Friday, December 30, 2005

After a Christmas Day showing of "King Kong," my family lingers in the theater:

Dad: "How does Skull Island sound for vacation next summer?"

Offspring chuckle at the thought of our father hoisting Mom into the rainforest canopy as an offering to The Beast.

Dad: "Whaddaya think, guys? Would Kong would take her away?"

Me: "Sure. But after a couple days he'd probably be ready to give her back." Then I point a finger at my mother and warn, "You'd better watch your nagging if you want to be returned in the condition you were received."

My brother, in an uncanny imitation of Mom: "Look at this cave! You couldn't clean up for me a little bit?"

Me: "No salt? No garlic? Who eats this way?"

Dad: "It's enough already with the climbing! What can you do up there that you can't do down here?"

Mom ignores the fun-making and turns toward my father with a sweet smile. "Would you do that for me, honey? Climb to the top of the Empire State Building to save my life?"

Dad considers the question, scratching his chin, then shrugs. "Yeah, I guess so. As long as I don't have to schlep you down."

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

she's full of holiday spirits

On Christmas Day/Hannukah Eve my grandmother called to wish me a happy holiday. While my half of the conversation was spare -- I generally loathe the phone and tend to clam up when forced to use it -- Grandma rambled on about the Hannukah party her friend was throwing for a new great-grandson that night. She was sort of sad that not all her friends could be there but she planned to go and enjoy herself anyway.

"Some people might sit around and mope, but I'm not the kind to become a shriveled old prune. I choose to be around people. I choose to have fun." This was what came out of her mouth; Her tone, on the other hand, sent a more pointed message: "Your mother told me you decided to skip the Matzo Ball last night. Nice going -- you just bought yourself another year without a man."

(Year after year the Matzo Ball has been at best a disappointment, at worst a spectacular nightmare. Ten years of ex-boyfriends and one-date disasters convene to haunt me on Christmas Eve, rattling about Lulu's bar like the Ghosts of J-Date Past.)

"You know, Grandma, some people can have fun without being party animals," I countered. "Look at me: I like company, but I also need a lot of time alone. And I prefer to be with only one or two people at a time. Crowds make me uncomfortable."

"Well, sure," she said, "that's your choice. You can find yourself one nice young man and be alone with him..."

"No, I was talking about friends. One or two friends, like to sit and have dinner. I'm just saying I don't always enjoy a big to-do."

"Well that's something different!" She was getting louder. "I'm talking about a boy. Why can't you meet someone, get married, have a family? I mean, let's face it--" and then she began to sing off-key -- "the clooooock is tiiiiiick-iiiiinnnnnng, la la la laaaa deeeee daaaaah..."

Had I been paying closer attention I might have realized sooner that I'd been drunk-dialed by my Grandma.

"Conversation over," I said. "Happy Hannukah." Click.

And then I thought, "Nice going -- you just bought yourself another month without a tedious phone call." Happy Hannukah indeed!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

I love Christmas. No, really!

It has come to my attention that the self-portrait I've painted here may not be entirely true to life. I realized it last week when a fellow blogger confessed, as if admitting to a puppy-killing spree or a career in telemarketing, that he is not Jewish. "You may hate me for this," he said, "but... well... I love bacon. There, I said it."

People, people, people... I am not some kind of uber-Jew. Jewish in culture and personality, yes, but my religious observance is spurred only by celebrations, funerals and rare instances of obligation or guilt. Holidays are an excuse to eat something naughty and wear something nice. My dating pool spans the breadth of the world's races and spiritual persuasions.

And I love bacon too.

I do write a lot about being Jewish, and I suppose my cultural identity is partly responsible, but mostly it's just good material. Let's face it: My people are like cartoons. The mothers, the grandmothers, the issues with food... You can't make this stuff up.

In fact -- and you may find this hard to believe in light of my Hannukah poem -- Christmas is my favorite holiday of all. There's something about the smells and the sounds and the warm fuzziness of it all that makes me feel like a small child in footie pajamas, wrapped in an oversized quilt.

