Thursday, September 28, 2006

Dance, Dance Revolution

When anybody mimes being at da "club," even as a joke, there's always the obligatory sound effect: "Nnnn-sss, nnnn-sss, nnnnn-ss." I was drinking next to the East River tonight (um, at a party, and not on a park bench, despite your preconceived notions about me), and I had the following thought....

I think everyone secretly has a favorite club song they're thinking of while they're making fun of being in "da club." And it's one of these four:

1. "What Is Love?" by Haddaway
2. "Rhythm is a Dancer" by the Real McCoy
3. "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" by C&C Music Factory
4. "Another Night" by the Real McCoy

Have suggs I've missed? Put 'em in the comments section. Double-dog dare you.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

New Favorite Procrastination Show: House

I'd like to add House to my list of Procrastination Shows. You know, the TV programs you watch not because you're that invested in them but because you'd rather not do work. So far, my Procrastination Shows include The Biggest Loser, America's Next Top Model, Grey's Anatomy, The Surreal Life, My Fair Brady, Wife Swap, Best Week Ever, and just about any hastily slapped-together countdown show on VH1.

But House is my new favorite. Why? Because Hugh Laurie is brilliant, that much we know. But also because he's hot. In the words of one of my old New Jersey roommates, "I'd let him be wit' me." And even though two out of three of his underling sidekicks can't act (Omar Epps I can stand -- he, also, is a hottie) and the whole series is like a string formulaic episodes of CSI set in a hospital, I will tune in week after week as long as I get to see Laurie belt out one of his trademark sarcastic remarks, much to the expected chagrin of everyone else on staff.

Give me House, a glass of decent red, and a slice of pepperoni pizza, and I am SO good to go.

As long as I don't have to actually meet deadlines or "work" on anything.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Senseless and Backward

It's no Nick Carter calling off an engagement, popular U.S. media, but this happened today, and it made me profoundly sad: Gunmen Kill Afghan Official Who Backed Women's Rights.

Two masked men. They couldn't even show their faces when they killed her. It's cowardice in the face of something so progressive and so positive.

Safia Amajan was 65 years old. Sixty-five. Think about how much more difficult it must be for someone of that age to go from place to place than for most of us who are reading this right now. But she was in there -- right in the thick of where women need help most. She was a woman of God who refused to play it safe: "If it's God's will, they will take me anywhere." She was talking about her own death.

I am going to say a prayer for her family tonight and ask for a gift of anything resembling her resolve and dedication.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Duane Weird

I'm having a bad case of the Sunday blues. So far, there's no cure except for a 5.1-oz package of Peanut Butter M&Ms, of which I've devoured half. I actually might stop eating them, though, which kind of makes me a wuss considering in high school I could plow through a pint of ice cream and half a one-pound bag of these babies in the time it took me to watch The Breakfast Club (for the 26th time). Dear God, I was sad in high school. Um, and now, considering the fact I'm drowning my sorrows in candy-coated processed chocolate.

To cheer myself up and remind myself that I should be grateful for the things I have, I checked my bank account online. I found two charges, side by side, both to Duane Reade, for $14.87. I was practically in mid-stride to my cell phone so I could call my bank and get them to remove the charge, but I looked closer: The charges were on two separate days, to two separate Duane Reades. I thought back to a few days ago. Then I pulled a reciept out of my trash can: Yep, $14.87 for my trip to the DR on Saturday, and I know I spent about that much on Wednesday. I had unknowingly bought exactly the same monetary amount of goods three days apart. That is an amazing coincidence.

So, kids, in Newbieland, $14.87 will buy you either:

Package A:
1 box of tampons
1 pack of birth-control pills (for my skin, of course)

Package B:
3 greeting cards (two birthday, one I'm-sorry-you-have-cancer-but-let-me-know-if-you-need anything-even-though-you-live-20-hours-away)
2 manila bubble envelopes for mailing birthday gifts
1 six-pack of Diet Coke

Scintillating, I know. *sigh* Where are those Peanut Butter M&Ms?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

New Leaves and the Like

I've been thinking a lot lately about taking action purposefully. Choosing to do something rather than letting circumstances and others dictate what I do and whom I'll be. Three things in particular are resonating with me this week:

1. I watched a documentary on biblical disasters on the History Channel this week, and at the very end, a professor (of anthropology, I think) said that the most important thing that humans can do after a natural disaster is go to work. Why? To prove that we are actors in the world, not just objects that are acted upon.

