Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa is a Native American or, "I Played a Slot and I Liked It"

Of all the many splendid things the holiday season brings, weight-gain and Seasonal-Affect Disorder included, I think the gifts of this particular Christmas season have far out-shined any of the past, and possibly the future.

This year, Santa brought me the Red Hawk Casino.

I never used to like casinos until Red Hawk came along. The only time in my life I had ever gambled before was once when I was 18. Some friends and I took a late-summer sojourn to the Jackson Rancheria where I immediately lost $11.50 on some quarter slots. After the shocking blow to my already unstable confidence in the art of frittering money away, I vowed to never gamble again. Multiple trips to Vegas during college were moderately expensive, and the few dollars I had in my piddly bank account were spent on hotel rooms, trashy outfits, and lots of booze. My lavish lifestyle left me rich in memories, but close to penniless, so of course I wasn't going to lose the meager leftovers playing Keno next to a geriatric chain-smoker at the Barbary Coast.

But things have changed now. Old people don't bother me as much, and I've discovered that Keno is actually fun. The vow I once made has been broken, because friends, you're reading the words of a winner.

On my first visit to the Hawk (ca-caw!), I won $115 on some two-cent machines called "Hot Shot." I love Hot Shot. Yes, it's mindless, and most of the time you don't really win much more than maybe 60 cents, but if you're lucky like me you'll hit what they call a Double-Money, or Triple-Money, or Extra-Money bonus round. Getting a bonus round is like taking a giant hit of heroin. Now, I've never taken a hit of heroin, but I'd imagine this is as close as I'll ever come. The game console lights up, the tone of the music rises, reaches a climax, and Woo-Hoo!! You've won!! When I saw that little cash counter going up and up and up, well, I just about peed.

On my second visit to my new favorite place, I won $54 playing Caveman Keno. This otherwise obscure game would have gone unplayed had it not been for the sage advice of my mother, who knowingly indulges my unhealthy behavior. Caveman Keno only costs a quarter per play, which makes it somewhat more affordable than other games, and it keeps you playing for a good long time. In other words, it's an Endurance Game. Endurance Game is a term I just coined, so you can all thank me for that.

Oh! And there are free self-serve soda machines! (Sorry, no free booze. Yes, I too was disappointed). So if you're sorta down on your luck, just think, you're paying yourself back with every Pepsi you drink. MSRP on a medium Pepsi is roughly $2.00, so if you need to justify losing any significant part of your savings, just think, it's money you would have spent on drinks anyway. Perfectly sound logic if you ask me.

I'm sure that had my first two visits to this Native American paradise had resulted in losses, this blog would have never happened. But the reality is that I did win, and I might have a gambling addiction. I get high just talking about it. Just this morning I had the idea to create a gambling jar where I can put spare change, and then when it fills I'll reward myself for being a diligent change-saver and I'll use the money to feed my addiction at Red Hawk. What else am I going to do with my spare change? Probably nothing. I love this plan!

Naturally, it's best to manage all vices with care and moderation. But it's really hard when you reach that moment, just before placing another bet, and the room becomes latent with possibility. You press your finger to the button, and Hope is palpable. The music plays in a celebration of potential wealth and prosperity. The Future is calling.

Anyway, if you're in the foothill area, call me and I'll show you what I mean. Visualize the win, embrace the poor-odds, and drink the ambrosia of the soda machine.

Just don't get pissed at me if you lose.

In a time where things are looking grim for a lot of people, the Red Hawk Casino is like a shiny, neon, blinking beacon of hope, lighting the thick economic darkness. Not only does it offer the chance of coming home a winner, it's also a local employer. So gambling can't be all that bad. I love it there, and until I lose money, I will keep returning.

It is so damn scary how close that place is.

Friday, December 5, 2008

"So, I've Had A Few Beers," or When Will America Stop Sucking?

I hope you like reading my blog. I'm pretty sure if you're reading this now that you do, but there's always a chance that any blog entry could be the first blog entry and I'd hate for it to be a crumby one, and I want so badly for it to be a good one, so I hope I can perform. 

You see, I've been drinking.

I've even had the idea before to have a blog that is written exclusively in the drunk condition. What fun that would be! But so easy to fake, and you should know by now that authenticity is my number one goal.

Wow. I had to edit that so many times.

Ok, so anyway. The economy sucks. Such fucking bullshit. 

If you have a job, you're lucky. Don't try subbing, it sucks. 


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wal-Mart: Rolling Back Prices, Splattering Heads, or The Hazards of Bargain Hunting

Ok, you need to read this:

  • "(CBS/AP) A worker died after being trampled by a throng of unruly shoppers when a suburban Wal-Mart opened for the holiday sales rush Friday, authorities said. Nassau County polie said the 34- year-old worker was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead at about 6 a.m., an hour after the store opened. The cause of death was not immediately known."

This is a report from November 28th, 2008. And my friends, this is fucked up.

I love the holidays. I mean, I guess I do. They are great in a lot of ways. Time to reconnect with friends and family. Time to eat cookies in excessive quantities. Lots of time to lament having gotten suddenly and inexplicably fat.* Oh yeah, and people give presents.

I like getting presents. Like, who doesn't? The Great American Gift Exchange is an expensive tradition that allows us to show the people who mean the most to us just how little we actually know them. Sure I love my Aunt, but I don't want another jar of Vermont maple syrup. If it's the thought that's supposed to count, Hey relatives, start using your effing brains.

Despite the more enjoyable aspects of the season, "the most wonderful time of the year" has its drawbacks (e.g. Holiday Muffin Top, or Family Reunions). And one of the biggest bummers of the holidays is shopping for gifts. Stop in at any store between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, and odds are good that the lines will be out the friggin door. Even major retailers seem to always run out of the one awesome thing you wanted to buy your dad, leaving the poor guy to settle with another shitty tie. There are only so many great gift ideas to go around. I wonder if my dad would like a Bidet...

Now that we're all just coming off the whole post-Thanksgiving "Black Friday" thing, let's pause to think about that news story I showed you. Sure the holiday shopping rush is stressful and not all that fun, but just think: it could be your last.

Guys, a dude died at Wal-Mart. He DIED, because people are fucking nuts about getting a deal. I just... I just can't wrap my mind around wanting ANYTHING at Wal-Mart so badly that I'd:
  1. Line up outside Wal-Mart at 9 p.m. the night before the store opened. Yes, people did that.
  2. Stampede through the doors when they opened at 5 in the g-damned morning.
  3. See a worker in my path and actually physically push him to the floor in a selfish, mob-induced frenzy for blocking the cheap-o DVD rack.
  4. Proceed to step on his head/stomach/wiener/etc., so as to effect his death.
Talk about bargain hunting! They're rolling back prices, and the people are out for blood.

Thanks Wal-Mart for opening all those extra check-out lanes so my food-stamp-munching, death-trample friends and I can more easily waste our hard-earned factory wages on toys no longer made within the borders of the great nation we claim to love with magnetic ribbon-shaped bumper stickers. So much tacky shit to buy, (apparently) so little time. I like America, but I fuckin' LOVE a deal, man! And I'll kill you to get it.

In fact, according to that article, the Wal-Mart bum-rush wouldn't even stop to allow paramedics to resuscitate the poor, dying man. And in the midst of the unimaginable, hellish chaos, at least three other people were injured.

Seriously. What is wrong with these people. Would Mary and Joseph have tried to kill the Wal-Mart staff on Jesus' 1st birthday to get a better price on swaddling cloth? Me thinketh not.

Everyone, the moral of this story is simple: Let's keep holiday manslaughter to a minimum. Let re-gifting tube socks be the extent of your yuletide misdemeanors. Deals are great, but killing other human beings at Wal-Mart to get them is unforgivable.

*It was those damn delicious cookies.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Two-Day Vacation From Facebook, or "Let's Cut The Small Talk"

I know more about you than you think.

Creepy, huh? I know, it is. It's creepy that I know you got married three months ago. It's creepy that I've never in fact met your baby, but if I wanted to kidnap her I'd know exactly who to look for. I also know what your apartment looks like, and your beer of choice. I know who's potentially got a crush on you, the names of all your favorite books, and where you're going on vacation. It's fucking creepy, but I know.

I know, because Facebook told me.

Four years ago when Facebook launched, I was staunchly opposed. Why do I need a website to keep in touch with my friends? How does this change any thing. What a dumb idea... A dumb I idea I wish I had thought of.

Of course, back then there wasn't much to do on Facebook. At the beginning, there was no real reason to spend countless hours browsing friends profiles. No deep, insightful, emotional status updates. In fact, when Facebook started friends from high school who wanted to keep in touch did it the old fashioned way: through e-mail. Wasn't that impersonal enough? Sending messages to people on the internets? Anything less than hand-written mail, or a face-to-face encounter seemed entirely too newfangled to me. But, I guess I was wrong. Again. Seems to be a pattern.

