Friday, January 29, 2010

Down 7

Since I would like to be thought of as so much more than an eater of cookies, I have vowed not to bore you with the daily trials and tribulations of defatification 2010. After all, it would only be embarrassing for both of us if the true number of times in a month I think about donuts was revealed. However, by way of keeping me honest, I think I shall update you at the end of each month. January was a good month. I exercised, I ate modest amounts of cheese, there were no cookies to speak of.

While the traditional dieting month is January, this is actually a continuation of defatification 2008 which was derailed in 2009 by stress/moving/laziness. And that would be my lesson: laziness is the true enemy of not-fat.

If you appraise your intake with an objective eye, it is easy to see that how much we eat is frequently more of the problem than what we eat. I say this as a devourer of boxes of cookies and loaves of bread. Bread is not my problem, bread in moderation is. But when I allocate the brain space to consider bread in relation to reasonable amounts, it is really quite easy to see that two pieces of bread is ok and anything more than that is becoming not ok. See also steak.

Devoted partner and I do love our red meat. We never ate it an immoderate number of times per week, but when we did eat it, we had a one pound steak between us. Also known as about twice the amount of steak one should consume. And every once in a while, like when your brother and his friend complete the New York marathon and you all go to Sparks to celebrate, yeah, eat up. That steak cost like 50 bucks! But when it's just the two of you on a Wednesday night, perhaps you could eat less steak and more of something else, like peas.

Dessert is the other biggie. I will admit that a day without dessert is, indeed a day without sunshine. And here I had to make a choice. Which was more important? Dessert or eating things without strange ingredients? Yeah, dessert won. Those sugar-free Jello puddings, I don't know what's in them, but I do know that they are the difference between sunshine-free days and days with sunshine; see also the tragically hip skinny cow ice cream sandwiches. Sorry all-natural eating, but butter, like steak, is for special occasions in such immoderate amounts.

Special occasions like The Superbowl. I will admit, part of my looking forward to the big game (which I believe is being played between the Saints and the Colts) is that I have already decreed it an armistice day. Yelena and chicken wings may meet on the field of battle and enjoy one another's company without altering the outcome of the larger confrontation. Also, I am the bringer of Superbowl desserts, and I look forward to sampling my own wares. Immodestly forward.

So I will stop boring you for the time being. January was a good month and since my other idea for what to write about today was people who sing or whistle in the train, I thought this might sound ever so slightly less crazy. Good weekends to all.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Testing A Theory

When I bought (leased) new car, I chose a manual transmission for one simple reason: it's what we've been driving for a while. Devoted partner's car is a manual, when we visit our European friends we rent manuals. The last time I drove an automatic was in Arizona last year and it felt weird for the entire 10 minute drive.

But there was a nagging in the back of my head: are you really going to be ok driving this in less than optimal conditions. Stalling out is, to some extent, going to happen from time to time, and I'm proud when a month goes by in which I do not stall, but our driveway is, well, an enormous hill. Yes, we live in one of those houses that you reach by descent and it is not a gentle incline. So day one of pulling out of the driveway, I worried if I would reach the top. Fortunately, my fears were groundless. I actually did remember how to get up a hill, start on a hill, etc.

This morning, though was different. Five minutes after devoted partner left the house, he called from his mobile to tell me the conditions were bad. Really bad. All of a sudden, my driveway was no mere hill, but an icy deathtrap in my head. Devoted partner advised I attempt no additional hills on my way to the train station which is damn near impossible since the train station is altitudinally lower than my house. So, now I'm freaked out, and for one very good reason: I have never driven a manual car in the snow. After all, what kinds of sickos take vacations TO snowy places? Yes, in college, I drove in snow, but those were automatics, and I recall an especially rewarding skid on a blissfully empty suburban street in the college van.

But, this probably won't be the last time I wake up to a snowstorm and I did have to get to work, so I psyched myself up and got in the car. The driveway was the worst mostly because my anti-lock brakes made a hell of a racket as they complained about the lack of traction. But once at the top of the driveway, even as I gingerly progressed in 2nd gear throughout the neighborhood, it didn't FEEL bad. The nerves were worse than the reality.

Which made me draw the conclusion that I do, after all, know how to drive. It is true, I didn't get my license until I was 19, and I drove pretty much never until we graduated and spent a summer driving. So even though I've been driving, sometimes by myself in foreign countries, for well over ten years, there was always the nagging suspicion that I was faking it. In some ways, I guess, getting the technically harder to drive car was a way of verifying if, indeed, I could drive.

Which I can.

Which is good because I have to get home this evening as well, and you just know everything's going to be ice by then.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dear ebay, I Love You, Love Yelena

Once upon a time there was a special pair of shoes. These shoes were first spied in a glossy magazine, most likely the New York Times Fashions of the Times magazine. A little girl and her mother (fine the girl was not so little inasmuch as she lived on her own and had to pay her own electricity bill) squealed at the very sight of them. They were *perfect* shoes. The little girl and her mother saw the price of the shoes and sighed in consternation. $395 in 2001 was a pretty price for a pair of shoes. But these shoes were the kind of beautiful shoes that wouldn't last until sale time. So the little girl and her mother closed the Fashions of the Times magazine and tried to forget about the *perfect* shoes.

A couple months later, the little girl was in San Francisco visiting a boy previously referred to as devoted partner. She took the BART into the city bright and early and prepared to be dazzled by this, her first visit to the city. Sadly, the little girl had not been informed that San Francisco is a backwards hayseed town where stores and such do not open until 10 and yea, sometimes 11 in the morning. She walked about downtown, drawing gasps of horror as she smoked from the crunchy granola types who didn't have jobs and were therefore roaming the streets gasping at visiting smokers. When, at last, the 11 hour struck, the little girl was primed and ready to enter the Neiman Marcus, a dazzlingly fun store not present in the New York metro area, yet fondly remembered from trips to Miami with the little girl's shopping obsessed father.

And there they were. The *perfect* shoes. Gleaming in all their perfectionness. The little girl sheepishly asked the shoe salesman what the largest size available was, the little girl having freakishly large feet that really should have come with about 5 extra height inches. The salesman replied that a size 10 was available. The little girl sighed and asked to see them, knowing in her heart of hearts that a size 10 was not going to fit; that a size 11 was what she needed. When the shoe salesman brought the shoes to the little girl, she slipped them onto her outsized freak feet tentatively. But wait. They fit.


What's more, they made the little girl's legs look OMGPonies hawt. The trap had been set with expert precision. The look of the lion with dripping antelope haunch was on the face of the shoe salesman. He knew he had one. He knew the little girl would gladly hand over $395 to him for these shoes, not for one second even considering if she a) had $395 or b) that this would be the first pair of designer shoes she had EVER purchased for full price (and come to think of it, they remain the only pair of designer shoes the little girl has paid full price for). It was a fait accompli. The girl left the store very poor and very happy. The *perfect* shoes were hers.

(It should be noted in a stars aligning kind of way that two additional things happened. 1. The little girl's mother and shopping obsessed father found a pair on sale months later for the mother, though they were quick to point out that no size 10 was left, and the mother settled for a pair a full size smaller than what she traditionally wore and in the time honored tradition of women and shoes merely shoved her foot in until it fit (the little girl is reminded of a similar story involving a pair of size 9 Christian Lacroix shoes that left welts on her feet, so small were they); 2. Also months later, perhaps even a year, the little girl found a pair of the shoes on ebay in the less amazing white color, but still amazing style, for nary $100.)

To justify the purchase, the little girl wore the shoes TO DEATH. She wore them anywhere she could. In a now infamous story, she wore them on an impromptu hike in Fontaine de Vaucluse that ended up being a 3km trek terminating in the crossing of a river over stones. She wore the shoes out, taking them to shoemaker after shoemaker all the way to the manufacturer's shoemaker to try to breathe new life into them. But to no avail. The shoes had run their course and were now only usable if the little girl didn't need to stand or walk. They sat in her closet, staring at her mournfully, while she did the only thing she could think of: search for another pair on ebay.

