Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mid-week post of no import

So it looks like I'll be regaling you with even more dating stories come November. Thank you to everyone who voted in the poll. I thought perhaps those stories had grown tiresome, but it seems where my social awkwardness is concerned at least 26 of you are a tireless bunch. I may actually still do a more true-to-the-original take on that x365 idea at some point. Or, you know, I may forget all about it, just as I apparently did the last three letters of the Encyclopedia of Me. Time will tell.

Of course, I still haven't officially signed up for NaBloPoMo, which means I could still back out. (Changing mind, woman's prerogative and all that.) I have this possibly misguided and overly optimistic idea, however, that once I've decided to do it, I will DO it, despite my lax participation on the Internet of late. Then again, I decided to clean out my closet last weekend, and the unfinished remains of that project are still strewn about several rooms of my home, taunting me and my lack of stick-to-itiveness, so maybe I'm not so against abandoning my best intentions after all. I am inherently lazy(ish)... Hmm. Perhaps I should give this some more thought.

Speaking of laziness, I did manage to overcome that long enough to finally put in a few volunteer hours for the Obama campaign last night. Those of you in Minnesota, when you receive a flyer on your doorknob next week reminding you to vote, be aware that yours truly might have counted that very flyer out and bundled it in stacks to be delivered to your neighborhood. That's pretty exciting, I know. Almost makes you want to keep it forever, rather than recycle it Tuesday evening, right? What? If I told you that flyer was possibly touched not just by me, but by one of the regulars from "Crairie Pome Hompanion," THEN would you be more impressed? No? No crazed NPR nerds here? OK then. That said, "ue-Say ott-Scay" did spend her evening sorting and collating along with us common people last night, presumably of her own accord as a concerned and active Democrat, not just as a local celebrity. I'm sure the Homegrown Democrat she works for would be proud.

Let's see. What else? Well, I am both pleased and sad to report that there will be no more stories about my least favorite coworker, because as of last week she is no longer my coworker. Luckily, I can confidently say that her release had nothing to do with the big scary mess with the economy that we keep hearing about and had everything to do with her being an insufferable and near-useless drama queen. So yay for that, though boo to the fact that I'm now stuck doing about half of the work she previously did poorly.

Speaking of which, my Lean Cuisine tray is empty and my lunch break is just about up, so I'd best be getting back to that. What's new with all of you this fine Wednesday?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

If I keep this up, I'll end up accidentally marrying one of these guys

Him: So, do you want to go out again?

What I was thinking: Um, I don't know... I mean, I like you, and I've been having fun hanging out with you, but I'm not sure I really feel it going anywhere. It sort of feels like a friend thing. Maybe something more could build from that, but maybe not. Frankly, to be blunt, I'm not sure I'm ever going to want to rip your clothes off. Plus, I've been dating this other guy at the same time, and I feel weird that I haven't told you that, even though we've in no way said we're doing anything exclusive here (and even though I'm not sure I want to rip his clothes off either), so my attention is sort of divided and frankly I'm just not sure I want to keep making time to date both of you. Or either of you. GAH; I don't KNOW!

What I SAID: Sure!

Seriously, who am I, and what happened to the date-and-run girl who used to live here???

In other news, NaBloPoMo is quickly approaching. Seeing as my blogging's been less than prolific of late, I don't know why I think signing on for that might be a good idea, but as I've done it the past two years, it does feel wrong not to give it a go a third time.

I realize, though, that the only thing that got me through NaBlo last year was a theme. Those of you who were around for that may remember I did this "Encyclopedia of Me" thing that several other people picked up on as well. (Some of you may also remember that I never actually finished the alphabet, but I did finish my full month of posting, so let's just forget about that little detail.)

Anyway, so I need a theme. And I thought I'd come up with one. I decided to do a "30 Dates in 30 Days" collection. Not that I would actually go on 30 dates in 30 days, mind you. (Aside from the fact that with all that dating, I would have no time to write about the dates, I think my four-date week a while back proved that no good can come from a marathon like that.) Instead I would simply write about 30 dates, current ones or amusing or painful ones from my past. You'd read that, right? Maybe?

But then tonight I read about this x365 project, and I thought that could make a good theme as well. Instead of 40-word posts about 365 people I've known, however, I'd do 30-word posts about 30 people. That could be fun, right? It would also guarantee all my posts would be short, meaning that those of you whose feed readers fill to capacity during NaBlo could happily zip through my line in your list in a minute or less. (I'm here to help, people. I have only your short attention spans best interests in mind.)

So help me out here, folks. What should I do? I'm not ready to let you guys pick my future husband quite yet, but I will let you pick my NaBloPoMo theme. (Maybe. I think. Aw, hell, just vote!)

This is my first attempt at including a poll, by the way. If it doesn't work, I think you can go here to complete it instead. Let's see!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Looked Homelessness in the Face and Said, “Not Today, Sir”


Those of you with blogs of your own... Do you ever wish a post would just appear in your Inbox some morning, already written for you? It turns out, sometimes that actually happens! Or, it does if you have a friend who's a former blogger who still has a story or two in him every now and then.

Friends, our pal Darren is back. At this rate, we may just convince him to reinstate his own blog yet. In the mean time, I'm happy to host his guest posts. Take it, Darren.


I have lived in New York City off and on for more than eleven years now.

Well, sort of. I mean, I stayed in New York for ten weeks during the summer of 1997 for a college internship and then returned permanently in the fall of 2000 before leaving in 2006 only to come back in 2007. Did you follow that? Eh, it doesn't matter.

