Monday, March 24, 2014

Moving on up. Or out. Or over.

Oh hey. Guess what? I am moving the blog. Just not feeling this one no more, no how. Just doesn't look like me at all any longer. I am PETRIFIED no one will follow me over there, so prove me wrong, ok? Go over there right now and make a comment to show me you still like me, ok? And let's pretend we are not having this super needy talk right now, ok? Ok? Just stop looking at me like that and go update your readers or what have you.

Ok so I WILL SEE YOU OVER THERE. Don't break my heart now.

Friday, March 14, 2014


Here's what is rattling around the old noggin today.

I am being knocked out by sleep every night this week. Hoo baby. It is delicious. I am hoping it will continue. Perhaps, for the first time since my teens, I am entering a phase of extended good sleepy times? Let us hope.

I am choosing to think that my bad haircut is really my stylist thinking I am such a hipster that she gave me a Normcore cut. Please support me in this theory, won't you?

There was enough sunshine this week that I got to dust off the old sunglasses. Alert the media!

I did enough chair dancing in my office this week that my chair is in danger of breaking, y'all.

There's a part of my commute where I hop from the surface streets onto the freeway and the city skyline (and mountains, and water!) just opens up in front of me. This morning it felt really good to smile at my city. Hi, city. You kind of love me, don't you? I can tell by the way you look at me.

I was at a work thing this week and there was a point where an auditorium full of 4th graders screamed and clapped for their favorite books like it was effing Beatlemania. Can you tell me what is more adorable than that because I don't think you can.

Calling peanut butter "nut butt" is something that I am not sure I can vote for. I am undecided.

I am not afraid of spiders, heights, or public speaking. I am, however, afraid that I will leave a public bathroom with my skirt tucked into the back of my tights and/or underwear. Is there a name for that phobia?

Have a gorgeous day, my friends. Remember to appreciate your lovely selves. I sure do.

Happy by Pharrell Williams

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Zero Point Zero Dark Thirty

In high school, I was a good student. The caveat is that my public school education was a little, well, let's just say iffy. There were a few teachers that were effing gems (hi Steph), but when I look back at a lot of them I actually sort of wonder how it is that I became a functional learner at all. I mean, my 9th grade Algebra teacher was a guy who looked like Barney Rubble and had such a rage problem that one time he kicked the underside of a student desk WHILE THE KID STILL SAT IN IT and we all sat there and yawned because we saw that shit every day. 11th grade history consisted of our teacher making us read aloud from the text book all hour while he read the newspaper at his desk. My AP English class taught me nothing other than how to write a 5-paragraph essay in order to pass the AP test, so when I actually got to college and it was not 4 years of 5 paragraph-essay writing I was sort of fucked. So, when I say I was a good student, just realize the context and understand that this is not a brag. 

By the time I hit 11th grade, I had gone through the rigors of natural science in 9th grade (my teacher there kicked me out of class because he told us that having a bowel movement 2-3 times a day was normal because science, and I argued that he was getting pooping mixed up with brushing his teeth), and biology in 10th grade (my teacher there brought in his skull x-rays to show us that he had a 6-inch nail lodged in his brain from a nail gun accident, which I guess is sciencey?), and it was time for chemistry. My chemistry teacher was actually not too bad, relatively speaking, and he kind of wanted us to pay attention and learn stuff. Which, what? He wasn't that great with classroom management though, which I fondly remember because one day the shy little kid that sat in front of me and my friend Heidi who had Orville Redenbacher hair revealed that he knew the entire dance from the Thriller video and we coaxed him into busting it out in the middle of class which sort of caused a classroom mob and my geeky chemistry teacher looked terrified. That is probably my favorite science-class memory ever.

So I dug into chemistry, and listened to my teacher, and did the lab work, and learned some formulas. Pretty good, right? Wrong. The problem was that this teacher was wanting us to understand why we were doing these things, concept-wise, and not just memorize a bunch of stuff. This is not a thing that my teachers often asked me to do, especially in science. So the first test of the semester came around, and I took it, and I got it back, and dudes. It was not good. I do not remember the exact grade but it might as well have been--as my pal Nick would have said back in the day- a Q-minus. Like, I had bombed it, baaaaaaad. I was not a student that bombed anything, so this was shocking to me. I had played with the test tubes successfully! I had filled out my lab sheets! I had done all of the tasks! I had just not done any actual learning. DANG.

