Sunday, May 31, 2009

So That Just Happened

Author's Note: This was originally posted Friday on Tumblr but, really, I feel like I need to share my awkwardness with the widest possible audience, in the hopes that eventually I'll be shamed into acting like a Real Human.

Gentlemen, start your cringe-ines.
__________

The coffee shop downstairs has inexplicably started opening at noon and as soon as I saw the owners putting their umbrellas out on the patio, I nipped down to liberate a pair of Diet Cokes from the fridge, like I was gonna build an ark for phenalalanines.

Anyway, I’m in full-on deadline mode today, which means my ratty Sox hat, a wrinkled Nick Lowe Jesus of Cool tee, and a deep-set scowl. I had just dropped a can directly on the top of my foot and was giving The Real Jesus an interesting set of surnames when I turned and smacked into the sternum of a fortysomething Peter Gallagher lookalike, assuming Mr. Gallagher ever weed-whacked his eyebrows.

“Shit, I’m so sorry,” I said, because I’m smooth like that.

He smiled.

“No problem. I love the sound of breaking glass.”

I almost turned to see if I’d actually shattered the refrigerator door when I slammed it but then realized that HE WAS QUOTING A NICK LOWE SONG FROM THE VERY ALBUM SCREENPRINTED ON MY CHEST.

“Wow, you’re a Nick Lowe fan?”

He smiled again, reaching over my shoulder to grab a soda.

“Been a Basher fan for years. I had that album when it came out.”

I didn’t know what to say. He was obviously waiting for me to do something, staring at me expectantly with a pair of blue eyes the color of holy shit I want to make out with him. I fumbled. “Yeah, it’s stellar, start to finish.” I backed away, dropping a stack of quarters on the counter. AND THEN I PANICKED.

“Well, cool, excellent. See you, then.” I hurried out the door, pausing only when I dropped the other can and Pele’d it across the patio until it exploded against the side of the building.

And so it goes and so it goes
But where it’s goin’, no one knows

Sigh.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'm Not Dead, I'm in Pittsburgh

So last weekend I hit the road immediately after Dunkin Donuts opened their drive-through window and a trio of Boston Cremes and I spent just under six hours in the car on the way to Pittsburgh. A group of my friends from Twitter had planned to descend upon the Steel City for the weekend so we could wear nametags, show our faces in three dimensions and make awkward advances toward each other that would be recounted 140 characters at a time.

I spent the morning driving the entire length of West Virginia. If this obscene gesture is the state of Dubya Vee, I started at the wrist and came out beside its extended middle finger.
In between, there was nothing but trees and Exxon stations and trees and zero cell service and trees, which was a problem because the purpose of long drives is to simultaneously talk on the phone while you try to lick powdered sugar off your dashboard.

Around one p.m. I rolled into the 'Burgh and immediately made a stop at Primanti's which--just like an indie rock band--came either highly recommended or strongly discouraged, depending on who I asked. After mashing my PIN on the attached ATM to comply with their handwritten CASH ONLY policies, I ordered a steak and cheese sammich, which the menu said was their #2 seller1.

Their gimmick is that the french fries are baked into the sandwich, between the bread and meat and a stack of cole slaw big enough to landscape your backyard with, but edspite the promise of an after-lunch aneurysm, I have to admit that it wasn't very good. It was blander than a PBS pledge drive and co-starred my arch-nemesis, soggy bread,2 although that doesn't mean that I didn't shove all of it into my face, even scraping my bottom teeth across the wrapper to gather any errant cheese drippings.

From there, an iPhone walking map led me across the Seventh Street Bridge to the Andy Warhol Museum. I'd been looking forward to checking it out both because I dig his work and because I'm only a pair of Ray Bans away from looking like Mr. Fifteen Minutes of Fame since we have the same bleached hairstyle, doughy cheeks, and attitude, although he obviously wins the talent portion of the competition. The museum had recently featured a Star Wars-themed exhibition but unfortunately it had closed the week before and the only remnants of Darth and Co. were a number of Lucasfilms-branded action figures on the clearance rack of the gift shop.

There were no special exhibits--the next one wasn't on the schedule until June--so several halls were stacked with locked trunks of what used to be or what was yet to be assembled. The rest of the building is definitely worth a stop if you're in town but I was a bit disappointed by the permanent collection, if only because one floor focuses more on Warhol's mother and another is devoted to his Interview magazine. There are some interesting pieces though, including his collaborations with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring and several works from his Death and Disaster series, the latter coming as a silk-screened surprise to the visitors who just knew him as the Tomato Soup and Jackie O dude.

