Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve in California

Rob and I are in California for the holiday, the idea being that we will research potential wedding sites and choose a location to get married next year. So far, we have used our time very effectively—last night we went out to a bar and concentrated on writing our names on a napkin. I’m trying to decide whether to take Rob’s name or keep my own and this exercise was a good one because after it was over, Rob informed me that I was no longer invited to take his name, as I clearly didn’t want it enough.

“If we have kids,” he said, “I’m going to tell them that all of us, except you, are in a club. I’ll just explain to them that you are different and weird.”

Outraged that Rob and our imaginary children would be starting an exclusive club, I began backpedaling. “Well, I’m not sure. If the rest of you are all going to have the same name, I might want it, too.”

“It’s too late,” he said.

So, as you can see, real progress is being made here on our trip.

We stayed at a hotel right across from the Ferry Building for two nights in San Francisco and walked over to Peet’s Coffee each morning for breakfast. Oh, how I love Peet’s Coffee. It was especially good this morning when my brain and body were struggling to combat the increasingly severe symptoms of a hangover brought on by the previous night’s main activity.

Anyone lucky enough to be sitting within earshot of the following enlightening conversation would know what I mean.

Rob [muttering under his breath]: “Sabotage.”

Me: “Did you just say ‘Sabotage’?”



“I spilled coffee on my shirt.”

Things have remained at this level intellectually for most of the day. We left the city and I proceeded to get us lost in Mill Valley on our way to a meeting with the events coordinator at Mountain Home Inn, a quaint place that sounds more like an elderly care facility than a wedding location. After we left, I got us lost on the way to Healdsburg, where we are staying for the next four nights. But now we are here and the plan—since we have finally arrived in wine country—is to try not to drink so much.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Save your quarters. And your children.

On my walk to the gym, I pass a coin-operated ride, the kind that sits outside grocery stores or at amusement parks. It’s a little child-sized yellow bus and for two quarters, you can entertain your kid for 30 seconds. Seems harmless, right?
Whenever someone walks past this thing, the freakish Blair Witch giggles of invisible children come rising out of it. The first time I heard it, I looked around confused and then realized that I was the only one walking down the inner corridor of Chelsea Piers and that the sound was coming from the yellow bus. I guess that’s how they lure kids in, by making it seem like it’s so fun that even fake kids enjoy it.
Yet the bus is always empty. It appears that no one really wants to ride with the Children of the Corn.

Just for fun, here's a ride that's creepy in a different way.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Close enough to smell the Starbury

We just got home from the Knicks/Pacers game at Madison Square Garden. Rob got last minute courtside tickets and you don't need to tell me twice to skip pilates. Sometimes you don't even have to tell me once. You could just say "macaroni and cheese" and I'm like "Gym? What gym?"
But tonight there was a real reason. We went with Jay and Cameron and I don't think any of us realized how good our seats were until we were comfortably within pinching distance of Ahmad Rashad and a server was handing us a menu. A menu! At a basketball game. Will wonders never cease?
I tried so hard to pay attention to the game, but I kept getting distracted by things like...Spike Lee! Hot dogs! And people screaming Fire Isiah! Also a very vivid vision of Eddy Curry losing his balance and falling into my seat, crushing me. The man is enormous.

Unfortunately for us fairweather fans, the Knicks kind of suck and got blown out of their own house 119 to 92. But it was an awesomely unexpected way to spend the evening.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Our little herbivore

This weekend I watched Superbad twice. I feel I must share that I hadn't seen it yet, just on the off chance that this fact makes the double viewing more acceptable. The last time I doubled down was when we rented Knocked Up. I happen to agree with Katherine Heigl's assessment that the film was flawed when it came to the female characters, but...that scene in the Vegas hotel room where Paul Rudd is obsessing over the chairs and Seth Rogen is panicking: love it.

"There are five different types of chairs in this hotel room."
"Get em out of here, man. That's too many chairs for one room."
"The tall one's gawking at me and the short one's being very droll. "
"I don't like them."
"It's weird that chairs even exist when you're not sitting on them."

Anyway, before that movie, the last time I watched a film twice in one weekend it was 1987 (Teen Wolf Too. Let's keep this between us, shall we?)
In an attempt to balance the couch potato-ness of the weekend, I made a huge salad on Saturday and as soon as I brought it to the table, Smokey hopped up on a chair and tried to put his face into it. This cat likes cucumber apparently. He did once crawl into my lap to bite the edge off the pretzel stick I was eating, but salad? When we kicked him off the chair, he wandered around on the floor hoping we wouldn't notice that he was trolling for fallen garbanzo beans. We were not fooled.
"Smokey, that's very unattractive," Rob informed him, but Smokey, it turns out, is impervious to shame.
"That's something a dog would do," Rob tried. Smokey scoffed.
Assuming he was just very hungry, I brought him into the kitchen and gave him a delicious can of Fancy Feast. I have long maintained that Smokey is actually a person who was once turned into a cat, but there are certain moments that solidify this knowledge for me. Smokey approaching his food bowl was one of them. He took one look at it, stalked out of the kitchen, and headed back towards the salad bowl, like "Excuse me, I need tomatoes."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

New Words!

As 2007 comes to a close, I would like to celebrate the words that were added to the dictionary this year. Here are just a few. I have used several of these in the blog, and plan to include more in 2008--maybe even in context. Or not. Smackdown!

agnolotti: pasta in the form of semicircular cases containing a filling (as of meat, cheese, or vegetables)

Bollywood: the motion-picture industry in India {Note: DUH. This was a new word this year?}

chaebol: a family-controlled industrial conglomerate in South Korea

crunk: a style of Southern rap music featuring repetitive chants and rapid dance rhythms {Note: I love this word. Missy Elliott and I have been using it for years. At last, we are validated by Webster's.}

flex-cuff: a plastic strip that can be fastened as a restraint around a person's wrists or ankles

gray literature: written material (as a report) that is not published commercially or is not generally accessible

smackdown: the act of knocking down or bringing down an opponent {Note: Awesome.}


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Ace of Queens

I was unable to access the blog this morning, which made me feel panicky. Ah, addiction. But I digress...

I went to Queens last night. It was an accident—I was on my way to midtown Manhattan. I really have no excuse since I knew what train to get on and in which direction and yet, when I got off the 6 train to transfer to the R, I just followed the crowd and the letter R, like I was in some sort of extra-gritty episode of Sesame Street. We continued to the top of a flight of stairs, where the entire crowd stopped, looking down at the sea of people below. I could see it, this R train, and the doors were open. I pushed my way through the crowd, and the way I remember it is that I leaped over the stair railing, elbowed a couple of innocent bystanders, and made it onto the train just as the doors closed. I was, after all, on my way to meet people for drinks, so it was acceptable to be a Subway-riding badass.
Immediately I realized that this train was going uptown instead of downtown. I mean, right away. And I had that sinking feeling that comes with doing something that was stupid and avoidable. But it didn’t seem like a big deal—after all, the train would stop at the next station and I would just turn around. Except…the train didn’t stop. I don’t know how long it actually took, but it seemed like forever that we were crawling through the tunnels. And then to make things even more fun, the train did stop for a while, but in the middle of the tunnel. I looked up at a sign that said “Litter on the tracks catches fire and causes delays.” I felt like attacking any person who dared to leave trash on the tracks, potentially causing this very delay.
Lest you think I’m some sort of alcoholic who nearly had a meltdown on the R train because a drink was awaiting me, please know that I was mostly feeling the pain of leaving people who don’t really know each other waiting for me at some random bar. I was 30 minutes late from going ONE stop out of my way.
Oh, I had my drink(s)--and then I went to a performance of the New York City Gay Men's Chorus (totally another story.) But the real crime is that I didn’t get to enjoy the glory that is Queens. Maybe someday I’ll go there on purpose.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Deepish Thought Tuesday

I had a bad day at work yesterday. It's nothing worth explaining, just the kind of day where all of the little things that should be manageable on their own combine to make you miserable before noon and murderous by the time you leave the office.

It reminded me of my trip home for Thanksgiving, when I was typing a short email and someone asked me how I know how to type so fast.

I said, "It comes from sitting at a desk in front of a computer all day, slowly dying."

And later, I thought: That was an inappropriate thing to say to a 9-year-old.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Allow me one Scrooge moment

I've been watching tv for about 20 minutes and I believe I have counted 37 jewelry commercials. You would think that was impossible, but you're wrong. Maybe it's because of the writer's strike, but I'm fairly certain there are actually not any programs on tv and instead stations are airing only Zales commercials.

