Monday, September 30, 2013

There's Only a 50% Chance I'm Not Facedown in a Pile of Mini Donuts Right Now

Overdramatic announcement time!

Instead of continuing to half-ass around here, I'm taking a sabbatical from the blog to work on my book. Full-assed. Now that Breaking Bad has ended, I feel I have nothing left to live for can fully commit.

So it's like... a blah-battical. That sounds really important and not at all made up.

I thought about not even saying anything, but then I thought, rather than disappear for a few months and have you (and by "you" I mean you, mom) worry that I finally decamped to the Tootsie Roll turd yurt I've been threatening to build between the garbage cans outside of Clive Owen's pied-a-terre, I wanted to let you know the deal.

But! I'm not going to stop writing columns and updates and pie charts about my secret shames. So, please, if you aren't already, follow me on:

Facebook,
Twitter, and
Instagram

... until I build back enough strength in my upper arms to lift myself out of the Entenmann's box.

Thank you for your patience, and I LOVE YOU. (And by "you," I mean Internet strangers.)

(Fine, and also you, mom.)


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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Two-Faced

Today my little man turns two. It's crazy how fast it goes; every cliché about time is true. As Vince Vaughn so famously slurred in Swingers, our little baby's all growns up! (And yet I still only find time to shower every other day, and leave the house 99% of the time dressed like a third-grader on a camping trip. What am I doing wrong?)

But no, seriously, what happened?
It feels like just yesterday I waddled into a bar called "Last Exit," thirty-nine weeks pregnant and unable to appreciate the irony, not yet knowing that less than twenty-four hours later I would be wearing a mesh diaper and staring down into the red, pouty face of the new center of my universe.

There's so much I could write about Sam, but the very fact that he's growing more and more every day into his own funny, charming, smart, curious and fabulous little person makes me feel like I shouldn't. It's bad enough that my Observer column is all about parenting (although I try to make it about my struggles, not Sam's), so I've been trying to steer clear of mom content here. While I know that Sam is still safely in neutral territory--not too many people would accuse me of exploiting him or invading his privacy at this age--I still worry about the ethical implications of telling his story in my writing.

Sidebar: I hate it when people answer questions no one asked them. Like, articles that say "WHY I'M NOT GOING BACK TO CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN." It's like, OK, don't go. Leave all of that delicious, lard-massaged flatbread for me, who cares? You might be feeling that way now. So don't write about your kid, then, and shut up about it. TELL ME ABOUT CLAIRE DANES' EMMY CLEAVAGE DISASTER INSTEAD. But speaking of Angela Chase, I'm having some major, inner monologue voice-over level introspection about this topic, and I need to word vomit for a minute before I move on. So please bear with me.

But no, seriously, what happened?
Parents draw their own boundaries when it comes to putting their kids online, and I don't think it's my place to say what's right or wrong for someone else. I also completely understand the impulse to share with abandon. It seems unrealistic, as some writers have didactically argued, to NEVER post photos of kids, or mention them by name; for better or worse, we live on the internet now, and sites like Facebook and Instagram are the way we connect. They're the new one-hour photo, a way for out-of-state grandparents to get to see their grandkids grow. Blogs are the new baby books. That said, for me--now that my baby isn't really a baby anymore, and is starting to form his own thoughts, say his own things, and exhibit the very grown-up human feelings of caution and embarrassment, I'm starting to feel uncomfortable putting details about his life, however small and seemingly insignificant, out into the Internet ether. I want him to grow up with as much of a digital clean slate as I can give him. I mean, he'll have to suffer the consequences of my oversharing about myself no matter what, so I might as well spare him the indignity of having me overshare about him. (Plus, over the course of his newborn months, I probably already did enough damage to keep a future therapist busy for at least a year.)

So, Sam, on your big boy birthday, as you officially graduate into toddlerhood, my gift to you is that I'm keeping you to myself (don't worry, I also got you a motorized Fisher Price tool set and Mr. Potato Head, I know it's not just the thought that counts). I desperately want to tell the world how wonderful you are, but I'll try to let you show them instead, later on, after I've had the chance to teach you as best I can how to be a semi-functioning human. (Cliff Notes: Do as I say, not as I do.) I'll stop answering questions no one asks about me, and I'll definitely stop answering questions no one's asked about you.

Also I will try to think of your middle-school self and not write the word "vagina" so often.

Except for that time. Sorry.

Love, Mama

P.S. Future middle-schoolers of Brooklyn, for the record, I'm not Sam's mom, forget everything I wrote. We don't even have the same last name, duh. I'm his... cool older cousin. From France.

Shut up. IT'S TOTALLY POSSIBLE. 
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Friday, September 13, 2013

An Alternative Glossary of Blog Comments

I read a lot of blogs, most of which are written by women in their 30s and 40s, and almost all of which are a mixture of humor and sincere, if navel-gazing, attempts at profundity (uh, sound familiar?).

