Saturday, December 31, 2005

Auld lang syne

"What was your worst New Years?"

"I had to drive a bunch of mean hippies to a party. It was full of more mean hippies. We couldn't leave until 2am or 3am and I didn't want to ruin my date's night so I didn't say anything. You?"

"Sitting in some stranger's smelly basement in Springfield watching bad TV and listening to the strangers talk about babies. Or the time my ex-boyfriend's a cappella group went to perform at First Night in Providence and he told me there was no room in the car for me, but I found out later that night that all the other guys had brought their girlfriends."

Which is why I've accepted the suckiness of New Years and have come to terms with my inner introvert. No matter what I do, it always feels like everyone else is doing something cooler and more fun for New Years. Also, champagne gives me a headache. So this year we're cooking silly things and watching movies and ignoring the fuss. Purrrrrr.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Passing time

Christmas was fast, fun and, for the most part, painless. I spent Christmas eve and Christmas morning with my family. Miraculously, everyone liked their gifts and no one was grumpy. We ate waffles for breakfast--that's our little tradition. Presents and then waffles and then carb-induced napping. Then off to the airport to catch a flight to Florida for a few days of sun and fun with Lunchboy and his fam.

Florida time went something like this: wake up, go swimming in the pool, eat, go to the beach and hunt for shark's teeth, eat, read and nap, go running, eat some more, and then crash.

On our last day, we went to the beach earlier than usual and got to the parking lot just in time to see a couple of news vans pull up to cover the release of a sea turtle that had been rehabilitated by a local marine rescue organization. It was pretty exciting--not something you see every day:

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Love that dirty water

Sometimes it's nice to be reminded why every once in a while.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Not a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world

There were many years when Christmas was a disappointment due to my parents’ stubborn refusal to allow a Barbie doll into our household. When you’re 6 and all your friends have like 5 Barbies and 2 Skippers and an actual drawer full of Barbie clothes, it’s hard to understand the whole body image thing. I just wanted a Barbie, dammit. But my parents would have none of it, although to this day my mother says she doesn’t remember me ever wanting a Barbie.

“You never uttered the B-word,” she said. “I never thought they were healthy but I suppose if I’d known you really wanted one, we would have bought you one.”

Instead, I appealed to my grandmother. My wonderful Jewish grandmother who would do just about anything for me, including gifting me with plaid underwear with lace ruffles on the butt that she bought on a seniors tour of Scotland. Cooking was not her forte, but shopping—she knew from shopping. So one Hanukah, I opened a suspiciously Barbie-shaped box and, lo and behold, I was the proud owner of my first and only Barbie doll.

My mother was about as pleased with this gift as my grandmother was about the presence of a Christmas tree in our house, but I was young and oblivious and too entranced with my leggy new possession. Up to that point, my favorite toys were a small fleet of yellow metal Tonka trucks and my growing collection of Matchbox cars. Is there anything better than Tonka trucks for playing in the garden? I think not.

Needless to say, it took about 3 days for me to lose interest in Barbie. Yes, her clothes were fun to put on and take off, but she couldn’t do anything fun. Give her a truck to push and she looked stupid. Lean her against the wall and she fell over. My brother’s GI Joe action figures were too small to be decent playing companions, and her smile—that horrible, frozen, insipid smile. She bothered me and then bored me to tears. So one day I gave her a Marine buzz cut with my mother’s sewing shears and then pulled her leg off.

Apparently I wasn’t the only girl with destructive Barbie tendencies.

One look at the mutilated plastic stick figure in my trashcan and both my mother and my grandmother vowed never to give me another plastic doll again. I pleaded and begged—because in all honesty, Barbie was fun to pull apart—but no dice. A year later, my mother relented and gave me a more acceptable Barbie placeholder—the Darcy doll. Darcy was bigger than Barbie. Her limbs were more proportional to a real girl’s and her clothes covered more flesh-colored plastic than Barbie’s did. Sadly, this meant that Barbie’s flashy clothing didn’t even fit over Darcy’s plump thigh, much less over her badonkadonk. I grudgingly accepted the substitute and played with her for a few years, mostly on long car trips when it got too dark to read. And now I hate Barbies with a passion. But when you’re six, what do you know?