In the latest affront to my senses, Woman and Man stand in front of Christmas containing hideous pair of earrings hangs from tree. I actually had to look away from the tv as the couple gazed at each other and the woman said, "This is the one."

Please, Santa, make it stop. I can't watch one more 30-second spot of saccharine suckiness.

I love the holidays. Really. It's fun to give gifts, to go to parties, to eat cookie after cookie, secure in the knowledge that you're eating them because you have the holiday spirit. You must eat those cookies. Christmas depends on it.

But my love of the season simply does not extend to the embarrassing commercials with gushing women and self-congratulatory men. "He went to Jared!" Ew. And he got you that?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Our communication skills are enviable

I’m trying to stop making fun of Rob so much on the blog. He has asked if perhaps I could make him more of a supporting actor and not give him so many lines. For example, under these new regulations, I wouldn’t tell the story of last weekend when we were sitting on the couch, both with computers on our laps, and I received an instant message from him that said “Get your feet off me.”

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Models: you can paint them

Last night a group of Brazilian models came to my pilates class. It was not, how shall we say, entirely motivational for me. But it was fascinating. They were very long-limbed and talkative. One of them crouched down beside the other and I swear to god, she was still taller than me. Before class began, I was outside in the hall staring at them and doing the thing in my head where I go “Stop staring” to myself, but myself doesn’t really listen. When I saw a friend from class standing with her husband up at the front desk, it seemed like a good opportunity to walk away and try to act like a normal person.

“There are models coming to our class.” I said, and I agree with any of you who think that’s not the most normal of the things I could have said.

However, it turned out that compared to some people, I am generally in control of myself. Because that was when I learned a bit about the husband, who I will call Ned. Ned eyes bugged out of his head, and his voice rose as he said something along the lines of “Don’t let the models bother you! Models are just tall, thin, weird-looking people. They’re idiots with heads full of rocks. They’re only important because you can paint them and take their pictures. Soon they’ll be replaced by robots.”

Me, in my head: Whoa. Let’s walk away.

Me, out loud: "Umm. Hmmm."

This actually went on slightly longer than I would have liked and after nodding a few times, I did turn to walk away, 100% sure that at some point in his past, Ned was jumped by a gang of supermodels and given one mean wedgie.

Monday, December 3, 2007

I am influential

So, the New York Times picked up my story on spam and ran with it, featuring the issue in their technology section today.
Their piece focuses on Steven Kirsch, an engineer who has started several companies, improved mice (the computer kind), and now thinks that he has a viable solution to the problem of email spam. I don't want to bore you guys (again) with this, but...wait. Yes I do.
Kirsch's new company is called Abaca and he claims that it can eliminate up to 99% of email spam by studying messages and determining their "spaminess." And in a twist that only the Times technology section could pull off, this brilliant entrepreneur has just discovered he has a rare form of cancer. So his work has taken on a greater sense of urgency. This guy is racing the clock and I know this doesn't sound like the most important of issues, but if he can rid us of spam? He will go down in history. Not to mention the made for TV movie.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Rob's announcement

"I want to do nothing for 10 minutes. I don't want to do anything. For at least a few minutes. I don't want to talk to you. I don't want to be looked at. I don't want to think about anything."

7 seconds of silence.

"You could get me this as an engagement present if you want.*" Hands over a brochure for an Ernst Benz watch. "They sell them at John Varvatos."

Closes eyes. Has said nothing since.

*This will NOT be happening.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I picture them skipping

I just got a call from Rob who told me that he would not be home after work because he and Chat are going shopping. Because there is a sale. And Rob has this coat that he likes to visit at a store which shall remain unnamed. It’s so cute how Chat and Rob are a) the same person and b) girls.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Who is this Jesus McPherson?

In 2003, the Center for Democracy & Technology did a study to determine the source of Internet spam. I discovered the results of their study today because I am irritated at the amount of spam I receive and I would like to know what I did to deserve it. I had 500 spam emails waiting for me after the Thanksgiving holiday. Yes, they were caught in a spam folder, but I still had to delete them and make sure nothing legitimate got stuck in the folder. So I’m looking for someone to blame. Should it be, for example, my family members who send me those ridiculous forwards? Should it be my company for posting my email address on our websites? Should I blame the government, just because? Or should I blame the individual spammers, like today’s Jesus McPherson, who said he was a nice girl, just a little bit bored, and wanted to know if I was interested in chatting?
To summarize the findings of the study group, it turns out I should blame both myself and my company. Which is kind of a bummer, as I was really gunning for Jesus. It turns out that the addresses that receive the most spam are the ones that are posted on websites or in newsgroups. Ok, this is not entirely surprising, but what is one to do? The CDT suggests having your address listed as todd.blankenship at gmail dot com. Of course, you should only do this if your name is Todd Blankenship. Otherwise, it’s confusing.
The other major cause of spam receipt is filling out online forms and including your email address. Basically, don’t do that. Or, if you just can’t resist taking online quizzes and playing games, create an email address specifically for that use and deal with the fact that it is going to get spammed like crazy.
Wikipedia (Source of all Truths) reports that spam messages currently comprise an estimated 70-95% of all the email in the world and that spam cost businesses in the US more than $13 billion this year. I believe this because Jesus McPherson is only one of the many nice girls who want to chat with me on a daily basis. Jesus, if you’re reading this, let’s talk around 3pm. That’s usually when I hit my wall and need a pick-me-up.

Also from Wikipedia:
It is widely believed the term spam is derived from the 1970 Monty Python SPAM sketch, set in a cafe where nearly every item on the menu includes SPAM luncheon meat. As the server recites the SPAM-filled menu, a chorus of Viking patrons drowns out all conversations with a song repeating "SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM... lovely SPAM, wonderful SPAM", hence "SPAMming" the dialogue.

If this is true, it’s just fabulous information.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

This is your brain on politics

When I first read (I think in The New Yorker) that Barack Obama had admitted to smoking pot, I was highly (get it?) amused. I loved the response he gave when asked if he inhaled. “Isn’t that the point?” So now, of course, it’s being covered like it was this enormous political gaffe, like he'd better worry about how all the voters (many of whom have probably had their own brushes with questionable activity in their youth and beyond) will react. This is shocking, I know, but it seems that as a nation, we are not really into knowing the truth.

Let me set the scene:
Obama was asked by a high school audience if he had ever used drugs.
"There were times when I got into drinking, experimenting with drugs. There was a stretch of time where I did not really apply myself," Obama said.
He went on to say he realized that his choices were not the right ones for the life he wanted to lead, that he had made mistakes.

This is somehow worse than Clinton basically lying about inhaling? (I mean, come on. You didn’t inhale? Really? Then you weren’t doing it right, dude. Or…you’re lying.) And George W. Bush of all people refused to discuss his cocaine addiction for fear that kids would think it was cool (what?? more likely, this was based on fear that he never would have been elected. But do not get me started on that.) So, what I’m hearing is that as a presidential candidate, it’s fine to have had a drug problem as long as you don’t talk about it, but experimenting with drugs and admitting that it was a bad choice to a group of kids who is asking you an honest question? Huge deal. We’re not stupid, media. Clinton inhaled (Hillary probably did, too), Bush is just a gigantic ball of nose candy, and Obama smoked some pot. I’m not saying it’s a positive thing that our possible future leaders have used drugs. But let’s be realistic here. These are people we’re talking about, and they had experiences. Are they defined solely by those experiences? Are they marred for life because of them? More to the point, are they incapable of leading our country because they have, in the past, imbibed or inhaled? Let’s try to stick to the issues, please.

By the way, the award for best line in the CNN article goes to: Mitt Romney.

"I think in order to leave the best possible example for our kids, we're probably wisest not to talk about our own indiscretions in great detail," Romney said.

Ooooh. What do you think he did?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Reflections on Thanksgiving

Rob and I spent the Thanksgiving holiday in Chicago. We arrived early Wednesday morning and left early today. 4 days. It doesn't seem like much, but it turns out it is exactly the right amount of time for habits to change and for people who typically eat healthy foods like fruit and vegetables to begin craving other foods. Like lard.
Minus one cousin, my entire extended family of 40 people was at my aunt and uncle's house for Thanksgiving dinner. Actually, 5 of them only made it for dessert, but really, what's the difference? 16 prison inmates could have showed up and no one would have noticed, as long as they brought a sweet potato dish.
The meal was, in fact, delicious, and it was great to see everyone. My lovable uncle Frank regaled us with his thoughts on such topics as the movie Ocean's Thirteen ("I hated it"), my impending wedding ("The more I have to spend to travel, the smaller your gift will be"), and my grandparents' new dog ("I hate it.")
Thanksgiving is really an excellent holiday. The food alone is worth the traveling, but it's my friends and family who are at the very top of the list of what I am thankful for in life. Would the holiday have been as special, for example, without three turkeys, massive mounds of mashed potatoes, my great grandma's recipe for giblet dressing, corn casserole, 2 kinds of sweet potatoes, cranberries, rutabaga, and multiple pumpkin pies? Maybe. But it definitely wouldn't have been the same if my grandpa, who turned 83 on Thanksgiving, hadn't passed his driver's test the day before, announcing to a room full of people that he had fallen in love with the "cute young girl" at the DMV.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Deepish Thought Tuesday

Contrary to popular belief, the cutest animal isn't the puppy, the kitten, or even the bunny.

