Friday, October 29, 2010

Wedded Bliss

This means I have to start paying
for my own car insurance.

I went to a wedding this weekend – my third in 4 months including my own, effectively doubling the number of weddings I’ve attended. I only really count 4 of them though because I was too young to drink at the first two and does anything count when you’re not drunk enough to really enjoy it?

I was nervous about being under pressure in the bridal party because my own wedding was pretty stressful and just a whirlwind of smiling and “Oh my God I’m so glad you came!”. But this wedding was perfect. I was the HSBoH which meant I didn’t have to schmooze anyone or give a speech or do anything really except show up in my pretty dress, smile for pictures, make sure the bride got drunk and make a fool of myself in the photo booth. It’s way more fun when you’re not in the white dress. You don’t have to worry about whether everyone is dancing or enjoying the food. You don’t have to pretend you care that all those people showed up when all you really wanted to say was JUST HAND OVER THE CHECK GRANDPA! You don’t have to worry that the photographer you paid $5,000 to is going to catch you standing in your white dress smelling your own armpit and post pictures of it on her blog. Not that my own wedding wasn't spectacular. But everything is always better when someone else is paying.

Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Maz.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

To die by your side, well the pleasure the privilege is mine.

This is the picture I bring to the groomer 
when I take Charlie for a haircut.

Every Saturday I get to shun the NJ Transit rail system and enjoy a blissful 40 minute commute in my car. No one shoves me or shoulder checks me as I am about to get in the door. There are no strangers in my car who cough or sneeze or pick their noses next to me. My husband does all of these things, but at least he has the courtesy to warn me and roll down the window when he farts. This little bit of solitude - it’s like a little piece of heaven that makes it worth the odd Tuesday-Saturday work-week.

My only real complaint is the appalling lack of decent radio stations in the New York area. You basically have a choice of Top 40 Crap, Easy Listening Top 40 Crap, House Music Crap, or NPR. Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some NPR. But sometimes I just want to listen to some good old fashioned rock music written post-1960.

I used to work for a company that required me to travel a lot in rented cars through podunk middle-of-nowhere sections of Alabama and Kentucky and I was always chancing upon the most amazing contemporary rock stations. I'm talking about sections of the country entirely populated by cows, where every billboard was authored by God. I’d be in the rental car fiddling with the dial and it would scroll through Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Country Music, Jesus, Jesus, THE SMITHS! Jesus, Jesus, NPR, Country Music, RADIOHEAD B-SIDES! And then I’d come back home to New York, this supposed bastian of rock and roll and coolness and the best I’d be able to find was the newest Staind single on K-Rock.*

Recently New York got a real alt-rock station when K-Rock folded and was turned into The Worst Radio Station Ever. Go ahead and tune to 92.3, but I will not be held responsible for your brain leaking out of your head or any associated dry cleaning costs. And while WRXP still plays the occasional Staind single (How the hell DID we wind up like this?) I can forgive them for it when I hear Morrissey reminding me that he is human and he needs to be loved. Just like anybody else does.

*No offense to all you Staind fans – I know you’re just too stupid and uncultured to know any better.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Make your own damn salad.

 Can I have some extra dressing? A little more... keep going... 
Dammit, just give that thing to me. I'll do it myself!

When I got a job in New York I was excited at all of the opportunities for exciting lunches I knew would be coming my way. I spent a good amount of my working life at the mall, which surprisingly did not offer a great deal of gastronomical inspiration. There was always the difficult choice between Wendy’s and Chick-Fil-A, or a mall gyro from Greek Delight! if I was feeling really adventurous. The exclamation point is supposed to make you excited about the fact that it will give you diarrhea EVERY TIME YOU EAT IT.

So here I am, at my fancy-pants job in the big city. I have lunch hours and the possibilities are endless. And by possibilities I mean make-your-own-salad bars. And by endless I mean FUCKING ENDLESS. How can the 3 block radius around my office support seven hundred different make-your-own-salad restaurants? And how many salads can I make myself before I just lose it on the guy behind the counter?

