Thursday, January 31, 2008

The next stereotype to take on, and by "take on," I mean enjoy

But first, here is something that happened to me this week that I think you should know about:

On Tuesday, I walked into the office, sat down at my desk, and had two hours of work marbled liberally with procrastination (work ethic is like a good steak, which is why Chewy was lazy—ok, the analogy doesn’t work). At 10, when I got up for my usual trip to the commode (which makes bathroom sound much cooler than it really is—like maybe it’s got fog lights, lasers and one of those ball-pits from McDonalds playlands), I looked in the mirror and saw that my undershirt was not only inside-out, but also backwards, which left the tag front and center between the collar of my button-down, fluttering like the awkward tie on one of those newfangled prom tuxedos.

I think that’s worse than having your fly unzipped, and here’s why: throughout the course of a day, everyone zips and unzips his fly—you forget one time and whoops, your fly is down. But do people strip out of their undershirts and turn them inside out every day? Every time you go to the bathroom? Yeah, me neither. Except on Tuesday, when I had to because it was already inside-out and so turning it inside-out from there would be turning it rightside-in. This story sucks. I’ll stop telling it now.

I saw this cool meme at a couple places on the blogonet, and it seems to work well for everyone. Try it out, even if you don’t post it.

The Band Meme

The first article title on the page is the name of your band.

The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.

The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

So, my results?

Band name: Pribilof Canyon
Album name: Details of Outer Life

And that’s pretty neat. What’d you get?

But on to more serious matters. Exploring some sexual stereotypes was fun for a couple of posts, but then the women start whining (and I can’t blame them, I mean, they are women) and the men get angry and go build something in the garage, and the women start cooking dinner with a lot of extra banging around of pots and pans and the occasional shrieked curse.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other stereotypes we can enjoy. Stereotypes are fun for the whole family, and something we should all appreciate. After all, our great nation’s history is marked with many wonderful stereotypes: slaves until 1865, women couldn’t vote until 1920, and people hate Michael Jackson because he is white.

For today however, let’s focus on a more pleasant stereotype that’s not only profound but also aesthetically pleasing. Ladies and gentlemen: ghetto booty.

I don’t know what it is in the black genome, but some black women have an unparalleled ability to swell out in the backseat like they’re wearing a headless snowman sideways in their pants.

My family is mostly Irish, and therefore most of us are pasty white. Some few of us, however, are darkly-complected, and the family rumor is (no, not a hot Jamaican milkman) that we’re partly black Irish (those are the Moors from Spain who were blown off-course with the Armada in 1588 and ended up in Ireland, where they got busy with the red-headed lasses).

And now, to equal measures chagrin and delight, my sister has been told that she “rocks ghetto booty.” And I? I couldn’t be prouder. We are now a truly egalitarian family, a real slice of American life (dare I say homeslice? No, I guess I dursen’t).

It is a stretch, of course, to call my sister’s a ghetto booty. There are several women in my office who would put her to shame, real genuine thunder-thighs. These women, all attractive from the waist up, make you forget about attractive or unattractive when you see them from the rear. The only reaction is one of awe, awe before the might of two globes so ponderous that when they work out, they don’t even need an exercise ball to sit on because they’ve already got two.

But I wish my sister luck, hopeful that one day she’ll be able to join this group, the widest, wildest women in America:

[picture removed at the instruction of my sister]

Thanks for stopping by on stereotype Thursday.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Men are from Mars; Women are Retarded, Part Two

In the last post, I gave you the rundown on everything a girl needs to know about dating protocol, every pansexual ounce of wisdom I had gleaned from blogs and comments innumerable. Today, I am pleased to bring you the other half of the story.

You know what women are thinking. Now I will tell you what the men are thinking.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid many of you will be disappointed with the answer here: Jerry Seinfeld was right. You want to know what men are thinking? … nothing.

If a guy doesn’t call a girl after a date, and then calls six days later and says, “sorry, I forgot to call…” he’s probably not playing mind games. He probably forgot.

Men cannot understand women because women are complicated and emotional and irrational.

Women cannot understand men because men are honest.


Woman: Which earrings look better with this dress?
Man (doesn’t know): I don’t know.
Woman (thinking): Oh my gosh, what is he getting at? Which ones did I have on first? Which ones are more like the ones I wore on our first date? Why is he being so complicated?
Man (thinking while scratching his butt): Princess Leia was kind of freaky-nasty for making out with her brother, remember, in Empire Strikes Back?
Woman (thinking): His silent treatment is stressing me so badly—ugh, I’m about to break out.
Man (thinking): I hope she didn’t hear me just fart.

In a way, the differences between men and women boil down to their very different understanding of a few words and phrases. These are they:

Spontaneous (for men): unexpected; without effort or premeditation; unplanned. Spontaneous activities for men include surprising a girl with flowers, adlibbing profanity at a karaoke bar, and taking a dump after heading to the bathroom just to pee.

