Friday, June 20, 2008


I rarely go to the doctor. It takes a severed limb or a rash described as weeping or some other issue I can't just hide beneath a hoodie before I'll consider stepping into a doctor's office, what with their Highlights magazines and non-porous plastic chairs and ballpoint pens advertising the types of medication that can cure whatever disease you'll contract by using a pen that's been handled by a number of sick people.

My policy toward illness is that if you ignore it, it will go away, which is the same approach I use for cavities and calls from collection agencies. I'm not completely careless; I will occasionally attempt a self-diagnosis on Web M.D., an activity that always ends with my assumption that this unyielding headache means that either I have meningitis, skull cancer, or termites.

The same goes for injuries. If I can, say, set a broken finger by pressing it between the pages of a heavy hardback book like a wildflower I'm trying to preserve, I will do so in the hopes that it will just clear itself up. I may have done this more than once.

That said, on Sunday when my iPod stopped working, I couldn't seek help fast enough. Less than twenty minutes passed from the time it choked on Cat Power and when I was breathlessly standing in a customer service line, stroking its smooth silver back and assuring it that everything would be OK.

I'd just purchased that nano over Easter weekend when my previous 'pod (Reginald, R.I.P.) offed itself after a 16 mile run. It could've been condensation from the unholy heat that made it feel like my route detoured through the devil's asshole. Or it could've been because it was strapped dangerously close to my armpit for the better part of 2 hours. Either way, I didn't hesitate to abandon the family fish fry in favor of racing to replace it at Wal-Mart, the only store open on Easter. Sure, Chick-fil-A may close on Sundays but I'm pretty sure Wal-Mart keeps the doors unlocked on all religious holidays in the oft chance that when Jesus comes back he'll need to buy a charcoal grill.

I still had my receipt and assumed that there wouldn't be any issue with the exchange, especially since this was the store that gave my mother a refund for my dead goldfish. I took a place in line behind a woman trying to balance an infant on her shoulder and talk on her cell phone at the same time, all while tightly gripping something in an "Always Low Prices" shopping bag with both hands.

The baby raised its head to look at me, a spitlactite stretching from its mouth to Mom's well-worn Rusty Wallace shirt. It couldn't have been more than a couple of months old but its ears were already pierced. Twice.

Crowds of people tend to make me uncomfortable. It was mid afternoon so the place was packed, people swarming around the cash registers to purchase bottles of blue-lawed beer. Watching the shoppers dart through the store, their crap-laden carts barely clearing the overflowing racks, reminded me of seeing a colony of ants teeming around a carelessly dropped glob of cupcake icing. A bare chested, barefooted man walked by with two cases of Bud stacked on his shoulders. No shirt, no shoes, nobody gives a shit.

Sometimes stereotypes just save time.

A guy with a brand new haircut stopped behind me in the queue. You could tell by the untanned trenches around his ears and the back of his neck that it had been done recently and the ragged edges said he'd most likely done it himself, possibly while being mauled by a bear or getting rear-ended by a logging truck. I sneaked a peek at what he was returning and wasn't at all surprised to see that it was a pair of Conair hair clippers.

We inched forward. I was in the on-deck circle as Piercing Pagoda's mom plunked whatever she'd been clutching to her breast on the counter. I leaned over her shoulder, trying to see what it was that she'd held so tightly, expecting it to be a small crossbow or a large cubic zirconia or a human kidney, any of which were available for purchase in the store. She peeled the plastic away, leaving a clear container from the bakery department.

"I need to return this", she said, pulling the top off to reveal a half-eaten angel food cake.

"Did it go bad or something?", asked the Returns rep, a valid question. The haphazardly placed stickers on the name tag said her name was Celica, possibly a nod to the car where she was conceived. Or born. Her tag was decorated with a smiley face sticker which was the direct opposite of her own expression. Its beaming yellow face only had two eyes and a mouth, whereas Celica's also had a nose that looked like someone had chewed an entire package of Bubble Yum and then mashed the whole misshapen wad into the middle of her face.

"Nope. It was fine, I guess. I just didn't know that's what angel food cake was." She sounded disappointed, like she'd expected to bite into the meaty thigh of an actual angel.

"So you just didn't like it?"

