Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Happy New Year! Hallo, 2003!

Well, I have to say that I think we ended 2002 the right way- with smudging (although perhaps sage is the smudge-herb of choice because it smells so bad that nothing, including evil vibes, wants to stick around...? Yeah, maybe we should do lavendar next year? Although it did smell fine by morning), with excellent presents (Thank you!), with old friends and family and taco dip, and as I write this at 9:27 p.m., the best man I've ever met is reading comic books in the Hiami Merald parking lot, waiting for me to finish so we can go see fireworks and ride carnival rides and basically ring in the New Year like it's the Fourth of July. :) Yay!

I am sure there will be much cell phone-age at midnight with many of you, but Happy New Year and much love to all!

Monday, December 23, 2002

So I'm back in Lancaster for the holidays. Buh-dump-bump. I came home and had one of the best laughs I've had in a long time with Amanda, Alissa, Scott and my dad, around the kitchen table, of course. :) I can't wait for the rest of you who are coming home to be there, too. (Also, Kelly and College Roommate Countdown: 5 Days!) Yay!

Jilly, I wish you were going to be in a "NOT 10+ Hours Away" Type place, so it would be feasible to see you, too. Boo. But I got your present! I love it! It reminds me of your sunflower teaset and multiple varieties of cocoa. Thank you thank you (to Nikki, too!) Oh, and thank your mom for the cookies. SO GOOD. :)

Also, I have some good news. I haven't shared it with many people yet, partly because I wanted to see how it would turn out, and I feel really arrogant just announcing this on my blog, but I do want to share it, so.... AH. Okay. This week, I completed a freelance travel piece about Miami that will appear sometime in the next month in the Yew Nork Times. Seriously. I almost fell off my chair when they called (recommended by one of my editors at the Hiami Merald.) They are thinking about a 4-6 (probably five?:) picture layout, although that's always contingent on space and design, etc. But I am really excited. I don't know the publication date yet, though. So yeah... That was the big thing keeping me busy this week.

Well that, and FINALLY locating the source of the Increasingly Funky Smell emaninating from my fridge. Who knew people in humid climates have to empty the drip tray once in a while? I'm not even sure I *knew* about refrigerator drip trays before....

Friday, December 20, 2002

I highly recommend that everyone read Alissa's web page, because it's very funny today, and it's Possession Amnesty Day, of which she is the first official Queen. She will remain Queen of this until someone else comes along who has received a worse or equally bad deal than the one she got from That Bastard in New Jersey, upon which a new queen will be chosen and showered with presents.

I'm not sure if Liss has really been "showered" with presents since I created this holiday (although the inspiration came from a book and I sort of extended it), and, therefore, am the only one who is obligated to be doing the "showering" (and anyway, Jason, I really don't know if there's enough room for anyone else in this shower, so....Hee! Love you!) I can't really afford to send enough presents to constitute a "shower," although she *did* get some fancy soap...

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Hee! I am very excited because Stephen has decided to come down here and spend a solid three weeks visiting! YAY! I haven't seen him for more than two consecutive days at a time since last Christmas, so we're both really looking forward to this.

Incidentally, he sent this email out to friends, family, etc. I found it to be highly amusing, so I'm pasting it up here. Apologies to those of you who will get this twice, first from him and now here. Enjoy!


The New York Times recently caught up with world famous actor and physicist Stephen Libby. He is best known to our readers as a student at Syracuse University, a native of Connecticut, star of stage and screen, and inventor and patent holder of Gravity, "the force which makes stuff heavy." Here is an excerpt from our interview.

New York Times: Stephen, for many of our readers, it's been a while since they last heard from you. How have you changed?

Stephen M. Libby: I've grown three feet and lost seventy pounds, the result being that I look like a freakish sort of flag pole with hair and a sweatshirt. I've also started watching football. It's frightening.

NYT: How will you be spending the Holidays this year?

SML: I'll be with family in Virginia, my brother's family. It will be nice to see my two year old nephew, who is still amazed that I can hum and whistle simultaneously. Easy crowd.

NYT: You were recently involved in a production of "The Witch of Blackbird Pond.:" Tell us about that.

SML: Well, it was done at the Wheelock Family Theatre. The play is based on the book of the same name that for many, and I think I'm justified, and not too boastful in saying this, was compulsory reading in sixth grade. It's about a witch trial in Connecticut in the late seventeenth century. I played John, the young minister's pupil and suitor to the Wood household. I daresay that the play is a gruelling tour-de-force of the human psyche, a twisted fun-house mirror into the soul that leaves the spectator breathless, not knowing whether they want to live or die. Also, there were cookies in the lobby.

NYT: You received some critical praise for your role, correct?

SML: Yes, in all modesty, I was called, 'wryly amusing,' as well as, 'competent.'

NYT: Has all this acclaim and fame gone to your head?

SML: Of course not. I'm still the same designer suit wearing, cocktail drinking, hard partying man of the people I've always been.

NYT: Are you still working at the magic store?

SML: Sadly, no. The store closed due to pressure from the landlords. But I am now investigating the fabulous world of data entry and unemployment checks. And the store did teach me a lot. I walked away with a unicycle, a rubber chicken, and the ability to throw a playing card like a boomerang and make it disappear and reappear from my bare hands. If that's not a marketable skill, I don't know what is.

NYT: It must be very exciting to be you.

SML: Yes, it must.

NYT: So, what's next for Stephen Libby?

SML: Well, you'd have to ask him. (Laughs for five minutes straight.) God, I'm funny.

NYT: So. . .

SML: I've been going on auditions, reading scripts. Speilberg wants me, and there's talk from Her Majesty the Queen's camp about knighthood, despite the fact that I'm not an English subject. Apparently, they're willing to make and exception just for me.

NYT: Any plans?

SML: Well, I'll be spending a few weeks in Florida with my girlfriend @ngie, [sic] writing, relaxing, scooping together the little bits of my brain that have fallen out and cramming them back in. Then, I'll start making plans for a move to NYC.

NYT: Sounds exciting.

SML: Yes, it must. My life is a whirlwind.

NYT: Lastly, what do you have to say to the rumors that rather than sending out gifts or personalized Christmas cards this year, you'll be sending out some crappy kind of form letter?

SML: That is a blatant falsehood of untruthity. I would never do that to my friends. A form letter! Ridiculous! I have no dearer or closer friend in the world than [YOUR NAME HERE]. He or she means far too much to me. And I sincerely hope that [YOUR NAME HERE] has a beautiful holiday season and a prosperous New Year.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Okay, today provides a really good example of why I really, really like my job. No day is ever the same, and the day itself can be a completely polar experience depending on the assignments I get.

This afternoon I covered the Miss Flea Market pageant, a highly coveted crown for drag queens in Miami. Yep, you guessed it! tThe competition takes place at a flea market. Okay, so picture your best, most flamboyant and "completely passable as gorgeous women" drag queens snarking at each other in the dressing room. I was there shooting from the neck up (hair and makeup touch-ups, final primping, etc) and let me tell you that serious drag performers, who are really not shy, are not as much about padding as you would guess.

I really wish I were back in college, because the experience- from a woman telling me, "Honey, I don't know anything about that whole male-to-female whatever you just asked me about thingy. I am a DRAG. QUEEN. I got t!ts AND a pen!s, if that's what you're askin,'" to recognizing the choices of non-operational transgender people choosing to have some surgery (breast enhancement) but not others (not one official post-op transsexual person in sight) would have made a nice "response paper," the never-ending 2-page assignments that became the bane of my existance as I tried to be original for each one through four years of study. Wow. That was a long sentence.

My second assignment today was to shoot a Christmas Cantata, 200 children from 5 area Southern Baptist churches performing in what was essentially one enormous Christmas pageant. You know how we used to make fun of Erik Rose'n'Barker for meeting his "wife" (they divorced after, like, 2 months) in a Christian Mime group? Yeah. I saw a Christian Mime Group tonight. It wasn't that corny, actually, because the kids were really into it. They were having so much fun, and actually, it was more like a step routine than miming. (No one tried to get out of a box or anything.) Although, being the only person of my ethnicity in a room of 500+ people would have made of an interesting response paper, too, come to think of it.

I love my job.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Hey, people. Sorry for the lack of bloggage. I've been really busy with work, trying to make up for my week off for Thanksgiving and get ahead for the week I'll have off at Christmas. It's funny, I kept thinking of things I wanted to blog about, but I never had time, but now I do have time, and I can't remember what I wanted to say now. Sigh.... I am going to put up a big essay type entry for my dad's birthday tomorrow, though. :)

Monday, December 09, 2002

Pssst! All new gerunds below. Knock ya'selves out. :)

(Oh, and the Soapbox is back up, too)

Friday, December 06, 2002

Hello, campers and camper-ettes. Greeting from the land of 85 degrees! I am a little envious of all the people up North who got snow days, especially as being back here in the heat makes me have Season Amnesia. My apartment complex is all decked out with Christmas lights and Big Plastic Santas and whatnot, but someone asked me about Thanksgiving, and I swear it feels like it was six months ago or however long it would take the weather to go from what it was in PA to change to what it is here. How bizz-ah.

Not too much to report, really, but I wanted to get back on the blog. :)

There is this giant art show for wealthy people happening here that usually happens in Basel, Switzerland, and this is the first time it's been held anywhere else. Apparently, when Sotheby's and Christie's and the other big auction houses and Obscenely Wealthy People decide to buy Picassos and Van Goghs and Degas (Degases? Degasi? Becky, any thoughts?), they all head to this show. And it's here. And you have to pay a LOT of money to get in to see the famous masterpieces and flash your Secret Weathy People Club Card, so it's not even like you can use this opportunity to see amazing art, blah blah blah.

A lot of other galleries in Miami, however, are holding big shows now because all the most important art critics and buyers and "private art consultants" (people who fly around the world scouring galleries for expensive artwork they buy on behalf of rich people who are too uninterested to pick out paintings they are going to spend a million dollars on for themselves- I KNOW. I want to be rich enough to have an Art Bitch. On the other hand, if I ever get that rich, I'm gonna be MY OWN Art Bitch. Yeah!) are here.

So I went out to cover this art show for the paper about up and coming Latin American artists for the Merald, which was pretty fun. There was this one piece, though, that was essentially a giant vagina made out of papier mache and tissue paper and fabric and I don't know what else, and the opening was stitched together with condoms. Ow. The artist wrote a message in Spanish and English, that appeared on either side of it, about the overpopulation of the third world and the inhumanity of being born to die of hunger. The piece was titled, "the Anti-venus." It was very powerful, actually.

So I was following this prim little old lady, a world-renowned art critic and her very elderly aunt around the show. The art critic was wearing this multi-colored shawl that she kept flinging around and huge round glasses like that Gorgon in those Old Navy commericals, you know? (although, I think that lady died. I probably shouldn't call her "the Gorgon.") And we got to the "Anti-venus." She starts going on about the use of the oval as symbolic of female genitalia in both medieval Christian art (I'll never look at those creepy gray Giotto madonnas the same way again) and indigenous Mayan cultures being recast as a symbol of the commericalization of the body in the Third World and on and on and Gwen calls my cell phone. The incongruity of this little old lady next standing this really big vagina and primly taking notes about it just made me want to bust out laughing and start screaming the entire story to G. in the middle of this gallery of Christie's buyers and so on.

