Shake the Disease.

I walked out to my car today to pick up my "little sister" for our weekly outing and noticed my front passenger side window was smashed and about 200 of my CDs were stolen, along with my radar detector and my cell phone charger. My glove compartment was left open, and pieces of glass littered every inch of my front seat.

I thought back to the spring of 1998, when I bought a Pearl Jam album in London that I hadn't found anywhere in the U.S. I remembered "The Aeroplane Flies High," my beloved Smashing Pumpkins set of singles, and how I played those five discs over and over again on the way to visit Michael in St. Louis four years ago. I heard the opening notes to one of the many mix CDs my friend Ryan has made for me. I saw the neon colors of the CMJ albums I collected since high school. I can replace most of what was stolen, but I can't replace those, at least not easily. I stared at my car as the shock finally fell away. And as trivial as it sounds, I felt cheated and violated.

I should have parked in the gated lot. I should have ripped my CDs onto my computer like I've been saying I should do for years, and at the very least, I should have put the CD binder in the trunk before I walked in last night. I should have renewed my renters insurance, knowing car insurance doesn't cover possessions inside a vehicle. But I didn't. And after my anger at myself subsided, it was replaced by anger at whomever had the gall to break into my car and take something of mine on which I had spent years and years and thousands of my own dollars.

It could have been worse. I could have been attacked by the scum that did this. He could have slashed my tires or stolen the car itself. And while I feel compassion for this person, whose odds were stacked against him from birth, I have never believed that people are denied choice: The choice to do the right thing, the choice to keep your destructiveness to yourself and the choice to take some responsibility for the life you lead.

And if this person knew me, he would have known I was on his side. I was the one saying we shouldn't criminalize drug use, that we should give second and third chances and that the problem is society, not him. I just wish he'd give me a reason to keep fighting for him, because right now, as he sells a part of me for a quick fix without giving me a second thought, I'm wondering why I bother.

07-31-2005 4:49 PM - comments (6)

Redefining TMI.

Tonight, my lady friends and I are heading for the east. The East Side, that is. Before my parents have back-to-back heart attacks, I don't see a male strip club as anything other than pure amusement. (I'm guessing the strippers agree, judging from their sheepish expressions last time we went.)

So there's no confusion as to my purpose, I'm decked out in a red tank top with a silver half-zipper running along the top and a silver skull and crossbones across the middle. To me, this screams, "Please, male strippers, I am here as a joke. Do not touch me as you did last time. You are short and overmuscled. I like tall and skinny. I would rather spend my last $20 on Jujyfruits, and I might consider paying you to stay away from me. But that would mean less Jujyfruits." And I changed into comfy grey and black striped underwear, because I started worrying my expression gives away the variety I happen to be wearing at any given moment. (You know, wearing your thong on your sleeve or something. Which I would never, ever do.)

I should consider watching less Sex and the City.

Michael bought me a gigantic calculator today!

07-30-2005 7:44 PM - comments (4)

"Try and Hide the Light."

Sleeping is giving in,
no matter what the time is
Sleeping is giving in,
so lift those heavy eyelids

People say that you'll die
faster than without water
But we know it's just a lie,
scare your son, scare your daughter

People say that your dreams
are the only things that save you
Come on, baby, in our dreams,
we can live our misbehavior

Every time you close your eyes
Lies, lies

People try and hide the night
underneath the covers
People try and hide the light
underneath the covers.

Come on, hide your lovers
underneath the covers
Come on, hide your lovers
underneath the covers.

I think I'm obsessed.

07-28-2005 7:17 PM - comments (0)

I Realize It's Just a Picture in a Frame.

I've been lusting after the elegant man on the Hennessy billboard on my way to work. After a week of curiosity -- was he a writer? a civil rights activist? a model? -- I finally decided to do some investigating to see who he was.

Imagine my surprise when I found out Hennessy is using Marvin Gaye in its new branding campaign.

Unlike the idea I had of Marvin Gaye -- old, decrepit, addicted to pornography and murdered by his own father -- the man on the billboard is quiet, graceful and sensual.

I'd like to sit in a cozy booth in a dark club with a snifter of Hennessy and just watch him sing.

07-27-2005 2:52 PM - comments (0)

The Redemption of Charter Communications.

They sent me the fucking iPod back again, still broken with that same fucking letter about how they don't fix cracks.

I am never going to buy another Apple product as long as I live.

07-27-2005 9:52 AM - comments (0)

That's Why My Friends Call Me 'Whiskers.'

