Monday, July 29, 2002

Yay! I figured out my long sentence problem All By Myself. :) Thanks to all who tolerated the "annoying/have to keep using the sliding bar thingy" factor in order to keep up with my latest exploits. :)

So another long work week is behind me. Lately, I have been working Wednesday through Sunday, and even though it's the same amount of days as Monday through Friday, I can't explain it, but the work week seems much longer this way. And Monday and Tuesday seem to go faster as days off than Saturday and Sunday do. I am not sure why that is.

So in a little while I am going to curl up with the latest video rental of the third season of Sex in the City from Anarchist Blockbuster and settle in for a few days of Nocturnal Living and Sleeping In. Yay!

Actually, I don't think I have talked about Anarchist Blockbuster before. You know how sometimes you go to a McDonald's, and it's really clean, and there are always enough napkins and the fries are always piping hot, but at any time you could walk into a *different* McDonald's and it's like a war zone in there? (Getting to Anarchist Blockbuster in a minute, I promise) No napkins, the only ketchup to be found is in a dried streak on a sticky counter with three empty tubs of condiments and a thousand toppled pill cups and there's a homeless person who smells like pee asleep in a booth, right? (FEMINIST DISCLAIMER: I acknowledge that that is a classist statement- many homeless people are in this difficult situation because they are ill, shunned veterans, survivors of abuse, discriminated against by a matrix of oppressions, and are victims of hard luck and bad circumstances, and many, many of them do NOT smell like pee.) Nonetheless, in general, we as Americans take it as a Fact of Life that any McDonald's at any given time could fall anywhere on the continuum of Piping Hot Fries Served Really Fast to a Homeless Guy Passed Out in a Booth.

But I have never encountered a Blockbuster video store like this before. Every Blockbuster I have ever been to has been more like a library for lazy people- it is very cold, very quiet, everything is alphabetized and stacked and if you can't find something you can ask a clerk who will look it up on their computer, akin to a card catalogue, although they may be a tad surly about it on occasion because they don't really get *why* you can't find it by implementing the simple logic of the Dewey Decimal System-esque organization that rules Blockbuster. In general, a simple, somewhat apologetic, "I'm sorry, I didn't realize it was shown at the Sundance Film Festival; I'll check in that section. Thanks," does the trick.

Not so at Blockbuster Miami-style. Oh no. I am talking about hundreds (hundreds!) of videos and DVDs scattered all over the floor. Boxes of styrofoam peanuts and bubble wrap stacked to the ceiling. Maybe three Choco-Tacos and one measly Klondike bar in the Good Humor freezer if you're lucky enough to be there on a Monday evening. Scooby Doo keychains torn out of their boxes and shoved behind unstraightened stacks of magazines featuring Shakira, most likely by children who are traumatized by the fact that they lost their mother somewhere between New Releases and Family Viewing Choices. Meanwhile, Mother has donned a lighted miner's hard-hat and is most likely shouting, "Marisela? Marisela? Donde estas?!?! DONDE ESTAS?!?" as she tries not to trip over a box of Harry Potter videos that still haven't made it onto a shelf despite the movie's May 26th release.

The only part that I made up in the last paragraph is the miner's hat. Seriously.

Anyway, the line at Anarchist Blockbuster is always at least ten people deep, most of whom are muttering that “it probably WOULD have been worth it to take the Dolphin Expressway all the way to Bal Harbour, but this one is just so much closer, so....”

And, as a not-so-quick aside, on the other side of the spectrum, when I was at Syracuse, Stephen and I spent a lot of Saturday nights going to the theater, either to see him or other friends/roommates perform, (tickets are usually free for non-majors, too, when you are sleeping with someone in “the Department”), then we’d go across the street with friends for a drink at Syracuse’s version of an upscale, post-theater pub (midori sour for me, Coca-Cola for him) and invariably we would end up at Blockbuster around 11:35 trying to find a movie that we agree on that we haven’t already seen.

