Last year at this time, I opted against listing the New Year’s resolutions I knew I would never even try to keep. Instead I created a retrospective “Word Collage” that encompassed my personal 2010 keywords and themes. (Why look ahead when you can look back?) Being narcissistic, I really enjoyed that creation and as such, decided to craft a 2011 version. Fortunately, I kept a sad little notebook in which I wrote down important things as they came up to ensure that I didn’t miss anything. (I’m sure I still did.) Unfortunately, I just spent an hour trying to turn those important things into the kind of real nice word cloud I see elsewhere in the blogosphere. Epic fail. I had to settle for this no-frills “cloud” that nary a soul with human eye sight will be able to read. Therefore, I recommend that you read below instead of above. I also recommend that you have a HAPPY NEW YEAR full of all good things. Unless you’re annoying of course.
Note: As a superstitious person, it makes me more than a smidge uncomfortable to assume that January 2012 will actually get here. But we are scheduled to be away for the dreaded New Year’s Eve festivities, possibly without internet access, so I took a chance. This is huge, people. If the world ends, I know that it’s the fault of me and this jinxy blog post.
Keith • blizzard • blizzard • blizzard • Gabby Giffords • Google Apps • blizzard • Verizon iPhone • Dallas • Nosh • Austin • Round Rock Donut • Judy • Overlook • The Frog & the Peach • That Championship Season • Align • lump • night guard • Brit-coms • Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps • Japan • tsunami • Egypt • Libya • Liz Taylor • toric lenses • The King’s Speech • Bridesmaids • 16 Handles • sinus rinse • Katie • Ritz-Carlton Battery Park • iPad 2 • The Darby • Organix • Geraldine Ferraro • Foxy Knoxy • royal wedding • Pippa • Kate • Will • Harry • gel nails • Brisbane Bronze • The Decemberists • “I stay where my last step left me …” • Michael Scott • Outsourced • Wayfarers • McGraw-Hill • Glenda • “Keep calm and carry on” • Trump • birthers • Joplin, MO • Patsy’s • Italy • Tom’s • Mr. Ferragamo • DSK • Cape May • Delaware • keratin poisoning • Weinergate • Huma • Arnold • That Motherfucker With the Hat • Bobby Canavale • Cali Lewis • GameUp • Cameron Diaz • Chrome • Philadelphia • Moby Balboa • Mr. Hurricane • Clarence Clemens • gay marriage • Casey Anthony • Rob & Dave • Laughing Cow • 71 West 23rd • Ashbrook • Frankfurt • smurfs • Betty Ford • News of the World • Bossypants • Sherwood Schwartz • Washington, DC • progress • Lenovo • Skype • heat wave • Jamie • Michele Bachmann • South Sudan • Pilobolus • BLT soup • Amy Winehouse • null food • panic • Friday Night Lights • “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!” • Texas forever • Shark Tank • name change • Marla • Robbie • Hilton Head • The Crazy Crab • Devil Town • Hurricane Irene • Dr. Laura • jobs speech • September 11th • Occupy Wall Street • Century 21 • Jeph • Dallas • chicken and waffles • Adele • free Amanda! • Steve Jobs • iOS app update • Uh-Oh Roll Down the Window • Playboy Club • PanAm • Two Broke Girls • American Horror Story • Hart of Dixie • Scott Porter • John and Lesley • Foster the People • shooties • Carl • Claire • Quadaffi • Siri • Duran Duran! • “Play the fucking bass, John” • hashtags • Halloween blizzard • diabetes • Jill • Andy Rooney • Kardashian • marathon • Joe Pa • “I used to say, ‘the more tragic the better’…” • Movember • Marcel the Shell • Joanne • Laura • FSH • HSG • clip art • clomiphene • basting • Middlesex • Jeffrey Eugenides • Detroit • Phoebe • Lori Berenson • cousin • The Artist • Room and Board • Cape Cod • Buddy • Jan • Lew • Ma’am• Thirteen+1 • DS • L-PAK • KH• NB • RS • PG • SP • MF • JB • LS • MPC • APC • TB • KL • HA • LA • WFBF • AG • CUD • DK • RSM • KN • MJL • et al • 2012 …
It’s here! The much-anticipated and RIVETING final installment of the epic blog post
“10 Days in Texas!”