"Nope", she said, "It just don't taste like what I thought it was going to." The baby started tugging at one set of its studs, sputtering like it was on the verge of an explosion. "And don't you start neither, Shiloh."

SHILOH. I would've bet a cherub kabob to anyone within earshot that she'd mined Us Weekly for that bit of inspiration. I also assumed that it was spelled Shylow--or perhaps ShyLow. The possibilities were endless. And retarded.

Celica took the receipt, placed a day-glo green sticker on the cake and threw it into a shopping cart full of possibly flammable pajamas, unresponsive remote controls, and other scratch n' dents returned today, the retail equivalent of the Island of Misfit Toys. She carefully counted out a handful of change as Shiloh's mother answered her phone, which was ringing to the tune of an AC/DC song. "Let me call you back. I'm at the Wal-Mart again".

"Next," Celica exhaled and I walked to the counter.

"Good afternoon!" I began. "So, my iPod stopped working this morning and I--"

She cut me off. "You'll have to talk to 'lectronics. I'll radio somebody". She unclipped a walkie-talkie from her belt and summoned someone from the 'Lectronic department. She didn't get an immediate answer, so she placed the walkie on the counter, intensely focusing on it like it was about to do a trick or turn into a dove.

"Shut up Maria!" the man behind me said suddenly. "Show me some Hispanic dancing." It took me ten ticks to realize that he was singing along--incorrectly--with the Counting Crows song spilling out of the store's speaker.

A Wal-Mart employee who looked exactly like Punky Brewster's best friend Cherie if she'd eaten both Punky and her entire mismatched sneaker collection stopped and peered at the pile of returned items. "What's up with this cake?" she asked, plucking it out of the front seat of the shopping cart.

"Nothing. Woman said she just didn't like angel food."

Cherie nodded, removed the cake and took it with her into the back room.

A muffled voice finally crackled out the walkie talkie. Celica snatched it off the counter, gave a quick "Okey doke", and waved me to the side. "They'll be right here. They're on their way," she said with relief, like she'd just talked to an ambulance dispatcher and not someone who unlocks the case where they keep the digital cameras.

"Next," she shouted as Supercuts walked forward, still singing to himself about "Mister Joe and me".

A small, dark-haired woman wearing a matching walkie-talkie materialized behind me. "I'm here helping you please?", she asked as I spun around. She was the size of a decorative salt shaker and, on her, a nametag looked like a license plate. It said Maria.

I explained my problem, and she smiled and nodded the entire time, giving me the same I have no idea what the fuck you're saying expression I tend to use when my dad explains why I needed to pay something called taxes. She waited for me to finish, shook her head vigorously and said "Seven days. Sorry."

"What does that mean, seven days?"

"No, you can't return your iPod after seven days. So sorry but store policy says." She shrugged and raised two unnatural eyebrows that had been painted on with what looked like peanut butter. English wasn't her first language. Neither was that pile of predicates she just broke out.

"But I'm not returning it. It's broken. I need a new one."

"Seven days." Seven days. She sounded like the demon child from The Ring.

I wanted to argue with her, to stomp my foot and point out that the woman ahead of me returned A PARTIALLY EATEN DESSERT but for whatever reason, my receipt and this $200 paperweight were my problem? "Is there a manager I can talk to?" I asked, on the verge of smearing her eyebrows across her forehead.

"Manger, sure. I will call the Manger." She unclipped her walkie and quietly spoke into it. It responded with the end of an unrelated conversation about an employee burrito order. "Fuck no, man. No beans on mine. Last time, I shitted my balls out."

Maria looked at me sadly. "Sorry. It's seven days. You can wait here for the Manger"

Sigh. Shut up, Maria.

I waited, assuming that eventually either I'd see a person with some kind of authority or receive a bed of straw suitable for birthing the Christ Child.

Several more people came through the customer service line, all succesfully trading their busted stuff for a wad of bills. A vacuum cleaner with a broken hose. A dented can of Dinty Moore. An Ace bandage. I was eagerly waiting to hear an overweight woman's explanation for returning a box of Pampers--maybe she learned that the baby wasn't hers?--when a profusely sweating man who looked like the "After" photo in a meth-prevention pamphlet tapped me on the shoulder.