Spontaneous (for women): really pleasant things that guys do for them, usually with some prompting or set-up by the woman. For example, if a woman receives a compliment on, say, a necklace, she will wear it again at a later date, knowing that the man will spontaneously compliment her. If he says nothing immediately, she will draw attention to the necklace so that he can give her a spontaneous compliment.

This word can cause special confusion in the case of pregnancy.

“Meet my friends” (for men): meet my friends, talk to them, hang out with them. They are cool people that I get along with, and I’d expect you to get along with them too.

“Meet my friends” (for women): I am taking this relationship seriously, and I think you might be “the one” for me. I am stressed to the extreme about how you will all get along, but if it goes well, you could meet my parents as soon as next week.

Which brings us to “The One” (for women): a guy who has twinkly eyes, rubs the small of your back, picks up his own dirty socks and pays for your cab. Oh yeah, and also you get along really well.

“The One” (for men): an underrated Jet Li movie with some intense ass-kicking scenes. Some cheesy animation shots take away from a pretty solid kung-fu shoot-’em-up.

“The game” (for women): the dating scene. The whole complicated process that takes so long to get “back in” after you find out that your boyfriend sometimes uses dirty silverware and have to break up with him.

“The game” (for men): is on tonight at 7 and I’m going to drink beer and watch it. Or did you mean that really trippy Michael Douglas movie?

“Fine” (for men): fine.

“Fine” (for women): I can’t believe you are such a dick. I’m not talking about this any more.

“This whole post is ridiculous” (for men): who cares? Yes, everyone knows they’re irrational; there’s no need to obsess about it.

“This whole post is ridiculous” (for women): How did you attain such immense and piercing insight into the female psyche? How?! Can I be with you? Are you “the one” that I’ve been wading through “the game” for? Will you please meet my friends, spontaneously?

Friday, January 25, 2008

For real, like, for real

This week, there have been multiple posts here and there that I've come across, wherein people (girls) have batshit ideas, I mean, bat ideas back and forth on the subject of dating or pre-dating intersexual communication. Well.

As far as I can tell, the following are the important strategies to take away from these girl-on-girl brainstorming sessions. Just so we're clear, these are not multiple choice questions, these are all positively the right thing to do.

On whether to text him:
1. Do not, ever, even if he texts you first. Wait for him to text you first.
2. Text him.
A. If he responds, ignore him; he is desperate.
B. If he doesn't respond, ignore him; he is a dick.
3. If he texts you first, text him, but only after waiting three days or at least ten minutes.
4. Text him tonight, but only if you're not drinking.
5. Only text him if you're drunk.

On giving out your number:
1. Do not give him your number unless you would go on a date with him.
Exception: if you have a boyfriend but don't want to hurt this guy's feelings, you can give him your number.
2. Give him your number if you would regret not giving it later, even if he doesn't ask.
3. Don't give him your number unless he asks, unless you are dating someone else and he looks lonely so you give him your number never planning to answer any of his calls.
4. Give him your number if he is wearing a yellow jacket.

If he calls you:
1. Don't answer, but call him back if he leaves a message.
2. Don't answer the first time, but if he calls back, answer.
3. Don't answer the first two times, and if he calls a third time, answer and say, "stop calling me, creep!"
4. Answer and pretend to be a sushi delivery service. If he suddenly becomes more interested, tell him it is shark sushi. If he still doesn't hang up, tell him they are live sharks.
5. Answer and make a date for at least two days later. Call your girlfriend to make plans for the same night.
6. Invite him over right then for a movie and possibly foreplay.

About that date:
1. Do not cancel unless it is raining or a day with a "U" in it. This is a sign from God that you should make a "U-turn" on this "relatiunship".
2. Keep it simple, like meeting for a drink or movie.
3. Don't do a movie for a first date, there is no time for conversation. Do dinner.
4. Don't do dinner; it's too long and expensive if the date turns out to be a dud.
5. Do dinner at a nice place with a good wine list. See if he's stingy.
6. Do dinner at a local joint. Go dutch.
7. Never go dutch on a first date.
8. Agree to a second date if he has pretty eyes or is a professional athlete or if he didn't try to sell you drugs during the date.
Exception: If you think he was joking about the drugs, or if you actually bought some drugs, you can accept a second date.
Exception to the exception: If they were low quality drugs, no second date.

If he calls after the first date within 48 hours:
1. Tell him you had a great time, but you just got out of a serious relationship, and you don't date circus performers anyway.
2. Propose, then back off it, then start crying.
3. Insist on paying for the second date.
4. Insist that just because he is paying for the second date does not mean you will put out. Say, "the only thing I will put out is your libido, you pervert." After you're engaged, tell him you were joking.
5. Ask him why he's been so distant, and if he is seeing other women.

If he calls you after the first date after 48 hours have passed:
1. Ask him which side of his family he got the asshole gene from.
2. Tell him you're glad to hear from him, and that a family member just died.
3. Threaten to kill yourself if he doesn't give you more attention.
4. Say "well, well, well," after everything he says until he gets exasperated and hangs up. Mix in "well, well, well, you dick!" every so often.
5. Offer him a few excuses like "I'm sure you've been busy," and ask him if he's ever had a threesome. Immediately hang up and change your number.