It's the chinchilla riding on the puggle.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A concert on Monday night

We went to Radio City Music Hall tonight. It was one of those nights when you realize, hmm, it's Monday, someone remind me why we are going to a concert when it seems like such a good idea to open a bottle of wine and put on pajamas? But it was a good show. Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth opened up for Bright Eyes. Honestly, Thurston's set was cacophony punctuated by moments of melody. But I really liked the Bright Eyes set. The lead singer, Conor Oberst, is extremely self important, but also so talented that for a couple of hours you can overlook the ego. Plus, when there are groups of girls screaming your name at the top of their lungs, I imagine it might be hard to remember you are just a regular person. But, hey. Why not try?
He opened the first few songs with short explanations. "This one is about young love" or "This one is about purgatory." But after a while, he just resorted to statements such as, "This one's like [palm-up hand gesture making a curve over his head]."
Watching the band, Rob leaned over and asked me what instrument one of the guys was playing. "It's a banjo," I whispered.
"No," he said. "I'm pretty sure it's a mandarin."
"Really? A mandarin?"
"A mandarin is an orange. I think you mean mandolin."
Hysterical laughter, the kind that bothers the people around you.
Rob: "He's playing a mandarin. How does he do that?"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Home alone

Rob is in California this week for work, which is always fun for me as long as it doesn’t last more than a couple of days. It means that I have total control over the TV and no compromising is necessary. I eat cereal for dinner, leave my things lying around, and generally behave like a 15-year-old who has her own apartment. Ok, I also go to the gym, get to bed early, and eventually clean up after myself, but the point is that I do whatever I feel like. And if I feel like watching The L-Word while eating a candy bar, that is what I do (once.)
HOWEVER. Last night when I got home from yoga, I went to turn the TV on and nothing happened. Normally, there is a little red light when the TV is off and a little green light when it’s on. No lights. Since my electronics/technology IQ is a 7 (out of 3500), I was confused. I walked in circles. I looked at the TV. I looked at the cats. No one knew what to do. I made sure the TV was plugged in. After that, I was pretty much out of ideas. I called Rob.
“Is the TV plugged in?” he asked. Yes. “Then without being there, I don’t know what to tell you.”
So I picked up my book. As someone who reads books all the time, I have no problem spending an evening that way. But let me tell you something. When you really wanted to watch Tell Me You Love Me On Demand while picking the cranberries out of a bag of granola, a book sometimes doesn’t cut it. It was an early night.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Meet the Martins

Last night we returned from a trip to sunny Ft Myers, Florida, where Rob and I introduced our parents to each other for the first time. Rob’s parents live there and my dad was in town for a baseball tournament. I assure you, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen the 60+ set play ball. I don’t know what’s more amusing: the running, the cigarette smoking, or the fact that they all call each other “babe.”* Rob was the official scorekeeper at the first game (it’s so weird that they didn’t ask me) and the coach explained his responsibilities like this “Ok, just start here in this column, babe.” Rob took the job very seriously, and I think this was mostly because it allowed him to walk away from the rest of us and look busy.

The parent meeting went well. Words to describe Rob’s mom: British, fun-loving, sweet, alcohol pusher. Not that anyone else had a problem with this. After all, what do you do in situations like this? Eat and drink. But I think if she had her way, we would have spent Sunday completely wasted on margaritas from a frozen bucket (and some of us might have drowned in the pool.) Also, whenever I said that something in the house was nice, she earnestly told me I could have it.
Words to describe my mom: short, friendly, energetic, grandchildren demander. But she put her demands on hold for a few days and concentrated on arguing with Rob’s stepdad about who was going to sit next to the mixed nuts (they bonded over their portion control issues.) She also made friends with the entire baseball team, “That’s Bill. I call him Billy” and only got yelled at once by the coach for distracting them in the dugout. It was a surprisingly serious tournament.

A high point was the dinner out when everyone went around the table and ordered ice teas and diet cokes. Rob and I didn’t even have to look at each other to know that we needed one entire bottle of wine. To start. My dad’s teammate Greg joined us that evening. Greg is vegan, which doesn’t really work in Ft Myers, but Rob’s mom was very helpful, explaining to him that she doesn’t eat red meat and has never had a problem finding something on the menu. Because that's the same.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable weekend that I don’t think requires any kind of annual tradition. I plan to coast on the memories for years to come.

*In a completely unbiased note, I excuse my dad from this assessment. He ran well and did none of those other things.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

It puts the lotion in the basket

Rob and I met John* for dinner last night. We were talking about how busy things have been and how we hadn’t all seen each other since our Martha’s Vineyard trip. As you may have noticed, we’ve had lots going on during the weekends this Fall and have been semi-neglecting the friends who actually live in town.

“It’s her fault,” Rob said, gesturing to me. I’m sure he followed this line with some ridiculous justification, like how I chain him to the couch on weeknights and force him to watch CSI, so he can’t help it that he’s not available to get together with John.

“It is not my fault,” I said. “And don’t call me her.”

“Sorry,” he replied. “It’s its fault.”

*Damn. I wanted to link to John's Facebook page here, but only people with memberships would be able to see it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Brad Pitt plus my sister= Bralizabeth

Yes, it’s true. My sister moved to LA less than two months ago, yet has already found herself at a swanky Hollywood premier for Beowulf. I can’t remember if she said she liked the movie, because I was too busy looking at this picture of Brad Pitt with a little newsie hat on and Liz skulking in the background pretending to look normal.
Unless Liz's LA adventures continue in this vein, I can mostly promise that this will not become a celebrity sighting blog.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Vegan birthday

Rob and I went to a vegan restaurant tonight. It's my birthday, which is obviously the only reason he agreed to do this. It's also the reason he brought me my shampoo from the other room when I was already in the shower ("only because it's your birthday," he said, because hello. It was very hard for him to walk 5 feet to grab it for me and I should not expect such special treatment, for example, tomorrow.)
The restaurant, Blossom, is a block away from our apartment--a HUGE selling point considering daylight saving time caused the skies to go dark at something like 5pm, in turn causing me to lose all motivation and energy. I think I might hate daylight saving time. I'm going to give it one week to make sure, but it's not looking good.
Rob started the meal with a salad of tofu and field greens. He is generally suspicious of tofu ever since a bad experience at the gym when he ordered a grilled chicken wrap and got tofu. You know that scene in Big where Tom Hanks tries caviar and then, upon realizing it is disgusting, just kind of lets it fall right out of his mouth? Then you know how Rob reacted to his dangerous brush with the soy product. But he was remarkably tolerant of tonight's tofu. He followed it with a Brazilian dish that included black beans, tempeh, sweet potatoes and lime.
I started with a black eyed pea cake with some awesome aioli sauce and then portobello mushrooms stuffed with walnuts and tofu, apricot couscous, and asparagus. So good. Being vegan would be simple if all restaurants offered such deliciousness. But I'm happy being an occasional vegan diner and chef (aided immensely by books like Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook.) So the restaurant is recommended and I am a year older. I plan to spend the rest of the evening seeing how many things Rob will fetch for me before he figures out I am abusing his goodwill.

Friday, November 2, 2007

I'm no quitter

This week, I decided not to drink caffeine. Monday and Tuesday I was fine, though a bit sluggish. Wednesday I had a major headache and no attention span. Thursday I was incredibly sleepy and unmotivated. I love coffee. LOVE. The reason I quit for the week is that I’m not sure coffee is doing much for me anymore, other than getting me wired and then causing a crash later. I wondered—just wondered—if it was causing me undue stress and if I would feel calmer and happier if I took some time off. I don’t think coffee is bad for you, though I’ve read conflicting information about that. The authors of the bestselling book Skinny Bitch write:

Think about how widely accepted it has become that people need coffee to wake up. You should not need anything to wake up. If you can’t wake up without it, you are either addicted to caffeine, sleep deprived, or a generally unhealthy slob…it’s not heroin, girls, and you’ll learn to live without it. Caffeine causes headaches, digestive problems, irritation of the stomach and bladder, peptic ulcers, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Caffeine raises stress hormone levels, inhibits important enzyme systems that are responsible for cleaning the body, and sensitizes nerve reception sites. One study even links caffeine to an increased susceptibility to diabetes…P.S. it also makes your breath smell like ass.

