Thursday, December 1, 2011

Retail Rehab

I have an addiction.

Yes, I used to drink. I used to smoke. I used to be a two-bit version of Lindsay Lohan’s two-bit version of Paris Hilton. I can even still occasionally be found in a crouching position behind the washing machine with fudge on my fingers and a full mouthful of Funions. But while my newest destructive habit produces the same mood-altering rush and crash, it’s not dependent on any sort of substance or food. It’s an odd, unexplainable infatuation with spewing out money. Money that I most certainly don't have.  

I am a compulsive shopper.  It’s time for me to admit this. Since I gave up drinking 4 years ago, the compulsion has just grown and quickened like a snowball headed right through the front window of a TJ MAXX and picking up speed, force, and racks of wall d├ęcor on its way. I cannot go a day without spending money. I can't. When I try to budget or to simply not shop for a day, I feel trapped. Confined. Imprisoned. I want to cry. I can’t breathe. I want to punch people. More than usual, I mean. The thought makes me wet my pants.

When my boyfriend asks me to recount my daily spending, I launch into a tirade that would make Russell Crowe and Christian Bale look like cuddly baby bunnies. When my coworkers comment when I return from “lunch” laden with shopping bags, I’m as defensive as Kris Jenner denying her daughters’ misuse of men and mascara.

The holidays are a welcome excuse to go shopping, as it really doesn’t matter WHO I’m buying for, just that I’m participating in an exchange of cash for goods.  It is the feeling of purchasing something that shakes me deep down in my pretty places. 

But here’s the thing – or one of them: I CAN’T AFFORD THIS. Monetarily speaking, that is. 
Emotionally, I could keep up this subconscious endeavor to soothe the wounds of my past with material items; this emotional escape hatch used to avoid unpleasant feelings  yaddayaddablahblah. I’m not all that interested in uncovering the real reason for my behavior, thank you very much. 

But my bank account – that’s where my bad habit is the most obvious. I’m progressively lowering the bar and compromising on my long-standing goals like owning a home, advertising my freelance business, paying for next year’s car insurance. It’s all just slipping away with every area rug and pair of platform pumps I don’t need but buy anyway. 

Pretty soon, I’m gonna have the most nicely decorated cardboard box on the sidewalk.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Productive Afternoon

Why my office is stocked with sleepytime herbal tea, I'll never know. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sorry, I'm Occupied.

OK. So, I’ve lost a few friends on Facebook and sparked a few fights on Twitter since I simply shared my opinion of Occupy Wall Street. That opinion? It’s freaking childish. And while I won’t go so far as to call the people engaging in it stupid, I think it’s accurate enough to say they’re certainly acting like it.

This reminds me all too much of when I was sliding effortlessly into rock bottom: sleeping in a park and blaming everyone else for it.

Let me be clear – I do not support corporate greed. Listen, I think it’s f*cked that there is so much corruption in government, financial institutions, big businesses, what-have-you.  But I haven’t the slightest idea how to fix it because I haven’t read enough about it to fully understand the problem. Neither have you, OWS. And you don’t see me stinking up cities across the US without a shower or a clue.

Plus, I’m aware enough to know that fraud doesn’t stop with big business. It’s running rampant among small businesses, freelancers, artists, too.  It’s human nature – the good and the bad. The dishonesty. The greed. It’s everywhere. Wake up.

But that’s not even the part that irks me so much. What bothers me is the inconsistency, the hypocrisy, and the ever-changing, half-assed cause. What’s that you say? Ohhhhh, you’re protesting phone companies now? Oh wait, wait, this guy over here says lack of affordable healthcare. This stinkazoid with the dreds and the hula hoop says OWS is about protesting Capitalism. Yeah, he showed me an article supporting his statement on his iPhone and everything.

It’s not that I don’t support your cause, OWS. It’s just that I don’t know what it is.

A successful protest starts with a single cause and a demand to fix it. You have to put down the bong long enough to think it through and figure out a plan. It’s a focused campaign, not a sleepover party.

So, until you’ve come up with a single reason to congregate and a suggested solution to that problem, let’s say you stick to the music festivals. Wall Street can’t take the stench.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Precious

I'm have a fake engagement ring.

It's huge. It's pink. It's sparkly and takes up half of my finger. If don't even think the stone is as upscale as a cubic zirconia - more like an accidentally well-shaped bubble of plastic that was left out in the heat. 

If it were a diamond, it would probably cost more than this city will make in bridge tolls this year, so some could say I'm setting myself up for perpetual disappointment. What man could afford such a ring, if hypothetically, one were to ever love me past the honeymoon phase? Certainly not the type I'm attracted to. Surely, no men boasting heavy Queens accent and two full sleeves of tattoos are working as Wall Street traders these days. But I wear it nonetheless. 

Oh, not in public. No, only at night. At home. Alone. In bed. 