But I didn't. Hooray, self-restraint! :) (I HAVE to get ask G how to upload photos....)

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Greetings from East Bumblef*ck. :) It's Thanksgiving, and I am back in the Burg.

This last week has been intense. I was busy at work, then busy catching up on all the things you do before you go out of town- drink up the milk, do laundry so you have clean clothes, hand the keys over to the petsitter. Well, maybe only I do that lastone. I did have fun, though talking to one of my neighbors, one of the Argentinian Dads (the fathers of the children who were my first friends in Miami, who stand outside at night and smoke cigars and teach me how to say things like, "I have a female dog" without swearing) who wanted to know why I have a petsitter as opposed to taking them to a kennel.

I was talking (in Spanish- we have agreed to help each other with the random phrases you occasionally need but never learned in the your second language) about how rabies is rampant in Miami kennels, etc. I did not know the word for rabies. I was trying to explain it by saying it's a deadly illness cats and dogs get and can give to people, but I did not know the words for "raccoon," "foam" or "garbage disposal," but that came up later in the conversation anyway and had nothing to do with rabies. It was pretty funny, though, trying to communicate "raccoon," we were pointing at the bushes and nodding uncertainly until I put my fingers into circles and did the "junior birdman" thing. That worked, actually. Note to self: junior birdman thing is international sign for "raccoon."

I miss the pets, though. I hope they haven't run off and joined the circus by the time I get back.

I flew into Philly yesterday. I got to spend a lot of quality time with Andrea and her husband Don, and I met Alissa's funny new office mate and Ginette, her very fun grad school friend I had a job interview at the Doylestown paper. It went quite well, as far as I can tell, except their computer nuked BOTH of my digital cameras microdrives. Thankfully, I have determined that they are still under warranty, but I can't shoot jack over this break, which is really disappointing. I may just bust out Ye Olde N6006, my first real camera, as I left my regular film camera bod back in Miami.

I saw the Harry Potter movie tonight, and I have to say I was really, really disappointed. I almost wanted my money back. I really didn't like it much at all. I haven't been so antsy since Titanic. I also got a good haircut which officially moved my hair out of the awkward growing out stage and into the "just let it get longer from here" phase, which means I can stop wearing a bandana or a scarf every single day. Seriously, I have only gone out into public with my hair uncovered three times since the disasterous "pretending to be British" haircut in July, and both times it took me a good two hours to coax the hair into a non-mullet, non-Princess Di in the 80s nightmare.

I miss Stephen so much it feels like a physical hurt. I am lonely and bewildered as I am surrounded by all the stuff that didn't make it to Miami, but my family and best friends from high school are coming into town and/or are all around me. I really wish my sister was here. (Gramatically, is it- "were here?" is that subjungshtive?) Being back here is an adjustment. I forgot what it felt like to open a drawer and encounter old school pictures from 1993 and/or Mat(t) Pavelcro's (misspelling intentional) senior picture in an old forgotten wallet. I have my class reunion on Friday, and so I think this weird nostalgia thing may get worse before it gets better. Sometimes, I really, really hate my overactive, meticulous memory. Although I do enjoy remembering all the good stuff, it's really difficult to remember the bad stuff in such clarity, and it can be lonely remembering stuff everyone else has forgotten. Blah.

Blogging at 4 a.m. is really not the best idea, I guess. :)

Friday, November 22, 2002

Guess who photographed Rev. Al Sharpton today? That would be me. There are all kinds of civil rights violations here, and he was here as part of a protest.

I don't know if I can tell you this without crying, and as much as I would like to go to bed tonight and not think about this, I think I have to get this out. This is scary, and it's all true, as far as I or anyone else at the Hiami Merald knows. I couldn't make this up; it's too horrible. Ya'll might want to skip this one and reread the NASCAR stories. (rueful smile)

A boat of Haitian refugees arrived here about a month ago. The immigration laws are really biased and bizarre here. Essentially, if you are Cuban, and you make it to shore without "help" from the Coast Guard, you receive a "Credible Fear" hearing within three days. If you can demonstrate that you have a "credible fear" of persecution in Cuba, you are released into the community with an 8-month window of opportunity in which you are assigned "alien status." In those 8 months, if you apply for a job and find housing, you have the opportunity to get a green card. If you get a green card, you study and work and become a U.S. citizen. If you are "helped" by the Coast Guard before you reach the shore, the Coast Guard will usuually just turn right back to Cuba and drop you off.

If you are Haitian, and the Coast Guard gets to you before you get to shore, they may return you to Haiti or they may arrest you and bring you into the States. IF they arrests them, in theory, the Haitian refugees are entitled to the same opportuities as Cuban and other Carribbean refugees. However, it has never happened that way.

FIRST, A QUICK BACK STORY- A year ago, a boat from Haiti was "helped" by the Coast Guard. The refugees were brought to the U.S. mainland. The men and women were taken to a high security prison. The children were separated from their parents and taken 12 hours away to Tallahassee. 90% of these refugees proved they had a credible fear. They were held for four months without being released. No one told them, the press, or human rights' groups why they were not released.

After four months, thirty women claimed they were beaten and raped. They were transferred to a maximum security prison. Only one guard was found guilty "by internal sources" and dismissed. The women were not allowed to see lawyers, and those who were were only given one hour- ONE HOUR- per week for 25 women to meet with one lawyer. Other lawyers were repeatedly denied access.

Remember that these people I am telling you about have not committed egregious crimes, murdered anyone or anything other than come here and try to apply for political asylum.

Neither the men nor the women had any way to call back to Haiti to tell their loved ones if they made it, where they were, or what happened, until local politicians procurred calling cards for them. The women were only allowed 1 hour of "recreation" every three days. If they had to go to the bathroom during "recreation," they were not allowed back into the recreation area. The phones in the waiting area did not work, so if they wanted to speak with any visitors, including their children and spouses, they had to lay on the floor and talk through the three inches of space against the floor. If they were on the floor, they could not make eye contact; however, visits were seldom permitted anyway. At first, the women were not allowed to contact their husbands still at the high security prison.

The priosners were supposed to be allowed private visits with their spouses once a week. They were supposed to be in a monitored, private room (no windowns, but sound proof with a guard outside but no security cameras). When advocates finally got the department of corrections to allow the women to visit their spouses, they were forced to have the visits in a public hallway. They were not allowed to contact their children, (still held 12 hours away). All prisoners, including convicted felons, in this maximum security prison are allowed two hours a week of time to meet with court-appointed clergy people. For six months, the women were denied this right, until advocates demanded it.

Naturally, politicians, advocates and celebrities got really, really angry. After the Haitian refugees had been held in these unexplained, unnecessary, really f*cked up conditions for 8 months, they were put on maximum suicide watch. The one time I was allowed to go with a group of press, politicians and advocates, it was... I have never been so frightened by any human being's eyes the way I was that day. They kept saying that they wished the boat had just capsized so they could have drowned with their loved ones [in shark-infested waters] and been spared this indignity.

Then Danny Glover got involved. The INS of Florida said the decisions to do all of this were coming down from the "very highest levels of government." Danny Glover said he would go to Washington the following Monday. That very night, all of the refugees were wakened and without warning of any kind, sent back to Haiti. The government will still not confirm or deny whether the children in Tallahassee were reunited with their families.

This all happened in September of this year.

A month ago, another boat of refugees arrived. They were from a town that's quite close to where the refugees whose story I just told you came from. They knew this story, but the situation in Haiti is so desperate that they decided to risk it anyway. Their boat ran ashore off the Rickenbacker Causeway, the main artery from a frighteningly wealthy island attached to Miami proper by suspension bridges. About 300 refugees saw the Coast Guard coming and tried to make a break for it.

Elderly people were throwing cans of food and clothing overboard. Parents were jumping in and having thier infants tossed to them. They ran onto the bridges. The Coast Guard closed the bridges for four hours in order to "catch" all of the Haitian refugees. The refugees were running up to taxicabs, begging drivers to let them in.

The refugees were nearly all caught, shackled and forced to line up on the side of the highway. The children were taken from their parents. They are in a hotel in Ft. Lauderdale. Their parents are in the prison where the previous 30 women were raped less than a year ago. The children, some of them only 8-months-old, are being held in the hotel. They are not allowed to play outside. They have not seen or spoken to their parents since they saw them shackled by the side of the highway. The INS will not tell the press, or anyone else, who is caring for the children.

Human rights groups are trying to take educational toys, letters from the parents reassuring the children that they are okay, and familar foods to the children. The human rights groups are denied.

The human rights' groups are trying to send people who speak Creole in to talk to the children, because they can't be certain that whoever is caring for them even speaks creole. They are trying to send bilingual teachers into the children, so they can at least spend the time while they are detained learning the basics of English and math. They are denied.

The human rights' groups ask if the children, who went for four days without little to eat or drink on the way here and who do not own shoes, including when they ran ashore and up onto the highway- a highway with gravel and broken glass and all the things highways have- have had medical exams. No one will tell them, OR the press, for that matter anything.

So Al Sharpton is here. The Nation of Islam is here. Trans-Afrika (formed to end apartheid and free Nelson Mandela) is here. Every Human Rights watchdog group you can think of is here. Gov. Bush says that "we must guard our borders from invasion." He said that we must be careful because terrorists might use similar methods (coming from Haiti disguised as desperate refugees? Really? You think?) to get into the U.S.

Welcome to America, the "best nation in the world," says the governor's brother. Honestly, the screaming children being taken from their shackled parents, the refugees being filtered into two lines- to me, it's really remniscent of "Schindler's List."

I just don't know what to do, except go out and cover every protest, working every situation I shoot so hard, knowing that the stronger the images I shoot, the better play they will get in the newpspaper, hoping my four columns tomorrow will help educate someone, anyone who might be able to help in a tangible way, and show 400,00 readers that there are people protesting this, using their voices, shouting that they can't take anymore, that until there is justice, there will be no peace.

And I called H. I wanted to record the sounds of nonviolent protesters using their voices for justice onto her voice mail, as she has recorded sounds of musicians who inspire me performing in concerts onto my answering machine in the past, because I know she can pray, and I just can't.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

*spelling intentional

My home repair savvy, in fact, my computer repair and camera repair savvy also, essentially follows the same philosophy-
1.) turn it off and then back on again.
2.) If that doesn’t work, push a reset button if the thing- appliance, computer, light meter, et al- has one.
3.) If that doesn’t work, look closely at the expensive thing. Try to do whatever you think it needs: see #1 and #2. Do not force anything. Ever.
4.) If that fails- for Macintosh computers and Nikon camera equipment, (and dead car batteries, available in the Greater NY area only), call Luke. For PC computers, call Scott. For decomposing squirrels floating at the bottom of a narsty trash can that has been frozen solid and only recently thawed for the first time in three months, call Stephen.

My garbage disposal broke last Friday night, right when everyone who fixes such non-emergency things in my apartment complex has gone off duty for two days. Unfortunately, I had just spit the sour, inedible parts of a pomegranate down the drain. Sorry if that image grosses you out, I live alone, and eating meals standing by the sink just make sense sometimes.