Anyway. In light of all the time-sucking Facebook can do, I took a break. Having had quite literally nothing to do for the last few weeks besides walk my dog, go to spin class, and tutor Geometry (oh, the thrilling life I lead!), I found myself spending far too much time on the 'book. Like a drug, or better yet, a cancer, Facebook had encroached on my time, and was eating away at the very embers of my being. I was losing my life to Facebook. When checking an empty email inbox and a pathetically short-changed checking account trickles into 'The Mundane,' Facebook seemed to offer a sort of voeuyristic repreive. A chance to see how my life stacked up to those of my friends. A chance to feel... normal.

Yeah, it didn't work.

Every damn day, someone new got engaged. And then someone else was having another kid. And someone started learning a lot in grad school, or was travelling Europe. And then someone else was working at some super-sweet job, or just bought a house, or worse... was getting married! Good God, was no one sane anymore? Had no one else moved home out of boredom or financial need? AM I THE ONLY ONE ON THIS GODDAMNED JOURNEY TOWARD HAPPINESS?

According to Facebook, I was. So I quit. But as you can see, it didn't last.

Yes, I'm a little disappointed with myself. I thought I was stronger. I thought I had what it took to say NO to Facebook. But my will to take a stand has waned, and my desire to poke people and write wall comments expressing my sheer delight at seeing them last night in Folsom took over. Guys, if you thought Lisa Zine was a strong woman, you thought wrong. I may not really keep in touch with you that well, but dammit, I know whats going on in your life. That party you went to last weekend looked like a lot of fun, but you should lay off the booze for awhile. And your baby is growing up so fast! Also, you looked awesome in your wedding dress. Thanks for the invitation. (Bitch). Omg! Just kidding.... Poke!

Granted, I may love poking, but I don't necessarily love Facebook. Some days it makes me feel like I'm on the wrong path, or that my life is a giant bore, or that I should be going to Vegas more often. Other days I'm just glad to know my friends are still alive. But if there's anything to actually love about Facebook is that it really cuts down on the need for small talk at bars.

Let's take last night, for example. We're out at a local bar. We're "catching up," as they used to say in the olden days. The beer's flowing, the chicks are pretty fugly. Life is good. And best of all, as stated above, I already know what's going on with you. Chances are either one of us could spout off a few unimportant details about where we are and what we're doing, and it wouldn't be news to either of us. And isn't that awesome? In so many instances I was able to cut through the bullshit and right to the good stuff: "So ___ has gained weight, huh? Awesome."

So if Facebook has done this for me, the least I can do is stay loyal to it. It kills me a little bit to know that my sobatical didn't last longer than a few hours (about 48-ish). I'm merely human. And frankly I'm a bored human. But it's Thanksgiving, and the holidays always make me feel warm inside. And so does Facebook, with or without all its demons.

So get ready. Next time I see you, I'll know exactly what you've been up to. And I won't even ask.

Happy Thanksgiving, Facebook Friends.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How I Lost Myself to LOST, or Forgive the Trite Analogy But This Show is Like Crack

I did it. I finally caved.

When the gardening is done, the dishes are clean, and the town you're living in is a virtual no-man's land in terms of stimulating activity, one must get creative in the way of entertainment. Well folks, my creativity is waning, and the best I can seem to come up with is God's gift to modern man: TV on DVD.

I started watching LOST.
Ok, I know what you're thinking, because I've thought it myself. WHY? WHY, LISA, DID YOU START WATCHING LOST? Are you really that bored? Has your mind rotted due to over sleeping? Are you actually that interested in joining a cult?

And you know, I can't really answer those questions, because I don't know why I started an innocent experiment that has now become an addiction. It's not that I found LOST, but more like LOST... found me. But at least I'm not totally bummed out about the Olympics being over. I swear, it's like crack with a disc menu.

LOST is more addictive than Pinkberry, and more entertaining than watching lions mate at the zoo. A thousand times more entertaining! I'm hesitant to admit this, but I guess for the sake of how pathetic is, I'll have you know I've spent somewhere around 23 hours over the last four days devouring the entire first season. Now there's no way I could watch lions do anything for 23 hours, much less crave it more and more on a (pretty much) hourly basis.

To my fellow LOST-is-a-ridiculous-trend resistors, I only have this to say: Please, do yourself a favor and swallow your pride. Start drinking the Kool-Aid. I held back for so long that my staunch opposition just, wore away like the sands of time. And perhaps that's why now I'm able to enjoy LOST without guilt, shame, or reservation. The way it was meant to be enjoyed... while you're unemployed.

You wanna know the best thing about watching the show? It's not how dramatic it is, or how badly it makes you want to visit Hawaii. It's not how you feel empowered, nay convinced, at the end of each episode that you'd totally be able to sustain your own life and the lives of 40 other people if stranded on an island and given only a smattering of random supplies. The best thing about LOST is not how it makes you wonder how many strangers you could potentially call friends, nor is it how scared you are to go outside in your backyard at night. No, the best thing about watching LOST is telling other people about how you started watching LOST.

I mean it. And I know this because I experienced the phenomenon last weekend.

Whilst visiting some long LOST friends* in LA (which, let's face it, often feels like an island you can't escape), I was asked frequently by my inquisitive companions just what it is I'm doing with myself now that I've moved home. And instead of getting into the humdrum details of the nothingness that has consumed my every day, I was able to sound delightfully occupied and productive when I mentioned that I had started watching season one of LOST. The show's role in my life, as a stand-in for friends and career advancement, spared me the embarrassment that the truth would have surely forced me to suffer.

By mentioning that I have started watching LOST it is evident to anyone listening that my inner strength has indeed weakened, but said message can be read between the lines. I can save face, while maintaining an air of serenity. Yes, my life is like a party you never want to leave, is what my audience hears. Don't worry about me, friend, I have plenty to do and have learned much about hunting boars in the wild. I'm very well adjusted, and want for nothing. You needn't worry about me. Now go in peace.

Trust me, it's pretty much the best thing ever.

So if you're on the fence about hopping on the bandwagon of the most underrated-overrated show ever, I'd encourage you to just go ahead and bite the bullet. Get in there and get all messy in it. Start from the beginning, and succumb to the obsession. Just because you have stupid friends who like it, it doesn't make you stupid too.

And besides, the worst thing that could happen is you have a few pseudo-thrills and something kind of lame to talk about.

*Get it? Get it?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Moving Home Has Revealed Dark Truths About My Taste or, True Confessions of a Closet Country Fan

Moving home is an emotional experience.

It's an ambiguous mix of sadness, relief, hope, and disbelief. For me it's only been about 8 weeks, but I find myself asking with unnerving regularity questions like, "Did I really move back here?" and, "How long is this going to last?" and, "If I'm not paying rent, where did all my money go?"*

For those of you who haven't moved home or aren't quite sure what I'm talking about, I'd encourage you to stop grinning smugly at your financial independence. Just wait. Your time will come.

But it's not a bad thing. I mean, the temporary retreat from mainstream society has its perks. Not long after making the trek back up north, I realized just how much of my time had been needlessly eaten up by work. Unemployment, under the right circumstances,** can be pretty sweet. It's freed up a lot of my time to do important things like plant a vegetable garden, watch the summer Olympics, and run errands. Boredom can always be remedied with a trip to Target, or an afternoon spent baking, slash, berating myself for being way too young to be acting like a suburban housewife.

All of that's fine, really. But, every silver lining has a cloud blocking it. So if trips to Target is my silver lining, then my cloud is that while I'm driving there, I've started to listen to the radio.

I know! I know! It's terrible, and I'm sorry but I have very few alternatives! I've listen to my CD collection probably twelve times in the last month, and I lack sufficient funds to update it with deep, creative, substantive music. I own zero books on tape, and whether I like it or not (which I don't) there are moments where I just can't stand the silence.

But the really sucky thing is that Sacramento radio stations are worse than stepping on a rusty nail. Sure it sounds dramatic, but I can't think of anything else that gets the point across. Sac radio is worse than... Paying off your credit cards? Drinking flat generic cola? Sitting next to a crying baby on a plane? Losing your little toe at a cock fight?

Scratch that. I'd rather listen to the radio if it meant I'd never have to hear the death-cries of a baby on a plane. Crying babies are the worst.

But I think you get my point. The radio around these here parts eats shit, so it's no small wonder I've been forced to seek creative solutions to this frequency deficiency problem.

Solutions like... listening to Country.

(Oh God, I may have just lost half my readers.)

Whatever. I'm admitting it right here, right now, out loud.

Throughout my formative years, like any kid I went in and out of various musical phases. One phase lasted for several months in which I just about worshiped Sarah McLachlan (I was eleven, sue me). Then there was another phase where I "discovered" punk and started wearing All Stars. Luckily, I survived both.

Following the McLachlan phase, I became a slave to peer acceptance, and shackled with the chains of conformity I was unable to indulge in my appreciation for country music. Unless I wanted to face inevitable public shaming and ostracizing from my already chilly classmates, I was wise to ignore the tender place in my heart for songs revering Chevy Pick-ups or those reproaching abusive boyfriends. Maybe it's all the Crystal Light I've been drinking, or the excessive lounging around that has led to the regrettable demise of my good taste, but I can't help it. I wish I could stop, but I keep finding myself tuning into the country radio station, singing along to songs like "Jesus Take The Wheel," aloud in my kitchen while I bake cobbler. I may be damn near unrecognizable to my friends, to hell with it, I live at home now and that opens the door to real life honesty even I can't fully understand. So I don't give a crap anymore.