By now, though, the shoes were seven or so years out of date. The listings on ebay covered mostly the past two seasons' collections. Still, the little girl would periodically check to see if, by some miracle, there was an extant pair in good condition ready for a new home. She was never lucky.

Until last week. Lazily browsing through search results with nary a hope of finding what she sought, the little girl saw them: GUCCI SANDAL HEELS SZ 10B RARE HEEL. It wasn't possible. The shoes showed little to no sign of wear. The seller claimed they had been worn only a couple of times. The price? An unbelievable $85 (and the little girl had a $20 coupon). Not believing her good fortune, the little girl snapped at them thinking that in the worst case scenario, they would be good for another summer season and she'd only be out $65.

The shoes arrived yesterday. Smelling of new leather and OMGPonies leg hawtness. Slipping them on her feet, the little girl felt herself returned to that May morning in 2001, in the provincial and anti-smoking town of San Francisco, offering her succulent hindquarters to the apex predators known as Neiman Marcus shoe salesmen. The little girl knows better now. She will not hike in the *perfect* shoes; she will not even spend the day walking in them. She will treat them as the little miracles they are and she will hope that they will have a rich and rewarding life together.

She will also continue to troll ebay for a just in case backup pair.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Kind of Person Who

Sometimes the people I know awe me. And often for relatively insignificant reasons. Clay seems to upload photos to flickr every day. I think he takes pictures every day. Which means while I am knitting on my couch watching HGTV (it's back, dear merciful lord, it's back), he's out somewhere taking pictures and uploading them (not to mention editing them). I'd like to be the kind of person who does that.

All the food blogs I read, those people make things every day. Then they photograph what they made, edit and upload the photos, etc. etc. I think several of them have day jobs. Yet they take the time to make Meyer lemon pots de creme with basil syrup (actually, I don't know if anyone made that, but I'd like to). It is true, with Defatification 2010 in full effect I wouldn't be able to eat more than a bite of my Meyer lemon pots de creme with basil syrup and then I'd be left with, presumably, eight ramekins of the stuff and do the neighbors really want it?, but in the end, I'd like to be the kind of person who makes pastry more.

Devoted partner and I have traveled a bit in our lives together. These have been some of our happiest times. And I always wanted to be the kind of person who kept beautiful, detailed travel journals. After all, I like writing, surely I could be bothered to keep travel journals. And I tried. Once. On our first trip together. I made it about three-four weeks, and then just got stopped. I was too concerned with how the writing sounded and less concerned with what the writing was about.

I'd hate to think I'm just lazy.

But wait. There is a silver lining. I vowed to stop buying packaged foods, especially of the cookie variety. I reasoned that if I wanted a cookie badly enough, I wanted it enough to make it myself. This has been a mostly successful enterprise. Not nearly as successful, though, as the ice cream thing. I upgraded my ice cream maker about four years ago to a prosumer model that doesn't require freezing a bowl. It's not that the machine was wildly expensive, in fact I got a great deal on a refurbished model, it was more that if I was going to commit to the machinery, I should commit to making the ice cream. In the time that I have owned the machine, I have not bought ice cream. I am the kind of person who makes her own ice cream

I am also the kind of person who gets, on average, five dinners a week on the table. They're not glorious meals a la Peter, who I secretly hope is lying about the amazing meals he cooks his family because otherwise the stir fry I plop in front of devoted partner is sadly lacking, but I cook and it's generally good for us.

And after years of abject failure, I recently became the kind of person who finishes knitting projects. Fearful though I was about how the pieces would look once assembled, I bit the bullet and now you may even see me wearing something I made (well of course I'm going to wear it, it was expensive and time consuming to make dammit!).

And, apologies to Martha, those are good things.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Double Standards

As devoted partner will be quick to point out, I am a fan of the double standard. It is the double standard that permits my icy cold feet to seek warmth in the crevice behind devoted partner's knees while preventing even the smallest cold part of devoted partner to touch me without shrill and violent shrieking. That being said, I only like the double standard when it applies to me personally. Everywhere else, I think it sucks.

Which is why television and radio have recently been upsetting me (over my highly productive knitting weekend wherein much media was passively consumed). There is a promo on NBC right now for a new show called The Marriage Ref (my network television consumption is about to skyrocket due to a little something called the Winter Olympics (USA A-OKAY!)); the promo shows a woman with a leaf blower and a man getting a mani/pedi and brow wax. The wife yells at the husband that he's a woman and that all his friends think so too. Add to that a byte I heard on 1010 WINS this weekend about (and I'll get the name wrong) Cougar Fest 2010, a Las Vegas convention for cougars and the boys who love them.

So let's parse, shall we?

In recent years it has become de rigeur for men, a previously hairy and dirty-nailed bunch, to become clean and hairless - like those cats - in an effort to compete in the gene lottery. Myself, I'm not buying. If I wanted a clean and hairless specimen, I would date women. Period. You will not convince me otherwise that a little (oh god what a horrible word) 'manscaping' does anyone any good. All it does is make me feel inadequate when I let the old ladyscaping lapse for an extra week. So I will take devoted partner as god intended him: barely more put together than caveman (his evolution in the brain and manners departments are more than enough, thank you). So this guy, who by the way, in the promo is not the kind of lover of eyebrow waxes you are expecting, he's more Sopranos central casting than Williamsburg hipster, who used to consider good grooming a nice shave at the barber, has been convinced by fashion that he needs to participate in beautifying rituals previously reserved for the fairer sex, and now he's getting crap for it?

Women who get berated by partners for going to the salon and getting their nails done usually have some choice words available when those same partners complain about it. It's generally of the "I deserve this manicure, I raise your kids and cook your dinner and you wouldn't love me if I was unpretty." And we all nod and go, yeah, the woman does a lot, let her get her nails done you effin' scrooge. So this guy who, in all honesty is doing things to himself that make him unattractive to me, probably earns a decent living and can afford to treat himself to the things he wants, in this case pedicures and brow waxes, is getting shit from his wife. Double standard, I say verily.

But that's nothing compared to Cougar Fest (or the Cougar Convention or whatever nonsense it's called - crap, now I'm going to have to google it - ok do not, I repeat DO NOT GOOGLE THIS - it is legitimately horrifying). Imagine, if you will, a convention devoted to old dudes who like to bang 18 year olds. Yes, yes, feminists, I know that is "the norm" and we just ignore its horror, but imagine if the old dudes had a convention where they invited young women to meet them and dance with them and hook up with them and they did this all in a huge convention center in Las Vegas. Do you think the news would treat this with the lighthearted and good-natured frivolity of Cougar Fest? Dear lord, there would be picketing!

For the record. I don't really care who bangs whom provided all parties are willing and able to consent. If you feel you need a convention to support your sexual choices, I'm right there for you (ok, not right there as in actually attending because I think it's a stupid idea, but certainly right there in spirit). In fact, Las Vegas is a great place to stage your sexually specific convention: big people, little people, people who like to dress up as stuffed animals, renaissance fair types, goths, orcs, ponies, what have you. And when these events are covered, it is with a kind of embarrassed derision a la, "what kind of freaks like to have sex with people dressed as orcs?" Yeah, I don't know any personally, but they seem to like it, it has nothing to do with me, so I can chortle at the costumes and move on.

But the faux girl-power reverence we have for the cougar phenomenon is just disingenuous. Does it make up for years of various inequalities if we now say that old ladies acting like whores is AWESOME! I've got a hot mom personally, and were she on the market and decided to take up with a 26 year old, I would be totally pro that decision; were she to walk around New York in pants that read "Hot Cougar Ass" on her hot cougar ass, I would have her committed. Being dumped by one's first husband for a younger model is not ameliorated by turning around and dating a younger model one's self. It's not poetic justice. It's not making things right with the universe. Date whom you like, but don't attempt to add any further import to that decision.

Because in the end, and I speak a little from experience and more from conjecture, young people who date old people generally do it for the inequality. Whether you're searching for money, or power, or wisdom, raw animal magnetism is generally not the first order of business when 20 year old meets 50 year old.

When I heard the news clip, I suggested to devoted partner that there should be a convention for old dudes who like young women. They could call themselves Sinatras.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dude WTF?

