Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Might Be an Amnesiac Stripper

When I visit people's homes, I tend to leave little pieces of myself behind. And not just pieces of my heart, or the final shards of my dignity.

No, I have possession leprosy. I have shed something I own at virtually every gathering I've ever attended. Umbrellas. Xanadu. Jewelry. Tupperware. Or, most often, articles of clothing, like shawls, sweaters, or socks. I spend my weekend afternoons revisiting the scenes of my various crimes, recovering my scattered belongings.

I'm starting to wonder what this really means. See, I'm obsessively organized, and I tend to freak out a little when I can't find something. I'm not at all forgetful by nature. And I don't think I'm attempting to move in with any of my friends so incrementally that they don't notice until I haul in the sofa.
Maybe there's something I'm not telling myself, and I think I know what it is:

I'm moonlighting as an amnesiac exotic dancer.

That must be why I get invited to so many parties! I take a shot or two of some kind of CIA memory-erasing medicine, shake my money maker, earn just enough for my cab fare home, and roll out of there. Or maybe one of my friends is secretly my stripper-pimp, and is skimming a little too much off the top. Because, at the very least, I ought to find the occasional stray dollar bill in my underpants. (That is, if I remembered to take my underpants home with me.)

In the comments, admit it. You're my stripper-pimp.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Date with Me, as Imagined by my OkCupid! Personality Awards

This week is all about preparation. Imagine a training montage set to soaring synthesizer music, in which I practice Slow Wallet Reaches, firm handshakes, changing names in my phone to Handsy McInsincere and I'm the Tooliest Tool Who Ever Tooled, and climbing out of ladies' room windows.

I even briefly considered dusting off the old online dating profile. OKCupid! has you answer a bunch of personality questions, then they place little icons on the bottom of your profile. These are called Personality Awards. My awards, however, are so incredibly and hilariously man-repellent that I may as well change my screen name to DaddyDoesn'tLoveMe or TickTockBiologicalClock.

Here they are:

More literary
More optimistic
More spiritual
More compassionate
More extroverted
Less dorky
Less ambitious
More well-mannered
Less kinky
Less interested in sex
More emotional

I'm trying to see the humor in this. OK, the humor is hitting me square across the jaw. If all those things were true, and taken literally, could you imagine what it would be like to go on a date with me?

First, we'd go to a book signing, most likely for a self-help book with a title like, Hugging Your Rainbow: How to Love Yourself When You're Not Really Worth It. On the way, I'd probably adopt a puppy and introduce myself to every homeless dude on the block. Afterwards, we'd go to a cool, trendy little coffee shop. But you'll have to pay, as my job as a greeter at the Wal-Mart doesn't pay very much. I'll drink tea with my pinky stuck out, and perhaps correct your posture.

Afterwards, I probably totally wouldn't put out. But, if I did, it would be missionary, lights out, and I'd definitely keep my shirt on. Then you'd have to hold me while I cry for a period of 45 to 60 minutes.

So maybe I'll stay away from the Internet for now. Especially since, shortly after I logged on, I received a message from a polyamorous dude in Waldorf. What makes it even more awesome? He was my SECOND polyamorous admirer from Waldorf.

What the hell is in the water out there?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Deep Thoughts on Date-Cation

I had the sort of March that left me with only two options: take April as a date-cation, or write a rock opera and sing all about it. As “Shannon the Musical” is really just about the worst idea anyone has ever had, I went with the date-cation. Man Free ‘til May! Woot!

I had this vague idea that I would learn a great deal, and turn into this saintly being who could forever lose her interest in emotionally damaged men in rumply Oxford shirts (I can fix you! I can save you! ….Daddy? Why don’t you love me?).

Well, I didn’t really learn anything at all. I don’t think I really expected to. I just figured I could use a break. Plus, I love arbitrary deadlines and self-denial. I used my time off wisely, on things like my amazing girlfriends, my awesome job, and catching up on six months’ worth of ironing.

