29 December 2011

Bitch As a Relative Term

Friends often (yes, often) used to tell me that they used to think I was a bitch. "God, I used to think you were such a bitch!" That, or the equally telling comment "I used to think you hated me." Before we were friends, natch. Something in my way, or in my naturally down-turned mouth, signaled "hatred/bitch" to them, after which time I managed to win them over with my WINNING personality. But I didn't know that I had to win them over, see? Because I only ever found out about the "bitch" thing after, usually way after, the fact.

I haven't heard these lines in a long time. I don't think the sentiment on the Other's part has changed, I just think that with age comes tact. Scratch that - tactfulness is on something like a bell curve. It increases up to a certain point, oh, say, 52 years of age, and then begins a decline equal to its previous ascent. But that's beside the point.

The absence of these words falling upon my eardrums could be due to something else altogether. Perhaps it's that I've come to associate with people who love (my flavor of) bitchiness. In this scenario, there's no realization that I'm not in fact a bitch/hateful; rather, that's precisely what they love about me from the beginning. There's no winning them over with my true charms, because that is my charm. I had them at "Leave me the fuck alone," accompanied by a withering look.

24 December 2011

Fighting Evil By Moonlight, Winning Love By Daylight

I always stay with my sister when I visit Florida. She's like a real grown-up - married, owns a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer and a three bedroom house. And is a year younger than me. Enough to make any older sibling feel inadequate. She never has house guests besides me, but she has a very cozily appointed guest room. A real, live bed (nunna that fold-out business), a loveseat, a closet for dress hanging, a bookcase containing all the Clive Barker one could desire (that's a lotta Clive Barker). And the prized cheetahs-on-mirror "art" piece I gave her for her birthday a couple of years ago.

My сестренка has plenty of extra linens and such, but always lays out my old Sailor Moon blanket for me (don't judge). It's one of those sort of scratchy, woolly blankets with silky soft material on the top and bottom edges. I'm not sure if she holds onto it for any reason other than to have it on hand for my visits. It's so faded now that you can hardly tell that the print on it is Sailor Moon. It's not a very cozy blanket; you really need to put something between it and your soft flesh, and in Florida, you never really need more than one layer of blanket (and this winter, you hardly need a blanket at all - night time temps didn't seem to drop below 69, dudes [and did I mention my sister's nickname is Dude? Not as in this dude, but more like short for this doo-dah]), but seeing as I'm 90 years old, I always need a blanket, so I tortured myself by sandwiching Sailor Moon between a sheet and a fleece throw. A little excessive, perhaps, BUT I LIKE TO GO HARD.

20 December 2011

There's Something About The Sunshine State; It Just Makes Me Wanna SMOKE

One of the first things I do when I hit the ground in FLA (pronounced eff-ell-ay) is buy a pack of cigarettes. The 7-11 near my sister's house keeps them under the counter - hidden. You have to ask for them. I always think they don't have them, that maybe they've just got the sale packs of Pall Malls ($4.75!) or Marlboro Lights (2fer1!), but I ask anyway and they respond, as do the bodega dudes in New York, "What color?" Yellow, natch.

Maybe the air here is too fresh. My lungs, filled with BQE particulate debris, truck exhaust, and the second hand smoke of some million or so addicts, yearn for the polluted New York City air. I'm like a fish out of murky water. In other words, a fish out of the East River.

Maybe it's habit; all's we ever used to do when I lived here was go to the cafe, sit outside, and smoke. Très bohemian. Of course, it's a different cafe now, and no one else is here. Kyle's married and studying Comp Lit in Buffalo, Jason's married and studying something in Chicago, Mindy is pregnant, Jonny Cafe is god-knows-where. Incidentally, the cafe where I'm now smoking and drinking coffee and typing is called Cafe Bohemia, bestowed upon the 'burg some eight years ago by my buddy Matt Neal, one of the last left standing in this city.

Maybe it's the anxiety of unhomeliness, in this place I used to call home, that calls for a self-destructive puff or twenty. All's I know is, when I'm here, I sure smoke.

18 December 2011

"What Do You Want From Me?"

"I wanna take you in that bedroom
lock the door
take your clothes off with my teeth
throw you on the bed
and give you a go round like you've never had."

Come on. I love the morning.

17 December 2011

It's 1 A.M.; Do You Know Where Your Mental Faculties Are?

