Thursday, December 9, 2010

Episode 106: How to Navigate Sibling Rivalry

So my sister and I are almost three years apart in age; I'm older chronologically, but she's older in all the responsible aspects. Like for example: she has a savings account ... while I still practice my Oscar speech. Because 44-year-olds break into the movie business and rise to the top all the time. I'm sure I'll think of one in a minute.

Anyway. When we were teenagers, we were very different in another way. She liked Loverboy, I like Olivia Newton-John. Her room was plastered with giant posters of Mike Reno's red-leather-clad ass, mine was covered with Livvy's pool-deep eyes, beckoning me to come take her hand, she is maaaagic, she won't let her aim ever strayyyyyy....nothing can stand in our waaay..... she'll be guiiiiding meeee. I mean, when I wasn't drawing pastel portraits of her exercising, I would sit around and kiss album covers with her on them and I was old enough to have hair on my legs, so that was something pathetic, lemme tell you.

It was two worlds that could never, ever meet and that difference manifested itself a lot of times - we fought constantly. Not just sit-around-the-fire tossing witty insults sort of fighting, but real fighting. And one time, we got into a monster fight and I threw a ladderback chair at her, and then she hit me in the head with a cast iron skillet. That really is the etching Currier and Ives forgot to etch and hand-color, if you ask me: the two of us locked in mortal embrace brandishing weapons that could only be found in an Amish kitchen.

So that fight got us in trouble, needless to say, because our mother really liked that chair. We were both sent to our rooms, which were next to each other in the hallway. We tuned our respective radios to our favorite stations - she was 103 KDF, I was Kix 104 - and laid down on the floor with just our head sticking out into the hallway so we could continue to taunt each other. "You're a drama nerd," she hissed. "Your hair is jacked up like a furry, tire-less Camaro!," was my witty riposte. "No one likes you or your stupid new nubby-weave double-breasted jacket, you nerd," she said, attacking my quite confident fashion sense, the usual low road for blunt types, if you ask me. "And besides," she continued, "Olivia Newton-John is a lesbian and she will NEVER LOVE YOU."

All lies! LIES LIES LIES! Now that I think about it, I will never forgive her for these lies, even all these years later! She is sleeping upstairs right now and I have a brand new smothering pillow from The Company Store. Hang on ... be right back.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Episode 105: How to Deal with Black Friday

How you deal with Black Friday has a lot to do with which end of it you are on. Retail workers deal with it completely differently than the shoppers do. Like for example: when I worked in a bookstore on Black Friday, I took two Xanax. It sure made the day go by and at one point I was so relaxed I peed in my pants. But anyway! That's a stroll down memory lane I don't feel like taking right now.

My sister works retail. She has for a long time. Once she managed a doodad store that got particularly busy the day after Thanksgiving. Maybe this was because they sold Christmas cards and Christmas ornaments and Christmas aprons and Christmas menorahs and whathaveyou. Or maybe it was a coincidence. But anyway. She tricked a friend and me into helping her that day, telling me I would have such fun wrapping gifts and festooning gift boxes with ribbons and geegaws. But that is not how the day unfolded. It was more like the Bataan Death March, only there were a lot of lavender M&Ms and a whole bunch of orange ribbon.

My sister was very good at her job. She could do that fake smile thing and that "ohmigod, HI! Isn't that fifty-dollar marabou napkin ring just a HOOT! I just think it's DARLING!" and you had no idea that she was secretly thinking "I hope you die soon, shitface." But she was. That's what she was thinking. And that's what every single retail worker thinks on Black Friday. So be nice, shitface.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Episode 104: How to Have an Awkward Thanksgiving

Yeah, I don't really have a Thanksgiving story. My family hasn't been a Thanksgiving-type of family in over twenty years, so I don't have any charming stories about MeeMaw chopping the head off a turkey (though I do have a distant relative named Georgia Lou who once chopped the head off of a snapping turtle) or PeePaw trudging through the snow dragging a sled full of oranges into the yard or whatever those olden-tyme pilgrimmy tradtions call for.

So then I was thinking that I would instead tell you the story of when a whole bunch of white friends almost burned down a black church on the 4th of July. There were fireworks involved - wayward fireworks - that whizzed around and smashed through the window of the church on the corner and when the fire truck got there, the inside curtains were on fire. There was whiskey and beer and a whole bunch of lesbians involved. Can you imagine the news coverage that could have been? My head is in a fevered state just thinking about it.