2. I had an hour and a half phone conversation with Aunt Shirley on Sunday, and she said she's doing okay. I'd be impressed if she managed to get up and brush her teeth every day, but not only has she done that, Aunt Shirley has taken care of most of Uncle Loren's assets, sold her barn, gone on a trip to Cozumel with her daughter, and gotten her hair done -- even managing a smile sometimes. "I'm doing okay" is an understatement for a woman who lost her husband suddenly three months ago. This is what she told me: "I wake up every day, and I think, 'You can have a good day or a bad day, and that is up to you.' Loren wouldn't want me to sit in the living room and cry, so I don't." She cited an example of a woman she knew peripherally who still cries every day even though her husband died seven years ago. Aunt Shirley is fiercely determined not to be like that. I can hear it in her voice.

3. I like this old post of Ramit's that he just linked to again. I've thought about it a lot this week, and already it's given me a little hope for a project I've wanted to start for a while now.

The outcome of all of this? Well, for example: I haven't procrastinated as much as I usually would have on a freelance project that's due next week, and, for me, that's huge. Like the professor, Aunt Shirley, and Ramit recommend, I'm taking conscious steps toward a goal and changing my mindset one day at a time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Jokes Write Themselves Today

Okay, best story AND headline ever today on

Doctor accused of giving stripper a hand

"Excellent!" I said to myself as I rubbed my hands (ahem) together greedily. I began anticipating the story in my mind. "I'll bet some moderately well-known doctor felt a stripper up at some sleazy club, got booted out by the bouncer, became belligerent, and was arrested by the police. I'll bet it was Dr. Phil -- wait, no. Dr. Phil's too popular. He would have been named in the headline. I'll bet it was some talking-head quasi-doctor like...Dr. Sanjay Gupta or Dr. Ian Smith from 'Celebrity Fit Club.' I never did trust that Smith, with his well-tailored clothes and his Fat Smash Diet and his smirk."

But I clicked, and behold: The real story was even better. Some 26-year-old Jersey doctor supposedly gave some Jersey stripper a real hand. A literal hand from a cadaver. And she named the hand Freddy and kept it in formaldehyde alongside six skulls she allegedly bought through the mail (her mother thinks, anyway).

Since the story is only 12 sentences long and covers only the basics, I have several questions I'd like answered:

1. Was the hand some sort of payment for a lapdance or other favors? Did he promise her a freaking hand because he was a little short on singles one month?

2. What's with this stripper's death fetish? Don't strippers' tastes usually run to, say, maribou, baby kitties, and supporting their children on a single mom's salary?

3. Did he and the stripper discuss the hand at length? Did they have enough conversations during their *cough* courtship *cough* so that he was able to ascertain that she would appreciate a hand? And if so, how long was this "courtship"? How many times did he go to this Jersey strip club to "see" her?

4. Was he unsure of which body part, exactly, to bring her, so he decided on a hand at the last minute? Or was she dead-set (no pun intended) on a hand or no body part at all?

5. Why am I not surprised any of this took place in Jersey?

6. Was this stripper's (supposedly suicidal) roommate not bothered at all by the fact that there was a hand in the apartment? Let's leave the eBay skulls out of this and focus on the hand. Seriously. In formaldehyde. Named Freddy. Wouldn't most people see that as a sign to end the lease ASAP and take up residence elsewhere? I mean, this is a place in New Brunswick, New Jersey, not a sweet deal on a West Village share. That would be different.

I need answers. Atoosa?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Tic Tacs

When I was a cheerleader in high school (shut up -- it was the Midwest, and we all make mistakes), we girls talked about such scintillating topics as how many clicks we used on our new Secret dial-up deodorants, what width of hair ribbon was too large for competition cheering, and how many sports bras we needed to layer under our uniforms so our nipples wouldn't poke through. FAAAA-scinating.

