Sunday, January 31, 2010

Word of the Day 2009

For Christmas last year, I was given a 2009 "Word of the Day" calendar. Here are the ones I saved. The words I loved, the ones I want to use, the brilliant fibers that I wish to weave into narratives and conversations that will only benefit from their effervescent presence.

Wednesday, December 30
coup de grace
(n.) A deathblow or death shot administered to end the suffering of one mortally wounded; a decisive finishing blow, act, or event

Wednesday, October 14
(n.) the support about which a lever turns; the one that supplies capability for action

Tuesday, October 6
(adj) having or occurring in great variety; diverse

Saturday, September 19
(n.) the pleasurable use or possession; enjoyment; the state of bearing fruit; a realization or accomplishment

Wednesday, August 19
(n.) a central point; hub or focal point

Tuesday, August 11
(n.) weight or heaviness; especially personal weight

Wednesday, July 22
kangaroo court
(n.) a court or an illegal self-appointed tribunal characterized by irresponsible, perverted, or irregular procedures

Monday, June 22
(adj.) rigorously strict or just

Sunday, June 14
(n.) a colleague or comrade

Sunday, November 15
(v.) to wander or stray from a course or subject; diverge or digress

Thursday, September 10
(n.) the combination of different forms of belief or practice; the fusions of two or more originally different inflectional forms

Friday, December 18
(n.) excess or redundancy

Thursday, November 12
(n.) an intuitive sense of what is linguistically appropriate

Friday, January 29, 2010

Most Disturbing Film. Ever.

I totally thought Coraline was a kid's movie.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Sept 19
Dream- hit on the head. Unconscious. TRYING TO GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THINGS.

Sept 20
Dream- pregnant with twins and about to give birth; unmarried and single
Analysis from online dream dictionary: Often represents new growth in your life. Your creation or creative potential is trying to get your attention. New event about to take place, a new creation or rebirth of yourself.

Sept 29
Dream- got a new job working for a political event planner. Dominant theme- dogs. Weird.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

You Must Somehow Work On That

Do not expend too much courage or time to clarify your position to others. I know your career is difficult and I anticipated your complaint and knew it would come. Now that it has come, I cannot reassure you.
I can only advise you to think seriously about this: Are not all careers the same, filled with demands and people filled with animosity toward the individual, at the same time absorbing the hatred of those who have silently and sullenly adapted to dull duty?
The situation that you are now obligated to tolerate is not burdened any heavier with conventions, prejudices, and errors than any other situation. If there are some who outwardly give the impression of granting more freedom, know that there really exists none that is related to the important things that make up real life.
The individual person who senses his aloneness, and only he, is like a thing subject to the deep laws, the cosmic laws.
If a person goes out into the dawn or gazes out into the evening filled with happenings, if he senses what happens there, then all situations fall away from him as from someone dead, even though he stands in the midst of life.
You must realize that you would have felt the same way in any existing career now.
[...] It is the same everywhere, but that is not a reason for fear or sadness.
If there seems to be no communication between you and the people around you, try to draw close to those things that will not ever leave you.

The nights are still there and the winds that roam through the trees and over many lands.
Amidst things and among animals are happenings in which
you can participate.
- Rainer Maria Rilke,
"Letters To A Young Poet: The Possibility of Being"

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Happy Weekend!

It's been a three-mimosa brunch over here, and I'm about to go get a pedicure with Whack. However it is you're spending your weekend, I give you this gift to swift enjoyment:

Watch and learn.

You're welcome.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

As We Are

(Canada, August 2001.)

We don't see things as they are.
We see things as we are.

-Anais Nin

Had The Service Actually Been Bad...

...I would have understood. This was unparalleled inexplicable...made all the more puzzling by the fact that they:
a) changed their order multiple times, to which I politely acquiesced;
b) left a 15% tip
c) snuck out the back door.

I'm too tired to be offended.
PS: I should submit this shit.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Haiti" and What We Can Learn From Katrina

(photo- Katyn Monument, Harbor East, Baltimore. May 2008.)

"Choosing the humanistic approach to other people’s misery brings certain obligations. The first is humanitarian: the generous response of ordinary Americans, along with the quick dispatch of troops and supplies by the U.S. government, met this responsibility, though it couldn’t answer the overwhelming needs of people in Haiti. But beyond rescue and relief lies the harder task of figuring out what the United States and other countries can and ought to do for Haiti over the long term, and what Haiti is capable of doing for itself." - "Suffering," George Packer, The New Yorker, Jan 25 2010

This March, I am headed to New Orleans for a week to volunteer for a Habitat project that's building a community of homes along a devastated stretch of land by the river. The decision process in my choosing to embark on this mission came in equal parts sudden and prolonged.