But since I wasn't there for that, I don't think I can tell that story either. So you will have to insert your own holiday-themed story into this episode of the Psychopedia. I can't do all the work, you know.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Episode 103: How to Read "Lolita"

Okay, so art school. It's a lot of fun and very very hard and challenging but it is not exactly rigorous when it comes to the non-art-related fields. There was some silly one-semester-minute requirement for other liberal arts and they mainly consisted of classes called things like "Turning the Page: How to Turn the Page of a Book" or "Why Books are Rectangular." But there were a couple of really interesting classes taught by professors from the nearby fancypants university who would cross North Parkway and slum a little. One of the classes was called "The Search for the Great America Novel." We read six books - "Absalom, Absalom!," "Pictures of Fidelman," something else, something else and a Nabokov double feature, "Pale Fire" and "Lolita," which I had read before.

Now these English classes at art school were made up of a motley crew of people -- mainly people willing to be there at 8 in the morning for the easy "pass." This particular class had examples of the opposite poles of art school students in it. One was named Anne and I loved her. She wore pajamas to class and was always making nutty provocative art, like a self-portrait bust of herself made from Underwood potted meat. The other was Judy, who was an older lady who did large ultra-realistic pastel drawings of, oh, parakeets sitting on perches and she was always the one screeching out "I don't get why this is art" if someone brought in a drawing of a vulva to drawing class, which, coincidentally, Anne would do with almost mind-numbing regularity.

So! We get to "Lolita." Judy comes in in an absolute fury, demanding to know why we have been assigned this book when we shouldn't even be reading fiction! We should be reading true stories, like the BIBLE! Not this filth about a young girl and a father figure having sex in every little seedy motel in America. And there sat Anne in her patchouli-scented pajamas, grinning from ear to ear as she puffed a cigarette (ok, maybe not but in my memory she did) - who then leveled the room more effectively than Fat Man and Little Boy took care of Hiroshima - with one simple little question: "oh Judy, for god's sake. Haven't you ever imagined screwing your daddy?"

Now. Have you ever watched a watermelon be thrown from the top of a building onto the pavement below? That's pretty much what Judy's head looked like right before the screaming match began. And it was a screaming match as yet unrivaled, and that includes all of reality TV since then. I just sat there laughing - along with the professor - and doodling my new tattoo idea, which included the phrase "I Heart Anne 4-Ever."

I haven't kept up with either of them; I'm sure Judy's off in some windowless church putting a snake back in a box. Anne? Who knows. She's either in jail or a professor somewhere; I certainly hope it's the latter and she's spending her days opening the eyes of horrible, stupid Judys everywhere.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Episode 102: How to Bake a Pie

I used to work at a movie theatre. Don't get too excited, it's not as fun as it sounds. But it was more fun than other jobs I have had, so it all evens out on the Fun-o-meter©. Anyway, it was a theatre that had six screens and all the movies basically started at the same time so we'd have a half-hour of stuff to do and then an hour of absolutely nothing to do. You could eat free popcorn and I certainly took advantage of that. There was one whole summer where I was worried that if it got too hot outside, I would actually explode like a Jiffy Pop pan.

We found lots of ways to occupy the downtime. We told one new employee that as part of his training he had to get in the popcorn warmer, which he did. We closed it and walked off and left him in there. Ha ha ha, stupid Mitch. Sometimes we had to check the bathrooms because we had a gentleman who would come to the movies and then go to the men's lavatory and remove all of his clothes, fold them and put them in a neat little pile and then just stand in the middle of the bathroom and greet people as they came in. "Hello," the naked man would say, waving.

One day, three of my co-workers had an eating dare. One of them had to eat an entire jar of mayonnaise. Then one had to drink a mayonnaise jar full of pickle juice. The third had to then drink the same jar full of Fanta Orange soda syrup. I didn't think the pickle juice sounded so bad, but I wasn't involved; I was preoccupied with popcorn. All three completed their dares and I think only Bob the mayonnaise eater puked. He'll correct me in the comments, I'm sure. But to this day he won't eat mayonnaise, and it's been twenty-five years.

Anyway, I could eat a whole pie.