So, one day back in the mid-'90s when my squad and I were at cheerleading camp, I made a joke about my having a small chest, which is true...unfortunately. I quoted Screech from an episode of "Saved By the Bell" when he was Bayside's gym coach (was it the students-as-teachers episode? anyway, who cares). Screech blew the whistle and looked one male gym student up and down. "Is that your chest or did two Tic Tacs fall down your shirt?"

The girls on my squad rolled at that one. Except, as cheerleaders are wont to do, they all misunderstood the point of the joke. From that day on -- for about two years or so -- everyone on the squad referred to "Tic Tacs" as the phenomenon of one's nipples poking out of one's shirt, most often observed during cold weather. They even made up a silly cheer about it: "IIIII've (clap) got Tic Tacs (clap)." (To be done while holding out one's chest in between claps, natch.)

I hadn't thought about that ridiculous cheer until today at the gym, when I was dutifully lifting my eight-pound free weights in front of four muscley guys pumping iron at their weight benches, and got -- you guessed it -- Tic Tacs. A total YM "Say Anything" moment, yes? Except I'm serious about this: If anyone out there has a suggestion, please tell me the proper etiquette for dealing with Tic Tacs at the gym in front of muscley guys at the weight station. Should I attempt to casually cover up with my free weights? ("Just strikin' a pose, guys! Go on and keep lifting!" *smile*) Should I go about my business and trust that the post-high-school-age men aren't staring? What if they do stare? Should I wear another sports bra, a la the busty girls on my cheerleading squad? Should I bind my chest with Ace bandages before suiting up? Band-Aids?

Anything. Help. Atoosa?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Good Wine

Buying a bottle of wine that costs more than $10 and discovering it's horrible is damn disappointing. Unless you're just looking to get loaded, in which case I recommend Aristocrat vodka.

A good bottle of wine, on the other hand, makes everything better (drinking companions included). I like spicy, dry reds, so my rule of thumb lately is to go with the Malbec whenever presented with a mystifying assortment of wine choices. Malbec is rarely bad. The Malbec I'm enjoying right now is Enrique Foster Ique Malbec 2004. It's heavy and dry but fruity, which is a nice surprise, flavor-wise. I got it for about $11 at a wine shop, but you can buy here for $9.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Goodbye, Spice, Goodbye

When I called my salon on Saturday to make my hair appointment for today, Martini the receptionist answered. (At my salon, the stylists are given ridiculous alter-ego stylist names like Mist, India, Velvet, Jet, and Israel.) I asked her for my usual stylist, Spice.

"Spice hasn't been with us for months," Martini said.

"What?!" I said. I can't lie: I was disappointed. Not devastated -- I mean, Spice and I weren't BFFs like Ken Paves and Jessica Simpson or anything -- but I could always count on Spice to give me a decent haircut and a nice highlighting job. I say only "nice" because no stylist has ever been able to give me a Gisele Bundchen mane, but maybe that's physically and chemically impossible.

"Yeah. It was a really sudden thing," Martini said, which is the corporate equivalent of "she got fired."

"I guess I'll just take someone on her level, then," I said, sort of depressed.

Spice was definitely better than my previous highlighter, Inga, who would dye me Marilyn Monroe-blond even when I asked her to take it down a few levels to a nice sand. "No!" she'd insist in her Russian accent. "You look good blond." And Spice was way more predictable than Danny, my previous haircutter. Danny liked goth clubs more than he liked showing up at work to do his appointments. When he was actually there to cut my hair (which was about 50 percent of the time), I'd be regaled with his tales about '80s metal bands (because Danny used to do the bands' hair) and how, back then, goth meant something. He said Joey was the only decent Ramone because he used to let Danny into the parties. When Joey died, that all stopped. But, hey, Danny did give good cut...when he felt like it.

After all of that, Spice was a great stylist. When I first met her, she was profoundly skinny and scrappy with wild dark corkscrew curls and a disarming smile: the kind of condescending power grin that top magazine editors and lawyers have -- like the Cheshire Cat with a wad of unmarked payola money stuffed in his treehouse. I've seen that same smile on notoriously difficult people, and I instantly knew that I shouldn't get on her bad side. She liked me, though; she did good hair, and I stuck with her for a year. She used to squeeze me in at the end of a long day when she should have been on a train home, and if I had to wait too long for her to start highlighting, she'd give me a free color gloss. Once she took pictures of my hair for her portfolio, which made me feel as close to modelesque as I'll probably ever get. With Spice, all of my somewhat luminous haircut-and-highlight jobs were mysteriously around $130, which, in Manhattan, is practically free.

