Friday, December 31, 2010

Infinite Friday: Friday No. 2

This is my favorite story that my friend moccasins tells: His daughter had received a gift of $20 from her grandparents, and didn't immediately fold it into a purse or wallet or whatever. The family dog, aged and going through a gnaw-on-important-things period in her life, ate the bill. This was not long after the dog had ripped apart my friend's own wallet and left his driver's license looking more like an ATM receipt that went through the wash.

They waited patiently for the dog to void the 20-spot, which she did in their yard on a cold day. Moccasins was able to extract the bill from its digested Purina casing. It was still intact. He washed it, dried it, and quickly got the money out of their home, and into public circulation.

This is an approximation of a metaphor for reading "Infinite Jest." It will do because I like the gruesomeness of the tale. When Michiko Kakutani reviewed the novel in the New York Times, there was an accusation that DF-Dubs simply tipped over his brain, and let all his words spill into it. According to "Although You End Up Becoming Yourself," an extended interview with DFW by David Lipsky, this is exactly what the writer did not want people to think. I'm trying to remember that every 20-page chunk of text was labored over, every sentence purposeful. But damn. That is a struggle. I've emerged from these chunks of text blurry eyed and defeated, having gleaned just the gist and a gem of a sentence, a phrase, or some bit fantastic humor. The proverbial 20 dollar bill rescued from the intestines of a precocious dog.

This week, for the first time, I wonder if I will finish "Infinite Jest." When I like it, I really really like it. When it just seems like a string of acronyms I start eyeballing everything else in our house that contains words. Something to save me from this book.

Progress: I am on Page 430. But I realized mid-week that I missed end note 110, and so I have to double back to that. I've been chiseling away at it willy nilly.

3:05 p.m. Sunday: I'm hiding from "Infinite Jest." I know it's coming. A 20-plus page section about a complicated game that the students at Enfield Tennis Academy play. There is an element of Math, I'm told.

I haven't avoided spoilers. I don't believe there is a spoiler in the world that can sully this book. It's too fine tooth combed for anyone to ruin anything with a casual "Oh, the Eschaton part ..." Reading this part is the only thing on my to-do list for the day. But here I sit on the couch, "Infinite Jest" in the kitchen, where I can't see it. On purpose. Once I get past this part, my resident spoiler has said, it is smooth sailing. Still ...

***

Sometime early Monday morning: It is still dark when I wake from the most amazing dream. In it, I watched an L-shape corner of light on the wall, as a corresponding L-shape slide into it like a puzzle. This, David Foster Wallace told me in the dream, was the answer to "Infinite Jest." I was euphoric. It felt the way walk-toward-the-light moments are described. For the entire day, I walk around glowing, but barely remembering the details of this dream.

"Maybe David Foster Wallace haunts the people who read his book," Chuck suggested. 
This book is fucking with my head.

***

Wednesday-ish: David Foster Wallace is at his best when he is describing physical deformities.

***

Thursday PM: The 2007 short-lived TV show "Hidden Palms" seems to be a generic version of "The O.C." Rich kids in California, plenty of mixers at the Country Club, a misunderstood hero with a six month stint in rehab after he got all whack with the booze because his father shot himself. I had planned to read until the words turned into one word and spun off the page. Instead, I stare mindlessly at 4.5 episodes of this show. 

Supplemental reading
"A Country Dying of Laughter," by Michiko Kakutani, Books of the Times, New York Times, Feb. 13, 1996: "Somewhere in the mess, the reader suspects, are the outlines of a splendid novel, but as it stands the book feels like one of those unfinished Michelangelo sculptures: you can see a godly creature trying to fight its way out of the marble, but it's stuck there, half excavated, unable to break completely free."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Crisp-ish ...

Today I learned that I have no idea how to make rice in a microwave. Joke's on you, basmati. I actually hate rice.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pupils itching in confusion ...

I'm not trying to be one of those bloggers who is all "CHEESE IS SO GOOD!" but seriously: Do you know how much cheese I can cram into my face? It's like if I could, I would just loosen the hinges on my jaw and slide tongue first into a cheese display.