Judge me not, friends. Moving home is a big change, and a difficult one at that. So a person is forced to find comfort in even the darkest of places. And for me, 101.9 FM "The Wolf" is that dark place. But you know what? It feels good. It's unabashedly cheesy, and it makes me proud to be an American. I actually kind of like country music, and if that bothers you I couldn't possibly care less.

So feel free to join me in my kitchen anytime.

Sing loudly enough and I might give you half of my next cobbler.

*I think it has mostly gone towards gas and frozen yogurt runs.

**Thanks Mom and Dad, for not considering me a complete failure.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Loving the Olympics Makes Me Hate Myself, or I Get the Gold Medal for Mid-20s Angst

Despite what my box of Cheerios tells me, I am not an Olympic Champion.

Neither is this guy.

When I was 9 years old I took gymnastics lessons. For six months I tumbled. I cart-wheeled. I jumped on a trampoline. And while the other girls in my level (they called it Basic A), all quickly mastered the fundamentals, I was left behind in the proverbial dust, unable to complete a back walkover.

I quit gymnastics before ever moving up to Level 1.

Sure, at the time it was disappointing, but at that point in my life, the future was full of possibility. When my dream of Gymnastic Gold died on the balance beam (scariest shit ever) alongside my confidence, I was still just a young woman of 9 years. Although at that age I could have competed for China, I chalked my failure up to experience and moved on to my next endeavor. It was probably swim team, or dance or something else I was terrible at.

Which I guess brings me to my next point:

I like watching the Olympics, but I know not why.

It's likely that my Olympic fascination centers around the abundance of shirtless men, all at the peak of their physical fitness.* I mean, at the end of the day (and even at the beginning) I am a girl, after all. Perhaps the Olympic games are really just about satiating my carnal appetite without watching porn...

But I doubt that.

I like the national pride that comes with winning medals. I like the cheesy national anthem playing as my new favorite competitor takes the podium (kind of, I also think the medals ceremonies are a bit long and uncomfortable/unfun to watch). And I like that events are featured that I'd normally never ever think to watch on ESPN because I loathe ESPN and wouldn't watch anything on that channel anyway.

Swimming, for example, is really only fun to watch when it's Olympic swimming. Hurdling is only fun to watch when it's Olympic hurdling. Same goes for water polo, fencing, gymnastics, and a barrage of other sports that are only entertaining when the competition is for "The Gold."

I like that the Olympics count for something. Like Pride. Glory. And Kicking the rest of the world's ass on a global stage without using guns or bombs or WMDs. The world remembers for years what you did as an Olympic athlete. Your accomplishments are called "historic," and "unbelievable," and you set records and stuff. It means something. Unlike the NBA, or the NFL or any number of professional sports leagues, the Olympics has an air about it that makes it feel more legit. You could pay me $10 million dollars to play professional basketball, and sure I'll work hard because I'm being paid $10 million dollars. But it's the Olympians** who have the real heart, the real balls to get up every morning and train. When the game is over and a team has that look of profound joy and relief and disbelief on their faces, it's just really cool to watch. It sounds goofy, but I love that shit.

But, in spite of all the rock hard abs and national pride and feel-good crap, I can't help but find the Olympics more than a little depressing.

Recall the pathetic story I told you about me as an incapable 9 year old. Take that same girl and fast forward 13 years, and sure you've got a modest list of accomplishments, but not one of them comes close to achieving an "Olympic Dream." Not one of them even comes close to qualifying for the Olympic qualifiers.

Those gymnasts are freaking young! I mean, at 16 I was proud of myself for things like getting an A on an Algebra II test, or not getting into a car accident during my first year of being a licensed driver. If I didn't feel bad about my thighs, or my hair looked good for more than 6 hours, that was a good day! My mind at that point could barely wrap itself around surviving high school, much less concept of Olympic destiny, or anything even remotely like it for that matter.

So when I say it's depressing to watch the Olympics I don't really mean that I get thoughts of loneliness or hopelessness while watching. I don't want to stay in my pajamas and mope around the house in the dark all day long. I wouldn't rather be watching soap operas. I just wish I had a little more to show for my 23 years. If those little non-menstruating girls can go home Olympic champions, and if Michael Phelps can win 100 Gold Medals before the age of 24, I'd just like to be able to sit in the same room with those kids and not feel totally inadequate.

And I'd be remiss to say I wasn't totally jealous of all the attention. Damn straight I'm jealous. The glitz and glamour of being a world-class athlete would be totally awesome and intoxicating. I'd deal with the stress just fine if I knew I could give a shout out to my mom on international television at the end when I raked in another win.

The Olympics are cool. But they lure me into the danger of thinking that I should have peaked by now. I'm 23 and I just moved home to the most boring place on earth to coach junior high volleyball and substitute teach in order to work myself out of debt. I have maybe 4 friends within 10 miles, and I planted a failing vegetable garden to keep myself busy.

If this is the top of my game, there's not a whole lot of room to fall.

And maybe that's a good thing.

Hi, Mom.

*This was Tommy's observation. But I mean, really. Even I'll jump on the Michael Phelps bandwagon despite its being totally overplayed in the media.

** Obviously I'm completely dismissing Olympic sports that allow pro-athletes to play. Kobe Bryant shouldn't be an Olympian. I kind of think it's bullshit.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Too Many Chicks In One Room Is Not A Good Idea, or "Sex and the City," Yikes.

Women, in mass quantities, could feasibly end the world.

I say this, because I had the supremely disturbing experience of going to see "Sex and the City" on opening night last weekend. It was pink. It was loud. It smelled like a perfume counter.

And it renewed my faith in Men.

Like most women between the ages of 18 and 40 (maybe 1 and 100?), I enjoy the HBO series "Sex and the City." It took me and my dear friend Kristin 6 months to watch all bajillion episodes last year, and now that I've had the oddly pleasurable experience of watching the last two-and-a-half hour episode, er, movie, I can say I've seen it all. And I can add to that that in all honesty, despite the ration of shit I have gotten from my male associates, it was enjoyable.

For the most part.

Maybe it's because it was opening night (worst idea ever), or maybe because it's the only movie of the summer targeted specifically at women ("Iron Man" could count, because Robert Downey, Jr. is very much back on his game, but not for purposes of my argument), or maybe because I'll always be skeptical of Other Women who aren't my proven, trusted friends, but going to see this movie can only be described as an utterly bizarre, rude awakening as to how women across the country behave and what they must be thinking.

I'll break it down into several phases:

Phase I: Standing In Line

Naturally, on opening night of virtually any anticipated film there will be a line. But the line for "Sex and the City" stands in a category all by itself. I got there almost an hour early, and waited and watched as hundreds (literally hundreds, it was so scary!) of women lined up behind me, all giddy and eager, all with the same look of hopeful desperation on their faces, as if they'd all been waiting three years for an orgasm that never...quite...came. In groups of four, sometimes five or six (any more than four is sooo passe), they chatted, and giggled, and often full-on squawked. Many tried way too hard to look "the part" with fancy heels and flashy couture. Others had horrifically large collagen-filled lips and Botox-deadened eyebrows. And there was more pink in that line than I've ever seen in one place. The group of chicks in front of us had even fashioned these horrendous shirts earlier that day.

An explosion at a nearby Amoxicillin factory would have made more sense. As it was, the sickening pink obsession happening in that line was more than this girl could handle.

Phase II: Being Herded Into The Theater Like Cows to the Slaughter

Eating beef on occasion does not imply that I would ever enjoy being part of a cattle drive, but as the doors opened to the theater, I had no say in the matter and was reduced just another piece of dress-wearing meat. Luckily my friends and I were at the front of the line and thus able to avoid the absurdity of cat-fighting our way into a row of seats next to each other. Equally lucky was I to witness said absurdity. As the bitches flooded in, it was nothing short of a shit-show battle for chairs. It's baffling how inclined to fight "the fairer sex" can be. Sure, women are generally more inclined to share (it's a quality we have a natural tendency to adopt as children), but for some reason all efforts to "be nice" disappear when really important stuff is on the line. Really important stuff like a perfectly unobstructed view of all the totally awesome outfits Carrie Bradshaw wears in the most totally awesome city in alllll the land, New York.* Look out ladies, there are other, more vicious women around, and they will verbally smack you down if you insist on saving seats.

Phase III: The Crazy-ass Fucking Screaming During The Opening Credits

Yeah. So the theme song came on, and it was mayhem. So much screaming.

Phase IV: Watching The Movie and Feeling Like A Soulless Vacuum For Not Crying

So much dramatic stuff happened, it was almost laughable (to me). For everyone else it was apparently quite cryable. I mean, I see how trying to wrap up a nearly 10-year series with a loyal (almost overly-so) audience in less than 2 hours could be difficult, so I applaud the writers' efforts to cram in a plausible narrative storyline in with years and years of background. But some of the emotional stunts they pull are just silly. They're designed to get you to cry, and then to laugh, and then to cry again... those bastards. I see right through their dirty tricks! Dammit if I'll be turning on the waterworks when those fab-four shove their ludicrously expensive wardrobes and their enviable luxury lifestyles in my face while I get ready to leave my pointless job and move home.