I went through that class, bomb after bomb after bomb. Not only did I continue to bomb, but it got progressively worse. Turns out if you don't understand the basic stuff, you won't understand the stuff that goes on top of that either. I remember being supremely stressed out about chemistry in a way that I had never been stressed out about school before. Why couldn't I understand this? Why wasn't it getting better even though I was trying (and truth be told, I wasn't really trying in school most of the time)? And really, what it all boiled down to was a fear about something that I had labelled myself (and been labelled by others) my whole childhood: SMART. HOLY SHIT WAS I NOT SMART? Because look. Look at this test score! It has gone from a Q-minus to a Y-minus! These numbers are what determine our smartness, yes? And more than the numbers, the fact that I DO NOT GET THE CHEMISTRY SCIENCE TALK must mean that I have been falsely classified and my true identity as Dum Dum McStupidface is only now just being discovered! SHITTTTT.

This is the part where I am supposed to figure out how to ask the teacher for extra help and he turns into Howard Hesseman from Head of the Class and my brain is activated by science! Or maybe I realize that I need to look behind the homework tasks into the concepts behind them and I have a science epiphany where I realize that I have to work harder, work smarter, and that I can get myself out of this parade of Q-minuses. Or I find my own personal Brian Krakow who will sweetly tutor me with patience by day and ride his bike past my house at night, and have secret adult times with himself as he thinks about me but his love is unrequited because I only have eyes for future man-bun Jordan Catalano.

None of these things happened. What did happen though, was even better. I took an exam, I felt confused the entire time I was taking it, I got it back, and my score was a 0.0.

Do you hear me? Not an F. Not even a low F. A ZERO POINT ZERO. I got no points. None of the points. Not even a partial point.

And you know how I felt about that, after all the cowering I was doing about my identity as a smarty britches? I am not lying to you when I say that, surprisingly, but almost immediately, I felt awesome. Like, great, awesome. Almost euphoric. I will never forget it. It was a big moment in my young life. The reason I felt so elated was that the thing that I had feared for months had happened. I had FAILED. Not just done badly, but done so badly that I literally could not have done any worse. I did not pick up a crumb of a point off the floor. NOTHING, NADA, ZIP. But after I got that exam back, I went to my next class and still felt like me. And then I went to play practice with pals after school and felt like me. And then I went home and my mom and dad kissed me just the same, even though they weren't excited about that score. Unfortunately I can't say that I didn't feel dumb, because I did. I was a kid, I didn't know better about things like that. But fortunately, I had the things in life up until that point that added up to me basically feeling good about myself and my ability to handle things. I liked myself, and thought myself mostly capable, and able to learn things, and that I was a good person overall and that that was more important than knowing my chemistry lesson that day. There would be other days to learn that chemistry lesson and I would do that. I had faith in myself.

I feel like the zero point zero experience is one that every little (and big) overachiever should have. To crash and burn on something just so we can have the subsequent experience of realizing: huh. Look at that. I'm ok. I'm still me. And now other things will happen from here. The world did not come to an end.

I have been thinking about this today because as I am sure you are tired of hearing, I have had a rough year. The thing I feared most happened. This was followed by a lot of me flailing around (and failing around) not really knowing how to live in that reality, for months. Then a few months ago, some work stuff happened that made me confront some fears about where my career should be. Then last month, another scary medical emergency happened to a loved one, which also crashed right up against the fear and worry I carry around about losing people I love. Then, last week, another thing happened where some fears I had had about being a bad friend and a bad person were flashed in front of me quite unexpectedly that had me truly mortified. And now that all that has happened, I feel strangely like I felt when I got that Zero Point Zero. I don't know if it even makes sense for me to say that for me, all of these things put together add up to me basically getting a Zero Point Zero at life 2013-to-present. But I feel good, y'all. Like, post-chemistry-test euphoria good. Because I'm still here, I'm still me, I'm still trying hard, and for every last thing that has happened that has earned me a Zero-Point-Zero, I have so many more things that are straight up Honor Roll. What is it about feeling defeated that sometimes turns into feeling triumphant? I'm going to say the cheesy thing. It happens when, at the core of all of these fears, the thing you have to hold onto is loving yourself. So when all the fears come to pass, you still have that.

So crash and burn is fine by me. I'm going to strut out of there right after tho.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Barber Always Cuts Twice

Remember how I made you suffer through my tale of woe the last time I got a haircut and it was a bad one? Remember how I promised that I would not talk about my hair for a long time? Did you believe me? GUESS WHAT. That shit happened to me AGAIN. Even worse this time! MOTHERFLIPPER. Haircutters of America! Why you hate me like this?

I should have known something was up. Ms. Choppy told me, as she was washing my hair, that she liked the movie "Her" because she felt like it had interesting things to say about people and their relationship to technology. Then she paused and said: "Well, at least it speaks to people MY AGE." So, she and her scissors clearly saw me as older than dirt. This was a clear sign that I was getting an old lady haircut and I guess I am lucky to have escaped before she gave me a full Szbornak.

