Friday, December 26, 2008

Trapped in 1988...

It's a very rude awakening to realize that you have the attention span of a six-year-old. I've come to the conclusion that I need to be constantly entertained and/or amused. I wouldn't go as far as to say that I have attention defecit disorder. I don't need to be medicated. This is all really based on my actions and purchases within the last week or two. Somehow I manage to mingle the idea of responsibility with something completely absurd. Impulsive, even. I have a need for sensory overload, like browsing the internet with the television on, the radio blaring, and trying to have a sane conversation on the phone all at the same time.

I'm all about multi-tasking and the word 'simultaneously.' It always makes your tasks seem extraordinary, no matter how ridiculous they are.

He juggled three watermelons while simultaneously whistling the score to Bonanza.

Wow. Magnificent (I so seldom get to use that word).

And so I find myself with this constant need of a backup plan in case something goes awry, and I somehow begin to experience the burden of pure focus. On one thing. Honestly, I'm not sure I am even capable of such a feat.

Last week, for example.

I went to the drug store to buy tampons and walked out with three Pez dispensers.

I went to the office supply store to buy an organizer and ended up with two Hot Wheels cars.

I took a trip to the grocery store for milk and left with a pocket-sized laser pointer.

I went to fill up my tank at the gas station and strolled out wearing a ski hat. In Florida.

I seriously need an accountant and a personal shopper to keep me under control.

The other day I went back to the drug store and bought a jumbo bag of Pez refills.

Something tells me there is reason I don't want or need to have children. It would be like giving birth to a circle of friends. After a few years we'd be sitting around the sandbox with our cherry kool-aid talking about saturday morning cartoons and play-doh.

It's still a wonder adults put up with me. Maybe I do need to be medicated.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's generic greeting card time...

Some people are just naturally holiday people. They love the gift-giving, the togetherness, the seasonal decorations. Especially at Christmas, you find these people at their prime. Sending out personalized cards, hanging ludicrous amounts of lights in their bushes, buying cinnamon scented candles and singing carols at all times of the day. They walk around distributing candy canes and bake Christmas tree-shaped cookies with red and green sprinkles.

I am not one of those people.

I'm not a Scrooge by any means, I just find the entire charade surrounding Christmas to be more stressful than joyous. You waste 20 minutes and half a tank of gas circling the mall parking lot trying to find a space. You swim through a sea of maniac shoppers fighting for clock radios and perfume gift sets. You spend entirely too much money on things that the recipients might not even like. Frankly, I'd rather no one bought me anything. Let's make a deal, gift-givers. We all just take the holiday to go shopping for ourselves and call it even.

This year, my mother said she really wanted something-or-other, so she would just buy it and have me reimburse her later. Now, that's genius. That's right up my alley. I know Christmas day is all about the surprised faces and giddy expressions, but seriously, wouldn't you rather just get exactly what you wanted? People always ask you what you want for Christmas anyway, and have you make cute little lists. So is the suspense really necessary? I say save that for birthdays and anniversaries. Personally, I'd rather get a present for no reason, rather than at Christmas. If I ever see something I know someone would like, or if they talk about something enough, I'll just buy it. I don't need this commercialized reason. My aunt has given me a card with money every year since I can remember, and it's always my favorite gift to open. It's definitely the most impersonal gift you can recieve, but nothing beats cold, hard cash.

I'm definitely a self-proclaimed cynic about most things, but I've come to terms with that. I find it quite endearing. Especially when I find myself sitting exhausted on the mall fountain desperately trying to decide whether my sister would like ipod speakers or a set of martini glasses? Would my father like a sweater in red or blue? Does my cousin already have this DVD? These trivial decisions are all overwhelming enough, and only made worse by the fact that I am a desperate procrastinator who does all of her shopping in a 2-hour window on Christmas Eve.

And Christmas music. How do I even begin to describe my hatred for Christmas music. In principle, it's perfectly fine. It's all upbeat melodies and talk of doing bizarre things like roasting chestnuts, jingling bells, and one-horse open sleighs. When was the last time anyone rode on a one-horse open sleigh? At any rate, if you work in any sort of retail or service capacity, you understand that they begin playing Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving. Sometimes the day before Thanksgiving. Imagine listening to nothing but Barry Manilow on repeat for 8 hours a day. Imagine doing this for an entire month. I'm pretty sure by that fourth week you would either hate Barry Manilow, develop a nervous tick to the sound of his voice, or learn to completely tune him out.

That's how I feel about Christmas music.

All of this being said, there are a few things that I do enjoy about the holidays. Although most of them involve food and alcohol, I can also say that I like wrapping presents. I'm definitely an overzealous wrapper. I color-coordinate bows and ribbons, and make those little curls at the ends with the edge of the scissors. I get adorable little to-and-from labels, write the names in pretty fonts. It seems that I'd be more of one of those newspaper-wrapping people that use the comics, or leave gifts under the tree still in their Macy's bags. But no, I'm a sucker for metallic colors and Santa prints.

As happy as I'll be when the holiday season is over, and my life returns to semi-normalcy (my life is absolutely never normal), I have to appreciate the spirit of it all. When else can you drink egg nog, chop down forest trees, and say 'ho' without getting slapped? Just think about that the 73rd time you hear "Silent Night."

Feliz Navidad!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Infatuation taking hold...

Wise people always say that life is about making and managing priorities. By wise people, I'm simply referring to those who feel the overwhelming need to intervene in your life with uninvited advice. No one ever ardently seeks these people out to ask for the key to happiness. Or success. Deep down we all know the right things to do and say in order to get what we want, it just comes down to the will and desire to do so. Prioritizing. Managers and corporate big wigs in silk ties love that term. It means giving your tasks a certain order in which to be completed, according to importance. Which is fine, as long as your punched into the time clock, swiveling around the office in your ergonomic desk chair. Working billable hours. Collecting your wages or pooling your tips.

But when people tell me I need to set priorities in my life, I feel the equivalent of being leashed in the backyard like a German Shepard. You keep running and the chain keeps yanking you back, dictating where you can and cannot go. Or as if I'm wearing one of those shock collars that shoot you with electricity whenever you pass the boundaries. Priorities are completely subjective, and as far as I'm concerned, they have been since the beginning of time.

