Monday, February 28, 2005

Mrs. P saves the day

My sister has probably saved my life a hundred times over the years. Just this past weekend, she convinced me of the following truths, which changed my course of action in several instances just enough to keep me out of prison or safe from blunt instruments:

1) It is a bad idea to tell the dimwitted elderly first-time Mom sitting in front of you on the Acela that her monstrous screaming child should be euthanized.
2) Pigeon shit is not a biological weapon. Even if it lands on your sleeve.
3) It's OK to be irritated with humanity; not so OK to yell, "Fuck you, I was sitting there!" And then swat people with your laptop.
4) Long Island Iced Teas: A Drink For The Beginning of the Evening, Not The End.

Saturday, February 26, 2005


Mrs. Piddlington and I went to New York this weekend, to visit my pal Smyres and see the Gates before they get torn down and recycled as Hari Krishna robes or whatever it is that's gonna happen to them. But first I got crapped on by a pigeon, because that's just the kind of thing that happens to me.

We were walking down Fifth Ave. in Park Slope, me and Smyres and Mrs. P, minding our own business, when a freaking pigeon dropped a deuce right on my tasteful and sorta pricey bright red winter coat. The poop was green, so it kind of looked like Christmas, with the green on the red and whatnot. And let me tell you something: I don't know what was wrong with that pigeon, but I don't think the poor bastard is long for this world. He had dysentary or something, because he got me good -- three poop splotches on my coat and one on my purse. Which is also bright red, so yay.

I think I heard the fucker laughing as he flew away.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I'm a Hubley, you're a Hubley, he's a Hubley, too

I got an e-mail the other day from a very nice fellow named Mike Hubley, whose name is my name, too. This made me ridiculously happy, as my name is far from common, especially around these parts. Hubley is a German name, heavily and ruthlessly anglicized. My father's full name, including his Anglo-Saxon sounding but actually Slovac middle name, sounds so English that he is often mistaken for a blueblooded WASP.

But enough about these names and whatnot. The best part of the e-mail was that Mike Hubley informed me that he had once dated a Jen, who, if they had married, would have become Jen Hubley. Just like me! (For the record, even if I do get married, I will remain Jen Hubley. I may make my husband change his name. Because fair is fair is fair. Not that you'll have to worry about that for awhile. Someone asked the other day if I was getting married and I said, "Yes! June 2012. Save the date!")

Being a Hubley is a whole thing, at least to those of us who are. It doesn't come with a trust-fund, or any particular history, but we do have a sense of pride in our heritage, which is, as far as I can tell, a deep-seated interest in being nice and pretty comfortable and having lots of snacks around.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Also, and more importantly...

...Hunter S. Thompson is dead.

Unless you've all been working very hard this holiday, or are still in bed nursing your hangover, you already knew that. Sandra Dee also died over the weekend. So, for those of you who are keeping track of the celebrity deadpool, we lost Gonzo AND Gidget in the past 48 hours. That's unacceptable, people, and let me tell you why: with the advent of reality television and chick/lad lit imprints like Red Dress Ink, we're not actually making any new cultural icons anymore. At this rate, I calculate that we'll be shit out of celebrities by the year 2011. (Coincidently, the same year that I'll be done paying off my student loans.)

We need new famous people and we need them right now.

Dull girl

It's getting nine kinds of Shining around here, and there's very little relief in sight. I am losing my ability to spell, speak coherently, and put on pants. It must be time for spring already, mustn't it? No? Soon, maybe? Still no? Okay. I'll just climb back under this blanket and continue talking to myself.

The worst part about winter in New England is that it totally kills any originality you might ever have had, in terms of writing topics. 'Long about this time of year, I find that my conversation is solely restricted to:

1) How goddamn cold it is.
2) How sorta sick I feel.
3) How much I hate the snow.

Also, I have come to realize that every year is the Worst Year Ever for weather and illness. Ask anyone. Any old person you see on the street. They'll be happy to tell you.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

I want to be a whistleblower, too

I like to read the wires while I'm eating my lunch, because I'm a nerd. Today's stories on Yahoo! include, among various items involving Bush, Shiites and Monarch butterflies, a piece on the recent arthritis medication scare entitled "Whistleblower warns of more Vioxx risks."

