Friday, January 30, 2004

reality rundown

Last night I spent some quality time on the couch watching some seriously crappy TV. I felt somewhat justified in doing so because I went to see legitimate theatre on Wednesday. I know that there is really no excuse for watching such drivel as My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance and Newlyweds, but I'm in for the long haul now and there's no stopping me... so please let my one night of theatre justify an entire week of my (what should be) secret shame.

Here are some of the stupid shows I watch and why I watch them:
My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance: This show didn't appeal to me too much when I saw the ads, it was finding out that the obnoxious fiance is actually an actor that got me in a tizzy of viewing. I kind of think that Fox missed the boat on this one by letting us in on the actor secret so soon. It would have been just as funny if we hadn't found out he was in on the whole joke until halfway through, then they could have re-aired the first few episodes and people would probably watch them again; now feeling smarter than the duped bride-to-be. Best part: watching Randi (the bride) squirm whenever Steve lets out that crazy yelp of a laugh and stares at her a little too long. Worst part: the host's eyebrows. She makes Phyllis Diller look like a make-up genius. I'm not committed to this show, but I adore a good improv actor.

Most Extreme Elimination Challenge: Take a wacky Japanese game show and don't translate it to English, just make up your own crap! Throw in a few fart jokes, references to alcohol and/or drugs and plenty of sexual innuendos and voila!, you've got a show for custom made for SpikeTV. MEEC is so low brow that it appealed to me (and Alex) on a whole new level. Apparently it's been around for awhile but it wasn't until last night that my desperate channel surfing brought me to it. If the voiceovers from the Iron Chef ever make you giggle then you're gonna love this. Here's a review if I've you're wanting more info. Best part: the voiceovers, it's so well written. Worst part: I got a little overwhelmed by the scatological humor a few times. I'm not sure if I'll watch this show again on purpose, but it was a good find while flipping.

Newlyweds: It's just plain amusing. Whoever edits this show is a genius. Best part: the pure goofiness of Jessica Simpson. Worst part: realizing that a 23 year old woman spends more on her husband's birthday than I make in a year. I'll probably watch the whole season of this show... how can I not, it occupies every other time slot on MTV.

The Apprentice: I think that Mark Burnett is pretty darn smart, I've been thinking it ever since I fell madly in love with Survivor. I thought it was brilliant that he took some of the best elements of Survivor but then gave Donald Trump (and the other producers) the power to keep the people that otherwise would have been voted off by peers. I was more into this show for the first two episodes, it's losing it's charm as of late. The women use their sex appeal for each challenge and frankly I find it degrading... but then I have to punch myself in the arm and say "It's freakin' reality TV! Don't be an idiot." There are some interesting people on this one and there's nothing more fun than watching people crack under pressure. I'm really missing this geek who got booted last week. Best part: Donald Trump's hair. Worst part: the whorish women. I'll tune in for next week's episode, but if I see one more belly button from any of those women while they're "working", I'm out.

American Idol: This show is a winner, especially for those with a short attention span. I don't think there's any reason for me to go further into this because let's face it... everyone has seen at least a commercial for this show... you get the jist. Best part: the desperation of the contestants. Worst part: I can't keep up with Paula Abdul's hair. I missed a lot of this season. How can I keep up when it's on every friggin night? Once they whittle it down to 10 I'm in. But once they get the group small enough so every contestant sings two songs it's all about the fast forward button.

There are more, but I'm starting to feel embarrassed. However, I will proudly add that I am skipping the Bachelorette this season and I've never watched Temptation Island. And of course I can't leave Survivor now, it's the All Star edition, that's a really bad time for me to go cold turkey.

I'm not trying to sell anyone on watching this stuff. I figure this is my chance to justify and confess for my sad, sad addiction. I try to believe that if I have an opinion and coherent thoughts about these reality shows then I must still be a smart person.... right?