So that's part of how I spent the past week, when I wasn't getting wonky about David Foster Wallace. It's weird to be obsessed with something that other people aren't obsessed with at the same time. Like, it surprises me that he isn't trending on Twitter because he's so at the front of my brain. About twice an hour I stop myself from starting a story with, "Well, in 'Infinite Jest' ..." The other six times I just say that and hope I'm not boring Chuck.

In other news:

FOODS

Potato and Kale Enchiladas with Roasted Chili Sauce: Well of all the labor intensive meals in the entire universe. This one is messssssy. (Actually, it's not too bad, but I did spill some on my socks). But the kind of foodie funny recipe book Veganomicon has yet to fail me, so. So this is pretty good. Especially when you get a potato chunk with plenty of kale. Super secret ingredient: pumpkin seeds.


MOVIES
Easy A: I'm a sucker for teen-demographic movies staring unconventionally attractive people with fantastic plumes of hair. And this one seemed to get the nod as something a little more smart, a little better message-y than, say, one featuring a teen-aged boy making sticky love to dessert. Still: total disappointment. The premise is close to inventive. But this whole thing just wasn't clever enough.

Plus, there is this montage that references the teen movie genre of the 1980s that made my pupils itch in confusion.

1. Are 17 year olds in 2010 watching "Breakfast Club," "Pretty in Pink" and "Ferris Bueller"? Maybe, if their Gen X parents are foisting these titles on to them. I know that my parents didn't foist boomer teen movies on me when I was a junior in high school. Were there teen flicks for the Boomers?

2. Aren't there any teen movies from the early 2000s that appeal to teens of today? What will they be nostalgic for when they are 35? Certainly not "Say Anything." Right? Or will they be? I don't think they'll be nostalgic for "Easy A," for instance.

BOOK
Termite Parade by Joshua Mohr: Such a great opening scene before everything sputters into meh. Full review will be here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The vegetables are ignored ...

The shelves at the grocery store look like the place has been robbed. Good luck finding baby carrots or free range eggs. People are flinging ingredients into push carts without even looking at the packaging. It's like: "I'll figure out what the hell jicama is when I get home. We just need large chunks of semi-edibles that at least orbit the food pyramid."

I'm all: I wonder what kind of $1.99 meat I should wrap around a pickle, using cream cheese as an adhesive?  And Merry Christmas.

Then later: The ketchup container is making noises like an injured bird. It squawks as I push for the final dollops, then it takes a deep breath and starts in again. Ketchup is one of those things you can't think about too much without dry heaving. The aesthetician who decided the color and texture of this condiment was obviously a sadistic fuck. And that smell. It's thick enough, and alive enough, to weave into your hair or the fur fringe of your hoodie. You'll emit a tangy wake when you move from room to room. On the other hand, try eating a fried egg sandwich without it. You might as well just chop your tongue off, and gum away at Chocolate Slim Fast Shakes for the rest of your life.

I'm scooping raw Italian sausage, breadcrumbs, egg, milk and onions into golf-ball sized hunks that I assume will taste delicious. It's a gloppy wet mud of ingredients. I wonder if I'll catch ptomaine poisoning from a half moon of raw meat that gets trapped in my fingernails. I'm more of a nail gnawer, than a hand washer. These balls get dumped into the slow cooker for the duration of three mood swings and the robot dance.

Cheese gets shredded: A plain old gouda, and an aged gouda. This choreography goes, sloosh, a tablespoon of cheese on the cutting board, sloosh, a pinch of cheese in my mouth, sloosh, another tablespoon, sloosh, another pinch packed into my mouth like milky chewing tobacco. We will be having fondue with our "Gremlins," white wine boiled with lemon juice and all this cheese, $16 worth of cheese, melted to a drinkable state. Say what you want about good will toward men, the real meaning of Christmas Eve is saturated fat pushed to the boiling point.

"Have you ever seen the animal that the mogwai is based on?" Chuck asks. Digs out his phone, and pulls up an image of a dandelion-haired monkey clutching an anonymous finger. I remember the photograph from when he showed it to me last year, as we ate fondue and watched "Gremlins." It gives me a sharp pang somewhere between my uterus and the place where the ghost of Toonses lives.