The prolonged aspect was this: for the past several years, I've been at odds with myself and my place in this world. I've waxed poetical on this blog (often injecting narcissistic ruins and self-deprecating moments of doubt) about the process and, from a standpoint although not quite yet fully outside of it but clearly on the other side of something, I realized that all of this soul-searching and circular thinking was yielding....nothing. Was it wasted? Certainly not. Was it necessary? Of course. Was it productive? Depends on how you measure. But was it moving forward? Not anymore.

The realization that inaction is a form of action was no longer working culminated in a moment where I realized how very small I am, how very large the world is, and how very interconnected we are. All of this rationalizing and theorizing brought me to the idea that I should take all of this excess "I don't know what to do with myself" energy and put it to good use. And so, I decided to volunteer, to do something big, to plan and execute some sort of project that would, in some way, directly help others.

Whenever you commit yourself to something, it seems that doors open. Within the week of my decision to attempt to find some outlet for this newly-found goal, an email found its way to me via various outlets seeking volunteers for a Habitat trip to New Orleans. I met with the organizer of the trip a week later and signed the paperwork.

Once I started doing research, I became more and more fully committed to the idea of the RHINO project (Rebuilding Hope In New Orleans.) The thing with great world crises (think Katrina, the tsunami, etc.) is that there is a great momentum at the onset to help. Media outlets are on the scene, showing us graphic images of people in desperate need. We reach out to our fellow human beings, we give everything we are able, and we rush in to help in the moment of crisis.

But this is problematic because, like anything with a great initial momentum, at some point it falters if not fueled. And the state of New Orleans and the destruction of Katrina are still dire and present. However one might argue about the initial lack of help and response, it was certainly on the nation's radar through much of 2005-2006 and initiatives to help gradually snowballed as the tense political scene danced around trying to downplay the damage while putting as much emphasis as possible on the supposed outpouring of help.

But now, so many years later, is when the desperation reaches its apex. Funds are running dry and being redirected towards newer, more vogue causes. When people think to donate money, time, or other resources, Katrina is slowly but surely falling off the map. And the consequences? The levies, which were so far below code before the hurricanes, would not be able to withstand another hit. Not because people "shouldn't be living in lowland areas near rivers," as it's been argued, but because the need for stringent rebuilding procedures and uncorrupted contractors, and local politicians with an eye on the future of New Orleans as a thriving and healthy city as opposed to one hand in the pocket all require long-term help and care. Once the immediate sick and injured have been tended to, once all of the victims have a bed to sleep in and meals to count on, that's where the real work starts.

It will be the same with Haiti. One of the world's poorest countries cannot come back from devastation like this without long-term planning and continuing efforts. Five, six, seven years from now when the dead have been buried, what will we be doing to assist? How can we help pull this country up from the rubble, invest in it, and rebuild it so that it actually stands a chance of surviving anything else the universe might throw at it?

Buzz words and catch phrases and celebrity involvement put crises in vogue. Jennifer Lopez answers phones at a donations center while Wyclef Jean tearfully begs for donations for his home country. They get involved, but where will they be when the bigger questions need to be answered? When corrupt politicians and a history of desperate poverty prove to be the true ruin of Haiti?

And so, I pack up my jeans with the holes in the knees and hope that they'll have a hammer on-site (because you can't fly with jack shit these days, even in checked luggage) and I'm heading down to NOLA to put my money where my mouth is, five years after the initial fact. And five years from now, maybe I'll find some initiative in Haiti to join.

Hope and help aren't just about initial reactions. It's about long-term dedication. It's about a commitment to being there, long after the dust has literally and figuratively settled.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Things I Am Currently Adoring

1. Up in the Air. How very apt, expressive, and bittersweetly not surprising. I was OK with the non-surprises, however, because the writing was perfectly in tune. There wasn't a wrong note in the dialogue.

2. Avatar. Because I've been meaning to watch Pocahontas again. No, but seriously- it's worth the press it's getting for sheer spectacle. The story is predictable, the dialogue lame, but call me a sucker for a show pony when it comes to graphics and imaginative animation.