All in all, the movie itself was...well, fun I guess. It was mostly predictable, but Carrie changes her hair color at one point, so I guess it was a little unpredictable, too. I enjoyed seeing the characters for one last hurrah, and I'm not "unglad" that I went. There are things in life I'm not proud of, but that's no reason to hide them in a shoe box on a shelf in my retardedly huge, custom designed closet.** But similar to radiation from an atom bomb, the estrogen fall-out from that movie theater will probably be enough to give me PMS for a month.

...and it might even destroy the world.

*What? Don't act like you didn't know.
**That's a loose reference to the movie, if you haven't, or don't plan to see it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Apparent Nightmare of Working Motherhood, or, "I Can Teach My Kids Spanish By Myself, Thank you Very Much"

This entry is all about advice I'm not qualified to give.

First piece of advice: Avoid Credit Card Debt.

Second piece of advice: Don't Bitch To Me About Your Nanny.

If you count a degree in Communications something real and/or of value, then you can call me a college educated, reasonably intelligent person. I realize that there are issues out there in the world on which people have varying opinions. Some opinions are stronger, some are weaker, and although I am a woman, I too have a point of view that some egalitarian societies would consider valid. While I generally tend to veer away from divisive issues because I want everyone to like me, this is a safe place where women are free, so I think it's OK for me to blog my mind. I'm a grown up now (not really), and after seeing the poster enough times I realize that being right is not always popular, and being popular is not always right. Or whatever.*

Don't worry, I'm not going to write about abortion or the death penalty or gay marriage or states' rights. Let's be honest, I have reached a certain level of cyber-popularity,** and now that I have an online reputation to maintain I'd rather not stir up any shit in my posted comments section lest I risk losing any one of my 4-7 readers.

Plus you already figured out that this entry is about Nannies, so you know it's not going to be that outrageous. This isn't Berkeley. And I'm not some fanatic (Berkeley is the only place you can find fanatics these days). So let's get started...

Face the facts, reader: Nannies are the new Mommies.

It's true. The times they are a'changin', and what was once commonplace, over time becomes passe.

Green Tea is the new Coffee.
Quitting Jobs and Moving Home is the new Hard Work.
Hooking up is the new Going Steady.

Nannies are the new Mommies.

Granted, the notion of "A Village" raising "A Child" is not an entirely new thing. Maternal Expert and Presidential Hopeful, Hilary Rodham Clinton, even went so far as to write a book on this very subject! One I don't plan on reading. But even before Hilary, it was supposedly an African proverb (however, the truth of that statement has not yet been verified by Wikipedia, but I trust 90% of what they say 90% of the time).

Apparently we have a lot to learn from Africa. And from Hilary Clinton.

Or do they have a lot to learn from me? Because I'm pretty sure that regardless of the truth in the idea that a child's community and society are very much influential components of that child's upbringing, I'm also pretty sure that Parents raise Children. Call me old fashioned, but I'm almost positive I'm right.

The way I learned it was: Parents get drunk... Parents conceive child... Parents give birth to child... Parents raise child. It makes sense to me, but my un-hipness is more apparent by the minute, because from what I can see, even this simple formula has become passe.

Why? You ask.

Because I hear a lot about Nannies. Specifically bitching about Nannies.

A woman I work with recently had twins and until she hired a new one, she was always bitching about her nanny. Ok, so twins have got to be a massive handful for a new mom. Zero to sixty in nine months. I get it. Taking care of one baby is enough of a handful, so naturally two babies would be very overwhelming for anyone... including a Nanny, right?

Maybe I'm really anti-nanny because I don't make enough money at present to justify getting one. If I had a kid, it'd be just as expensive for me to employ someone to raise it while I went to work as it would be to not work at all. Perhaps if I was actually realizing my earning potential, I'd be more inclined to hire a Spanish-speaking mother for my children. But likely not.

Lady, if you want your babies to be held a certain way, or fed at a certain time, or to acknowledge you as their primary caretaker, you should stop bitching all day about your nanny and either train her to be JUST LIKE YOU, or quit your job and RAISE YOUR CHILDREN.

I didn't hire anyone to do my homework for me in high school. I didn't hire anyone to do my job for me at work. And I don't plan on hiring a pinch-runner-nanny to raise my kids for me.

Mostly because I hate working.

*Note that I am actually too lazy to re-arrange the verbiage of that phrase, and would rather just insert a footnote.

**Also, it is un-confirmable.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Misery Loves (working for a) Company, or "I Quit My Job Again, Please Don't Be Shocked."

I quit my job again.

Surprise, surprise.

I didn't last too long at this one, either. Last fall I quit my first job. Here we are, in the dead of Springtime, and already I've quit my second job. They say (and They are always right) that the average person makes an average of seven career changes over the course of their average lifetime. Well, I guess if I was Average I'd have five more chances to get my shit together and amass my fortune.

But I'm not average. Am I.

Nope. I consider myself to be quite un-average, and in some cases even above average. It was true when it came to my BMI as a 9 year old. It was true when I took the SAT II Writing Exam (I am brilliant, clearly), and it is especially true now as I explore the very awful, unfriendly, and disconcerting world of Work. You don't believe me, perhaps, but I am something of a phenom when it comes to Working. Allow me to explain...

Regarding my experience in the workforce, my contributions are nothing short of astounding, and my potential to be an Outstanding Employee has only been overshadowed by my potential to be a Disgruntled Employee. In the last year, I have discovered that I have what some people might call "Extraordinary Abilities."

For example, I have the extraordinary ability to start showing up late once I have decided I am going to quit. And in fact today, having quit early last week and sensing the end of my tenure nearing, I left for two hours at lunch without remorse, nor regret. No one seemed to notice or care and I received all of ONE email over that span of time. So now that I have established this precedent, I will most likely not rush back to the office on my next much anticipated lunchtime voyage to the Northridge Trader Joe's.

Another example: I also have the extraordinary ability to take simple tasks that would take an "average" worker a few hours and stretch them out over the course of a workweek, thus achieving the two-fold goal of appearing excessively busy throughout the day while successfully using most of my time to chat online, draw nonsense pictures on MS Paint, and click on randomly selected links to Youtube videos that I am sent by people I love and trust - who are also extraordinarily talented workers.*

A third notable sample of my unparalleled, uninspiring on-the-job talent is my ability to manufacture water-tight, non-negotiable excuses to leave. Among those excuses have been: "I'm sorry, but I hate this job, and actually I'm not sorry," and "This is more inconvenient for you than it is for me, but I'm moving, and I won't be taking this job with me." Such exemplary reasons for quitting my job(s) have only come about as a result of my OTHER extraordinary ability to complain about my place of work and the duties I am forced to perform there. Chances are, if you have ever actually talked to me (and the chances are good), you will know just how overly-achieved I am at this (I guess some things never change). I like to list it on my resume under Special Skills. Yes, Future Employer, not only am I bilingual - for someone who looks Mexican I speak some damn good broken Spanish - I will also think of and vocalize to my friends and family a thousand reasons your company sucks, and how upon hiring me the work you'll make me do will drain my soul of its ability to feel.

My list of extraordinary qualifications goes on and on...

But the gist of it is, I quit it's my job.

Which makes me think a few things.** The first being, is it possible to be a Serial Employee? We've all heard of Serial Killers and hip, trendy 21st century catch phrases like "Serial Monogamist," so why not Serial Employee? I could make my living by going from job to job, nailing interviews, breezing through training, getting promptly into the swing of things and then lowering the axe - BOOM! BAM! TWO WEEKS BITCHES I QUIT!

If there is a job out there for someone who quit jobs, then I'm definitely a qualified candidate.

"Tell us, Ms. Zine, what was it you did at your last job?"

"Oh, well, I quit my last job. And the job before it."

"Fantastic! You appear to be just what we're looking for. We'd love to hire you, but we hope you'll leave soon."

Only in a perfect world...

Let the blog-record show that I have indeed quit my job and will be moving to Northern California sometime this summer. Instead of two weeks, I gave them two months. And while I have never used the excuse, "I hate this job," I really do hate working.

*We should form a League, and call it The League of Extraordinary Workers. Who's with me?!

** I have a very active mind, despite its being numbed by hours of mundane, drawn-out tasks.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Summer Heat Makes Me Sorta Bitchy, or The Bummer Of Imperfect Genetics

Damn, it is hot.

I mean, good Lord, it's only April.

Spring itself is but a babe in arms, just barely a month old (not even off the breast!) and yet she somehow displays the unbecoming heat of her adolescent sister, Summer - complete with slutty outfits and bad attitude, to be sure.