I'm a worrier, and it drives Michael crazy. When we had a (somewhat) long-distance relationship, I would fret the entire two hours it would take him to get to Columbia. If he were even five minutes late, I'd sit by the window and watch for his car, my heart pounding and my gut certain he had been in a car accident. I'd always worry about what my last words to him were, so I made it a point to always end on a high note before he made the trip.

It's not as if anyone I have ever known has died in a car crash; emphysema, lymphoma, complications from Alzheimer's, sure. Not one car crash. So I'm not sure why I obsess over that particularly grisly way to die. Perhaps because it's so sudden; there's no time to prepare yourself for the inevitable or to say goodbye. And even though I know there's no way to prepare yourself for the death of a loved one, I must subconsciously believe preparing via worrying will ease my pain.

I also worry about what my last words would be should I die in a fiery wreck on Highway 40. And that's why I wrote this post, because I didn't want to die and have the last thing I ever wrote to be that I hate old people. Should I die now, what everyone will remember about me is that I was a paranoid obsessive. Yes, this is much better.

And oh yeah, I love all of you.

07-26-2005 10:23 AM - comments (4)

Wah, Wah, I'm Old.

From this week's Suburban Journals Sound Off section:

"I want to comment on the person who said something about the passing lane. The left lane is not the speed lane, my dear. The lane is for passing, and you should not go above the speed limit anyway on any road. Remember, the person you are passing may be a senior citizen whose reaction time may be slower than someone else's, and he or she may be on medications or have cataracts. There is plenty I can say on the subject since I am a senior citizen and sometimes I do flip off people who pass me and are in such a great hurry."

If the person I'm passing is a senior citizen whose reaction time may be slower than someone else's or he or she may be on medications or have cataracts, might I make a suggestion to said old person?


When are we going to realize that the elderly are just as much a danger on the roads as teenagers? Why won't state governments pass laws that would force drivers after 65 to take a driving test every two years? And lastly, why are old people so damn crotchety all the time?

If I hear, "Kids today..." or "When I was your age..." one more time, I'm going to retaliate with a comment about how when they were my age, black people couldn't drink from the same water fountains as whites, and most women aspired to nothing more than motherhood. And let's not forget Hitler. Oh, Hitler is all yours, old people. We may have rap music and baggy pants and "technology," but you have the world's most infamous genocidal maniac. What do you think about that?

In all seriousness, times change and we progress. This is what it means to be human, and it's apparently a difficult concept for some people to accept.

I just hope by the time I'm old that I'm able to appreciate it rather than be afraid of it, because it's the best thing we have going for us.

07-20-2005 4:32 PM - comments (3)

Luke, Be a Jedi Tonight.

I'm feeling extraordinarly lucky this week. After a series of unfortunate events this month (having a still-broken iPod, dealing with terrible Apple customer service, having my camera stolen, feeling incompetent at work, putting my foot in my mouth even more than usual, feeling like I've gained a million pounds, etc.), I think I'm back on track, so to speak.

1. Michael and I found an apartment. I'm surprised how little time it took, actually. We were fairly sure we wanted something in Brentwood Forest, which is a well-kept neighborhood of (mostly) privately owned condos behind the Saint Louis Galleria and the Borders/Whole Foods/Pier 1/Organized Living/Viking Culinary Arts strip mall. We looked at five units, and though I really liked the two-floor townhouse with the full-sized washer and dryer and 1.5 baths (that extra half bath would probably be really useful), we couldn't justify spending so much more for space we really don't need.

So in the end, we chose a cute two-bedroom, one-bath with a washer and dryer, brand-new carpet and a patio off the dining room (we can grow cilantro and basil now!). We'll have access to the pools and tennis courts, which is definitely nice (if a little suburban. But if that's suburban, I don't want to Another selling point is that it's on the main street of the subdivision, which means it's close to the highway, which means my commute won't suffer too much. We'll probably be signing this week and moving in during the second half of August. And with Michael's cool new camera (picked out with the assistance of Consumer Reports, the latest addition to my subscription list), we'll take some photos and post them soon.

Ohmygodwe'removingintogether. (Which is to say, I'm really excited and maybe a little scared.)

2. After sending in my iPod Mini twice to be repaired -- it just stopped working one day, and no, I don't find the frowny faced iPod icon cute anymore -- it was sent back twice, each time still broken. Because the glass is slightly scratched (think a slight nick on your watch cover), the stupid techs refused to even take a look at it, sending back a note each time saying they don't fix "cracks." The second time I sent it in, I adhered a note to the iPod clearly explaining the situation and telling them to look at the actual machine and not the glass. I suppose I should have written it in Moron and not just the standard English, because it didn't do any good.