And now I’m looking at the last week of Mancation, and wondering what’s next. The extension idea has been shot down, on the grounds that I’d probably explode all over Washington like a miniskirted supernova.

I’ve chosen to use my last week wisely, on the things that make me happy: Makers Mark and Grand Theft Auto. Somewhere in the bowels of Vice City, there's a little slice of enlightenment just waiting for me to find it.
In the comments, mock my love of failed experiments. Or, imagine the musical of your life.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sexy Secretaries Always Get the Best Stuff

I really only have time for a half-assed update today. Which is sad, because I tend to prefer to go after things with my whole ass.

Instead, I offer a vignette:

Yesterday morning, when I walked into the office, there was a big box of Godiva chocolates waiting for me, in honor of Administrative Professional's Day.

Observation: Being an executive assistant on Administrative Professionals' Day has netted me more chocolate than seventeen years of dating.

Conclusion: My job rocks. Also, more people should give me Godiva in honor of my awesome-osity.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Secret of My Social Success

I like to take my social compass, spin it ‘round once or twice, shuffle a few things, and invite an ever-changing cast of friends and randoms over for what they believe is a small, friendly, casual cocktail party.

It’s not. It’s actually an experiment of sorts, in which I serve them a potent (possibly lethal) substance known as Shangria. Then I watch the ensuing jackassery, take careful notes, and store the memories for later. (If I have any memories at all, that is.)

The original recipe came from allrecipes.com, back when it was a mere Classic Sangria. I’ve spent the last five years refining the recipe, building it into something light, tasty, refreshing, and destructive to your immortal soul. At some point, my friends dubbed it Shangria.

You start with rum. Lots of it. And sugar, and some sliced-up citrus fruit. Put all of that in a Tupperware, and chill it in the fridge for at least two hours. When time is up, pick out the citrus, and pour the rum and sugar into a punch bowl. Pour in some orange juice, and, once you’ve taken a deep breath…chilled Burgundy jug wine. Top it all with cut-up apples and pears.

I’m not kidding about that jug. If there’s a cork involved, you’re way too classy to party with me. Go sip tea with your pinky stuck out or something. The jug should weigh significantly more than your head, cost no more than $15, and should have a “Refrigerate After Opening” label. If it has an expiration date, even better.

Shangria has many achievements on its record. That astonished, rueful moment when guests realize they’re consuming rum-fortified jug wine (fortunately, by then they’re too plowed to care). A duet karaoke performance of “Tiny Dancer,” performed as “Hold me closer, Tony Dannnzzzzaaaaa.” A pervy voyeuristic hot pink shower cupcake. A stray can of Yuengling, found inside a low-top Chuck Taylor. A “Screw It, Nobody’s Walking Right, Anyhow,” impromptu slumber party. A ninja houseguest who vanished before anyone else woke up. World peace. Endless jackassery. And that was all in the same evening.

I think it's my Australian half that compels me to make this. I was born on a continent full of adorable tiny animals of outsize lethality. That has extended to both a pretty fair description of myself, and to my taste in party punches.

Because I’m generous, here’s how you can make your very own batch of Shangria. This should fill one large punch bowl. However, if your friends are anything like mine, you may want to go ahead and double the recipe.


Start with:

One each, sliced: lime, lemon, orange
3 cups rum (I like Bacardi, however, anything in a plastic bottle will also work well)
1 cup sugar

Chill for at least two hours. Then, pick out the citrus and pour the rum and sugar into a large punch bowl. Add:

2 cups orange juice (any more than that, and you’re a coward)
One each, chopped: green apple, red apple, pear
Top it off with as much of that glorious jug wine as will fit. Stir.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I'm Narcissistic and Overly Imaginative, What Else Is New?

Friday, I alluded to one of the greater challenges in my life: Murphy’s Law of Inverse Hotness.