The store was under the command of a stroppy assistant manager, no older than 19, max, whom Stephen christened “Zitler” because he would follow us (and others) around, insisting we had to get in line NOW with our rentals, NOW, because the store would be closing in 23 minutes, NOW! (The “Zit” part of “Zitler” came about also because, um, adolescence was not being very kind to this young man, which was mean of us, but so is following customers around who are clearly about to decide between “When Harry Met Sally” for the third time (Me: “I won’t fall asleep this time, I swear!”) or Fight Club (Steve: “You’ll like it. You will. You’ll enjoy the anti-capitalist sentiments. And Brad Pitt! Come on.”) and yelling “NOW!” at them. Sigh...

Anyway, back to Anarchist Blockbuster in Miami. I have started bringing things to do, such as balancing my checkbook while I wait, usually because I don’t get the desire to rent videos until around 11:10 p.m. and never when I am wearing a bra. Going braless at Anarchist Blockbuster is practically mandatory (foam curlers optional, though common), but going to the one in Bal Harbour without a bra is probably carries a death sentence executed by a Fashion Police Firing Squad headed up Donatella Versace herself, and once my bra is off for the night, I’m sorry, it’s not going back on. SARK said it before, and I’ll quote her again, “Big breasts are like pets. Everybody wants them, but in the end, you’re the one who has to take care of them.”

Speaking of which, I am going to curl up with my dog, her cat, and yes, the aforementioned un-restrained breasts, and watch some more of the third season of Sex and the City since I made it out of Anarchist Blockbuster alive. Good night.

Friday, July 26, 2002

I forgot to mention that even though I was so happy to finally see my car again (see below), I coulnd't believe my eyes when I got in my car to go run errands the next morning, and *another* tire was completely flat. From sitting in a parking spot overnight. Sheesh.

That's three flast tires in 5 weeks. And that's the thing, I am not, you know, driving my car over a bed of nails or anything. Seriously. I'm not. Jorge, the guy who always waits on me at the Toyota dealership joked that I am singlehandedly financing his vacation this year. Great. Good. Glad to help. Send me a damn postcard. I had the fourth tire replaced because I figure it's only a matter of time before that one dies too. Finally, I called my mom, and I was like, "Um, Mom? When were the tires replaced and/or rotated last?" Mom: "Oh, gosh, I don't know... I guess... never." Well, that explains it.

Any random wealthy Internet patrons out there who wish to donate to the cause of my poverty, don't hold back. :)

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Okay, I don't know what's going on with my template4 here that the words no longer form nice, not stupidly long sentences. Sorrry about that. I'm working on it. Any thoughts on why this is happening, computer gurus? :)

I have reached a new level of self-acceptance for my idiosyncrasies. I have to, or I just may drive myself to the point of Insanity. IF I can find my car to drive myself there. Sigh…More on that in a minute. I guess I should be embarrassed. And yet, these stories are too damn funny not to share with you….

Before I start, you know, it's funny; I have really gotten into reading books lately by and about Idiosyncratic (read: Neurotic) Women. I suppose this trend in the publishing business got started with the success of the Bridget Jones books, who, as Fabulous College Roommate British Jo said as she handed me the book, "Bridget is mad… in the way that we are all a little mad." As Jo is the roommate who got freaked out with me at 3 a.m. (we shared a big bedroom at this point) because we decided the big, white Japanese lantern (a la Urban Outfitters) looked like a giant floating skull and the hat rack (a.k.a Scary Hat Rack Man) where we hung our bath towels looked like a Demon from Hell (although, in our defense, there WAS a hat resting on the top of it near the top level of curlicues that DID give the hat rack a decidedly underwordly appearance when the lights were off) to the point where we started screaming and ended up convincing each other there was a murderer in the kitchen, whom we tried to scare away by throwing a high-heeled boot into the kitchen at the washing machine (yeah, the washing machine was in the kitchen, I think it's a European thing), and I should note that I was armed with an empty wine bottle that Jo needed as a prop for a performance class the next day, and anyway, when Jo told me Bridget was a little mad, I knew I was in for a treat.

