Saturday, August 29, 2009
Since I'm designing a piece to go on the wall of Paige's salon, I've been spending a lot of time looking at hair-cutting tools for inspiration. Today I made and experimented with a new plate.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Which is probably why, as much as I love Eggo Beanrocket (and we really are in love, me and Eggo, as I zoom from home to work each morning in a perpetual state of glee), my absolute favorite way to see the world is from a moving bike.
These days, though, I mostly sit on the seat.
I’ve been riding a fair amount this summer, choosing routes that take me along the waterfront of Brooklyn and Queens, or over the Williamsburg Bridge and around the eclectic perimeter of Manhattan. The problem is, I don’t like to turn around – once I’m out there, moving, the last thing I want is to make that awkward 180 just to go back the way I came. So I keep going, and then, suddenly, three hours have passed and my phone is ringing and Brad wants to know when I’m coming back.
“I’m not sure,” I say.
“What do you mean?” he says. “Where are you?”
At which point I realize that I’ve gotten myself fifteen miles away from home, and though this isn’t such a bad thing in and of itself, I’m always sort of aghast when I realize that I therefore have to ride fifteen miles back.
“Do you want to come pick me up?” I say to Brad.
He says, “I hope you’re kidding.”
Last weekend, by the time my phone rang, I had traveled all the way down to a waterfront park in Red Hook and was busy chatting with members of a non-profit group who had set up a lemonade stand. After promising to be home in a couple hours, I set off – sweating like a pig, cursing the heat, and wondering what kind of moron sets out on a bike ride at 10:00am on a day when the temperature is supposed to be in the nineties.
Fifteen minutes later, as I was standing in the blessedly cool shade in a crosswalk under I-278, a family of cyclists pulled up alongside me. They were two forty-ish parents and one little girl, maybe ten years old, all riding shiny new bikes and wearing impeccably clean helmets.
“Hello!” said the dad, whose yuppie bearing was severely compromised by the largest Burt Reynolds mustache I had ever seen. “Were you just at the Red Hook pool?”
“Er, no?” I said, thinking to myself, That’s weird. It’s not like I’m carrying a towel or wearing a—
Because I was, in fact, wearing a bathing suit. Or rather, I was wearing a turquoise bathing suit top, which I had selected specifically because it looked super-cute with the white shorts-white tank top-yellow skimmers ensemble I’d put together for bike-riding (and if you think that wanting to look like Gidget makes me a less serious cyclist, you can go fuck yourself), and ALSO because bathing suits do not turn transparent or get pulled out of shape when they’re soaked with sweat. Which, after three hours of idle pedaling in the blazing sun, mine most definitely was.
“Oh,” I said, “I was just at the waterfront park over there.”
And then, because I really didn’t feel like explaining to Yuppie Burt Reynolds that a) I was fashionable, and b) the moisture he was seeing was not pool water, but rather, my own sweat, I added, “I was just getting some sun.”
“You shouldn’t do that!” someone said. I looked down and to my left, where the ten year-old was standing and looking at me with an expression so rehearsedly prim that I immediately wanted to pull her lips off.
“What’s that, honey?” I said, smiling in a not-particularly-friendly way.
“It’s bad for you!” she squeaked. “Always wear sunscreen and bring a bottle of water!”
Yuppie Burt Reynolds beamed at his daughter with vomitous pride, then looked at me and nodded curtly.
“Uh-huh,” I said, although what I really wanted to say was, “That’s quite the sanctimonious little shitface you have there, Burt,” and then I pedaled away, resplendent in my irritation and my sweaty, disgusting bathing suit.
What the hell? I thought, as I puffed my way toward Prospect Park. What species of insanity was that? Who were those people? Into what sort of godforsaken alternate reality have I slipped, where proselytizing children spew their oversimplified cult of health at nearly-thirty-year-old women while smug, mustachioed parents smile their approval?
And then, of course, I realized.
I was in Park Slope.
The holy grail of the entitled urban parent.
The land of a thousand double-wide strollers.
The place where dignified adulthood goes to die.