This is an important issue, of course, and hats off to Dr. David Graham, the FDA member who insisted on bringing this information to light. He was willing to buck the system and go up against pharmaceutical giants and his own bosses and so on. He seems very brave. But then, don't whistleblowers always seem brave? It's their defining characteristic. This is why I want to be a whistleblower, too.

As a general rule, I am a cowardly person. I am deeply non-confrontational by nature, to the point where, if someone is stepping on my foot, I will actually think to myself, "Does it really hurt all that much, having my foot stepped on? Perhaps it would be better to put up with it. And anyway, I'd hate to hurt this person's feelings." This sounds funny and sort of cute, but beware the wishy-washy person: I have, in my younger years, broken up with men via e-mail and the ever-popular gradual disappearing act, just to avoid having to tell them that I didn't want to date them anymore. And needless to say, I have never battled any government agencies.

But now's the time! I'm older and stronger and I've had loads of therapy. All I need is to find a corrupt government agency, insinuate myself into its ranks, and then, you guessed it, bravely blow the whistle on their corruption. How hard could this be?

I know that you will all wish me the best of luck in my new endeavor. And if you happen to think of any government agencies that particularly need exposing, please feel free to e-mail me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Sick day with Mrs. P

My sister and I are sitting in my parents' livingroom, wearing a comfortable lounging outfits and eating fattening things. I have a cold. We each have a couch to ourselves.

The TV is on. It's playing a commercial, featuring a pleasantly plump soccer mom type who, no doubt, has been selected specifically in order to make the commercial's intended audience -- pleasantly plump soccer moms -- feel comfortable. It makes me feel so comfortable that I forget what she's shilling, even while I'm watching it.

I'm more interested in her hair, which is short and curly, like a purse-dog's.

"See," I say to Mrs. Piddlington. "That hair. THAT's what I think my hair looks like."

She looks at me in shock. Horror. Pity. "THAT's what you think your hair looks like? You're INSANE."

I nod, sadly. She's got me there.

She looks at the screen again, and then back at me. Poodle Lady is making spokesmodel gestures, which she's not really suited to do. Again, God knows what product she's advertising.

"Her hair," Mrs. Piddlington says, "Is like ramen noodles."

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Humanity, snot

I have a cold. In this, I resemble about 90% of the people I know. Everyone is sick. But no one does it with quite as much style as I do.

Have you ever seen the old black and white movie Camile? Neither have I. But I saw a clip of it once, when I was little, because it was featured in Annie, which was one of my favorite movies. In Camile, Greta Garbo basically coughs and lies around upon a divan in silk lounging attire looking tragic until she eventually dies. She looks gorgeous. I am wearing flannel and I look like shit. But the drama quotient is similiar.

I am spectularly weepy when sick. This morning, my friend Cathy called me about a party that was taking place this evening, and I had a complete nervous breakdown over the phone. I felt awful, I explained. No, really bad. I might not live to even make a decision about whether or not I was going to the party, and also, my looks were spoiled.

Cathy has known me for a very long time now and must find me amusing or something, because she was very patient with me. (It's either that, or, as I've long suspected, my parents are paying her to hang out with me.) Anyway, she suggested I go to CVS and buy myself some DayQuil and Zicam, which I did.

I'd never used Zicam before, but man, it's like crack for cold sufferers. This is some seriously great shit, and it makes me proud to be an American, and thus at liberty to stuff the landfill with used one-time disposable zinc nasal swabs. I feel much, much better now, and I got to stick something up my nose, which is almost as good as a pore strip in terms of being disgustingly satisfying. We don't do product endorsement here at the Smash, but if we did, Zicam would be the first thing we'd shill. And by "we", I mean "me", plus whatever lingering rhinoviruses are floating around in my bloodstream.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Day of a thousand posts

In the course of freaking out this morning over the past two day's posts and comments (see below), I diagnosed myself with a new disease. It is called OJO, and it stand for Obsessive Jen Overdrive. As of now, there is no treatment. However, unless I have a heart attack like a frightened chihuahua, I don't think it's fatal. Here are the symptoms:

1) Righteous indignation with little or no cause.
2) Obsessive contacting of all friends via phone, e-mail and IM to confirm that one is being unfairly criticized.
3) Once being told that one is, in fact, wrong, brief but wholly satisfying descent into self-recrimination and chastizement.
4) A plan emerges! Amends will be made! But first, a few organizational steps involving lists and office supplies, including but not limited to notecards, highlighter pens, and sharpies.
5) An apology suitable for the accidental annexing of another country and decade-long oppression of that country's people, rendered lovingly in PowerPoint, four-color handbills, a short film, or similar.