Let's just say that my relationship with New York has spanned enough years that I could be one of those annoying New Yorkers who say things like, "The Lower East Side? The Lower East Side, man?! Man, I remember a time when these college kids woulda been scared shitless to find themselves in the Lower East Side! Now they got Starbucks down there and Urban Outfitters and I don’t know what all…"

In the two decades I've spent in New York (sounds even more impressive, huh?), I have never once given a homeless person money. Not a single dime. It's not that I don't feel sorry for homeless people or don't realize that many if not most of them are suffering from mental illness or from addiction or don't think that there's something absurd about the idea that anyone living in the wealthiest nation on the planet should be homeless. Wait. Let me see what the stock market is doing right now.

Yep, okay. Still the wealthiest. Wait! Yep, still the wealthiest.

I don't give money to homeless people because the cynic in me doesn't believe the man begging for change on the steps of the uptown Sixty-sixth Street 1 stop has been saving the change he's received from all the various subway passengers who have dropped money in his paper cup and that my twenty-five cents will be the twenty-five cents that will finally allow him to get a shave and haircut, buy a passable off the rack suit, run copies of his long dormant resume off at Kinko's, get a job at an accounting firm willing to take a chance on a long shot, and reclaim the long-suffering wife and children he left all those years ago when the grind of our work-a-day world just became too much and he "dropped out for a little while." No, the cynic in me tells me that that twenty-five cents is going directly toward the purchase of a pint of Nikolai 100 Proof. I don't want to be an enabler, teach a man to fish, etc., etc., which is why I prefer to donate a little money every year to homeless outreach organizations and shelters and that kind of thing*.

So you can imagine the irony or whatever you'd call it when I gave not a dime nor twenty-five cents nor even a dollar to a homeless man last night after work but a whole twenty bucks. To put this into perspective for you, I cancelled my Netflix membership because $16.99 a month?! Oh, that money could go toward so many other things every month!

I'm a tightwad is what I'm saying.

It all began after leaving the grocery yesterday evening after purchasing cottage cheese and getting twenty dollars cash back for the Laundromat I'd be going to later that night. As I walked along the sidewalk, I saw a hulking man in dreadlocks, dressed from head to toe in orange, and lumbering right down the middle of the path directly toward me. He was wobbly, and I could smell even from that distance that he was drunk. He yielded none of the sidewalk to me, and we collided. I felt his hand catch on the plastic grocery bag I was carrying and then release a second later. I turned to see if our knocking into each other was intentional on his part and saw him bend down to pick some of his belongings up off the pavement. He seemed fine, I was fine, no harm-no foul, so there was no reason to stick around.

On the next block, I stopped to tie my shoe, and as I was finishing with the lace, I saw a huge orange mass fill up the corner of my left eye. "This can’t be good," I thought to myself.

I'm not a racist person. I'm not. Whatever my thoughts are about people of different color is learned behavior from growing up in a predominantly white suburb and raised by parents who responded to driving through the rougher parts of Indianapolis by referring to black people euphemistically as "minorities" and telling my brother and I in hushed tones to lock our car doors. To this day, my mother will warn me whenever my visits to my home city coincide with "Black Expo" – an annual convention held, according to the organization's website, "to be an effective voice and vehicle for the social and economic advancement of African-Americans" – to stay inside the house. For the love of God, stay inside the house! "It's Black Expo," she'll whisper as if that sums up everything there is to know.

So as one of the only white people in my predominantly black and Latino Harlem neighborhood, I am forever resisting the ingrained response to view all around me with a case of raging heebie-jeebies. "Don't panic," I told myself as I stood to face the towering dreadlocked man in orange. The one who had followed me for an entire city block. The one reeking of beer. "I bet he just wants to talk about Obama."

"Can you hear me?" he asked.

"What?" I asked back.

"Can you hear me now? Because I've been calling after you for a few minutes now." His lower teeth were brown nubs.

"Oh! Right. I had my headphones in." Which was true. I hadn't heard a thing as I had been listening to my beloved collection of soft rock hits from the nineteen seventies, AM Gold. As the collision and shoe tying and everything else had transpired, I had been on Volume Four, 1974, which is why Charlie Rich's "The Most Beautiful Girl" will forever remind me of this man in orange.

"But you can hear me now," he said more than asked.

"Yes...," I said with hesitation.

"All right. Let me tell you what happened." The man in orange went on to relate his version of events; how I had knocked into him, caused the fingers of his right hand extreme pain as they caught my grocery bag, and he had dropped the possessions in his hand to the pavement as a result.

Whenever faced with a difficult situation or wrongdoing on my part, I think I do what a lot of people do and that's play dumb. I have so perfected the "What? Really?!" response to confrontation that I'll gladly take on any lie detector in the world. But last night I went beyond playing dumb and entered full acting mode. James Lipton is going to want to arrange for me to come by the Actors Studio because I can now tell him and every one of the eager young faces in the audience with authority about "the craft" after last night's performance.

"Wait, wait, wait," I said as I squinted my eyes and shook my head. "What are you talking about?"

My tone and expression might have said, "What on earth does this have to do with me?" but the man in orange wasn't buying it. "I know you know what I'm talking about," he said, "because I saw you turn around and look." Sigh. Caught in my own lies by a man who chugs forties of Ballantine the way a runner might down bottled water after a marathon.

"Oh, right," I said. "Gee, I'm sorry. I thought we had just bumped into each other."