So I spit on the sidewalk.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Hey, stop laughing.
This is a REAL PROBLEM and it is NOT FUNNY. I'm an anthropomorphoholic. As in, ever since childhood, I have compulsively assigned uniquely human characteristics, motivations, and behaviors to definitively non-human entities. And lest you think I’m talking about some odd-but-potentially-understandable thing, like believing that my dog is capable of remorse, I should mention right now that it’s a whole, whooole lot weirder than that.
Example: I have, in recent history, totally convinced myself that my clothes have feelings.
This is a sickness, and though I don’t know precisely when or how it started, I will say that I have a strong suspicion that watching The Brave Little Toaster one too many times had something to do with it. Evidence pointing to this as a likely explanation includes:
a) I definitely like toasters, a LOT, and
b) I have very clear memories of hysterically weeping multiple times during that movie, and particularly at the part where all the appliances get caught out in an electrical storm, and the blanket gets carried away by the wind and is (we fear) lost forever.
(And yes, of course, the blanket is eventually reunited with his friends... but before that happens it is freaking heart-wrenching, and any children of the 1980s who grew up watching this movie deserve automatic forgiveness for any security blanket-related development issues whatsoever. I mean, the blanket is named "Blanky". BLANKY! Geez, movie, are you trying to mess me up?)
And now, twenty years later, here I am: an almost-thirty-year-old woman who chats with kitchen appliances, treats the sofa with respect, and can't bear to get rid of old t-shirts because it might make the shirts feel bad.
I've been fighting this thing for years now, usually by avoiding actions that might provoke the beast. Which is to say that I never get rid of things. Not even when they're broken or ugly or otherwise obsolete. Does anyone remember these IKEA commercials from a few years back?
WRONG! Because that, right there, is what I've struggled against for my entire life. Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to even search for that on YouTube without breaking down in tears?
Poor little lamp.
Fortunately for me, a generally impoverished adulthood has given me a perfect excuse to avoid the painful process of replacing... well, anything. That oscillating fan that doesn't oscillate and is held together with twist ties? Hey, I have a financial incentive to keep it around! It's not that I've secretly named it "Fanny" and think its little fan face is charming, sweet, and full of trust. I'm just frugal. It's a good thing.
The problem, of course, is that I'm married now -- and as it turns out, husbands are a) unlikely to see any good reason not to spend $15 on a new fan, and b) even less likely to understand when they try to carry the old fan out to the curb only to have you snatch it from their hands, screaming "Fanny! NOOOOOO!", and then flee with it into the bathroom in order to stroke its shiny surfaces and apologize for being such a fickle, fan-replacing bitch.
And similarly, when the government invents a program that would allow you to replace your current car -- which, though it runs well enough, admittedly gets about 16 miles to the gallon, and does not have air conditioning or interior lights, and makes a very loud noise all the time, and activates the "Check Engine" light whenever you tap the brakes, and oh yeah, is missing a side-rear-view mirror because somebody stole it -- husbands, as it turns out, will not support the idea of passing on that opportunity because it might hurt the feelings of your Jeep Cherokee.
But at last, today, I believe I've found the answer to my problem. (And no, it's not to just stop anthropomorphizing my belongings. As if such a thing were even possible.) Namely, that when it comes time to replace an item that you've lived with and loved, an item whose feelings you care about, an item that has been meaningful to you in myriad ways...
It helps when the replacement item is so adorable that you wish you could knit it a little sweater and give it lots of hugs, and then give it a really fun name like Eggo Beanrocket.
Which I did.
Coming soon: The exciting road adventures of Eggo Beanrocket!
Saturday, August 15, 2009
I don't think anyone would disagree that this development is a good thing -- after all, fewer conversations with the not-always-entirely-pleasant strangers who work at the customer call-in center can only be good for a person's general mental health. But it does mean that certain... well, peculiarities of business-by-phone are eventually going to be left behind. Things like the endless pushing of buttons to navigate the call-in menu, the frustration of eventually connecting with someone who is obviously following a call script and doesn't even seem to be listening to what you're saying, and, of course, the agonizing reading and reading-back of alphanumeric confirmation codes by nasal-voiced customer service people. "That's F as in Fred, Three, Five, S as in Sam..."
