Monday, May 30, 2005

Here is my problem

I'm finally looking into getting my own damn apartment in New York, after having crashed with my pal Smyres for, oh, about elevendy-million weeks now. Let this be a lesson to you, my little friends: when someone asks you if they can stay with you for awhile, say no. Just say no. Don't ask how long. The answer is "too long." Don't ask why. The answer is "because maybe the cops won't find me if I'm hiding in your storage closet." Please ignore me. I've been watching the Law & Order marathon all day.

My problem is that many fun neighborhoods look sorta dicey to me. This is because I'm a pantywaist. I'm currently trying to get this apartment in the East Village, and I keep going back and forth about whether I really want it. The argument goes like this:

Pro: Fun area. Many interesting things to do, most involving music or writing.

Con: I stick out like sore thumb among the hipsters. (Perhaps I should stop licking my palm and using it to flatten my cowlick.)

Pro: Apartment is cute.

Con: Also the size of a shoebox.

Pro: Apartment is recently redone.

Con: Shower is in the kitchen.

Pro: Access to the roof.

Con: Through the window, which I should probably keep double-locked anyway.

Pro: No fee.

Con: So expensive.

I love making lists. Now that I'm looking at everything all lined up, it's clear that I should buy some MACE and burgler locks and stop being such a baby. Oh, and knock over a bank.

Can I stay at your place for awhile?

Sunday, May 29, 2005

"I'm a big bad man, Marlowe."

As part of the application process for a job, I recently had to authorize a private detective to snoop into my life. This made me very nervous, until I realized that there's absolutely nothing in my life that would interest a private detective. This made me fairly depressed. Now, in addition to everything else, I have to worry that the private detectives are mocking me:

"Did you see case number 11A-47? She gets a little carton of skim milk with her lunch every day. Isn't that adorable?"

"On Fridays, sometimes she gets an ice-cream sandwich."

"AW! That's just the CUTEST."

And then they'll all laugh and sock each other in the shoulders and adjust their fedoras.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Soon I will be old.

As soon as June 10, in fact. Which is International Children's Day, or the International Celebration of Grandparents, or some such. But more importantly, it's my birthday.

Generally, I plan a party. I'm good at party planning. I send Save the Dates several months in advance. I order matchbooks. This year, though, I've been too busy with other things.

I will be 29 on June 10. Because I have been dreading it, I'm oddly excited. This is the opposite of my 26th birthday, which I was looking forward to, because I have always felt, deep down, that I am 26. But this birthday has no expectations attached, and so I'm sure I'll enjoy it. Or not. That's cool, too.

Twenty-nine, everyone. I'm almost old enough to be a dirty old lady. God, it feels like I've been waiting FOREVER for that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Look! A pyramid! We must be in EGYPT. This is the best vacation EVER.

Change and more change

Lots of upheaval right now among my friends and associates. People are getting new jobs, or moving, or going on fabulous trips, or getting awards, or publishing books, and so on. I personally have not seen 95% of my stuff for several months now, as I float between countries and cities and apartments and houses and buses and trains and varying degrees of fuzzy-headed bewilderment. I don't even know where I live anymore. I don't even know where my friends live.

A moment ago, I was going through my contacts, trying to figure out if everything is up to date, and I just wasn't sure, in some cases. And we're not even talking about people I talk to once or twice a year. Some of these folks are my friends. They're the people I'd call if I wound up in jail in Tijuana. But I don't know their ZIP codes. This is very disconcerting to me, as I am a psycho list-making Type A personality. This is not how things are supposed to be.

Anyway, my major point is that I'm sorting out a lot of my own contact list confusion right now, so if you know me in real life, you can probably expect an update sometime soon. Please God.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Taxicab confessions: Paris edition

Everyone told me the French would be rude. Maybe I'm used to rude, cuz I thought they were lovely.

People especially warned me about French cab drivers. They told me that they would cheat me, and be mean in the process. They certainly cheated me. I took three or four cab rides to and from the same neighborhoods during my stay, and paid a staggering variety of fares, but they were very polite during the stick-up.

Here is an example:

Ma Smash and I climb into a cab at our hotel in the ninth district, and tell the driver, a rather adorable and fairly cheerful native Parisian, that we would like to go to the first district, where we're meeting my Dad and Mrs. Piddlington. The driver is listening to an alternative station. The band he's listening to sounds familiar, but I can't place them.

"Hey, who is this?" I ask him.

"It is ... the Eels. You know this band? The Eels?"

"Oh, yeah. OK."

"You like them?"

"Sure. They're on that big long list I have, of bands I should be listening to but can never think of when I'm shopping."


"Yes. They're good."

