Thursday, June 30, 2005

City stink, etc.

One of my lovely commenters (and I do love you all, I do, I do) posted the following excellent question:

smash, so tell us, what do you think of the lovely odor that is "NYC in the summer"? whenever i am in the city in spring, fall, and even winter, i think "wow, this really is a lovely place." Then i make sure i journey back there in the summer, and 5 minutes of the rotting flesh/fish in the 100 degree heat and oppressive humidity brings me back to reality.

i am not sure i have ever noted such a pungent odor in any other major metropolis, have you?

In answer to your question, I love it. This may be because I am rather new here (and feel brand new, given that today was my first day of work, and tomorrow will be my first day in my own apartment). But I think my tolerance for the city stink has more to do with the fact that I like cities in general and New York in particular. You know how , when you're in love, you'll look at the object of your affection and think, "That is the ugliest shirt I have ever seen on a human. Awwww."? Well, that's sort of how I feel about NYC summer stank. It's pretty bad, but then, I understand that there's a restaurant here that serves nothing but peanut butter sandwiches, and there's a salon that only cuts curly hair. The bars are open latelatelate, which is when I prefer to be up, and you can act however you like, because no one really gives a shit, and also, there's a homeless man peeing in a phone booth two feet to your right.

Also, the smell isn't rotting flesh/fish: It's dog crap, exhaust, garbage and sublimated subway rat. And yet my adoration persists.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Weather report

It's so hot, I'm going bald. Thought you'd like to know.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Packing crap

I think my arm is broken. I wrenched it out of the socket when I was attempting to move some stuff around in my storage space, and it definitely does not feel right. Then again, if I concentrate hard enough, I can imagine that I've sustained almost any type of injury. For instance, a few years ago, I went to my doctor and told her that I thought I had a groin injury. She looked at me very seriously and said, "Well, I just hope you check yourself regularly for testicular cancer ... you fool."

I'm really not sure what non-hypochondriacs do for entertainment.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Liar liar liar(s)!

OK, considering that my last two posts were about my eyebrows and my pants, it's kind of silly that I'm about to pick on people for vanity. However, I don't intend to let that stop me.

In the course of my Internet stalking -- you know the drill: you start with Google, go to Friendster, then to MySpace, and so on -- I recently discovered two friends of mine from college who are currently claiming to be 26 years old. One neglected to change her high school information, which made it appear as though she had graduated from high school when she was 16.

I can understand getting nervous around your birthday, or worrying about clocks both biological and career, but c'mon. Lying about your age? What are we, celebrities now? What's next? Botox? I swear to you that if I find out that anyone I went to school with has already had cosmetic surgery to stave off the ravages of time, that I will out them in this space. Especially if it's me. I'll tell you all about it, then.

(Brief aside: A short time ago, my friend Brian asked me if I'd had breast reduction surgery. I used to be about 30 pounds heavier, and therefore, was larger in the chestral region. I assured him that I had not had any surgery, that I had, in fact, gotten smaller everywhere. When he looked unconvinced, I said, "Brian, how long have you known me? If I'd had breast reduction surgery, don't you think I would have told you all about it, in nauseating detail?" That convinced him.)

Anyway, I vote for honesty on the age issue. I'm proud of the fact that I've managed to make it this far without being murdered by a customer service representative. Let's celebrate our years! Who's with me?

OK, just me then. No big.

Magical thinking and to-do lists

Next week, I will move to a new apartment and start a new job all in the space of, oh, about 48 hours. I have a lot to get done, and not much time to do it in. I should be extremely freaked out, but I'm not. Mostly, I'm concerned about what I'll wear to work.

You see, I haven't had any kind of a dress code for years. My last job distributed the dress code with the employee handbook on the first day of work. It read: "Employees are encouraged to wear clothing." That was it. That was the whole dress code. So as long as my lady parts were covered, so was I.

My new job seems pretty relaxed about dress codes, too, but it's in New York. Since my only work experience in New York so far has been working from home, and since New York is, on the whole, dressier than my hometown of Boston, I'm a little concerned. I think it might be a bad idea, for instance, to show up at work wearing a vomit-stained "Daubach is my daddy" t-shirt and a paint-spattered Red Sox cap.

So today, I went shopping. Please understand that I go shopping with the same joy and zest that I reserve for getting a Pap smear. I do not like shopping. I've never liked it. What I like is stuff. There's a paucity of actual stuff-getting in the whole shopping experience, if you ask me. Mostly, it seems like you just kind of stand around in one line or another, waiting to feel bad about your body and then pay a whole bunch of money you don't have to buy some clothes you might well despise next week. Also, in three months the weather will be wrong for your outfit, and by the time the weather cycles back around to where it needs to be in order for you to wear your fetching new pants, they will be out of style.

