Monday, December 27, 2010

My So-Called Life

Please don't make fun of me.

So, I have a thing for My So-Called Life, which only aired for one season in 1994. I was 16 at the time, and every single episode (with the exception of the stupid Christmas special and the one about the substitute teacher with the Bronx accent at the beginning of the episode and the English accent by the end) gave me heart palpitations. For 5 months I couldn't complete homework or get to sleep at a reasonable hour on Thursday nights because I was so worked up over Angela Chase's love life. Her love life was that good.

But seriously, MSCL holds up. And I marvel at the fact that a 40-year-old woman (Winnie Holzman) could make up a show about being a teenager, and totally nail it: the sublime highs, the wretched lows. When I was 16, I loved that show with my entire being. Actually, I still do, and I'm a grown ass woman.

So, I yesterday I found this, and it made me feel sad. Because is there no aspect of pop culture that is safe from mean, ironic white guys from Canada?

But you know what? Screw those Canadians. Because you can watch the entire series on Hulu for free for three more days, and I'm on vacation until next Tuesday. So Angela Chase's love life and I will be seeing you later.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I was looking at the December issue of Vogue the other day, and there was a whole page of thoughtful gift ideas for the people I love, and a couple of the items had "price upon request" in parentheses next to them--like the platinum and diamond whatever-you're-going-to drop-it-down-the-bathroom-drain-one-day-and-you'll-be-screwed. And I was like "eeewwwww."

Because, A) I can't imagine buying my mom something for Christmas that is too expensive to have a price tag on it because that's unbelievably gross. And B) if you think about it, all the luxuries--the things in life that make you feel really, legitimately good--are things people have been paying zero dollars for, for like 200,000 years. And even now, allowing for inflation, if they're not free they're still super cheap.

Fire: So, we have this wood stove, and basically it's turned our living room into the veldt, and my family into a herd of really lazy lions. Virginia calls what we do in front of the fire "wallerin," which, when translated into English from the original Appalachian, means "the opposite of doing manual labor." Anyway, what is more luxurious than a fire? Looking at a fire, feeling warm, messing with the fire, catching things on fire.... Fire is amazing.

Sunlight: Sunlight is basically like fire, only if I had to choose between sunlight and fire, I'd choose sunlight because my favorite day of every year is the day in March when the sun gets to that point where it's perfectly warm--you know that day? And so you drag a quilt out into the yard and lie there totally spread-eagle and maybe there are some clouds that obscure the sun for a while, and you're like "dammit clouds--go away!" but then the clouds do go away and you're like "awwwww yeeeeah," because somehow the existence of the clouds just made the sunshine 10% nicer than it had been before. And you guys, I just thought about it and decided I would pay $300 for that day in March if it wasn't already free. But it IS free. It's free!

Water: I used to live in the desert, and I loved some things about it: the weird plants and the stars at night and the sunsets--oh, the sunsets! But I couldn't live there forever because there weren't any places to swim. And every time I took a shower, I felt like I was killing a puppy.

Something about me: I work for an environmental nonprofit that protects rivers in Georgia, so it's kind of my job to be conscientious about my water use. But my secret shame is that I bet I shower as often as Ryan Seacrest. Because if I feel bad--if I'm sick or depressed or angry--the only thing that will make me feel better is an irresponsibly long and contemplative shower. I only hope the work I do 40 hours a week makes up for it.

Really Good Food: My dad has a garden--like a big-ass one with a perimeter of hurricane fence festooned with garlands of prison-grade razor wire to keep out the deer. Daddy can grow THE HELL out of some vegetables, and every year about the first week in July he calls me and says "come out and get some truck" (Appalachian-English translation: "truck"="vegetables") and I'm like, "is now good for you? Because I started rifling through your tomato plants 45 minutes ago."

So, you want to know my 2nd favorite day of the year? It's the one where I get a couple of really juicy, big tomatoes, an onion, a few Japanese eggplants, some yellow squash and a handful of fresh basil leaves and chop it all up together and cook it down a little bit. Then I eat it over rice in my bathing suit on the back porch with the ceiling fan going. No meal tastes better than that, and it only costs me like $.45 for the rice because my dad's an agricultural genius.

Touches: It is a well documented fact that people love sex. I would even go as far as to suggest that sex feeling good is the #1 reason for the existence of 99% of all the people you're always seeing all the time.

But more than anything else, people just like to be touched by other people. It makes us feel better. The other night, I rubbed my 92-year-old grandmother's feet until she went to sleep because she just got hip surgery and she's cranky and she deserved it--we all deserve it. Sometimes when I'm feeling not great, I just want someone to hug me. Nothing weird--just a smile and a hug and a little pat on the head. And all that is free--or it should be if you play your cards right.