Every year when I was a small child my Grandma escorted me to Santaland at Macy's department store in Manhattan. It was the pinnacle of my year. I was intoxicated by the smell of pine, the merry elves, the warm, glittering lights and ornaments and tinsel I'd never experienced at home. And candy -- there was always so much candy.

On my third Christmas -- 1978 -- we sat in the front of a mostly empty bus on our way from Queens to 34th Street. Maybe the driver liked my curls, or my wide-eyed excitement, or my Grandma (she was a real knockout back then)... Perhaps he was just having a long and lonely day. Whatever the reason, he was hell-bent on conversation.

"Are you going to visit Santa, little girl?" he asked me sweetly.

I sat silent and played with the rings on Grandma's hand.

"Have you been to the North Pole before?"

I tugged at my mittens and didn't answer.

"What are you going to ask Santa to bring you for Christmas?" He was a patient man, I'll give him that.

I stared out the window while we went on like this for a dozen blocks or so, the bus driver lobbing festive queries across the aisle and me playing deaf and dumb, until finally I leaned against my grandmother, cupped my little mitten around my mouth and whispered, "Grandma, I don't think he knows we're Jewish."

In December the following year, I came home from the small church where I attended nursery school (my Mom was the music teacher there; it made sense at the time) eager to share the story I'd learned in class that day: The Tale of Baby Cheeses. Throughout December and into the new year I recounted the miracle to anyone who would listen. Needless to say, my version was...a little off, but people seemed to find it entertaining still.

That was the year the Bensons moved into the white columned house up the street. They had one little girl the same age as me, and a boy about a year older than my baby brother. We were all fast friends. The Bensons were from Oklahoma; their traditions, canned chicken soup and charming Southern lilts opened up an exciting new world to me -- especially since I had yet to enter the public school system and shake my Forest Hills accent. When Jennifer caught sight of the menorah glowing in my kitchen it was the first time I'd heard the word "purdy." When I was greeted at the door by her cockerspaniel, Cookie, it was the first time she'd heard the word "dawg." One year my brother got antsy about his Hannukah presents and enlisted his buddy to investigate the scene: Little Stephen, slick as Bond, sauntered up to my mother and asked, "So, uh... what's Matthew getting for Jewish this year?"

I'll distract the Mommies; You start looking for the G.I. Joes.

Matt and I were always invited to help trim the Bensons' tree. Hour after blissful hour we lifted delicate baubles and figurines from their cardboard cradles and listened, rapt, to the sentimental history behind each one. While my family lit candles that burned in the kitchen for an hour or two, the Bensons' entire home twinkled and glowed from the moment the sun went down and long into the night. Their house smelled like eggnog, mine smelled like grease and potatoes. We had an eight-inch menorah, they had an eight-foot tree. At seven years old, where would you want to be? They had to kick me out each night when it was time to go to bed.

Since then I've developed a deeper fondness for the traditions of my own wintertime holiday. (Though it's not widely known that Hannukah is barely a blip on the radar in other countries around the world. American consumerism made a mountain out of that molehill.) But I will never shed my love for Christmas, and tomorrow morning I'll celebrate with special touches to my Sunday breakfast: a dash of cinnamon in my French toast; a dash of nutmeg in my French roast; and of course, a sweet, smoky slab of bacon to round out the meal.

Happy Holidays everyone.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

if a mug falls in the kitchen and the grouchy man downstairs isn't around to hear it, does he still get pissed?

This morning my favorite mug shattered all over the kitchen floor. (Because I dropped it; I should take ownership of that part. I'm the klutz.) It was more like a bowl with a handle, really; round, the color of cranberries, roughly the size of my head. It cradled my breakfast cereal every single morning for the last three years. I loved this mug because it understood that the average cereal bowl could not accomodate my morning appetite; It rose to this challenge day after day without ever losing its kiln-fired shine.

