Imperfect 10

TheWorst

There’s nothing to get excited about anymore. Except Liz Lemon.

When I was young and stoopid(er than I am now), it seemed daily life was full of poignant things to write about. By hand, in college-ruled notebooks. Would I barf from eating those Pringles so soon after returning from Friendly’s? Was I the only person on earth whose hair was immune to Elnett? What would happen when Jan and Lew noticed I had added a third hole to my left earlobe? Did Doc Martens come in size 5 1/2? Whhhhhhhhhy did that douche who sat behind me in English class not love me, and why did I care? You see. Material a-plenty.

Now it’s not so easy. I don’t even know why, because I basically worry about the adult version of the same things. But this blog is dusty. The novel I’ll never finish has been 40 mediocre pages long for two years. I keep reminding myself that the actors I’ve mentally cast in the big screen adaptation are about to age out of their theoretical roles, but I’m still mentally paralyzed. Besides, now that I’ve moved from notebooks to bloggery, it’s all public – and anything I’d logically think to write about would cause a hefty number of people to file restraining orders and/or stop speaking to me. So in desperation, as you may know, I sometimes turn to the interweb and the array of writing prompts it offers, from places like Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

Among her latest batch of prompts was this one: “List 10 things that make you feel excited.”

What is this word, “excited?” You mean excited like, “agitated?” Excited like, “I’m so excited with rage that Imma* punch you in the balls?” What else COULD it mean?

What’s that? Some people actually get excited about GOOD things?!  Come on. You don’t expect me to believe that load of crap do you? I mean please. That’s absurd. Clearly I need to move on to the next prompt. 

That one turned out to be, “You know you’re a mom when …”

Okay then. 

My eyes went back to the first prompt and suddenly the bold words of one Barney Stinson came into my head: “Challenge accepted.”

So can I do it?

10 Non-Everyday Things That Fill Me With a Faint Hint of Excitement

  1. The first hot day of summer and the first cold day of winter, because they mean a new season and a new atmosphere are upon us, and that today will be at least a tiny bit different from yesterday.
  2. Similarly, the promise of a massive blizzard that may result in the office closing, for its novelty and reminder of youth. And because junk food eaten in extreme weather conditions doesn’t count. Nor does junk food eaten after extreme weather conditions because it would be a terrible travesty to let it go to waste. Or, for that matter, junk food eaten before extreme weather conditions to make sure it’s safe for consumption.
  3. A jam-packed schedule of urban adventures with the Communettes (or as millennials might say, “my squad”), to destinations including but not limited to Russian nightclubs (whence comes the name “Communettes”); burlesque supper clubs (my burlesque name, in case you were wondering, is Andromeda Muscle Strain); ancient bath houses; nail art emporia; Tim Burton-themed bars; circus side shows (see Item 5); and other not-as-sordid-as-they-sound locales. You know who you are, Communettes. Come back to me!
  4. Duran Duran concerts, because nothing is more life-affirming than singing and dancing like an asshole to Rio live while you ogle an aging but gorgeous bass player.
  5. The Coney Island Circus Sideshow, because one of the snakes there makes me feel real loved and I myself love the smell of lighter fluid in the morning. (That’s a fire eating/Apocalypse Now joke and I find it hilarious.) Also, very few things compare to the sight of stomach slime glistening on a freshly swallowed sword.
  6. The virgin wear of new boots, lipstick, or jeans, all of which will be perfect for approximately 36 hours, at which point someone else will walk by wearing a version that is “better” in some way that can’t be articulated
  7. Canine hugs
  8. Reunions/visits/trips with people I love but haven’t seen in eons (most notably my lil sis, my Texans, my aforementioned Communettes)
  9. A completely empty New York Times crossword puzzle on a page that’s in pristine condition, paired with Wite-Out and a satisfying rollerball pen. Similarly, a brand new pack of multi-colored Sharpies/Flair pens/smelly markers.
  10. The exact moment of touch down on the runway at a new airport. But only that one moment, because a nanosecond later, panic sets in about whether or not it’s safe to drink the water wherever I’ve just landed.
  11. AND A BONUS NUMBER 11 … FINISHING THIS BLOG POST!

*Please note first-ever use of “Imma,” perhaps incorrectly. 

 

 

Advertisements
Imperfect 10

The Canned Kind

In response to Mama Kat’s Thanksgiving-themed Weekly Writing Prompt – and to remind myself – I’m going to tell you what I’m thankful for this year.  Of course this will prove extremely helpful to you the next time someone stops you in the Kroger’s or Piggly Wiggly produce aisle and asks, “Say, do you happen to know what the fabulously talented proprietress of The Letter T is thankful for?”

