Monday, September 19, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Why Does The Wind?

Decommissioning the first pair of shoes I bought with my own money.
Realizing the futility of a damp pillow.
Finding out that Rita Repulsa (Machiko Soga), the first female evil super villain on Power Rangers, died of pancreatic cancer.
Graduating from high school.
Drinking coffee without the intention of looking cool.
Replacing 4 black and 3 glow-in-the-dark bracelets with a kinetic watch.
Scrubbing the sink clean after I shaved.
Driving to Philadelphia.
Waking up in the orthodontist’s chair...with braces.
Pointing out to my mother that Alice Sebold had a better idea of Heaven than the Bible.
Buying my first bottle of beer.
Hearing that my best friend’s mother had a heart attack in the grocery store.
Receiving my first “D” on a critical term paper in A.P. Lang. & Comp.
Kissing the first guy I was ever able to admit I liked.
Buying my own school supplies.
Worrying if I get enough beta-carotene in my diet.
Accepting that I’ll never be taller than 5’6.
Saying to my cousin, “don’t grow old. You’ll wish you hadn’t.”
This video:

while knowing that Tracey Thorn is singing alone because she and her husband—which comprises the entire band of Everything but the Girl—have split up.

Knowing that I can’t change anything on this list.

//end of childhood.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Publication Validation

I’m so excited! I just can’t hide it! I’m about to lose control, and I think you know how I feel about that...

Guess who’s story is forthcoming in The Liner Magazine’s maiden edition?


I know, right?

I could kiss the moon right now. The Liner may not be a big name, but, my first official publication occurring in a magazine’s first official publication is like...ah, screw analyzing it; I’m going to go back to dancing.

That Price Is Right

Joe is tall, good looking, and says whatever the hell he damn well feels like saying (and usually, it’s something inappropriate). He’s my idol. I plan on being just like him when I turn 64.

Well, at least 2 outta 3. That ain’t so bad.

The last time I saw him, he was telling me about when he used to live in Miami, and his neighbor would call him the f-bomb. On a particularly sunny morning in Miami (as if there’s any other kind), his neighbor called out “good morning f*g,” from his stoop, and Joe turned and said, “and a good f*cking morning to you too; keep this sh*t up and I’ll stick my d*ck up your *ss and we can both be f*gs together—you can take me antique shopping, you piece of sh*t.”

What’s not to admire?

Every time I see him, he gives me a great big hug and updates me—complete with pictures—on his two border collies at home. Even though he tends to whisper when he’s telling a good story, you can hear his laugh two rooms over. I was hanging out with him the week after New York passed the gay marriage law.

“You know, it really doesn’t matter whether or not my partner and I can get married,” he told me. “We’ve been together 15 years. Why would we want to get married now? Just to get divorced?” He then told me about how smart his mother was; never divorcing her first husband, so that when he died, she collected all of his pension checks. We both had a laugh at that; milking the system? That’s the American way of living right there. But, I had to double-check. I had to be sure. So I asked him flat out, would he really not get married to the guy he loved?

He said that going this far without government validation didn’t make their relationship any less real. Maybe they’d do it for the benefits, if Florida legalized gay marriage in his lifetime (and, he quietly informed me, he wasn’t holding his breath), but otherwise, he “couldn’t give a flying rat’s *ss.” They still fight like a married couple. They still care about each other like a married couple. What would it matter?

Lee, who’s 62 and divorced with 2 kids, and a grandkid, agreed. Marriage for him was a disaster. Probably because he likes men, he’d be the first to agree, but he tried to make it work with his wife, and it just didn’t. Life’s funny like that, am I right? C’est la vie?

I myself...I’m not in my sixties. I haven’t had a relationship that lasted an entire decade (just think of the time warped photos; I still look back on pictures of my parents when they were dating and ask them if they really went out like that in public. Sometimes my dad says, “we were young and stupid,” and gives me the once over). But, you know, as crazy as it seems, I believe in the sanctity of marriage.