I bought it years ago when I was working for a event producer and needed to scope out a competitor venue under the guise of a bride excited about her upcoming wedding. While the ruse lasted 5 minutes, the ring lived on. I couldn't part with the reassuring feeling of it gently grazing my knuckle. 

What is it about this ring - or me - that makes me want to be engaged? Because the idea of being married doesn't call to me at all. AT. ALL. At all. Just hearing the word "marriage" makes me want to flail my limbs to prove I'm not trapped.

So what's in that ring?

Is it the attention that I'd garner at work and at parties for at least 8 months? Is it the idea that someone loves me enough to show the world using my favorite symbol, jewelry?  

Or could it be that there's a 3 carat hole in my self-esteem reminding me I need the approval of a man to feel worthy?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

21st Century Beat

Beat. Like beat down. Like finished. How could we have known then that we would take on this forgotten jacket, this blanket of fleas? Safe in our dorm worlds, fingerfucking teenagers, full of piss and beer and bad ideas. Still a promised future… Still a meaning to our past. How could we have known?

Not even a birthright, merely a breath, a laugh, a half-smile. We perfect, golden assholes, marched down the brick paths of University, bright eyes fixed on our predestined glory… Unaware of grandfather’s taxman lurking, lowering his zipper, beckoning a decade-long suck. Allen and Jack and Neal waiting, midnight, Regents Park, downstairs with the pizza boy, waiting to give us this dreadful typewriter.

All the while the bottom- feeding whores of Wall and Madison sucked and fucked our tomorrows just short of dead, only to inflate and drain again. The first time it was all a game of nothing. Later it was home. They’ll kill us all before they leave us alone.

When did you find out you were beat? Did it hurt like the names they called you in the halls, or the first time you broke? There’s no romance in defeat. I don’t think we’ll fuck our way out of this.

How do you take your poison, baby? Do you take it up your hole, or down your soul, or burning bright inside that bowl? Do you steal? Do you feel? How the fuck would you even know? We’re all criminals, sweetheart. Even you. Its alright. I’d kill a hundred just to sleep through one clench-jawed night.

I’ve seen you alone in the clubs, the bars, loud music and sweat replacing conversation. But the longing, oh the longing to disappear into essence in the dark as that song wails and those pills you took take you over. I’ve been standing by, watching through my own tears, hoping you would look at me. I can’t see myself, not without seeing the ghosts of the fathers I’ve murdered, blurred in this dusty mirror.

Fuck me and make me forget my name, my sins, my waste… I did what I did and I am what I am and I’m not afraid, not anymore. Powerless and adrift… I am beat. Nothing to do but celebrate my trespasses, my loves, my crimes. I own them all and you can kiss my beat ass all the way from Bronx to Battery. I’ll sell these sins to feed my son. I'll fly through these Southern streets at night, a carpetbagger on 3 wheels, the young and rich on my back.

Closest to my soul, you know we’re beat, baby. Howling On The Road to oblivion. Underachievers. Beautiful dreamers too delicate for the ride. Too smart for the game. Too beautiful to live like whores. Reach under your dress and give me back my Japanese pistol. I’ll show you what my bullets feel like when they get inside. We’ll show them all.

Mother, Unprepared

Getting pregnant isn’t as easy as every Teen Mom episode would lead you to believe. At least, it wasn’t for me. My husband Andy and I had to work pretty hard at it. Unlike my younger sister, who got pregnant more by positive thinking than by actual boning.

After nine months of basal body temperatures and ovulation predictor kits, I had developed a more intimate relationship with my cervix than my husband did. When that test finally read positive, I vowed to enjoy every second, because this was what we wanted. This is what we had timed, unromantic sex for.

I read What to Expect When You're Expecting and prepared myself for the bloated, nauseous snowman I would and did become. I didn’t complain when I spent more of my lunch hour vomiting than eating. I pretended not to notice the look of recognition followed by pity by the cashier at Little Casesar’s as Crazy Bread was the only thing I could stomach the entire first trimester. I prepared myself for the sleepless nights and baby poo fountains. I was ready to be a Mom.

I knew becoming a Mom would be rewarding. My breasts finally had a purpose; my lifelong tardiness finally had a reason. And, thanks to my son's sprint from the womb, I finally knew what it felt like to be ripped in half…and then set on fire. This wasn’t the hypnobirthing, lavender-scented marathon of a labor I had prepared for. (My nephew had been born after twelve long hours and that was considered a fast first labor. Shouldn’t I, at least, have had time to shower and pluck my eyebrows? Paparazzi, you know.)

Only the fear of starring in next week’s episode of I Had My Baby In The Crapper pushed me out of the door and in the direction of the hospital. Seven minutes, multiple contractions and a prayer reminiscent of the first time I got drunk made up the most agonizing car ride of my life. The nurses later told us they knew shit was about to go down when my wheelchair, pushed by my frantic hubby, rounded the corner on two wheels. Or maybe it was my raspy and breathless screams for an epidural that tipped them off.

