Tuesday, June 27, 2006

jumping on the cartoon bandwagon

Several of you have created your animated likenesses here, and many of your Betty and Veronicas are adorable, outfit-wearing rock stars. Grumpy Frump is a supermom, and a foxy cheerleader to boot. The ridiculously cute Maliavale is probably listening to a cool band that I've never heard of (or haven't yet read about on Greg's page). I practically want to start dating Nabbalicious.

I applaud my Neighborhooders, but fear that I'm the snarky troublemaker in the back row by comparison. Whatever, you know you still want me at your party when your parents go out of town.

So here's me: one picture is of me at work, and the other one is me everywhere else. What? Did the invitation say black tie?

red book

red drink

I just noticed that in the cartoon future I have books and wine but no nose, apparently. That's okay: priorities! Anyway, thanks to Dave for scanning/copying/whatevering these pictures so I could post them here.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

O Canada

What can I say about Niagara Falls? The actual Falls are lovely, yes... something between the Grand Canyon and an overflowing sink. The entire area around the Falls, on the other hand, is like Disney World and Vegas got drunk and coked up and right before they got arrested for selling heroin to kindergarteners, they gave birth to a half-monkey crack-addicted demon child.

It started a couple weeks ago... the weather got nice and I wanted to go on a road trip once school got out. Steve, as usual, was up for anything, and conveniently had a little vacation time. I was thinking of going south (Virginia! the Carolinas!) but we ended up going north because you can never have too many useless Canadian coins. So we left on Thursday, and the trip itself was all that and then some; you can't not have fun with Steve, and I spent the entire weekend laughing until my stomach hurt. We eventually made it to our destination by (accidental) way of lovely Lake George and (purposeful, if you can believe that) way of Rochester.

I should've known what I was in for when I was looking through the tourist information in our B&B and saw an ad for a haunted house, boasting comments from previous visitors like, "I was so scared I nearly pissed myself!" I was thrilled: Haunted house? Marketing copy with the words "pissed myself"? Then I read on and saw another satisfied customer quote: "This one is the best; go here before you bother with all the others!" The others? What others? Yeah, it turns out that life in Niagara Falls is a strip of haunted houses, wax museums, indoor water parks, Planet Hollywoods, and casinos. And let's not forget the neon lights they blast onto the Falls at night. I figured it'd be a little cheesy but I had no idea what I was in for. But when in Rome...

So we decided to embrace the kitsch and do everything. We did all the raincoat activities with the dramatic names: the Maid of the Mist, the Journey Behind the Falls, the White Water Walk, and even the butterfly conservatory, where we were sternly told not to even consider touching the butterflies with our contaminated, diseased hands; unfortunately, when bugs fly at your face, it can be difficult to deflect your swatting reflex in favor of just ducking and admiring their unspoiled beauty. (What, I know they're butterflies! But when they're swarming you they feel suspiciously like moths.)

We were forced into having our picture taken over and over in front of countless green screens and then later, offered the opportunity to purchase a smiling image of ourselves superimposed over the Falls. Steve intercepted me when I was thisclose to acquiring a heart-shaped 8x11. (They were free if you were on your honeymoon, which I was, at that moment.)

We went to a haunted house called Nightmares that took place in complete darkness; it was actually absurdly terrifying and I clung to Steve like a human backpack, which really didn't make me feel less scared and probably set the women's movement back a few hundred years. Nightmares actually had a safe word that you could use if you got too terrified and wanted to be ushered out; this safe word turned out to not be "HOLY F'ING MOTHER OF SHIT."

We bar hopped and made the delightful discovery that the drinking age in Canada is 18, which means that if you're 15 and have a fake ID, come on in, what're you drinking, Molson or Labatt Blue?

We did some crazy maze activity where you have to run around and find a bunch of hidden stuff before your friend. At first I was like, "Oh, what's this? We can't do it together?" but then I found out I was competing against Steve and I took off like a bat out of hell and proceeded to kick his ass. When he couldn't find his way out, I stood on the platform above, taunting him with the Super Mario Brothers theme song, completely forgetting that just moments before he'd protected me from being killed in a haunted house.

Bottom line: I ate up every freakin' second of it.

And as for where we stayed... honestly, if I'd known what Niagara Falls was really like, I would've just embraced the cheesiness of it all, booked us at a Sheraton and called it a day. But instead I had us stay at what turned out to be the most ridiculous B&B on the planet. Witness the various moments of weirdness:

-The woman who runs the place goes by, well, without giving her actual name, let's just say that it isn't like her real name is Elizabeth and she asks to be called Liz; that would be an actual nickname. We're talking a real name like Rachel and asking people who have just met her to call her Rach. So we spent the weekend calling her Rach like we were all BFFs. (I did not invite her to call me by my first syllable.)

-When we were on our way, we called from the only highway that goes from New York to Ontario and asked how to get to their place; essentially, we were asking the question, "Can you tell us how to get to your home from America?" Rach reacted like it was the most obscure thing we could've asked her. She didn't know and had to confer with someone else, and when she got back on the phone she asked, "Well, hmm, let's see... are you familiar with the area?"