Ok. It’s clear where they stand on this. The Skinny Bitch authors like to start their day with decaf green tea. But others do not agree. An article on WebMD discusses the benefits of coffee, citing six studies that show that coffee, in fact, lowers your risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s and colon cancer. I admit that I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about my chances of being diagnosed with any of those diseases, but the fact is that people can’t agree on the effects caffeine has on the human body. Weird. Wikipedia (Source of All Truths) states that:

...the mainstream view of medical experts is that drinking three 8-ounce (236 ml) cups of coffee per day (considered average or moderate consumption) does not have significant health risks for adults.

And here’s the thing. After 4 days of no caffeine, I had a cup of coffee this morning. AND I AM SO HAPPY.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Perhaps a blindfolded wedding?

I told my sister last night that I was considering having one of my friends officiate our wedding. This isn't something I've thought a lot about, but it does sound nice to have someone you know really well presiding over the ceremony. This would, however, involve someone getting ordained--probably online, which seems slightly ridiculous.
My sister volunteered immediately.
"Not you!" I said. She and I don't have good a track record in terms of wedding behavior. We giggled through the entire mass at a cousin's wedding; family members three rows up were turning around to see what was going on. And really, it was nothing. We somehow decided it was funny any time the groom's name was mentioned. And when the priest had the couple turn around to face us, declaring that we had before us "a miracle and a mystery", I totally lost control. "Which one is which?" I asked my sister and we nearly peed in our party dresses. I realize this isn't funny to anyone else, but it should demonstrate why she and I are not allowed to sit next to each other at important gatherings anymore, let alone officiate each other's weddings. She would probably start the ceremony by saying "Mah-widge is wot bwings us togethah today" and it would be over.
I reminded her of all of this. Her response?
"Well, you wouldn't be allowed to look at me!"

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Kids are awesome

Our friends Donna and George brought their daughters down from Boston to visit this weekend. Smokey and Emma were immediately terrified, with good reason, since at one point I walked into the bedroom to find Avery, the four year old, pressing down on Smokey with both hands. She looked up at me and said, "Can you help me? I'm trying to teach him to stand."
The girls are ridiculously cute and smart. Lael, the seven year old, learned how to do Sudoku and play Yahtzee while she was here. As I'm the one who taught her, I can definitely vouch for her extreme intelligence. I mean, the kid learned Sudoku while we were sitting in a Starbucks chatting, and she finished the entire puzzle from the New York Post before we got home.
Both Lael and Avery were so excited to be here that they basically ran around declaring how excited they were to be here, how much they loved me and Rob, and how New York was the coolest place ever. It was like being the most important person in the world for two days.
At one point, Donna laughed and said, "It's a shame they're not having any fun."
"I know," I said. "They're behaving like prisoners."
The four year old looked at us. "We are having fun," she announced. "And you're being facetious."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Stop the madness

I sat down at my desk today and immediately went to strap on my seatbelt. This seems disturbing to me. I don’t even own a car anymore and I rarely ride in taxis, so it’s not like I’m in the habit of buckling up each day; this must be a larger indication of the way I feel at the office. There are a lot of things I enjoy about my job, but I guess I also feel that I'm not fully in control in this work environment, such that I may need a seat belt (or occasionally a punching bag.) An article last year on explored the results of desk rage, the feeling one can get from this type of work insecurity/unhappiness:

Some desk-ragers “go postal,” screaming, cursing, trashing office equipment, even assaulting others. But desk rage also manifests as a slow boil that leads to gossiping at the water cooler, backstabbing, poor productivity, abusing sick days, stealing supplies or becoming irritable or depressed. Some people simply get fed up, stop communicating, put on a headset and emotionally “check out.”

I’m guessing this (most likely the mid to latter part) is familiar to many people. It’s so depressing that this is the result of days spent doing jobs we likely studied to do, jobs we get paid to do, jobs we interviewed and competed for, jobs we really wanted and may still want.

Joshua Ferris’s debut novel, Then We Came to the End, is a fascinating look at corporate existence in a Chicago advertising agency. I loved this book and I highly recommend it, but I had to put it down a few times when it threatened to completely undermine my ability to feel good about life in my—or any—office. So do yourself a favor and read it as the excellent work of fiction that it is, rather than as a motivational tool.

Supposedly there are ways to remedy, or at least ameliorate, the feelings of desk rage: take a 30-minute break every day, get regular exercise, pamper yourself, spend time on activities you love. But when you’re in the middle of a particularly stressful day or week, it’s difficult to find the time and energy to do these things and much easier to fall into the habits of a desk rager. I hereby vow to work harder at quelching the rage. However, if I come into the office in the near future and reach under my desk for a helmet, I’m going to seriously consider finding a new job.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dumbledore is gay

Dumbledore is gay.
Also, The Onion weighs in.

A good excuse to play in the city

Rob’s nephew Vincent came to visit us from Long Island this weekend. Vincent turns 15 next week and is the perfect shaggy, baggy, shrugging teenage boy. I think he’s adorable. He took the train in for the first time alone and, aside from having to stand up the entire first leg of the trip, seemed unscathed. His younger brother Harry has always been a little nervous to take the train without his mom for fear that someone will “steal" him, but Vincent was ready to make the trip.
It was fun having a kid-like person in town. We took him to some sports stores on Saturday because he needed new workout clothes, watched football, and went to dinner in Times Square (this is like Rob’s personal nightmare, so it says a lot that he was willing not only to enter Times Square on a Saturday night at 7pm, but also walk around it and even—gasp—go to M&M World.)
After M&M World, we went home and watched Transformers. Whose idea was it to make that movie 2 ½ hours long? I simply do not have it in me to sit still for that long watching robot aliens fight each other. I think my robot alien battle tolerance is more like 1 hour 45 minutes long (it's good to know these things about yourself.) After that, I start looking for things to clean.
Yesterday we also had Vincent all day, so we walked through Central Park, went to the Met, and then went bowling at Chelsea Piers. It was great to do the kinds of things that we talk about doing on our own, but never would. In fact, if Vincent hadn’t been in town, I think the highlight of our weekend would have been when Rob picked Smokey up, two feet in each hand, wrapped the cat around his neck, and said, “Smokey, I’m going to wear you like a scarf this winter.”
Ok, that’s not strictly true. This was a bit of a last-minute visit, so we had to cancel plans, including a movie with Jay and Cameron, a brunch date, and a party. But it was a good trade-off. I think we had a much healthier and more well-rounded weekend than we would have otherwise. And when I say healthier, I’m thinking more about the skipped alcohol and less about the fries, cupcakes, pizza…never mind.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Mexican vacation

Here is the thing about Americans traveling in Cancun. The bar is really low for impressing the locals with your Spanish. Basically you can say "Hola, como esta" "Muy bien" and "Gracias" and they're like "Oh thank god. Someone who isn't trying to get my attention by screaming Over here, Amigo."* I know something like 20 Spanish words (trust me, I'm not proud of this) and I had a good handful of people tell me that I spoke the language well. And I'm pretty sure that all this means is that I tried to say a few words correctly and I did it at a normal decibel level. Or maybe they were just really, really polite people, which is entirely possible. Also some, but not all of them, may have been flattering me for tips. Which totally works on me. Whatever! They were compliments.
All-inclusive resorts are not really my thing, since you end up spending all day every day in the same place eating the same food. But the people at the resort were exceedingly friendly, we had a good time with Rob's family and the weather was far better than we were expecting--it rained for less than an hour each day, nothing even close to the torrential downpours and possible hurricanes that the "meteorologists" had predicted.
On the last day we were there, the group headed out on a deep-sea fishing excursion, minus me, since I didn't think it would be very appropriate to throw up on John for his birthday. I stayed at the resort and practiced saying "Una margarita, por favor" "Gracias" and "Uno mas." The waitress gave me enormous smiles and complimented my excellent Spanish.

