Inspirational Videos Make Me Sad

I’ve mentioned it before: my friend Joey telling me once, “I think you feel things more deeply than most people do.” I remember feeling doomed when he said it, because I’d always thought everyone else was just like me and I, for some reason, just couldn’t handle Normal and had to compensate accordingly. But no. Joey says I’m not Normal. Joey says I’m Different.

I realized it kind of explained a lot. It explained depression in my teenaged years (not the typical teen angster, I—writer of poetry, listener to Pink Floyd in the early ’90s, singer of classical music—everything was just slightly to the wrong side of typical). It explained anxiety in my adult years. It explained my tendency to shut down emotion so I can function without feeling like I’m at the bottom of a dark hole by myself, or at the highest point in the world, but knowing I’m soon going to be in that hole. (This is different from depression. This is existentialism. One is a medical condition, the other a philosophy. Admittedly, they’re probably linked. And I’m actually kind of a rational existentialist, which is, in itself, contradictory. Sigh.)

Which, really, explains the choice of my first career, one in which you can only thrive if you’re jaded and cynical, because letting humanity enter in will basically ruin your faith in it or make you cry all damn day, every day, for various reasons you can’t always pinpoint.

Or maybe that’s just me.

I’d like to believe it made me Exceptional, like Woolf or Van Gogh. But though I do buy the flowers myself, my writing isn’t required for tens of thousands of students. I still have both my ears and would probably never lop one of them off of my own volition, and I can’t paint for shit. I’m worse than Bush 43. Way, way worse.

I actually think he’s pretty good.

I don’t understand why people will stop their day to watch something they know is going to make them cry. I don’t want to cry. I think I overdosed on it when I was younger. So I skip over those videos that are supposed to inspire you, because I prefer Sweet Brown memes. Sweet Brown memes do not bring my day to a screeching halt, never to be restarted, because I can’t get out of my own head.

Apparently, for the people who watch the tearjerker videos, it’s just for a minute, and it actually kind of makes them feel good, and then they go about their day. But for me, it creates this whole thread of thinking, and suddenly the really beautiful Thai Life Insurance commercial that will totally get you if you have even a shred of a soul becomes an entire internal debate about how much of my money I should give away and why I can’t keep a potted plant alive (obviously it has to do with my selfish inability to remember need when none can be voiced).

Really.

And then my whole day has gone to hell and I’m sad.

Also I fall in love with the guy in the commercial. Who is probably an actor in California only pretending to be the nicest guy in Thailand, but still. And then I think about why I can’t find a guy like that. Or why he would definitely, definitely dump me, even though he seemed really interested all along. Or why I probably wouldn’t like him if he stuck around, because I’m a heartless bitch.  Or something.

When really, the problem is that I’m not heartless at all. The problem is that if I let myself watch three-minute inspirational commercials for Thai Life Insurance too many times, I’ll just want to go to bed.

Existentialist bed. Not depression bed.

It’s really no wonder so many somewhat existential artists killed themselves or died some sort of sad, pathetic, poetic death. (Suicide and sad, pathetic, poetic death really are the pinnacles of existentialism, no?) Not me, though. I’m only an average existentialist. I’ll probably die falling down the steps with a basket of laundry in my arms after contemplating the pointlessness of laundry, my final thought being one of irritation at polyester, my face obscured by a small pile of panties when someone finds me days later. Someone who holds them up and says, “I never would have thought she’d wear leopard-print thongs.” Because they didn’t know the real me.

Or someone who holds them up and says, “I knew it. Damn!” Because he always thought I “oozed sex.”

(Somebody told me that once.)

Or my mother, who would find time in her overwhelming grief to be disappointed in my undergarment choices.

(They are not white. They do not cover everything. They’re probably not even really clean, because they can’t be washed in original formula Clorox. My house probably isn’t really clean, either. Clearly I’ve been sent to hell for wearing hoochie pants.)

Sigh.

And so this is why I don’t watch most of the inspiringly heartbreaking ads people post on Facebook. This is why I shut out sad realities in favor of unintentionally funny news soundbites that make frightening situations seem hilarious.

Because I cannot afford to fall in love with that guy from the Thai Life Insurance commercial, who will never love me back, and whose rejection will leave me despondent enough to listen to listen to “The Wall” again.

P.S. Check out this list of artists who have committed suicide. Some of the descriptions are kind of funny. This list was obviously complied by a cynic.

P.P.S. Seriously, though, watch that Thai Life Insurance commercial. 

P.P.P.S. Or this.

It Could Have Gone Either Way

My life cracks me up.

Last night I was at a fundraising event for a local charter school. I don’t have skin in the game, except that I care about kids’ education because it keeps them out of trouble and makes them productive citizens on the off-chance I happen to live past 70 and need a workforce to put something into the economy to help support those of us who can’t work anymore, in the interest of the humane treatment of the aged. Also my friend JW is on the board of the school, and, while dining at the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall the other night with Javier and me, he roped me into going to this thing. Having exactly $21 in my checking account and no cash, I made sure I could do the ticket and any auction bids on a credit card (don’t worry – I carry no credit card debt now, so this is okay for a month) and then agreed to go.

It was a lovely evening, of course. The art was an eclectic mix (as all art is wont to be) of local artists and kids who attend the school. All the proceeds from the auction went to the school, and the open beer & wine bar’s pours were all donated by a local establishment. The hors d’oeuvres were tasty, I won three pieces of handcrafted jewelry at auction—one of which is a 50th birthday gift for my friend Ali, who is presently an hour late for dinner at my house—and I was happy to contribute to the cause. And I’m only slightly pissed that I missed out on a beautiful necklace by five dollars because I was an idiot with my bid. And several of my friends were there, including Javier and his girlfriend, Lydia.

Lydia and I have a funny acquaintance, which I credit to the fact that Javi is a flirt and has, as you know if you’ve been reading my blog for a year or so, made overtures toward me a time or two, in small but fairly obvious ways. I’ve kept him at arm’s length because of Lydia and because I don’t want to fall for another charming deceiver. (Aside from his mild implications of willingness to deceive Lydia, don’t ask me why I know this, but Javi is divorced while claiming he’s never been married.)

Staring at the artwork of sweet, city-dwelling ten-year-olds juxtaposed with the artwork of odd grown-ups, Lydia and I caught up on life since we last saw each other. I can’t remember for sure, but that might have been at my house in the wee-bitty hours of New Year’s Day.

