April 30, 2006

On lists, grace, and twenty five.

I have mentioned before that I am a list-maker. I am a maker of lists daily. Sometimes I make them to get me through the day; a sort of step by step guide, each little bullet point crossed out like breadcrumbs leading Gretel through an afternoon; each task there almost just in case I forget which way is home. Sometimes I make them mentally: a checklist of things to do over a lifetime, a list of people I aspire to see myself become, a list of things I want to be sure not to forget.

One of the things on my "to-do this month" list is about me: blow out twenty five candles on a double-chocolate birthday cake.

I love cake. And making wishes. I've got this under control. Except the year (twenty five. TWENTY FIVE!) makes me want to hyperventilate. Which is dangerous when surrounded by twenty five blazing candles.

Which brings me to another list and another bullet point: One of the things on my "do not forget" list is about aging -- do it with grace.

This seems simple enough, right? Age gracefully. Well, piece of cake. (Sorry. Yuk, yuk.) I don't even have to DO anything to age, so I'm halfway there already, right? I realize that. The rub lies in the second part. The gracefulness part.

I have some trouble with this because I am not, physically, verbally or otherwise, graceful.

Here's me, in Polaroid:

Bull in china closet.
Emphatic, passionate, remarkably naieve.
Shotgun-like manner of speaking.
Uncanny ability to embarrass myself, in almost any situation.
Zeal for life that more often than not results in me speaking shotgun-esquely about something more than likely inappropriate while walking quickly, emphatically, which usually ends badly... again, think: walking directly into planter boxes (I had no idea it was right directly in front of me!) or off curbs (it was the heels!) or into other people (clearly, CLEARLY not my fault!).

I am clumsy. And I am rapidly approaching my twenty fifth birthday. Rapidly, and clumsily.

I haven't a clue how to usher in this new year, which is saturated with the rank reek (alliteration, anyone?) of adulthood. I picture me, in a few short weeks, twenty five...

Gone is the sweet, warm scent of my skin after a day in the sun, because gone are the weekends of blissful release. Gone are the built-in excuses about being young and foolish and a little self-destructive. I am suddenly, and entirely, a woman. With responsibilities, and a future that I have begun to picture (against my will, almost as if biologically) in an entirely new and more domestic way. A few kids, perhaps. A couple girls and a boy. A dog (shaggy, smiley, multi-colored). A garden (carrots, herbs, raspberries and red potatoes). A job, full wine racks, a book club where you do something entirely different than drink wine, gossip and apologize for not reading the last 10 chapters.

While I'm really enjoying this vision, or parts of it, I am having trouble breaking up with the girl inside me who just wants to laugh too loudly and swear in public and take shots of whiskey after 1 a.m. And this worries me, because I want to do this thing right, gracefully. And I'm a little more worried because my track record with grace isn't so hot.

For example, I have still never taken a compliment gracefully. I say silly, glib things or throw a quick barb and pretend to be witty instead. I can't say I've often responded with grace to an insult, either. Oh, no. I instead dive angrily into the mud, throwing it about like a toddler in a fit of rage. Or worse, I cry -- quietly and privately in a bathroom or closet at first and then, later, like a colicky infant in the privacy of my bathtub or car. Or both. And, while in the real dew of youth, I was often gracelessly either far too sure of myself and "together", which had the strange effect of baffling, intimidating or stifling many of my peers; or far too childish, inconsolably giggly and euphoric or disruptively naieve.

I am worried that I will become one of those mid-to-upper twenties somebodies who is unconsciously clinging to their junior year of college. I don't want to have to explain at a bar one night after to many vodka Red Bulls that I have a job, of course, and I'm really responsible on the weeknights, and that I'm just letting loose a little. And I don't want to flirt mercilessly just to prove something: I want to mean it. I would like to lithely maneuver into this new part of my life, holding close the innocence, but embracing something wiser; striding headlong into the unknown without my backpack of silly trinkets (slap bracelets, mind games, keg-stands and push-up bras).

But, I have to say, it was comforting when people just looked at me, a girl, flushed with youth, sitting cross-legged in the corner booth at the restaraunt eating her Reuben for breakfast, fogging the window with her breath, pressing her fingers into the condensation and drawing pictures there -- and thought that was okay, because that's what you do when you have nowhere else to be. When you're really not anyone, yet, you have every excuse in the world. Go ahead: fuck up! No one expects much of you, anyway. Or if they do, when you slip they'll certainly let it go, at least. How could you know better? You're heady with irresponsibility, and everyone knows and envies it.

