Tuesday, December 28, 2010

on the road

i am somewhere near tucson.
or maybe not. maybe tucson was three hours ago.
sand. trailers.
did you know that the seats in u-haul trucks do not recline?
i didn't.
but how could they recline?
hindsight is 20/20.
we left dallas at 7:00 AM yesterday.
"leaving the lone star state!" said a road sign
14 hours later.
four more hours.
i think i'll eat another peanut butter m&m.
i just saw a dead coyote.

Friday, December 17, 2010

thanks for saving our world

Yesterday, I found a mystery package that weighed eleventy-thousand pounds and had no return address at our doorstep. Oh cool, I thought, someone has sent us a 12-pack of bowling balls. We started to open it and Mike threw out the obligatory, "I hope it's not a bomb." He says that literally every time one of us receives a package.

Luckily instead of a bomb we discovered a 10-12 year supply of toothbrushes, toothpaste, gum, Post-It notes, coffee, Chef Boyardee Ravioli which I'd forgotten is actually delicious, Bumble Bee tuna salad, shampoo, cough drops, Power Bars, Trivial Pursuit, a paperback called "Virgin Lies" (tagline: The first lie is the hardest one to tell), and best of all, these:

can you play football?

Mike points out that he's actually in the Navy. Gosh Kacela.

Tyjuwuan wins the PC award!

what do you eat?

do you use vehicles to patrol?

i think you have been doing a good job serving our country.

this one is my favorite.

i wrote one too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

bad words

Other words, however, are not fun to say. They can inspire fear and disgust and other unpleasantries.


I'll go out on a limb and say that if you use the word bulbous it will probably trigger both an abrupt ending to your conversation and maybe something even uglier.

in a sentence:
"Sue, you have to see this bulbous blister on my..." (Sue throws up before friend finishes sentence.)


There are equally effective synonyms of this word that don't begin with "crotch." Use them.

in a sentence:
"From now on, I'm going to say 'cranky' instead of 'crotchety' thus omitting the imagery connected with 'crotchety.'"

abhor/abhorrent/et al.

Similar to concept above. Nobody can say "whore" without laughing.

in a sentence:
"I abhor that he said whore in front of the children."


When was the last time you or someone you know had to say "girdle" for any reason?

"Her girdle was riding up in such a fashion that it grazed her collarbone."
"Grandmother, may I borrow your polyester girdle?"
"Wow, this girdle hugs my curves in all the right places!"

Been a while, huh?





Bad groups of words:

It is what it is.
I guess it also depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is.

I'm just calling a spade a spade.
And I'm just calling a donut a donut.

It's water under the bridge.
Translated: "I'm still bitter, hostile, and using trite expressions."

Did I leave anything out?

good words

Some words are just fun to say. Some are so fun to say that I have to repeat them aloud when I come across them even if I'm in a silent waiting room at the doctor's office. Saying delicious words amuses me.


Neanderthal is fun to say because Neanderthals are hilarious. Without Neanderthals we wouldn't be here and neither would the 1992 Pauly Shore classic Encino Man. I've never warmed up to pronouncing the hard 't' as in turtle but if  you choose to say it that way people will assume you are highly intelligent. This is because intelligent people take pride in pronouncing words differently than you do.

in a sentence:
"Ross Gellar hearts Neanderthals because he is a paleontologist."


Magnanimous is fun to say because
it reminds me of powerful things like magma and magna cum laude and the Magna Carta.
it also sounds like magnesium.
which makes your bones stronger.
{i take a supplement.}

in a sentence:
"How magnanimous is your 5-page Christmas letter summarizing your work promotion/kidney stones/family trip to Branson/recent divorce!"


Instead of saying something is "good" or "acceptable" or even "minimally adequate," why not add a punch to the conversation with "glorious?" Also, women named Gloria are always nice.

in a sentence(s):
"The motivational speaker at this tradeshow is glorious."
"My invasive dental procedure was glorious, thanks for asking."
"Sure is glorious that the tornado only destroyed a dozen homes."


To say the word "antagonize" is to experience a flood of serotonin. Why? Because it contains the word "tag." tag = price tags = shopping.

in a sentence:
"I find shark attacks very antagonizing."

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm proud to impart on you another priceless life lesson.

Tonight I address you illegally from the "multipurpose room" of my residential building. I say illegally because I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be locked everyday at 9 p.m. but tonight it wasn't. This room takes up approximately a gaggle square feet and houses a ginormous flat-screen T.V., a pool table, a few plush couches and some leather papisan chairs that are way larger than my king-sized bed.