It's worth pissing me off, people, just to get the apology.

An interesting point about the word "gay" and popular usage of it

My last entry had a couple good comments, one of which was from a poster who took exception to my usage of the word "gay." It was a very nice comment, actually, and I'm sorry that I went sort of insane when I saw it. However, I do have a policy of not removing my comments here, because after all, fair is fair. So if you want to see my whole "AHHHH! YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!" rampage, just scroll down.

Now that I've taken a deep breath, let me address the issue: I myself sometimes cringe when I hear people use the word "gay" in the pejorative sense, most often when it clearly betrays some sort of weird fear of homosexuality on the part of the speaker. (You know what I mean: You're at a bar with a bunch of straight guys and one guy starts calling another guy gay, to indicate that he himself is much more manly. And also that he would never ever have any interest in his friend's ass.)

However, when I was a wee lass of eight or so, we used the word "gay" all the time, to mean "lame" or "silly." We didn't even know about gay people. (Even some of us who were gay didn't know about gay people, I've been told.) I'm sure that the word had its origins in the culture's homophobia, but I don't think we knew about that. It was just another slang term, like saying "burnt!" to indicate that someone had indeed been shown up by one of his peers.

Now, we live in a different world and we know where that term comes from, and maybe we should be required to act differently. Gay people still don't have the same civil rights as straight people, and I can understand how many people feel that changing our approach to language might help change public perception.

Except for one small problem: I don't buy it. I don't think that language creates reality. I think it documents it. So maybe what we're really saying here, when we get upset at someone using "gay" in a negative way is that we're mad that things haven't progressed more. That's something I could get behind, maybe. Although I still abhor linguistic restrictions of all kinds.

What about the "N" word, you say? Well, here's the thing. The "N" word never meant ANYTHING good. "Gay" used to mean happy, and then that changed until it meant, "happy, but sort of fey", and then it meant "homosexual", and then it meant ... something like "limp" or "lame", reflecting one very negative perception of homosexuals. And that's pretty gross. But it's not as bad as the "N" word, which I won't even write here. It really isn't.

Also, part of me feels that in order to make real progress for gay people, we need to push ahead and ignore irritating linguistic foibles like "gay meaning bad." I think that when people get hung up on stuff like that, they're allowing themselves to get detail-obsessed to the point where we're not focusing on the big picture. Sometimes it ain't grassroots; it's just fixating on the grass.

All this being said, if by NOT using the word gay on this blog to mean anything other than happy or homosexual (in a positive, healthy sense) will make people feel less oppressed, well, that seems like a small price to pay, and I'll do it. And all apologies to anyone whose feelings I hurt. In the parlance of my third grade memories, I am well and truly "burnt."

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Let's have a look at your so-called "Valentine's Day"

Before you jump to conclusions, and decide that the following post is merely the result of embittered singledom, let me assure you: Even when I have a boyfriend, I hate Valentine's Day. It is so, so gay, and not in the super-fun 1920s slang way, nor in the "I enjoy the sex with people whose parts resemble my own" way, but rather in the way of snotnosed third graders harrassing each other during four-square. So. Gay.

Valentine's Day exists to make you feel bad. Do you have a partner? No? Then you're a loser. Got a partner? Great! What did you get him or her? Really. Hmmm. No, I'm sure they'll like it. No, no, I wasn't saying that at all. It's just that one generally sends fruit baskets to those in mourning, but I understand that jewelry might give the wrong impression, and that underwear is too forward, and that chocolate is fattening and so on. Hand-puppets, maybe. Have you considered those? Because I have this friend who makes puppets, chiefly of people fucking. She's a lot of fun, my puppet-making friend.