But alright. I'm doing it, this grace thing. I've committed. And although it's scary, and I am more alone than ever, I'm up to it. That ridiculous sense of "do you double dare me?" might actually be something worth hanging on to. Along with a little broken shard of something I think I've just determined:

To age gracefully, (no, to nurture my own grace, perhaps), I am starting small. I am first finding grace in my life at this moment. Well, I'm looking. And when I find a glimmer of it, maybe I'll try believing it. And perhaps by recognizing it in the difficult decisions, or allowing it to creep in as the descriptor of the way I handle my own fears (of everything -- heights, disaster, ruined love, gained love, myself, failure, success, other people's feet), I can become practiced at it.

And perhaps then, after Grace and I have been agknowledging each other for a while, we'll just sorta call a truce. Maybe she'll even move in.

That would be nice, I think.
I mean, I'm pretty sure it would be nice to just say thank you, no punchline, and let there be silence after. And it would be nice, maybe, to stop the clumsy fumbling that came with the inexperience of youth. (Well, and also I'm certain I'm nearly out of unbruised real estate on my shins, and it would be a pity to fall and scrape up such a beautiful, sophisticated new suit.)

Twenty five is a nice, solid number. Don't you think?

April 27, 2006

I'm baaaa-aaaaack!

I know, I know... and I'm sorry.

But while I was gone, I got so much done. For example, I:

1. Got a new, more awesome, job!

2. Ate meat (breakfast Reuben, steak dinner)!

3. Spent another weekend with New York (he came here)!

4. Drank my weight in dirty vodka martinis!

5. Sort of accidentally introduced New York to my family, and then proceeded to go Easter egg hunting with he and my parents (yep -- that's right. The youngest of the bunch was me. At an innocent 24.89 years of age) and he survived!

6. Made enemies with all New York's friends!

7. Nearly died in a freak windstorm accident!

8. Stocked my wine rack (and only half -- OK, two-thirds -- of the bottles cost me less than 10 bucks)!

9. Gave various bums a sum total of nearly 80 dollars and an egg salad sandwich in one week!

10. Rediscovered the exclamation point (clearly) and my distaste for bagpipes!

More coming...

April 09, 2006

My heritage: Workoholism and Alcoholism

(or "Workers, drinkers, robbers and nutjobs" or "Why I am the way I am")

PART 1: My mother

When my mother retired from her career as a buyer and trainer at the headquarters of a very large department store, she did exactly what no one with any sense does: went immediately back to work.

She "retired" almost 15 years ago and is now probably doing more than she was when she was working full time AND raising children AND keeping the house AND taking care of a small farm, etc. In fact, I know she is. She runs half a company, substitutes at a high school, sells high-end golf carts, volunteers for the fire district (or something like that -- I don't know, it's related to firemen. I can't even remember what I do half the time).

She also has a book club and a Bunco group (if you don't know, just think a bunch of women gossiping and escaping their husbands once a month under the guise of winning some cutesy prizes at the end of a 3-hour long dice game). Plus, she hand-makes and sends probably 20 greeting cards a week, writes letters daily, manages the household finances, works out and volunteers for the county's voter registration office. She is just a total busybody. She works hard, and doesn't know how not to.

PART 2: My father

My father, in sharp contrast, retired last year after a very successful career in human resources as "upper management" or "the man" at a major utility company in Seattle. In essence, think "the Bobs" from Office Space. Yep, that's him. An white man in a suit telling people they're not doing their jobs, firing them, and making sure they're more efficient, which everyone obviously hates.

When my dad retired from this job, he did something that baffled my mother and I:

He retired.

Yes, he literally took off his suit and tie for the last time, put on hammer pants and a sweatshirt, made himself a gin and tonic, went straight to his favorite recliner and went directly to sleep (with a newspaper across his lap and a spoon and a jar of peanut butter handy).

His days now involve mostly reading, working out, puttering about, surfing the Internet (purportedly reading the news, and not looking at pornography; I'm just not asking any questions), sometimes fishing, or golfing. But where his DNA and mine are clearly shared becomes apparent the moment you spend a day with him. One of his favorite passtimes is the same as my own: having a good, stiff drink.