I once told my friend David in college that I was waiting for the Future of Fashion to arrive. I had it in my head that someday we would all shave our noggins and wear one-piece zip-up jumpsuits just like they do in science fiction movies, and then I would never have to worry about what I was wearing ever again. David said, "You are such a lesbian," which wasn't fair at all, because I know plenty of lesbians who have tons of fashion sense. I like boys and I can't dress myself without help. Stereotypes hurt us all, David. If you're reading this, I want you to remember that.

Anyway, I am now the proud owner of two pairs of grown-up person work pants and a shirt with buttons on it, as well as some cute sandals that do not completely reduce my feet to hamburger, and I'm feeling much better.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Bring me the ax!

I've let a few things slide lately, because I've been so busy. My eyebrows are probably not the most earth-shatteringly important item on that list, but you have to trust me when I tell you that it's better if I stay on top of them. I looked at myself in the mirror this morning and if I'd been wearing a beard and making a stern expression, I would have looked just like my Dad doing his Sean Connery impression. Needless to say, I shrieked and started digging through the medicine cabinet for the tweezers.

I do my own eyebrows, because I've seen one too many waxing accidents, because my eyebrows are kind of a weird shape, due to a bar-related injury from some years ago, and because I am cheap. Generally, this works out just fine. I get to keep a few hairs over each eye and all the money in my wallet (both dollars). Sometimes, though, things don't work out and I take too much, or more from one brow than the other, and I wind up looking like kewpie doll.

The bald brow look doesn't even bother me as much as the possibility of winding up lopsided. A couple years ago, I plucked my eyebrows unevenly and didn't realize I'd done it until I was at dinner with my mother and she stopped mid-sentence and said, "Are your eyebrows uneven?"

A few tears and blusterings later, she said, "OK, OK, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything. I just ... thought you should know. I don't know why I said anything at all."

"I don't know why you did, either," I said, through gritted teeth. "When you know how crazy I am."

So, my point is, I'm a little crazy about my eyebrows. And, you know, just in general.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


A few of my twelve readers have written to tell me how sorry they are that I have had such a rotten experience at their favorite store, Target, and rereading my previous entry, I can see how they would've gotten the impression that the store was to blame. But in actual fact, it's my credit card company, not Target, that screwed up. Target is awesome and I love it so much I might marry it. At the very least, my mother will definitely be sending that cashier a Christmas card. ("Such a nice lady. And I thought she looked tired, too, but I could tell that she really liked us.")

The magic number

I'm whiling away the last of my retirement in Boston, but I'm not resting, oh no. I'm organizing things and calling people and making lists. Most of all, I am spending an outrageous amount of money.

Yesterday, for example, Ma Smash and I went to Target, where I spent $360 on things that I swear I used to own. When the number popped up on cash register, I felt my knees buckle.

"Oh my God," I whispered. "How is that even possible?"

"Oh, that's what it costs to move anywhere," Ma said. "$360. Remember? When we moved you into Roslindale, it cost $360. Every time I sent one of you kids to college: $360. It's the magic number. I've never been able to figure it out."

"I'm going to throw up."

"Oh, you'll be fine." She ran a finger over the four-hundred pound shelving unit I'd just purchased. "Now, how to think you're going to get this up three flights of stairs? Are you going to use the laundry cart? I know: Make one of your guy friends do it."

"Yeah, maybe. They tend to disappear when there's actual physical labor on the agenda. Is there a problem?" This last to the cashier, who was looking at my credit card like it had an expiration date of yesterday and "Osama bin Laden" printed in the name space.

"I have to call," she said wearily.

"Why? Is there something wrong with my card?"

She held up a finger and spoke into the phone. "Yes, I've got Ms. Hubley here. Would you like to speak to her? Yes, right here. OK, hang on." She covered the mouthpiece and said, "Can I see your ID?"

Here's where I started to get really nervous. See, I take a terrible picture, particularly for license photos. My ID photo doesn't so much look like me as it does my retarded toothless Appalachian cousin Thelma Stump. In fact, I like to think of myself as this person when I'm in my cups or otherwise feeling stupid. Who lost my keys? Thelma Stump. Who lost my Netflix? Thelma Stump. Who forgot to update the blog for four days? Thelma has a drinking problem. Also a chromosome deficiency. It's not her fault.

The cashier took my ID and flicked it right back to me over the counter without a look. But it was too late. Now I was worrying. My credit card was going to be declined. My credit history, previously so spotless and exemplary, had been hijacked by some feckless Jennifer Hurley or Hubbard or Hubler, and she and her crack-addicted boyfriend were taking my financial history on a cross-country killing spree.

"OK, here she is." The cashier handed me the phone.