This is what I was thinking about as I sat on the phone with a customer service rep at Geico on Saturday morning, waiting for a confirmation code and musing on the (inevitable?) eventuality of all call center reps being replaced by robots. (Consumer interest note: In the case of Geico, that would actually be too bad -- I've talked to a LOT of their service reps over the past couple years, and they are always ridiculously nice and pleasantly Southern and happy to let you mail in your payment a couple days late when it turns out that you accidentally spent part of it on a late-night pizza binge. So consider this a recommendation. Geico is the tits.)
After a few seconds of hold music, the rep came back on the line.
"Okay," said Geico Lady. Her voice had a sort of perky, lilting drawl, and I wondered where she was from; Georgia, maybe.
"Do you have a pen?" she asked.
"Yep," I replied.
"I'm going to read this number back to you."
"Okay, here's what I've got." She cleared her throat. "A as in apple, Four, Six, T as in Tom, J as in Jews, Seven, B as in..."
Of course, I had stopped paying attention at this point.
J as in Jews?, my brain was shouting. J as in JEWS?!! That is so inappropriate! Holy shit! Say something! SAAAAY SOMETHING!
"Uh, excuse me," I said. "Did you say, 'J as in Jews'?"
"Yep, J as in Jews!" said Geico Lady.
Except it wasn't quite "Jews". It was more like "Jewss", or "Jewce", or...
Oh, said my brain, sounding considerably calmer. JUICE. J as in juice, because people pronounce that ü sound a tad differently below the Mason-Dixon Line, and also, because you are an idiot.
"Right," I said. "Okay."
"Can I help you with anything else today?"
"Alright," said the Geico Lady, still pleasant as ever. "Thank you for choosing Geico!"
Some of you might look at the above, perfectly-pleasant exchange and think that it's too bad that customer service by phone is going out of style, and hell, maybe it is... but all I can think is that somewhere in Georgia, they've got me on tape saying "J as in JEWS?"
Friday, August 14, 2009
(Redundancy alert: I've posted this to Tumblr, too.)
Every morning, I walk the dog around the perimeter path that surrounds the sweet little park in my neighborhood. After two years, it’s become a very comforting routine — once around the park, dog business done, then home for breakfast — and it’s a beautiful time to be awake in Brooklyn. The streets are quiet, the light that filters through the sycamore canopy is soft, green, and lovely, and the only people out and about are fellow dog owners, elderly and early-rising Greenpoint lifers, and a raucous group of Polish-speaking gentlemen who spend their summer nights on the park’s benches before waking up to drink more vodka.
Every morning, as I round the northeastern bend of the perimeter path, I see a man and a woman sitting together on a bench. Their names are Franny and Sunny, and they’re best friends; each day, unless it is raining, they meet up to sit at this particular spot with cups of coffee, and sometimes a newspaper, and watch the neighborhood wake up.
And every morning, we have the following exchange:
I say, “Good morning!”
They say, “Good morning.”
And then Sunny, who adores animals, will wave at the dog and say, “Good morning, Curley!”
And then, we continue on our way.
There’s just one, minor problem: My dog’s name is not Curley.
We are well past the point at which I can reasonably try to fix this, right? I mean, we’ve got a routine going, Sunny and Franny and me. And I am not about to flout the carefully-cultivated rhythm of our daily exchange by suddenly stopping short and throwing out this potentially life-altering conversational curveball: “Oh, and by the way, you’ve been calling my dog by the wrong name since 2007.”
These people are in their seventies, for Pete’s sake. The shock could kill them.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
This is a sort of experiment, to see whether a) I like the platform, and b) it can be used as a tool to drive traffic back here. (Sure, call me a whore, but I need more freelance work and Tumblr is like a big, echo-y cave full of media people.) Also, at the moment, it's an experiment which is making me feel extremely old and out-of-touch, so we'll see how long it lasts. Here's hoping.
