Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Just say no

Please, guys. Trust me, women don't want to see this. Even if you're in superb shape, subtlety works twice as well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Planetary confusion

Men are disappointing me.

I’m not talking about my father, my guy friends or Lunchboy. I’m talking about Men, as represented in a book I recently picked up in the hopes of gaining a greater understanding of how the opposite sex deals with life.

Gender relations are usually pretty fascinating as a topic of research, but so far this book is falling flat. Some of the essays are funny and some of them are sad, but they all have a few overriding themes. For the most part, the authors are all male freelance writers married to ambitious, upwardly mobile women who have born them a child or two. The wives are (lovingly) labeled as strong, independent feminists who neither want nor require that their husbands support them in any way. The arrangement seems to work out for the authors, who all seem to be house husbands who don’t do much around the house and are pretty proud of that fact, but not for the wives, who are busy working, running the household and taking care of the children.

Not surprisingly, the guys all write about how their marriages don’t quite have the sexual luster that they used to, because their wives are too busy and too exhausted to put out regularly.

So far I want to tell them all to get a job, do the dishes and stop whining to their wives about sex. Rather than gain a greater understanding of the opposite sex, I have learned the following: Don't marry a freelance writer.

To be completely fair, I also bought the book's female counterpart, which I haven't read yet. I suspect many of the essays are by the wives of those male freelance writers—or by female freelance writers whose husbands don’t do anything around the house, fulfill few if any of their needs and demand sex all the time. I hope I am wrong about this.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Hot hot heat

Boston's been hot as an oven the past few days and I am soaking up the heat like a sponge. Even though I'm a New Englander, I'm bewildered by the way Bostonians complain bitterly about the cold winters and then complain equally bitterly about the hot, humid summers. What are you waiting for, the 5 days of spring and the two weeks of fall? If you don't like the dominant seasons, move elsewhere.

That said, the heat made it really easy to accept Gimpadelic's invitation up to his family's house in northern New Hampshire this weekend. His house, perched on a hillside, is one of the most relaxing places in the world. His family was smart enough to buy up a bunch of real estate there at the turn of the century, and three generations of Gimps have spent summers, falls and the occasional frigid winter weekend up on the hill, watching the birds migrate and the White Mountains change with the seasons. His grandmother had her appendix out on the dining room table. Every corner of the house is full of memories, from old books and the first trout his dad and uncle caught in the lake, to well-loved linens and antique boardgames. Gimp's been kind enough to invite our group of college friends up once or twice a year. The house's logbook is now full of funny stories and amazing bird, bear and blueberry sightings. It's the kind of place where it's not hard to watch whole days go by without moving from the porch/couch/hammock and those days are some of the best ever.

Lunchboy and I drove up on Saturday. I wanted him to see the place because I have so many happy memories there, and because Gimp is one of my two best friends. We hung out on the porch and tried to see Mt. Washington through the haze. Then we jumped in the lake, grilled some chicken on the back deck, drank ourselves some wine and played a game of Scrabble. Sunday was more of the same. We banged out a hike on Blacksnout despite the oppressive bug infestation and then went for another swim in the lake.

Damn you, Gimp, for playing me the Brazilian Girls because now all I can hear in my head is "pussy pussy pussy marijuana" and I can't sing that out loud!!!!!!

My dad is still home in bed, and I called him every day to check up on him. He is sounding healthier and more energetic every day. He's meeting with his doctor to go over the pathology report from his surgery on Thursday and we'll know more then about whether he'll need further treatment. It's a good sign that he's getting sick of talking about the whole thing.

Just desserts

After yet another weekend of apartment squalor and the sink piled high with filthy dishes, I got a panicked phone call from A last night. The sink was overflowing, she said. Did I have the number for the landlord?

It's impossible to overstate how glad I was to be at Lunchboy's house.

She must have called the landlord because when I came home from work today, there were two plumbers sitting at the kitchen table and parts of the sink were strewn all over the kitchen. I noticed a few baking pans tucked strategically under the sink--she must have tried to catch the overflow with clean dishes.