"Hello, Ms. Hubley, how are you today?"

"Well, honestly, I'm a little annoyed. What's the problem, here?"

"I'm sorry, Ms. Hubley, I have a security hold on your card."

"And that means...?"

"It means I'll have to ask you just a few questions, and then I'll transfer you to another department to complete the process. Now, what is the full name on your card?"

"Jennifer L. Hubley."

"And what is your mother's maiden name?"

"[Wouldn't you like to know, you pesky credit card thieves. Ha! Your boyfriend will have to get his crack from some other source!]"

"And how old will you be on your next birthday?"

"Thirty, sadly."

Pause. A short exhale which might have been a laugh. "OK, Ms. Hubley, I'm going to transfer you to another line."

At this point, "The Girl From Ipanema" actually started playing on the phone. I looked at the cashier and my mother, who were peering at me expectantly.

"I'm going to jail," I announced. "Because my credit card has been stolen by dangerous felons and soon my whole tragic life story will be on one of my favorite true crime shows, which I will not be able to watch because they don't have cable in the pokey."

The cashier rolled her eyes.

"Oh, they have cable in the pokey," my mother said. "So what's going on now?"

"I'm waiting for another person to come on and ask me a bunch of stupid questions."

The cashier pointed at the person behind us in line. "You might want to go to another register," she said. "This is going to be awhile."

"If we'd known this was going to happen, we would've brought you a lunch!" Ma Smash said to the cashier.

The cashier tried out a smile. Dust blew out from the unused corners of her mouth.

"Can we get you a cold drink or something?"

Now, at this point, I should tell you two things. The first is that I was fully in the grip of The Rage. This comes upon me suddenly in situations where I am confronted by incompetence, and it does not feel great. It feels like Bluto in the old Popeye cartoons, when his vision went all red and the veins stood out on his neck. It feels like I might finally, finally snap.

The other is that my mother is the Nicest Woman in North America. She's this way by nature, and because of the way she was raised, and also because she's a nurse, which means that she's more than human, can tolerate any type of human behavior and leaves no footprints in sand nor snow. Once, when I was in school, she asked me why I didn't want to go to nursing school. I said that I didn't have the patience to deal with people who weren't nice to me. Specifically, I mentioned an incident when a patient, who was confused, had hit her and given her a black eye.

"Oh, the poor little thing," she said. "She was confused and elderly and scared. She didn't really know what she was doing."

"She gave you a black eye! A black eye! I would have punched that old bitch in the head."

She paused. "So maybe you shouldn't become a nurse, then."

So anyway, she wasn't kidding when she offered to get the cashier a drink. Soon, my mother and the cashier were swapping child-rearing stories, and I was muttering incoherently into the phone and rolling my eyes like a spooked racehorse.

"Both my babies are away from me now," Ma told the cashier. "Her sister is married to a serviceman, and they're out in Tacoma. Well, she's out in Tacoma. My little John is in Iraq right now."

The cashier nodded sympathetically. She was leaning on the counter in a relaxed manner. "That's so hard," she said. "You know, my husband was in the army and we moved all the time. All the time."

"This is ridiculous!" I said. "RIDICULOUS! Why is there a security hold on my card? I pay them. I PAY THEM ALL THE TIME. THEY HAVE ALL MY MONEY. DO THEY NEED MY SANITY, TOO? IS THAT IT? WILL THEY NOT BE HAPPY UNTIL I HAVE NOTHING LEFT?"

"Her father has a temper," My mother explained.

"My husband has a temper, and all the kids do too. Such a shame."

"I'm going to go crazy. No: I'm going to cancel my card. IF I'D KNOWN IT WAS GOING TO BE THIS HARD I WOULD HAVE PAID CASH."

"Don't do anything drastic," My mother advised.

I thought about taking the phone and banging it on the counter, like they do in the movies.

"Hello, Ms. Hubley, are you there?"

"Oh, yes, I'm here."

"How are you today, ma'am?"

"I am going insane."

"I'm very sorry to hear that, ma'am. Now, I have just a few questions for you, and then we can clear this up. Are you a first, or a second?"

"I'm a GIRL. A GIRL. Do you know many "seconds" who are female?"

"I understand, Ms. Hubley. Now, if you could just clear up the matter of your address, which you changed last week..."

"Are you kidding me? You put a hold on my card because I CHANGED MY ADDRESS? Does no one ever move at your company? You know that we live in America, right? I don't have to, like, get a special permit from the government to move house. I just need to give a scummy broker a lot of money."

"Thank you, Ms. Hubley. I am reauthorizing your card, and I thank you for your patronage."

"Not for long, you won't be thanking me."

She hung up the phone.

"OK, all set," I told the cashier.

