Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fantasy Football Has Come, Woe Unto Us

Should you have been a fly on the wall:

Aaron: DUDE! Oh my gosh, dude. I just picked up (evidently well-performing football player's name). Can you believe how good I am at this?

Ben: DUDE! BUT DUDE! Did you see who I just got? I just got (football player for whom a case is to be made that he is better-performing than the above choice by Aaron). So, yeah! Go me!

Maria: I think I have heard this person's name before, and in a football-related context regarding satisfactory performance. I will search for him and add him to my team.

Aaron: That guy is dead.

Maria: Please pass the salsa?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Here's a Story that I Don't Want to Tell

Sometimes when people do things that you think are difficult, you start to generalize about them.

That guy won the Boston marathon? He must have a lot of discipline.
That lady is the president of her company? She must be very intelligent.

And etc.

But it's very weird and unnverving when you start to realize that your generalizations aren't always true.

"That lady is old enough to have a baby? She must love that baby, and she must know how to be a mom, and surely she is willing to give up "clubbin'!!" for her new little one."

This is not always true.

Neither is

"That guy has on a white coat? He went to medical school? He graduated from medical school? He is now a doctor at this doctor office building? He has a distinguished mustache? He must not be stupid."

And here is an awful story about one time two weeks ago when I found that out, and it hurt my heart.

I was sitting in this office, waiting for the doctor. He was going to be my second new doctor in a month. Because my old old doctor was super nice but far away (Old Town? More like TIMBUCTOO! ARIZONA HUMOR!) And then the first new doctor I met said to me, "My, you have gained a lot of weight!" And then said "What are you here for?" And I said "to talk about how sad my weight is making me" and then we both just stared at each other.

So anyway, this was going to be my new doctor and he held much promise. You know, the mustache.

So in he walked, and he said, Hi, what do you want.

Just like that. What do you want.

I said... a bicylce?

No, I didn't, because you don't joke with white coats and mustaches; you act ladylike and adult-like and smart-like.

I am feeling anxious, said I. My counselor suggests an uptick in crazy pills. Simply for a few weeks or so.

He asks for details.

I provide. Shakily. Embarrassedly.

I got rid of my scale. After 10 years, I got rid of my scale.

He says. "So, let me get this straight. You had a scale, you were fine. You got rid of your scale, you became anxious. (Slight smirk.) I think you need to buy a new scale."

And my jaw never closed.

People in white coats, or at professor's desks, or in the Oval Office, aren't made smart by where they ended up. Expect from them that they are narrow, that they know only the type of life that they've had, and that isn't they're fault, that you're that way too. But don't walk out of their office with your tail between your legs. Teach them what life is like for you and maybe we can all be a bit more compassionate.

And shave your fucking mustache. No one likes a mustache.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mrs. Blankenship, Get Me a Drink

Yesterday I was listening to my radio at work like I always dreamed. I always dreamed I'd be a Work Lady and have a radio at my desk, along with multicolored pens and one of those big calendars you get from an office supply store, with lots of reminders written on it. I'd also have lots of pictures in frames on my desk of my awesome life. Sometimes I feel foolish for having had those dreams, but have them I did. I think it's because my first real job was not at an ice cream stand or a car wash or the Penny Alley in Louisville (though I did buy some snap bracelets there.) My first real job was filing paperwork at my mom's office in Canton, a lovely, indiscriminate little office building of a company called EMP. It doesn't even matter what EMP stands for, because I want it to remain a perfect symbol to you; the quintessential American Office, a bastion of paper clips and furnished restrooms and water coolers and bitter forty-somethings. It was a veritable no-mans land, where daily folks went to grind their gears and make money so Johnny could play baseball and so Dad could afford a dozen donuts after Sunday mass.

This may be turning into a sentimental and surely exaggerated vision of suburban life in the early 2000's, so I'm going to stop there and continue with my original thought. The radio and all that.