After contemplating the purchase of a Velvet Underground t-shirt, I hoofed it back to my car in a persistent drizzle that left me with enough mascara streaks and wet cotton to appear as an extra in a Whitesnake video. I drove toward the airport to my Expedia-priced accommodations at the Holiday Inn Exxxpress, where the Extra X stands for Extra Stranger's Hair in Your Shower and the bored-looking staff took their time finding my reservation as I busied myself by grabbing the manager's business cards and shuffling them before asking the couple behind me if they wanted to see my magic trick.

After several attempts at pronouncing my last name, the staff slid a plastic key across the counter but told me that none of the locks in the building were working so they'd have to call Hank to let me into my room. Three minutes later, Hank materialized behind the desk, leading me down the hall while lugging an oversized universal key. He crammed it into the lock and grunted as he opened the door, while staring at me in a way that was unsettling enough for me to worry that I'd wake up and see him watching The Red Shoe Diaries on the other side of my room.

I had just enough time to shower and change before dinner, so I hurriedly lathered, rinsed, and repeated before wriggling into a dress I bought at a store that stocks Laffy Taffy at the register and caters solely to the Learner's Permit and Pre-Algebra set. I smeared some shadow across my lids, grabbed my worthless key and was on my way out the door when I simultaneously felt something scrape my shoulder blade and heard the distinctive sound of tearing fabric. I managed to bungle my exit, somehow snagging myself on the door hinge and tearing a trench through the 100% cotton covering my back.3

When I introduced myself for the first time to one of my friends in the lobby, I had the awktastic opportunity to extend my hand, muster my least-sociopathic smile, and ask if he could please tape the hole in my dress. After grabbing a roll of packaging tape from the front desk, he gingerly collected both halves of my torn ensemble and slapped some adhesive on it, ensuring I'd spend the rest of the evening giving my name and an explanation as to why I looked like I'd just rolled out of the Captain D's dumpster.

The rest of the night was lovely, including stellar Thai Tapas at the Silk Elephant and reasonably priced drinks at The Squirrel Cage, where our only complaint was that we were all quarantined in the windowless balcony where we would've been incinerated if there had been a fire. Perhaps that was the point. It was amazing to meet everyone and the night ended with exchanged numbers, promises to stay in touch, and packing tape on my shoulder blades.

It was just like prom.

1 Their Number 1 menu item was Iron City Beer. I have mad respect for those who consider booze to be a food group.
2 This is why I keep lettuce away from my Big Mac. No that's not a euphemism.
3 If you guessed #4 on this post, you're totally right and have obviously read this blog more than once. While I did try to snap a shot of Mister Windpants in the museum, one of the polo-shirted attendants pounced on me with the quickness and made me delete the shot. No pictures means no pictures, yo.

Monday, May 25, 2009

BRB

The past week has been liberally basted with Lame when it comes to posting. It's partially because I've been working on a for-real project that pays for-real money and will let me buy foods that haven't for-real expired and also because I've been on the South Carolina coast for a few days with my entire family1 and have been busily gorging myself on all manner of deep fried mistakes.2

Anyway, I hope to have the recap of--sigh--last weekend finished and will return to my regular irregular posting schedule tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy your holiday. Go outside or something... I'm pretty sure you can still get wi-fi.3

1 Including my soon-to-be brother-in-law, who wins the weekend on sheer hyphen volume alone.
2 At this point, my blood type is officially hush puppy.
3 Yesterday was 85 degrees, with the kind of cloudless blue skies found in ELO songs, yet I spent a tremendous portion of the day sitting on the balcony downloading out-of-print albums by British pub rock bands with a handful of Chris Stamey side projects thrown in. I know how to party, yo.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The 'Burgh

So I drove to Pittsburgh this weekend to meet some of my favorite Twitter people1 and because I needed to ensure that my car will smell like Cool Ranch Doritos and gas station coffee for the next several months. I'm writing a recap of the entire weekend but if I had to paraphrase it in the style of eBay feedback, it would be A+++ HIGHLY RECOMMEND! WOULD SEE THEM IN REAL LIFE AGAIN.

Until then--and based on what everyone knows about my tendency to fumble through life--I suggest you look at the photo above and ask yourself Did J-Money rip the back of her dress open by:

A) Trying to save a litter of Puggle puppies from a burning building/hot car/flea market.

B) Fleeing the Andy Warhol museum after being scolded for trying to take an iPhone picture not of the art but of the man wearing a purple mesh shirt and breakaway Chicago Bears wind pants.