On particularly big days (family gatherings, for example) this might begin as early as 3 or 4 pm and last until about dark, when he finally is guaranteed to fall asleep in his recliner. During these days, primary activity is mostly limited to the worn path from said recliner to the liquor cabinet and/or fridge and then back to the recliner.

Now, my father is not an alcoholic. I think he just figures he's retired, and he enjoys a martini now and then, and what the hell. It strikes me as the mentality of a college student, really. The "eh, fuck it, how about a drink" mentality. Which I totally get.

It IS worth mentioning, however, that alcoholism has reared its head elsewhere in my family, the same way being Type A has...

PART 3: The Crazies

I have a great-uncle who we call "Squinty-Eyed Claude". Squinty-Eye is a drinker. One popular Claude story has to do with a family reunion for which he showed up thoroughly sauced and slurring and during which he followed around two little girls who he was trying to befriend but instead repeatedly reduced to tears, and raised their mothers' suspicious eyebrows. Claude has one eye that's always smushed up like he's got something in it, and his cheek sorta squishes up towards his eyebrow, almost making his whole eye dissapear. He looks like he's been around the block because, well, he has been around the block -- with a flask.

Somehow ol' Claude managed to produce a son, "Crazy Lenny", who looks like he's been around the cell block a few times because, well, he has. Crazy Lenny took to drinking like his father (which is to say that he does it like it's his job, only he's never quit it, been late to it, or lost it). Anyway, Crazy Lenny has a problem with judgement. He has a grossly inflated sense of self which more often than not, drunk on both Pabst and some crazy, powerful idea, has inspired him in the past to do completely insane things.

Once, while running from the police after robbing a store, for example, Crazy Lenny ran to the rooftop of a nearby building. This whole "escape to the roof" thing turned out not to be such a good idea, because once the cops followed him up there, of course, he was stuck without an escape route. At this point, most normal people would probably just give up the goat, surrender, and do a little jail time.

Well, Crazy Lenny wasn't too keen on that option. So, sized up the building he was standing on, and, determining that he was both brilliant and related to Spiderman, he decided he'd just jump from the rooftop to that of the building next to it. [Please remember, these are regular mid-sized city buildings, with a good hunk of thin air between each.] So he ran, and jumped.

I like to think that somewhere in the middle of the jump he decided maybe he shouldn't have done that, right before he fell, like Wyle E. Coyote in some Roadrunner cartoon, three stories to the street below.

A few hours later, he was lying in jail with a broken leg and a slightly more reasonable perspective on how to be "on the lam", so to speak. But apparently this didn't do much for his sense of his own physical ability, because a few years later, after getting out of jail, he would attempt to jump into an open boxcar of a train for a ride, only to misjudge the speed and distance of the train, jump too late, and bounce off the boxcar, sliding down to the train tracks. This is not a good place to hang out, which is also something Lenny learned when, split seconds later, it severed his arm, but leave his alcoholism and bad judgment intact.

So I think it's pretty clear that par for the course in my family is to have either Workaholic or Alcoholic tendencies. These two things may or may not also lead to At Least Slightly (or, in the case of Lenny and Squinty, Very Dangerously) Crazy tendencies.


I think we had a breakthrough in "group" today, folks.

April 06, 2006

Lookie lookie (or "Damn, I'm good!!")

Looks like either Legwarmers is a little ahead of the "cool" curve or someone ran out of his own material, huh?

Yep, Jason Mulgrew totally borrowed and wrote about my new musical fantasy material, Jake Sakawhateverhislastnameis, and his kick-ass rendition of "As My Guitar Gently Weeps" which I wrote about DAYS ago, (ok, 2 days ago, but whatever) here. Now because I'm not typically a trendsetter in the blogosphere, I'm quite proud of this.

[I mean, I mostly piss and moan, make fun of myself, make fun of other people, tell stories about my family, link to people more interesting than myself, and discuss sex, food and music (my three reasons for existence, as you know). Reeeal original.]

Also, I'm proud of it because I figure anyone with a book deal and some (very small, but still) measure of infamy should probably hold themselves to a higher standard than I, a lowly, overworked, underpaid, vegetable-eating geek-lover who writes this crap on the side, and mostly hungover. So yay for me.