"Ah. Oui. Very good. Can I ask you something?"


"You understand what they are saying?"

"Yes. I mean ... yes."

He smiles at me in the rearview mirror. "Good for you!" As if I've accomplished something by understanding my native language.

"If they were singing in French, I'd have no idea," I confess.

He shrugs, and makes that exploding noise that all French people make -- like he's blowing a bubble and a raspberry at the same time. His meaning is clear: Why would we be listening to some French band? We can listen to the Eels!

I'm charmed by this, because I am a sucker. I decide I will compliment his city, to pay him back for complimenting "my" band. "I love Paris," I tell him, sort of lamely. "I don't ever want to leave."

"How long are you staying?"

"A week."

"A week is perfect. Two weeks? Too much. You would be bored."

All around us are the most gorgeous white stone apartment buildings with little wrought iron balconies filled with flowers. People on bikes, wearing berets -- no shit! -- and carrying the world's happiest dogs in their baskets. Fluffy white clouds in a clear blue sky. Cobblestones. The Lourve looming before us. The Eiffel Tower in the distance. Bored?

"A week is enough," he repeats, and puts out his palm for his fare, which may or may not be too much. "Enjoy Paris." This last as though he was saying "Enjoy Des Moines."

I tell you, no one is happy.

Saturday, May 21, 2005


Hello, my little Internet pals. I have returned from France, where I ate fourteen pails of cheese, drank several million gallons of wine, bought every handbag, dress and paper mache cow available for purchase (don't ask) and, interestingly enough, did not smoke a single cigarette. Those of you who actually know me know that I'm a "chipper" -- that is, I smoke some times, lots, and other times not at all, but in France, where everyone smoked, my feeling was, what's the point? You could just, you know, INHALE and get plenty of nicotine.

Seriously, though, this is interesting: People in Paris were nice to us. I was sort of surprised. Then again, everyone likes someone who's waving money and smiling, and that's pretty much the extent of my French language skills. So there you are.

I have many stories to tell you, but at the moment, I have to go convince my wee brain that it's sleeping time. Soon, my little cabbages, though, soon.

Friday, May 13, 2005

D'à Paris !

Et si, comme nous disons, je suis sur la lacune. Je boirai le vin, je mangerai du fromage. Je parlerai le très petit français, parce que je ne parle pas français. En fait, j'ai traduit cette poste entière utilisant Babblefish.

Je suis un petit nerveux d'est loin de l'Internet pour une semaine entière, et je vous manquerai tout formidablement. Quand vous vous sentez solitaire pour les mises à jour régulières, vérifiez cette entrée et vous rappelle que je suis exactement le genre de blogger prétentieux qui poste dans les langues qu'elle ne parle pas.

Vous voir dans une semaine! Au revoir!

[TRANSLATION, also courtesy of Babblefish: And if, as let us say us, I am on the gap. I will drink the wine, I will eat cheese. I will speak the very small French, because I do not speak French. Indeed, I translated this entire post using Babblefish.

I am a small nervous one of is far internet for an entire week, and I will lack you all tremendouy. When you feel solitary for the update uniform, verify this entry and you recall that I am exactly the kind of pretentious blogger that posts in the languages that she does not speak.

You to see in a week! Good-bye!]

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Petition for reinstatement of summer vacation

I have decided that we need to bring back summer vacations, such as we had in elementary school. Each summer, I think we all need at least two months off to eat popsicles, roll down grassy hills, pet puppies, chase ice cream trucks and play wiffle ball. If you agree, please add yourself to this petition via the comments feature.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Form Letter 537A: Why we cannot be lovers. (Hint: Are we french? No? Then don't use that word.)

Dear Friend/Colleague/Internet Person/Casual Acquaintance:

Thank you for your interest in Hubley Enterprises. Due to the large volume of submissions, we regret that we cannot respond individually to each specific request. Our hiring managers will reply to any inquiries that meet our requirements, but in the meantime, should you fail to receive a response, please choose among the following standard reasons for rejection:

1) You used the word "lover." "Lover" is a gross word, and should never ever be used by anyone not currently living in Europe or singing the white man's blues on a television commercial.

2) You are trying to get into my pants, but are not interested in any other interaction with me, outside of that. Listen, pal: There are hardworking prostitutes out there who need to eat. I'm no scab.

3) You are my friend, but you do not see why we must remain fully clothed during the course of our friendship. So unnecessary, these clothes! So binding! Friend of mine, hear me: This is a dangerous course you are attempting to embark upon. It is also the quickest way for us not to be on speaking terms in six months.

4) You fit some or all of these criteria, or perhaps none, but I am not attracted to you. They're called nonverbal cues. Learn to read them. If a girl moves away whenever you move toward her, chances are she doesn't want to sleep with you.

