Tuesday, January 27, 2009

LOLHouse Season 5: The (Almost) Return

OHAI.

LOLHouse is coming back, at least until my trial copy of Photoshop expires. Last night's episode, "Big Baby", will be up later this week. Also, here are the last three LOLcentric .jpgs my late Mac spat out on its deathbed, before it was dropped off at the Genius Bar in the sky*.



* And by that, I mean I unplugged it for the final time and crammed it into a drawer in the guest room, where it will snuggle with the other things I'll never need but can't trash like a Kinko's-created Wisconsin drivers' license, several notebooks from a college theatre design class, and my birth control pills.

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 Venere.com 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.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lucky Thirteen

"So when did you hitch a ride on the Cardinals bandwagon?" That was his idea of an introduction, in reference to my sweat-stained Arizona hat. "Or are you just a big fan of our state bird?" He smirked, pleased with himself.

I re-racked my weights and sighed deeply, which is my way of saying "Kindly eat a bowl of dicks."

It's a question I've been asked several times in the past few weeks, ever since the Cards made the playoffs--the Super Bowl, even--and people realized that Arizona was good at something that didn't involve bolo ties.*

Am I a long-suffering 'Zona fan? No. I don't have a Neil Lomax throwback or a homemade tattoo of their less-pissed looking logo.** My loyalties toward the Perching Birds of Arizona didn't begin until My Beloved Kurt Warner™ started taking the snaps every Sunday. I've actually been a Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams fan since I was a kid and Kurt was the QB who led 'em to their first and only Lombardi Trophy. You never, ever forget your first, not even things like:

First Attempt at a Tongue Kiss: January 11, 1989, behind the Shinobi video game at the Aladdin's Castle arcade
First Time I Realized That Other Cultures Are Stupid: July 20, 1986, after getting salmonella from the poorly refrigerated Sri Lankan offerings at the YMCA International Dinner, leading to the subsequent "First and Only Time I Ate International Cuisine Served in the Middle of a Basketball Court".
First Time I Laughed Until I Peed In A Movie Theatre: Ghostbusters II, when the rich woman's fur coat turned into actual live minks and raced down the sidewalk. This was less because of the scene and more because of my friend Brenda's suggestion that if it had been carrying Shoney's takeout, it would've been my grandmother.

Anyway.

My love for the Rams dates back to their El Lay days, Eric Dickerson fogging up his rec specs as he raced around the field like Mario on a blinking star bender. Our house still had wood paneling and metallic wallpaper on the Christmas I got my #29 Dickerson jersey, a garment that I wore to school every day until one of the Homeroom Mothers called my parents and suggested that maybe I could wear something that didn't have a 27-year-old man's name stitched on the back.

When E-Dick bolted for the Colts, Jim Everett, my second string fave, started to see playing time in my heart. He threw the Rams to back-to-back playoffs in the late '80s, including a 1989 throttling by the San Fran 49ers. My parents used to have a pic of me, tear-streaked and slumped in front of the floor model TV--devastating 30-3 score on the screen--my spiral perm-and-teased bangs combo the only thing more embarrassing than LA's defense.

For the next ten years, the Rams and I endured serious droughts. They moved to St. Louis, I moved to combination skin and both of us saw very little scoring till the late '90s.

Enter My Beloved Kurt Warner™, the Bible-powered, spiral throwing, touchdown machine with perma-stubble and an arm that wouldn't quit. In 1999, the Rams finished with a 13-3 record and I was actually asked out for a second date WITH THE SAME PERSON. The Rams won the Super Bowl. I may or may not have purchased a box of condoms. Just in case.***

That was the season that started my love affair with MBKW™ and it has endured ever since. I had his poster on my wall, a bobblehead on my dresser, and a sense of vindication after swaddling myself in blue and gold for fifteen years.**** The official Hallmark Christmas ornament soon followed, as did the McFarlane figurine, and the ditching of my Econ final to go watch him play his Duckheads off in a charity golf tournament.

And then he was gone.