So I flipped the switch a few times. Nope. I crawled until the sink, shoved the 300 or so plastic bags to one side (I swear, they’re reproducing on their own down there), hit my head on a pipe, but managed to locate the little red button that resets the garbage disposal. (In a stroke of pure genius, I discovered the presence of the magic red button on our garbage disposal in the apartment I shared with Jo and Jill for the 2nd half of our junior year.) That didn’t do it this time.

So I called the maintenance people to come fix it. However, I had this ... *concern* that the problem with the garbage disposal may have something to do with the teeny, tiny fact that I have been making mosaics lately, and um, measuring out powdered concrete grout over the sink and um, washing out the grouty buckets in that sink. Heh... hee hee... heh, ahem.

Anyway, Rolando the Maintenance Guy came when I was at therapy (thera-PIE!) this morning. I didn’t think they would get to me so soon, honestly, so I didn’t put Bella in her crate before I left. So When I came home, there was a note on my door that said, and this is verbatim, no typos: “Very big doog. Call office.”

Doog! DOOG! Ha ha ha ha ha ha. This kills me! :) I am not making fun of him in a mean way; I’m really not. Rolando is a very sweet man in his late 60s. His grandmother was named Angela, and he always greets me with an enthusiastic “Buenos dias, AHN-hay-la!”

But still, seeing the word “doog” made me think of the early 90s sitcom- Doogie Howser, M.D.- you know? Vinny Del Pino, (Max Casella), always called Neil Patrick Harris’s character “Doog” for short.

So, the note on my door, written on a work order to fix the garbage disposal, saying he didn’t want to go in without me there because there is a “very big Doog” in my apartment makes me imagine a Jolly Green Giant-sized Neil Patrick Harris sitting in my living room, hunched over clasping his knees with his head bent against the ceiling, preventing thieves and well-meaning garbage disposal fixers from entering my apartment.

(As it turns out, the garbage disposal just needed to have a screw tightened. The problem was strictly non-grout related. Yay! :)

Now, if only I could prevent the other funny, furry creature in my apartment from sitting on top of the fridge and pushing the glass bead magnets, loving crafted in anxiety induced “Oh my God, I’m a non-certified substitute teacher in training and the only person I know there is Creepy Shannon Edwards in a green blazer” bouts of insomnia. It would be one thing if he just left on them on the kitchen floor or kicked them under the fridge so I could pick them up or slide them out with a yardstick, but nooooo....

He has to carry them all over the apartment, setting them next to the keyboard as I type or putting them in his water dish (I don’t know, don’t ask.) So, dear readers, any thoughts on what to do about the caat? :)

Monday, November 18, 2002


Let me start off by saying that I have just spent two days covering the Winston Cup finals. For those of you who have lives in large, metropolitan cities, the Winston Cup is the Superbowl of NASCAR. As much as NASCAR’s public relations and marketing department would like to think they’re changing their image and expanding their fan base (which they sort of *are* achieving, actually) this means rednecks. Lots of ‘em, coming in their RVs from all over the Deep South. I kid you not, I did not meet anyone from any further North than North Carolina, and really, the “North” part of “North Carolina” is just a formality.

There are three very important things I have learned over this past weekend.

#1- I learned how to find a husband in 48 hours or less, as long as your standards aren’t terribly high. I was proposed to on four separate occasions by four different men (all with mullets) who noticed that my press credentials had the words “Garage Access” stamped on them, which needless to say, meant I could go into the pit with the crew as long as it wasn’t during the race, (and six inches behind it if the race was actually taking place) and into the garage where they were prepping the car as long as the driver didn’t mind.

So, ladies- No more “baruch ata adonai, I’m gonna die alone!” :) All you have to do is contact the press office of any NASCAR speedway, request garage access, show some sort of press ID from a news-gathering organization, (doesn’t have to be your own name, right?), and walk around “NASCAR Village” (flea market of overpriced souvenirs, alcohol and demo video game kiosks) with this credential displayed. After procuring oneself a husband, you may walk directly to the tunnel that leads to the infield (this ID enables that, too) and throw oneself directly in the path of a speeding racecar, as, in my opinion, death is preferable than spending the rest of one’s with someone named Jimmy Lee (pronounced “Jimmalee” in these here parts.)


#2- Never take inanimate objects for granted. There is a opening in the fence surrounding the wall of the actual racetrack. The opening is surrounded by a “cage” of chainlink fencing material. There is an NBC camera that is controlled from a remote location right on the edge of the wall, and just enough space for one enterprising photographer to squeeze in beside it. This is a Primo Spot, and you have to get their early to claim it.

So two hours before the race began, I got there, claimed the spot and sat in my White Trash Lawn chair for two hours waiting for the green flag. (Don’t knock it- my Dad always brought a lawn chair to places like Jason’s Woods, the intensely popular, stand in line for four hours Haunted Halloween Hayride, when I was like, 10. I was always immensely mortified by this as Manda and I each usually had a friend or two with us, but about 45 minutes into the wait we were all clamoring to sit in the chair.) With nothing else to do, I started jotting down notes for things I wanted to write here.

This is what I wrote: “As I write this, I’m staked out in front of a hole in the fence near the first turn of the race. Everyone wants this spot because you don’t have to shoot through this Big, Dumb Fence. Although, this fence I’m trying to maneuver around is the only thing between me and 185 mph of Deadly Home Depot ads rocketing past my head, so perhaps I shouldn’t complain. Or call it dumb.”

In the 159th lap of the race, a car caught on fire and went careening into the cement wall about 100 yards from the hole. As for me, I was long gone, up to the very top of the stadium to shoot down on the race. But an @P photographer was standing where the car hit the wall (NOT where I was, Mom, 100 yards away), and he sustained first degree burns on his hands, chest and face. However, right before that happened, he made an awesome (in focus) photo of the NASCAR fireball hurting toward him. To his credit, he was attended to by the ER crew at the race, got his second camera body (the first one melted, but luckily it flew out of his hands AND he was able to retrieve the digital card) and went back to work. I don’t know, dude. (I just said “dude.” Hi, Luke!) That’s pretty rough, in my opinion.

The thing is, Bad Old Boss was there, editing the work of 12 @P shooters- 10 of whom flew in from all over the country, plus two of my co-workers from the summer- and since he didn’t elect to go to the hospital... Whatever. More on that uncomfortable situation in a future entry, but please allow me to say that the Hiami Merald team of four outshot the 12 @P people both days. Whee! And you know? It’s not because we’re any more talented or motivated, (I caught something crucial on the first day, partly because I was on the ball, but mostly out of pure dumb luck), because that’s just not true. I wasn’t paying much attention to the situation with them, but it sounded like the stuff they missed- the requisite “kiss the trophy” shot, for example- wasn’t because they were slacking off or blew their exposure or something, but because they didn’t have clear communication or direction as to who was doing what. I’m just sayin.’


Finally, #3- There were a lot of famous people at the race, including World Record-holding, retired race car drivers, and well, Britney Spears. At one point, I saw a crowd of security guards hustling someone out of the stands through a throng of people, so I aimed my Very Telephoto lens down from the top of the stands and shot it. Because I didn’t know, maybe it was a crazed fan, or a security breach, or maybe Elvis *is* alive, this is NASCAR, afterall. It turns out she was in the stands, and people recognized her and started pestering her for autographs. People were jumping over railings and stuff, so they hustled her away into the Big Official Building. (At this point, I’m shooting from the observation deck- that’s not really what it’s called, but you know what I mean- on top of the Big Official Building)

About an hour later, being me, I really had to go to the bathroom. So I asked the security guy blocking us mortals from the VIP building where the nearest bathroom is, and he said I could go into the VIP building and use the one on the top floor if I left my gear with him and went right in and out again. No problem.

On my way in to the ladies’ room, I see a throng of PR types (they really stand out at NASCAR- cell phones, dressed in black, cute shoes, hair all one layer) a little way down the hall. They’re talking about “how we’re glad security got her out of there, it was getting rough.” Whatever, don’t care, gotta pee.

So I’m in the bathroom, which has two stalls. I go in, blah blah blah, and just I’m about to...... um, go? Yeah. I see that the person in the other stall is wearing extremely nice shoes. Okaaaaaay. So I’m about to burst, but what if it’s Britney Spears?


Too bad. Can’t wait. As I’m washing my hands, the woman in the other stall comes out, and she is absolutely NOT Britney Spears, but she has a VIP credential, so she was one most likely of the well-heeled members of her entourage, but not the Pop Princess herself.

So... Does this mean Britney Spears *publicist* heard me pee?!?!

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

I keep telling my mom and dad that I'm not dead, despite their frantic assumptions that I've kicked the bucket if I don't check in every few days, and I keep telling them to check the weblog for proof. Guess I shouldn't go six days without blogging in that case. :)

Jason is here! Rah! We went out for drinks and live jazz the other night. V. Fun. I highly suggest that everyone come visit Hysterical White Girl's Apartment o' Tropical Fun this winter as I am not going anywhere any time soon.

The job in MN, which I found out I would have been offered, was eliminated in a last minute round of budget cutting at that particular paper. Boo. So, I'm not moving to the frozen tundra of the Midwest to become Hypothermic White Girl any time soon. Oh, crap.

Although I did FedEx two portfolios to New Mexico yesterday, one to a big, good paper in Albuquerque and one to a very small paper in Santa Fe, which I hear is an amazing, artistic city with lots of mountains and white water rafting and beautiful desert nearby, which would be cool for shooting and entertaining myself on my days off, provided I don’t get stuck between a raft and a hard place. Literally.

I’m not getting my hopes up, but one of my editors said one of the papers called to check my references already. Checking references within what had to be a few hours of receiving it as she told me this around 4 p.m. which means it was 2 p.m. there and I dropped it in the FedEx box with a pickup time of 6 p.m. last night in Coral Gables has to be good thing, right? They haven't called me, so... No kinna hurra, I’m just sayin’.

However, I did get an- um- "interesting" phone call yesterday from the production company who makes the seedy video "Gurls Gone Wyld." (No google links to me with the proper spelling of this video, thanks) I'm sure you've all seen the infomerical on any cable network after 10 p.m. The one with the women lifting up their shirts at Mardi Gras, Spring break and so on, you know? They are filming in clubs in Miami tomorrow night, and they wanted me to document the "Behind the Scenes" work of the film crew and photograph the CEO.

I didn’t catch the name of the production company at first, and so I was taking this guy through all the usual new client inquiry stuff- What are your needs? How long would you be needing me to shoot? Do you prefer film or digital? Do you plan to use this for commercial purposes or inhouse use for the company? Blah blah blah....

When I finally realized who they were and what they wanted- mostly because he finally admitted *which* publications” they were planning to send the photos to, including “Tongue” magazine. I do NOT want to know. I DO NOT- I was like, “Um, will there be... girls... (MUST. BE. POLITE.) going wild there?”

And he said, “(seedy laughy chortle) Heh, heh. You into that?”
Me: “Um, NO, actually, gosh, I really hate to turn down work, but I have to tell you that the whole idea behind Gurls Gone Wyld really... um (at this point, I’m trying to think of the most politic word I can think of, which eliminated “disgust,” “repulse,” “offend,” and “outrage”) SCARES me, actually.

So I politely bowed out, cheerfully ending the conversation with, “However, if you or any colleagues in film production ever need anyone to photograph anything in the Miami area where people are keeping their clothes on, please don’t hesitate inquire!”