5) You are a reasonably nice guy, with your own interests and needs, and you may or may not be interested in a relationship of some sort, but let's go out on an actual date and see. Stop hanging out with the Easter Bunny and call me, for God's sake.

Thanks, and best regards,

The Management

PS: If you have ever dated my sister, ball up this letter and stuff it down your windpipe. It will be simpler than dealing with the courier, who is most likely holding a baseball bat. Before you do so, please say hi to Dad, won't you?

When all else fails, blog about blogging

It just hit me that I won't be updating at all next week, due to the fact that I'd have to be some kind of a loser to spend even a moment of my vacation in Paris at an Internet Cafe. So it's a good thing I've been updating somewhat regularly lately. Otherwise, you know, I'd feel bad.

I've been going on lots of job interviews lately. On a recent interview, I was delighted to find that the interviewer kept a blog as well. (Not that this is at all rare, but still, I thought it was a good sign.) He mentioned that he was going on a vacation soon, and he was afraid of what his readers might do in his absence.

"They get so ... mad," he whispered, looking around nervously, as though waiting for angry anonymous commenters to come spilling out of the paneling and attack him. "They take it personally when I'm not writing."

This being a job interview, I refrained from saying, "Dude, turn your comments off." I just nodded sympathetically. It is interesting how exercised people get about other people's blogs.

I've only had two really bad comment experiences so far, and both of them turned out to be personal issues, unrelated to my actual writing. The first was the current girlfriend (or whatever nomenclature you prefer) of a former boyfriend. She felt that I was bashing southern people in my blog, and, furthermore, that I was a bad person with little or no talent and an unhealthy tendency toward self-absorption. Since the former was untrue, and the later is basically the textbook definition of a blogger, I was confused about the whole thing, until I realized who she was. Then I knew exactly what was going on: This particular guy was famous for building up one girl at another girl's expense, and I figured he was telling her, alternately, that I was a fantastic writer (better than her) and very dedicated to my craft (in comparison with her) and more than usually attractive (especially, that's right, when compared to her). I'd been on the other end. It can drive you crazy, for sure.

The other negative commenter was a guy who had written me what I like to think of as a I Feel That I Know You, So Let's Get Naked letter. He was going to be in town, etc., so could we meet for a wink-wink drink. I never responded, but to this sort of person, all I can say in general is: Women. Are. Not. Men. We are not men. Naked pictures of you and promises of strings-free attachments are less likely to be attractive to us than they would be to you. Don't take it personally. It's not that there's anything wrong with that Polariod of your business that you're thoughtfully scanned and mailed. It's just a gender difference. No big. (No pun.)

Anyway, all this to say that I haven't made up my mind yet about comments during my absence, but if you find them off next week, don't worry: I'll turn 'em right back on as soon as I get home.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

OK, if you read the article, it actually makes perfect sense.


Stevie Wonder releases video for blind

Next up from your friendly neighborhood wire service:

"Roseanne announces butter for the chubby"

"Tara Reid forms think tank thingie"

Angelina Jolie publishes book: I Can Have Your Boyfriend, If I Want Him. Yes, I Can.

That last one doesn't fit with the theme, in that it's apparently TRUE. Jeebus.

Whine, whine, whine. (Everyone needs a hobby.)

So, I'm fucking sick again.

I actually haven't been sick for a couple months now, so I guess I shouldn't complain. Since "shouldn't" has never been a convincing argument to me, especially when it comes to complaining, let's just skip right over that part, OK?

I'm fucking sick again, and I'm fucking sick and tired of it. I'm so sick and tired of it, that I'm cursing. Which is hardly ever convincing. Because deep within my soul, where most people have a big black Baptist church lady who sings the blues, or else a pale gray disapproving version of their parents, I have Katharine Hepburn and Lucille Ball, locked in a eternal dorky missish struggle for control of my mannered mincing little self. So no swearing, most of the time. I'm not good at it.

Complaining, now. There's something I'm good at.

Oh! In cheerier news. I just got this:

Please register your bets as to how long it will take for me to figure out how to make it work, and bear in mind that I frequently burn myself on the toaster oven and didn't use e-mail until 1998.

Monday, May 9, 2005

A fifth of Cathy

My pals and I threw a birthday party for our friend Cathy this weekend. We drank excessive amounts of sangria and margaritas, and we succeeded in convincing Cathy, while she was sober, to put on a sombrero. To be fair, she tried to weasel out of it by saying that it wouldn't fit, but since I also have a large Scottish noggin, and had tried on the sombrero at the party store, that didn't work. She looked great in it. She did not look like this:

Picture by Meredith Cutler. Thanks, Meredith!