If he doesn't call:
1. What do you mean? You should have called him the next morning.
2. Send him a text after a week.
3. Never text him.
4. Wait to see him in a social setting and try to spit in his drink or kick him in the crotch if possible. Doing both is a bonus.
5. Pretend he is calling, and you are ignoring it.
6. He didn't deserve you, and you're glad he didn't call.
7. Unless he's really cute. Then, hopefully, he'll call one of these days.

Meme the second

The perfect outfit: tuxedo, baseball uniform or naked, I'm good either way
The perfect meal: Chicago-style deep dish stuffed pizza from Gepetto's with sausage, pepperoni, spinach and onions
The perfect hangover cure: a shot and a beer
The perfect road trip: Route 66, baby, for sure. Chicago to LA, convertible top down, music up.
The perfect facial feature: two nostrils. when people just have one big one, it freaks me out.
The perfect drink: Gin and tonic in a low-slung on the beach
The perfect song: Romeo & Juliet by Dire Straits
The perfect sign of affection: the smile that no one else sees
The perfect afternoon: on a wide deck with a fresh keg on ice, music and kickass people
The perfect vacation: a month through Europe
The perfect invention: When I've figured that out, I'll let you know. and make a bunch of money.
The perfect type of wedding: my family
The perfect album: U2 - All that you can't leave behind
The perfect accent: cherries on chocolate cheesecake (am I right, or what?)
The perfect date: August 3rd - I'm not finished - Cubs game, Wrigley Field, thankyouveryuch
The perfect party: Republican? No, again, a family wedding.
The perfect sport: baseball, hands down, no doubt.
The perfect thing to say: "Has anyone ever told you that you look like Kellie Pickler but with a bigger nose?"
The perfect day of the week: today.

Oh jeez, I just read my "best drink" one. Yeah, that was supposed to be "low-slung chair," so... sorry about that.

Meme the first

Ok, so I've got a couple memes to bust out before I get to an actual post that I wanted to put up, so I'm going to whip through these real quick, doubtless leaving you unsatisfied and disappointed with me as a person.

Then again, I'm disappointed with you, too. I mean, I know that last post was long, but it was a profound experience for me, and one which actually happened (unlike some other stories here), and only four of you liked it? Well, thanks to the four, anyway. You guys are cool. I like you too.

4 Things Meme

4 Jobs I've had in my life:
1. Copy Editor/Office bitch for a small publishing house in Chicago
2. Call center for an insurance agency
3. Writer/Reporter/Blogger for selfsame agency
4. Once I weeded my grandma's driveway and she gave me $20

4 movies I've watched more than once:
1. Jurassic Park
2. Finding Forrester
3. That Thing You Do
3. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

4 places where I have lived:
1. Chicago
2. Dallas
3. Rome
4. Nope, that's all.

4 TV Shows that I watch:
1. Arrested Development
2. The Office
3. Scrubs
4. Deal or No Deal sucks, really really sucks, but it's always on at my house

4 places I have been
1. the Grand Canyon
2. the top of the Eiffel Tower
3. swimming inside the blue grotto in Capri, which is the most beautiful place in the world by far
4. never been to New York, LA, Boston, Miami or Philly

4 things you might not know about me
1. I have killed two deer, after which I gutted, skinned and butchered them
2. Except for alchol episodes, I haven't thrown up since I was a baby
3. I like sausage pizza better than pepperoni pizza
4. This question is really hard for me - took longer than all the other ones put together

4 places I would rather be right now
1. Michigan
2. Hawaii
3. Paris
4. anywhere warm in the Caribbean

4 things I am looking forward to this year
1. going to San Francisco in two weeks
2. baseball tryouts
3. moving out
4. Christmas

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Memories of Ireland

I was fortunate enough to spend a semester abroad my sophomore year of college, studying at our campus in Rome. I was more fortunate still to be able to hop the pond before the semester started and spend a week “doing” Ireland. Dublin, Galway, Cork, Blarney, Killarney, Waterford, Dublin, in a neat little circle around the ass-end of the Emerald Isle.

I stood dangerously close to the edge of the Cliffs of Moher, I kissed the Blarney Stone, I got hammered in Temple Bar. But let me tell you, the most memorable time of my trip, without a doubt, was our time in Killarney.

The bus from Limerick was a little bit late—we got into Killarney around 1 pm (that’s myself plus my friends Jake and James), and spent an hour or so walking from one hostel to another, hoping to make reservations.

The town is breathtaking—think even cobbled streets, ALL one- or two-story buildings, all painted bright white with trim in various bright colors: red, green, blue, orange. I swear every building in the entire town looked like it had been painted that week. Behind the rows of even buildings the mountains of Killarney National Forest rose wide and green against the sharp August blue sky. The sun was bright, there were flowers in front of every building, and kids (including some who had to be at least sixteen-seventeen) were playing, shouting and dancing in the square. I swear, no exaggeration, there were people just dancing and singing in the streets on a random (as far as I know) afternoon.

We didn’t find any hostel with room, but we didn’t get too down. How could we? And then Jake had the idea.