(Please add Moon Pies to the approved list in your mind.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Episode 101: How to Bathe Your Dog

OK, so. We used to get birds in our house all the time. They would fly down the chimney and then hide in dark corners of the dining room until the moment we were preparing the samovar and then they would LEAP out from behind the curtains with their wings all atwitter and would get all up in our faces until we fell over with heart failure and then Fanny, our 100-year old cat, would jump six feet straight up and snatch the bird out of mid air and kill it right there on the spot. It got to where she would just sit in front of the fireplace and let them fly into her mouth as they came down the chimney.

So one time I decided to bathe our little dog Bernie, who was also a hundred years old. He was difficult to bathe, all shaky and twisty and jumpy and screamy. It made a big mess so the only way to do it was to just strip down and be prepared to get wet. So I was in the bathroom in my underwear with a screaming dog and a bathtub full of suds and it was all steamy so I had my glasses off. And I reached up to push my hair out of my face and....there was a bird on my head. WELL! I threw the dog down in to the water and banged against the sink and banged against the door and fell down on the floor and the whole time the bird was beating his wings against my head, which was probably not helping the stroke I was having. And the whole time, Little Bernie is squeeeeeeeeeling at the top of his lungs, too small to jump out of the tub as the water rose.

It's like one of those Saturday morning cliffhangers, isn't it? What would I do? How would it end? I wish I could say that the door creeeeeeaaaaaked open and ta-da! Fanny to the rescue, wearing a little tiny cat-cape, fangs dripping, tail twitching! But, alas, no -- she was asleep on my boudoir pillow. I eventually fell into a stack of towels and was able to cover the nasty little thing and throw it outside, where it promptly flew back up to its chimney nest and eventually down the chimney into Fanny's salivating jaws. And Bernie did not drown.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Episode 100: How to Act at a Restaurant

This entry could have many many different accompanying stories; it was hard to narrow it down to just one that encapsulates the working-in-a-restaurant-or bar experience. I could tell about the time my friend Suzy put lit firecrackers in the tampon machine in the ladies' room of a favorite bar. I could tell about the time my own sister poured a pitcher of ice water into the lap of a drunk Vanderbilt girl (I know, that's redundant) who wouldn't leave a lit candle alone. But those are their stories to tell so I will tell you one about myself instead.

Easter Sunday brunch is the absolute worst shift a restaurant employee can work. Well, maybe Mother's Day wins by a nose, but either way, you have to deal with a million people who are having a meal with people that they as a rule cannot stand. I was working for some friends at a restaurant they had recently opened and this was the first Easter Sunday they had weathered. I was helping at the front door and by ten o'clock, there were fifty parties milling around outside on the sidewalk. I drank my Bloody Mary and opened the doors. We didn't have a real system for dealing with the wait list, so we had a yellow legal pad and a pencil. We also didn't have a way of calling you when your name came up, so I would write down brief, coded descriptions to help me find them when I needed. "Flipflops" meant "the filthy hipster with dirty feet." "Lily Pulitzer" meant "look for the idiot in pink and green." "Christian" meant "gaaaaaay."

The next four hours unfolded predictably. That is to say, disastrously. Like a Hurricane Katrina-style disaster and that is not an exaggeration. People wept when they heard that the wait would be two hours. They wheedled and bribed and begged and used their crying baby-type-children-things as props. A woman made her own mother pretend to limp so I would move them up the list. The healed acted sick and the sick acted dead. At two o'clock, when we were set to close, I still had forty names on the list and I had lost ten pounds, despite my constant Bloody Mary consumption over the course of the day. My mood had soured considerably and I had run out of mood-neutral nicknames for people on the list and I was extremely unhappy at the supposed reappearance of Jesus and resolved to take it up with him later and ask why he bothered to come back and save all these bitches who wanted their crab cakes and WANTED THEM NOW. You know why it took him three days to get up and push the rock door open? Because his table was finally ready.

Anyway. I cleaned off a table and returned to my post at the door where, much to my dismay, a dressed-up church lady was holding my yellow legal pad and fixing me with a beady glare. "So," she hissed. "I need to know: am I 'Fat Pants' or am I 'Bitchface'?" You could practically hear the theme from "Jaws" shuddering under the scene as I weighed my options. "Um, well. The bad news is that you are indeed, um, 'Fat Pants.' The good news is that your table is ready."