C) Defying all practical knowledge and waking Wolverine while he was sleepwalking.

D) By running into a door.

1 My dad was disappointed to learn that Ashton Kutcher wasn't there.

Photo by Tony Delgrosso

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday, I Don't Care About You

Morning, kids. The sunlight is highlighting all of the places on the floor where I've spilled soy sauce or tracked the Outside World onto the carpet and we're being assaulted by midsummer-style temperatures, with a humidity level rarely seen outside unventilated laundromats. So what am I doing? Sitting on the sofa, listening to the somewhat dated but no less enjoyable new wave-y funk of Ian Dury and debating whether finishing the stack of magazines that has accumulated on the ottoman counts as an accomplishment.

This week has been a wash as far as Getting Things Done. While it feels like I spent an inordinate amount of time scratching at my to-do list, I don't have a lot to show for it. T.S. Eliot measured his life out in coffeespoons; mine seems to be ticking by with an ever-growing folder of unanswered emails, endless smears of under-eye concealer, and a stack of uneaten Andes mints from a week's worth of Lunchables.

I'm also suffering from something related to writer's block, like one of its in-laws that still allows you to spew a thousand words on any given topic, but you're guaranteed to hate all of them. I've created endless varieties of the same ten paragraphs this morning and, regardless of how I arrange the predicates, I give the sentences the same disapproving look I tend to reserve for people who have a sofa on their front porch.

Sigh.
__________
I haven't run since the Boston Marathon, but this afternoon I may bravely attempt One Mile to see how my weakest tendon is recovering. During my three-week trial separation from my sneakers, I've sampled several of the group exercise classes neatly typed on the monthly calendar I've always promptly discarded.

Regardless of what action verb is in the class description (Pump! Crunch! Kick!), every hour-long episode does nothing but prepare you for a situations in life that will require you to jump onto a low step. Repeatedly. With enough practice, I'll soon be able to hop onto a curb like no other, leaving potential assailants too stunned by my rhythm and coordination (Left foot only! Now switch!) to make a cape from my skin.

Unfortunately, last night's 5:30 class taught me that I'm a less-than-average jumper. It may be partially related to my still-healing Achilles and partially because I'm never going to excel at anything that makes you accidentally pee on yourself. The woman in the row ahead of me had calves the size of cocker spaniels, so I'm willing to stick with it, damp pants or not.
__________

Before I go back to staring at my blinking cursor and convincing myself that I just need to change fonts several more times, here's a present I made for you. Over the weekend, I designed a late-spring playlist with twenty songs that are on heavy rotation here in the Land of Dog Hair and Unwashed Dishes. The lala-powered player is embedded in the site, so clicky this link and you can play all the tracks while you work, operate heavy machinery, or assemble Swedish modular furniture. IT'S JUST THAT VERSATILE.

Finally, if there are days I don't write here for whatever reason, you can almost always find something on my Tumblr. If this site is an honest look at this tangled mess I call my life, the Tumblr is a direct link to whatever happens to be tapdancing around my corpus callosum. Today, it's been the cast of Saturday Night Live circa '75 and quotable lines from Wayne's World.

You're welcome.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Saturday: A One-Act Play

I talked to all of three people yesterday, not including a one-sided conversation with my building's New Vagrant in which I told him that I understood that he had to battle the demons coming out of his face but would appreciate if he could do it more quietly.

Last weekend, I noted a reasonably attractive guy moving into one of the ground floor apartments, and although he was neither a British musician nor middle-aged, the fact that he was wearing a Red Sox hat and carrying a giant set of speakers made my heart briefly rattle around my ribcage. He was back on the premises yesterday, making labored trips across the rickety metal ramp extending from the back of his Ryder rental, and as I rounded the corner with the Boxerbeast I decided it was an excellent time to say hello.

I casually adjusted my sweatpants, glad I was wearing my dress pair with the orange piping down the side and walked closer to the cab of the truck. I'd just rearranged the excess ass fabric when I heard the first verse of "Watching the Detectives" pouring out of the truck's open window. Since he wasn't carrying anything unwieldy at the time, I made my move.

"Hey", I said giving him what I hoped was my least creepy-looking smile, "Glad another Elvis Costello fan is moving into the building."

He tugged at the brim of his hat, which was ringed with a white corona of dried sweat. "Oh, hey. I don't really follow sports. I just bought this at the airport."

"I meant the musician," I said, undaunted. "On the radio."