YIKES. Am poor, but I still have values. :)

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Hi. How's it going?

My Idiosyncratic Life has gotten a little surreal lately, but things are good. Very good? Yes, maybe.

Right after I went to the Crackpot Dentist, I went to work. I shot a story about this South Beach designer named Belinda who had designed all of these amazing ball gowns for soemthing called the Bug Ball, a charity gala for the Biami Meach Gotantical Bardens (Hee! That's just funny.) She was commissioned to make gowns inspired by flowers, they were very corset-y and have huge satin wraps with wires, a la Cruella de Ville sort of, but stunning.

So I was shooting Belinda, her assistant Ishtar (sweet but chachi 18-year-old actress type who has grown up in a scary LA/Miami entertainment jet set family) and Annemarie, an actress from Finland who is naturally photogenic and nice, in Belinda's shop. They were fitting the models for their gowns as they were hired to circulate throughout the ball and be beautiful and chat up Belinda and the dress she donated for the auction. Of course, being around fun creative people always makes me happy, and so in the spirit of all the random friends I make while running around with my camera (Guido the S. African backpacker, Lorrie and Michael Wardell, etc) we bonded and I said corsets look painful, and they couldn't believe I've never worn one and the next thing I know Ishtar is tying me into a complex couture gown.

I'm amazed it fits, and of course, I can't resist putting on huge silk butterfly wings, and the very next thing I know, they make me promise to go to the ball the next night. I kept saying I can't afford this dress, but thank you, it's very beautiful, and Belinda explains that she "dresses" people all the time, meaning they wear her stuff and give it back the next day and it's what famous people do all the time and just come, it will be fun!

Eh... why the hell not? So I go, and it's fun, but I had NO. IDEA. that people were going to pay attention to me. I was sort of hanging around with Annemarie (the model) , because she was one of the only people I knew there, and we walked out of the dressing room at the same time because I couldn't do all the things that had to be done to wear this outfit (Wings, scarves, criss-crossed lace-up back), and it was Ishtar's job to get all the models fixed up so I just got dressed with them..... and.... and... oh, God, this is embarrassing, I ended up getting photographed for Spanish Vogue, Women's Wear Daily and the NY Post fashion page.


Me! Chunky Photojournalist Barbie. In a dress. With makeup. (I'm wearing my blue leather mask, though). I'm next to Annemarie in a few of them, and I really hope I'm not the Fashion Don't, next to the Fashion Do. Although, that *would* make for a freakin' hilarious story...

Belinda wants me to be in her wedding runway show in a few months. (I know, right? What the f*ck?) I don't know. When she brought it up, I thought she wanted me to shoot it, so I said yes. That's *not* what she meant. She really prides herself on making fantasy gowns for real women, and she said she liked my "energy." (She should talk to the Crackpot Dentist, and he could tell her it's really thrown my grace and harmony out of whack). I guess a lot of women who come into her shop don't expect to find things in their size (or don't come in) because not many designers in South Beach make clothers larger than a size 8, and so....

Feminist ethical issues put aside for a discussion on another day, I'm flattered, but I would much, much rather be shooting it, and I don't shoot fashion (beyond a feature piece about something like the Bug Ball) very often. And let's face it, I'm the girl who stumbled around the stage at the science fair award ceremony in 7th grade, unable to find the stairs to get down or off. God, that sucked.

But I am going to shoot, (alongside a fashion photographer from Chicago and just for fun, really) some people in Belinda's dresses in a tiger preserve in Ft. Lauderdale next week. I'm excited to just get to be near the big cats, if only for nature stuff for myself. (Oh, and Luke? She loved the portrait of me that you shot that appears on the back of my portfolio CD, you know? Of course, I told her you're amazing, so if you ever want to pick up some fashion work on your own in the future, she would probably look at your portfolio. Seriously.)

Yeah, so all of that is really surreal and sort of odd, but fun. The next day I spent the better portion of a day with Dave Barry and his family for this huge scavenger hunt puzzle thingie the Herald does every year. (I know.... cue theTwilight Zone theme music)

And today I got harrassed (sexually and otherwise) for three hours at a "victory party" for a local candidate while all of his cigar-smoking, balding, short, aggressive friends got drunk and followed me around. At one point, I actually had to get the (male) reporter I was with to intervene and "interview" the aggressors every time they got near me because I couldn't make a damn picture without one of them getting in my face and asking me to do unethical things (not sexual) or making inappropriate comments (some sexual), despite my repeated and increasingly angry requests for them to stop following me around. They wanted the photo of this candidate to carry the local section and I really couldn't leave until I had something good enough for main art because the results in all the minority districts, where this candidate was wildly popular, were inexplicably delayed for hours and hours (but only for local elections, hmmm.....)

Not. Fun.

Not to sound like stoner kid picking out a quote for the yearbook, but "what a long strange journey this has been..." And I'm just talkin' about this week! :)

Friday, November 01, 2002

Better get comfy, kids. This is a doctor rant, complete with monologue. Oh, and best make sure to have some alcohol or just something to drink now so you won't have to get up later. :)

Okay, I really, really don't want to develop a fear of doctors. Really. Going to the doctor is something I have never been afraid of. If something's wrong, or it hurts, or I need meds for it, I go. This has never been too much of a challenge for me, actually. I'm not saying I haven't been afraid of what's going to happen at the medical practitioners office- doing complex psychological work can be scary, getting my 6th grade shots definitely sucked, and my sigmoidoscopy was pretty d@mn dread-inducing. (If you don't know what that procedure is, get me drunk or at least just in a silly mood, the recap is hilarious. Oh, and try to avoid anything described as using a "long flexible tube" and the word "sigmoid." Just trust me.) But I've never actually dreaded going to a new doctor the way I'm beginning to...

This week I began to think that I had a cavity. I have never before had a cavity. (I made it to 23 and no cavities, AND that's without flossing, which is another story entirely.) I love my East Pete dentist. He's my dad's best friend, and he's been looking after my teeth since they first came in when I was about 8-months-old. When I was four, my infamous gag reflex kicked in when I was getting my teeth cleaned. I told them I didn't want orange, but it was the only flavor of that terrible gritty toothpaste that they put on the spinner that they had in stock that day. And I threw up all over him. It was bad. We lived directly across the street, and Dr. G lived above the office, so we all changed clothers and started over using Crest on the spinner. I couldn't tolerate the actual gritty bad stuff on the spinner until I was 12. Sad, but true.

Also, Dr. G and my dad would yell "Hoooooooooo!" across the street at each other ("Ho!" as in the "Who goes there?" kind, NOT the "Hey Sugar, you lookin' for date?" kind), and my dad and Dr. G would spend a good portion of my dentists' visits yelling "Hooooooooooo!" at each other and squirting each other with the water thingie. Good times.

But this past week, I noticed one of my teeth really, really hurt. It hurt more when I drank hot or cold or sweet stuff. There was an actual, bonafide black dot on my tooth. I figured it was a cavity, and it did really bug me, so I thought I should find a dentist.

Now, in light of the Smelly Russian Doctor incident, I have been much more careful about finding health care people. No more phone book. I interviewed a number of psychologists, all of whose names I got from the APA, before I started therapy with Susan (Shrink #6 for me personally). I really, really like her. She is the AntiFrances. So when I saw her Monday, I mentioned needing to find a dentist and asked who she would recommend. This seems like a good idea, right? Consult one trusted, excellent health care professional to recommend another one, right? She recommended this dentist she's seen for years, and she said, however, that he takes a holistic approach to dentistry, focusing a lot on nutrition and minerals and what have you. She said he has a unique personality, but that she thinks I'll really like him. Okay, great. I made myself an appointment.

It was today.

So I get there. There are a lot of big bottles of minerals for sale in the waiting room. I fill out a standard form about my medical history. The form had a place to list "the person who referred you to our practice so we can thank them." I jotted down Susan's name. Then I get taken into a normal smelling, non-paint peeling dentist-y room. Excellent. I don a bib and hop in the chair. I start out with Debbie the Dental Hygienist. I say my tooth hurts; I show her the little black spot. She pokes it with the little hook and says it's not a cavity. O-kaaaay. Now, it's early in the morning, and honestly, I'm starting to get a little nervous because there are books all around the office with titles like, "Treating schizophrenia with herbs" (I am so not making that up. That was the title.)

I'm always very thirsty in the morning and my mouth dries up when I'm nervous, which anyone who saw my thesis defense first thing in the morning can attest to, as my lips kept sticking to my teeth, like, a lot, until I just grabbed my professor's coffee cup and sucked it down. We have it on tape. I keep running my tongue over my teeth like the love child of Mrs. Doorman (10th grade English teacher) and Mr. Ed (TV star horse of the 50s). It's bad.

But I digress. Debbie the Dental Hygienist says I have dry mouth, and I say, yes, and she says it's because of all the meds I'm on. This is true. The drugs that keep bad things from happening when I laugh too hard absorb water from other parts of the body, too. She says that meds drain your bodies of minerals, and since it's not technically a cavity, the best way to treat it is to take some minerals. (If you haven't already guessed from all the foreshadowing, "minerals" are going to be mentioned a lot from here on out. Let's make this a drinking game. Any time you read the word "Mineral(s)," everybody drink, okay?)

She says my dry mouth is bad. I laugh and point to the little cup and the sink and ask for a cup of water. She says, "Oh, God, don't drink city water, I'll get you some mineral water." (Everyone ready? Drink!) So then the actual dentist comes in. He's nice, about 50, balding, short, clean, no noticeable funky lunch meat smell. I say, hi, I'm (My Name Here). He says, "I'm Doctor Steven Green." (This is his real name. I don't care. He gets all mean and judgmental and self-righteous in about two minutes. Google away, world!) Then, dead serious, he said, "You can call me Stevie." Ha ha ha.... um, NO. he noticed that Susan recommended me and mentioned that he's treated her family for year and gave her boys lots of minerals (drink!) as they grew up. Huh.