US jet lands when religious item mistaken as bomb

You can read it, you can not read it, I'll summarize: plane lands because someone thinks jew using tefillin (the shit they affix to their heads and wrap up their arms - kind of looks like S&M, but the rest of the outfit rarely matches) is terrorist with bomb.

Issue #1: Really, no one on the plane knew what it was? It was a US Air flight out of LaGuardia, surely one of the passengers had been to hebrew school. New York does have a lot of tribal members.

Issue #2: The first step in assessing a threat is to land the plane? Leaving aside for a moment the fact that were it a bomb it could just as easily explode on the ground, and let us turn to some of the steps a potentially rational person might take prior to making an emergency landing. Like using your talkie-hole to ask the person in question what he is doing? Because

Issue #3: Terrorists are generally the furtive types. Dudes who wrap leather up and down their arms and chant in hebrew are certainly not furtive. They're out there praying in a non-hidey kind of way. People about to ignite secreted munitions generally like to do so in an unassuming way so that no one knows about the about to be blown up plane until it's too late to do anything..

Issue #4: Beards. I don't personally have one, but I know people who do. I'm pretty sure most, if not all, of them are not terrorists. Beard ≠ Terrorist. (See also Muslim ≠ Terrorist; Brown Person ≠ Terrorist; Chick in Head Scarf ≠ Terrorist; Sikh ≠ Terrorist; Person Wearing "Tom Jones in Beirut" T-Shirt ≠ Terrorist.) Also

Issue #5: Praying people. I don't personally pray, but I know people who do. Praying people are not always terrorists. Even if they have beards while praying.

Issue #6: Do you ever sort of wonder if people WANT to be the victims of terrorism? Even aborted terrorism? When I see someone doing something out of the ordinary, my first though isn't, "gee, that person must be a terrorist," yet that seems to be precisely what a lot of other people tend to think. I don't buy into the whole "if x then the terrorists win" crap, mostly because in the end we're all losers, but I'm just not all that frightened and, in this way, I can lead a life free from paralyzing fear. I know that's not the universal scenario.

People are scared. Some for good reason, most for not good reasons, but something happened here (albeit 8 years ago) that hadn't happened before and it scared people. Perpetually. Now all of our frames of reference take it into consideration; all of our actions are supposed to acknowledge or mind it; and our collective psyche is weighed down by its import (again, leaving aside that in the annals of tragedy, it ranks rather low - it just seems to rank high because it happened to America the Impervious). None of which is to say that terrorism doesn't suck and likewise the people who are terrorists. But I can't quite grok the rush to be victimized. Victims seem somehow sadder than non-victims and I don't personally like being sad. But as stories like this one crop up more frequently, I can't help but think that people are rushing to find instances of terrorism because it legitimizes their fear. It makes them less afraid of being afraid because now they have reasons to be afraid. "Of course it's ok to be frightened, look how many people are out to get me. I'm not paranoid, I'm a realist." And I get that too even as it saddens me.

As jaded and unpleasant as I may come across, I actually believe that most people are more or less just like me; they just want to live more or less happy, unmolested lives. And that's true whether or not they believe in evolution, or Vishnu, or thetans. So when I see people who are different from me, my first assumption is not that they're out to get me - and this is in no way designed to be raw self-aggrandizement, I just am sort of wired this way - even if they're really really different from me. I'd like to hope that others give me the same benefit of the doubt.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Oh God It's So Slow

My computer and I, we have an understanding. I understand that until I am willing to invest more than $300 at a time, I will not have a top of the line machine; computer understands that even though it is not a top of the line machine, I will love it. Recently, though, there has been trouble in paradise.

Upon returning from our weekend in St. Thomas, computer was sad. Sad in a very very slow way. At first, I did what any remotely tech-savvy person would do. I made sure that I had no memory-heavy processes taking up space, verified that the wireless card was working, and rebooted. Usually this cures all ills. Not so this time. Not only is the internet connection so slow that in order to load a page I must type in the address and then take a shower while the page loads, but programs are running at a fraction of their usual speed. So I went to level 2 home tech support: I ran the mother of all virus scans. Ordinarily, this process takes about 4 hours; this time it took about 36. And what did it tell me in the end? No infected files. (It should be noted that last week I ran anti-spyware software as a maintenance thing.)

I have no virii. I have no background tasks eating memory. I just last month doubled my RAM. I'm pretty much out of ideas. Which means I have to turn the computer over to devoted partner who wants to come home after a long day and work on my computer about as much as he wants to come home after a long day and clean grout out of the shower. Additionally, I already needed his supervision on a server move for one of my websites. Yeah I know how to do geeky things like move a mysql database, but when I inevitably screw it up or manage to migrate only some of my data, it's nice to have him around.

All of this is only going to the unfortunate truth that I am in desperate need of a new computer. This current incarnation is a Frankenstein's monster of cobbled together bits and pieces that have upgraded over time (new hard drives, new power supplies, new fans, new memory, new graphics cards), but the motherboard may well be over 6 years old. Which is old. It's like 85 in people years. And while I have the money, I just hate HAVING to spend it. (Even as I have already decided to build the next computer as opposed to letting Dell do it - having devoted partner to supervise computer building really is a boon.) And once I buy a new computer I will have to buy Adobe CS4. My current copy of Photoshop is a) old and b) non-transferable due to lack of CD. So now I'm in it for the cost of the computer and the cost of the software. The idea of starting from scratch is both fantabulous and several days' worth of work I'd rather not do (this is, of course, after I take a deep breath and spend the money).

So I'm desperately hoping that devoted partner can work his magic and save the little computer that could, at least for another six months. In the meantime, I guess I'll learn how to play Super Mario Bros. on the Wii.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday Nopropos (Political)

Perhaps it's that I went to bed at 9:15 last night, but I'm a little scattered today.

While watching Monday night's Daily Show wherein Jon Stewart lambastes the democrats for, well, being totally ineffectual, I confess I gave a bit more serious thought to challenging Joe Lieberman for his senate seat. Yes, let's all overlook the obvious for a second (I have barely managed to hold any job for more than a year, and not one of them has even been tangentially related to representing a state's concerns in congress to start), and talk about putting together my exploratory committee. I think one of the main problems with politics is the idea that our elected officials spend most of their time trying to remain our elected officials. A senate term is six years and my guess is, short of doing something actually illegal, they can't throw you out. I could campaign on giving free cookies to every Connecticut resident and then get into office and propose a bill banning cookies, and there's nothing anyone could do. I think the reason we don't see people taking chances or, frankly, calling out their colleagues for being spineless wimps who are afraid to take a hard position, is that they are all worried about getting reelected.

I wouldn't be like that.

Six years would far outstrip the time I spent at any other job and I am willing to be that I'd be bored by the end of it (or burnt out), so six years would be enough time for me to be a senator. This would give me the freedom to talk out of turn a little - like a Ron Paul with way better legs. I'd consider running as an independent so I could take both sides to task without worrying that Chuck Schumer wouldn't sit with me at lunch. Now, I realize that any rational person reading this (especially any rational person who may or may not have ever seen me act in a way that is not strictly "within the law") is worrying if I'm off my meds. After all, senatorial campaigns (hell the campaign for alderman) are incredibly expensive and I'm still paying off student loans. But isn't there still the useful fiction that in America one can lead a grassroots movement? I could be that grassroots movement! So, what I'm saying is, start seriously considering donating to my campaign.

One thing that might ruin my credibility with the left is a little disturbing tidbit passed to me by darling Antonio. He sent me a link to a brief segment on the O'Reilly Factor wherein (did I just use 'wherein' twice in one posting? It is a useful word when you think about it) it could be noted that Bill and I are in a kind of creepy agreement vis a vis Haiti. Now Antonio, who is hoping beyond hope that my senatorial campaign is more about shooting wolves from helicopters and less about, say, helping people, thought this would be an excellent springboard to convince me that Bill O'Reilly and I are more aligned ideologically than is actually true. One of the things I can't stand about modern politics, modern news, modern punditry, is the idea that all blanks think blank. Contrary by nature, this is grossly offensive to me. While chuckle-inducing in the short-term, I'm not super surprised that there is an issue, nay probably issues, where Bill O'Reilly and I can find common ground (I mean I would be willing to bet that both Sarah Palin and I think that intentionally poisoning retarded people is wrong - see we agree).