“Let’s go camp in the forest! We can rent horses, ride up into the mountains, pitch a tent, and sit around a fire watching the stars,” he said. James and I immediately latched onto the idea like newborns to a nipple. It was the best plan ever; nothing else mattered. This would be something we could always remember, something we could tell our grandchildren.

As we talked it over, and moved from shop to shop, the plan expanded to include renting fishing gear for the wide blue lakes, and downgraded from horses to bikes (horses are damn expensive to rent, and we were poor as hell). We picked up fishing rods and bikes at one store, a small two-man tent (60 euros) at another, and made a last stop at a grocery store before heading out of town to pick up bread, cheese and a few sausages to go with the fresh fish we’d be nabbing. And each of us grabbed a bottle of wine.

Then? We were off. First along the long paved road to the park’s entrance, and then in, with a rush, swooping below the long branches along surprisingly-well manicured trails, up and up and in. Five miles passed, then ten. The air was so clean you felt like you were a better person just for breathing it. At twelve miles we passed the most British-Irish man I have ever seen, riding the opposite direction with his son. Both were wearing long gray pants, a tie and a tweed jacket with elbow pads. Both had the perfect Irish caps, brim forward. And both rode with backs perfectly straight. As the man approached, I noticed a heavy five o’clock shadow, but I was distracted by the sound of his little squeeze-horn, which he solemnly tooted twice as he passed. I was pretty sure at this point that I had left reality and entered the dream-world.

Some way up the mountain, we reached a zenith of the path, the very furthest curve around a two-mile wide lake. We slung the bikes aside, baited the hooks with some of our cheese, crawled out on little bouldered peninsulas, and cast. Afternoon stretched, yawned.

Half an hour in, Jake had a bite. Immediately, he stood up on his island-rock and leaned back against the pull. “It’s a big one!” he cried, reeling furiously. He reeled and pulled, pulled and reeled. It wasn’t moving at all. “It’s not moving at all,” I whispered from where I sat on a big fallen tree that stretched into the water.

“It’s not moving at all,” Jake yelled, and gave it a mighty heave. Pop! came the line from the water. Jake stumbled, didn’t fall, pulled in the end, and found no hook. Did it get away? No. “The hook was caught on a rock,” Jake said. We were disappointed. Over the next hour, we caught several more rocks, but didn’t lose any more hooks, thankfully.

And then, at five minute intervals, the “we should get going” impulse coursed through our group, each time a little more strongly than the time before. The “we haven’t caught anything yet, come on” feeling put up a fight, though. Too good a fight. By the time we had resigned ourselves to failure at fishing and decided to go, the sun was sitting on the very brink of the horizon. We had to hurry.

Back to the bikes, pack up the rods, ride a couple hundred yards up the trail with the lake on our right and a ridge to our left. We lifted the bikes and made off through the woods, up the ridge… which spilled down in front of us on the other side to another lake, and no more than thirty yards out, an island, steep and forested, eighty yards by twenty. We scrambled down the hill toward what we were sure would be the perfect campsite. And wonder of wonders! a canoe lay tethered to the shore in front of us.

The “can we borrow it?” attacks of conscience yielded to “we’ll bring it right back” as soon as the first fat raindrops smacked against our necks. Our fingers flew at the knots, and we almost had her in the water when the clouds opened and it started really, really raining. We left the boat half in the water, following the new inexorable impulse that James voiced with his voice cracking: “get the fuck out of here!”

Back up the ridge we scrambled, slipping. It was full-fledged twilight now, and full-fledged downpour. By the time we found a place flat enough for the tent and out of sight of the trail (we had to be out of sight, because, oh, didn’t I tell you? it’s illegal to camp in the national park), it was dark. It was nighttime, it was getting colder. The rain hadn’t lessened.

I’m sure you know how complicated it is to put together a tent, all the pegs and rods and sheets and pieces in the right order. It’s even harder when you know ahead of time that you have thirty seconds to look at the instructions in the dark before they disintegrate in the rain. Still, we were desperate, and we worked like it. Within ten minutes, the tent was up. It was black outside now. We couldn’t see where we had left the bikes, but that could be left for tomorrow.

Jake, always the Nazi (fortunately in this case), insisted that we take our boots off before we come inside, so we each stepped in one foot at a time—take off a boot, put that foot in, balance on that foot to take the other boot off—kind of a perverse hokey-pokey. Soon enough, the three of us? In. The idea of a fire? Out. And we were cold and all of our clothes were wet.

Jackets came off first, they were damp and restricting, but pants followed soon after. We broke into the food, arranging little sausage and cheese sandwiches that really weren’t bad. James sighed. “Too bad we couldn’t catch any-”

“Shut up,” Jake and I chorused. “I need a drink,” Jake said, and pulled a bottle of wine from his backpack.

“Mmm,” I said.

“Good idea,” said James.

“Do you guys have a corkscrew?” said Jake.

“Fuckin shit,” we all said together.

