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.