A sucktastic '03 season meant MBKW™ was shelved for the unfortunately named Marc Bulger, then traded to the Giants to mentor Eli Manning, back when Tiny E was still the Ashlee Simpson to Peyton's Jessica. I was devastated, occasionally turning my commemorative box of Kurt Warner Crunchtime Cereal to face the wall. You know, BECAUSE IT HURT TO STARE INTO HIS LIGHTLY FROSTED EYES.
He lasted sixteen games at the Meadowlands before getting bounced to Arizona where he was supposed to stand on the sidelines, eating Boniva for his brittle bones and holding a clipboard for such gridiron luminaries as Josh McCown (now with the Carolina Panthers, serving no purpose) and Matt Leinart (still with the Cardinals, having never served a purpose) but over the past two seasons, MBKW™ has somehow been better than ever. He's not bigger--his comically oversized jersey makes him look like Fievel Mousekewitz--or stronger but he's proven to be unstoppable, like Michael Myers or parts of what used to be Dick Clark or ironic trucker hats.

Thanks to him, the Cards are playing football in February for the first time, I'm wearing an Arizona hat, and I couldn't be happier.

You never forget your first.

* The bolo tie is the "official state neckwear" of Arizona and the Official Fossil is Petrified Wood, which I assume is some kind of reference to the state's per capita Cialis consumption.
** If I did have a throwback jersey, it would be for late kicker Pat Harder because that's not only a name, but also an imperative sentence.
*** I probably have at least eight of them left.
**** Nothing made my dorm room more suitable for romance than having a bed under the watchful eye of Kurt Warner, a supremely religious man who credits Mister Jesus with every victory and didn't remove his penis from its original wrappings until his wedding night.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Kurt Plus

With yesterday's NFC Championship win, My Beloved Kurt Warner™ is going to the Super Bowl for the third time since the '99 season.* He's had a quarterbackin' career** that's been doublestuffed with the kind of improbable plot twists rarely seen outside of Kevin Costner movies and I couldn't be happier. Um, not unless after the game he'd come through the TV screen Poltergeist-style to grab a fistful of nachos and make out with me.***

There was much celebration within the walls of my apartment yesterday, the mood changing with the score, from optimism to NO YOU SHUT UP to whatever emotion involves tears and maybe peeing a little.****

I also learned that my dog is a poor loser.

Yes, that's a Cardinal clenched in his jaws. Not Pictured: My hissed threat that since he's so smart, perhaps he could learn to feed himself. Good luck opening the bag, Thumbless.

* Super Bowl XXXIV was played on January 30, 2000...not like I recall every single detail including the fact that I almost made out with my creepy across-the-courtyard neighbor just so he would let my roommate and I borrow his oversized television for the game.
** I fully intend to write another Kurt-centric post before the Super Bowl and I'm debating whether to scan the picture from the charity golf tournament where I met him. The Pros: I'm touching him. I'M TOUCHING HIM.; The Cons: I'm wearing jorts and a garish at-home haircolor frequently modeled by anyone who's ever lost a trailer to a tornado.
*** My mother's first text to me after the game: "Get your lips off the TV screen."
**** That sounds like dementia.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

No_WayCupid

This morning I went to Borders hoping to be productive--to write--but after an hour all I'd done was eat three gingerbread mistakes from the clearance barrel and make a scene by sucking the spilled coffee out of my napkins. "What?" I asked the open-mouthed Brooks Brother beside me. "We're in a recession." I was packing up my Mac and hoping that my black sweats would camo the unfortunate amount of underbutt sweat I'd collected when the bickering couple beside me caught my attention.

"Two weeks! We've dated two weeks which means you're still supposed to be nice to me!" She smacked the side of the table with a Keith Haring calendar, a gesture which didn't get his attention since he was building a pyramid out of Dean Koontz hardbacks. "JASON. Answer me!"

She was art school attractive, her perfect skin and spatula-sized teeth canceling out the fact that she was dressed like a Lost and Found bin. He, by contrast, had the kind of wild-eyed expression and untamed Fraggle hair that suggested that his evenings were spent pounding Jack Daniels and eating live chipmunks.

"ANSWER ME." She pounded the table again, sending fifty dollars worth of Dean skidding to the floor. "You made me spill my Koontz," he said, calmly collecting the books and Jenga-ing them on top of each other. "Now I've got dirty Koontz."

Both of them looked at me when I snickered. "Sorry. Asthma attack."

"YOU KNOW WHAT, JASON?"

"No, what?"

