Archive for April, 2007


Our calm little flat is in an upraor of confusion.  For some unknown reason, and despite repeated assurances from me and from Bartender Dude that we don’t care about this at all, our benevolent landlords have decided to push forward with ripping apart our kitchen in order to fix the hairline cracks in the tile floor.  When we first brought these infintesimal cracks to their attention at our year anniversary walk-through in October last, we made it clear that we only wanted to let them know to protect the eventual return of our security deposit, but that we didn’t care two straws about getting them fixed.  The tiles weren’t shifting around, or chipping at the edges, or deteriorating in any way, and we didn’t want the landlords to think we were superfussy or prima donnas about every tiny flaw in our 100-year old apartment.  We made a list of the top three things we wanted fixed if they were amenable (the sticking door, the sticking windows, the busted floorboards), but the chimerical cracks in the kitchen tile that looked like the spidery tracing of wind patterns on frosted surfaces were NOT on the list.  In fact, they were second to last on the List of Stuff We Wanted You to Be Aware of But You Needn’t Bother Spending Your Money On.

Nevertheless, the landlords are in a fury of improvement.  First there was the project to re-enamel the tub, after which we had to wash it out with dishwashing liquid and a soft cloth every time we used it FOR A MONTH.  Then there was the project to re-carpet the sitting room, after which we’ve been terrified to eat anything remotely greasy or red in there, which has greatly cut into our television viewing.  And our drinking of red wine.

Now we are living in a demolition zone, with no ability to boil water or dump empty glasses in the sink or chuck things in the dishwasher.  Behold the destruction:


The worst part of having no kitchen is having all of it piled in the adjacent office.


I can’t get to anything, I can’t find anything, I can’t cut lemons for my tea or pull out a bowl for microwaveable soup.  Neither can I cook anything, which is difficult in itself, but I can’t even slice cheese or make iced tea or locate the grater to make nachos.

In situations like this, my new poster comes in handy:


Kicking it old school, washing dishes like my grandma did:


Where are the candles, the bowl and pitcher, the symmetrical Laura Ingalls braids?  I feel like I am living in a hotel with detritus piled in one corner of the room.

Today, Bartender Dude and I drove to the grocery store and loaded up on frozen dinners and a huge jug of Arizona iced tea.  I’ve never been so embarrassed in the checkout line in my life.

Okay, so it’s not like I stockpile KY Jelly and bleaching cream and Beano on a regular basis, but STILL.


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Duking It Out

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the majority of humanities students have no idea what they want to do with their lives, most of whom end up in law school because, as I’ve often heart it put, they couldn’t think of anything better to do.  And with the exception of a JD, I am no different.  Despite years of soul-searching and self-help worksheets and online career tests, I have never known what I really want to do with my life, at least not career-wise.  I have moved from job to job over the last fifteen years of my professional life, with a short year out to take the obligatory grad school detour, and never once have I enjoyed a single one.

Things have continued to be crazy at work.  I spend most of my time terrified that someone will find out I don’t know what I’m doing, even though I probably know more than I realize.  But it is so difficult to play a game when you don’t know the rules and you have no one to show you.  So this goes beyond bored, or dissatisfied.  This is the dark ribbon of fear, the cages you make for yourself and the distortions you place on reality.  I wish there was some way to blast those phantoms out of existence.  But it takes time, and I’m working on it.

In the meantime, I have a backup plan – my new poster arrived today, the one that says “Keep Calm and Carry On.”  I’m going to have it framed and put in my office to remind me that there is No Cause for Panic.  It is a facsimile of a poster placed all over London during World War II to calm the tube-riding public.

So enough of this maudlin musing.  Is anyone else disturbed by the recent Doritos commercial that has been airing recently?  The one in which two bags of Doritos fight WWF-style in a ring in front of an army of wiggling knit toys?  I mean, what the hell is going on there?  Are bags of Doritos and knit toys supposed to have something in common?  Are knit toys supposed to have some kind of street cred?  What age group is this advert aimed at?

