Friday, May 30, 2003

The End of Another Era

I did the exact opposite of what Forrest did, I guess.

A couple years back, I went to New Orleans with all my friends during Spring Break. We sucked down frozen drinks with abandon, revelling in all the debauchery The Big Easy had to offer. We strolled the pink-cottage-laden steets lacy with flowering trees, ran our fingers over the gaslights, and never wanted to leave. I got my navel pierced on the last night we were there. It was supposed to be me and my friend Sarah doing it together, but she chickened out at the last minute. I sprawled in the dentist chair alone and watched the bearded, tattooed guy carefully unwrap his sterile implements; holding them as gingerly as a surgeon holding a scalpel. "It won't hurt" he said; and clamped off pieces of flesh. It didn't.

Ahh, the euphoria of a new piercing. High on endorphins for the rest of the night, I led my group through a seedy neighborhood in search of the place that supposedly had the "best" jambalaya. We found it at last, after several wrong turns; and had steaming bowls heaped with shrimp, sausage, chicken, and rice foisted upon us by a rotund, head-scarved black woman who called us all "sugah". God, it was fucking good stuff.

Then we hit bourbon street. There's more than one picture of me showing someone my piercing, sometimes with a tiny trickle of blood escaping. That happens with a new piercing, especially a navel piercing, they say. So I was unconcerned, and gaily showed off my mostly-flat stomach, my milky white skin; my naughty little secret.

When we got back to Cleveland, I became piercing-obsessed. I was ready to do the nipples, the tongue, and *ahem* "other" areas. I was in love with the cold steel feeling of something sharp being forced through me. In fact, the only reason I didn't get my tongue pierced was that I read something saying that I should avoid oral sex for some time afterwards. What? Me avoid oral sex?!? What's the point of being a pierced sex goddess if you have to avoid such things?!? I ended up being content with just the navel "for now". I spent the summer in little halter tops and low-rise pants, making sure everyone could see my body jewelery.

But, it never really healed. It was always just a little icky. And then I met Sean, and Sean hated it. Well, maybe "hated" is a strong word. But he spent a good deal of time asking me if it was "infected", or "Ok". No and yes, respectively.

Now, it's gotten to the point where it's just plain in the way. My stomach is no longer even mostly-flat; which is not a good thing; but is getting less and less comfortable with the belly ring. And it pulls on my pants all the time and annoys me.

I finally did it today. Armed with a pair of pliers, I unscrewed the banana bell and pulled it out. Afterwards, I stared blankly at my navel for a few minutes. It seemed empty, forlorn, plain. Non-sex-goddess-like. It was kind of a downer.

So, here I am. Back to being one of the non-pierced. I feel more square already. *sigh*

True Story

Since my wardrobe is sadly bereft of short-sleeved tops; and since I have high hopes that the temperature will eventually remain above 65 degrees on a consistent basis; and since I like to buy stuff; I set out to find some new items of apparel today.

Wow! I found a pretty groovy sale. So, I proceeded to the fitting room with armloads of cheap cheap stuff. Yay! Of course, I knew I wouldn't be able to try it all on at once. It's never like that. So I began seperating my stuff into outfits that needed to be tried on together. I thougt I overheard the fitting room attendant (I like to refer to her affectionately as the "fitting room troll") tell the person in front of me that 6 items were allowed. Good, I thought--since I had 11, I'd go in with 6 and 5.

The following conversation happened when I got to the front of the line:

Fitting Room Troll:How many items do you have?
Me:Ahh...I have 11. I was going to take in 6, then come back for the other 5.
Fitting Room Troll: I'm sorry, you can only take in 5 at a time.
Me: Ahh...but I thought you just said you could take in 6?
Fitting Room Troll: No, I'm sorry; only 5. It used to be 6, but we ran out of tags that say "6". So you can only take in 5 now.
Me: Er...Ok...but I have 11 items. Can't you just give me a "5" tag and a "1" tag?
Fitting Room Troll: No, I'm sorry; we have strict orders not to allow any more than 5 in at a time. It used to be 6, but since we lost all the tags, it's 5 now. I'm really sorry. They're on order! Hopefully they'll be in soon.
Me:'s the stuff I'll come back for, then. Ok, I have 5 here. *puts out hand for "5" tag*
Fitting Room Troll: Oh, I'll just remember that you have 5 items. There aren't any "5" tags.
Me *incredulous stare* But you can't just remember that I have 6 items?
Fitting Room Troll: No, I'm sorry. The "6" tags are on order. We're out. But the "5" tags just are all gone right now.

I gave up the conversation at this point. Safe to say it was one battle I wasn't gonna win.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

The Matrix: Retarded

Sean and I were psyched to see the Matrix this past weekend. In fact, check out this true conversation between us in the car on the way to the theater:

Sean (putting my hand in the vicinity of his crotch): Honey! Feel how excited I am to go see this movie!!!

Amanda: Er....honey, is that a banana in your pocket?

Sean (sheepishly): I was hungry.

See? Loads of excitement. I loved the first Matrix, as did the entire rest of the planet. So yeah, I had been eagerly awaiting the sequel.