She looked at me sadly. "Did she hang up the phone? Cuz I need an authorization code for this."

"You are kidding me. OK, you know what? I am going to pay cash. You can still use my ATM card, right?"

Eventually, I was able to purchase my goods and services and get free of Target, which I had begun to fear would be my new home.

"I am canceling my card," I told my Mom.

"That's a good idea, honey."

"And then I am going to tell all of my friends to do the same."

"That's a good idea, honey."

"And then I am going to hunt down everyone from the CEO to the call center manager and give them all flying wedgies."

"That's a good idea, honey."

Sometimes I think my Mom isn't listening to me.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Oh, that wacky Saddam

Saddam Insists He's Still Iraq President

In other news, I am still captain of the fifth grade Safety Patrol at Broadmeadow Elementary School in Needham, Massachusetts.

Banana who?

I had horrible insomnia last night, so I decided to spend the afternoon with about 30 nine-year-old kids. Cuz that's a spectacular idea when you're overtired.

My friend Gina teaches an after school program in Cambridge. A lot of the kids in her program are the children of Harvard professors and other smarties. They're more interesting than most adults. Still, I was nervous going over to the playground to meet them. I don't spend a lot of time hanging out with kids, and the last time I was on a playground, I was eighteen and smuggling a forty.

I was a little early meeting Gina, so I called my brother-in-law Steve from a bench across the street from the park. It was pretty hard to carry on a conversation, as kiddie parks are kinda loud. Put it this way: the kids might've been having fun, but they sounded like they were being murdered.

"Are you at a playground?" he asked, almost immediately.

"Yup. I'm meeting my friend Gina."

"So where are you?"

"Across the street."

"Dude. You're just sitting on a bench across the street from a playground? Are you looking at the playground?"

"Well, yeah."

"You look so sketchy right now. You know that, right? Like the biggest, biggest pervert."

Which only put a name to the feeling of unease I'd been experiencing. Maybe it's the aftermath of the Michael Jackson trial, but it feels totally creepy to be hanging around a playground if you don't have children of your own and aren't an accredited teacher.

Finally, Gina showed up and I got off the phone and went over and met the kids. As soon as I had, I felt better. Especially when I met Noah, the Knock Knock Joke Guy. Noah was about eight years old, very solemn, especially when it came to his jokes. Apparently, he knew thousands of them. I only heard a few. This was his favorite:

"Knock knock."

"Who's there?"


"Banana who?"

"Knock knock."

"Who's there?"


"Banana who?"

"Knock knock."

"Who's there?"


"Banana who?"

"Knock knock."

"Who's there?"


"Banana who?"

"Knock knock."

"Who's there?"


"Orange who?"

"Orange you glad I didn't say banana?"

"Noah? I have never been more glad of anything."

He cocked his head to one side. I had a weird moment, where I realized that he was imitating his Dad, who was a professor at the school, Gina had told me. It was a very grown-up, professiorial sort of gesture. I half expected him to call me "Miss Hubley" and demand that I make a sound argument on some point or other. Instead, he said, "Now you go."

"Excuse me?"

"You tell a joke."

"Oh, man. You know, I'm kinda old. We don't really tell jokes so much, at our age. We mostly tell funny stories."

So Noah told me a few more of his jokes. And then he told me some of his scary stories. By this time, I had decided that going to visit 30 or so kids on two hours of sleep was actually one of the best ideas I'd ever had, and I'd further decided to become Noah's best friend and possibly to sue for custody, if it could be arranged.

After an hour or so, it was time for the kids and Gina to go back into the classroom, so I said my goodbyes and headed out. Noah opened the gate for me, after shooing several other kids away first. "This way, Jen," he said, indicating the exit with his palm, like his father showing out guests at a dinner party.

"Thank you, Noah," I said.

"Thank you so much for coming," he said, gravely.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Neal Pollack's murder ballads

Boy, oh boy, am I ever getting soft in my old age: I actually feel sorry for Neal Pollack.

I've never been able to stand Neal Pollack -- or, I should say, his persona. Mostly, I didn't like that he didn't seem to take anything seriously, especially his own work. Everything was in quotes with this guy, like he was a "writer" who "wrote stories" and then "read" them to "people."

I prefer it when people believe in what they're doing and admit it. When people are too focused on their fame, I tend to wonder whether they like the actual writing part at all. If being successful is the point, why not get a real job? It's far easier to make your mark in banking, I'd think. I mean, assuming that you're better at math than I am, or look really good in a suit.

As obnoxious as I find the whole Greatest Living Writer routine, well ... I can kind of understand where the impulse came from. It's not like there are hoards of publicists waiting in the wings to help new writers promote their work. I did my very first interview ever the other day (and who knows if any of it will see print, so I won't bother telling you where and with whom), and I definitely tried to be as witty and quote-worthy as possible, in the hopes that I'd get more ink out of it. You kinda feel like a douche, but what are you supposed to do?