For $14.00 US I shouldn’t have to make my own salad. I shouldn’t even have to order the damn thing. Chick peas? Turkey squares? I don’t fucking know dude! Put whatever you think I want in there, but God help you if you’re wrong. And when I finish eating it, it should clean off my desk and then watch the phones for me so I can take an extra 20 minutes at the gym.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Life & Style

Sorry - I don't have any change. 

Walking through New York City can sometimes feel like flipping through a fashion magazine edited by a crackhead. Every day I see impossibly skinny chic girls wearing outfits that only impossibly skinny chic girls can wear. Impossibly skinny chic girls in their layers of gauzy drapey shirts and scarves and stretchy pants and super soft leather above-the-knee boots and Chloe bags big enough to double as a 4 man tent. They waft through the streets on light breezes because girls that skinny and chic don’t need to waste their energy walking. I watch these girls float by and think about how I always wanted a pair of skinny jeans tucked into boots just so. But skinny jeans are not for girls with hips or girls who for example just ate an English muffin dripping with butter and then swore they were going to Be Good for the rest of the day but instead came into the office and immediately ate a plate of apple crisp that was mostly crisp because they hate cooked apples. Just for example.

On the other side of the coin, you get the hilarity that is the New York City trend-whore. Not to be confused with the New York City regular-whore, and since they sometimes dress (and act) almost exactly alike this can be a tough call. You’ll know the trend-whore when you see her schlepping through Grand Central wearing those slouchy saggy 80s pants that are back now (God knows why), ankle boots with a wedge heel, a sequined shirt, a giant belt just below her massive bosom, a sweater/cape/jacket thing (you know what I’m talking about), and a fedora. She’s dressed almost exactly like the homeless lady who just asked me for half of my sandwich. The only difference is that the homeless lady has to wear all her clothes at once BECAUSE SHE’S HOMELESS.

New York. The only city that can absolutely crush your self esteem only to completely revive it moments later. At least this place keeps you on your toes.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lesson learned

Today I watched about a year's worth of episodes of 16 and Pregnant. I learned a few things:

  • A Southern accent makes your chances of teen pregnancy rise exponentially.
  • Teenagers should not legally have any right to name children. It's sort of the same thing as letting your 5 year old name your dog. Only the dog never has to grow up and explain to its friends at school why its mother named it Nevaeh.

Friday, October 15, 2010

An Open Letter

Dear Fellow Sufferers of the NJ Transit Rail System,

It appears we've all done something terrible in another life to be subjected to this 5th circle of hell known as the NJ-NYC commute. Fares are going up, service is practically non-existent, and it's a rare day when you don't have to stand the whole way to Penn Station or share your seat with 6 cackling teenagers. I'd like to present you all with a few suggestions to making the train ride more bearable. More like the 3rd circle of hell, reserved for Creed fans and people who wear stretch pants with shirts that don't cover their asses. So without further ado...

  • If you're going to listen to your iPod, even with headphones, you still need to keep the volume at a reasonable level. Why even bother wearing headphones if your music is so loud it feels like it's coming from INSIDE MY BRAIN?? Also, that song sucks.
  • Bring a tissue. No one wants to listen to you sniffle for 35 minutes straight. 
  • Do not perform grooming activities that are normally reserved for the bathroom. I get the makeup application, but there should be no plucking, clipping, or tweezing of any kind happening. You are in public, for Christ's sake! And if one of those eyebrow hairs lands on my purse, so help me God lady, I will pull the emergency brake and toss your ass out of this car into the Meadowlands with Jimmy Hoffa!
  • If you plan to bring your baby on an 8am commuter train, that bottle better be laced with NARCOTICS.
  • Don't talk to me about politics.
  • Don't talk to me about the weather.
  • Yes, the train is late. Again. Don't talk to me about that either.
  • Just don't fucking talk to me.
  • If you are under the age of 16 or can't keep yourself from saying the word "like" as, like, every other, like, word, your fellow passengers have the right to staple your face shut for the duration of the trip.
  • If the train is packed, your bag does not get its own seat. Don't make me ask you to move it or I will jump you like a high school girl with her eyebrows painted on and hoop earrings with her name in them.
If we can all follow these few simple rules, I'm sure it will bring goodwill and cheer to all commuters.