However, in the same clip, O'Reilly goes on to say something to the effect of, "see here's where the liberals blah blah blah." Wait a tic. I'm nominally liberal and we were right there together, Bill, why do you want to then make the discussion about how liberals as an undifferentiated group do/say/think/are anything? I know it makes for good television, I just wish our politics weren't so constantly televised that it became good politics as well.

So, creative types out there, start trying our slogans (it has been pointed out to me that, "Hey, I couldn't possible suck more than Joe" is not all that catchy). Together we can a) gainfully employ me for six years and b) change the face of American politics.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why, What Did You Do This Weekend?

Hawksbill Turtle, St. Thomas
Originally uploaded by reallyct
At some point during our Thanksgiving trip to Bonaire, I turned to devoted partner and said that my eighteen-year-old self would never have imagined herself hauling nitrox tanks around an arid island and throwing herself 80 feet underwater. I followed that pronouncement by saying that my eighteen-year-old self didn't know what she was talking about when it came to how to have a good time.

Courtesy of devoted partner's very generous company, we spent the holiday weekend in St. Thomas, our every need catered to.

Except for the weather.

It rained pretty much nonstop for the entire weekend except, of course, for yesterday morning as we prepared to leave. Not the traditional January weather in the Caribbean for sure. Once upon a time, I'm sure I would have moped about wondering why I wasn't getting a tan, racking up room service and pay per view bills, and generally being a not at all good travel companion (see also forcing devoted partner to play interminable hands of gin). But I'm in a seize the day kind of phase of my life and just because the weather was less than optimal was no reason for me to abandon my crazy cruise director behavior.

This is how at 7:00am on Saturday, after four hours of sleep (there was a lot of highly encouraged nighttime revelry on this trip) we found ourselves the recipients of a wake-up call and room service breakfast and, by 9:00am, were on the scuba boat heading for our two dives. It's how the following day, when I let us sleep in until 8:00am, we hopped the ferry boat to St. John and spent the entire day snorkeling. Our excellent theory being, if we were going to get wet anyway, we might as well get wet in the water actually doing things.

Was it the best scuba/snorkeling we've done. Absolutely not. The visibility wasn't terrific. But we saw a turtle, always a high point, and though there was too much sediment for a good photo, devoted partner found a sleeping baby nurse shark. Job well done. We were wet and cold (or at least I was) a fair bit of the time, but when I think of the alternatives, I think we did pretty well. And this made me realize what a huge bonus it is to be with someone who also would rather regret the things he's done than the things he hasn't done. We're both working on extending this idea to more facets of our lives, but I like that, almost independently, we're deciding to be a little more proactive, and a little less mopey.

I don't spend a lot of time here going on about how lucky I feel to be the devoted partner of devoted partner, mostly because he reads this and is easily embarrassed, but as we scoured the sandy bottom for hiding sting rays while our butts got poured on, I felt pretty damn lucky. I just thought I should share.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ma'am, That's Between Devoted Partner and Me

"Heh-heh, that's a big triangle."

People of the service industry, a moment if you will. I want to like you. I want to tip you. So please remember that your job, your sole occupational mission is to SERVE me. Now, for me personally, this doesn't mean you have to kiss my ass (though for some people it will be), but it does me you need to treat me like your source of income and not your friend (at best) or your object of mockery (at worst).

So, Tracey, if you wonder why we won't be working together again, and by working together, I mean I will not again pay for the privilege of you grooming my legs and nether regions, it's that you uttered the above sentence. This after our first encounter where I made it VERY CLEAR what I wanted my lady parts to look like and you made them look a different way, which you tried to assure me was "better," and I assured you was a) not what I asked for and b) in no way better for me. I gave you a second chance. When you tried to upsell me, again, on lady parts grooming enhancements, I did what any borderline insane person would do and took out a green pen and proceeded to draw on my lady parts where I wanted you to groom. I did this not to shame you, but to ensure that my hard earned dollars resulted in a service I wanted. You were not amused.

So you thought you'd be cute and comment on my stated preference with mockery in your voice. As if I was unaware of my stated preference and needed to you remind me. As if I hadn't literally crayoned my stated preference onto my skin. You'd think that after 17 or so years of personal grooming I might have become competent to make this decision and, wait for it, be absolutely uninterested in what you, Tracey, think about it. Unless you're offering to take care of it in some other capacity, it's really none of your business.

I wouldn't make a big deal out of this except it isn't remotely the first time I have been mocked while, let's be honest, doing some maintenance work that isn't pretty. When I couldn't afford to be choosy, it was the girls at the nail salons chortling in high-pitched voices about my relative hirsutitide as compared with the average Korean. When I had disposable income where I could pick and choose, it took me quite a while to weed out the Eastern European babushkas who clacked their tongues at me admonishing me over ingrown hairs and encouraging me to pare down my look. In fact, when I think about it, I have had two aestheticians in my life who DIDN'T suck - one just became way too expensive (I'm talking close to $200 when you figure in tip), and the other moved salons (to where I do not know). Everyone else has been rather shite.

I understand that when you were growing up you didn't hope and pray for the day when you could groom places on me I can't comfortably reach myself. I know this. I'd like to think that the fact you make, on average, $30/hour in tips is some kind of compensation (cause that's not chump change). But considering that your livelihood is tied to those tips, what possible incentive do you have to make me feel angry enough at you that I won't come back and, you know, tip you again? The motivation on this one utterly eludes me. (As an aside, something I realized yesterday while on the slab is that a lot of these women are probably sadists. Judging by the number of times Tracey asked me if this hurt, and seeming to be upset that I responded that it didn't, I would wager that she might get off on hurting women with enough disposable income to have this service performed. After the actual 4th time she asked, I told her, "I'm not shy, I'll let you know." That seemed to shut her up.)

I am sharing this kind of personally embarrassing and definitely too much informationy story because I tend to feel unashamed more of the time than some of my women friends. But if this process, one I'm actually not nearly as embarrassed by as I was in my teens, can leave me feeling so crappy, I can only imagine what it does to other people. So here's my prescription: if you are a woman who pays another woman money to have your unwanted body hair ripped from its roots by hot wax, you deserve at the very minimum to not feel mocked, intimidated, or tortured. I have had brazilian bikini waxes that felt like a little slap and tickle, and ones that felt like training day at Abu Ghraib; the latter are ones where you can stop and say, "there is no reason you should be treating sensitive parts of me with such disdain." Also your lady part regions are yours to groom how you like. If you want a heart or a star or a mohawk or a full-on 1970s retro look, guess what, you earn your own money, you can have whatever you want. If your aesthetician questions your choice, you should feel free to ask what personal stake she has in it and, if she persists, tell her you're not into chicks and that she's making you uncomfortable. If all else fails, and you have a 23 years old giggling at the mass of your unwanted hair and calling her friends in to laugh at you as well (true story - I was 17), feel free to muster as much hauteur as you can, pull your pants on, say something cutting about the fact that ass hair or no ass hair, one of you rips people's ass hair out for a living and the other doesn't, and leave the salon. There are only about a million places that would be all too happy to take your money. I suggest you discover where they are. I know I'll be looking too.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cause Celebre

When cherry-picking culture and tradition as I do, one has the opportunity to craft a personal code that embraces only those things one deems important and worthy of dissemination. From all the years of indoctrination, the one principle of jewish tradition that resonated most strongly with me was the jewish attitude towards charity. I can think of a number of reasons for this, but the easiest one to point to is that I have been the frequent recipient of a very jewish form of charity throughout my life.

