It Hardly Matters

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Christmas morning at my parents' place is a time that my family and I look forward to each year. We get up early, make a pot of coffee, crank up the old school Christmas tunes (The Salsoul Orchestra's Christmas Jollies is a fave), and start winding our way through our stocking gifts, which takes us about 2 hours. We, being a tad masochistic, open each present one by one, starting usually with my sister, who selects a gift at random, opens it, then tries to guess which of the other four of us bought it for her. The guilty party raises their hand and thank yous are thrown around. So, for us, opening a case of peppermints is a major event than can take up to 5 minutes. We each buy the others 5 stocking gifts, so we each have 20 gifts in our stockings. So that's how we get to 2 hours. It's bliss. Except this year.

My parents have two dogs. The elder (Princess) was adopted a couple of years ago (hence the silly name), and her nickname is "Boca Grande" because she is a bit of a barker. I have an unnatural love for this little fluffball, to the point that she can do no wrong in my eyes. So she barks--so what? The younger dog is named after a morning television personality (fine, it's Regis), is super cute (nickname "Poco Cabeza"--the Spanish isn't quite right, but you get the idea), but, for a little dog, is quite aggressive with anyone that is not in our immediate family. He could be perched in your arms licking your fingers one second and snarling the next. Usually on Christmas, these pups chill out and play with their new toys, beg for crumbs from our danishes, and sleep. They might bark a little here and there, perhaps at a squirrel scurrying atop the neighbors' fence. But this year, the squirrel went unnoticed. This year, we had a special guest: my sister and brother-in-law's dog.

Don't get me wrong, Tori is a sweetheart. She is an American Bull Terrier who loves people and gigantic bones. She was invited to Christmas morning because she was going to my sister's in-laws' place, and they didn't want to have to drive back to get the dog after the Christmas morning festivites. Which, in theory, was a practical idea. It's important to note here that both Tori and Regis were diagnosed by a dog trainer to be aggressive toward other dogs. So, it was decided that Tori would spend Christmas downstairs while the humans and two small dogs would open gifts upstairs. Let the fun begin!

A dog's bark is never a soothing sound. But most bigger dogs' barks have a lower timbre and don't pierce through brainmatter like those of small dogs. So when Tori started barking downstairs (after being snuck in through the porch while we distracted the two fluffs with treats), it wasn't so bad. When Boca and Poco went batshit crazy, however, it was. They charged the basement door. They shook. And they started shrieking at a volume I had never experienced from anything other than a screeching 6 train or guitar amp feedback in a 250-square-foot practice space. This cacophony propelled Tori to howl and bark right back. In a flurry of wrapping paper and glittery ribbons, my parents leapt from their easy chairs and grabbed the now-rabid dogs away from the door, avoiding bared teeth as they scooped them up and brought them to the kitchen. The barking continued. Leashes were affixed to collars, Tori was given a calming peanut butter treat, and my parents each took a small dog, returned to their chairs, and we tried to resume our normal routine.

For 2 hours, the dogs barked. My eyes watered, they barked so loudly. For 2 hours, Boca and Poco sat quivering in my parents' laps, trying everything they could think of to escape and charge the basement door again. I sat on the couch, fingers in ears, waiting for my brother-in-law to open the socks I gave him. When he did, I raised my elbow so he would know they were from me. I couldn't even hear him say thank you.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Notes From Aboveground

Greetings from the NYC Transit Strike 2005! About 30 minutes ago, I almost ran over a dude on roller skates in my mother's VW Bug.

I, like an ass, decided that, after a full day of working from home (complete with the requisite 2 pm Bloody Mary), I would get in the car at 4:15 to try to drive into the city to see my best friend in the delivery recovery room at St. Vincent's (congratulations, U!). Bad idea jeans. After snaking my way through residential Williamsburg, assaulted on all sides by speeding minivans, darting Hasidic children wearing all black, and the aforementioned (and intriguing) roller skating populace of East Williamsburg, I got in line for the bridge entrance, happily listening to my iPod and smoking Parliaments with the heat blasting. 20 minutes later, I resignedly swung my car to the exit lane of the BQE, glancing forlornly at the barricaded bridge entrance on my left, and began my winding journey back to the parking spot I had abandoned only 40 minutes before. Sigh.

But that's just my minor saga. I feel much worse for those that did one or more of the following today:

  • walked over a bridge or bridges in 27 degree weather
  • hitched rides with malodorous individuals in vehicles of questionable safety
  • paid $20 to share a cab from 44th Street to 21st
  • stressed to get to a place of business that depended on clients making it in (hair salons, doctor's offices, etc.), only to find all clients had cancelled
  • weren't able or allowed to work from home

Sometimes, English Majors that live in Brooklyn get a break. Strike on, suckers!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Brokeass Mountain

Here's the deal: I like movies. Also the deal: I hate going to the movies.

Listening to other people eat popcorn makes me want to commit homicide. But most of my disdain for moviegoing stems from a particular experience in San Francisco. My ex-boyfriend was a film guy, and was friends with other film guys. Said guys took me along to the SF Film Festival, where we crowded into a darkened theater in Japantown to watch an Eastern-European film that featured, from my spotty recollection, drunk people on a houseboat and a large white horse.