“So what’s new?” I asked her.

“Oh, you know… went on vacation, looking for a new job,” she said, smiling and nodding.

“Wait,” I said, thinking that, with the brash emcee yelling into the microphone on the other side of the room, I might have misheard her, “did you say you went on vacation, or you’re going on vacation?”

“Went,” she said.

“Oh! Where’d you go?” I asked.

“Colombia,” she said, as if “of course” were implicitly, but silently, added. Javier, being a Colombian native whose family is still there, had gone to visit for two weeks in February.

“Oh! You did go!” I responded, with absolutely no way of hiding my surprise.

See, the funny thing is, before Javier went, I asked him, “Is Lydia going to Colombia with you?”

“Uh-uh,” he replied.

There is a Colombian accent for this, and so I wasn’t sure I’d heard him correctly. Had that been negative or affirmative?

“Yes?” I asked.

“No,” he said.

“Oh,” I said.

But… yes, apparently.

Interesting. Why would he lie to me about that? That’s dumb.

A bit later, standing next to each other in front of a photograph of a backlit, vinyl-lettered, side-of-the-road sign with a pithy artist’s thought in typeface around it, Javier nudged me with his elbow. I turned to him, blinked, opened my mouth and then—

“No. Nevermind.”

“Wha?” he wanted to know.

“No. Another time.”

At the end of the event, with my three pairs of earrings, receipts, program, ticket, and invitation from Adhira (another neighborhood friend and Javi’s best female friend) for her board’s gala fundraiser in three weeks in hand, I cabbed it a couple miles to a bar where Paul’s band was playing. Around the corner from the bar, my phone buzzed with a text message from Elaine. “Are you coming?” Paul’s band was about 15 minutes into their set when I walked in, to much welcome from Elaine. Within minutes, I found myself chatting with a young woman who’d also come to hear them play. She asked how I knew Paul and Elaine, and after I answered, she said, “I used to date”

I knew, somehow, the next words—

“Paul’s old neighbor, Liam”

 This is hilarious.

“He’s apparently all hung-over, so he’s not coming tonight”

Okay…

“It’s cool, we’re still friends and all”

I don’t… why are you…?

                                                                                                         “But maybe”

saying this?

“it’s good that he’s not coming out, you know?”

 It’s not cool at ALL, is it? No, I don’t think it is. Oh, awful. I’ve been there.

I am standing next to, and chatting with, Liam’s ex-girlfriend, who, no matter how hard she tries to sell it, is not over him, and who has no idea, nor will I tell her, that I, too, dated Liam recently. 

Oh, this is rich.

She is NOTHING like me!

Who does this happen to in life? 

Well, at least he isn’t dead. I half-wondered if he’d died in Australia during his business trip and that was why I’d heard nothing since his last message, which had said, mixed in with some other words, “I’m going to send you some pictures when I get to Sydney… Maybe we’ll be able to chat via Skype… I look forward to talking with you…”

And then vanished.

(And yes, I did breezily offer two messages in the three weeks since. Nothin’.)

Elaine turned to another friend.

“Lisa, this is Jen—”

“Oh, yeah!” Lisa reacted to Jen, “you used to date Liam!”

Ha! Holy crap, this is happening! 

At no point did I say anything to Jen about having gone out with Liam. There was absolutely no reason for it, and I’m not upset about the situation. I mean, look. We had two dates and an attempted third, some lovely conversations on the phone,  and a few contacts while he was overseas. I thought for sure we’d continue to see each other at least for a little while, based on the level of interest he showed and which I reciprocated proportionately, but there wasn’t a lot invested in this thing. But how often does it happen that you run into that guy’s ex while you’re watching the friend who set you up rip a sweet riff on an electric guitar, so soon after that guy disappeared?

Hilarious!

A little while later, with Jen on the other side of the bar, Elaine leaned toward me and asked, as though she knew the answer, “So what’s going on with Liam?”

I casually said that I hadn’t heard from him in a while, but that it was funny to find myself standing next to his ex-girlfriend tonight.

“Yeah, that was kinda weird,” Elaine said with a squished-up face, “but I didn’t know what to do.”

Well… you invited us both… 

I assured her of the truth, which was that it didn’t bother me in the slightest.

“Well, maybe that’s the problem, then,” she said, without offering an established problem for her theory. “Maybe that’s just what he does.” She gestured toward where Jen had been.

I had no idea what this meant, and I didn’t care to know.

Looking up at the televisions in the corners of the bar, I saw that Wisconsin had just lost the NCAA semi-final basketball game to Kentucky by one point. Which meant I had just lost a $360 pot in which I had made everyone nervous by being the only top ten player to pick Wisconsin to win it all. Eight of the ten had picked Florida, who’d been bounced the round before.

Saturday night. And so much that could have gone either way.

Random WTFs including why Pinterest is the devil

Couple things.

Someone wound up on my blog because they searched the entire internet for “images of men in england wearing speedos whoeing two inches…”

The ellipsis was included in the search terms in my dashboard, but I couldn’t find out what it represents. I can only assume it means the search was still more detailed than it appeared.

I literally have no idea why they landed here after searching that. I have never written anything about men in England. I don’t think I’ve ever written anything about Speedos, mostly because I’d like to pretend they’re not real. I don’t know what “whoeing” is. And “two inches”… I don’t even want to think about what that could mean, corresponding to the Speedos.  Usually people land here because they Google plastic surgery and I wrote ah post about that that seems to have been SEO optimized while I wasn’t looking.

(Click here and watch til about :55 seconds in to find out where I got my tendency to say ah instead of “a.”)

Also: got a 95% on the first official research paper I’ve written in nigh on 15 years. An arbitrary 95%, wherein no specific reason for subtracted points was noted. Fine. I don’t care. Ninety-five percent on the first research paper I’ve written in nigh on 15 years. I will take that. I will take it and I will like it. Because grad school.

But here’s the main reason I’m posting right now. I’m posting right now to ask all the mothers of young children to stop consulting Pinterest for stuff. You people are going to drive yourselves insane.

Shiny New Niece turned one a few weeks ago, and Youngest Neph turned four last week. They have the same mother: Sister 2. And she loves theme parties.