That’s rich, right? The guy who thinks God may be an overzealous lesbian and who pictures hell as an upper-college level trigonometry class where Satan the professor randomly calls on you to answer the questions, and everyone around you gets the material and had 8 wondrous hours of sleep last night while you’re trying to pass off the fact that you hadn’t even had time to shower that morning as embracing a low-water, pro-environment lifestyle? He believes in marriage? He saw what Britney Spears did. He knows what’s up.

But, when you come down to it, I really do believe in, and support marriage. It’s not this wonderful union where birds chirp in the morning and your spouse gets up at the crack of dawn to make you breakfast while you sleep in (and for those of you who have this, be grateful, you sons-a-bitches). It gets ugly. You’re left alone with them after a long day at work and you just feel tired and want to lash out at someone. And then, they wake up next to you, and in choosing to swat you or the alarm, the alarm tends to win only because it’s making more noise at that particular moment. It’s a scary thing, this thing called marriage. You discuss bowel movements with each other, hopes and dreams and really stupid ideas that you would have otherwise kept to yourself...if you’re not prepared for that (Disney’s not so hot on that sort of preparation these days), then yeah, divorce might be eminent. But at least you tried.

*Consolation prize*

I haven’t really told anyone this. I don’t like to jump into personal politics, because it feels too good when we win a battle and it hurts too much when we come up short (it’ll leave a guy emotionally unstable, I tend to think). But, this shirt?

I’d wear it.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Crotch Thought

“His Stories...pierce and leap, are always bitingly funny, and are so, so alive....Klam is telling the truth while almost no one else is.”—Dave Eggars

“A knockout.”—The Oregonian

“Ruthlessly insightful...Klam has a major bead on women.”—Harper’s Bazaar

A finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
An Esquire Best Book of the Year
A New York Times Notable Book
A Kansas City Star Book of the Year

All raving reviews (I mean, sure, no one posts their rejections on their jacket covers, but this book has received notable praise). So why am I giving Matthew Klam’s Sam The Cat: And Other Stories a non-awesome review?

It goes like this: there are seven stories in Klam’s collection, six exclusively from the heterosexual male perspective, with the last story being a stab at the omniscient narrator. All of the stories revolve around the protagonist and their girlfriends/fiancees/wives; they’re cheating on them, ignoring them, trying to get them to have an abortion, or so emphatically in love with them they’re bringing fake guns to their girlfriend’s door just to scare them a little after they’ve had a fight. (Men of real caliber, am I right? Who else is really turned on right now?) They feel up other women on the beach. They eat their boss’ hooha on the ground of a construction site. This is the soon-to-be-married crowd. No wonder marriage doesn’t work; half the partnership consists of a straight guy and his penis.

Ok, ok, I guess that isn’t fair. But it does bring me to my biggest concern with Sam The Cat: And Other Stories—several of the men depicted in these stories take absolutely no responsibility for their dicks. It just gets hard on its own accord. It just inserts itself into places without their having any control over it. Oops; broke their marriage vows. Wasn’t their fault—their penis made them do it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Men can get sexually aroused against their will, same as women. But, just because the men in these stories get sexually aroused doesn’t mean they need to act upon those hormones and the blood surging to their crotches. They could go cool off. Frustrating, but a bit more responsible.

The flip side to this is the outdated concern these protagonists experience when their significant others get aroused:

She lay between the rows of corn on the bedspread and let me touch her and wanted more.
‘I like that,’ she said, pulling at me.
It terrified me when she acted like a slut. I said, ‘Let me get unbuckled.’

Because, as we all know, it’s fine when a man wants to screw some girl, but when a woman wants to get screwed? What a slut. And from another story:

At the end they’d done it so hard—Rich fucked Gynnie so hard he forgot he was marrying her.