One of the things I’m thankful for is that my immediate family and close friends survived Hurricane Sandy largely unscathed, albeit in the dark and without cable for cruel stretches of time. But a virtual moment of silence for everyone who was not as lucky. For the lives and livelihoods that were blown away in this freak superstorm.  And for the fallen icons of the Jersey Shore. The boardwalks of Seaside Heights (or as we called it, “Sleazeside”) and Point Pleasant were repulsively seedy and endlessly comforting at the same time. I never understood how that was possible, but somehow the tackiness and the grit were part of the appeal – along with the smells of greasy food and Hawaiian Tropic. Slightly creepy carousel music. Saltwater taffy.  Old school signs. Wife-beater tanks and giant gold crosses. Tattoos. Skee ball. Our roots. I am thankful I am from New Jersey.

Photo by Nicole Argento (fellow Jersey Girl) of Warrior Heart (www.warriorheartstudio.com) and Nomad-Chic (www.nomad-chic.com)

Things I am also thankful for:

  • Keith, Jan and Lew, Jamie, my cousins, and my family-in-law
  • Being able to spend Thanksgiving with the aforementioned peeps
  • Old friends and new friends, in MA, CT, NY, NJ, MD, TX and Germany (sniff sniff)
  • Ollie, Howie and Lulu
  • Our stuffed kids
  • Surviving that freak eye infection, only having to have corneal scrapings once, wearing contacts again and freedom from amoeba
  • Being able to live in New York
  • The fact that in New York, anyone can get married
  • Not having to live in Michigan
  • Little blue pills and little white pills
  • That Cavaricci’s are no longer in style
  • The flat-iron
  • Pinkberry
  • Peanut butter
  • The interweb and social media
  • Not having the interweb and social media in high school
  • My job, my co-workers and being allowed to wear jeans every day
  • The lack of Ebola on the North American continent … so far …
  • Snoopy, Charlie Brown and co.
  • Cookie Monster and Grover
  • Hydroquinine pads (sayonara, melasma!)
  • The expression “but other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”
  • The coffee cart man on 23rd between 5th and 6th (except when he runs out of half-and-half)
  • TV
  • Wine
  • My “Dr. Laura”
  • The kind of liquid eyeliner that comes in an easy-to-apply magic marker-type pen
  • The chance to meet John Taylor and realize a childhood dream
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Piperlime
  • Books
  • Hershey’s
  • Wite-Out pens and the NYT crossword puzzle
  • Slimy cranberry sauce that maintains the shape of the can it came in
  • The blogosphere

BIG FAT HAPPY THANKSGIVING, THREE PEOPLE WHO READ THIS BLOG!

Aside

90 + 11 = 90?

The other day, a friend and I were analyzing the strange behavior of another girl we know. We came to the conclusion that this individual possesses absolutely no ability to grow as a person. At first I felt very smug about our assessment. Then, suddenly struck by a relapse of anxiety symptoms, I started to wonder whether I myself had the ability to grow as a person. After years of therapy and self-loathing, I feel better about myself than I ever did … but how much is that saying? I decided to investigate. And that meant picking up the journals I kept meticulously in high school.

A few things that struck me instantly:

  • My childhood bedroom obviously reeked of guinea pig chips
  • I had the handwriting of a lunatic
  • I ate a lot of candy
  • My flair for the melodramatic was truly unparalleled – clearly taking inspiration from the ABC After-School special and too many young adult novels

I thought you might appreciate some excerpts from these journals, written roughly this week in 1990 – my senior year of high school (class president: my husband). Please note that the views of 17-year-old me do not necessarily reflect the views of 38-year-old me.

4/2/90: Did I mention I got into Brandeis? Notice how thrilled I am. I am crazy, I know, to be miserable after getting into all five schools, but Washington is screaming for me. [This is where my high school boyfriend, B, was going to college.] I envy B because I know he will make it one day. Most people like B a lot more than my parents – they make him nervous. They make me nervous. They ARE nervous. Today was the first day of the last marking period I will ever spend in high school. We picked our gym classes 1st period – I got tennis and frisbee. Taxi driver killer LC is back in school – and guess when she has gym? [Please Google for more info – I don’t feel safe providing it.] I’m still thinking about that movie “Threads” and nuclear war. Today had no characteristic trait. It will blend into my memory and I will never know the difference between it and any other day. It sucked.