What Brown can do for me

They can kiss my ass is what they can do. And maybe deliver my freaking packages. UPS is holding all my Christmas gifts hostage somewhere in Kentucky.Maybe this is why.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bite me

I love Trader Joe's cat cookies. Habit-forming and oh-so-tasty, they are the Moxie equivalent of the perfect snack and, occasionally,the perfect meal. I am unashamed of the fact that I eat them by the handful. Until now, my world was complete with the vanilla and chocolate varieties but TJs has seen fit to bless us with ginger-flavored cat cookies.

*insert Homer Simpson sound of hunger here*

So addictive. Cannot...stop...eating them.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Check it out

It's not just us! And for some reason, knowing this makes me feel so much better.

Things that we’ve put to the tune of “My Humps”:

Scully’s big butt
The random crap I cleaned out of a cabinet
Everything every time one of us gets out of the shower
The groceries in the trunk of the car
The round dishes of rice at the Elephant Walk
My ass, while doing squats at the gym

Worst, most addictive song EVER.

The more I talk about it, the less I do control

Parties can have impact.

Somewhere between the mini crab cakes and the oyster tray, the chicken pastry puffs and my second or third lemon drop/green apple from the martini bar at my company holiday party on Saturday night, I realized how much has changed over the past year. It seems like 2004 sucked for pretty much everyone, but 2005 has opened a few new doors and windows. It’s nice to look back and smile instead of wanting to open a vein.

I remember sitting at a table with the rest of my department at last year’s holiday party, the only person without a date. No matter how hard you try to ignore being single, sometimes it’s just lonely and it was lonely that night. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lunchboy walk in with his then-girlfriend. “He’s so hot,” I thought. “Too bad he’s taken.” This year we went to the party together.

After four years of nonstop change, I feel like I’ve finally found my rhythm. I’ve had the same job and the same apartment for a year—what a concept. I found a relationship with someone who doesn’t want to change me. I found out what I need in life and finally got a sense of who I am regardless of who I’m with. I found out who my friends are and who they aren’t. I watched my friends do kickass things with their lives. I got some direction. I got my self-esteem back.

This time last year, I was still having random crying jags. Now I finally understand the concept of contentment. Ok, it’s hard not to feel pretty damned good after three martinis, a shot of vodka and a glass of champagne (except the next day, when everything is kind of fuzzy), but it wasn’t just the alcohol or the cheesy end-of-year sentimentality. Things aren’t always going to be as good as they are now, so I’m grateful for what I’ve got (that includes my controversial roommate, who pays half the rent and keeps things interesting!)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Cleansing the palate

Moving on…it’s Friday and therefore time for extreme cuteness. Prepare thine eyes for a cute overload.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Things I REALLY didn't need to know

My roommate uses a Keeper. How do I know this? Because she left it on top of the toilet to dry after she washed it. The TOILET.

Now, I don't care that she occassionally leaves her Nerve book of positions out for all to see. And I even don't mind when she leaves her sex toys on her bed and then keeps her door open. While discretion is certainly appreciated in shared living situations, we're all adults here and as long as she doesn't make me watch her USING the toys, it doesn't faze me. But the Keeper. That's just gross.

This or this would be great Christmas gifts for her. Were I to get her a gift. Which I won't.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Like a virgin

Do it early. Apparently it's good for you, more so than abstinence.