Anyway. Do you know the origins of Valentine's Day? Let me clue you in. Valentine's Day is named for the Christian martyr St. Valentine, who was (allegedly) beheaded on that date in or around the year 270. That was a fucking long time ago, but it took Hallmark, etc., a couple thousand years to catch on to the merchandizing opportunities inherent in the beheading of martyrs, and so in the year muhfahfah we got special greeting cards and chocolates and small wheelbarrow full of guilt, loneliness and expectation. On the whole, the beheading only looks half-bad.

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention: St. Valentine was beaten with clubs before his beheading. I don't know whether that was a planned prelude to his execution, or whether they were trying to beat him to death and it didn't work, so they decided, fine, just cut his damn head off, but anyway, it was a really bad day for our pal, OK?

But it's probably not fair to blame Valentine's Day on the greeting card companies. (And even if it wasn't, I like to be original in my cheap observational humor, so bear with me.) And anyway, according to my brief and thoroughly unscientific Internet research, the association of Valentine's Day with love and sex and all that good stuff is probably Chaucer's fault: "Valentine's day, when every fowl doth choose his mate."

That naughty Chaucer. First fart jokes and now this. Is there any end to this man's gifts to Western society?

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Random conversation with my friend Cathy, who listens to NPR, understands grammar, and is smarter than me. (I? Me. Me? I. Cathy?)

HiC: Lynn Cheney is on NPR.

HiC: God help me.

HiC: She is truly evil.

JennieSmash: She is.

JennieSmash: It's all true.

JennieSmash: She's so evil, the republicans keep her hidden.

JennieSmash: They know.

HiC: Because she is so horridly argumentative.

JennieSmash: And also, because she keeps eating babies on camera.

HiC: I noticed that.

JennieSmash: It detracts from any point she might have, really.

HiC: I agree.

HiC: God, she is hurting my head

JennieSmash: In other news, do you know what fad I deplore?

HiC: Which?

JennieSmash: Ha ha!

JennieSmash: Excellent.

JennieSmash: You are correct.

HiC: I did not even mean that.

JennieSmash: I know, but you're still right.

JennieSmash: I hate how people are posting their Amazon wish lists on their blogs.

JennieSmash: It's so lame.

HiC: Are you serious?

JennieSmash: "I do this for free, because I need attention, and it's too cold to run around naked! Give me shit!"

HiC: I have not seen that!

JennieSmash: Oh, dude. Let me clue you in.

My favorite part of the whole Amazon wishlist thing, by the way, is that most of the lists I've checked out have exactly ZERO items in the received section. Meaning that everyone is posting these things, and no one is getting shit. Which is just as it should be.

You know what I would like? I would like a small break, if you have one.

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Eight-dollar blush

When did it become OK for drug stores to charge eight dollars for blush? I don't mean to sound like gramma here, but c'mon. It's blush. BLUSH. It's pink powder. I currently use pink eyeshadow as blush. It came as part of a four-pack and cost five bucks.

I have a theory. I think they're raising their prices because it's winter and they know what I look like without makeup right now. Let me tell you something: it ain't pretty. You can see the veins under my skin like the Model of the Human Body we had in science class. Very vampirish, but unfortunately I seem to have misplaced my maxi-single of "Bela Lugosi's Dead."

It's a serious emergency, and here's how I know. In the past few days, not one -- not two! -- but three separate people have asked me if I'm feeling all right. When I act puzzled and confirm that I am, they all say the same thing, "Oh, it's just that you're so pale."

I am pale. It's all true what you've heard. I am a genuine certified honky and it's the dead of winter in New England. I think even eight-dollar blush might not be enough to make me look bursting with good health.

Maybe I'll just start wearing a lot of black and pretend it's a look.

Today in melodrama

I just caught myself saying the following to my computer, after it failed to load some content to our website:

"WHAT? Why am I being tortured?"

Thank you, thank you. All of these mountains were handmade from everyday ordinary molehills, such as you might find in your home.

Monday, February 7, 2005

More fun with facial expressions

Here is my new favorite thing: I love it when you're walking down a hallway, say, at work, and you see someone you know slightly, but not all that well, and they give you the half-smile. You know the half-smile. It's the one where you eat your lips and keep your teeth well-covered. If you have dimples, those might appear, briefly, but otherwise it just looks like you're having a seizure.