At the moment, it seems kind of cruel to pick on Neal Pollack. He's apparently having all kinds of financial troubles and people are ragging him about his parenting skills and Dave Eggers has dumped him. And I'm not really qualified to criticize him, anyway, since I've only read his essays, not his books. I've never wanted to, because his schtick was so grating. Here's something for all of us would-be writers to think about, though: If he'd been less irritating, would we have heard of him at all?

Saturday, June 18, 2005


Last night, I went to see the Red Sox play the Pirates at Fenway. My friend Matt had free tickets, which isn't strange for him. Matt is one of those people that seems to fall into good shit all the time. You know the expression, "Money doesn't grow on trees?" Well, I wouldn't be surprised if one of the local dogwoods started sprouting twenties around this character. He's just lucky.

For example, last night, after meeting up at a conveniently located dive, we took our tickets in our hot little hands and trotted over to Fenway to wait in line for our grandstand seats. While we were waiting, Matt pointed to the security guy taking tickets at the front of the line next to us. "Hey!" He said. "I know that guy. We have to go get in his line."

So we shuffled over to this guy's line to say hello. He didn't notice us until we were at the very front, but when he did, his face lit up. "Matt! Man, how are ya? I haven't seen you in months. What are you doing now?"

"Oh, you know, band stuff. Construction. I cut my hand open today." He held up his awkwardly patched hand. We'd been discussing, on the way over, whether he should have stitches. I was voting yes, because I'm a girl. He was voting no, because he had no health insurance.

"That's great, great," He said. "Hey, stand over here a sec."

We moved over to the side, to let people pass, I thought. Then he leaned down and said, in a whisper, "You guys want to go sit on the Monster?"

The seats on the Monster are a relatively new innovation at Fenway. There used to just be a big ol' net up there. Now there are sorta pricey seats with an amazing view of Johnny Damon's beehind. We even found a place to sit for the first three innings. This made us feel very impressive and rich.

"Would you care for another premium beer?" I asked Matt.

"Why yes, I would care for another premium beer, thank you, ma'am."

"My, it's a lovely day to sit on the Monster, isn't it?"

"Oh, yes, it is a lovely day. But then, every day is a lovely day to sit upon the Monster."

Johnny Damon aside, the view from up there is amazing. I couldn't believe it. It looked like baseball in movies. It looked like a postcard of summer.

"Matt?" I said. "This is the best moment of my life."

He smiled a lucky smile. We didn't have to go back to standing room until he left to use the bathroom.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The smell is free

During my search for a place to live, I saw some truly horrifying apartments. I saw holes in the ceiling. Rat traps left out in the middle of the floor, spackled with guts. Places without a single window, and an illegal hotplate instead of a stove.

"That's how it goes," Rolfe said, "Things you'd expect from an apartment -- four walls and a ceiling, say, or no rodents -- are actually bonuses in New York."

It's pretty much impossible to find an apartment in Manhattan that doesn't require major compromise. My compromise is that my cute little overpriced apartment also comes with its own stench, courtesy of the absolutely filthy muthafucka who lived there before.

My father, upon hearing this, offered to come down and help clean it up. I told him that I appreciated it, but that I really wanted to have a crack at it before he and Mom saw it for the first time. Honestly, I was afraid that if he saw it in its current state, he might stuff me in a sack and drag me back to Boston.

He just laughed. "Your mother and I have moved into apartments where the first thing we did, after signing the lease and getting the keys, was stand in the doorway, look at our new home and cry." I tried to think of a time I'd actually seen him cry. The closest he'd ever come to it, that I could remember, was when I drank too much in high school and wound up in the emergency room. Even then, it was more like a manful glisten in the eyes and a short, "Thought we were going to lose you." Hug. Thump on the back. "BE CAREFUL, OK?"

As further proof that he could take any grungy apartment, he went on to tell me that he once, as a part-time job, painted a restaurant that hadn't been cleaned in 20 years, and also reminded me of his college gig scraping up roadkill for the Department of Public Works.

I'm still not letting him into my apartment until I've had a chance to clean the bathroom.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Homeless no more

I have an apartment now. Aren't you proud? I am. I feel like I made it with my own two hands. I feel like I crawled toward it on my knees over broken glass. I feel like it's probably much too expensive, and I no longer care. This is a crafty trick on the part of real estate brokers, who run you all over the city on the hottest goddamn day of the year in the hopes that you will cave and pick something. Well, I showed them. I slept on it, and then I picked something. Hmmm. Maybe that wasn't quite the resounding victory I was hoping for.