The pickles are dressed in corned beef cloaks, glued on with cream cheese. Rednecks certainly know how to make finger food. This is delicious. We eat an entire plateful. I haven't had a single meatball. Sometimes if I touch a food too much, I become unwilling to eat the finished product. It's like getting to know someone too well. So it's fancy pickles. And the pecan cookies Chuck made. Reminding myself again to memorize Phoebe Cates' monologue about how her father died: This could make a great parlor trick. I'm always looking for a good parlor trick.

The vegetables, by the way, are ignored.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Infinite Friday: Friday No. 1

I have been reading the multiple-pound Gen X trophy "Infinite Jest" by DF-Dubs for about a week, sometimes even daring to lug this around in my purse for quickie reads at lunch tables, and for the increased shoulder strength. "Infinite Friday" is a weekly series chronicling the mental disaster of reading a book fatter than a slab of super expensive, family-sized beef. It's a wordy road trip. And yes, I am making a BFD over reading a book a zillion of people have read before me. Just like people who whip up a froth of baby batter, ingest it, and crap out a two-legged screamer make a BFD out of doing that. And double yes, I'm comparing reading "Infinite Jest" to giving birth because I'm naive. I probably should have compared it to running a marathon.

Progress: I'm on Page 278.

Here is the truth: This book is divided into hearty chunks of seemingly unrelated activity. Young tennis players, burglars, an NFL punter, and a wheelchair-bound dude on a hill in Arizona, trading information with a cross dressing agent. Whenever I am faced with a sliver of white space, I pause, wipe my greasy brow, take a deep breath and dive into the next skyscraper of text. (Later, while supplementing my DFW fiction with my DFW fact, I'll learn that he wrote this like this for that reason. Natural time out breaks). Sometimes these sections are super charming, super funny, super interesting. Sometimes they are written in dialect and I glean a fraction of what is happening, and that is when I begin referring to the book as "Infinite Gist" in my head. Sometimes I'm counting the words until I can get past the area in question, I'm just reading to get through it, and then I hope it never doubles back to that storyline ever again. But it probably will.

I have at least four times set the book aside and said: That was my favorite part. No, that was my favorite part. The current leader is a hefty chunk-of-a-scene where Hal Incandenza is having huge success clipping his toenails into a wastebasket positioned a few meters away, while talking to his estranged brother on the telephone about discovering their father had killed himself by putting his head in the microwave. For a good visual, imagine putting a potato in the microwave, sans slit. 

Chuck has read the book, and has stressed the trust DF-Dubs mantra enough that I'm not panicking over any of my own confusion. He's also said that reading this is about reading this and not about getting to that final page, slapping the beast shut and getting a celebratory-style shitfaced about it. I'm, of course, paraphrasing. There is a it's-the-journey-not-the-destination-ness about this.

This is a fun book. I mean, really fun. "Fun" is exactly a word that DFW uses about 900 times in the interview with David Lipsky. I also spend a lot of time flipping pages, like I'm waiting for animation to appear in the lower right hand corner. 

When I'm not reading "Infinite Jest," I'm reading about "Infinite Jest": Wikipedia, the NYT's book review -- curiously written by Jay McInerney, and interview Laura Miller from Salon had with him in 1996. Plus, Chas is reading Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallaceso I like to pick that up for snack-sized moments of DF-Dubs, IRL.

The unusualness of reading the candid dialogue of a 34-year-old long hair in the aftermath of this thing he made, while at the same time reading the thing he made. I have, at my fingertips, DFW's entire life: His resume, his discography, his love interests, and everything he wrote or will ever write, save for his posthumous whatevers. David Lipsky's Foreword, or actually Afterword that appears before the book starts, paints this thinned version of a once-hulking man, his medication isn't working, his mom is rubbing his arm aware that he is about to leave the planet. Lipsky quotes Franzen: DFW's death as his friend being sci/fi sucked from an airlock. His sister knows, just knows, that he kissed those dogs on the mouth before hanging himself. I'm finally crushed by something that I simply found tragic with a side of interesting before all of this.