We ate some more, but no one finished his share. We were suddenly concerned with saving our resources, conserving what we had, keeping some for more desperate times. I looked around at the other guys and wondered if Donner party hallucinations were dancing in their heads, too. This was getting bad. “Guys, we need to figure out how to open that wine,” I said.

“I heard you can bang it against a tree, and if it’s the right angle, it’ll just snap off clean,” said Jake. James said he didn’t feel like drinking slivers of glass that night, though, so the idea was out. Each of us sat with our bottle, staring at it, turning it back and forth like so many dumb animals. Then Jake started pushing his cork in with his thumb.

“Oh yeah!” I said, “that’ll totally work.” The three of us heaved to, pushing and turning and bracing and pushing. The corks moved in an eighth of an inch, and then a quarter inch. That was all. Thumbs are wider than wine bottle necks, did you know that? I will never forget that. We needed a stick.

We drew straws (actually, we drew pieces of cheese that Jake held). I got the biggest, which I was happy about, because I was still hungry. (I knew the first one to starve to death would be the first one devoured by his tent-mates.) But drawing the biggest also meant I was the one who had to get a stick. Of course I was only wearing underpants, socks, a t-shirt and a vest, so my plan was just to reach out into the rain and look for a stick right outside the door.

“Good thing the rain let up,” I said, and it had. But it wasn’t a good thing. The zipper purred open and I stuck my arm out into the drizzle. There! I could see a stick. And ow! OW!

I grabbed the stick, yanked it back into the tent, and slapped, waved, slapped hard at my arm. The little bugs fell left and right. From my elbow down, I had about forty little red bites. In five seconds. And they hurt like hell. But we had the stick. Sure, it was a little rotten, sure it was muddy. But within a minute, three bottles were open, and that was good news.

After a spill or two, we discovered that you can only get a smooth pour by flipping the bottle totally upside down so the cork floats to the top—otherwise the cork will block the wine. So there we sat for the next hour, watching each other chug huge swallows of wine, giggling, and shivering.

More clothes had to come off, and I was past embarrassment at that point. I stripped off my wet socks, my wet shirt, and was left with only my tighty-whities. It was better. Not good, but better. Jake and James followed suit soon after, and we bundled all of our clothes at one end of the tent. It was getting colder.

The wine was gone all too soon, and we lay down on our backs, shoulder to shoulder, each wishing we had broken the budget and bought a second bottle. I was on the left, with Jake in the middle to my right and James on the other side. It was getting colder.

When Jake turned onto his side to face James, I knew what I had to do. I was nervous, but I knew I had to do it. I slowly turned to face him, tucked my knees a little bit, and started inching closer to him. Soon my knees hit the back of his thighs. Then my left hand found his top shoulder.

I felt him tense. “Dude,” he said. I paused, waited. We shivered in unison. Or maybe it was a shudder. “All right,” he said. I felt like a lecherous duke in a Victorian novel, but shame has no place in survival situations. Soon my chest was against his back, my shins on his calves, my pelvis grating slowly towards his on the wet floor.

When my hip bones touched his butt-cheeks, I swear he groaned a little bit, equal parts comfort and horror. This woke up James, who looked over, sat up a little bit, and gave me a look to say “I’m glad I wasn’t the one who had to suggest it.” I pretended my eyes were closed and I couldn’t see him. He turned away, but only so he could back it on up into Jake’s front. We lay there, gradually relaxing our bodies, which had been completely tensed, and realized that we could feel each other breathe.

There were awkward seconds while we wordlessly tried out synchronizing our breathing, but soon enough these were abandoned. We could sleep.

I wish that were all. I wish the sun had come out just then, that it could have been morning. But there are a lot of things I wish about that night.

It got colder. We got colder. One by one we woke up, less than halfway through the night. Awkwardness was gone. We were grinding into each other trying to get warm.

I sat up, pushed Jake and James close together, lifted Jake’s arm from around James’s chest, and lay on top of the two of them, draping Jake’s arm up over my back. There were no complaints.

Every half-hour or so, we changed positions, top-man dropping to inner spoon, inner spoon to outer spoon, and outer spoon to top-man. We squeezed ourselves together as closely as three people possibly can. Was the red wine breath we all shared pleasant? No. Did it annoy me that James seemed slippery sometimes when I was on top (what the fuck, is he sweating?!)? Yes. Was there a hole in the ass of my underpants that made my playing the inner spoon even more suggestive? Yes. Were there awkward arousal moments? If so, I have completely blocked them from my memory. No, really completely. Did our feet smell? Did we smell? Yes, yes.

But would I have traded my two little hot-water-bottles for anything in the world? Maybe a space heater, but other than that? No.

So we cycled and turned, trying equally to absorb the others’ body heat and bestow our own. At one point, I think I suggested removing our underpants to use them for blankets, but skimpy underpants would have been too insubstantial.

When the first gray light of dawn tickled the tent-top, we rolled apart. I felt for a split second like I ought to give them a good morning kiss. Jake tried a joke or two, but we were too bitter, too tired and too frightened to laugh. We dressed in silence, like we were all doing the walk of shame, but from each other.

