Friday, March 31, 2006

...and I am Marie of Roumania

Conflicted and scarred, I limp back to the east coast. (Tomorrow.) Man, this has been a strange trip. Yet, to some extent, I should have been prepared. I should have realized that a driving-heavy excursion with my mother, my father, my arthritic bachelor uncle the retired economist, and my 93 year old grandmother who can't hear too well anymore would be as odd as all get out.

There's been a lot of this: "Turn right, David! Right! Yes, I've told you nineteen times, right! ... Okay, well, we'll make a U-turn up there. There!"

Also a lot of this: "Where did you say we are?"
"By the border of Mexico."
"So that's New Mexico?"
"Oh. ... Why is that fence there over there?"
"Because that's Mexico."

I don't know if I'm even spelling Mexico right at this point, I am so thoroughly drained by the endless car rides through the desert, the family squabbles, and the plates of restaurant food so intimidatingly big they could eat me and a saguaro cactus and probably my grandma too, at least up to her waist. What is it with this state? The environmental sprawl isn't enough, it has to extend to everyone's hips too? By the third day, I'd just stopped eating altogether, in protest. That'll teach it.

Of course the trip has also had its high points. I bought a jar of amazing tasting honey mustard, made from the honey of KILLER BEES, from the guy who makes it in Bisbee, Arizona. I got to wander around adorable little artist town Patagonia and its polar opposite, tough-guy hilarious town Tombstone.

I've become intimately familiar with every type of cactus known to man -- although as not as intimately as I'd like, since for some reason my mom keeps stopping me from hugging them. I've seen mountain lions and wolves and hummingbirds and otters and I got to pet a nice doggie in a arts and crafts store.

In essence, almost everything natural about this state is lovely. But then there's the flip side: my first day, I got three nasty blisters from walking in my sandals and I've had to wear my sneakers since. And then the day before yesterday, sitting by a pool in a long shirt and jeans (and sneakers) because a fierce wind was keeping the temperature down, and despite the fact that it was 72 degrees (and about -15 with wind chill,) I got sunburnt in a ring around my neck. And above my upper lip too, which: ouch.

Mercifully, my mom suggested I spend a little time with my brother today and away from the rest of the members of my family (whose un-PC indian names would be Can't Hear, Can't Listen, and Can't Stop Talking). My brother, incidentally, has had a week that, in terrible, horrible, no-good, very-badness, seriously dwarfs mine, so all sympathy should go to him. At least I've gotten some free cable and sunshine. And honey mustard! Made from real killer bees!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

palm trees ... cable ...

I'm off to the southwest for a week, my friends. My brother swears once I see his amazing two bedroom apartment for which he pays less than I pay for my studio, I'll never come back. We'll see. (Who needs doors anyway? Meaningless luxuries. HBO, on the other hand ...)

Friday, March 24, 2006

chew on this, sayeth the lord

My mother once said I'd make a good rabbi. This, despite my strong feeling that though God may have existed, or did exist, once, s/he's totally made for the hills by now; and what some would consider the passive nature of my religious practice since leaving JDS. Not to mention my devotion to sushi.

But I'm preambling. (Like rambling, but with a purpose.) This blog entry at Alas, a Blog about forced immunizations got me thinking about a concept that was discussed a lot in my high school: the rights of the individual vs. the community. One of the nicer aspects of religion is that it encourages its adherents to look beyond their immediate individual wants and needs sometimes and take into consideration the requirements of the larger group.

Of course it's an idea that very easily gets out of hand -- viz., the trial of the Afgani man who might be sentenced to death for converting to Christianity.

For all the piety in America today, though, we're an incredibly selfish nation. We believe we are entitled to everything -- if we can pay for it. And then sometimes even when we can't. Part of the root cause seems to be that we Americans worship our individuality, because our concept of "freedom" is all tied up with "whatever I want."

Kim's piece at Alas muses about the responsibility of parents to immunize their children even if they might not want to, a perfect example of considering the rights of the community when in opposition to your own. The community benefits from having its children immunized. No question. Should an individual parent then be able to opt out? Kim, after some hemming and hawing, thinks that they should: "Even so, after some time thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that I don’t agree with forced vaccination." But why? What's the logic, the reasoning? Why should the individual's capriciousness outweigh the needs of the community?