The multipurpose room is, 97 percent of the time, populated by three-to-five fellow concentrating types also taking advantage of the papisan chairs and chillaxed atmosphere. However at any given time this room features one absolute constant and it is this:

Be it dawn, dusk or noon on a Tuesday, a determined posse of pool gamers will emerge with an insane clown pool posse which is almost but not quite as extreme as the Insane Clown Posse, and most importantly: They will play a very raucous game of pool.
Do you know how loud the game of pool is? I didn't. It's not unlike a tornado alarm combined with the sensation of Satan driving a screwdriver through your temple.

Never before had I sat just a few feet behind a pool table in a huge and echoing though previously silent room as the piercing sound of death raped my cerebellum.

Pool sharks, as it turns out, mean serious ess-aitche-eye-tee. It doesn't matter if it's Monday at 8:00 A.M. and you and everyone else are visibly swigging so much caffeine that you needed a harness and a padded wall several hours ago right now, because pool sharks, they are legit.

Pool sharks need to play pool, like in the biological sense. They will play wherever and whenever life allows it. Your surroundings may have been silenter than Helen Keller before Anne Sullivan and then boom! A pool posse emerges. It is mostly impossible to maintain the air of an oblivious person tending to his or her personal laptop matters alongside a pool posse -- the sooner you realize this, the better.

Immediately after the advent of this pool game you should begin to devise an exit strategy. Pulling off the exit is, of course, a larger feat than it sounds. Your exit path will bisect the pool posse's playing area, there is no way around it.  Keep in mind that your facial expressions have historically betrayed every annoyed emotion you've thought you were keeping inside.

You see, everyone in the room will know why you are leaving. A more assertive type might simply ask the pool posse to tone it down, but not you. You make your statement with your abrupt exit. That said, the wisest move in this situation is to become invisible.

If becoming invisible is not in the cards today, think about your favorite scenes from Step Brothers. This will ward off the anger threatening to overtake you.You didn't really need to study/return e-mails/finish grad school applications/pay bills today anyway. Once you've left, soak in the the soothing silence or at least the absence of  wooden ballsmacking. Ahhhh...

See? Everyone wins.

Friday, December 3, 2010

taylor miffed

In our society, not worshiping Taylor is a taboo akin to treason, cannibalism and the KKK.

"la la la, you dumped me and i wrote a song about it and the rain is to emphasize that you're a bastard, laaaa!"

"Imma let you finish..."

That's why I commend you, author of this Deadspin article, with a hug and a deep desire to become your friend, both on the facebook and in real life where I will bring you a venti Gingerbread Latte spiked with an extra shot of awesome.  

My admiration is fueled by two parts "I thought I would get stoned if I admitted this" to infinity parts these metaphors:

"Can I unsubscribe to Taylor Swift?"

"FACT: Eighty-five percent of all advertisements and magazine covers are now mandated by law to feature Taylor Swift, or at least some portion of her hair crimping."
"Taylor Swift makes training bra music."

"Her [bleep] is one step removed from a Fisher Price Little People CD."

"Every record she sells should come with a complimentary pack of Spree."

"Every adult music critic on Earth fawns over this girl and protects her like she's some kind of forest pixie. (Editor's note: forest pixie! ahahahhahaha.) SHE'S SO MATURE FOR AGE! SHE HANDLED THAT KANYE SITUATION SO WELL! SHE'S SO ARTICULATE! No, seriously. Someone wrote that." 

"Swift's thoughtful honesty and surprisingly articulate take on life should be commended.' HOORAY! SHE'S ALMOST 21 AND HAS THE ABILITY TO SPEAK!"

"It's the soundtrack to a trip to Spencer Gifts."

Crimping irons? Training bra music? Spencer Gifts? I love your metaphors so much I want to platonically marry them. Thank you for the permission slip to come out as a Taylor non-enthusiast/vehement-hater-in-your-case; it's the song of a thousand angels.

And it goes like:

O Taylor thy Swift,
Of thou Jonas Brother thy shall lament
Thine is leggy.
[Harp solo]
Though I walk through thine kingdom of a mountain of 'tweens
I shall fear no evil
For thou shall continue with thine manufactured awkwardness
Forever and ever, amen.
Projectile music notes.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

social graces in small spaces

Elevators are the petri dishes of modern civilization. I know they've been around in one form or another since 212 B.C. and I know this because I just looked it up on Wikipedia, but have you ever contemplated just how bizarre are the dynamics of the elevator? Let's operate under the assumption that you haven't.