James told us the story of a nightmare he had had, about a murderer who had left a body in the boat. Jake then noticed his knife was missing. We were mostly delirious as we opened the tent, half-expecting a crazy-eyed murderer. That would have been better than what we got. The bugs from the night before were still there, and with a vengeance.

We slapped and cursed, screaming at each other to “fucking pack that faster!” When we had found the bikes, packed the tent and all our things, and made it halfway around the lake on the way back down, Jake stopped to take a picture of the sunset. I wished I could cry, but the trauma was still too close to me. All I could manage was a broken cough.

The bites from the bugs were the worst that any of us had gotten—they took more than a week to stop hurting—and each of us had hundreds. The rashes and chafing from riding fifteen miles in soaking pants were none too pleasant either. But they were physical wounds, and physical wounds? They would heal.

I knew it was going to be an experience I could remember forever.

I thought it was going to be a story I could tell my grandchildren. Maybe when they’re grown up.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Anything you can do, I can do better... wait, should this be a meme?

I believe I am better than you—you should know that by now, but if you don’t, well, there it is. I’ve got the whole Catholic self-righteous thing going, I think I’m clever and funny and good-looking. I’m the complete package.

But just to be sure you know, I want to present a list, for your pleasure and awe, of things that I can do better than you.

1. Play the vocabulary game at (I got a 46.)
2. Throw a baseball. (I can throw a baseball 90-92 mph.)
3. Hold my breath (3 minutes, 10 seconds).
4. Eat a lot of Chinese food (2 pounds).
5. Eat a lot of pizza (just over 2 pounds).
6. Be tall.
7. Drink many beers in one hour (9).
8. Whistle really loudly without using my fingers.
9. Dunk a basketball (I do need to use my fingers for that).
10. Wear one article of clothing for a long time (I’ve had a pink bracelet on for more than two years).

Ok, now for the real reason. I didn’t just have an overwhelming need to tell you that just because. I’m not that pathologically self-absorbed (almost, though—I’m working on it).

The real reason is that I want to know what you’re better at than me. What are the unusual talents that you have? Are they useless or practical? Exotic or mundane? Are you boastful of them, secretly proud, or ambivalent?

I remember when I was in grade school being very proud of the fact that I knew ALL the swear words, and that I could use them all in one sentence, which I whispered gleefully to any of my friends who would listen: “If you don’t stop acting like a GD bloody son of a bitch, I’m gonna kick your f---ing ass to hell, you piece of shit.” Later I found out that the lexicon of obscenity was a little bit larger than I had realized, but at the time, you know what? I was smug about my knowledge. I figured most grown-ups didn’t even know that many swearwords and I knew no kids knew that many.

So come on, you’ve got that feeling about something. Don’t lie. Maybe it’s stupid, maybe you think it’s cool but you’re afraid other people will think it’s stupid, whatever. What is it?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My hair. No, I'm not gay. Well, not that gay.

I never look in the mirror in the morning. I mean, I might catch a glimpse as I'm brushing my teeth or something, but I don't usually shave in the mornings, I've never plucked, trimmed or otherwise adjudicated my eyebrows, and I don't brush or comb my hair.

Usually, I am in my car on my way to work within fifteen minutes of waking up. Some people are surprised at this, but I don't really see why it would take any longer. I wake up, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, put clothes on, sometimes grab a piece of toast or something for breakfast (usually not), and then leave... Why does it take people longer? I mean, hell, how much makeup do girls really need to put on?

Anyway, I was washing my hands in the bathroom at work today and noticed a giant plume of hair sticking straight out from the back corner of my head. So I guess that's why people look in the mirror in the morning. Hm.

Ehh, I still don't think it's worth it, honestly. Unless my hair is longer and a bad hair day would be not only embarrassing (don't really care), but also a significant distraction for coworkers, or anyone else who sees me that day.

Speaking of which, I am thinking about not cutting my hair for a while. I always cut my own hair, and usually I just buzz it all off, then forget about it until it starts getting long and curly and tangly and puffy and then cut it all off again. Since I graduated from college, I've kept it pretty short, but I'm thinking I might let it go again. So what do y'all think, short or long? I could put up pictures (of the options), but is that safe? Is it? Is it?

Also, everybody, apparently this week is delurking week. So leave a comment. What better opportunity to tell me whether you think I look better as a fop or a skinhead, am I right? Yes I am.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Grow up, people

I was reading the comments on KLC's post - she's wondering where to get married, what kind of church, etc. - and a few of the comments reminded me of something that my mom said yesterday at our regular whole-family Sunday dinner: a lot of people like to say that they're Catholic, but not actually live according to the guidelines of the Church.

Catholics have a lot of rules - more than Protestants - and there's no sense in pretending otherwise. It is a precept of the Church that Catholics attend Mass on Sunday, EVERY SUNDAY. If a Catholic knowingly misses Mass on Sunday without good reason (tiredness and good football do not qualify), it's a mortal sin. The life of God in the person's soul is smothered and he/she is removed from the state of grace.