One day, I saw her in a heated discussion with another stylist. They were talking about someone at the salon, I deduced. She came back to my chair and started cutting furiously. "Don't worry. This won't affect your hair," she said. "It will make it better." She smiled devilishly, and the scissors glinted under the salon's fluorescent lighting.

My last appointment with Spice was hurried, I remember. It felt rushed even though I ended up waiting around before and after shampooing. As I sat under the dryer, Spice sat next to me, talking to another stylist, and she got angry about some previous incident, it seemed. "...And I don't give a FUCK!!!" Spice said to the stylist, and, with the diplomacy of a senator, turned to me and said, "Excuse my language."

Spice was up for a stylist's award that appointment, a few months ago, and she invited me to a big party surrounding the big announcement. "But open bar ends at 10, so get there early," she said, as she wrote all the details down on the back of a business card. I was flattered that she'd invited me. But somewhere, in the back of my mind, I knew it might not be a good idea to go drinking with Spice. I had visions of threats being yelled, extensions being pulled out, and glasses of G and T being thrown and broken.

All things considered, I don't think I'm exactly shocked that Spice is no longer. I have Spice's personal e-mail address, and I have to admit that I'm curious where she ended up. A swank place on the Upper East? Or a rough-and-tumble barber shop in Jamaica, Queens? She'd fit in either place. I half want to contact her; she's sort of like that crazy friend everyone had back in college who almost got you arrested once and turned into the drama queen from hell if she drank anything remotely resembling tequila, but, man, could she throw a great party.

Goodbye, Spice. And good luck.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Poor New Yorkers: They're Just Like Us!

I am seriously considering buying these $20 earrings because I saw them in Us Weekly* and liked them so much. I can't decide if that makes me way lame or a normal American woman.** Considering I absolutely despise clothes shopping and feel that damn near everything in this city costs too much, I think it's okay to drop a Jackson on some crap every now and again.

*Yes, I read Us Weekly. (The Hot Stuff section, at least. A girl's gotta know who's doing who.) But I have a subscription to Esquire as well. Balance is key.

**I also have a replica Britney Spears engagement ring, but that was for my 2004 Halloween costume, and the fake bling went nicely with my trucker hat, kabballah string, and bag of Cheetos, so that's excusable. I don't wear it around the house or anything. It's honestly too ugly to wear even in the privacy of one's own home.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Tacky McTackster

I think we can all agree that on some level (subconscious or downright forefront) that we keep track of our exes. Maybe we Google them once every 11 months or so. Maybe we nonchalantly ask how they're doing through a friend of a friend. We hear of their career failures and snicker and roll our eyes; we hear of their career successes and clear our throats uncomfortably, unable to come up with anything snarky to take them down a peg.

Today, my college ex e-mailed me quite tackily (along with all his other friends, in a mass frenzy of BCC bloodshed) to say that he was changing his address; he and his girlfriend are moving in together.

I sorta-kinda expected this when I saw the subject line that said he was moving. The only reason a bachelor changes his address is if he buys a place (which I'm almost positive he can't afford) or if he makes the commitment to a pretty young thing willing to do his dishes indefinitely. But I know I wasn't an accidental add-on to his list of addressees. He knew he was sending it to me, the oddball orange out of all of his apple friends, because he's keeping track of me as much as I am him.

I love the part of his e-mail that invites anyone on the BCC list to come on down and stay with "us" (God, that word cuts for some reason) in "our" spare bedroom if we want to get away from the Northeastern cold. Can you imagine me packing up my suitcases and knocking on his door sometime in late December 2006? "Hey, guys! I wanted to stay for a bit to get out of the cold. Can I get an extra towel? A feather pillow? Wanna watch Stepmom on DVD? Let's make some popcorn! I'll sit between the two of you!"

And this relationship-step race? Oh, he wins. He wins the cohabitation race hands-down. I'll never beat him to that because I'm an old-fashioned, engagement ring kind of girl. And if he has found a woman willing to pick up his boxers, sort his piles of loose change, call the exterminator, clean the his bathroom, tolerate his sloth, and throw away all of the bar/restaurant/ATM receipts he has lying around, she can absolutely be my guest.