It's taken most of my 27 years to pick up on the unwritten code of socially acceptable elevator conduct. If you are younger, say 25 or 26 or even 27 with a March birthday, let my past experience speak to you and teach you things. Your social prowess will blow your future elevator co-riders away! Or maybe you just won't look like an inept freak.

Your mantra:

You're standing in the lobby of the hotel/office building/medical complex all raring to go up, up and away, but before you even think about making flesh-to-surface contact with the up button, repeat these words aloud until your mouth begins to foam: "I will not make eye contact."

I will not make eye contact.
I will not make eye contact.
I will not make eye contact.
I will not make eye contact.
I will not make eye contact.

The second you make eye contact, you are finished. Game over. Consequent attempts to act aloof, indifferent, or minimally stable are null and void after you look into someone's eyeballs on an elevator, because, and I hate to say this, you've already lost and the situation is irredeemable. Aside from the fact that you might as well have shouted, "I AM CREEPY!" while square dancing with your imaginary friend Silas, you've also seriously marred the next 30-to-50 seconds of your fellow riders' lives. The only possible exception to this rule is if you find yourself in an elevator with someone you know extremely well, for example, a legal guardian, spouse, or sibling, and even those are gray areas. The savvy elevator rider errs on the side of caution and simply does not make eye contact. Ever.

The entrance:

The ideal entry scenario is one in which you enter from a mid-level floor. The rationale behind this is that in theory, many co-riders originated at or near the first floor and have mellowed since gauging the low threat level. Unfortunately, everyone has to start in the lobby sometimes.

If you walk onto an elevator with, say, two or three or fourteen other people, your options are to: A) Hunker into the nearest open corner and say, "Seventeen please." Eighty percent of the time someone will press17 without incident, but in the 20 percent chance no one hears you, skip to B) which is to elbow your way back toward the door and press the button yourself. As long as we're talking stats, there's a 60 percent chance opting for B will provoke a wiseass comment along the lines of "psssshhhh, you could have asked" from someone standing near the doors. Your third and decidedly most pathetic option, C, is to remain silent and hunkered until you are all alone and then start over.

An addendum to your mantra:

I will look straight up at the floor numbers with the fascination of a cat chasing a ball of yarn.
I will look straight up at the floor numbers with the fascination of a cat chasing a ball of yarn.
I will look straight up at the floor numbers with the fascination of a cat chasing a ball of yarn.
I will look straight up at the floor numbers with the fascination of a cat chasing a ball of yarn.
I will look straight up at the floor numbers with the fascination of a cat chasing a ball of yarn.

And I will keep one hand on my keys at all times.

When all else fails:

Hopefully life has taught you by now that the only thing in the world you can control is how you behave. And while you, you rock star, earn a big gold star in elevator finesse, it's still inevitable: There will come a point that you'll encounter an assault from the outside, and like a Boy Scout you must come prepared, because when it rains, it pours.

When a fellow rider attempts to make casual conversation -- like, "Wow, you sure are sweaty!" -- take a deep breath, echo their observation because you are in fact sweaty, and then say something about the weather. Strangers with social skills need not send you into a state of panic, because it turns out elevators make only 98 percent of humans turn into Dwight Schrute. Refreshing, isn't it?

Finally -- listen up, this one's a biggie -- if you become trapped in an elevator, I really don't know what to tell you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


This will be the first of my 27 previous Thanksgivings I've spent not in Texas. I was sad tonight but then realized that I'm thankful for: 

- My best friends from home. Because you've stuck with me through middle school, freshman locker escapades, shorts detentions, and general mood swings. That we've stayed close is a blessing I didn't deserve.

- My college housemates and friends. Because you embraced a shy stranger from Texas, brought me home with you on holidays, and became bridesmaids, sisters, and extended family. You made me who I am and I wish we lived closer.

- My friends' babies. Eleanor, Nate, Ben, Elijah, Owen, Asher, Brooks, Brooklyn. Because I will drive hundreds of miles to hang out with you and talk about it for days afterward. Thank you for making me look forward to mommyhood!

- Navy spouses and significant others. Because you're the reason I understand what "it takes a village" means now. I could not have survived the past year and a half without your leadership, even when you didn't think you were leading. Your independence and optimism has set the bar high. You are amazing.