You see where this is going.

I can’t post the pictures of the stuff she did because the person who searched for men in England wearing Speedos and whoeing two inches would probably be able to figure out who she is if I did that… but suffice it to say she lost her damn mind.

I will say this. I will say Google “Pinterest Octonaut party” and you will get just a vague idea of the madness involved in this two-hour birthday party for a four-year-old.

I’m talking about marshmallows covered in just-the-right-shade-of-blue frosting, their bottoms rolled meticulously in graham cracker crumbs intended to look like sand, with tiny pearl candies to look like bubbles stuck strategically about, and little Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers stuck to the sides.

I’m talking about a not-insignificant amount of the dwindling supply of helium packed into balloons of varying blue shades, covering the ceiling to make it look like the attendees were under water.

I’m talking about Rice Krispie treats rolled in Gummi Worms and masquerading as sushi.

I want you to know that I actually Googled images of those things, found them, inserted the pictures into my blog post and then deleted them, because I don’t want to drive traffic to Pinterest to encourage this kind of insanity.

Today on Facebook I saw a Pinterest picture of little Teddy Grahams, cut just so, appearing to drive cars made from bite-sized candy bars with mini M&Ms stuck to their sides as wheels.

You guys.

Stop trying to impress the other moms.

Look—I get it. It’s fun. It’s a challenge. It makes you feel like you can really do something when you attempt something like this and it turns out well and everyone marvels at it. But mostly, you’re making people wonder how you have so much free time to do this kind of crap for the sake of a four-year-old’s birthday party. 

What happened to cone-shaped cardboard hats with pinchy rubber bands under the chin and some boxed cake mix?

Why are you doing this to yourselves?

As is well documented here, I am not a mom. I suppose I arguably have never loved another human being with such ferocity that I felt the need to put this much effort into something that was going to last two hours and get destroyed or thrown away. I appreciate the art of well-crafted meals as much as anybody, and I love to entertain. But they’re kids. They really don’t need all this stuff.

Do you?

Really?

Who is it for, really? Why stress yourself out? Isn’t there enough to worry about without pulling your hair out over algae-inspired guacamole?

Your mothers and aunts, by the way, resent this stuff. They think you spend too much money and too much time making them look bad for the parties they threw for you when you were a kid.

Give yourself a break. Give Pinterest a break. Give all the other moms a break.

Failing all of that, give me a break and don’t post the pictures of your attempts at wee children’s party favors on social media.

Unless they look like this.

pinterest fail

 

 

 

 

What was that thing I used to do sometimes? Blogging?

A month. A whole entire month since I posted.

That, my (remaining) friends, is the longest I have ever gone. Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of my blog, and this is my gift to those of you who have been here almost all that time. Admittedly, it’s not much of a gift, and all you had to do to open it was click on the headline, but if we’re being honest, that’s all you’ve had to do to get anything from me in that three years.

I have thought of you. Oh, I have. I have thought, “I should write a post about that!” or “It’s been forever since I posted… and I feel like I had an idea… that one day…”

Mostly, though? Life. You know. You’ve had it. Not bad. Not amazingly good. Not whisked-away-to-an-awesome-deserted-island. Just living. Trying to stay above water. Trying to write, in one weekend, despite all best efforts at head starts, two 10+ page papers for grad school when it’s been 14 years since you wrote more than a page and a half. And doing it while possibly also having had a martini.

I swear to God, I wrote five paragraphs I didn’t remember writing. And they were good. The martini was merely average, and I so completely forgot I’d written them that I actually made a note to myself to write about the stuff that, it turned out, I had already written about.

I don’t know if that’s alcohol or age.

Also? It occurs to me that the paragraph up there was eerily disrespectful of the Malaysian Airlines situation right now, with its deserted island and above water references. Except if they’re on a deserted island, it’s probably not awesome.

See? I’m still a bad person. That hasn’t changed.

Speaking of that, though, my new fun game is playing Whack-A-Conspiracy-Theorist. My father thinks the plane was stolen for ransom. I’d like to know where he thinks some asshole landed a 777 full of people without anyone noticing, and how he thinks said asshole was gonna get picked up from wherever that was and delivered to his reward.

I personally am pretty sure it was hijacked, the flight crew was overcome or forced to fly a new route, and then the plane ran out of fuel and is now in the water. Nothing that’s real becomes an ABC series that pisses everyone off in its finale. Mini-series, tops.

You’d think I would have stopped being disrespectful when I actually noted that I was being disrespectful. Huh.

In other news: Bill O’Reilly should go away. Did you see this thing with his simmering disappointment about the president going on Zack Galifiniakis’ web show and degrading the presidency? Like nobody’s ever done that before. I mean I’m pretty sure that breaking into an opposite party’s office to steal stuff during a re-election campaign or getting blown in the hallway outside the Oval or being a general moron “decider” aren’t things that do favors to the institution. You know? But here’s Bill-O, Mr. Falafel, flatly stating about the president’s appearance on the web show that “Abe Lincoln would not have done it.” 

Well, no shit. There are a lot of things Old Abe would not have done. He wouldn’t have tweeted, sent an email, flown in a plane, driven a car, ridden in a car, used a telephone, taken penicillin…

You see where I’m going with this.

…wouldn’t have read “Killing Lincoln” by Bill O’Reilly…

…and not just because he would have to be alive to read it…

I’m saying “Abe Lincoln would not have done it” is not valid unless the “it” was done by James Buchanan or Andrew Johnson. And they were both dull, so there’s a lot of wiggle room there, too.

For those who may be wondering, Liam is presently out of the country on business in Madrid. To be followed by a quick layover in Singapore en route to Sydney. By which I mean there is basically nothing that is “en route” to Sydney, but anyway, that’s the itinerary. We’ve had two dates and a third attempt, thwarted by family obligations on both sides. He’s not back for another week and a half, but he may be in touch before then.

Since I’ve been gone, Shiny New Niece turned a year old and Neph 2 informed me essentially that I suck at Super Mario Brothers. Also I beasted “Killing In the Name” on the easy setting of Guitar Hero and am now seriously thinking about joining a band. Both aforementioned papers were finished, if not good, and I await grades. I enrolled in a summer class, a political science elective about public policy. Oh! And I testified in the senate judiciary committee of my state legislature in favor of a bill my state delegate wrote at my behest, asking that offenders who have violated terms of home detention not be granted eligibility for home detention in the future. It seems like a common sense thing, but the bill isn’t going anywhere. It’s not written well. But that’s okay. We keep on.