4/3/90: A [unrequited love of my high school life] looked so sad today. I asked how he was and he said “mediocre.” I asked if there was anything I could do and for a second, he looked like maybe there was [I can assure you the thing I could do was to shut the fork up], but he shook his head. On his way out of class he stopped at my desk and stared down at me with a weird look on his face. [I can assure you the weird look was his way of saying, “For the love of GOD you freak, stop writing about me in your guinea pig-scented diary.”] Being nice gets you nowhere except shit on, life is shit. The people who are vicious and cruel are a lot happier. B read me 25 characteristics of a disorder termed “anxious-neurotic.” I fit every single one. Nicole and Bob came over. Bob and I hate half a pint of Heath Bar Crunch. I feel sick.

4/6/90: Yesterday we signed in late to miss two gaywad senior assemblies [CRINGE! DOUBLE CRINGE! And note that the emcee at both asssemblies was … my husband.] Mr. O [menacing vice-principal] saw us come in and bawled us out. Like we were the only seniors who did it. Like I ever did ANYTHING wrong. Nicole and Jay weren’t in school today – they were down at Rutgers DJing. There is this thing called Derby Days Bob’s fraternity is involved in. It’s a fundraiser with sorority help. Sam, Jess and I went to Bridgewater [mall that opened circa 1989 with awe-inspiring food court]. Sam tried on this gorgeous peach prom dress – oh she looked so beautiful.

4/8/90: If only “if only” could alter the world. Sam and I had sundaes at Friendly’s, then went to the A&P for popcorn, Pringles, and dip [no, sadly, we were NOT stoned] and came back here and watched “When Harry Met Sally” again, my 8th time. Jamie had her friends over, they were being so loud and Sam told them to shut up. Tomorrow I’ll be lectured. Mom, Jamie and I had lunch at the Diet Works, and looked at some prom dresses at Doris Amster, pure tack. I did get 3 Cadbury Creme Eggs at Walgreen’s. I was thinking it would be so fantastic to keep a journal in college – can you imagine how priceless that would be years later [literally price-less]? I feel doomed – every time I do something I think it’s the last time I’ll ever do it. I can’t stop wondering if I’ll be okay, and not just okay, but happy? How hard will it be to get that way? I wonder if people outgrow neurosis? [Ha!] I can’t see it getting any better, only worse.

4/9/90: I really hate Passover. I know this is sacreligious [sic], but the seder drives me crazy. I believe in God, but I have my own image of God [impressive]. Some of these rituals are so silly. And who are we to say we are the chosen people? I feel so lonely. I wish I had a car. I have this new song onbsession. It’s called “Cigarette” by the Smithereens. Their lead singer is from Scotch Plains. The town was actually mentioned in Rolling Stone once . [This September, I heard the once-famous lead singer perform at the annual Italian Festival in the parking lot of St. Bart’s, but had to leave in haste due to an irritable bowel episode.]

4/13/90: This has been a miserable week. It all started Tuesday morning. Grandma is in the hospital. She was going to drop Jamie and D off in Westfield, then go home and pick up a few things. I was really rude to her. She kept nagging me to come with her and have lunch with her but I blew her off so she left, and she was gone a long time. I thought she was sulking at home and waiting for one of us to call and beg her to come back (she did that on July 4th). Usually when someone’s late I start to have scary thoughts, but this time I didn’t. In the middle of “General Hospital,” she called and said not to get excited, but she’d blacked out and had an accident and was in the hospital, Overlook. I got hysterical – I cried so hard – just the way she said it, and I kept picturing the accident, this old lady all by herself, she must have been so scared, and she kept saying thank god I didn’t go with her. I felt guilty somehow, like somehow I could have done something if I’d been there, and I felt guilty for being so mean – I kept crying, I didn’t know what to do. She said she was fine but that they didn’t know why she blacked out [this was probably an early and unrecognized sign of the problems that started to plague her four years later], and her chest was bruised from the steering wheel. I kept crying. I called my father’s office but the service answered so then I paged him. I was crying so hard he thought I was Jamie. That night we went to see her. There was no room available, so she was in the emergency room. Her clothes were all smushed into this little silver basket on the bottom of the bed. Her coat. Her Reeboks. When we left I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to stay with her. B thinks he is smarter than me [he isn’t]. He said I wouldn’t have gotten in to Penn [probably not, thanks to my stellar test-taking abilities]. Even while I knew that, it still sounded like an insult [uh … maybe because it WAS?]. It’s 2 weeks and six days til my 18th birthday and I must figure out a way to let A know. These are such troubled times. I wonder if I’ll ever feel okay again.

In closing:

  • I am much funnier now – does that count as personal growth?
  • Given the amount of junk food I ate then and continue to eat now (although after 35, I had to draw the line at Pringles), it’s a huge miracle I didn’t experience MORE personal growth
  • I made a lot of mistakes.
  • I could not write to save my life.
  • These are always troubled times.
  • I actually do feel okay.