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

I just went into the lunch room here at work to get some gum and the television was on. It was tuned to Animal Planet but I didn't look up at it until I heard "sensuous slugs". There on the screen were two slugs mating. Not only had I never, ever given any thought to how this activity would happen, I am now forced to think about how inappropriate it was to watch that sort of thing at work.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

my unavoidable fear of new things

Driving, driving, driving. I feel like ever since I moved to the Bay Area all I do is drive. I should have felt like that in LA, but I have to honestly say that I think the traffic up here is worse. Maybe it's worse because I want it to be better. I admit that having a new car really improves the quality of my time driving, but I still would rather not spend 2 hours a day behind the wheel of a car, no matter what car it is. We've had the Matrix for a week and it already has over 500 miles on it. Seeing the odometer reach that point gave me a slight panic attack, which is silly, because we bought the car so we could drive it. It wasn't until I spoke with my mother on Sunday that I realized where my irrational fear of putting miles on my car came from. I told her I had already put over 400 miles on the car (you always want to keep the numbers lower when talking to Mom. don't ask why). She replied with "Wow, maybe you should start driving the old car again." At first I felt comforted, relieved that someone understood me, but then after letting it sink in I discovered how stupid I must have sounded telling my buddies at work that I don't want to have too many miles on the car. We bought a new car to feel safer and enjoy our time on the road, we bought a new car so we could DRIVE IT. But now my mother was urging me to follow my wacky bliss of keeping new things new and leaving it parked outside the front window to admire every day, maybe take it on some trips to the market... on the weekend.

Instantly I got a picture in my head of:
me turning the chair in the living room to face out the front window, a spectacular view of the parking lot. There I am, in the comfy chair, sipping my morning coffee and wearing an oversized white terry cloth robe while listening to classical music, just staring at the car. I am smiling with only one small corner of my mouth, a coy smile that everyone who owns something shiny and new should have. I finish my coffee, stand up and move closer to the window to gently touch it, as if to say "good morning Matrix", and then get ready for work. As I'm leaving the apartment I lock the front door and turn around swiftly to look at the slickness that is our new car. My hair is windblown and sticks to my pristine lipgloss. I use the key fob to unlock the power doors, a feeling which I have never known before. I smile as I admire the way the sun hits the unscratched black paint and shines through the moonroof. Making sure that the new car still looks new I use the fob and lock the car back up. I walk down the street to my crappy old Saturn and it begins to rain. I scrape my knuckles on the ground as I get into the teal blue dented car. I drive to work trying to listen to the tinny radio over the whine of the engine, thinking about how uncomfortable the 10 year old seats are. I notice the stains on the seat next to me, wondering what the hell they are from. By the time I get to work I have lower back spasms, my hair is disheveled and my clothes are wrinkled... and have holes in them. Smoke pours out of the hood. I stand in the parking lot with tears streaming down my face and mumbling "why? why?" as passerbys stare at me and comment on the weird color of my car.

I can't be that person. I'm going to face my fears. I refuse to be timid about putting miles on the Matrix. As Joanne asked last night while I was driving home (from a kick-ass tap dance class): "Don't you buy a car to put miles on it?" It was the most simply stated question and the answer is pretty clear.
So as I hit 540 miles today it didn't feel so bad.

I do however have this other problem that taunts me Monday - Friday, twice a day. As I'm driving past the Oakland Coliseum there is this giant electronic sign alerting me to the fact that Britney Spears will be performing there ON MY BIRTHDAY. I think it would be fun. But maybe it wouldn't. Would it be? hence my dilemma.