3. Going to see The Lovely Bones tomorrow night with Whack, Jackal and Nickle. I'm intrigued by what I've seen on previews so far, because it's quite an intellectual and imaginative separation from what I pictured while reading the book. As an avid fan of watching films made from books, I feel this could only work in its favor. Everyone knows that the film will never be the book (no matter how many times the Harry Potter or Twilight empires attempt), and I am fully supportive of the two being able to stand alone as substantial artistic pieces. I don't mind if the movie isn't like the book, or vice versa, if they're both compelling works.
4. My new Neti pot. I've long been a promoter of homeopathic means of healing and so, this winter, I'm putting my money where my nasal passages are and attempting to ward off the inevitable sinus infection that comes around every winter for me. The constant flux of temperature and humidity in February and March never fails to leave me without at least two weeks of complete misery, usually culminating in having to go to the doctor and weep for antibiotics, and this year I'm starting early in hopes of dodging it. We'll see. My first experience was weirdly satisfying and somehow quite cleansing, although this could be placebo effect of proactivity which a lot of homeopathy sometimes seems to be. And in order to make the whole thing sound more appealing, I can start saying that I've begun a practice of Jala-neti, which sounds so much more worldly and disciplined.

5. Reading. Unless I'm on vacation in the summer, I always read more in winter. It's cold, the blaring noise of the TV bothers me after awhile, and all I want to do is hunker down under a blanket with a good Malbec and demolish a pile of books. Currently reading/finishing: The Dive from Clausen's Pier and Revolutionary Road, and then about to start Waiter Rant and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.


We were such children, then. Even more so than we are now.
We sat on a bench in the courtyard next to a dorm where only juniors and seniors lived, and we felt important. As though our very proximity to maturity would somehow elicit understanding and unlock answers.
We were drinking Zima then. That or Boone's Farm. Whatever we could con an upperclassmen into buying for us from the gas station out on Route 13. We dropped candy into our bottles; Skittles, Jolly Ranchers, anything that would turn the liquid some obnoxiously bright color and leave our tongues stained with red, purple, or green. At the end of each bottle, the lump of melted candy would rattle around if it hadn't dissipated altogether. It never occurred to us to wonder that whatever chemical reaction was taking place between the malt liqour and the candy might be having a similar effect on us.
The end of her cigarette left light trails in the air like fireflies. I can't remember specifically what we were talking about, only that it felt terribly important at the time and that I would have told her anything. After a few years, we would get into an argument over something one of us thought the other had said and never speak again. We didn't know enough then to know that some friendships are transitory; that not every person with whom you find a connection in college will be in your life forever. At the time, we were still fixated on ensuring that these were the best moments of our lives and, as such, that we were somehow forging lifelong bonds and connections.
I remember now- we were discussing whether or not she should break up with her boyfriend who went to a different school. It was still in the first semester of freshman year, when we thought long-distance relationships were possible. They'd been high school sweethearts. Life still seemed so small but, day by day, we were cracking it open further and further and discovering that the depths and heights were unfathomable. High school boyfriends didn't fit into this ever-expanding world.
We were sitting close enough between the dorms that she had her portable telephone in her lap, waiting for him to call. Through experimentation, we'd discovered that this bench was still close enough to her open window that she could get reception. This was in the days before cell phones, when proximity to a landline was still a vital cog in the social machinery. Especially for long-distance college relationships.
If we sat on this bench, we were halfway between her room and the upperclass dorm. Still within telephone distance of her high school sweetheart but close enough to the future to be straddling both worlds.
It was still warm then, early fall, and humid. It was always humid because the ocean thumped less than thirty miles away and, on the other side of the things, the vast bay created a pocket of moisture-laden air that settled over our small college town and never seemed to dissapate. Our skin felt cool and damp, the bottles chilling our hands, the smoke from her cigarette hanging in the last of the summer swelter in the dark of the evening.
Everything seemed so important. The bricks, the wood of the bench, the shoes I was wearing. Everything seemed vital and necessary.
"Should I break up with him?" she asked. It was a rhetorical question. She wouldn't. And then, one day, years later, she would. And, in the process, discover a pull to women. But, for the time being, it was the most important matter on our plates, and we attacked the problem with a vengeance. We sat on the bench, determined to hammer it out, drinking our way through the six pack of cheap malt liquor and shaking our heads as though this problem hefted with it the weight of the world.

Align Center

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Parking Cone

For Mochi, who is inspiration herself, and for Catalano, who needs something to read on her lunch break. Based on events of the summer of 2009, and various other occurrences between 2002 and 2004.

I stood in my kitchen, mug of coffee in hand, and surveyed the situation disdainfully. It was staring back at me, equally judgmental and full of spite. We were caught in this staring match, it and me, and it was fairly clear who would claim victory.

A parking cone had, somehow, appeared in my kitchen on the morning after a night out.

