Archive | July, 2011

Dear Pacey Witter the Greatest Character in Television History Ever. Period.

26 Jul

Dear Pacey Witter One of the Greatest Characters in Television History Ever. Period,

In honor of comic-con, I would like to offer up this gem of a video and recommend that you all watch it because it is funny and I like it.

Also yes, I have a crush on Joshua Jackson and yes, it runs through all the Mighty Ducks movies and Dawson’s Creek and I would add Fringe except I can’t watch that show because it’s too scary for me and when I had a roommate we would watch it together but now I live alone and so I’m sorry, Mr. Jackson.

And god, I would so attend Pacey-Con.



PS— I know this letter is lame but really, you probably don’t want me to go on and on about Pacey, and I’m at a writing thing and therefore somewhat busy drinking coffee and touching books instead of the internet.


Dear American Spirit

21 Jul

Dear American Spirit,

I think I’m missing some sort of essential American spirit of adventure.

If I’d lived during pioneering days, I would have stayed in Boston.

I mean, I think we can all agree that the people on the Oregon trail should have taken more axles and more food with them, perhaps built a little trailer-addendum that could travel behind the wagons, and they definitely should not try to ford the river right there.

But seriously, I see people doing boot camp workouts in the park and I’m horrified and want to turn around from my nice, low-key walk and go curl up in a chair and read a book about people reading books, because I’m filled with the fear that if I’m anywhere near such activity, someone will try to make me participate.

It’s not that I’m scared of dirt. Or that I frequently injure myself (I used to get SICK, a lot, ok, you guys reading this who knew me during college, but not hurt). (And I am scared of varmint, including squirrels, raccoons, opossums, and troublesome children (which is one of the definitions of varmint, look it up)).

It’s that I see a mountain, and I don’t think, “Because it’s there.” I think, “Wow, that looks tall! What’s that poem about looking at mountains? What’s for lunch? I want some potato chips. Do you think Pacey and Joey will finally make out tonight?”

Apparently the last time I saw a mountain up close was in 2001.

Yep. Definitely would have stayed in Boston. Would have manifested my destiny right there in my living room.

Tea, anyone?


Dear Running

19 Jul

Dear Running,

First I praise myself: “Look how well you’re doing! Look at how well you’re breathing.”

Pretty soon, though, I realize I’m lying.

Then I start scolding myself: “What’s wrong with you? You have two legs and two lungs and you’ve only been running for six minutes. Grow a pair.”

Then I mock myself: “Oh, you think this is hard do you? This is too hard for you? Too hard for you? A two-year-old crawls faster than this. People run with prosthetics, and you want to sit down? Are you effing kidding me?”

Then I clear my throat, which always sounds to my own ears like I’m about to throw up, then I wonder if I’m about to throw up, then I tell myself to stop thinking about throwing up, then I focus really hard on the trees so I don’t throw up.

Then I start bargaining with myself: if I can run to the water fountain, I can stop running for as long as it takes to get a drink of water. If I finish my run all the way, I can watch trashy tv when I get home. If I finish my run without throwing up, I can have an ice cream bar after dinner.

Keep in mind these supposed “rewards” are things I was going to do anyway, would do as consolation prizes were I not to finish my run, would have done if I hadn’t gone running at all that day— ice cream after dinner is actually a reward for feeding myself dinner, not for exercising— so their motivating capacity is limited to whether or not I can keep the thought “Psh I get it no matter what!” out of my head for the two minutes it takes me to reach my goal.

This usually fails.

Then I start really bargaining with myself, aka lying: “If I finish, I can get a puppy.”

“I finish, I will win a Pulitzer.” “If I finish, I will be rich.”

Then I do it all again:

Nice Me: “If I finish, I will be so proud of myself!”

Mean Me: “Oh yeah? So proud of the fact that you ran for less than the time it takes you to shave your legs? So proud of yourself for not throwing up all over yourself like a pansy little chicken thrower-upper?”

Then the bell dings and I weep for joy.

And then I think, “I totally could have kept going. Better stick to the schedule though.”

But we both know the truth.

Dear U-Turns

13 Jul

Dear U-Turns,

The thing about Southern California is its wide streets. No, avenues. The thing about Southern California is its wide avenues. It really does have them, palm trees lining the partition down the middle if you’re on Coronado, palm trees lining the ocean, palm trees lining the sides of the neighborhood streets.

The thing about palm trees is they have shallow root structures, so when the wind blows, they topple. I once saw a house with a palm tree leaning against it, lazily, posturing, like a teenage girl against a locker.