Since then I have started reading other books about neurotic women that almost always have me laughing out loud, even if some of them (especially those by Anna Maxted) are a touch poignant and sad too. I am slurping these books up with a big spoon. If you loved Bridget Jones' Diary and sequel (and I'm talkin' books here, people, not the weird Renee Zellwegger motion picture bastardization) you will probably also like the Nanny Diaries, See Jane Date, Getting Over It, Running in Heels, and Adventures of the Idiot Girls Adventure Club. That is, if you work weird hours, like me, and don't have other things to do, like grad school, and in general don't feel like meeting people in a city where the majority of social opportunities revolve around going to clubs where everyone is skinny and hopped up on amphetamines.

Yes, now I really have to get to the latest installment of Vida en Miami… Okay, so we all know that I am remarkably adept at misplacing things. I almost have it elevated to an art form. I continue to astound myself, every single day, at the creative ways I manage to lose things. But, really, this past weekend, I surpassed myself in the Supreme Zen Art Form of Losing Stuff. Seriously, I would turn pro, but I want to maintain my amateur status as a Person who Loses Things so I can compete in the next Loser Olympics. Hell, maybe I would get a Wheaties endorsement, and then I wouldn't have to work anymore, at least for a few years.

Okay, so on Sunday, I was working on a story at the Miami Convention Center. I remember driving into the city, pulling into the lot near the Holocaust Memorial (v. scary, scarier in many ways than Dachau), and seeing that the only spots available are reserved for volunteers and staff of the memorial. I have been know to park illegally in every imaginable scenario, except I refuse to park in handicapped spaces, and I have never used the expectant mother parking spaces, (although Nanny, age 84, does all the time) but now that I have mentioned it, next week I'll probably shove aside a woman in her 8th month with twins because I'll really have to pee or something, but I also draw the line at taking parking spaces away from the good people who give up time on the weekends to volunteer at the Holocaust Memorial (Have I mentioned it's really scary? Like, as in, Elie Weisel "Night" scary. Yeah.)

So I pulled out of the memorial parking lot and into another lot. It wasn't far from the convention center, I could see it) It was a metered lot. I was parked near a tree. It cost $0.25 per 15 minutes. These things, I could remember.

I go in, shoot the assignment, and three hours later, it's time to go home. I go to the general area where I think the lot is. No car. So I go two more lots away. No car. So I think, maybe I did park in the Holocaust Memorial lot after all...? No car. I walk around in 95-degree weather with a 55 lb camera/laptop bag. This, by the way, sucks.

After two hours of wandering around and a phone call to one of the most creative problem-solvers I know who wouldn't make fun of me for being so abysmally stupid, I figure that I've been towed.

So I call the police, who call the tow places. Nope. Car has not been towed. The police tell me to look for another hour and then to walk down to the police station, which is 13 blocks away or so. It occurs to me at this point, having systematically entered and exited every damn lot within a five-block radius of the convention center that my car has been stolen.

Now, I am in a very, very wealthy part of Miami. The "Gloria Estefan Owns that Bistro," "Antonio Banderas' hairdresser lives at that club with his life partner" part. Why, why, why, with all the amazing cars around, would ANYBODY steal my 80,000+ miles, "mismatched paint because my dad tried to touch up a scratch with the generic brand of paint instead of Toyota's brand variety" car?

The thought actually sort of cheers me, and it's only when I am mentally picking out a nice little red jeep with the insurance check that I remember that there is an $8,000 lens that definitely does NOT belong to me in the trunk.

So I walk the 13 or so blocks, - long, hot blocks- to the police station. I figure it probably isn't stolen, but maybe a policeman will drive me around in an air-conditioned car. Good plan.

When I'm at the police station, asking what I should do, a man about my father's age comes into the station. He's wearing black socks pulled up to his calves with white sneakers, a look that a lot of people his age get when they wander around Miami for a few days after they return from a cruise. I think drinking three banana daquiris a day before breakfast the way people do on cruises does something funny to one's brain. Anyway, he says something was stolen out of his rental car, and he needs to report it. Okay. The policeman says, Fine, Come through the metal detector, put your keys and coins and cell phone in this little basket.

Whatever, Where's my damn car?

And the next thing I know, the policeman slams this guy up against a wall, shouting "THAT WAS PRETTY DAMN DUMB, DON'T YOU THINK?!?!?! We have been having a lot of suicide bomber warnings down here, and my first thought is that he's got a bomb, he's going to blow us up and I should really photograph this, but I don't want to make any sudden moves toward my bag because they didn't x-ray it when I explained it contained a lot of metal stuff that requires being hand inspected. Yeah.