After a tearful conversation with a support guy last night, I was transferred to, gasp, someone who could actually do something about the situation. He promptly told me he'd be sending me out a new one. I'm refusing to get excited until it's in my hands, though.

3. I met my "little sister" for the first time last night. I've done Big Brothers Big Sisters before (with Christie, whom I'm seeing this weekend, also on my list of neat things happening this week), and it was a pretty good experience. We have plans to see "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (my second time, and no, it wasn't bad at all) soon. I picked up two copies of the new (highly addictive) Harry Potter book to read together. She was totally thrilled. Plus, she called last night and left a message telling me she was looking forward to seeing me again. Awwww.

4. I'm eating healthier again, and it's already making me feel better. It's amazing how much more confident I feel when I slip on my (fairly awesome) coral-pink size-6 Express pants and think, "I could lose 10 pounds and fit into a 4" instead of the previous "Maybe I shouldn't have gotten rid of those 8s and 10s I used to need." (I'm not suggesting an 8 or 10 is big -- they're well below average. I'm just very short.) In last month's Vogue, Andre Leon Talley recounted his conversations with Oprah Winfrey on losing weight.

"Nothing tastes as good as being thin," she told him. (I'd settle for "looking healthy.")

I've been a reader of Vogue for about a decade, and that article may have been the most relevant I've read. I used to use a certain leggy German Victoria's Secret model as my inspiration to lose weight, and now I'm using a stately middle-aged African American fashion writer. Lord help me.

07-20-2005 9:10 AM - comments (0)

But Neither The Sarcasm Nor The Ritalin Would Take.

Someone as magically inept as John Morales deserves his very own fansite, one that will track his every bolded, underlined and italicized word. One that will ensure his every grammatical misstep (or, more accurately, paralyzing accident) will be preserved for all of eternity. One that will celebrate the unparalleled genius that is John Morales of Killeen, Texas.

07-19-2005 12:47 PM - comments (8)

More Blasphemy: I Hate John Cusack. You Heard Me.

I've been saying it since I first saw the trailer for it: "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," and specifically Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, will be rotten.

A huge fan of the original movie (who cares about the book? I like Roald Dahl, but really. This story was never meant to be confined to the pages of a book), I was (and still am) mesmerized by Gene Wilder's genius turn at creepy Willy Wonka, frightened by the Oompa Loompas and (heartily) entertained by the four grandparents sharing one bed. And I loved the guy who played the science teacher.

Argue with me as much as you want, but "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" was scary. You're supposed to be creeped out, if mildly, by the story. But Johnny Depp playing a Jacko-like Wonka? Not scary -- at least not in the good way. (I just know that's going to draw the ire of many Depp lovers. He was good as a cracked-out pirate, I'll give you that.)

That said, Sally asked me if I wanted to see it with her. I guess I am kind of curious about how the chocolate is portrayed. Maybe I'll suggest a matinee.

07-15-2005 12:58 PM - comments (3)

JOHN MORALES'* Severe Beating Is All in My Head.

I always feel a tinge of guilt when someone says something kind of dumb on the MizzouMafia listserv and I reply-all with a kind of mean e-mail.

Someone requested information on an MU study-abroad program in London, and another person e-mailed that they'd appreciate public responses so everyone could benefit from the information. That was my preference, too, despite not having any possible connection to the program in question. And then one woman got all huffy because she had asked that people reply to the original poster privately, and that person would then have to compile the responses and send out one massive e-mail. Obviously, no one paid attention to the request, because it was stupid.

Though I don't usually find the MizzouMafia listserv conversations all that scintillating, I don't mind lots of responses to a single question. (Having Gmail might affect my opinion, though.) And if the point of a listserv is to facilitate discussion on a particular topic, it seems defeating to compile the private responses without benefit of discourse.

I don't feel as bad when I just think to myself that they're morons, so maybe that should be my new strategy. And hanging them in effigy isn't a bad solution, either.

*Has proven himself more annoying that anyone else on the listserv, so he deserves space in the headline.

07-13-2005 10:24 AM - comments (5)

You Gotta Admit, The Bangles Reference Was Classic.

I keep forgetting to post about our whirlwind trip to Chicago, but suffice it to say, it rocked. Great music on the way up (ahem), including some rare Lil Troy that kept the crowd happy; SCHMAUS; Taste of Chicago and fried plantains but no funnel cake; Millennium Park and the sneezing old guy; Hunt Club, dancing professors, martinis galore; a very sober Michael chauffering a 7-person van containing 12 very drunk people; hotel roommate snoring like you wouldn't believe; hotel pools and hot tubs; deep dish pizza; H&M; Dunkin Donuts Munchkins; a gay karaoke bar and TAINTED LOVE sung angrily by a sweet-natured Turk; stolen camera; and authentic Mexican food at 4 a.m. I've never had so much fun with people I barely know, but now I consider them good friends, the whole lot of them (Nisha, Barak, Gazi, Richard, Jamie, Fritz, Raquel and Charlie). We're thinking of heading to Memphis, Austin or Kansas City sometime soon. I'm excited.