-When Rach showed us to our room, she assured us a few times that we should stay out as late as we want and that we shouldn't feel like we have a curfew. Oh, okay. Thanks? Then she told us that if we do come in late that we'll probably feel like we're being really loud and waking everyone up because the floors are kind of creaky, but really, don't let that keep you from staying out late, you really shouldn't feel like you have a curfew.

-There was a full-length window in the bathroom wall. This means that if you're in the bedroom and someone is in the bathroom, you're an inadvertent part of that experience as well. We tried to think of all the reasons a giant window would be built into a bathroom wall, why you'd want to watch the person you're with while they're peeing. Lots of dirty theories, but no real answers. If you guys have any theories, please share, because I'm at a loss.

-We signed up for a lunch and tour of a winery, because what else is Canada known for but hockey, Michael J. Fox and vineyards, but Rach neglected to tell us that the lunch was at a different place than the tour, and when we talked to the people at the winery, they were like, "HUH? You want FOOD?" like we were homeless people. Then we called Rach and she told us that the lunch place was down the road and was called, say, Sugarhill Restaurant. Okay then. We drove up and down the road for miles looking for Sugarhill Restaurant. There was a Sugarhill Farm but it was all tractors and big piles of dirt. So we called her back and she said, "Oh, no, the restaurant is right next to the winery." Dear God, are you kidding me? Even Steve was starting to get pissed, and he never gets mad. We gave up, went to a farm stand, bought some still-warm strawberry rhubarb pie and a pint of cherries and had a makeshift picnic next to the Niagara River. It was actually really fun, but Rach officially became the bitch that took away my wine.

-I was talking to some guy from Ohio who was staying down the hall from us, and he was saying how he and his wife just spent their weekend doing the winery stuff, not "all that other garbage." He assumed I'd done the same. I told him how much other garbage we'd happily participated in. He was clearly amused by my tacky, dollar store self. Whatever, Ohio; if you're such a wino, why didn't you go to Napa Valley?

Oh, one more thing. Because of the winery mishap, Rach is giving us a free night at their B&B. I'm going back to Niagara Falls, um, never, so if you're ever going or if you live around there, let me know and it's all yours. If you survive Nightmares and beat my time at the maze (which you NEVER COULD), I'll even buy you dinner at the 24 hour Burger King.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

what's next

Tomorrow is the last day of school. Four years ago I put myself back into the world of campus bookstores and four-hour classes and syllabi and found out very quickly that I basically knew nothing about this thing I signed up for. During the day I worked for free at different hospitals, schools, and state-funded programs (the most random of which was waking up at the crack of dawn to test the hearing of wiggling newborns that were born overnight) and went to school at night. It wasn't the work that got to me, it was the amount of knowledge that I felt obligated to acquire, the fact that I always felt behind the eight ball, even when I really wasn't or, rather, when it was kind of okay to be; I tried to pretend that there was no learning curve and that I had to know everything immediately. Every time I started to feel like I had an idea what I was doing, it was time to go work someplace else. It's just the nature of an academic program, of course, to need to expose you to every possible part of the field you're going into. Some people thrive on bouncing around and never being in one place for too long, but I found it exhausting and I was anxious all the time and I just wanted to be settled.

Now it's been two years since I've graduated and I feel pretty good. I like being my own little department; if it goes right then I sort of own it, and if it doesn't then well, let me reconvene with myself and figure it out. Working with kids means standing on your head, literally and figuratively, and I pretty much love it. If I'm going to work hard I'm glad it's no longer about Smart Speed, which is actually the name of an e-business conference that I once sucked at developing; the first company that I worked for after college helped expose me to the most mind-numbingly pointless part of corporate America. My meetings then were just me listening to office jargon, all strategic initiatives and running the numbers and let's take this offline. I do miss working in an office sometimes, because it can be fun and interesting and, well, hardly anyone throws up on you. But I guess I just mean I'm glad to know now that it wasn't for me, because I was always bothered by the thought that it just didn't feel like I fit there. I did fit at happy hour afterwards, but alas, post-work cocktails do not a career make.

I guess I finally feel like I've got the day job somewhat under control, and now there are other things that I want to think about and pursue. It's been a long time since I've thought seriously about writing again. The sheer volume of the crap that I write here is just one indication of how much I miss it. It's also an indication of how much I like revealing my neuroses to people I've never met, but that's another issue.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

tall tales

So Carly and I are getting off the Hynes stop on the Green Line this afternoon, and she's actually saying something about not having much bizarreness in her life lately. I was starting to tell her that I have no such luck because I always seem to be a freak magnet.

As if to prove my point, at that moment a woman approached and told us that we were so lucky to be tall, and how tall is my mother? She kept saying how fortunate we were and that, "You guys HAVE IT! I WANT it, but you guys HAVE IT!" If I'd only known what it was, maybe I could've given it to her so she'd go away. Then she proceeded to tell us that in the Bible it says that the Virgin Mary is statuesque, just like us, and that she is exceedingly holy, just like us, and that EXCEEDINGLY means TALL. She asked if we were sisters, and then asked how tall Carly's mom is. Armed with this irrelevant information, our new friend continued to marvel at our luck, our height, our fair skin, our divinity. She was pretty regular person-looking too, like she was just heading off to meet a friend, or disciple, for dinner or something. We told her to take care and continued on our path of righteousness.