Some people want to be homemakers. Professors. Professional athletes. Mothers. Lawyers. Lovers. Interior decorators. Some people want to lay on the white sand of a tropical island and sip Mai Tai's until their livers corrode.

It's a lot like those bible pushers that tell you to pray. Tell you that Jesus loves you and hand you pocket-sized pamphlets. Ask you if you have accepted the Lord as your savior. They talk about salvation.

I don't need to be saved.
And yet we all need to be saved.

We need to be saved from all of this white noise, speculation and societal guidelines that tell us that we should buy houses instead of backpacking through Europe. Start familes instead of seeing the world. Wear a pantsuit instead of a pair of jeans. Maybe my aspirations contradict the notion of becoming a millionaire, or becoming famous, or popping out 2.5 children and spiralling down the drain of suburbian mediocrity.

Maybe my priorities are different. Maybe I have it all wrong. But nonetheless, they are mine to choose.

One hundred years from now no one will care if you were the CEO of some long ago renamed company, or if some university named a wing after you. You're just an engraved name on a placard. No one really cares about George Washington. The green-tinted face on the crumpled bill you pull from a pocket. He's a dead president. When the lights go out, it really will not matter if I never smoked a cigarette or had a one-night stand. Took chances. Made transient memories.

I don't need a legacy. My priority is to be happy, to make others happy while I have the opportunity.

When you make another person one of your priorities, your life changes. Certain other aspects come screeching to a halt. I understand the point of view of people with career paths and big dreams. You lose focus. But maybe your priority is love. Friendship. Finding genuine people.

I'll never fault anyone for persuing their dreams or making their own reality, whatever that may be. But I can't be faulted for doing the same.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The World is a Vampire...

Nothing in life is really a problem, simply a situation that needs to be resolved. The unfortunate fact is that my life is nothing but situations. Some days I wake up in short breaths and anxiety.

I think many people do.

Poor people will tell you that money fixes everything. Rich people will insist that money doesn’t really solve a thing. I’m only seeking a happy medium, a way to pay my bills and shrink the steadily mutating debt weighing down on my shoulders. Some days I wake up aching, my muscles sore from carrying the daily burden of living here.

This place.

This illusion of freedom like hamsters in glass cages or Dobermans on retractable leashes. Trapped. A mime in one of those invisible boxes, all blank expressions and palms flattening against air.

We grow up believing that we can do anything. We can’t. But sweet disillusion tastes so much better than realizing that your parents are liars. Santa Clause and Tooth Fairies. Easter Bunnies. No mother sings a child to sleep with lullabies of mortgages and repossessions, student loans and health insurance. No father tosses a football and tells his son about car payments and credit card debt. Layoffs. Dead-end jobs. Divorce. Child support. Taxes. You can’t be anything you want to be, you can only attempt to be the best at what you do. We can’t all be astronauts and movie stars.


Some days I wake up and wish I didn’t. Open tired eyes to another day of trying to be something. Trying. We’re always trying. Trying to get through college, graduate school. Trying to get a nice salary. Trying to impress people. Trying to buy a house. Trying to start a family. Trying to make it to retirement. Trying to die. They say that rational thought is what separates us from the beasts, and from our little domesticated housepets. Animals are never trying to do anything. They just are. I want to cross the threshold into a place where I can just be. A day, a week, a month.


A frozen moment where situations do not exist. The wild spectrum of emotion disappears. Nothingness. Deep breaths and complete ease, without furrowed brows and headaches. Without the falsehood and the facades. Instead we are click-clacking at keyboards. Paying people to teach us things that we already know and then selling our recycled thoughts back into the consumer circus at some marketing meeting. In some promotional campaign.

We are borrowing money for tuition for the sole purpose of getting a job where you will spend half a lifetime paying it back. Thank you, Sallie Mae. Thank you, Savings and Loan. This degree under my belt will surely make the next 30-years of succumbing to authority worthwhile. Climbing this corporate ladder rung by tireless rung will now be somewhat bearable. As I’m creating my situations.

The work situation.
The home situation.
The car situation.
The situation with my family.

Masking the problems.

The only problems that ever really get solved are in arithmetic. But we still try. Try and try again. Try to find ourselves on the other side of the equal sign. But some days I wake up, and the entire equation seems nothing but a dream.

Friday, November 28, 2008

No Coloreds Allowed...

I know that seems like an extremely derogatory statement, but it isn't the sign from a restroom circa sometime during the early twentieth century. It is the theme for a white party. Obviously, this does not mean white people, it means white clothes. Unfortunately, it wasn't until about 5 hours before said party when my friends and I realized that despite our tropical location, between us we have a dire shortage of white clothes. Not only this, but we discovered that in mid-November, no one sells white clothes. Of course there is always White House Black Market, but poor people do not shop there. As I have stated before, I am a poor person. I am also a reasonably messy person, especially when mixing copious amounts of alcohol with copious amounts of dancing. Needless to say, I don't own much of anything that is white. I rushed home after work and went on a desperate needle-in-the-haystack search through my closet for anything resembling the color white. After literally digging through piles of clothes up to my elbows, I saw a gleam of fabric. And after gasping aloud with anticipation I pulled it out to realized that it belonged to a terribly wrinkled, yet perfectly white skirt. I've discussed the fact that I am allergic to folding clothes. I also do not own an iron, and have not actually ironed since I was in middle school. I've seen it done. It looks like a good time, and I can completely understand a person's desire for crisp creases and freshly pressed pants. But after discovering the magic of a 5 minute tumble in the dryer, it just seemed like an unnecessary investment. Whoever invented the iron has made a mockery of who invented the dryer. But then again, it's kind of one of those chicken before the egg or egg before the chicken arguments. At any rate, a quick tumble dry and I was ready to go. My question here, is why are there never red parties? Blue parties? Seriously, I own more neon green than white. I'm just saying. It's clothing discrimination, and I am entirely too open minded for that.

Viva blanco!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wardrobe Malfunction...