Here's the basic conversation:

Debbie the Dental Hygienist (DDH): She thinks she has a cavity, but I think the thing you will find most troubling is her severe dry mouth. (Christ, it's not like I have leprosy, woman; if it bugs you, gimme some more water, then, dammit.)
Mean Judgmental Dentist (MJD): (looking at my medical history form) Hmmm, well, let me tell you that I really believe in dealing with the whole body, the whole person, especially in regard to nutrition.
Me: (nodding)
MJD: I must say that I am extremely concerned.
Me: (nodding, eyes narrowing)
MJD: I can tell right away, from your skin, your obesity and your posture, you have grave, grave nutritional problems. Me: (Thinking: JIGGA, f*ckin' WHA??? Nice to meet you, too, baldy. And, for the record, I'm 18 lbs lighter than I was when I left PA, when most of you saw me last, and even then, it wasn't like I have to be lifted out of the house by a crane to go meet Richard Simmons. Also, I was just looking at my skin in the rear view mirror on the way over thinking it's cleared up a bit since the sun is lower in the sky and I'm not smearing sunscreen on every hour on the hour...) Oh. Well, yes, um, about the meds? See, I'm looking around at your books about holistic healing and herbalism here, and um, I went through a very serious, life threatening depression last year, and I really have stabilized on this medication, so... While I plan to eventually go off of them, I'm really not in a position to do that now.
MJD: I can tell from looking at you right away that you're not stable.
Me: (Clearing my throat) Look, I came here because I think I have a cavity. I would really like you to look at it and tell me what you think.
MJD: Look, one can look at dentists as carpentars, just go to them to fill in the holes, or one can see them as medical professionals, as doctors, whose opinions deserve respect.
Me: (Hotly, all mad and articulate, a la Thomas Paine) Look, I don't want you to feel that I'm being disrespectful here. I obviously respect your years of study or I wouldn't be here requesting your opinion. I feel kind of stupid here because I'm wearing this big blue bib, but I feel I should tell you that I am very sensitive about the things you mentioned, such as my weight and my skin, and I would really prefer not to discuss it with you.
MJD: Then you're not working on your issues!
Me: I am working on them with Susan S., thank you, not with you. My tooth hurts. Would you mind telling me what you think? (I lay back and open my mouth. I also start thinking about running away.)
MJD: Listen, (my name here), this is all about regaining a lost grace and seeking harmony.
Me: (and here I thought it was because I've recently developed an addiction to Grape Kool-Aid and hate flossing) Oh... I'm sorry.... (my voice starts getting shaky. I HATE that I'm a crier now.) Would you mind just looking at the cavity?
MJD: (reaching for dentist's mirror and- finally!- checking out the painful tooth with the little black dot on it) Sure. Then you can run away.
Me: Look, I'm just extremely uncomfortable. I wasn't planning on discussing my weight and stuff, and... it caught me off guard.
MJD: Okay. Let's just do this so you can run away from thinking intimately about your issues. (I am so NOT making this up.)
Me: Look, frankly, I met you five minutes ago. You don't know me at all. I'm very uncomfortable. (I am also flat on my back staring into a bright light wearing a bib)
MJD: I'm sorry, I just can't help being anything but honest.
Me: I guess.... (gulping, not gonna cry, I am NOT!) It doesn't strike me as honesty; it's really kind of insulting.
MJD: Well, this spot isn't really big enough to be a cavity. There's no active decay.
Me: Oh. But it hurts...

MJD gets a phone call. He and Debbie squabble over my head whether it's appropriate for him to take the call. He decides to. "It's *my* shrink on the phone," he says, smiling. the second he's out of the room the tears start falling. DDH hands me a tissue and tells me, "He doesn't mean to be insulting. He just cares so much." I regain my composure and take some deep breaths. She says "mineral- (there's the word! everybody drink!)- water will help."

I decline.

MJD bustles back in and says, "Now that we're old friends, I'm going to explore this pain in your tooth." He asks me all these nuanced questions about it, is it a throbbing pain, does it wake me up at night?
Me: Nope. Just feels like an ache.
MJD: Does it extend into your jaw, give you a headache or happen when you're unhappy?
Me: Nope, just an ache in my tooth. A toothache.

He has me do all these exercises, including one where I have to bite his thumb. I'm not biting hard enough, apparently, and as he pushes me to bite down harder. I consider biting it off. How very Shakespearean of me. Also, I keep hearing a line from an episode of Friends where the manager Terry (the dad from ALF) hired Natalie Merchant or someone to sing at Central Perk and Phoebe quits because she's not getting paid, you know? and she stands outside the coffee shop singing loud, angsty songs, including the line, "You're ALL invited to bite ME!"

He decides that despite his assessment that it's not a problem (How is a black spot on my tooth that wasn't there two weeks ago that hurts a lot NOT a problem, exactly? Not a huge problem, I suppose, not like having- I don't know- an imbalance of GRACE AND HARMONY, but let me remind you all that This. Is. a. Dentist's. Office.

Blah blah blah tired of this story now blah blah blah. He tries to sell me some minerals (drink!), and I decline. he fills the black spot so that there will be less of an "awareness" of pain. Whatever. Although while he's in there, he also sands off these two little stained spots off my left incisor that I've had for a while. I didn't think the spots were removable because there around this little cap I got from a chipped tooth, but I guess that's my little Dentist from Hell Bonus Prize or something.

Well, that and the pamphlet he gave me with his take on the interconnectedness of dentistry and harmony. I'll save it to show most of you at Thanksgiving. He writes in it that he has evidence that anti-depressants cause cancer. Damn. I hope finding an oncologist won't be this bizarre.....

Happy Halloween! I hope the Great Pumpkin was good to all of you. :)

When I was very little, younger than 5 because we still lived at the house on State Street, my mom and dad took Manda and me to Roots a fwe days before Halloween. We got some gourds (the kind that look like very small pumpkins), and when we got home, we "planted" them in our garden. (My dad had this awesome vegetable garden- he grew all kinds of stuff, and he also had four or five fruit trees and a grapevine. Knowing what I know now, as I am just now learning how to take care of houseplants, I'm amazed at the amount of effort that took) a few hours later, the "Great Pumpkin" had come and turned our little pumpkins into big, jack-o-lantern sized pumpkins which we then carved. We got to go out in our pjs with flashlights to see if he had come yet, which of course he had. This sounds lame now, but I was far more excited about that I ever was about the Easter Bunny.

I covered a Halloween party tonight for the Hiami Merald, although I am a little bummed that I didn't get to answer the door and wear my cool leather mask. As you know, my only friends in my apartment complex are 10, 11 and 12ish, so I was really looking forward to it. Not enough to turn down a shift, but still....

The party was held at the YMCA. It was fun, although I have to say it's strange to be somewhere where it's so freakin' hot for Halloween. I can not believe it's November. I never realized how much the changing of the seasons affects my sense of time until I moved to Miami. If you were to wake me up in the middle of the night or catch me off guard, I would probably say it's still the end of July if you asked me what month it is.

While I was at this party, I photographed a group of boys playing together. There were about 10 Spidermans all playing tag with a few ninjas, 2 Supermans and a Batman. At one point, a couple of Spidermans (approximately age 7) had a little spat with Batman. (Batman seemed to have a little bit of an attitude problem, frankly.) So I had to call Stephen and ask if, in comic book history, Batman has ever gotten into an argument with Spiderman. He, of course, knew exactly when and in what graphic novel and who drew it, and he told me that they finally made up when they had to join together to defeat the Joker for the good of humanity. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately) one of the ninjas skinned a knee, and everyone turned their attention away from Batman, who I really think just missed his afterschool Ritalin.

By the way, if you are ever faced with ten 7-year-old Spidermans, and one of them pretends to shoot a web at you- DO NOT; I repeat, DO. NOT. fling yourself against the fence behind you and pretend to be stuck. They will think this is hilarious, yes, but then they will all shoot webs at you and be very cross when you eventually have to "unwind" yourself and go back to work.

It was pretty cute, though, when they pulled off their masks after they all got overheated from running around. Of the five (unmasked) 7-year-old Spidermans, every single one of them appeared to be of a different ethnicity. Hee! Spiderman, a superhero for all cultures.

Oh, and if the fact that the closest thing I got to wearing a costume involved tying my orange bandanna over the Horrible Haircut wasn't enough to make me feel old, the fact that I got called "Senora" twice- TWICE!- tonight really hit that point home. (Culturally, one stays "Senorita" for about 5 or more years after one could expect to be called "Miss.") And I thought being called "Ma'am" was bad....

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Hee! in the spirit of "Which Painting are you?" type online quizzes, this one has got to be the funniest one I've seen, by far. Which Founding Father are you? I'm Thomas Paine! I am *so* Thomas Paine. :)

G., I feel like you'll get a big kick out of this one, but maybe that's just because 1776 was your first and favorite musical for a while there. (We're waiting for the egg. to. hatch.... hm hm hm hm hm, hm-hm... in this con-GRESSional IN-cu-BATor!) On, and I may have left you a voice mail message where I was leaving a message, thought I finished and tried to pick up call-waiting beep from Alissa, who couldn't hear me, so I was yelling, "Hello! HALLO! Alissa! I hear you! Can you hear me? HELLOOO!" (sort of imitating my Dad) and then I heard "Your message has been sent." Oops. Hee hee. Keep that one for posterity. Could have been worse, I guess. It could've been on my boss's voice mail or something.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002


Oh, Lordy. Tired, tired, tired.

I had an exhausting day in therapy today. It was a breakthrough in many ways, and I feel like a weight has come off in my ways. I also feel like I could sleep for a hundred years. I've actually had a fun schedule these past few days, getting to run all my "fun" errands like getting a plant to replace the poor aloe plant Fred devoured last week.

Tomorrow I'm shooting a construction project for a magazine for people who lay rubber coating on rooves. (Roofs? Why doesn't that look right?) Yup, not makin' that up. Still, I'm starting to charge more because I have more exposure and higher profile clients, so I can't complain. Nothing I do with my clothes on is going to pay as well for only hours hours of work. Tired. Ti-red.

Friday, October 25, 2002

This update on my Idiosyncratic Life is brought to you by the Voice of Doom, with additional funding provided by the "Why the Hell is this World so F*cked Up Such that So Many Bad Things Happen to Good People?" Foundation, in accordance with the Why God Why Institute.

As you can probably tell, I am not about to serve up a particularly happy entry. Sigh....

Manda's college roommate is not doing well, as in, "She has pneumonia; she could be rejecting her lungs; she needs a miracle, please."

The incumbent senator of Minnesota was killed in a plane crash directly in the coverage area of the newspaper that is most likely to hire me, just as soon as they get the flight plans to fly me out there coordinated, which will not happen now for a Very Long Time as they are going to be uber-busy covering spot news, going to state funerals, finding photos of the crew who also died, which means contacting families to submit recent photos and being all sad because they're doing awful news around the clock. Which not only means no financial independence or health coverage for me any time soon, but also- and this is really what's tragic- a really good person and his family died, AND we're pretty much only have about 11 shopping days left until we have a Republican congress, unchecked military spending and an unjust war which will throw us all into a spiralling recession. Great.

Also, two of the most loving, welcoming and inspiring people of the Lockerbie Project we've all been working on since 1999 died in a terrible car crash in the beginning of this week. The plan to even begin this project was inspired by the daughter in the family who is my age, as she talked so warmly about her hometown as a lively place of hope for her family. I spoke to her best friend this morning as I was ordering flowers from our London photo class, (she works in the flowershop) who says that Alison is holding up unbelievably well, her brother not so much, but that their extended family has been hugely helpful, and she and her brother are going away to the Lake District for the weekend to be together and collect their thoughts. I declare a moritorium on all sadness for the people of Dumfreisshire, Scotland. No one in that entire county is allowed to experience any more traedy. No more diseases plaguing the cattle, no more acts of terrorism, no more car crashes or fires or problems of any kind, please. They've had their quota, in my opinion, and I wish I weren't so helpless to stop it all.

Things for me are fine, really. I'm Stupid Busy. Lots of people at the Hiami Merald are on vacation or out sick so I've been working like a madwoman, sometimes double shifts, which is good, I guess, but I also did a wedding type thing last weekend, and tomorrow I'm covering an event for an organization that asked if I was free, and I said yes, which is true, but I gave them an exorbitant price so I wouldn't have to do it, but they agreed to pay it, so now I really have to work as I told them I was free and I shouldn't pass up this money, but I've had only 2 1/2 days off total in the last three weeks, and I'm soooo tired. I want to run with my dog on the beach and sleep late and finish these art portolfios for a gallery submission and .... (yawn).....work on the CD-ROM template I'm undertaking and.... and..... (zzzzzzzzzzz)

WHA- What happened? Okay, I'm awake. Rah.