"No. We didn't," the man said. "You caught my fingers."

"Oh, well, gosh. I'm really sorry." I might have tossed in a nervous "golly" and a "gee-willikers" in there for good measure, but I'm not sure.

"Uh-huh. Well-well-well, that don't matter because I want to show you this." At this point he produced his glasses. The right lens had a large crack in the center. The crack might have been old, it might have been fresh, but at this point, it was his word against mine and he was much bigger than me.

"Now this is a problem," he went on. "You see, because I gotta be at work, so what I want to know is: Can you come with me to LensCrafters?"

"Um. No," I said.

"No? But you see, I have to get to work, and I don't have time – You can't come to LensCrafters with me? This is going to cost me."

"No, I really can't. I have to get somewhere... for this thing..."

"Well, how am I supposed to pay for this? There's nothing you can do?"

"Yeah, wow... That's rough..." Even as the words were leaving my mouth, I was reaching into my pant pocket for the twenty dollar bill I had gotten from the checkout girl at the grocery not five minutes before. I'm not sure if it was me or time itself, but the whole process seemed to move in slow motion. I love no other movie more than I love Raiders of the Lost Ark, and this moment reminded me of Indiana Jones jumping past poison darts, leaping over chasms, and outrunning the enormous boulder only to be forced into relinquishing the golden idol to the evil rival collector. This was Fate saying to me, "Again we see there is nothing you can possess which I cannot take away."

"This is what I can do," I said, holding out the twenty dollar bill and swallowing hard.

The man in orange turned half way around sulkily. "Man! That's it – This is going to cost me seventy or eighty dollars!"

"It's all I have!" I insisted.


"I swear! Do you want me to show you my wallet? It's empty!" NOTE TO SELF: Never offer to show your wallet to a stranger who has been following you.

"No, I don't wanna see your wallet! Aw, man!" Suddenly, the man caught himself. "Well, now, okay. Okay. You did help. You did. I have to give you that. You helped."

I sensed that I was being let off the hook, so I started to turn to walk the other way. "I'm really, terribly, gosh-diddily-darn sorry," I said. Why do I turn into Ned Flanders whenever I'm nervous?

"Yeah, yeah," the man in orange said.

"I hope you get everything fixed," I said not too convincingly.

The man too had turned to walk in the opposite direction. "Yuh-huh," he said over his shoulder. I heard him continue to grumble about the twenty dollars as he went.

I knew exactly how he felt.

* Insert the words "will" and "one of these days" on either side of the word "prefer" in the second part of that sentence.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tidbits without pants

  1. First off, I should clarify that I am wearing pants. But for some reason, whenever I think the word "tidbits" in my head, it is followed by "without pants." Can anyone tell me WHY? Because I have no idea. I must have read it somewhere. Did one of you use that as a post title once? No? I'm just a crazy lady? I thought so.

  2. Speaking of pants (or no pants), I am totally following Miss Pants's lead with the itemized list of randomness. How's it working for you so far? (Don't answer that.)

  3. In the past 24 hours, I have squashed no fewer than four tiny flying gnat-like things in my bathroom and computer room. There is no food in my kitchen that might explain a fruit fly infestation, my windows have not been open for weeks, and my garbage can should contain nothing particularly organic or questionable at the moment. So WHERE are they coming from? I am terrified I am eventually going to find a rotting, scary, long-forgotten nectarine that rolled behind a piece of furniture somewhere, but I am too mortified (read: lazy) to look for it.

  4. That reminds me of a story. Not the story involving the fruit fly infestation around my desk at work last summer (because I am still too horrified to share how that happened), but a story from when I first moved into my house five years ago. Because you don't have to worry about earning back a rental deposit when you sell a house, the previous owners didn't bother to clean a single room of my new home before I moved in. (I only hope karma paid them back nicely for that one.) As a result, I spent my first day here surrounded by boxes, on my hands and knees scrubbing my refrigerator, toilet, and bathtub. Good times. A couple days later, my good friend Lisa (bless her heart) came over to help me scrub away the sticky yellow grime that mysteriously coated nearly every surface in my kitchen. At some point about halfway into the project, Lisa looked up and cried, "I keep expecting to find a whole pork chop in here!" We never found one, but I wouldn't have been surprised if we had.

  5. This afternoon, my favorite coworker sent me an email that said, "I am pulling an HMC* and leaving for a bit without telling anyone where I'm going. I'd explain, but I'm sure you would say it was TMI. I'll be back shortly." Because you can't get a message like that and not be curious, I replied, and she finally admitted that my half-joking guess was correct and she had some indelicate stomach issues that she didn't want to attend to in our office's not-so-soundproof one-seater located in a high-traffic area in the center of the building. I thought perhaps she'd made the quick drive back to her own house for the Home Toilet Advantage**, but she later explained that she'd instead run to the public library (a half-block away) and relieved herself there. Rather than being incredulous or mortified, I told her that was actually a brilliant idea and I would have to remember it the next time I find myself in a similar emergency situation. The problem, of course, is that now should I ever tell her, "I'm going to the library," she is going to think I'm using this new secret code to give her more information than she needs about my digestive tract. It turns out there's a reason we don't talk about this sort of thing in polite company, isn't there?

    * HMC is an acronym we use for the coworker we can't stand. It's not even that great of a nickname, so that's all I'll say about that.