"I'm Justin, the Electronics manager" he said, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand. Apparently you don't have to wear any identification if your name is tattooed prominently down your forearm. "And I'm real sorry, but you're going to have to just ship this back to Apple." He waited for me to say something, seemingly accustomed to being yelled at. " many times have you charged it?"

"No idea," I said, already wondering what I was supposed to entertain myself with during my runs, when walking Pigpen, or when trying to avoid speaking to people in the gym. "So you can't help me at all?"

"Well...have you tried turning it on?" No, Douchebucket, I didn't. Nor could I find a defibrillator tiny enough to fit on the clickwheel. "Did you leave it out in the rain?" His questions were so ridiculous, talking to him was like watching a Family Feud episode where someone shouts out "BACON!" when asked to name a style of architecture.

I assured him that I'd tried turning it on, plugging it in, and performing CPR on it. He scratched his head. "Cause it's been more than seven days since you bought it". Again, not at all a related response. I got the feeling that for Justin, even EZ Mac becomes Painfully Difficult Mac. He started to explain why I should've purchased the extended warranty but I shook my head during the exposition.

"Thanks anyway, I guess. Enjoy your burritos".
My final errand of the day was to go to Target for a refill on my birth control pills. I recently switched from a store that rhymes with Ballgreens because Target offers generic 'scrips for $9 versus the $35 I'd been slapping down. Thanks to Target, I'm only paying 32 cents a day for a color coded reminder that I'm not having sex. Of course I could just as easily spend $9 for a month's worth of Skittles, which would still give me all the contraceptive protection I need.

The Baby Away was ready on time, the day's one crumb of good fortune, and when I peered in the bag I was pleased to discover that their brand comes in a soft blue case that looks like a little passport. Now I can pop one of these pills on my lunch break and my coworkers won't think I'm a godless whore, they'll just assume I'm well-traveled.

"Oh, J-Money!", the pharmacist called as I was wondering what countries would let me in if I showed them that I wasn't capable of ovulating. "You've only got one more refill."

I turned and looked at her quizzically. "That means you're going to need to go see your doctor."

Great. I wonder what she can do for an iPod.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


1) Thanks to Turi for capturing on film this unauthorized imposter at the Lake Tahoe Relays. C'mon Guy with Tousled Hair and A Can of Bud, you're not the Original Recipe J-Money. Just like The Highlander*, there can be only one and that's me, if only because I don't use "unnecessary" quotation marks.

2) I spent last Friday night at the gym, as usual**. Halfway through a set of lateral raises--an exercise that is completely worthless unless you plan on making the "Y-M-C-A" dance gestures for upwards of an hour or you expect to be crucified--the Dark Lord came in. This man is made of nightmare fuel, not just because of the possible prison-issue tattoo of a skull pyramid that lines the length of his left arm, nor the spiderwebs inked outward from his eyes. No, he haunts me because of, um, his puking problem. On more than one occasion, he's lumbered into the room dragging the trash can behind him. Then he hulks out in front of the mirror, hoists the equivalent of New Hampshire above his head, and slams the weight down while simultaneously spewing in the Hefty Cinch sack at his side.

I try to stay out of his way, and not just because I don't want to be splattered with the remnants of whatever animal face he's just eaten. So imagine my terror when he walked into the free weight room and caught me alone, my tiny arms flapping helplessly to the rhythm of whatever Steve Winwood song was seeping through the speakers. I tried to remain still, hoping that his vision was based on movement, but he kept plodding towards me. He walked closer. Closer. Closer still. He stopped, positioning himself between me and the door, and looked through my eyes to the back of my head, staring at me with a crazed intensity that said he was thisclose to using me for stew meat. And then his gaze softened. And he spoke, his words oozing out like ink from a bingo dauber. "You hear Tim Russert died?" he said, shaking his Honda-sized head. "Ain't that a bitch?"

I wouldn't have been more surprised if he'd invited me over for Sleepytime Tea and scrapbooking.

3) It is a bitch.

4) I've written two more Last Comic Standing recaps for TVGasm--Episode 4 and Episode 3--because nothing is more entertaining than reading transcripts of other people's jokes. No, seriously, there's NOTHING funnier. Except maybe Dave Coulier. Cut. It. Out!