After what seemed like an eternity, Thursday arrived and those who had attended the educational technology conference cleared out. The last of my co-workers left early that morning, but my flight to Dallas wasn’t until later in the day. This gave me time to collect myself and obsess over the fact that I was now in a city with absolutely no one I knew, except of course for Milagros, the check-out girl at the Balcones Heights Target. This freaked me out a little bit, so I sought comfort at the hotel’s Starbucks outpost. Downstairs, I found the lobby packed with husbands and wives about my parents’ age, all of whom looked and sounded exactly like Hank and Peggy Hill, the protagonist couple in the aforementioned (and animated) King of the Hill.
“Hank Hill, propane,” one of them said to another in a Texan accent. [Note, for those of you who have never seen “KOTH”: This is how Hank Hill introduces himself – he provides his name and the business he’s in.]
“Heh heh. Mah nay-eem eez Haink Heel too, and I also say-ell pro-pay-in!”
It was not actually a propane sellers’ convention that had come to town but rather, a reunion of Vietnam War helicopter pilots from south Texas. I made my way through the sea of Wrangler jeans and ordered my frosty caffeinated beverage, intrigued by the whole thing and the flashbacks to the early 70s it caused me to have. But alas, there was no legitimate reason for me to be down there and I certainly couldn’t stand there eavesdropping on their memories of Saigon and An Loc without looking like a conspicuous freak. I also didn’t think they’d care that just a few days earlier, I’d seen a real Huey at Fort Sam, or that I myself lived on a NATO base during the war, so I went upstairs to pack.
At the San Antonio airport, I had a sad Quizno’s lunch by myself, obsessed for a bit about the still-unsolved salmonella outbreak, then flew (on a plane) to Dallas, where Dave picked me up at the airport. I had a lovely reunion with him, RSM and of course, my beloved furry god-dogs, Howie and LuLu, then we humans had some cocktails by the gorgeous pool. Also in attendance, but keeping a low profile, was Otis, Howie and LuLu’s elderly Shi-Tzu first cousin.
After a delicious dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant in Oak Lawn, we headed to Home Depot to procure some extra outdoor tables for the impending July 4 BBQ. En route, Rob and Dave noticed a prime parking spot in front of a bar called The Round-Up.
“It’s a sign!” they agreed as Rob made a sharp right.
The Round-Up is a gay cowboy bar featuring Texas Two-Step lessons. I was fascinated! We watched the lesson while drinking Shiner Bock, and I would absolutely have participated myself had it not been for some menacing-looking lesbians on the dance floor.
The next day, Allyson and I got manicures in Plano, then had a Japanese-infused snack with Eric. Later, Rob and Dave hosted a fabulous BBQ to which I contributed my traditional July 4 white trash flag cake (strawberries, blueberries and Cool Whip) and an experimental but equally white trash S’mores casserole that turned out to be a huge success. Also on the menu was Dave’s fabulous corn salad, which involved cheddar cheese, onions, sour cream and some other stuff; grilled chicken and sausages; Tesa’s fabulous cornbread salad; Tesa’s fabulous watermelon, blue cheese and cucumber salad; and several fabulous dishes prepared by Lil, the Unsinkable Molly Brown of my life. The real star of the evening, though, was Dave and Rob’s brand-spanking-new Big Green Egg, a born-again version of a grill that had been popular in the 70s. Not only did it produce fabulous BBQ, but it was quite cute.
On Saturday, in a momentarily lapse of reason, I agreed to walk the famous Katy Trail with the boys in the brutal Dallas heat. Powered by a dee-LICIOUS Raspberry Strudel Oatmeal Bar, I was somehow able to handle this activity without passing out, although I do seem to have developed varicose veins since returning from my trip … I found it comforting that the trail was lined with signs that revealed your coordinates. That way, when you did pass out, passersby could easily tell the 911 operator where to find your limp, smelly body.
Saturday night, after dinner at Fireside Pies with the Philly-Dallas crew, we drove 20 minutes southeast out of Dallas and attended the Mesquite Championship Rodeo. On the way there, Dave pointed out a fine-looking establishment on the right side of the road. He told us that if you dared to enter wearing a tie, the restaurant cut it off. We all found that hysterical, of course, and Eric said he wished he’d had a tie in the car so he could run in and experience the chopping process.