We had lived in North Carolina for years without uttering a single “y’all” so when Andy’s counting fell into the Southern drawl of the head nurse, I mustered all the composure possible of a person on the verge of being split in half to tell him “You are from New York. The number is ten, not tin!” before another contraction left me begging the nurse to make it stop. Please, dear God, just make it stop!

After only five hours of labor, with no time for pain medication, and my son David being squeezed out of his human tube of toothpaste of a mother, the mixture of relief, awe and exhaustion crippled me. I could barely muster a smile when Andy responded to the doctor’s observation of how quick the next labor would be with “Uh uh, we’re just friends from now on. A sturdy handshake before bed will do us just fine.” I did, however, find the energy to laugh when Andy joked “Hey, Dr. T., you stitched in your initials!”

There are some things that no book, blog, or been there, done that parent can prepare you for. I fought murderous rage towards the nurse on our first pediatrician’s trip. She measured and handled him like he was just another child. Didn’t she know that this baby, with the most adorable pouty lips and button nose, was the most beautiful thing to ever tear out of a vagina? Have some respect.

I resisted my primal urge to rip my precious angel from the arms of this devil woman who dare make him howl by sticking his heel to check his billirubin level. I answered her millions of questions as best I could on so little sleep. “How old is he?” was met with “Four days” when I could’ve sworn that my bowlegged, gunslinger gait was an obvious recent-birthing badge of courage.

Even as my new rock hard, porn star breasts left two wet, growing circles on my chest, the nurse placed a Carnation Good Start Formula container in front of me. “Pardon me but what part of lactating in front of you would lead you to believe I wanted to give my baby formula? Now, please, get back in bed with whatever formula-selling Carnation representative gifted you this lovely starter pack.”

I didn’t expect to transform into a guard dog so instantly. If my son breathed too loudly or too quietly, I heard him. If he even thought about pooping, I was ready, diaper in hand and fear of bodily fluids tossed aside. One tiny whimper of hunger and my tits were out with a speed that rivaled Ricky Bobby.

I didn’t expect my newly acquired Mommy sense to tingle and tell me to scoop David up just in time for his vomit to fill the hood of my sweatshirt. Even more impressive is how I managed to disrobe and comfort him without a drop hitting the floor. Hearing “Nicely done, Mommy” from Andy was my parenting equivalent of a winning lottery ticket. The hoodie was washed and is now worn with pride.

I wasn't prepared for my inability to watch an episode of Law & Order:SVU for three months because the description began with "Baby found..." Thankfully, the baby led detectives to the serial-inseminating John Stamos. Such a relief, now I can sleep soundly.

I wasn't prepared for a new daily compulsion to mop the floors to be paired with a complete lack of respect for the bathtub until the mildew started spelling out requests a la Charlotte's Web. Did every grilled cheese and peanut butter sandwich have to fall sticky side down? And I never noticed just how much my cats shed. Shouldn’t they be bald by now?

I wasn't prepared for the defeat I felt when my son would only accept a dinner of applesauce and animal crackers. I wasn’t prepared for the constant comparisons and competitions that motherhood brought, and the unbelievable insecurity that you might not be doing everything imaginable for your child.

And nothing could have prepared me for the inescapable urge to kiss every available inch of skin on my baby boy, to find myself swooning in his presence, to hang on every word or grunt or peep that comes from his tiny mouth, to find myself instructing “More” when he kisses me then “Just one more” after that, or to miss him when he was just beyond that nursery wall. I remember asking my sister what it felt like, what it would be like and her failure to explain, insisting she could never do it justice. And she was right, it is indescribable and not something you can ever truly prepare for.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Human Accordion

I find it remarkable that others maintain their figure responsibly. They inconspicuously stay within five pounds of a normal weight, as if they committed as babies not to disrupt the progressive, natural process of life.  They live steadily at one size all the way through their thirties, slightly plump up around midlife, then shrivel. 

Cut to a still of my wardrobe, ranging in size from 4 to 18.

I was skinny as a child; a redheaded, gangly arrangement of bones. I lived in emaciated indifference until seventh grade, when I simultaneously found the need for a bra, braces and glasses. With a face full of hardware and an atypically mature body, my self-esteem plummeted. 

An addict from birth, I abandoned thumb-sucking and took to propelling food into my face, just barely quieting my feelings of gawkiness as I compared myself to the junior high beauty queens like Amanda Lyons. Looking back, Amanda wasn’t exceptionally beautiful. Looking forward, I expect she’ll appear in porn. Both of these insights please me.

