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.