All was fine until the movie hit the, oh, I don't know, 2 hour and 45 minute mark, when I started to panic. I needed nicotine and relief from bladder pressure immediately. On either side of me, 25 rapt film devtoees were smugly nestled in their seats, faces upturned and illuminated by the white horse. Not blinking. Not moving. I began to experience the precursors to a panic attack, squirming in my seat, kicking my legs out straight then snapping them back and up into a tucked position, rearranging my coat, making grunty noises, rolling my eyes. (Picture Elaine watching "The English Patient.") I think I finally got up and left, annoying at least 50 people as I made my way out of the aisle. That cigarette tasted like nectar from the gods.

An experience like that is one I want to avoid at all costs. When I tended bar a few years ago, I saw lots of movies. I could go to the Tuesday 1:15 showing of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," splay out like a cat in the sunshine, and make it out of there before the high schoolers showed up for "X-Men" at 3:05. Aaaah. But now that I'm a 9-6er, my only opportunity to go to the movies is after work and on weekends. Like the 7 million other 9-6ers in the New York Metro Area. No thanks. Plus, my piddly disposable income goes toward drinks, dinners, travel, gifts. Not $11 movies starring Ryan Reynolds in a fat suit. So, for the most part, movies that I want to see go unseen. (Exception: Harry Potter movies. Leave me alone!)

As you may guess, I haven't seen "Brokeback Mountain," and probably won't, even though, in theory, I'd like to see it. It looks like it would be good. My roommate, the lovely Saint Peg, gave me a copy of the story on which the movie is based and I read it last night before bed. Beautifully, painstakingly written by Annie Proulx, but while reading, I felt personally sad. Not sad for the characters, but sad for myself. Because I had a relationship like that, electric and right but doomed to regret and loneliness and pain in old age. Ah well, we all move on. Someday I'll be able to watch it, I'm sure. On cable.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Pop Culture Haiku #2*

Nicole, Nik, Bre, Kim
Jayla, Lisa, Kyle: Which
is the skinniest?

*inspired by the UPN hit America's Next Top Model: Cycle 5.

Disco Casual

It's that time of year again: holiday party time. To kick off the season, I must head to some anonymous, oversized club (uptown! help!) after work tomorrow for the corporate boozefest. If it's anything like last year's, I will have had 2 gin martinis and 5 cigarettes by 6:45. I'm dragging Massey and B with me; we hope to claim a booth and drink our faces off whilst making fun of guys in Dockers. My main concern about the whole thing is typical girl: what I am wearing.

The email invite for this event contains the following: "appropriate professional attire requested." I guess that means no glittery half shirts. (Note to self: resist temptation to wear fishnets and fuck-me heels to work.) Professional party attire? I'm sorry, but that's an oxymoron. What's most stressing me is that our office is casual, meaning we can wear (nice, pressed) jeans and (clean, fashion) sneakers whenever we want (the Employee Handbook states, "If you would wear it to move, don't wear it to the office." Uh, okay. Thanks.). So "professional attire" here is, well, not suits and stuff. Am I supposed to bust out a twinset and some nude hose for this party?

When I think "holiday party," I think unexpected sparkle, higher-than-normal heels, extra eye makeup. But all of this is out of the question as per management. The rest of the women in my department will probably kick it up a notch and wear their mauve ill-fitting Old Navy sweaters instead of their off-white ill-fitting Old Navy sweaters. Gasp! I think for me it will be a skirt, boots, a demurely-festive top, maybe a cute blazer. Disco casual. I'll save the fuck-me heels for the next baby shower.

Friday, December 02, 2005

A Princess Never Cooks

BAM! Yes, believe your eyes, this was my Thanksgiving dinner table (pre-food, of course). Take that, Marty.

Not since I read Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret, have I felt so, well, womanly--like I graduated to the next level or something. I can now say that I have experienced, albeit briefly, the sweet nectar of the once-bewildering world of filigreed slotted spoons, monogrammed pewter napkin rings, and multi-colored hand-blown cordial glasses. Would you like an absorbent sandstone coaster for your snifter?

Breathe in. Breathe out. Imagine, if you will, the sumptuous tendrils of scent that drifted in from my kitchen last Thursday: thyme-and-butter-rubbed turkey breast stuffed with garlic cloves and bread dressing, glowy sweet potato bisque with cinnamon, flaky, top-split dinner buns. Until a week ago, I could never have written that sentence. The smells more commonly emitting from my kitchen include the plasticky Eau du Microwavable Burrito or perhaps the sweet aroma of a freshly punctured can of tunafish.

For a long time, I told myself that I didn't like to cook. I even resorted to purchasing a silly magnet proclaiming "A Princess Never Cooks." Yeah, I know, buying a silly magnet to rationalize an aspect of one's personality is a desperate act usually committed by lonely and bored housewives with a surplus of cash. I have one, OK?? I bought it in college. Anyway, my recent brush with the culinary arts has a lot to do with my recent lack of cash. Eating out 3 meals a day in New York City is a killer. ($10 salad, anyone? With avocado? $14! And that's lunch.) So this summer, after several threatening phone calls from my credit card company, I decided to budget and scrimp and save and cook more. So, I've been cooking more. Ahem.

This Thanksgiving, when my parents and grandmother decided to come to Brooklyn, I stressed, but was excited. It would be a new tradition, a new adventure, an opportunity to either (A) entertain my family by tending to their every gastronomic need and desire, or (B) burn down the kitchen. Either way, I figured it'd be memorable.

OK, I'm off to buy a bundt pan.