Essentially, the sloppier you look when you leave the house, the more likely you are to run into an ex, and the more significant the ex is likely to be. I went out with frizzy hair, a slowly unraveling top, and jeans, and ran smack into my former husband.*

Once I’d arrived at the office, I posted a Facebook update declaring that if I left the house in pajama pants, no makeup, one shoe, a baseball cap, and drunk at noon on a Thursday, I’d run into a support group of everyone I’ve ever dated.

Naturally, as with everything in my life, the gates flew open and the mockery ensued. “The support group actually meets on Tuesdays,” said one old flame. “I have trouble making the Tuesday meetings but I did receive a copy of the newsletter,” said a former flicker.

This got me to thinking. Not about why my Facebook friends list is the Ghosts of Beaux Past. No, I’m enough of a narcissist to imagine what a support group of everyone I’ve ever dated would look like.

It would take place somewhere blank and depressing, like a VFW hall, or north Raleigh. The meeting would be called to order by a guy with floppy hair and a bullet still lodged in his thigh (people, I’m from Woodbridge). Then there’d be an affirmation:

“Going out with a woman who believes there are tiny musicians living inside her stereo does NOT diminish me as a person.”

From there, men would get up one by one and tell their tales of woe.

“I showed up with a dozen roses, and she STILL didn’t know it was a date!”

“Yeah, well, at least she’d learned how to cook by the time she met you…you have no idea how soggy grilled cheese can be when it’s prepared by an iron.”

“Does she still scream and run away when someone walks in on her while she’s brushing her teeth? Or does she save the insanity for when someone tries to take her picture?”

She’d be cuter if she was Jewish. Told her that on the first date. Don’t know why there wasn’t a second one.”

“Yeah, well, on our first date she got drunk and face-planted into the side of a taxi!”

Then there’d be group photos, perhaps one in height order from that mid-twenties phase where the men I dated got progressively shorter and better-educated. Then refreshments would be served (I’m picturing danishes, fruit display, and free-flowing Makers Mark). Then everyone would shake hands, pledge each other to secrecy, and return to their everyday lives.

In the comments, imagine a support group of your exes. Or, diagnose me with narcissistic personality disorder.

*Incidentally, I behaved like a dork. “We’ve got to stop meeting like this, people will talk,” is not an invitation to say, “Dude, my dad would be THRILLED.” Also, when one’s ex alludes to seeing one another at a mutual friend’s birthday party, one does not say, “See you there, I’m bringing my girlfriend HP along, she can’t wait to see if you have horns! Bye now!” Someday, someone will invent a device that snatches all the doofy things I say out of the air, before they reach the ears of the intended recipient. That will be the happiest day of my life…however, I will have to shut down this blog as I will be fresh out of jackassery to write about.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Showering with Cupcakes Makes Me Super Profound

I spend far too much time inside my own head. I like it in here. Once you get used to the air raid sirens, bear traps, and the floating image of Mrs. Duggar’s box falling out and being pulled behind her like a little pink wagon, my brain is pretty cheerful place to be.

Sunday, I was faced with little other to do than push back the corners of a blazing hangover. Oh, and figure out why there was a cupcake in my shower (migrating foodstuffs have become a big problem in my apartment lately).

So I did some thinking about forgiveness. First, there’s forgiveness for those who have hurt you, damaged you, or changed you for the worse in one way or another. For me, that’s always been the easy one. It takes a very long time to run to the edge of my charity.

I don't mean that in a wimpy victim sort of way, like, "Oh, Bobby slept with my sister and took all my money and conned me into going on Jerry Springer to tell me he'd legally changed his name to Monkey Spanker...but I love him SO MUCH!"

It's a little more like this:

If you’ve ever wronged me, I can promise you’ll be forgiven. That may not mean I want you around. I’ve learned over the years that some people can grind your soul into powder. But I’ve tried to drag some sort of lesson out of all my sorry messes, and I’m thankful for everything I’ve learned.

