Monday, January 26, 2009

Flavors of the Weak: Jan 19-25

I was motivated enough by Michael Palin's Diaries to try to keep track of every day in 2009, and by every day, I mean the ones when I wear something other than sweatpants, a Kool Aid mustache and a light dusting of dog hair. I attempted to do this last year--going so far as to actually rescue a pleatherbound journal from the Borders sidewalk clearance table--but that lasted all of nine days. Maybe I just gave up or maybe at that point I was so busy cleaning up after Pigpen The Dirt Monster that the Lysol burns on my hands made it impossible to hold a pen. I'm not terribly upset because Oh Eight gobbled so much ass that I really don't care to recall it but there have been times I've regretted not getting my Pepys on. Right before I started college, a then-junior friend encouraged me to keep a daily diary and I wish I'd taken her advice. Of course now she's an unlicensed midwife who delivers babies on tarps but she seemed stable enough then.

Anyway, here's my first Palin-inspired attempt at highlighting some crap from last week.

Week of January 19-25

1) Last Monday, my friend Tommy and I decided to spend the day at the movies because he was off from work for the MLK holiday and my sans job status means EVERY DAY is a holiday, assuming that your holidays involve eating unlabeled cans of tuna from the Dollar Tree and seeing if you can wash your face with your own tears. We scanned the paper and selected Slumdog Millionaire and Frost/Nixon, an excellent--if pretentious--double feature that we referred to as our pas de douche.

Speaking of Slumdog, a couple of weeks ago I got an e from a reader named Marvin who wrote "I've noticed that when I tell people I didn't like [S-Mill ], I might as well have told them that I dated Timothy McVeigh." I'm sorry (?) to report that I dug it. Did it have more cheese than my $12 concession nachos? Yeah. Did you have to suspend your disbelief high enough to brush against the theatre sprinklers? Of course. But the device used to unravel the story--the snippets of Jamal's life being recalled in the context of a quiz show--that appealed to the writer in me. Also, from now on I insist on using Anil Kapoor's pronunciation of "milliiinnaaaire".

After nixing My Bloody Valentine: 3D because our poorly equipped theatre offered only two of the promised Ds, we rounded out the evening with Frost/Creepy Prosthetic Jowls. I expected the kind of dry History Channel tedium found in things like A History of Burlap or Your Gums & You but I was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining it was. Odd as it sounds, it has more in common with sports flicks than with the rigor mortis of typical biopics (AND I'M STARING INTO YOUR WAXY DEAD EYES, THE QUEEN) with the two challengers, the build-up to the big double-breasted, clipboard wielding event and even a training montage, albeit the first one to include dramatic closeups of words being circled in a telephone transcript.

2) So here's something impulsive and foolish that doesn't involve the morning after pill. I'll be in London from February 8-13, solely because I found a direct flight from my closest major airport for $246. Read that number again and tell me that I was right to cancel my dental checkup for this because it's totally normal for your gums to bleed if you breathe too hard.

This will be my third trip to LDN and it remains one of my fave places in the world. I haven't been since '05--a biz trip for my last office job--when I spent the majority of my time in kitchen showrooms, feigning interest in faucet traps while gazing longingly out the store windows at people doing anything other than amassing a pile of soon-to-be-discarded catalogs of cabinet hinges.

This will be the first time I've traveled abroad alone and I think it'll be good for me to--as Tommy put it--"widen my circle of comfort" and no, that is definitely not a euphemism. He's right, but despite an exchange rate favorable enough for me to Super Size my Fish Fingers Happy Meal, I'll also be widening my circle of debt. SO if any of my British readers (or their employers) would like to hire me to write funny things and tell you about American customs like littering and Diabetes, I'd be down with that. Seriously, I would move there in one beat of my 220 volt heart.

I found a hotel on that I can kind of afford which means it will be approximately the size of my microwave and operated by a nice man named Fagin, but I don't plan on being there except to fall facedown in my fetus-sized bed. I've got a full run of museums planned--I've never made it to the Tate Modern--a Robyn Hitchcock concert and an attempt at getting into the West Ham football match on Sunday since I've never been stabbed in the earholes either. That said, if anyone has any suggestions for restaurants or other things I may want to get into (LIKE HUGH LAURIE'S TROUSERS), leave 'em in the comments.