Kim doesn't explain. And I don't understand. Individuals, however much they might like to, can't have control over every facet of their lives. We have to pay taxes (boo!) for example without getting any say in where them taxes go. Yet we in America have a pretty sweet deal. No one requests that we sacrifice anything, even temporarily, for the larger good, except perhaps our desire to shoot someone in the head because they've pissed us off. Is it really so much to ask, then, that in matters of HEALTH, when COMMUNICABLE, LIFE-THREATENING DISEASE is at issue, we put our personal preferences aside and follow the advice of our doctors? For the whole country's sake?

Addendum: Obviously simply throwing religion into the mix isn't going to solve the problem. The right-wing / evangelical movement to demonize the new HPV vaccination for example drives me nearly as angry as warlords in Afghanistan considering executing a man for converting from Islam. Oh happy medium. Where are you hiding and why?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

for your consideration

Propoganda pop quiz, hotshots! Which is more flabbergasting? Hamas for Kids or the ATF for Kids (and by kids!)?

Of course, on a day when you learn that an FBI operative in August 2001 was desperately trying to get the attention of his superiors to tell them Moussaoui was part of a plot to hijack airliners, and nobody listened to him, the gobsmacked bar is set is pretty high.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


I'm beginning to wonder whether it was worth getting out of bed this morning. I was having this amazing dream about a movie (I often dream in movies). Very intense. But I emerged from sleep, like the proto-responsible girl I am, to go to my internship. Except nothing was doing at my internship, and after four hours spent in a quiet office, and 3 screenplays read -- two bad, one okay --, I'm home again.

Waiting for me in my mailbox: a rejection letter (!) from a job I applied to, and a bill for some scant medical care I received last fall that it turned out my HMO at the time didn't cover.

Anyway, who receives frikkin rejection letters from jobs? I thought, after I finished the soul-crushing process that was applying to MFA programs, that at least I was guaranteed not to receive another thin envelope in the mail. Sheesus. The funny thing is, I walked away from that interview *positive* that I didn't want that job. It was for an Editorial Assistant position at a lefty academic publishing house -- only, as luck would have it, the particular man I would be working for was straight out of the Heritage Foundation.

The interview went like so:
Me: So, you're in charge of American History? What have you published lately?
Him: Well, I don't really like all that PC stuff.
Me: [brightly] Oh?
Him: Yeah -- the older I get, the more cranky I get about it. Women's history, black history. It's just so small. I like big things: military history, business history! They teach any classes on those at Swarthmore?
me: ... Not so many.


Me: What about advancement within the company?
Him: I'll be honest with you. It's not that it NEVER happens ...

Then he advised me to try marketing because "the bar is set lower," so it's easier to succeed. Why does everyone want to be an editor anyway?, he mused. Why indeed.

The letter did not come as a surprise. However, I'm beginning to get scared that nobody's ever going to offer me anything, and the city will cut off my allowance, and Mr. Ben will run off with some independently wealthy 30 year old goyishe rock star / dancer, and in desperation I'll have to apply to grad skools again -- an act which will be followed by another avalance of thin envelopes.

Ugh. If you need me I'll be under my kitchen table with a bottle of whiskey and a bag of M&Ms.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

where are you going, where have you been

Faced with the prospect of a steady decline in the enjoyability of New York weather, my current let's-call-it-"flexible" employment status, and Mr. Ben's one week of spring vacation, the BF/DP and I decided to hit the road, Chinatown bussing it south, first to Philly and then DC. We had a hurrah good time (and good weather! although a mighty wind followed us around with sinister, hair-destroying intentions.)

Most of the trip's highlights were, oddly, food oriented. They included All You Can Eat vegetarian dim sum for $10, the leftovers of which some Mandarin wrangling allowed us to take home; watching Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle at 2 AM, which has got to be the funniest movie I've seen in a while, its rip-offs of Tommy Boy nonwithstading; dining at a new restaurant whose chef we knew from college; mind-meltingly good (and free!) breakfast pastry at Petit Fours; and so on. But the real highlights were of the metaphysical variety, difficult to explain. So much walking in sunshine! So much good conversation, & socializing face-to-face with people not seen in a while or never before met!