Then there’s forgiving yourself. I’m utter crap at that one. I’ve never learned to be as charitable and kind with myself as I am with others. I will torture myself over the smallest transgression, apologize in triplicate for forgetting the cocktail napkins, and I’m not quite over that time at horse camp when I accidentally busted my cabin-mate for dating a counselor.

The biggest challenge of all is forgiveness for the things I’ve done to myself. The list is extensive and messy: I’ve slathered my body in booze, wasted years on a complicated relationship with food, wasted further years on complicated relationships with virtually everything and everyone else, given an all-access pass to emotional vampires, squandered acres of opportunity and talent, mixed my best intentions with some of the worst men, and allowed my pride to block me from asking for help when I needed it most.

It’s not about failure. I can colossally screw up, and scrape my dignity off the floor in no time flat (once you’ve failed at marriage, hey, you can fail at anything!). It’s those sucker punch moments, when I see that I’m far from my best self, and that there’s always further to fall and no easy path to anywhere. I don’t think I’m all that unusual: ask your friends for the top ten worst things they’ve ever done, and I promise the things they’ve done to themselves will rank the highest.

There’s no easy way to wrap this up, so I’ll throw it out to the commentariat: among the worst things you’ve ever done, how many were things you did to yourself? And how did you forgive yourself?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Lazy Friday List Post: Something and Nothing

Nothing makes you question your own judgment like waking up on a Thursday morning, on top of the covers, in a floor-length satin nightgown and wearing only one shoe. Particularly when there were no sailors, moonshine, or streaking involved.

Something I’ve learned is that when my hair gets unruly, I’ll run into an ex on the Metro. If I look like a lumpy zitty frizzy little redheaded dandelion (with rapidly expanding gray-brown roots), then I’ll run smack into my ex-husband. It's like Murphy's Law of Metro Hotness: How good I look that day is in inverse proportion to the significance of the ex.

Nothing is lovelier than an authentic compliment. Few things are uglier than empty flattery, oozing with ulterior motives (many of which seem to involve the acquisition of my spirit or the removal of my pants). I wish I was better at knowing the difference.

Something I’ve never learned is to be as charitable and kind with myself as I am with others.

Nothing cheers me up like hearing from a long-lost friend.

Something tells me this is going to be a really good day.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

TMI Thursday: Trim One for the Zipper!

I've been having nightmares about man-bush Mohawks. I'm tripping over tattooed men, freakin' cats with freakin' laser beams on their heads, and Pepto-pink Tasers. My Gmail ad is: "Explorer: Pursuing Belize’s Feathered Treasure." This can only add up to one thing: years of therapy.

Oh, wait, it means that other thing: once again, I've loaned my blog to Zipcode, and, as ever and ever shall be, she's chosen to write about pubes.

Take it away, Zip!

Its TMI Thursday and Shannon asked me to guest post with an update on manscaping. If you recall last year I did a guest post on manscaping and skeeved out half of blogger world, (Shan's note: funniest comment thread, EVER) which was damn funny.

So, Zipcode broke her own damn rules. Ya know how I preferred my man trimmed or it all shaved off. Well - ya know Satan, well he wasn't the best manscaper in the world. The whole branch in the bushes theory came with him. He advised, after much bitching on my behalf, he would trim it down. Well, its a good thing he doesn't work for a landscaping company, because he does a really bad job of trimming down things.

Seriously, I know from personal experience its no fun to dive into the bushes to find the branch and his two friends. Trim it down. That was number complaint sexually with Satan -- he didn't trim his stuff down. Buy some scissors, a razor, whatever and trim your hedges dudes!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

For Once, It Was Hard to Write About Myself

Recently, I had to submit my bio for work. Considering I’ve spent the last six years expending copious amounts of bandwith on myself and my varying levels of awesome, this proved surprisingly challenging. I had no idea what to say.

So, today, I submit the (sadly, completely true) bio I wish I had written:

Shannon Stamey is our Administrative Ninja. Her duties include barking at vendors (when she isn’t requesting free ponies), making inappropriate editorial comments during staff meetings, and running every aspect of the known Universe.