This is pretty typical of me to develop an emotional attachment to the writer, instead of an intellectual attachment to the work. I never walk in the front door, I tend to check the windows first.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How I spent the time I was going to spend cleaning the refrigerator ...

Whoa, bitches. Here's an approximation of how I've spent the past month -- kitchen, book, and movie-wise. As long as we're all here together, gathered all cozy-like with our silk soy egg nog, I'm just going to warn you that I might start a new project called "Infinite Fridays," in which I get a weekly case of the howling fantods over this ridiculous book I'm married to for the next fraction of my life. It seems a damn shame to keep all these dog-eared pages and supplemental links to myself. And since I rarely make internet sentences anymore anyway, why the hell not further alienate myself? I think that's what DF-Dubs would want.

I have other big ideas, too. 

Clears throat.

Oh! But first a picture Ma Pista clearly did not want me to take: Here she is nursing a bum ankle during last weekend's pre-Christa-mas Christa-mas celebration at Brother and Sister-in-Law Pista's place in the greater metro area. It seems that Ma Pista got her wheel caught in the front door, and was chillaxing with a cold pack when I got there. You'll see that one thing we have in common is putting our Best Face Forward when eyeball to eyeball with a picture-making machine. Cheers!


FOODIES


Golden Turmeric Latkes with Applesauce: These have a little bit of zip, and the applesauce has a lotta bit of zing. I'm a huge fan of latkes, and these were probably the best I've made. It might be the hot peppers. It might be the fact that I didn't create a cement of potato paste and have to throw away an expensive kitchen appliance in disgust


French Onion Beef Tenderloin: Now I'm just showing off. Huh, meat. This is actually super good. It's a bit of steak, but has all that French Onion Soup love without that pesky chin drip. And cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. (Not responsible for your inevitable meat sweats).

Chilean Corn and Un-Turkey Chowder: You know, I liked this. I don't remember a lick about it. But I always like soup-ish things. And avocado is awesome. I know I got the recipe from Vegetarian Times, and I know it calls for Un-Turkey. I think I used sausage instead. Oh, snap, VT, I de-Vegetarianized yo 'cipe.


Chocolate Mint Surprise Cupcakes: Made these intricate little fuckers for Chuck's birthday. Holy cats they were delish, agonizing recipe debacles aside. Okay: You take a bite of what seems to be a normal vanilla cupcake. Except inside there is this awesome dollop of green minty goodness! Paired with the Chocolate Ganache Icing ... eating four sticks of butter never tasted so good!

Red Lentil Thai Chili: Duuuuude. I made this last night and it was so, so, good. It's a spicy sort of thing, if you're into that. I learned something exciting about coconut milk, but I'd rather leave some things a mystery. So make this one, vegan faces. And non-vegan faces alike.


MOVIES
(These get brief mentions because typing is exhausting)

The Kids Are All Right: It's good.

I'm Still Here: Can I just say what no one is saying in the post-release world? Meh. And you know I love the Phoenixes. I just liked this movie way more before I saw it.

Hellraiser:  I would like to thank the evil mind of Clive Barker for developing this hokey piece of awesome body horror.

The Extra Man: I'm coming closer to a theory on Jonathan Ames, and it is this: Jonathan Ames equals excellent when his words appear in tandem with moving pictures on a screen. In something that requires book glue, he's more of a dud. Subject to change. But this movie was pretty damn funny.  

BOOKS
You Lost Me There by Rosecrans Baldwin: Starts strong, but totally dives into a slow trudge through nothingness. Review here.

The Impostor's Daughter: A True Memoir by Laurie Sandell: Such an intriguing story, unfortunately told in the wrong format I think. Someone give this lady a do-over. Review here.

The Best American Comics edited by Neil Gaiman: A good primer for a figuring out what one digs and does not dig in the world of comics. Review here.


Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote: I'd never read it, and needed something to jack me back into word mode. It did the trick. Review here.

The Extra Man: A Novel by Jonathan Ames: Sexually confused New York newbie with an eccentric older roommate who works as an extra man for the elderly high class ladies. It is okay. Not as good as the movie. See above. Review here.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman: Such a fun, fun, book of almost sci/fi slash super sci/fi moderness. Cute. Review here.

