Monday, September 29, 2008

Reason Number 12: There is a possibility, however slim, that khakis might look good, when properly paired.

Also, Baltimora is awesome.  There's no better song than Tarzan Boy for:
 (a) organizing one's room
 (b) trying on khakis that have heretofore sat, limp and lifeless, at the bottom of a crowded closet, alien to the rest of one's wardrobe, a reminder of elementary school and USPS uniforms, not to mention investment bankers.
 (c) taking unflattering, bad pictures of oneself (see photo, left)
 (d) practicing Spanish with flashcards
 (e) writing (sometimes)

Perhaps that is a hyperbole; Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Rachmaninov, Pavement, and Lionel Richie also suffice in some of the above contexts.

I think I have anger management problems.  Or maybe I just hate nine out of ten people.  Is this hyperbole, too?  I honestly don't know.

I inhaled cayenne pepper today for reasons I don't want to get into, and my face is still suffering for it.

Thomas Love Peacock, author of Nightmare Abbey (1817 I think?) and contemporary of Percy B. Shelley (who totally suxxx) is unexpectedly fucking wonderful and has inspired me to read more little known early 19th century novels. 

I have a feeling khakis might come back, in a big way.  Aside from the fact that they exude an aura of stuffiness and social anxiety and are generally the least flattering pants on the planet.  I still want to wear mine with pride, though.  And a comfy plaid shirt.  

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reason Number 11: Even Marc Jacobs fucks up, big time

Marc by Marc Jacobs sucks hardcore balls this season.  Danny and I were enjoying the glorious and amazing early fall weather we've been lucky enough to have this past week or so by taking a monster walk around the city, presumably trying to locate nameless outdoor markets in Chelsea but often ending up in strange places, like THE MOST ABSURDLY TERRIBLE STARBUCKS IN EXISTENCE (where we waited twenty-five minutes for our drinks because some dickwad wearing earrings that looked like hubcap rims kept forgetting what we ordered, even though we ordered tall lattes, seemingly the simplest drink you can ask for at Starbucks these days, aside from plain old coffee--black) located near Times Square (our first mistake) beneath a dreary overpass, as well as the Marc by Marc Jacobs store on Bleecker Street.

First of all, the store itself was moved.  It used to be a spacious men's/women's store that was fairly pleasant to walk around in, but recently (don't know how recently, because it's not often that I find myself in the position to purchase Marc Jacobs clothing) the men's and women's sections were put in separate buildings. The men's store is now ridiculously tiny and difficult to maneuver through because of endless crowds of tourists eating Magnolia cupcakes (which are infinitely inferior to Sugar Sweet Sunshine cupcakes, or the cupcakes they make at Nettie's Cafe, the fantastic coffee shop/bakery that just opened in my neighborhood).  Most of the merchandise was placed so high you could hardly see it without being either ridiculously tall (like Danny) or in possession of a step stool.  Because the clothing sucks so hardcore this season, though, it was to my benefit that it was so difficult to see and touch.

I very strongly believe that fashion should be unexpected, fun, and not adhere to predetermined dictates.  Almost anything (except sarongs, espadrilles, and non-functional hats) can look good if some thought and experimental fervor is put into it: I'm open to jumpsuits, Dansko clogs, electric colors that make your face bleed, velour, pvc, corduroy overalls, even skorts, as long as the finished product is something you look at and think "wow, I never would have thought that would look good, but how brilliant." 

But, for some reason I can't quite understand, Marc Jacobs decided it was an excellent idea to emblazon at least a third of his men's collection with PEACE SIGNS.  Peace signs.  I understand the man recently got out of rehab, but peace signs?  Not only does it look hideous on bags, t shirts, and sweaters, but it's also the most derivative thing ever in the guise of being fun and cheeky.  It's like his inspiration came from Party City and Spencer's Gifts--he may as well start selling mood rings and yin yang pens with neon pink feathers bursting from the top.

Not to mention everything looked cheap, the fabric felt chintzy--the pants could have been sold at Old Navy.  He also included several shearling coats that looked like you could find them in one of those leather merchant stalls in midtown on a Sunday afternoon stroll following Applebeetinis and a hearty meal at Red Lobster.

The only thing worthwhile in the entire (very crammed) store was an awesome leather tote bag--buttery soft, perfect brown, with a laptop compartment on the front that managed to look sleek and not clunky businessman from suburban Atlanta.  This bag, I might add, was not part of the Marc by Marc collection but the more high-end Marc Jacobs fall line.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Story time!

In the hopes that Jason the Grasscutting Teenage Boy might notice me—staring out the kitchen window—when he took a break from his mower, exhaustedly wiping his brow with a paisley rag.