Friday, January 23, 2004

OCD and comic strips

The dude who delivers our paper put a Christmas card with a self addressed envelope in our paper about a week before Christmas. I am ashamed to announce that we never gave him a tip. I know that it's never to late, so I could still send one, but I think we threw the card and envelope away. Maybe I should get up at 5:30 and sit outside to wait for him. At any rate, now I know that it's important to remember to tip because Alex and I used to get the San Francisco Chronicle everyday... even though we only ordered it to come on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. It turned out to be the kind of thing I decided not to call and complain about, although I did have a few days of remorse when I felt guilty enough that I would try to get Alex to call and let the Chronicle know we were ripping them off. Of course I didn't do it myself, I just urged Alex to do it, which he didn't. So we got the paper everyday for almost a year, until right after Christmas. I think the absence of a tip had something to do with it. Maybe he was giving it to us for free on purpose, to get a tip. Or maybe it was the lack of a tip made him look at the records a little closer. Whatever the reason may have been it's just as well that we don't get it everyday, because to be honest, it was an emotional burden for me. When it first started coming I felt a lot of pressure to read the whole thing every day. Then I narrowed it down to where I would at least flip through every page to see if anything caught my eye and read at least 3 stories. I was often late for work. For awhile we became those creepy people who have a stack of articles "we are going to read". So instead of looking like crazy folk with the leaning tower of periodicals I decided that I would just secretly act crazy and have a relationship with the comic page. It was a way to justify my not reading the whole paper on a daily basis, but still feel as though I was taking advantage of this daily opportunity. That's when I realized I have an obsessive compulsive disorder. I had to read all the comics. Even the bad ones. You know what I'm talking about... Hagar the Horrible, Blondie, Dennis the Menace and worst of all Family Circus. It's shameful to admit it, but I read them all, everyday. I would start with the worst ones and end with my favorites. Some days I would try to stop myself and only read the 5 I really like. I would put the paper in the pile to be recycled but before I could leave for work I would have to pull it out of the pile to read the rest. And there it was confirmed, every time, Beetle Bailey was still stupid. Zippy the Pinhead was still beyond my comprehension. For Better or for Worse was predictable, yet I was compelled to see how the story progressed. Hagar will never change, he'll always be that good for nothing Viking with a cranky wife. And none of these were ever funny. Ever. But heaven forbid I leave anyone behind. Get Fuzzy was always the last one to be read, because it's the best. If my eyes wandered over Get Fuzzy at the beginning of my obligation to the comics the whole project was a disaster. If I read the best first what did I have to look forward to? Mr. Boffo? That cartoon can't even rely on half decent animation.
I knew my unhealthy relationship with the comics was supremely ugly when we got back from Christmas vacation and our house sitter had saved all the papers... Alex separated all the comic pages out and put them in chronological order for me. He was an enabler. This was no longer fun, not even a hobby. This was addiction. One paper was too waterlogged to make it in. I'll never know if Garfield happened to be funny on that rainy day. Is that was I was looking for? Something that was usually extremely un-funny to suddenly make my gut bust with hilarity? I think there was something about the predictability about the whole thing that was appealing. Rolling my eyes at the Classic Peanuts was part of my morning routine.
But now I can put it all behind me.

except on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

to give my props... here are my top 5
Get Fuzzy
Rhymes with Orange
Bad Reporter

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

oh shit, did I just buy a car?

