays, including Ioana's and, tangentially, Mr. A's. The only problem with a pot luck party is that it requires me to bring a prepared dish. I suppose I could try to get away with chips and dip, but that's kind of cheating. Frozen fishsticks?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I've been meaning to post these few pictures from Friday night's girl happy hour...Celia is usually the photographer at these events and there would have been more photos, except she had given blood that day and started to feel vomituous after two beers. We went to Mantra again and the same waitress was there, Brie, though she had dyed her hair a darker brown. She seemed to remember us--recalled that we'd left her a stack of quarters as a joke, so that was nice.

In any case, here's lovely Ann with her stigmata.


And Irina, not wanting to get her photo taken. You may recall she exhibited similar hostility in the previous photo shoot. She (and others at the table) had had a pretty difficult week.
And Celia, a bit wan but otherwise cute as ever. Minutes after this photo was taken, she disappeared into the bathroom and when she returned, she said she had to leave. We really do need to plan another night out soon rather than waiting four months between seeing each other.
Oh, the most super exciting thing that's happened to me recently is that Lisa Marie gave me a present for helping me with her film. I was like, No, you don't have to give me anything. And she said, Yes, you will want this. So, of course, I was only protesting for show. I will take a present any day of the week. She said, Well, it's not wrapped, and I said, I don't care, and she ran inside the her house to get it for me. She came out with something in a brown plastic liquor store bag. I thought, Oh, good, a bottle of gin. But then I noticed it was brick-shaped and thought, Maybe a square of hashish? I unwrapped it and found myself looking at the cover album for Imagine with John Lennon in his little glasses peering back at me. I didn't know what it was--I thought maybe she had given me the complete works of John Lennon, which I would've liked fine, though it wasn't anything we'd ever discussed. She said, It's an i-pod. But guess what? It's not JUST an i-pod, it's an 8 GB i-touch i-pod which is like this magical thing with that has a big screen and allows you to search the Internet and use a GPS tracker and download games and even books. I couldn't believe it. I ran home to see what kind of applications I could add and now I can play any number of addictive games including PacMan, Suduko, hangman, Armadillo, a bunch of other games. It's so great. I recommend it highly and I am not even being paid to say that. Thanks, LM!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Trapped

Last night, I went to this lecture about urban sustainability and landscape with Carrie and this other dude at some random warehouse in Fishtown. I had no expectations, except that I thought it might be interesting to learn a little more about saving the planet somehow. Unfortunately, the building we met in, though cool in an Andy Warhol aesthetic, didn't have any heat. And then secondly, the first person who lecture was very nervous and not at all a public speaker. He kept pausing....These really long....painful...pauses. The longest pause was 21 seconds. I counted. Carrie said later that she had to turn around to look back toward the projector at him because she thought he had narcolepsy and was possibly asleep on his biodegradable laptop. The only real sustainable thing I learned was that if I contorted my body, I could manage to keep from suffering from hypothermia, but just barely. It also occurred to me that I don't fit in with hippie hipsters (a particular brand of hipsters that meet the following criteria: (1). Live in Fishtown or No Lo in a house they are rehabbing that their parents helped them pay for (2). At parties, the guy hippy hipster can be found playing a musical instrument and sitting too close to the bonfire, almost singeing his beard; (3). Dresses in loose fitting, raggedy shirts, tight jeans or flowing, long skirts, and cowboy boots. Hair is messy, as if they've just rolled out of bed; (4). Gardens and recycles and is conscientious about the environment while still driving a not environmentally sound car and remaining a highly functioning addict of some kind). I can get behind their politics and their desire to save the planet, but I'll never fit in. I haven't smoked enough grass. I'm too mean or tidy to high strung to be able to manage. I don't own enough hoodies.

Anyway, the first guy was not a good public speaker and his piece was very academic and long and I knew there would be someone else on after him and that I was stuck there, so I started to try to think of ways to make the time go by faster in my head, such as:

1. Attempting to unravel the thread on my coat button without completely popping off the button, especially since I seldom sew them back on.

2. Trying to keep track of each slide so that I would know how much closer we were to the end of the presentation (I had astutely noted the number of slides at the beginning of the lecture).

3. Imagining what might happen if I did any of a number of inappropriate things that crossed my mind such as standing on my chair to look over the top of the wall to see if I dog I had spotted earlier was still around, yelling out "Borrrrinnnggggg!!", or faking a seizure.