    ** I just tried to Google my way back to the blog where I originally heard this term, and while I didn't find the one I was looking for, I did find a few other blogs that mentioned it. And because I was foolish enough to click on them, those blog owners are going to see me in their search engine hits and wonder about me the same way I have wondered about everyone who's ever Googled their way to MY blog with the words "human castration story." (I swore I would never type that here again, but frankly, the damage is already done and those searchers are never, ever going away, so once more really can't do any harm.)

  6. The coworker we can't stand recently threatened to sue the gym where we all get free memberships. I think my boss is officially exasperated with her. Also, we learned that the gym personnel have their own special nickname for my least favorite coworker, and it's actually way better than ours. I cannot share it without giving away said coworker's last name, but I will say that it starts with "Evil" and rhymes with the name of a famous motorcycle daredevil named "Evel [something similar to my coworker's last name]." It's brilliant, really.

  7. Speaking of the gym, I think a sixty-year-old man may have hit on me there yesterday. Or not. Maybe he was just being friendly. He glanced over as I was getting up from the weight machine next to him, and he said, "Is that enough weight for you?" Because I am paranoid, I answered, "Uh, I think so. Why? Am I a wuss?" He laughed and said, "No! I actually meant the opposite! That was supposed to be a compliment!" And then he followed me around the weight room, choosing the machine next to mine three separate times, twice clarifying, "I meant that as a compliment! I'm sorry!" Um, OK sir. I'm just going to turn my iFraud up a bit now, 'kaythanksbye.

  8. Sunday night I went to a David Sedaris reading, and tonight I am going to a Sarah Vowell one. I'm pretty sure neither of them would ever type a random list of mini-stories and call it publishable. We'll just say that's one more reason I'm not the writer either of them is.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's a wonder a corn grits beverage never caught on

So here I am on yet another Sunday night wondering where on earth my weekend went, wishing I had just another four hours or so to unwind and attend to the various things I didn't accomplish in the last 52. This happens every weekend, of course, and I'm finally starting to realize: Oh yeah. If I would simply get UP at a reasonable hour on Saturdays and Sundays, I would have an extra four hours in each weekend. Of course, if I did that, I'd just deem myself deserving of a nap by mid-afternoon, so let's just say that weekends are inherently too short and perhaps it has nothing whatsoever to do with my laziness or poor time management and leave it at that, OK?

In dating news, I have no news. I do have a question, however--you know, for those of you who are happily coupled off or have ever been happily coupled in the past. (You like those, don't you? Doesn't everyone like to help?) Tell me, if I have not seen either of the two men I'm not-so-scandalously dating since this past Monday and Tuesday, respectively, and if I have not given either of them more than an idle passing thought here and there since then, is that a sign that perhaps I'm not so into them, or does it just mean I am busy and popular and they are new and still foreign and relatively unimportant to me and perhaps I will warm to one of them and soon be genuinely excited to have him in my life? As I mentioned last week, I'm trying to do this thing where I actually keep an open mind and reserve judgment instead of saying, "Um, thanks but no thanks" after three dates. Mind you, I have had a good time with both of them. There's been nothing so odious or unpleasant as to warrant an obvious "I'm out" decision. But neither is making me say, "You! Yes, YOU! I want to date you and only you!" either. Three-to-five dates in, what do you think: is that portentous, or could it still go either way? I know no one else can really answer this for me, but it still annoys me that I can't figure this stuff out by now.

As I said, however, I haven't gone on a date since Tuesday, so I can't even blame my so-called player lifestyle for my absence from the Internet of late. I would say I've been busy with many other things, but in reality, I think several time warps were involved. This evening, however, I did have plans. I went to see David Sedaris read at a theater downtown, and naturally, rather than leaving feeling inspired to write something myself, I left realizing I will never craft witty sentences anywhere near as artfully and hence, I should not even pretend to try. Instead, then, how about some pictures?

Pictures of pumpkins...

And apples...

And my friend Amy with a mutant gourd...

And me and several friends outside an antique store...

Bearing treasures untold inside...

And I guess that about covers the highlights of my weekend... How was yours?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

If I could just get a paid endorsement from NBC for this post, maybe I could afford even MORE shoes!

At the risk of being that girl who quotes lines from a TV show even when that TV show has been off the air for nearly half a decade, I have a Friends reference for you. Oh, who am I kidding? I am totally that girl. And I maintain that there is an appropriate Friends reference for nearly every situation in life, so I'm not even going to feel lame about this.

Anyway, do you remember the episode where Phoebe decided to play the field and date two men at once? One was a fireman whom she liked because he was strong and burly, and the other was a school teacher who was all sensitive and gentle. And she couldn't decide between the two of them, particularly because they both just kept getting better and better (the fireman actually wrote poetry, and the teacher... oh, I don't remember anymore). But then eventually, the two guys found out about each other and it all blew up in her face?

I am totally just like Phoebe right now. Well, except that the two men in question actually do the same thing for a living (and neither is a fireman or a teacher). Oh, and that neither one is particularly buff and burly nor endearingly sensitive and arty. And neither really has me at all excited enough to rave about him, so I'm more in "trying to keep an open mind and not run away immediately like I usually do" mode than "how long can I pull this off?" mode. Also, neither has found out about the other yet, and I'm not sure either one would even particularly care (or have any right to care) if they did.