*Yes, this happened. Yes, it was someone in our group. Yes, repeatedly.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Happy Almost Friday

I can't post this on Friday, because unfortunately (for other people, not me) I am going to Cancun this weekend. Rob's brother is turning 50 (!) and we plan to spend our weekend watching the insane thunderstorms that will be hitting Mexico. But who cares? We'll be in Mexico. I can start drinking at 10am and it will be way more acceptable than when I do that in the office.
I should come back with some pretty good stories, because hanging with Rob's family is always amusing and I mean that in the most respectful way possible. Really. But, even if I didn't mean it that way, isn't it great how the phrase "I mean that in a good way" absolves one of all sorts of rudeness? It's one of my favorites.
I leave you with a prime shot of your first guest blogger. This is the face he makes when you tell him that he has to submit his blog post and it's not just going to be automatically accepted. I can't wait to see the face he makes when I tell him I refuse to take this photo down.

Enjoy the weekend! I will.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Bears win; everything else sucks

The Bears beat the Packers, but Chicago had an otherwise rough weekend, with a Cubs loss and possibly the worst marathon experience in their history. Granted, it was 88 degrees and who the hell expects that in October? But the marathon was canceled four hours in, with exhausted bodies strewn throughout the course and at least one death--a 35-year-old police officer. Race officials say they are not to blame for the lack of water and gatorade. Right. It's someone else's fault that runners were so desperate they were taking water from strangers in the crowd and drinking out of fountains.
To be fair, though, you have to prepare and make sure you are fit enough before you embark on running a marathon. And you really have to listen to your body telling you when you're asking too much of it. Marathon runners spent so much time preparing for the big day that even when the race was shut down, many people simply couldn't walk away. If you think those people are idiots, you might enjoy this Chicago Tribune column.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Happy "Columbus" Day

Was there ever a fictional character more terrifying than Christopher Columbus? Rumor has it that this invented explorer crossed oceans to arrive in the Americas just in time for Indigenous People’s Day and immediately hatched his evil domination plan by shaking the hands of the Native Americans and infecting them with all sorts of Italian pirate diseases, like scurvy and pancetta. Today, we celebrate him with parades and clowns, and people dress up like Captain Hook from Peter Pan, because after Columbus spread disease in the “new world”, his hands fell off and it was this legend that gave two brothers named Johnson and Johnson the idea for antibacterial hand soap. Nowadays, kids celebrate the fact that they have hands by tracing them in school to make turkeys, which they offer up to Columbus so that his ghost doesn’t visit them in the night.
Wait…I’ve just been told that Columbus was a real Italian person. But how could he have sailed three different ships around the world in 80 days? Hmmm. Then it does make more sense that there have been protests across the country this week as the nation tries to celebrate a holiday that leaves many of its citizens feeling less than patriotic.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

All the news that's fit to ignore

Today on my walk to work, I passed several newsies (literally dressed in old school newsie outfits—the hat, the vest, the little pants) who were asking if people wanted “a real paper” and handing out The Onion. It was pretty great, because normally I get AM New York on my way to work and that’s just not as fun—the people who hand it out wear regular clothes.
Also, for some reason we are getting The New York Times delivered to our door this week, which we did not order, along with The Wall Street Journal, which Rob does order. I was happy about this at first. Maybe it’s because my commute to work is a 20-minute walk, but now all of these newspapers are stressing me out. I can’t read them and they just sit there looking at me, like “we know what’s going on in the world and all you know is what you heard on NPR this morning between hitting the snooze button and…hitting the snooze button again.” Then they say “You don’t even read online papers, what the hell is wrong with you?” And then when they start getting really insulting, I throw them under the desk. They are there now, in a pile.
My point is that I don’t know how people read a daily newspaper. Much less 4. I do get information from NPR and sometimes I have time to search online for news. But mostly I feel like there is a lot of stuff going on in the world about which I am woefully uninformed.
Luckily, thanks to the newsies and my cursory look at their wares, I do know that a new heart device has allowed Dick Cheney a chance to experience love.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A guest blogger blogs on the blog!

A Modest Proposal to Attain the Perfect Mate
by Jonathan

First off, I want to thank Sarah for the honor of being a guest on her marquee blog. As a loyal SeeSarahBlog reader, I will do my best to uphold her standards for wit, passion, and journalistic integrity.

For those NYT readers out there, today’s article on Friends with Benefits, reminded me of an evolving theory of mine.

Context: I was recently quoted as saying that women (or men) could be viewed as a ‘portfolio of skills and attributes’, the relative importance of each skill/attribute depends on the specific tastes and preferences of the seeker, coupled with the seeker’s life circumstances. (e.g., a conservative man may value spiritual attributes and domestic skills higher than a young New Yorker). While my original motivation for postulating this theory was rooted in shock value, looking back – I think I was on to something.

In the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis, the Oakland A’s were faced with a predicament when they lost Jason Giambi to the Yankees. How do you replace such a complete player when you can only afford to pay half his market value? The A’s figured out a way to decompose Giambi into the core statistics that made him so great and then synthetically reconstructed those statistics with a combination of cheaper players….so they, in effect, retained the combinatorial effects of Giambi, without having to pay for it.

My point: Would it not be much more efficient and effective to not dismiss those that don’t meet all our requirements, in the obnoxious quest to find ‘the one’, and instead componentize our interactions across several people, effectively achieving all the benefits of having the perfect mate?

Note…I am not advocating polygamy as that would actually compound all the negatives under one roof. This is more of a virtual sharing, a societal understanding if you will. “I am not hanging out with your wife because I want to sleep with her, but because her attribute of enjoying football fulfills a component within my portfolio of needs that encompass the perfect woman.” Yes, I could watch football with the boys, but that’s not the point…we are about achieving the net effect of having the perfect mate.

How many times have you met someone and said, “Wow, I really like this and this about you, but that and that unfortunately precludes a sustainable, committed relationship…so good luck in your quest and have a nice life”. Under my system, the interaction would go more like this…”Wow, I really like this and this about you, those qualities fit into my portfolio of needs and I would like bolt them onto my synthetic dream person. I will reserve 10% of my time to appreciate this and this about you, and you can continue your quest to find someone that appreciates that and that about you, but at least we are both 10% of the way there!” Each interaction with a new person would bring you one step closer to constructing the perfect mate, however minute the percentage, as opposed to the current ‘all or nothing’ decisions we are making now. Without a doubt, these all or nothing decisions are suboptimal and prevent us from being as happy as we should be.

Women, recount your frustrations with those wonderful boyfriends that would have been ‘the one’ if they would only have listened to you talk about your fascinating childhood pet ‘Slippers’ or gone shopping with you at Bloomingdales and lovingly sacrificed their afternoons while you patiently made up your mind about which pair of pants goes best with your silver top. Now, it would be perfectly acceptable for you to pull your artist friend Pierre off the bench to laugh about ‘Slippers’ foibles and take a point of view on whether denim complements silver. It may be me, but I only see upside here.

To be Fair: There are some limitations to my theory. 1. Timing: your schedule and your portfolio’s schedule may not always coincide perfectly to optimize your pinnacled happiness, however, let’s be honest, there are always substitutes available to meet most needs, especially when we break down our needs and requirements into discreet packets, or quanta. Plus, as we are comparing this scheduling constraint to the all or nothing option, we are certainly better off so this should all be viewed in relative measure. 2. Biblical constraints: I suppose the bible/Koran/etc would frown on such behavior, so the gentiles may have to pilot the experiment, but remember how much religion has changed over the years based on societal shifts…I’m confident the happiness attained by the flock will inspire a revelation of some sort. Isn’t that how Joseph Smith came up with the polygamist revelation in the first place?

Conclusion: Knowing that you are no longer limited by the skills and attributes of one person, all those ‘Dear Diary’ descriptions of the perfect mate should no longer be viewed as unattainable. I think people, in fact, would work harder to both understand themselves and what others have to offer. With our interactions spread across more people, I’m not talking conjugal interactions…you can still maintain monogamy under my system, the fabric of our society would weave tighter and we could be one step closer to world peace.

Comments welcome.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A cab ride in Providence

It was my own fault for not having any cash on me (what else is new?), but when I asked the hotel doorman if he could get me a cab who took credit cards, he said yes, so how was I supposed to know I was going to end up riding with bipolar Robert DeNiro?
"There's too many things to do," the driver said and then muttered it again several times softly, Rainman-style, as he looked for the paperwork he needed to complete a credit card transaction. "There's too many things to do. We'll do this when we get there." This was fine with me, since we had been in the car for about two minutes and he was swerving all over the road, looking for some specific piece of paper. His eyes glanced at the traffic ahead less often than they focused on the front seat or the sun visor, where his receipts and notes from 1972 to now were clipped together in little bunches. Somewhere in those bunches was a pertinent piece of paper and we were close to running off the road in order to find it.
"Here, you fill this out," he said, passing the receipt book back to me. "Just put the credit card number and expiration date on the top there."
I am good at following instructions, so I did this and passed it back to him.
"Did you do this?" he asked, looking at the paper and then back at me (oh god, watch the road.)
"Uh, yes."
"You did that perfectly." he said, and I might have been flattered except remember that we are talking about me having written my credit card number on a piece of paper. Clearly, the bar for impressing this guy was low.
"Oh. Thanks."
Pleased that we had gotten this far, he then called cab driver headquarters and yelled the following conversation into the phone:

"I have a credit card transaction to do!"