"You're stupid, Dean Koontz is stupid, and OKCupid is stupid." She stood up, collecting her oversized purse and calendar before cocooning herself in at least 25 feet of crocheted scarf. Jason slid his chair back, the legs screeching against the tile. He picked at his beard, pulling out what looked like a fingernail clipping and flicking it to the floor.

Finally he looked at her.

"You made a rhyme."

"WE'RE SO BROKEN UP RIGHT NOW! THAT RHYMES." She stomped off, making a high pitched squeal, the kind of sound you'd hear if you punched a Build-A-Bear.

He took a deep breath. Brushed some imaginary crumbs off the table. Tucked his hair behind his ears. "No it doesn't," he said softly before pulling her chair close enough to put his feet on and cracking the spine of Odd Hours.
__________

Obviously, I was delighted. The seven bucks I'd dropped on this was so much more entertaining than the ten I spilled on Benjamin Button, with a stronger female lead and fewer dead babies. I had fifteen minutes of free internet left and decided I'd try to find these people on OKCupid, logging some extra Creepytime before heading home.

I dialed up the site, typed in my ZIP code and the first person on the results page was a guy who lives in my building, his pic showcasing the same sullen expression he rewards me with when we stare at each other from opposite sides of the elevator. I clicked his profile, hoping it would explain why he always smelled like bleach.

I quickly gave up on King Clorox and D-Koontz, instead clicking from pic to pic of dudes who share my state bird. With five minutes of free highspeed left, I hurriedly collected some of my favorite pics, profiles and tidbits from this metro area. Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society...

This gentleman's profile actually included the phrase 'playful and fun-loving' which only applies if your idea of fun involves puncture wounds.


"You should also message me if you can tell me what some of these words mean."



"I was going to bring you flowers but instead I've collected your cats' souls."


Omigod, me too! Nothing gets me hotter than an ascot, a mustache, and rabies.



I'm so conflicted by this picture, Master_Blaster, because my biggest turn on is an overdeveloped thigh but my biggest turn off is a pair of slouch socks.

You may want to rethink that last sentence.

In your mind, that "other parts of my anatomy" line is supposed to make me think that your penis is so comically oversized that on the weekends you use it to have Double Dutch contests, but I'm actually concerned that you're dragging your own entrails behind you.


"Contact me if you've ever wondered what it would be like to have sex with a Hot Topic."


Sir, if the word manskirt immediately follows the word needlework, it's automatically classified as a bitchskirt, unless by needlework you meant crippling addiction to heroin.



This actually conjures more questions than it answers, mainly why you're hanging out in the men's room with a camera. This also looks like the worst first date ever, since one of us would have to sit on the floor.


Huh. Do you have a hard time finding pants that fit?

While part of me is offended, the other part is pleased that you used the correct form of "You're". Well played, Poon_Raider.
__________

After twenty or so profile clicks and an equal number of dry heaves, OKCupid told me my time was up unless I became a member. I seriously considered creating a profile--if only to learn more about Dirty_Hairy's Ewok fetish--but my preferred screenname was taken.



Coincidentally "Needy PoopChute" is available this month on Pay-Per-View.



Even though I hit upon the right combo of letters for a login, I decided not to go through with it. I never cared for Dean Koontz anyway.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

11 Days of Fail: Day 5

Day 5: The Understudy

I was up early enough to swipe the classifieds from my neighbor's paper in an attempt to find employment and on that particular overcast Sunday, my choices were limited to the medical field, something involving carpet remnants or to be the second-string receptionist at a hair salon. I dismissed the middle one because it sounded dirty and despite watching every ep of House--multiple times thanks to the USA Network*--and killing all the viruses in Dr. Mario, I probably wasn't qualified to catheterize the elderly.

That left the hair salon. I stopped in on Tuesday morning** to drop my resume off in person, to show them that I was the type of girl who had initiative and also needed money for a new printer cartridge. From the heavily tattooed staff to the seizure-inducing swirls on the walls, this was obviously the kind of place people went for hairstyles that attract unwanted attention in Home Depot, to overdose on ironic t-shirts, and to leave with a bleeding ear.

