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.