BUT! The place is actually quite nice. The appliances are the size of normal human appliances, and the windows -- for there are two of them, mind you, so wealthy and well-heeled am I -- are large and are not facing a wall. As an extra added bonus, the parts of my bathroom all live together in -- wait for it! -- a little room of their own, which I like to call "the bathroom." My, it's all a person could hope for.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Coming out of retirement

That's right, my little pals, I'm employed! More updates soon enough, although not specifically about the job. Ever since one of the directors at my last company came up to me and announced, "HEY. I FOUND YOUR BLOG," I've been extra careful not to discuss specifics. Suffice to say that I have not been forced into prostitution, nor will I be required to ask anyone if they'd like fries with that. That is, unless the company I'm working for has any financial setbacks, in which case ... last hired, first fired. Ha ha ha! Oh boy.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Hey, everyone:

Guess what today is? That's right: it's my BIRTHDAY!

Oh, I love my birthday. I love it so much, you'd think we were having pony rides and cotton candy. And that I was turning nine, instead of twenty-nine. Although actually, I was a lot more serious -- and felt older -- when I was nine. I'm getting sillier as the years go on, a circumstance which will hopefully keep me fresh-faced and happy in the nursing home one day.

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Business matters

As you can see, I have changed blog templates. This is hopefully prior to a proper redesign, but God only knows how long that will take. Anyway, I've added a links section. If you're a pal of mine, either in the real world or online, and I've left you off, drop me a line.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

In other news, Jesus may have suffered from asthma, piles and one of those weird autoimmune disorders that just makes you kinda tired

I think the good people over at the AP are reaching. Excerpt from the article entitled Israeli Doctor: Clot May Have Killed Jesus:

JERUSALEM - Jesus may have died from a blood clot that reached his lungs, an Israeli physician said Wednesday, challenging the popular conception that he died of asphyxiation and blood loss during his crucifixion.

Dr. Benjamin Brenner, a researcher at the Rambam Medical Center in the Israeli port city of Haifa, said he was publicizing his theory to raise awareness pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal disorder often associated with long-distance air travel.

So, you see, if Jesus has only stayed off airplanes, there wouldn't have been any trouble. And you wonder why I have to take Xanax in order to fly.

You heard it here first: Knee socks are the new thong

I made a promise to myself not to write so much about men, because I'm kinda sick of how much of womens' writing seems to be devoted to Persons Who Pee Whilst Standing. Also, I'm interviewing, and I don't want prospective employers to think I'm shallow and narcissistic and obsessed with the opposite sex. Then I figured, eh, what the hell. They might as well know what they're getting into, right? So, without further ado, my latest story about men behaving badly at bars:

Last weekend, my pal Meredith and I went out to couple bars, as you do. At one bar, I went outside to have a cigarette, and a guy came up to me -- as they do. This particular guy was maybe 45, well-dressed and well-coiffed, and either a little drunk or a little looney or both.

"Excuse me," he said. "Can I ask you a question?"

The other girls standing nearby scattered discretely. I, however, love a story and don't know what's good for me, and so I said, "Sure thing."

"Don't you think it's just awful that you have to stand out here to smoke?"

"Well, honestly, no," I said. "I only smoke when I'm drinking, and I can understand why a waitress wouldn't want to breathe my smoke."

He looked flummoxed for a minute, posed with his finger in the air, ready to make a point in an argument I was clearly not going to go along with. Give him credit, though, for recovering quickly.

"Can I ask you another question?" he asked. "Where's your man tonight?"

Here's how naive I am: I really didn't see that coming. I had no answer prepared. So I hemmed and hawed.

"No man? Is there a woman?"

"Uh, no."

"How can you not have a man?" he asked. By this time, he was definitely breaching my personal space. I ground out my cigarette and hitched my purse up on my shoulder, in preparation for flight. "How can YOU not have a man? With those knee socks on."

Knee socks. KNEE SOCKS. Now, I'm not a big proponent of blaming women for encouraging harassment by dressing in a certain way, but even if I were, I don't think I'd put knee socks on the hot list. Not unless they're paired with a Catholic school girl uniform, anyway.

"They're-just-knee-socks-cuz-I-didn't-want-to-be-cold-and-I'm-tired-of-tights-cuz-they-make-my-legs-itch. Also, I wanted to wear sneakers, and these just went better. Will you excuse me?" I said, very coherently. And then I ran back into the bar. I don't think I needed to worry about him following me, though. My friend Rod once told me that crazy is all the self-defense he needs, and he's probably right.