Point is, it's been fucking hot out, and I'm so over it already. In just two days of turning on the A/C I've grown weary of going to sleep at night splayed atop my covers like a dead animal, my t-shirt sticky against my lightly sweaty skin. Hard to believe, right? since it sounds so fun. I've tried sleeping with a re-freezable cold pack, which kind of helps but not really since the unbearable warmth between my breasts ultimately sucks the cold right out of it. I've also tried keeping a glass of cool water at my bedside, which again fails me miserably not only because it's lukewarm by about 12:30am, but because it causes me to have to pee at regular intervals throughout the night. This is both terribly uncomfortable and disruptive to my sleep cycles and sends my resting heart rate through the roof; that is, once I can stop battling the voices in my head that tell me to stay in bed it's a-ok to piss my pants.

My final method of choice is, I believe, a pretty common fall-back heat fighting option: The Cold Shower. Sure it calms my nerves when I'm feeling unbearably sexy with no place to go*, but it's also in theory a good way to lower one's core temperature and relieve oneself of the awfulness that is Summer heat. Of course, once I'm actually IN the shower with the water ON, it's all but impossible to heat the water right back up. Goosebumps and shivers are hardly a cure to heat exhaustion. God, nothing helps. It's so annoying.

But this brings me to my actual point, and it is this: Some things are really only good in theory.

Yeah, yeah I know. This is hardly a new thought. I'm not claiming to forge new philosophical ground, people. Never claimed to do nothin' of the sort. Allz I do is write what I think, and right now I'm thinking it's an effing hotbox in my room, and yes sometimes my thoughts are terrifically ordinary. So what. You can stop reading.

That aside, I think it actually is an interesting notion to ponder, because I often find myself doing or thinking things that work in my head, but in reality (or in practice, as they say) fall somewhere short of realistic.

Take, for instance, this two-headed baby.

In theory, if I saw this double-faced baby say, at the grocery store with her/their mom, or playing on a swing at the park, I would be very gracious and kind. I would try not to make the parents feel awkward or judged by their child's (or is it children's?) genetic misfortune. No, in theory I would be the model compassionate citizen and politely offer the little girl(s) two Otter-pops whenever I hosted a backyard BBQ, and two goodie bags at my kid's birthday party. And I would even be cool enough to casually dismiss the existence of the child's two faces by blurring my eyes when I looked at them so that the two faces created one. In theory, I would NOT make puns about the child's "duplicitous nature," or watch Batman Forever in her presence (the one where Tommy Lee Jones plays Two-Face... that would be so brutal).

But that's just in theory.

In reality, if I saw this poor little baby with two faces in the arms of its mother, I would almost certainly have trouble not gawking. Of course I wouldn't make faces, or stare with my mouth agape**... but I'd probably stare. Just a little. I'm sorry! It's just so rare, and COME ON TWO FACES! I know, there should be a place where all the people who have unbelievable curiosities about them can get together and showcase their absurd genetic "gifts!" And this place should be under a big red and white striped tent.... with a circle in the middle where they can go display themselves in brightly colored clothing... and people can come and eat peanuts and watch them eat Otter-pops.... Oh, and there should be elephants.

Great idea, right? IN THEORY. (Cue Old Man in a derby waving his hand across the sky saying in his most convincing voice, "I got big dreams kid. We're gonna be rich!") I fear in reality this would be a lot like the circus, which is a frightening, horrible place to take a child. Even a two-faced child.

I'm a horrible person.

In a perfect world no one would have four eyes and two mouths. In theory, even in our completely imperfect world "no one" really has four eyes and two mouths. But then again, the world is a much nicer place, in theory...

Take a second and re-read the circus comments.

Looks like I, too, am much nicer in theory.

*That's actually plainly untrue. Nothing helps.

** Yes I would.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 Truly Blows My Mind, or "WF, 23, well-Endowed, Seeks LTR with the Internet."

My God, I do love Craigslist.

If and when I have a baby boy (fingers crossed- I don't want to have to drown a girl!) I'm going to consider naming him Craig. Or at least nicknaming him Craig. I'm not sure that the name Craig is actually a name I'd give my child, but I want the point to be clear that I'd fucking fight lions for Craigslist and love it enough to briefly mention in my blog that I might possibly, but not probably, consider naming my future son Craig.

I know! I'm going to name my dog Craig. No, strike that. I'm naming my dog CRAIGSLIST!

Here boy! Fetch mommy a new couch!

Perhaps you're reading this and have thus begun to scratch your chin, deep in thought as to why exactly I am so in love with Craig and his infamous list. In fact, I'm sure that's what you're doing right now. Even if you weren't before, I bet you just scratched your chin. Don't lie, I know you did, I sawl it.

My first reason for loving Craigslist is that it has provided me with countless hours of free entertainment in the form of the Craigslist Personals. Take for random example, Chris: a 39 year-old pantyhose lover from Brentwood.

Pantyhose lover seeks same... - 39 (Brentwood)

Reply to:
Date: 2008-04-22, 8:18PM PDT

I have always loved the look and feel of women's legs in nylon. I especially like sheer suntan pantyhose worn with casual clothes, like shorts and sneakers (but skirt and heels are nice, too!). I am not looking for sex necessarily; just some pantyhose modeling, maybe a little role play and all the leg and foot massage you want.

Hope to hear from you,
Chris (Pantyhose lover in Brentwood)

Chris is just a regular guy, right? He's just your average, hosiery-loving Dude. He doesn't want to hurt anyone. Hell, he doesn't even want sex! Chris just likes a little hose on his ho's... you knows? And he lives in Brentwood, the birthplace of Class. How convenient that would be for me, if only I were a woman who wore pantyhose* and enjoyed disturbing role play... and wanted to DIE while getting a foot massage.

A match made in heaven, surely, for some lucky broad.

I can imagine the response he'll get, ultimately from an EXTREMELY classy ol' cougar, crusty with uneven self tanner and Tahitian-Temptress nylons (obviously trying to hide the unsightly spots with which Time has cursed her). "Well hello there young man," she'll write (in her sexiest font - let's face it, probably Lucida Calligraphy). "I may be old enough to be your mother, but I'm kinky enough to pretend I really am. I just LOVE role-play and at 67, I'm no stranger to close encounters with death. I've had three orally-induced strokes already! I hope you're ready for this gray-haired goddess!"

Oh, Chris. You are hilarious. And pathetic. And you've successfully humiliated yourself in front of everyone in the whole world. I hope I see you at Coral Tree on Sunday morning with a nylon-donning dame on your arm. And I hope it's Dame Judi Dench, cuz damn that old bitch is fly.

So perusing other peoples' lamentable love-quests is one really good reason for naming my future doggie Craigslist. Because this magical place has the power to bridge the gap (sometimes the gaping hole, if we're still talkin' old broads) between people. Craigslist supports Honesty and the Power of Love, which is the most powerful force in alllll the land!

Another reason I love Craigslist is that it provides me with a sense of possibility. When I get bored at work, which is all day every day, I often like to take a look at real estate in far away places. Places like Greece, and Indonesia (yeah right, jk), and Costa Rica. Did you know you can rent a studio apartment in Athens for 300 Euro per month? If that doesn't suit you, Costa Rica generously offers beach front properties for as low as $500/mo. - and that INCLUDES the Doberman out front to guard you from the dark, dark night!

All cheekiness aside (okay, it's never actually aside, that was a bald-faced lie**), I like knowing that there is a world beyond my own, where people rent cozy flats in foreign cities, or fasten hammocks to backyard palm trees. Because some days, mine feels like a soul-sucking vacuum.

Call me a Craigslist Escapist, because dammit, that's what I am.

Sure I could tell you romantic tales of how I found my sage-green Plummers sofa, or my bed-frame, or my newly-repaired car on Craigslist. Or how I sold off a wool rug and a twin-size mattress (who needs it!) using the very same free, web-based community forum. But those stories lie at the mere edges of my Venn diagram of reasons for loving Craigslist. They are but the film atop my pudding snack - sure they keep it tasting fresh, but they are a far cry from the best part!

By now, of course, Craigslist is nothing new to people, and someone has probably already thought to name their pup Craigslist and my idea has already been ruined, and the Internet has probably already found a girlfriend (that pantyhose wearing WHORE)... but I still love every part of it, from concept, to boredom browsing, to actual point-of-sale execution. And I will continue to love Craigslist...

Until I have nothing left to post.

*I'm half Lebanese and thus God has painted my skin a certain shade of caramel. I don't need no lousy pantyhose!

** The expression is indeed "Bald-Faced Lie," though it is often confused with "Bold-Faced Lie," which is wrong. ['bold_face_lie'_or_'bald_faced_lie'_or_another_variation]

Monday, April 14, 2008

I Got Into A Car Accident But It Taught Me A Lot About The World, or My Fender Bender As A Metaphor For Other Things

I hate it when people start speeches or essays or blog entries with basic word definitions. But because I'm feeling a bit contrary tonight, I'm going to do exactly the shit I hate, and start this entry with a basic word definition.

The word is:

Accident (ak-si-dent): Any event that happens unexpectedly, without a deliberate plan or cause.