Now, let me be the first to say that although I certainly have my moments, I am not wont to participate in illegal activities. Stolen government property being, of course, up there with public nudity and other terrifically stupid acts. I am a person who is polite to officers of the law, almost to the point of ass-kissing. I follow directions and rules.

I do, from time to time, get a dangerous thrilling rush from jaywalking. But this is neither here nor there.

What was there was a damn parking cone. A bright orange, slightly dirty rubber traffic cone mocking me mercilessly from where it perched, in a droll fashion, next to the bottom step just off the kitchen. I had questions and I wanted answers. I mentally scrolled through the events of the previous night (aside: isn't it interesting how computer lingo works its way into our vernacular creating a very apt description of flipping through memories like Poloroids) and nowhere in between the karaoke and Buckhunter existed a memory of a traffic cone inserting itself into my life again.


In the fall of 2002, I rented an off-campus house with two friends. We would later wind up all hating one another and never speaking again for various reasons, but in the beginning it was all shared booze and Nintendo at two am. We had cute neighbors, a gang of boys who brought over six packs of beer and once took two of us minigolfing in Ocean City on a very awkward "date" of sorts. We were twenty and living off-campus for the first time. I was white-blonde then, and recently returned from a summer abroad in Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland. I was eating Nutella out of the jar, discussing world politics, and thought I was better than everyone else. This could have been part of the reason why we all ended up hating one another; I have no doubt I was insufferable.

The neighbors flirted with us in ways only college boys can flirt. They mooned us out of their living room windows, pelted us with snowballs in winter, stole our trash can lids, and wrote dirty items on the grocery list taped to the refrigerator. There was never any intention of any of us dating one another, although there was a brief scandal when one roommate had a few sleepovers with one of them, but that ended as abruptly and awkwardly as it started. It was simply the pure thrill of a houseful of girls living catty corner from a houseful of guys and copious amounts of free time spent dreaming up ways to catch each other's attention.

And one day, the parking cone appeared.

I never knew who found it, or from whence it came, but one morning a parking cone appeared in the boys' living room. A trophy dragged home after a night of SoCo and lime shots, no doubt. One of those "hilarious-at-the-time" moments that, the morning after, no one can precisely remember. The evidence exists and, no doubt someone thought it was a good idea at the time.

And then the parking cone decided to move in with us.

At first, it moved to our driveway. I came home from class one day to find my parking space reserved for a Mr. Cone. There it sat, tapered and somehow elegant in the scrubby grass. I don't know what it is about a three-foot tower of orange rubber that is so stultifying. My car could easily have rolled right up and over it, but societal norms and scrupulous studying for my driver's license only four years prior prevented me from even attempting such a thing. With all of my prior social training intact, I got out of the car and carefully moved the offending cone out of my space. And there it camped, on the edge of the lot of grass designated for parking.

The cone stood fast. In the mornings, it glistened with dew. When it rained, mud from the car tires splattered it. One morning I came out to go to class and discovered that it sparkled with frost. It became as much a part of the scenery as the naked, skinny tree that leaned up against the side of the house, and the rusted clothes line pole with ancient bits of unexplained string hanging off of it. Like most other college kids living in our particular neighborhood, sharing sidewalks with the poorer citizens of a small town on the Eastern shore, we had a landlord who existed on paper and who had a mailbox somewhere for our rent checks but was primarily absent. The parking cone, after a time, became unnoticed.

Until it decided to approach us.

We woke up one morning to find that the parking cone had become aggressive. It had approached the house, without permission, and was now staging a sit-in on the front stoop. Like some representative of a religious organization, it remained at our front door in a sort of hold-out. In reality, of course, the boys had simply picked it up and transitioned it to a more obvious locale. But it almost felt as though the parking cone itself was making a bold move. As if it got tired of being ignored in the driveway and decided to invite itself in for tea.

But the parking cone, however aggressive, was somewhat lacking in strategic planning because our house was laid out like every other squat, square home in the neighborhood and therefore possessed a second side door into the kitchen that, like every other home in the neighborhood, was used as the primary entrance/exit. I think the only time we even opened the front door in the year that we lived in that house was to retrieve the mail and, even then, it wasn't uncommon to walk around the front of the house from the driveway in back to do so.

So, the parking cone sat on our front stoop for another uncertain period of time. And, after awhile, in the wake of never opening the front door, we forgot about it entirely.

Until it moved in.