What a fool I was.

Within the first 10 minutes of the movie, I began furtively shaking the almost-empty bag of popcorn in a panic. Now what the hell was I supposed to do for the next 2 hours?!?

Yes folks, it was that bad.

Some might call some of the following comments "spoilers". However, since that would imply there was something to be spoiled, i.e. the movie was worth watching, I'm loath to label them as such.

Ok. First off, Moglia was right. Morpheus is fat. The man has a complete absence of neck. And Trinity is old. She's lookin' 45 at best. It's almost icky when she and Keanu get kissy-kissy, like Mrs. Robinson icky.

The scenes on Zion are more than a bit reminiscent of Star Trek TNG. Not that I'm not a TNG fan. But I wasn't paying $6.50 to watch something I could have seen on TV. I was a bit confused at times, searching for Klingons and wondering if I was actually in a TNG flick.

The lack of chemistry and utter cheesiness of the romantic stuff between Neo and Trinity made me want to vomit. More than once, I became confused and wondered if I had accidentally wandered into Titanic 2000.

Trinity has become annoying in her old age. She used to be a hard-ass kick-ass chick, now she gets upset if someone might kiss her boyfriend. Wait, is this Bring it On?

The fight scenes were well-choreographed. But if I wanted to see a Kabuki dance scene, I would have gone to a Kabuki theater. Is this fighting or foreplay, ya'll???

The fight scenes were cheesy and stupid. And so, so, SO obviously CGI'ed. ("Am I in Shrek? Oh no, I can't be. Shrek was a GOOD movie....")

There were quite a few tongue-in-cheek parts that made me laugh. But I have to wonder if they were supposed to make me laugh or not. No one else seemed to be laughing, but maybe that was just the area of the theater...

I don't know if everyone knows this, but apparently in the last remaining stand of humanity, we will be having raves to celebrate, well, everything. So get your glow necklaces ready. Nothing like a little gratuitous T & A to improve a crappy excuse for a sci-fi movie.

The car chase scene literally made me fall asleep. Sean still doesn't believe this. But it's true. I nodded off during the car chase scene. I woke up later, and it was still the same car chase scene. And nothing had happened or changed. It was just as cartoony as the rest of the flick. And it lasts some ungodly amount of time, like 17 minutes or something. Gak.

Neo flies WAAAAY too much. Ok, that was cool in the first one. ONCE. They relied on that stupid gimmick for the entire movie. Very Superman. Except not as interesting.

The movie doesn't end. There's no tangible beginning, middle, and end. It's just an endless 2 hours of crap with an interesting effect here and there. But they're few and far between.

Finally, everyone involved in the film should kick themselves for forgetting the cardinal rule of Matrix filmmaking. Do not allow Keanu Reeves to take part in meaningful dialog.

When we see a movie we both dislike a LOT, Sean and I tend to spend the whole trip home yelling about it in the car. Last night, both my ears and throat were sore. Please, please, in the name of all that is holy, don't see this movie. Instead, rent:
1. The original Matrix
2. Titanic
3. Star Trek: Generations
4. Shrek
5. Go! (just for the rave scenes)
6. Any Kabuki or Sumo wrestling documentary

Watch all 6 in succession and it still won't feel as long as the 2 hours and 7 minutes you'd spend watching Reloaded.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Home Sweet...?

Looking for an apartment is a pain in my ass.

Apartment hunting in Boston Proper is its own special breed of animal. The fact that you often have to put up four months' rent up front is bad enough, but add in the fact that rent here is scoffable-ridiculous, and you've got a peach of a problem on your hands. I spend hours sifting through the multitudes of online ads, praying to the craigslist gods to send me the "perfect" apartment. And so far, they have not responded.
Sean and I (er...P.S.--Sean and I are moving in together? Did I fail to mention that? :) ) have looked at a few places, but nothing has worked out yet. There were the two places near the bike trail to Davis Square, in which about 15 Chinese people (per apartment) resided in. There was the one where Sean had to duck to get through the front door. The one past Teele Square was nice, and affordable, but just a bit too far out. I came down with a case of verbal diarrhea and blurted out something about our (my) cat at the impossibly beautiful, impossibly cheap, impossibly convenient place off Powderhouse Square. (Note to self: CAT DOES NOT EXIST). The loft at the Piano Guild in the South End was smaller than they had advertised it, and the guy from the place with the domed ceilings and granite countertops in the old governor's mansion never called me back.

That brings us to today--when we're planning to see a place off Powderhouse later tonight, a place in Revere (I know, I know...but it sounded really nice!!!) tomorrow, and a bunch of places with realtor Julianne (who is no doubt eager to collect her one-month's-rent fee!) on Sunday.

Part of the difficulty is deciding where to live--where will we get the most apartment and the most convenience for the least money?