This is not a great tragedy. The mug had little sentimental value, just the merits of its perfect size and the fact that it took the guesswork out of breakfast. Usually my Weight Watchers®-brand OCD dictates that I measure every grain to be consumed. But the mug had rendered measuring cups nearly obsolete: When Special K crested the rim, the cereal was poured; When milk peeked through the flakes, it was time to dig in.

I've always been a believer in fate and omens. Maybe this incident is a wake-up call for me to examine the routines in my life. Or start wearing shoes in the kitchen. Or eat a little less at breakfast. Deciphering that hidden message will be a project for the weekend; In the meantime I'll simply count my blessings. The mug could have been full, after all, and while I'm not the type to cry over spilled milk, it would have been a real bitch to mop pottery shard soup from my kitchen floor. And the sight of a head-sized bowl of cereal going to waste -- delicious, nutritious, munchy, chewy cereal, my most favoritest thing in the whole wide world -- that might've been more than I could bear.

So my glass is half full. Because my mug was empty. And if I don't dredge up some decent blog material soon I'm going to have to start writing about my love life. Then we'll all have something to cry about.

(In memoriam: Faithful Cereal Mug, 2002 - 2005. Rest in Pieces, old friend.)
I feel like I just spent three hours backstage at Lilith Fair.

What a treat to meet some new guys at the December blogger meetup, and to see again a couple more. But this one... this one was for the girls. I had the divine pleasure of schmoozing with some of the most delightful women, the most gifted writers, I may ever know. Ladies, you are all rock stars to me. (You too, even though you weren't there. Or were you.....?)

It was surreal, sublime and incredibly difficult to be surrounded by these women I've been so anxious to meet. I likened it to having a dozen browser windows open at once; So much information to take in, plus too much noise, activity and smoke (it drives me to distraction) to concentrate on anyone for more than a second at a time. A ladies' lunch may be in the works, which would thrill me to no end because there's so much I want to know about all of you and I just couldn't focus enough to ask the right questions tonight, let alone fully absorb your answers.

This feels a bit like the aftermath of a first date. Was I too awkward? Did I talk too much? Did I talk enough? Could they tell I was nervous? Was there a booger in my nose? Why can't we just skip this part and get to the comfort zone? God, I hope they call.

In related news, Sunday afternoon marked my sixth annual Girls' Nite holiday gathering. Every few months since 1999, six former co-workers have assembled to eat, drink and be our fabulous selves. The venue may change -- we take turns hosting -- but always there are cocktails, home-cooked meals and, at holiday time, an exchange of small, creative, meaningful gifts.

Grape juice and vodka: heaven in a martini glass.

The Girls were amazed by my bottomless capacity for love and Nicoise salad.

This year I made little Harry & David-inspired goodie boxes,

and wrapped them up with pretty bows. (Details, details!)

Guess who gave out this goodie. Go on, guess.

These Girls and I, we've seen each other through some major life changes; forces of growth and destruction, bliss and pain. All of us -- the wives, the mothers and the steadfastly single -- are powerfully independent. Conversations may touch on shopping and skincare but typically steer toward home improvement and retirement funds. From the outside we don't seem to have much in common: Our ages, backgrounds, lifestyles and personalities are all over the map. I'd say the same is true of the bloggers I met tonight. And yet we're all bonded, I think, by our love for womanhood and the affirmation we glean from being women together.

This is getting a little schmaltzy and I'm starting to make myself sick, like when I'm forced to watch "The View." I'll close with the lyrics of an appropriately nauseating ditty:

Thank you for being a friend.
Travel down the road and back again.
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant.
And if you threw a party
and invited everyone you kneeeewwwww,
you would see
the biggest gift would be from me
and the card attached would say,
"Thank you for bein' a frieeeennnnnd."
(do-do dooo doo doo dooooooo......)

There, I feel much better now.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Did you catch Bush's address Sunday night? I happened to be watching CBS at that moment, so it was Bob Schieffer who delivered the intro on my TV. I don't know if it was just Schieffer's take on things or if all the networks came off this way, but I was not feeling the standard seriousness.