I've owned a pair of gray sweatpants since I was in the tenth grade in high school. They are size XXL, and I bought them one day at Foot Locker because I really wanted gray sweatpants, they were the only pair left on the rack, and I was also halfway into this phase of wearing really baggy athletic wear. I was convinced that it made me look more intimidating when I walked into the gym for a basketball game wearing bandanas and clothes that were clearly too big for my body. I'm pretty sure that this pair of sweatpants is the only piece of clothing that has survived high school. Partly, because in retrospect, my nineties attire was pretty embarrassing. All wide-legs, bell bottoms and chunky-heeled shoes. Designer stretch-fit jeans that cost my entire minimum wage paycheck from my menial job at the mall.

So I'm wearing my sweatpants today because they are clearly the most comfortable pants on the planet. They are my adult-sized security blanket. They are also a hot disheveled mess. I realized today that at this point they are probably too tattered to be acceptable, even in the privacy of my own home. But after ten years, they are seriously my longest, most meaningful relationship. I'm at a crossroads here, and I don't know what to. I just can't see how any other pair of sweatpants can compare. And I'm a little afraid of trying the comparison. Maybe I'll put them in one of those cedar trunks and one day posterity can recycle them to make a fabulous dust rag. One can only hope.

R.I.P. gray sweatpants. It was a great ride.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where is your diploma?

I realized today that I am irritated by extremely trivial things.

I attended a great college. I went to New York University. I had a fabulous time partying my way through Manhattan, losing my inhibitions and my coveted accessories. On occasion, I even learned a thing or two, took a few notes, and attended a couple of lectures. My professors were all experts in the field, and dedicated most of their free time to teaching us future debutantes how to succeed.

This all sounds like the fabulous introduction to a high school reunion speech, but the fact is that I really hate telling people where I went to school. They immediately turn on that "wow" face as if I told them I re-invented the wheel. Or Velveeta.

Society dictates that you are supposed to go to a good school, get one of those "good" jobs where you earn a salary, punch a time card, and worry yourself about collating paperwork. I must apologize to the cubicle lemmings of America when I say that office work is just not for me. No matter my score on the SAT or my ambition of wearing pantsuits and carrying briefcases. Sitting at a desk for nine hours a day is just not my cup of tea, I don't care care how much you're willing to pay me.

I was walking through the parking lot to work today, and I saw a car with one of those bumper stickers in the back. It was one of those clear ones that you put in the rear window, that advertise your college or university in big bright letters. I squinted my eyes against the sun and for some odd reason I wanted to beat in that glass with a baseball bat.

New York University. Yes, that's what it said.

It seemed so pretentious and needy. Look at me, I paid over $40,000 a year for secondary education and now I'm driving a car that proclaims it. Look at me and my higher education. My purple and white. Look at me. Look!

I stood there for a few seconds and questioned the purpose. Life is all about impressing people. I think about that everytime a customer asks where I went to school and gives that cynical eyebrow raise. "New York University? Well, what are you doing here?"

I'm living my life one day at a time. That's what. If I could have it to do all over again I would surely go to community college. I would work a part-time job at Burger King and take home free french fries every night. I would try not to give these people something to talk about over glasses of wine.

So there I stood, staring at this NYU bumper sticker in the back of the window and wondering why any rational adult would feel the need to have it displayed. A status symbol, perhaps. Another backhanded way of telling people that "I am better than you." This is my proof.

It's similar to one of those bumper stickers that say "my kid is an honor roll student at so-and-so elementary school." Really? Do you really think I care about your eleven-year-old honor roll student as I'm tailgaiting your Volvo and rolling through a yellow light?

I don't.

And I don't care where you went to school.

Just food for thought.


Today, I had a discussion about alcohol. Usually, the only time I enjoy alcohol as a topic of conversation is when the bartender asks what kind of vodka I want in my tonic. This time was no different. I hate when people ask why you drink. It's a completely ridiculous question, like asking why you eat chocolate or wear the color red. Like asking a crack fiend why he smokes crack. He likes crack. It makes him feel better. It provides a brief escape from this big, twisted, rigid reality. Let's face it, alcohol really doesn't taste great. You're always going to meet people who say "I don't like the taste," or who will take a sip of your drink and make their face cringe like you just gave them a tall glass of sour milk. I don't care how many fancy garnishes you put on the rim of a martini, or what colorful fruity cute name you give it, you aren't drinking a Cosmopolitan because it's delicious. It isn't.

People will use one excuse after another to disguise the fact that they want a pretty little buzz at some point in the day. It really doesn't matter if you have one drink or ten, the motivation remains the same. Sure, some people drink when they are depressed or angry, or just because it's Tuesday. Some people drink to loosen up, to take the edge off of a long day. Obviously, people really shouldn't drink at all, but it makes no reasonable sense to point fingers. You might as well go around telling smokers that they shouldn't smoke and overeaters that they shouldn't eat. I'm fairly sure they are aware. But thank you for the memo.

My point here, other than confirming the fact that mostly I would prefer people to mind their own business, is that we all have our vices and our small means of escape. I'm pretty sure the majority of the free world has vices. Sex, drugs, talk shows, pick your poison. At least I'm not a serial killer. Buy me a screwdriver or get off my back.

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's that time, again...

Birthdays. The perpetual anniversary of the day you popped out of your mother's womb, slimy and caked in fluid, wrinkled and crying. People rejoiced at the confirmed existence of an innocent, still ignorant to the ways of the world. Anti-abortionists can argue the point all they want, but you really aren't alive until you're born into that white room with the antiseptic walls, the forceps and the rubber gloves. The doctors snap the ambilical cord, wrap you in a blanket and proclaim another human being. Success! We have a girl, or a boy, or a future college dropout. A lawyer. A scientist. Today, we have a new life waiting to be wasted or fulfilled. And so we take once a year to celebrate.

The spectrum of celebration is a wide range, anything from gross inebriation to extravagant gifts and vacations on private islands. These blessed events, getting older but not always wiser, nearing death, feeling the desperate anxiety from a fear of running out of time. They are trivial in the greater scope, and have become nothing more than a clever excuse to buy greeting cards with witty punchlines. It makes me wonder about the origin of holidays in the first place. On birthdays you should have cake.