"I haven't said anything yet. How can I not make sense?"

"I have the fare in the car now. Going to the airport."

"You're gonna do it for me right now. DO IT FOR ME."

[reads the number] "Well, it is all right because we have an under...He's a shithead! He's a shithead, that's what's wrong with him!"

[calmer] "Do you have an authorization number?"

"Oh, you want me to read the numbers again?" [At this point, we nearly run into the guardrail. I hate this man.]

[Looks back at me] "Can you believe this?" [It's possible I made a noise in response, but I might have been too busy clutching the door handle and wondering what it feels like to fly out of a cab.]

The conversation continued much like this, until we somehow ended up at the airport, where I gave him a tip, do not ask me why. He handed me my bag and said "Thank you, dear," as though we had just passed a pleasant 20 minutes chatting about his grandchildren and our hopes for the future instead of nearly getting killed on a highway in Rhode Island.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wisdom is all around us

Here is what a tea bag said to me this morning: Dignity and tranquility last forever. I like this particular tea, Yogi Tea, not just because it talks to me, but also because it gives specific advice. This afternoon, it told me to be proud of who I am. It’s nice when something wise—like tea—takes the time to send you a personal message. I’d like to also be able to ask it questions, but life doesn’t work that way.
Nina and I went to a yoga class last night. It was the first time I have been in months and it’s an intermediate/advanced class, so that’s not necessarily a good thing. When everyone else was rising into their headstand with ease, I was spastically shooting my legs in the air, hoping some spiritual super-being would lift them up for me. Nina says she was just looking around at everyone else. The teacher was endlessly entertaining; he adds extra syllables to all of his words, which mostly has a calming effect, but sometimes makes me want to giggle. “EEN-a-HALE…” he will announce, striding around the room in his bright purple shorts. “And EX-a-HALE.” Then he’ll tell us to sit down on our blocks until we can feel our buttocks blossoming beneath us. To illustrate, he will grab the back of his shorts and happily massage his butt for us.
He is all about us opening our hearts up. I like this. But while I was trying to blossom my butt and open my heart, the woman in front of Nina kept making little moaning noises. I found it distracting and I realize I forgot to ask Nina if it bothered her, too. First of all, there were the noises she was making: like erotic sighs at certain points and then more like snorts of annoyance. And then there was the fact that she wasn’t doing all the poses—occasionally she would just flip into some random position, lie there and moan. I’m not sure she was even een-a-haling when she was supposed to. Also, she was wearing bright red lipstick. I just thought that was odd.
After class, I went home and ate a piece of cold pizza and drank a glass of wine. I debated whether this was un-yogi-like and if I should be continuing the 90-minute detox we’d just been through by drinking water and eating vegetables. But then I figured that if I was making a mistake, I would hear about it the next day from my tea bag, and as you know, my tea bag told me I’m all good.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Help me help myself

Fall is upon us, which means only one thing. I need new clothes. Sadly, seasonal wardrobes don't just offer themselves up, so I also need funding. I am open to ideas. The concept of having some sort of financial backer with whom I trade other favors is likely out of the question, since Rob, while sweet--and certainly generous, staunchly refuses to be my sugar daddy. He encourages behaviors like "having a job" and "paying off debt."
The idea here is that I am trying to save money and be responsible. But I think I'm actually becoming slightly crazy and more than a little materialistic. I have started to treat the retail stores in Soho more like museums than viable places to purchase goods. Ooohhh, classic skinny black work pants at Theory. Don't touch, just admire. This appreciation occasionally turns into hostility. I hate you, adorable brown boots on I hope you burst into flame before anyone can buy you.
OK, obviously this is massive exaggeration, but the true part is that if anyone wants to give me money to buy a new wardrobe, I have favors to trade. I make a mean apple crisp and I will totally cut your hair.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Try keeping a cat in one place while you are poking it with a needle

Seriously. Try it. Then you will know what I go through twice a week with Smokey, the cat who is occasionally possessed by demons, usually at night when I’m trying to sleep. Smokey is Rob’s cat, but I claim him as well because the actual definition of ownership is struggling to get a cat into a tiny carrier, walking it to the vet while it screams, protecting it from your other cat who thinks it smells weird and attacks it when it returns home and exits the carrier, feeding it, cleaning up after it, holding it at night because it thinks it is a teddy bear, and yes, administering an IV drip for it while singing to distract it.

Don’t feel too sorry for Smokey. Despite being nearly 16 years old, he usually behaves like a kitten on crack, running through the apartment at top speed to get to…another room. And then running back again. Oddly, though they eat the same food every day, he is nearly 10 pounds lighter than our other cat, Emma, but this doesn’t stop him from trying to fight her for domination of various pieces of furniture. He eventually wins by pushing her big body off of things.

About a year ago, Smokey was diagnosed with kidney disease, which is why we have to shoot him up with subcutaneous fluids. And by we, I mean I. Rob tried it for awhile, but the result was usually Smokey streaking out of the kitchen and Rob yelling profanities, while trying to stop the IV bag from leaking all over the place. He was perfectly fine with handing over the responsibility. And Smokey knows when it’s going to happen. He will suddenly disappear and I have to go find him in one of his hiding places and drag him out of it. It’s tons of fun. Even better, Emma has become comfortable enough with the process that she will come into the kitchen while it’s happening in order to mock Smokey. So, while I’m trying to hold him still and keep a needle in between his spindly cat shoulders, I also have to swat her away with my free hand to get her to give us our privacy.
When Rob goes out of town, for some strange reason, Smokey feels the need to crawl back and forth across me while I am trying to sleep and the only way to get him to stop this is to put an arm around him and let him sleep with me. I am actually getting used to this, which is just bizarre, though this week he would not lie still and I finally had to kick him out of the room. He proceeded to cry on the other side of the door for 30 minutes until I let him back in again because he was DRIVING ME INSANE. Rob chooses to use stories like this as examples of what kind of parent I will be (a lax enabler who can’t enforce rules.) His interactions with Smokey usually involve throwing the cat into the air and letting him land on the bed, twirling him around and then fake-punching him. I use these as examples of what kind of parent he will be (in fact not a parent, but another child.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

O.J. Simpson: no smooth criminal

I don't even know what to say about O.J. Simpson. Except that if I were him, and I had gotten away with murder, I would probably refrain from participating in any future activities that might get me locked in prison for life. I don't know, take up gardening. Or see how long you can hold your breath.
Even though it's O.J. and he's clearly not the sharpest knife in the drawer, this story is extra weird. O.J. is accused of committing 10 felonies. Among them, suspicion of assault and robbery with a deadly weapon (though most of the people involved seem to agree that O.J. was not in possession of a weapon.) Oh, and kidnapping, because he and his crew went into a hotel room and said that no one could leave. (This definitely means that I could be accused of kidnapping the guests at my spanish fiesta party last year. But, in my defense, I fed them tasty snacks while they were my prisoners.) All so he could get back some of his memorabilia. Dude. Buy it on EBay.
This story is from the Canadian Press (why not?) and I especially enjoyed the line:
"You can't rob something that is yours," Galanter (O.J.'s lawyer) said. Good luck getting O.J. off the hook, sir. After that, you can repeat fifth grade.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Being sick really ruins a sick day

I was home sick today, which makes me feel hostile. Staying home sick is only fun if you are not actually sick. But I was. So now I am nicely drugged and full of the soup that Rob brought home for me, and I am like the worst sick person ever because all I want is a glass of wine.
Rob and I went to see Ben Harper on Saturday night at Radio City Music Hall. We met up with Krista and Danielle for drinks before the show and, as usual, missed any kind of opening act there might have been. No matter. The show was fun. Ben Harper is at his best when he's playing the slide guitar or rocking out gospel-style. I find some of his other stuff bland, but there was a nice mix of Ben-ness. He did excellent covers of Use me Up by Bill Withers and Masters of War by Bob Dylan. I could really feel his anger on the latter, even from our cheap seats in the second mezzanine.
At one point, I left to use the bathroom and as I made my way down the hall, some guy did a full handspring and, upon landing (I give it a 10 because I definitely couldn't have done it: not a good way to rate things) declared, "You see? That's what I'm talking about!" And then some woman, who had just exited the bathroom and seemed uninvolved, yelled back "Fuckin-A right it is!" And I was confused at how I had somehow ended up at Cirque de Soleil.