So actually I guess I'm nothing like Phoebe at all, save for the fact that I am dating two men and I don't know how long I can (or want to) keep doing so. Television is obviously JUST LIKE REAL LIFE, however, so what I really want to know is how Phoebe had TIME to date two men, while still going to work and playing guitar and hanging out at the coffee shop for three hours every day. I mean, I can skip the guitar and the coffee shop parts, but when am I supposed to get my blog time in? How am I supposed to (finally) finish that damn still-overdue third Twilight book? This is seriously cutting into my very important sitting-around time. I remember now one more reason I hate dating. Even when you're temporarily past that phase of fielding mundane, small-talky emails from multiple date candidates at once, the actual dating part takes too damn much time.

In other news, I did decide on a pair of red shoes. Thank you all for your very serious input on that. I went with Pair #1, which I was leaning towards from the start. Unfortunately, every online review I read was correct and there is something wrong with the workmanship of that shoe, because just as those reviewers reported, the soles on both of my brand-new red shoes were peeling away from the shoe within a mere three hours of wear. It's nothing a little shoe glue won't fix, but it's annoying nonetheless. Hence, I have taken a cue from Lara and fired off an email to the vice president of Steve Madden shoes (or rather, to whichever assistant to the vice president answers mail at the supposed V.P.'s address posted on their web site). If I'm lucky, perhaps he will send me a heartfelt apology and a coupon for some large percentage off another pair of cute but poorly constructed shoes. Fingers crossed.

Because one new pair of shoes clearly wasn't enough, I also bought a pair of brown flats, a pair of mary janes, and a new pair of brown boots, all in the same week. Apparently I've suddenly decided to pretend I have copious amounts of expendable income. (Disclaimer/Clarification: I do NOT.)

Perhaps I am just doing my own small part to keep the Global Financial System from crumbling. What's that? Oh. Perhaps you haven't heard about that. Apparently the world economy is in a state of ruin. Here's a tip from my friend Plump: Start stocking up on Beanie Babies now.

I thought perhaps I would give you a virtual fashion show of my new possibly economy-stabilizing purchases, but unfortunately I am nowhere near my camera nor its related photo uploading software (or, for that matter, the actual shoes in question to be photographed) at the moment, so that shallow and self-indulgent little project won't be happening. (Translation: I am blogging at work, though doing so on my lunch break, which I feel makes it only mildly unscrupulous.) And now that I've mentioned both "fashion show" and "lunch break" in the same paragraph, I suddenly hear Kelly Kapoor in my head, chanting "Fashion show! Fashion show! Fashion show at lunch!"

My apologies if you're hearing her now as well.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Even Garrison Keillor wears red shoes, and I should be at LEAST as hip as he is, right?

You guys, I am totally famous. Remember back when -R- and I went to see Crazy Aunt Purl, and -R- was totally a blogging rock star because Crazy Aunt Purl totally knew who she was? (Also, remember when I could come up with exclamatory adjectives other than "totally"? Yeah, I'll work on that.) ANYWAY, today I have -R- beat, because while Crazy Aunt Purl may read -R-'s blog, guess who reads mine? Go ahead, guess. I'll wait. Give up? Oh, no one special, really. Just PAULA POUNDSTONE. And not only is she reading, but she sent me an e-mail to tell me to keep up the good work!

OK, so really the e-mail came from Paula's manager, and it was intended for my lovely guest-poster, Nabbalicious. Also, in this age of Google alerts and Technorati, it shouldn't be so surprising that if you write about a celebrity, even in the giant cloud of anonymity that is the Internet, there's a reasonably good chance that celebrity (or someone hired by that celebrity) might read what you wrote. Still, I managed to forget this fact of modern life momentarily, because seeing Paula Poundstone's name in my Inbox with the subject line "Your post about 'Wait, Wait'" still caught me completely off guard. And now that I've gone and written about her twice, she'll probably see this as well. (If so, hi, Paula's manager! How's it going today?) I have to wonder, though... if celebrities really DO read everything we write about them, then Ethan, why haven't you called me?? Sigh.

All right; that's really all I had to talk about tonight. Yep; e-mail from Paula Poundstone is about the most exciting thing I have going on, and it wasn't even an e-mail directed towards me. Yes, yes, I could talk about last night's debate, or about how I watched the portions of it that I watched with a boy, and how that boy looked at me at one point during the event to ask, "So... are you watching this or not?" because he didn't want to interrupt my very important and serious civic-mindedness by trying to kiss me (which is more than I can say for The Neighborhood Giant during Michael Clayton, the result of which being that I still have no idea what the hell was going on in that movie). But if I wrote about that, it might either jinx the portions of that situation that I feel semi-good about, or force me to dwell on and subsequently weird myself out over the parts of that situation I feel not-so-good about. So I fear I need to be annoyingly vague and uncharacteristically secretive about that. Sorry.

Instead, then, let's talk about shoes! What? I wouldn't be a female blogger if I didn't blog about shoes at least once a year, and I can't recall any shoe-related posts thus far in '08. To my male readers, I do apologize. You can just skip to the next post in your feed reader right now if you prefer.

Still with me? Great. I'm following Abbersnail's lead and deciding that it really is high time I just bought a pair of red shoes already. I am woefully inadequately accessorized most days, and I do think red shoes would be just the thing to point me in the right direction in that respect. The question is, which red shoes? I think I finally have it narrowed down. The choices are thus. Weigh in, if you will.

#1 - I think I like these best. However, the reviews thus far lead me to believe I'll need to buy some shoe glue almost immediately if I purchase them. Steve Madden makes a cute shoe, but apparently his workmanship is shoddy. Is it worth it? Glue is easy enough to apply... So cute, though, aren't they??