By Nightfall: A Novel by Michael Cunningham: A lovely, lovely book. A coming-of-middle age story about want and authenticity and a bunch of other stuff. Review here.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Infinite Gestation ...

I have embarked on one of the ultimate of commitments. One just shy of getting a tribal tattoo on the small of my back: I am reading David Foster Wallace's 3.2 pound, 1078.5-page novel "Infinite Jest."

People have done this before me. In fact, I live with a DFW head, the kind of person who would understand the significance of a Enfield Tennis Academy T-shirt with the name Incandenza ironed in block print, sandwiched by shoulder blades. Among those who have taken the roughly three-month time out from life to read this epic Gen X trophy, there is a sort of survivor mentality. No one seems to regret reading it, and everyone seems to have advice for how to tackle something that resembles in girth the hip younger sister of the Norton Anthology of British Literature. They changed, the grew. They are, admittedly, a bit insufferable. They say:

Use two bookmarks, one for the story, one for the end notes.
Trust David Foster Wallace. This is all worth it. And he was a genius. You'll love it. LOVE IT!
Use the available online references, including chronology aids, character bios and section summaries.
Set page goals: Something like 30 pages a day to finish at pace more like training for a marathon than the suggested gestation period for building a human being.

My attention span for books weighs in at about 250 pages. There are exceptions -- especially if the font is gigantic. But the font in "Infinite Jest" is mostly standard, with pages and pages of end notes, which are decidedly below regulation. It takes me approximately 8 hours to read a contemporary novel. I average two-ish books a week. This means, best case scenario, I could finish "Infinite Jest" in just less than 3 weeks if I devote all of my optic powers on this one book and hide the TV in the garage. Unfortunately, I've never heard of anyone finishing this book in less than two months, so I'm probably deceiving myself.

I've considered a few game plans:
1. Read "Infinite Jest," and supplement it with just graphic novels for when I need a boost of something different.
2. Read a set number of pages a week, and once I hit that goal read something else.
3. Read it only on weekends, when I really have time to plant my happy ass deep into the upholstery and get really weird with myself.
4. Maybe think about not reading it at all, and just going about my life secure in that decision.

But really, the only option for me is to bust through the fucker. I've got to read it and read it hard. Totally commit myself to this one book. Coax my body into cooking up something akin to Adderall. It's my only chance for success. 

So far, so good, though. I carried it with me to get my oil change, but the oil changers were so speedy that I barely made a dent in a section that I was enjoying. I had an errand at the mall afterward, and instead of shopping, I first spent 15 minutes on a bench near Santa's lap reading about Orin Incandenza, an NFL punter with a cockroach phobia.

I am, as of 1:43 a.m. Saturday morning, nearly 1/10th of the way through the book. See you this spring.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Greetings from West of the Duluth Grill ...

The following is a holiday letter to the internet, co-authored by Chuck and me. I am re-purposing it from its original place on Facebook. 

Dear people we know and friends:

As 2010 comes to a close, we can't help but reflect on the gigantic loans that have us tied up into our AARP years, the dead pets, and the crippling ailments that surfaced over the past year.

At the end of January, we moved into Lorenzo Music's wife's childhood home. You may know Henrietta Music as the co-composer of the theme to “The Bob Newhart Show.” We're hoping it is full of creative gypsy juice. It was the first house we looked at, and certainly the least haunted. It is in West Duluth, just blocks from where Chuck spent his weird childhood. Favorite features include: A huge kitchen, a claw-foot tub, the gentleman-of-leisure rumpus room, and two bedrooms we haven't even gone into yet. It is riddled with mice, which is unfortunate because at the end of September our cat went mental, then died.

Toonses (December 1999-September 2010) was an okay roommate and the perfect combination of misanthrope and Marmeduke. We don't really want to talk about it. Something happened to his brain, he could only turn right, he peed on the kitchen floor, we had him put to sleep, and we're never getting another pet ever again. That's all.

Speaking of broken bodies. Chuck got a brand-new disease! It's called Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is not just for old people anymore. In a nutshell, his immune system now thinks that his joints are made of SARS virus and monkey hearts, and does everything in its power to destroy them. In the past, this would have him employed as a church-bell ringer in no time, but luckily we live in the future, which has awesome drugs. The treatment is going very well. You wouldn't even know that he's handi-capable now.