When I was a freshman in college, I met a group of people who became my group -- smart, fun, interesting people who inevitably ended up with crushes on each other at one point or another. And then one by one, they all left. I miss the road tripping, the shows, the all-night conversations with people you don't really know that much about but adore all the same and can't wait to see again.

Before I break out into the rousing Girl Scout classic "Meet New Friends, But Keep the Old," thereby halving my readership of two, I'll bid you adieu. But before I go, isn't David Eckstein amazing? It cracks me up how before people talk about how great he is, they feel obligated to list all of the things he's not really doing well to make it sound even more amazing: his arm isn't great, he's super short at 5'7", he doesn't have any slugging power. Then they say he has a huge heart. I guess "hardest player to strike out in the National League" doesn't sound as touching. Also, I love how he runs back to the dugout while everyone else walks. So cute. I wish Michael would stop claiming all of the underdogs as "his guy," but I've got Yadier "Catch Like an Egyptian" Molina, so that should count for something, right?

07-12-2005 9:00 PM - comments (6)

What's it Going to Take to Get You in This Car?

When GM introduced its employee discount program, I thought it was hands-down the most ingenious marketing campaign of the past few years. Now Ford and DaimlerChrysler are ripping off the struggling company's idea. Good for GM, and good for any of you in the market for a new car this summer.

"Employee pricing, attractive as it sounds, is really a glorified closeout on the year's less-popular vehicles before the 2006 models are introduced this autumn. Clearly the promotion has been a home run -- for GM, at least. June was GM's best sales month in 19 years."

07-11-2005 2:03 PM - comments (3)

Pow, Zoom, To the Moon.

I guess failure is good for the soul. Not in the chicken-soup kind of way. More like the jalapeno-in-the-eye kind of way. I digress. No really, I am planning on writing an entirely digressive piece about jalapenos and my eyes.

As a good girlfriend, I try to make sure the boy is taken care of. This includes, but is not limited to, giving back rubs, refilling his drink when I notice he's running low, calming him down after a stressful day with soothing words and making him dinner. I love cooking, so it's really not as if I'm sacrificing something to cook for him, just like it's really not as if he's sacrificing something when he takes me to Melting Pot. (OK, maybe he's sacrificing $100. Inconsequential.)

Anyway, for his birthday last night, we went out to Olive Garden, but before we did, I quickly ran to the store to pick up the ingredients for the fajitas I am planning on making for him tonight, because they needed to marinate overnight. (I do not do the pre-seasoned chicken strips thing where you warm it all up and throw it together in 10 minutes. I daresay that would go against my "overboard" nature. My recipes are much more...intensive.) So the ingredients included: 1 lb. of flank steak; 1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts; a green, yellow and red pepper and an onion for sauteing; tortillas; two limes, an orange, lots of cilantro, garlic, canola oil and salt for the marinade; tomatoes, onions and even more cilantro for the pico de gallo; guacamole (only Trader Joe's will do, according to the boy); and chips and salsa.

Oh. And jalapenos.

Jalapenos are not a cook's best friend. No, that would be cooking wine, mainly to drink when you've realized you've burnt the garlic bread for the fifth consecutive time. No, jalapenos and I are at an impasse of sorts. As a cook, I first encountered them last year in a recipe for chili, and, with much trepidation, cut and seeded as prompted.

"What's that itch in my eye?" I thought to myself, right before wiping it with my jalapeno hand. A series of curses followed, some real and others made-up especially for the moment, and I tried to soak my eye in every liquid nearby, including the vegetable oil and cooking wine.

So it's been a long time since I felt comfortable using jalapenos in my recipes. But apparently not long enough. As I was preparing the marinade last night in which to soak the steak and chicken (the recipe calls for an eight-hour soak; I scoff at the mere eight and retaliate with 24), I gingerly pulled the tiny green pepper from its plastic bag of a home and placed it on the cutting board. I selected one of the longer of my butcher knives and cut the top and bottom off. My eye began to twitch, but I did not rub. Oh, no. No eye-rubbing here. I held down the pepper at a distance with my left hand while I carefully inserted the knife into the pepper, cutting a neat circle along the circumference and slicing off the many nefarious seeds. After admiring my handiwork, I sliced five perfect rings from my seeded jalapeno and began chopping them to pieces, and each time the comically large knife fell upon the pepper, I felt more drunk with power. This, I would soon learn, would make my downfall even more tragic.