Then later a guy on the street handing out information about scientology looked at me, looked away, and then gave a pamphlet to the guy next to me. Apparently one's person deity is another person's lost cause.

Monday, June 19, 2006

but I love that dirty water

So over the weekend I'm at the Pour House with Work Friend, who will soon become Friend, as she's finding gainful employment elsewhere... but yeah, how depressing has that place become? (If you're not from around here, I'm not offended if you just smile and nod.) When I got out of college, it was one of the more fun and laid-back places in town. Now their claim to fame is "beertinis," which, take a wild guess, is a draft beer in a martini glass. It's wrong on so many levels, and I don't even drink martinis; imagine how much more appropriately outraged the klassy drinkers must be.

I've discovered the problem with my home turf and it's only recently become an issue... Boston is a college town and a bar town, which means that on any given night, every place is crawling with 22-year-olds, or better yet, 18-year-old BU freshmen (on summer break now, no less) with fake IDs. I'm 28 and Work Friend is 20-ten and to be fair, there are plenty of people out that are older than us, but the shrieking youngins seem to have taken over every single place, even the dive bars that were once endearing and under the radar, and because they're there the music is all top 40 remixes. (Can I just take a moment and say how funny that "Promiscuous Girl" song is? Don't get me wrong, I like conversations that take place during last call that are then set to music as much as the next person, but there MUST have been a better adjective to use there, don't you think? Mischievous? Adventurous? I don't know, but I feel like anything would be better than, "Nice to meet you, I'm a filthy, indiscriminate whore.")

If you really like the person you're out with, you're 90% of the way there, and I'm a girl that loves the one she's with, anyway; I'm over meeting randoms. I just wish Boston proper wasn't flooded with thousands of coed carbon copies. It's just such an interesting place and there's so much that's great about it (bands, bookstores, food, hole-in-the-wall movie theaters, product shopping... speaking of, I'm making a gleeful pilgrimage to Lush tomorrow!) and that comes across at every other time; our beloved state capital shouldn't have to sacrifice its quality mojo for bubble gumminess just because it's a weekend night.

I envy New York its little cafes where you can order wine or coffee or a smoothie and sit with a friend for hours; there seems to be more of a focus on conversation with who you came with, whereas Boston right now seems to be all about loud music and who else is there. I know Manhattan is like this too, undoubtedly moreso than anything I've experienced around these parts, but I'm glad I've been steered away from that part of it. And I'm generalizing, of course; only an occasional visitor to New York could have an Audrey Hepburn idealism about its tucked-away little places.

I was having a pedicure on the Cape over Memorial Day weekend and I met a really interesting woman who owns a pub close to my home that she says is great for a night out with friends, and I told her I'd stop by. I want to and plan to, but when? Going out somewhere other than the city doesn't really feel like going out; it's having dinner or just hanging out or being lowkey, which is my mom's kind of word. It's like the Cape... it's a fantastic break from reality, but if you ever spent the entire summer there, you'd go out of your mind (and it wouldn't be a bad way to go, but I'm just saying). If I'm going out, I almost (sorry, this is corny) want the energy of the city, or else it's like, well, let's just go someplace for dinner and call it an early night, or let's stay in and watch the game or a movie. All of those are good options and I end up having fun whatever I do, but I miss going out without having to leave my brain at home. Lately Boston is feeling like one giant, expanding stretch of Lansdown Street (i.e. sorority row) or nothing at all.

Don't get me wrong, I like a crazy night out now and then, but mostly I wish there were cute little places on the corner that weren't Starbucks that had tea candles on the tables and patrons of all ages and good music and that I could just sit for a long time and have wine with you and talk about everything and nothing. Beantown is bumming me out in this respect. Does it sound like I'm thinking about moving elsewhere? I'm really not. No one in the Boston area really leaves, and if they do they come back. You'd be hard pressed to find a homegrown that wants to cross state lines permanently. Born and bred... it's not just a Southern thing. Hometown devotion is the best kept secret among the supposedly elite Northeasterners.

I do need a brief change of scenery, though. Conveniently, I'm embarking on a kitschy road trip in a couple days, at the precise nanosecond that the school year ends. It's summer, summer, summertime, or so insisted Will Smith when I was in middle school, and I'm ready for a bit of a break, ready for sunny days and great music and sharing good food and staying out late. I'll be a responsible citizen again soon, I promise.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

who's your daddy?


My dad has a headstrap with a light attached, basically a mining hat without the helmet, that he wears when he watches baseball on TV in the dark so that he can write down all the plays and keep score without having to turn a light on. When he was right out of college he quit a job at IBM because they wanted him to wear a tie every day. He just turned 59 and his hair hasn't turned gray yet. Whenever I'm upset or worried about something, he's completely calm (even when my problem was something like, "So, I think I did something weird to the car/that wall in the basement/my braces...") and he stops what he's doing to help me figure it out. He married a woman after only knowing her for three months (hi, mom). He makes nothing of what he's achieved or how hard he works, which is probably why I find incessant bellyachers such a bore. He used to buy me books when I was a baby because he thought it was important for me to have them, even if all I did was chew on them. He set such a simple, kind, honorable example that the idea of a disrespectful, game-playing man is, thankfully, foreign to me. He didn't want me to play with Barbies because he thought they promoted an unhealthy body image for women (a nice thought, but it didn't work; I had about 40 of them). He is infinitely patient, a fast thinker and slow talker. When I was little and about to go to sleep he'd sit on the edge of my bed and want to know "all the things me did today," undoubtedly both enjoying and mocking my emerging understanding of grammar rules. He likes the Three Stooges, good wine, and spaghetti and meatballs, and if we're sharing he remembers not to put cheese on top. He reads books and watches documentaries about random stuff, like the history of salt. He has always told me, about everything from long division to being in school plays to following a hunch and quitting my job to go to grad school in order to join a profession that I knew next to nothing about, that of course I could do it. And I know he's always believed it, because the man can't tell a lie even to be polite.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. (That little boy on his lap is me, by the way.)