Christa spent 19 days total in Los Angeles, between a fellowship through the National Endowment for the Arts in May, and a vacation in August. This is about 17 more days than she has spent in her hometown of Rochester in the past eight years, which she considers a success. Next to the V-shaped couch in the living room during a “Criminal Minds” marathon, this is her favorite place on the planet. Every street looks and smells like the county fair happened last night. This is why she thinks it is okay to wear jeggings and face-dwarfing sunglasses.

In the upcoming year, we are looking forward to pill cases, rat poison, body horror films, and the next terrible fashion trend.

Happy holidays, and keep barking big dogs,

Christa & Chuck

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Black olives ...

Yesterday I received a check for $147.90, which in these dark times is a pretty significant amount of dinero. I'm in the habit of a bit of one-for-you, two-for-me holiday shopping which has me tapped to the point of eating pitted black olives from the can, with a fork, for dinner.

I took the check, folded it three times, and stuffed it into the back pocket of my jeans. I think. Truth is, when I tried to recall the events that began with receiving the check, and beginning my walk to the bank, I went blank. It was like my brain had been wrapped in gauze and in dipped in rubber cement. This is not unusual. I frequently find myself somewhere and wonder how I got there, why I'm there, and when did I get a glockenspiel. Sometimes I get my mail forwarded to blah-blah-blahler land. And I've always said that I drive like I'm a passenger in my own car.

I got to the bank and the check wasn't in my back pocket. It wasn't in my jacket pocket or other jacket pocket. It probably wasn't in my purse, but who can tell in that waste land of Animal Cracker wrappers. I maintained my game face, but freaked the fuck out.

Back to my point of origin. Pockets, purse, counter top surfaces, pockets, purse. Retraced my route. Nada. I began the arduous task of having the check canceled and re-issued, which was going to take a decent chunk of time. Enough time that my mom would probably be the victim of gum and Windex for Christmas.

I'm exaggerating here a bit. I really didn't panic-panic. I was peeved at the inconvenience, but suspected the check would be found by a stranger, and returned to the address listed by one of those "It's a Wonderful Life" sentimentalists who think December is a good time to do good things. (If it was January ... I'd be fucked).

Sure enough: A few minutes later I got a phone call. "Do you want your check?" a kindly woman asked me. Someone had found it somewhere and returned it. Intact and anonymously. It was a Christmas miracle that played out exactly as I'd imagined.

"It's because you think you're lucky," Chuck said, adding that he was uncomfortable for the entire story until he knew the check was in my pocket.
This is true. I do think I'm lucky. I'm exactly the kind of person who assumes that if I lose $147.90, that someone will return it to me. Unfortunately, I'm also the kind of person who loses $147.90, so maybe "lucky" isn't the right word. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's a shame about Ray ...

Today is Chuck's birthday, and so I dug down deep and got a bunch of frosting under my fingernails, which I plan to enjoy Monday-ish, when I'm gnawing away at my ragged talons and emerge with a face full of choco-mint flecks. And that, my friends, is exactly the kind of surprise that affirms why I never wash my hands. 

Here is the behind-the-scenes super secret footage of how a bunch of stuff becomes a tiny little cake. And happy birthday to my favorite person in the entire solar system. 



Step 1: Find a recipe for cupcakes that is in a skill level near the neighborhood of your own skill level. One that deviates from the standard vanilla/chocolate blah blah blah. Something that seems like an adult-ish person who can work a spoon should be able to accomplish without getting batter on the ceiling, blood in the frosting.

Step 2: Select dinosaur cupcake cups. According to the Netflix archives, the recipient is like the HUGEST fan of dinosaurs.

Step 3: See the instructions. Read them. Seem to comprehend them. Then fuck up the order of ingredients, forget to sift, and treat vanilla extract like it is optional. Wonder if it is too late to repeat second grade. Imagine towering over a sea of pigtails in the Christmas program. Wonder if owning a 10-year-old two-door Honda Civic would increase invitations to skating parties. 