Charity is a very important part of traditional jewish life, some would argue it is the most important part, and not just any charity. A list making people (read the bible, it is full of lists) the jews of olden times made a list of ways to be charitable from least to greatest, and I am recounting them here:

  1. Giving begrudgingly
  2. Giving less that you should, but giving it cheerfully.
  3. Giving after being asked
  4. Giving before being asked
  5. Giving when you do not know the recipient's identity, but the recipient knows your identity
  6. Giving when you know the recipient's identity, but the recipient doesn't know your identity
  7. Giving when neither party knows the other's identity
  8. Enabling the recipient to become self-reliant

I like this list.

A lot.

And I'll explain why it is of particular significance to me. I was a scholarship student for all thirteen years of my Dalton education. I got a lot of scholarship. There would have been no other way for me to attend what is, I believe, the most expensive private school in Manhattan. I don't know whose donations put me through school, though I suspect that, through their giving, most of my friends' parents paid for my education. How nice it was, though, to be able to be a kid in a good school and not always know that it was by the grace of specific people. What a wonderful thing to not have that feeling of being beholden. I might add that this experience engendered two things: the first is that I give what I can whenever I can back to the school so that someone else can benefit and that both my brother and I have a lottery-winning pact that involves an immediate endowment of a scholarship fund.

Now what is not on this list, but is of importance to me, is giving without making a big fat deal out of it. Whether or not the recipient knows, if you are a person who gives and then broadcasts your giving in a self-aggrandizing manner (as opposed to broadcasting for the purposes of encouraging others to give as well), I find your giving to be somewhat tainted. As if you gave not because the giving itself was sustaining, but to be acknowledged for what a generous and selfless person you are. Yes, you gave, but I would call that giving grudgingly - as if the giving was a byproduct of your ego.

This little moralizing is a result of something that bothered me (I willingly admit it bothered me more than was strictly necessary) in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti. There were two kinds of reactions to this tragedy (more on this later): the first was the "please donate to Haiti relief;" the second was "oh my god I am so sad about Haiti I have been upset all day my thoughts and prayers are with all Haitians we are all one planet today."

There is not a single Haitian currently buried under rubble who gives a shit about how YOU feel! This is not about YOU. Using a disaster to broadcast what an empathetic do-gooder you are is disingenuity at its worst. Shutup and pay the nice people at the Red Cross if you feel so strongly about it.

Now for the controversial part. WHY do you feel so strongly about it? An earthquake killing people in Haiti is the most normal way people have been killed in Haiti in ages. Haiti is a cesspool and has been for your entire life. Where was your sadness on Monday? Haiti is easily the worst country in our hemisphere - disaster relief isn't going to help that. Which is not to say we shouldn't contribute to disaster relief. But the outpouring of, frankly, crocodile tears over a natural disaster in a place that is a manmade disaster is unbecoming. Again, I am making a distinction between caring about the plight of the Haitians by making a donation and seeming to care about the Haitians while making it more about how much you care about Haitians.

The world can be a deeply shitty place most everywhere. The difference is that when an earthquake hits Northridge, California or Kobe, Japan, since neither of those places is a hellhole on earth, once the rubble is cleared, and the mourning finished, life in those places isn't unbearable. In two weeks or two months, once the aid agencies have left and the streets are free of rubble and body parts, Haiti will still rank among the places human beings would least like to be. I wish that we, collectively, could spend more time in between natural disasters donating our time, our money, and our well-wishing to making places like Haiti, like Sri Lanka (remember all the people who died there in a natural disaster? when was the last time you even thought about Sri Lanka?), livable. So that a natural disaster would be a temporary sadness in an otherwise decent place. We're not ever going to stop earthquakes or hurricanes or volcanoes; reacting to their impact and leading the victims to believe we give a shit on a grand scale when we only care for the duration of the news cycle, is, at best, unbecoming.

It's ok to be overwhelmed by the seemingly unsolvable problems of our age. I wish I felt there was a little more honesty in our reactions to these crises. It's ok to say, "jesus christ, I know I should do more all the time, but it's really hard. In the meantime, let's all pitch in and send a couple of bucks to the red cross. It must especially suck in Haiti right now." It's also ok to donate without fanfare, when you can, what you can, even when it's not a reaction to an immediate problem. Like I've tried to make clear, it's not like Haiti's problems are going away.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

End of an Era

So much media news these past few days. As I am one of the apparently few people who has never watched late night talk shows, the NBC/Leno/Conan drama has interested me less than the American Idol drama.

Before you point your fingers at me, culture police, let it be known that I have, wait for it, NEVER seen an episode in its entirety of any of the following: Real World, Road Rules, The Bachelor, Jon & Kate Plus 8, Jersey Shore, and this is a short list of the happy pablum I have missed, so put your pointing fingers away.

But I have watched every season of American Idol and, much like my current watching of Nip/Tuck, later seasons were watched more out of nostalgia than out of interest. I kept hoping someone would do something, well, interesting, and, sadly, the closest American Idol has gotten to interesting was last season's Adam Lambert and, regardless of sexual orientation, I am on the record as being against ManLiner.

So the exit of Simon Cowell does have real-world ramifications for me. Considering he's the only participant on the show who occasionally demonstrates competency with an above-grade 8-level vocabulary, I really WON'T have an incentive to watch after his departure (see the above not-watched shows by way of an explanation. I like school. I think school is important. I think polysyllables are important).

So watching the opening episode of this season last night had some bittersweetness. I realized how much of my affection for the show had to do with Cowell's frequent honesty (though he too can be swayed by a perky look with an ear-splittingly bad voice) and his snark. And how little I care about the looped heartbreak stories of EVERY contestant. In a this-is-what's-wrong-with-America way, all the contestants willingly admit that they think this is their ticket out of poverty (and no one ever mentions, you know, college as a way out of poverty, just instant international stardom). I understand that the American Dream meme has been pretty well diluted out of existence (remember when part of the American Dream involved working for it?), but writ large on the most popular show on television - well this year, knowing I'll probably not watch the show again, it's harder to swallow.

Devoted partner will be pleased, though. He can't stand watching the show and the humiliation suffered by the contestants. He'll be happier when it isn't a part of my must-see TV routine.

I'm just hoping in my last viewing season someone finally does a take on Madonna's Like A Prayer complete with black Jesus. Go out with a bang!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

True Believers, Doubt, and Clubs I Don't Belong To

I watched Food Inc. over the weekend while devoted partner went to see Avatar (the key to a successful relationship is knowing how to consume media alone that your partner would sooner swallow his own tongue than consume with you and vice versa). If you've read The Omnivore's Dilemma you don't need to see this film (and if you haven't read it, you should). I really liked the book. I mean really liked it. Liked it enough to change my eating habits. Really. And I liked the author, Michael Pollan, for taking the time to research and put together a compelling, intelligent book about an important issue.

Well that was then and this is now.

Remember that South Park episode where everyone gets a Prius and can't get enough of the scent of his own flatulence?...

Well Pollan has gone from someone who wrote a book I liked to someone I cringe at when I see on television. It honestly doesn't help that he looks like a proto-Trotsykite, but he comes across as someone who doesn't allow for modifications to his ideas. Like someone who is convinced that his way is the only way for everyone everywhere and that people who don't agree are not only wrong, but dangerous. He comes across like a...

like a...

like a conservative republican.

For my part, let me say that I don't want to eat cloned food or GMO food or food that comes from McDonald's. Some of these things have good reasons, others don't, but they're my reasons (which devoted partner is sadly subject to more often than perhaps he would like) and I'll live by them. Unless we are ok with the death by starvation of lots and lots of people (Indians, Africans, etc.), we're going to have to come to terms with the fact that GMO food allows us to literally MAKE FOOD WHERE ONCE THERE WAS NO FOOD. I'm sure if you ask a starving person to choose between no food and cloned food, the person will choose cloned food. Even if, ultimately, science points out that this was the wrong decision, for the time being, those are the choices. For poor people. Chalk up another win for being not poor. And frankly, it smacks a little of paternalism to tell poor hungry people that the food we COULD give them is bad and ruins the environment and causes a whole host of problems. That starving poor person DOES NOT CARE. Pollan's argument that we SHOULD pay more for better food is only compelling if you have that option.