Cute overload

She's done it again. I'm not sure what's better--the cuteness of the kittens, or that the owner calls herself The Kittenmaster.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Power of...spermicide

Moxie: Check this out. I like the idea but can't see it in practice. You're walking down the street, feel threatened, stop and insert condom?
Carmen: holy crap.
Carmen: what if you put it in wrong?
Moxie: yeah! What they really need is a diaphragm with a smart card or something.
Moxie: you carry a button in your purse and when you press it, the nasty stuff deploys inside you--in the right direction
Carmen: that's great until your purse is stolen.
Carmen: "hey, quit it!"
Moxie: ouch...Wristband? I don't know.
Carmen: maybe it could work like wonderwoman's bracelets, and when you clink your wrists together, out comes the spermicide.
Moxie: oh that's good
Carmen: We should start a company. We could call it “Activate!”

Embrace the Grinch

Two weeks ago my parents sent out their annual email asking my brother and me for our Christmas lists, thus initiating the Moxie Family Christmas Present dance, in which we all submit a list of things we want, knowing full well that the likelihood of actually receiving anything from that list is small to the point of being miniscule.

I don’t say this to be horribly greedy and materialistic. We are lucky to be spending Christmas together, and to have the resources for gifts in the first place. But you’d be a little bit bratty, too, if you had to deal with my family’s Christmas politics.

Admittedly, there’s a mercenary feeling to submitting a detailed Christmas list. It removes any element of surprise. But because my family knows itself well (and we all know how disorganized my father and brother can be), we determined many years ago through trial and error that sending out lists early in December worked a lot better than mentioning gift ideas off-hand and hoping for the best.

Still, something always ends up happening between the sending of the lists and the purchasing of the presents--like the synapses just don’t connect. Perhaps it’s my parents trying to add the element of surprise back into the equation. Or maybe they look at our lists and think, “Well, if Moxie says she wants this particular thing, maybe she’ll REALLY like this other, semi-related thing that I saw yesterday at the mall.” But somehow it all morphs and mutates, so that, for example, I end up with a book by Edith Wharton, but not the book about her Italian gardens that I specifically requested.

The really funny part is that my father, the former Brooklyn Jew who resisted my mother’s Catholic Christmas traditions for the first 6 years they were married, has become the king of the passive-aggressive gift exchange. He hearts Christmas and all the presents that it brings, even though his birthday is right after New Years. Every year he makes his Christmas list more and more vague, with the unspoken intention of testing the boundaries of our love and understanding of him. His list requires all kinds of interpretation and assumption, and it’s completely maddening. This year his list looked something like this:

--a backpack
--a technology toy
--exercise clothes

Don’t bother asking him to be specific--what books? What kind of tools? A backpack for what? Because all he’ll do is frown in that “if you knew and loved me, you wouldn’t have to ask such vulgar questions” kind of way and say, “Surprise me.” Which leads to lots of exchanges like this on Christmas morning:

“A brown belt! Thank you!”

“Do you like it?”

“Well, I really wanted a black one. But this is very nice.”

This is why he gets a lot of gift certificates from me. And why I have learned to appreciate the wonders of, provider of all things that I don’t have to go to the mall to buy. Because if the stress of shopping for my family got combined with the insanity of malls during the holiday season, my head might literally explode.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Like a blister in the sun

Once again, New England weather has exceeded expectations. To say it "snowed" yesterday would be an understatement. The term snow thunderstorm might be more accurate, although really it was a nastyass blizzard that had some thunder and lightning thrown in just to keep things interesting.

After a day of hibernating on the couch while the apocalypse descended in the form of snow blanketing the house and 60-mile per hour winds blowing the new grill cover to parts unknown, I needed a little pick me up. It's not even the middle of December and already there are drifts, people. So after dousing my insides with an appropriately large quantity of harvest pumpkin soup at ABP (they're still serving it, thank GOD), Lunchboy took me to...the tanning salon. Or what we jokingly call the cancer tubes.