* Christopher Lambert, star of Highlander, was once in a film called Douchka. There's nothing relevant about that at all. I just like to say "Douchka" because it sounds both insulting and endearing.
** My social leprosy isn't new. Last Christmas season, I was swiping my card for my standard Friday night date with the deadlift when the guy sitting at the desk sorting a bin of towels stopped mid-fold, looked at me and said "Hey, it's the 21st!" I shrugged, assuming he'd just discovered December and looked forward to that breakthrough day when he learned about the little hand and the big hand on the clock. "So, you Jewish or something?" Sigh. No, Douchka, I'm unpopular. Just for that, I took a towel home, mopped up a Merlot spill, and returned it to his hamper on Monday. I rule.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


So I still have Pigpen the Boxerbeast. He's currently eight months old and I've managed to keep him alive since December, a miracle considering that my previous record for sustaining life is a tie between a packet of sea monkeys* and a now-withered tangle of brown tendrils that may have once been a geranium.**

Fig. 1: Pigpen, aka Mister Pigglesworth

Before The Pig, my only previous animal-ish experience was in the 8th grade with a trio of goldfish that were an impulse buy at Wal-Mart. Read that sentence again. I purchased pets at a store that also sells belt sanders and beefaroni. They'd been in my care less than a week before they offed themselves, leaping out of the bowl to their deep-pile carpeted demise. I got home from school, walked into my room and found them on the floor, all three staring at me with the kind of vacant, unblinking expression I wouldn't see again until I started watching The Hills. My mother, ever resourceful, wrapped them in aluminum foil and placed them in the freezer until she could take them back to the Wal.

Two days later, she marched to the customer service counter with the still-frozen goldies and demanded a refund, deeming the fish defective. I can't imagine that there's any sort of quality control for creatures that cost less than a Big Mac, but she un-foiled the fish, flashed her receipt, and got three bills back.

The transaction finished, she wrapped them back up and handed the mentally unstable fish to the mentally unstable Customer Service rep who placed the foil-wrapped bundle in the pocket of her blue vest like they were loose change or starlight mints.

We did not replace them.

Anyway, I still have this dog and he's still determined to systematically destroy everything I own. I used to have a very nice leather sofa whereas now I have an incredibly shitty leather sofa. He's unintentionally shredded the cushions with his claws, so it looks like I spend my weekends getting freaknasty with Freddy Krueger. I read online that I could repair all of the scratches with olive oil so the sofa got EVOO'ed last night***. It looks marginally better but my entire living room now smells like Olive Garden. When you're here, you're family! Which means I'll probably ask you for money.

ANYWAY, yesterday morning my eyes snapped open at 4:45 when he planted a paw in my earhole. We took a long pre-dawn walk, I cooked him breakfast with no hog, then I went for my run. I came home to this bit of performance art:

He managed to rip his bed into a worthless cumulonimbus of cotton and corduroy. Then he peed on it, as if to say "Don't even try duct taping this back together, bitch".

This is not the first bed he's ruined--not even the first one this week****--but it was the last one I had. Several hours later when it was worky work time, I robbed a mat from the guest bathroom and placed it in his crate, thinking "surely he can't wreck this". I was wrong.

R.I.P. Bath Mat. You were absorbent but not immortal. And I'm sorry that you, too, were peed on.

What can I do? I feel horrid leaving him locked up all Gimp-like, but the one time I experimented with unsupervised playtime, I learned that he can't be trusted. He chewed a chunk out of the door, shat on the ottoman, and shredded the latest issue of Men's Health, literally licking Mark Wahlberg's face off...although I can't fault him for that last one. I was going to do the same thing.

But, for reals, what am I doing wrong?? We walk at least 90 minutes a day spread over a couple of outings and a couple of nabes, so people don't assume we're homeless. He has plenty of toys that I rotate so he doesn't get bored, although he currently digs dryer sheets and my bras, probably because they're both the same size.

I remain hopeful that Cesar "D-Whisp" Millan will read this and if he's not shopping for pleated khakis or, uh, whispering, he'll swing by and solve things.

Until then, maybe I'll try again with the fish.