There are other definitions, this is true, but I like this one because it doesn't have a point of view. No side-taking, no partiality. It's the Argon of the available definitions on, and so I'm going with it. This is how I want to think of the word Accident, and how I want you to define it for the duration of the time it takes you to read this entry. If you're a fast reader, I promise that'll only be like, 3 minutes max. After that, you are welcome to think of Accidents however you please and I'll be none the wiser.

I'll argue for just a minute why I like this definition of Accident. Firstly, I think my friend Accident gets confused too often with his evil (fraternal) twin, Mistake. You've heard your friends parents casually slip the word into their conversations about how your buddy (let's call him Chucky, because who doesn't want a buddy named Chucky?) came into the world. "Well you know, our little Chucky was a mistake!" Sure, you're taken aback at first, because you love your friend Chucky, and he's no stinkin' mistake. In fact, you're pretty glad he exists. And so are his parents, when you really get down to it. Aside from the constant chatter and fake gun noises and lizard squashing, alongside the high emotional cost and financial burden of raising a child, Chucky's mom and dad are probably pretty happy they decided against abortion.* What they meant to say in front of you at the neighborhood BBQ after one too many pomegranate ciders (Chucky's mom is a lightweight), is that as parents are happy that Chucky happened into the world. But the fact remains that Chucky was an accident. A happy little Ritalin-popping, bundle-of-joy Accident.

Have I made myself clear? Not all accidents are mistakes. That's the point I just made in case you missed it. And this is the lens of enlightenment through which I have decided to view something that happened recently to me... something that happened unexpectedly and without deliberate plan.

Let's call it a car accident.

I call it that because that's what it was. Gosh, you're really reading into this aren't you.

Yeah, so a couple of weeks ago, I was cruising along at my normal pace (my Life-Pace I like to call it), which is a mind-dulling 10 mph, waiting my turn to get onto the freeway. Down here in paradise, I often find myself in interminably long lines, waiting to pick up the pace. So bored, I do often get. And nothing could have been truer on that fateful Monday morning.

I was in traffic on Sunset Blvd. (man, fuck Sunset Blvd.), waiting to get on the 405 (man, fuck the 405) and I stopped paying attention to the path laid out before me for just a split second. LITERALLY JUST A SECOND, I swear - when BOOM! came the impact of the fateful fender bender. The Crash Heard 'Round the World, I like to call it.

I was immediately shaken. (Shaken, not stirred, mind you). I saw the crunched hood of my car and the pieces of shattered headlight on the pavement - which are still there, by the way. My stomach dropped at the sight of my front end violently kissing (more like raping, I guess?) the bumper of the Honda CRV in front of me. Fuck me, I thought ever-so-sweetly to myself. I have... a situation.

A situation indeed. An unexpected situation. An unplanned situation.

An accident, if you will.

Useless details aside, I was actually astounded with the chain of events that followed. Or more accurately, I was both astounded and delighted with the people involved in the events that followed. First, the young woman whose rear-end I violated with my huge metal machine could not have been nicer about it. She was more concerned with my safety and well being than with the pretty minor damage I did to her (and her car... oh snap!). Her understanding was only paralleled the thoughtfulness of my co-worker who came to pick me up from the scene of the accident. Oh, not to mention that the woman I spoke with at AAA, Diane, was both sincere and accommodating. Diane even went to the trouble of sending me a tow-truck driver on a great white steed who actually gave me a hug and told me that because I was so beautiful he'd take my car anywhere I wanted! Oh boy, I thought. Take my car to Disneyland, please!

And then the guy at the auto shop was so sweet and helpful. For the low price of $5,000** he even got my car done a few days ahead of schedule. What a gem, that guy. Chris, if you're reading this, you made my collision repair experience borderline enjoyable. Thanks a load.

So after it was all said and done, my Situation... well it turned out all right. Sure it was kind of rough, but I'm not going to say I wish it never happened. I can't say that. It was unexpected, and out of nowhere, and cost me a bit of time, energy, and frustration. Oh, and money (dammit! I wanted new shoes, too!). It's the feeling of helplessness, of being far away from the problem and unable to fix it immediately that causes the greatest stress. But I did learn something. I learned how to handle it. I learned to see things from a more hopeful angle, and to trust that things would be OK in spite of whatever damage may have been done. Accidents happen, we all know this. But it's how you choose to react and move forward that really matters.

Remember Chucky? Well I know that even though he's fictional, he's still glad he exists. Even if it's just here in the blogosphere (it's a real place, shut up okay?). Some accidents can cost you six years of little league, a thousand sleepless nights, and the price of a college education, while other accidents can cost your insurance company $5000... but that certainly doesn't make those things Mistakes.

Give adversity (and the asshole who rear-ended you) your most insulting middle finger! Fuck you, adversity! I choose to stand up to you! I will beat you down, wreck your face, and overcome your torture. Because I am strong, and capable - and now I guess, flat broke.

Yes the situation sucked for awhile. But I'll be damned if I didn't learn something good about the world.

It's not so bad out there.

*One would hope. I've met some people who I suspect really were mistakes. God's mistakes.

**Don't worry! I'm in good hands with AllState.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Anatomy of a Spinning Class, or "This Seat Makes Me Feel Funny..."

I'm about to give you too much information.

Like, in a few minutes I will acknowledge the existence of my vagina, and if that in any way disturbs or disgusts you, I suggest both a) growing up and 2) not reading any further.

Still reading? Ok, fine. It's your choice. You've been properly warned, and I will make no further apologies.

Some of you may be aware of my recent obsession with spinning. Others may not. So be it, now you know. I spin, Ok? I spin and I don't care who knows it!

"Spinning, Lisa. Really?" you say inquisitively to me through the computer-screen-wormhole (I can't hear you! Speak up!). "Like, moving around the room in circles until your face throbs and you want to throw up?" No silly! Not that kind of spinning. I only do that when I've been drinking. "Oh, so you must mean those skeletal bikes that have a vague resemblance to medieval torture/death tools? The ones that sit positioned like a swarm of killer bees in the dimly lit room next to the weight-machine-sausage-fest?"

Yes. That room. Those bikes. Those sausages.

Haha. Sausage fest. God, it's so true...

So since this blog is really just a self-serving way for me to tell everyone who reads it about all the awesome things I think and do on a daily basis, I'm going to describe for you, in as much relevant detail as possible, what it is like to become, and ultimately have the physical experience of a Spinner.Because in the absence of a promiscuous sex-life (which very good exercise - just ask this kid!), this is how I burn the extra calories.

For people who have never tried spinning, I'll be the first to agree it is initially quite intimidating. Everyone in class seems to already know what they're doing. You walk cautiously into the room, certain that everyone in it has been there before. They come wearing their pretentious spinning shoes, with smug, self-loving looks on their faces. So proud of their fancy footwear, they are! And so quick to judge you for wearing sneakers...

Then slowly, as if the eyes of the world were watching, you mount the saddle for the first time. Self-consciously you check yourself in the mirror. Is it really that obvious? Can they tell? Is everyone actually staring at your non-exercise-specific-shoes? You can sense their judging eyes on you and you get even more awkward, feeling as though you're the only one who has ever turned pedals for the first time. The only one feeling the strangely erotic discomfort of the seat pressed firmly against your pubic bone...

Sure it's scary at first, because riding something new is always gonna shake you up a little bit the first time you ride it. And at the first few attempts I'll be honest, it kinda hurts, but once you get the hang of it, it comes pretty naturally.

And then, kids, it gets really good.

The awkward tingling sensation in your nethers eventually goes away,* and before you know it, you're UP! You're DOWN! Up. Down. Up. Down. UP! UP! UP! With expert speed and timing, you pump your legs to the beat of the music! Suddenly the song changes and your instructor's iPod shuffle skips to Cake's "Going the Distance." Yes! I LOVE this song! You think to yourself. Pump. Pump. Pump. The bass pulsates throughout room, invigorating your core, and it's all you can do to stay focused and stare intently at whoever's ass is 5 feet in front of you, bouncing sloppily over the saddle...

Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down.

Bodies sweating. Heavy breathing. Equipment creaking.

Up. Down. Up. Down.

And this goes on for about 50 more minutes.

Of course, by the end of class you're pretty much out of breath. Your muscles are damn near exhausted, and there's a disgusting, messy puddle of sweat dripping from your face down the front of your shirt onto a spot on the floor directly beneath your handlebars. It's horrifying to look down, to catch a glimpse of your haggard reflection in said puddle and realize that your body has lost that much fluid (not to mention whatever you juiced onto the seat - sorry, it's a fact). But it's only horrifying in the same way popping a huge zit might be - sure you're totally grossed out, and maybe a little shocked, but damn it feels good to watch that sucker blow.

And then you stretch.

And then you leave.

And then you get afuckingddicted.

When I tell people about spinning, they usually don't believe me when I state emphatically that it's the best thing ever. Low impact! Won't hurt your joints! I say. A killer workout! I say. You'll never go back to the treadmill again! And I repeat this, over and over and over again, only to hear the naysaying protests of non-believers. Who knows, you may get really good and on top of a great workout, you might actually achieve multiple orgasms.

Oh! Ye of little faith!