Have I talked about this before? I'm going to talk about it again, because it never fails to shock me just how obliterated, sloppy, raving drunk people can be by 1 am. Falling over, babbling incoherently, droopy-faced drunk. I was on my way home on the L, minding my own biznaz, standing by the door, playing sudoku on my iPhone, when this man, who appeared to be alone, and also appeared to be not a hobo, but a youngish regular guy, started harassing a woman as she was getting ready to get off at the next stop. I watched it all unfold out of the corner of my eye, thankful that I wasn't listening to my iPod so that I could enjoy this live entertainment instead. The lady, also youngish and regularish, had been sitting beside him but had gotten up in anticipation of disembarking at the next stop. When she got up and stood in front of the door, which happened to be where I was leaning, he started calling her, sort of half heartedly, well, I guess more just weakly from drunkenness, a mess. "You're a mess," he babble-whispered, fish-out-of-water flapping his hand in her (our) direction. (She wasn't a mess at all, of course - he was.) "Look at you. God, what a mess. Get outta here." And she did, with nary a glance in his direction.

I make light of it in telling the tale but really, in the moment, it makes me feel what I imagine to be something like motherly concern. Is he going to make it home tonight, alive? Will he stumble in front of an oncoming garbage truck or subway car? Will he choke on his own vomit (RIP Mama Cass)? Will he lose his keys in the gutter and pass out in the street and freeze to death? I guess that level of obliteration is par for the course, for some people, but how they manage to make it to the next morning, body intact, is beyond the capacity of my mental faculties.

10 December 2011

Movies Netflix Suggests For Me, And Their Unlikely Inspirations

Suggestion: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Because I enjoyed: The Kids in the Hall Pilot Episode

Suggestion: Nutcracker The Motion Picture
Because I enjoyed: Parks and Recreation

Suggestion: Marwencol (a documentary about a man brain damaged by a severe beating, and his art)
Because I enjoyed: Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

Starting to see a pattern here - serious, thought-provoking films suggested in response to mindless, hilarious comedies. What are you trying to tell me, Netflix?

Suggestion: Yellowstone - Battle For Life
Because I enjoyed: Party Down

Suggestion: In Search of Beethoven
Because I enjoyed: Party Down

Suggestion: Eternal Enemies - Lions and Hyenas
Because I enjoyed: Party Down

Considering Party Down was only on for two seasons, I'm surprised it's getting so much Netflix action here. Seriously now, suggest something based on the nine seasons of X-Files I enjoyed!

Suggestion: PBS - The Buddha
Because I enjoyed: Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
(I guess I kind of get this one - the profundity of life, blah blah blah)

Suggestion: Ken Burns - The War
Because I enjoyed: Mad Men
Uhh, because Don Draper was a veteran?

Suggestion: Romeo & Juliet
Because I enjoyed: The Wizard of Oz
Dorothy and The Wizard - star-crossed lovers?

Suggestion: Law & Order ("cerebral, dark, gritty, suspenseful")
Because I enjoyed: Little House on the Prairie ("sentimental, feel-good")
I...got nothin'. Seriously, help me out here. They both start with the letter L? They're both ripped from the headlines?

08 December 2011

There's an electrical outlet next to my kitchen table, directly underneath my large and glorious black panthers painting (not to be confused with these Black Panthers - the ones in my kitchen are of the feline variety). Outlets are usually close to the floor, out of sight. You don't see them, and more importantly, they don't see you. See, I do a lot of sitting at my kitchen table, facing that wall. That's where I study, where I page through Harper's while I drink my home-made sludgey coffee on the weekend, where I eat my Domino's pizza while catching up on Parks and Rec, where I write words in my notebook and type them on my laptop. I, like many people, look off into some distance in search of words, or of an understanding of some words that we've read, or heard spoken to us. My eyes settle on things, things that come in between them and the horizon where understanding is to be found. My eyes settle on The Outlet.

The Outlet, as you can see, has all the basics required to be anthropomorphised into a face: two slits for eyes and a hole for a mouth; no nose required. It's not just any old face, though. It has a mood. A feeling. It speaks, this face. It's shocked and horrified. Disappointed, repulsed. This is not the face you want to be staring at you when you seek understanding. It is not an affirming face.

It reminds me of Twin Peaks, when Josie becomes trapped in the drawer knob of a wooden nightstand next to the bed where she has just shot and killed herself. It's a disturbing image. BOB is there and presumably he has something to do with Josie's being trapped in the wood. Wood/the woods are a big theme in Twin Peaks; the Log Lady wasn't crazy - her husband, who died in a fire on their wedding night, was trapped in the log she carried around, and he was able to communicate with her.

"Fear and love open the doors," (the doors to the white and the black lodges) Major Briggs says in one of the last episodes. But is it fear that opens the black lodge and love, the white? Or is it fear AND love? The acknowledgment, the owning, even, of the fear involved in loving and being loved? Josie had both, but her fear was stronger. And I suppose, hence her being trapped.