- Navy family. Because you not only risk your lives everyday but provide a living example of brotherhood and sisterhood that movies fail to capture. Your loyalty makes this a little bit easier and I am proud to count you as friends. Thanks for watching over Mike.

- Mom, Dad and Parker. Because you didn't disown me when I was 14. Turns out you weren't kidding when you said you were going tape record me. I found it and it was horrifying. Also, thank you for being my family.

- Mike. Because of far too many reasons to list.

- The roof over my head. Because unfortunate circumstances really can sneak up on anyone.

- Tater tot casserole. Because you didn't burn tonight.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

seasonal haikus

some bangs would look great
said a stylist with scissors
an imprudent choice

dark at four thirty
well isn't this just lovely?
watch lifetime movies

come fly friendly skies
your naked body x-rayed
you too grams mcgee

fifteen dollar wine
tastes better than two buck chuck
fewer headaches

moxie 'til sunrise
obligations, what are they?
rachel put it down

Monday, November 15, 2010

blog therapy

Judging by most everything I've read, a blog should focus on a single topic and those that don't are useless in the same way that Rubik's cubes, sea horses, and Betamax tapes are useless. But this is problematic on a few levels. If you have a baby, several babies, a horse, a dog, an Etsy shop, a bleeding heart 501(c)(3) nonprofit, or extremist political views, I definitely see the point of carving out a niche audience. Look at Paula Deen, Rick Steves, and the two women who created Awful Library Books. OK fine, just look at the Awful Library Books chicks.

My issue is, what if your interests span so many different directions that to choose one exclusive focus is akin to telling your second favorite child, if you had any that is, that his or her sibling is secretly more interesting and smarter than he or she, and that you expect Favorite Child to do huge things in life and if one of them attends an Ivy League school you're positive it will not be Second Favorite Child?


When writing, you find it difficult to block mental images of people you know will read this, like your former middle school teacher and your mom's friends (hi!) and your widowed grandmother's 86-year-old man-friend who is hilarious and makes Viagra jokes, and, as a far more technologically savvy entity than his ladyfriend who refuses to embrace the fleeting concept of the internet (your grandmother), shows her everything you write. What if you say something that's risqué or off-color or otherwise capable of bringing shame to your family? And she's all, "Wow, I'm related to that? FML." What then?


You are hyper-aware of talking about yourself too much. You enjoy, thoroughly in fact, reading about everyone else's lives, their families, their dogs, their Netflix recommendations, it's fascinating. But your writing is a different story because you don't personally find you all that interesting. I mean sure you could think of lesser candidates to be stranded with in a Chilean mine, that much is fair. However real life offers luxuries like interactive cues: facial expressions, vocal intonation, personal space. How do you know if you're violating someone's virtual space, the kind of violating that in real life would make you take nineteen steps backward because you can feel their breath on your cheek, and gross? SEE. You don't.

Aaaaaand I care too much about what people think. But that sure felt good to write.

Monday, November 8, 2010

oh conan where art thou?

Conan returned to television tonight. Now's as good a time as any to publicly state that I lost a little will to live last January. The day NBC announced it planned to shuffle/cancel/screw Conan was also coincidentally the same day I first attended a live taping with besties Erin, Lindsey, and Amy. I was so excited about it that I lost my appetite for 72 hours prior. He mentioned this in his monologue and I was all, "BAHAHA that's a hilarious bit but it's so preposterous that I know you're going for a farcical effect, HAHA I GET IT!" After the show was over, we went back to our hotel in hopes that the local news would debunk this absurd notion.

Oops, it wasn't a joke. Nausea and denial set in. Also, the realization that depression triggered by the canceling of a television program is probably a psychiatric disorder in the DSM-IV.

He and Will Ferrell played "Freebird" on his final show and I lost a tad more will to live, because who's to say he wouldn't go J.D. Salinger on us and retreat to a grass hut in New Hampshire? Then he said he would be back in November. Nine months sounded like a daunting stretch of time. We saw him on tour in San Diego. I watched his "Inside the Actors Studio" YouTube clips at least a dozen times because NBC had yanked everything else. Nine months passed somehow.

Welcome effing back.

Friday, November 5, 2010

how much for those empty bacardi bottles from 1973?

Like most people, you've probably asked yourself at one time or another, "Where can I find personalized Christmas yard paraphernalia with falsely placed apostrophes? (like: "Ho Ho Ho from The Miller's!" "Jingle Bell's from the Smith's!" APOSTROPHE = POSSESSIVE! The Miller's what?!!!) Where can I find bulk quantities of used tupperware? Most importantly, where can I find more dialects of bastardized English than in Deliverance and Sling Blade combined?

