Monday, December 29, 2008

Best Christmas Ever

It's a very simple recipe. Combine:

1 hotel room in a grand, atmospheric hotel,
1 TV with cable
1 jacuzzi
1 hot lava massage
3 fancy meals
1 accommodating shuttle driver
1 deserted, charming town at the end of the world
2 beaches
1 "Seal hike" through the woods for an hour to a clearing from which you could see actual seals lazing around like paunchy middle-aged men on the rocks, plus an hour trek back
2 fireplaces
1 chess game
1 sex partner
0 family members
1 bottle of Klonopin.

Let sit, and serve.

This was all as necessary and as it was restorative, since I hadn't been feeling like myself since that small but vital part of my brain broke on Election Night. The new apple of my eye, Dr. Russian, first prescribed me a medicine that, in the long run, will have me running marathons and presidential campaigns simultaneously, but in the short run left me under house arrest. Like Madoff! Perhaps the nausea and constant panic I was experiencing were actually *his* and he spent some of his $50 billion transferring them to me. Since he doesn't know me personally, I can only imagine he chose me because he figured the Jews hadn't yet suffered enough.

Regardless, after one really bad day where I made it into work only to collapse and have to be taken home in a cab by coworkers, Dr. Russian, with an acknowledgment that I "seem to be very sensitive to medication," cut my dosage and later prescribed an ameliorative second pill to be taken with the first. Glory of glories, hosannah, praise the flying spaghetti monster -- I felt new again. And by "new," I only mean "normal." Well enough to enjoy the misty, desolate splendors of off-season Long Island, well enough to go to bed later than 9:00, and well enough to be back at work today.

Yeehaw! Now onto New Years, and the new year, in which hopefully I will again and consistently be the master of my own brain.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The slow clap

Things aren't objectively better around here. My dad is in the hospital after turning a toxic shade of yellow -- they're looking at his liver, which was possibly affected by the Tylenol 3 he was taking for the ribs he broke when he fell over a step in South Africa. (Phew!) He likes to pretend he was chased by an elephant, so if you talk to him please claim to admire his bravery.

Meanwhile, the economy remains precarious, which means I am holding onto my job with both hands. That time that I got let go right before Christmas during the Transit Strike -- and while I was taking out the trash! -- is, as they say, burned in my brain. As I walked home to Brooklyn in the twenty-five-degree cold, I knew I would never take employment through December for granted again.

Despite all this, though, my anxiety levels have actually decreased. Instead of feeling like I'm wobbling on the edge of a black hole all the time, I feel like I'm a safe yard or so away from the black hole. It's right there, sure, but I'm not in immediate danger of falling in.

In honor of that improvement, here are two things that made me laugh so hard I made a spectacle of myself. First, Carolyn Hax's annual Holiday Hootenanny, where readers compete to submit their funniest true Christmas horror story. One contender for my favorite:
On Grandmother gifts...: Several years ago, my grandmother gave my husband a welcome statue with frogs on it. The word "welcome" is written on this very elongated mushroom held sideways by the two frogs. The elongated mushroom looks very much like you would think an elongated mushroom would look like, which is to say, like a certain part of the male anatomy. There are even two smaller mushrooms sprouting out of the base. We all laughed about it, and my husband decided we would keep it, since it was so amusing. So the next year he gets... two more of the exact same statue. And last year, another one of the same statue. We have them all sitting out on our patio. And a few years ago, she gave my 6'5 brother a floral muumuu we're desperately hoping was really intended for someone else. However, it has now become a family tradition to wrap the muumuu up and give it to another male member of the family on Christmas. Makes for some great Christmas pictures.
And, the runner up:
X-mas entertainment: We always saved my uncle's gifts for last. Over the years they have included:

1) a duck decoy missing its head 2) an ink drawing of a head of lettuce and some celery, with "salad" written in large font underneath 3) a Christmas ornament made out of a lightbulb painted lavender and with sparkles glued on 4) a stuffed plant -- as in, made of fabric, stuffed with whatever goes in stuffed animals.

For a while we assumed these gifts were expressions of hostility (in particular, the headless duck) but in fact, I think his taste just runs to the extremely odd. Turns out bathroom is tiled with the image of the Statue of Liberty, and the walkway to his house is lined with bowling pins.
I never had a holiday (or relatives) that crazy. Perhaps Hannukah doesn't inspire people to go to reach such dizzying heights? Regardless, if that's not enough giggling, check out this montage of 40 Inspirational Movie Speeches. Witness every heavy-handed cinema cliche knit together into a master quilt!:

Amazingly, it even gets better as it goes along, hitting a peak at "They'll take our lives but they'll never take our Independence Day!" It's also amusing to think of how most of these moments can be traced back to / blamed on Shakespeare, who popularized, if not created, the St. Crispin's Day speech intended to get soliders' adrenaline pumping so hard they can't hear themselves think rational things like "But we don't *want* to die."