In a final offensive act of affrontery, the parking cone somehow made it's way inside after a particularly rowdy party (the same party that also resulted in a semi-permanant sheen of sticky, sugary red detritus on the kitchen floor from an ill-conceived cooler of Jungle Juice.) I came into the kitchen one morning and there it was in the living room amidst the beer cans and wine bottles and empty pizza boxes. It might as well have been wearing a party hat. I'm almost certain it was hungover.

We would later discover that the parking cone had been transferred from the long-forgotten front-stoop to this location by one of the residents of the boys' house, an impressively large, gentle giant known as much for being a bouncer at one of the local college bars as for his motorcycle on which he tore down Route 13. Later that spring, in an act so swift and still, seven years later, inexplicable he would put a gun to his head and leave behind a bereft community and three roommates who would never be the same. I believe that the reason the parking cone took up permanant residence in our living room after that had much to do with memorializing the sense of humor that would place a piece of stolen government property next to our DVD rack and under the permanantly-lit Christmas lights. We were twenty years old and suicides didn't fit in with drunk pranks. None of us knew what to say about it.

When I moved out of that house in May of 2003, the parking cone was still in residence in the living room. I left behind a lot of bad terms, screamed insults, a broken coffee maker and the parking cone. I don't know what the other roommates did with it, but I'll wager a guess that the cone either became a part of the lease for the next generation of college students who moved in to use and abuse the house, or that it was demoted to the driveway again.

Over the years there were other things that followed us home after drunken nights out. One of my roommates my senior year of college had a particularly nasty klepto habit that emerged after some undetermined amount of liquor and, as such, we had a fantastic collection of bar signs and ware ranging from sandwich boards to signs to salt and pepper shakers to a bar stool that would later come with us when she moved to Florida with me. Government property, in all its utilitarianism, somehow lost its appeal for us that year. We had moved on to greater trophies: things we could actually use. And somehow, deep in our collective drunk unconscious, I think we understood that dealing with an irate bartender was vastly preferable to the concept of being accosted by a representative of the law. The incident of the exit sign, stolen off of a dorm wall, notwithstanding.

In later years, drunken detritus ebbed and flowed. Somewhere in my mid-twenties, the act of swiping items lost its appeal completely. Mostly because whatever seemed like a good idea at the time more often wound up creating clutter in the house that I just didn't know how to purge. And also because my evening bags got progressively smaller, my drinks stronger but fewer, and my general sense of fun leaning more towards convivial conversation than pranks or destructive acts.

Which is why, standing there in my kitchen with my morning mug of coffee steaming and my head frantically ticking, I could not for the life of me figure out why I would have brought home a traffic cone. It was inexplicable, inconceivable, and something so entirely out of my current character that I was becoming angry with myself. How could I have done such a thing? This was my past, this was a parenthetical period of bad behavior coupled with small-town college boredom. This wasn't my grown-up life, this wasn't interesting, and it wasn't funny. I sipped my coffee and felt a surge of self-loathing.

This was short-lived, however. A moment later, Whack stumbled down the stairs, head in one hand, and breezed past me towards the back door to let the dog out.

"I'm sorry about the cone. I'll get rid of it, I promise," she said. "I don't know what possessed me to do that."

The parking cone was gone the next day, replaced very carefully in the exact location from whence it was taken.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Write For Yourself

Better to write for yourself
and have no public
than to write for the public
and have no self.
-Cyril Connolly

From Jaunt- "Who Does That?"

The following is a piece written by Jaunt based on an experience we had a few weeks ago. I like to think that I wasn't audibly laughing when I read this just because I happened to be there. Hopefully you, too, can appreciate the sheer hilarity and start your week off with a good laugh.

Note: I would like to point out that Jaunt's careful attention to detail is rendered beautifully in this script which, I shit you not, is almost verbatim what we witnessed that night. I almost think she must have been taking notes. Also, neither Jaunt nor I wishes to offend anyone with the following dialogue: let it be known that the opinions expressed by "Clint" and "Dory" do not in any way reflect upon the opinions of this blog, or Jaunt or me. We just report what we hear.
Also- YN is Jaunt's cousin/Fun Friend with whom I have enjoyed much merrymaking and dessert-eating.

Thanks, Jaunt, for letting me scavenge this!

Scene: Metropolitan, a coffee shop/bar
Time: 8:27pm
Intention: To consume coffee and dessert
Result: Introduction to "Super Dumb" brothers

On March 26th, 2010, YN and I will be reenacting the events that transpired following Alma's glorious victory over LSU. This story has the potential to seem unbelievable, but this chain of events requires no exaggeration and outshines my creative abilities.