Now I am missing the Mandy Patinkin appearance that I was so looking forward to, but I am somewhat mollified by the fact that I saw Wallace Shawn (inconceivable!) walking down the street yet again yesterday. As usual, I only stared.
I apologize if this post is incoherent. As I said, I am drugged.

Friday, September 14, 2007

An email exchange with Krista

From the top down.

Subject: Copy edit, por favor?

Krista: hey, thanks! you rock the party that rocks the party. or, wait, is it you rock the body that rocks the party? hm. weird. seriously, i love you for helping me. i am SO psyched for tomorrow. danielle got here this morning and it was so good to see her. she walked me half-way to work ;)

are you going to matt k's book thing on monday? i'm going to go because when i told him i was wavering, i got the phone call. basically he's using me for [Note: had to delete this part. Deal with your curiosity. It's not sexual. If it was sexual, I would have left it in.] that's cool, he can keep on using me...till he use(s) me up.

what are you up to tonight? we're doing happy hour on the roof top of the delancy in the les. trying to get hannah to come but she just keeps me hanging on.

let me know!

hey, did you realize that i put a little clip of a song in each of the above paragraphs. freakin genius.

Sarah: You are such a weirdo.
Matt’s thing on Monday is the 2nd book event I have on Monday PLUS Monday is supposed to be pilates night. But, since Mandy Patinkin is going to be there (Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.) I might go. The other event, however, is across the street from my apt at the Half King. So.
Gabby is in town for the w/e, which I now think I may have forgotten to tell you. We are going to a comedy club at the insanely ridiculous hour of 6pm because a friend of hers is performing. We will most def call you afterwards to see what’s happening. Also, my friend Andre is in town and we need to meet him for a drink. It is so exhausting being beautiful and popular.

Krista: i had no idea that mandy patinkin is also inigo montoya and now everything has changed. i will be there with my copy of the princess bride and will reveal to him that he is and has always been my only true love.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Italy goes on pasta strike

I knew there was a good reason why I ate half a pound of penne with pesto the other night! It wasn't because I had exhausted so much energy working out and needed the fuel, because the last time I went to the gym I walked around it like a zombie, curiously touching the machines and lying on a towel looking at the weights. I did ride one of the bikes, but after 10 minutes at the lowest resistance possible I decided that I would rather go get a drink of water and a new towel. To lie on. Doing nothing. It was a really worthwhile gym experience.
So it wasn't for that reason that I devoured the pasta. And it wasn't because my body was feeling the need for more carbs, since I graciously fed it bread and breadlike snacks all day long.
Why, then, would I stuff myself until I literally felt like I might explode and wondered if it had, in fact, not been such a good idea? It was because I am Italian and my super Italian powers sensed (just sensed!) that the people of Italy were being asked to do the unthinkable--give up pasta for one entire day. No eating it, no buying it, no thinking about it. Hmmm...they probably were allowed to think about it. But that's not the point. Because of recent price hikes, they had to forego the food of their forefathers and I, clueing into their pain, was simply doing what seemed right. I was eating pasta for my people. A lot of pasta.
Here's the story.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Death by thermostat

Why must office buildings be freezing cold in the summer? It’s rainy and humid outside, so I am a sweaty, wet mess* by the time I get to work, having opened and closed my umbrella seven times for mini-showers while balancing my coffee cup and trying not to listen to even a small part of some of the crappy songs that are oddly on my IPod (um, Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood? I suspected that Grammy 07 album was a bad idea.) My toes are wet and muddy because I am wearing flip flops instead of rain boots like the smart people who walk next to me. As I open the door to my building, an icy blast of air conditioning hits me. It feels good for 1.5 seconds and then I am shivering in the elevator until I get to my desk where I have 4 sweaters, 3 of which I put on immediately. I try to brush the street off my feet before putting on real shoes, see how many times I can wrap my legs around each other, and then I just sit there for a few seconds, thinking mean thoughts in my head.
In winter, this whole experience will be reversed, when I slide through ice on my way to the jungle-hot office, take off my coat, sweaters, and boots and sit at the desk in what is probably an inappropriate tank top, pulling a sweater over my shoulders and cleavage anytime someone approaches. Like a total spaz.
I used to live in San Francisco, where there are also temperature differentials. But in San Francisco, the key is layering. In New York, the key is working from home.

*This reminds me of how my friend Natascha used to order gyros in college after the bars had closed. “Um,” she would say, squinting at the big slabs of lamb and extending one finger towards them, “Can I get some of that sweaty, wet meat?” I would shake my head in embarrassment, and she would wrinkle her nose as though someone else had called the gyros a gross name and the whole process disgusted her. And then she would eat the entire plate.

Monday, September 10, 2007

My mom wrote a song

My parents were in town this weekend and it's the first time I've seen them since Rob and I got engaged. The night they arrived, the four of us were sitting in the living room drinking a bottle of wine and talking about our plans for the weekend (Drive somewhere? Walk somewhere? Take a boat ride somewhere? We are creative) when my mom lost her cool and started singing a song she wrote called “I’m Gonna Have a Son-in-Law.”

I’m Gonna Have a Son-in-Law
(Repeat until your daughter walks over to you and says “You’re really going to have to stop that.”)

To be fair, the wedding discussions were not over-the-top or annoying. Although this was in large part because we had food in our mouths the entire weekend and it was hard to talk.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

I know, I look normal

I really enjoy painting my nails. I like doing it, not so much because having pretty, manicured hands is appealing to me, but because I like to methodically pick it off the next day. This is embarrassing. I have left pink/red/purple/white polish bits in my boss's office, in conference rooms, on the subway, in bed, and on this computer keyboard. Nervous habit.
So this week, I decided that I was going to get a manicure and NOT PICK IT OFF. I went to the place next door to my office because it costs a whopping $7.50 to get my nails done. This was also kind of an emergency because I had made it through half of the "Your Villa or Mine?" O.P.I polish I had put on the night before and had then come to what can only be considered a nail color stand still. No more polish would come off easily. I didn't have the bottle with me to slyly repaint the chipped parts. Solution? Cheap manicure.
So I actually had nails when I walked into the little shop. I am not tall, but I towered over the tiny Peruvian woman who led me to an open chair. Distracted by that fact, the soap opera on the single television in the room, and the wall of mirrors I was facing, I didn't really notice when the little woman began shearing off all of my nails. I think I became aware of it somewhere in the middle of the first hand, but I was so surprised that the best I could do was say feebly, "Oh, you're just kind of cutting them all off..."
She looked up and gave me an enormous smile and she was so cute that I couldn't even be angry. She just seemed incredibly happy to be chopping off my nails and turning them into little stubs and I figured that they do grow back, so I let her paint them a light pink color that O.P.I. calls "A Peony for Your Thoughts."
It's been almost 48 hours. It's still on. I don't have the heart to pick at the stubs. Perhaps this was my answer.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Ah, the end of wedding season

Rob and I capped off our wild wedding season with a twofer on Sunday. Wedding Five was a small, lovely ceremony in midtown. We had to leave after the group photo (with bubbles) and before the trifecta of receptions (high tea, happy hour, dinner) in order to get to Wedding Six, which was on a boat circling Manhattan. It probably sounds exhausting to attend two weddings in one day, but it was actually pretty fun. My fabulous friend Cameron, the bride at Wedding Six, shimmied down the aisle to the Nina Simone song "Feeling Good" which was hilarious and awesome. As we passed the Statue of Liberty, the DJ cued up "New York, New York"--mostly because the groom threatened a mutiny against cheesiness if he played the Star Spangled Banner, which I guess is what they normally do.
You know you have a good wedding table when, instead of toasting the happy couple, you clink your glasses and yell "Team 17!"
I can say with confidence that we had a great time at all our weddings this summer, and we are sad that we missed Wedding Four because the airlines are lame and afraid of little things like electrical storms. Whatever. Also, we're seriously considering eloping.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I think I burn calories just watching sports

Yesterday morning Rob rubbed his hands together like a man hatching an evil plan and announced "Today is a sports smorgasbord." And it was true. We watched a billion college football games, the U.S. Open, some baseball, and even a little pre-Olympic basketball. Rob went for a bike ride in the middle of all of this and although I told him I was going running, I was fast asleep on the couch when he returned. Sports smorgasbords make me tired.
Today the U.S. Open is back on our TV and we're watching Serena Williams play Marion Bartoli. They just showed footage of Serena's calf injury from Wimbledon and I'm sorry, I'm sure it hurts, but unless she just got shot or there's a baby coming out of her leg, this reaction seems a bit melodramatic.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Karaoke Bachelorette Party