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Governor Blaggo, you are as transparently, hilariously, on-the-record corrupt as a James Bond villain. Thank God Obama's staff heard his offer -- cash in exchange for appointing their preferred person, apparently Valerie Jarret, to Obama's senate seat -- and told Blaggo where he could stuff the seat, if it would fit. This led, by the way, to a tirade in which Blaggo called the president-elect a "motherfucker." AND rumor has it that Obama's dreamy, morally-upright people were the ones who tipped off studly prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Yes! See, these are the kind of glad tidings that joyous-up an otherwise dreary holiday season.

Of course, it's easy for Obama to turn his nose up at a briefcase full of cash. He's like the only person in America with a positive balance in his checking account. (And yet somehow I still get emails begging me to help defray Hillary's expenses.)

The other north star in these dark skies is, of course, top ten lists and Culture Awards. I haven't seen much that's knocked me over this year besides Milk and Wall-E, though I'm excited about Rachel Getting Married, the Reader (because I am gay for Kate Winslet), and Doubt (because I am also gay for Kate Winslet-in-training Amy Adams).

Luckily I've had great TV to fill the void, in the form of 30 Rock, the Wire (which I watched in its entirety this year), and especially Mad Men. How I Met Your Mother, which has taken over lunchtimes at my office, has helped my brain take a much-needed break every workday for a while now. Thanks, Barney!

Mr. Ben and I also decided to try to shift the holidays from Bearable to Awesome by leaving civilization over the long Christmas weekend. New Orleans, we decided, was a little far and a little pricey -- but you know what's neither of those things? MONTAUK. An off-season, deserted winter paradise where they basically throw classy hotel rooms at you and stand in line to rub your feet when you're done wandering around empty, windy beaches. Plus we've never gone anywhere together just the two of us, except for that time we tried to have a honeymoon in the least romantic country on earth during typhoon season.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sex and Death

I spent $21 on a lunch today that was mostly guacamole. Suck it, recession!

I'm so tired of bad news all the time, of the Dow tanking and jobs disappearing and low-salt diets turning third-world people into zombies and Lori Drew and Harvard going broke and college girls selling themselves to keep up their inflated standard of living, a strategy that will only work as long as people can afford to go to college at all, i.e., not for much longer. Even Milk, which was the best movie I've seen lately, is not exactly an upper. It's exhausting! I need to recuperate in a padded cell with an IV drip of good romantic comedies and Jane Austen adaptations.

At least it's been a pretty fun day in the office, spent talking about movies and vampires. This is a Twitter back-and-forth with one of my coworkers:
NYPeoplewatcher: discussion question: why do americans think vampires are hot?
Shorterstory: not just americans! europeans have been writing steamy poetry about vampires for centuries.
NYPeoplewatcher: okay, BUT bludgeoning is not sexy. why?
Shorterstory: you don't see the difference between someone sensually sucking at your throat vs. hitting you with a 2X4?
NYPeoplewatcher: point taken. but i'm upping the ante: strangling. sensual but no obsession there...
Shorterstory: Except for those people who like to get strangled while they have sex:
When the next Fray comes out, I'll have to give her a copy.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

it's december. breathe.

The wretched month of November is, at last, behind us. I'm curious how it almost always turns into such a disaster. But at least I don't have to worry about the future: it's all spelled out for me! The always-detailed AstrologyZone monthly forecast tells me to beware:
Co-workers will probably be cranky and easily provoked near this full moon, so you may need to pitch in to help them as best you can. Everyone in the department will be feeling overwhelmed and overworked. ... You will begin to see tension in the air as early as December 10 and it will linger as long as December 15.
Translation: Keep that Xanax handy. But! Once I make it through to December 21, I can look forward to really, really strong adjectives -- rapturous, blissful, life-changing. I should sign with an agent, for one thing, but who cares about that? It's the romance that's important:
the decisions you make and the actions you take in the days that follow could change your life forever. ... treat yourself to one glorious night to welcome in the New Year, dear Cancer. The fire that will burn in your heart that night will chase away any cold winds that might be blowing your way. We all need a night of pure bliss - this one has all the makings of being yours.
Sounds good! Does this mean Mr. Ben and I should go to New Orleans, which we're sort of thinking about doing?

Of course we can't fight the planets (or, as some people would have it, God's will) but simply taking action sometimes can make shit better. In that vein, I'm going to host a Turn Your Luck Around Potluck. On the appointed night, everyone will show up with comfort food and some kind of good luck totem. A story will do: some recollection of when things were bad and then something turned them round. Then we'll do a reconstituted rain dance, where "rain" = "better tidings for all."