If a Catholic uses contraception, it is a mortal sin. Abortion is a mortal sin. If the person dies outside the state of grace (with grave sin and no confession), he/she goes to hell forever. That's Catholic doctrine.

And here's one to try on for size: there are certain requirements for a Catholic marriage. The marriage must be open to new life (no contraception), the parents must intend to raise their children in the Faith, and both husband and wife must recognize that the marriage bond is permanent, no matter how they feel about it ten years down the road. If these conditions are not met, the marriage is not valid. Anyone who recommends breezing through marriage classes secretly reserving the right to "change your mind" is recommending invalidating a Catholic marriage.

KLC, I'm not addressing this to you in the least. If you're not Catholic, obviously the particular rules of the Church don't apply to you.

Also, this is not my opinion. These aren't necessarily the rules that I think are best. These are the rules that the Catholic Church has established.

I can understand that some people might disagree with some of them. But if that's the case, don't bother to call yourself a Catholic. Why bother? If you believe something else, go believe it, but don't mislead about your beliefs.

When you say you're Catholic, it means something. It means something very specific. It means you accept the authority of the Pope in Rome and the authority of the bishops in your country.

For better or worse, the Catholic Church has never been relativistic, and the moral code doesn't change from country to country or parish to parish. Some rules are just rules, even if you can find a loose enough priest to say he can bend them (God knows not all priests are perfect, or even close).

So a clarification here of things that some people who profess to be Catholic also inexplicably condone.

Pre-Marital Sex = mortal sin.
Contraception = mortal sin.
Missing Mass on a Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation = mortal sin.
Abortion = mortal sin and automatic excommunication from the Church.
Supporting abortion as a politician = mortal sin.
Voting for a pro-choice political candidate because he/she is pro-choice = mortal sin.
Receiving the Eucharist while in the state of mortal sin = mortal sin.
Hell = real.

Ok, that's it. Thanks guys.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The post is short, like my attention span-- span, span, haha, spic and span means clean, haha I just said 'spic'-- sorry.

Oh, dudes (and dudettes), I'm totally sorry. I meant to delight you with postings today, but guess what? I had to blog for my company. Hm. Bet you didn't know that.

Yeah, I just got the position of managing content for our blog, so I'm soaking a different corner of the internet with my creative juices. Plus, I can't tell any of you folks where it is, because my NAME is on it, and for all I know, you are all homicidal psycho killer mutant snow-goons. And/or everyone could discover my true identity, which I probably wouldn't really care about, but maybe I'm just not ready to take our relationship to that level. Am I so wrong?

[we're in the middle of a romantic time-piece movie now-- and not 'timepiece' as in a watch, but as in 'period piece.' And not 'period piece' as in something about punctuation or menstruation. None of either is allowed here! I am a man! No periods! Period!]

ok, I guess I got too distracted by the introduction; we're no longer in a period piece (ew, now I keep thinking of some creepy advertisement for "boy-cut briefs: the period piece"-- great. this is not what I had in mind when I wanted to keep it brief).

So much for any semblance of order or decency. Like any good rodeo or bathroom, this post has turned into a chaos of activity with clowns, loud music, and just enough manure to keep your imagination fertile. Ok, I have to go, I feel like I'm on crack.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A summary of the campaigns, for you politically ignorant

First of all, the primaries in New Hampshire are today. The Granite State leaps to the forefront! Wait a minute, I'm sorry, could you please pick a more boring state nickname? Jeez, even Missouri's, which I don't understand (Show-me State? What? Show me what?) is better than the Granite State. It's like, duh, blah! Maybe call it the Clay State, or the Dull State, or the State of Apathy.

But anyway, since I'm sure none of you know who any of the candidates are, I will list them and explain their platforms:


1. Barack Obama. Obama, who believes himself to be the most charming of the candidates (except for Edwards, who is gay and doesn't count), is the candidate of change. This is why he thinks he can be the first black man to win the presidency. Paradoxically, Obama refuses to changes his name, which is almost identical to America's ultimate-enemy-terrorist-megalord.

2. Hillary Clinton. Clinton has a frightening face, which, when combined with the gruesome contortions of her feminine weeping-on-stage, will certainly frighten terrorists and children far more than the George-W-I'm-happy-go-lucky-and-also-sorta-dumb look. Hillary is very well-educated and intelligent, which is why she married Bill Clinton, a marquee husband.

3. John Edwards. Edwards is the socialist candidate, who believes in ruling with an iron fist and softly coiffed hair. His inspirations are the Lion King, Vladimir Lenin, and Jesus. Is also gay.

4. Other democrats. There's that one crazy guy who thought he saw a UFO, and maybe some other ones, but no one really cares.


1. John McCain. John McCain served honorably in Vietnam, but wasn't a good enough soldier to escape capture. Since his return in 1982, he has lost every presidential election, and had a large cancerous mole removed from his head. He is the only Republican that doesn't hate Mexicans.

2. Mitt Romney. Romney's positions are difficult to determine, as he has waffled on pro-choice vs. pro-life, Mormons=polygamists vs. Mormons=monogamous, and waffles vs. pancakes. He is extremely rich, and in his campaign he has repeatedly vowed to use his wealth for his campaign. He is appealing in that creepy-uncle kind of way.