Anyway, on the radio there was a commercial about cars. Something has happened to me with commercials since I started watching Mad Men. And can I just say something about Mad Men? If I could describe it in one word, I would say, OMGSOHANDSOME, but then if you gave me a second word, I would say UPSETTING. Because that is what that show is. Every night I am excited to watch a new episode on Netflix and after each episode I think to, that was upsetting. Why do we do this, TV lovers of the cosmos?

Anyhow, what Mad Men has done to me aside from questioning my own sadism is it makes me analyze commercials. What would Don Draper think of this? If I were pitching this to Don (we're on a first-name basis, just think of me as Betty except with better teeth), would he say "I like it, draw it up" or would he say "IS THAT ALL YOU HAVE? GET OUT"? How would he pitch this idea or that idea to the client? How would he start?

Anyhow I was having these thoughts as I listened to this car commercial involving little Jimmy who requests that his Pop take good care of his car because it is going to be his in 16 years when he graduates or whatever. It's a silly commercial, really. And I shook my head, thinking "I couldn't agree with you more, Don. Crap. Just crap." But suddenly, something happened. I realized.... I know this voice. Who is this voice?

You know who it was?

It was Don.

And lo, I leave you with this, because, do you like websites?

Monday, August 27, 2012

The West Wing and The Tragedy That Is My Life

Yesterday something strange but utterly predictable happened, and while I do harbor a hatred for "beating the dead horse" I also harbor a love for "baring my honest soul" and today my love for the latter has taken over. Anyway the strange thing! I was watching "The West Wing" because my mama and papa sent good ol' Aar-Baer and me the full series on DVD. Have you ever seen this full series set, like in a Best Buy or anything? They made it look like a big... well, I don't know, a big top-secret presidential file. When I opened it I instinctively looked to my right and my left to make sure no one was seeing me spy on these uncovered cold case files revealing the truth about the Russians and how Sherriff Joe is really just a cryogenically frozen Darth Vader. Top secret government secrets of the topmost nature. Anyway, no one was watching me unfold the folders of discs.

So I put in disc one and pushed play and was instantly reminded of the giggly silliness of the theme music for that show. Immediately I texted my brother to complain and he said "You must! You must push stop on the show and fast forward through the music, lest that the mood be ruined!" And he was right, but sadly it was too late. But I was eating a big leftover pancake from a previous day's breakfast, so nothing could have ruined my cheer at that particular moment.

As I was watching Episode 1 of the beginning of it all, there was a scene in which Josh is having a sandwich with another little Capitol Hill worker bee lady whom he fancies. They made no reference in their conversation to the weather, which made the weather outside their little cafe that much more endearing, because it must have been real and not "backstage." It was windy beyond windy; coats flying, hair mussing, leaves swirling. It was gray and it looked cold out there.

And that's when it happened.

Despite the record-breaking fluffiness of the Leftover Pancake, my heart audibly broke, screeching like nails on a chalkboard. It started singing Alanis Morisette and it put on heavy black eye liner, and it cried into it's pillow and went to the gym just to run through the tears. IT BROKE.

Because RAIN! RAIN, and AUTUMN, and WIND and BRICK STREETS and COLD GUSTS you have ABANDONED ME! I have been deserted in a desert of desertion, with the cruel oppressive sun and air so I dry I wake up with night nose bleeds. I began to think about the last time I was truly, genuinely, in the midst of a crisp Ohio autumn day and it occurs to me that it was THREE YEARS AGO. What a criminally long time!

The dead horse has been beaten, grass confirmed to be greener, and here you are, another blog read and not a smidgen wiser. I'm sorry, but then again I didn't click the link for you.

Come to me, autumn. Come, pumpkin spice latte and gray days. Come make me sad for no reason. But a delicious sad that gives birth to an epically self-indulgent journal entry. I am waiting for you!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

We're Melting

Ever since Phoenix started gettting these eerie dust storms last year, I have been waiting for one that would lend itself to "THEE photo" for me. Two weekends ago I was driving to a book signing with Jenny Lawson in Tempe (I'm not worthyyyy) and this is what I drove into.