The receptionist in charge--the Kerry Collins to my Vince Young if I got the job--eyed me warily as I introduced myself. I A'd a couple of Q's about my experience, attitude and glitter eyeshadow while trying not to stare at his facial piercings. Not only did he look like he'd passed out in a tackle box but when he turned and tossed my pages on the desk, I spied the Yogi Bear tatt on the back of his neck, the one inked below the words "Show Me Your Boo Boo".

We shook hands and swapped contact information before I headed home, taking the lingering scent of peroxide and cigarettes with me.*** Believe it or Not, Mr. Ripley, but they called the next day to ask if I could come in Friday morning for a four hour, twenty-four dollar trial run. I paused briefly to scan the cable guide and see which episode of Maury I'd be missing before giving a verbal thumbs up.

When I rolled in on Friday, He of the Bedazzled Face was there to greet me at the door because "unlocking the facility" was one of the lines dropped into the job description. He extended his hand and said "So, like, I forgot your name. Mine's Brandt, but everyone calls me B-Ice." Sure they do. They may also call you 'The Defendant' or 'That Guy Who Makes Drugs in His Carport'.

"I'm J-Money," I said "But everyone calls me 'That Girl Who Smells Like Pears and Is Really Good at Life'."

We shook, he tossed a Soilwork CD into the system and he considered smiling but that would've sent a metal shard into his cornea. After busying himself with the thermostat and a Swiffer duster, he reached over the desk to pull out a thin folder labeled 'Receptionist's Manual', opening it to remove several menus from a Chinese restaurant and a subscription card to a skateboarding magazine.

"Here, you can read this while I take care of the opening shit. This job's so not hard as long as you remember one thing."

"What's that," I asked, sincerely hoping it didn't involve my Boo Boos.

"Just don't tell any callers that the person they want is taking a shit."

"Should I just say 'in the bathroom' then?"

"No, you should say they've stepped out. Or that they're smoking, either way. Also, there's one word we never say here."

"Hepatitis?"

He shook his head, and gave me a sincere expression that was one oversized eye away from being a Precious Moments figurine. "Can't." He paused for emphasis. "We can't say can't here."

Before I could point out the fallacy of that statement, he gestured that I should sit down at the desk. He pulled a green post it pad out of the top drawer, tore a page off and began writing furiously. When he finished, he stuck the note to the phone, then pushed my chair close enough for me to see the script he'd just written out. There was a pause as he waited for me to react, so I read it aloud just to see if he'd lip-sync along as I spoke each word. He did.

I blurred the salon's name, which may or may not have been a scissor-related pun.

"See, that's exactly how you'll talk to the callers! I wrote it down for you!" He beamed, his expression disturbingly similar to the one my dog gets when he humps a pot holder. "Just don't, like, say sir AND ma'am. You've got to pick one."

I nodded and tried to take notes. I couldn't find any paper so I wrote it on my forearm, which was probably the preferred method anyway.

"So, if you think you're ready, I'm going to let you grab the next call."

As if on cue, the phone immediately rang. He pointed at it with one black laquered nail and stage-whispered "Get it! Get it!"

"Good morning afternoon!" I said cheerfully. "Thank you for calling HairBallz!"****

There was a pause on the other side of the line before a weary voice leaked into my ear. "Yeah, how much do y'all pay for gold?"

"Yes sir, you mean, like, gold highlights?" I asked, improvising like the Miles Davis of hourly wages.

"No, like gold gold." He paused for a wet cough. "I got some old wedding bands I need to sell." I was thrilled because this husky-voiced caller was either a for-real hobo or Kathleen Turner. Putting my hand over the receiver, I signaled for B-Ice who was using his Blistex to draw a dagger on his ankle. He wiped his hands, grabbed the phone and gave Kathleen a different set of digits.

"Oh yeah," he said, tracing a 'B' in the desk dust. "We get a lot of calls for the pawn shop. Just give them the right number and don't get freaked out if they ask a lot of questions about guns." I snagged another couple of calls before he seemed satisfied enough to let me fly solo. He spun his chair to face the computer, googling "Scariest Haunted House" and picking dead skin off his lips. I cracked the Receptionist's Manual and read looping cursive explanations of voicemail etiquette and got a second helping of the "say smoking instead of pooping" rule.