I mean, sure I'd rather be burning my excess booze calories in "other ways," but in my situation that's not exactly feasible.** So don't badger me if I'm willing to take the next-best hard thing I can get away with having between my thighs.

You'd best be believin''s a bike.

*Gentlemen, I can only assume you'd get this sensation as well, albeit in the absence of a vagina I think it'd be more in your grundle-region. Enjoy!

** :(

Monday, March 17, 2008

Keeping Catholicism Cool With Groovy New Sins, or "Let's Get Legalistic!"

Disclaimer: I'm sorry if I offend any Catholic people. I'll apologize to you personally if you need me to.

Today is St. Patrick's Day, and so to honor this most sacred of days, the following will be a meandering discussion of Catholicism.

First, let it be known, I love me a defected Catholic. My dad, who luckily does not insist on being called Father (hallelujah!), long ago opted out of the Church himself. And I sure do love my dad. However, in all his infinite wisdom I often do find flaws,* and in the same way I question much of he says, I feel it's appropriate to question pretty much everything I recently read regarding the Vatican's latest updates on Sin.

...beep b-beep beep... b-beep beep beep...


That's right! Just when you thought you were fucking up a lot already, the Vatican has offered up a few more areas we can all "work on" to "ensure" our safe passage into Heaven. These new areas include the following:

1. Drugs.
2. Pollution.
3. Genetic Manipulation.
4. Social and Economic Injustice.

Now, I'm not Catholic, but like most rational people I deal with my share of self-inflicted guilt. I feel guilty when I eat too much (Gluttony). I feel guilty when I loaf around the house for entire days watching TV on DVD (Sloth).* I feel guilty (or I guess just disturbed to the point of guilt) when I have to use my memory of Kevin Spacey's character in "Se7en" when trying to recall the list of mortal sins (Indifference - not really a sin, but probably will be in 8-10 years).

But seriously, I either commit, contribute to, or am a victim of all of these new sins, not to mention all the old ones! Even though I don't abide by or agree with the notion of unforgivable sin, I don't want to deal with even more quasi-guilt than I have to. So I think the best solution is to email the Pope (, in case you were wondering) several of my thoughts on this eco-friendly, anti-science, anti-capitalist list of new sins.

It would go something like this...

First, let's discuss the Drug thing, briefly. How 'bout instead of saying Drugs are a new area of sin, maybe we tighten that up and say that perhaps Drunk Driving, or Choosing Alcohol Over Your Children, are sins. Drugs as defined by "any chemical substance used in the treatment, cure, prevention, or diagnosis of disease or used to otherwise enhance physical or mental well-being," should not be vaguely deemed Sinful. If I have a disease called Hating My Job (HMJ- the symptoms are similar to TMJ), I'm going to need a chemical substance called Alcohol to enhance my mental well-being. I will not repent and I refuse go to Hell for that. End of story.

Second, I agree that Pollution is a bad thing. It is a very bad thing indeed. But how far do we take it here? I admit I sometimes throw my gum in the bushes once it's lost its flavor. And the simple task of living in America somehow causes me to produce a lot of garbage that surely ends up in some stanky landfill somewhere. Is that a sin? As much as I want to start a compost pile, I can't really do that without a bigass yard. So is my lifestyle sinful? Apparently. Sorry Vatican, but pollution is everywhere. Maybe you should think about the white smoke you release into the air once every 50 years when you pick a new Pope, huh? If ya'll are gonna get nasty about reducing our carbon footprint, I say lead by fucking example.

Third, define genetic modification. Are we talking human cloning, because yes that is very weird, or are we talking big, juicy red tomatoes? Because I love a big, juicy, red tomato.*** I've never tried Grapples, but I've heard things...

Lastly, I'm going to hope - nay, I'm going to assume - that this last "new" sin is the Vatican's way of singling out Heather Mills for the atrocities she has committed against Sir Paul McCartney. The crazy, legless biatch expressed her happiness at having been awarded a $50 million (talk about economic injustice!) divorce settlement from former Wings lead-man. :

"It was an incredible result, in the end, to secure my and my daughter's future, and that of all the charities that I obviously plan on helping."

So, does the fact that Heather Mills is straight up stealing $50M from Paul McCartney count as a sin? Or has she already absolved herself by promising to donate her blood-money to charities, assuming that one of them is The Catholic Church? Riddle me that, Pope-man! This is the man who wrote "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," and "When I'm 64," for crying out loud! He's at least 25% responsible for at least 25% of the music made after 1960! I bet you the whole fifty-mil Paul McCartney didn't think that at 66 he'd be getting ass-raped by a crazy ex-wife. This is both socially and economically unjust, if you ask me. But nobody asked me.

Funny thing is, they met at a charity event.

Basically this is just a cry for attention. These are indeed these trying times for organized religion, but there have got to be better ways for such an institution to keep itself vital. Sex scandals were a good way to reinvigorate the public interest, and nailing down Pope Bennyboy turned peoples' heads in Rome's direction for about a minute. But making people feel bad for breaking rules... that's just bad PR.

All that having been emailed to his Holiness the Pope, in honor of St. Patty's Day, I hope everyone who reads this drinks a shit-ton of beer tonight, leaves the bottle on the sidewalk, eats a basket of Grapples, and rocks out to "Give Ireland Back to the Irish."

Sin, all ye believers. Sin in the name of Justice!

*Sorry, Dad. You should be glad I at least listen.

**I actually feel entitled to this. Not guilty at all.

*** Who remembers that episode of The Wonder Years?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Nice Girls Don't Go To Silverlake, or "Dear Mr. Hipster...You Kind Of Suck"

Dear Mr. Hipster,

Hi, it's me. It's Lisa.

I am the girl who stood behind you at El Cid the other night when that really cool underground band was playing. You know, El Cid? That really cool underground place in Silverlake with the grungy bouncer and the overgrown ficus on the patio? Yeah. You probably didn't notice me. Or maybe you did. I was kind of hard to miss. After all, I was standing RIGHT behind you. I was actually standing in my spot before you so rudely took your spot directly in front of me. You're quite a bit taller than I am, you do realize. I know I had a lot of makeup on, but it only makes me appear more sexually desirable, it doesn't actually give me x-ray vision. It was impossible to see through you. Maybe you thought that since I had the bad sense to wear leggings out in Silverlake it was worth blocking my view of the really good looking lead singer.

Was that it? Was it the leggings?

I know that living on the Westside has destroyed my sense of what is socially acceptable in other parts of LA and The World, but you can't blame me for that, Mister Hipster. I just live where it's really homogenous and distasteful to stand out. Everyone over here is white and educated, and that's soooo not my fault. See, I'm used to meeting fratty meatheads who graduated from USC at karaoke bars, and all the girls here on my side wear leggings and uncomfortably high heels when they go out. I straighten my naturally curly hair in order to fit in and I won't be ridiculed for that. At least it's still brown, Ok? I know that in Silverlake most women are difficult to look at and wear thick rimmed glasses, but where I'm from people make an overstated effort to be attractive. People wear contacts, you get? I have no control over these social mores so stop effing giving me a hard time over it and move out of my way, would you? By planting yourself directly in my line of sight you've made me feel inferior for not hanging out in more places where the lights are red and the chicks are fugly. Your bad attitude and harsh judgment are getting me down and I don't appreciate it.

Oh, and also, why are you standing so still? I don't get it. The music that this really dope band is rocking is actually pretty good. Like, it has a beat. Oh, I'm sorry Mr. Hipster - a beat is like a rhythm; it's usually repetitive, and once you've been listening for a few seconds you can predict the thump-thump-thumping of it and it makes you want to have sex. Maybe you're not familiar with the concept of a beat since most of the music you listen to is "experimental" and features a synth and the sophomoric vocal talents of some whiny, lonley-heart greaseball who's really 35 but looks 19. And I'm sure you'd like to have sex at some point in your life, but probably not with any of the homely, flannel-donning types I'm seeing around here. That's your own damn fault - this is LA and hot girls are a dime a dozen, but you've chosen to kick it all Eastside and whatever, so I have zero sympathy for your unwanted virginity. This music is darn catchy, and your refusal to move your body in a display of delight or enjoyment is downright baffling.

You don't look hip, Mister Hipster. You look deaf.

Is your herring-bone sport coat your way of telling me to get back to where I once belonged?* Is your grandpa style golf cap keeping the glare of the stage lights off your furrowed brow? Do you really need glasses or are you just trying to look like Rivers Comou circa the Blue Album? I guess reading McSweeny's and looking like an extra from The Mary Tyler Moore show is our generation's best attempt at reinventing Cool. It's so Now to be retro.

Oh, shit. I just spilled my red wine on your tweed elbow patch.

Yeah, sorry. That was me. I didn't mean to do that. I was just dancing really sexy-like when my 4-inch heel got caught in the crack of these old-school wooden floorboards. I guess I lost my balance and got distracted criticizing you behind your back. Literally, from behind your back. You've been standing motionless in front of me for like 20 minutes...