As it happened, I’d noticed a rather unsightly tie sitting next to me and brought this to Eric’s attention.
“What about this hideous piece of shit? Did you get it at the airport gift shop? Is it a clip-on?” I asked.
“Actually that’s my favorite Hugo Boss tie. I keep it in the car for good luck. I’m not making a hundred-dollar sacrifice, sorry.”
Um … oops.
Anyway, Allyson had been to a rodeo before, in Cowtown, NJ of all places, and Dave, of course, was no stranger to the bovine realm either, having grown up in the sticks of Texas. But for HBD, a British import; Eric, a Philly native; and me, it was a virgin experience. And honestly, I have never been so proud to be an American.
The rodeo was sponsored in part by Justin, the company that manufactured the cowboy boots I’d worn every day between 1992 and 1994. Other sponsors included a trailer park developer; Wrangler; Cavender’s Boot City; Fox Sports Southwest; Dodge; Holiday Inn; and Resistol Hats, for which the rodeo’s arena is named. It was just like I pictured it would be, except no one in the audience was actually wearing a red bandana around his or her neck, and there were no bison roaming in the background. Much like a less creepy version of the circus, the rodeo consisted of different “acts.” There was the traditional bull riding and then a kiddie version, in which small cowboys and cowgirls rode and attempted to not fall off of young sheep. (I believe the technical term is “Mutton Bustin’.) There were covered wagon races, barrel races and an event during which all the children in the audience chased after a small farm animal, oft losing shoes in the process. I tried to take some good action shots, but I was wearing a white shirt and the cows do tend to send dirt and god knows what else flying. Better to miss out on the photo-ops than to die from Mad Cow Disease while looking at beautiful pictures of bull balls.
After bidding a teary farewell to HBD, Eric and Allyson back at the house, I packed and retired, slightly depressed about the end of my trip. The next morning, we rose early and voyaged to the northern suburb of Plano, where we breakfasted at Breadwinners with Lil, Hal and Judy, then toured their beautiful homes. Panic set in as I tried to mentally prepare for my return to New York. It made me sad to think about being back in my studio apartment at my mediocre job with everyone down here, living a good life in a place where people were nice, brunettes and B-cups were a novelty, and a few months of Manhattan rent could practically BUY an amazing apartment in a posh Dallas ‘hood. It’s odd that almost everyone I knew in Philly ended up in Dallas for various reasons, and I can’t help but feel slightly left out and “My Life Without Me-ish.” And don’t get me started on the dogs. I asked Howie how he felt about coming with me in my suitcase, but he wasn’t sure he’d fit given the numerous pairs of shoes I’d brought.
Alas, the time came to head to the airport, and Howie and LuLu joined us for the ride. It was hard enough saying goodbye to Dave and Rob at one of the eight American terminals at DFW. But I have to admit that I cried a little when they drove off and I saw Howie sticking his fuzzy noggin out the window, looking back at me.
Addendum: Due to my dad’s strenuous objection to the way I spelled “turds” originally, I have replaced the “e” in that word with a “u.”
Before I met Dave and Rob, I had my own, Flintstonian method for labeling random household and personal items. It involved breaking off tiny pieces of that mesh-like First Aid tape and then writing on them with fine-point Sharpies. Given that Sharpie ink isn’t waterproof, this wasn’t always the best approach to identifying things like cosmetic products, which were oft used in the presence of a sink. Still, smeared Sharpie ink had never become enough of a problem for me to investigate other labeling options.
But over the course of my life with Dave and Rob, I learned many valuable lessons. I learned about Taco Bueno, Whataburger, Shiner Bock and the Lu Ann Platter (sold at Luby’s). I learned the subtle difference between Benjamin Moore’s Valley Forge (beige) and Behr’s Delaware River Crossing (beige) premium paints. I learned that candle wax could be removed from a carpet very easily with an iron and a brown paper bag. I learned that Wheaten terriers fear the sound of coins in empty soda cans. But by far one of the most important things they introduced me to was … the electronic label maker.
Dave spoke often and fondly of his electronic label maker — usually over our nightly glass of Orvieto — regaling me with tales of his and his sister’s obsession with this technological breakthrough. He told me that, at the height of their addiction, he saw in her house labels reading “DANDRUFF” (on the pillows); “BOOGERS” (tissue boxes); “ASSES” (seat cushions); and my favorite, “TURDS” (on the toilet seat cover).