I know, it's sad, but really it's the little things in life that make me happy. Like beating a blogging, meat-eating, book-writing, People-Magazine-Bachelor New Yorker to an awesome but obscure clip of a ukelele-playing Beatles-covering dude I want to make out with named Jake.

In other news, I'm starting a new job on Monday. It's a fantastic opportunity at a much larger company but in the same field I'm currently in. There is every upside to this transition: greater intellectual stimuli due to the incredibly successful and smart people who will be around me, a significantly larger paycheck, upward mobility and the chance to develop into a ::gasp:: young, female, biz-whiz -- and soon. So I'm stoked.

That's all for now. I'm starving, so keeping this short. But there's good stuff coming... maybe even tomorrow. So hold your breath, gang. (Because you'll almost certainly read it here first, obviously.)

April 04, 2006

Three songs and a whole-persona transplant

Two great songs:

George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" played on the ukelele by Jake Shimabukuro
I am thinking about falling in love with Mr. Shimabukuro, even thought I cannot for the life of me pronounce his last name. It's just that he kicks this song's ass, and makes the ukelele look, well, a little rock star and not at all feminine, 1930's-esque or out of proportion. See for yourself.

"Baby Sleep With Me" by Bijou Phillips
Warning: it's totally sad. It makes me totally sad. She says "I'll do what you tell me/and cry if you stop me...tonight, I'm someone else", and it's just self-destructive enough that when I first listened to it I thought about crying and wished a tiny bit that I was disillusioned and desperate because she makes it seem entirely beautiful.

A weird one:

"Company in My Back" by Wilco has been playing over and over on my ITunes and I just now realized that I have no idea what the hell it means. I mean, really -- can someone help me out, here? Here's a bit:

I attack with love, pure bug beauty
I curl my lips and crawl up to you (x2)
And your afternoon
And I've been puking

I move so slow, a steady crushing hand
Holy shit there's a company in my back (x2)

Hide your soft skin, your sorrow is sunshine
Listen to my eyes (x2)
They are hissing radiator tunes...

I mean, it seems like a bug's love song to a woman, who then proceeds to squish it. Which I think is completely rad, but am having a hard time believing. So if you have any other ideas, please enlighten me.


I have a total Heterosexual Hollywood Crush on Zooey Deschanel. I have a long list of women I'd gladly trade heads with, as you may know, (Angie Harmon, Keri Russell, etc.) and Zooey doesn't make the list. That is because I want to trade, um, EVERYTHINGS with her - a kind of like I have for Katharine Hepburn, among very few others.

The girl totally became my surprise favorite when she sang "Baby, It's Cold Outside" in Elf like she was straight out of 1940, but I figured that excited me more than it should have because I'm super festive around the holidays and a jazz geek. But it's April and a few years later and I still think she's fabulous and classy and fascinating. And I just found out she's playing in a film based on my favorite children's book of all time, A Bridge to Terebithia. Should be out some time in 2007, apparently. So there you go.

If I were a boy I'd totally be in love with her. As is, I'd just like to become her. Not sure which is creepier.

April 03, 2006

A month in review: Ten things I learned in March

1. Karma is a vegetarian bitch.

The moment I decide that I'm finally going to just have a burger or hot dog after a night out (vegetarianism be damned) will also be the moment the nearest burger joint gets raided by the cops and the two hot dog stands outside the bar I'm leaving will sell their very last kielbasas to two dudes who get there right before me, like they knew I was coming.

2. The maximum spraying distance of a can of Pepsi punctured by a tooth is 28 feet.

If you toss a can of soda to your friend's younger brother, some percentage of the time he will drop to his knees and attempt to catch it with his mouth in a moment of grandiose idiocy. When he does this, his tooth will puncture the can while the can punctures his lip before bouncing off it and onto the ground. The boy will bleed and grin while the can spins wildly around on the carpet as if posessed, spraying the entire room (ceiling, walls, couches, windows, and your face -- 28 feet away) with a hydrant-esque column of foamy, hissing Pepsi. It will take nearly 25 minutes to find and wipe down all the surfaces covered in the "brown and bubbly", and it will take all day for your eyes to stop stinging from a combination of the soda and the crying from laughing so hard. (The boy will not require stitches.)