Can you tell I'm in a bad mood? I'm in a bad mood. All these reporters with their wrong directions and incomplete photo requests and impossible demands (Can you photoshop these photos of this new cell phone with this LCD screen? Oh, did you shoot that really complicated, hard to light, last minute, pain in the @ss, forgot to put in a photo request, need it five minutes ago thing yet? Because I forgot to give you this importnat accessory that needs to be in the shot. Oh, and can you hurry? Thanks.) I shouldn't be whining about this when other people I Iove are dealing with much, much more painful things, and there's nothing I can do about it.

That's really what I'm upset about anyway.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Oh, for Pete's sake. I just made big changes and now blogger is having issues.... Those new gerunds had better be SOMEWHERE....
Oh, wait! Wait! What’s that smell? It’s- It’s my pants burning!!! I am a liar, liar, pants on fire. Sorry. When I wrote that, I thought I had a press conference and then three hours to kill before the end of the work day, but then they asked me to work a double, and then some stories broke, and....

Such is the tale of the Self-Employed Blogger. Sorry about that. But today is Blog Catch Up Day! Hurrah! I have birthday messages to do, which may get long, so I will just give this quick anecdote about Hysterical White Girl in Miami: I parked what I thought was two blocks from an important press conference (the catholic priests thing, actually), but it turned out I was a fifteen minute walk away, which I didn’t realize until I had already walked for ten minutes, which was going to make me *really* late so I implored these very nice house painters (all in Spanish) to drive me to the archbishop’s pastoral center. They did it, too, bless them.

It is so hot here. Yuck,

Oh, and the 18th was Irony Day, which I decided since I heard that Alanis Morissette song on the radio. I called Gwen at work to tell her, but I never told anyone else, which means no one else celebrated it, even after it was declared a holiday, which is ironic and therefore the perfect way to recognize Irony Day.

Today, however, is my Menses Commencement Day, so hooray for that. I’m gonna bang these messages out, walk the dog and hit the hay.

Oh, and I may be interviewing for a job in Duluth. I know.

Okay, I owe some very amazing people their birthday messages, so here we go, in the order they should have appeared-

September 27th-
Happy Birthday to the Person Who...
•Became my best friend the moment she lowered her sunglasses in amazement when I said something really, really shocking to a certain chemistry teacher/color guard instructor/ McDonaldland Character ten years ago.
•Who, when I have a good angel/devil sitting on each shoulder, is always the “devil.”
•Who, to this day, can get nine rounds of “There’s a skeeter on my peter, whack it off” stuck in my head, just by mentioning the words, “Manheim Farm Parade.”
•Who has dropped me off and/or picked me up at the airport before and/or after every major trip overseas. There is nothing like coming home to your smiling face and loving hugs!
•Who reads “Playboy” for the articles. Really.
•Who used to drive, and in fact, replaced the brakes practically by herself, on a truck named “Ronald Mark Karen”
•Who went on an actual archeological dig and knows about different kinds of “flakes” from tool making people living during the Stone Age
•Who went to the hospital and sat with my mom for hours when my dad was sick, and I couldn’t get home from Syracuse.
• Who made me laugh so hard in a yoga class that I wet myself
• Who keeps her head, even when she is in the same room as an “anthrax letter” was opened in October 2001.
• Who, as the original Crazy Dog Lady, enables and embraces my Crazy Animal Lady-ness
• Who brings Lysol to every hotel room ever
•Who knows the Isaac’s sandwich menu better than I do, which is amazing
• Who bought me a beautiful necklace so I could have something beautiful with no connection to any boyfriends, then told me, rightly, never to wear it in the shower.
•Who talked to me sometimes four times a day for four months when I was so sick
• Who is the originator of “mach schnell” phone calls
•Who hates when people fart on her, which, unfortunately, happens a lot.
• Who became the first “straight” (har dee har) president of Allies
• Who learned to quilt, even though it sometimes meant she had to hang out with old ladies who only believe in showering once a week
• Who gives a whole new flare to the word “dammit”
•Who knows where to get the “good” whoopie pies at Roots
•Who is always up for a spin in the “hammock”
•Who doesn’t believe in selling out (and hasn’t)
• Who earned a full ride to F & M
• Who is courageous enough to pick a path, try it, admit it sucks, back track, pick a new path and throw herself into her new goals and dreams
Happy Birthday, Kelly! :)

October 1st
Happy Birthday to the Person Who:
• Ripped my heart out in 1995 and stomped that f*cker flat
• Who was my first love
• Who swears he only remembers one Billy Joel concert, (in my sophomore year of college)
• Who, after seven years, can still finish my sentences
• Who didn’t body surf in a once-in-a-lifetime mosh pit, because I would have been crushed to death on my own
• Who smelted his own screws in grad school for a robot that he had to build entirely from scratch, and didn’t give up when the legs moved out of sync and it limped around like a partially squashed bug
• Who IS gonna finish that dissertation, dammit
•Married the Right Girl, one of the most intelligent women I have ever met in my life, who is able to teach him about the choices one makes for true love
• Who is one of the most patient, forgiving and devoted friends I’ve ever had
Happy Birthday, Jon.

October 16th
Happy Birthday to the Person Who:
• Is like my older brother
• Who I have always hero worshipped like an older brother
• Who has a treasured “bobble head” Redskins doll
• Who played 50,000 Rummy in the rainiest summer in E. Pete Pool history
• Who loves Halloween as much as I do, for the exact same reasons I do.
• Who taught me about coping with fear with grace when someone you love is in pain, real physical pain that you can’t do anything about
• Who made me take a “Wagon License” test and shoved me down a big hill in a Radio Flyer with a giant box of Tom Watt Boy Scout fund-raiser stuff (total net worth, probably about $19.95) and then came hurrying down the hill after I wiped out to make sure that the swan candle wasn’t broken.
• Who knows when the Pet of the Week “really, really looks like our family’s new dog,” then went the pound and brings her home for his parents to raise.
• Who never tired of watching Goonies or the Bride of Mr. Bogety in the summer of ‘87.
• Who thought it was great fun to toss pennies out of his open window into the neighbor’s pool with me
• Who always dreamed of para-sailing, and then we did it, as Tom Petty’s “Freefallin’” played on the radio.
• Who, as student council president in charge of such things, didn’t realize you would actually need an oven to cook three hundred frozen pizzas at the Homecoming carnival
• Who embodies the old axiom, “When you fall, get right back up” in a way that the person who coined that phrase could never even fathom.
• Who hates olives
• Who passed the Bar last week! RAAH! Makes all those years of playing “court” with our siblings worth it...
Happy Birthday, Brad!

October 17th
Happy Birthday to the Person Who:
• Became a treasured friend, soon to be my best friend, when I caused an elderly lady named Edna to panic at a sing-a-long in a nursing home
•Who, when I have a good angel/devil sitting on each shoulder, is always the “angel.”
• Who can be brought to tears of laughter by a Keebler’s elves’ commercial jingle from 1990- “Cinnamon crispana! (la la la-la) Cheesy Quesadilla! (la la la-la) Fun and crispy Chaaaaaaaaachos!” (It's the word "Chachos" that does it)
• Who fully approved when I lit my final evaluation from @(ss) P on fire and shoved it down the garbage disposal without reading it.
• Who was really, really good at African dance.
• Who is instrumental in creating nicknames that stick with people for the rest of their lives- Wetzel, Craigbert, Unkey Jason, BANG, Megret
• Who hosted me at Seders for like, the last billion years
• Who gave us “yaks” for Christmas last year (Love it! Love the gift! Stop worrying!)
• Who gave me a photo of Everyone’s Ex-Boyfriend at Band Fun Night ‘92 with the words, “Do not obsess!” written on the back of it. Heh.
• Who ran a virtual “bed and breakfast” in DC for 2 years, so many good memories
• Who introduces the best games- Set, Cranium, The Perfect Man Except...”- and well, I don’t know if the Love Game is really a “best game,” but we sure played it a lot.
• Who ran down a street away from a mortally ill (and possibly rabid) possum with me
• Who learned all the words to the Wedding Story theme song when we spent an entire Spring Break watching TV at Wesleyan.
• Who is almost wholly responsible for my taste in music, except for the musicians that Liss introduced me to, and the weird country music thing, which I stumbled onto on my own, which no one, including me, is happy about.
• Who loves gifts you stumble on unexpectedly and make you laugh out loud, like 64 oz mugs from Turkey Hill and hamsters with numchucks(Sp?)
• Who talked to me every day when I was so sick, insisting that “you sound much better than you did a week ago, you honestly do” when I couldn’t have recognized recovery if it bit me in the ass.
• Who wrote me a letter from Israel (containing salt from the Dead Sea) about kosher cheese substitutes at McDonald’s while she was watching Michelle Kwan skate to Tori Amos' sond "Winter" on Israeli TV
• Who hates bugs
• Who taught me how to knit
• Who is an amazing role model for young women, whom she teaches how to play the oboe and why the word “gay” isn’t an insult, while loving them as much as they love her.
• Who didn't mind when Stephen and I coincidentally showed up where she was on a date, even when we started pretending to be mummers.
• Who works at a newspaper, too, and knows just how long a day it’s going to be when the editors start ordering pizza for everybody
• Whose writing is amazing, who will be an author, complete with book signings and book tours and best seller lists!
Happy Birthday, Gwen!

I'll update Gerunds tomorrow (which probably means before 2003, I hope)

Friday, October 18, 2002

Okay! And we're back! Today, TODAY, I promise, I am updating this blog- Birthday messages to four important people, (sorry, sorry- not my fault everyone's parents conceived in the beginning of January 1977 :), all new gerunds, an update on the latest Not-My-Cat living on the porch, (who may have run away, actually, but at least he's neutered now), funny stories from the life of Hysterical White Girl in Miami... it's all coming today. I swear.

But right now I gotta go to a press conference with the Archbishop of Miami whose gonna tell us, in three languages, how he unconditionally supports the Pope's decision not to punish sex offenders and how he disagrees with the U.S. Bishops Sex Abuse Policies. Greaaaat. I'm gonna LOVE that!

Sunday, October 13, 2002


Three people died today at the Regatta. They were really drunk, and they drove their boat into a tree. (Yes, there are trees that grow out of salt water. They're called mangroves. Who knew?) Sigh...

I don't *want* to become jaded. Yesterday, I didn't *want* to write that I bet people will die, because the sh!t I saw happening was so crazy. I didn't want to be right. I don't like Angie the Pessimist and her more-sinister companion Conspiracy Theorist Angie. And I don't like that the way everyone else in the newsroom looks at stuff like this- They shrug and say, "The atuopsy report says they were three times drunker than the legal limit. What idiots."- is starting to sound about right to me.

Saturday, October 12, 2002

Today was a really great day. Wow.

I shot the Columbus Day Regatta here in Biscayne Bay off the coast of Miami. It was amaaaaazing (a la Laurie in Trading Spaces after seeing homeowners' homework completed in the a.m. of Day 2, as in, "Y'all, this room looks amaaaaazing.") All these huge sailboats with brightly colored sails billowing out in front coming straight toward us. (Oh, and Scott? You're right, now that I have seen multi-sailed ships heading toward me, I can't deny it. One-Eyed Willy's boat in Goonies *is* heading out to sea, *not* toward the shore to bring the kids and their families and Sloth all that "rich stuff." Oh, well....)