You should receive presents and people should sing. Personally, I enjoy cake on just about any occasion so it just makes me question why most celebrations neccesitate cake. It's delicious, but not expensive by any means, and it isn't hard to come by. You will never hear of anyone going out of their way to procure a yellow cake with vanilla frosting. This fact alone, in my opinion, is really counter-produtive to a "special occasion." A memorable experience. One night I want to turn to a friend and say "Hey, it's Thursday. Let's have some cake." Or maybe I'll say "Happy birthday, here's a can of sardines."

My birthday this year has come and gone. I feel as though after you surpass your teenage years, birthdays are just anti-climactic. Chances are you aren't having a Spiderman theme party, going bowling, or playing pin-the-tail-on-the donkey. Frankly, you're just getting old. Somehow we've managed to commericalize everything.

Don't get me wrong, I still believe in the hope that is offered by these mindless celebrations, a valid reason to overeat and drink too much hard liquor. You wake up on a Wednesday morning with a migraine and tell people "It was my birthday." It makes us human, real and flawed. Absolutely sub-par insane, it makes us normal for wanting to be belligerent throughout the 24-hour span of a birthday. The day when people call at 12:01am and feel special, like some bizarre pecking order where they are moving ahead for promptness. Let's skip the facade. It's another day, another year, another party with cake, feigned enjoyment and helium-filled balloons.

Birthdays. All for the love of wax candles and wrapping paper.

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I am no Fashion Guru...

Fashion etiquette dictates that when you are wearing black pants, you should wear black socks. You do this so that in the case where you sit down and expose your ankle, you don't see white socks, or pink socks, rainbow, purple, whatever your fancy. I find this pretty ridiculous for several reasons, the most prominent being that I'd be far more concerned about my highwater pants being so short that you can see my ankles when I sit down. Really, what difference does it make what color your socks are? It completely defeats the purpose of sock manufacturers everywhere that are in the business of selling colored socks. Nonetheless, I wear black pants to work, so the corporate bigwigs (a.k.a fashion police) insist that I wear black socks.

I will take this opportunity to give a small disclaimer for those who are not already aware. There is something important about me that needs to be reiterated. Really hammered home. I am a silly human being. Just silly, and most of what I do on a daily basis is absolutely nonsensical.

Additionally, I have an allergy that involves breaking out into hives if I ever have to sort and/or fold laundry. My freshly laundered clothes often stay in the laundry basket until I have worn all of them, and the basket is empty. Then I wash them. I dry them. Then I return them to the laundry basket. They remain there until I have worn everything, and the basket is again empty. Then I wash them. And so on.

Accordingly, my mornings are comprised of a lot of digging through articles of clothing. I gave up pairing socks together years ago. Most days, I wear the first two socks that I find, regardless of color, pattern, length, texture, or any other sock-related variables.

Today, I grabbed a knee-high bright yellow and white striped sock. Then I grabbed an ankle-sock. Low rise. Black.

Also today, my overzealous manager decided to perform randomized sock inspections.

The inspection, though rigorous, sounds innocent enough, but failing a sock inspection means that you are required to drop everything and go buy a pair of black socks before resuming work. Ludicrous, yes. Unnecessary, completely. But that doesn't negate the fact that you will seriously have to go waste time and money on socks.

When it comes to sheer luck, I'm usually on the losing end. I am pretty much never lucky. Today, however, Lady Luck shined on me long enough to:

A) Put a single black sock at the top of my laundry pile.

B) Let my manager be satisfied with me lifting only one pant leg.

C) Allow me to remember which leg wore the bright yellow knee-high.


D) NOT lift that pant leg.

Thank you, Lady. Miss Luck. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nothing is static...

I had a conversation with a co-worker today. A brief exchange of words as we're standing at the beverage machine like trained monkeys, pouring Diet Cokes and lemonades for people that don't realize we are actually human beings beneath our starched white disguises. I'm having a bad day, or a great day, or the worst day of my life. And you complain about pasta that isn't al dente. Salmon Picatta that doesn't have enough capers. I had a woman today ask me to microwave her tea. I have a bit of news for you, hot tea drinker. Liquid usually cools to room temperature, when it is left at room temperature for a period of time. In laymen's terms, if you take an hour to drink a cup of Earl Grey, nature dictates that it will eventually be cold.

But the joy I had in walking your tepid tea back into the kitchen, sidestepping the line cooks to find a microwave, and standing there for the 45 mind-numbing seconds it took to re-heat it, despite the fact that I had 4 other tables of rational customers. Yes, that unadulterated joy made up for the fact that you only tip the bare minimum and have the audacity to request microwave cooking in a restaurant. Would you like a Hot Pocket while I'm back there? Can I nuke your leftovers, did you bring Tupperware? Perhaps a Pop Tart would be to your liking, I'm sure I can waste 5 more minutes of my time finding you a toaster. It's my pleasure, I say, inserting a fake smile and cursing life. It's not a problem at all.

Two tables and 25 minutes later I'm at the soda machine scooping ice into a glass of Sprite and this guy tells me he feels like a robot. I'm thinking about the tips in my pocket, about paying my phone bill. He says, "I'm exhausted." I'm calculating my tip percentage, worrying if I brought ketchup to the table with the three cheeseburgers. "I wake up at 5am everyday. I go to class, I go to my job at the office and then I come here." I'm dropping a wedge of lemon into an ice water and wondering if my appetizers are ready. "I drive home, and then I go right to sleep. I wake up the next day and do it all over again."

I'm bent over by one of the mini-refrigerators, grabbing half-and-half for an espresso. "Why do you do it," I ask. Meanwhile I think of tigers in cages. Standing in front of John and Jane Doe with a notepad in my hand as they explain their allergies or their low-carb diets. Wanting to pounce and devour the very spirit of the overzealous consumer. He replies, "I have no idea." And I smile because it is the one fact that actually makes sense. We're here to make money to spend money.