How much do you love the word "bastardized"?

The answer is First Monday Trade Days in Canton, Texas. Despite its name, the massive outdoor flea market actually takes place the first weekend of each month. The purpose of the Monday part is to confuse you.

Yeah, those are puppies in a stroller.

Somebody hearts the hotel minibar!

I don't know.

Canton epitomizes all the reasons Texas is projectile awesome. The point of Canton is to hoard as much crap as possible that you are positive you will never use or look at again. Highlights of my recent trip include:
  • First Monday fixtures "Dressin' Gaudy," "Taylored for Texas," and "Bedazzled Bling"
  • Vintage collections of the obsolete feminine product now identified primarily as half of a slang term that ends in "bag."
  • The vendor who sells nothing but rusty old spoons. Hey now. At least he monopolizes his market.
  • Teams of middle-aged women sporting custom printed t-shirts with monikers like:
    • Mommas Gone Wild
    • Canton Beat the Feeling!
    • Glitzy Grannies
  • Motorized scooters with horns. Hint: Pedestrians do not have the right of way.
  • Shirtless vendors in overalls shouting borderline threats at elderly patrons
    • and the ensuing square mile of awkward silence
  • This book. Which I bought.:
"What a Young Man Ought to Know," from the chapter entitled "The Selection of a Wife." See esp. bottom half.

While ogling over sexist and at times anatomically explicit literature from 1897 is all kinds of superfun, there are also practical, normal person reasons to visit Canton. It's a goldmine for anyone who has an eye for salvageable furniture. My mom and I found a scrillion-year-old wooden trunk for $60 that will become Mike's and my coffee table after some rehabilitative magic. 

I love Canton almost as much as cheese. Mmmm, cheese.

Monday, October 11, 2010

less popular queries appearing in my google search history toolbar

"Ferris Bueller" + "Kristy Swanson"
"fetal alcohol syndrome"  
"foil lodged in throat"
"four letter words that end in 'X'"
"French Antarctic"
"French Lick, Indiana"
"funky cold medina"
"Fun Time Pizza"
"Gary Sinise" + "army commercial"
"gather round you friends of mine"
"get Texas accent back"
"Glenda the townie" + "Oxford, OH"
"goat milk"
"green skin tone"
"Joyce DeWitt"

Friday, October 1, 2010


If you think you don't like spinach, there is a 97 percent chance that you are wrong. Spinach is delicious. If the last time you ate spinach was more than 15 years ago or if at any point during your formative years you were threatened with severe punishment unless you finished all of your green vegetable, it is almost certain that pent up resentment is clouding your feelings toward spinach. Your palate has most likely evolved since you were a child. If you are over age 25 you probably watched Double Dare, attended a New Kids on the Block concert, drank Capri-Sun and got maniacally excited at the prospect of playing inside a cardboard box. Would you say your interests have changed
since then? Spinach is underrated.

Abe Vigoda
Abe Vigoda has looked 95 for at least 30 years. There is no plausible scientific explanation for this phenomena and it raises the possibility that he will live forever. Sometimes the news reports that he has died, but they are wrong. Abe Vigoda was in The Godfather and his eyebrows have their own ZIP code. Abe Vigoda is underrated.

Car horns
If you are having a bad day or someone has challenged your authority, your car horn can show the world you are not to be effed with. The boldest car horn statements are best achieved on residential streets or medium density roads with names ending in "Avenue" or "Boulevard." Execution of the car horn need not be provoked by an offensive traffic maneuver; what's important is that you communicate to surrounding cars how in control of your life you are. Try this next time you feel slighted and I think you too will agree that car horns are underrated.

Unicorns are horses that can fly, and besides that what else matters? Unicorns are the only mythological creatures that made it next to the neon puppies and dolphins on Lisa Frank's folders, but don't let the business about fairies and rainbows and sparkly dust fool you. The unicorn is no lightweight and could easily win in a fight against a bear due to its horn and aforementioned ability to fly. Unicorns, therefore, are underrated.

Jem is a rock star who can switch into a normal person whenever she wants by getting hologrammed. When not touring or lounging in the hot tub on the roof of her limo, Jem runs an orphanage for girls. Jem is underrated.