With the company of my two best friends - fudge and canned cheese - I lived a chubby, boyfriendless life straight up until my sophomore year of college.  At 175 pounds, it wasn’t lost on me that being a freak was perhaps a more dignified reason to be single than simply being fat. I pierced my nose and tongue and died my hair purple. I became a vegetarian and an animal rights activist, and secretly hoped that I’d lose weight from forfeiting meat. I decided that when I became thin, I’d return to my natural hair color, remove my piercings, and never again be confused for a bull.

Ten months and no weight change later, the gloriously unhealthy Atkins Diet surfaced into collegiate pop culture. My delicate, refined sorority sisters began refusing salads and shoveling pounds of cow down their gullets. “I can do this,” I thought.

I excitedly took a bite of my roommate’s sirloin steak and immediately regurgitated all over myself. I could no longer digest meat after so long in remission, so I placed a five month bulk order of the Atkins brand meal replacement bars and shakes. I stopped drinking beer and elected for straight vodka instead (no sugar!). Within a week I was 11 pounds lighter, and by the beginning of junior year I weighed in at a stable 135 pounds. I removed my piercings, reclaimed my natural redhead, and revealed the new me to boys all over campus.

The Atkins Diet was incredibly hard to maintain, as the basis of the program was meat and I was a vegetarian. While I never entirely enjoyed the taste of protein bars, eventually I wasn’t able to tolerate them at all. I quite literally could not accept them. I tried force-feeding myself, but my mouth would bounce them out like the freshman version of me trying to get into a party. I maintained my weight for the next year by eating nothing but whipped cream and eggs.

I don’t know if it was a categorically true breaking point or a complete lack of resolve that concluded my bootleg adaptation of Atkins, but I eventually lost the capacity to restrict myself. I tore into pasta, cupcakes, loaves of challah bread dipped in Spam. I devoured baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, raw potatoes. Cereal, waffles, muffin-covered pancakes. Cake, pizza, ice cream, scones, brownies, hot dog buns, nachos, chocolate-covered pretzels, French fries, onion rings, deep-fried Twinkies, spoonfuls of butter, and six-foot subs. I ate all of the foods rich with carbs and sugar that I’d missed for two years.

Then I went to bed.

I repeated this the next day. And again the next day. And the next.

In just one summer I packed on 40 pounds. I had glided through my college graduation procession a swan, then waddled into my first adult job a duckling caught in an oil-spill.

My first day at Marrow Public Relations began with the Vice President gazing lovingly at my globular abdomen and asking when I was due. I considered giving her a date, but didn’t know whether I looked more second or third trimester. 

“I’m just fat,” I admitted instead. We shared a mutual blush and silently acknowledged that we’d never speak again. Later that night, I wept and polished off a sleeve of Oreos while I dialed the Weight Watchers hotline.

The following day, I armed myself with WW books and a schedule of meetings. The WW plan operates on a point system, wherein every food and beverage imaginable is represented by a point value. Based on my height and weight (once again 175), I was permitted to consume 24 points per day. I never strayed from my points target, ingesting one fat free Jello Pudding pop and 10 Bud Lights daily. I can’t say whether or not WW was effective, both because it was a short-lived endeavor and it was a drunken one that I don’t remember.

As the age-old adage says, “one thing leads to another.” My skyrocketing intake of beer eventually led to my most successful regimen to date: The Drug Cleanse. Which wasn’t so much a cleanse as it was simply not consuming calories and vomiting a lot. With an eighth of an ounce of substances in my bloodstream each day, the urge to eat disappeared entirely. Hunger took a back seat to the impulse to talk nonstop at maximum volume about taboo matters. I effortlessly lost 35% my weight and 95% of my friends.

In addition to the dwindling desire to chew and swallow, The Drug Cleanse eliminated the ability to sleep, show up to work, and feel feelings. I spent my days blowing my nose and making To-Do lists. The only way a task was crossed off was deeming it unimportant when the deadline passed. My eyes appeared to cave in and I lost the incentive to smile. At 115 pounds, I could have raided the closet of a 12 year old and passed for 50 at the same time.

While the plan was effective, it was unsustainable, due to its exorbitant cost. After exhausting eight months of rent money and my entire savings account, there were no funds left to support my habit. I softened the blows of withdrawal by drinking magnums of Yellow Tail Shiraz mixed with 100 proof vodka-soaked pineapples and raving about my homemade “sangria.” I decided that I could give up everything else if I could just keep this. After all, I needed to nurse myself back to health. Sangria was hydrating as well as nutritious. It was virtually fruit salad. I could definitely maintain a low weight on fruit salad.

I started gaining weight instantly. At first I attributed the gain to the sudden absence of drugs, but when I started noticing empty pizza boxes in the garbage and spoons coated with the remnants of peanut butter on my nightstand, it became clear that I was eating in a blackout. I continued to eat in a blackout for the following three years.