So, once again I am feeling frumpy, and also annoyed that I am so annoyed. THE UNIVERSE IS TRYING TO TEACH ME TO BE HUMBLE. Joke's on you, universe. I am far more vain than a few old lady haircuts will cure.

In other crankypants news, I would like to implore the restaurants of the city to please learn how to make a decent cup of tea. All that preciousness about coffee and you can't teatime halfway proper? It's disgraceful, really.

Crikey, people. I think my haircut is taking over my brain.

Grandma out.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Consumables #84

It's still technically Oscar week, so let's talk about some movies I have seen lately, shall we, my lovelies?

Enough Said
God DANG it that Julia Louis-Dreyfuss is charming. And James Gandolfini is too, all schlumpy and romantic. This is one of those movies where I didn't really care about the story, or the setting, or the themes, but I just found the people interesting to watch, especially that Elaine Benis. Plus! Bonus Tavi Gevinson as lonely teen. Other bonus! Eve Spawn-of-Bono Hewson as Gandolfini's kid. This type of movie seems like the future of mainstream romcoms. At least I want that to be true.

Captain Phillips
Whenever I see a movie that is set on the ocean all I can think is what a fer-reaking pain in the ass filming must have been. All those boat shots, having to reset for takes? UGH. When I am a famous filmmaker I shall not be making ocean movies. Unless maybe if I do a remake of Waterworld. There are some things that are just worth it. This was fine as movies go, and I liked that even though Phillips is obviously the hero, he is clearly terrified the entire time, and so are the pirates too, even through their swagger. None of this "get off my plane" Harrison Ford ridiculousness.

All is Lost
Ok, first of all, Robert Redford is what? 200 years old? This was such a physically demanding role and he was kicking the shit out of it. I mean, go to TOWN, Bobert! I was impressed. I really liked this movie a lot a lot a lot. It had that sort of rhythm that Gravity has where shit goes wrong and he has to fix it and then another thing goes wrong and he has to fix that and so on, and apparently I like movies where things break and need to be fixed. I believe Nordic Boy has rubbed off on me or something. I found this one to be much lonelier than Gravity, and more despairing, and it didn't have the dumb script problems that Gravity had. Redford isn't narrating himself the whole time (sorry, Sandy, I still love you) which was so much better. And I liked that plot background was left out completely. Good one, Hubbell.

Blue Jasmine
If it wasn't for Galadriel (I know her name is Cate Blanchett but she's always Galadriel to me) I would not have had any time for this movie. If I want to see rich people being awful, I shall watch Real Housewives. Also? Woody Allen needs to stop trying to write working class people. But Cate! You so compelling.

August: Osage County
Ok, on the one hand, I am happy that we are at a place in history where women characters can be anti-heroes. I am also happy that this movie is chock full of lady folk. HOWEVER. The number of hysterical, shouty ladies in this movie is TOO MANY. It was sort of ridiculous to me. So, August: Yellage County: an eye roller.

12 Years a Slave
This has nothing to do with the movie itself but I have to tell you it irks me when people say that they won't watch this because it's too hard. Having to spend a few minutes of your life honoring the lives of people who have suffered by listening to their stories is something I am pretty sure you can do from the comfort of your couch. If you don't want to because of some other reason, ok. But that reason? I am judging you, just a little bit. I thought this was just an amazing, amazing movie.

Nordic Boy seemed 100% sure that when he is old he is going to be just like Bruce Dern in this movie, which, to tell you the truth, I can kind of see that. Those Midwest scenic shots- well, you know how much of a sucker I am for that stuff. I really love it when there are movies about elderly people that don't infantilize them, and there are lots here. Also Will Forte! Who knew he had such a melancholy, expressive side? Loved it.

The Bling Ring
I know Sofia Coppola tends to make mood movies- high on ambience, music, and a feeling and short on plot, but this one takes the cake. Kind of nothing happens. The premise of the movie is that a bunch of LA teens who are obsessed with celebrity culture start robbing celebrity homes. And...there's no more. Nothing else happens. I am ok with this sort of movie making but I can see how that would drive some people crazy. I would actually argue that the repetitious nature of the movie reflects the moral malaise of the characters. I JUST SAID MORAL MALAISE LIKE AN ASSHOLE, MY FRIENDS. Maybe I just liked it because my beloved Hermione is in it. One more thing: I could NOT believe how many celebrities had no security at their homes and were straight up leaving their doors unlocked. That is the kind of thing where, if this wasn't based on actual events, I would be like NOT CREDIBLE. But apparently, stars don't know how to lock their doors. So weird.

Catch yous laters, friends. Have a loverly weekend! Let's dance.

John Newman, Love Me Again