The point of the half-smile is to indicate to the person you're half-smiling at that you are interested in being courteous, but not necessarily all that invested in the other person's good opinion. You're going for friendly, but not needy.

This has replaced the "Whassup!" chin nod as my favorite office-appropriate greeting.

The mirror has one face, but it's making a funny expression

My sister likes to point out that I actually have no idea what I look like, because I make a stupid face whenever I'm confronted with a reflective surface. I know what she's talking about. I sort of pooch my lips out and raise my eyebrows. I think I look very glamorous, but apparently I look silly. Judge for yourself. Here is a picture of me, looking into a mirror:

Okay, not really. But so, so close.

Saturday, February 5, 2005

Packing for camp

I read an interview with Ted Bundy in which he said that all he really wanted in the world was dozens and dozens of pairs of brand-new socks. The line between serial killers and normalish people is apparently pretty thin, because I thought to myself, "Well, that makes sense."

Obviously, Ted wanted more than that. If he was being honest, I'm sure he would have said, "All I want in life is dozens and dozens of pairs of brand-new socks ... and an easily-jimmied bathroom window at the courthouse. Oh, and also: The address of the local college, some duct tape, and a sturdy pair of handcuffs." But you know how limited soundbites are.

I can't sleep tonight, so I'm thinking about my own list of essentials. A lot of online dating services ask you what five items you can't live without, and you're supposed to say, "Fancy Underwear, Very Expensive Booze, My Adorable and Photogenic Purebred Puppy, My Passport and YOU." This is why I don't do online dating anymore.

Okay, so don't think of this list as having to do with serial killers or online dating, if you please. Think of it instead as my packing list for camp, grownup people style:

1) Coffee of some kind, not necessarily good. This coffee snobbery amazes me. It's a drug, my friends. Let's get over it. I don't care if it's Folgers or Starbucks or what have you. I just want it NOW.

2) Comfortable underpants, preferably cute. Days of the Week are good. Anything with stars or other vaguely punk rock geometric shapes will do. Thongs are right out of the question, as long as I'm packing for camp.

3) Many books, most of them trashy. I've been reading a lot of mysteries lately. And by lately, I mean, for the last twenty years or so. I also read "The Writing Life" by Annie Dillard recently. It was good, but man, she's fancy, isn't she? I think she's sincere, but I sort of wish I didn't hear the choir singing while she's unfurling her prose. Also, she says that you're likely to write what you read, and since I read a lot of mysteries ... well, let's just say that if she's right, I better start learning something about plot and/or police procedure, like, yesterday.

4) My sister. I know she's a person. I'm packing her anyway. She folds up like a chair. No worries. I've had her around for the past couple months while her husband is in Iraq and I don't think I can give her up. We have completely regressed to childhood and spend the bulk of our time together socking each other in the shoulder, making farting noises, and trying to give each other wedgies.

5) No hairbrushes. Fuck 'em. I'm throwing them out.

6) Twelve tubes of MAC Russian Red lipstick.

7) Biore pore strips. They are so gross. No really: Their allure is based entirely on getting to see the disgusting crap that comes out of your nose.

8) Oh! Know what? If I'm going to camp, I'm getting a Trapper Keeper. I know those were for school, but I'm getting one anyway. AND I'M WRITING YOUR NAME ON IT. YOU + ME, 4-EVA.

9) And, I don't know, maybe a diary. This is fun!

10) Somehow this has degenerated into nostalgia. STICKER BOOKS. We'll have sticker books, for sure.

Friday, February 4, 2005

Imaginary dogs

I don't have a dog, because I'm allergic to just about everything on the planet, including some dogs, all cats, dust, mold, pollen, trees, and exercise (no, really: I get hives), but I like to pretend I have a dog sometimes, because dogs are such lovely needy animals and love you no matter what. You could kick a dog and it would still think you were great. Whereas cats barely acknowledge your existence.

What is the difference between dogs and cats? Dogs will wait til you're dead to eat you, while cats will wait until you've had too much to drink. Anyway.