At a record 193 pounds, I had reached my breaking point. Literally. My seams were ripping open with each lunge to pet the dog.  As a lifetime subscriber to the emotionally unhealthy mantra of “It’s All or It’s Nothing,” I quit drinking and became a vegan. I swore off dairy and liquor and started eating blanched tempeh and foliage found in my parents’ backyard. When I quit smoking, I’d often eat an entire shrub.

It was difficult to find someone with the patience it required to accompany me to dinner. When the waitress would ask for my order, it took over an hour to explain what the term “vegan” meant, and the entire next evening to dictate my long list of substitutions to the menu’s one vegetarian dish. When my plate came out, it was always wrong, and I’d send it back mainly to be admired for my discipline. While I did drop 45 pounds, it was likely due to the simple shrinking process that follows an alcohol-induced bloat.

Much like The Drug Cleanse was difficult to sustain because of the cost, Veganism was difficult to sustain because of the definition. I decided, out of convenience, that it was unhealthy to deprive myself of calcium and introduced dairy back into my rigid life. I’ve since been on a two year tour of every Pinkberry location in Manhattan.

At the time I’m writing this, I could afford to lose 15 pounds. At the time you’re reading this, my stats will likely have changed.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Good Grief

The theory that there are seven stages of grief is a load of bullshit.

OK, I’m with you on this one. I’m shocked as shit. I’m shocked that people can still believe that everything happens for a reason when a 42 year old mother of two goes to the doctor for back pain and is told her body is ridden with a cancer that leaves you with less than a year to live. I’m shocked that my uncle’s heart can withstand the pain of watching his wife get weaker each day, and he can endure explaining to his 3 and 4 year old boys that soon they would only be a family of three. I’m shocked that this could happen to someone so young, good, and healthy and there was nothing she could have done to prevent it. I’m shocked that others smoke 2 packs a day for 60 years and die old men in their sleep.

I can't board this train. No. I’m well aware that my aunt isn’t coming back.

I'm sorry, but who the hell am I going to bargain with? God? Psh. If there’s a God who let this happen in the first place, He’s clearly not the kind of guy who listens to reason.

Isn’t the whole idea of "stages" to be out of the first before you move to another? Aren’t I supposed to be over the shock before feeling this guilt of not doing as much as everyone else to make her feel comfortable and loved in her last days, because I’m a coward and couldn’t watch her deteriorate? Stages, my butt. I’m already there.

Ding, ding! Got that right! I’m pretty f*cking angry.

Depression, Reflection, and Loneliness
Yes, yes, and yes.

Only a week later and I’ve already reached Stage 6. This is the quickest step program I’ve ever worked! I could drown this city with tears every time I think of her laugh. I feel a brutal rip in my heart when I think of her saying goodbye to her babies, her mother, her sister, the love of her life who she only spent 9 years with. I remind myself to cherish every day, then don’t know how to do it. How can I be grateful for life when the pain is so overwhelming.

Acceptance and Hope
Doesn’t this just mean that enough time has passed for you to forget? How romantic. Can’t wait.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lockouts: Fad or Future

Lockouts are so in right now.

Will this be an isolated disaster or could it possible be a glimpse of the future?

First the NFL locked out and now the NBA. Who got next?

Once the NFL and NBA lock outs kicked off, some significant others were excited at the possibility of being able to have more time together this fall and winter. On the other hand some became angry that they might actually have to spend more time with theirs.

"Girl, thank God for sports. I know I'm free during game time and the playoffs are like a vacation. Now they might take that away. Oh hell nooo!"

Will other businesses or corporations start following this business trend?

This could create havoc in several facets of daily life. Chaos with a side of bedlam. Start stocking up now on your favorite products because it could be putting a hurting on you soon.

If Costco, Sam's Club, and BJs locked out, what would the Duggars do? Well, first they'd pray, but after that all 392 of them would smear on some camouflage face paint, grab pitchforks, and like any good Christian, storm the front doors. Imagine little Duggar pitchforks banging against the doors. Josiah looks like he could do some damage. The Duggars scare me and if these companies lockout they are going to have a full scale war on their hands.

If Sephora and Victoria's Secret locked out women and drag queens would feel less sexy, therefore might be angrier and definitely less happy. An unhappy woman doesn't bode well for anyone. Hundreds of thousands of consumers without their faces standing outside the stores. It would like a scene from Thriller except with Molotov cocktails and faces that look like Dali painted them.

Kim Kardashian would tweet a mutiny. KK would call for action. Her face alone is equivalent to 10 normal faces with make-up. In fact, this might ignite an entire Kardashian rebel force led by the devil herself, Kris Jenner. If you can't buy the Kardashian brand, it damages the K Empire. You better believe Devil Kris would be at the head of the negotiation table with a scythe sharpened with fury.