3. Mike Huckabee. Mike Huckabee used to be a fat preacher, but he fell away from the faith and carbs. He spurred himself to a stunning victory in Iowa by appealing to voters' traditional religious beliefs and by winning a heavyweight pumpkin-pie-eating contest at the state fair. It looks like Huckabee is back on the wagon.

4. Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani was the mayor of New York at the time of the 2001 terror attacks, and he went to a lot of Yankees games at that time wearing FDNY hats. No one knows what he has been doing since then, but people across the nation are inspired by his leadership, his lack of an upper lip, and his fearless delusion that somehow an ex-mayor who has never held federal office can be elected president. Also hates Mexicans.

5. Fred Thompson. Fred Thompson was an actor on Law & Order who convinced himself he had learned enough about law on the show to run for president. He is very old and speaks slowly, leading people to wonder whether he is senile, retarded, or just very Southern. Hates fellow Southerner John Edwards.

6. Ron Paul. Paul is pretty much crazy. No one knows why he is running, since he is basically an anarchist, but college kids have jumped on the bandwagon and raised him an inexplicable amount of money. He does not believe in taxes, God, or Mexicans.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Letter to myself at 18

So these were getting passed around, and since I didn't have anything else to write about, I decided to give it a heave, even though it's sure to be boring as hell.

Dear 18-year-old me,

Hey, how's it going? College sure is fun, huh? even though you're younger than pretty much everyone at the school. Don't drink too much though, even though you think you're so good at it. Cool kids don't do that.

Baseball's fun, huh? That's pretty good that you were able to put seven mph on your fastball within six weeks of college ball. And don't worry, there's at least five more coming... and who knows, maybe more?

Work hard at baseball, you've really got a talent there, and it'd be a shame to miss the last month of your senior season because of academic ineligibility. Oh yeah, and don't play intramural basketball during the season, dumbass, because some out of control A-hole is going to jump on your back and land the combined weight of both of you on the outside of your right foot, and you'll hear your ankle crunch and miss six weeks right in the middle of junior season. Still, even if that happens, don't be afraid to try some semi-pro ball back in Chicago after college, and don't be surprised if you get named to the college All-stars for the CSBL. And who knows where you could go from there?

Rome is pretty fun, isn't it? I'd recommend that you not break into the castle above Assissi in the middle of the night to climb to the top even though it's hella fun. Have a little respect for your hosts. Ditto for breaking into St. Stephen's Green in Dublin in the middle of the night. Ditto for camping illegally in Killarney National Forest. Ditto for stealing that handle of Jack Daniels from the bar in Rome. Maybe even ditto for breaking curfew to hit up clubs in Greece until all hours of the night. Actually, sounds like you just need to settle down in Rome, tiger.

Relationships? Eh, you're not big into them now, and you won't be anytime soon. There's always the one obvious sort-of one that basically defines how you see love, but you already know there's more to it than that. Don't stress about it now. I'm sure you won't.

So, to summarize, maybe worry a tiny bit more, and don't dick around so much. I know you pride yourself on not worrying about anything ever, but know what? Some things are worth worrying about a little bit. But obviously, I think you've got it mostly right; most of the things that most people worry about most of the time are really insignificant, so it's fine that you don't give a crap.

Don't do drugs, don't drink to much, don't be impure. You can do it. Oh yeah, and work hard. That's going to be the toughest one. Don't sit back on your laurels just because you don't need to work to get by. Peace be with you.



Friday, January 4, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

So, New Year’s Resolutions, huh? People seem to be big into them these days (and by these days I mean “these January 1sts”). I, for one, have never had a New Year’s Resolution.

Well, maybe that’s not true; I may have had one a long time ago—or maybe even a couple. But I don’t remember a single one, and that’s the truth. Why? Because I’m perfect? Well, obviously I can’t say that because you probably wouldn’t believe me.

Because I’m lazy? Well obviously I can’t say that because it’s not true. Fine, it’s true, but it’s a boring answer.

The real reason (at least this year) is that I didn’t have time because I had to do a load of laundry. Speaking of doing laundry (and not taking showers), I would like to inform you that yesterday I suffered from the most profound swampass of my life. I hadn’t taken a shower or changed my underpants since December (dang, could’ve gone with ‘no showers’ for a resolution), and there was literally a marsh in my trousers. You know when you get that layer or two of dead skin that’s still just sludging onto your grundle because you haven’t washed it for a few days, and it gets coated with one part sweat and two parts grease? It was like that times Avogadro’s number. I could have planted a crop in my crotch. Should I stop now? Is anyone even still reading? Damn it. I’m sorry.

So aside from the rice paddie in my pants, I was also unofficially appointed to serve as the face of the company in a series of videos as we launch the company online video channel. So that’ll be interesting, to say the least.

Oh also, since almost all of y’all thought Roy was depressing or scary or maybe just plain boring, I moved him to a different blog: Happy Friday, bitches. I’m sorry if I made you throw up by talking about my rotten taint.