As YN and I were sipping our delicious coffee, two "gentlemen" entered the bar without attracting our attention. We had no idea that they were about to change our lives and patterns of speech forever. Although the following dialogue may seem unbelievable, it is the best attempt at recreation that we can manage. You must imagine if you can the thickest New York accents flowing from the mouths of one extremely attractive young man and one moderately adorable younger brother. Extremely hot big brother (Clint) catches my eye first, and I attempt to make eye contact. He delicately places two steaming mugs of frothy beverage on a table and sits with his back to the wall facing the bar. Moments later he is joined by his brother (Dory).

D: "What is this drink?"

C: "Irish coffee."

D: "Good one dude. Nice going. What are you, gay?"

C: "Just drink your fucking coffee, you moron."

D: "Shut the fuck up."

C: "I am so mad at you right now."

Throughout this interchange, YN and I are laughing out loud. Uproariously. Laughing. We are not understanding the full extent of the animosity between these two unruly gentlemen. Our mocking laughter attracts Dory's attention.

D: "Don't laugh at us. We are having a really bad night. My fucking brother.... So where are you girls from?"

Dory cannot focus on either his predicament or his desire to get in our pants. Or at least into our beds. The reason he was so driven to become our bed partner will be revealed in a few minutes.

YN and I explain that we are from CenPA. It turns out the boys lived in State College for a brief time during hottie's high school years. This time away from New York did nothing to diminish their accents or penchant for ridiculous behavior.

With the overt enthusiasm of an untrained puppy, Dory appeared to be hanging onto our every word. We later learn that these intentions will not translate into understanding.

D: "Yeah. State College and Bellefonte and Centre Hall. I mean Centre is spelled wrong. What is with that? Re instead of er. What is this drink?"

Repeat dialogue lines 1-6. Repeat uproarious laughter.

D: "You girls seem really nice. Where are you from."

As we repeat stories about our shared childhood homes, it dawns on us that this is no ordinary conversation. It seems that Dory cannot retain information for longer than 30 seconds. He also seems unoffended by our blatant laughter. It should be clear that we are laughing AT him, not WITH him.

C: "Yo man, shut the fuck up. What are we going to do?"

D: "Let's consider our options."

C: "We don't have any fucking options. We are up shit creek. There is no chance that I am going to sleep in a warm bed tonight."

D: "Well you and your stupid British girlfriend shouldn't have locked me out of my house."

C: "Who does that? Who loses their keys?"

Our laughter refocuses Dory's attention on us.

D: "So where are you from?"

Repeat conversation held previously - TWICE. Insert more laughter this time. Halfway through his re-realization that we too think Bellefonte is spelled strangely, Clint interrupts Dory's reminiscences.

C: "You need to focus on our situation."

D: "Yeah, what are our options?"

C: "You could go play in traffic."

D: "Yeah, well you could order more Irish coffee. Get me a beer."

C: "Who do you think you are talking to?"

D: "What are we going to do? We could stay with Jamel."

C: "I don't give a fuck about anything."

As Dory attempts to mockingly sip his beverage, he spills the steaming liquid down the front of his North Face fleece. This provokes a series of cursing.

Throughout this interchange, I am desperately trying to get Glitterati over to our table to witness the hilarity. This task is accomplished when she looks up to see Dory standing in front of our table stripping his jacket off. The coffee of course has permeated the jacket and left blotches of moisture on his shirt. It also appears that he has wet himself. A fact he mentions at least 25 times.

D: "It looks like I pissed myself. What is this cup? How does it work? This is the kind of cup you use to dye Easter eggs. How the fuck do you drink out of this? I'm an engineer, I should know."

He is holding the pieces of his broken cup up for our inspection. We are laughing. His brother is not. So far the angry, angry Clint has not smiled once. He is shooting death stares at his guileless brother's back. Dory pulls his chair over to our table and starts explaining the events that have transpired as he attempted to welcome 2010.

D: "I mean I can't even get into my own apartment. I am locked out. I literally do not have a key."

Dory goes on to explain how his brother was visiting from South Carolina and how somehow his brother had managed to lose both keys to the apartment. There were many contradictory statements about when these events occurred and the possibility of three extra keys laying on a dresser in the now locked house. Vital to the understanding of this story is a bedroom window that was meant to serve as the entry point throughout the duration of the lockout. It is unclear how the boys got into the house to open the window, but what Dory made perfectly clear is that Clint shut and locked the window after a directive that forbid this action. As Dory is regaling us with the improbable tale, Clint staggers off in the direction of the bathroom. He knew the location because "Celine Dion" had previously asked the waitress. As he passes our table, he issues another directive for Dory to "play in traffic".