* At least I think they were sea monkeys. It could've just been a dirty glass.
** Or it may be Joan Rivers. I'm not sure.
*** I mistakenly told someone that I'd spent my Saturday night "rubbing some extra-virgin on the furniture" and they gave me a look that straddled confusion and pity.
**** He ripped up his bed when he was at the kennel last weekend. They pretended that they didn't notice, shoving the bed into a bag and--I assume--just hoping that I'd think that somehow it had been attacked by weevils between their driveway and my door.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

20 Minutes to Nine

So last Monday was my birthday. I'm 29 and for the first time ever, I'm starting to feel it. To feel old. Like I should be portrayed by a wig-wearing Estelle Getty.

Maybe it's because I'm tiptoeing around in 30's front yard. Or maybe it's because when I got out of the shower this morning and took a glance in the mirror, I realized that I should send out an Amber Alert for my ass. I used to have one. I can only assume that someone lured it into the back of a white van when I wasn't looking.

Maybe it's because Anne Frank could hide in my under-eye baggage. I recently purchased a cream with the words "anti-aging" on written on the label in delicate script. I'm not necessarily anti-aging. I'm just anti-waking up looking like I was punched in the retinas. So I purchased this Olay (Olay! Olay!) shit in the hopes that people will start ignoring my more obvious flaws, instead commenting that I have the eyes of a toddler.

Maybe it's because I've caught myself making excuses about why I look like a Mogwai in the morning, even this weekend when I was the youngest of all of my friends. In college, I could pass out face down on broken shards of a Schlitz bottle and wake up looking refreshed and smelling like gardenias. Now if I take a 10 minute nap, I spend twenty minutes prying my eyes open like a stubborn window that's been painted over with two coats of Cover Girl.

Maybe it's because all I wanted for my birthday was for someone to wet Hugh Laurie down and bring him to me. Instead, my neighbor proudly presented me with a dog breed note pad and a matching pen, speeding my transition to sad old woman. Thank you, Cecilia. I'm now just a cardigan and a crumbling cake away from being Miss Havisham.

Maybe it's because I'm the same age that my mother was when I was born. That's not scarifying at all. If someone finds a child in my birth canal, it's because they're the best EVER at hide and seek. My mother does call me every year at 6:38 p.m., the time I was born. She says she'll always remember the exact time because I was her first kid but I think it's more because you'll probably commit to memory that one time a living creature came screeching out of your vag. Shiver.

I did promise myself that this would be the last birthday I spent living here in Slappytown. I plan on moving to Los Angeles before the end of the year and because I've written it on the internet, that means it's REAL. That said, now everything this summer takes on a sad kind of significance. It was quite possibly the last time I'll be at my friend's beach house. The last time I'll drink an entire bottle of Chambord and throw up in a sailboat. And I'm making a wish sandwich and chugging a hope float so this'll be the last time I feel this damn old. Especially now that I've got this eye cream.

Monday, June 09, 2008

SPF 45

Aaaaand we're back. A six pack of friends and I have been at the beach, staying at our friend's insanely beautiful home which (unlike my own residence) is impeccably decorated with things that weren't purchased at Spencer gifts and/or from the counter at an Exxon station. Not only do you step through the door into an issue of Coastal Living, he also made everything in the place. The floors. The mantel. The dining room table. He could take a handful of gravel and turn it into an armoire. By contrast, I struggle to make anything but inappropriate comments.

We had four days of sun and surf and s...alcoholic beverages, all the components of good times, Jimmy Buffett songs, or incriminating photos. That said, check back later today for more words.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Even Babar?

Everyone can just stop Twittering now because this is the greatest update in history, forever and ever, amen.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Programming Note

So I wrote my very first post for TVGasm, a review of Episode 2 of Last Comic Standing. I'll be covering the show all season over there, probably because I have the insight of someone who has worked as a touring comedian and the lingering bitterness of someone who chose to audition for America's Got Talent instead.

At TVG I'll be writing under my other interweb pseudonym, GordonShumway, because they apparently already have a G-Money (!) and didn't respond to my suggestion that we have either a bakeoff or sack race or Mortal Kombat style duel to see who earns the Money surname. You can check the article out here and help validate the obnoxious link-to-word ratio in this post.