March 2009


This week is off to an auspicious start after a truly hellacious morning commute.

It was not hellacious in the usual way, however, which involves ill-timed trains and long-stalled red line rides.  No, today’s commute was unpleasant because of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, drag queen.

(That’s not what you were expecting, was it?  Me neither!)

For me, the first rule of morning commute is: you do not talk during  morning commute.  Most people respect this.  It is early, many of us are pre-coffee, and it’s just not nice to subject your fellow office drones to your cell phone calls or other chatter before 9am.  On the evening commute I’m a little more forgiving, but mornings are for silence and ipods.  Maybe magazines.

So the first bad sign was when I got on the train and there was a huge amount of noise- commotion, laughter, shouting, etc.- coming from the middle of the car.  I put on my ipod and hoped it would die down.

It didn’t.   I stole a glance in that direction and saw a huge, wild-eyed, still dressed up from Saturday night drag queen, sitting with a similarly-shouty friend.  They seemed to be enjoying the spectacle they were causing- the uncomfortable glances from the business-casual-clad crowd, the nervous shifting in seats from the people sitting around them.  “Whatever,” I thought.  “Annoying, but whatever.” I turned my ipod up a little.

Then, the noise got even louder, and when I glanced over again, things had taken a turn: drag queen was now standing up and leaning over to shout in the face of another passenger.  She was making fun of this poor woman’s hair, her makup, her professional dress.  She kept yelling and mocking and laughing, her face about an inch from the other passenger’s, as everyone sitting nearby looked around nervously.  It got worse and worse, the queen cursing and leaning in ever closer, making fun of this woman, baiting her, trying to get her to fight back.

And I was sitting way across the train car, but I briefly thought about intervening, yelling out “hey, knock it off” or something, ANYTHING, to divert the queen’s attention away from this poor woman.  But I didn’t.

It got me thinking, as these situations always do.  I know, there are lots of reasons not to intervene when presented with these sorts of circumstances: unpredictable people do unpredictable things, and you don’t want them turning their unpredictability toward you.  I get that.  But I also think that most of the time, people engaging in this sort of behavior are getting a cheap thrill out of lording power over some innocent bystander, but are really cowards underneath.  Many times, it seems, having someone call them out and tell them to stop is enough to get them to, you know, stop.

But no one did, and I got off the train before I saw the situation improve any, and now my morning is a little bit soured and I’m left wondering if I should have said something.

I have, in the past, inserted myself into situations like this, particularly when it’s kids/teenagers misbehaving.  (It must be the former teacher in me.  I should note: my friends and family do not love it when I do this, but sometimes it seems I cannot help myself.)  Other times, though, I keep my mouth shut.   I know that, realistically, I was sitting too far away to really do anything this morning, but I could have moved in their direction…  But maybe woman getting the haranguing, who was doing an admirable job of just ignoring it, wouldn’t even have wanted anyone to say anything, for fear it might have escalated things?

Sigh.  There are no good answers in situations like this, are there?  What about you?  Do you get involved when you see stuff like this?  Look studiously the other way?  Does it depend on the situation?

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When one is wearing a long-sleeved dress shirt, tucked into pants or a skirt, how does one prevent it from puffing out all weird and creating the impression of a serious beer gut when one sits down?  And how does one avoid having to constantly having to readjust/shove it back down into one’s waistband?  Because I think the whole stand up shove shove shove adjust adjust adjust routine I’ve got going on over here is compromising my efforts to appear professional in meetings.

(No, seriously, how? I need tips! I feel like I have failed some sort of “Professional Attire 101” course over here.)

So!

Did I mention that I signed up for an 8K?  No?

Remember like months and months ago when I sort of accidentally took up running and said I was going to run a 5K?  And then I never mentioned it again, because I kind of hoped everyone would forget?

Well, a few weeks ago, some friends from work coerced me into signing up for the Shamrock Shuffle.  So it appears that I am running an 8K in a little more than two weeks.  Eep.

Now, I know for “serious runners” (ahem, Nilsa) the Shamrock Shuffle is a laughable little fun run which hardly even counts as a road race.  But when your personal longest outdoor run ever was previously 1 mile, and your personal longest treadmill run ever was previously 2 miles, an 8K is nothing to sneeze at.

In fact, I was pretty convinced I was not going to make it, so I sort of held off on telling you until now.

But! On Sunday I did 4.5 miles, which is almost the full race distance, so I think I might just be able to finish this thing.  Given my newfound confidence, I feel comfortable telling you about my 8K plan, which directly led to the following story:

To train for the Shuffle, I’ve been following a program.  (I know! It’s only 5 miles! Who needs to follow a PROGRAM to be able to run 5 miles?)  (I do!) According to the program, I was supposed to run 3 miles this morning.  I set my alarm for 6am to give myself plenty of time to get to the gym, run 3 miles, and shower before work.