Have I grown? I’ll leave that to the people who knew me when!

90 + 11 = 90?

Tales From the Tundra: Another Nail In the Coffin

In my pre-tundra New York days, visiting one of the city’s bazillion manicure and pedicure providers was a long-standing weekend tradition for my friends and me.  First, we’d meet at the diner on Saturday or Sunday. Then, we’d head to Zen or Pinky or Cindy’s or Trevi or Lincoln Nails, choose from a rainbow array of sheer pink nail polishes with asinine names, make snide comments about the other girls there, and enjoy some hand grooming.  

Please note: regular ‘curing may sound extravagant to those in more remote parts, but in New York, there are nail salons on every corner, and the average manicure costs less than $10.  As it happens, I have extremely dry skin and cuticles, so I view manicuring as a health-related expense. But mostly, it’s a nice way to spend time with my friends and engage in some catty commentary.  

In Michigan, there were no diners and my only friends were Sloth (ex-husband) and Ollie (dognapped Wheaten terrier — see “Meet Ollie” page), neither of whom could be counted on for manicure companionship.  Furthermore, nail care providers in Michigan were much fewer and farther between, more expensive, not as clean, poorer quality, and overall just sucky.  I had to take matters into my own unmanicured hands. 

Unfortunately, the aforementioned unmanicured hands are less than steady, and eventually I had to give up on polished fingernails.  Toes were do-able providing no one looked too closely, but the colors I had with me on the tundra weren’t really foot-appropriate.  There happened to be a respectable-looking beauty supply store in the Colonnade, the “ultra-posh” strip mall across the street from our apartment in the equally “ultra-posh” Briar Cove complex.  Desperate for something to do, I made nail polish selection my official Wednesday errand and looked forward to this important task.

When I hit the beauty supply store, I spent half an hour poring over various shades and brands of wine-colored nail polish before settling on a delightful, deep burgundy hue called “Berry Hard.”

Eagerly, I headed to the cashier and waited for at least 10 minutes while a mohawked hairdresser paid, in pennies, for approximately 40 bottles of shampoo. Just as the transaction seemed to be wrapping up, the hairdresser noticed a mysterious ingredient in the shampoo he was purchasing: placenta. This fascinated him.  He launched into a series of questions about the origins, purpose and effect of “play-say-nta,” as if his upscale clientele in YPSILANTI really gave a shit.

At last it was my turn to pay, and I placed the bottle of “Berry Hard” on the counter with the pride and anticipation of a child who had saved all her life for one toy. 

“Cane I see your lay-cense?,” asked the stylish cashier who had obviously bought her outfit at Forever 21 but told herself she was clad in Prada.
 
“My license? You need my driver’s license for a $3-bottle of nail polish?”
 
“No,” replied the cashier. “Don’t you hay-ve your byew-uh-tician lay-cense?”
 
It was hard to refrain from uttering my Michigan mantra — ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? — but I have to admit, I also felt like a dejected moron. I felt like the whole state had broken me.

 “No ma’am, no I do not. I am not a licensed beautician.” I could barely speak above a whisper. My shame was evident.

“Well then Aim sorry, you cane not shapp in this store. It’s just for the industry.”

Miserable, I walked home and went online to see if there were any other places I might be able to purchase one little bottle of nail polish.  (Keep in mind that while I did have access to a decent CVS, said store did not carry products by Essie, the company that made “Berry Hard.”) It turned out there was another beauty supply store just a short drive away, and they sold “Berry Hard.” Again I found the bottle, caressed it longingly and waited on line to pay. Again I received the news that only lay-censed byew-uh-ticians could dispense cash there. To make matters worse, a lard-ass manicurist at the register next to me was buying several bottles of THE VERY SAME SHADE. It was a cruel trick of the pedicure gods.

There was one more option: a place on the other side of town. 

This time, I didn’t get my hopes up.  Before heading down Nail Polish Row and checking to see if “Berry Hard” was an option, I asked if one had to be a licensed beautician to shop there. It was a question I never in a million years imagined I’d have to utter.

A kindly salesperson replied that the store was open to shoppers of all professions.

“Even out-of-work publicity writers?!”

“Even out-of-work publicity writers.”

 She was like Glynda the Good Witch.  I wanted to hug her. 

At last, “Berry Hard” would be mine.  If only that store SOLD “Berry Hard.”

That night, I relayed the story to Sloth. I hoped he’d be so upset about my trauma that he’d offer to quit his job the next day and move back to civilization pronto.  But he found it rioutously funny.

He was still chuckling a few hours later when I came out of the bathroom sporting two coats of “God Save the Queen’s Nails.”

Tales From the Tundra: Another Nail In the Coffin