We are God's practical joke. Self-sufficient only for our need of self-sufficiency, our neccesity to order bottles of wine and expensive cuts of beef. To say please and thank you to some stranger who only wants gratuity in their pocket. Some mornings I wake up and think we are fooling ourselves. Most mornings I feel like the court jester in a room void of laughter. Still dancing. Still smiling.

The saying goes that there is a means to an end. No one has an end. Novels have conclusions and in movies the credits will roll, but when it comes to life, the end is nothing but ambiguous desire. It is biased, altered by third parties who never want you to succeed, pray you fall from grace in pretty little pieces. We are nothing but animals. Chomping at the bit, climbing the ladder, pushing each other from the frying pan into the fire.

My co-worker, my friend, he said, "I just want to finish school. I just want to get some real rest."

I smiled. I smiled a mouthful of white teeth that would make any orthodontist proud. And I said, "Good luck with that." And then I asked him to make change for a twenty. These chardonnay-drinking-side salad-eating ladies need singles for the valet. I'm hoping they leave me some rent money.

We have these lovely law abiding citizens punching clocks, arranging carpools, buying shirt and tie combos by the pack. Slaving away at keyboards, guiding powerpoint presentations, collating reports. Your salary manages to slowly absolve a debt, maybe pay a few bills, keep a condo and a sensible car from being repossessed. They sit at high-top tables close to the bar, ordering dark liquors neat, vodka on the rocks, doubles, talls. They nibble on finger food and for 65 minutes forget the 9 to 5 misery that affords them luxuries like brand names. Drop a gold colored credit card and feel liberated. But no.

Hi, how are you? Have a coaster, a napkin, a basket of bread and butter. Have a fork, a steak knife, a straw. Let me get you what you need.

Here's your Veal Saltimbocca. Here's your martini, your calamari, your French beignets. Here is your self preservation on a bed of bean sprouts and arugula.

Some mornings, I wake up. After a strong sip of coffee it all makes sense. And sometimes it doesn't. So much sugar and cream but I still don't get it.

We're always moving towards something, somewhere, someone. It isn't always about your pay stub. But most of the time it is.

Self destruct in 5...





Saturday, November 8, 2008

Defeating the Purpose...

I'll let you in on a little secret about Oreo McFlurry's...

They are delicious.

But I'll tell you something about fast food employees in South Florida.

They just might be the slowest, laziest food service workers around.

Granted, they get paid peanuts and have the most ridiculously thankless jobs.

But if I pay you $4.00 for an Oreo McFlurry, it better be blended. I don't know how many times I've been completely giddy in anticipation, then gotten my McFlurry only to discover that the crushed Oreo's have simply been sprinkled on top and then poked through with one of those absurd plastic mixing spoons.

I've never claimed to be a rocket scientist or anything of the sort, but you don't have to be able to split atoms to know the difference between blended and topped.

McDonald's I will not be bamboozled again! Mix my cotton-picking Oreo's in my ever-loving ice cream!

I am a randomized playlist...

I keep seeing this commercial for Lethal Weapon 4. I've had absolutely zero interest in actually watching the movie, especially after seeing Mel Gibson and Danny Glover scream and crash their police car into a plate glass window for the seventeenth time in a four hour span. However, there's a clever line that keeps playing in my head. Some faceless female character asks Mel Gibson if he goes out looking for trouble, to which he replies:

"No. Trouble pretty much always knows where I am."

Mel, I have the same problem!

Sometimes you just have to throw up your hands in defeat and let trouble handcuff you then beat you silly.

Speaking of trouble, I was in a terrible mood the other night, and actually feared that my wildly hormonal mood swings were a symptom of being inexplicably pregnant. After reminding myself that pregnancy usually involves sex with a man and/or a turkey baster, I decided I was probably not with-child, but in desperate need of chocolate and a cocktail.

At any rate, my utter irritation usually leads to writing. This was the result, later to be dubbed The Human Experiment:

"Briefcase in hand, he strolled to the car dreaming of semi trucks careening out of control on the freeway. He had twisted revelations that we are no different from the fauna and the savage beasts. He sits toiling away in a cubicle maze wearing sky blue neckties with pinstripes and polished leather shoes, worrying about reports and deadlines, and 401Ks for the retirement beach homes in Boca Raton one day when he's too old to surf and terrified of UV rays. Timelessly, the waves crash against the sand and consume a little bit of the shore, take a fraction of his sanity in their wake. Typing, editing, dying inside. Entangled in the great American dream, the great human nightmare. The complete and utter lie we tell ourselves over soy lattes and buttery croissants.

He was simply a slave to safety and convention. Loving his gadgets and his wi-fi. Drinking bottled water and buying organic food, free-range chicken and whole grains. It seems so asinine once you spell it out, discover the less we depend on each other and the more we rely on trivialities.

People judge you based on your diploma, or your resume, or the fact that you’re a cashier at Starbucks instead of a young executive climbing the corporate ladder like a trained chimpanzee. When did we become so shallow, our egos growing with the promise of power, of money? Money and power somehow became synonymous in this materialistic world of Malibu Barbies and plastic suitors. We are all so commercialized and factory-made, rigid from assembly-line production and quick fixes. Here we are dry-cleaning shirts and pressing pants, wearing make-up and high heels to compensate for a complete lack of sincerity."

In other news, today my mother decided it would be cute to dress my dog in a string of pearls. Accordingly, the dog has been jingling around the house like one of The Golden Girls off her meds. A dog should NEVER be wearing pearls, it's just wrong.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fun with Queues...

I have to preface this by wondering aloud how queue is even a word. That many vowels next to each other looks and sounds more like a drunken slur than a line where people wait. But I also have to warn everybody, anywhere that you are instructed to wait in a 'queue' instead of simply taking a number, you should be prepared to wait for an inappropriately long amount of time. The best part about this, however, is that it will seem that there are actually several people available to help you, but they're probably just toying with your emotions.

I went to Verizon yesterday to give them a pay stub, because apparently my company earns me a 6% discount on my phone bill. Please understand that 6% off of my monthly cell phone bill is basically the price of a pack of gum. But I love gum, and I'm poor, so I figured it would be worth the effort.