But in the meantime: If you, dear reader, are a Tumblr (Tumblr-er?), please feel free to follow me -- and do let me know, so I can follow you.
Monday, August 10, 2009
So, in the weeks before our first visit to meet the newest member of the family, I made this.
I think I've mentioned before that I studied art in college; unfortunately, the nature of printmaking combined with the constraints of New York life made it one passion that was just too hard and time-consuming to pursue (at least for a lazy person like me). This is the first thing I've produced in nearly six years, and I'm embarrassed to admit how much I'd forgotten about how to do this. The behavior of ink, the feel of the linoleum, the painstaking minutia of registration, the way the paper curls as it dries... have you ever returned to something you used to be skilled at -- playing a musical instrument comes to mind -- after a long hiatus? It's half remembering, half re-learning, because it feels familiar but not exactly the same. You make rookie mistakes but feel the sting of your missteps like a veteran. I cut myself more than once.
But it's finished now, and although it's not perfect, and I'd love to spend hours more trying to make it perfect, and there are stray traces of ink where I wasn't quite careful enough (which has always driven me crazy but which I've never been able to avoid) I'm sort of... ecstatic.
So, we may be seeing some more of this. (You know, in addition to the usual kerfuffle and cussing and stories about wangs.) Indulge me, would you?
And if there's something you used to do -- something you used to love, but that got pushed to the fringes by the daily crush of adulthood -- consider this some emphatic urging to pick it back up. Now. Do it now.
Friday, August 07, 2009
“So,” I said to Brad, “one of my blogging friends just invited us to Cape Cod for the weekend.”
“Have you guys ever actually met?” said Brad.
“Have you ever met any of the other people who are going?”
“Do you know any of these people in any other way than via the internet?”
“Well,” said Brad, folding his arms and giving me a serious look. “Obviously, we should go.”
I was delighted, I was thrilled, and then, of course, I found myself wondering:
What sort of person would open her family’s summer home to a pair of total frackin’ strangers on the basis of naught but a few blog posts and several months’ worth of Facebook friendship?
And the answer, of course, is: A person who is very, very drunk.
Ha, ha! Just kidding! (…I think!) Actually, the answer is, the same sort of person who would accept said invitation on the basis of naught but a few blog posts and several months’ worth of Facebook friendship.
... Yes, hello there.
The drive took nearly eight hours due to horrendous traffic, violent thunderstorms, and the roughly-an-hour we spent driving around and around and around one of those sassy little New England roundabouts, shouting at each other and trying to figure out which exit to take.
But once we were there…
Upon arrival, there were cocktails and clam rolls, and then additional cocktails. Given my 2:00am decision to pour a bunch of vermouth over ice and drink it, followed by my 2:30am non-decision (really, I had no choice) to throw up, I’m actually glad that nobody took a picture. Here, look at this hydrangea instead.
Six hours and a cured hangover later, we were having FUN. We gathered on the beach…
…and around an island.
Foods were placed on top of other foods, and still other foods were placed on top of those, until nobody knew where the brie ended and the basil began.
There was a greekfeast prepared by TKTC’s musician manfriend, who looks like a Viking and cooks like a pro.
There was a bromance of epic proportions.
And, of course, there was seersucker. OH MY GOD WAS THERE EVER SEERSUCKER.
And all I can say is, if TKTC ever suggests that you spend the weekend in the company of herself, her boyfriend, and their multitalented/amusing/daaaamn good-looking friends, you should agree immediately and without question lest you miss out on the most fun you’ll have all summer long.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
I could TOTALLY commit crimes and get away with it.
Seriously, do you have any idea how much evidence it takes to prove somebody’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt? A lot. Which is great, really – because of course, the law is specifically set up to allow for the least possible likelihood of an innocent person being wrongly convicted, and that means that those who are probably-but-not-evidently-guilty are bound to slip through the cracks. And while I’d learned about this concept in school, seeing it in action was fascinating in a way that contemplating it in the abstract just isn’t.