Friday, June 16, 2006

this just in: my appendix is useless

So I've had this annoying pain in my abdomen for a few days, ever since my cold, and finally decided to call my doctor's office after someone I work with was like, "That's what they're there for, Red." Okay then. So I called and told them how I was feeling (the pain is more I-was-recently-kicked-by-a-mule than nausea) and they thought from the way I was describing it that it sounded like appendicitis. What? That's not the "itis" where you get ice cream afterwards, is it? Damn you Cindy Brady, you made tonsillitis look like a trip to the zoo.

Anyway, they said I had to come in right away. Fine, twist my arm to leave work. It was Field Day anyway (in the elementary school that I went to they called it the Goofy Olympics, unfortunately enough) so it didn't really matter: "Oh, hey you guys, I can't referee Capture the Flag because my intestines might be rupturing. Go blue team!"

I was feeling okay, save for the mule kick, so I went home to put some stuff in a bag in case I really did have to have my appendix taken out. What, like I'm not going to want to change my clothes just because I have to have minimally invasive surgery? Then I got on IM and told Elusive Jen and Joe and Dave about it and that it was probably much ado about nothing and what was going on with them? They were all like, um, go to the hospital, Red.

So I went and they poked me and took my blood and said I looked pale, but that's how I always look. (I once had a dermatologist tell me that my complexion was made for overcast British skies. Doesn't that seem oddly poetic for a doctor?) Then I had an ultrasound, during which they concluded that I am not pregnant. Darn it all, Fake Husband Brett and I will just have to keep trying. Maybe cutting back on the Ortho Tri-Cyclen would help.

Yeah, so basically, nothing's wrong. I have a tummy ache; they're giving me Prilosec or something. It's a little embarrassing. But I still stand by the fact that it's a TOTALLY WEIRD tummy ache. I wonder if my HMO will agree.

Then I'm driving home and Dorie had left me a message on my cell that she'd come to the hospital and hang out with me if I was just waiting around. I called to thank her and accidentally called Dave instead. So I was thinking, that's fine, I'll just chat with Dave. But no, I forgot, it's not my friend Dave that's in my phone, it's the Dave that is the husband of one of my semi-estranged college friends. I heard him start to answer and I made like a seventh grade girl and hung up. That's right I did. Caller ID be damned, I still didn't want to have that awkward conversation.

And my (almost entirely decorative, as it turns out) appendix and I are home in time to meet Party Jen for soup at the Factory. I hope they have peach.

(P.S. No peach, but they had mango. Yum.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

the following entry has been approved for all audiences

So I'm at a (utterly forgettable) movie with Mark and am intently watching the previews, as usual. Don't talk to me during them, because I like to do the five-second review afterwards: "Not even when it's on TBS in five years and I have the flu." Some comedian once said that moviegoers will pay to go see the dumbest crap but somehow after every preview you become the most elite, unforgiving movie critic on the planet: "No. NEXT." I forget who said that, but it made me laugh.

Then sometimes you watch a preview and you torture yourself with "what was he in?!" because it's driving you crazy and you can't place that guy to save your life and you have to know now. The worst is when you turn to your friend to ask them, and they're about to ask you the same thing. Then you're just screwed, because we're years away from the IMDB brain chip. No, actually, worse is when your friend says, "I have no idea," and they don't even tear their eyes away from the screen to give you a courtesy glance because it's of so little consequence to them, and then you know that you must have seen the guy in some obscure role that you'll never remember because he was something like a dancing goblin in the tossing-of-the-baby-in-the-striped-outfit scene in Labyrinth. (Please, I know the striped baby's name was Toby. I'm sorry to tell you that I knew that movie by heart when I was like nine. I know it was basically a two hour long David Bowie video, but it was also a bona fide event in my childhood.)

This just made me think about other movies I know by heart: Heathers, Dazed and Confused, It's a Wonderful Life, The Breakfast Club, The Princess Bride, Clueless, Clerks, Back to the Future, Napolean Dynamite, Singles... damn, that's a lot of uselessness taking up room in my brain.

Ahem, anyway. Then sometimes there's that preview for the most vapid, pointless piece of nothingness with Ashton Kutcher or his genetic equivalent stumbling through a series of double entendres, mistaken identity, and/or kicks to the crotch, and then at the end of the movie (while standing at the altar next to his icy, malicious fiancee, natch) he realizes that he's really in love with the sweet, underdog girl next door, and the entire thing is set to a Goo Goo Dolls song, and during this preview I'm always sitting behind the girl that turns to her friend and says, "That looks so cute!" and it makes me instantly love MY friend who's next to me all the more, because they're making a snarky comment and turning off their cell phone.