Usually the anchor barges in: "Oh, were you watching "The Simpsons"? TOUGH SHIT; The president's got something to say. And when he's done, we'll be back to beat the horse for TWO. MORE. HOURS. Don't make any plans."

But this time the tone was almost... apologetic. Schieffer seemed to sigh, "Look, he promised to keep it short this time. You won't miss your shows -- our schmaltzy Christmas movie starts in like 15 minutes, I swear. I'll be back later tonight if you wanna hear my take on the speech. But please, don't feel obligated."

"Look, I know he's an idiot. You know he's an idiot. We all know he's an idiot. Let's just get this over with, okay?"

About three minutes in I switched the channel to UPN, where "Boogie Nights" was in the middle of a scene that was, for all intents and purposes, soft-core porn. It was a long scene, and while there was a good deal of blurring I don't think any content had been cut. Just as my heart was starting to thaw for the ass-backwards, selectively-puritanical networks and their "tits-but-no-nipples / thongs-but-no-butt-cracks" censorship guidelines, they bleeped out the word "cum." Three hours of sex, drugs and bullet wounds, and they're afraid impressionable teens will get in trouble if they let a little "cum" slip by?

I mean... You know what I mean.

(If you laughed at that one, you're on the next bus to hell. I'll save you a seat.)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

here's looking at me

Last night I came home to a MySpace message from a man who rides my evening bus home.

"I’ve wanted to meet you for the longest time," he wrote, "and today fate walked into my office." He went on to say one of his co-workers had been tooling around on this "MySpace" website he'd never heard of and suddenly my face was on the screen. So he set up a profile and sent me an e-mail. "It’s just that I’ve always believed how very nice it would be to know you as more than just the girl on the bus with the pretty red hair."

All this time I was minding my own business on the N2, shuffling through my iPod while I stewed in sweaty gym clothes, and somebody was keeping an eye on me. I should pay attention more; I never know who might be watching.

I've had my own secret crush (or five), most recently the disturbingly handsome man who frequents my favorite lunch joint on M Street. Who knows if I'd have seized an opportunity to reach him had I stumbled across his mug online. In real life, I failed to make the connection.

I think the expectation of privacy – especially among bloggers – has been stretched thin across the Internet. In public spaces like this one we fool ourselves into thinking strangers don't care enough to hunt down any more information than we've extended in our open palms. Or maybe we tell ourselves they're dying to know more when in fact they couldn't care less. Either way, we enjoy a sense of control, false as it may be, that's shaped by how much or how little anonymity we choose to forfeit on our blogs, our Friendster profiles, our MySpace pages and our dating sites.

We may do a lot of living here online, but we still have lives. I ride the elevator with my neighbors, run alongside other members at the gym, zone out on the bus with the same commuters every day. I meander through Whole Foods each week and almost always pass George Stephanopolous in the produce section, or wave to the girl with dreadlocks who works behind the bakery. A community is comprised of citizens, and if you live in a neighborhood long enough you're bound to start recognizing a few. Even those you don't see on TV.

A few months ago I was waiting for the bus after work. And waiting. And waiting.... And after a half hour or so I started to hoof it home. Several blocks along I realized someone was walking next to me, matching me stride for stride. We exchanged a knowing eye-roll -- "Ugh, doesn't DC public transportation suck?" -- and then he blurted, "Don't you work out at Gold's?"

"I used to..." I said, "but I moved to Washington Sports Club, like, a year ago."

"Oh, that would explain why I haven't seen you in the gym lately." Honest to God, I had no idea who this guy was. Which is not so unusual -- I do tend to orbit on my own semi-conscious moon. But even for a space cadet like me -- or maybe particularly so -- it's a little jarring to meet a complete stranger who's familiar with both my face and some element of my life's routine.

