I had my first federal holiday off in a year and a half.
It was quite fun. On Friday, Brian and I met our friends Alison and Stuart to see Jean-Pierre Melville's bleak noir-ish tale of French resistance, Army of Shadows.
We spent Saturday walking around Brooklyn and lazing around Prospect Park, taking small breaks to eat and talk.
On Sunday, Brian and I visited the Cloisters, where I was overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of pietas. Those Medieval people, what gloomy, dismal folk. Death, death, death. And to think, the whole time, these same joyless fellows were pulling out my ancestors' fingernails and lobbing pox-infested cattle over the walls of the Jewish Quarter. We went back downtown to visit the new Trader Joe's, where we purchased 4 bottles of wine for under $16. Yes! Then we saw another noir film called Blast of Silence, about a hitman who is full of loathing for the world, and also has a hand-sweating problem.
On Monday, we took a trip into Forest Hills, where we hung out with friend and co-worker Eileen Kaufman. We then continued on to a Met's game, where we kept getting rained on. Brian and I tried those dippin' dots things. They were $5.50 worth of eh.
I had been given the heads-up that a Bud at the park cost upwards of $7. Because I hate to spend money, but love to drink, I set out to do something about this. Something useful and industrious. Something both cheap and booze-filled. I decided to invent vodka capsules.
The capsules are meant to dissolve in your mouth, which means they don't like to hold liquid for too long either. So I figured I would try to freeze the capsules. This worked fine while we were still in the apartment. But as soon as we stepped out into the 86 degree heat, we had a problem. So I purchased a couple of those freezy packs that you break and they instantly get cold. It was a tremendous amount of effort for what amounted to about one fourth of a shot of Stoli Raspberry. Though making the vodka capsules was fun, I don't think I'll do it again. But I guess I could always try Bacardi 151 capsules. In the winter.
We had a very nice, relaxing weekend. Full of death and nihilism and rain and vodka capsules. I hope I get to do it again soon.
It's that time again.
Here are the subject lines from the latest email messages from my grandmother:
FW: Join the Christian Coalition (and us)Please note that any email message lacking "FW:" in subject line contains forwarded material which had been copied and pasted into the body of the message.
In addition, please note that the emails "Texas Midget" and "Congress is selling out the Internet" were forwarded twice.
I am becoming more and more like my mother each day.
I don't know how I feel about this.
At first, I could hear the ghost of her in my voice. This was back in graduate school. I would be telling a story, and a phrase would fall from my lips--something I would never normally say. Something only my mother would say. The feeling of hearing myself speak the phrase was both eerie and foreign, as if she had said it, and not I.
But it was I. I had said it.
Then it was phrases plus hand gestures. My mother and I actually have very similar hands. They are the exact same size, the same chunkiness, the same large knuckles. To hear myself speak like her and to watch my hands gesticulating in a manner I had seen her do so many times made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
It should be noted that in middle school, in high school, for someone to tell me I was just like my mother would be an insult. I loved my mother, but we were totally different people. I never wanted to sound like her. And I worked hard not to.
But it didn't matter.
My mother is everywhere. She is in my hands. She is in my voice. Lately, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I do not see myself. I see my mother looking back at me. So much so it scares me. She is in my eyes. I will look at my reflection, will blink and look harder. She is still there. She is in my skin.
I love my mother tremendously. But I am becoming so much like her as I age, it makes getting along with her increasingly more difficult. In conversation, we are like mirror-images. When we are chatty, we can hardly let each other get a word. When we are annoyed, the conversation explodes almost immediately. We have a similar warmth and airiness. A similar creativity and cleverness and wit. But also a similar temper.
Recently, our conversations end almost as soon as they begin. And badly. I suppose if I am so much like my mother, it should be easy to figure out a better way for us to get along. But, like my mother, I can be rather stubborn.
Remember when I said I was looking for a new blanky?
I decided that simply nobody seemed to be making newly made blankys for 30-year-olds any more. So, naturally, I turned to ebay.
Hours of searching taught me to hone my search with certain terms: "quilted," "patchwork," "baby blanket," "classic," "vintage," "Americana." More and more options arose, ever closer to what I was looking for. I began to evaluate the images of the baby blankets, to wonder if the color was right, if the patches looked old-fashioned enough, if the blanket would be large enough for my no-longer-baby sized body. And I began to feel like a a real pervert.
I think perverts must search ebay using similar search terms and have similar thoughts about the appropriateness of an item not usually considered socially appropriate for someone their age, gender, physical size. I imagined there was a 29 year old woman out there, a mirror image of myself, but she was searching for a giant diaper. It gave me the creeps. Enough to get off the internet.
But after another night with tattered Substitute Blankey, its stuffing bleeding over me in a fluffy mess, I'd get back on next day.