4. Counting out the number of times the guy said, "sort of." Total=534 in 40 minutes.

5. Reminding myself that I was lucky to be in a cold warehouse and not starving in a foreign country or trapped under a heavy object or in the hospital awaiting a liver transplant or strapped to a lit rocket.
None of these helped and the lecture stretched out into infinity.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gift Guide for the Poor!

I love how every magazine/blog/newspaper/radio program etc. now features ways to tighten your belt this holiday season and how many of these ideas are either (1). still too expensive (Oprah magazine, for instance, has a list of gifts under $100 that offers suggestions like $90 stationery, $89 bath oils and $99 chocolates made by dwarves). (2). kind of weird or (3). d.i.y. projects that would require you to quit your job to even have a chance to finish them before next Christmas.

Here are a few of my ideas for super saver gift-giving this year:

1. A bag of cat fur. Save up all the cat fur that is shed over the next few weeks (in my case, about 2-3 pounds). Bag it in fun holiday bags and add festive index cards with suggested uses for it (pillows and/or cushions, could also add it to a regular sweater you're knitting and pretend it's angora).

2. If you are a woman, save all of your tampon applicators, decorate them with markers or paints, and give to children to use as telescopes or kazoos, or a new kind of Lincoln Log.

3. Fashion puppets out of all of your single socks. Just add googly eyes found at any craft store and yarn for hair. Suitable for both children and adults. Don't forget to wash the socks first so that your recipients don't get athlete's foot of the hand.

4. Print up a bunch of color pictures off the Internet Christmas scenes (or whatever you like) and frame them with those cheap plastic frames from the dollar store. Or create your own frames out of cardboard shoe boxes. Which reminds me that you can also make:




5. Dioramas! Remember how in elementary school you would have to make these little scenes for class illustrating that you understood evolution or creationism, depending on your school? I always fell back on the shoebox approach when I realized that I had a science fair project due the next day. For family, you can make an emotionally powerful diorama by recreating a vivid memory in your family's history like your vacation to Detroit or your mother's graduation from the community college when you were ten or your grandpa's funeral.

See? Easy!

Monday, December 1, 2008

December Has Arrived with Little Fanfare

Paul Skoles and Piper were fairly well-behaved except when Paul Skoles licked the top of the pumpkin pie. And the butter dish. And then turkey.

John McGovern, law school student extraordinaire.

Carrie and Ionia laughing at something.

Piper grooming Paul Skoles. He likely needed it.

Miss Carrie!

Padhraig preparing the butternut squash with walnuts that I declined to eat. He called me fussy. That was the second time in a week that someone said I was fussy. I don't think I am!

Seems so innocent.

The spread.


How about a list of things so I don't have to go through each day:

1. Best thing about Thanksgiving: this delicious key lime pie that Carrie's friend Sarah made with a heavenly meringue topping (though there was also some debate about it one should put meringue on a key lime pie). We also played Charades (who do you think forced that on everyone?) and almost every single one of Padhraig's choices included a cat, so that he could just point to either Piper or PS without having to stand up.

2. Finished filming the second part of Lisa Marie's film with little incident on Friday morning. I spit the seeds and it wasn't too odd--though there was a moment when I bit into a chunk of watermelon and a spout of juice gushed onto my nose.

3. Was pulled over by Philly police on Saturday while on my way to the Goodwill b/c of my expired inspection. The guy was very nice and basically gave me a ticket that I don't have to pay if I can prove that I have had the car inspected. I went immediately to the nearest place I could find and had it done. It passed. Perhaps next time I will be a more responsible citizen.

4. Went out with KG to Devil's Den and Dive on Saturday (didn't go to the Donegal Ball as promised--I kind of chickened out at the last second because it would mean I would have to drive out to Germantown). Helped Kelly pick up a boy in Dive bar--very nice guy who had two full-sleeves of tattoos and works as an adolescent psychologist. They served this super disgusting apple cider nog at Dive that I drank part of and still feel like I can taste it.

5. Sunday, back over to LM's to tape the sound for the piece. I didn't listen to the recording because I sort of hate the way my voice sounds sometimes--I sound like a 12 year old.

6. Retrieved my holiday decorations from the basement yesterday and so now the bright pink neon Christmas tree is out, as are the numerous Santas. I'll take a photo for you today.

7. Must go to the dentist at 1:30 p.m. this afternoon to have some more work done on that crown. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.
Below, please find a scene from our Friday film day. That is Aggie checking the light for the shots we were about to do.


And here is the kitchen. Please note the 9 watermelons on the table which cost $85. There were ten, but I dropped one. Name this film and you can win a chance to take home a bunch of these fruits: "I carried a watermelon."