Anyway, while all of these blogs, and their writers, are very different, I've been noticing lately that the comment sections can get redundant. So I humbly offer the following alternatives for paying homage to your favorite bloggers:

What you want to express: Agreement
The standard comment: THIS.
The unexpected comment: Someone take me to Kinkos, 'cause I need to make a XEROX!

This is both saucy and pleasantly retro. Give yourself a high-five.

What you want to express: Amusement
The standard comment: LOL!!!
The unexpected comment:  CUNT!!!

"Cracking Up, Nice Touch!" Obviously.

What you want to express: Empathy
The standard comment: ((((Hugs))))
The unexpected comment:  ( ( )  ← Butt

Because crude renderings of butts make people laugh, and laughter improves mood. Like a hug, but with a crack. So, better.

What you want to express: Unbearable sadness
The standard comment: Tears!
The unexpected comment: Tears... of blood.

Anyone can make regular tears, and besides, they're probably not really crying anyway. If you want to stand out, you've got to kick it up a notch, Emeril-style. Haemolacria, bitches. BAM! Look it up. 

What you want to express: Pride/Idolization
The standard comment: You're a rockstar!!!!
The unexpected comment: You're a prosthodonist!

Rock stars are usually unstable egomaniacs with substance abuse problems. Is this really the parallel you want to make to commend someone on potty-training their two year-old? A prosthodontist--someone who makes dentures and replacement teeth for people like Keith Richards (incidentally, a ROCKSTAR)--is a rare, highly-skilled, and well-compensated professional. You make the call. I'll wait.

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Monday, September 9, 2013

You Can't Spell "Fashion Ad" without "Sad Naif Ho"

In fact, sad naif ho is an anagram of "fashion ad." Just as carnal emu (ha!) is an anagram of "Una LaMarche." So, you know... meaningful.

Now, not all naifs are unhappy, and most probably aren't particulary hoey (owing to their naïveté), but I would argue that most fashion ads are hopelessly pretentious and dumb, regardless of how talented the designer or how beautiful the clothes. In fact, when not spending my days frantically typing proper names into anagram servers (Justin Bieber = urine bib jets, just FYI, for a cocktail party conversation starter), I like to flip through September fashion magazines and make up back stories for the models. It's kind of like the intro voiceover for Law & Order (RIP):

In the fashion advertising system, the models are presented in two separate yet equally important groups. The models who look constipated while jumping for no reason and the models who look slightly too bored to kill you, even though that is what they clearly want in their heart of hearts despite the obstacles presented by their asymmetrical peep-toe moon boots. These are their stories. 

[BUM-BUM]


Velveteen felt out of focus. She'd blacked out again, and had that color-blind dream about Prince. It had all been so lovely, and yet... why was she wearing her Ben Wa balls as buttons?


Lulu wasn't sure what had happened in that car wash. She was only certain that her muff would never be the same.


It wasn't until she'd arrived at the party that the Quaaludes wore off and Inez realized with woozy alarm that instead of stashing her tampons in her shoe purse, she'd wedged them into her actual shoes.


In retrospect, Babette regretted ordering the Super Loaded Nachos.


Sybil took a good look at herselves as she munched on what she hoped was an acceptable iron supplement. When? she seethed into the mirror. When would Fresh Direct arrive?


Snap, Crackle, and Pop knew that it would be hard transitioning into their new drag life. After all, so many people had pigeonholed them as elves. But they had $50,000 dollars of plastic surgery and a solid Adele number that would soon prove everyone wrong.


Gigi leaned back against the cliff face and rolled her eyes dramatically at her sherpa. Um, YES, she knew she wasn't wearing pants. And what of it? Like she would ever take fashion advice from someone in head to toe Land's End.


"Oh snaps!" Persephone realized mid-leap, as her knees knocked together like the the rattle of an ancient gong. "No one gets our Buckwheat costumes!" "I know!" laughed Hortense. "Someone just asked me if I was supposed to be Erykah Badu struck by lightning." "Ugh, that is so racist," sighed Peresphone. "Ugh, totes!" Hortense agreed.


Mackenzie laughed gaily at Lulu's ridiculous ankle socks, unaware that the feeling was entirely mutual.


Yes, sure, the Chinese throwing star hurt a little, but goddamit, Mimi was going to pick up that fallen Skittle if it was the last thing she ever did.


Almost as soon as she stepped out into the snow drifts of the frozen tundra, Marlo realized that the tuxedo pants had been a poor choice. The driving gloves and suede moccasins were doing her no favors, either. The cloak, too, while evocative of a certain devil-may-care glamour, was failing to shield her tender nipples and delicate elbows from the arctic freeze.