Wal-Mart and Target could be the next to fall. Empty parking lots would be a common sight. A Wal-Mart and Target lock out might just cripple the Midwest and South. It would look like a scene out of Cormac McCarthy's, "The Road." No more 15 gallon containers filled with animal crackers and pretzels. No more bathroom decorations and randomly framed pictures. Where are we going to get cheap movies on Blu-ray? Sunday Fun Day family trips to Wal-Mart would be a thing of the past. "They must have it at Target" will no longer be said. The only positive coming from this is that I can now wear a red shirt without being asked how my shift at Target was.

I know the idea of nationwide lockouts look grim. The idea kept me up for awhile . I hope we, the fan and consumer, will one day live a world sans lockouts. Everyone loses. Lives change. Tears fall. And people might slip on those tears and roll an ankle. I can't live like that. So NFL and NBA please clean up this mess and please just let this be an isolated occurrence. I wouldn't want to be responsible for unleashing the wrath of Devil Kris or live in a world without massive, plastic bears filled with happiness on my conscience.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Always a Bridesmaid

   8 one-time-wear dresses
 + 3 up-dos
 + 6 bachelorette parties  
 + 12 broken wine glasses
 + 1 foreign country  
 + 19 awkward discussions about my figure
 + 1 helpful observation that I “might have grown a size”
 + 9,874 angry tears
 + 284 happy tears
 + 10 hotel rooms
 + 1 trip to Vegas
 + 123 unsolicited opinions from elderly shower guests
 + 2 drunken blackouts
 + 1 friend lost
 + 9 enemies gained
 + 178 emails about penis straws
 + 21 vacation request forms
 + 7,000 airline miles
 + 16,000 US Dollars

Me never wanting a wedding

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Expert of nothing good, really

I'm fully aware that this is topic is well-trod among stand-up comics, bloggers, and thoughtful internetsters, but I must weigh in. It sucks being a master of trivial knowledge in 2011.

In 2001, I passed Boston auditions for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. I made it through the throngs lined up outside the Park Plaza hotel, made it through the producer's written test with 30 other potential contestants, and made it through the producer interviews and saw my Polaroided head thumbtacked to their wall. They told me I was in the contestant pool. My phone never rang.

I will assume part of that had to do with the fact that I've had 15 phone numbers since 2001, and god knows which one I wrote down that day. But that small badge of Trivia excellence, my dominating audition performance, is all I've got left when the skank to my right in the bar will happily Google the answer to "Who is the only James Bond to be in one film only?" when the Triviamaster asks the crowd. I want to slap the phone out of her hand. I want to stand up and point down at her dumb head, yelling, "CHEAT! THIS CHICK IS CHEATING!" But that's something I might have done in 2001. I'm a goddamned grownup now. So I just write "George Lazenby, 10 pts" on my slip of paper, sip from my glass, and walk over to the Triviamaster and whisper THAT CHICK IS CHEATING as I hand him my answer. I'm a grown-ass man, dawg.

The point is this: I always relished my role as Information Provider when it came to helping people I knew get connected with information that was relevant to them. I would routinely get text messages from friends who knew that I would know the answer. Those don't happen as much anymore. Information has become devalued in the last ten years, even as the internet has become more cluttered with bullshit.

What pains me is that I have become no less hungry for new information, concepts, or music. I still yearn to connect the people I care about with what I think they would care about. And where it hurts most is music.

There's a million things in the world about which I am embarassingly uninformed. side note: Hockey is one of those things. I'm waiting for J.D. Salinger to swoop down from his hermit castle in New Hampshire and yell PHONY as I walk into work today with my Stanley Cup Champions shirt. But music is not one of those things. In fact, with each passing month, I become more and more laser-focused on what it is that gets me off about music. I find musical elements in unsigned bands' EPs that remind me of Oh Darlin! by the Beatles, or how a pedal steel can elevate a minimal song to a brutally heartbreaking minimal song. And nobody cares. People have their own musical taste (mostly wrong), and they don't need my expertise. And the more I feel like I'm approaching Music Nirvana, the less it matters to anyone.

And those subjects about which I'm embarassingly uninformed? It's all willful ignorance. The world is an ugly place these days. Our government is a mess. And the more I read, or plug into the CNN machine for an hour, the less I want to know about it. And the less I know, the more it passes me by. Which is part of the plan, I'm sure. Lazy voters make for easy elections.

So I will continue to post things on this blog which are more and more right, just so our readers are aware. My recommendations are not made lightly. I will tell you when I am a dumbass on a particular topic. But if anyone's looking to join an elite high-stakes Traveling Trivia Night squad, feel free to apply below. Let's win some goddamn airline tickets or something.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mirror, mirror on the wall

by Trav

I realized that I was getting fat the morning I was brushing my teeth with my shirt off and my man boobs were slow clapping for me, demanding an encore.

