Wednesday, December 29, 2004


So it's almost a new year. Sadly, Dick Clark won't be able to ring in a new year of human tragedy, war and loneliness with snappy lip-synched pop performances to help us all forget the shit that's happened this year. He'll be in the hospital, and instead I think we get Carson fucking Daly. Ew. I will be avoiding the television.
I always get to thinking about what I've learned in the past year, and how the past year has been in comparison to other years. It's kind of a mind-boggling task, so I am writing it all here, for you great internet viewers to assess. Think of it as a barometer when considering your own year past.

*I got to repay some of my "I changed your diapers when you took huge shits as a baby" karma by taking care of my mother after her hip replacement surgery. It wasn't an easy task, and it took a lot of patience, which I am not very long in. But I'm not sorry, because my Mom got to get better in her home instead of some horrible rehabilitation center. I also learned that despite my talent with taking care of kids, who require about the same amount of attention as a woman who's had her bones taken out, there is no way I am ready to have one because I am too easily frustrated. Pharmesutical companies, you will continue to get my money for the 28 pills that keep the babies away for the foreseeable future.

*I lost some weight. It's shallow, but it's awesome because the kids I babysit don't pat my stomach and ask "Amy, when is the baby going to come out of your stomach?" Also, I am fit, so I can kick your ass if you call my svelte new frame chubby.

*I've had more mojo with the men. I don't think it's a product of losing the weight, although I'm sure it helped. From the bulky and muscular to the tall and gangly, I have enjoyed you all as you pass by on the train, saunter around parties and make my days much better.

*I have my job, still. Which is a miracle since I send dirty emails all damn day long. But, to be fair, I also helped make a big ol' history book, keep the production editor happy/sane (hi Karen! you rule!) and be complimented by my bosses in front of the company president.

*I have awesome friends. I think this is the first year in quite a while that I've ended up with more friends at the end of the year than at the beginning. To Heather, Amy Hurd, Kristen, Alicia, Ehrin, Annette, Butchie, Carolyn, Jen and Kerri, welcome to the fold. To all of you who've been around for longer, thanks for continuing to put up with my antics, histrionics and off-key singing of "All by Myself."

*Two words: Red Sox. Another two: Fucking rule. Another two (for the Yankee fans): Ha ha.

*I am glad to have all the good people in my life be safe. The tsunami in Asia has reminded me that we're all just walking around in these fragile little shells that can be broken at any second by any freak thing, and I am glad that you are all safe. Also, I am tempted to ship myself to Asia to help all these people. Instead, I sent $35, and I highly reccomend you do the same.

*To the people who have passed away this year that I've known: you'll be missed.

*I saw two Indigo Girls shows this year! Awesome! (Shut up. I love them.)

*The people I babysit for had another baby. Which is awesome, because they are great parents and are raising wonderful children.

*Kendra is preggers!

*It's okay to like cheesy pop music. See also, Ashlee Simpson.

*I got to see the midwest when Stephanie and I went to Colorado. I'm glad I saw it, but even more glad that I don't live there.

Monday, December 27, 2004

To Wed and Settle or to be a Cat Lady?

Every year right around Christmas, we visit my 3rd cousin, Janie. Janie isn't a close relative. We only see her around Christmas, or my Mom will see her at a wake if some distant relative I've never met dies. Janie is damn near seventy years old, if not in her seventies, and gets around better than my mother, who is fifty with a bad case of arthritis. When you think of the prototypical "old lady" the odds are good that you would envision this woman. She lives alone in a little rasied ranch in Coventry with the two cats she adopted from a woman who was about to send them to the pound. Her eyeglasses take up most of her face. Janie doesn't drive her Buick after dark. She feeds birds and even leaves corn cobs out on the porch for the squirrels.
In this woman's life, I see where I could possibly end up in my own life. I joke about being an old lady who lives with cats, but as I get older, pickier and it seems that I am going to spend my entire life without bringing a boyfriend home for the family to meet. I don't pity Janie at all. She's done so much in her life that I'm probably never going to catch up. Janie was a teacher and got to travel the world. Even now, in her damn near seventies, she voulenteers three days a week at the hospital gift shop and just got back from a safari in Africa. Yes, this woman took a photo safari to Africa with her sister and neice. In her seventies.
My grandfather's explanation for the extensive travels Janie's had is that "educated people" want to travel more. I don't think it's bad to want to get out, get away and see something you could never experience where you live. It makes you appreciate other places more and love the place you're in more.
My Mom always thinks of Janie as the cool older cousin that she'd see around the holidays and would give her Nancy Drew mysteries to read at Christmas. I think my Mom puts such a large value on our little family that she can't imagine living a life without the experience of being married and having kids. My Mom's eyes lit up at the mention of a safari, of having no fear of going someplace you've only read about. But I can see myself following in Janie's footsteps. "Nobody was good enough for Janie to marry," my Mom tells me. "Her sister had the professor, and Janie could never get a catch that good for herself." My own family seems to think that I'm going to spend the majority of my life alone. My grandmother says she doesn't see me being married until I'm 40. Maybe I won't get married. What's the point of settling for someone you don't want? As long as you have a life outside of yourself and people to love you, does it matter if you're married or not? Janie always has someone to watch her cats when she travels, someone to visit with during Christmas and is always has stories about what she does all year.
But I wonder if Janie wonders what it would be like to be like my Mom. To have two kids and to have at least known being in love with a man enough to marry him and bear his children. I wonder if she would trade in all the pictures of lions and zebras to have a house full of pictures of a family of her own, with kids who have her blue eyes behind glasses and a man good enough for her to love. Which is the better way? And will I know before it's too late to have it both ways?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Beer (an Ode)

Yet another work of genius from Amy and Kristen. Who are bored to death at work and about to lose our minds (well, at least I am). Enjoy!