Our company, counting only those with whom we exchanged more than just pleasantries, totaled 20 people, 11 of whom were Swatties, 2 of whom were afianced, 2 of whom had just started dating, 5 of whom were entirely strangers to me, and 3 of whom hosted us most graciously. (Thanks guys!) Mr. Ben on his own hung out with a few more as well. And did I mention the food? We had thai food, indian food, vegan food, southern food, chinese food, leftover chinese food, pancakes with peanut butter, enchilades with real Mexican mole, carrot cake, tart, scone, tea, and a mushroom sandwich. It was quite a successful outing, and thanks to everyone along the way for making it so. Y'all are the best.

My travel buddy was also the best for reading aloud to me for an hour on the Chinatown bus after my stomach sent out warning signs that I should probably stop reading to myself. And for helping me with my suitcase on the stairs. Even though (unlike SOME people we know) we’re not at the tea set stage, I do believe, and feel that I can state without hesitation, that he is a good egg.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

the internets say what we're thinking

America's crotchety and rarely-seen literary sweetheart (and the Western states' answer to JD Salinger) E. Annie Proulx emerges to retroactively, and vitriolically, live-blog the Academy Awards. Um, AWESOME.

To numb leftover Oscar-related pain, Matthew Baldwin reminds us the critics have often scorned what the Academy lauds.

'kay, now I'm over it, I promise.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

dreamy ...

Wouldn't it be great if, just one election cycle, the one-person-one-vote idea was enlarged to mean that you (as a valid, of-age voter) had one vote to spend on a candidate of your choice? Which is to say, you wouldn't be constrained to the representatives in your state -- instead, you could vote to remove from power any representative or senator from anywhere in the country.

Would you choose Door Number One: Ted Stevens (R-AK), he of the bluster, the bombast, the Bridge to Nowhere?

Or perhaps Door Number Two: Rick Santorum (R-PA), who brought his dead baby home from the hospital and forced his live children to meet it?

Don't choose yet! Consider Door Number Three, behind which stands Tom "Death Penality for Abortionists" Coburn (R-OK). His disappearance would free up a seat on the oh-so-important Senate Judiciary Committee.

Would you throw your vote where it might do the most good, in a tight swing state race like Daschle's was last cycle, or would you not be able to stop yourself from gleefully contributing to the demise of a high-profile target like Delay?

If New Yorkers all followed your lead and forced the smug Texan to go back to killing bugs for a living, what would happen to Hilary? Would other Americans pick up the slack? If not, and Hilary were ignominiously boosted, would it still be worth it? And wouldn't it be funny if, a la The Apprentice, all ejected congressfolk had to share a Cab of Shame home from the capitol?

Suggested slogan: Why choose the lesser of two evils when there're so many truly fantastic evils to choose from nationwide?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Two for One!

Friends, I am always in the market for a new vocabulary word. And as today is Blog Against Sexism Day, that gives me two reasons to hop on this new slang train a-roaring into the pop culture lexicon. Fellow dorks, fellow feminists, fellow haters and baiters and patriarchy-blamers, meet the word of the day:

Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): napolied
Pronunciation: nA'poli

1. To brutalize and rape, sodomize as bad as you can possibly make it, a young, religious virgin woman who was saving herself for marriage.
2. To hella rape somebody.

The smart bitches who came up with the verb, so coined in honor of Sen. "Fuckwit" Napoli (R-SD), did so in response to Napoli's vocal gas-passing on television the other night in answer to a question of when he could possibly consider excusing abortion. (The pulp-novel detail he uses, and his lingering over it, leads you to picture the porn he likes to sneak glimpses at once his wife's asleep.) Since he made his media debut, websites everywhere have heaped scorn on the pervert's head, but the Santorum treatment is a Parent Trap-worthy punishment to fit the crime and precisely what the little shit deserves.