I am well.

I hope you are, too.

If not, I hope you’re completely nuts and leave an amusing comment.

In Soviet Russia, Lucky Get YOU

This is a thing that really actually happened and I can’t embed it as a video because I’m seriously not upgrading my WP account for that, but you have to watch it, HAVE TO WATCH IT, both because it will make your life better and because you won’t understand this post if you don’t.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.
.
..

….
…..
……
…….
………
……….
………..

OMFG, right?! Can you even breathe right now? Do I need to call someone?

This is my favorite thing now. When I first stumbled across it (posted on Facebook by a more-than-slightly-weird young opera singer I know), I thought it couldn’t possibly be real. I thought it was a spoof. Like Fred Armisen had returned to SNL and was doing a brilliant skit. But then I realized that the source for this was the NBC Olympics website, and if you want to talk about harsh punishment for minor crimes, I can tell you that NBC is as close to the Russian Police as you can get when it comes to sharing their Olympic content anywhere else. This clip does not exist in full anywhere but on that site. It cannot be YouTubed or embedded on another source or Vladimir Putin’s American cousin Lenny will come to your house and break you like a little bird.

I have watched it about five times now, and though the NBC Olympic site will not allow for frivolity, the comments on Gawker and Deadspin are nothing short of brilliant. And then I started watching it full-screen and discovered the choking, sobbing-with-laughter joy of interpreting the priceless facial expressions. And since the NBC Olympics site will not allow for frivolity (you gotta wonder who’s worse, Putin or NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel), I have wasted a great deal of the time I intended for doing my taxes and cleaning on making screen-grabs and accompanying thought bubbles. And then I cocked that whole operation up because I’m not that good at stuff like that, so you’re going to have to be okay with just pictures and captions.

"I am sorry, Mother. Please, no shoot while on TV, ok? Mother watches."

“I am sorry, Mother.
Please, no shoot while on TV, ok? Mother watches.”

(Guy on left actually WAS up all  night, actually DID get lucky.)

(Guy on left actually WAS up all night, actually DID get lucky.)

"Maybe American talent scout sees me, gives me part as handsome, brooding bad guy, eh?"

“Maybe American talent scout sees me, gives me part as handsome, brooding bad guy, eh?”

"Goddamned Apple Maps. How the hell did I wind up in Russia?!"

“Goddamned Apple Maps. How the hell did I wind up in Russia?!”

"Old Russia NEVER do this. Everybody think Putin sooo scaarrrry. Bah. Stalin! Stalin scary."

“Old Russia NEVER do this. Everybody think Putin sooo scaarrrry. Bah. Stalin! Stalin scary.”

"Oooh! Heehee! You see what he just did with his hips? Wowee."

“Oooh! Heehee! You see what he just did with his hips? Wowee.”

"Finally... I am STAR!"

“Finally… I am STAR!”

"Please, no shoot. I do good job. Look! I dance for you."

“Please, no shoot. I do good job. Look! I dance for you.”

     -"Oh my God. You see that? Shit." -"I saw, I saw. Act natural. "Shit."

-”Oh my God. You see that? Shit.”
-”I saw, I saw. Act natural…Shit.”

-"This is best day of my life. Better than day I got out of gulag. Better than day I fight bear. I am STAR!"           -"I hate this guy. Guy is... how you say? ...Douchey."

-”This is best day of my life. Better than day I got out of gulag. Better than day I fight bear. I am STAR!”
-”I hate this guy. Guy is… how you say? …Douchey.”

As Sochi's mayor said, there are no gay people in his town. So these guys had to be brought in from St. Petersburg.

As Sochi’s mayor said, there are no gay people in his town. So these guys had to be brought in from St. Petersburg.

This sweet old man isn't even a member of the Russian Police. They covered his head with burlap, dragged him in off the street and trussed him up to make their group look more "perestroika-y."

This sweet old man isn’t even a member of the Russian Police. They covered his head with burlap, dragged him in off the street and trussed him up to make their group look more “perestroika-y.”

"Anybody notice yet I no sing at all?"

“Anybody notice yet I no sing at all?”

"Oh, God. Is Kalashnikov rifle..."

“Oh, God. Is Kalashnikov rifle…”

"Wait, THAT guy is star? Where is polonium?!"

“Wait, THAT guy is star? Where is polonium?!”

The Lost Art of Being An Ass. Or Maybe Not Lost. Because History.

Of all the ways to try to insult people, of all the ways to convey displeasure, of all the ways to express anger, I have the biggest issue with one simple gesture.

The Finger.

I actually looked it up, and Wikipedia (Online Knower Of All Facts) says it is “roughly equivalent in meaning to ‘fuck off’, ‘fuck you’, ‘shove it up your ass’, ‘up yours’ or ‘go fuck yourself.’ It is performed by showing the back of a closed fist that has only the middle finger extended upwards, though in some locales the thumb is also extended.”

I had no idea about the third and fourth definitions, which now has me questioning my previous definitions of those phrases and the antecedent for “it.” But I rather enjoyed the academic approach to the gesture’s implications and mechanics.

Whatever its intention, I find it to be, frankly, the least intelligent,  least creative way possible to share one’s unhappiness with another person’s behavior.

I’ve always had a beef with the finger. I can honestly say I have not once in my life used it in anger, irritation or frustration. In fact, rarely have I even used it ironically. I don’t know that I’ve ever been able to express exactly why I refuse to use it, but this morning, on my way to work, I think it finally gelled:

The only people who ever flip someone the bird are the people who are in the wrong.

I was proceeding in an orderly fashion in a westerly direction on a main road in my city when a woman decided she would neglect entirely the laws of traffic and attempt—nay, complete—a right turn from her southerly orientation across several lanes of westerly-traveling traffic so that she might arrive in the lane of her choosing at the time of her choosing. (The lane of her choosing was the second-to-left on a four-lane road.) In order to do this, you’ll perhaps not be surprised to learn that she wound up perpendicular to the westerly flow across 2+ lanes for a period of time, blocking said lanes from proceeding in their orderly fashion.

I laid on the horn.