She is on her third, or perhaps fourth, career. She started out as a secretary at a fancy hotel. Then she was a political consultant for a few years there, where she slept under her desk many nights and lived up to her Cherokee heritage by occasionally trading her cubicle for some shiny beads.

There was a wilderness year or two, when she inadvertently killed some minke whales. Consumed with guilt, she upped and married a near-stranger and moved to Bogota. There, Ms. Stamey specialized in newsletter editing, overly detailed festive party decorations, shopping, and daytime drinking.

She continued her illustrious career in Sarajevo, where she served as a Community Liaison Officer. Her most brilliant achievement was the Shot for a Shot Happy Hour, in which she encouraged her colleagues to receive flu shots by promising Jell-O shooters in return. Her other tasks included the invention of Sarajevo Rules Karaoke Revolution, ordering a divorce over the Internet, and achieving a level of depression spiral that she is still finds quite amazing. After all, why shower or sleep when there are 12-hour crying jags to be had?

After she crash-landed home, she took a part-time temp job as a file clerk at a government agency. She ran documents through a scanner, fooled the IG into believing all the required informational binders had actual contents, and occasionally left staples in the documents for the awesome screechy sound they would make. This job, and her continued apathy with regards to showering, inspired her to rename her blog, “Disaffected Scanner Jockey.”

Ms. Stamey has temped her way across the administrative offices of virtually every nonprofit in Washington. Her favorite assignment was two weeks of formatting boobs in a breastfeeding manual. For a period of several months, she could not look down while showering without picturing ducts, machinery, and properly positioned infants.

Ms. Stamey has a (still in the box, minty fresh) degree in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her Spanish language skills are rapidly deteriorating, but she has retained the entirety of her six-word Bosnian vocabulary.

Ms. Stamey is intermittently single and, to the relief of many, has no children. Her hobbies include falling off of things, orchestrating the social lives of her friends, and hugging pretty much anybody who will let her hug them. She showers daily.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

When The Heavens Open Up and It Rains Mr. Amazings

I suffer from a particularly pugnacious form of optimism. If you’re my friend, I’ll try to make you love everything that you hate: Mondays (they’re a fresh start!), bad dates (who doesn’t want a front seat at a freakshow?) and black licorice (so unique!).

But there is one thing I will never, ever tell someone I love:

Once you stop looking, the perfect partner will fall into your life!

Oh, I hate that one. Kittens in heaven, I hate it. It’s a mean-spirited patronizing little cliché wrapped up in gauzy good intentions.

First off, it’s rarely true. When I stop looking, I tend to hibernate in plain sight with my girlfriends and swap out my bloodstream for Heineken. Or, if a man does crash-land into my life, he's married and has an unsettling tendency to email me dozens of times per day in logic-averse Princespeak.

Second, it implies that single people are chumps. We’re too stupid to assess potential partners on their merits. Instead, I suppose I ought to just fall on the ground, put my legs in the air, and see who stops by. The third customer is my special prince! It's all just random luck.

Third, it’s just so goddamn smug. “You’re doing it wrong. You have to be so totally happy being single, but kind of want a partner, but not really look for one, and then one will appear as if by magic and you can be happy like me and spend your weekends doing stuff like explaining to your husband that underpants ought to be replaced every now and then.”

Being single is so much better than being in a bad relationship (if you don’t know that one yet, learn it…NOW). I’m single and surrounded by amazing friends, and every day I'm absurdly grateful for the amount of love and support I have in my life. Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop looking, and it sure as hell doesn’t mean I’m going to leave such an important part of my life up to random chance.

When it comes down to it: most people would rather be in love. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying...if only to themselves.

In the comments, tell me what relationship cliché makes you want to punch things. Or, tell me that the moment I stop looking, the heavens shall open and it will begin to rain Mr. Amazings.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Was Wrong. Easter Isn't Creepy. It's Just...Way Too Hard.