"What do you think caused the backup?" I asked the plumbers.

"Not sure yet, but it's probably food-related," one of them said.

I went to yoga and when I got back, A was sprawled on the couch.

"What did the plumber say was wrong with the sink?" I asked.

"They said it was rice," she replied. "But I don't believe them. I think it must have been someone above or below us that backed it up."

Right. Because the people above and below us let their dirty dishes accumulate until the sink resembles a Mt. Everest of filth. God knows what went down that drain but I'm waiting to see if she bothers to wash the floor after letting nasty water spill everywhere.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The all-clear

Seeing a parent in the hospital is a profoundly disturbing, deeply upsetting experience. Even if they're there for something minor, the combination of the flimsy gown, the sense of mortality and the odor of industrial cleaner hits you right in the gut. Or at least it hits me there, especially when the parent in question is my dad. Dads are meant to be pillars of strength, banishers of closet monsters, mowers of lawns and a permanent set of shoulders on which to ride. They're not supposed to be pale and wan in a hospital bed with a drain coming out of their side.

My dad's surgery went well. His doctors won't know for another few days whether the cancer spread beyond his prostate, but so far they're optimistic. When I saw him yesterday, only a few hours after he'd shaken off the anaesthetic, he was pestering the floor nurses for ice chips and pain meds, and insisting that he had to get up and walk around.

For the record, three phrases I never want to hear from my dad: Kegel exercises, catheter bag and bowel function. From the doctor, maybe, but not from him. TOO MUCH INFORMATION.

They're sending him home tomorrow so he can stop bossing the nurses around (or at least that's my theory). He's determined to make sure he doesn't have to utter the word "cancer" again, and I can only hope he's right.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Alternatives to the real estate market

I love this idea. But I'm not sure how it would work in cities where the weather is as vengeful and unpredictable as Boston. Also, I need to understand the bathroom situation a bit better.

What the world needs

Is plenty of Moxie. Which is why everyone should head to the annual Moxie Festival in Lisbon, Maine, home of the Moxie Museum. There'll be a Moxie-chugging contest!

From the festival web site:

Predating Coca-Cola, Moxie had its beginnings in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1886, where it was originally billed as "Moxie Nerve Food" and was thought to have medicinal capabilities.

On the original label of an early Moxie bottle, the elixir made claims to "...recover brain and nervous exhaustion; loss of imbecility and helplessness. It has recovered paralysis, softening of the brain…"

Moxie was hyped as more than your average tonic. The Moxie Co. was able to latch onto the events of the time to promote the drink which eventually outsold Coca Cola.

One interesting by-product of The Company's brilliant marketing campaigns is the abundance of memorabilia and collectibles that have remained.

Many professional collectors say Moxie collectibles are superior to other better known products in quality and as possible investments. Secondly, the popularity of the soft drink led to "Moxie the beverage becoming moxie, the descriptive word for pep, energy, and a special spirit." [From The Moxie Encyclopedia; Q. David Bowers]

Monday, June 20, 2005

It's good to know how scientists are spending their summer

More breaking news on the Big O. Now scientists have tried to prove the startling, revolutionary, completely novel idea that women's orgasms are connected to their brain function.

You think?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Weekend weirdness

Next week my father is having surgery to remove a cancerous prostate and I've managed to not think about the operation for the most part, until it finally hit me: My dad is sick and he'll never be the same after this operation. Even if they get all the cancer (which they better), his daily routine, his bodily functions, his ability to behave like an adult man is going to be irreparably altered. And if they don't get all the cancer out, he could get even sicker. My relationship with my dad has changed so much over the years. I used to be a huge daddy's girl but once I grew up, some of his personality traits started driving me nuts and I pushed him away for a long time. He was wonderful last summer, though his tendencies toward theatricality and litigiousness shone through every so often. Still, he's my dad. He loves me to death and I love him, and I can't wrap my mind around what life would be like if he weren't around anymore.