For those interested, here’s a rundown of the trial:
Day 1: The defendant is on trial for taking part in a mugging, at gunpoint, that occurred in 2005. (Cue confused looks from the jury; all of us are wondering why it’s taken so long, but as it turns out, you are not allowed to raise your hand and ask questions in court. Unless you need to go to the bathroom.)
(Cue worry that, if permitted a bathroom visit, the court record will reflect that you took a really long time in there.)
The People charge that the defendant served as a lookout/blocked the victim from escaping while his pal -- who is conspicuously absent from these proceedings -- did the robbing.
Day 2: The victim, who was mugged while visiting the scene of a murder for his job as a crime reporter (irony!), testifies about being robbed of his cell phone, ID, and about $20 in cash by two young men. There’s one of those straight-from-Law-and-Order moments:
“Do you see one of those men here today?”
“Yes, he’s sitting right there.”
“Let the record show that the witness has identified the defendant.”
We learn that the victim identified the defendant in a lineup about six months after the incident occurred. We also learn that the victim spoke to whomever was in possession of the stolen cell phone a couple of times in the weeks following the mugging, but every time things start to get interesting, the defense attorney objects and everyone leaves the room to… well, we have no idea. Perhaps they are playing hopscotch.
Day 3: Cross-examination! The defense attorney is an excellent public speaker and delivers his questions much more smoothly than the prosecutors, but he’s also wearing a diamond earring, which makes him look less like a well-mannered orator and more like an uncontrollable sleaze. He casts some doubts upon how good of a look the victim really got of the men robbing him (“Wouldn’t you say that you focused your attention on the man with the gun, and not on the lookout?”), but not enough. So far, the prosecution has it…
Until the detective on the case takes the stand and admits to having “misplaced” pretty much all the documentation related to the case. DUDE. We also see a picture of the lineup in question, which is, undeniably, pretty bad.
We hear testimony from the NYPD officers who responded to the scene of the crime (more misplaced records!), from a police record-keeper who explains that 911 calls are automatically deleted after six months (and more!), and from a Sprint representative whose entire job, apparently, is to travel the country and testify in court about phone records (a.k.a. the only evidence in the entire case which isn’t lost somewhere). Unfortunately, none of this is as interesting as the outfit of one of the prosecuting attorneys, who is a) wearing a full-on seersucker suit, and b) has an enormous stain on his pants.
And then, out of nowhere, the People are like "We rest." (Cue entire jury looking at each other, all, Wait, that’s it? What the hell?)
Day 4: The defense calls an expert witness whose testimony is undoubtedly the most annoying of the trial; she’s one of these people who says “Sure!” before answering every question, regardless of whether or not it makes any sense to do so.
“Can you tell the jury about your academic background?”
“Sure! Blah blah masters degree blah blah PhD blah academic review.”
“And where do you currently work?”
“Sure! Blah blah blah laboratory.”
“And what was the outcome of that study?”
“Sure! Blah blah blaaaaah.”
She also explains that, in situations involving a weapon, crime victims may focus on the lethal object and not on the faces of those involved (i.e. making eyewitness identification a crapshoot at best.) So chew on that, jury.
And the defense rests.
We hear closing arguments, pointed reminders about presumption of innocence and the burden of proof, and instruction from the judge about The Law as it applies to this case. The jurors adjourn to deliberate.
At least, that’s what they say – I’m an alternate and am not allowed to accompany them, so for all I know, they’re having a party in there.
Day 5: The other alternate is called in to deliberate and I spend the entire day sitting in a room all by myself. Court officers periodically come by and say, “Oh, are you all alone?!” before locking me into the room again, until 4:00, when somebody suddenly ushers me out of the room and informs me that the entire trial is over. I didn’t get to see the verdict! I’m pissed.
The Verdict was: Not guilty. (Duh. Cue general consensus among jurors that the defendant Totally Did It, but the burden of proof wasn’t met. This is also the point at which I decide that I could Totally Commit Crimes without fear of conviction.)