The thing about palm trees is they’re fairly light, so the roof was intact. Imagine having a tree fall on your house and there not being any damage. Imagine walking outside and setting the tree upright and pushing in some soil around its base like it’s a new gladiolus, and saying, “There, there. It’s all right. I forgive you. Just try to fall the other way next time, ok?”

Wide avenues invite u-turns. They invite abrupt changing of one’s mind, one’s direction, one’s destination, they invite you to park in that open space, even if it is on the side of the street where you are not, because in a moment, with a wide sweep on the wheel, you can and will be.

Perhaps this speaks to the way people in Southern California are changeable, shiftless (two words that don’t make sense together, one indicating changing states of matter, the other a lack of will or energy to change, and yet). It used to be no one was from here. Now, everyone is from here, but not from here: that is, everyone is from California, but slightly north and east of here. Or they are from Arizona.

In Seattle, there are no u-turns. They’re illegal everywhere, and besides, the streets are too narrow. This is why everyone parks facing whichever direction they happen to be facing, whether their car is facing the right direction or not given the side of the street that they are parking on. This is not illegal in Seattle, or maybe it is, but no one cares. It’s a matter of necessity. I did a u-turn once in Seattle and felt a thrilling sense of lawlessness. Even at four-way stops, of which there are many in Seattle, no one does u-turns. A car in front of me once did and I felt outraged. I felt an outsized sense of anger on behalf of the stops that had been left behind.

This is because people stop thoroughly in Seattle and wave one another through the four-way stop, no you go, no after you. This superfluous politeness is maddening and endearing. The exception to this etiquette is the four-way stop at NE 41st St and 48th Ave NE, where everyone rolls right on through even though it’s near two blind hills and is at the corner of the park. People still stop for dogs there, though. Everyone likes dogs.

Or at least, no one wants to hit one.

But in Southern California, when a car abruptly and without signaling begins to arc in front of you, to draw a parabola, to establish their personal and directional freedom, to assert their right to change their mind, their course of life, their career, their yoga position, their eating habits, their religion, their allergies, their self-identification, to suddenly manifest their destiny right there at the very edge of the westernmost coast, you slow down, and you wait, and you think about whether or not you, too, ought to do a u-turn, because that wide avenue invites you to, if you would in fact like to do so. Take up this expanse, it says, lay your rubber all over my surface, establish your space, your personality, your borderless existence at the edge of the ocean. You instantly and abruptly forgive all u-turns in Southern California, because you have just done or are about to do the same, although you still might wonder why it is that we don’t have a signal on our bumpers to indicate such a thing. That would seem safe and precautionary.

Warning, it would say, forgive me, I am going somewhere else now, I have somebody else to meet or be.

The thing about palm trees is that they watch everything and they are constantly applauding.


Dear Time and Space Travel 3

11 Jul

Dear Time and Space Travel 3,

Let’s get the horror over with first: the Washington, DC fireworks, that is, the national, official celebration of ‘Merica’s birthday, and democracy, and freedom, and the right to tan as much as you want and swear and find love on tv, only lasted fourteen minutes. 

Some possible explanations:

A) they forgot to light a crate that was stashed under the right thigh of the Jefferson memorial. 

B) fireworks shows are really expensive and they were exercising budgetary restraint and solidarity with the common man, the way celebrities don’t wear as much jewelry to the Oscars during times of recession. (This is BS. If you’re wearing a couture gown that cost more than the down payment of the average house in a mid-size city, you can afford earrings, which in fact are lent to you for free, and the rest of us do not admire you for your restraint, we yell at our tv’s, because you’re supposed to be our escapism, dammit.)

C) Congress sets the budget for the city of Washington, DC, and all the congresspeople went home to “real” America, where their small towns set off 1.5 hours of fireworks and brought in choreographers from Los Angeles to direct the high school marching bands in Fosse-like spectacular arrangements. This is a convincing argument if I’ve ever heard one for making DC a municipality, or territory, or colony, or monarchy, or whatever it is those proponents of that thing want. Even Seattle, which is notoriously environmentally conscious and has really strict noise ban laws (it’s illegal to honk unless there is immediate danger) and generally is so hipster they can’t get excited about anything unless it’s ironically, has a longer fireworks show than this. 

Ok. Well. Now that I’ve killed all your hopes and dreams, let’s talk about what else happened over the fourth of July weekend in Washington, DC. 

It was Folklife and I listened to Motown and watched some men cut up some watermelon and took some terrible photos:

Someday we’ll talk about how I lose all fine-motor skills the minute I’m holding a camera (even if that camera is my iphone, which the internet assures me even an idiot can take pictures with). 