We made small talk for a while, discovered we live on the same street and work a couple blocks from one another. We talked about blogging -- he wasn't familiar with the medium and promised to give mine a read. By the time we arrived home three miles later we'd exchanged business cards.

The next day he e-mailed me at work: "It was nice to finally meet you last night and thanks for providing me with evening reading material... I must say that for as long as I have seen you around (year and a half I guess-from my Gold's time) I always took you to be quite shy..." As usual, I'd been engrossed in my own world, oblivious to the fact that I'd been, if not watched, at least seen. And also apparently judged with some accuracy -- from a distance, just by my expression and body language.

Later that day my boss called me into her office as I was on my way out the door. She grinned at me and said, "I think I saw you get picked up last night."

My left eyebrow shot up in surprise. "Oh?"

"Yeah. Tall blonde guy. Cute! You were walking and talking on your way up Mass Avenue while I was stuck in traffic, so I got to watch you for a good fifteen minutes or so. Looked like you were getting along famously."

"Ohmigod, I can't believe you saw that," I breathed.

She chuckled. "I got pretty bored sitting there in my car and I thought about honking, but I figured that was the sort of thing that would've made my kids want to kill me. I didn't want to ruin it for you."

"Thanks, I appreciate that," I said, smirking at the thought of my own mother, who would have honked, pulled over and brewed coffee on the side of the road. ("So... Bobby, is it? What line of work are you in, Bobby? A lawyer, really... Here, have a cookie.")

This Wednesday there's another blogger happy hour at Pharaoh's Bar in Adams Morgan. It'll be my third. At the first I was nervous, and I met a few strangers. At the second I was... less nervous, and I made some acquaintances. This time, I'm excited to share a drink with people I feel are sort of friends. Whether or not I've met them before, they're part of my community. We see each other every day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

like a bowl full of jelly

My weight has always been a complicated issue, but I think I've finally distilled it to a simple matter of choice: I can choose to lift weight, in the form of metal bars and dumbells, for an hour or two each week; or I can choose to wear it, like a subcutaneous snowsuit, every minute of every hour of every single day.

Most of the time -- like 90 percent, give or take -- I'm an obsessively healthy eater. Raw vegetables, lean protein and cereals from the whole-grain hippie aisle are my main dietary staples. While I adore all food and will discuss at great length the sweets and pastas and steaks and cheese that entice me from day to day, I go to great pains to keep them the hell away from my mouth. In theory indulgences are sweet rewards; in practice they breed bitter regret.

Still, lately I suspect... who am I kidding, I know some unsanctioned junk has been sneaking past the bouncer. 'Tis the season, after all, and on top of the usual holiday suspects my Jewish office has been gifted with Israeli chocolates (the best in the world), Zabar's babka (the best in New York), and fried dough in every size, shape and flavor (a tradition at Hannukah time).

A bite here, a nibble there, it adds up. So I've been running 15 miles a week to offset the expansive effects of this most delectable time of year. (Thank you Kayla, Patron Saint of Cardio, who materializes in my doorway each afternoon chirping at me to "Put those sneakers on! Gym's getting crowded! Don't give me the pouty face, I saw you with that muffin today.")

To some degree the strategy has worked... but here's where I hit a snag: My job has lately kept me from my weekly strength training class. Keep in mind, it takes only two weeks for muscles to start breaking down; In twice that time I've fallen victim to a phenomenon known as Sorority Girl Body, which was described to me by a gym instructor like this: "It's, you know, skinnyfat. Like when you look great in your clothes, but then you get naked and everything's just a fucking mess."

Yeah, I'm turning into that girl. Soft, lumpy, round-of-belly and dimpled-of-thigh. Her uniform of denim is more than just stylish; jeans conceal a multitude of sins.