On a more superficial note, this weekend is my not-wedding anniversary. My shrink's been asking me for weeks if the date bothered me and for the longest time it didn't, but then it got me down. And that just made me mad--there's nothing to be down about!! Life is so much better without Glenn. I thank god that I didn't marry him. I'm blessed with amazing friends, a close-knit family, a great job and a good life. Somehow I found my way to a new relationship that, while new, is going well. It makes me so angry that the past can still kick me in the gut. I spent a year getting over that experience and I am tired of feeling pain because of it. So this weekend is celebratory for me. It's just a date, just a day, but it's a day that is triumphant for me. At least I'll try to make it triumphant. In a lot of ways, it doesn't mean anything at all.

Nose shock

When my roommate took off for her 5-day sojourn in Toronto, she left me with her stinky cat without ever asking if I would mind taking care of him. There are many things I can deal with and caring for cats is one of them. I'm a certified cat lady. But today, when Lunchboy and I came back to the apartment, the stench was palpable and overwhelming--and the roommate isn't even here! After we both recoiled and wrinkled our noses, I went in search of the smell's source. Turns out Clyde, angry at being left alone with a box full of recycled peanuts, decided to knock his whole litter box onto the floor of A's room, scattering nasty stuff EVERYWHERE. Then he rolled in the mess and tracked nasty recycled peanut dust through the whole apartment, all over the couch and into the kitchen. It was beyond vile. I almost lost it--why should I have to clean up after her stupid, messy, smelly cat and why should she and the stupid, smelly cat get to ruin the entire place? Seeing that I was close to meltdown, Lunchboy stepped in and took charge. He set up a fan in the living room to suck out all the nasty air, helped me spray the whole place with Citrus Magic and insisted on sweeping up the mess in A's room. I opened all the windows and swept up the litter from the rest of the apartment. By the time we were done, it wasn't quite as rancid but Scully still won't hang out anywhere except my room.

It's evil, but I take a great deal of satisfaction from the fact that A, being a completely irresponsible flake, forgot to move her car for street cleaning before she took off for Canada, so it got towed. She'll come back tomorrow and will have to wait until Monday to get her car out of hock.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A breath of fresh air

My lovely roommate and her skanky boyfriend just left for a 5-day trip to Toronto. The upside is that she’s gone for 5 days and I have the place to myself!!!! The downside is that she (predictably) left a sinkful of nasty dishes, an overflowing trash can and a dirty kitchen that she’d promised to clean but clearly didn’t. Sigh. Now I can put her grouchy cat in her stinky room and close the door so he’ll stop bullying poor Scully. His bullying method of choice? Using Scully’s box. I sort of can’t blame him because A makes him use the recycled peanut variety of cat litter, rather than the sandy kind that cats instinctually like. Scully, being a lady, won’t use the box if he’s been in there. As a result, I’ve come home on the weekends to find lovely surprises on the floor of my room. This was extra fun when the temperature hit 90 degrees.

I Febrezed the couch and now it smells much better. Unfortunately, the Citrus Magic hasn’t made a dent in the bedroom stink.

Toronto, beware. It’s time to break out the air fresheners.

For better or for worse

Couples in all stages of a relationship are flocking to couples therapy to fix their problems before taking the leap. Divorce lawyers are in the corner, growling and hissing.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Step-level approach

Being new to this whole dating thing, I'm filled with a mix of trepidation and bemusement as I watch my relationship with Lunchboy progress according to a series of steps that are small and huge all at the same time. Being put on speed dial. Leaving toiletries at his house. Meeting the friends. Exchanging house keys. It's like a board game, but I'm talking Jumanji, not Candyland. With each gesture, each step, another door opens inward and we roll the dice to see how well we do with being at this new level of involvement in each other's lives. So far, so good. I keep having to take deep breaths in order to not freak out at how natural the whole thing feels. Yesterday I somehow managed to Superglue my fingers together while he was working around the condo and I was cleaning in the kitchen, and he didn't laugh at me. Even though I felt like an idiot, he didn't make me feel like I was idiotic. Instead, he stood at the sink with me and read the directions on the package so we could figure out how to get the stuff off. Yes, he was laughing while he did it, but then so was I. How can you not laugh when you feel like Joey on Friends (except Joey would have Superglued his hand to his face). But it made me realize that i feel safe with him. With Glenn, everything was a battle. With Lunchboy, everything seems to flow smoothly.