So yeah, I'm watching a trailer that features Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell being macho. Machine guns, sunglass removal in slow motion, and lines like, "You play the wrong games and the wrong people die!" It looks like a million other movies just like it that I'd never see, but wait... are they fighting crime on a... jetski? Huh. Then we finally get to the title. And it's Miami Vice.

I almost spit out my Diet Coke. Mark had seen the preview before and anticipated my reaction, so he didn't elbow me in the beginning and say, "This is the MIAMI VICE remake." He let me experience it and then almost choke on my soda, and for that I'm grateful.

I don't so much want to say something like, "Why are they remaking everything these days?" because it's really the dumbest small talk topic, right after, "Can you believe this weather?" But really, why are they? I guess because a few of them did well and then the avalanche of mediocrity was just inevitable.

Anyway, here are some movies coming out that actually look neat: this one and that one. But they're just previews. Who can actually formulate an informed opinion based on a preview?

Besides, you know, me.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

fontal lobotomy

Usually I write my reports at home (while watching My Fair Brady I mean while carefully considering the statistical significance of the evaluation results) and I'd never really paid attention to it before, but the font is always Times New Roman, single spaced. Yesterday I wrote one at work and the font ended up being Comic Sans MS, 1.5 spaced.

I don't know if my esteemed colleagues were just sitting around waiting for something to comment on, but over this one detail I heard the following:

"This looks like when you're in school and you have to write a ten page report but you only have seven and a half pages so you try to get creative with the font and the spacing."

"Where's Red's report? I don't have it. Do you have it? Can you make me a copy? Oh, I already have it? This is it? Really? Why does it look like this?"

"This is a good font for writing about what you did last night at the mall."

I looked around at all of them, bewildered. How could they all have such a random, simultaneous opinion? But lesson learned: Mind your fonts at work, people. While Times New Roman might say, "Hey, I'm an expert; listen to me," Comic Sans MS just says you're a slacker Heather standing in line at Orange Julius. But, like, what's wrong with that?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Loving Homage to Musical Prodigy Nick Lachey on VH1's Behind the Music or, So Far Behind the Music It's Like We Took a Wrong Turn and Landed in Shit

There's a new Behind the Music and it's on Nick Lachey. Because that makes sense; his career with 98 Degrees revolutionized the face of music. Rarely does a day go by when "give me just one night! una noche..." doesn't spur me to reach greater heights than I ever fathomed were within my reach. Basically it was a shameless ploy to get him to talk about Jessica Simpson for 47 minutes. Next week Anderson Cooper will do an in-depth report on how Nick feels their divorce has impacted immigration laws, certain to include hard-hitting questions such as, "So was Jessica, like, totally bipolar or what?"

Me: They went right from their wedding to the Newlyweds show and skipped the part about Nick deflowering Jessica. That's unacceptable!
Dave: Totally.
Me: Hello, where's the sex? I could be reading a book right now.
Dave: Nick Lachey is crying.
Me: I'd venture to say he's weeping.
Dave: I bet he had to sign a contract for them and promise to cry like a little bitch. [Incidentally, that's probably the most frat boy thing I've ever heard Dave say.]

Nick, choking back tears, is talking about how "it's all about holding that little girl for the first time."

Me: What little girl?
Dave: I was wondering that myself.
Me: Who is this little girl he wants to hold? We may need to explore this.
Dave: Maybe it's Jessica.
Me: Maybe it's Ashlee. Maybe it's Lindsay Lohan!

We are informed that Nick is "emerging from the shadows of his past."

Me: This is one big personal ad.
Dave: He's dreamy.
Me: I can't believe it's over and I missed the first half hour.
Dave: Yeah. It's a shame VH1 never replays anything.

Friday, June 09, 2006

never trust a fake redhead


Being the person that I am, naturally I wanted something a little lighthearted to put on top of that last post. And I guess it's an understatement to say that my prayers were answered, because Ronald McDonald walked into my office this morning and asked to borrow a pen.

Apparently McDonalds is going around to elementary schools promoting their fitness program for kids, all the while peddling them the chicken nuggets that they devour like crack. And who better to run the program than Ronald McScaryassclownington himself? When he came into my office I actually gasped and put my hand over my mouth, and he laughed like I was excited and not slightly terrified. I was thinking less about happy meals and more about Stephen King. I always thought you were just misunderstood in It; please don't kill me.

God love Supergirl, she made me laugh for the first time ever. Actually, second time ever, but the first time was too much of a work-related thing to bother explaining. She looked right at him and without missing a beat, handed him a pen and said, "Sure, Ronald," without a hint of the sing-songy voice she almost always has, like it was the most natural thing in the world.

He never returned the pen. I wish I'd asked him to use it to sign my copy of Fast Food Nation.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

eHorrorstory

So here's my story about how eHarmony changed my life, and it isn't because it ended with me meeting Rick, 29, English teacher. Let's just say that it won't be set to music in any upcoming commercials. (Warning: It's long and dramatic, so proceed with caution and a sense of humor.)