Once I got in there, it looked like I was surrounded by dark blue fog and it was late evening. I even took a creepy picture of the sun through the haze but unfortunately it didn't turn out well...

It looks like it's about to swallow us all whole... like some terrible CGI from the movie "The Mummy" or something. It makes me feel much like the times when Aaron and I are driving home towards the McDowell mountains and I suddenly can't shake the image of a giant hand coming out from behind the peaks, and then a big giant standing up and looking at us. He is always dressed like Mario in these imaginings. You know, like the video game Mario. I don't know why I am sharing this, but really it's out of suspicion that you all were thinking the exact same thing.

Creepy mountain giants notwithstanding, I'm posting this photo to try to re-energize my affection for this Godforsaken southwestern state, because this is the time of year when every time my Mom calls and hears my pathetically downtrodden voice, she says "what's wrong, honey?" and all I can say is "'s so hot." Because it is. It is just ridiculous. In the morning when I wake up, I literally dread opening our back door to let the dog out, because the HOT is going to hit me in the face. I just said a little prayer for whatever person/institution I inevitably convince myself is to blame for it.

The ozone? Vegans? The Miss America contestant who rambled that one year? WHO DID THIS TO US.

But dust storms

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

You Can Tell People You Know Me

Do you ever wonder if you're just a few years away from being totally famous? I think about that all the time. I'm not sure what I'd like to be famous for, but I'd like it to be positive. Not like - omg there's that chick who fell out of a hot air balloon and landed on that kid's bouncy castle at his barmitzvah. That is what I would consider being famous "for a negative." Or possibly for "being insane." I'd rather be famous for writing a novel like The Scarlet Letter where every sentence has a double meaning and takes at least 10 minutes to read. (Writing a novel like this is something I think about every single day, actually. It is a very real, inexplicable dream.)

Anyway, do you ever think, wow, here I am stirring the spaghetti sauce and one day people are going to be like "OMG I wish I had been there when she was just standing there, stirring the spaghetti sauce. Not being famous. She had no idea."

When I was a kid I figured that when I did the proverbial "growing up" I would be the next Celine Dion, only not really a whole entire generation ahead of her because we would also have a duet album. That was back when I believed that any thought you could accomplish literally any goal that you could conceive of. (Parenting points to Ma and Pa.) Anyway, I distinctly remember using public restrooms and then afterwards thinking "I bet they will sell tickets to use that stall one day since I used it." But now that I'm an adult and infinitely wiser I see the naivete of that, because I don't think anyone could ever get to that fame level, not even Celine Dion Version 2. Like, do they sell tickets to use the public restroom stall that John Lennon used? I'm sure it's a ripoff if they do. Also, gross.

Regardless, here is a list of things I think I could conceivably become famous for:

1. The amount of times I have watched Return of the Jedi (if I had to ballpark I'd say it's about 10 times more than you)
2. The amount of anxiety I get when I realize I have laid down in bed without socks on
3. The number of times I have incorrectly used the word "ethereal"
4. My inexplicable desire to constantly use the word "ethereal"
5. My pumpkin roll (this is not a euphemism)
6. Being the only high school student in the history of ever who got in trouble for asking 'too many calculus-related questions'
7. The poster I drew in fifth grade for the fire department sign contest in which I plagiarized Blessed Union of Souls lyrics and then won a Walkman (if only you could've seen the cigarette I drew in a red circle with a line through it. Chicago Museum of Art material.)
8. The number of times I have gotten lost
9. The number of times I have called Aaron while lost to ask for help without being able to describe to him where I am (this is a fun game)
10. The number of Hostess cupcakes I have consumed in one lifetime
11. Being a 25-year-old woman who has not read Twilight
12. Remaining a Republican after attending Ohio University
13. Remaining sober after attending Ohio University
14. My intensely boring personality (please see 12 and 13)
15. Not really getting what the big deal is about Ryan Gosling

Coincidentally this diatribe is making me think about how one time I wrote in my journal that the sweetest thing Aaron ever did was grabbing my face and saying very forcefully to me, "Maria. You are not weird." This is not meant to say that Aaron doesn't do anything sweet. I genuinely mean that this touched me possibly more than anything else he's ever said. Because I am afraid I'm weird. Like, bad weird. Bad famous weird. I don't know. Maybe eating all those Hostess cupcakes is just part of being a human being. We may never know.

