Monthly Archives: April 2009

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The limits of my vocabulary meet the Foxfield Races

Here is a girl who got a perfect score* on her verbal SATs, but who can’t find a synonym for “awesome” in quotidian** conversation. Or who finds herself stuck with “interesting” as a default adjective whether she’s discussing a Great American Novel or the pizza she had for lunch.

The verbal portion of my brain freezes up completely in mixed company. All I can process are the ways in which people are looking at me. I try to be articulate – I really do – but I get distracted by the sweat running down my back or by the scrutiny in other peoples’ eyes or by the fact that I lost track of what I was talking about a long time ago. If I’m going to say something borderline intelligent, the social climate has to be right to within an eighth of a degree. For example, the sweat glands, the digestive system, the state of intoxication, the room temperature, what I absorbed on the internet right before the party – this all has to line up perfectly or I will start blabbering.

This is all a prelude to an important lesson I learned over the weekend. If you really want to feel eloquent, hang out sober with a bunch of people who are balls-to-the-wall wasted. I picked up my lovely little sister and her adorable friends at Foxfield on Saturday, and I plan to take on the DD role every spring from now on. Not only did I get to be the hero who arrived in the nick of time to shuttle the kids back to town before anyone else got arrested, I also got to be the cool cucumber who knew just how to nonchalantly accept all the praise heaped on me for being the “awesomest.” I was driving a 12-seater van, I was cracking jokes, I was telling the drunk people about the salad I had for lunch – and they were all riveted and enamored by me, I swear to God. And when I walked along Barracks Road on the way to the field and was passed by all the undergrads in pickup trucks who shouted, “You suck!”,*** it didn’t even matter because I knew that I’d be able to recite the alphabet better than anyone within a mile radius. What a great day.

I’m wondering if maybe I should become a late-night taxi driver. I can try out some smart-person vocabulary on drunk passengers, give my self esteem a boost, and make some money in the process. I wish that I could be that sober all the time, but sadly, slight intoxication is the millstone I must wear around my neck in order to deal with average social events like lunch and dinner. I tried yoga, deep breathing, and meditation, but they’re so much harder than a mixed drink.

*STILL bragging even though it was over 10 years ago and those smarty-pants brain cells are all gone now. And please don’t ask me about the math portion – just give me my moment in the sun.


***In fairness to these people, after they harrassed me they would typically notice the purebred dog I was walking and then they would forget that they’d just yelled, “You suck!” and politely ask, “Aww, is that a Bernese?”

“If today is opposite day, I’m happy.” –Paul Legault as Emily Dickinson

In local lit news, UVA poetry graduate Paul Legault has “translated” all of Emily Dickinson’s poetry into straight-up English. Charlottesville’s new Try & Make blog has excerpts from the book. I will reproduce the excerpts here because I like them so much and because I am a poem burglar. Lock up your poems, people.

7. If you’re a flower, I’m kind of like your zombie-gardener.

8. Dig up my grave, would you?  I’m a zombie, and I’ve got some flowers for you!

9. If today is opposite day, I’m happy.

11. If you pick a rose, it can no longer access water and other vital nutrients that it needs to live.

201: Because of your absence, I have turned into a feral cat.  Finally.

204. I saw the sunrise this morning.  Let me tell you about it.  It was fantastic.

I’m feeling unhappy about the way things are going in my bank account

I’m feeling unhappy about the way things are going in my bank account, and years of therapy have taught me to openly express my feelings whenever it’s convenient and the feelings won’t lead to confrontation. The status of my bank account is nobody’s fault – especially not mine – but my feelings about my financial situation need a public forum.

Why doesn’t my bank account give me the money that I need to live in a highfalutin manner? I give it my everything, especially on the two days out of the month when I sometimes receive a paycheck, and I feel like I deserve more. It’s like I give and I give and I give and all I get in return are questions, statements, invoices, deficits. I start feeling bad about myself. I already have self-esteem issues, so why am I in this abusive relationship? I know I should just get out, say goodbye to the debt and the disgrace, but something inside me says, “Keep up the hard work. It will get better. Someday you will be able to afford Chipotle again.” And then I find out that a check bounced and my credit card had to kick in $200 at 50% interest just to keep me afloat.