Oh, that's OK I can still hear the music... Yeah, it's good isn't it? I really like these guys... You do too? That's cool... You like my leggings, too?... Haha. I'm sorry I didn't expect that, I guess I'm just really jaded... Yeah, sooo... Oh, you have to go home and get rest because you're volunteering at an animal shelter all day tomorrow?... Hey, you're actually disarmingly sweet and sincere and kind of attractive... Oh, thanks. I try... Sure, you can have my number... It was really nice meeting you, too.

Ok, well, have fun petting cats tomorrow. I like your hat! Call me!


*Intentional Beatles reference.

Friday, February 29, 2008

I Have A Permanent Face-ache But It Pays the Bills, or Dark Tales from the “Synergy Lab”

My face hurts.

I’m not trying to be funny and I’m not trying to make a self-deprecating dig at myself, so do us both a favor and please spare me the requisite smartass "Yeah it does!"

Because it literally hurts.

In fact, I can’t believe I’m even able to write this. I’ve got a dull ache in my forehead that sort of extends its mean little arms back to my mid-head. I want to rub my temples or look up at the sky or go chill out in a dark closet about every 2-3 minutes.

And you wanna know why? It’s because I have a fucking desk job. Yeah… one of those. The kind you don't necessarily dream about as a kid. All day long I get paid to sit in a faux-leather (ok, it’s vinyl) chair and stare at a computer screen. Well, I take that back, it’s not all day long, and I'm not really staring. I'm writing emails and g-chatting and making important decisions about what my Facebook picture should be.* I get up to pee, and to heat up my lunch, and to wander. But in between bathroom breaks I’m at a damn screen. Waiting for something great to happen.

And it seems my workplace hazards seem to finally be catching up with me. I’m actually looking away from the glow of my janky Dell screen (talk about hazard, right?) right now, my eyes darting around the room. Doing my best to let my fingers do the talking.** I feel like a little bird sitting on its perch trying to tie a piece of ribbon in a bow without the luxury opposable thumbs, simultaneously trying to stay aware of bigger enemy birds that might come harm me.

Uh-oh, not looking at the screen is distracting.

Ha. I just noticed I have yogurt on my shoe. Gross.

I’m not the only one who has to deal with the very monotonous problem of the desk job. I think most of you reading this probably have one, too, and for that I am truly sorry. I pity you almost as much as I pity myself…and that’s a lot. The corporate world is not only ruining our visual and orthopedic health, it is also damaging our ability to focus, and forcing us to create imaginary places in our minds where we can run to escape from the doldrums of the 3:00-5:00pm stretch of afternoon.

Places like the Synergy Lab.

Ok, so maybe you haven’t imagined this place. You haven’t imagined it because it’s real.

And I’ll hedge my bet is as scary as it sounds...

You see, the corporate world has built up an arsenal of awful buzzwords and tools that most of us eventually get used to. Those tools are things like Outlook Express, meetings planned for the sole purpose of planning meetings, and phrases like “Per John, we unfortunately must reschedule our previously rescheduled meeting. I'm retarded.” I’m pretty used to all that bullshit, so it’s fun for me whenever discover new and terrible businessy things.

You can imagine my delight when I was at Disney for a meeting on Tuesday. If you really care about what happened there I can send you the follow-up notes I took and subsequently emailed to my "internal team." But you're not going to be impressed. Instead I'll tell you about the one shocking, horrifying moment of the two and a half hour afternoon...

In the course of the business discussion (that I of course was not a part of because what do I know and fuck if I care), my patience was admittedly wearing thin. And then out of nowhere I hear the woman across the table say something along the lines of: "Blah blah blah, we've been discussing strategy with our retail placement team, and they just got back from a week in the Synergy Lab, blah blah blah..."

Hold on just one second lady.... Did you say Synergy Lab? SYNERGY LAB?!!!

She said it like it was nothing! I looked around the room, again my eyes moving frantically. Up popped the scene from Office Space on the movie screen in my mind where those terrible efficiency consultants come into Initech to teach all the droning, miserable employees about the benefits of inter-office teamwork.

Ew. Teamwork. Now there's something that'll make your face hurt.

Am I the only one who thinks this term is like, over the top white-collar nonsense?

I hope not.

No one has all the answers, and we're all just living our own really messed up version of The Dream. I don't know what I want to do with my life. I don't know what my next job will be. I don't know when I'll have kids, or buy a house. I don't know what my "strategy" is.

But I know I sure as shit won't figure it out in any damn Synergy Lab.

Yeah, fuck that. I just need my face to stop hurting.

*One could argue this is akin to updating one's resume. Facebook is a important "business tool."

**I’m also congratulating myself because it’s surprising how accurately I can type when I’m not looking. Thank you, Mavis Beacon!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Just the Cons of Online Dating, or My Toxic Love Affair With Los Angeles

So Valentine's Day is over (thank you Jesus), but similar to the effects of the atom bomb, the fallout is still killing people.

Not me, obviously. I'm totally happy and well adjusted. I meant other people...

Can any of us remember Hiroshima? Likely not, but I do remember the last 2 weeks of AP History like it was yesterday, and I can recall learning that the worst part of the bomb wasn't the the explosion itself, but the radiation related illness that pretty much ruined peoples' lives for decades to follow.

Well, if cell mutation and subsequent tissue degeneration killed the Japanese, eHarmony is the post-Valentine's day radiation poison that is killing Americans.

You've seen those damn catchy commercials... The "regular" folks* who found a way to finally take a bite of the carrot we're all chasing. They make kissy faces at each other while Natalie Cole sings an uplifting, piano driven song I know for a fact appeared in Lindsay Lohan's version of The Parent Trap. I can't be the only one who noticed this. This fact alone should turn about a million people away from the site. Lindsay Lohan is like Satan's good luck charm. Anything even distantly related to that train-wreck of a harlot is a giant, blinking neon warning sign.

Come on eHarmony. How dumb do you think America is?

Please don't answer that...

Trouble is, despite how annoying and life-sucking those commercials are, they offer the promise of the New American Dream, or what we think we're all entitled to, which is no longer a house, 2.5 kids, and a pension. Nowadays el numero uno seems to be a healthy relationship.** I mean, even I, the very picture of how singlehood gives us strength, fall victim to their web of lies.

Yes, even the mighty do fall...

So part of this year's V-Day aftermath (get it - sounds like D-Day!) was a piqued interest in what the world of online dating actually has to offer. Since living in LA can more or less be equated to eating, breathing, and sleeping alone every night in a large cave made of concrete and empty In-N-Out boxes, and like the rest of my generation I have what some would call a juvenile sense of entitlement, I took it upon myself to do a little research project to examine the potential benefits and pitfalls of eHarmony.

I won't bore you with the details of how the poorly thought-out mechanics of eHarmony work. But to summarize, somehow Cupid's little minions running site manage to get you to bare your soul to a cyber-sea full of strangers with the unrealistic expectation that everyone is actually telling the truth. Instead of going off on an angry tangent here, I will share with you what I learned from my short lived experience poking around on eHarmony.

I concluded that despite the fact (if you can call it a fact) that perhaps there are Pros to eHarmony and some people do find "true love" on the internet there are some very real Cons every person must face who joins eHarmony:

Con #1 to Joining eHarmony: You've just joined eHarmony.

Congratulations, you've just admitted that you are dissatisfied with your life.

Con #2 to Joining eHarmony: There is no place for real honesty on eHarmony.

The multiple choice format of the initial questions one sends to one potential date offers little to no room for a legitimate peek into the soul's window. How the eff am I supposed to know how many kids I'm gonna want to have? 1? 2? 8? There's no multiple choice answer that says "It depends on how fat I get after the first one."

Con #3 to Joining eHarmony: You will receive an influx of emails that resemble spam.

Most of us got gmail not only for the ease and convenience of its inbox's conversational format, but also for its exceptional spam blocker. If it's hard enough to resist purchasing "$uper! Che@p VIAGRA Direct TO Your housE!!" then you know it's just going to be a gigantic waste of time when you find yourself sitting at work browsing email after email from other single-and-desperate-but-interested-in-you people. That is, assuming your really honest profile - or let's face it, your profile picture - generates any significant interest.

Con #4 to Joining eHarmony: What happens if you are matched with someone you already know?

Really though... what happens? You're cruising for dudes (or chicks...whatever, I don't judge) one night when suddenly you realize that your trusty Internet matchmaker has set you up with like, your friend's roommate. Instantly your cover is blown! The cat's out of the bag! That person, whether they were destined to be your true love or not, now knows your dirty little secret and you've just jeopardized your reputation as everyone's favorite single-and-loving-it friend. To clarify, that secret would be the fact that you are online dating. Why would you ever tell anyone?...

I could go on, but the list would get muddy with me waxing bittersophical, so I'll spare you. I have no plans to join eHarmony, not even under an alias, which means that any dating I do will have to come about organically. So as far as meeting me online, well, you can just forget about that.

Bottom line: When it comes to online dating with eHarmony, I think does more eHarm than good.

*I know what you're thinking. Don't be ashamed, you can think it. I really meant the "ugly" folks.

**Take a look around... no one's relationship is healthy.