Laughing: Seriously, you guys. How great is laughing? I love it so much, if the people I know weren't already so funny, I would pay a ton of money for someone to make me laugh.

So, all that's really luxurious, right? What am I missing?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Some Do's, Some Don'ts

My nephew Jacob used to stay with me a lot when he was about 4. I was living by myself when he and his family moved to Georgia from the decomposing center of Louisiana and were staying with my dad and Janice. With a house full of people telling him what to do, Jacob sometimes just needed to get the hell out, so he'd come spend the weekend with me.

Jacob and I got along really well, partly because I suspect we're both ENFPs. (Yes--if I know you, I have probably secretly judged you via the Meyer's Briggs Type Indicator. Sorry.) Even when he was really little, we used to have these long discussions about People--all kinds of people and their habits.

Sample conversation:

Jacob: Jessie, my dad says girls don't drive good. Why don't girls drive good?
Me: Well, Jacob--some girls can drive really well, and other girls drive like idiots. It all depends.
Jacob: Why? Why do some girls drive bad?
Me: Well, just as many boys are bad drivers. But people who don't drive well probably just didn't learn the right way, or they don't take it seriously enough or they're distracted. Or it's not a priority for them. I don't know.
Jacob: But some girls DO drive good?
Me: Yep. Your mom and Grandma and I are all girls and we're pretty good drivers, huh?

This was the part where he nodded knowingly--his suspicions validated. And then he closed it down with his trademark catchphrase:

"Some do's, some don'ts."
"Yep," I said. "Some do's, some don'ts."

I've been thinking about "Some Do's, Some Don'ts" lately because for the past few months, our household affairs have been almost laughably horrible. To wit: our dog died, my bike got stolen, Bryan has been working on an ulcer studying for a series of grueling tests, Odessa's been eschewing a good night's sleep with a firm hand, I've been unreasonably busy at work, we've had to get many, many thousands of dollars of work done on our cars, ET cetera.

And because things are shitty, I have had to remind myself every day to be gentle with Bryan and Odessa and the people at work and the grocery clerk and the person in the Mitsubishi in front of me at the red light, and myself--maybe especially myself. Because one thing I believe to be true is what Jacob picked up on when he was four years old: some people are going to behave one way, other people are going to behave another way--they just ARE. It's a law. Fighting the Some Do's, Some Don'ts Principle is what many, many people spend all the days of their lives doing, which is just plain unproductive and sad when you think about it. For instance, I pity people who devote their life's work to preventing gay people from being together. Because I got news: Some do's, Some don'ts.

So, my work for this autumn and winter has been a) trying to predict what some people are going to do's and don'ts, and b) formulating my strategy for dealing with their dos-ing and don'ts-ing before they do something that runs me crazy. As long as my strategy isn't asking them "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!?"

Because you know what? Some do's, Some don'ts. It's mystifying, but true.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Narcissistic Narwhal

My friend Katherine of Doodoo-vania fame has a blog called I'm Super, Thanks for Asking. It's really funny and you should read it.

Anyway, Katherine's a community college teacher, and the above picture is a little something she drew while she was grading exams, so OF COURSE she scanned it and put it on her blog.

And then after that she ended up finding a bag of hooker wigs outside her house (she didn't actually see the hooker[s] in question unloading the wigs, but has cause to believe they exist in a boarded-up trailer at the end of her street). She posted a photo of the wig bag on Facebook with a note "Come and get you one!" Which gave me the giggles.

Anyway, here's a photo of the hooker wigs because I figured you'd be curious:

You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In Which I Complain About the Cold, Again.

I'm a little dumbfounded.

34,000 feet above the bless'ed ground, and I'm sitting here in seat 26 C futzing around on The Internets. Will wonders never cease?

So, I've just been in Pennsylvania for a meeting. It is a lovely place. Also, one of my friends named Katherine (I have several) calls it Doodoo-vania. At first I wasn't sure why, but then I went there this week and found out that it's because the weather turns to bullshit around the middle of November and doesn't improve until April. I think the same probably goes for Doodoochusetts and Doodoocticut and Doodoompshire. Anything above the the Mason-Doodooxon Line, actually.

Okay--those jokes? They weren't good. I know that.

Anyway, Bryan has opinions about cold like you find in Doodoo-vania. When we lived in Montana, he kept saying I just needed to relax into the cold, accept it for what it was, pretend like the cold was my big, icy best friend who's really awesome but just has super smelly feet or something. But I never got the hang of it. I understand relaxing into the heat; it's just a matter of closing your mind and pushing through it. But there's something about the kind of cold I felt this week that's just wrong. It was like torture. The cold wanted my soul.

Oh, Christ. We're experiencing turbulence. And I can see the suburbs of Atlanta out this here starboard window.

Sweet, sweet Atlanta. You're so ridiculous and messed up, but so warm! I love that about you.