Well done, smart bitches. I raise my glass to you and to all smart bitches everywhere as I wish the senator the PR disaster of a lifetime and a sudden realization, while his wife is using the computer, that he forgot to delete the cache.
awesome things about un/semi-employment

  • lunch specials
  • ogling the clothes those crazy Cosby kids are wearing
  • being able to tell the dithering fellow calling to schedule an interview that yes, I'm free Friday at 10. Also Friday at 11. Also Friday at 2.
  • not having to go out in the rain! (only applicable when raining)
  • no fluorescent light anywhere
  • if I navigate to a website, and it turns out the website is NSFW, it doesn't matter!
  • unlimited gmail chatting
  • unlimited bralessness
  • blogging while braless. whooohooooo!
  • I'm actually fully clothed right now, thank you very much. But I do so love my freedom.

Monday, March 06, 2006

and the walls came tumbling down

Most people have a large capacity for disappointment in the things they love. I think my capacity to be disappointed by Hollywood is larger than most. It's larger than life. I look at myself sometimes -- like when it's 3 am I'm still groaning on the bathroom floor because my body is furiously rejecting either the citrusy cocktails from the oscar party or the citrus-on-a-wound betrayal of the best picture results -- and I ask myself, What are you THINKING? Was last year any different? Will next year be?

For what it's worth, the Carpetbagger got it right on the nose. However, he was as blindsided by being right as I was by being wrong, and speaks for both of us when he says, "How could so many people be so wrong?" Technically he was referring to the people who claimed victory for Brokeback, but it works just as well referring to all those idiot Academy voters.

When I get nauseous, I get nauseous like you've never seen. I don't just vomit, I suffer, usually for hours. It's a bit like being horridly seasick only THERE'S NOWHERE TO DISEMBARK. There's this liquid green medicine (not nyquil) that I take for it & sometimes, when I'm feeling truly pathetic and I don't have the stregth to get a real glass of water, I'll fill the medicine cup from the bathroom faucet and sip from that.

I mention this because the last event that reduced me to such a state of Bombay-level big-eyed whimpering misery was watching Revenge of the Sith. (Granted, I had a kidney infection at the time that might have exacerbated matters.)

Also, by the way, guys, in case you hadn't heard, it's hard out there for a pimp. Thank God for Jon Stewart. His bemused, cheerfully sarcastic reaction to the performance of that song made my night. As well as everything else he said. He is a god among men, although yes, I am also partial to Terrence Howard (who will be holding in statue of his own in the next 5 years) and George Clooney (tea set material!)

Next year, please, someone tell to sleep through the damn thing. Unless Jon's hosting again. Anyone want odds on that happening?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

this is just to say (to ben)

I have purchased
the boots
that I shouldn't
have purchased

and which
you will probably
are redundant

forgive me
they were Dansko!
black, suede,
and on sale ...

Thursday, March 02, 2006


I love words that begin with vowels and have a certain flow to them: esoteric, erotica, amalgamation, asinine, asymmetrical, illustrative ...

Unemployment gives me lots of time to think about such. Though now that I'm doing an internship two days a week, I find my empty time pleasantly framed instead of borderline overwhelming. (Overwhelming: that's another nice one.) My writing group last night gave me good encouragement on my nahvel, and the weather's giving me further encouragement to stay in bed today and work on it, like Proust. Maybe I'll also try hating myself for a while, see if that inspires me.

In that spirit, I'm going to steel myself and watch Crash today. Hopefully I'll have a better viewing experience than many have had because I have low expectations. Still, since I'm attending the World's Coolest Oscar Party, co-hosted by my friend the pinochle mistress and the producer of Spamalot, I feel compelled to be as in the know as possible. Not that it matters, since I won't be able to speak while in presence of such glorious Funny. Actual cast members of the show might be there! Can you imagine?

Among my non-pinochle-playing friends, there's been a rash of romance. Winter's on its way out, relationships are on their way in, a new crop of bunnies are born. ... Best of luck, guys, as you work towards that Tea Set of your dreams.

ETA: Wow, I'm 10 minutes into the movie and I already want to kill myself with a pool cue. People are racist! Stereotypes are mean yet sometimes accurate! Don Cheadle's the only reason I'm still watching. If this unsubtle shit wins over Brokeback Mountain I am going to be pissed.

ETA 2: Movie over. I only had to stop it to scream at the characters 3 times. All I can say is, bloody Jesus, I'm glad there're no Jews in LA.