I am at a perpetual disadvantage when it comes to holidays. My immediate family selected the four furthest points of the globe and promptly moved there, and we were never big holiday people to begin with. My sticking point is Thanksgiving, but I also struggle with the greater meaning of Easter. (It's about Jesus and bunnies, right?)

My complete Easter ineptitude burst forth yesterday afternoon. I was down in The WB, Eastering among old friends. Somehow, at age 32, I was roped into my first ever Easter Egg hunt.

This is the sort of thing I am normally extraordinarily good at. If I say the keys are buried in your pocket, that you're sitting on your plane ticket, or that your credit card is at the third, not fourth, bar of the evening? I’m probably right. I can find anything for you in fifteen minutes or less, and all it will cost is one victory lap of the living room.

But throw in some hard-boiled eggs and pastel dye, and I lose the plot. Ask me to wander around the front yard of a home I’ve been visiting for 17 years, and seek my fortune, and I will find…one egg. Out of sixteen. (At least I was competing against fellow adults. Being creamed by ankle-biters would have been even worse.)

I imagine it was like watching a horror movie. “No, you stupid twit, DON’T GO UP THE STAIRS! You don’t need to know what that noise was. LEAVE! LEAVE NOW!” Except it was more like, “Please, for the love of kittens and rainbows, stop walking past that turquoise egg. Look to the left. IT’S IN THE TREE BRANCH YOU RIDICULOUS FOOL!!!!!”

How bad was it? One of my competitors, who had begun the hunt by trying to trip me, kept tossing his (many) eggs into my basket. That’s right, folks, I got pity eggs.

At least other aspects were much easier. I can totally sit down at a table and eat. And I could easily mock the baby in his bunny ears. (I think most infant wardrobe items exist to prevent the child from getting a date until college, when he moves far away from family photo albums.)

But I think that next time, I’m going to have to feign an allergy to dyes, selective amnesia...or maybe just throw myself onto the ground and weep.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Is Creepy

Easter is a bit like Mulholland Drive, speed dating, and leggings. Not that Naomi Watts would ever speed-date in leggings, it's just that...I don't get it. I get the religious aspects (yay, Jesus!), I just don't understand...

1. The Easter Bunny. I would never take candy from a strange lagomorph. There was a man in one of those giant bunny costumes at my Metro stop the other morning. It was really skeevy, especially with those cold, dead, plastic eyes. I hated the false good cheer of his pastel bow-tie.

Conclusion: I could never be a furry. Also, the Easter Bunny is creepy with a capital FREAK.

2. Those plastic eggs. They make me think of tiny little alien pods, about to unleash a master race of thumb-sized conquering Liberaces.
Conclusion: Just give me the candy.

3. Dyeing Easter eggs. This was one of those things we never did at my house, as my mom attributed it to American inefficiency. Why go to the effort of tarting up something you plan on eating, anyway?

Conclusion: I was in my mid-20s before I stopped eating the garnishes at upscale restaurants.

4. Easter Ham. If it came from a pig, I don't need a special occasion to eat it.

Conclusion: I shouldn't have had mac and cheese with a side of fries last night. I should have had a side of ham.

Oh, there are things I like about Easter. Buying myself a new frock, but never quite making it to church. Church lady hats. Cadbury Creme Eggs. Jesus. Candy, and lots of it. Watching my then-boyfriend's nieces collide in a frantic Easter Egg hunt. And, of course, candy.

In the comments, try to soothe my squeamishness.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

In Which I Outwit the Mentally Ill

It's 8:25 in the morning. I'm crossing Farragut Square, heels clacking, hair flying, and on time for work (which, to me, means late). A gentleman with no hair, craggy face, gray overcoat, and a ladies' sparkly totebag falls into step with me. He mutters:

"You walk like a pigeon."

"...Excuse me?"

"You heard me. You walk like a pigeon."