So here's the problem: I am a pretty liberal person. I agree with Michael Pollan about a lot of things. But I am unwilling to blindly follow him when I disagree with some of his points. Furthermore my disagreement with some of his points does not mean I don't find MOST of his points highly agreeable. Yet my disagreement with some of his points can lead his opponents to show that there is dissension in the ranks. Dissension, even measured, open-to-debate, searching dissension is a sign of weakness. The traditional wisdom (or traditional politics these days) stipulates that unless you can get on board 100% with your talking head of choice, his message isn't strong enough. Any disagreement discredits him.

Which brings me to the clubs I don't belong to. Spend fifteen minutes with me and you'll probably come away from it realizing I don't like groups. In fact, you might determine that I hate groups. That I think groups are the root of most evils. That were we to come up with a Linnaeus system for culture, mine would look like this: Human -> American -> Dalton Alum. Those are about the only three groups I am comfortable belonging to (an argument could be made for New Yorker, but again, seeing as that, of necessity, includes people from the non-Manhattan boroughs - ok, so I could include Manhattanite, but that would, of necessity, include people like the characters from Sex & the City - see how it gets complicated?). I might agree with a majority of the democratic platform, I might be a registered democrat, but I would never define myself as Democrat. Because in doing so I am telling people something about myself that isn't true: that my identity is mightily impacted by participation in that group. That I see my identity through the lens of that group. See also: feminist, environmentalist, libertarian, jew, liberal, etc.

A lot of this is probably narcissism of the no group defines me I am unique and special unto myself variety, but I spent too much time growing up being part of groups without a choice and I saw exactly how much time was spent ensuring that members of said group remained members of that group. That the primary aim of the group was to remain a group. It didn't take long for me to call shenanigans on that. (It was the same feeling I got when I worked for a non-profit, but my boss refused to take public transportation and instead charged her cabs to the organization - another 30 bucks not used for its mission.)

And this pains me. It pains me because I think Michael Pollan is more right than wrong. Hell, I think President Obama is more right than wrong, but because I, knowing full well that my lack of full-throated support (on the macro level) is ultimately detrimental, can't seem to muster the strength to jump on the bandwagon, I fear that the things I believe in are destined to fail because the opposition is so incredibly willing to blind itself for its causes.

And just to go back to Food Inc. for a second. The moment that really got me, that really really made me shit-tossing mad was this: a statistic was quoted that in 1970 (or 1972) the USDA made something like 25,000 inspections of meat processors and in 2006, they made 9,000 something. In the VERY NEXT SCREEN, we were told that in 1970 (or 1972) there were over 1,000 companies processing meat and that in 2006 something like 98% of all meat was processed by 4 companies. Wait for it...

Wait for it...



[end crazy]

Yeah, what I just said does nothing to excuse the meat companies from continuing to turn out tainted meat, but the statistic that was supposed to make me gasp in horror, was just plain misleading. The kind of misleading bullshit that the right uses ALL THE FLIPPING TIME. I just can't get on board with that. And the fact that a documentary whose sole aim was to say things I agree with would resort to such intentionally clumsy and lazy crap made me want to cram out of season strawberries down my gullet like they were going out of style just for spite. Counterproductive, I know.

So in short, my dear friends, and those new enemies I've picked up in the last paragraphs, I have a Caesar's Wife Should Be Beyond Reproach problem, and it prevents me from getting on board with groups, both formal and informal, whose platforms I agree with. And if I'm having this problem, I suspect others are too. It might be the reason why the left is always accused of being all over the place. We are. Nuance is our vice. Doubt our bedfellow. But I don't think the answer, the long-term answer, is to become as imprecise and disingenuous as the right can be. I'd like to posit an alternative, but I sadly don't have one at the moment. I'm working on it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Nopropos

I had some capital-letter-type entries brewing in my mind, but when reviewing them, they sounded really high falutin' and have been abandoned to the trash heap of my brain. I give you instead some easily digestible bites.

Happy birthday Antonio. You are good friend, a loyal reader, and deliverer of much unsolicited advice. May your less-geographically-impaired-than-we-are friends fete you in a manner becoming a man of your stature.

In the absence of HGTV, I have needed a new brainless channel. Thank you G4 for stepping up to the plate. And knowing thyself. While boycotting the cold, I was able to watch their aptly named Junk Food TV which included such hits as Ninja Warrior (which I would argue is not junk food television at all, but you could respond that the Women of Ninja Warrior shows hosted by a Playboy playmate were not amply nutritious - and you'd be right), Cops, and like Cops but different: Campus PD. Devoted partner feels bad for the cops on Campus PD because they try to arrest mouthy undergrads who have a vague understanding of their rights as opposed to the cops on Cops who arrest crystal meth addicts who have a vague understanding of nothing.

Much like the scene in The World is Not Enough where the guy from Trainspotting knows Pierce Brosnan's shoulder hurts because the French girl from Braveheart told him and so the Trainspotting guy exerts pressure on Pierce's bad shoulder, I think EA Active knows that my knees wobble and make funny sounds on the best of days and has therefore made me do a truly unnecessary number of lunge-type activities so that I will make little bitch noises all day when going up and down stairs. Way to be sadistic, Wii.

And, in a truly lame segue, I draw your attention to a posting on a favorite blog (that you should not go to if you are at work) that compares house hunting to consumption of pornography. I would go on to add that as a former watcher of HGTV, it should be noted that when prepping houses for sale, all of the professionals transform people's normal homes into creepy carbon copies of one another by means of PotteryBarnification - so it's not your imagination.

Finally, I have decided that, as part of my Road to DSLR, I will remember how lenses work by taking my old-school SLR out for a spin. Now I just have to figure out if places (not B&H) even sell film anymore.

Sorry for the assortment-type post. I will endeavor to find common threads tomorrow.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Traffic Laws

The first time I sat behind the wheel of an automobile it was on the corner of 87th Street and 3rd Avenue. I was 17. I learned to drive on the upper east and west sides of Manhattan with a driver's ed teacher. I took my driving test in Queens. Until I was 21 years old, I had never driven on a highway.

This is what it's like to grow up in Manhattan.

But I liked driving and, after a summer driving around Europe, I was pretty decent at it. Highways? No problem. (Unless speeding is a problem.) Paris at rush hour? No problem. It's kind of like Manhattan driving but with circles. The one area where I had both little experience and little talent was suburban driving for the simple reason that I had never done it.

So I won't lie, I was a little apprehensive about being a daily suburban driver. But, like with many other things, after you do it enough, it becomes second nature.


You see, there are rules I have never had to learn and so I might be committing a variety of ticketable infractions on a daily basis.

This morning, it snowed. Now my brain knows that during precipitation, you turn your lights on. However, my car has daytime running lights. Are those sufficient for inclement driving or do I need to turn on my night lights? Would I get pulled over and given a ticket for failure to do so? Could I plead ignorance of the differences between daytime and nightttime lights?

Similarly we have a number of unfamiliar stoplights in town that I am fairly certain I am not using correctly. The configuration is thus: one red light atop two sets of yellows and greens, one of the greens is a turn signal. While the red light is still illuminated the green turn signal light will also go on, signaling that cars in that specified lane can turn. Ok. Fine. Easy. However, what happens next is incredibly confusing. The red light will go out; the green turn light will go out; and the other green light will go on. Now I know this means that cars in the non-turning lane are now free to go. But does it mean a)that cars in the turning lane are also free to go provided there are no oncoming cars or b)cars in the turning lane may no longer go. I happen to believe that the latter explanation is stupid as it would allow cars in the turning lane a mere 10 seconds per light change to participate in forward movement, so I assume the former. And I don't know if I'm just biding my time until I get a moving violation (don't even get me started on the scenario when it's a right-turn signal at an intersection where cars CAN go right on red. What the hell is the point of a dedicated turn signal when cars in that lane can pretty much go WHENEVER there's an opening?)

The stoptionals I engage in on a daily basis? These I know are wrong, but my neighborhood is generally empty and I really don't feel compelled to come to a complete stop at EVERY corner when a slight 5 MPH pause is more than enough to ascertain if cars are coming in the other directions. But these others... I won't lie, I get a little stressed out.