I'm not sure what normal people do over a long weekend, but Alex and I fill it up with all sorts of pajama lounging, usually some furniture gets moved around and occasionally some impulse buying takes place on that magical 3rd day. I've never had buyers remorse about these impulse purchases... until this weekend. We weren't messing around; we bought a car.
It's not that we don't need a new car, we actually do need a second car starting this summer. It's just that we went out to look at what was out there. Maybe do a test drive. I never had the intention of sitting down and signing legal documents. Especially because not even 24 hours prior to purchasing this vehicle I assured Alex that there was no way we were even looking at the Matrix... it was too bubbly looking and the t-tiny window in the big butt of the car wasn't something I was interested in. I knew I wanted something hatch back-y or kind of like a wagon, it needed to have a sunroof and be higher off the ground than the Saturn, oh, it also should be under 18,000. Alex again presented the Matrix, and each time I turned my nose up in disgust, how dare he ask again.
Monday morning rolled around and Alex and I were having some eggs and bacon. As I was chewing on that last tasty morsel of crispness I looked out the window and saw a car, it looked pretty interesting, it was a Matrix. And when I say interesting I mean within my price range including the sunroof. I asked Alex if it's a Matrix, even though I knew exactly what is was. I had now officially decided that it's not so bad. Alex confirmed the greatness of this car. I don't know if it was the bacon talking, but within the hour we were at a Toyota dealership.
The first dealership wasn't so great, no one was particularly interested in talking to us. I like the no pressure deal, but I could use a little enthusiasm. Maybe it was obvious that we weren't planning on buying right away, after all, it was our first day of looking and we spewed that line out at anyone who came in our general vicinity. Alex had a chat with one employee and asked him how low he could go on the price. He told us what the dealership had paid for the car and that he couldn't go much lower than what was on the sticker. And so we moved on to the next place. We spoke with Ed, a nice man who confessed to buying his reading glasses without a prescription. We told him what we were interested in and then Alex says "the other dealership said that they could give us that car for X". X was actually the price the last dealership said they bought the car for, but I wasn't going to argue. Alex was either honestly mistaken or he was driving a hard bargain. Either way, I saw a bargain and we weren't even buying today, so who cares? Friendly Ed drove us around to some different lots where they store their cars in search of what we were looking for. At this point I'm wanting to go home and also wanting some lunch, but I'm game so I take the back seat and wonder how long this is going to take. When we got to the second lot we saw this car, sitting all alone, it was just what we wanted. I wondered how he did that, because I didn't see anyone else at the lot. So Alex test drove and I sat up front and played with the stereo. (Yep, it's nice. Okay, can we get some lunch now?) Ed was sitting in the back like a chaperone and scared the crap out of me when he said "so if I could give you the same deal as the other dealer would you buy this today?" Then Alex scared the crap out of me (and the same time delighted me) by saying maybe. We drove the car back to the dealership to "talk about numbers". I called my sister to relieve me from my nervous breakdown and that helped a lot. She told me about a cordless phone that she's sending my way and reminded me that I could walk away from this whole car thing at anytime. I needed that.
When we got to the dealership I let Alex do all the talking. He had nerves of steel and I was hungry. He asked for the car for 500 less than X. That didn't work, but a valiant effort was made. At that point I was ready to bolt, figuring that no bargain was headed our way and it was the perfect excuse to get out of the purchase today. But then Ed came back and told us that he could give us 0%APR and the car would cost X. X... the brilliant X. The next thing I knew I was signing papers with my clammy hands. My scalp was sweating. I couldn't believe I was buying a car. I couldn't believe I didn't eat lunch. We drove away around 5pm in a slick black Matrix with a sunroof and a 6 CD changer.
Of course I woke up at 3am in a panic. Reminiscent of the tattoo freak out of '96, I shook Alex awake and asked him to calm me down. What had we done? "We bought a car that we deserve to have. It's going to be okay."
He's right. Having a new car kicks some serious ass.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Insomnia is a terrible waste of my time... if I could only find a way to make it work to my advantage, it's not like I can start to vacuum or do a sink full of dished between the hours of 1 and 5am. I chalked up one lousy hour of sleep last night and spent the whole day feeling like a crumpled up math test. During the hours I wasn't sleeping I: wrote the entry below, found some cheap airfares, read some other blogs, clipped my toenails, read some articles in the New Yorker, played with my uninterested cat and selfishly tried to have a conversation with Alex who responded with, "the way I picture it is like I'm a little bug flying around your head like this" and then proceeded to use his index finger to draw invisible concentric circles above my forehead. Then he smiled with satisfaction and gently snuggled in to a comfy pose. I really have no idea what he was talking about but it was kind of like the time he was drifting in and out of sleep on a hot summer night and said (unprovoked) "I hate oranges. I hate them. And their white, webby skin."
You can't make that kind of shit up. You have to be in that crazy-like state of half sleep; that time when a pillow is the best damn thing you have ever felt and your sheets are so delicious, no matter how dirty they are. I have insomnia a lot, so it's not very often that I get to experience this most excellent state. However, on Tuesday night of last week Alex was asking me questions while I was falling asleep and I answered one question with "You know, those women won't just dry your clothes for free." I remember feeling slightly confused at my own response, but not concerned enough to stop enjoying the fact that my head had now become one with the sweet, sweet down pillow.
So this week when I couldn't sleep I tried to remember my dreamy haze state and force myself back there, then when that didn't work I would fantasize about TiVo and how handy it would be between the hours of 1 and 5am.
On Wednesday night I went out with Wil; it was back to the scene of the crime... Martuni's. I knew it was time to face my fears and enter said drinking establishment on a school night. The plan was to get something to eat first and then split a drink at the piano bar. We went to Chow and there was a bit of a wait so we ended up next door at the Pilsner while we waited. It was about a half hour before our table was ready so before we even had so much as a nibble we had each had a pint of beer. Feeling counter-productive by the time we got to our table I decided I would order something with mashed potatoes, because surely that would absorb any alcohol. The whole time we were eating I was trying to decide how to break it to Wil that since I already had a pint of beer there was no way we could go to Martuni's. I guess it was something about the mashed potatoes combined with that toasty warm blast from the heat lamps that made me rethink my plan, and after a delicious (and thrifty) dinner we walked down to the sign with the big green neon olive.
There I was again. It actually made me nervous to be in the bar. Wil found a good table pretty close to the piano and I decided I would use the one and only restroom. Surprisingly the layout seemed different than I remembered it from over 4 months ago and I started to laugh while I was in there wondering how stupid I looked that night that I drank 2 of those gargantuan drinks. I got back to the table and Wil ordered 2 glasses of water and a Knob Creek Manhattan. The bartender, Billy, asked if that was just one drink that we wanted. Wil and I both said yes with absolute certainty. Then I started this uncomfortable diatribe about how last time we came here it got ugly and blah, blah, blah... Billy said "I know, they warned me when you came in." Laughs all around. As he walked away to get our drink I noticed the two women sitting in front of us. They were swaying with no certain rhythm and shouting with excitement at each other, were they drunk or what? Please tell me I didn't look that bad the last time I came in here. As they started swing dancing and knocking chairs down behind me I knew that no matter how bad I thought I was on that ill-fated September night these women made me look like a freakin' super star. So Wil and I shared our drink with three extra cherries, listened to some mediocre singers and I am proud to announce that I am now free of the Martuni curse.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