I found any mention of the word “turd” riotously funny, of course, but still wasn’t convinced that this label maker thing was all that necessary. Then one night, it occurred to me that the colors of my 20+ eye shadows from MAC and Benefit would appear much more pure on my lids if I put each one on with its own brush. Why mix “Shroom” with “Jest” or “Mylar” with “Ricepaper” when a simple trip to the drugstore would afford each hue a personal applicator?
A quick jaunt to the slightly sketchy Walgreen’s on the corner of J.F.K. and 17th yielded a 24-pack of those Q-Tip-esque sponge tip thingies, and I was all set. Back in the apartment, I grabbed my First Aid tape and attempted to create a poor man’s label for each of my shades. Much to my dismay, I was too palsied to write out the names of the colors — or even a one-letter abbreviation — in a “font” small enough to fit on the applicators’ puny handles.
Crappy McCrapperstein! How would I keep track of which applicator went with which pot o’shadow? I voiced my frustration to Dave, who knew immediately what needed to be done.
Suspiciously, I accepted the famous label maker, which looked like a giant scientific calculator circa 1979. I typed in “Rose Quartz,” then hit the print button. Out slid a perfect label in a graceful, incredibly satisfying manner. I typed in “Vynyl,” “Heathen” and then “My Date’s My Brother.” Each time, the result was a flawless, consistently lettered label.
In a matter of minutes, I had developed an alarming addiction: I could not stop making labels. I craved the feel of the keys under my fingers. I yearned to read one and two words of text off a thin rectangular piece of adhesive-backed paper.
“Go easy on that — the paper’s really expensive,” Dave warned me.
I typed, printed out and then held up the words “I NEED HELP.”
Dave confiscated the label maker, but every time I purchased a new beauty product or transferred a moisturizer into a travel-sized bottle, I found it and indulged. It was a sickness. I could not believe how callously I had dismissed the issue at first. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.
When I left Philadelphia, I missed the label maker almost as much as I missed Dave, Rob and the dogs. I often thought of buying my own, but it seemed disrespectful, somehow. The label maker I used had to come from Dave and Rob.
As I’m sure you can guess, I received a box from Dallas yesterday, in honor of the 11th anniversary of my 25th birthday. Inside was a brand spankin’ new, Dymo 150 Label Manager kit — the CADILLAC of electronic label makers. Not since Dave presented me with the Betty Crocker Bake ‘n’ Fill for Christmas has a gift so quickly brought tears of joy to my eyes. And don’t think I didn’t type out a copy of this post on a single label.
Greetings from Dallas! I am coming to you live from the gorgeous new abode of my dear friends Dave and Rob, who saved my life in Philadelphia. In honor of my visit, I have invited their Wheaten Terriers Howie and LuLu — my god-dogs — to guest blog. These fuzzy guest bloggers appear above (LuLu is on the left, Howie on the right.) Their spelling isn’t quite at grade-level, so I will translate at the end of the entry.
Deer frendz uv Miz T’s blog hellow
Miz T is viziteeng uss frum noo york and wee ar reel iksytid too see hir! shee yooziz deelishis keelz produkts and wee lik to lick hir fayss. wee skratcht hir armz wen wee huggd hir sow now shee looks lik uh kuttur. she brawt ar dadz taystee treets frum noo york and shee sez wee kan hav sum evin iff wee ar not uhlowd. wee got to gow too wuttubergir and wee stuk ar hedz owt thu window then wee peed. yoo kan probublee smell miz t’s unyin breth frum wair yoo ar. miz t will tri to tip mor shee iz tird bekooz hir playn was layt.
Bi Lov Howie and LooLoo
Dear Friends of Miss T’s blog hello
Miss T is visiting us from New York and we are real excited to see her! She uses delicious Kiehl’s products and we like to lick her face. We scratched her arms when we hugged her so now she looks like a cutter. She brought our dads tasty treats from New York and she says we can have some even if we are not allowed. We got to go to Whattaburger and we stuck our heads out the window then we peed. You can probably smell Miss T’s onion breath from where you are. Miss T will try to type more she is tired because her plane was late.