I bid on a number of blankys. I lost some of the auctions. Finally, I won. It said it was from an estate sale. So it was probably nice and old--no Sponge Bob appliques. It was definitely a patchwork quilt, but it looked different enough from Real Blanky so Real Blanky wouldn't get jealous. It looked like this.
New Substitute Blanky arrived in the mail the other day. I washed it (it was from an estate sale) and let it air dry. Two nights ago, I slept with New Substitute Blanky. It was okay. New Substitute Blanky doesn't have hardly any stuffing. It's kind of like sleeping with two pieces of fabric sewn together. But it's fine. Last night, I went crazy and slept with New Substitute Blanky and New Blanky. It was really comfy, but I felt like a pervert again.
I can't throw New Blanky out, of course. I have to figure out what I want to do with it.
In the meantime, I will switch to New Substitute Blanky. But I am feeling increasingly uneasy about my dependence on a baby blanket. Maybe I'll try to ween myself off of it. By age 35. I don't want to get too cocky.
Sometimes I want a thing so badly, I can taste the regret.
In the 6th grade, my parents let me have a dance party. We rented a jukebox, which was totally cool. I, on the other hand, was hopelessly uncool. I was always the last to find out about new trends or hit songs. And no matter how hard I tried to look fashionable, how many hours I spent putting an outfit together, I always came out looking like a color blind bag lady.
I was having a dance party. With a jukebox. For my birthday. I needed a cool outfit to go with the cool jukebox. My mother had taken to giving me a clothing budget, and I could spend my meager seasonal allotment on as many 12-year-old outfits as I could squeeze in. I think my mother arrived at the budget amount by estimating the cost of 5 or 6 reasonably priced outfits from Marshalls. But Marshalls wasn't cool. Designer jeans were. And so I decided to blow my entire seasonal allotment on the pair of designer jeans and a t-shirt that I could wear to my dance party.
I thought about the outfit for weeks, trying to figure out what would look the most casually cool, yet sophisticated, at a 12 year old dance party. Black Edwin jeans and a white button-down top. Once I decided what I wanted, my desire became fierce and unreasonable. I got to the mall as fast as I could. They were all out of the jeans I had wanted. The closest size in the brand I desired was a size too small, two sizes too long, and a blinding red. I tried them on.
No, Debbie. Don't do it. I can see myself in the fitting room mirror again, the pants four inches too long, and looking spray-on on my soft mush 12 year old body. Don't do it, Debbie!
It's true, the red was rather loud, and I almost thought twice . . . until I saw the t-shirt that would make the jeans look sedate. It was an airbrushed night scene of the Manhattan skyline bedazzled with rhinestones and sequins. It was large and heavy and a thousand times louder than the jeans. It was $50 (in 1988). This was the end of my winter clothing budget.
I knew I was making a mistake as I was buying the clothes. But I wanted a cool outfit so badly, I felt my desire had the power to magically transform the loud, ill-fitting clothing I was purchasing into casually cool, yet sophisticated.
I wore my dance-party outfit only once. It was on the night of the dance party. And even as I was putting it on, I knew I looked ridiculous. But what could I do? If one could wear immense want and intense disappointment, if this had been the goal, I would have looked fabulous.
If there was a lesson to be learned that day, it was lost on me. I continue to make the same stupid mistake. Over and over.
One of my loves in life is to make ironic t-shirts. Recently, my friend, Sam, came up with an idea for a new one. It would read "Controversial Internet Figure". We joked about the idea for almost a month, that I would make two, and we would both wear them together. The problem was, the phrase was full of letters. 27 to be exact. And the place I've been going to get my t-shirts made charges by the letter. Even though I knew that almost every t-shirt I have ever made myself has turned out horribly, I became determined to do this one myself. To save money.
So I t-shirt hunted, finding a nice soft $10 one at the Urban Outfitters. Only it was really a little too dark. So I bought the iron on sheets for "dark shirts". These are the kind that you put through your inkjet printer. But my junky inkjet printer needed a new color cartridge. I bought that too. The "dark shirts" iron ons' default background is white. So I tried to match the background of the image with the color of the shirt. Which was far from perfect. I printed out the phrase, and the color appeared off. But I was getting too anxious to run another test. Then I went to cut out the part I was going to iron on, but I misplaced my scissors. Can you see where I'm going?
In an attempt to save money and time, I doomed that poor t-shirt.
I emailed Sam about it, and he asked that I scan the shirt and send him the image. So I did. It looked like this. My ironing was apparently so zealous, you can see the impression of grid from the ironing board on the t-shirt. It was only when Sam called me, hysterically laughing, saying that the shirt looked like a crafts project gone horribly wrong, that I realized I had made that same mistake again.
Across from us, and two benches down was a man who looked just awful.