Not watching football
This weekend when your spouse, friends and loved ones head to a bar at 9:00 A.M. to eat chicken wings and watch grownups collide with each other until the sun goes down, sit at home alone and watch ABC Family. Conformity is overrated and for that reason, not watching football is underrated.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

that one time in third grade i got interrogated in a scary dark room: part II

One day, the school counselor plucked me out of class and took me to her office.  Getting sent to the counselor’s office carried some unsavory connotations because back then the only kids I knew who saw the counselor had oppositional defiant disorder or brought pocket knives to school or took their pants off in the middle of the cafeteria. It was like getting sent to the principal but more extreme, because everyone knew that you had not only conduct issues, you also had THOSE kind of issues. 

Her office, lit only by a small lamp in the corner, had all the ambience of a dark womb.  I sat on the standard therapy couch and she began to ask questions.

How are you feeling today? 
Is something making you blue?
Do you ever think about running away?
Are your mom and dad nice to you?

The questions then became more specific. I detected nuances of ABC after school special.

Since her verbal coercion tactics hadn't yet elicited a signed admission that my parents regularly starved me and my brother and kept us locked in a cage at night and in general subjected us to a childhood of torture and neglect, she handed me a piece of paper and drew four circles on it. (I added Maggie.) It looked like this:
 "I want you to draw a face on each of your family members."

WTF, lady? This just got Freudian.

I handed her this:

She asked me if my dad was ever mean to me. I said not really. Then there was silent staring. The kind of silent staring that makes the last person to speak feel obligated to say more words, any words, because the conversational ball is still in their court and it is not socially acceptable for two people to be staring at one another in a dark room not saying any words. 

"Sometimes he changes the channel when I watch TV."

Let's just say that if one were to create a flow chart out of the next 30 minutes, each box would be followed by a series of arrows and they'd all lead to one giant box labeled "OMG CHILD ABUSE CALL CPS!!!!!!1" 

While she talked more about feelings and how everyone has them and they're OK to talk about and this is a safe place and would I like a lollipop, I embellished my family portrait with crayons until it looked approximately like this:

Puppies! Rainbows! Even the sun is smiling! WE ARE SO DAMN HAPPY!
I never figured out what was behind my surprise visit to the counselor's office, but I also forgot about it later that day because I was eight and possessed the attention span of a gnat. 

Turns out the answer has stared me in the face all these years and I was too blind to see it until now. It hit me at once via a mid-afternoon highway epiphany.

Miss Cecil told the counselor I was emotionally disturbed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

that one time in third grade i got interrogated in a scary dark room: part I

You know those trivial events in elementary school that you forgot about right after they happened until one day you're driving 19 years later and a major epiphany punches you in the temple and you're like, "OH! NOW I GET IT!" and then you almost drive off the 163 overpass?

I have enormous respect for teachers, especially because when I worked as a substitute I got a fleeting glimpse of how hard it is. It was still hard even when I knew I didn't have to do it again tomorrow, or again ever if I didn't want to. Teachers are superheroes!

But my third grade teacher Miss Cecil* was mean. So very mean. She was M-E-A-N written in  pitchforks oozing with blood and she hated all but two of the students in our class, a boy and a girl. Outside the elite two, the rest of of us were ostensibly inbred leprosy-ridden half-orangutans that left a constant trail of clown drool behind us. She was one of those teachers that made you wonder why the hell she chose to be a teacher in the first place.

I remember scratching my head brainstorming careers I thought she'd enjoy more than teaching, like being an astronaut, a doctor, or a Girl Scout troop leader, i.e. the only other professions that existed in the world. Gauging from her bitter factor alone, you would think she was a 70-year-old spinster with silver hair and lipstick on her teeth. But she was actually 26, 5' feet tall and blonde. Her fiancé was a really nice man who used to bring our class cookies... cookies!

I can't truly convey the soul-crushing, miserable and heartless B unsavory educational experience that was Miss Cecil's classroom, but do allow me to share a few of the more memorable behavioral gems, including her habits of:

  • Reading everyone's spelling test scores aloud without missing a beat until she'd get to a remedial kid. "Timmy 98, Susie 102, Johnny...  hmmm Johnny, are you sure you want me to read it out loud?" Guess what everybody? Johnny failed. This was the perfect opportunity to have him explain dyslexia to the rest of the class.
  • Calling my parents in for a conference during which she hinted to them their daughter might be functionally illiterate after one time I underperformed on the writing portion of a standardized pretest. We were supposed to describe an elephant, but I had a 103 degree fever and did not care one iota about describing this elephant or its sharp mollusks or cascading trunk. I just wanted to live. Miss Cecil expressed shock a few months later when I won the class spelling bee. "Well, I never thought I'd see the day you'd beat [boy contingent of elite two] in spelling!"
  • See first item and substitute "spelling test scores" with "personal weight." I wish I was making this up. I think it was Presidential Fitness Test Week and we were about to get judged on our push-up and toe-touching skillz, which I was actually decent at since I am a freak of nature whose arm span makes Inspector Gadget's go-go gadget arm look like a pygmy stump. Anyway, nothing motivates plump kids to get moving and snack on carrot sticks like calling more attention to their size, especially when there's only one plump kid in the class. Hey, that's not obvious. "Sure you want me to read this out loud, Sally?"
  •  Confronting me in the girls bathroom demanding an explanation as to why I hadn't invited a classmate to my birthday party. I stammered through my reasons, which I felt were valid enough... at first: "I only invited two girls from class... My parents said I could only have eight people... I went to a different school in second grade, I still have ummm, friends there... lostinthemail?"  Miss Cecil: "You know you were wrong to exclude her." Me: [overcome with guilt. tears]. 
Stay tuned for the climax of "That One Time In Third Grade I Got Interrogated In a Scary Dark Room."

*All names extremely changed for obvious reasons.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

that time i accidentally conducted a physics lab in my elevator

I waited until the last possible minute of my senior year in high school to take physics, and I didn't retain a whole lot of any knowledge except: A) that the immaculate conception MUST have really happened because I somehow ended up with an 89.5 and therefore an exemption from the final through prayer alone and B) the definitions of velocity and momentum.

Actually I'm not sure I remember the definitions verbatim. E = mc² may or may not be relevant to one or both, but who cares? What I do know is that Mr. Velocity and his lady friend Mizz Momentum both played a significant role this morning when my keys fell through the elevator crack and into the hereafter.

I first noticed that the crack in our building's elevator is really effing wide soon after we moved in. If most cracks leading to elevator shafts look like this:


Ours looks like this:
It's so gaping that I trip/stumble/faceplant over it on average twice a week. The most memorable such occasions are, of course, when fellow residents whose feet, groceries or small dogs I've accidentally stepped on during the tripping process, bear witness to the folly and then ride with me for ten more floors, because what fun is eating tile if nobody sees it?

So I'm standing in the elevator this morning headed down to 5P when I realize I left something important. Back home I go. I kneeled down to zip my bag after thinking, "Hmm, I better zip my bag, wouldn't want anything to fall out!" (Foreshadowing?) When the door opened, I was still messing with the zipper. I took a giant leap forward à la Neil Armstrong in a doomed attempt to keep it open.

I was still mid-stride as my keys, my precious keys, the keys to my home, my car, the mailbox, the magic clicker that opens the gate, the other magic clicker that grants access to the pool, my gym, the threadbare Miami University keychain that's held my life together since I was 20, my Spicy Pickle swipey, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MY SPICY PICKLE SWIPEY, plummeted out of my jeans pocket and slipped through the cracks into wherever it is that elevator shafts stop. 

Which guess what, is somewhere really far away because I'm pretty sure six minutes elapsed between the keys' initial descent and the faint, echoing crash I heard somewhere way, way below. I'm all stunned for a second, talking to myself out loud asking, "Did that just happen?" Once I determined that that had, in fact, happened, I set out in search of Chuck the maintenance guy. The idealist in me said, "Don't fret, pet! It can't be that hard to break into an elevator shaft! I'm sure Chuck will save the day!"

The idealist in me was wrong.

Chuck said that to gain access to the elevator shaft, the elevator company itself would have to come out from Manitoba or something and shut off the whole city's power and plumbing and we would have to ration food for months and nuclear war would break out between PB and OB and then Glee would get canceled! A watered down version of this, anyway. He told me that a couple of other unlucky souls lost their keys the same way over the past month or so, and they're still waiting to hear from the elevator people. In other words, don't hold your breath. 

So onward I must go. Although I mourn the loss of my keys and especially my beloved Miami keychain, I'm amazed at the show of support from friends, some of whom have apparently lived in fear of what would happen if they dropped their keys into an elevator shaft. Some text messaged responses:

Mom: "That's been my greatest fear in life."

LMack: "AHAHAHAHA, only you would do that."

Anonymous: "I hold my breath and clutch my keys to my chest every time I step into an elevator."