This was a risky could have gone either way: she could have slapped me or she could have laughed and shrugged it off. There was a long pause as she mulled over these options and took my full measure from head to toe and back again. "'Fat Pants' it is," she intoned. "I'm starving."

And I led her to her table in triumph, with crowds cheering and streamers and glitter showering me from above.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Episode 99: How to Dress for a Costume Party

It's almost September! You know what that means! You should have your Halloween costume completely finished and wrapped in tissue and kept in a fireproof box in case your house burns down. Because nothing is more important than winning the costume contest at Halloween. You can rebuild your house from smoldering embers, but you cannot - repeat, cannot - earn a trophy and a free oil change at Jiffy Lube if you don't show up in an outfit and win the contest on Halloween.

There used to be a big summer event here that benefitted the local film festival. Every year there was a theme - Science Fiction, Fellini, etc. - and one year there was a James Bond theme. I of course wore a ladies' bathing suit and a scuba mask and won the contest; I was Ursula Andress. But I have a friend who went wrapped simply in a bedsheet, wearing a velvet choker. She looked like every single morning-after James Bond conquest and it was a much better concept than me stuffed into a bathing suit, looking like a can of biscuits had just exploded. In hindsight, she probably should have won. But she can have my trophy when I die. Otherwise, what would sit on my mantle in the interim?

Anyway, this year's concept isn't quite clear to me yet. In this Era of Reality Television, there are a lot of options. Snooki feels a little last year. Any of the Real Housewives would be good but it's a little niche; if you have to explain the joke, then it isn't a good costume. The ladies of The View is always a good idea - as long as I can be Joy. But I'm not quite sure yet. Maybe I'll just stay home. Halloween this year falls on a Sunday. That's Mad Men night. Ohhhhh, waaaaaait.......

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Episode 98: How to Get into Trouble

Okay so this one time I was living with my mom outside of Atlanta; I was in the five-year-old department. We lived in a nice apartment complex called Tanglewood; I remember it very clearly, had little fake timbers like we were living in Robin Hood's refugee camp. Anyway. We were the last apartment on the end of one of the buildings and if you walked across the parking lot and down a little slope, there was a swimming pool.

My uncle - who must have lived nearby; this part is fuzzy - once threw me in that pool to teach me to swim. It was barbaric, but it worked. I mean...I'm here aren't I? My uncle also had a maid named Sally who looked after me in the afternoon. One day, while Sally was watching me, I sneaked (snuck?) away and walked down the hill and jumped in the pool and swam around until I looked like a really white raisin. The problem was I did not tell Sally I was going to the pool and she lost her ever-lovin' mind looking for me. I was finally located by her laser-beam eyes and thrown into the back of a pickup truck, whereupon I was delivered to my uncle, who was building a restaurant at the time (I remember! I was called Mrs Boomer's! What Georgia town was this? Athens? Marietta? Kennesaw? one of them, I'm sure). I sat in the back of the truck in the parking lot and waited and waited and waited for hours. Or maybe it was five know how things are when you're a kid and you know the hammer's about to come down.

And then my uncle walked across the parking lot, dropped the tailgate and spanked the hell out of me. Don't worry, wasn't abusive; it was instructive. To this day, I do what I am told and people named Sally terrify me. They should just load up a plane full of Sallys and let them loose in Afghanistan because when you see a big ol' Sally wearing an apron headed your way waving a rolling pin, you put up your hands and surrender. I can't even watch The Sally Field program with the grown kids and the problems, whatever it's called. Because in addition to her Sallyness, she also has brittle bones and I always worry that she hasn't taken her Boniva.

I think my uncle also spanked me once because I refused to eat a tomato. But maybe that's something I should share with my therapist.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Episode 97: How to Bust Up a Crack Deal

So I've been volunteering at a local cultural event-type thing and it's fun and exciting and I get to be outside for a couple of hours a night but you know what else? Other people are outside too and by other people, I do not mean the pinot-noir-sipping types who are attending the event. No, I mean there are people who make their living outside. And I do not mean squirrels, though they also ply their trade in the out-of-doors, generally. Also I have discovered that I do not like to talk to people. Well, close: I do not mind talking to people, I just do not like them to talk back. When I am done with my spiel, I am done with my spiel. Take your little sticker and go sit the fuck down, buddy.