He pulled the bottom of his shirt up to wipe his face. "I don't listen to the radio," he said through a mouthful of cotton.

"Yeah...um...it was just on in the truck. Nevermind then, welcome to the neighborhood." I tugged the Boxerbeast's leash and hoped to get back to the parking garage before I started sobbing.

"Oh that. It's not the radio, it's a CD. My girlfriend likes stuff from, like, the 60s."

Things couldn't have gone more smoothly if I'd just emptied my colon into the cardboard box marked 'Kitchen'.

"Elvis Costello is an excellent choice, but that song actually came out in 1977."

He said nothing. So of course I kept going.

"It's from the My Aim is True album. Well, that's not entirely accurate, because it wasn't on the original release, but it was on the version that came out in America."

A pause, as I felt a trickle of sweat slide down the back of my thigh.

"I have the t-shirt," I beamed.

He stared at me in shocked silence, like I'd just torn a squirrel apart with my teeth.

"OK, well I'm just going to go throw this bag of dog poop away. Nice talking to you."

Aaaaand scene.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I rarely leave the house.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Every Day I'm Hustlin'

The fact that I'm titling posts using Rick Ross lyrics should give you sufficient insight into my mindset. Things have been hectic here at The Money Pit1 because life as a freelancer can either be Feast or Ramen and right now I'm running out of seasoning packets. This week I've tried to act like An Adult, which means my wardrobe has included more than Sleep Pajamas and Work Pajamas and I've been sending unsolicited e's to a brazillion publications--both the print and bloggity blog variety--in the hopes they need another slightly unhinged writer whose areas of interest and expertise involve David Lee Roth-era Van Halen, how to use Charmin's cardboard spindle as a viable wiping option and dinosaurs.

I've also tried to schedule interviews with several musicians and have been writing lists of appropriate, interchangeable questions like "If you had to make a suit out of someone's skin, whose hide would you use?" and "Theoretically, how long would you let me hide in your back yard before you'd call the authorities?"

Basically, I hope that if I throw enough lawn darts at enough strangers, eventually I'll nail one. In that highly developed metaphor, "lawn darts" would mean "pleading missives liberally garnished with samples of things I've written for The Internet" and "strangers" would denote "strangers".

My frenzied burst of productivity has been fueled by the fact that my bank balance has dwindled to the point where I'm concerned they'll be coming to repossess the soft-sided logo cooler they gave me when I opened a checking account and the fact that I'm three weeks away from tongue-kissing my twenties goodbye, dashing my long-held hope that the phrase "twentysomething whiz kid" would follow my name in a Parade magazine profile.2 I know I've whaled on this Turning Thirty horse carcass for, oh, the past year, but my twenties haven't yielded much of anything except a trio of severance packages and a wildly uncontrollable housepet.

My earbuds have been blaring the Beach Boys for the past week and it's humbling3 that Brian Wilson was all of 24 when Pet Sounds was released. Granted, he also turned his dining room into a sandbox, frequently soiled himself and had intense arguments with plates of carrots, but still. I can match him pajama leg for pajama leg when it comes to crazy but the outpouring of genius? That's what I'm waiting for, begging for, putting fresh sheets and a mango-scented candle in the guest room for.

Thirtysomething Whiz Kid wouldn't look too bad on a business card.

Neither would Dinosaur Resurrector. I'm keeping my options open.

1 Yes, that's how I describe my apartment. It was either that or The Pit of Sarlacc.
2 I also hoped for "Baby Genius" or "Heisman Winner".4
3 Sometimes, I use humbling as a euphemism for so jealous I ground my back molars into a fine powder.
4 Once I read an article where a pre-Duchovny Tea Leoni was described as "impossibly lithe", which would be an improvement from my current status as "impossibly unemployed".

Monday, May 04, 2009

Potassium Benzoate To Preserve Taste

This is my new jam, yo. Also, dig my bedhead and ringer tee. Yes, gentlemen, this could be yours.

Thanks to everyone for their input concerning my itchiness, all the stories, suggestions and remedies. You guys are awesome, especially since no one came out and said "MAYBE YOU COULD JUST KICK THE CAFFEINE, ADDICT" or suggested a guest appearance on A&E's Intervention where my family members would all tearfully read essays they'd written on legal paper about how they felt when they discovered my trashcan full of silver empties.

Anyway, the festive yellow Splenda stripe is part of my life for a while because--as I learned last week--there's no way to discreetly scratch your underboob while you're in line at the bank. More words coming later today and--I swear--none of them will involve a skin condition.

Or my underboob.