The subway car wasn't that crowded, so we were able to get a pretty good look at him. His skin was gnarled and webby. His hair existed only in small tufts sprinkled about his head. His lips were like two uneven, keloided scars. He didn't have much of a nose at all. But with what he did have, he used to make continuous, eerie, noisy, nose-blowing sounds.
"I think that man must have been in a fire or something," I told Brian.
The man snorted loudly again, and Brian said, "I guess even fire victims have allergies."
It was very hard to look at him, so we tried not to. We talked to each other about petty things. I thought about my own face, and how my skin had been pretty oily lately, how I was broken out a bit. I took out my compact and started powdering my face.
The fire victim man stood up, walked to the front of the car, and made an announcement. He said he had been a victim of an acid attack. That it had melted his face. That every moment of his life has been horrible since. Then he held out a can and asked for money.
It's true, his face was totally melty. But he appeared to be in otherwise relatively good condition. He was wearing a pair of exercise pants, a clean, unrumpled t-shirt, and running shoes which were new-white. Hm. How unusual. White sneaks, black exercise pants, nice white t-shirt, and WHOA! melty face. I really had no idea what to make of it. So I turned back to my compact and began applying lipstick.
I could see out of the corner of my eye that people were giving him money. Actually, it was more like they were throwing money at him, then running away. As if he were a leper. I concentrated on my own world. I reapplied my lipstick.
The Acid Man stopped when he got in front of me and said, "Sister?" I ignored him. "Sister," he said again, not asking, more demanding. Brian whispered, "Maybe he thinks your makeup case is a change purse, and that you are rummaging around for money, not lipstick." So I finally looked, half smiled, and waved my head to say "no."
If the Acid Man could frown, he was surely doing so then. I don't feel entirely comfortable with my actions that day, but I'm not exactly sure which actions I would do differently, given the chance to do it over again.
The next day, I talked with some coworkers about the incident, and one of them asked, "Was it the Asian acid guy or the dark one?"
I said, "There are two?"
Someone else said, "Yeah. There are two. An Asian guy and a dark guy. And they both ask for money on the train. People feel so bad, they just throw money at them and run away. It's really weird."
I said, "Wow. My guy was the dark one."
Another person said, "Dark one?"
"Yeah," I said, "You couldn't really tell what ethnicity he was. Maybe Indian?" The rest of my coworkers shrugged their shoulders, then began debating whether the old, blind accordion dude was really blind, or if he was faking it. I said, "Of course he's blind." A number of my coworkers disagreed, and some sited evidence to the contrary.
So there are at least two Subway Acid Men out there. Good to know.
Brian and I took sleeping pills because we thought it would be fun, but now we are just plain tired.
It's allergy season again, and while most people have runny noses and watery eyes, Brian has been gasping for air like a fish out of water. He appears to have developed allergy-induced asthma. He appears to have developed it around the same time we started dating. So maybe he's really just allergic to me. In the springtime.
For the past two weeks, Brian has been waking up in the middle of the night wheezing and gasping and coughing. He'll take a few puffs from his inhaler, fall back to sleep, and then in an hour, he'll be up again. We are both rather worn out by this routine. Last night, before we went to bed, Brian said, "Maybe if I take a Benadryl tonight, I'll sleep through the night." I thought that sounded like a swell idea. Then he said, "Maybe I'll take a Benadryl and a Tylenol PM."
Well, that sounded even better. Surely, he would be way too drugged up to wake up wheezing and gasping and coughing in the middle of the night. "Hey," I said, "That sounds like fun. I want one too."
So Brian and I cheerily downed one Tylenol PM each. Then we got into bed and fell asleep.
Brian still woke up in the middle of the night. He was still wheezing and gasping and coughing. But this time, he was terribly groggy too. And I was too sleepy to be helpful. I said, "I'm sorry you're suffering. I'd love to help you, but my lips are too puffy." Then I rolled over and fell back to sleep.
In the morning, I could barely move. Brian said he woke up almost every hour on the hour. It wasn't until about 5 AM that he finally felt good and tired, and then he wound up sleeping until 8:30. I stayed in bed until almost 9, waiting for the crust on my eyelids to loosen. Luckily, I had the day off today. Unluckily, Brian didn't.
I have been so busy lately, I did not get to post the follow email from Marc:
First of all Ewok does not appreciate being described as "Shrunken and Warn." He is a beautiful plush ewok with real heart and soul. Ewok has met many people over the last 25 years. He has been around country and has even been to Israel. How many plushes can say that? The picture you listed on the site as "new ewok" is just that an IMPOSTER! Look at those large ears and feet that your imposter ewok posses. I have attached a more accurate of version of ewok when he was less experienced and worldly. Ewok has a special place in our family tree and many people have fallen in love with the little guy. Please respect the ewok...I would hate for Jabba the Hutt to come and eat you!!!