Anyway, then the police officer said, a la drill sergeant, "Do you have any more dope on you? I'm not going to arrest you, but don't you think that was stupid?" And I'm thinking, "Miranda Rights, Miranda Rights," but the guy answers him, "Yes, I'm just stupid." So it turns out that when the guy (who voluntarily came into the police station, by the way) handed over the keys, etc. in his pocket, he also gave the policeman a fifth of marijuana. Oh, goody. I am no longer the stupidest person in this story. I am also no longer the policeman's primary concern.

So I am not even going to think about the fact that this policeman just didn't arrest someone for a blatant crime in front of me, a journalist, because I. Just. Want. To Go. Home. To wrap this story up, I made this very nice cab driver drive me all over Miami Beach. No car. $30 bucks later, I give up.

I find a different policeman who drives me around for an hour. We bond. I tell him about the guy with the pot. He laughs. He tells me people do this all the time on Miami Beach because so many of the blocks look the same. He's done this with two people this week already, one a woman who has lived here her entire life. I feel better. He says, "We'll find it in ten minutes.

After an hour, he decides to give up. So… What? Do I report it stolen? (By the way, you can't report your car stolen without a copy of your registration, which 99.9 percent of people I know, including me, keep the registration in their glove compartment. So, make a copy and carry it in your wallet or whatever.) He says, "You'll find it in the daylight. And I'm like, "Well, I had four and a half hours in the daylight, and I couldn't find it." Sigh… So he says, "Hang on, let me just turn around, and he backs up illegally, like 50 ft, going the wrong way on a one-way street, and pulls into a little lot to turn around.

(Enter choirs of angels and swirling holy light) THERE. IT. IS. There's my car.

It took me more than five and a half hours to find it. In a little lot, with meters and no attendant, near a tree, within sight of the Convention Center, just as I thought. The policeman says he's never seen this lot before, but he thinks that the last woman he helped find her car was parked in the lot next to it. Great. Good. Thank you. Goodbye. "Oh, and by the way, officer, I've never done illegal drugs, honestly, but if I ever do, I won't walk into a station and accidentally hand them to an officer."

He laughs. And then he cocks his head and says, "You really don't do drugs?!?!" I say, "Really, truly. Never," and he said, "No! You HAVE to do drugs. You don't do drugs?" (Um, what?) and I said, "Honest to God. I hardly even drink. Um… Why?" And he says, "Because I know people who are coked out to the edge of oblivion, and they never, ever lose their cars."

And that about sums it all up right there.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back (to be sung quietly to oneself to the tune of the "Welcome back, Kotter" theme song)

It has come to my attention that the friends of mine who read this blog without the daily running telephone commentary of the positive things that happen to me, too, are under the impression that my life kind of sucks. It's just that the bad stuff is so much funnier! :) But I feel bad that I have given you that impression, and so I am going to list positive things that happened in the past week when I was in New York for the intern conference.

I got to stay in an incredible five-star hotel in Manhattan, take as many cabs as I wanted, and expense the whole damn thing. I bonded with my fabulously talented, kick-ass photojouralist friend, Brandi Jade, whom I met at Diverse Visions. We gabbed for probably a total of 14 hours about race, class, gender, corporate gossip, historical black colleges, marching band experiences (similar in high school, completely opposite in college) and our recently adopted stray kittens, (Um, yeah, I don't think Fred is going anywhere any time soon, if only because Bella would never forgive me for giving him away) among other things.

I made some amazing new friends, although it was bittersweet as we are spread out all over the country, and it totally reminded me how much I miss being in a Journalism School-ish type environment, where funny interesting people who have a lot in common with me while simultaneously being very different, are all around me.