And it’s like, why are you treating me this way? What did I ever do to you? All I did was try to grow up in an upper middle class home without any concerns about money, and now it’s like I’m being punished just because sometimes I got bicycles for Christmas and I was always above health insurance because my dad said I didn’t need any damn antibiotics, or stitches for that matter, and how dare my bank account get all high and mighty on me now like just because I don’t have a real job with real benefits I should be taken down a notch when it comes to writing bad checks to my creditors. So they bounce sometimes! So what! Who are you, Mademoiselle Bank Account? The Queen of Sheba of Financial Solvency? It’s like you don’t even care about the person – no, the ARTIST – behind the lack of money! It’s like all you care about is what’s coming in and out of the stupid account. I am a person with feelings and I am suffering direly from feeling poor. It actually hurts me, deep inside. But no, you don’t give a shit about feelings. Well I’ll tell you what, Miss Cold-hearted Bank, you are a grade-A insensitive jerk-off. And the next time I receive a paycheck, I am going to keep it to myself because you don’t even deserve it. Signed, Fuck You, made out to CASH.

This blog is going downhill in a hurry.

The Ten movie for the win!

I just found out what a bunch of funny people were doing between roughly January 2006 and the 21st of August, 2008, when their movie was finally released on DVD in Russia: filming The Ten! Written and directed by David Wain, The Ten features Paul Rudd, Liev Shreiber, Thomas Lennon, Rob Corddry, Ken Marino (Wet Hot American Summer reunion!), Famke Jannsen, Jason Sudeikis, Jon Hamm, Michael Ian Black, Rashida Jones, and a bunch of other people who aren’t even credited on IMDB because the cast is so phenomenally large. And yes, I acknowledge that you played a part in the movie too, Winona Ryder. Anyway I had to browse the Netflix “Watch Instantly” comedy titles for an hour (big Wednesday!) to even chance upon the film. I’d never heard of it before tonight. And it earned 39% on Rotten Tomatoes, so you already know it’s good without my having to tell you. Look, I’m not a film critic; I’m just explaining to you what I like.

If you have a Netflix account, you can watch the movie online right this minute.

Oh yeah, and I’m really, really baked from smoking woozies all day. Just kidding. Trying to cover my tracks in case no one likes my recommendation.

P.S. Paul Rudd makes out with Jessica Alba in this movie.

Sometimes you read the right thing at the right time

On Sunday I attended a family memorial service for the dimpled, red-headed baby that my uncles lost this fall to Type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy. I can’t put words to their experience, but last night I read the following passage from Edward P. Jones’ story “In the Blink of God’s Eye,” found in the collection All Aunt Hagar’s Children, and it seemed to speak to Sunday morning and to my little cousin’s life.

In Jones’ story, a Washington, D.C., preacher has just returned from burying his mother. “I’m next,” he realizes, “in that long death line that started with our Daddy Adam. And with Mama Eve.” But in the cemetery he “blinks” and suddenly he is not afraid, even though he has now lost both parents, “the whole fortress” between himself and death. He returns to D.C. knowing what a “good human bein my mama was, and how heaven was lucky to have her.” He no longer fears, and he says to his congregation, “I tell ya I just blinked and it was all laid out to me.” Here is the conclusion of his sermon:

“So we forgive you, Mama Eve. God did that for you, so how can we do less? I stand next in the long death line under that eternal gaze of a just and fair God who just blinked, just blinked a few times, I tell ya, and in that little bit of blinkin my mama had lived her seventy-nine good years. Just a blink in God’s eye. But O what a wondrous blink!”

List of urgent requests – please help

1. Editing and proofreading clients

2. $80,000 for graduate school

3. Newlywed couples in Charlottesville to profile in newspaper

4. A cheap place to live in New York City

5. A lawnmower that runs on good intentions

6. A face-to-face with Edward P. Jones, my current monomythical Hero-Author

Wait for it. . . an eating video game!