Late nights at the office are done for now; Our big fat fundraiser has been a big fat success, and I'm back in the groove of squats, thrusts and curls. Lessons learned: 1. I can run like a hamster for miles and miles, and it's great for my heart and for burning off carrot cake with sweet glistening raisins and a paper-thin layer of the richest cream cheese icing I ever tasted, it was almost like a glaze, how do they get such intense flavor in there, is it lemon juice......? Sorry. I mean, jogging burns calories, but weight training wards off Cottage Cheese Disease; and 2. Gorgeous golden fried peanut butter-honey-and-banana sandwiches, and warm apple-cherry pie with vanilla bean ice cream and candied pecans, and steaming baskets of cheese fries smothered in five-alarm chili, and melty cheesy meaty doughy yummy yummy pizza... these are but siren songs wafting from the deep fat fryer in my subconscious mind. Resistance is tough, but not futile.

The holidays are here and temptation will chase me as sure as Santa's gonna skip over my chimney Christmas Eve. When willpower fizzles, muscles may triumph.

Failing that, I can always run away.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

This poem was the product of a slow day at work in 1998. My mother got her hands on a copy, and that copy begat many more copies, until they'd been spread all across the land, with enough left over for the guests a-gath'ring from far and from wide to bestow their pasta salads and swedish meatballs upon my family's annual Hannukah party buffet. And thus was born the Hannukah tradition in which the eldest child is humiliated before 50 of Mommy's nearest and dearest friends.

This year I think I'll beat her to the punch and embarrass myself; on a global scale, no less. Who's laughing now, Ma? Who's laughing now? (I believe this is what's known as "taking back the night.")

Here's my loving tribute to Christmas -- which is, believe it or not, my favorite holiday of all.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

‘Twas the month before Christmas
in Oakton, V.A.
All Halloween costumes
had been stashed away.

Second grade students
sat eating their paste
while Mommies at home
prepared turkeys to baste.

In finest attire
the children were dressed,
with iron-on Rudolphs
adorning their sweats.

Their classroom -- it looked
like the North Pole exploded;
canned snow had been schpritzed
and the windows were coated.

Red and green bows
spiffed up macrame elves,
googly-eyed reindeer
wore cheap metal bells,

tinsel and popcorn
and twinkling lights
swirled 'round push-button Wise Men
that played “Silent Night.”

Trinkets were hung
on the tree by the door,
the branches so heavy
they sagged to the floor.

Boy, when it came to Christmas
they laid it on thick;
‘twas no end in sight
to this holiday schtick.

You'd find nary a dreidle
or latke in sight,
no homemade menorahs,
no candles to light,

just stockings that hung
o’er the blackboard and wall,
the names of the students
glued onto them all.

But one stocking was missing —
belonging to who?
It was little Danielle,
second grade’s only Jew.

Now I send out this message
to all fellow Yids
who felt a bit slighted
when you were just kids:

We Jews have a lot
that most goyim can’t claim --
stuff that puts doilies
and fruitcake to shame.

There are words like meshugenah
mieskeit and tuchas,
and schlemazel,
farklempt and mishpucha.

We never pay retail,
we’re most of us smart,
we know from good food,
we have great taste in art,

our chicken soup heals,
our brisket’s delish,
it’s amazing the stuff
we can make out of fish.

So next time you fancy
a tree filled with chotchkes,
or you wonder if fruitcake
tastes better than latkes,

remember how wonderful
Jewish can be.
I’ve been to the other side;
take it from me.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I've got my muvs to keep me warm

Several months ago my mother joined a local choral group -- a mixed bag of Washingtonians of all ages, walks of life and levels of... ability, united by their common love of song. Mom has been working hard to rope me into singing with them; So far I've resisted a variety of tactics including bribery ("I'll take you shopping after rehearsal..."), threats ("If you're too busy to sing with me once a week then maybe my laundry machines will be too busy to wash your clothes next weekend."), and guilt ("But there's another young woman who comes with her parents -- you're letting us all down!").

Joining wasn't going to happen but I did have an opportunity to listen yesterday afternoon, when the group sang an all-Haydn program at the First Baptist Church on 16th Street. Since I'd never been to a Baptist church or seen this chorus perform, I imagined my tiny blonde mother, clad in a satin robe, clapping enthusiastically like Forrest Gump amidst a throng of black gospel singers. (Once inside I realized I'd been way off base, but still I've tucked the mental picture away for future amusement.)