La la la, so there I was with my donation bucket and a drunken lady person came up to me and asked for money. I said no and explained that maybe she didn't really get the general concept of which direction the money was supposed to be going so then she went and leaned against a tree where a few minutes later a gentleman in a Tommy Bahama-style ensemble approached her and handed her a little bag and then he left. And then a few minutes later there was a very distinct smell that does not smell like anything you can buy at Bath and Body Works because they last time I went there, they did not have a candle scent called "Hot Tin Foil."

So I ambled over in her general direction (I was nervous that there were so many kids running around - look at me caring!) and clanked my metal donation bucket ominously and the lady staggered off and fell over a curb and hauled herself back up and disappeared into the night.

And that lady was....Tanya Tucker! No, no, not really. I shouldn't say that, she is a nice lady. My mother once made a stained glass window for her bathroom and it was very exciting when Tanya Tucker called the house to discuss the details and I answered. I almost asked her if she was putting the stained glass window in her mansion in the sky but I chickened out.

I don't know who the crack lady really was, but I'm sure it was someone. Lorrie Morgan ain't doing anything.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Episode 96: How to Clean the Gutters

Ok, I confess I have no idea how to clean the gutters. It's one of those things like laundry where once you start doing it, you're never really done with it so why start in the first place, right?

I live in a two-story house with a basement that's on a slope so when you look at it from the back, it's a three-story house. We hired this company to come clean the gutters on the backside of the house because I only have a twelve-foot-ladder and while I'm no Stephen Hawking, I am pretty sure three stories is higher than twelve feet. This guy - who was on his first day of work with this company - showed up and stretched out his big-ass ladder and he shimmied up it and hopped out onto the top of the house and then promptly slipped and fell. He bounced down onto the second floor roof, taking the third-story gutter with him. Then he bounced onto the first-floor roof and yanked the second floor gutter with him. Then he fell off into the oblivion that should have ended in the back yard but he accidentally grabbed the power line that led into the house and that electrocuted him, which certainly didn't come in handy when he fell on the metal stairs leading to the pantry door which he then bounced down, one at a time, denting each one. Then he was relieved to be over with it until he landed on the concrete patio and smashed his head wide open. Oh, and no one was home so he laid there for an hour.

But don't worry! Everything ends happily! ... we got new gutters.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Episode 95: How to Shop at the Liquor Store

Yeah so, I have a god-daughter. Can you imagine? Someone said: "hey DG, I would like to entrust my daughter's spiritual education to you in case I die in a lawnmower accident or am accidentally poisoned like that guy on 'Big Love.'" I mean: really? On whose list am I even in the top ten thousand when it comes to spiritual development? Even my dog kneels and prays and then when she's done, she looks at me reproachfully as if to say "I ain't bringing any tennis balls to HELL, so you better get your SHIT together..."

One day, my close friend (let's say) Shmoozy* took god-daughter (hmm, ok, let's say) Shamille* on a series of errands. One of the errands involved going to Wal-Mart, one involved visiting a hair salon called Hair It Is and one involved going to the liquor store. Luckily for Shmoozy*, this particular liquor store had a child-friendly play area, presumably provided to give the ladies of the local metropolis enough time to peruse the aisles to select a poison to dull their particular sorrow. Not that Shmoozy* would need such a thing! No,no, she ain't no Real Housewife! She knows how to do it already! Anyway, it was the usual sort of play area: a pit of colored balls, a rocking horse, a mobile made of rusty nails and insulin needles. But Shmoozy* plopped my god-daughter into the little plastic-fenced-off area and went on her merry way, looking at the "pinots" and the "cabs" and the "whathaveyous" that are available here in our little corner of America. In other words: jars of moonshine.

So after a few minutes of browsing the new release section, Shmoozy* made her choices, checked her five cases of liquor out and then tried to retrieve Shamille* from the play area, whereupon Shamille* threw a hissy fit and screamed I NEVER WANT TO LEAVE THE LIQUOR STORE...I LOVE IT HERE.

Which explains my godfather position in a nutshell, if you ask me....

*not their actual names. Suzy and Camille are their actual names.

Episode 94: How to Deal With Snakes

I don't have an overarching morality tale for this one, just a series of snake-related anecdotes of varying terrifying degrees:

1. I have been terrified of snakes ever since I saw Rikki Tikki Tavi and spent several nights wide awake, keenly aware of the nest of cobras under my bed.