So if the Greenwich and/or Port Chester cops are reading this (as I know they are huge fans), if you see me break the law in front of you, could you please cut me some slack and understand that even though I now have a CT driver's license, it should, in no way, indicate that I am fully conversant in your ways. After all, while there are many of your mores that elude me, I am fully aware that the speed limit in Manhattan is 35 MPH. And that's not nothing.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I Am So Pleased To Have Become Apolitical

These days, I get my news from Jon Stewart. I'm not going to be proud or ashamed of this, it's just the way it is. My general stress level is down, I think (I used to also get my news from Bill Maher, but we decided against premium cable in the new house because there was still never anything on). Oh, from time to time, I'll lazily scan the New York Times, but I feel like if anything truly important happens, someone will be sure to tell me. Crap, that's a lie. I listen to 1010WINS in the car but that is only because metro fm radio stations are such crap. If it's really important, I feel like 1010WINS might mention it.

I bring this up because, after his traditional holiday hiatus, Jon is back, filling me in on the things I've missed. The Daily Show pokes a lot of fun at Fox News and I generally laugh along, but it's the laugh of the uninitiated. Because, I've never watched Fox News. Never. To be fair, I've also never watched MSNBC. When I really need a fix, my channel has always been CNN, and one of the reasons I no longer watch television news is that CNN has turned into such utter crap, I no longer have the time to sit through the 55 minutes per hour of lame prattle in order to discover the 5 minutes of news. I guess if it was really important to me I'd watch BBC International news, oh, but wait, the Cablevision Suck Monolith does not think I deserve BBC channels.

I digress.

Sort of.

So, here's the thing. Do the commentators on Fox News actually behave the way they do in the Daily Show clips all the time? Does Glenn Beck make it a habit to fake choke up and cry on air when he laments the end of days we are living through? Really? That's almost commendable. Grown men crying is certainly entertainment. But, do the viewers who agree with him (for the moment let me not judge them) think he's real crying, or do they understand it is fake crying and are ok with that because it's fake crying to prove a point? Cause his acting acumen might be sub-Peter North (shout out to my college roommates - you know what you did).

I do have concerns, though, about my newspeople making a habit of ostentatiously emoting, though. Will this bleed into news I might watch? I can't really get behind Tom Brokaw or Brian Williams or, even Wolf Blitzer breaking down in the middle of a newscast. Now, if I understand correctly, Glenn Beck's show is not a newscast, more of a (hell, I don't even know how to categorize it - frankly all the cable "news" shows are confounding. What are they?) newsy program, so perhaps he can get away with things that anchormen could not, but then I guess I would ask for the cable news networks to hire, well, actors. My feelings on having actors be president (not with any decision-making power, mind you, just the speaking figure-heads for the shadow government; cause actors can read off scripts well, project their voices, seem interested and engaged) are well known, but perhaps we need them to deliver our news, commentary, and newsertainment as well because at least their feigned righteous indignation would seem real.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Water Politics

Ah, summer camp, my first encounter with the others - people mostly like me who grew up in a strange netherworld known as suburbia. You were a fascinating bunch, most especially because you found me such an anomaly: when not asking if I was your counselor (I wasn't) you were inquiring after my safety in the dangerous streets of New York. And yes, while the Koch/Dinkins years did have their share of, well, crack, I found your wide-eyed disbelief that I had never been a victim of a violent crime charming. I thought you all were so sheltered...

Now devoted partner, a suburban boy himself, has a theory about New Yorkers which I have heard so many times (and find so boring and "look at me, I watch science documentaries") that I cannot believe I am about to repeat it, but here goes: New Yorkers are like deep-sea creatures; perfectly at home in an environment that would kill normal underwater creatures and unable to survive anywhere else. Blah blah blah. Ten years that boy spent in Manhattan and still asked me questions about which subway line to take (whereas I have perfectly adapted to my new environment if you don't count asking him to check my tire pressure, go into the attic because it's gross up there, and being indignant that the people who pick up our trash want to be PAID for the service - that's what municipal coffers are for).

But I am learning that my sophisticated urban upbringing sheltered me from what I fondly refer to as reality. I know my suburban friends will bear with me as I share a fascinating thing with my city friends: hot water runs out!

I'm not talking about when your landlord posts a notice in the elevator telling you that they are working on the boiler and there will be no hot water from 10:00am-4:00pm; nor am I talking about some bizarre confluence of events where, if you flush the toilet while the kitchen sink is on, the hot water will temporarily disappear (or appear with vengeance). No, I'm talking about taking a shower and suddenly noticing the water is getting colder; adjusting the temperature and realizing that you have a finite amount of hot water, and it has run out.

And I'm not taking what I would consider superlong showers. After all, I have to wash my hair with shampoo twice, condition, wash the rest of me, wash out the unmentionables, finger comb my hair, and then rinse everything. Also, there's that 2 minutes at the beginning of the shower when you are adjusting in the temperature and reveling in the warmth. I reckon I have about 8 minutes with which to do this. It's not a lot of time. I remember growing up, my mother would always complain about how long I spent in the shower, but those were the "learning about your body" years and she should have damn well understood. This is not about that.

This is about, occasionally, wanting a leisurely shower, perhaps with devoted partner, who mumbles something about the temperature of the boiler, but I'm really not listening because HOT WATER SHOULD NOT RUN OUT! God help me the times I have forgotten this and gotten in the shower while either the dishwasher or washing machine was running.

Now, to pull this back around, I am reminded of summer camp, where, from time to time, there was no hot water in the showers. I don't remember why this was, but my guesses range from we were in the middle of nowhere and I'm surprised we had clean running water to begin with to it was an intentional deprivation by the rulers of Zionist summer camp to remind us that our ancestors spent 40 years wandering the dessert where, presumably, a shower was an undreamed of luxury. What I do remember was putting on my bathing suit, packing up my toiletries, and heading to the cold water pump where I, and several friends, would tip our heads upside down and wet our hair under the freezing cold water in order that we could wash it. That sort of shenanigans is fine for 14-year olds at sleepaway camp, but not at all fine for 32-year olds who (again, apartment dwellers, don't flip out) have to PAY for water (like garbage, apparently it is not free).

I don't know what power source creates the hot water, but environment be damned, I am considering amping that shit up. I have been very content to live as old-timey folks do, you know, in a house and not a sturdier structure like a building, but I shall not take to boiling water in all available pans merely so there is enough for the washin'. There. I have said my piece.

Nopropos: I have always been a fan, but sheesh, Bob Barker is AWESOME! Suck it, Japan!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Does Any Of Us Have A Job Anymore?

I must update this blog and then read the updates of the blogs I have linked to.

I must, when the urge strikes, tweet my thoughts, and read the tweets of others (and can I just say that I understand none of the other tweets - this is probably my age but between the @s and the #s and the bit.lys, it's not even remotely language anymore - one in a tweet is ok, but when you @ a # with a .ly, my mind just cannot keep up anymore and, more to the point, I cease to find you informative and just find you annoying).

I upload photos to flickr and then take the time to look at the uploads of my friends (and I don't even have that many, thank god).

But then I read an article which tells me to check out a site, and I read a post that references another site, and all of a sudden what was once a manageable amount of time wasting has become a vocation (and kudos to the lucky few who have monetized this sort of thing).

I would like to read all of these things and look at the pretty pictures and comment on things, but I just don't seem to have the time to do that and also cook meals, WiiWorkout, speak 10-20 words to devoted partner and listen to 10-20 words in response, etc. etc.

In the end, I skim. And I HATE skimming. Skimming is only effective for horrible drivel assigned to you in poetry class, you know the stuff written by some stuffy be-courderoyed idiot who thinks he has the intel on Yeats. Pick up the main points, regurgitate them in a paper, and be done with it. But I WANT to concentrate on the media I favor. And I like discovering new media to be digested. But everyone seems to update all the time and I barely have enough time to update myself.

I guess I could buy a netbook and then, in the evenings, devoted partner and I could sit on the couch together with the television on in the background, each with a computer in front of us, perusing websites, but I kind of don't like the way that looks.