So be forewarned, children. No knee socks. You're only asking for trouble.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Pretty pony

Mrs. Piddlington: i'm watching queer eye for the red sox
JennieSmash: i loved it
JennieSmash: i saw it earlier
JennieSmash: millaaar
Mrs. Piddlington: yeah?
Mrs. Piddlington: i can't wait
Mrs. Piddlington: i love me some johnny damon
JennieSmash: i know
JennieSmash: the boobatron is very sweet, too
JennieSmash: she loves him
Mrs. Piddlington: yeah? i just saw her
JennieSmash: she
JennieSmash: looks like a pony
Mrs. Piddlington: her boobs don't actually look soooo big
JennieSmash: i mean that in a nice way
Mrs. Piddlington: hmm
JennieSmash: she has big placid eyes
JennieSmash: and a long face
Mrs. Piddlington: ah! they just pulled out johnny's back hair!
Mrs. Piddlington: oh yeah, she does!
Mrs. Piddlington: a very pretty pony
JennieSmash: yes
Mrs. Piddlington: like a my little pony
JennieSmash: yes!
JennieSmash: i bet she has a design on her rump, too

Yew kids hush up

The second week of my retirement begins, and I discover that I now have "stories" that I watch every day. Also, that I speak in a particularly obnoxious sort of present tense, like a Choose Your Own Adventure book.

But back to my original point: Did you know that there are true crime shows on TV ALL DAY LONG? Well, there are. And I'm making it my mission to watch every single one of them. The Law & Order series alone is keeping me quite busy, I have to say.

I just realized that I haven't had this much lying around time since I was laid off in 2000. That wasn't nearly as much fun, either, cuz I'd just gotten a new apartment and bought a couch, and I was looking at unemployment from the perspective of someone who actually owed her checking account a couple hundred bucks. When our bosses called us into the Conference Room of No Longer Working Here, and told us what was up, I thought for a minute that I really would faint. I heard this buzzing sound, like millions of bees, and my vision blurred for a minute. Looking back, I wish I had fainted. That would have been delightfully Victorian, don't you think? And since we've now established that I cannot go out in the sun, I might as well embrace the situation and become a Goth.

Before eight Goth kids write to me with encouragement and skin-bleaching advice, I should tell you that I am kidding. KIDDING. I am not Goth. I am actually pretty peppy and given to wearing bright colors. It's not my fault that I have no pigment in my skin whatsoever.

Speaking of which, it's time for me to go lie in a vat of After Sun.

Sunday, June 5, 2005


Against my better judgment, I went outside today, and do you know what happened? I got a horrible horrible sunburn on my back and chestral area. This despite wearing 30 gee dee SPF sunblock and reapplying after swimming, sweating or toweling off. That's right: I followed instructions, and still I look like the inside of a grapefruit.

I would like to go on record as saying that I feel that this is not fair.

Saturday, June 4, 2005

The Baby Jesus hangover cure

My cousin and I stayed up all night not too long ago, drinking bourbon and playing name that tune, because we are dorks. He ran through his MP3 collection, playing songs and giving me hints like, "OK, you once sang one of her songs at karaoke." Which I think we can agree is totally insufficient.

The next morning we woke up, a little the worse for wear, and switched on the TV. My cousin clicked around a bit until he found the 700 Club, and then stopped.

"Have you ever seen this show?" he asked. "It's hysterical."

The host's hair was pretty hysterical. He'd clearly bought up a couple cases of mousse in the early '80s, and he was wearing a great deal of orange pancake. His cohost was similarly done up, only with a longer page-boy haircut and about forty virtuous post-childbearing pounds under her church lady suit.

When we came into the program, already in progress, they were conducting long distance healing. I'd never heard of such a thing, either. Basically, what they'd do is put their hands to their temples and squinch their eyes shut, and envision someone in the audience that needed healing. They'd describe the affliction, and then they'd tell the afflicted that the LORD had healed them. Here is an example:

Lady Host: "OK, I can see ... you have some kind of a terrible rash? Going up your neck and into your scalp, and it's very painful. It's like, some kind of scabies? And the LORD is healing you. He's taking your scabies. The LORD HAS HEALED YOUR SCABIES AND YOU ARE WELL, AMEN." And then she'd open her eyes and look all teary. It was a sight to see. And I was so glad she'd picked something disgusting.

"We should ask the LORD to take our hangovers," my cousin suggested. I thought this was a brilliant idea. We put our hands over our afflicted heads, as the lady host had instructed, and prayed: "Baby Jesus, cure us of our hangovers!"

A moment went by, in which the man and the lady asked Jesus to cure a sprung hip and an upper respiratory infection, but no dice on the bourbon sickness. As they went on to God's Mailbag, or whatever their next unit was, we let our hands slump to our sides in defeat.

We know it's not their fault, though. They just couldn't hear us praying through the massive banks of feathered hair obscuring their ears.

Friday, June 3, 2005

It's nice out, finally.