2. There was a movie called "Ssssss" that had a scene where a woman was in her bathtub and the drain thing popped off and a bunch of snakes slithered into her bathtub. Not since Janet Leigh took a shower at the Bates Motel has there been such a frightening bathtub-related psychological trauma. I don't take a bath or a shower: I just rub an ice cube around.

3. My mom won't even say the word "snake." She says "you-know-what." "Your father killed a you-know-what in the side yard today." "Your father ran over a you-know-what on our camping trip. Wouldn't it be funny if "you-know-what" turned out to be something other than snakes? Like Belgian people, maybe? And my father was some sort of person who had a problem with Belgians? Ha ha, yes, that would be funny.

4. I went on a series of hikes in lovely parks around the state and on every hike, I saw a snake. In every instance but one, the snake was coming across the trail from the right to the left. So now I basically hike sideways, facing the right.

5. I have a friend who defends snakes and says they eat fifty pounds of mosquitoes a day or ten mice or something. I stop paying attention when I hear "snake" and just run in the opposite direction in general. Plus, he is clearly lying, in that way people who say "oh, this habanero won't burn!" and "oh, I'm sure there are no rusty, tetanus-loaded car bodies just beneath the surface of this brown quarry water!" are always lying.

6. I was planning a trip to the lovely, dark and swampy Congaree National Park. Then I ran across an FAQ for it and the first question on the list was "what are those snakes that keep falling from the trees into the boat?" Now I am going to Mammoth Cave.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Episode 93: How To Go to the Post Office

One time I went to the post office. This doesn't happen a lot, as the post office near me is clearly some sort of way-station for people training to be brain-damaged greeters at some Wal-Mart of Doom located on the banks of the River Styx. It really is the most unnerving experience to go to this post office because you just can't believe that these people made it to the post office without being hit by cars or swooped up by birds that pick on lesser beings. It takes about eight seconds to see that half of the people in there have mis-buttoned blouses and drool down their fronts. And that's just the postal clerks.

ANYWAY. One time I went to the post office and the lady several people front of me set two wine glasses on the counter and asked that they be packed up and sent to her sister. Here is a transcript of the ensuing conversation:

Postal Clerk: I'm sorry ma'am, but I can't pack those up for you. We just mail things.
Lady: But I have to get these to my sister before her gift gets to me.
Postal Clerk: That's fine but that's not what we do. Some supplies are over on the counter there, feel free to use them and then we'll get this on the way to your sister.
Lady: FINE. (stomps over to counter and packs up wine glasses by stuffing them in a Priority Mail pouch and returns to counter)
Postal Clerk: (sigh) Well, I'll tape this up for you, I guess. Now we'll need an address.
Lady: (sighs) I don't know it. She's right down the street, two houses down from this post office.
Postal Clerk: Uhm, then since these glasses- packed like this - are going to break anyway and since it's so close, why don't you just deliver this lovely gift to her in person?
Lady: Oh, we haven't spoken in thirty years.

With that, the postal clerk figured out the address, taped up the box, took her money and threw the package in the big canvas cart behind him, where I could clearly hear both glasses shatter upon impact.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Episode 92: How to Be Modest

So this one time, when I was in art school, the entire student body lost their minds at the same time and elected me as the Secretary of Student Council. My friend Russell ran as President, my future roommate Allison ran as Vice-President and my current roommate Dani ran as Treasurer. We all won, swept into Manchurian-Candidate-level power on what could only be called the "Hi, We're Drunk" ticket. I don't think we did a single thing during our term except throw a Halloween party (I went as an Arab) at an abandoned body shop where everyone had to sign an insurance release in case the floor collapsed. We also had a lot of "meetings" that were lavishly catered by Pizza Hut. So when you want to know where your "student activity fees" are going, college students, look at the waistlines of your elected officials because I can assure you some things never change.

Anyway. The Vice-President Allison and I had to go on a local cable access show to promote an upcoming student show. Vice-President Allison brought this incredible book she had made that was shaped like a three-dimensional hand and I brought an abstract drawing drawing I was working on that was from what came to be known as "The Drunken Smudgy Series, With Scratchy Bits." Vice-President Allison talked and talked so eloquently about her book and then the badger-faced TV hostess turned to me and the drawing I was holding and asked "and who did this drawing?" Somehow I knew this was not the time to shine a light on myself. So without missing a beat, I said "Lady, I have no idea." Which turned out to be fortuitous because the hostess then held it up to the camera - upside-down - and said "I don't get this at all! What is it? Is it a cat?" and I repeated what I had decided was now my mantra: "Lady, I have no idea." And she went on for ten minutes about how "art is such a mystery, isn't it?! I mean, anyone can do anything and say 'It's art!' and who are we to argue, right?"