Okay, let's roll back to 1995 for a minute to get a little background info. In the grand tradition of freshman year roommates, the girl that I was assigned to live with when I got to college was not someone that I liked right away, to put it mildly. She was snotty, knew everything, and brought a poster of men in a sauna to tape to our wall. Of course, she probably met me and thought, "spoiled, flaky, and brought a Curious George poster."

We didn't really like each other for months, and then when we came back from winter break, she was kinda interested in this guy. I had a boyfriend (who at the time was still male); she asked me for advice and we ended up staying up for hours talking, the first of many nights we'd do that, lying on our beds, looking up at the glow-in-the-dark star stickers on the ceiling that we actually arranged into various constellations because in college you have way too much free time on your hands. After that night, the dynamic between us somehow shifted and we were suddenly inseparable. It has never made sense to anyone who has known us. We are drastically different people; you would never think to sit us next to each other at a dinner party (if anyone I knew ever actually had a formal dinner party, that is). In college we lived together for two years (the only people we know who chose to live with their assigned roommates again). We just became family. She irritated and infuriated me and I disagreed with half the things that came out of her mouth. I also adored her; sometimes it's just that simple and that weird. Ten years later we were still best friends.

A couple years ago I saw the ad on TV for the eHarmony free personality profile. I was mildly intrigued and completed it, at which point they start sending you boys. Not via FedEx, I'm sorry to say, but your inbox suddenly becomes littered with potential suitors. I didn't take it too seriously. I didn't really want to go on dates with strangers; never really have. But my friends who had nursed me through a recent difficult break-up urged me to keep an open mind.

I had an instant message conversation with one of the eHarmony guys. After a few typed lines from him, I just knew I wasn't interested. He was a realtor, living in the same town as my friend. At the time, she was thinking about selling her house, and she happened to be online as well. So I said, mostly joking, "Hey, YOU should talk to this guy." They were both game. I logged off, and then about an hour later, she called me.

"We've been chatting for awhile and he wants to call me," she said. "Do you mind?"
"No, not at all."
"Are you sure?"

I was positive. The guy couldn't spell.

She called a few hours later. "We've been on the phone all this time."
"Really?"
"Yeah. I kind of like him! Is this ridiculous?"

Oh, to have a time machine, and be able to respond to that with, "Yes, yes it is."

"...and he asked me to have dinner with him on Tuesday."
"Really!"
"Are you SURE you don't mind?"
"I'm completely sure. He's all yours."

She checked in with me about a zillion more times to make sure it wasn't weird for me. I can see how she thought it would be, but it wasn't an issue. Before she even met him, she joked that if they ended up getting married, they'd owe me big. I said they'd owe me flowers.

I never got flowers. I did, however, have to carry some in their wedding a year later. They got engaged three months after that first date. I'd love to tell you that it ended up being the sweet, accidental love story that it could've been, that I met him and loved him too, that she has everything she's ever wanted. But everything basically went as craptastic as it possibly could have.

She hadn't really dated anyone seriously before, so all of our friends were very curious about this guy. She was nervous about he and I meeting. The three of us had dinner together, and it was, um, what's the word? Horrific? I asked about him and his job, just to make conversation; he answered me flippantly and didn't ask a thing about me. I was in grad school at the time and he started pontificating about how he'd never go to grad school because it's a waste of time. He was possessive of her even at that point, chiding me for thinking I knew her so well when HE was really the expert on her. I mean, what? He was just The Classic Jerk; it was like a sitcom. He got up to go to the mens room and I was convinced that she was about to turn to me and say, "Oh my GOD, he's AWFUL." I was already plotting what we could tell him in order to cut dinner short and get the hell out of there. But she just smiled, giddy, falling in love. I was horrified.

The next day she called to find out what I thought of him without coming right out and asking what I thought of him. At a loss for words, I said (the line that quickly became infamous among our friends), "I can't believe there wasn't a wait at [the restaurant]!" In retrospect, it was inadvertently unkind of me; I should've indulged her, should've just said something innocuous like, "He seemed nice" or "You guys seem happy together." Or maybe not, I don't know. I hadn't yet had the experience of having a friend partner up with a doofus and having to choose my words delicately; I foolishly thought if he's THIS bad, she's GOT to see it, right? ...Right?

Anyway, that was pretty much it for the two of us. She essentially replaced me with him, which I think can happen to your best friend, to an extent, when you get into a relationship. But she didn't even try to juggle; she was just basically gone. She didn't even call me on my birthday. It was awful and I was, well, heartbroken, I shouldn't be ashamed to say. The worst part, though, was that it wasn't just that we drifted apart and that was it; she still called sometimes, acting like everything was fine and her life was wonderful and he, we, us and how was I doing with whatever I might be up to? She'd make a call like this about once a month or so and chat like we were distant cousins, when she had literally been like my other half for ten years. I kept wishing that if this was how it was going to be that she would just go away and give me a chance to get over it; it's funny to say that I needed closure, as though she and I were really in a relationship, but I guess we were and I did need it.

The rest of our friends thought he was a jackass too, but after my "Neat! Uncrowded restaurant!" comment, I became their unwitting representative. A few of them actually said to another friend of ours, "You guys can't let her marry him! Are you going to talk to her?" to which our friend replied, "She got a sense that Red didn't like him and it basically ended their friendship, so we're keeping our mouths shut."