Still, the keys are a big deal to both of us. Toiletries can be abandoned or stuffed in a bag and taken home. Speed dial can be erased. Friends will take your side no matter what. But giving keys implies trust and, like that trust, keys are hard to give back. The last time someone gave me keys to their apartment, it meant a lot but I still didn't feel welcome in their house or in their life. This is different. This morning he left at 5:30 to catch his flight and I stayed to let the electrician in, because there's some cross-wiring with the condo upstairs. This morning his kitties, who are afraid of almost everyone, stayed asleep on my feet after he left for the airport, and they let me comfort them after the electricians tromped around the house.

This is real. And it's good.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Grammatical skirmishing

Is it a noun? Is it a verb? Is it floor wax and dessert topping all in one? You decide. But if politicians, consultants and journalists divorced from all sense of grammatical decency have their way, our lovely language is doomed to be minimalized.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

It must be in the water

The female orgasm is getting lots of press lately. First there was a hullaballoo over whether the big O has any evolutionary purpose. Now a study from the UK is saying that woman can use their ability (or inability) to get off as a useful indicator of whether their partner is worth keeping around.

Even the Chronicle's Mark Morford weighed in on the subject.

While our lady parts are hogging the spotlight, another study found that men get more potent if they see their woman with another man.

Take action

Help extricate Katie Holmes from the clutches of Camp Cruise. Because someone needs to stop the madness.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Mars and Venus collide on the runway

The new Eurotrash. Suddenly, I understand why whole generations of men are shirking family life in order to express themselves by dressing badly and acting like assholes.

Meanwhile, women are trending toward more modest clothing and behaving in a more "ladylike, old fashioned" way.

This is going to get ugly.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I'm convinced

I hear Tom Cruise loves women.Katie Holmes in particular.

Love is grand but apparently Scientology makes you incapable of subtlety.

Valley of the dolls

A childhood pseudo-friend was addicted to the Sweet Valley High books. She owned them all and mocked me for my inability/lack of desire to buy them all. But she didn’t appreciate it when I reminded her of this fact a few years later in high school, when she was all Goth-y and addicted to the Sex Pistols. It’s hard to prove you’re not just posing as a Sid Vicious fan when you have a shelf full of teen chick lit lite at home.

So Amy Wecker, wherever you are, be advised that Sweet Valley is making a comeback. Brace your brain cells.

Monday, June 06, 2005

No more yanky my wanky

Molly Ringwald says she's in talks to make a sequel to Sixteen Candles.

What will it be about? Their reunion? The possibilities...

If you work it out, tell me what you find

One year.

Last summer I thought I’d expire before I reached the year mark, and yet here I am, feeling silly for having known that kind of despair and not being able to articulate it in a less clich├ęd way. A year ago, I was in the worst place of my life and now I’ve done a complete 180. It’s *weird* to think about how much changed in such a relatively short period of time (I say that with tongue planted firmly in cheek, since for months I felt like every day lasted about a year). Time crawled like slothful bather turning over in the summer sun, and then it sped up imperceptibly, so today came almost without my realizing it.

Glenn and I talked on Saturday. We hadn’t spoken since early March and I really didn’t want to talk to him, but my aunt was up in Vermont and she wanted to know if I needed her to pick up anything from Glenn’s family’s house there. Somewhere in that house is a box of my winter things—nice fleece hats, thick gloves, a scarf that belonged to my late uncle and another one that was knit for me by a friend’s mother. Glenn’s mother promised to mail the box to me last fall, but she never did and I haven’t been able to just let the box go because I’m sentimentally attached to what’s inside. So I called.