Video games enable people to do their favorite things: shoot guns, steal cars, play golf in the living room. So what about a video game – or even an online application – that lets you eat all the delicious food that you want without ingesting any calories? Instead of a handheld console with ten zillion buttons, you wield an electronic fork, or, if you’re an expert, maybe an electronic knife and spoon as well. Then you assemble virtual meals on the monitor and take virtual bites all day long until your eyes burn. You won’t actually taste anything – this isn’t the year 3,000 – but visually you will be able to fulfill your cravings for the worst, most decadent things. Perhaps Gourmet Magazine could sponsor the eating video game. Or the This Is Why You’re Fat website. God, I’m smart. In this context, “smart” means “lying in bed on Monday night frantically brainstorming about how I can shove more food in my mouth without blowing up like a manatee, my totem animal.”

I envision three gaming levels for three different modes of eating:


This level is for those who like to be in touch with the land. They can actually plant their own kitchen gardens and slaughter their own backyard livestock on the screen, staying involved in their food production every step of the way, from soil to table. Remember that all of this is a pretend world created by computer programmers and you will not get any agricultural tax credits from the government. Also, you’ll have to kill your pig with a fork.


This level is for average grocery shoppers who occasionally buy organic or local food if it doesn’t cost too much more than toxic food from other continents, and who like to eat three square meals a day that incorporate some roughage, and who also like meals to take 30 minutes or less to prepare. They drink two gallons of water and a glass of red wine daily, but they occasionally suck Pepsi through a Twizzler.


This level is for people who just like to say “Fuck it” and go to Golden Corral when their bellies rumble. Also those who like to eat their ice cream out of the carton and their potato chips out of the pantry late at night while their significant others are sleeping. You don’t have to be a lazy fatty in real life to beat this level, you just have to be able to think like a lazy fatty, which I think we’re all pretty good at in America, especially me (not to brag). In fact, I anticipate a lot of people using Level 3 as a weight loss tool, much like the Wii Fit. The eating video game will let you indulge all of your lazy fatty cravings without consequences. And Golden Corral and Applebee’s won’t have to go out of business even after this game is a runaway hit; they will simply move their more obesity-friendly products into a virtual market.

Of course, this game won’t work if you’re actually hungry. Its appeal is purely psychological. The idea is to master food much like you would master the Super Mario Galaxy or something. Food that is bad for you will become a fantasy land that you have to conquer. And children can learn healthy eating habits by creating their own virtual meals, being judged on fiber and vitamin content as well as visual intrigue. And if parents don’t feel like making dinner, they can just plug their kids into the X-Box or whatever and give everybody a meal-in-a-pill. Which reminds me of my favorite Facebook update from actor slash Facebook wordsmith* Alec Beard: “Alec Beard is wondering: if they do make a meal-in-a-pill, will you be able to take it on an empty stomach?”

*The new actor slash model?

Housekeeping animism

I’ve been cleaning around the same objects at our house for almost four years, and just the other day I realized that every time I vacuum or mop around the red chairs at our kitchen table, I subconsciously think that they’re snobby. I’m trying to help them, keep them free of cobwebs, brownie crumbs, etc., and yet they always treat me like I’m some kind of fool. They have this condescending way of standing there while I work around them, like they think I’m weird and inferior. It doesn’t help that I always save the dining area until last because I dread those bitchy chairs; by the time I get to them I’m all sweaty and pungent from my cleaning efforts and the chairs just ostracize me more. I hate them, and yet I keep going back to them, like those popular girls in high school.

I am now failing to think of any piece of furniture in my house that does like me. I’ve never sensed much animosity coming from the downstairs toilet, but the linoleum surrounding it is extremely hard to please. I mop the tiles quickly because I know they just want me out of the bathroom. The wall-to-wall carpet tends toward nonjudgmental, but it also lacks personality. It doesn’t have an opinion about being dirty and I think that creates a certain distance between us. I always feel comfortable with myself when I’m working in the kitchen sink. We have a good relationship. Perhaps it’s something cathartic about the drain. It’s so accepting of all my dirty water. I feel like I’m betraying the sink when I let Darren do the dishes. This feeling is a huge inconvenience after a big dinner.