You spring from the loins of amber waves of grain
Oh bringer of joy and banisher of inhibitions, usher forth your bounty!
In 30-racks and kegs you come
To aid in merriment and assist in exiling fear
At parties, bar mitzvahs, family gatherings and holidays
You bring joy while obscuring foresight and driving away regrets
When I wake with temples pounding, I do not mind
Because the sweet release floweth from your bottle and chases away the pain
Who does not love you, in drunkness and sobriety
As you never neglect to call and are always there for comfort
Unlike the men you give us confidence to catch
But you know we shall always return to you, arms outstretched, lusting for your seasonal brews
Your pilsners, your stouts, your black and tans,
Whether Ice, cold-brewed or frosty
You render our fine motor skills useless
And bubble delightfully as we stumble and trip
Into beds, futons, soft spots on the floor
With books for pillows and coats for blankets we tumble into the arms of ill-gotten men
Who, upon waking, mumble and stumble out the door
And never return, leaving us, once again, basking in your warm, amber glow.
O beer! You cause and cure so many ills, the line is blurred between your good and evil
And yet your intoxicating scent and your malted barley and hops have a hold on us, never to be relinquished!
You go with baseball, football, basketball and hockey
And make even election-night coverage bearable as we sleep into the sweet release of a drunken sleep and forget our problems.
Oh beer! My one true love!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Temptation at the Holiday Party

The holiday office party is kind of like the Tree of Knowledge in the Bible. There's all these temptations, and you've been warned by many entities (God, corporate counselors, "How to get (and keep) a job for Dummies" books) but the pull of temptation is far too great ("Open bar? Whoop whoop!"). This is my second holiday party at Bedford. Last year, I had only been a "technical" employee for about two months, so I was still afraid I'd be fired for the most minor of infractions ("You slurred your speech! Fired!"). This year, I have been of great service to the company, so I figured if I had a *few* extra drinks, it wouldn't be so bad.
During these company functions I have only one aim: consume as much food/booze/cake as possible to increase the amount of money the company spends on me. They certainly don't pay me enough to make me say, "Oh, food. Pish posh." Instead, I think, "My paycheck doesn't clear until midnight and I don't have any money until then, so I'd best fill up now."
And, oh, did I fill up on both food and drink. Time flew by, since I was drinking 2 drinks an hour for about four hours. I drank a Sam Adams as I watched my coworker's son knock down bowling pins with his stomach. I had a Cape Codder as I caught up with Amy Hurd and Heather who left Bedford about six months ago. I had a glass of white wine as I met Arthur's wife. I had a glass of white wine in my hand when I stumbled on the steps (it was the heels, people!) and spilled wine on Kristen and Arthur. Somewhere in there I had two egg salad sandwiches and a cookie.
Let me say this to those nay-sayers who advocate for teetotalism during office functions: ha ha. I was as drunk as Johnny Damon when he got into Fenway after the World Series, but about four people knew it. I didn't fall flat on my face in front of the company president. I didn't shout obsenities at the recently-promoted associate editor who implied I was underdressed. I took my drunk ass home and puked in the privacy of my own apartment as a young woman should.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

How to Dismantle my Heart

This just in: U2 freakin' rocks.
I love U2. I have always appreciated them, but never to the level of fervent that I have achieved since How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb came out. I can't stop singing the songs. From the fungus-like (it just keeps growing on me!) "Vertigo" to the very Depeche-Mode-esque "Love and Peace or Else," I am hooked. I love them all. Especially Bono and the Edge. I may even love them more than Sting. Is U2 on the freakin' Bridget Jones soundtrack? Or on The Emperor's New Groove? Nope. (I did hear a rumor that U2 will be contributing a song to the OC, which I can't say I'm wild about, but whatever.)
That is all. Soon I will write something good again (probably about the holidays).

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Free Pizza

I know there is pizza in the office.
I smell its cheesy goodness. The odor wafted out of the keep-warm sleeve the delivery guy had the 10 or 15 pizzas in. He walked right by, unaware of the knots forming in my stomach, my mouth getting moist, anticipating the pizza. But I am not involved in whatever project warrants the meeting of several people over pizza (it’s probably something to waste the money of the average college student since he/she’ll never use it) so I do not get a piping hot slice of the pizza of my choice. Instead I sit in my cubicle, waiting for the email that will be issued when the assistants get around to it, saying “there’s leftover pizza in the conference room.” And I will jump up, ignore the stare of my boss, and get to the stone-cold pizza before everyone. I will take two slices, because I want two slices. And a Coke. I will feast on the company’s dime. Ha ha ha!
But if the meeting drags on for a long time, I won’t get the pizza, since I have my own meeting to attend. Then I will sit in my meeting, bored AND dying to know if there’s any pizza left. I can’t pretend to go to the bathroom, because if I come back reeking of cheese, garlic and diet Coke, they’ll know. But I can’t let people have the free pizza. People who get paid more than me should NOT be able to eat for free. The lowest-paid staff should get first dibs on all freebies. This is my theory. The department heads should have the table-scraps since they can go to their nice houses within 4 zones on the commuter rail at night, drive their newish Honda minivans to pick up their kids and buy expensive take-out. At night I go to my ghetto-ass gym, work out, get on the train, walk home and eat whatever food I can find since I can’t afford to buy my own damn pizza.
The email has not come. I fear there shall be no pizza for me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A Letter to Target