I should mention that he hated me. HATED ME. He would see me and not even say hello, and I always tried to be polite and take the high road, even though I really wanted to kick him in the head. I mean, when I was with Steve, he really had nothing in common with her, but he knew how important she was to me and he made a big effort with her because of this. I can't fathom a relationship in which your significant other doesn't make an effort with your friends, where they're so inexplicably threatened by the people that you love that they can't even be bothered to say hello to them. Furthermore, I can't imagine anyone being in a relationship with this person and being flattered and not disgusted by their possessiveness and utter lack of confidence. But hey, there's someone for everyone, I guess.

Then she wanted me to be in her wedding. I decided that the right thing to do was chin up, smile, this isn't about YOU, Red. She'd been fantasizing about her wedding since we were young (I know, ew) and I just felt like this wasn't the time for everything I was actually feeling; this was the time to be a good sport. I even tried to throw her a bachelorette party that she promptly said wasn't good enough because her random cousins weren't invited, and then her childhood friend chewed me out for not honoring the bride sufficiently. I took a day and went to her house and helped her with the invitations, all the while trying to be sunny side up; afterwards all she did was talk to our friends about how she thought I was acting weird. At the wedding, every single person there KIND OF knew how they'd met; somehow a slightly altered version of the story had circulated wherein he'd basically chosen her over me. Like I needed 250 people, including my parents and my friends' parents, to hear that not only had I tried and failed at internet dating, but that homeboy had actually dissed me. And I couldn't exactly refute that rumor; no one wants to see a bridesmaid point angrily at the groom and yell, "Like I ever would've gotten on that troll!" AND to top it all off, I was wearing the most ugly, unflattering, purplest David's Bridal dress on the planet. I looked like a sad grape.

After the wedding, I was so relieved that it was all over and exhausted from being such a goddamn good sport that I sat in my hotel room (next to Party Jen and the room service breakfast that her dad had ordered for us out of kindness/sympathy/in anticipation of our mutual hangovers) and felt like crying from relief and disbelief at everything that had happened. Of course, I had to show up for the do-over bachelorette party, which was organized more to the bride's liking this time. Can you imagine the nerve, demanding a better bachelorette party, of all things, AFTER you're already married, and after your friends have already spent all that time and money on your shower and wedding? To make matters worse, she prided herself the entire time on not acting like a bridezilla. It didn't help that she took every opportunity to be condescending to me about the fact that SHE was married and I was pathetically single; she conveyed this to me in a million little ways that I've forced myself to erase from memory so that I don't walk through life with permanently clenched fists.

After a few months, the novelty of being in a relationship was starting to wear off a little bit and she started being interested in having friends again. I agreed to see the movie Rent with her; we'd been obsessed with the musical in college, and it seemed only fitting to see it together. Subway and Flux came along and I was tense the entire time. That was the last time I saw her; insert one of many appropriate Rent lines here.

Shortly thereafter I heard she was complaining to some of our friends about how I wasn't including her in my life anymore, and what was my problem? I was livid. I wrote her a long email basically saying, after everything you did over the past year and a half, how dare you complain about me finally starting to move on and have a life that doesn't include you. I wanted to write the entire thing in caps lock. I STILL KIND OF DO. She wrote back something equally hostile. Email confrontations are ugly and childish at worst and unproductive at best; I don't recommend them unless you're fairly certain that you want that to be your last interaction.

Then I heard that she and her husband had separated. That classy guy hooked up with someone else and took a picture of it, which she found. Then they got divorced. And the icing on the cake was that she'd sold her house when she first met him and moved in with him, and they basically used all the money they got from selling her home to pay for their ginormous wedding and various vacations and remodeling on HIS home (actually not even his, it belonged to his grandmother, who still lived there). So not only was she going through a divorce less than a few months after her wedding, but this woman who had been financially astute enough to purchase a home at the age of 23 had lost that entire investment. AND she'd already ordered a maternity bridesmaid dress for a friend's wedding this summer, in anticipation of being pregnant (talk about tempting fate), and then had to have it taken in when it became clear that she would not be with child, or with husband, for that matter.

I sent her an email telling her I was sorry to hear about what she was going through. She wrote back saying thanks. That was six months ago. I have no idea how she's doing or who's helping her through this, since out of her other close friends, one just had a baby and the other moved away (one of them started giving me shit for being single too, and I eventually had to distance myself from her as well, if you can believe that, but that's a whole other boring story).

Sometimes I think about her, at stupid times that catch me off guard, like when I was watching the Will & Grace series finale. Sometimes I don't even think about her at all; or if I do, it's the old her, the one I barely remember because the new version of her took over. Sometimes I even think about calling her, but never for long enough to actually do it. I do miss my old best friend a whole lot, but as with any relationship that ends, you try to move on and see what else is out there. And you hope that the best is still to come and that it isn't what you already had.