I got to see Annie and meet the Wonderful Derrick, and it was so great to see that she has found someone who just may truly be worthy of her articulate, intelligent, creative, loving, beautiful, spectacular presence. :)

And I saw Luke, who took pictures of me outside of the Reuters building where my future is probably brighter than at the wire service where I am interning this summer, (I'm getting very positive feedback from editors and colleagues, but the domino effect political hiring game is complex beyond my comprehension, and I have discovered a handful of skeletons in the corporate closet that really, really, really make me think that I don't *want* to work here, frankly), laughed at all my stories, crashed at the hotel with me, debated the cause-effect impact of fashion advertising in underground pro-ana communities and laid in the dark shining a red keychain light (free, courtesy of Human Resources) in our mouths and on the ceiling until around 4 a.m. when I fell into a fitful sleep during which he kept gently waking me up from really bad nightmares. I love Luke. :) (Thank you!)

I have some of the best friends (and sister! :) in the world, who go without sleep and/or wake up at the ass crack of dawn to drive to their jobs two states away just to see me for a few (like, maybe two, maximum) hours.

But just so you aren't lulled by this positive entry into thinking that random, bizarre things have stopped happening to me- I did accidentally shopliftsomething. :)

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Special greetings to Melissa! YAY! You're out there! I had no idea. The Smackie story is for you, too. :) Big letter coming to your parents' house! Send me your new address. :)

Okay. I don't know how this happens, but once again, the night before a big conference, etc., I am up at Stupid O'Clock in the morning designing portfolios. I suppose it's good that I have more material to add, etc., but sheesh. Blarg. It's 3:39 a.m. I think I watched five consecutive of the Cosby show, and I am on my third episode of Family Ties.

It's the episode where Jennifer is really bratty because she's jealous of the new baby. Tina Yothers is really, really grating in this episode. She never bothered me when I was little and watched this show when it aired the first time. But I did see an episode I never saw before. Alex falls asleep while studying the American Revolution, and he dreams he helps Thomas Jefferson write the Declaration of Independence. All of the regular people on the show (Skippy, Elise, Steven, etc.) are there in "period costumes." Steve is Thomas Jefferson. When Alex wakes up, he's all disoriented, wondering what year it is. It's all very Back to the Future. He does the speechless, confused, "Wha-? You're my...You're my- Muh?" Michael J. Fox thing. I wonder which came first- this episode or Back to the Future.

Despite the fact that I am essentially nocturnal. I am tired.

Saturday, July 06, 2002

Why am I Ziggy? I am Ziggy, the hapless cartoon character with a lot of pets for whom nothing ever goes right.

I got a "1/3 of the way through" critique. Overall, it was positive. One of the things "people" have noticed is that I seem "stressed," and as a result "quite scattered.". Do I? DO I? For crying out loud, I simply can't imagine WHY. Can't go into the reasons why here, but there are some damn good ones, I assure you. I shared them with my mentor who promised to help. Some things she has no control over, but we made a list of ten things (TEN!- all things I have already mentioned to the appropriate people who take care of such things one more than one occasion) that she is going to help me get fixed.

And I am just in a spiral of bad luck. Today, I prepared to arrive at work early- cool, calm and collected- to turn over a new leaf and show how together, unscattered, and full of inner poise I am. Twenty minutes before I am due at work, (and I didn't hit anything or swerve or even speed- I was doing a poised, calm and collected 55 mph, thank you very much) my tire explodes (EXPLODES) on the highway. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck. Call AAA, call Toyota dealership, tell them I am coming in, but they say "hurry, they close in an hour." I called AAA-can you please hurry? Ten minutes later, Felix (tow truck driver) shows up, God bless him.

But he attaches my car to the tow truck thingy wrong. I thought it looked odd (having just been towed to this same dealership two weeks ago for a *different* flat tire), but I assume this is his job, and it's probably right, and we need to get a move on, right? Everyone is honking at us on the highway. He pulls over. He unattaches the car, does a three point turn with his big-@ss tow truck that blocks three lanes of a four lane high way at 4:42 on a holiday weekend, (Major honking at this point) reattaches my car the right way, and blocks two lanes of traffic on a four lane highway at 4:47 on a holiday weekend (Honking? Yes, it's deafening; why do you ask?) pulling back out.

Meanwhile, I frantically call the Toyota dealer, PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE-stay-open-all-I-need-is-a-new-tire-I'm-so-so-sorry-we-would-be-there-but-Feliz-attached-mycar-backwards-and-I'm-a-photojournalist-
please-try? (Inner poise, anyone?)