Before he arrived one summer Saturday, I drew a Loreal matte red lipstick dot in the middle of my nose, and whiskers on my cheeks with the cacao dreams Borghese eyebrow pencil Mother received as a gift with purchase at the Macy’s makeup counter, along with a miniature blue pleather backpack I used for phosphorescent dinosaurs and the archaeological misadventures I created from clothespins. “Meow,” I said, taping to a purple headband the ears I’d carefully drawn on the blank underside of the cover of a used-up sketchpad, crayon-coloring the tawny triangles, pink on the inside, cutting them with Mother’s left-handed safety scissors (though I was right-handed). “Hisssss,” I jumped as I pricked my bottom with the safety pin I used to attach my tabby tail.

Headband on, whiskers materialized, I stared into the mirror:
In spite of the hair I had, which was a dull shade of brown, as stringy as hay, and brittle as undercooked pasta, incapable of holding a curl no matter how many hours Mother spent wrapping, re-wrapping the long, limp strands around a small-barrelled iron (“simply the best for curling troublesome hair,” according to Glamour), my hair as a cat was lustrous, wavy, cascading down my back the way a secret waterfall might. My nails were long and pink, and I was lanky and sleek. As a girl, I was smaller than most, with stumpy dimpled hands and legs that remained stocky although at Mother’s insistence I frequently ate powdered chicken noodle soup and pickles for lunch, and when other people’s grandmothers offered me cake at the birthday parties I was rarely invited to, I politely declined in favor of a glass of ice water with a splash of lemon.

RING—the doorbell, a scurry of feet, and I tiptoed to the top of the stairs as mother opened the door to Jason the Grasscutting Teenage Boy. Stealthily, palm-paws sweaty, eyebrow pencil whiskers pricked, I peered around the banister, at Mother, wearing her long, green nightgown that showcased her nipples and a pair of slip-on, square-toed flat shoes with bows on the toes—she made me sit for hours at The Shoe Pavilion while she tried to decide between them and a pair of Sam and Libby slingbacks in beige. I stared at Jason, long blonde-hairy legs, pock-marked face, strange dual-toned voice that made me cringe and glow inside my cat stomach. I watched his mouth move, his chapped lips, which I imagined were framed by minute, sparse hairs, maneuvering around “b-a-c-k-y-a-r-d, m-a-’-a-m,” Mother’s hair-sprayed head bobbing up and down in agreement, yes, yes, the backyard please, door shut, Mother returned to the kitchen, and I attempted descending the stairs on all fours but found it too difficult, so I stood up, a momentary biped, creeping kitchenward, past Father, who lay sprawled among newspapers and empty ice cream bowls on the couch, his head covered by one of the afghans my grandmother knitted for us when her hands still worked.

“I am going,” Mother shouted, wrapping herself in a lightweight teal Talbots cardigan, “to the store for soft drinks, milk, sunscreen, and high-fiber cereal. Father is sleeping. SLEEPING. I’m aware that you like popsicles. Would you like some popsicles?”

I was tempted to say yes; I longed for popsicles, imagining their metallic fruity taste creeping down my throat, the fibrous frozen texture, the sound they made when I split them apart, the stains the grape ones made on my white canvas shoes.

All I could say was “purr.”

“Excuse me?!” said Mother, brandishing her car keys. “Excuse me, but popsicles? I’ll buy popsicles, but just this once.”

“Purr,” I said, but she did not hear me as she left, keys jingling in her hand.

The house was quiet, apart from the clicking of the air conditioner and the hum of the lawn mower outside. I lay on the floor next to Flossie, resident real pet, and she stretched her long cat legs and yawned in the light of the bay window, which provided a perfect view of the backyard and was framed by long, cloth curtains that filled me with a strange kind of dread. Something about the hot air balloon toile pattern made me lonely, the familiar stiff taupe figures waving at the world with vacant cloth-person eyes, reminiscent of the kind of doll that doesn’t come alive with the others when you shut your bedroom door to picnic alone in your Perseverant American Pioneer Lady outfit—complete with calico bonnet and lace breeches, skirts spread over the grass as you eat your heart-shaped marmalade sandwich underneath the knotted cherry tree.

I braced myself against the window, staring at Jason the Grasscutting Teenage Boy as he rounded the backyard, creating strange patterns as he mowed, watched his arm muscles expand as he leaned into the lawn mower, which massacred the small blades of grass. I cracked the window open to smell the fuel intermingled with the fresh, vernal odor of clipped greenery, as reminiscent of summer as puss-filled mosquito bites, Revolutionary War reenactments, encyclopedia-reading, and frog-sounds at night. I stared at the sweat darkening his heather-gray t shirt that probably belonged to his father in the past, and wondered what men smell like when they approach you after a long day of cutting grass and peering into microscopes and driving large automobiles, or planes, and it was probably like firewood, or crushed ladybugs, or aftershave lotion, but softer, saltier, somehow, like unlaundered underpants.

I was imagining that someday when I was older and no longer stumpy we could live in a mushroom-shaped house and fly biplanes over the Kalahari Desert, or maybe own a chocolate factory in the poppy-coated fields of Lichenstein, and he would buy me estate jewelry and I would wear acid pink Dior lipstick and would never have to wait for my mother to decide whether she wanted to go to Aerosoles or J.C. Penney, and I would learn to metalsmith and make him pocket knives and cutlery out of geodes and agates when suddenly, as he neared the sawtoothed oak tree, a swarm of hornets emerged from the ground, overtaking him. Arms flailing, he ran towards the house.