Admittedly, I find that to be an irritating behavior, as well.

She looked over at me and I put my hands up on either side of my body, at shoulder level, palms up, and said aloud, “What are you doing?”

And she gave me the finger.

No. No, no, no. No. Sorry. You. Are. WRONG. You are in the wrong here. You do NOT get to do that. I don’t care that your gloves are cute. No.

After she had gotten to where she wanted to go at her will and against that of the rest of us, and after I had made it onto the expressway for which I was aiming, I kept contemplating that thought. And I realized… Hey, you know what? Every time anybody flips anybody else off, it’s because the flipper is the ass and the flippee is pointing that out. Ipso facto: all flippers are wrong, and usually selfish.

Think  about it: if you’re a finger-flipper, what makes you do it? Do you do it when you know you’ve done the right thing and someone is mistreating you for it? Probably not. You probably do it when someone shows you you’ve done or said or maybe just thought something wrong, and you don’t feel like addressing your conscience and correcting the matter. The finger is not the gesture of a martyr. It is the gesture of an ass. It is the witless expression of one too lazy to find a more creative, intelligent approach, or of one too self-absorbed to admit fault and simply wave in a gesture of apology.

Sorry. I like you and all, but still.

And since we are a community of writers, my dear frogs bliends froggers blienders bloends blog friends, I feel sure that we are a community with better ways of expressing ourselves. Or… you know… controlling ourselves.

Turns out, the finger dates back to The Proverbial Day in Ancient Greece and Rome. I had no idea humankind has been so afraid to use their words for so long. And the Greeks and Romans had some damned fine words—words from which our present-day language emerged. The finger was meant to symbolize the penis, with the fingers on either side representing the testicles (which makes one wonder what the extended thumb referenced above was all about, and which also confirms that one is always larger than the other, as implied by the two fingers to one side, one finger to the other orientation). Apparently it was also used as an implication that a man submitted to anal penetration.

I’m guessing the recipient of the gesture might have found that an offensive implication.

*Eye roll*

So, if or when tempted to use the gesture, keep that in mind.

But really, folks. Even if you do feel entitled to make this move, isn’t there some other, more creative, less over-used, more intelligent way you could find to make your feelings clear? It may seem odd, but I might actually prefer someone to actually say “Fuck you” aloud. At least then they’re using words. I realize that my preferences are diametrically opposite the flipper’s cares,  but most people don’t want others to find them imbecilic—particularly people who frequently use this gesture. So maybe try not to look imbecilic.

There are better ways to be an ass. Is what I’m saying. If all else fails, go with this movie clip’s method.

 

Eight Months of Exile

There’s this thing that happens when my favorite football team has clearly lost its game. I can spend the whole time they’re on the field yelling, clapping, covering my face with my hands, bouncing my knee, standing, swaying, leaning forward on the couch and generally being ridiculous for reasons that affect the outcome not at all… but when they’re obviously going to lose and there’s just no way to avoid it, there’s a consistent phenomenon that comes over me: I fall completely silent and go completely still.

For those of you who don’t follow football, don’t watch the Eagles or hate them with the passion that only a Giants fan can summon (right back atcha, by the way), the Birds started out the season horribly. They beat the Redskins in the opening salvo of Monday Night Football while my poor demented neighbor, Miss Ella, seemingly locked herself out of her house (not really – the back door was open – but my three friends who summoned me didn’t realize that). After that, though, the team finished the first half of the 16-game regular season with a pathetic record of 3-5 and such inconsistent play that nobody knew what it would take to get them on track.

Miss Ella was taken to a nursing home weeks before they got out of the basement of the NFC East. She passed away right around the time Mike Vick pulled a hamstring.

And then everything changed. The neighborhood got a lot quieter and the Eagles got a lot better.

Nick Foles, a second-year, second-string quarterback who had only started five games in the NFL before the midway point of this season, came in to take over for Vick… and all of a sudden, the Eagles had an offense. The second half of the regular season, with Vick suited and watching supportively on the sidelines, they went 7-1. Though every blasted game made me nervous (a symptom of a lifelong allegiance to the team), they managed not only to wrap up the regular term with more Ws than Ls—they also wound up beating the Dallas Cowdung… I mean Cowboys… to confirm their spot atop the NFC East conference and head to the playoffs.

Nevermind that the NFC East has been the weakest conference in the NFL for a few years now.

And so we came to last night. Me, alone on my couch after guests had left, because you really shouldn’t watch a consequential Eagles game with me, lest your opinion of me as a woman and a person in control of herself change dramatically. I had taken off the shirt I’d been wearing earlier in loyalty to a college team and was waiting anxiously to see if I was going to have to put on my Eagles t-shirt. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever owned any Eagles merch, and it had proven magical a few weeks before when, while decorating my Christmas tree and unable to see the game because it wasn’t being aired in my market, my sister was texting me play-by-play and told me to put the shirt on in the 3rd quarter when the Eagles were down by two TDs. Exactly one minute after I’d donned the shirt, the team scored, and began their comeback to win. In the ensuing weeks, I hadn’t had to wear it – though I thought about it – because it was clear it could only be used if the Eagles were down in the 3rd, and that hadn’t happened. They were precariously close to losing their lead more than once – and even in the game preceding the Cowboys matchup, when they were up 40 – 11, I wasn’t sure they’d really win. (They eventually did, by 43 points.)

As a fan, the last thing you want to do is screw up your team’s performance by putting on their shirt at the wrong time. In the immortal words of whoever wrote the Bud Light commercials: It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.

But last night, in the third quarter, the Eagles suddenly found themselves trailing. Eighty years as a ball club have demonstrated that when they’re down at this point in the game, they’re not getting back up. The only time I can remember when that hasn’t proven true was the week I put the shirt on.

Ding went my cell phone, signaling a new text message.

Sister 2: Put the shirt on.

Me: Literally just got off the couch to do it.

A tense few minutes of play later, it was obvious that there was some sort of disruption in the Force.

Me to Sister 2: Maybe they don’t know I put my shirt on.

Sister 2: Maybe you should take it off and put it back on.

Me: That’s unprecedented. I fear the potential fallout.

I held firm. Sure enough, it started to work. I didn’t feel a tingle and nothing started to glow, but as I sat bolt upright on the front half of my couch cushion through all play and commercials, bladder and thirst (in diametric opposition) be damned, the team started to come back. It started to look like they might do this thing. They wound up in the lead: 24-23. My hands hurt from hard-clapping.