So, yeah. Like I said, that crazy white-haired guy is not exactly going to be bragging about my experience on any of the eHarmony commercials anytime soon. But you have to admit, it would make for one hell of a parody.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

blech

I'm the most clich├ęd sick person ever right now: The weather is gloomy and it's raining buckets, I lost my voice while calling in to work, there's a gallon of orange juice in the fridge, a quart of the best chicken vegetable noodle soup on the planet (from The Factory), peppermint tea, Oprah (they were on their honeymoon and the groom just disappeared!), blue moon pajamas that you all know so well, and Harper's Bazaar, which promises to tell me about how Jennifer Aniston apparently has a whole new life. Not to mention quite a tan.

This is the second time this year I've gotten sick, and I'm not usually someone who gets colds. I don't know what the hell is up with my immune system (it can handle a New England winter but abandons me in June?) but I'm attempting to ply it with vitamin C, extra strength Tylenol and the Travel Channel. After last summer's parasite, I can't be brought down by a few piddly little germs. Strong like bull.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

don't mess with the bull, young man, you'll get the horns

Dave and I were talking about our parents' best idle threats when we were teenagers. You know, the things that would come out of their mouth when they were yelling at you for the 400th time and they just couldn't find it within themselves to make sense anymore. His dad once yelled, "You're trying to fuck with fire, but fire don't fuck!" I love that. One time I told my mom she was stupid and she came back with, "I'll stupid your head!" which really only proved my point.

Her favorite saying when I was growing up was, "Nine months with my head in a toilet, thirteen hours of labor, for THIS." But because of her slight Boston accent, the ending would always come out, "fahTHIS."

My dad once told me that if I slammed my bedroom door again he'd take it off the hinges, but other than that he didn't really get mad at me, I think because he usually understood me.

He was at my apartment fixing my modem the other day, and he noticed that one of my old Sweet Valley High books was on my bookshelf right next to Crime and Punishment. He pointed to it and said, "That sums you up pretty well."

Then I told him I was reading C&P (because I already read all the Sweet Valleys in fourth grade) and he took it out and said, "Where's your bookmark?"

That's so my dad. No yelling, but incessant ball-busting.

Monday, June 05, 2006

schoolhouse rock

As in most schools, 60% of the people that I work with are intelligent, proactive, and roll with the punches. The other 40% are disgruntled, passive-aggressive, and indignant at the slightest disruption to their schedule, to the point where you wonder if they stop their car at crosswalks and yell at pedestrians.

My school is getting a new principal in the fall. He came in today to introduce himself during a faculty meeting. He spoke for fifteen minutes and promised four times that he wouldn't try to change anything. Of all the things he could've said, this seemed like a fitting, albeit disconcerting, promise to make to educators, appealing to the 100-year-olds that are technically my colleagues but that I still feel weird not calling Mrs. We only have a few of these (and some that are elderly only in attitude) but they wear on the rest of us. Next I expected to hear him promise not to dissuade anyone from teaching an entire year's worth of curriculum out of a workbook that was written in 1972, and vow not to keep anyone a minute past 2:40 because it's not in my contract and I'm not staying I don't care I told you it's not in my contract.

I'm totally over the education system being the last holdout of non-professionalism (except for that tow truck place on Goodenough Street in Brighton, which is actually a gaping portal to hell). I've long thought, as I know many people have, that education should be as difficult to get into and as prestigious an endeavor as medicine, attracting the brilliant, innovative, and kid-intuitive, and, of course, pay accordingly. I'm fortunate because I happen to work in a district in which most of my everyday colleagues fall into that category, and I'm working to get there myself. I'm optimistic that a new generation can... wait, I'm sorry, this isn't a commencement speech. I'm hoping that the young people in education, who have had to go through more hands-on training and get more degrees and levels of certification and come into the profession armed with and having access to more cutting-edge information than their school marm predecessors, can shake things up a little bit (or at the very least eliminate the ridiculously long summer vacation, which is the most blatant disregard of children's intellectual well-being since GameCube)... or will the energetic fresh-outs of today just eventually get old and prune-like, silently pass out worksheets, and insist on every precious coffee break? Hard to say, I guess, but I'm holding out hope.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

sing, sing a song...

I received an invitation from Crazy Neighbor to attend a party at an allegedly schmancy restaurant on Tuesday. And by "received an invitation" I mean that I wrote down the name of a guy to ask for at the door and was told to tell him that Crazy Neighbor sent me. The only problem is that I can't remember Crazy's last name but I don't think it's Neighbor. It all started because he dropped a line about borrowing people's mansions to host parties, and I immediately wanted in on that crazy-sounding shit. I wouldn't even know how to go about asking to borrow your mansion, but I want to be people who know people, especially people who work out arrangements like this that walk that fine line between pimping and squatting. As for Tuesday, Carly seemed game to be my date and I have to admit that I'm intrigued; honestly, I can't fathom an event that requires dropping Crazy's name for admittance. And God knows that any party that starts at 6 PM on a Tuesday can only mean one thing: we're gonna rock out like Girl Scouts.

But all that pales, PALES in comparison to something that I found out last night: My TV has karaoke. FREE karaoke. How did no one think it relevant to tell me before now that MY TV HAS FREE KARAOKE? There's even a soft rock category. I really can't describe the feeling you get when you suddenly find out that you can sing Rock the Casbah or Every Rose Has Its Thorn WITH BACK-UP in your own living room: it's like your birthday and Christmas and the anticipation of partying with the elderly on a Tuesday afternoon all rolled into one.