More importantly, what coke-lined booze-fueled junket led to some young ad jocks coming up with this crap?

Some ads are funny.  The one about car care products that intones in a sonorous voice: “Here at Blah Blah, we’ve been conducting tests to see how children make such gigantic messes in such a short time” and then shows a child being shut up in a minivan is hilarious.  The one from years ago in which the man runs into an open file drawer whilst talking to his boss about how all the information for the meeting is stored in his brain slayed me every time I watched it.  If I could have rolled on the floor I would have.

But this Doritoes commercial is WHACK.  Whack I tell you.

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I saw
a film recently, which I thought from the previews would be the perfect chick
flick to burrow down on the couch watching when Bartender Dude was at
work. Unfortunately, it turned out to be
a sweeping Hollywood-ised version of the story of Esther, told in the most
cheesy, overblown manner possible. The
script was terrible, and the actors weren’t good enough to salvage it, but they
were pretty, and dressed in the most amazing clothes you can imagine (no, I am
serious, I would ROB A BANK to be able to wear these kinds of clothes), and
somehow madly compelling. I really wish
I could blame what I’m about to tell you on the sartorial brilliance of this
production, but the film took over my imagination in a truly adolescent and embarrassing

The thing
that hooked me, the rufi that those damn Hollowoodising producers slipped into
my drink, was not the underlying story of Esther (which in itself is quite a
compelling story and well worth a read) but the architecture of the pulp
romance novel, the proven formula that hooks many a dissatisfied member of my
sex and works like crack on the broken parts of our psyches – always promising,
never delivering.

here are the basic building blocks – boy meets girl, boy chooses girl, mistaken
actions, conflict and obstacles ensue, crisis builds, encounter (sometimes
violent) results, truth surfaces, boy and girl passionately reunite. Only in the case of this film, it goes
something like this – (handsome and leonine) king meets (stunningly attractive)
peasant girl, king chooses (oh by the way she can read in several languages!
And has a gift for sparring wit!) girl in BEAUTY CONTEST to be his wife and
queen, like some kind of 5th century BC version of The Bachelor,
king and queen canoodle in the most remarkable clothes and settings you have
ever seen in your life (DRIPPING with bling), king mistakes actions of queen
and vice versa, king and queen come maddeningly close several times to working
things out but never quite, crisis builds, queen confronts king by publicly
entering the throne room unsummoned, at the LAST SECOND before some dude in a
skirt is about to chop her down with a big sword, king saves queen and clasps
her in his arms, king and queen passionately reunite.

never read any pulp romance novels, but I absolutely know there is a formula,
and that it works. What upsets me is its
effectiveness. Real life and real love
bear almost no resemblance to this kind of cheap thrill effect, the
intoxication based on blindness, the drunken escape of infatuation. I love Bartender Dude like the bones in my
body, and we did go through a period when the frisson of excitement there all
the time, like a shiver under the skin, but we’ve moved on from that. It’s deeper, it’s better, and it’s different.

that is why, now, this stupid film hit me like a juggernaut, awakening the
soppy teenager in me (I thought I vanquished her!), making me so confused. Maybe I miss the puppy stage. Maybe my father never made me feel beloved,
set apart, a princess of the realm (actually I know for a fact that he didn’t –
the queen in this story is both protected and adored, and that alone is enough
to work powerfully on my wounded self). Maybe this is an indication that I need to borrow from the story the
elements and symbols that will provide balance and evolutionary growth. (Oh yes I like that – paper over the
embarrassing bits by pretending this is all about the evolution of your soul
and not really about your truly trashy taste.)

whatever it is, I cannot BELIEVE that I got sucker-punched into this situation
by a formulaic and badly-written historic soap opera of a film. This is the stuff I look down on! Freedom from being affected by this tripe is
what makes me An Intelligent, Mature Adult with Taste!

a load of bollocks.

I’m just like
everybody else, and the part of me that would secretly luuuuve to be the Queen HATES to acknowledge that.

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