And then the Saints got the ball with a few minutes left in the game. They weren’t passing. Drew Brees, their annoyingly illustrious quarterback who is two years younger than me and who I remember watching at Purdue when I was in undergrad in Ohio and my friends attended there, was running a ground game. They had decent field position and, perhaps most critical of all, a ground game the Eagles couldn’t seem to stop. No interceptions possible. Less chance of a fumble forced by a hard hit, or of stripping the ball from a receiver’s hands as he tries to control it. First down after first down (could the Eagles not hear me yelling at them not to let the Saints convert?), and exactly the right amount of time on the clock to go the yardage needed. There was no way the Eagles were going to get the ball back without committing some serious penalty that would cost them yardage. The Saints had previously mounted an effective defense run by former Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan’s evil son, Rob, whose eyes, I swear, shoot lasers sometimes. Now with the ball, they could run the clock down, get themselves into good field goal position, kick an easy one and win the game by two.

I could see it all unfolding, like I was predicting the future. Which I tend to do when I watch the Eagles.

At the 2:00 warning, I knew it was over. After 58 field minutes of anxious shouting and twitching, I fell silent and still. Nothing the shirt could do.

With :03 left, the Saints lined up for a field goal.

Ding.

It occurred to me briefly that I shouldn’t read the message.

I clicked the Read button.

My friend Sam: He’ll miss it.

Nnnnnoooooo! Why did you SAY that?!

And with that, the Saints’ kicker sent the ball through the uprights.

Ding.

Sam: Next year. He’ll miss it next year. 

Oh, Sam. How could you?

Me: You had to go and say it.

Sam: The dude’s about to get his AARP card. I thought there was a decent chance he’d shank it.

Maybe if Miss Ella had died again…

Or if I had my hair down, like last time, instead of up…

Maybe if the game hadn’t been broadcast in my market (impossible for a playoff), or if I had been undecorating my tree…

The shirt had worked. The team had come back and taken the lead. But Sam. Sam had effed it up via text.

Sigh.

I guess I can wash the shirt now.

 

It was almost like a Thomas Kinkade painting around here.

I spent New Year’s Eve doing one of the things that makes me the happiest in life: cooking and serving a big meal for a bunch of people.

Before I bought my house, I couldn’t really have a bunch of people over. Now, I can have maybe a dozen before it starts getting really cozy. (And by “really cozy” I mean “more than two people sitting on my stairs to eat.”) I had 10 Tuesday night. At least five of them were mystified by the countertop roaster I was using to make the three pork tenderloins I was going to serve. (It had occurred to me that every item on my menu needed to be roasted and I only have one oven. Happily, when I mentioned this to my parents during my Christmas visit, they offered me use of the roaster I forgot they had.) Before I’d turned it on, people were slowly approaching it, lifting the lid and and gazing at it like it was the eighth wonder of the world. It’s a Hamilton Beach contraption, and it doesn’t look particularly old. I don’t know when my parents bought it, but I believe it was so they could make two turkeys for either Thanksgiving or Christmas to feed our crowd, which varies between 22 and 34 people, depending on who’s spending which holiday with which side of their own families. They used it for Thanksgiving; my aunt and uncle used it for Christmas, and the morning after, my uncle delivered it back to my parents so I could take it.

Everyone had dressed up. This was such a delight. I had planned to be dressy because I’ve never hosted New Year’s Eve and I haven’t been to a NYE party since 2006/7 (And that one was boring, featured me overhearing someone tell my then-boyfriend-of-two-months, Mitch, “Your wife is hot,” and hearing him reply, “She’s not my wife. Yet,” and ended with his brother-in-law, who I had met one time before this, drunkenly hugging me goodbye and saying, “Please love him.” I should have known then that Mitch was a jerk.) But I hadn’t told anyone what to wear; I truly wanted it to be whatever they liked. Eliza texted me earlier in the day:

E: Attire?
Me: I’ll probably be dressy because that’s my mood, but wear whatever you want.
E: So, pajamas.
Me: Totally acceptable. I might change my clothes at some point. Toga? Possible.
E: Bikini.
Me: That would make things interesting…
E: Why not?
Me: It IS nye…

When I opened the door to their knock, Eliza was in an awesome cocktail dress, hair did, makeup on, heels, her glasses reflecting the twinkle of the lit garland around my door. Her husband was in a sportcoat and tie. They looked dashing. As did everyone else who showed up without asking at all what to wear. I was honored that they wanted to look nice. Even wee bitty Rosemary, all of two years old, was in a pretty dress and tights, walking around sipping ginger ale from a plastic champagne flute and saying “Cheers!” to everyone.

It’s possible that her father, Blaine, scoped out the situation when he came over early to drop off the veggie tray. I was already dressed. He may well have gone back and reported to Erica that the dress code was fancy. He was in a suit. A full-on suit. The man has a master’s degree in physics and is unemployed (cruel twist to being super-smart and educated). I have no idea the last time he wore a suit.

My tree was lit up, almost every light in the house was on and my friends were complimenting my Christmas decor while Rosemary played with the sheep in my nativity scene. (I had wondered if I should put it away – Rosemary tends to be sweetly destructive – but how could I hide the nativity scene and still call myself a good Christian woman, all sins to the contrary aside?) There was so much good cheer I could hardly contain myself.

Then Rosemary got hold of the remotes and now I can’t control my TV with any of them. The evening included about 30 minutes of four people trying to figure out how to get it to respond to button-pushing. I was crouched behind-beside it, maneuvering my wrap dress to stay wrapped while reaching through a tangle of cable-box-blu-ray-player-phone-TV-router-modem cords trying to sort out which was which so I could unplug the TV, hoping it might re-set. Because kicking it to make it work is probably ill-advised when you’re dealing with a TV. Is what the four of us had worked out. This includes the guy with the M.S. in physics.

My grandmother, when she hosted holiday meals, always served Pepperidge Farm Piroutte cookies… little, buttery, crisp, light straws streaked with chocolate. I remember them clearly from my childhood. When I had been shopping, I came across them and thought they’d be a pretty addition to the berries & sparkling wine I planned to serve for dessert. The berries went into my grandmother’s sliver-rimmed bone china bowls, topped with a little bit of still-fizzing bubbly, and I laid a Pirouette across each one. It was so simple and so pretty, and it made me smile to know that my grandmother was with us, even if I was the only one aware of it.