Now, tanning is not something that comes naturally to me--I'm either white or burnt to a crisp and somewhere on the painful path back to normalcy I occasionally pick up some color. While I love the outdoors, I'm one of those pale-skinned people who has to slather on the SPF 40 or risk certain melanoma. So the concept of toasting myself ON PURPOSE was a little odd. The closest I'd ever come to a tanning salon before this was when I interviewed with a trade magazine in LA that was all about the tanning industry. The editor in chief's bottom line was that I couldn't be anti-tanning. "Tanning is like food, " I remember her telling me. "If you do it in moderation you'll be fine. But some people think tanning is evil." I just though that tanning wasn't necessary for survival but food was. I didn't take the job.

Today, the nice lady behind the counter of the salon seemed very excited about the fact that I was a tanning newbie. She cheerfully selected a booth for me--standing versus lying down in a pod--and informed me that I'd have 6 minutes to soak up the rays and 4 minutes to get ready before the lights in the booth went on. Then she walked me over to a room that was empty except for a small chair, a garbage can and a chamber that looked like something out of Doctor Who. Tall, cylindrical and lined with what looked like the long fluorescent light bulbs that are in overhead office lights, the booth made me feel like I'd walked into an old Arnold Schwarzeneger movie--Total Recall or maybe Running Man. Either way, it made me glad I'm not claustrophobic.

Equipped with coconut-scented moisturizer/tan enhancing lotion and those tiny little tanning goggles that you see in movies (but that I never really though existed), the salon lady left and closed the door behind her, leaving me to strip and slather myself with the tropical-smelling Bearly Legal skin stuff. All I could think was, "It puts the lotion on its skin." Then I pressed the little blue button and *zing*--all the lights in the Doctor Who booth turned on. Naked, lathered up and wearing the pseudo-swimmer goggles, I stepped in and closed the door behind me.

It was warm. And bright. And loud. And kinda sweaty. But most importantly, it was very, very warm. After a few minutes, I felt toasty on the inside, the way you do after a long day at the beach. A few more minutes later and I felt like I'd been hiking all day in the sun. It was lovely. How could I have missed out on this for so many winters???

Afterward, I felt happier and more energetic than I had any right to. I felt like I do during the summer, except outside people were scraping mountains of snow off their cars. My face is a little pink but it's hours later and I still feel warm inside. I am totally going back.

Friday, December 09, 2005

I'm a 617 honey

It's official. New cell phone number, new Massachusetts license. I'm no longer a Cali girl on paper.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


An example of why, on my first night in LA, I snuck into the premiere party for Legally Blonde 2 just for the gift bag.

You're not ready for my jelly

My pants don’t fit anymore.

I bought them last winter and now they are too small. So I’m walking around the office trying to hide my ass underneath a big sweater, all the while attempting to convince myself that I’ve gained muscle, not fat. It’s not really working.

Shame spiral.

There are few things that make me dislike myself more than when I start to have body image issues. During the winter, it doesn’t matter what I eat or don’t eat, how much I work out or how often I sit on my ass—I always gain weight. Turning 30 + winter = Moxie’s metabolism slows to a crawl. I cannot even get into how frustrating it is, not just the acquisition of extra padding but the futility of fighting the inevitable, even at this time of year when, you know, you're supposed to get fat. It’s like the Pear-Shaped Fairy showed up and, despite my attempts to bribe her with salads and yoga and running, she decided to gift me with 5-8 extra pounds. Merry fucking Christmas.

When my clothes start getting tight, I feel unsexy and insecure. My self-esteem becomes non-existent. I start asking Lunchboy things like, “Do you still find me attractive?” And then I want to slam my head into the wall because *BAM* I’m a cliché and I didn’t even see it coming. I refuse to do things like go to the ballet because the dancers are lithe and fit and I am not. So I go to the gym and end up reading magazines filled with pictures of stupidly thin people who look amazing and I feel even worse. Somewhere in my head I realize that I’m not being sane, but that voice of reason gets flushed down the toilet when my jeans stop fitting right. Shallow and idiotic, maybe. But there it is.