#2 - Nearly the same shoe (and the same brand), but mysteriously eight dollars cheaper. Also, are they really such a bright red, or is the photography just misleading here? Tough call.

#3 - Perhaps a bit more versatile, in that they'd go with dresses as well as jeans and pants, but how often do I actually wear dresses in the fall and winter? (Answer: Not often.) Still, how cute is the kitten heel?

And finally, #s 4 and 5 - both excellently versatile and tactful choices, as you can see.



OK, so I am kidding about those last two, although I sort of secretly love the thigh-highs and nearly wish I had some absurd costume-related excuse to purchase them. Aaannnddd, now you're picturing me in red pleather thigh-high boots with whatever outfit would accompany such a thing. I do like to keep people guessing and put myself out of my comfort zone now and then, but that's not really an image I meant to conjure up.

Back to the point, then. #1, #2, or #3?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

You think I could milk this guest post thing all the way through NaBloPoMo?

You know how disappointing it is when a blogger you've grown to know and love suddenly closes up shop, right? Surely we've all been there with at least one site... And yes, yes, when that happens, we're still left with sixty-some live and active blogs in our feed readers, so perhaps we should not complain, but that is not how that old Girl Scout song goes... "Make new friends, but keep the old," it says! KEEP them! One is silver; one is gold! Who am I to judge which is worth more in our currently shaky economy?

All of this is to say that I am here to help. Here at Stefanie Says, we are all about giving gone-but-not-forgotten bloggers a temporary home: a place to share their tales of ridiculousness or woe without reactivating their own Typepad account.

OK, so by "we," I mean "me," and really I'm not all about this at all. I am sometimes about it, however. And today I am about it again. Many of you piped up and said "Welcome back" to our old pal Darren several months ago. Today we have a post from another good friend you may also recall. Show of hands if you remember a fine writer who went by the name Nabbalicious! And while we're at it, raise your hand if you're a fan of public radio as well! Do you have both hands up now? Oh goodie. Then Nabbalicious has a story for you.

Take it away, Heather...

Radio on the TV

I purposely told very few people that I could potentially be appearing on "Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me" when the show would be in Los Angeles taping a pilot for CBS. Emily from WBEZ Chicago called to ask me if I wanted to be a contestant, in response to my frantic email looking for tickets to the taping.

(For the uninitiated, "Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me" is a weekly news show on NPR that is part current events, part commentary, and all comedy. Don't feel bad if you haven't heard of it, either. One person backstage at the show told us that when he heard it was going to be a TV show he responded, "Do they have NPR in L.A.?!" Oy. I think he should feel a little bad.)

If I still had my blog, I would link here to the story about how I was traumatized each year in September at school when my birthday arrived. The class would gather around and sing songs to me. They would eat cupcakes in my honor, sometimes topped with things alight. We all have our crosses to bear in life. But my point is, I don't like to be the center of attention. I don't like to be ignored, exactly, but I'm always unsettled when all eyes in the room are on me, and I usually tend to panic in situations like that. Unless I'm drunk.

So, Emily's question about whether I wanted to be a contestant on the show was met with this response: "Um... I just wanted to see the taping?"

"C'mon! It'll be fun!" I reluctantly agreed, thinking to myself that I would just play along with her and back out later. This was clearly a mistake both me and the producers of "Wait, Wait" would come to regret. If I don't get on, I get to watch the taping. Everyone wins!

Emily asked a few basic questions. "Where do you live?"

"Long Beach."

"Yeah? How is that?"

Shit! This is an interview! I'm already auditioning! So, naturally, I start saying logical things like, "Oh, it's great. You know, it has a real reputation for gangs. But I just don't see that. Sure, maybe up in the northern part you might. But where I live? Totally cute." I don't suppose there was any need to tell her about the bodies occasionally found in dumpsters near where I live, or last year when I saw a coroner's van parked outside one of the neighborhood apartment buildings.

I frighten most people with my rambling, but Emily seemed to love it. We talked for a few more minutes, and then she told me that we'd be in touch.

While I tried to decide if I should back out, I explained to the few people I told about this why I didn't really want to go on: YouTube. They would ask me a question like, "Who is the president of the United States?" and I'd stare dumbly at Peter Sagal while the panelists dropped increasingly frustrating and obvious hints such as "Rhymes with MUSH!"

And then a video of the entire thing would go on YouTube, and I'd become a national laughingstock.

However, less than a week later, I was waiting in a van to go to the Wilshire Theater for my taping with a few of the other potential contestants. I decided to just go ahead with this contestant business, because I figured my chances of getting on were slim at best. Dozens and dozens must be vying for a spot on the show.

On the van, I'm told there are six trying out, three will be chosen.

We're hustled to the theater backstage and approved for wardrobe, then invited to raid the craft services table, a mélange of randomness. Twinkies, trail mix, Nutella, bread, Red Vines, coffee, tea, cereal, fruit.

I resisted the urge to scream, "I SAID ONLY BROWN M&Ms, DAMMIT!" because I'm sure no one has done that before.

While drinking my tea (how very post-rehab rock star of me, right?), I find out that I'll be on the show. My moratorium on telling anyone about the show is lifted and I commence texting everyone I've ever met, plus possibly a few strangers.

Twenty minutes later, mid-text, I find out that I'm bumped. My suspicion is that I looked too similar to another girl who had been chosen and they wanted a little more diversity among the contestants.