It's been awhile... almost a month... since I've written. It takes me awhile to get into the swing of things after the holidays. Alex and I went home and spent time with all the people we wish we could spend a lot more time with. It's always a mixed bag when I go "home" because I'm so happy to see everyone, and then so sad to leave. Bittersweet. Of course there was the obligatory cry-fest at the airport, but Alex told me that everything is going to be okay, and I believe him.

Since I've waited so long to write I think it's best for now to do an informational/observational list of our trip:

* Traveling on Christmas day is actually quite pleasant, unless you were counting on Bayporter to get you to the airport.
* Bayporter does not operate on Christmas day
* Surprising everyone with your mere presence is a great ego booster
* My Mom is an excellent secret keeper
* Nana looks terribly cute in sneakers
* Knitting is more fun when your Mom teaches you how to do stuff
* Atkins banana bread is the worst thing you could ever put in your mouth
* My nephew has the best dimple and can find the baby Jesus on command. He also does a rockin' dance to the ABC song
* Papa Gino's pizza is pretty good
* It's so comforting to have the same best friend for 20 years
* Alex picks out nice desserts
* I can win at least one hand of Texas hold 'em
* Dunkin Donuts beats any other coffee. Don't argue.
* Flights are more pleasant when you are a frequent flyer; if you travel as a couple they block out that 3rd seat in your row
* Christmas is still my favorite holiday