Dear Target,
I love you with the passion of a red-hot sun through a magnifying glass. The only reason I'm not buying crap daily from your store is because I don't have a car to get there. I've purchased just about every type of item you sell at some point since you moved in to New England, and I don't have the huge pangs of guilt that I get from shopping at Wal-Mart because you don't sell only censored music/movies and you're *slightly* better at not selling sweatshop-produced goods.
I must take issue with your recent refusal to allow the Salvation Army to collect money outside your stores. It's the first example of corporate callousness on your part, and I sincerely hope you change your mind before I start shopping elsewhere.
The reason you gave for not allowing the bell-ringers to set up outside your stores is because you wanted to have a "corporate policy" towards solicitors. There is a big difference between having such a familiar and trusted charity such as the Salvation Army set up outside your stores for one month out of the year and one kid standing outside with an iced-tea mix container (that he/she most likely purchased from your store) basically pan-handling.
The bell-ringing gets annoying. But so do the endless Christmas carols you play in the store, the endless television ads you bombard me with when I turn on the television and the process of finding a parking place. The whole holiday season is annoying. But the bell-ringing acts as a trigger for your shopper's consciousness and makes them remember that Christmas isn't entirely about commercialism and buying affection. Christmas is also a time to treat your fellow human with a bit more decency than you do during the rest of the year. Many, many charities rely on the goodwill people show during the holidays to get them through the whole year. Prohibiting the Salvation Army from collecting at your stores makes it harder for them to help out disadvantaged people and shows your red and white Scrooge colors.
So I ask of you to forget "corporate policy" for the holidays and allow the bell-ringers to set up outside your stores. Even if people don't give money to the Salvation Army, they may give to charities in other ways after hearing the ringing bell, and go back into the store to buy a toy for a poor child, some canned goods for the food bank, or a coat for a clothes drive.


Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Things I am Pissed About Today

Every day, I eat lunch at 2pm. Yes, I know it’s late, but I am useless after lunch, so I figure it’s best to be useless for two hours instead of four. Anyway, our lunch room is by the freight elevator, where our FedEx packages are dropped off. Also near this lunch room is the administrative assistant’s office. Every day at 2:30, the FedEx guy comes and rings the doorbell so he can come in. Since the administrative assistant’s office is RIGHT near the door, wouldn’t you think the assistant would say, “Hey, the FedEx guy comes every day around 2:30. Maybe I should hang in my office so I can let the FedEx guy in.” But, the admin assistant is conveniently absent from his office at 2:30 most days, and since there are no other offices in the vicinity, the poor saps eating lunch have to get up and let the FedEx guy in.
All I want is to eat my goddamn Lean Cuisine in peace. I want to read the newspaper, drink my Coke and not have to think about work for an hour. When I hear the annoying little “ding-dong” I have to put down my newspaper, get up, walk over to the door, and be polite to the FedEx guy who is most likely dropping off more work for me to do. I am not happy to see this guy, nor am I happy to have to take a break from my break to do someone else’s job. This is especially frustrating since the admin assistant has been caught napping in our storage closet and still has a job and an office. I have never napped on the job and I only have one-quarter of a cubicle.

At lunch today, my friend (and coworker) Kristen and I were sitting at a table eating lunch. Kristen, due to her new “eat until you puke” diet plan, had a small pile of Tupperware in front of her that had contained the ingredients for her burritos. One of the higher-ups in my office walked in to the lunch room, and, without saying a word to either Kristen or me, picks up the Tupperware and examined it quizzically to see if someone had taken her Tupperware. When she was satisfied it wasn’t hers, she put it back on the table, still not saying anything to Kristen or me, grabbed a soda and walked out.
How fucking rude are you? Just because I don’t attend your little meetings about how to market the newest edition of a poetry anthology (which doesn’t change!) and you don’t have to deal with me much doesn’t give you a free pass to treat me like some Untouchable, and even if you’re being an asshat, why don’t you say “Sorry about that” or maybe ask before you pick up somebody else’s stuff like they’re a common thief?

I toasted garlic bread in the toaster-oven at work today to go with my lunch. Some of the edges got singed, which smelled like burning toast, but the smell of yummy garlic was also strong. About three different people came in to the lunch room, sniffed the air, and made faces like I’d shit in the toaster over and toasted it. Fuck you. It’s garlic toast.

When somebody new is hired, they usually get a tour of the company, meeting everyone. It’s totally overwhelming for the newbie, but it’s a nice gesture so the other people can know who the strange person walking around the office is. One of the editors was taking around a new editorial assistant, looked in to our large cubicle (known as “the Bullpen” or “the Penalty Box”), which had most of us sitting at our desks, peeked her head in, said “And these are just some of the assistants” and walked off without introducing the new person.
I’d like to see what your grammar book would look like without “the assistants” looking at it. First of all, it would take forever to develop since the assistants do a lot of the grunt work while you do lofty things like show the new people around the office and spew out babies. You get paid more than me, you have an office to yourself with a door, you get more time off than me… could you take the minute it takes to say my name and introduce me to the new person? Or do you know you’re going to make her life so miserable that she’ll quit in six months so it’s not worth my time to get to meet her?

I read this story in the newspaper about a woman who died of bone cancer. Sad, yes. But she said that she wanted her tombstone to read “Never drank a Coca-Cola.” I hate this Harvard/BU/MIT-educated, uber-intellectual type of person who is completely brilliant but looks down their nose as the “normal people” and their “boorish” behavior. I am a smart-ass girl, but I enjoy baseball, beer, and Coca-Cola as well as good literature and a rowdy political debate.