Anyway, the Regatta was incredible. I was on the "press boat"- two men from the yacht club took me and the reporter wherever we wanted to go. They were so nice. The guys were on the Race Committee, so we were their "volunteer work" for the event. They took us around on the one man's private boat, complete with kitchen and sleeping quarters and TV and airconditioning, although we didn't use any of that stuff. The owner kept talking about how much smaller this boat is than his previous boats (I almost snarfed my bottled water- did I mention they had tons of bottles of water and coke (soda, not drugs) in the boat's handy little built-in automatic icemaker/cooler?- when he said it.)

We got to speed around to all the check points and the finish line, lots of fast, "feel like you're flying" type boating going on. V. Fun.

Seeing all those huge sails coming straight toward us was awe-inspiring, it really was. I could just barely imagine how soldiers in the navy for countries such as France, et al, felt when they saw the Spanish Armada advancing on them. Run away!!! RUN AWAY!!! :)

The big thing about the regatta, though, is that thousands of people join the racers for a night of "comraderie on the sea." In theory, this is the time that the "waterfront community"comes together- it's supposed to be participants in the race and boating enthusiasts. Yeah, no. Pretty much anyone with anything that floats is having what the reporter called "Mardi Gras on Water-" Beads, nudity (LOTS of nudity- it was actually hard to make a picture out there without a topless woman or man going completely starkers) and debauchery in general.

It's supposed to be a lot like Carnaval in S. America- people throwing water balloons and hitting each other with spray from water cannons. I have a shot of some women (in bikinis) getting hit with a lot of water, shouting in surprise as they get soaked by people in another boat. My editor actually used the phrase "You're gonna want to dodge and burn some of the spray there to uh..... take care of the, um, 'crotch issue.'" Never heard *that* one from a picture editor before. :) The woman was wearing a bikini; it wasn't that bad, but still... Hmmm..... ;)

Apparently, things will get crazier tonight as more and more people get drunk. People swim from one boat to another (including the reporter and I- me with my underwater Reef Life point and point; although the photo of Hannahbelle [sic] swimming with her notebook in a plastic bag was pretty classic) but in years past, crazy drunk people have accidentally run over swimmers with their motorboats. Bad new bear..

Of course, no Blog Entry would be complete without me marvelling about an aspect of La Vida Loca in Miami, so here you have it. The writers tell me the big thing to do in the anchorage (I learned a new word! It's where all the boats park out on the open water. I always thought it was just a city in Alaska. Makes sense to me, though, what with there being a lot of boat near Alaska. Did everyone else already know this? Is this like the time I realized in the last ten minutes of Austin Powers that Mike Myers is playing both Austin AND Dr. Evil, and everyone else knew all along?) is to fire off emergency flares and/or illegal fireworks, but there are thousands of boats all packed in for miles and other people's boats catch on fire. A few years ago, the Coast Guard had to airlift a women with third degree burns out of there, and the wake from the Coast Guard ship (large enough for a launch pad) and the helicopter nearly capsized people in small boats. I don't know....

As for me, I'm done for the night; I had a fabulous day shooting, and I hope nothing like that happens this year. :)

I will say this, though. Miami is called "the Magic City." I gotta say, I am really beginning to like Miami. A lot. Despite all the bad stuff around me, that has happened to me, and so on. I mean it; I really like Miami. That is no small feat. Seriously, that's magical.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Hmmm.... I just realized that the entry below about my dreams sounds more psycho than funny, like when SARK stopped talking about succulence and being a survivor and starting to describe her "inner children" in creepily explicit and terrifyingly skizophrenic detail.

Yikes. Sorry about that. I am fine. I am spending too much time napping and being by myself, but I am fine. :)
Oh, my. Am sleeping long, erratic hours...I just slept from some time when it was still light outside until 11 p.m.

My cat and dog are totally enabling this uncontrolled napping. Fred not longer wants to be cuddled as he did when he was very small. He will lay in a sleepy circle on the floor, and if you reach out to pet him, he will instantly begin purring, allow you to pet him no more than three times, jump up, playfully (and mostly painlessly) bite you, and lay down somewhere else.

But if you read a book or take a nap, he will wait until you are completely engrossed or in REM sleep, then curl up under your arms or behind your knees, (depending on where Bella has hunkered down, if she is behind knees, then Fred goes for in your arms, and vice versa) so that anytime I am horizontal, I am graced with the comforting presence of a sleepy dog and purring cat. This makes not moving, continuing to read, and then nap with no real time I need to wake up, almost completely irresistible.

On the other hand, I keep having bad dreams that make me not want to sleep. I keep dreaming that I am pregnant and need to have an engagement ring before nurses will let me leave hospital with unknown and unseen child. Sometimes this dream ends with my trying to shop for post-baby clothes in Victoria's Secret style post-maternity shop called X where Christie Brinkley is the saleswoman who keeps showing me cute clothes, but only in size four, which is defintely not my size anyway, let alone my subconscious post-pregnancy weight in the dream. Rosie O'Donnell keeps showing up in this dream, as does her partner. All three of us are in labor with three separate babies.

I also keep dreaming that I am stuck in assassin-style shoot-out with Katie Holmes in a WB sitcom, and that Sarah Michelle Gellar wants me to load my gun with Detrol, a medication I am currently taking for bad things that happen when I laugh too hard, as it is the only way to kill Katie Holmes. In this sitcom, I stop at Isaac's, which is open until midnight, where I order a Phoenix on a pretzel (favorite sandwich there) and flirt with the cute deli guy who later climbs into a shower with me, although he turns out to be only four feet tall, which kills the mood, which is how the censors avoid showing sex on WB sitcom.

No more dreaming, please. I read Alissa's page today and IMed her about her entry about weird dreams, which may have somehow kicked off weird dreaming jag during marathon nap whenever I fell asleep this afternoon/evening until 11 p.m.

Now I have talked on the phone for two hours to people I love, one person who is also going to the class reunion, who is supposed to be figuring out the correct meaning and context of art history terms in German, all of which, directly translated, mean "germanartlighttechnique" or some such thing, and the other person who also misses me, also thinks this week's edition of The Onion is very funny, also has no money with which to come see me and also wishes we could have sex tonight. (Hallo, Becky and Stephen! In that order, v. important.)

Must finish new portfolios. Must not grocery shop, must eat ramen in cupboard and not order Chinese take-out with twelve dollar minimum for delivery. Must be patient, because when the Merald needs help next, it will probably turn into twelve nonstop days of long hours as asst editor is having surgery and things will be v. busy. Must be productive in non "working for money" days and finish wedding samples, portfolios and brochures.

Must. Not. Nap. and give self "Jennie Dikks" (sic) style Chronic Fatigue Disorder. Must eat soup and keep working. It's 1:30 a.m. Do you know where your subconscious infant is?

Monday, October 07, 2002

Love, love, LOVE the Downy Ball! And the new stackable washer/dryer combo in my apartment; no more schlepping seven loads of laundry worn so long ago that I forgot I even *had* fun, pink-yellow-orange striped underwear purchased at 75% off at Victoria's Secret big "bra sale." (Why is it called the bra sale if everything is on sale? If I only ever buy [more] fun pj's and cotton underwear, can I still call it the "bra sale?")

MMM... Day off with no real agenda... Must update portfolio CDs... Must stop watching Road Rules marathon and taking naps. Although I did pay bills while watch crappy MTV show, so that completely counteracts Lazy Fun Nap Factor, right? Yeah, no...

I also had a therapy appointment, got last few supplies for new round of job app packets, ran dishwasher. If I go buy decorative sand at Pier One and get dog treats at Petsmart and go to Barnes and Noble, but ONLY for therapy homework reading, that's still being productive, right? Riiiight.

Oof-ah. I think I need to Mach Schnell myself....
Hallo, Readers in Blogland!

Just had a whirlwind weekend with my mom in Miami. We had a good time, and it was fun to show someone I love all some of the fun places here. I give my mom a lot of credit for mastering the video camera we gave my dad two years ago. There is a very um, interesting? (I use that word loosely) video of my funny pets, my apartment, my friends Miguel and Alejandra (who just started middle school, the only friends I had over the summer :), my walking the dog with the cat in his little carrier cat backpack, and an interesting sequence of me simultaneously capturing a lizard in my living room and trying to (unsuccessfully) convince my mother that lizards do, in fact, have the ability to run up vertical walls at 1:30 a.m. yesterday morning.

In other news, I bought a Downy ball. That's it. More tomorrow! Have a good week!

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Mmmm... I just woke up from a deep, deep sleep. I slept like it was my job, as I worked 8 days without a break. Which is good, but mmmmm....sleep.... in my bed....

Bed. Bed-bed-bed.

My mom is coming to visit for a long weekend. I am excited to have someone I knew before I moved here come visit and meet Fred, as opposed to getting phone calls from him as he bats my cell phone around under the bed at 3 a.m. or being the recipient of lots of unsolicited pictures of my pets.

Fred. Fred-Fred-Fred.

It will be good to see my mom, though, too. Right? Right.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

I just. want. an Invisible Force Field to surround my car. All the Time.


Birthday message to Kel, albeit belated, coming soon... :)

And, all of you, stay away from pickup trucks with bumper stickers that say "Women love me; Fish fear me."

Friday, September 27, 2002

Hello, all. Okay, I have tried twice now to tell you all my latest adventure as Hysterical White Girl in Miami, but I have lost it both times. I need to learn to "save," even on computers that never, ever crash, or at least, not until it crashed and I lost this long entry. Twice.

Let me start by saying that this story includes information about my yearly gynecological exam; HOWEVER- (and this is important, Jason, Scott, exhale... and inhale ....Good :) I never even get to that point with this doctor, so you people out there who are only aware of vaginas for their recreational purposes and have absolutely no interest in and are quite nervous about the proper ways to care for one will not have to think about that aspect at all during the telling of this story. Okay? :) Are we all cool with that before I proceed? Okay.

So every September I celebrate Rush Hashanah in my own way. It's the perfect time for a New Year in my mind, especially since I was always in school until the past year or so, and it made a lot of sense for me to think about a New Year, about starting fresh with new notebooks and pencils, etc in September.

So I do all of my "Spring Cleaning"- donating clothes that I never wear to Goodwill, organizing my closets, getting the dog her vaccines, etc. at this time of year. I also have my own physical check-ups, including going to the "gynie" -- a phrase that one of us, H. I think, coined in front of a Certain Someone For Whom All the Grapes Have Been Eaten's stepfather (by accident) about two years ago-- every September since I turned 18.

Okay, so I decided a few weeks ago that I don't really know when I am leaving Florida, and I am going to stop living like a I could leave any day now. I threw out most of my boxes, which have been taking up space in my closet since May, started looking for a Good Therapist, and decided it might be a good idea to get connected with a general medical practice type doctor in case I ever get sick.

So I go through the phone book. I call a couple of places that sound sketchy at best, and I finally settle on the Sunny Isles Family Health Center. Sunny Isles is a nice little beach town just north of Miami Beach, not too ritzy, not too sketchy, so this sounded good to me. The receptionist sounds nice.