3) I discovered Keebler Cookie Crunch cereal this week because it was 2 boxes for 4 bones at the grocery store and I don't know whether to be proud or disgusted that it just took two oversized bowls for me to scarf all ten servings in Box #1. I gave my colon the day off today but look forward to cracking into its twin tomorrow, as well as inevitably going bald from malnutrition.

4) This trip means that I'm freaking out about money more than ever, to the point where I've considered unplugging my oven because all I use it for is storing my summer clothes and its green digital clock doesn't tick for free. On the tiny victories front, running doesn't cost a damn thing, thanks to my former job at the running store where I scored enough pairs of shoes to OD on overpronation control.

I'll be doing the Boston Marathon again in April and, for real, the first month of my training program has been a struggle. I have rated each run from 1 to 5 with FIVE being a night spent with Hugh Laurie eating a brand name can of Lobster Bisque and knowing that he's going to put out as soon as I clean the splatters out of the microwave and ONE being a still-frozen toaster strudel harvested from the dumpster and split with the mailman who can wear his eyebrows as a hat, suffice it to say that each effort so far has been a negative four. Until yesterday.

I did a hard 14 miler that edged closer to Bisque territory, despite the chilly temps that forced me to encase myself in spandex compression tights, an unflattering garment that makes me look like Frank Gorshin as The Riddler. Sometimes I hate that runners have to dress like assholes.

My standard route starts at my place and winds through Ye Olde Historick section of downtown where an overweight man with a stained leather apron pretends to be a blacksmith and a group of tourists from Ohio pretends to give a fuck. After five miles, the pavement is replaced with a worn dirt trail that circles around a stagnant fishing lake. I spend the better part of each winter doing long runs through the woods, trying not to trip over tree roots and playing my favorite game, "Guess Who Pooped Here?" So far, I've identified dog, deer, horse and human, the latter being worth the most points and the most shouted profanities at phantom shitters.

My overall pace was 7:55, so I rewarded myself by eating a Baconator. In the bathtub.

5) I gave in and started a Tumblr. I now Tumbl. You have no idea how much this makes me hate myself. Anyway, check it out, follow it, show it to your parents as an illustration for how much lamer you could be. Tumblr. Just writing that makes me feel like such a losr.

Update: Angela asked a valid question, namely "why did you start a Tumblr?" Easy. I adore this site and dig putting tons of lovingly selected words here but sometimes I have pics or links I'd like to share (or just keep track of) but don't always think they'd fit in. Thus, the Tumblr, which will be the 'net version of that dish you keep on your dresser where you throw loose change, ticket stubs, and painkillers.


christina said...

sometimes when i finish running i think "there went another hour where i didn't spend money." on the other hand, i don't overpronate as much as underperform.

Megan said...

I highly suggest you check out this company called "Free Tours." It's not a scam - they really give free tours such that the tour guides work solely for tips. They are therefore obligated to give you the best tour of your entire life. Also, they recommend some great places to eat, including cheap local places. Have fun!

Jess said...

I'd recommend the Generator Hostel in London. It's not far from the British Museum, and private rooms are $50. I stayed there in 2004 and it was really nice-- safe, super-clean, and the staff were helpful.

Mike said...

Tumblr - I went - I saw - I'm back.

Rachel said...

You're so gutsy and I'm jealous. I've wanted so bad to travel while unemployed. It's a waste of time not to. I'm glad you're going and can't wait to read about your adventures.

expateek said...

Hey there! I'd love to meet you if you have time. I'm flying from Warsaw (Poland) to the UK/London for two weeks on the 7th, as I gradually make my way back to the States (unfortunately)... I'm trying to organise a little blog meet. Would love to make your acquaintance -- you totally crack me up.
I know a great sushi restaurant too, right off Piccadilly Circus... tempted?

Angela said...

Sorry, no helpful London tips (though I'm super excited for you and will gladly read everything you write about your trip. For free, that is.)

I would like to thank you for sharing that you eat in the bathtub. I do this also, and not after a 15 mile run. You are less pathetic than me.

2 questions: why did you start a tumblr, instead of posting from your regular blog, if you hate tumblr? And second, what's up with the guy in Arizona? You haven't mentioned him in a while.

Oh, 3 questions. Are you ever gonna finish the Days of Fail?