But am I talking about him? Thinking about him? Yep.

He wins that race, too. Today, at least.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Triumph, As Defined by My Workplace

The following is a transcript of something that actually happened at my office today:

Mike (a 40-something colleague of mine who's well spoken and wears glasses): [Setting a file down on my desk]: "This is for you."

Me: "Qu'est-ce que?"

Mike: [Smiles] "Are you practicing your French?"

Me: "Yeah, from, like, 10 years ago."

Mike: [With a faraway look in his eyes] "I ordered a cherry tart in French once. And I was answered in French. I was happy that I was answered in French. Because I thought that must mean they understood me. But then -- then -- I was brought a cherry tart. They had understood me. When they answered me, they hadn't just been saying, 'Go to hell' in French. When they brought me the tart, it was then... It was then I knew I had succeeded."

Mike paused and looked at me, and tears were already welling in my eyes I was laughing so hard. At the seriousness of it. At the truth of it. At the fact we were discussing a cherry tart with such reverence at 9 in the evening, still at the office.

Loved it.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Inspiration in New York

The Boyf and I did a couple of fun things together this weekend. Friday evening, we ate at Lil' Frankie's, a small, hip Italian place in the East Village that has fantastic food. I had pasta with a veal ragu, and the Boyf and I split an appetizer of mussels and a bottle of Barbera d'Asti wine (um, not counting the two glasses each we downed at the bar beforehand, but no matter). Everything was perfect except our a-hole hipster waiter who treated us like street urchins after he seated us next to an open door on a cold, rainy night and I had the gall to ask to be moved. Seriously. What was I thinking? My nerve.

We also went to the Whitney Museum this past Sunday to see the Edward Hopper exhibit, and afterward we talked about "inspiration" as a concept.

Now, I like art. I like museums, and I appreciate seeing the real thing as opposed to a picture in a textbook. Sometimes, after I see an artist's work, I get the vague impetus to create. But inspiration? At twentysomething years of age, with a 401(k), bills, a semi-hellish work schedule, and rent to pay, the term "inspiration" seems a little juvenile.

At this point, am I -- or are any of my peers who have spent their lives working and playing by the rules -- going to create something of value out of nowhere? Am I going to wake up one day and write the Great American Novel after having written nothing but this blog and occasional hack copy for the past four...eight...years?

The guys and gals we see in the museums -- Hopper, Munch, Sherman, O'Keeffe -- these people were living art daily even if they had to go commercial in the beginning to pay the bills. Does that spirit exist anymore in a world where simply existing/driving to work/paying rent anywhere in the U.S. (but especially in New York) is more expensive than ever before?

I'll tell you something: I wish it did. I wish it existed in the everyday, like it did when we were children and everything seemed as though it would make a really good crayon drawing. When we all thought we could be artists. Or writers.

Sometimes I think the city has made me cynical.

(The painting is "Office at Night" by Edward Hopper. It's at the Whitney now. It is my favorite one that I saw on Saturday.)

Friday, September 01, 2006

So, There Is No God. At Least Not in Trumpworld.

Trump tells Carolyn: "You're Fired!"

At times, the only reason I watched Trump's second-rate program was to see Carolyn, pristine and poised, the only representative of a powerful woman on the show. (Take a peek in the backlogs of the show and notice that Trump was all too eager to fire/demean the ladies in favor of the men.)

As a mini-tribute to Carolyn, whom I found to be quite inspiring over the past two years or so, I want to share something: On one "Apprentice" task (does it really matter what the task was? Weren't they all essentially the same?), a group member complained about what a crappy team of ninnies he had to manage. In response, Carolyn said something like this, which I remember almost every day:

"Then fix it! I don't want to hear what a horrible team you have. Fix it!"

So now, even if it's just figuring out how I'm going to find time to pick up my freaking dry-cleaning, I remember what she said: Just effing FIX IT. It's not rocket science; it's everyday life. And your lot is most likely no harder than the person's sitting next to you on the train. (In fact, it's probably easier.)

"Fix it."

Thanks, Carolyn. And even though you probably don't need it, best of luck to you.