Wes: "I always wondered if that ever happened to anyone."

Well Wes, it does happen, and there's life on the other side... I'm just not sure how I'm going to get back into my apartment.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

rodeos, outhouses, five star hotels, and beatnik bookstores

We couldn't leave our little slice of trailer heaven without stopping next door at the branding competition.

We took "the fast way" out of the mountains per the advice of our new mustache-y cowboy friends. This speedy escape included a separate 9,600 ft. highway pass with zero guardrails, i.e. I held my breath for two-and-a-half hours while debating whether it would be scarier to drive off a 9,600 ft. elevation traveling uphill... or downhill? Jury's still out.

We stopped in Bodie, and by "stopped," I mean off-roaded up four miles of tire-piercing rocks. It was pretty much the coolest thing I've ever seen. Heard of it?      

Bodie (rhymes with "body") was a bustling mining camp that once had 10,000 residents at the height of the gold rush. It's been abandoned for eons but now it's a California State Park, which means its  hundreds of buildings aren't allowed to fall over because the state says so dang it! The interiors of the buildings are all untouched. We saw a brothel, a church, a jail, a mortuary, tons of outhouses, gambling halls, a full gymnasium with swingy acrobat rings, and dozens of normal people homes. We loved Bodie!

We drove back to San Francisco that afternoon and got lucky with a last minute rate at the Ritz which included a surprise upgrade... club level! And then for the next two days our view looked like this:

City Lights Books, owned by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the last living Beat poet.

The lesson to extract from our weekend is that if at first you don't plan well and spend the night breathing in possible aesbestos at a skeevy mountain dive, dust yourself off, go to Bodie, drive back to where you came from and have faith that the Ritz offers military discounts. It worked for us.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Won't you be my neighbor? Labor Day, Part II

Truth be told I was surprised when MP was all "YEAH!!!" about staying here considering it was sketchy and we hadn't yet trekked through the dark, starving cat-populated alley to check it out/make sure there were no varmints/roaches/dead hookers in our home for the evening. Also, you could easily hide a dead person there for a long time but hey! It's called faith. And hunger. And it hurt. Wanted burger. Beer. I asked Innkeeper Jean if this place had a physical address, should we misplace the hand-drawn mapkin. This did not sit well with her. Touchy subject, I suppose?

After inhaling dinner we decided hey, why quit now? There was a honky tonk down the road crawling with real cowboys in ten gallon hats and Wranglers and boots and epic handlebar mustaches I wanted to touch and ask questions about. Like, how long did it take to grow? Do you have "bad 'stache days?" How often do people come up to you and ask "who wants a mustache ride?" If someone cut it off in the middle of the night while you slept because they were mad at you, would you be devastated? So in we went. They were in town for a cattle branding competition. We made a couple of new cowboy friends and were all "Now THIS is America! Could this trip get any better!? WE LOVE BRIDGEPORT, CALIFORNIA!!!!!!!"

Then we went "home." Tee-hee.

Turns out our home for the night was not only situated between two trailers, yes ladies and gents, but was itself a close relative of a double wide from circa the Eisenhower administration. Care for a walking tour?

Curb appeal!
First we have the furnished living room. This plush couch is an example of the Native American-meets-"Full House" design motif. Bonus: You can push me a couple of feet to the left as a barricade against the front door, in case the deadbolt has been forcibly removed. And it has.
Tons of natural light! The sagging, sans-ring curtain is a cutting edge trend in window treatments.
A personal VHS library for your convenience. The thick layer of dust coating the collection is is all you need to rest assured that A) these tapes are in barely-used condition, and B) No one has stayed here for a long, long time.

The TV doesn't work, but go ahead, take home "Boys on the Side." ;-) We won't tell. Whoopi Goldberg's finest hour.

 Onto the kitchen. Upon testing the non-functional stove, the corpse of a spider may fly into your face... Don't worry, this is normal.

The autumnal cabinet appliques are from Pottery Barn's new line,  "Grandma's Fall Harvest." Really takes you back, huh?
As we enter the master bedroom, keep in mind that this rare painting is in no way an attempt to hide a large gaping hole in the wall behind it.
You may choose to sleep fully clothed on a palette of towels, like these guests did -- and that's OK.**

Tons of storage! Free mop.
Stunning views.
 **At the time these photos were taken, the bathroom was not camera-ready. This day marked the first time these particular guests dry-heaved at the sight of a bathroom sink.

But wait, it's not over. Third and final installment forthcoming.