Karaoke bachelorette parties, while relatively tame, are not without their own drama. Consider the midtown studio I went to last night, located in a former brothel where you have to climb three flights of stairs to enter the small, shady establishment. It’s BYOB so people come hauling boxes and bags of alcohol and, if they’re smart, water.
Each group gets their own room with sagging couches, machines with only Korean words and instructions, and strict rules about jumping and microphone swinging. Apparently, some karaoke performers can get out of control when rocking the classics. But not the bachelorette and her sister during the song “Maniac.” No. They were perfectly well behaved.
Last night, there was a slight karaoke miscommunication (bound to happen) when the owner—gasp—double booked one of the rooms! The problem didn’t involve our group, so I was able to watch with nothing more than curiosity as the owner, a middle aged Korean woman who looked like she'd be equally likely to smack you down or give you a hug, argued over the phone with the unfortunate party. But at some point in the conversation, threats must have been made, because she abruptly hung up the phone and went tearing down the stairs, screaming “I call police!” I didn’t really sense a lot of imminent karaoke danger, so I just headed back to our room and sang Killing Me Softly.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's possible I have too much time to think

I've decided machines at the gym should have their own little TV screens. And I can say this objectively because I don’t watch TV when I work out. But this morning I was at the gym, using an elliptical trainer that was at least 30 feet away from the row of TVs that hang off of the ceiling (I am spatially challenged, so this may not be true, but the point is, I couldn’t see the screens well.) I am assuming that the purpose of the TVs is to allow all of the people using the machines to watch bad reality shows and the stupid news channels they have on. But here’s the thing. At my gym, only the bikes and the treadmills are really close enough for viewing. If you want to use a different machine, you’re in a row that’s further back. So, that’s my solution. Tiny screens on all the machines, so everyone can watch Coach reruns at 6:30am if they don’t want to listen to Joe Scarborough’s nonsense on MSNBC.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I'd like to dedicate this to my mother

It has been pointed out to me that after all of my posts mentioning the pressure to get married, I have glossed over the fact that Rob and I got engaged. So...Rob and I got engaged! It was last weekend before we left for a quick trip to Chicago for a friend's wedding and to see my family. Our car to the airport was downstairs waiting for us when Rob asked me if I had finished packing. I had, but was worried that I was going to forget something--like my dress. So I started to list the things I was bringing and then asked if there was anything else I needed for the wedding. That was when Rob floated seemingly from the ceiling with this open box in his hand and said "How about this for the wedding?" And oh, the shininess. I don't know what happened after that, but there was hugging and laughing. Words were said. And then we had to run downstairs to get in the car.
At the airport, I walked around like a weirdo staring at my ring. It had suddenly started to rain and flights were getting canceled, but ours continued to flash on the screen simply as delayed. It ticked later and later by 30 minute increments until we finally had to stop looking at the monitor because it was clear that the airline was just inventing things and that pretty soon it would show that our flight was departing in June 2008. We decided to go to an airport restaurant where we were informed that due to the volume of hungry, irritable, un-airborn people, we could only have chicken wings or chicken tenders. They neglected to tell us that both were made with runway road kill, but it is the airport, so I'm not sure what I was expecting. We ate and made faces at each other. It took Delta 6 hours to decide that we would not be going to Chicago and that the lovely engagement, which had been timed to coincide with seeing my family, would be celebrated back at home with the cats.
To recap: we got engaged, drove to the airport, ate some crappy expensive food, and came home. But nothing could ruin the experience. Really.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Rob, Chat, John and I chartered a fishing boat with Captain John today. I was the first one to catch a fish! And the first (and only) one to puke over the side of the boat. I am surprisingly proud of both events. I named my fish Ralph, which was good foreshadowing. Chat caught the biggest fish, but decided against naming it.
It was supposed to be rainy and chilly, but we've realized that the weather in MV never matches the forecast. In fact, it's sort of like opposite day. Every day. So it was a beautiful sunny day and we were out on the water for 4 hours. It took about 30 minutes for the seasickness to kick in. I was able to warn Chat, who was sitting next to me, so I'm hoping the experience wasn't too traumatic for anyone else. Rob came over and held on to me as I hung over the side. Because, really, the only thing worse than being horribly horribly sick to your stomach is being horribly horribly sick to your stomach and then drowning.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dispatch from the vineyard

There are no actual vineyards here. It is definitely a case of false advertising.
On our first full day in the house together, 5 of us set out to purchase some necessities. Girls went to the grocery store, not really because we're girls, but because both Rob and Chat have the disease that renders one unable to enter the grocery store without having some small fit that might result in one lying fetal on the floor until one is carried out by hefty stock boys. We sent them to the wine store for safety's sake. When we all met up after our errands, we had spent the same scary amount at both stores. Which means we had enough food for a small army and enough wine, well, it turns out we had enough wine to last us about 2 days. When they told me they bought 20 bottles, I thought they were a little crazy. The next day, when they told me we had taken down 8 of those bottles, I admired their brilliance through the haze of my hangover.
I have also learned several things on vacation:
1. I should not drink champagne and wine for several hours and then play Pictionary. Violence ensues. At one point, I admit that I did throw my pen down and refuse to draw anymore after Rob and John couldn't get my clues for the word "deadline." (A face with x's for eyes. And a line.)
2. During Pictionary, when someone draws a big body and then a smaller body, the answer is not "little human." A better guess is "baby."
3. When you are jogging down the side of a windy road with no actual running path, facing traffic, you should not stare at your engagement ring just because it's new and shiny. Watch the road.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Deepish Thoughts is going dark

Not permanently, but the blog will be on hiatus for a week or so while I'm on vacation. First stop is Chicago for wedding 4 of 6. Then Martha's Vineyard! I am going with 6 friends, one SUV, 5 books, and a Bocce ball set. I could not be more excited. We have sheep in our yard at the house we rented. I promise many good stories of Penny chasing them around trying to eat them.
Let me leave you with a thought: I just learned that there is a new form of cosmetic surgery being practiced wherein doctors are taking hair from the head and using it to elongate eyelashes. This was originally devised as a procedure for accident or trauma victims, but now women around the country have decided it's a brilliant idea to give them that doe-eyed look they desire.
More on blinking your bangs.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

As if I need another distraction

The cover story on the Aug 27 issue of Newsweek is about Facebook and how oh my god, everyone is doing it! This probably wouldn’t have phased me, except that I keep hearing from coworkers and friends that oh my god, everyone is doing it! The founder of Facebook (I can’t remember his name, so I’ll refer to him as Opie) says that the site is not for social networking. Rather, says Opie, it’s about connecting to the social graph that already exists in the world. Tap into it, and you have a company that went from a Harvard experiment to one that Yahoo offered $1 billion to buy (Opie said no.) Facebook, according to one of the dudes on the board, is now valued at $7 or $8 billion. And they’re probably taking it public, anyway.
What I’m trying to figure out is how people even have time to be addicted to Facebook. I can barely keep it together to do my job, blog once in a while, visit my own favorite websites, attend to Gmail, call my friends and family, read books, keep up with Entourage, work out, clean the house, feed my cats, and occasionally talk to my boyfriend. Now you’re telling me I need Facebook? A site that, according to some members, people can spend 4-5 hours a day on?
MySpace still has a lot more members than Facebook, and I understand that it’s pretty addictive, too. But a 22-year-old I know told me that Facebook is so much better than MySpace. MySpace, she said, is ugly and disorganized. Facebook is clearly where it’s at. I understand this, because this woman joined Facebook in college and it became a big part of her social life. But now my friends in their 30s are all about how Facebook is a must for any professional. Why? What exactly is Facebook going to do for your career? Seriously, someone tell me.
I tried Friendster for a while 5 or 6 years ago. It was so stressful! It was just like staring at the stack of magazines that piles up in my living room, taunting me for subscribing when I have no time to read them. I wonder what it is that the people who spend their time on Facebook are giving up. For some, like my aforementioned friend, I suspect it's work. She says she spends much of the day bouncing between job responsibilities and Facebook responsibilities.
But what if, upon trying Facebook and finding a bunch of my friends or other like-minded people to spend my time with, I found it just as addictive? The danger is great. So I think it’s best that I stay away, unless someone comes up with a truly compelling argument to join Opie’s gang that doesn't involve me giving up sleep or food, or result in me getting fired.