Or at least I won't have to bring an M-16 on the train and spray anyone's brains on the nice new seats of the double decker.

    Commuter Chan

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In Other News...

  • This underwear advertised itself as "No More Wedgies". Hanes is writing checks my ass can’t cash.
  • You know you have good coworkers when you can give directions like “Whatever it is, it needs to be the other thing.” And they can turn that into action. You also know that maybe instead of teaching ESL you should have been taking it.

Professor Charlesley T. Wetbeard III

Monday night I sent the Mister off to the Jets game with his brother. He was out getting soaked in a torrential downpour, so it was just me and the Professor and the cast of Jersey Shore all night. Hooray for Fios DVR! I was totally engrossed in the Snookie/Angelina brawl and the Professor, having no respect whatsoever for whether or not Snookie really was "Done", was pacing around the apartment in the Time-To-Pee pattern. Not to be confused with the Take-Me-To-The-Dog-Park pattern or the I'm-Eating-Q-Tips-From-The-Bathroom-Garbage pattern. Gross Charlie.

I was watching him pace and also watching the monsoon outside and just hoping he could hold it for a few more minutes until the storm died. But he came over to me and put his head in my lap and whined a little high pitched whine which is the Charlie version of crossing his legs and grabbing his crotch with both hands and saying "I gotta go nooooooow!" So I got up and put on my rain boots and my coat and put on his leash and gave him my best stern look to let him know this is Business Time, and not Smell Every Blade of Grass on the Planet Individually Time and out we went into the monsoon.

Charlie needs complete silence to poop. He's easily distracted so he can only poop in the backyard in an atmosphere of reverent concentration. God forbid the neighbor is in his yard mowing the lawn, or the lab behind our house is outside. He cannot possibly poop because OH MY GOD DID YOU SEE THAT LEAF IT'S SO INTERESTING I MUST SMELL IT FOR 20 MINUTES!!! I never use that many exclamation points but Charlie has no restraint. He can't spell for shit either.

The monsoon was not providing the church-like environment necessary to facilitate a Charlie poop, not by a long shot. There was rain tap-tap-tapping on the tin roof of the shed and acorns falling from the tree and leaves blowing everywhere begging to be chased or at least stared at and willed to leap into his mouth. After 10 freezing soaking minutes of begging the dog to poop... just one poop? I know you have to go you're the one who begged to come out in this you bastard WHY WON'T YOU POOP?! I finally gave up and brought him back inside where he immediately resumed pacing and whining. This continued for 3 HOURS. 3 hours, and not a single poop was had. And by then it was past my bedtime and folks, let me tell you you don't want to know me past my bedtime.

When the Mister finally came home, I believe my head spun around 2 or 3 times as I thrust the leash at him and the voice of satan came out of my mouth and said "Make him POOP!" as a chorus of demons swelled behind me. It was intense. And that sulfur smell is still in the curtains.

The next morning Charlie was up bright and early as usual. Totally unfazed by the marathon of not pooping and climbing the back stairs until 2am. I dragged myself out of bed after letting him scratch-scratch at the floor of the crate until my brains started to leak from my ears and took him out. And he pooped! Like it was not big deal. Like I hadn't been begging him to do it for hours the day before. WHATEVER CHARLIE. I brought him back in and went straight back to bed. I was just falling back into a delicious warm sleep when I heard a huge commotion downstairs and someone called my name.

I poked my head out of the bedroom and there, on the back stairs, was my landlord holding the Professor by the neck with one of the cats following close behind. She was decidedly Not Happy. Charlie, however, was SO EXCITED OH MY GOD! He was making new friends! He had claimed the uncharted land of the basement for puppies! As I was putting the pieces together I realized that in my haze I must not have shut the door completely behind me when I brought him inside.

My dog then yanked the door open and committed a B&E through the landlord's cat door, terrorized her cat, rifled through her garbage, and leapt into her bed. My landlord's bed. At my apartment where the lease specifically states NO DOGS. My landlord who, after we came home with a dog and promised "You won't even know he's here!", kindly allowed him to stay.

I guess this was his attempt at gratitude.