According to this world view, you can’t fuck your wife really hard because you’re marrying her. Marriage is supposed to kill the sex life, and after the “I do”s you’re only supposed to make sweet, missionary style love to each other once every two weeks (optimally, on or after pay day). This is perhaps a truer reason for failed marriages; people who are sexually voracious don’t just lose their sexual drive once they enter a social-economical agreement. The woman who liked to be spanked will still want a good spanking after she’s married, just as the guy who liked to be tied up won’t drop his ropes in the trash once he’s found the one he wants to be with for the rest of his life. The people who believe that their sexual enjoyment has to stop once their enter marriage vows wonder why their relationship isn’t fulfilling them the way it did before. To stop doing the sexual activities that a couple performs before marriage would be to seriously maim the sex life thereafter, and considerably lead to a less fulfilling marriage. To promise wild and zany shower sex with the lover before the chapel would be to imply wild and zany shower sex after, simply because it’s something that they both enjoy. And if one of the pair doesn’t enjoy it, then they had better speak up, or expect soap in unwelcomed places until someone dies or files divorce papers.

And then gets themselves a divorce ring! I sort of want to get married and divorced, just so I could wear a one of these.

...*sigh* Jewelry. But yes. Where were we?

Sam The Cat: And Other Stories adheres to a certain group of men of which I wouldn’t be interested in obtaining entry to. Their ideals about women appear old-fashioned and tired (“major bead on women,” Harper’s Bazaar? Really? Did you not read the collection?).

Unless you’re the kind of guy who thinks about his dick and where he could stick it every six seconds, I probably wouldn’t recommend this book. Not so awesome.

And by the way, it took me forever to grasp the placement of the title on cover. I didn’t realize it was at that location, in that shape, for a reason. Here’s me, reading this book all over town, with people giving me off-colored sideways glances in Starbucks and Pei Wei...kind of embarrassing, really.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Google, Baby

Google is my lover.

I can turn off my phone and walk away. If I lived in a city that was more pedestrian friendly, I would walk (or bike) instead of jumping in my tired and sagging car. I could even give up creamed goods. (Hypothetically, this is hypothetically; you touch my ice cream, you may die. You’re a guest in my house until you near my freezer. If I catch you with my Haagen-Dazs, you better run.) But, at this point, I can’t imagine my life without Google.

I mean, every time I jump on the internet, I end up on google’s homepage. Not only do I use gmail and blogger (which is owned by...Google), but I swear by google maps, use google images, and find that any time I’m fairly curious about a subject (yesterday, I googled bilberries, roiling, and the lyrics to Tom Jones’ “She’s a Lady” after someone asked me about the hot librarian picture I downloaded—from google—and plastered onto a binder. I explained that “she has style, she has grace,” and then I realized that I was quoting from a song I couldn’t remember the complete lyrics to) I jump on google, which links me to Wikipedia, dictionaries, and the World Healthiest Foods website. Google is my lifeline. If Google left me, I would pitch my own personal hissy fit.

::My friend Paul is a lawyer who works for Google. He undoubtedly is brimming from ear to ear in smugness because I’m writing about his favorite employer. Hush it, Paul. Shh.::

Google not only is my source for all things random, but sometimes it presents random information to me without my even trying. It reminds me of birthdays of astronomers, of foreign independence days, of national holidays, all within its title. My absolute favorite was it’s animation in celebration of Martha Graham, the famous dancer.

(In case you weren’t on Google that day.)

This (and Grey’s Anatomy) is the sort of thing that totally impresses me and makes me feel all tingly in my mushy places. How beautiful; I felt like, just by hanging out on Google, I got to be reminded of an important artist in our American culture. Today, for the Fourth of July, Google posted this image:

Adorable, right? From Hawaii to New York, with the West, Midwest, and the South involved as well. Artistically and politically correct, one might say, for a day celebrating our birth as a nation. And so, on top of saying, “Happy Independence Day,” I want to draw attention to, and thank, Google for making me smile day after day. With just a simple sketch, Google makes me feels better, even though as search engine extraordinaire Google really doesn’t have to do anything extra to draw me to its homepage. It’s like the boyfriend who brings flowers “just cause.”