The MBTA announced plans to get rid of tokens and create something called a CharlieCard. This is all well and good for the people who use the paper, seldom-use ticket. But for those of us who use the monthly pass, the T now wants to make it so you don’t get unlimited rides with the pass as you do now, but that you’ll get a slightly discounted rate on the rides you take, so you’re paying per ride, not per month. Also, they named it the CharlieCard after a song by the Kingston Trio. What? Nobody knows what the hell that is. They should’ve named it the Tessie Card, the Dirty Water Card, or perhaps the Go Fuck Yourself With Your Veiled Fare Hike Card. According to the MBTA’s website, a “large number” of T riders wanted to name this the CharlieCard. And they all wear pants up to their chins and complain about people “thinkin’ too loud.”

I am pissed off that I am college-educated and I can’t make enough money to pay for the damn education. I’d be making more money being a flight attendant, teacher or trucker than in this job. While I love my department (none of the above offenses were committed by any of them) the rest of the company and their damn low pay scale sucks. I am here only because of the free Coke, nice people, and occasional afternoon punch and pie.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Dear Photocopier,

Fuck you. I hate you. I hate every demonic gear that turns when I press that little green button, knowing full well that it will bring me nothing but stress. I hate every paper jam, every easily-smudged drop of ink you deposit on paper before you manage to jam said paper into some orifice I can’t reach without third-degree burns on my fingers. I hate that when I press “fit image” there’s still some part of the margin that doesn’t copy. I hate your vague CAT-scan-like maps when you’re jammed, giving me only the vaguest of hints as to where the little shred of paper stuck in your belly is. If you’re so fucking smart, why don’t you unjam the paper yourself? I hate when you say “add toner” and the toner inevitably finds its way onto the lightest garment I’m wearing. I hate when I have my back turned to you, reading the comic strips on the Dilbert calendar, and I hear the three beeps that mean you’re jammed, you’re out of paper, that something has halted my copying and made my job that much harder. We’re a publishing company! We have thousands of pages to send to various people, all of them needing copying, all of them needing quick copying. And we have you, antique, hand-me-down-when-we-got-you-in-1995 photocopier to handle it all. I hate you. I hope whatever factory brought you into this world has since burned in the hottest corner of hell. I hope that someday, when nobody is watching, I can open Drawer A and jam my foot into some important mechanism to render you useless, your endless beeping as your death yelps. I. Hate. You.



Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Amy who?

I have been very, very bad. As have you, since I have not received one nagging email from anyone telling me to get off my ass and write something. If you had guilt tripped me into it, I would have done it. For you.
So I've been wicked busy, as most of you know because I have been bad about making plans/returning calls/being friendly. I don't know how I've got a life in the past few months, but I suspect it will get slower soon because summer is ending and I shall soon be too depressed to rouse myself from bed. But before that happens, I figure I should let you guys know what's been so mother-freaking important that I couldn't manage to pick up the phone and call you.

July 24 and 25: I was at Kerri's Will's birthday party, watching Varitek dropping A-Rod and nearly starting a riot that would burn the city of Boston to the ground. The Blue Lagoons were awesome. I also had to babysit.

July 27-Aug 1: I was at home avoiding the DNC nightmare that didn't happen. Instead, I threw myself into the very real trauma of IKEA on opening day with Ehrin, Indian food in Providence, sun damage and too much shopping. It wasn't very restful.

August 7 and 8: I was dragged to Maine with Kristen under the false pretense that the Northeastern Abercrombie Delegation would be well represented and wild. Instead I got Rick's Yankees-fan employee teaching his 2 year-old to say "Go Yankees!" and the Abercrombies stopping by for 2 beers then going somewhere cooler than the Chateau Merrill. Which is hard to do. I also had to babysit. I also got sick and missed two days of work.

August 14 and 15: Another Saturday in Maine, this time shuttled up by Mustang Sally and her new bumper with Hurd and Heather. The Abercrombies and the Tin Knockers of the South Shoah were well-represented. Two Abercrombies nearly sank the neighbor's jetski, the lobsters refused to die and I wasn't able to drink because I'd been sick all week. I also had to babysit.

August 21 and 22: I was in Colorado. My friend Stephanie had to head back to school, so we drove out during the week. I coughed a lot, sang Ashlee Simpson's song really loud (oh shut up, you love it), passed out while watching the Olympics two nights in a row, ate a lot of very bad food, marveled at $2 Bud Lights, hated tractor trailer trucks, and learned that I don't like the midwest. Except for the cheap beer. I did not babysit.

August 28 and 29: I was in Rhode Island, in Boston, then back in Rhode Island. I took the kids I babysit to Narragansett Town Beach for a day of sunshine and salt water. We left sunburned and cranky. I then brought them back to Boston, and went back down to Rhody with Kristen who hadn't had a native take her around. We went to the beach which had waves about as impressive as a hill in the midwest (meaning not) and ate lobster rolls.

September 3-5: I was in Rhode Island. I helped my Mom overcome the news that she was out $1000 for my brother's new shitbox car, did some shopping, went to the beach alone where the waves were about to drag me under, went to the casino with Kerri and Will,went to the driving range with Sam, and went to IKEA with Sharon and Caroline. We talked about which Simpson sister is better. I said Ashlee, but Sharon and Caroline disagreed. I say anyone who ruins a Robbie Williams song should have his/her larynx taken out. I've got some scissors, Jessica...