How did I almost marry him?

That’s the only question I still ask myself. Judging from our conversation, we’re 3,000 miles apart in much more than just geography. I have moved on. In a lot of ways, he still seems stuck, though he’s finally moving out of the apartment we shared in LA. Oh, the symbolism. He’s single and proud of that fact, but proud in that, “The happier I try to be as a single guy, the more likely I am to meet someone” kind of way. He talks to me like I’m still one of his best friends, as if we talk every day, as if I want to know the details of his life. He didn’t notice that I answered his (few) questions with huge generalities because my life is none of his business. I know he wants me to be happy, but I don’t want him to know anything other than the fact that I am.

At no point did he say anything that led me to believe he ever valued or appreciated me, or doubted the choices he made. He did say that he spent Memorial Day weekend remembering what we went through last year, and he knew it was the year anniversary of my decision to call it off. When I hung up the phone, I felt like I’d been talking to someone on another planet and, though I was upset, I was so glad that I wasn’t on that planet with him.

I don’t even know what to write about the whole thing anymore because it’s all been said. Worked through. Processed. Finished.

In the infinitely wise words of Austin Powers, “That train has sailed.”

Thursday, June 02, 2005

American Apparel update

Oh, the poor New York Times. Why did it take you so long to get up on this amateur porn as advertising ickiness? I'm so glad I'm not the only one who finds the whole thing gross. But I did write about it first.

Word to the Bligh

You're going to rock the Deutchland! GO POLLY PRISSY PANTS! I expect full reports on your adventures with the musicians of Bremen.

"We" is a four-letter word

How did it get to be June already?

Last night I was watching reruns of Sex and the City, and I caught the episode where Samantha falls for the salsa club owner who woos her with his repeated use of the term “we.” We is a powerful word. Even the most independent, self sufficient woman knows how easy it is to fall into the “we” trap. When you’re used to determining your own future, it’s disconcerting to discover how strong the urge to couple up can be. Being single can be lonely but it’s really safe. You can’t get hurt when you don’t let anyone in. How much you’re moved by the “we” can be a world shifter, especially when you don’t see it coming.

Even when you’re determined to stick to reality, the power of hypotheticals can undermine you, sort of like the scent of a well-cooked steak can tempt a vegetarian back to meat. It’s alluring to consider a possible future that features a co-star, rather than just a single name above the title. No more solo vacations! No more movies by yourself, or getting through Valentine’s Day as fast as possible! But the whole settling down scenario is ten times more captivating and dangerous to play with. A good friend told me recently that women (and more specifically, I) get into trouble because, as men are known to think with their penises, we tend to think with our desire to settle down rather than with our brains. It’s hardwired into us, as much as I and my other friends try to fight it. But at least it’s good to be aware of. The hypothetical settling down scenario is like a mirage in the desert—you want it to be real, but you can’t depend on it actually materializing.

I could make a camel analogy here, but I won’t.

There’s been a lot of “we” lately with lunchboy, and it’s scary how not scary it is. Our version of “taking it slow” is aggressive domesticity, and it’s working for both of us so far. I worry sometimes that he wants to settle down so badly that I’m just the next possible candidate, rather than someone he genuinely cares about and likes for who I am. The other night, I was joking around about consigning my ring and I said, “A girl can’t lose all her diamonds in one year!” He grabbed me around the waist and said, very seriously, “I’ll buy you diamonds down the line. You’re worth lots of diamonds.” I was like, “You don’t have to say that,” though what I really meant was, “Don’t say that if you don’t mean it.” But how can anyone mean it when they’ve only known me for two months? How could I know that I’d want that from him?

What I do know is how terrifying it is to lie in bed with someone and realize that you could care about them in a deep, real way. The vulnerability is staggering. Can I put my newly healed heart on the line, knowing that there’s a huge possibility it will get torn to shreds again? I find myself making assumptions about the way this will end, trying to prepare myself so that when the inevitable happens it won’t hurt as badly.