I arrived at the mighty Verizon store to find that there were only 2 other customers inside, both already with salesmen, and there were 4 other Verizon employees seemingly available at the service counter. I immediately figured that this little visit would be cake. Simple. Quick. Easy. Verizon is all about this unnecessary touchscreen sign-in process, so I played along, put my name in the computer, and stood there like a properly good, excited and willing consumer.

Needless to say, 15 minutes later I was still standing there, (not good, not excited, and definitely no longer willing), with a violent sneer on my face, staring at my name on the giant 'queue' while 3 clerks behind the counter were typing away at their little computers and avoiding eye contact.

I am not a patient person. At all. I would probably rather maim myself than wait in a line for just about anything. Except maybe those freshly baked donuts at Krispy Kreme (you know, when the light goes off outside the bakery to alert everyone that sugary-glazed orgasmic donuts are hot and available). To cut a long story short, I did the right thing. I bullied my way over to the service counter and demanded attention. And then I got what I needed. In my opinion, this just proves that being a brat at any age can still manage to find you a temporary solution.

But this is my great idea, Verizon. If you don't have enough employees to handle a whopping 3 customers at the same time, then you should probably think about doing some hiring. And while you're at it, during the hiring process, you might want to avoid whizkids like the salesman at my store, who tried to sell a touch screen phone to an 86-year-old man with arthritis and cataracts. He asked the poor old man how often he texted, and I almost ran face-first into the Blackberry display case.

In conclusion, I know this was titled "Fun with Queues," but I am a liar, queues are absolutely not fun at all. And the word is stupid, yes I said it! Just stupid.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Headless Horseman finds Bodyless Horse..

Undoubtedly, the thing I enjoy most about children is that they are so easily amused. You give a kid a curly fry and he'll be entertained for hours. Or at least 15 minutes. Sometimes I wish it were still so simple to hold my interest, it would save me a lot of money, and probably a lot of brain cells. But that's an entirely different story. Yesterday, I was having an appropriately random conversation about childhood toys. I raved about my Bigbird Bigwheel, which was so perfectly 80s, back before toddlers were driving mini Hummers and off-road SUV's. It was basically a bright yellow chopper, and I was such the rebel on my tricked out tricycle.

After overcoming the sudden sadness that came from realizing I no longer own my B-Bird, and am no longer young enough to ride it without looking insane, I moved on to the Ponystick. Yes, the ponystick.

This toy is pretty much as simple as it gets. There are no mechanical parts, microchips, batteries, or any of those crazy technology whats-its that make everything fun. It seems perfectly innocent. Or at least it did. That is, until I tried to describe said toy to an outside party and could only come up with the following well-articulated description:

"You's like a horse's head on a stick. You put it between your legs and ride it around. It's not a full horse, just the stuffed head. But it has reins and everything."

What is wrong with us? A kid wants to ride a pony so we decapitate it and put it's head on a stick. And these crazy kids ride around like it's all sunshine and rainbows. Your pony doesn't have any legs, kids!

I couldn't have put it better than my lovely Scottish concubine who said that the Ponystick seems less like an interactive toy and more like a death threat the mafia would send children in the mail.

And with this, I will NEVER mention ponies or sticks again.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Spay and neuter your customers...

Common sense...the sense is described as common because the majority of people should have it. And because it is common, the sense is usually pretty reasonable. However, it's becoming increasingly apparent that many consumers are lacking in the entire common sense arena (a.k.a. are morons), and I'm beginning to rethink my terminology.

Life is a process of picking and choosing our battles. I find it a daily struggle not to punch people square in the face, but I just see that as a battle where I wave my white flag of surrender. Because realistically speaking, I need to stay employed, I don't have the time to ice my knuckles, I don't have the money to get sued, and I'm really not too fond of being arrested. I'd much rather hash it out over a cocktail and get on with my life.

That being said, in addition to the constant battling inside our heads, we also have the obligation of picking our careers and the paths we wish to follow. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices along the way and sometimes there are seemingly endless stepping stones you have to take or obstacles that need to be overcome. Sometimes you make mistakes. And let's face it, sometimes you end up pumping gas, selling encyclopedias, telemarketing, maybe setting up a quaint little lemonade stand on the side of the road like the good old days.

At any rate, I've tried to take to heart the fact that as a general rule, people work. There's a job out there for everyone, and unfortunately those jobs are not always pretty. They are also not always fun. Frankly, most of the time, work can be a real kick in the nuts. So when a 1-800 number appears on the caller ID and the guy on the phone tries to interest me in a time share in Saskatchewan, I remember that he probably hates his job more than I hate having wasted 5 minutes of my day, and telling him to fly to Canada and go f**k himself will probably not improve either situation.

I call that compassion. I'm such a giver.

Ultimately, you can't blame a person for trying to make a living. Unfortunately, there isn't high demand for professional pudding tasters, massage testers or gingerbread house builders. Or writers. In order to allow plenty of time to write while not starving or getting evicted, the part-time job opportunities for an aspiring writer with piles of student loans are quite few and very indiscriminate.

Thus, for the time being, I have chosen to don one of these:

Ok, well, more like one of these:

So, yes, I am an all-smiling all-dancing food service employee.
I am the professionally coiffed and iron-pressed white shirt that delivers your glass of wine and your chicken a la whatever.
I make extravagant meals and unnecessarily garnished martini's possible.

You're welcome, diners.




But back to common sense. People seem to have zero common sense when it comes to eating in a restaurant. Being nice to people that are simply doing their jobs is a courtesy. Being nice to people that are doing jobs FOR YOU, is common sense. A combination of the two will make you awesome.

We all really just need to try to be more patient and understanding. Close your eyes. Take a few breaths. Think about the situation.

For example, I hate going to the DMV. Despise it, in fact. I prepare myself for the fact that there will be long lines, the clerks will move at the speed of a snail on sedatives, and most likely, there will be a problem with my information. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a fact of life. However, common sense should tell me that being rude, huffy, or difficult in general, will only make my experience worse. Common sense should tell me, that when someone is doing something FOR ME, I should probably be friendly, whether or not I think they are mentally-capable of performing simple tasks. Regardless, these people do have lives, desires, thoughts and stories outside of their occupation. They should be treated like human beings.