She probably smiled too, but she prefered the sweet Asti Spumanti to the Gruet Brut I was serving. We buried her with a bottle of Asti. True story. My cousin accidentally bumped the casket during the viewing and the bottle loudly clunked to the bottom, sending my cousin shooting away from my grandmother’s remains with an expression of terror. It was hysterical. I believe my mother and several aunts peed themselves a little.

When the countdown clock ticked down to midnight, old acquaintance was not forgot, but these friends of mine in this home I’ve made lifted plastic flutes of sparkling wine and bade each other good for the year, after being a very big part of what made the last one good for me.

Here’s to 2014, and friends. And family who linger long after they’re gone. Eat, drink, and be merry. Show love.

And occasionally, knock a bottle of cheap booze around a dead body. Can’t hurt.

Like Taking Wine From A Baby’s Mama

I’m still getting used (I just tried to spell that “youst.” True story.) to the holiday festiveness of my new job. Today was the office Christmas party, complete with a baked goods contest and a white elephant gift exchange. Yes, a Christmas party. There was food that didn’t come out of a vending machine and by “party” I don’t mean merely “group of people working at the same time and eating simultaneously,” which is what “office party” meant in my old career.

Unfortunately, the white elephant exchange made me slightly violent, which may have spoiled the festivities a bit for me.

I didn’t participate in the gift exchange because I
         A) forgot about it; and
         2) didn’t go buy something for it.
So I got to watch, which was perfectly fine because I had already totally beasted a game of holiday-themed Taboo in which my VP, who had apparently never heard of nor played the game before, had totally bombed. She’s very competitive, so she was kind of pissed about it. Then she said something about hating angels because they’re dead babies. Which made me reevaluate my entire concept of what angels are. And made me plot to decorate her office with angels.

It was kind of a weird party.

Anyway, there were some pretty nice gifts in this exchange, including a bottle of sangria, a bottle of limoncello, a bottle of Bailey’s and a bottle of merlot. And I was sitting next to a coworker who is exactly no days away from her due date to deliver a child that she, quite frankly, looks terribly uncomfortable lugging around internally at this point. Friday she thought she was going to have him because he was breech and the docs decided to try to move him, but since that comes with a risk of elevated fetal stress, they also planned to induce her if there was a problem. She had gotten all psyched up to deliver, one way or another, and then she got to the doc and found out he’d flipped to head-down position and now she just has to wait him out. 

The woman needs a drink. Is what I’m saying.

So it was pretty great when she scored the bottle of sangria in the gift exchange.

But then Marty, having been relieved of his original gift and stuck with a stuffed school mascot, came over and took the wine away from the pregnant lady.

I did not make that up.

Marty is kind of an ass on a regular day, so if anybody was going to do this, it was going to be him. He’s affable enough, but he’s a blowhard and he is also, by virtue of a weird inter-divisional galactic hiccup, my client. For the most part we do just fine with each other, but it’s crap like this that makes me realize what a spazz he really is. 

When he triumphantly swiped the sangria from Ellen and replaced it with the stuffed school mascot he didn’t want, the entire room groaned as if to say, “Wow. You just did that.”

The game continued, with my artsy friend Dwight enamored with his Circle of Wetlands Creatures Holding Flippers Around a Candle candle holder (he walks to work and we had decided he should light the candle and then walk slowly home in the dark with it as though it were some sort of hippie-nature-commune-of-one parade for peace) and my boss struggling to open a package (the entire room watched him for what seemed like an endless three full minutes as he battled a curling ribbon without success). Something like seven people later, I was still stewing about Marty’s low move. Work Husband Rob and I schemed. Non-participants ourselves, maybe we could get someone to collude with us so Ellen could get her bottle back.

 “Psst. Donna,” I whispered across the table. “Donna! Donna!” 

Donna turned.

“When it’s your turn, are you willing to play along and take Ellen’s mascot so she can go get her sangria back from Marty?”

Donna winked. “Sure.”

Hehehehe.

Like thirty-two rounds later, it was Donna’s turn. “Gimme your mascot,” she said to Ellen with a smile.

“Go get your wine, girl!” I said.

Interestingly, though Ellen has had some trouble walking lately, she did not have any problem wobbling the length of the large conference room to get that sangria back from Marty, to the hoots and applause of the rest of the room’s occupants.

But two rounds later, another coworker (one who is not an ass), took the sangria.

You guys. What the hell?

These were childless men taking the sangria from the pregnant woman, by the way. Because of course.

So Ellen went trolling and found the bottle of merlot, which she swiped from the new guy who just started in the web department two days ago. And everyone applauded, including, by the way, the new guy who just started in the web department two days ago. 

Content with her merlot, Ellen situated herself in her chair again in whatever position was possibly less-than-miserable.

Two rounds later, we came to the end of the game… the part where the person who picked the first gift gets last dibs. Well, guess who had picked the first gift.

You got it. Marty. Marty, who, after several rounds of vindictive communal swiping in retaliation for his dick move with the sangria, found himself saddled with a bag full of stupid gag gifts.

“I swear to God,” I said to Ellen and Rob, “if he comes over here looking for that wine, I’m smacking his hand.”

The rat bastard came back and took Ellen’s merlot.

I smacked his hand and it had no effect.

You would think that, the first time you swipe a bottle of wine from a dilating woman, you’d learn to read the room. The faces of all persons gathered for Festivus reflected the same thought: “Really asshole? Really? Twice, you’re going to do that?”

You know what, Marty? Noted. Noted.

I looked at Rob across the table, rolled my eyes and said, “It’s really a wonder that he’s still single at the age of 46.”

But there was salvation at hand—as there always is on Christmas. Remember my friend Dwight, with the woodland creatures candle holder? He won the award for Best Baked Good in the blind taste test. Said award was a bottle of pink bubbly, which seemingly would suit him really well, except for the fact that Dwight has a deteriorating spine and is on medications so hard-core that he may be in violation of a few laws. Which means he can’t drink or he’ll die.

So he gave his bottle of bubbly to Ellen.

SCORE! Take THAT, Marty!