And every time I talk to this one friend of mine, she says, "Go outside." She's jealous, because I'm retired. But retirement is for reading Mark Twain and eating cheese and watching Law & Order. Everyone knows this.

I'm not quite sure what her obsession is with outside. I hate it outside. There are bugs and I get a sunburn. I like it indoors. That's where all my things are.

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Ducks are mean -- and crazy

Tuesday, I decided to take a walk around Jamaica Pond. It was a compromise. I need to start going to the gym again, but going on a walk is more fun, because you get to see people and dogs when neither are dressed in spandex. So off I went.

While I was there, my friend Gina called me. I was delighted, because I hadn't talked to Gina for a long time, and because I could then use this as an excuse for not exercising at all. You see my problem: I'm lazy, and excellent at procrastinating.

I hate being that person who's screaming into her cellphone in public, though, so I scuttled down the bank, off the path proper, and found myself a log to sit on by the water. There was a pair of ducks paddling around in front of me, and pollen motes floating in bars of sunshine, and so on. It was all very bucolic.

I was just describing the scene to Gina, by way of telling her how peaceful and serene it was, when one of the ducks took the other duck's scruffy neck in his bill and started earnestly and persistently trying to drown him.

"Oh my God," I said to Gina. "This horrible duck is trying to kill this other duck."


"He's got him by the neck and he's shoving his head under water. I think the other duck is sick or something. His feathers are all patchy."

"Well, do something! Make him stop!" Gina is one of my lefty buddies. She's a teacher, went to Hampshire college, brings thoughtful presents to housewarming parties, and generally has something nice to say. She's a big believer in intervention, whereas I was trained as a reporter and sometimes forget that I can help. Until she suggested it, I was prepared to give a dispatch on the murder of the duck. Now I saw that this would not do.

"I'll get a stick or something," I said. "And get him away from the other one."

Getting a stick would've been great. Unfortunately, all I could find were little pieces of cut-up tree branch, about two inches long.

"Do something!" Gina said. "Is he still trying to drown him?"

"Um, yes, but I ... oh hell." I just started chucking the little pieces of driftwood at the ducks. "I can't even find any decent rocks or anything. Hey, you. Get away from him. Leave him alone, you disgusting thing!"

One of the pieces bounced off the piebald duck's head, which was momentarily above the water. The sick duck looked at me like, "You've gotta be fucking kidding me. Now you're stoning me to death?"

After a minute or two of getting shouted at and having things lobbed at his intended victim's head, the bully let go and started to paddle off away from the shore.

"He's let go!" I reported. "He's saved! We saved him!"

"Yay, duck!" Gina said. "You did a good thing today."

"I know, I feel really good. Isn't that funny? I mean -- hey. What are you doing? Don't follow him! He just tried to kill you."

"What's going on now?"

"You will never believe this. The sick duck? Is following the other one. The one that just tried to kill him."


"Yes! The healthy one is trying to get away, and the sick one is just going right after him. He's a glutton for punishment. Gina?"


"This duck? Is kinky."

She laughed. "Well, you did the best you could"

"I did."

"You can't be responsible for their dysfunctional relationship."


Fucking ducks.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

My health insurance will cover a therapist, but not this?

I finished my job last week, and I'm basically retired at the moment. This is the first time in my adult life I've been able to do this and not freak out about money. It's kinda nice. I might take up golf. Probably not, though.

I am enjoying the free time, anyway. Yesterday, I went to get my hair done. It was all overgrown and shrub-like, and my one gray hair was shining through. Of course, it's along my part, where it shows up the most. I have friends who pull out their gray hair, but I'm more afraid of snatching myself baldheaded than I am of going gray. In fact, I'm fairly terrified of going bald anyway, which is funny, since I've got a ton of hair. Still, I think it's important to have a long list of ridiculous things to worry about, and going bald is fairly high up on mine, after getting so fat that a talk show host has to knock out one wall of my home in order to rescue me and send me to fat camp, and before, interestingly enough, losing my mind.

In the interests of preserving my sanity, I decided to ask to my hair stylist if she thought my hair was looking thin, especially along the hair-line near the part.

"You know what I worry about?" I began tentatively. She was shampooing my hair rather vigorously at the time, which is good for your scalp and also makes you kinda drooly and relaxed.

"No, what?"

"Going bald."

She collapsed with laughter. "Are you kidding me?"

"No! Haven't you ever seen them, the bald ladies? You know? You must've, in your line of work. With the thin, poofed up hair? All see-through, like Wonder Woman's jet?"

She shook her head. "Man, you're crazy. You know that there are only two reasons why women go bald, right? One is heredity. The other is stress. So why don't you quit worrying about stupid stuff like this, and then maybe your hair won't fall out."

I really like my hair stylist.