But the bag... the bag was fucking tight. And so she soldiered on.
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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Top 10 Pop Culture Teachers of All Time* (*Incredibly Subjective, Do Not Hate)

One of the things I've always wanted is a redemptive story of the teacher who changed my life. In my fantasy (read: movie version), said teacher would look like Mark Harmon in Summer School from the neck up, but with the hair and wardrobe of Billy Crudup from Almost Famous (read: smelly-looking rawhide jacket; chest hair-revealing batik v-neck; tight jeans; boots). He would quote Rumi and take us on field trips to look at rotting whale carcasses on the beach so that we could better feel our feelings. Maude Apatow would play me.

But I never had that. Don't get me wrong, most of my teachers were great at their jobs (what up, Ms. Jawanda! You complete me!), and the ones who weren't so great succeeded, at least, in not totally scarring me, with the exception of my elementary school gym teacher, Mr. Hyman (the cruelest part is that I WAS TOO YOUNG TO KNOW IT WAS FUNNY*), whose sudden-death basketball tournament still haunts my dreams.

*I also had a teacher named Ms. Klitnick. Same school. True story.

So I'm left to worship the all-time great teachers I've had courtesy of film and television. Choosing my top ten was hard, so I had to throw down some basic rules:

1. They have to be traditional school teachers, i.e. no Mr. Miyagi or Yoda-style spiritual guides, no administrators à la Mrs. Teasley from 90210 or Principal Skinner, and no impostors like Arnold Schwarzenegger's iconic role as Detective John Kimble in Kindergarten Cop. Sads, I know.

2. No teachers who headline their own show or movie. They have to be scene-stealing supporting players. Sorry Mr. Kotter, Mr. Cooper, Mr. Holland, Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Races Minds, and my personal dreamboat Mark Harmon.

3. No one who helped Haley Joel Osment pay it forward (you know who you are).

4. No teachers from books. Because, you know, ugh, PAGE WORDS. (My teachers are so proud of me.)

Who does that leave? My all-stars. To wit:

1. MR. HAND (Ray Walston), American History, Fast Times at Ridgemont High



OK, so this severe disciplinarian (some might say... dick) loses points for torturing Sean Penn’s completely lovable Jeff Spicoli, but if you don’t secretly love the curmudgeonly Mr. Hand, you people must be on dope.

2. MS. KRABAPPEL (Marcia Wallace), 4th Grade, The Simpsons



World-weary, disgruntled, drunk, and perpetually horny, Edna Flanders (née Krabappel) is the yellow-skinned gold standard for bad teachers.

3. COACH CUTLIP (Robert Picardo), Gym, The Wonder Years




So, I guess I really have a thing for deeply unhappy bullies. Or I just really enjoy pointing out that Coach Cutlip led a double life as a sexy, spray-tanned cowboy in Innerspace:



4. MR. KATIMSKI (Jeff Perry), English and Drama Club, My So-Called Life 



The socially awkward, sweater-vested Mr. Katimsky may not have been able to get Ricky’s name right, but in a few short episodes he proved that his heart was as big as the inexplicable pauses he took between words.

5. MR. KEATING (Robin Williams), English, Dead Poet's Society*



O Captain! My captain! The original manic hippie man-child, Mr. Keating ripped books, climbed desks, shunned rules, and inspired his students to live life to the fullest, to mixed results (SPOILER ALERT: points off for Neil's suicide). He probably needs to be medicated, but damn if he wasn’t fun.

*I know it seems like I'm breaking my second rule here, but even though he's the biggest star in the movie, he's not the protagonist. So I'm including him on a technicality.

6. MR. COULSON (Michael Vartan), English, Never Been Kissed




I KNOW, I KNOW. SHUT UP AND JUST LOOK AT HIM.

P.S. Are pop culture English teachers every anything but angels sent straight from heaven? How does analyzing Shakespeare correlate to innate decency and beautiful hair? Discuss.

7. MR. JELLINECK (Paul Dinello), Art, Strangers With Candy


An authority figure "with the mind of a child," prone to turtleneck sweaters, secret gay liaisons with Stephen Colbert, and disfiguring injuries, Mr. Jellineck has the soul of an artist and the scalp of Tony Manero.

8. ECONOMICS TEACHER (Ben Stein), Self-explanatory, Ferris Bueller's Day Off


Not the most creative choice, maybe, but arguably the most memorable. I wish I could repeat this guy’s name over and over again in a miserable nasal monotone, but the most iconic teacher in film history doesn’t have one! Oh, well. At least we’ll always have the--anyone? Anyone?--Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act.

9. MR. WHITE (Bryan Cranston), Chemistry, Breaking Bad


Say what you will, but the man knows his chemistry. Am I right, Pinkman?

10. PROFESSOR ROSS GELLER (David Schwimmer), Paleontology, Friends 


I'm not gonna lie, this was a close one between Dr. Geller and How I Met Your Mother's Ted Theodore Mosby, but A) I'm breaking my second rule again (oops) ; and B) the man thought of Jurassic Park before Michael Crighton. AUTOMATIC A.

Ugh, I'm already regretting narrowing this list to ten. I could do another list with just guidance counselors. Or principals! Or janitors!

But that's homework for another day. Right now I'm working on getting this guy up to ten:


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