At this point, YN and I control our laughter enough to offer some practical suggestions about locksmiths.

D: "I ain't paying for no locksmith. I don't even care if he misses his flight. Do you just have the number of a locksmith? Do you just carry that around? Who does that?"

YN: "Well, there is probably a phone book."

D: "No, I am not getting a locksmith."

C: "You super dumb asshole. My clothes are in that house. There is no chance that I am going to sleep in a real bed tonight."

D: "My roommate is going to come home at eight tomorrow night. He has a key. The only problem is that my brother's flight is leaving at three. I guess I can just mail him his suitcase."

C: "How the fuck am I supposed to fly without my suitcase."

YN and I inquire about his access to his credit card and ID to assure him that he could catch his flight without anything else. He derides these suggestions as stupid. We are in fact "super dumb" because we cannot understand his dilemma. At this point, Dory has pulled his chair up to our table, and Clint is channeling some of his energy into standing. He alternates between standing in our personal space and in the aisle where people need to walk. At this point, both brothers are drinking beer. Dory forgets about the house momentarily and resumes hitting on us/telling us his life story. He is explaining a typical Christmas and his family's new found love of board games.

D: "You know like that one game. Apples to Apples. Yeah, that is pretty fun. But the one I really like starts with a U."

Dory is trying desperately to remember the name of this mysterious game. YN suggests that he explain the rules to us to help him remember. All the sudden, a light bulb goes off in his head.

D: "Balderdash. That's the best one. My whole family loves that game. Even my brother, but he is too much of a tough guy to admit it.

Clint stumbles close enough to our table to say.

C: "Apples to Apples."

YN and I are laughing.

D: "You girls are alright. You are not fully fraudulent."

As we are laughing at this comment and trying to decipher whether or not he previously thought we are spies, Clint becomes enraged and starts verbally harassing other customers. I try to lecture him about how this is my favorite bar and how it would be lovely if he wouldn't break all the furniture or alienate all the city residents.

C: "I just don't give a fuck about anything. I am a fucking dick."

D: "Yo man, calm down. These girls are really nice. Listen to them."

Just then an elderly couple walks past our table. Clint addresses the lady.

C: "You want to take a mustache ride."

She and her husband hurry past, and YN and I pray that they do not know about We chastise Clint for this comment.

C: "Fine, if you guys don't like me, I will just be friends with these fat retards."

He loudly directs this comment toward a group of four skinny to average sized men sitting beside us. His beer is waving dangerously over their heads, and it is clear that they do not consider friendship an option. During this time, Dory is repeating again the story of how the house became locked. Most of the details have changed, but his incredulity is constant.

D: "How does that happen? How does my brother lose the keys?"

I stupidly interject that the real problem is that he closed the window. This triggers another angry rage from Clint.

C: "You are a super dumb fucker. Who uses a window to get into their house?"

D: "People who lost their keys because of some British chick."

C: "Stinky Beaver"

D: "Doushe bag, OMG its 8:57 I thought it was like 3am, what are we going to do?"

C: "Well I know what we aren't going to do, go to your apartment. Who the fuck gets locked out of their own apartment?"

D: (checks phone again) "Dude its 9:00 I thought it was at least midnight we can't get into my apartment until at least 8 tomorrow night"

C: "I'm going to fucking miss my flight, why don't you go play in traffic"

After a loving brotherly name calling exchange. Dory proceeds to turn his attention back to us and inquire "Where are you guys from?" In midst of laughing at Dory's unfortunate lack of memory, we again attempt to politely suggest ways that may improve the brothers' lot in life. After asking if Dory had heard back from his friend about whether they could stay at his apartment, Dory returns our suggestion made approximately one hour earlier

D: "You guys wouldn't happen to have the number for a locksmith?"

Surprisingly, Dory has a moment of clarity and begins dialing the number that YN had found for him. While making the call Dory continues to explain that he has no faith that this will actually correct his problem of being locked out of his apartment. His conversation with the locksmith is punctuated by asides to us.

D: "He actually answered"

Dory then proceeds to inquire if the locksmith did in fact have the ability to help him with his dilemma. Worried that Dory's short term memory problems would confuse the locksmith on the other side of the phone, I offerred to speak for Dory, but was refused. Miraculously Dory is able to convey the necessary information to the locksmith. After hanging up the phone Dory appears invigorated with new hope that he may enter his apartment in 2010. After a few moments, his phone rings again and Dory appears to be instructing the person on the other line that he will in fact be at his apartment in a few minutes. During this exhange, Dory covers the phone to whisper to us, "He's Mexican."