Step 4: Pensively lick raw egg, sugar, flour mixture off beaters. Decide that the fetal position and/or geyser-style barfing and/or pasty blue skin exposed to rookie EMTs totally worth it for the sweet sweet taste of raw eggs, sugar, and flour mixture. The lack of vanilla is palpable.

Step 5: Decide to start over with another batch -- this time including the vanilla. But follow through with the vanilla-less batch, because you aren't a quitter!  (These can go in the freezer for times when the desire for cake is so crippling that it doesn't even matter if the cake is good. It just needs to shuttle the frosting directly to the place where diabetes is made).

Step 6: Pandora queues up "It's a Shame About Ray," which spins you back to 1992 for a solid three minutes. Whatta song, from more than half a life ago.

Step 7: Butter creams are mixed, and tinted green; Chocolate is melted (mostly, save for about four unappetizing chunks) and morphs a frosting.It is spooned into a plastic baggy to ape an actual baker using an actual piping bag. This is about the third most hilarious way to frost something.

Step 8: Varsity squad cupcakes are assembled, with decreasing dedication to the aesthetic. The B-squad cupcakes get the leftover frosting and undivided attention from my broken impulse control-ometer.

Step 9: There is no left over interest in cleaning up dishes. And nothing says Happy Birthday, Chuckers! like a sink full of frosting smears.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Conversations with my former landlord: Pain Relief Edition


Me: Do you have the sort of thing that a person might take to relieve a headache?
Former Landlord: (Rustling through his mass accumulation of ... things) I think so. ...

[Hands me a small, tubular packet of a powder substance. Like a single serving of Crystal Lite. Or a small Pixie Stick]

Me: Where the hell did you get this? The trunk of a stagecoach?
Former Landlord: You just pop it open, and dump it in your mouth.
Me: Is this experimental?
Former Landlord: [Mimes his previous instructions in a way that looks like he is doing an imaginary shot]
Me: I can't take this candy medicine. Do you have anything else?
Former Landlord: [More rustling. Hands me a brand of "safety coated enteric aspirin"] Here.
Me: What is this? I've never heard of this.
Former Landlord: It's new.
Me: [Reading label]: It says it expired in September, 2010.
Former Landlord: Psh. Like it went bad. [Shakes head] It's sealed!
Me: [Still reading label]: It says that adults should take 4-8 pills every 4 hours?
Former Landlord: Huh. That many?
Me: Yeah. It says 'Do not exceed 48 pills in a day.'
Former Landlord: Wow. 48 pills. That's a lot.
Me: I'm going to take 7.
Landlord: 7?!
Former Landlord: [Looks in bottle] Oh. These are small. You can take eight of these.

Monday, December 6, 2010

More fun with flesh eating ...

Logically, these itchy patches on my skin -- which I've torn away at to the point of blood flecks with my talon-like nails -- are the result of dry air. I've almost perfected a parlor trick in which I absorb the contents of a sealed bottle of Jergens from 10 feet away. There is also a chance that I'm reacting to what seems to be a life sentenced to antibiotics. Nightly ingestion of Mike & Ike-sized drug, which then travels south to my freakishly large bladder where it goes all Space Invaders at anything that looks infection-y. Pieces of said pill then break off and explode into softball-sized itch pockets on my shins, thighs, forearm, chest, shoulder blades,and dime-sized splotches on my lower spine, and along my hair line.

I've even considered that the super secret ingredients of my latest addiction, Sugar Free Rock Star, is rusting my innards. I mean, what the hell is Guarana, and can I trust that it isn't causing me to gouge myself to skin layers well below freckle level? 

I've been bathing in oatmeal-infused washes, then slathering on enough Hydrocortisone that I could feasibly slide my entire body into the cavity of a chicken. This dulls the itch for awhile. Then, suddenly, I'm ripping away at my skull like the star of a Public Service Announcement about the evils of H.

I actually like to believe that this is either psychosomatic itching, or something supernatural is afoot. These are far more mysterious, dare I say sexier, options. Woman itches her way out of her own body, and starts new life as Halloween decoration. Or, tiny evil motes drill way to surface of woman's skin; she frees them with a hearty thrashing of nails, flicking her own skin dust into the couch.