Thanks for humoring me. Hah, get it? Making me laugh AND tolerating my questions. Hah. Hah. Hah.

J-Money said...

christina: You are one of my favorite people EVAR. I'm having that stitched on a pillow.

megan: That's good to know... I think I may try to do a similar thing in my hometown and hopefully each tour will end with someone buying my dinner.

jess: Nice. I'm probably set for this trip, but I'll keep that in mind for the next one, or if I just decide not to come back and need a place to crash.

mike: Sigh. I know...I know.

rachel: You say 'gutsy', I say 'fiscally irresponsible and kind of stupid considering I can barely afford the Travel Channel'. But, yeah, at least I'll have stuff to write about.

expateek: I AM tempted. Drop me a note at thetyping [at] gmail [dot] com. I'm xxxtra curious how you managed to expatriate yourself & make it work... I'm not kidding when I say I'd move to the UK.

angela: Anyone who eats in the bathtub is automatically awesome. I answered your tumblr question in a revised version of the post, Mr. AZ and I are going through what is euphemistically called a "rough patch" since he doesn't find it necessary to call anymore, although our Facebook statuses still say we're in a relationship SO IT MUST BE TRUE. And yes, the Days of Fail are all in various stages of completion on my Mac and will be posted intermittently over the next couple of weeks. I AM NOT A QUITTER.

nwgdc said...

If a 5 is Hugh Laurie, and a 1 is the Strudel, what number would Hugh Hefner represent?

inflammatory writ said...

London is my favorite place on earth. I am so jealous!

Also - I admire your venture into Tumblr. I can't even manage to twitter. I feel like I am getting old. :(

J-Money said...

nwgdc: Zero Kelvin, I think. Although I'd be interested in getting the name of his pajama tailor.

inflammatory writ: Twitter is a gateway drug to harder stuff like and tumblr. That said, JOIN USSSS!

the frog princess said...

Oh my god... I just checked the exchange rates for both the pound and euro and I want to weep. I'd have at least another grand in my savings account if those had been the rates when I was there this past summer.

Excuse me while I go season my bagel with the tears of poverty...

Kaeti said...

Tumblrizing (Tumblrurging?) is the lazy man's blogging. So that part is awesome, because I'm a spectacular failure at writing coherent posts. There does seem to be an extra helping of douche in that corner of the Internet, though.

FunnyGal KAT said...

I can't give you any suggestions for places to go in London, but I will tell you where not to go... Madame Tussauds. Yeah, it's kind of cool how realistic the wax people are, but it costs a fortune and grabbing Brad Pitt's butt is just like grabbing a ball of wax which-- I don't know about you-- but I get the same amount of entertainment by cleaning out my ears.

Have a good time!

zlionsfan said...

It never occurred to me that I could have traveled while I was unemployed, not until a couple of weeks ago when I was talking with a coworker about wanting to drive out to California someday, if only I had a couple of weeks to do it ... oh wait.

I think it didn't occur to me because YOU NEVER KNOW. At first I felt like I was supposed to stare at the phone like the creepy chick from Audition. (Or so I was told. I never saw the movie, but it seemed like a good analogy to use.)

Then I realized I was wasting prime gaming hours. So instead of traveling to California or England, I visited Cyrodiil, Liberty City, and Stilwater.

That worked out much better for the cats anyway.

I hope you get to watch the West Ham match. Premiership football intrigues me. I'd be afraid to go to a match because a) the fans can be scary and b) they would smell "fake fan" on me and tear me to bits. I'm sure you'll be fine, everyone will be rooting against Man U anyway.

And if they do lose, that would be okay, because they're only a point behind Wigan and I would prefer to see the Latics stay in the top half of the table, kthxbai.

Melissa said...

As someone with a "career" that (a) bores the hell out of me but (b) pays well enough that it seems worth it and (c) required an effing degree that cost more than most homes are worth outside of Cal and the northeast, I don't think you're being irresponsible at all. Do it, while you have the chance. Because likely, down the road, you won't. You'll have limited vacation days, a boss that frowns at you each time you mention time off, and (maybe?) a sense of obligation to your employer. It's not like if you don't go you're going to realizing all sorts of savings, or that if you do, you'll automatically spend much more than you would have at home. GO.

Also, sub-8 minute? Damn.

Ezekiel said...