Dory then proceeds to get ready to rush to his apartment. In his haste he puts his jacket on inside out and is confused when he's unable to work the zipper. I kindly advise him that it might work if he put his jacket on the other way.

D: "I just realized that when you were telling me."

Dory was by far the nicest of the brothers, if not the most intelligent. This left us alone in the presence of Clint. Glitterati gets off work and she joins us at our table with a glass of wine. In this bizarre dinner theater, the audience has grown as the number of actors shrank. Without even trying to disguise our laughter, YN and I are filling Glitterati in on the events of the first act. I am literally crying when I recount the "fraudulent" compliment that we received. Clint seems to be sobering up a bit due to the coffee without alcohol that I keep ordering for him, and he is mostly quiet as he is sitting at our table staring at us. However, any time the words key, house, bed, or brother are mentioned, he starts cursing and shaking his head anew. He repeats the same story over and over again and keeps asking, "Who gets locked out of their own apartment." I share with Glitterati that a sure fire way to rile the beast is to mention the window. She tries it. It works. These boys are nothing if not predictable in their repetition. As Clint recounts his brother's past history of idiocy, we are staring on in amusement.

C: "Why are you looking at me. Am I a clown? I am. I am a clown. I am a dick. I am an asshole. What do you think? You think we are some lost causes. My fucking brother comes in here like if he sits in a bar long enough the house will magically unlock itself."

We try again to explain that his brother has left to go meet the locksmith. This does nothing to appease his anger over all the ways his little brother has failed him. We try to distract him with new topics of conversation. Glitterati asks what he does in Charleston.

C: "I work in a resteraunt. It's simple."

We try in vain to learn more about his life, but he refuses to elaborate on his declarations that "it's simple." Clint fumbles with his phone for a few minutes. It is unclear if there is anyone on the line, and when we ask if it is Dory, he tells us that he has "not heard from that kid." We resume talking, but a couple of minutes later Clint gets a little emotional. He clutches his chest around the heart region and starts professing his love for his brother.

C: "It is like my brother is doing something. He is really trying to get the house unlocked. I thought he was going to sit here and just wait for magic, but he is really out there trying to get into his house. He isn't even breaking the window or nothing."

We have no idea what prompted the sudden realization that Dory was in fact meeting with a locksmith. He had rejected this notion the hundreds of times that we brought it up. Not willing to risk a return to his feelings of animosity, we encouraged him to pay his tab and go meet his brother at the house. There was only one explosion of anger.

Glitterati: "You have a great smile."

C: "What? Are you being sarcastic. Are you being condescending? You are a super bitch. I love bitches."

Glitterati: "You are not good at accepting compliments."

C: "Shut up."

Eventually the tab is paid and Clint departs. We sit there laughing for another 20 minutes before we leave as changed women. We swear that we are going to stop using the word asshole so liberally because it really only applies to boys who ask 80 year old women if they want a mustache ride. We promise ourselves that we will make extra copies of our house keys to distribute to friends. We reaffirm our love for our less caustic siblings. We know that in the future we will compliment people by assuring them that they are not "fully fraudulent". We make plans to use this plot line to pick up boys on our birthday. We acknowledge that 2010 has already provided us with as much laughter as all the months of 2009 combined.

Thank god those boys were pretty - their survival is dependent upon their dimples.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Pens

Fiction blurb from The Creepy Notebook.

(Photos within photo by Snap.)

She knew that things were ending long before they actually did, and so began a habit of taking stock.

She counted the pens in the basket on his kitchen counter that collected batteries, keys to locks long-forgotten, bottle openers, and rubber bands. There were four pens in the basket.

Later, after he told her that she deserved to be with someone who wanted to marry her, she would remember that there had been four pens in the basket. She would always have this little link to his life- knowing that four pens resided in the basket on the countertop in his kitchen.

She panicked at the thought that he might, one day, remove one of the pens or add another. This would mean that she would no longer be a part of his life, because she would have no way of knowing how many pens were currently in the basket, and she would have no way of finding out.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Few Of My Favorite Things

What Does This Even MEAN?

Apparently, Nickelback has been named "Adult Pop Artist of the Decade."

Setting aside all far-more-worthy music groups, I do have to wonder what makes the distinction between 'Pop Artist' and 'Adult Pop Artist.' PG13 lyrics? A regular rotation in sports bar juke boxes? High sales in Starbucks?




Monday, January 4, 2010

Go Big Or Go Home

There is no passion to be found in playing small- in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.
-Nelson Mandela