Being comfortable in my body has always been important to me, not just in terms of shape and weight but mostly in terms of fitness. I started gymnastics when I was 4 and competed until I was 14, when I quit after getting burnt out and switched to springboard diving. I dove competitively for two years and then got into middle distance running. I rowed in college and began practicing yoga about 5 years ago. Many of these sports involved wearing things like leotards and swimsuits, which are not what I’d call forgiving. I was anorexic my sophomore year in high school. Even after I started eating again, my relationship with food and exercise was less than normal. During the summer of 1992, I worked as a chambermaid at an inn on Nantucket. At night I’d sneak down to the kitchen and snack on the Ziploc bags of leftover breakfast goodies, but I wouldn’t actually swallow anything. I’d chew up mouthfuls of orange scones, morning glory muffins, lemon poppyseed cake and raisin bread. And then I’d spit them out into the garbage. I obsessively ran 4 miles a day. And then I went back to school in the fall and everyone told me how great I looked. Whoo.

In LA, I lost 18 pounds, dropped two clothing sizes and was in the best shape of my life. It’s hard to come back from that in a stable way. Sometimes being “healthy” doesn’t feel either healthy or attractive, especially when my clothes just keep getting tighter no matter what I eat or how much I exercise.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


So I’m sitting on the (newer, cleaner) couch last night watching TV and my roommate comes home. We haven’t been in the apartment at the same time for almost a week, which explains why the sink is filled with dishes and the kitchen is grimy. She dumps her bags on the floor and says, “My car got broken into last night.”

“Where? Here?” Our neighborhood is generally super safe.

“No, I was at C’s (her skanky boyfriend) near Copley. They smashed the driver’s side window and took my laptop, the new one.”

OK, first of all, why was her laptop in the car? Hellooo? Stupid much? And, it wasn’t even her laptop. The computer belonged to the school where she teaches.

“Why was your laptop in the car?”

“I had it in behind the passenger seat on the floor, underneath a bag of groceries.”

So it wasn’t even in the trunk. She seems mildly perturbed but much more laissez-faire than I would if my work computer had been snatched and my car window smashed.

“Will your insurance cover it?” I asked.

“No, I don’t have comprehensive coverage. I have to pay for the window.”

“What about the laptop?”

“I don’t know. I have to talk to the school about it. They weren’t sure what to do.”

I don’t know, fire her? Except then she wouldn’t be able to pay rent. She still owes me money for last month’s utilities.

Five and a half more months.


I bow before Max McCalman. He is the god of cheese. Him and Ihsan Gurdal. But Max has held forth on the perfect holiday cheese plate and I had to share. My dream is to eat at Artisanal, where I hear you can have a 5- course dinner that is entirely composed of cheese. Drooooooooooooooooool. Dinner at the French Laundry or Chez Panisse wouldn’t be that bad, either, but a girl’s got to get her priorities straight and in the land of Moxie, cheese holds sway over all (even over caramel).

Like disco lemonade

Last night I dreamed that I was dating Eminem and Lunchboy at the same time. Maybe it was the Tylenol PM I popped last night before bed. I still don’t know who the real Slim Shady was.

My brain picks some strange ways to process stuff during sleep. I’m still scarred by a sex dream I had when I was 17 that involved Mick Jagger. For the record, I think Mick Jagger is vile. Dream crushes can mess with my reality, though. During college I had a doozy of a dream about a guy who lived on my floor in the Heights. I couldn’t stop thinking about him for days, so I tried to chat him up. He thought I was a nutbag.

When I saw how much it hurt Lunchboy that I was dating someone else, I ditched Eminem. Even though it was just a dream. And it was Eminem (yum). You can take the dream out of the girl but you can’t take the girl out of the dream.

This is what I get for reading Sandman.

I woke up today with this song in my head.