Sometimes I want to lie under the couch cushions until someone vacuums me up. I am a very thorough housekeeper, but perhaps too sensitive for the job.

Fantastic Mr. Fox spoiler alert

I’m reading The Fantastic Mr. Fox to a four-year-old. She’s covering her face with her hands, trembling, terrified of the guns pointed at the fox burrow, asking me, “Is he going to be okay?” I want to say, “Wait and see! Who knows how the story might unfold?” I’m reluctant to set a bad precedent for giving away the ending, no matter how desperately needed. Instead I see the fear in her eyes and I say, “Oh he’ll be FINE. He’s fantastic, remember? He’s the GOOD guy.” But I was thinking, would I have been such a voracious reader in my youth if someone had always reassured me that everything would be okay? Why read to the ending when there’s nothing at stake? Maybe I should’ve refused to comfort her and instead let her experience the thrill of not knowing what the next page would bring. “No matter what we do,” I could’ve said, “we can’t save the fox.”

The hound dog diary

When I called the cops on my neighbors for the third time (yes, I am that asshole), I tried to act as victimized as possible. I said, “Please, officer. Just tell me what I can do.” He said I should keep a diary for a month in which I record every bark out of that neglected hound dog’s mouth. Then I would have some legal recourse. I was like, “Wow. I’m actually being instructed to keep a diary. This is a dream come true.” I told my husband that I was keeping a hound dog diary and he said, “Make it juicy.” So here we go.

Saturday, January 17, 7am:  Damn I’m horny. I just want to rub my testicles on a lady hound dog. But all the lady hound dogs live in the country where they won’t pester their neighbors. So I will have to crush on the bookish woman next door who always yells at me to shut up. I will express my crush in incessant, guttural, glorious howling at her bedroom window.

Wednesday, January 28, 3pm: OMG she was totally reading today on her back porch. I barked at her for like an hour while my redneck owners cranked the volume on their satellite TV. She totally digs me.

Saturday, February 14, 8am: Bad news. I’m pretty sure the woman next door tried to assassinate me this morning. I was just doing my thing in the backyard, braying at the rising sun, when suddenly she was looking down on me from her back porch, poised solemnly with a hand grenade. After I got over my excitement at seeing her in pajamas (Old Navy!), I registered her weapon and her intent and I loudly demanded an explanation. I put my face right up against the chain link fence, lubricated the metal with my chicken liver saliva, howled magnificently, tried to make her understand that I was a good dog, nothing like those other dogs she’s known. I seriously turned on the charm. And yet I still got the feeling she wanted to explode me. Eventually she took some pills and went inside. Bitches be so confusing.

Sunday, March 1, 11am: Things are looking up. She was reading again on her back porch and I could tell she couldn’t concentrate on her book because she was so into me. I serenaded her until she went inside, made her feel like a princess. Treats for everyone!

Monday, March 2, 4:45pm: This fucking bitch. We take one step forward and four steps back. She’s going to call Animal Control on me? She’s going to overreact every time I wake her up on the weekend? Well she asked for it.

Wednesday, March 4, 6pm: I’m sad. It’s been two days since I’ve seen her. I think she’s gone to a hotel. I wish someone would walk me or give me a bone. Maybe I will just listen to “Rock of Love Bus” reruns through the window. Eventually someone has to let me in.

Sunday, April 5, noon: Hallelujah, I’m back in her good graces! Today she left a sirloin steak on my side of the fence. It was all I could do not to eat the whole thing right away as a sign of my forgiveness. Now I’m feeling a little groggy, snoozy, not so much like barky hound dog. Does anyone have any blow? Squirrel, why are you sitting on my brain? Someone take this meat off my teeth. Hush, puppies! Haha hush puppies, like the shoes. Wait, is that right? Dogs don’t wear shoes in the daytime. I’m going to hump this tree and you puppies are going to be sorry! My balls like to curl up under this tree to go to sleep forever. All dogs go to heaven. Purina!

I think I misunderstood the assignment.