Human beings with thankless jobs.

I am a server. Being a server does not need to be a thankless job.

You get all dolled up, pull some people together, go to a restaurant and sit down at one of my tables. I am here to serve you. Not because I like you, and not because we're friends. But because it is my job. And because it is my job, I'll pretend we're at least quasi-friends for the next 90 minutes, or however long it takes for you to get drunk on food and loosen your belt.

So, we're in this meal together now. We're basically halfway to dating. Accordingly, I have made a list of things you should and shouldn't do or say, especially with someone handling food you are soon to ingest (no, that's not a threat...not at all). As well as my personal favorite pet peeves.

This is my common-restaurant-sense. Bon Apetit!

1. Don't talk to me like I'm retarded, or don't speak English. Opening your eyes really wide, nodding, and saying "Salisbury Steak" very slowly isn't going to register it more clearly, it's just going to piss me off. If I did the same thing while setting down your "D-i-i-i-et C-o-o-o-ke," you'd probably be offended.

2. Please don't stop me with an arm full of plates and a tray full of drinks to ask for honey mustard. Chances are I'm not going on a pilgrimmage to Mecca...I'll be right back.

3. If I am not your server, do not order things from me. We do not have a magical restaurant supercomputer. So asking me for an order of calamari only means I'll have to go find your server and then have him order it for you. Let's cut out the middle man.

4. Speaking of which, don't ask me to please "find" your server. This request doesn't need much explanation. I probably have orders to take, drinks to get, and food to check on. I don't understand why anyone would think running around the busy restaurant to find Tonya on her smoke break is at the top of my priorities. Playing Where's Waldo is only fun when you're 8, and Tonya won't be dressed like a candy cane.

5. I have no problem with a diner sending back food. I didn't cook it, I could really care less if you don't like it. But there is no need to tell me how "repulsive" "inedible" or "disgusting" it is. That's just plain bad etiquette. I'll probably go back and tell the manager that you're a jerk. You'll still get your food, but now everytime you come in, we'll say "hey, it's that jerk, that guy really is a jerk."

6. I know it's a time old tradition to say "give my compliments to the chef." But I'll let you in on a little secret. A "chef" did not prepare your meal. Jose the line cook did. He makes about $7 an hour and he really couldn't give a crap that your spaghetti was "just delicious."

7. Another popular request is, after finishing your meal, to "please let the chef know" that your dish was "too salty" "too bland" "too spicy" or "didn't have enough chicken." Are you serious? I have things to do. Don't order it next time. I'm not trekking back into the kitchen to let the staff know that John Doe at table 9 is watching his salt intake.

8. Recipes are called recipes for a reason. We have a menu that tells you how dishes are prepared and what ingredients are in them. Some modifications are fine, but if you want a personal chef then you should probably hire one. Don't go to a restuarant and slow the entire kitchen down because you feel the pompous need to design your own meal. Hearing sub-this extra-that no-this add-that makes my ears bleed.

9. Don't ask me to get you a fuller glass of wine or an extra shot of vodka in your screwdriver. Unless you want to get charged for it. We aren't old drinking buddies. And don't ask me to try to rush your food. We aren't old eating buddies, either. Basically, please don't ask me for any special favors, we aren't old buddies at all. Capiche? Good. And on that note, don't say "I'll take care of you." To a server that is loosely translated as "I will not take care of you." Good tippers do not have to reassure their server that they are, in fact, good tippers.

10. Speaking of good tippers, if you have the audacity to hand me the American Express Black card (yes, the triple-thick extra heavy one with the ridiculous spending limit and embossed lettering) then you better be a good tipper.

11. If I went to your job and stood in front of your desk yammering on my cell phone, you would probably find me rude. Believe it or not, a server does not enjoy standing at the edge of your table like a goon waiting for you to finish your conversation. I'm not sure when it became acceptable to talk on the phone without excusing yourself from the dinner table, but let's put an end to it, shall we?

12. If you want fast food, go to Burger King. If you don't want your food fully cooked, by all means just order a plate of salmonella with a side of e. coli. But most restaurants tend to serve their food free of violent bacteria, which takes cooking time. So please don't ask me if your food "is coming." What do you really expect me to say? "No sir, actually it isn't coming after all. They decided to give your food to the homeless. The homeless send their thanks."

13. It's nice to say please and thank you. It's nice to remember my name. It's nice to smile or tell me something is good. I am not a monkey. I do eat bananas but I don't sling feces, so it is perfectly okay to interact with me. Some people avoid eye contact like I'm a baboon with an evil streak.

14. Do NOT snap at me. There are plenty of acceptable ways to get my attention, and snapping is not one of them. I'd rather you smack me on the ass or stand on your chair and scream at the top of your lungs.

15. Don't leave coin change. To begin with, it always falls out of the the check presenter. To end with, I really don't need your thirty-seven cents. It is a restaurant, not a drug store. When you leave I don't go and drop your change in a cash register, I put it in my pocket. Jingling around the restaurant with a pocketfull of change is not my idea of a fun night.

16. I know that one of the joys of dining out is not having to clean up after yourself. That doesn't mean it's okay for you to behave like a manic caveman. That also does not mean it's okay to allow your children to "let loose." If your table looks like it was occupied by a pack of rabid squirrels and not humans, my next step is to call animal control and have you captured.

17. Don't hit on me. Not only am I at the unfair disadvantage of being paid to be nice to you, it's just awkward. And not classy. Unless you are irresistably attractive and/or rich, in which case I'm completely game.

18. If you don't know how to tip, don't go out to eat. If you aren't sure, ask someone, before you ruin some poor server's night by giving them the shaft. You might as well write "suck it, loser" on the bill, then take that bill, slap your server across the face, then while they're clutching their throbbing face, kick them in the groin, then while they're keeled over in pain, give them an elbow between the shoulderblades, and while they're writhing on the ground in the fetal position, stomp them in the ribs, and after they begin crying, laugh and point at them, and as you're overwhelmed with laughter, call over all of your friends, then as you're all standing there laughing hysterically, remind the server that you still aren't going to leave a tip, and then stuff the bill in their pants and walk out. Yeah, if you aren't going to tip, you might as well do that.