Commence texting everyone I've ever met to tell them that I will not, in fact, be on TV. I'm vaguely disappointed, but mostly relieved. This is why I told almost no one to begin with. I should have known from my degree in quantum celebrity physics that just as quickly as you rise to the top, you can crash to the bottom and wind up with your face in a ditch with your friends on an episode of "E! True Hollywood Story" selling you out.

My consolation prize is actually a good one: I'm going to be on the radio show. "I have a face for radio," I said to a fellow would-be contestant next to me.

"What does that say about me?!" he said. I pointed out that he'd be on TV waving, as Aisha Tyler would be playing for him during the "Not My Job" segment (she was funny, but she didn't win him the Carl Kassel calendar). I didn't even rate that.

While we stayed backstage for a minute, some of the "Wait, Wait" staff came to talk to us. The radio show's director came backstage to chat with us, and we immediately notice how young she looks. It turns out this is her first job out of college, but she's so sweet, I can't hate.

She tells us that the show is a complete mom-and-pop operation. There are just a few people working on it, and they each write one-fourth of every episode. The Chase Auditorium has just 500 seats, they tape about five segments and dump the least funny one each week. They even redo jokes, and play tricks with the laughter to make it all sound natural and off-the-cuff.

She also told us that "This American Life" is recorded in Berkeley – something to do with the TV show. That means when Ira says, "Coming to you from WBEZ Chicago. It's This American Life. And I'm Ira Glass," he's a liar.

The taping was about to begin, so we were ushered off to our VIP seats and Peter Sagal was introduced to the audience. After the clapping and hooting died down, he told us how surreal the entire thing had been and how he was wearing a suit that wasn't even his. He also noted later that his favorite thing about television is that nothing is ever your fault. That sounds like a job I might like.

My friend Steve, aka Digital Janitor, was there to lend some moral support in the event that I got on TV and freaked out, and he got a much better shot than I did of how everything looked:

With that, they started the show with panelists Mo Rocca, Tracey Ullman and Tom Bodett.

Someone at NPR was looking out for my ass, because the first contestant came on and I knew instantly that it would not have worked with me.

First, she seemed to have trouble hearing and comprehending what was going on – she wasn't on stage, but rather on a set designed to look like she was live via satellite instead of backstage in Hollywood. Not hearing or comprehending is pretty much my general state of being, which means I would have been doomed.

Second, she had to pretend that she was in Denver, CO, and did something for a living that she didn't really do. It made bantering with the panelists a little rough.

Third, Tracey Ullman said during a break in shooting that there was something "Sarah Palin-esque" about the contestant. She didn't hear Tracey, so I felt doubly bad for her that she couldn't even defend herself. The stage guy said not to pick on the contestants, and the taping continued.

I was beyond relieved to not be up there. I'd hate to hear what –esque qualities, Palin or otherwise, I bring to the table.

Seeing the show live was surreal. It was all the voices I hear in my car each week, but come to life. The action was hard to follow at times, especially when they would talk over one another. Listening on the radio, I can just focus on their voices, but in person, my head was darting back and forth as I tried to follow along. Later, I found out that just about everyone in the contestant pool was having that problem.

My love for Carl Kassel only grew. He reads his voices with such a straight, serious face, regardless of what he's saying, and it's exponentially funnier in person.

On our way out, we passed a hallway where Peter Sagal and Mo Rocca were winding down. I waved and said, "Hi, Mo! You're my favorite!"

"Ha! Thanks!" he said.

No need for him to know that he's tied with Paula Poundstone, right?

Anyway, if you want to hear me be a boob on the radio, you shouldn't have to wait too long. I'll be the one talking about all the gang activity in Long Beach and drawing blanks on the names of places like that street where the stock market is.

Monday, October 06, 2008

What's that? Haven't I ever heard of Dooce? Why no, in fact, it rings no bell.

Well then. When we last left our heroine*, she was on her way out of town to enjoy wine and Catchphrase around a campfire with friends. I'm pleased to report back with a "check" and a "check" on the wine and the campfire. Catchphrase might have been more likely to happen had I remembered to pack it. Oh well. Next time.

* That would be me, but don't worry; I'm using the term lightly.

In all, I had a lovely weekend, and I hope you did as well. And even lovelier, I came into work today (late as usual, unfortunately), saw the empty desk on the wall that borders mine, and remembered that my newly least favorite coworker is out of the office for two more days. Oh, sweet daytime silence. I've missed you so.

I know it is in poor (read: stupid and possibly self-sabotaging) form to blog about that place that starts with a "w" and rhymes with "schmurk," but given that this particular desk neighbor is a thorn in the side of even the woman who controls my paycheck, I have a hard time believing this could get me in too much trouble. (Famous last words? Perhaps. And yet, I persist.)

On more than one occasion, friends have said to me, "How's your job, anyway? You don't really talk about work much." Indeed; I don't. That is because 95% of the time, when I leave work, I LEAVE WORK. I don't take it home with me, in mind or in matter. There are periods of stress and busyness, yes, but thankfully they are not the norm. For the most part, I have few complaints (save for the overly enthusiastic birthday singer and the hallway hugger, both of whom, I'll readily admit, mean well and yet annoy me anyway). Lately, however? Lately I have plenty to say when anyone brings up the "w" word. Why? Because not-so-recently, the wiseguy you may remember as Mr. "All Jeans, All the Time" left us and was replaced by a better dressed but far less competent woman who has seemingly made it her mission to work my last nerve.