But this weekend, at long last, you will find me in Boston, ready for action. I'm looking fabulous, I am looking forward to a weekend that doesn't involve a train/plane/automobile for more than an hour at a stretch. So call me, y'all. Also, I just typed up a new cover letter so I can apply for freelance writing jobs, and Word shut down without my saving it. I am pissed. Also pissed I didn't buy the pink Wellies at delia's this weekend because my feet were very wet in my sneakers this morning as I crossed Beacon River, er, Street. Take care, sexy people.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Freaks of Late-Night Commuting

I don't go out much late at night.  Maybe it's because I prefer bed to interacting with more people than absolutely necessary in a day.  My bedtime is right around 10:30, and if I'm up much past then I'm usually pretty cranky.  Or drunk.
During the summer, there's many free things to do in Boston.  (Planning all these events when all the college kids are home is a pretty big fuck-you to them, eh?)  There's Pops concerts, Shakespeare on the Common, and the WBZ Free Friday Flix.  A large screen is set up on the Hatch Shell, and people bring their kids and a bottle of wine to watch a film that most of the family can handle.  My friend Christine asked me to go with her to see "Holes" tonight, so since there's not a whole lot of summer left (agh!) I decided to drink some caffeine and head out with her.
Our ride to the movie was fairly uneventful.  We sat down and started watching the movie.  About midway through, some people walked over and tried finding a seat.  Apparently they stood in front of someone while scouting because a screaming match started.
"Hey bitch, why don't you sit down?"
"Shut the fuck up!"
"You're in my damn way.  Move or sit the hell down!"
"Goddamn it, fine.  You fucking broad.  Bitch."
PG rated film, yes.  R rated audience, for sure.
Christine seemed to think that the interlopers may have been drugged out, but I thought that one of them was retarded the way he was moving.  We'll never know.
The movie ended (damn Susan Serandon is skinny) and Christine and I shook out our blanket and headed for the train.  We started walking down Arlington street toward the T, when we saw a gaggle of women that looked like prostitutes.  They were standing by the Public Gardens, all dressed in black and white, with some man photographing them in their giggling girly glory.  Their skirts barely covered their asses, and they stood precariously on the uneven cobblestones in their high heels.
"You watch," Christine said, "you'll see lots of prostitutes and strippers around for the next couple of weeks.  They're here to entertain the Democrats."
Shaking our heads, we walked into the train station.  There was a group of college guys singing "Brick House" at the tops of their lungs as they boarded the train to the next bar.  They were dressed in the Boston Going-Out Male Uniform: button-down shirt, neatly ironed and untucked (wild for the weekend!), Dockers in all shades of khaki, and casual leather shoes while reeking of cologne.
Once the heard of drunk men walked by, there stood the drunk girls.  Normally the Boston Going-Out Female Uniform consists of heavy amounts of eyeliner, long ruler-straight hair, black pants with a bright colored shirt with lots of cleavage showing.  These girls varied from the theme:  they were wearing those skirts that's pleated and light so it looks like a good breeze could blow it up, a la Marylin Monroe.  They had on belly-bearing shirts and very skinny heeled shoes. 
Christine and I, in jeans and sweatshirts appropriate for watching a movie outdoors, looked on in amazement.  Maybe it's just me, but should we not be dressing like whores, ladies?  Unless, as Christine suggested, you're going to a Tarts and Vicors party or it's Halloween, you should not show so much skin at once.   I'm sure these girls got lots of attention, and they were in good shape.  But there's got to be something unsettling about a girl who is so willing to show you her ass before you even know her name.  Am I right, men?
For some reason, the trains were all crowded.  We got on the C line and smooshed in with some of our new best friends.  Near me was an old couple who were desperately discussing how they'd ever manage to get off the train with all the crowds.  In the seats was one of those couples that consist of two very affectionate ugly people, so their making out allows you to hope that maybe you can find someone of a similar caliber to you and find them dead sexy, but also makes you (me) uncomfortable because ugly people are getting more action.  Maybe I'd best buy one of those ass-showin' skirts.
Once the crowd thinned out, a Jamaican woman got on the train.  She was talking on her cell phone, but she was using it like a walkie-talkie.  She'd listen to the person on the other end, then pull the phone away from her ear and put her lips to the mouthpiece and talk.  It was fascinating to watch her so nimbly move the phone around her head.  Then I heard a phone ring, and she takes out another phone and starts talking on that one.  I started wondering why someone would need two cell phones.  The only thing I could think of is that she's one of those Miss Cleo phone psychics and she was on-duty.  It would be quite disconcerting to pay $.99 a minute to hear your future and you hear the psychic's destination is Cleveland Circle.
I am now in my own little corner of the universe, where the skirts cover the ass, the cell phones number only one, and the number of freaks is far lower than in the outside world of late-night commuting.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11... Some Thoughts