I get ready to leave in plenty of time for my appointment when I go out to my car. The car will not start. Period. It has been sputtering a little bit lately, as if it needed a new battery and I had to get it jumped once the previous week, but it was never this dead. It could usually be coaxed into starting. Not today. Dead dead dead.

So I call AAA, and miraculously, they show up in, like, 5 minutes. I get the car started and try to call the doctor's office and tell them I'll be a little late. I have two numbers for them, one of which keeps ringing twice, picking up with a falsely cheerful recorded voice saying, "Thank you for calling!" and then going to a fast busy signal type beepbeepbeep. Okaaaaaay. The other number is for a plumber, so I figure I copied the number down wrong, which is what happened, but isn't that ironic? That I am trying to get my yearly Pap smear and I keep reaching a plumber by mistake? Hee hee.

But I *am* starting to get a little creeped out because directory assistance can't find any phone numbers for this health center, even though I have the exact address. I end up calling my insurance company back in PA (the one helpful thing they have done, ever) ad they give me the number. I call and say I'll be a little late. The receptionist doesn't understand what I am saying. I say it in Spanish. Still no luck, which is odd.

Finally, I just arrive and the doctor's office is in a little strip mall. That's fine. South Florida is essentially a giant strip mall. The vet's office is in a strip mall; there aren't many businesses that have their own little building the way they do other places I've lived, including churches. (Yes, there are churches in strip malls, right down from Blockbuster and the dry cleaners. I am not making this up!) but there are no signs on any of the windows or anything announcing this as the Sunny Isles Family Health Clinic. Riiiight.

So I am in the waiting room, filling out forms, and I realize everyone- nurses, patients, receptionists- are all speaking Russian. I think. So I ask a nurse if the language they are all speaking is Russian, as she has a beautiful accent. She really does. She looks surprised, says yes, they are all speaking Russian, and she asks if I have experience with Russian people. I smile and say "Nyet," which is the only word I know in Russian, which I am 95% sure means 'No." And she says, "Ah! Nyet means yes!" I was really embarrassed, and I was like, "Oh! Oh, I'm sorry, it's the only word I know. I thought it meant "no!" (I think it does mean no, but by my using a Russian word, she thought I *did* have experience with Russian...? I think?) The thing is, my experience with Russian only extends as far as having Spanish 2 with Mrs. Blackman, the woman at HHS who also taught Russian, and she would occasionally grade our Scan-Tron test with the key for her Russian classes, and sometimes she couldn't get our grades out of her computer because her 2-year-old son shoved matches in the disk drive, which, really, begs the question that never seemed to faze her in the least, why did her two-year-old have access to matches?!?!) But anyway.....

Anyway, I go into the examing room and there is this little man in there, sitting at a table. He is not wearing a white doctor's coat, although there is one on the back of the chair. The nurse tells me to get on the scale. I do, and I go to weigh myself, seeing to my surprise that I have lost fifteen pounds. I give her my weight, but then I realize that I didn't have the big sliding thingy pushed all the way into the slot, so i actually weight a little more than that. I say, "Oops!" and try to explain my mistake. I say the actual weight, which is still down about 10 pounds since June, and she repeats what I said, but subtracting a pound. So I say, sure.... and begin to wonder why I am doing this myself.

The room smells weird. And not anti-septic, medicinal weird. Just.... weird. The doctor begins to take my medical history, which is long and complicated and involves delving into my psychological tossed salad of diagnoses, why I am using an inhaler, how that relates to some sinus surgery I had in 1995, the fact that I needed an anal probe at 19 and why I am on medication for bad things that happen when I laughed really hard. Yeah.... this is never fun, but this time, we are really, really not communicating. I am going to skip ahead for a second to explain that when he got close enough to listen to my heart with a stethoscope, he smelled like funky lunch meat, like salami. It could be that he just ate... but.... Yeah, so here is how the dialogue went. For purposes of protection of identity, he will be known as Smelly Russian Doctor Rasputin, or SRDR. I will be "Me."

Him: So what medication you take now?
Me: (sitting on examining table, covered with white roll paper): Um, I'm on... Um, are you Dr. Rasputin?
SRDR: Oh, yes, yes... I am he. (shakes my hand)
Me: Yes, so I am on Levbid, Seroquel, Effexor and Detrol.
SRDR: Do you have family history of heart disease?
Me: Yes, actually, on both sides. My paternal grandfather died after a series of heart attacks in 1986, my paternal grandmother needed to have an aortic valve replaced last January, and my dad, well, he had heart problems in 2001, but not an actual-
SRDR: (interrupting) I ask for your family history of heart disease!!
Me: Right. Yes, that's what I- Oh, um, so my dad-
SRDR: You ever have EKG?
Me: No. No, not me, no.
SRDR: Never? You never have?
Me: No.....
SRDR: Why else you on these medications?
Me: Well, the Effexor is for a unipolar depression I had-
SRDR: How long? For polar? What?
Me: Um, it was between November 2000 and around May 2001, a depression, and-
SRDR: Depression? Depression? Uh, depression! For year and a half!
Me: No, no, half a year. 6 months.
SRDR: year and six months?
Me: No, no, only six months. Just six. (I hold up six fingers and begin to count off) November, December...
SRDR: Six months!
Me: Yes. Exactly.
SRDR: Okay. You are overweight.
Me: (laughing nervously, in self-deprecating way) Yeah... ha ha, a little bit...
SRDR: No, no, you *are* overweight.
Me: Right, yes, I'm aware of that (starting to get pissy)
SRDR: how long you been this way?
Me: Well, see, that's not an easy question to answer because I've really been up and down since I went to college, it changes a lot, and I've been on different medication-
SRDR: Look, I am ask for medical purposes, I am not going to tell people. How long?
Me: Well, I've actually lost about 10 pounds in the last couple months, but my weight has been up and down, so..
SRDR: How long?
Me: (picking an arbitrary number and starting to think about running away) Six months (flatly)
SRDR: How long since you had blood work?
Me: A year and a half
SRDR Eight and half years!!!
ME: No! No! One and a half years. One. One (Holding up one finger)
SRDR: One. One?
Me: Yes, one.

Dr. Rasputin listens to my heart. Then he says,

SRDR: I am going to recommend you for EKG.
Me: Oh, my god! Why? Is something wrong?
SRDR: No... You not want a EKG? You no have to have one.
Me: Well, I mean, if I *need* one, I mean... Did you hear a problem?
Me: Oh...

(Alissa tells me that this is routine when you reach our approximate age and have a family history, but I'm not understanding that at this point.)

then he asks me why I didn't go to a gynecologist for a Pap Smear.
Me: (!!!!!!!!) Well, I have always gone to my family doctor for this before, and I wanted to get established with a medical practice in case I ever get really sick...
SRDR: Who is your doctor?
Me: Well, it's a practice of physicians, and I see whoever is available? It's in Pennsylvania.
SRDR: (holds up a pen and gestures to my chart) I take this mean I should give him more info.
Me: It's called Oyster Point Family Medical Center.
SRDR: Oyster? Point?
Me: Yes, Oyster Point Medical Center.
SRDR: Oyster Point? Oyster? this is first name?
Me: (!!!!!! What the hell? Yes! Dr. Oyster Point, M.D. Jesus!)

I notice the peeling paint on the walls. I start to have a really, really bad feeling about this.

Dr. Rasputin, who still isn't wearing a name tag, a white coat, or any of those arbitrary things that reassure us that we are in good hands, pulls out a flashlight, a regular old, "I had one just like that my freshman year of college; it came free with a six pack of AA batteries" flashlight," and looks into my mouth, my nose, my ears. I notice the funky lunch meat smell.

I start hearing this thought in my head that says, "I am not taking my pants off; I am *not* taking my pants off!"

It occurs to me that I have never had a doctor took into my nostrils with a flashlight. Why doesn't he have the little black tubey thing attached to the wall? Why? Wh-Why? AND THEN...

I realize- there is no Gynie Lamp (for you guys out there, there is a big spotlight type lamp that they shine down there during an gyn exam. It's not pleasant, it's bright as the sun, and it's shining in places where, as the saying goes, "the sun doesn't shine.") But there's no Gynie Lamp! WHERE. IS. THE. GYNIE. LAMP? And then, I realize, the flashlight? That was just up my nose? IT'S GOING TO BE SHINING IN MY COOTCHIE SNORCHER IN 5 MINUTES!

There is NO. WAY. I am letting this man near me with a speculum. Not gonna happen.

I take a deep breath, and I do the unthinkable, the unthinkable for me, the person who pays (and tips!) massage therapists who tell me the knots in my back are in my head (They are so real), who buys $40 worth of skin care products from estheticians in day spas who tell me my blackheads are visible "from Mars" and that "latin men will love my meaty body (although I returned the products when they caused my to get patches of dry skin on my chin, and later, like a few weeks later when I got a sales call from the spa, I cheekily told the day spa chick's boss that "meaty" is not a word we "Plus-Sized" women like to hear unless it's about a barbeque buffet- heh, I am such a bitch.)

So even though I usually see doctors unnervously and unquestioningly, I jumped up, told the doctor I was sorry for wasting his time, but I couldn't do this. I told him he didn't do anything wrong, and I hope he is not insulted, but I am just not doing this. He got upset and called the nurse in, who took me out to the waiting room, (one wall was all glass windows, this was a strip mall, remember) and then when more patients came in, she moved us to a different exam room.

She asked me to relax, to sit and explain why I changed my mind. I looked at the exam table where she wanted me to sit. It had the white paper on it, but the white paper had wet splotches on it, strategically placed in kind of a "human was just laying here sweating" sort of way. I looked at it. Then I looked at her. She quickly removed the wet paper. I sat down and explained that I was only here for a check up, that I can wait, that he was a fine doctor, that I just felt we were really having trouble communicating, that I am so sorry, that I am leaving. Now. (big smile)

I offer to pay. She says of course I don't have to. She says she understands and asks if I want to come back and see the other doctor tomorrow. I politely say that I do not. I give her another big (shaky) smile and leave.

this story is so long already, but so I will tell you the very abridged version of what happened next. My car was dead again, I had to have it jumped, I went to the Toyota dealer for the sixth time since June, they told me I needed a $1000 tuneup. I freaked; I called my dad. He ran home and checked our records for the car and most of what they said I needed was all taken care of last April when Alissa and I were down in Miami apartment hunting. I did need a new battery, though. I got one.

Then, I noticed the overhead light was still out in my car. I asked them to change the bulb. They said okay. I asked how much it was and the mechanic started freaking out. FREAKING. OUT. He pointed to my hand. Somehow, (who knows?) I had gotten bright red, chalky stuff on the palm of my hand....?

I tried to say, "It's okay! It's not blood! it doesn't hurt! No es sangre! Esta bien! No me duele!" but the mechanic was so freaked out, thinking I had stigmata (the wounds of Christ that miraculously appear on the hands of a few chosen believers, and more than a few fraudulent evangelists), that he didn't charge me for the new light bulb. So I suppose the moral is, just say, "Nyet! Nyet! Nyet! Dr. Duck Lips!" whenever necessary and walk around regions of the country where many superstitious Catholics live, displaying “the wounds of Christ,” when you need free accessories for your car.