The remaining three hours ticked by with the quickness. There were two walk-in appointments, nine phone calls--a pair for the pawn shop--and I ate seventeen Jolly Ranchers out of the Shrek-shaped candy dish on the front desk. I got a tour of the salon from a stylist with an unsubtle hair color that looked like she'd stapled Bill Cosby's sweaters to her scalp. After showing me where the matches were in the Ladies' Room, she shared the secret of sweeping hair clippings, which is to call your boyfriend while the secretary's understudy does it.

I was dismissed promptly at two by the manager of the salon, a severe-looking woman with sallow skin and a dog in her purse. "We'll be in touch," she said, giving me a handful of cash. "If we think you can handle this job."

She wasn't. I guess I couldn't.

*A channel whose programming options are limited to House reruns, overly clever original programming and enough seasons of Law & Order: SVU that you can spend an afternoon watching Mariska Hargitay's hair grow out.
** They were closed on Mondays, quite possibly to let the hallucinogenics wear off.
*** Add a drop of desperation and that's exactly what Samantha Ronson smells like.
**** No, that's not what's stitched on their shirts. I did spend the better part of an hour coming up with alternate names like: Rusty Kuts, Good Head, BITCH I WILL CUT YOU, Scissor Sisters: But Only Because We Cut Hair & Not Because We're Lesbians, Dark Roots, Fuck Off & Dye, Gang Bangs or Turn Your Head & Coif.

Monday, January 05, 2009

11 Days of Fail: Day 4

In 2008, I had eight job interviews and eight rejections, making me the Michael Phelps of Failure. For those of you who are new to the sweatpant-clad shambles I call my life, I've spent the better part of two years 'freelancing', which is what people with a B.A. call 'unemployed and spelunking the sofa cushions in the hopes you'll find enough crumbs to make a whole tater tot'.

Despite having to scrimp and pinch like the Quimby family, largely subsisting on the types of prefab foods that most people only crack out of the can during when the power goes out, I've really only missed having a for-real job on three occasions:

1) During Fantasy Football season. At my last office, my team "Angelina Ate My Babies" was a two-time champ, riding the meaty legs of LaDanian Tomlinson to both victory and an engraved paperweight that was sadly abandoned in a dusty corner of my cubicle as I hurriedly collected my belongings and allowed the HR director to escort me out of the building.

2) The time my sister came to visit and, shortly before leaving, excused herself to the guest bathroom where she quietly unwrapped an entire roll of Pillsbury Brownie Batter and dropped it in the toilet. She was halfway home when I found it and I immediately regretted that I no longer had an office where I could do the same thing. I also regretted not taking pictures.

3) Every time I have to buy toilet paper. Offices are always full of oversized rolls that--if you take the time to pluck them from their plastic orphanages--are ready to be taken to a loving home. Granted, it's almost as cottony soft as a handful of aquarium gravel, but it gets the job done. Kind of.

Just because I'm skeeved by All Things Office, from the unflattering fluorescent lighting to the breakrooms that offer nothing but bleach-scented tables and signup sheets for day trips to the yarn factory, that doesn't mean I stopped looking for work, even the kind that requires an embroidered vest and less personal hygiene than I'm accustomed to, as this journal entry reminded me.

January 16, 2008
"Went to Borders to check on my application. Talked to the manager and may have blown it by using the word 'temporary' but tried to recover by throwing in a bit about 'but if I like it I'll stay forever like it's that hotel from The Shining'. He's supposed to call me for an interview but I'm not optimistic."
Anyway Oh Eight started with the prospect of a jobby job at a photography studio as a coordinator, which--other than terminated--is the word that appears most frequently on my resume. They called me for an interview on a Sunday afternoon at their studio on the darker side of downtown where the graffiti is misspelled and and the litter is from off-brand products.

I smeared on some eyeshadow and wriggled into my nice pants--the pair that hasn't been stained with EZ Cheez and disappointment--and hoped I'd land somewhere between 'impressive' and 'pathetic' which is what the forty words in the classifieds seemed to crave.

The owners, a married pair of photogs with equally abstract names and matching pairs of chunky eyeglasses--the ones people wear because they can't scrawl "LOOK HOW CREATIVE I AM!" on their foreheads--were cordial but cold and immediately expressed some hesitation when they learned how long I'd been out of work.