Humor can make people think. Bill Hicks, Chris Rock and numerous others can make an audience laugh their asses off while pointing out the flaws of our society. It's human nature to think about society, but not to have to work too hard at it. This is why the Daily Show is so popular-- it's easier to swallow the truth with some humor than dry. Michael Moore is the extremely liberal version of the conservatives Rush Limbaugh; he is unapologetically in his views, and he tries to win people over to his opinions. While Rush uses ad hominem attacks and his radio soapbox to scream at people, Moore uses documentary-style movies to prove his point.
I enjoy Michael Moore's old TV shows "The Awful Truth" and "TV Nation." You can buy or rent these on DVD, and it's well worth the money. It's less of Moore's heartstring manipulation that he uses in his movies and more of the puckish political pranks he plays. Whether it's hiring people in Puritan dress to read the Starr Report on the back of a flatbed truck, or attending a party celebrating the execution of a mentally retarded murderer in Texas, Moore is best when he lets the dark comedy of a situation play out.
I enjoyed Bowling for Columbine. I remember sitting in the theater and laughing at the sight of a bank in Michigan giving away guns and crying while watching the kids being executed. Moore plays 911 recordings over the security camera tapes from Columbine, and some of the 911 calls are from the media asking when they can get interviews. Moore wasn't so much on a partisan tear in Bowling for Columbine as he was curious about why American culture can breed such fear and violence.
Today I saw Fahrenheit 9/11. I wanted to see it on Friday, but at all three theaters I went to it was sold out. I bought my ticket on Fandango and got in to the standing-room only showing.
All the hype around this movie made it a letdown. If you've read Dude, Where's My Country?, you know what's up in Fahrenheit 9/11. Moore hates Bush. Bush is an idiot. Bush is an asshole. The Bush family has many connections to the Saudi Government. The Bin Laden family was flown out of the United States on September 13th without any interrogation. All shady goings-on for sure. But where has the humor gone from Michael Moore?
He takes the current administration's failures seriously, but I want more of the good old rabblerousing Moore. He makes some valiant efforts; reading the Patriot Act over the loudspeaker of an ice cream truck and asking Senators to enlist their children in the Army. But for most of the movie, it's Michael Moore narrating footage of the President looking stupid. There's also a woman who lost her son in Iraq who goes to Washington DC and talks to a protestor, and another woman comes by and tells her that the whole setup is staged and that "lots of people other than your son have died." I spent more time trying not to cry in front of the transvestite sitting next to me (insert "liberals are all crazy, see?" comment here) than laughing uncomfortably. I see enough weeping mothers, wives and children on the evening news. I don't see enough civil disobedience and protest, which is why we need Michael Moore. The funny prankster Michael Moore, that is.
I don't think Fahrenheit 9/11 will change anyone's mind. People who hate Bush will hate him more after seeing this movie. (I also hate Army recruiters more now that before.) People who love Bush will argue that Moore's movie has selective facts. Either way, you should go see it, if only for the few funny moments and to get yourself pumped for voting in November. Which y'all better do, or I shall hunt you down and drag you into the polls myself. But you can vote however you'd like since I'm all about democracy.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Public Transport Etiquette: Chapter One

Thanks to all for the apartment etiquette feedback. It's funny how kvetching about roommates can make one feel much better. Another aspect of urban living that desperately needs to be discussed is riding public transportation. Nobody looks forward to riding it, and if we could all live like J.Lo, we'd have perky round asses, many alimony payments and private cars/limos/rickshaws to bring us around. Sadly, we're all poor city dwellers and need ride the T system at least occasionally.
I enjoy the T. When I first moved to Boston it was a novelty. I liked trying all the different lines to see where I could go and hearing the drivers announce "Ahlington Street." Now it's become more of a chore since I need to fight the office drones who are desperate to enjoy the few hours that are theirs in a day and the out-of-town Red Sox fans who are convinced should they move two steps away from the doors they will be whisked away into oblivion and never able to return home.
My coworkers and I usually begin our days with a discussion of proper T etiquette and the freaks who completely don't understand it. I hope to get a commission from Mitt Romney to make a small pamphlet of about 100 pages to explain the rules of the T. Maybe people just need a refresher. Or maybe they were raised by monkeys. Either way, let's begin the lesson:

*It's OK to move away from the doors. You will not miss your stop should there be a crowd in front of you. Simply say "excuse me" and people will move. In four years of living in Boston I have missed a stop once because I was too far back, and that was because the jerk in front of me stood on the steps by the open door. "I thought you were just getting ready for the next stop," he said with a somewhat satisfied smile.

*Don't be an asshole and stand in the doors while people are trying to leave the train, then look happy when they miss their stop and are late to aerobics class. Jerk.

*Let old people and pregnant women sit. They are more tired/sore/unable to stand on the jerky train that your nimble young self. Even in the heels that give you blisters.

*Also offer your seat to young children (7 and under). They may sometimes decline, but perhaps the parent who has dragged them around the city all day may want to sit.

*Personal grooming ANYWHERE in public is a no-no, but is especially egregious when you're subjecting others to the smells and sounds of your beauty routine. Here are some particularly offensive behaviors:
*Clipping finger and toenails. Ew.
*Applying/Removing nail polish.
*Applying perfume
*Foundation/rouge/concealer/eyeshadow/mascara application all at once. Don't you people have homes? Do it there.
*Putting on mascara for FOUR stops. If you put on that much mascara it will look like you are shielding your eyes from a nuclear attack. Not very natural. (Thanks to Kerri for that story.)
*Shaving. Nobody wants to see you do it in your car, nobody who sits near you on the T wants to pick the hairs off their clothes all day.
*Using scissors to cut the peach-fuzz from your face. First it's creepy. Secondly, see above. (Thanks to Kendra.)

*Do not glare at people trying to move by you on a crowded train. One time I saw this fat guy was complaining because he was standing near the door and people were trying to disembark. If people cannot get by you, kindly move into the train, away from the door, or step out of the train and wait near the door until everyone who wants to get off is. Do not hurl obscenities and make like you are greatly inconvenienced. If you hate people, take a cab, fatty.