I was flattered by the gesture because simple things like brushing your teeth rarely get awarded with applause.

I know then it might be a good time to stop the late night feedings in which I would ravage my refrigerator like a rabid, coked out raccoon. It was time for this man boobed raccoon to hit the gym, but where do I begin? What's a treadmill? Wait, what's a gym?

As I'm growing older I'm watching my friends running marathons, doing triathlons, and climbing mountains. I'm running to the bar, doing take out, and climbing to the third shelf for a jar of salsa con queso. Something isn't adding up here. Except for the pounds.

I ran into a friend who I hadn't seen in a year and he said I was looking "rotund." That's a word I normally associate with Santa Claus and cauldrons. Neither of which, I would take much pride in being compared to unless it was time to suit up with a bell in hand or as fixture at Hogwarts in Intro to Potions 101.

Everyone has their own way of saying things whether they are blunt and to the point: "You're fat." Then there is also that backdoor way of saying it: "You look like you've been eating well."

Everyone is a critic, but no harsher critic than that person in the mirror.

The mirror is where it all goes down. Self judgment.

"Oh, look at you fat ass. You are disgusting. You are lucky your lady loves you so much. Boobs all sagging. Stomach almost sittin on the sink. Damn. When did you stop caring? You're not gonna live forever big boy. If you want to spend some time with your lady, lose the boobs and belly, son. Go on naw!"

It sort of happens like that. Results do vary.

Your mirror. Your thoughts.

I guess that being said, you may see me in a gym near you and if you see me struggling with a machine, just lend a hand show me how it works. I promise you, my man boobs will thank you. They might even applaud you.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Church

by Lauren

The only time I feel 100% fulfilled is when I’m shopping. I experience a heartwarming excitement that I imagine others feel when they win a prestigious award or lay eyes on their baby for the first time. 

I step into Anthropologie and begin sweating a pleasant, nonintrusive sweat. Like it’s May and perhaps I'm wearing one too many light layers. My eyes sparkle and my lips assume a demure smile as I greet everyone I pass. “Darling skirt! It suits your figure.”

I use the word "Darling."

I gaze upon a feminine field of promise: bows, ribbons, lace, florals, pins, buttons, clips, patterns, prints, textures, knits, jewels. The potential to transform myself into someone else is overwhelming. I almost faint. I am elevated to a state of pure enlightenment. I am all-knowing. I understand the meaning of life. I could solve the world's problems. I could cure cancer if a scientist would just find me here, downstairs in Accessories.

I waltz about the store and collect items in my size. I make a show of carrying a heavy load of expensive clothing on one arm. A heavy load of material items that will make me feel secure and pretty. Maybe even superior. “Oh, yes,” I laugh to the salesgirl, impressed with my own adorableness. “I’d love a shopping bag.”

I climb the grand spiral staircase and round the corner to an abrupt halt. The sight before me brings me to tears. It hurts to stare directly at something so beautiful. My heart opens and love flows out, then I feel it come back to me. I have met my soul mate. I have found my perfect match. I have seen the face of God, and He looks strikingly like a wool-angora dress coat with an exaggerated shawl collar.

I discover it's in my size and I levitate. I drop my bags and disrobe in the center of the store. Love like this can't wait for a fitting room. I slide my arms through the fabric, one by one, my pulse quickening as I fasten the vintage porcelain buttons. I brace myself as I turn to face the mirror. A cry escapes my mouth as I see myself as I'm meant to be. The coat must have been made for me; it hugs my curves and masks my flaws. The ones that can be covered by a coat, at least.

I float to the register and bask in the staff’s congratulatory praise as they commend my taste. They all have the same coat at home, of course.  “Isn’t it sweet?” the androgynous blond asks, anthropomorphizing an article of clothing as if it were a puppy that wants to cuddle.

“It is," I agree, petting it.

I glide out the door and onto the sidewalk. I fall into step with my fellow New Yorkers. I love this city and everyone in it. I love life. I love myself.

My skin shimmers with productivity and a sense of accomplishment. I feel a Hero's Glory. It’s like I’ve single-handedly rescued prisoners of war, and I can wear them tomorrow to work. For the next hour, I sigh more than usual. I’m dazed and tranquil. My cheeks flaunt the most gentle blush, suggesting I’m experiencing the a runner’s high or engaging in post-coital reflection. Neither.  This is better.  

It’s the kind of feeling some pay $300 an eighth for, only much more expensive and gentler on the nose.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

An Open Letter to the MTA

by Lauren

Dear MTA, 

I am writing to tell you that you are in critical need of an ass kicking. 

It has consistently been taking me about 30 minutes longer to get anywhere than it should. This is likely attributed to your colossal service cuts that eliminated scores of trains and the employees who operate them. This coincided with yet another rate hike. You charge me more, MTA, and you deliver me less. 