You must have ice cream at Ciao!

They make it look like proper food - spaghetti for example. There's also the liquid Smurf drink [it was BLUE!].

I can only really recommend sweet shops because I host an annual ice cream tour of London in July/August.

If you want to see past lists let me know.

Also I presume you have been to Camden Market? If not you must go. And move up to the top don't stay by the Underground Station - prices decrease the further in you go. Head for the Stables.

Oh, and Monument [to the Great Fire of London] is worth the hike if you're nearby.

If you feel like leaving the city I'm happy to show you around Cambridge a bit [we're 45 minutes away from King's Cross].

jax said...

skip the Tate modern for a much better V&A...the fashion halls alone are amzing.

"Also I presume you have been to Camden Market? If not you must go. And move up to the top don't stay by the Underground Station - prices decrease the further in you go. Head for the Stables."

AGREED! Camden is my fav place.

Great cup of Joe? Troubador on Old Brompton rd and...Earls' court rd. oldest coffee shop in London. total dive but very cool and interesting people.

zolora said...

Aw, London! No fair, man.

(My word verification jumble is "badmacki." I just felt like that was worth mentioning.)

emily said...

J-Money, that's excellent. I traveled to Paris alone just before college, and it was both terrifying and totally amazing. I can't wait to hear about your trip.

And about those bills and the money situation: have you thought about self-publishing a book? There are some very good sites now, and you've got an excellent network to hawk for you. Hell, steal from your blog, add unpublished entries, and pad it with illustrations and photos. I absolutely believe you could do it.

Cloven Hoof said...

SO if any of my British readers (or their employers) would like to hire me to
write funny things and tell you about American customs like littering and
Diabetes, I'd be down with that.

I can't do that for I have no employer and, much as I would love to, I'm not in a position to hire somebody to the position of Personal Inspirational Post-It Writer. I'll be in touch if the situation changes.

This said, marry me; then maybe we could each get dual citizenship in each other's countries* and then perhaps, just perhaps, I'd be ABLE TO FIND A FUCKING JOB! :'(

Enjoy London. I wish I had that level of tenacity. Good show.

* Creepiest. Pickup line. Evar.

Red Squirrel said...

The Tate Modern is very much a love/hate place. Personally (as an Englishman who refuses to live in London because it's a hideous place to live) I'd recommend the Science Museum instead - much more fun/interesting/educational (delete as appropriate).

Oh and find someone to take you on the London Eye at sunset (Mrs Red Squirrel is a septic and made me go at xmas. Fantastic views), and take you to the Ice bar where everything (table, chairs, glasses) is made out of ice.

Oh, and the word verification is 'ashol' which seems unnecessarily rude of blogger....

Kari said...

I live in London and LURV it!

1. If you are around on a Friday or Saturday, head to Borough Market - near London Bridge. Fantastic fresh food - plan to eat breakfast, lunch, a snack or all of the above there!

2. Camden Market is another great place to check out.

3. Primrose Hill or Parliament Hill - great views of the city of London.

4. Hampstead Heath - take a walk (bracing walk at this time of year) through the heath - then head to Parliament Hill.

5. Walk along the South Bank

6. I agree with Red Squirrel who said go on the Eye at sunset. It is great - and the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben will be lit up - it is my favorite building in London!

Leanora said...

Off Angel there's some great cheap places to eat like Tortilla and a pub called the Steam Engine or something like that. Down Upper Street a ways there are some killer kabob places and See Pasta. The 19 or the 4 bus will get you there. I don't know what you're looking for in prices, but I went as a student and lived off of Gregg's, pasties, and Pret a Manger, which were all super cheap. If you can afford a higher price, there are some awesome Italian places around the West End.

Jo said...

I have since added your blog to the list of "Do Not Read When Eating Cereal While Catching Up On Blogs" as I have discovered that there is a choking hazard from laughing at your (many, hilarious) turns-of-phrase.
Please let us know how London goes! I'm actually headed out there this summer (my second trip out) and I'm quite excited. I will be sure to look for pointers from you, so keep us updated. :)

Heather said...

LOL Ok where do you vote? I'll pitch in on the "Yep she's funny" one!

Maddie said...

i started a tumblr and hated myself much in fact that after only three days it was kaput. those things are always bad just feels dumb to say "i tumbl."