This is all I have for now. Again, please post any grievances here and I'll bring you along for the book signing.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Apartment Etiquette 101

It has come to my attention that some people lack skills for survival. I'm not talking about hunting/gathering skills, but how to clean up after yourself so your roommates don't kill you. Instead of having kids in high school carry around sacks of flour like it's a child, perhaps we should teach them how to properly wash a dish or scrub a toilet bowl.
My apartment is not pristine. It would take many layers of paint and buckets of bleach to kill the mildew in the bathroom to make it so. But we have some ground rules that need to be reviewed. We have a subletter who is very nice, but I get the feeling she lives in a dorm so she needn't worry about dishes or shower cleanliness. So in case any of you have a roommate who doesn't get it (or maybe you don't get it) let's go over the basics:

*Your hair in the shower drain is unappealing. There's nothing more disconcerting than sleepily opening the shower curtain to see a small furry creature staring up at you from the drain. To remove the hair, when you're done showering simply use toilet paper or a paper towel to pinch it up and place it into the trash.

*We exist in a world of three dimensions. This also applies to dishes and silverware. Not only the part of the dish where the food was is dirty; oftentimes the underside of the plate or outside of the glass has smudges. Be sure to use a soapy sponge to wash the messy part, then rinse the food bits off the sponge and wash the outside of the glass/dish/tupperware, paying special attention to greasy spots. Rinse thoroughly and place on the drying rack. Place the sponge back in the sponge holder to avoid a funky smell and bacterial growth.

*If you live in an apartment with a dishwasher, be sure not to overload the dishwasher with crusty dishes. If you overload, your next pint may have last week's fried rice floating on top.

*Please lock the front door when you leave. Your roommates have stuff they don't want stolen.

*Keep the music down after 10:30. You may have a lame-ass neighbor who enjoys reading and sleeping at night.

*Have the courtesy to remove your empty glasses from the coffee table. At least move them to the sink, where the dishwashing rules apply.

*There is a time limit for how long dirty dishes can sit in the sink waiting for a cleaning. Please wash the dishes after 48 hours, or at least refresh the water standing in them.

*Remove trash before it overflows and a strange sticky consistency develops on the floor.

*Remove hairs from the edge of the sink when you're done brushing your mane. Nothing worse than leaning in to spit out toothpaste and seeing traces of the same furry animal that's growing in the shower.

That's all I've got for now. If anybody has new rules they'd like to add, feel free. Soon my coworkers and I will review T etiquette, because a lot of people apparently just don't get it.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

O Canada...

On Saturday at 11am I wrote this on a hostel laptop:

As I sit writing this, I am in Canada. I enjoy Canada, but I am very tired right now and would love nothing more than to be back in Boston. I got 3 hours of sleep, I think Meghan may have left me here to find my way back to Boston by myself and I hate this keyboard. Ill write more later.

Memorial Day is a day to remember the people who sacrificed their lives for America by driving on congested highways for as many hours as it takes to get to the mountains/lake/beach/elsewhere. For my friend Meghan and I, that elsewhere was Canada.
I like Canada a lot. I have fond memories of it being my first adventure outside of the country in high school and the first place I drank in public legally when I was in college. Canada is Europe Light; new currency, new language but close to home. The exchange rate is also beneficial to the American traveler, which a hard characteristic to find nowadays. I hear French Guiana is nice this time of year...
Meghan knows of a spa in Bolton, about an hour and a half outside of Montreal that has a great deal on massages. For US$64.17 each, we got an hour long massage, unlimited use of the hot tubs/steam rooms and a bottle of water. I won't get into the massage details, but let's say the next time I let a little French-Canadian man rub my bare ass, he's taking me to dinner first. The steam vapor bath did wonders for my skin and self-confidence-- I must have sweat about 3 pounds of water out of my system. The paltry bottle of water supplied to me suddenly seemed very inadequate.
Once we had our fill of the spa and needed our fill of dinner, we headed for Montreal where we would spend the night. Since Meg and I are both in the hole thousands of dollars to various credit institutions, we elected to stay in a hostel. If you're living like Paris Hilton and have never stayed in a hostel, you've not lived. A hostel is a budget hotel/prison environment where mostly young travelers (there's always some 40-something dude staying there) stay. You don't find many of these in Boston (there's 3, due to some antiquated brothel laws) but throughout Canada and Europe they're as ubiquitous as "God Bless America" bumper stickers in Texas.
The only other hostel experience I've had was my most recent stay in London. It was the cheapest hostel I could find, and I stayed in the cheapest available setup. In a hostel, you pay a prime for privacy. The more of your peers who are in the same room with you, the less you pay. In London, there were seven others in the room with me, sleeping in summer camp-like metallic bunk-beds painted primary colors. It felt like kindergarten met a tenement with a British accent.
Meghan, who speaks French and frequently goes to Montreal, knew of a hostel that was cheap. "But," she cautioned, "last time I went the owner tried to make my friend Chris sleep under a table." Not wanting to hold onto a couple of extra bucks that much, we agreed on another hostel in Vieux-Montreal that was slightly more expensive, but offered free breakfast.
We walked by the hostel about three times. The neighborhood of Vieux-Montreal is beautiful-- it's like staying in Quincy Market or the North End. There's tourist shops, bars, restaurants and cobblestone streets. Our hostel (La Maison du Patriot) had no indication except the number 169 on the white door. We rang the bell and the owner, Namia, let us in.
She led us up the stairs (the walls made of exposed stone) to the "lobby," which amounted to five feet of space near the kitchen. She showed us the kitchen, and then led us to our "room." Our room was upstairs (more beautiful stone) near one of the two bathrooms. The "room" had a bed and two air mattresses on one side, a patchwork of bedsheets and an additional formula of spring and air mattresses where the boys slept. Meghan and I were sharing the real mattress. Since it was only for one night it didn't bother me, but if I return again I'll be sure to book far enough in advance to get a proper room with walls. Some of the rooms had fireplaces and stone walls which were gorgeous.
After dinner, Meghan decided to go to bed since she was awesome and drove all day long. Since I had been sitting in the car all day (and had heard some foreign accents) I decided to make some friends in the kitchen. When I got downstairs, two guys and a girl were watching the Simpsons (en Anglais) on a laptop, with bottles of lemon Bacardi and tequila being passed around.
"Hey," said the Australian, "want to have a shot with us?"
The one thing that you gain by staying in a hostel is friends. Since there's no privacy, you can't hide away from everyone. People let their guard down more than in hotels with more than one bathroom per twenty people. Even in the slummy hostel I stayed at in England, people always invited you to clubs or sightseeing. But mostly clubs.
So I joined John (the Australian), Claire and her boyfriend Aaron in a Simpsons drinking game. Sadly, Aaron decided to make a rule that every time a character sang, everyone drank in an episode that features a 300lb man who thinks he's Michael Jackson, so lots of singing was involved. Dreading a 7-hour car ride with a hangover, I sipped at my shots but still managed to drink enough tequila that my lips burned. We drank the shots with lemon instead of lime. Crazy.
John was pressed into service by Namia, and he had to stay at the hostel until 12:30am to wait for people who had reservations but hadn't shown up. John, Claire, Aaron and I hung around in the lobby, discussing Americans, travel and school. Some nineteen year-old American college students emerged from their room after a day of sightseeing to join us at the bar. John dutifully waited until 12:30 (ignoring the pleas to forget it by the Americans) for the elusive guests and then we all headed to the bar. I danced like a fool, drank Corona with a lemon in it (crazy!) and watched an Aussie, some Canuks and an American play pool.
Had I rambled about this topic yesterday, I would have sounded much like the beginning of my piece-- hateful and unable to find the apostrophe key (damn French keyboards with their accent ay-goo or whatever). I didn't get even three hours of sleep since I was out until 2:30, the bass from the bar next door was loud even with my earplugs in, the bed was hard and people started rustling their bags at 6:30. I was hungry because all I ate was a croissant and bad coffee in the morning. But once you get out of the car, get a shower and a nap things seem better, and you realize that though they exist only to make as much money on poor international travelers as possible, hostels force you to interact with people you wouldn't otherwise. And on a full, well-rested stomach, that's a good thing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Some Thoughts About the Election...