I love throwing parties. Party planning encompasses all my favorite things: Organizing, ordering people around, socializing, booze, doing nice things for people, and commemorative matchbooks. Yes, that's right. We had matchbooks (thanks, Cathy H.!) made up that said "Cinco de Cathy 2005," which, as someone later pointed out, made it sound like Cathy was her own month, and we were celebrating the fifth day of her, or like she was a type of booze -- a fifth of Cathy.

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone!

Enjoy this fine holiday, which is Based on Real Historical Events, by drinking about elevendy-hundred shots of tequila and reading my latest contribution to the Black Table.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Get multiculti with the Smash: German tourists

Here's something you might not know about me: German tourists love me. They love me. They love me more than bratwurst and wearing sandals with socks. They love me more than they love staring at strangers from two inches away. They follow me wherever I go.

It's an amazing phenomenon with no explanation. Here is a recent example:

I am in New York about half the time these days, sleeping on couches ("Thanks, Smyres!") and interviewing for various jobs. It's a lot of fun. Actually, sometimes it is. But it does make a girl weary, and that's exactly the sort of state you have to be in to properly call hoards and hoards of German tourists. They wait, you see, until you have not one more ounce of patience left, and then they descend.

On a recent trip to New York, my train got in late and I found myself having to negotiate the ever-shifting late-night A-C train schedule at Penn Station. If you haven't been there recently, let me sum this up for you: Whichever platform you're on is the wrong one. Now, go change platforms. Nope! Still wrong. Go back to the one you were on to start with! Whoops! Just changed. And so on.

Anyway, this poor soul was in front of me at the turnstile, and he was having a helluva time. I knew right away that he was a German tourist, because he was trying to go the wrong way round the revolving door-type stile, and because he had a bizarre haircut that looked like it had been dropped onto his head from a great height, after recently adorning a bowling ball-shaped wig-form in the costume lab at Sesame Street.

I watched him lose his fare twice, and then I thought, You know, I can help this poor bastard. Everyone thinks we're rude -- Americans, Northeasterners, just about any group I'm a part of -- but I can prove those anonymous haters wrong. I'm gonna help this guy.

"Excuse me, sir? You're going the wrong way."

He looked at me and smiled. "Yes!" (BTW, this is exactly how I'm going to be in Paris in about a week, so remember that I know that, while I'm making fun of this dude.)

"The wrong way, sir!" I said, pointing in the other direction. "Go this way!" I walked in a little semicircle for him, to show which way he should go.

"Yes!" He said, smiling bigger.

Oh Christ, I thought. He's not actually German. He's just weird.

But then, he seemed to get it. He swiped his metrocard, and started to go the right way. I picked up my bag and followed.

And then what do you think happened? That's right, Franz backed right up and tried to go the other way again ... losing, this time, both my fare and his own.


He smiled at me. "Yes!"


It was about midnight at this point and I thought to myself, this is how people get hurt. He's all alone in New York, doesn't speak English, can't negotiate the turnstiles and even people who don't live here yet are ready to throw him on the third rail. This is a very bad sign for our pal.

Eventually, he figured it out, and he was fine. But you can bet I waited a good ten seconds to make sure he wasn't going to pop back through that turnstile in the wrong direction.

Home remedy

I am pizzausted, my little pals. The past week or so has been packed with interviews and paperwork and actual work, and really, it's amazing you've heard from me at all.

To repay me for entertaining you (and when I say "entertain," you may feel free to read "begging for attention and then acting like I gave you something"), I'm asking you to send me a few home remedies for exhaustion. These can't be the usual suspects -- coffee, cold water on the face, exercise -- nor can they involve illegal substances.

Post any and all suggestions in the comments. I need your help, friends.

Monday, May 2, 2005

S'il vous plaît ne pas m'assassiner. Je suis Canadien.

I'm listening to these French tapes right now, in preparation for my trip to Paris in a week or so. And there's this whole section that's totally terrifying. It's all about what to do if you lose your stuff, or get robbed, or lost, or otherwise molested. It's like the hypochondriac's section of the tourist's guide, and it's keeping me awake, quite frankly. Here's a selection, for your reading pleasure:

Where is the police station?
Où le poste de police est?


I have lost my watch. Please help me.
J'ai perdu ma montre. S'il vous plaît m'aider.

Please direct me to the embassy.
S'il vous plaît me diriger à l'ambassade.

A French person has been extremely rude to me. Please lend me your mace.
Une personne française a été extrêmement impolie à moi. S'il vous plaît me prêter votre lacrymogène.

OK, I made that last one up. But really, it should be in there.