Lady, I have no idea.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Episode 91: How to Know Where You Are

So this one time I went to a wedding in Wisconsin. I was the plus-one. I sort of knew the groom and I knew the person I went with and I knew one other person who also knew the person I went with but, hmmm, not everyone was talking to each other, so needless to say it was like a wedding from Lifetime TV where Tori Spelling plays someone and then someone else either cries, dies and/or sleeps with danger. Oh and the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile was there.

Anyway, Wisconsin was really beautiful. I had no idea before I went that it would be as pretty as it was. I thought it was all going to look like where Laverne and Shirley lived before they moved to California (which they shouldn't have done, right? Am I right?) and I thought it would smell beer-ish, but no, it was bucolic and all rolling-hillsy and blue skies and dairies and there was a mustard museum (did you know you can spend ninety dollars on mustard? Well, you can. It was in Mt Horeb but I just looked it up and it has moved to Middleton, which is where the wedding was! So don't go to Mt Horeb looking for it, though there are also big statues of trolls there) and The House on the Rock, which is like porno for hoarders.

But Wisconsin was missing two things: salad and black people. Seriously, this food. I mean. I've never seen so much meat and cheese in all my life. I was so excited when I went through the food line at the wedding, and there was this GIANT bowl of salad. And when I went back through it a half hour later, the exact same amount of salad was still in the bowl. No one was eating the salad. But oh my goodness, they enjoyed their various sliced meats and stuffed meats and meat on top of meat and meat wrapped around meat, washed down with some meat and then some meat for dessert, with a meat sorbet thrown in there somewhere. And then they cut the wedding cake, which was made of meat.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Episode 90: How to Go to a Craft Fair

Ok, so in theory I should really love craft fairs. I like hand-made things and I like chicken gyros and you can usually find both of these things at a craft fair. But I do not like craft fairs. I keep going to them, trying to figure out what the big deal is and I have come to the conclusion that there is indeed no big deal at all. I mean: if I wanted to see grown-up hippie women wearing no makeup, I can just go to nice air-conditioned Whole Foods...I don't need to traipse around in the hot July sun looking at butter churns made out of petrified corn-husks to do it.

Another thing about them that makes me crazy is that while yes, I admire the raku salt and pepper shakers (and I do), I do not have to respect the fact that they are $110. Do they pour out salt granules in some fancy way? Does the pepper fly around the room after coming out of one of the porcelain holes? Because for $110 dollars, it better. In the end, they are still just salt and pepper shakers and you have to draw the line somewhere. Some things are only supposed to cost $5 and they should never ever cost more than that. I am also looking at you, heirloom tomatoes. You're a fucking tomato. One dollar.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Episode 89: How to Beat the Summer Heat

OK, so I went to college in Memphis. I know, it sounds so genteel and Southern and wouldn't it be great sitting around on porches and singing "Hound Dog" all the livelong day but let me tell you something: "Memphis" is an Egyptian word that means "hot as fuck." I have no memories of my four and a half years in Memphis that do not involve me attempting to cope with the sweltering, overwhelming heat. One January, it snowed six or seven inches and my memory of even that is that it was still ninety-seven degrees. In the shade.

I was also incredibly poor during my time there. I would eat Nabisco Saltines and Peter Pan peanut butter for weeks on end - to this day, I get queasy if there is too much peanut sauce on my Thai food. Anyway, one summer - the hottest summer in the history of summers; a summer so hot the glass in the window panes slumped - I was so poor that the electricity in my apartment got turned off. I was in-between paychecks, so I couldn't run right down to Memphis Light, Gas and Water and have them flip the switch, so I had to suffer ten long days without my window unit air conditioner or my little box fan or even ice cubes from the freezer. I passed the ten days and nights by filling up the bathtub with cold water and lighting a few candles and clambering in the tub and reading "Lolita" and then "Jude the Obscure." Both benefitted from my near delirium brought on by heat-induced brain-fever and both are now among my favorite books. And now both of those books are fused together in my brain, each one a parenthesis around the hottest ten days of my life.