We ticked through the standard questions about my experience, my education and why I had a dryer sheet clinging to my left breast before digging into what they called the "meat and potatoes" of the interview. My "meat", they said, would be to manage the studio and prepare it for their client, a local manufacturer of multi-packs of socks and underwear. The male photog--I'll call 'im Testes--quietly asked if I would be comfortable with partial male nudity, which is a question I haven't heard since prom.

I nodded. "Sure, I'm cool with meat," I said, scratching at my face trying to find the UNDO button.

The "Potatoes" of my day would take place in the kitchen, Ovary (the she-tographer, natch) said, leading me to a well-appointed room in the back of the building. It was all stainless steel and granite, the type of spread showcased in ads in magazines for the kind of life I don't have. Testes pulled a complicated looking bowl out of the dishwasher and grabbed a bag of fruit from the fridge. "Arrange these," he said, dumping several varieties of apples and a couple of oranges onto the counter.

"Um...like...for a picture?" I asked, an honest question.

"No," Testes said with a roll of his eyes that was exaggerated by his Douche Bigalow glasses. "For our clients to eat."

"Well, uh, OK," I said, immediately dropping an apple and kicking it across the floor. "Obviously, I can juggle too." I gave them a smile faker than Ovary's tits.

"Wash that," Testes said as I retrieved the apple from under the counter. I rinsed it, dried it on my sweater and stared hard at the bowl, like I expected it to grow feet and race back to Crate & Barrel. I approached it from a couple of angles before making a haphazard fruit pyramid, presenting it with a fluttery hand gesture I'd seen either on QVC or at a funeral. They nodded, saying nothing.

"Now. Coffee," Ovary said deciding that my feeble mind couldn't handle sentences with a subject and a predicate. She shoved an unopened package of French Roast at me and I dutifully answered questions about my typing abilities while fumbling with the grinder, unceremoniously dumping the beans into the machine. I was so sorry I'd changed tampons for this.

As the coffee brewed, they asked about several items on my resume. "And why did you leave your last job?" one of them asked.

"They, um, let me go." I said because I love both euphemisms and lying. "Downsized."

"And the one prior?" Ovary poured a cup of coffee, grimacing after the first sip. She'd barely swallowed before she emptied the rest into the sink, handing me her mug to wash.

And that's when I gave up.

"That place? Got fired. Stole a sofa from the lobby."

Ovary sighed as Testes bravely poured coffee into a mug with their picture on it.

"Well. OK then," he said, choking down a swig of coffee and taking Ovary's cup from me. "We appreciate your giving us your Sunday. We'll be in touch."

He pressed a hand into my lower back, guiding me toward the door with more force than necessary. We were halfway down the hall when I heard the sound of several pieces of fruit plopping onto the floor and rolling across the reclaimed wood. Isaac Newton, for the win.

Neither one of them would shake my hand as we stood on the sidewalk. I didn't care. They watched as I backed into their sign as I left, knocking it into a small patch of grass where their logo--a cat's face--stared at me with the same dead expressions I was getting from them.

I didn't stop.

Hi, My Name is 2009

So I survived the holidays--barely--and now I'm back, well-rested and ready to sling more words at the internet. It's Monday and time to return to...well, nothing except Mama's Family reruns and meals poured from a cardboard box, because I don't have a job. BUT the bloggery will resume today and I'll be stapling another entry in the unending "Days of FAIL" series to this site before the rest of you swipe an orphaned bagel from the breakroom and head home for the day.*

This morning I'm off to a yoga class because I'm determined to spend more time in Oh Nine both stretching** and putting my face dangerously close to unsanitized floor coverings.

Hope everyone had a swell [insert various December holidays here] and that your New Year isn't close to sucking yet.

Photo courtesy of My Former Neighbor because I don't have a yard and no one needs to see what I occasionally find facedown on the sidewalks outside my building.

* Offer only valid for those of you working in the continental United States. Sorry, readers in Great Britain, Europe, and other countries I vaguely remember from playing "Carmen San Diego". You guys are better than halfway through your workdays now and ready to go home and speak with delightful accents to your rosy-cheeked loved ones. Check back tomorrow.
** Apparently, it's good for runners to stretch. I realized this a few days ago when mid-run I thought I had a rock in my shoe, but it turned out to be my Achilles tendon.