In the meantime, I also saw the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and I exercised saint-worthy strength by not grabbing the vuvuzellas out of the hands of the pre-teens in line in front of me and whapping them across the heads with them. 

At the Freer Gallery, I saw Whistler’s nocturnes, and also his paintings of British ladies dolled up to look like Japanese ones. Because, duh. 

Later I ate tapas and went dancing. Like I said, the trip was horrible and I will never go back because it involved so many terrible things. 

Saturday I took a nap. I think I also went to the farmer’s market and talked a lot about buying sparklers and went to hear a band play and had a great cocktail and played miniature golf and basically set new records at Skiball? But the nap, you guys. The nap was SO GOOD. 

Sunday I went to the newseum, where I had to leave the exhibit on Pulitzer-prize winning photographs because it was making me cry (I needed a nap), and then took a nap during a thunderstorm and ate Salvadorian food while a dubbed “Blue Streak” played in the background. Martin Lawrence transcends language, you guys. You should have heard the mustachioed men laughing. Again, I thought about buying sparklers and talked about it frequently and still didn’t do it.

Monday I started to go back to the newseum, but got sidetracked by a sandwich, but then made it to the newseum, where I managed not to cry through the Katrina exhibit and very purposefully skipped the 9/11 exhibit and then I went to the Library of Congress, which is beautiful and has every book in the world ever, stored someplace where you can’t see them so they won’t distract you from the beautiful ceiling and floor. I’d show you the picture I took but it’s untenable, it’s so bad.

Then I went to Virginia. My stalwart sandwich-sharer had promised me I would not set foot in Virginia during this trip (mostly as a way to bring up the fact that while the Reagan airport is surrounded by Virginia, it does not rest on VA soil, as VA gave the airport land back to the DC sometime after George Washington kissed Martha for the last time and also sometime after airplanes were invented, if you insist on narrowing it down) (I was a history major, don’t try this kind of historical accuracy at home).

So he lied and I set foot in Virginia, which was fine. I mean, I didn’t experience any kind of world-shattering epiphany and I also wasn’t devastated, which was why I chose the word “fine,” meaning what it means, that is, “ok and stuff.”

Then it was hot and I got bit by some mosquitos and I tried to buy some sparklers off some kids, who were so busy being bratty they weren’t even watching the fireworks show their dad was putting on for them. In contrast, I pulled my lawn chair right out into the middle of the lawn and blatantly turned it to face their barbecue instead of my own so I could watch. I mean, COME ON. Fire and explosions and colors and whizzes and bangs! And no, they didn’t sell me any sparklers. The situation was getting desperate.

Then, you know, that thing-which-must-not-be-discussed (refer to the top of this page). I mean, guys, I don’t want to make DC feel bad or anything, but even short Ted talks last longer than that. 

Let’s just say it renewed my desire to take my fate in my own hands and light my own sparkler. Cough.

So it’s ten o’clock at night, because the fireworks started at 9:15 and we sat around for 36 minutes after the show ended, talking about how we’d already been sitting around after the show for longer than the show itself lasted. I went to the bathroom and bought some fruit snacks out of a vending machine and talked about how that adventure took me longer than the fireworks show. 

Then we got in a taxi to go home, which was surprisingly short because we miraculously avoided all traffic, but it still took longer than….you get the idea. So then I decided that I need sparklers, and I needed them NOW and also an ice cream cone, some fried chicken, and some watermelon. It’s possible what I really needed was a nap. 

But, lo and behold, my fried-chicken/ice-cream/watermelon/sparkler-procurer procured all of those things. What, you don’t have one of these people in your life? (So the guy at the fireworks stand sold me the sparklers his wife had set aside for herself. He said, “There’s one missing from the pack, so I’ll sell it to you for half price.” She said, “Yeah, I used it. Those were going to be mine!” He said, “Woman, you got all the sparks you need right here in me.” She snorted doubtfully and I clutched my sparklers to my chest.)

Then the sparklers wouldn’t light. Tragedy was nigh. I tried to put on a brave face and disguise my grief by eating more fried chicken and involuntarily screaming every time someone else in the neighborhood lit off a rocket. But by almost burning the porch and by extension, the house, down, the fire got hot and the sparklers got sparked and I got my own private show, for the approximately 3.42 minutes that sparklers last. 

Updated impressions of Washington, DC: I take impressively bad pictures and am surprisingly good at Skiball.

Soon: a comparison of U-turns in different cities I’ve been to and some wild generalizations about culture from said comparison.




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