"Yes, sir, and you dress like a child molester."

He's taken aback, blinks twice, and I take the opportunity to slip in among the other commuters and dart across Connecticut Avenue.

Someday, I'll stop having battles of wits with unarmed men. Also, I wish I'd come up with something better. Anybody else want to give it a whirl?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Is It Wrong to Only Want What's Old?

I’m a proud little Luddite.

My apartment is the Home for Wayward Tempermental Electronics, including multiple nonfunctioning CD players, a CB radio, a PlayStation 2, and a 1970s slide projector I use as a bookend. My television is a hand-me-down, and it’s connected to a VCR. Nothing has a remote control.

I wouldn’t even have a computer if my sister hadn’t given me one (an Asus eee, which is actually smaller than the attached CD drive I found for 17 dollars). I had to be dragged screaming and howling from Hotmail to Gmail. I don’t use Google Reader, I don’t even use bookmarks. Instead, I click from blog to blog on a perpetual treasure hunt for new comments.

My CD collection (those iPod things are just a fad!) involves mostly music I loved in college, copied CDs lavished upon me by prior boyfriends, and whatever was on the oldies station when I’d ride along on my dad’s sales trips. I do have two Hold Steady albums, which makes me pretty hip for 2006.

I also like vintage jewelry, alarm clocks with actual bells on them, my mom’s antique chairs, the batiks my parents bought on their honeymoon, and newspaper home delivery. I love etiquette guides from the 1950s and 1960s, which mostly tell me how not to “appear easy” and to interact courteously with “cripples.” I fully intend to host a dinner party where I prepare horrendous retro recipes like Fried Spam with Pineapple. My favorite Muppets are Statler and Waldorf.

So, clearly, I do not embrace novelty. But, what with the whole “having a job” thing, I’ve decided to enter that brave frontier of home Internet access. This has created another one of those situations in which I’m an old lady: I have the exact same conversation over and over.

“How does one get…the Internet? Couldn’t I just attach rabbit ears to my computer? What sort of company sells the Internet? How did you buy your Internet? How do I turn it on and off?”

Then I get a little agitated. How agitated? Imagine your loopiest great aunt’s first frenzied efforts to use a remote control, the outcome of which involved head injuries, sedatives, and a tiny fist-sized hole in the TV screen.

I suck at this. As I see it, I have two options: either pay someone in home-cooked meals to figure it out for me, or abandon the Internet entirely and communicate exclusively by text messager pigeon. Help?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Bad Taste Will Get You Out of Everything

I had plans for Saturday morning. Not the usual plans, which involve sending home the sailors and squishing down my hangover with Dramamine and Gatorade. No, I was going to take Foggy out for brunch, and then prance around in the sunlight with my shiny new hair. (Yes, it’s kind of red now. Kind of an Angela Chase effect. Actually, it’s so red that one of my guy friends noticed. So it must be quite red. )

I wound up at Pentagon City with a little time to kill. I wandered into the Best Buy to view all the new technology that I would never want, know how to use, or comprehend the purpose of. It’s like a whole World of the Future Museum in there!

As I was leaving, I set off the alarm. The guard pulled me aside and asked to search my backpack.

“Do you have any electronics with you?”
“No, just a cellphone.”
“That wouldn’t do it. DVDs?”
“Actually, yes.”

I opened up my backpack and began to root around. Out tumbled:

Xanadu, the Pirate Movie, and...Dolemite. Gene Kelly on roller skates, The Pirates of Penzance as re-imagined by the year 1982, and a sleek action film featuring hooker ninjas and frequent appearances of the boom mike.

The guard looked at me, looked at the movies, and tried not to laugh. I cracked up, he busted out a grin, and I said, “I would hope at least I’d steal better movies.”

“Yes ma’am, now get that out of here! Those are some bad movies.”