I think I’m in love.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Death by Relaxation

Just recently I sent a letter to a friend of mine overseas. I know, I know--I send letters to people. I'm such a softy for pen and paper and stamps and starting monologues off with "Dearest" and ending them with "Love." The world could be going to hell in a hand basket and my first thought would be to find a more upbeat radio channel. But anyway, on the back of this particular envelope, I taped the following Baby Blues comic strip:

In case you can't see it (as your eyes have smoked over due to backyard barbecues and summer sweat sneaking down your brow), click on it. But if you're looking for a transcript, the first panel says: "I'm going to the kitchen to get some crackers..." The second: "...WHILE BALANCING THE STEPSTOOL ON TWO SKATEBOARDS AND A BANANA PEEL!!!" The third: "Boredom is for the boring!" "Tell the gang at the emergency room I said hi."

I picked it because I wanted to send this person a summer comic, from one workaholic to another. He's going to Cambridge University and has exams coming up. Summers are scary for students like us. We work through fall, with the leaves changing from green to technicolor, and we trudge through spring, replacing our winter coats with summer shorts (although in Florida our passage of time is basically switching from flip flops to tennis shoes and back again). But then summer arrives and all of a sudden we're supposed to do nothing.



Do you know what nothing translates to for a workaholic?

Auto maintenance, house repair, storage cleaning, calling distant relatives, volunteering, varnishing the furniture, deleting unnecessary files off the computer, birthday shopping, christmas shopping, any activity that will get you ahead in the fall, trying that new recipe your coworker gave you (you forgot that you were supposed to be an excellent chef!), going to a yoga class, clearing out the email inbox, reading the latest best seller, organizing a committee, revamping the wardrobe, double checking the budget...

...sleeping (if it's not on the task list, it will not happen)...

...trying out a new skin cream, organizing the organizer/calendar, clipping coupons, re-accessing life goals, watching CNN, HBO, QVC, ABC, MSNBC, TMC--while wondering to yourself why you don't have Tivo...or a secretary--and of course, questioning if you're really doing your part to try to save the planet. You gas guzzler, you.

As Americans, we're raised with this Puritanical sense of right and wrong. We grew up with the rags-to-riches mentality floating around in the back of our minds; if we just worked a little bit harder, for a little bit longer, we could become successful. Just look at Rockefeller, or Donald Trump, or Madonna. Maybe even Oprah, if you're feeling particularly generous. Working hard will get us so very far, but, in the attempt to make it to one of the top tiers--in our thrill of the chase--what if we're all working ourselves just a little too hard?

It occurred to me over the three day weekend that while I know how to change my oil, fix a runny toilet, and catalogue the difference between anaphoras and caesuras, I really don't know how to take a vacation. I tried to imagine myself going away, leaving my life behind me for a day or two. Would I relax? Would I focus on the here and now and not on what I could have been doing had I stayed at home?

Should I have chosen a Cathy comic instead of a Baby Blues one?

(R.I.P. Cathy comics)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Seduction by Goldfish

It's completely normal to read about men who dress up in drag, complete with live goldfish swimming around in their plastic boobs, right?

Sounds normal to me. Sound normal to you?

I'm actually quite shocked at the amount of books I read before I stumbled upon the memoir category. I don't think I touched a single memoir (especially not if it was leisure reading) until graduate school. "Memoir" was synonymous with "biography," which in turn was synonymous with "old but politically important dead guy who may/may not have had venereal disease." The venereal disease was always the selling point (not to name names, Communist leader Mao Zedong). People's parents are born, they are born, they do great things, they die, a book is written. Not a record I want to reread on a Saturday afternoon. But every once in a while, someone does something interesting instead of great. In Josh Kilmer-Purcell's case, it was get perpetually trashed, dress up in drag, and date a drugged up male escort in his memoir I Am Not Myself These Days.

All of a sudden, Saturday afternoon just got a little bit more scandalous, am I right?