In other news, if anyone has a room for rent and their lease allows dogs and cats and madness, I think we might be looking.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wedding Weekend

Commuter Chan is the Matron of Honor in a wedding next week. I hate that term, Matron of Honor. Why don't they just call it Old Hag of Honor or Hideous Sexless Beast of Honor?

Anyihateanyonesweddingthatisntmine, there was some confusion over beds and who was sleeping where and sharing hotel rooms, so I e-mailed the Maid of Honor (such a superior title, BTW. Maybe I'll get a divorce before the wedding so no one calls me matron.) to see what the sharing situation would be like.

CC (or HSBoH) - Is there room for the Mister or are there other girls staying with us?

MoH - We can all share on Friday night. The room has two double beds. Just as long as I don't hear gross sounds...

CC - We're married so by law we can't make gross sounds anymore. Except for the farting. MY GOD THE FARTING!

MoH - That's what I was referring to. Also, the quiet weeping.

Well I can't make any promises about that.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Commuter Chan Travels: Konnichiwa, Kommuters

When I lived in Japan I was constantly amazed at the speed and efficiency with which the whole country seemed to operate. Everything was always precisely on time. Never early, never late. Especially the trains. People had told me about this, but to see it in person… you could literally set your watch by the trains in Japan. Every day at the train or subway station people would get to the platform and line up in neat rows at the spot where the doors were going to open (marked with cheerful pink squares on the ground) and wait silently. Then the train would pull up to the exact right spot – to the centimeter! Everyone would walk onto the immaculate train cars in their straight lines, and the trains would whisk everyone away in a speedy (but not too speedy – there’s a schedule here, people!) and orderly fashion.

When I first started I was always incredibly nervous about being late. Japan is a society of On Time People and I’ve been a Thirty Minutes Late Person my entire life. In the beginning I would leave 20 minutes early to make the 4 minute bike ride and 3 minute walk into the subway station. This might not seem like a big deal to you. You’re probably saying, “Well duh – of course you’d leave in a few minutes more than it actually takes to get to a place.” But for a Thirty Minutes Late Person, this is pretty much the most difficult thing on the planet.

So every Friday I’d leave my apartment at 3:00. I’d ride my bike to Dobutsuen-Mae station to jump on the Midosuji line to Nakamozu where I taught. I’d wave and say “Konnichiwa!” to the trannys on my block, and maybe even stop at AM/PM for a delicious rice ball filled with… what is that? I thought this was tuna! And I’d ride the long escalator down into the train station. I’d buy my little ticket and stroll onto the platform to stand in a straight line like those little French girls in the Madeline stories. And at exactly 3:19, just like it was supposed to, the train would show up and we’d all file on as I tried to look as inconspicuous as possible even though I was a head taller than every other woman there.

That lasted for about a month. And slowly my 30 Minutes Lateness began to creep up. I started leaving the house at 3:03. And then 3:07. And then 3:11. And finally I wasn’t riding my bike through town waving to the trannys anymore. I was flying like a banshee, pushing that creaky little bike with the basket to speeds approaching the sound barrier. Mowing down oba-sans and narrowly avoiding getting smashed by cars as I looked the wrong way AGAIN when I crossed the street. I would run down the long escalator, taking the stairs two at a time, crash into the ticket machine and shout at it impatiently as I paid my 290 yen. I would run frantically to the platform flailing and cursing as I heard the train pull up at 3:19 like it did every day and leap spectacularly through the doors just as they were closing only to collapse in a very un-Japanese heap, wheezing, spluttering, but safe! I call that year my Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Lateness. 

On the Train: Day 614

This morning I sat down behind a guy who was reading the dictionary. A big red hard cover dictionary. Not Webster’s even – some no-name store brand dictionary he probably bought at Target that claims to have all the same ingredients as Webster’s, but leaves out words like “baleen” and “herculean” because it figures if you couldn’t be bothered to buy a real name brand dictionary you probably won’t even notice. I could understand if he was writing or reading something and using the dictionary for help, or if he was 7 and about to compete in a spelling bee, but instead he was a 30-something guy in a suit on an NJ Transit commuter train reading a DICTIONARY.