Hey! Have you guys ever stood in front of a bunch of lotions at Walgreens and Google Imaged psoriasis and eczema on your iPhone to try to self-diagnose your animal behavior? And then moved skittishly away from the other person in the aisle who was doing the same thing? Me too.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Conversations with my former landlord, Vol. 98 ...

Former Landlord: Hey. I finally finished that bag of chips.
Me: Thank God.

Silence.

Former Landlord: Hey. What's your email address?
Me: Why?
Former Landlord [Shows me a photograph of a plate of shrimp]: I'm trying to get these coupons. These are some good deals.
Me: Use your own email address.
Former Landlord: I only have a work email address, and I can't use that.
Me: Get an email address.
Former Landlord: Psh. I can't. I've done that before. Then I forget to check it, and it closes down.
Me: Just get an email address.
Former Landlord: No.
Me: They're free. And they'll give them to anyone in the world.
Former Landlord: Just give me your email address.
Me: No.
Former Landlord: It's probably Christapista@hotmail.com.[snorts]
Me: [Blank and super incredulous stare] You're an idiot.


[Brief reprieve from dialogue].


Former Landlord: Hey. Did you ever get those rebates I had sent to your house?
Me [Recalling some vague plan he had to send for rebates on booze, but needed a different mailing address for each of them]: No.
Former Landlord: You didn't? You didn't get those rebates I had sent to your house?
Me: No.
Former Landlord: Huh. Well what the heck. You should have gotten those rebates by now.
Me: Who knows. I might have thought it was junk mail.
Former Landlord: What?!
Me: [Shrug]
Former Landlord: You owe me 40 dollars!




Former Landlord: Hey, I need to use your credit card.
Me: Absolutely not.
Former Landlord: It's just 25 bucks. I'll give you the money right now.
Me: No.
Former Landlord: The security code rubbed off on mine. I think it might be 603.
Me: No.
Former Landlord: I need your credit card.
Me: Absolutely not.
Former Landlord: Look. You can't even see the security code.
Me: Call your bank.


[Brief reprieve from dialogue].


Overheard as he talks on the phone: That's L-A-N-D-L-O-R-D. Yeah, my security code is rubbed off on my card? ... No. No. I need it right now, though. Oh. You can't do that? Hm. Okay.


[He's back].


Former Landlord: Give me your credit card.
Me: No.
Former Landlord: Well, cripes. That was a good deal, too.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Don't it make my brown eyes blue ...

I've only recently come to realize that the brain is a terrible place to store memories. I have always prided myself on being a person who recalls the minutia of adolescence. The appendicitis-like agony of not being allowed to wear jelly shoes in third grade (trashy). Although for self-preservation purposes, I've gone floppy disc versus magnet on my 20s. Nothing to see there.

My point is, I have no idea if the following is true, or a brain blend manipulated by "Three's Company," Capri Sun, Martika, and Vuarnet T-shirts.

There was a woman who had a son who played hockey with my brother. She had super long hair. Like, butt scarf long. She treated it like a fragile crown, whooshing it carefully to the side when she sat on the bleachers in the arena. It wasn't pretty long hair, treated to 100 strokes twice a day. Or the frame of a mermaid's face. It was just hair. Like a field of free-thinking strands mid-scatter. Nothing a little Hot Oil Help couldn't remedy, though.

I always thought of Crystal Gayle driving a clunker when I saw her.

Finally I asked my mom why this woman had such long hair. She told me this. (I think):

"Some women never change their look after they meet their husband. They don't want him to not like what they look like, and then leave them."

There are a few things that lead me to believe she actually said this. Most recently, it was when I told her that we needed a bigger counter top in the downstairs bathroom because maybe the sink isn't the best place for storing a flat iron.

This, she said, was another reason Chuck and I should get married. A flat iron in the sink is annoying, just the kind of thing that can be the last straw. A deal breaker. If we were married, he would be contractually bound to the fact that my flat iron lives in the sink in the downstairs bathroom. Quick. Sign here so your boyfriend can't flip shit over the dangers of electrocution.


Man. It must have been weird to grow up in the 1950s.