Monday, December 05, 2005

First snow

There was a time about 15 years ago when my mother was obsessed with colors. Not just colors for the sake of themselves, but getting her colors done so she’d know what looked good with her skin tone and hair. She went to Clinique and consulted with one of the counter girls or makeup technicians or whathaveyou, and discovered that she was an autumn, which meant that she didn’t look good in half of the colors she loved. It also meant that she became religious about shopping only for clothes in colors that were flattering, a habit that she persists in to this day. Because I was her daughter and therefore female, she insisted on getting my colors done as well so that we could have a lovely, girly mother-daughter experience, and because she thought that getting me to the Clinique counter might help convince me that makeup was not the eighth greatest earthly sin.

In one of the more ironic twists of my life, I found out that I’m a winter. I have very dark brown hair, dark brown eyes and a pale complexion. A few weeks ago, two friends told me on the same day that I looked 1. Irish and 2. Jewish, so who knows what the hell is going on. But the fact that I have any element of winter in my body is a strange, semi-surprising discovery. I say semi-surprising because I have struggled with depression for my entire life and so I wasn’t completely shocked to learn that my nature tends toward the dark, quiet and austere, even if we’re just talking about color schemes. There are few things in the world that I hate more than being cold. And yes, I know I’m living in the wrong place for that but what can I say—Boston’s home.

Still, winter is not my time. Some people thrive in the snow and cold—I am not one of them. I’ve always known that the months between November and March were dangerous for me, but it took living in a warm place for a year to understand how much strong sunlight and temperatures above 50 degrees can impact my mental equilibrium. It took me 28 years to grasp the term Seasonal Affective Disorder and accept that it encompassed the fatigue, hunger, hibernation tendencies and the deep depression that smack me in the face every year after the autumnal equinox. People who don’t have SAD or don’t deal with depression find it easy to say, “Oh, just buck up. Spring will be here soon.” I wish it were that easy. Until I bumped up my antidepressant dosage a few weeks ago, my brain was in a chemical whirl and all I wanted to do was go to sleep, no matter how rested I was. Winter is a four or five-month long battle against sliding into an abyss that opens up under my feet once the leaves start to fall from the trees.

This year I started plotting my winter survival strategy before summer was even over. It helped that the weather stayed warm enough for me to walk home from yoga in flip flops until just a few days before Thanksgiving. I increased my dosage of happy pills. I’m going to Florida for a few days after Christmas and we’re doing a week somewhere tropical in February. I work out regularly, watch my food intake and force myself to be social even when all I want to do is stay home on the couch. I may even hit the tanning booth to see if a concentrated dose of heat and light will help. Lunchboy’s learned pretty quick how to snap me out of my whiny winter moods, and his company is making all the difference this year. But this morning, as I scraped snow off my car and blasted the defroster for the first time this winter, I realized that spring is 18 weeks away. And I almost put my head in my hands.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Glory days--yeah, they've passed him by

In the blink of a young girl's eye:

"Don't rule out a reunion of New Kids on the Block. That's the word from velvet-voiced Jordan Knight, who's back with a solo CD called ''The Fix." The former NKOTB, who'll be at the FYE store in Danvers today, said there's a chance he and Donnie Wahlberg, Jon Knight, Danny Wood, and Joe McIntyre could still get back together. ''We'd need new material and all new steps," said Knight, who revealed that Donnie's the most interested in a reunion. Knight's new CD is produced by boy-band Svengali Lou Pearlman -- the brains behind Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync -- and the first single's on Billboard's Hot Adult Contemporary chart. Knight said Bobby Brown and New Edition were his idols, but they didn't get their due. ''Race does matter when it comes to this stuff," said Knight. ''They were a boy band, they were a black boy band. We were the Great White Hope, and this is a white country."

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Cold front

Stack them two by two

I’m not usually much for industrial chic but this concept is so cool. It actually looks livable and, when used for projects like rec centers or refugee shelters, is adaptable, affordable and innovative. A whole house made of shipping containers!! It’s like a real-life twist on the Box Car Children.