(We can see where this is going, right?)

At 6:58 am, I bolt up in bed and look at the clock.  Shit.  Am a full hour behind schedule.  Cannot reschedule run for after work, as I am going wedding dress shopping with Bird, and then to drink champagne.  (Whee!  My life, it is SO HARD.  I KNOW.)  So I jump out of bed, throw on sweats, and jog to the gym.

At this point I’m running so late that I figure I only have time for a 20 minute run if I’m even going to have a prayer of getting to work on time.

“Hm,” I think to myself.  “What’s a way I could maximize my 20 minute run?…  I know!  Speed work!”

(Do I technically know what speed work is?  Not really.  It’s just a term I hear runner-types bandying about.  But I figure it must mean something like “try to run faster,” right?)

So I set the treadmill to 7.3 (super hard for me) and proceed to pound out 2 miles in 17 minutes.  I am elated! This is my fastest yet!  And I got a good workout in in less than 20 minutes!  I rule!  Am running goddess!

I slow the treadmill down to a stop, and step off to go get a towel to wipe the machine down aaaaaand…..my tired legs can’t support me and my right knee buckles and I completely and totally eat it on the (very grimy) gym floor.  At prime gym-going time.  In front of approximately 143 people.  Awesome!

So: speed work!  Makes you feel good about yourself for about 15 seconds, until you fall flat on your face and remember why you are not so much a runner.

(But I’m still doing the 8K.  Don’t let me wimp out.  If you don’t hear me talk about it on Monday the 30th, call me out, okay?)

After a pleasantly busy start to the weekend, John and I had big plans for our lazy rainy Sunday.  These plans involved:

(a) Reading books;

(b) Watching a movie; and

(c) Beer in the afternoon.

(We dream big at Casa de Pseudostoops.)

After having achieved (a) and a healthy dose of (c), we sat down to watch our movie and…. became completely, totally, irreparably transfixed by an infomercial.  Behold:

bump-it1

These are BumpIts!  You put them in your hair, and then rearrange your hair around them, and, with careful application of terrifying amounts of hairspray, they allow you to achieve hairstyles like this:

bump1

And also this:

bump2

They come in many sizes, including a mini size for your bangs.  I know you low-volume, flat-banged girls out there are relieved that you can now achieve that huge bang volume you’ve been seeking.

It might have had something to do with the beers, but John and I found this infomercial impossibly hilarious, and before we knew it, we had fallen  deep down the BumpIt rabbit hole.  We rewound to catch our favorite parts (there’s one girl wearing what looks like a prom dress and a TRULY ALARMING Bride of Frankenstein hairstyle- seriously, I highly encourage you to check out the video on their website so you can see what I mean.)  We read testimonials (“As Mrs. Kentucky America, I take great pride in the way my hair is styled. Bumpits give my hair the natural lift it needs without having to use heavy creams or gels!”)  We dreamt up scenarios in which I might need BumpIts (community theater production of “Hairspray”; trying to smuggle drugs back into the country; going undercover as a high school cheerleader to write a shocking newspaper
exposé, etc.)

I am seriously considering ordering some.  The Halloween possibilities alone seem worth it, don’t you think?

2009 has been a big year so far for amigos de pseudostoops. I’d like to alert you to some major happenings from some of my friends- people I know well enough that we’ve been seriously drunk together on more than one occasion (Is that a weird measure of closeness? They’re all college friends, which may explain it.)

First, from my amazing friend Brian, with whom I’d fallen out of touch until we reconnected on Facebook this week, an honest to god BOOK with a publishers weekly review and everything HOLY SHIT I am proud of him:

Seriously, Brian is one of the most talented writers whose work I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. When he said he was going to be a writer, he said it with such simplicity and so little ego that it was impossible not to believe him. My copy of Match Day is in the mail.

Next up:  from the lovely Molly,  (a bona fide food blogging celebrity with whom I studied abroad in Paris), a new book that I was astonished to see to staring up at me from the pages of my People magazine, where it was was THE FEATURED BOOK this week (OH MY GOD that has to be good for sales!):

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

Molly and I once trekked together to a health foods store in a rather far-flung section of Paris on a mission to find organic vegetables. We also drank mojitos and talked about our shared affection for Camper shoes. It is quite possible she remembers none of these things, but I still like to say I knew her when.

Finally, a film offering from my hysterical friend Danny, who wrote this movie when we were still in college and has been working like hell to get it made ever since. It came out in theaters a few months ago, and was just released on dvd, and seriously you should put that shit in your Netflix queue.  (Or, better yet, buy a copy.  It’s really very good. Seriously, we went to see it in the theater and afterward, John was all “you know, I went because I knew your friend made it and it was important to you, but that was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.” Kristen agrees with me- check out #28)

Oh yeah, and John’s college roommate just got franchise tagged.