There really isn't a story here (or, there probably is, but it's not one I feel like telling). Instead, then, I present a simple bulleted list of grievances, for my own agitation and your potential amusement. My new coworker...
  • Is currently sipping margaritas on a Mexican getaway, paid for with her ex-husband's frequent flier miles,
  • on a trip she should not even have been allowed to take, given that she's not been employed long enough to accrue vacation time,
  • and that she spent the last week working part time because of mysterious medical issues.
  • She is a size 4 and has Bebe Neuwirth legs, even though she readily admits she has not exercised in 15 years, and
  • I am pretty sure her "sweater muffins" were a gift from (and likely to) her ex-husband.
Of course, the more important things are that...
  • I have had to tell her three times where the UPS labels are kept, where various files on our network are stored, and generally how to do most pieces of her job, even though
  • Nearly every part of said job is painstakingly documented in great detail in a binder she claims to consult constantly.
It's much more amusing, however, to note that...
  • Her online dating profile is full of lies and strange delusions (which I know because she made the mistake of telling us which site she was using, apparently unaware that when bored and annoyed, I would shamelessly sleuth it out for my own--and another coworker's--entertainment).
What? I'm not proud. And given that I recently discovered this particular woman's personal email moniker is "[Town where she lives]babe," clearly neither is she.

Friday, October 03, 2008

I'm pretty sure campfire Catchphrase also counts as sucking out the marrow of life

Bad news, folks. It turns out I can handle only one Internet-based addiction at a time. Hence, lately I have been far too busy commenting on status updates, accepting Green Patch requests, and playing Twirl on Facebook to do much blog reading or writing.

All right; so that isn't entirely true. I have also been going on dates that I give you no details about (sorry, Jess), reuniting with the TV shows that I forgot I liked to watch during the past four months, immersing myself in civics nerdery (I totally played Palin Bingo during the debate. Did you?), and trying to finish the third of those ridiculous teen vampire books before it is due at the library (TODAY). That last one isn't going to happen, by the way. Why yes, Hennepin County Library system, you CAN have small portions my money, 30 cents at a time, while I hold that book hostage. I'm not a delinquent library patron; I consider it a DONATION. A donation to a worthy cause and a totally intentional one at that. Yep; I am simply helping to support the library's mission. It has nothing to do with keeping those 44 people holding for that book behind me waiting while I take my good sweet time deciding if I'm on Team Edward or Team Jacob. Nope. Not at all.

I promise you I can still talk about things other than Facebook and the Twilight books. At least, I think I can. If not, I'd better forget about NaBloPoMo right now, because while a theme helped me through that full month of posting last year, I highly doubt either of those particular themes would keep any of you reading this year.

Before I find more interesting things to talk about, however, I had a Facebook-related story about an awkward relative that I was going to tell you. Remember that? (No? Well, how about I tell you anyway?)

As we all know, the primary purposes of Facebook are to play word games with your friends and to look up old classmates and boyfriends to find out if you have aged any better than they have. As such, I have wasted more time than I care to admit beating people at Scramble and having my butt kicked by Lara at Scrabble. I also spent a solid hour scrolling through pages of people who apparently graduated from college with me. And in the midst of doing that, I found a picture of my cousin.

Let me clarify. My cousin did not go to college with me. My cousin did not go to college at all, and he has never even lived in the state where my alma mater is housed. But there on page 14 of the class of '97 results was a photo my cousin likely wishes he'd never uploaded to this here series of tubes we all know and love. It's a photo I've seen before, but not in any family album. No, I saw it years ago on a rudimentary web site forwarded to me in the very early days of the Internets-as-entertainment. The site was called, simply, "Ugly People," and the site owner had apparently trolled through Internet dating sites, church photo directories, and other people's family albums to find disarmingly unattractive and frightening-looking people for the rest of us to point and laugh at. It's all fun and games when you're looking at strangers with mall bangs and lazy eyes and unfortunate wardrobe choices. But when the scrawny, skeevy-looking guy in a black mesh tank top with mad scientist hair is a guy in the family photo your aunt sends every Christmas? That's... well, that's funny, too, though in a far more guilt-inducing way.

I do feel bad for my cousin, of course. I remain baffled as to why that photo was the one he chose to post where anyone with an Internet connection could mock it, but his early forays online managed to nab him a reasonably hot Russian bride (yes; really), so who am I to question how he marketed himself? In any case, since the "Ugly People" web site, that photo has apparently made the rounds and is still floating about the Internet and resurfacing where we least expect it. Like on page 14 of the list of graduates from the class of '97 at a mid-sized Midwestern state university. Oh my.

The guy using my cousin's photo has his profile set to Public, so I was able to click through to see who he is. Although we apparently graduated from the same school on the same day, I don't know him. You know who does, though? -R-. I noticed in the "Education & Work" area that the company where he works is the same one where -R- is employed, so I quickly sent off an e-mail to ask her about him. People, it is -R-'s nemesis!

OK, that last part is a lie. -R- doesn't actually know him at all. He does work in her building, though, and when she looked up his picture in the company directory, she said she's seen him in the elevator more than once. This would be a much better story if the cousin-photo-stealer were the guy who has gotten on our friend -R-'s bad side by repeatedly ignoring her, however, so I'm just going to pretend that is the case.

All right. I am out of here in a few hours, so have a lovely weekend, all of you. I am going to the woods this weekend, because I want to live deliberately. Wait. No. That's Thoreau, not me. I'm going to the woods because I want to drink wine around a campfire. I like to think good old H.D. did a bit of that himself.