I went out Wednesday night and drank inadvisable amounts of tequila with a friend and two friends-of-friends. It was a very good night. I'm a Gemini, so there's nothing I love more than fun new people and alcohol in combination. But the best part was that my new pal Jaime told me that I could borrow her brother's dog. Here is a picture of the dog, which is now mine. Her name is Moxie Clay Bacon von Barkington:

We have the same personality, as you can see.

Anyway, Jaime also has a dog of her own that she's willing to share with me. That dog's name is Greta. I'm sorry to report that I was too soaked in booze to remember her title, but I'll give that to you when I get the picture.

My plan is to print pictures of these dogs and put them in little frames all over my desk. When my coworkers ask about them, I will tell them, of course, that these are my dogs. I will then recite their names and titles and tell amusing anecdotes about them. All of this, and no crap to clean up off the floor. It's a win-win situation, I tell you.

Here is what I wonder, though: How many pictures of dogs can a person have on her desk, before she is officially creepy? With cats, the answer of course is two.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Things I am not qualified to do (a partial list)

1. Perform acupuncture.

2. Or CPR.

3. Or surgery of any kind, or any medical procedure, except the Heimleich maneuver.

4. Negotiate with terrorists.

5. Tell you what to do with your life, or any part of your life, including this afternoon and early evening.

6. Prepare sushi. (Are there professional qualifications for this? I feel that there should be. I also feel that persons who eat raw, uncooked food that used to move of its own accord deserve what they get.)

7. Give you a tattoo.

8. My actual job, come to think of it.

9. Automotive repair of any kind, including the changing of tires and windshield wiper blades.

10. Administer or cause to be administered intoxicants or other soothing agents.

My chi is misaligned, and I feel fine

People like to tell me things, whether or not I've expressed any interest in hearing them. I'm used to this. Even as a small child, I had one of those faces that inspired folks to let me know what was on their mind, even if it wasn't age-appropriate. (Scene from childhood: I am in the backseat of a car, sitting next to my best friend, who is green from car sickness, and also the over-sharing from the front seat, where her mother is telling us -- me, really -- all about her alimony settlement and how embarrassing it is to be tested for venereal disease when you've been married forever.)

Most of the time, I find this amusing. I'm interested in other people's business, but I deplore rudeness, so this face I've got is extremely useful. It lets me be nice, and still get the goods.

However, after recent events, I think I might need to learn how to scowl.

A few weeks ago, I was going to visit my old pal Smyres in New York. You remember Smyres. She's the one who dressed me up in a fat suit and made me pretend to be the world's plumpest, least cardiovascularly fit WNBA forward. I had decided to take the Acela, the better to arrive well-rested for whatever silliness she had in store.

Well, the Acela was cancelled. And while I was waiting for the Philadelphia local, which, en route to New York, stops at my house, the supermarket and the summer camp I went when I was ten, I struck up a conversation with an interesting woman who was also displaced, as a result of the delay.

How interesting? Let me tell you. For starters, despite obviously being a Jewish matron from Brookline, she was wearing a turban. A white turban with a purple medallion in the center -- some kind of moon, or scythe or something. She was dressed all in white, as well: white caftan, white pants, white snowboats, coat and scarf. She sat down across from me, removed her white gloves, and smiled.

I allowed my lips to twitch, and then looked away.

Then she started speaking: "Well, here I am, darling, waiting for the train, which is cancelled, of course. They're supposed to call, but do they ever call?"

"No, I suppose not," I said, not wanting to be rude by flat out refusing to answer.

Of course, then I realized that she was on her wireless headset, talking to her husband.

Now that I'd started a conversation with her, however, I was doomed. She was a certified froot loop, half Cosmica Rama Ding Dong and half Hadassah League, and I had started talking to her. There was no escape now.

In the course of our hour long conversation, she asked me:

1) What I was doing in New York. (She was going to see her husband, who had just moved there. They had just moved there in fact. A lot of people thought it was crazy to move there when they were 50 years old, but what do a lot of people know? True courage in life is so rare.)

2) Who I was going to see. (See above.)