The rest of my family arrived a few minutes into the first number. My sister plopped down beside me in the polished wooden pew; I was happy to see her so I said a silent "hello" by tilting my head onto her shoulder, where I promptly fell asleep until intermission. A smarter girl would have left time to swing by Starbucks on the way to the church after running out of French Roast that morning. (I'm crippled without my second cup.) Or failing that, I might have spared a moment to pencil green irises on my eyelids so I could snooze through the concert unnoticed. But as usual, I didn't think ahead. (Mom, I was listening, and you sang beautifully. Please stop crying.)

After the performance, as we bundled back into our warm things, my brother looked down at my hands and asked, "What... are those?"

"I'm not sure if they have a name," I said. "I was thinking maybe glittens or muvs, or pawpaws... maybe camel toes? Oh -- no, scratch that one. Shut up, it's not that funny. Lately I've been calling them splittens."

"I see," he said, pressing his lips together.

I continued, "They're warm like mittens, but they allow a little more dexterity -- it's tough to a work an iPod with your all your fingers stuck together. Plus these match my new favorite hat."

My brother looked them over, nodding thoughtfully as he inspected my hands. After a long pause he said, "Interesting design. As far as I can see there's only one drawback." To which I raised my eyebrows -- Yes, and what is that?

"You look completely retarded."

"Josh, that's not true, don't tell her that," my father scolded. Always my hero. "She looks more like a circus freak. Like that Lobster Man we saw on The Learning Channel."

My brother shot me a wicked grin and sneered, "While we're on the subject... Well, I think you ought to be told there's a fuzzy tumor growing out of your head."

Thursday, December 01, 2005

my dog ate all my good material

I realize that lately my blog has been a little lean, and also a bit lame. Since I don't usually talk about work here I've neglected to mention that this is my "busy season," and currently I'm juggling a workload that might be manageable for two and a half fully capable professional artists. But for a lone, self-taught designer with the attention span of a fruit fly, it's proving too much to handle. In the last few weeks I've devolved into a snarling bitch around the office and a zombie at home, so mentally exhausted at night I can scarcely form one complete sentence, let alone string a few together into a cohesive anecdote.

The pressure at work has been building and yesterday I snapped, just briefly, and spent four and a half cathartic minutes under my desk in the fetal position, weeping into the collar of my peacoat. (My desk is awesome for hiding -- the front panel goes all the way down to the floor.) Afterward I felt much better and went back about my business. Things should ease up after today.

On an unrelated note: I was watching "Nature" on PBS last night (as I often do, since I chose a gym membership over Cable TV and there's not a lot to see on the networks these days), and I think this year for Hannukah I'd like a capuchin monkey. They're just so precious. Also they seem intelligent and dexterous, and I could really use some help around the house. I bring this up because live monkeys are apparently unavailable on and thus cannot be added to my wishlist. (An Amazon search for "monkey" turned up, among other things, Donkey Kong Country 3 for Game Boy and Anti-Monkey Butt Powder Anti-Friction Plus Sweat Absorber. Personally I'm a Johnson's baby powder girl, but I find the banana-yellow package design quite appealing.)

Actually I understand monkeys are not so easy to come by: I've got a friend who traveled through India and Asia after college. When I ran into his mother at a holiday party she told a shocking tale in which my friend's neck was slashed by a broken bottle in a Nepalese bar fight. "They missed his artery by this much," she said with her fingers pinched together. A couple years later I repeated this to the slashee and he said, "Jesus, why does she always tell that story? She never mentions that I managed to buy a car and drive all the way to China with a monkey in the passenger seat. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a monkey?" Maybe it's just the way he said it, but every time I think about that conversation I laugh out loud. Indignation by itself is amusing; demanding respect for successful procurement of a primate -- to me, that's comedy.