So, if you ever want to take up shoplifting, use Olivia Newton-John as a cover.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Sometimes, I Like to Pretend That I've Learned Something

Three years ago tomorrow, I crash-landed home after a disastrous sojourn in Sarajevo. I'd spent a year in the three smallest, bleakest rooms of my mind: “Woe Is Me,” “Man, This Sucks,” and “Why Doesn’t This Country Have Any Root Beer?”

My marriage was whirlwind, mad, and unworkable, but my biggest problem was me. I’d turned into little more than a seething ball of resentment with an eye for party decorations. Running away was the best of all my bad options. I packed my things, filed for divorce, and landed at Dulles Airport on April 4, 2006.
It’s safe to say I was slinking home in defeat. My scorecard read something like this:

Successful marriages: zero
Job: none
Prospects: zilch
Plans: nada
Home: a rent-free futon crashpad among sympathetic friends.

I am often asked what divorce feels like. Whether you were married six months or sixty years, it’s hell. It’s like being reincarnated, but you take only your ugly bits with you. It’s seeing every plan for your life evaporate, replaced by feelings of confusion and catastrophic failure. Plus, you exude this vaguely toxic, self-loathing substance that can poison even the most promising relationship. But that's OK, because you're scared and run hell for leather towards the relationships that hold the least promise. Oh, and if the divorce was your idea, you can tack on some overwhelming guilt for good measure.
Basically, it’s horrible and it sucks.

I tried to see the whole thing as something better. All that emptiness meant I could start over. I could put together the sort of life I could be proud of, that allowed me to be someone worthy of all the good things I'd been given. I had a second chance.

And what does a second chance feel like? Well, it's like jumping off a diving board into an empty swimming pool, and hoping there’s water by the time you hit bottom. But there’s never any water. In Douglas Coupland’s Girlfriend in a Coma, there’s a line that's both right-on and hilarious: “Most people, given a second chance, f*ck it up completely.”

And, boy howdy, did I screw up. A lot. There’s that Lost Weekend-esque Summer of 2006. And a whole slew of bad choices, from bad friends, iffy men, and McJobs, to more important things like hairstyle and wardrobe. I trusted everyone without regard for instincts or history. Somewhere around the fifth chance, though, things started to click.
I learned to surround myself with good people. Every day, I hear from at least one person who loves me. I learned that self-esteem is something you earn. It's not something handed to you by your parents, or by some guy with a hot car and a dozen roses. I learned that caring about the right people can patch even your biggest potholes, to give more than you get, and that the most important thing you can do in life is just show up.

Which takes us back to Dulles Airport on April 4, 2006. My dear friend of 14 years, the Foggy Dew, took the afternoon off to meet me at the airport. I was jet-lagged, shellshocked, and more than a little freaked. He dragged my suitcases out to the car, opened the door, and I hopped in. Foggy said there was a surprise in the backseat.

You bet your sweet asses it was a cooler of root beer. And, you bet your sweet asses that's when I knew I'd come home.
UPDATE: In a spooky coincidence, I wrote this on a friend's annivorcery. Ah, the Divorce Club. We meet every second Tuesday and have a secret handshake.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Happy April Fool's Day!

I'm not doing a prank post. Frankly, everything I've put out there is so, well, out there, that you'd probably believe anything I tell you.

Granted, I do love a good prank. I used to veeeerrrry gradually shift an old boss' carseats every time I moved his car, so he thought he was growing bigger or smaller, based on which side of the caterpillar's mushroom he'd eaten that morning. I also instituted a bathroom hall pass rule at an office, and, of course, there was the time I told my mom I was both gay and pregnant. (I had to wear clompy boots and eat a ton of pickles.)

Instead, I'll pass a hearty congratulations to my parents, Beth and Bill, who met at a party on this date many (many) years ago. I think meeting on April Fools' Day tells you anything you would ever need to know about my family. (If not, Factoid #2 is that my dad goes by Skeeter.)

In the comments, tell me something I could have said that would have been prankworthy. Also, tell me why people seem to have a preconception that I'm blonde.