Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What a Good Wife You Will Be

Behold Brandy, my mother's new alpaca, son of Blackberry, named after my maternal grandmother's penchant for the vile, fruity liqueur. I know he looks like an alien, but I'm told he is perfectly healthy. He also looks wise beyond his years, but I'm not sure how that could possibly manifest itself in an alpaca. Perhaps he will be better at eating and pooping than everyone else. I keep my fingers crossed.

Shit List

The holidays have officially begun and thus so has my yearly bout of winter grumpiness. In an attempt at some sort of catharsis, please find below today's Shit List.

Construction work. For the fourth week in a row, the jackhammers in the alley behind my work building are rattling the glass windows in my office. I try to leave for lunch around 1, when the crew is at its daily pinnacle of destruction. I come back to find various items rattled off my desk, rolling around and broken on the ground. Then I wake up this Monday morning at 6:30 am to shouts and the unmistakable beeping sound of heavy machinery thrown into reverse. I look out my window and see cement-breaking tractors on all four corners of the nearest intersection. The air reeks of hot asphalt. That night, I trip over my street, which is bumpy and uneven after being stripped in preparation for re-paving. I live on the first floor; when I go to sleep my head is approximately six feet away from this street, which is about to become a hundred times noisier and smellier than it already was.

Those awful fucking Gaede twins. They have been repeatedly referred to in the media as “white pride” activists, and compared to the Olsen twins. Since when does hatred, bigotry and racism qualify as activism? And referring to their cause as “white pride” is like referring to the Grand Canyon as a hole in the ground. Worse yet, this family—which stands for everything rotten and putrid about America—is getting more sustained press coverage than your average hate-crime. They’ll probably be Senators some day.

Being lonely. As winter approaches and my three-year relationship steadily dissolves into a series of increasingly embittered arguments, it’s easy to feel a bit shut out by the world. Living in Jersey City doesn’t help. At least if I lived in Brooklyn I’d be completely surrounded by emo youths with great haircuts and perpetually tormented love lives. Instead it’s a bunch of bankers and some old Dominican ladies who call me “sir.” To be fair, Jersey City also contains one of my favorite people ever, my crazy Russian landlord Boris; friend of Brodsky, foe of Dali, pervy and often drunk. It’s good to have Boris around.
I’m glad that everybody is happy and beautiful and about to embark on that wonderful adventure called Life with a sexy, steadfast partner who cannot live without them. It’s exciting that my friends are getting engaged and married. But do I have to be excited for them all the time? Really?

Smoking / Not Smoking. I’m a failure / I’m miserable. I’m killing myself / I want to kill myself. Now that it appears my apartment is going to smell like hot tar for the next few weeks, I don’t even get the non-smokers benefit of living in a house that smells good.

Maureen Dowd-bashing. A woman attempts to create a public discussion about gender, touching on the fears, assumptions, and questions many of us harbor to some extent, about our lives and ourselves. Punish her.

Bitching. Bad Screwsan.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Quitter Wins

I always thought people joined gyms to get in shape. How painfully wrong I was, how naïve. Now, after my free trial week at New York Sports Club, after sampling the various classes offered—from spinning, to boxing, to cardio-kickboxing to some yoga-based exercise involving giant rubber bands, hand weights and pure evil—I can say with some authority that only people who could right now if you asked them run the Boston Marathon, belong to gyms. And this is just NYSC, the basic cable of national fitness franchises. I’m sure if I had the money to join a gym like Equinox or Clay, where the towels are refrigerated and mint-scented, I’d probably have to pass some kind of fitness test, kind of like the Presidential Fitness Test in grade school, except this one would involve BASE jumping and heli-skiing.