You must not have been paying attention in Basic Business 101. You were flirting with the class burnout, weren’t you, MTA? Twirling your hair when you should’ve taken notes? You skipped school and raced out to the bleachers, just to find him with his hand up someone else’s shirt. It’s ok, MTA. It’s happened to us all.

But let me explain how it’s supposed to work. You promise to provide BETTER service and customers are incentivized to agree to a price increase. You get more money and give more service. Are we clear? 

In the interest of better service, I’d like to make some suggestions.

I recommend that rather than scaling back on the people who drive the trains, perhaps you could curtail the people who ride them. For example, consider having a “bouncer” at each station, prohibiting the following groups from entering:
  • Old businessmen who tell me to smile
  • People over 6 feet tall
  • Tourists
  • Mariachi bands
  • Children
  • Passengers wearing any of the following:
    • Bedazzled shirts 
    • Backpacks
    • Cubic zirconia earrings 
    • Sunglasses 
    • SARS masks 
    • Clothes from the previous day 

This should prove to be a much more pleasant experience for Me, and surely some others. In fact, don’t limit yourself! You needn’t stop at people. There’s so much more to get rid of! A few candidates could be stairs, boomboxes blasting Sugarhill Gang, and instances in which I witness another human defecating inside a train car.

I hope you’ve found this useful, MTA. I’d tell you in person but it’d take me too long to get to your headquarters, 10 blocks away.

The WB

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hello?! HellNo

by Trav

What happened to hello?

Why has it become the abacus of conversation? It's something so simple. It's so easy, yet I hear it getting used less. Maybe it's where I live, but I thought hello was universal like music and water. I try to say hello and some people look at me like I just asked for bone marrow.

The elevator is a key spot in my building for shunned hellos. I might be batting a crisp .125 in the elevator. I like to enter with a simple hello, nothing overbearing or intense, forcing you to put your hand on your taser. Yet I leave the OTIS box with silence. And it makes me mad. I'm not demanding your life story, unless you can pull it off in the eight seconds we have together. I'm only asking for common courtesy. Why you gotta make me sit in my own silence like I'm in timeout? Why you gotta do that in front of OTIS?

I hear the elevator laughing and sure maybe you had a bad day, but I wasn't jumping up and down on your desk today. I didn't put the virus on your computer or take the last of your favorite Keurig. I'm just a man saying hello when I enter a confined space with you. I feel it necessary to say something since we are riding this out together.


I look at you. I know you hear me. You look at me like it never happened. And we ride up like the Montague and Capulets. After I get out, I hope OTIS bounces you off the ground floor. Is it too harsh? I say neigh. I hope all of your limbs are intact and no scratches. Maybe just a wake up bounce off the ground. You feel me OTIS?

Come people of the world. Let's show everyone else that this simple two syllable word isn't too complicated. Don't make everyone else feel uncomfortable. It could make someone's day. Next time you pass someone in the streets or get into an elevator and they say hello, just say it back. Do it for the good of conversation. Do it for me. Do it for OTIS.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Most Sincere Form of Flattery?

by Lauren

I’d like to share with you a smattering of “compliments” I’ve received from 3 different female coworkers in the past week:

“You look adorable from the neck down.”

“Your hair almost looks kinda cute like that, all messed up.”

“Ohhhh, you look so pretty today! So much nicer than yesterday, when you were all swollen and PMS-y.”

The first one I laughed off. After all, I had been crying and sleepless all night prior, and she was right: My outfit was adorable. The second wore on my nerves a bit more, so I paired an exaggerated “THANK YOU” with a fake, frozen smile - my signature passive-aggressive warning that the convo better stop right there. My reaction to the third left the offender crippled and headless.

My first thought whenever I hear something as offensive as the above (which, unfortunately, in the Wonderful World of Women is quite often) is that the witch who delivered the message is simply dumb or lacks social grace; that she doesn’t think before she speaks. For at least a moment, this mutes the sting of the insult that was just served to me in the dainty, pink, fluffy disguise of a compliment.

But reality eventually sets in. Not only are these women aware of what they're saying, they’ve likely calculated the best way to camouflage the hurtful hint. Back when I was a Bitch, this is exactly the sort of thing I used to say to an ex’s new girlfriend or a popular relative who was receiving more attention than me. These backhanded compliments are the best defense against any female that could be considered a threat.

So, thank you, Bitches, for finding me intimidating enough to abuse.

I’m flattered.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


by Lauren

Get your bookmarks ready, folks, cuz this is gonna be big. HUGE!

Welcome to the brainchild of Lauren, Trav and Dave. We're three University of Hartford graduates with unfair amounts of witty, uninhibited, sophisticated creative talent surging through our fingertips. I want to be unfront here: We are amazing and you're gonna be jealous.

Whatever. We were in a writing class together once.