When I was a kid, we had fake wood paneling in many rooms in our house. Very seventies. The paneling mimicked the look of real wood down to the knots. Those panels were just lousy with the appearance of the cross-sections of knots. Those knots, I used to think, looked like monster faces. No, they didn't just look like monster faces, they were monsters. In the wood. I was sure of it. Faces all jaggedy, yet melty, yet woody. Melting, jagged, wooden monster faces. I hated being alone in the bathroom, behind closed doors, with these wood monsters. I don't recall when I got past it, when I was able to look at those knots and not think they were going to possess me. This, too comes to mind when faced with The Outlet. Can't sleep, The Outlet's gonna get me! And then I watch an Alec Baldwin or Christopher Walken sketch from SNL, and everything is fine.

07 December 2011

Words Have Meaning(s)

When we (I) think of consume, we (I) think: ingest, take in, absorb. That's the definition, basically. Consume comes from the Latin word "consumo," which means to take altogether, to spend, to use up, to finish. The derived noun, "consumptio," means a consuming, destroying. A "consumptor" is a destroyer. "Consummo" means to form a whole, complete. The Latin prefix "con" means with. "Sum" is the present singular of "to be." Con+sum = "to be whole." When we (I) want someone, we want to consume them (metaphorically of course, right?). So, do we (I) want to destroy them, or be whole with them? Is there a difference?

05 December 2011

The Age-Old Question

When I think, "What would I like to rot my insides with tonight?", nine times out of twelve the answer is "Pizza!" It's got just the right combination of complex carbs, sugary tomato sauce, and rennety cheese, hitting every point on any reasonably healthy person's "DO NOT CONSUME" list. But I like to take it up a notch; or down 83 notches, to the lowest of the low, based on your perspective. In the race among Brooklyn pizza delivery joints, for me it always comes down to two: Domino's and Papa John's (Singa's, apparently the truly lowest, based on this yelp review, has disqualified itself based on this other yelp review; Pizza Hut would be the sure winner, if there were any nearby). Sure, I'll look at the menu for Carmine's and Sal's, and even the newer, hipper Best Pizza. But those are my slice places. I go there for slices. For a whole pie, plus breadsticks, without which I feel my pizza delivery meal is incomplete, it must be Domino's or Papa John's.

The first time I had Domino's was in high school. There was a Domino's outpost attached to the on-campus 7-11. That Domino's was truly abominable. Never before, and never since, have I tasted that unique combination of cardboard + process cheese food + generic ketchup. Even the time that I got the mostly raw Little Caesar's pie was better than this Domino’s. If I consumed it on more than one occasion, it was out of truly desperate hunger. Pretty much all that the 7-11 stocked was Sun Chips, mortal enemy to my taste buds. I didn't touch it again until I moved to the Lower East Side in 2005. There was a Domino's nearby. My favorite neighborhood pizza place, Rosario's, didn't deliver. A cold/stormy night + epic hungers = me ordering Domino's delivery. It's been me n' D ever since.

Papa John's was my jam in high school. I knew a guy that worked there who would hook me up with pizza if I hooked him up with a gigantic milkshake from the ice cream shop where I worked. But that ish was worth its weight in gold to me (see, pizza doesn't weigh that much, so it's fine). What Papa John's was then is much what Domino's seems to be now. The sauce so sugary/tangy, the crust so doughy, the breadsticks pillow-esque. Perfection! (Not to say I didn't indulge in the occasional Hungry Howie's pie with butter cheese crust). Whenever PJ's wins out over Dom's, it's this flavor nostalgia that tips the scales.

Here are the things that weigh on my mind each time I decide on pizza over rice & steamed veggies:

Dom's Pros
- Consistent. Domino's may not be "the best," but it always arrives hot, melty, and saucy, the flavor is actually respectable, it's always exactly what I expect it to be, and I've certainly had worse.
- Cheap. They have all these great online coupons! Yes, I am secretly your coupon cutting grandma. DEAL WITH IT.
- Order tracking. Like UPS, and just as reliable! Before it goes out the door they do a "perfection check"! And you get to pick the background theme for the tracker! I always pick the bodice ripper theme. Not that I order often enough to describe my frequency as "always," or anything. Just sayin'.

Dom's Cons
- GUT BOMB. Do not go on a date after consuming. Actually, don't go anywhere after consuming. You'll probably be balls deep into When Harry Met Sally anyway.

PJ's pros
- Ehhhh, pretty much the same as Dom's, except NO tracking. Get with the future, PJ's! I represent the people and the people want pizza tracking!

PJ's cons
- As previously mentioned, the no tracking blows. Even if the Dom's tracker is a fake-out, it's very comforting to see progress.
- And obviously, the GUT BOMB factor.

I began this quandary knowing it would lead me to one of two ends. Gut Bomb + When Harry Met Sally, or Gut Bomb + Dirty Dancing. The Domino's pizza tracker just informed me that Ramon has left the store with my order. Could it have been any other way?