I jumped up. “Dad!” I screamed, “Dad!” running into the living room, pulling the blanket off his head, but he belched and turned over.

I heard a desperate knock at the back porch door, and I opened it, staring straight up at Jason the Grasscutting Teenage Boy, sweat-drenched and covered in welts. I motioned for him to follow me inside, and he sat at the kitchen table in one of the strange anthropomorphic chairs Mother bought during a brief but frantic garage sale phase she went through when I was a toddler. Trembling with bewilderment, I felt my face flush as I scoured the medicine cabinet for some kind of insect bite ointment or salve, cotton balls, bandaids. I heard him groan with pain, and the low sounds his throat made sent a series of confusing shivers down my neck.

“Calamine lotion,” I said, desperately, “is all we have.”

“It’s fine,” he said.

It’s fine it’s fine it’s fine echoing in my head as I edged closer, clutching the lotion and cotton balls tightly, feeling the tiny bottle grow moist with the heat from my hands, and I realized I’d altogether forgotten I was a cat, or supposed to be a cat as I bent down, screwed open the lid, poured the pink powdery fluid onto a clean cotton swab. I wanted so badly to make eye contact, but all I could do as I swabbed the welts on his legs was stare at his Tretorn nylite sneakers, crusted with dirt and motor grease. I wished I had access to those sneakers when his feet weren’t in them, to smell them, push my small hands into the moist, sweaty darkness molded to his insole, to measure my feet against them when no one else was watching, deep inside my closet fort lined with human-sized blue rabbits and long billowy nightgowns.

“Um,” I said, “you can do the rest,” motioning to his arms, neck, face, wondering why I swabbed his legs for him in the first place, and whether he thought poorly of me for doing so, whether he was confused, whether he knew the way I thought about his shoes.

“It’s fine,” he said.

Still kneeling, I looked up, noticing the whiteheads that lined the crevice beneath his nose.

“Your ear,” he said.

I gasped.

“Your ear is broken.” He reached out, pulled the headband out of my hair, and propped up the paper cat ear, which had fallen flat. He smiled and handed it back to me.

Dumbfounded, I clutched the headband as the door opened and Mother entered, her arms full of groceries.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Reason Number 10: No Walk Through Columbia's Gates Anita Baker Can't Fix

I haven't updated this blog in at least three months, and there are a few reasons for this (none of which have anything to do with not killing yourself, especially):

1. I've been avoiding all things related to word-production in preparation for (avoidance of) the inevitable, looming beginning of graduate school (September 2nd).

2. I've been planning my wedding, geez.

3. I'm bad at commitments (which, fortunately, doesn't apply to aforementioned soon-to-be-husband Ryan C. Daley).

4. Vodka.

Getting your MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia University is pretty much everything I anticipated it would be, and then some.  Read: reading, EXTREMEXXXX DEADLINEZ, verbosity, people trying to impress other people, not being able to get into a Spanish class because of the Core Curriculum requiring every undergraduate to take a foreign language, and, of course, opportunities galore.  Joking aside, being back at school is better than the best pumpkin muffins or warmed Oban with a cinnamon stick--plunk--in a mug with the cutest kitten ever painted on the side, and is pretty much the opposite of genocide set to Fall Out Boy.  Even when I feel like I'm going to burst into flames/hide in New Jersey/not be able to read every single book I'm assigned because there are so many books/workshop writing samples I'm assigned to read I'm still ridiculously happy in that stupid, silly, wildflower-twirling-scattering way you are when you've won your first game of Candy Land.

In preparation for classes full of people who are smart smart smart, I like to walk through THE GATES after climbing the six thousand flights of stairs that barricade Columbia from Harlem while listening to the stupidest, worst song possible.  Each day I challenge myself to find something more heinously awful than the day before.  The first day it was an accident--I was listening to a Taylor Dayne song (***NOT an accident***) and afterwards, "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood shuffled to the forefront of my ipod from the murky backwater encompassed by the Top 100 Hits of every year ever with which my dear friend Jay provided me, and I was like "It's totally awesome that I'm listening to 'Higher Love' by Steve Winwood in a giant crowd of ivy league students heading to their Machievellian Theories of Darwinian Post-Structuralist Proto-Punk seminar." But then it's like, c'mon I can do better than that.  Steve Winwood isn't nearly as bad as, say, Anita Baker, who I listen to regularly while walking past places like MoMA.

I spend many days wondering what is as soul-crushingly dull as an Anita Baker classic?  Honestly.  Except maybe "Pink Cadillac," possibly (maybe definitely) the worst song of all time, in all its forms (and there are many).  Oh shit, and Lenny Kravitz.  AGDSLKF and Melissa Etheridge!  I have a whole two years to walk through the library stacks while vomiting/laughing to "Come to My Window" before settling down to some good, healthy literature.