3) If I had ever been to India. (She'd been to India. Just recently in fact. She had brought along a suitcase full of medicine and a gallon of hydrogen peroxide, which she'd sprayed on everything. A lot of people thought she was crazy to spray everything with hydrogen peroxide, but she was the only one who didn't get Delhi Belly.)

4) What I did for a living. (A writer? Very interesting. She had written a book on yoga that was very well-received. Which reminded her to ask...)

5) If I enjoyed yoga. (She was a yoga teacher, shockingly enough. If I got stressed out while I was in New York -- and New York was the world capital of stress, despite, of course, being the Best City in the World -- well, then, I should just go to the nearest yoga studio and let it all go. By which, one assumes, she did not mean my bladder, but rather my stress.)

This brings me to my ultimate point, which is that there's a certain subsection of humanity that is on an absolute mission to get me to do yoga and I will not do it. I am not a yoga person, okay? I like my stress. I love my stress. I do not want to be centered and calm. I do not want to breathe deeply and relax. I do not want to eat vegetables and soy and drink green tea and flush out my system and clear my mind and achieve balance.

I want to remain off-balance. I want to get wound up about things. I recently read an interview with Diane Keaton in which she said that anxiety keeps her thin. I love Diane Keaton. I bet she eats red meat and drinks cocktails. At the very least, I bet she eschews soy. And yoga? Would they let her do it in a turtleneck? Obviously not.

Many of my closest friends have gotten on the yoga bandwagon in recent years, and they are very patient with me when I roll my eyes at their tree poses and sun salutations. I'm sure there's a lot to be said for it. I just wish so much of it wasn't being said to me.

My chi and I are learning to look less inviting. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Fatherly wisdom

My Dad gives pretty good advice, and he gives it in the manner of a 1950s sitcom Dad: He spends the majority of the episode peacefully folding and unfolding the newspaper, smiling at everyone, watching television, and conversing with the neighbors, and then, in the 27th minute of the half hour, he delivers a little homily. And then promptly goes back to his puttering.

Here's an example.

I'm sort of a high strung person, as you may have gathered. This is okay most of the time. I get a lot done, generally speaking, and I have a lot of energy, so I'm fun at parties. Unfortunately, it makes me next to impossible to live with when I don't get my way. Win some, lose some, blah blah blah.

A little while ago, I was discussing some Minor Life Disappointment with my father, in my usual mature, flexible and considered fashion. My end of the conversation, therefore, went something like this: "I just don't UNDERSTAND why it won't WORK when I put in so much TIME and I want it SO MUCH and it's NOT FAIR and GIMME GIMME GIMME and MINE MINE MINE and ME ME ME."

Dad's end of the conversation, also typically, went like this: "Yes, it's upsetting. Aw. No, I wouldn't that either. Definitely not. Poor kid. Yes, it's upsetting. Aw."

We went back and forth like this for about half an hour, until I washed up on this conversational shoal: "And the worst of it is ... well, don't you think a person should be able to handle this sort of thing, ha ha, better than I currently am? I mean, it just strikes me that I'm awfully exercised over this. When no one is actually beating me with a stick and I'm not starving or living in a yurt somewhere."

And Dad said: "Yes, that's true. But, you know, most successful people have, ah, a certain stubbornness. However: You might have to get used to losing now and again, eventually."

And ... scene!

Code blue

I'm in a mood today, and enjoying it thoroughly, the way you enjoy, say, sniffles or bad weather -- anything that lets you off the hook in terms of being cheerful and polite. Everything would be perfect, in fact, except that I'm at work, which means that I have to at least pretend to be civil or, you know, wind up without a job.

This would be relatively easy if people would just leave me alone, but no. I swear to God that days will go by without a single soul needing to say hello to me, but as soon as I'm feeling blue every coworker on the east coast has to drop by to give their regards. This is a triumph of Not Getting the Hint, because I just caught a glimpse of my droopy little face in the mirror while I was washing up after lunch and let me tell you something: I do not look like someone you'd want to engage in conversation. I look like someone who might be trying to sell you a casket for your grandmother. I look like an elderly, well-dressed Goth.

I am cursed with one of those faces that always betrays my innermost thoughts. I am incapable of disguising my feelings, or even really lying all that well. This is not a fantastic way to be, out here in the world.

I will never be a spy, that's for sure.