I added the chopped-up jalapeno bits to the marinade and washed my hands for a solid three minutes with hot water and what I'm told is "powerful" soap. No eye-rubbing here, and I will eat you with relish, I gloated to the now-massacred jalapeno. But then just to clarify, I followed up with, Err, that's the emotional response, not the popular hot-dog condiment. Then I said it in Spanish, too, just in case. You can never be too sure. Ten cuidado.

This morning, I woke up and reached for my contacts. Now, my contact-wearing readers know what happens when you insert a contact that's been turned inside-out. It's uncomfortable and can be extremely painful. Now try putting in contacts that have had jalapeno hand all over them, unbeknownst to you. The realization hits you seconds after the jalapeno has already begun wreaking its havoc. Yep, you rubbed your dirty little jalapeno hands all over your eyes as you were taking your contacts out last night. Thought you could escape the wrath of El Jalapeno (our sources now indicate he doesn't speak English after all), did you? Well, your arrogance has cost you. Your eyes are burning like the heat of a thousand suns, and now they smell like jalapenos, which just makes the whole thing that much worse.

And now you have jalapeno eye and you have no way of seeing to get to your car to go to work, so now the boy, the boy you try so hard to impress without him knowing you're trying, knows you're nothing but a faker, a dirty jalapeno-eye faker, and he has to wake up early just to take you to your apartment so you can find your glasses, and he has to take you back to his apartment where your car is and you have to call work to let them know you'll be late, and you have to tell them the reason you're going to be late is because somehow, some way you have gotten jalapeno in your eye a second time, and why doesn't this sort of thing ever happen to anyone else, like the terrorists or a serial killer or Heidi Klum?

But your boss is at a loss for words. You really can't say you blame him.

07-08-2005 3:01 PM - comments (3)

Yellow Cake Used to be My Favorite.

I've read article after article about the whole yellow cake/Joseph Wilson/State of the Union/Valerie Plame/Robert Novak/Matt Cooper/Judith Miller story, and I can't stop scratching my head.

Let's review. So in 2002, Wilson, a former diplomat, goes to Africa at the CIA's request to investigate if Iraq is really trying to purchase uranium from Niger. He finds no link. Yet Bush still makes the assertion in his 2003 State of the Union address. Wilson writes an angry opinion piece in the New York Times accusing the Bush administration of lying about the lack of evidence for the express reason of to gain support for his inevitable war with Iraq.

Conservative journalist Robert "Douchebag of Liberty"* Novak outs Wilson's wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame, in a column shortly thereafter, claiming two White House administration officials independently revealed Plame's identity, though he also admits they requested he not reveal her name. He does so anyway, claiming he doesn't think he'd be endangering her or those she was associated with. Shortly after that, Matt Cooper of Time co-authors a piece on the ordeal, and Judith Miller of the New York Times begins research on the story, though apparently never wrote an article. A few other journalists also publish stories on the topic.

A federal investigation is opened. The FBI investigators subpoena Cooper and Miller, along with a few other journalists, demanding their notes and testimony. Both refuse. The case goes to the Supreme Court, but the justices send the case back down to what I presume is an appeals judge, though I'm too lazy to look it up right now. Cooper agrees to testify yesterday after his source apparently gives the go-ahead for him to do so, and Time has already turned over his notes last week -- which seem to implicate Karl Rove (Dick Cheney's assistant, Scooter Libby, has also been suspected) -- so he's off the hook. Miller, however, is sentenced to at least four months in prison.

OK, that's probably a somewhat accurate, if unfortunately condensed, version. I just have a couple of questions: Why the hell is Judith Miller going to jail if Novak was clearly the original journalist to speak to the officials and the one who outed Plame? Why isn't he sitting in jail now?

As soon as someone answers these questions, to which there must be obvious answers that I'm just too dumb to discern, I promise to take down this post.

*That's Jon Stewart's take, anyway.

07-07-2005 2:57 PM - comments (4)

A Whole Quarter-Century Old.

Happy birthday, Michael!

07-07-2005 7:23 AM - comments (0)

Good Things.

"(Martha Stewart) says her version of 'The Apprentice' will be different than Donald Trump's and that she doesn't want to be portrayed as mean and harsh. She says she would never use Trump's catchphrase, 'You're fired.'

'We are trying to come up with other ways to say it,' she says. 'For instance, if someone is from Idaho, I could say, 'You're back in Boise for apple-picking time.'"

07-05-2005 10:03 PM - comments (0)