... of our next American Idol. I am a big fan of reality TV. I'm such a big fan that I'm one of the five people who watched Real World/Road Rules: the Inferno. I can't get enough of these twenty/thirty/forty somethings who will humiliate themselves for cash. I watched the Apprentice, even the episode that aired when my Mom was in the hospital.
I enjoy the uproar that seems to happen every season when one very good contestant is voted off American Idol. Cries of racism, rigged phone lines and auto-dialing computers are published on many websites and in endless supermarket magazines. Even Elton John, who may not be elegible to vote in the American Idol competition since he's not a US citizen, cried racism when Jennifer Hudson was ejected.
It makes me laugh, in the nervous, uncomfortable sense when I watch the American public freak out because their vote(s) for La Toya London didn't get through because of overtaxed phone lines. This is the same American public who didn't put up much of a fuss when the election of 2000 was a little shady. Remember that the ballots were designed so poorly in Florida that old Jewish women were voting for Pat Buchanan? The contest that elects the man who will play a major part in policy-making for four years, the head of one of the three branches of government, the representative of the entire country was elected in questionable circumstances and people just shrugged it off. However, if a potential pop star gets voted off before popular consensus believes she should, Americans write in to People magazine to express their indignation and their conspiracy theories.
Perhaps election officials should steal one of the Ryan Seacrest cardboard cut-outs from AT&T Wireless stores to lure unsuspecting women and gay men into the voting booths in November. Maybe we should allow Simon Cowell a press pass for the DNC so he can hurl insults at John Kerry during prime-time. ("You call yourself a liberal? 'I'm not for gay marriage, but I think civil unions are great.' You're flip-flopping more than a surfer's footwear. Dreadful.")
George W. Bush could have Randy Jackson come by. "What up, dawg? Yea yea yea... you kicked that war's ass, dawg. The whole 'Mission Accomplished' thing was a little rough, dude, but you pulled it out in the end. Yea!"
Ralph Nader can have Paula Abdul come by, because they're both washed-up and a pain in people's asses.
If you'd like to see your United States political system in action, you can see the Democrats on July 26-29 at the FleetCenter in Boston. If you want to see the Republican Party, they'll be down in NYC at Madison Square Garden from August 30- September 2. If you want to see the American Idol tour with the top 12 finalists, they'll be at the Worcester Centrum on August 4. Democracy rules!

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Hey y'all...

I've been blogging since 1998. I don't know if the word "blog" even existed in 1998, but I was doing it. But my blog involved emailing a piece of my wisdom to everyone in my address book, which clogged their inbox since I was writing a lot more in 1998. I've since slowed my writing, but occasionally still have cause to share my wisdom. I hope that this will make it easier.
I hope to set up some kind of archive to illustrate the growth of my work since 1998. I also hope that some publisher will read this, realize how brilliant I am and give me a syndicated column in America's major newspapers and a sitcom based on my work.
So thanks for coming by... hopefully we can enjoy this blogging thing together.