Naturally, I had a meeting with Marty right after the festivities were over. I was so seriously annoyed with him for being a douche rocket that I could barely speak. (I am apparently a little too invested in this matter.) But then as the meeting really got rolling, I started putting out a few ideas and he loved them. After a while, he told me I was on a roll.

“You know what?” he said. “Here. You win this for your ideas.”

And he handed me the bottle of merlot he had stolen from Ellen.

I played it cool. I didn’t want him to know what I was going to do with it. I acted like I didn’t really want it. I left it on the table between us, half-sure that he would take it at the end of the meeting. But wouldn’t you know… he picked it up off the table and handed it to me again. “This is yours,” he said.

And I walked that bottle of wine right over to Ellen.

Girlfriend went home with the merlot and the pink bubbly.

Hurry up, baby boy. Mama needs a cocktail.

Anti-Social Network

I can’t decide if Facebook is particularly annoying today or if I hate all people in general.

Which is the kind of thing I’d rather like to post as a status, but I can’t. For obvious reasons.

Seriously, though:
1. (disappointment emoticon followed by FB explanation that we’re looking at a disappointment emoticon, which, to me, indicates Facebook’s failure to design sufficiently emotive emoticons) “What an unbelievable day at work. Not appropriate for Facebook discussion but I just had to vent for a minute.”

^Okay, you know what? This is not a valid status update.^

Also? You just got that job. Stop complaining about it.

2. A. Night. With. NOTHING. Feeling so happy. 

That last part was actually spelled out. No emoticon with accompanying emoticon explanation. Also no interesting content whatsoever. Nor am I interested when this person tells me what she’s doing on all the other nights.

3. Time for some more work after a lovely evening. :-)

That was a plain old smiley face, no explanation needed. And I know this guy, and I know what “a lovely evening” means, and it’s to do with the guy he may or may not be dating. He wants someone to ask what he did. I’m not doing it. I’m not.

Throw in the usual baiting (today it’s about George Zimmerman and Toronto’s charming mayor); today’s selfies from the same people who posted selfies yesterday; excessive use of exclamation points; some Map My Run shit from a few people who apparently think the rest of FacebookLand gives a flying flaming turd about them going for a run, taking a particular route and running a particular distance in a particular time; an occasional fitness system sales pitch from someone who hasn’t been able to talk about anything but her weight loss since some time in 2011; and a snarky person-to-person-for-everyone-to-see oblique attack on another person with whom they’re no longer friends (but I am) and you have a day on the social network.

And then there are the grammar horrors.

recognize the irony in a blogger deciding that social media “status sharing” is the lowest form of self-serving narcissism, and I realize that I can’t exactly impose my personal Facebook rules (make people laugh or make people think – do not, repeat, do not complain or seek attention – that’s what the blog is for) to everyone on my news feed. I also recognize that the logical reader might, at this point, suggest that I remove myself from Facebook, or remove these particular friends from my list of personal contacts. Well, I can’t remove myself from Facebook because it’s like Communist Russia; you either go along with it or you die a lonely death in cold, cold isolation with nothing but a quarter-loaf of stale bread. And I can’t remove these folks from my list because sometimes they do offer something amusing or useful or interesting and I would feel bad ignoring it. One of them may or may not be my sister. Who may or may not often post things from Map My Run or summaries of funerals she’s been to that day. But often shows me my nephews doing something adorable. Oh, I’m torn.

Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of apparently un-self-explanatory emoticons, Facebook had an algorithm that would allow it to filter stuff you just don’t have the time or emotional energy to see? Maybe you could set it daily. The first time you take a look at the feed each day (if you’re a frequent FBer), you answer a quick series of questions designed to protect you from the people you know and love:

1. What is your mood today?
A. Fine, why?
B. I’m great!
C. Meh.
D. None of your goddamned business, asshole.

And Facebook would note that, if the answer is D, you should not see any posts like this:

FB post 3

 

 

 

(Granted, you might appreciate the comment. But the narcissism of the person who took a screen shot of their own comment would probably cancel that out.)

2. How do you feel about insert today’s political phenomenon?
A. Brilliant!
B. Horrible.
C. So horrible it’s brilliant!
D. I don’t even know what you’re talking about, but I vote.

And Facebook would note that, if the answer is D, you should not see any posts like this:

fb post 2

 

 

 

 

 

3. Which characteristic are you likely to exhibit today?
A. Relatively even tolerance.
B. Hysterical laughter at satire/irony/stuff about horrible things happening to people.
C. Rage.
D. I love Jesus!

And Facebook would note that, if the answer is C, you should not see any posts like this:

fb post 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Rate the strength of your opinion on the following statement: A user’s status updates should contain that user’s original thoughts most of the time.
A. Strongly disagree
B. Somewhat disagree
C. Neither agree nor disagree
D. Somewhat agree
E. Strongly Agree

And Facebook would note that, if the answer is D or E, you should not see any posts like this from that guy who always, always posts things like this, like, five times a day, for crying out loud:

FB post 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Of the following people, who will probably piss you off/annoy you the most today?
A. Your mother, who really should not be on Facebook anyway and definitely should stop Liking all these anti-government pages
B. Your ex, who probably shouldn’t be your FB friend but we’re not going to go there right now because clearly you’re still sensitive about it
C. Your boss, who probably shouldn’t be your FB friend but he asked you and what… you were going to say no?
D. Your kid, who, despite the attention you’ve paid to his/her education, still doesn’t seem to understand that “OK” is not spelled with seven Ks
E. That friend who posts totally senseless stuff that nobody ever clicks Like about, but she still hasn’t taken the hint

And Facebook would filter your news feed appropriately.

6. What is most likely to set you off on an uncontrollable tirade today?
A. Poor grammar and/or punctuation
B. Willful ignorance
C. Self-serving pith
D. Public displays of affection
E. Someone else’s total lack of self-awareness
F. Stuff that, I swear to God, doesn’t even make any fucking sense.

And you’d be spared the worst of possible provocation.

BIL 2 once summarized FB etiquette/non-annoyingness like this: Don’t post anything you wouldn’t literally yell in a room full of people numbering the same as the number of FB friends you have.

Sometimes, though, it’s a pretty great way to spread the word about a pretty great thing. Here’s my favorite of the last few days. I’d be more than happy to shout that one from the rooftops.