3. I resemble Lisa Loeb.

Thanks to her new reality show, Lisa Loeb is back, and that means people are remembering what she looks like. And thanks to my terrible vision and a bad contact prescription, I am wearing my glasses (totally nerdy black-framed "librarian-esque" glasses) much more often than I used to. These two factors have collided at such a time that my friends are regularly referring to me as "one-hit wonder". This is not as bad as the fact that every time I walked into the room two weekends ago they all started singing "Stay" very dramatically and with total disregard for the stares coming from everyone else in the immediate vicinity. Which served, strangely, to embarrass the shit out of me, even though I wasn't the one singing.

[Please note: I only very vaguely resemble Lisa Loeb. It's the glasses that fucked me on this one. That and the fact that my friends have very little vision or creativity, which sounds like a drag, but has its perks. For example, while I now have a lame nickname and theme song, I also get to watch them do things like attempt to each finish entire gallons of Rossi on a Sunday afternoon while watching every "Godfather" movie ever made without throwing up, and argue about which Air Supply song is better: "Lost in Love" or "All out of Love" while searching the Web for the band's next local concert. By the way, it's in Lewiston, Idaho. Yes, they're road-tripping to it. I know, I know...]

4. My dad has suddenly taken to wearing clogs.

And he doesn't see the humor in this, an old man, wearing clogs. (More on this later.)

5. The amount you volunteer and/or give to charity is directly and positively correlated to the amount of good shit (specifically money) that happens to you.

In my case, I've learned that if I spend two hours volunteering I can expect something ridiculously fortuitous to happen to me within 24 hours. This good thing is usually at least one of the following:

- Money. Random stumbling into money. We're not talking a fiver in last-weeks jeans pockets, either. We're talking "big money, no Whammies" money.
- Freebies. Think theatre tickets, designer clothing, vouchers for massages, etc. Good stuff, comped. Can't beat it.
- Food. Free or significantly discounted, and very gourmet. What? I love great food. A free meal is nearly better than...
- Sex.

6. Sometimes there are so many noteworthy things to write about that I just can't.

March was (clearly) like that. I was totally lame, but totally busy and lots of hilarious, poignant and earth-shattering things happened which I am handicapped to put into words. So there you go. It was good for me, you just don't get any details. Sorry, but then again, get a fucking life of your own. I mean, really. (Just kidding, I love you.)

7. Lychees are delicious.

They're bizarre looking Asian fruits with a strong perfumey smell and come in scary-looking cans, but make great cocktails and a delicious flavor of gelato.

8. I don't know jack.

I discovered this when attempting to play Trivial Pursuit. The game's content, contrary to its title, is not, in fact, trivial. I mean, I have no idea what LA Ram lineman was voted to the Pro Bowl eleven times, and I think that's trivial. But I should damn well be able to answer questions pertaining to the order of American Presidents, the events of the Civil War, and be able to name the six fields of contribution in which Nobel Prizes are given each year.

So, to rectify this embarrassing situation, I have committed myself to reading only non-fiction books for the next eleven years of my life (arbitrary number of years -- ten seemed too few while a dozen seemed very cliche) or until I beat the smartest friend I have at Trivial Pursuit, whichever comes first.

9. Epithet and epitaph are NOT the same word, I have no idea when it's appropriate to use a dash ( -- ) when writing but don't care, the slash ( / ) is called a "virgule", a Titmouse is actually a bird, not a rodent, and Paul Revere made George Washington's false teeth.

Huh. See? I'm learning things already.

10. I like beards.

On men. (Not so much on women. The lady who works at the gas station closest to my house actually has a beard. More on this later, too. But for now, let's just say it's not pretty. Poor thing.)

Apparently, I like beards on men quite a bit, because the moment I see a bearded man, I find myself wondering what it would be like to kiss him. This is particularly disturbing when the bearded man is a bum. This love of beards may well be a phase, I realize, (something like trying to date the underwear model and that week where all I ate was cottage cheese), but I think it's a healthy thing for me. They scream "alpha male", which is the type of man I should be transitioning to kissing, as the betas in my past haven't worked out so well for me.

Also, beards, it turns out, are particularly a weakness of mine when paired with glasses, a suit, or a dog. (Obviously representing brains, success and adventure.) Who knew?