19. I don't wait tables for the exercise. I have a treadmill for that. If someone at your table asks for another drink, and you want another drink, ask for another freaking drink. If I ask you if you need anything, and you do, then freaking tell me what you need. But please don't have me beating a path back and forth getting one beverage and one condiment at a time. It's cruel. And I'll give you dirty looks.

20. This is the last and most important bit I need to share. Seriously, if your server does a great job, please tip them well. An extra $5 will probably not break your bank, but it can make a world of difference to someone who works for tips. We all have expenses, and bills to pay at the end of the day. Remember that when you're pulling out your calculator to compute the exact 15%, or digging in your pocket for a quarter.

Well, that's my common-restaurant-sense.

Again, diners, you're welcome!

And for good measure, here's a cute baby in Starbucks garb. Yep, I worked there too!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Lifestyles of the rich and ridiculous...

Some days I like to pretend that I'm 14-years-old again (or a skating nun), and tool around the Retirement Mecca (better known as Boca Raton) on my rollerblades. It is relaxing, great exercise, and the weather is gorgeous. But most importantly, you are much better able to catch a lot of those little nuances that are often missed, thanks to the modern convenience of the automobile (these Americans and their fancy, newfangled gadgets!). Basically, you see interesting, disturbing and/or absurd things that would normally fly by the car window too fast to take notice.

I've already mentioned the vast senior citizen population of South Florida, many of whom frequent the early bird specials and matinee movies (which sounds a lot like me...but only because I'm poor). I can't tell for certain due to lack of experience, but the extremely heightened senses indicate to me that most people over 60 are potential superheroes. A person surpasses that landmark age and suddenly they become either allergic, alerted or irritated by previously normal things like sunlight, sound, taste, smell, and temperature. It's always too bright, loud, spicy, cold, hot, or it smells funny. Put a 70-year-old man on a lawn chair next to a stereo, swab him down with coconut-scented suntan lotion, hand him a chimichanga, turn on a cooling fan, and he will probably self-combust from sensory overload. In my opinion, the elderly need to harness these powers, and use them for good...not for sending back food, running me off the road, and being condescending.

But enough about my friends of a far-off generation; a little known fact is that while the greater majority of this city are already collecting social security checks and pensions, there is also a large sector of upper class suburbia. I like to refer to these happy citizens simply as rich people and their spoiled, disillusioned kids. I apologize to any rich people who do not have spoiled kids, but let's face it, the majority of these neglectful, overindulgent, socially clueless debutant wannabe's are breeding a bunch of ungrateful, disrespectful jackasses and future therapy patients.

In the famous words of Peter Griffin from Family Guy, these are some things that 'really grind my gears':

There is absolutely no reason for an 8-year-old to have a Blackberry. A third-grader pulling out a PDA is like slapping me across the face with a tuna. Seriously, is little Jimmy going to a miss a meeting with an important client? Does he need to be notified when his secretary emails the numbers? Or maybe he needs to send a text message about the new G.I. Joe. Please.

I saw a 10-year-old girl order a Diet Coke at dinner with her dad, and I wanted to cry. Mom? Dad? Why oh why is your perfectly healthy child even considering the notion of cutting her calories? I understand that sugary sodas aren't too great either, but give the girl some juice, teach her about drinking water. I'm in my mid-twenties and my dad still gets pissed when I drink diet soda.

Ridalin. Yes, that's the answer, give the kids drugs. This way they can have their addiction run full circle and be in and out of rehab by puberty. Whatever happened to sit down and shut up? Worked for me.

These 3 teenage boys got pulled over in my neighborhood for driving wrecklessly in a golf cart. A golf cart! When did it become acceptable or necessary to drive a golf cart anywhere other than a golf course? Can we literally not walk anywhere, anymore? Not to be all 'I walked 12 miles to school...both the snow...with no shoes...and no socks," but come on, when I was a kid I didn't need a motorized vehicle to go play on the swingset 2 doors down. These same morons will probably get Bentley's on their sixteenth birthdays.

But back to my rollerblading. I saw entirely too many of these:

And not enough of these:

Leash your offspring.

And donate to the hopelessly idealistic working class: me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A-CHOO!!! And Now I'm Bored.

The least unattractive moment a person can have, is usually during a yawn or a sneeze. I'm sorry, but nothing spells turn-off like mucus flying through your nose and throat at hyperspeed, or getting a slow-motion display of tonsils and/or your uvula.

Alone, these two actions, though completely normal and necessary, are pretty unfavorable. But during sex, they are downright appalling, if not offensive.

However, there is some good news for all of you who have come to believe that your partner is either allergic to you, or extremely bored. While I cannot in full faith attest to the fact that they aren't allergic or bored, I can provide the following explanation.

(Note: if you really believe you are allergic to your partner/friend with benefits, I would consult a physician, and/or immediately leave town. If you are sincerely uninterested enough to yawn during sex, I would consult a toy store, and/or immediately leave town. Until then, you can use these completely viable biological excuses.)

Yawning and Sneezing

"These aren't painful or debilitating reactions to an orgasm, but they can cause your sex partner to feel confused or insulted. One possible explanation is that in the brain, the center for orgasms is close to the centers for yawning and sneezing, says Irwin Goldstein, MD, director of San Diego Sexual Medicine and the editor in chief of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, so one center could activate another. "If your partner yawns during sexual activity, it probably means that he or she is just sexually aroused," he says."

And for those nights when you want to fake a headache, these sparkling gems of medical diagnosis continue! Apparently, sometimes really great sex can be bad for your brain. Kids: this is your brain:

And this is your brain on sex:

"There's such a tremendous excitation of the nervous system and heavy-duty brain activity during orgasm, so it's no surprise that it could trigger a migraine for some people," says Dr. Goldstein."

Good to know, Dr. Goldstein. Good. To. Know.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Roy Lichtenstein. He made me happy today, that's all...

Mmmm...pop art.