Anyway, Felix delivers me and my poor car at 4:55. They agree to fix it for me. I run around hugging all the mechanics. Twenty minutes and $45 later, I am on my way.

And that's the latest installment of "Hysterical White Girl in Miami." Stay tuned next week when HWG goes to the Big Apple for her "chat" with Human Resources!

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Okay! It's time for a Birthday Tribute to the Person Who
• Designed a program that allowed bored tenth-, eleventh- and twelfth-graders to "shoot" everyone's least favorite math teacher on their TI82 calculators, which would have led to expulsion and mandatory counselling in the post-Columbine high school world, come to think of it.
• Who feels humbled when bats yawn in his face
• Who knows when to hold 'em and knows when to fold 'em, ending and beginning new chapters of his life with a deep sigh and a philosophical outlook- walking out of a cross-country meeting and taking up spelunking his first week in college, letting B's new boyfriend hit him the requesite number of time to earn enough points to lose a fencing match, then walking out and not looking back.
• Who will never again eat jambalaya
• Who knows chicks dig pale scrawny guys
• Who is shaping the future in this age of technology at Microsoft
• Who sees the romance in inhaling the scent of free-growing orange trees in the shadow of an illuminated minaret against a navy blue sky surrounded by fluttering bats. (What is it with you and bats?!?!)
• Who knows how to juggle, for real
• Who came home from college for the first time to see Nick in the fall play, sat next to Bharat Bat, and suddenly realized Bharat was really, really high.
• Who sometimes just wants to eat something with a knife and fork.
• Who, for the rest of his life, "even if (he) needs an iron lung," will expect me to hit him in the face with a pie.
• Who once punched out a "Quadraplegic Helper-in-Training" Monkey.
• Who took two Dramamine pills and has no recollection of Portugal
• Who is the the Supreme God of Encore, able to quote even the most obscure song lyrics under pressure.
• Who is a superb dancer, able not only to lead a beginner, but also to help her feel like the thinnest, most graceful woman on the dance floor.

Happy Birthday, Scott! Many blessings on your next 25 and beyond.

Monday, July 01, 2002

George got adopted today. He went to a really good home. This adorable, older Russian couple fell in love with him instantly (the wife's name was Esther). At first they decided to think it over and let me know later if they would actually adopt him. They left, but they couldn't have even made it out of the parking lot. They were back five minutes later. I know they're going to give him a great home. They. were. so. excited. They were telling me, "Oh, you know, he's going to learn Russian," and I pointed to Bella (who was there after getting groomed; the organization holds its adoption days on weekends in Petsmart), and said, "My dog knows her commands in English and Spanish and a little Hebrew." But before I could explain that it was Erika who would speak to her from time to time in Hebrew, they were showing me that they were both wearing Star of David necklaces, and not to worry, "George was going to a good Jewish home, and what a lovely Jewish girl I am for making them so happy by having them adopt a Jewish kitten!" They were totally kidding, I am sure they would have taken him home even if they knew I was a lapsed Catholic, Unitarian, semi-neopagan whatever-I-am-now, but it made them so happy to tell me he would stay in a Jewish home that I couldn't bring myself to tell them otherwise. :)

Angie bat Judy! Gwen bat Linda! Alissa bat Cathy! George bar Esther! Herman Buttface!

But- my apartment is a sadder place without George. I still have Fred, who, secretly, I was more attached to than George. Sigh... I am so pathetic. It's just... well, I am a little lonely here. I have some friends here, especially through work, and of course, I am meeting people all the time, through Pet Rescue, just randomly in bookstores and restaurants that I strike up conversations with (sorry, Gwen, prepostion at end of sentence. :) But on Saturday, I was really, really nauseous and dizzy, and I went home sick, and I felt so crummy, and all I wanted was some toast and ginger ale. And I didn't have ginger ale. And there isn't anyone I felt comfortable calling and asking me to run to the store and buy me some. And that had me feeling a little homesick.

Also, Kel is back in Lancaster, which makes it seem extra appealing, despite all the madness there at the end of my time there. :) Welcome home, Kelbaby. I will see you in two weeks!