Look, I’m no stranger to fitness—I used to be a lifeguard, and a strong forward! And the anonymous nomination to make me dorm “health rep” in college couldn't have been completely ironical. Right? But after three measly NYSC classes in one week, I am hobbling around my office, positive that my hamstrings are about to snap. The arches of my feet feel as though I’ve just run the aforementioned marathon in stiletto heels and I can’t lift my arms above my shoulders. Can’t even feel my shoulders. But I must persevere. Apparently two years of Bikram yoga, combined with a decade-long appetite for cigarettes and booze has not kept me in top form as expected. I hope there’s someone I can sue when I need to get reconstructive surgery for both legs since all this aerobicizing is surely destroying every tissue and nerve-ending in them. At least, that’s what it feels like.

Probably, I’ll end up joining Crunch, which is one of the cheapest franchises in NYC, and seems at first to be the coolest. Their motto is “no judgment” and in their literature they talk about cigarette smoking, not in a The Truth kind of way, but more like “Crunch: our personal trainers will bum Marlboro Ultra Lights from you at Orchard Bar on the weekends.” Great, you think. A gym for lazy slobs like myself, a thin-fat person on her way to becoming fat-fat. And inexpensive! And then you actually visit a Crunch gym and realize that every single person who goes there is 6’1” and weighs 135 lbs. And then you visit the Crunch website and see that they have a personals section with over 1800 entries. A sample:

"You’re wearing dark colors...you seem a little angry so you dress bohemia like.....you might be wearing glasses and your hair is clean but not well groomed....it's time for a manicure pedicure eye brow wax....you're bored out of your mind so you're in sneakers...."

It's a Franz Ferdinand video! It’s Missed Connections for the healthy crowd! Trust me, whether this person is gay or straight, guy or girl, I guarantee you s/he is 6’1” and 135 lbs. Guarantee. Clearly the world of urban gymnasiums is confounding and, at times, even frightening.

When I worked downtown I had my New York Parks & Recreation pass. For $75 a year I had access to all NY rec centers, which sometimes have pools. They were dirty, and smelly, and small and dank, just as gyms should be. The patrons wore enormous t-shirts and torn sweatpants. We were fat and old and red-faced and no one cared. For awhile, a midget with a limp and a facial tic was my Stairmaster buddy. His name was Danny and he lived in Queens and would ask me out once in awhile. “I have a good job, you know,” he would say, “I have insurance.” It was my kind of gym—dirt cheap and full of freaks.

But now I’m in midtown. The nearest NY rec center is far enough away, I know I’ll never go when it gets cold. So I’m stuck with NYSC and Crunch, or a place called Synergy Fitness. Synergy, if you’ll recall, was the computer that turned Jem and her pals into rock 'n' roll holograms in the hit cartoon series Jem and the Holograms. I wonder whatever happened to holograms and how come nobody talks about them anymore? Remember that one National Geographic with the hologram of the bald eagle on the cover? That was awesome.

But why all the gym-hopping, suddenly? The answer to your pretend question, Dear Pretend Reader, is that I’ve decided to quit smoking as a gift to my mother for her birthday on December 1. I’m far too broke to buy her a real gift, and not smoking will actually save me money, and allow her to rest a tad easier at night. Everyone wins! And if I’m going to be a horrible bitch for however long it takes me to get these toxins out of my system, I may as well not become a puffy, enfattened bitch. Thus, the gym taste-tests.

I hesitate to mention my intention to quit smoking here, because I feel like it commits me to actually quitting or something. Like for real. It's weird--I’ve smoked regularly for 10 years now. 10 years! But it hasn’t looked really cool for almost 2 and plus I have a new job and my rent’s gone up and my apartment is finally clean and not-smelly, so it seems as good a time as any to stop smoking.

My friends’ wedding is on Saturday. I’m going out drinking tonight with a couple of work buddies to practice the fine art of Drinking Without Smoking. I’ll let you know how it goes. I'm sticking with red wine. Red wine somehow fills the nicotine void better than other alcohols, which tend to enlarge it. Chocolate also fills the void. So does sex with strangers and cutting.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Three Way

Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, Dick Durbin: I totally want to make hot monkey fun with you and then birth your love child. Thank you for forcing a closed session of the Senate.