Unless this list actually makes me famous. Call me, LA Times!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Adding to the Noise

Lately I've been locking myself in our back room and trying to write songs. I like to sing and play guitar and all that cliched nonsense, in case I haven't told you yet. Actually, it's kind of the one thing I like to do most. I sang in Catholic church when I was young and I sing at our church now, and in college I sang all the time, to the point at which my roommates had to codify rules regarding when singing was and was not permitted. (It was more about when the singing of CELINE was or was not permitted but that's just splitting hairs, because 99% of my repertoire is Celine. Not really, but kind of. )

So I've been trying to write and trying to believe in that whole idea that forcing myself to stare at walls until something comes out will work. (By "something comes out" I mean until a song comes out of my brain, not until something comes out of the walls, although I wouldn't be totally against that happening because it would probably be good material for a song.) But I keep asking myself this horrible question, and I know it's not helping with the creativity flow problem. But really - what if I have nothing to add?

On my way to work I listen to KLove, which is the most cheesiest of the cheesy Christian radio stations in all the land. I love how it makes me feel. It feels like a nice, soft hug that says "mmmm, mornings are hard. That's ok. Let's just ease into it." But the songs! I can't speak to the hearts of these artists, obviously.  And I'm worried that what I'm getting at here is a bit judgmental, but it is important to me to flesh this out. The songs are really, really terrible for the most part. They are the exact same as the one that plays before them and the one that plays after them. Same 4-5 chords, even. Same tempo, same exact lyrics in many cases. They're shallow and sometimes they don't even have a cohesive thought - they're just a bunch of "Christian phrases" strung together ("I stand amazed at You"/"You saved me from the storm (there is always a storm)"/"Jesus we love you" etc.etc.)

Are all these hundreds upon hundreds of artists really adding anything? Is it wrong to wonder if their time might be better spent elsewhere, in a 'profession' that every moody twentysomething with Garage Band and a Jesus tattoo is not trying to get into? And what about me? Could I possibly have something to add? Is it presumptuous to even ask that?

I do recognize that even the most bland, unoriginal song can still mean the world to someone because of the moment they hear it or who they're with or how it happens to touch them that one time. And maybe that's something? But is that worth me spending hours trying to write music when I could be spending those hours volunteering at the hospital or visiting the nursing home or some such tangible "giving up of my time"?

When I've run into this panicky type of frustration before, I've convinced myself that when we're trying to decipher a calling, we should read into what we like to do and what we're good at. I like to sing and I'm good at it. But could that really be all that's required? Turn on the TV - EVERYONE likes to sing. Not everyone is good at it, but A LOT of people are. So what now?

It's hard when you believe in God and Satan, because in the back of my mind during all this identity crisis nonsense I have to wonder if this is just Satan trying to get me off my game. Because it's hard to be creative when I'm simultaneously thinking about there being "nothing new under the sun" and the fact that it's pretty noisy out there anyway, so what will one more strum really contribute?

But then also in the back of my mind I have to wonder if this is God, giving me a bit of a nudge. Last night I read this:

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others." - Philippians 2:3

So? Is my music really "in the interest of others"? Is it just something I like to do? Are those two things aligned in this case?

OH MY GOSH. Remember that Switchfoot song - "If we're adding to the noise/turn off this song." Was that feigned self-sabotage or pure genius? MAN, IF THEY HADN'T WRITTEN THAT MAYBE I COULD HAVE, BUT THEY DID AND I DIDN'T AND THAT'S WHY LIFE IS UNFAIR. ("You know, the first time I saw the iPod, I just... I really could've kicked myself.")

And suddenly I need a nice, warm, predictable hug from mid-morning KLove.