So I ask for help, since a lot of you seem to make time for this site, it makes me assume you make time for others. From whence that time? And are you concerned about getting fired?

Nopropos: I tried wearing blush yesterday, but I felt like an idiot. I am going to pretend my tan is still dark enough that I can get away with bare skin. I am however two days and counting on mascara.

Edited to add: crap, and that doesn't even count learning how to tag things - a concept which I have attempted to embrace, but obviously suck at.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Other New Year's Resolutions

Everyone is back to the grind today along with all the resolutions for the new year: "I will lose 100 pounds while working out every day, quitting smoking and white flour, finding a man to marry, and getting serious about recycling."

Admirable. But not the whole story. What about the minor resolutions? Why do they get such short shrift? Sure, remembering to call your grandmother once a month might not be as momentous as dropping six dress sizes, but if you make it the whole year having remembered, once a month, to see if your grandmother is still alive (hi, Grandma, I call you at least once every 2-3 weeks because I love you! note: Grandma does not use the internet), that's worthy of the happy feeling of a job well done.

In this spirit, I would like to share with you my other New Year's resolutions:

  1. I will wash my face. Every day. At least once.
  2. I will make a really good stab at flossing regularly (is weekly considered regularly?).
  3. I will (a)handwash my unmentionables when I take them off at night so that I may (b)wear the emergency Hanes Her Way cotton jobs less frequently which will enable me to (c)throw out the Hanes Her Way cotton jobs that really should not be worn by a person without a medical condition.
  4. I will realize that even though the temperature feels like 10 degrees outside, this is not carte blanche to leave my house looking homeless.
  5. I will not consider floss the enemy.
  6. I will not, throughout 2010, eat a loaf of bread in one sitting and consider it a meal.
  7. I will take the $400 I would have blown at the Manolo Blahnik winter sale and put it into the vacation savings account.
  8. I will consider doing likewise at the Manolo Blahnik summer sale.
  9. I will get up at least two days a month and go take pictures of something. I will attempt to improve my skills (z?). This will be my dedicated taking pictures of stuff time, but will not preclude me from taking pictures other times.
  10. I will stock more than one roll of floss at a time so that when one roll is finished, I can not use my lack of floss as an excuse to not floss.
  11. I will change the polish on my toes more frequently than every time I either (a)go on vacation or (b)go to a wedding.
  12. I will use my new hair dryer at least once a week. This will help me to look not homeless even as it means I have to spend more time "doing myself up."
  13. I will throw out papers on my desk once their usefulness has expired - I'm looking at you car payment reminder from September.
  14. I will schedule an appointment to go to the dentist even as this means I will be chastised for my lack of flossing. I will remind the dentist that I am resolved to change this.
  15. I will throw out the plastic shoe boxes that I bought at The Container Store six years ago that I hated from the start and which now stand empty because I have two double-door closets in which I may store my shoes, on a dedicated ledge, covered by their shoe bags to prevent dustiness. This will let me see that I do not expressly need to visit the Manolo Blahnik winter or summer sales as I already own a satisfactory number of shoes.
  16. I will further remind myself that my calves are currently too "shapely" to fit into the pair of knee-high Manolo Blahnik boots I already own and that even were they on sale, I do not need a similar pair in brown. Not until they would, you know, fit.
  17. I will get the battery in my watch changed. It's been about five years. It might be time.
  18. I will understand that healthy teeth are important and that I would look really really bad without my teeth. This will help me understand the importance of flossing and, studies show, would decrease the amount of blood I spit out when I brush.
  19. I will not pick my nose while seated at my desk and consider any paper product "close enough" to a tissue. I will walk my fat ass to the bathroom for actual tissue.
  20. I will remember that, based on the number of packages shipped to our house during the holidays, my Amazon Prime membership has, already, paid for itself. This should help me to avoid purchasing things from Amazon multiple times per week (day) simply because I have Amazon Prime. I will deposit the savings into the vacation savings account.
  21. I will wear my existing pairs of Manolo Blahnik shoes more often, even in winter, because, by doing so, I will be reminded that it would not be a tragedy if 2010 was a year without a new pair.
  22. I have lived in Greenwich for five months. I will finally get a parking pass and stop paying daily. I will deposit the difference in price into the vacation savings account.
  23. I will make recipes from the cookbooks I already have before buying new cookbooks simply because I "like the pictures."
  24. I will realize that it is better to have the gross "floss gunk" on my fingers than where it was before, stuck between my teeth.
  25. In an effort to look less homeless, I will wear at least a tiny bit of makeup when I go to work.
  26. I will not purchase the Crest Pro-Health toothpaste again because the tube does not close and leaks all over the bathroom.
  27. I will no longer anthropomorphize my muffin top. No one is laughing.
  28. I will attempt to be at peace with Cablevision, even as they, without warning, took away FoodTV and HGTV. I will cease all thoughts of violent retribution and remind myself that FoodTV sucks, HGTV was fast becoming a dangerous obsession, and that living with privation is a part of life. (I will continue to hope that Time Warner Cable comes to my town.)
  29. I will get my car washed every 4-6 weeks. It costs 10 bucks and it makes the car look so nice and well taken care of.
  30. I will stop looking at pictures of people my age on Facebook and commenting on the sorry state of their skin. It is not a nice habit. I should be happy that I inherited good skin genes and not look at others and say, "what, they don't have sunscreen where you live?" Other people's wrinkles in no way ameliorate my fat.
  31. I will not have 50 pounds of citrus shipped to me this winter. I have enough citrus zest in my freezer to last a lifetime and I will never use it. I will buy citrus when I need it. They stock the same brand in the stores now, I don't need to order from the source.
  32. I will stop thinking of activities like flossing, face washing, hair drying, and makeup application as time stealers. After all, now that I no longer have HGTV, I have some extra time on my hands.
  33. I will pack the books I clearly am not taking to be donated in a box and put them in the attic. That is what attics are for, and they look ugly just stacked on top of my shelves.
  34. I will do the hand laundry backlog, frightening though it is, in shifts, if needs be.
  35. I will wear my perfume more often. It was a gift and, as I discovered, will go bad after five or so years if not used so that using it is less of a waste than not using it.
  36. I will seriously consider liking a less expensive brand of perfume.
  37. I will get Kate her Christmas presents before the boy's birthday. That gives me 6 weeks.
  38. I will round up all the shot, but undeveloped film from, presumably 2000-2002, and have it developed. I will hope there is nothing incriminating on any of the rolls.
  39. When I get home today I will make lemon curd before the lemons go bad. Because Meyer lemons are expensive and waste is stupid.
  40. Likewise, I will waste less produce overall. If this means more frequent trips to the store to buy fewer things, so be it.
  41. I will throw out the white chocolate that is so stale as to make it nearly impossible to work with. I will treat this as a learning experience and stop buying white chocolate, which I use infrequently, in 22lb. sacks.
  42. I will throw out clothing that has holes in it. So that I may look less homeless.
  43. I will throw out devoted partner's clothing that has holes in it (while he is not looking and with one or two notable sentimental exceptions). So that I may look less like a person who dates homeless people.
  44. I will impulse shop less at whole foods (marinated peppers), and when I do, I will make sure I use the impulsively shopped item before it goes bad (marinated peppers).
  45. Similarly, I will empty the fridge of items that have gone bad. Even when it is not garbage day. I will simply haul my ass downstairs and deposit the bag in the can. Which is outside. Where I cannot smell it.
  46. I will have a fridge that has only edible products in it. And weed. No. I did not write that.
  47. I will remember to put the coupon my mother lovingly clipped for me for $1.00 off jello pudding into my wallet, so that I will have it when I get to the store to buy yet more sugar-free jello cinnamon rice pudding, and will then be able to save $1.00.
  48. I will buy some sriracha - many fridges I have looked into recently have it and I feel left out.
  49. I will endeavor to floss my teeth regularly (at least every other day) and definitely after ingesting something that has poppy seeds in it, or similar.
  50. I will not blog another list for at least two weeks as I think I've pretty well mined the genre for the time being.