We follow Kilmer-Purcell through his day job at an advertising firm, and his nights as drag queen "Aquadisiac" (or Aqua for short) in the gutter laden gem that is New York City, equipped the entire way with caustic wit and a large glass of vodka on the rocks.

I think it's a little presumptuous on his part to think that I would want to talk to him anyway. I mean, sure, I went home with him, probably slept with him, ate breakfast with him, and wore his clothes to work the next day. None of this I see as necessarily flirtatious on my part. All in a night's work as far as I'm concerned. But there's something flirty/sexy about his voice that's appealing to my inner-romantic comedy actress. Then again, maybe it's just his penthouse apartment I'm hearing. My inner-gold digger frequently beats the crap out of my inner-Meg Ryan.

Instead of beginning at conception and ending at death (of either Kilmer-Purcell or his alter-egtress Aqua), the piece covers the span of time in which Kilmer-Purcell dates Jack, an escort who at times would bring his work home with him, leaving Aqua to come home at 4 or 5 in the morning after doing a round of shows at the nightclubs and finding a middle aged man hogtied in the foyer, or a trio of men having an orgy on the couch.

They say love is a many splendored thing. Whether that's a diamond these days or shattered glass, you'd have to tell me.

What makes this an interesting read is Kilmer-Purcell's treatment of the surreal quality of his life. He's not shocked by the crack den in the kitchen, but he is disturbed by the acrid smell of the fumes. He's not surprised at coming to in a train with his left boot and purse missing, but he is incredibly tense at the prospect of hosting his mother while she's in town on vacation. He grapples constantly with the balance of his current "abnormal" life and the respectable extra-credit student he was raised to be. He just wants to say the right thing. Maybe this is what makes his memoir so relatable.

It's pretty awesome.


Also, the TV station Bravo has announced that they're going to be turning this novel into a television series, so look for that to come out.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blood is a Big Expense

I loaned some kid $25 today.

I'm not really sure how it happened. I mean, I remember hearing about Kiva years ago and brushing it off. I remember a professor at school mentioning how she had just re-loaned the same $25 to three different women in developing countries. I remember thinking that it wouldn't kill me if I coughed up some cash to help someone out in a business venture, especially if I just end up getting the money back.

But after that things got a little hazy.

I went to their website, I registered, I poked around their "About" and "Community" sections, I went shopping in their gift store (I mean seriously, I'd consider toting around a bag that said "Wanna Help Buy a Goat?"). I started hunting for my first lendee. I clicked on South America on their world map. (It was a Risk factor. As in, the game of Risk--I always ended up staying on the board because South America just seemed so in-the-corner that no one ever fought me for it.) And up popped Emmanuel.

Emmanuel is this 19 year old kid in Ecuador who opened up a grocery store with his mom, and is aiming to expand the shop to include rice, sugar, and oil. Next to his bio was his picture, standing outside of his shop. Simple, nice looking kid. Non-threatening.

Last night I was telling a friend and potential colleague the horror stories I heard about teaching college students. "It's hard when you look young, but especially so if you're a woman," is what I heard. I told her about how the guys can make sexual advances, and that she had better come prepared, I warned, as her boyfriend who was sitting right next to her clung to my every word, and seemed to have carefully wrapped his hand around her wrist.

But truthfully, most teenagers are like puppies: all energy and no attention span. Things come and go for them in leaps and bounds. It's scary to think that just a few years ago I was that energetic, that full of hormones. It's scary to think that if I wasn't in graduate school, working, and starting a volunteering repertoire in my "off" time, I would still be that energetic. If I take a vacation, I'm pretty sure I'd revert straight back to that high energy state, like a perm on a hot summer day. Somehow I looked at this kid's picture and in the back of my mind my id said "me. That's me," and the next thing I knew, I was lending him $25.

I was lending me $25. Does that, on some account, make me selfish? Or more so like a faint and distant fairy godfather granting secret wishes and unlocking dust covered doors?

Will I get to whisper Italian truisms and talk with my hands while I'm taking care of business?