It’s kind of amazing to see those big dreams – the kind you talk about at 3 in the morning in the hallway of the dorm, clutching red cups of warm Natty Lite – come to fruition.  It’s enough to give one kind of a complex, actually, if one weren’t so pleased for the great success of great friends.   Hooray, amazing friends!

I feel obligated to clarify after my last post:

Sharp knives are your friend! Do not fear your sharp knives! They are actually way less likely to injure you than dull knives, which have a tendency to slip or snag on food and slice your fingers off.  The only reason they served me ill in this case was that I decided to try to preserve the newly sharpened blade by using the dull side of the knife to slide under the box flap.  Dumb!  If I’d used the sharp side, it would have slipped through the glue no problem and I would not have a large (and, as of this morning, worryingly puffy) gash on my hand.

Also, we did briefly consider going to the ER, but our thinking went something like this:

  • This looks like it might need stitches
  • Yeah, it definitely needs stitches.  There is some serious skin gaping going on here.
  • Where does one get stitches at 8pm on a Saturday night?
  • The emergency room, that’s where.
  • Going to the emergency room on a Saturday night with a comparatively minor flesh wound seems like a recipe for a verrrrry long wait.
  • Also: ER on a Saturday night?  Could be kind of a crazy scene.
  • Also: our insurance blows.  We’d probably end up paying like $1000 for three stitches.
  • On second thought, this cut doesn’t look so bad.

*********************************************************

Also, I forgot to mention- mere hours before the ill-fated cereal box incident of ought-nine, I was at the first birthday party for this fetching fellow:

Good times- a large group of adults watching Theo try to eat all the wrapping paper while he studiously ignored most of the toys.

Also, since the people I knew at this party consisted of: birthday boy, mother of the birthday boy, and father of the birthday boy (all of whom were a little busy) I was SO delighted and relieved to finally meet Kristen and hit it off immediately, so that we could stand by the Fritos table and chat and I didn’t have to stand awkwardly in a corner by myself.  Thanks, Kristen!

Isn’t it funny how a series of seemingly harmless decisions can lead to such total disaster?  Allow me to present you with just such a series of decisions:

Decision the First: Since it had been, ahem, three years since I sharpened my knives, I took them to the knife sharpening place this week.

Decision the Second: I rarely get manicures, but on Friday, to celebrate Bird finishing the Bar Exam, we went for mani pedis at a place near my house.

Decision the Third: Saturday evening, I was in the kitchen making dinner when I decided that the baked potatoes were baking too slowly and I needed a snack to tide me over.  I reached for the new box of Banana Nut cheerios (purchased at Target on mega sale, surprisingly delicious).  As I moved to open the cardboard flap on the top, I looked at my nails and paused.

See, several months ago I was at a sewing class, and this rather prim-looking woman who was also taking the class had absolutely impeccable nails.  Someone complimented her on them, and she said “my mother always told me, ‘you have to stop treating your fingernails like tools, or they’ll never look beautiful’”  Kind of weird and impractical advice, I thought, but I thought nothing of it again.

Until Saturday.  Now GOD HELP ME I don’t know why this prim sewing-class woman’s voice ran through my head at that particular moment, but I decided she had a point, so I reached for my (newly sharpened!) paring knife to slice open the top of the box so as not to ruin my manicure.

(We can see where this is going, right?)

Decision the Fourth: Because the knife was newly-sharpened, it seemed reasonable to use the dull side of the knife to slide under the flap, so as not to dull the newly-sharpened edge on the box glue.

Aaaaaand….the knife hit a chunk of glue and slipped, and I was pushing with a fair amount of force, and it slid with that fair amount of force riiiight into my thumb and wrist, where it left a substantial gash ending in a verrrry deep puncture wound.  (Like, I could see where the layers of skin ended and the…stuff….underneath began.  Eeesh.) And at that precise moment, the oven timer started going off.  Awesome!

So there I am, standing in the kitchen, bleeding profusely, while the world’s most annoying timer is beepingbeepingbeeping and I yelled “help!” and my brother-in-law came over and took the potatoes out of the oven (though he did not turn off the mother-loving timer for like 5 minutes, despite my repeated pleas from where I stood hunched over the sink, breathing deeply and running cold water over the wound, willing myself not to pass out.)

We put a pressure dressing on it, and all seemed fine until I was getting ready for bed and I tried to change over to a regular bandaid and the profuse bleeding began anew.  So off we went to Walgreens to purchase those totally bad-ass butterfly wound closure things that boxers use to hold together lacerations.   I’m sporting a honking bandaid on my hand over those, and it’s sore and bruised, and I’m more than a little embarrassed, because OF COURSE a mere two days before this little incident I’d spent fifteen minutes sternly lecturing John and my brother in law about how lethal the knives were now that they’d been sharpened, and how they should be super careful.  Fortunately, they’re too gracious enough to remind me of that smug little speech.

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