I've become such a snob since moving to Boston. I used to be this bohemian hippie who believed everyone was "equal", and just last week I could be heard saying that white trash should be kept away from me in CVS--like a White Trash Section and a Non-White Trash Section. *shudder*. (This makes me wonder if looking at a place in Revere is such a good idea...) I admit it--I like answering with a zip code of some prestige when someone asks "Where do you live?". Right now, Sean's resident city causes replies of "Ohh...", while mine brings forth things like "Oh, well EXCUUUUUUUSE me!", or "Well well well!" I prefer the latter responses. Like I said, I've become a horrible snob. You pay 65 grand to get a master's degree, and you see how down-to-earth YOU feel. Of course, that begs the question--how can I afford a prestigious address with that kind of debt? Well, I can't, not really. But I can't REALLY afford rent in Boston, period. So, why not have the nice place?

And then, there's the simple matter of finding a place that will accomodate all of our respective stuff. At this point, Sean lives alone in a smaller 3-bedroom apartment. He uses all but one of the bedrooms as actual living space. I live in a 3 bedroom + study with 2 roommates--but it's a pretty big 3 bedroom. We both pay very little for the amount of space we have. So, we're looking at paying MORE for potentially less apartment. This is not a pleasant thought. And Sean's behemoth cookie-monster-blue living room set just won't fit in a small place. And we need light for the bonsai trees. And a 6-foot-4 guy has to be able to have a queen sized bed. And if there's not room for my 10
-or 12-piece set of Fiestaware, screw that kitchen! It goes on and on.

When we were first talking about moving in together, I envisioned the apartment search as an idyllic time. The young professional couple enters the realtors office, hand in hand and starry-eyed. The realtor, seeing at once what a couple of quality tenants they are, shows them nothing but the very best apartments. They're a bit expensive, but smiling landlords eagerly lower their prices. Of course they'll take less to have such a quality couple living in their apartment, and not slovenly students! Can they also paint it pretty colors just to ensure the adorable couple will move in?

It's not exactly like that. Maybe it would be, if we could afford $2200 a month for a 2 bedroom. But alas, that is not to be.

So, keep your fingers crossed and say a prayer to the apartment gods for us. If it works out, we'll grill for you on our porch and let you bring over housewarming gifts. Did you know I like Fiestaware?

Thursday, May 15, 2003

How It Is

People always have pretty much the same reaction when you tell them that you had a sister who died, or that you "had" a sister, or long story short, that you have a dead sister. There's this look of thinly veiled shock, followed by a hand to their throat (as if they're making certain that they are still alive), followed by, in no particular order, an "Oh my GOD", an "I'm SO sorry", and my personal favorite, the "I didn't KNOW". As if they were supposed to know, as if you should have worn it on a badge upon your chest or spilled forth the words explaining it the instant they met you.

The worst part for me, and the biggest reason I hate telling people at all, is that the next question will always be "How did it happen?" (accompanied by a look of understanding and sympathy). Now, it's not that I mind talking about "it", or how "it" happened. It's that once I've told them, they're even more sorry than they were before, which was pretty sorry. I've had people openly tear up in front of me. It makes me feel like a giant asshole because I've made them feel so bad; I'm an asshole because I had a sister who died and made you somehow feel sadder and more vulnerable.

I try to avoid it at all.

But still, it tends to come up.

I was going to write about it a few months ago, about it all. About how I still feel edgy in the spring, about how I still despise Easter with a stinging wrath, about how I cannot look at forsythia without feeling nauseous because I still see it through the sepia-tinted windows of the funeral limosine. About how I hate limosines.

For obvious reasons to most everyone who reads my blog, I held my tongue.

But of course, it's still there. Much more so, of course.

I was talking to someone the other day and said offhandedly "Yep, I've got death issues alright!" Instead of laughing with me, they nodded somberly. I suppose I do.

I adored my sister. We were almost inseperable, as only siblings close in age and isolated from other children by a rural location can be. We had our own language, our own games, our own world. I loved her, and she thought I hung the moon. More than once, I overheard her say "MY big sister is the smartest girl in the world!" "MY big sister is PRETTY!" I'd dress her up in costumes, tell her who to be in the plays we put on. I'd blame things I did on her and she'd take the rap. We built fortresses in the woods behind the house. I put leaves all over her and made her act like a bird.

And then, she was gone.

Going through such a profound loss at such a young age colors your world from that point on. I became cynical, jaded. I was probably the most cynical twelve year old in the world.

And people still ask how it is. And what are you supposed to say? That the person you loved most in the world when you were eleven died? That you've hated loving people ever since? That you haven't remembered what she looked like for almost fifteen years and wouldn't know her if you saw her anymore?

The day of the "prayers", I stood in the funeral home and stared. I feigned interest in the floral arrangements because I didn't want people to know I was staring at her--the puffy-faced, impossibly quiet thing who was supposed to be my sister. Too quiet, much too quiet. And too small for the grown-up sized coffin my parents had bought because I'd hated the small one. (In retrospect, it was probably more that I hated that someone so small should ever BE in a coffin than that I hated the coffin itself.)

And when we went home that night, she wasn't there.

Almost fifteen years later, my cousin Jason named his daughter after her.

And almost fifteen years later, I still don't know how to answer any of the questions.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Bits & Pieces

That sounds much funnier if you say it a la Mike Myers in the old SNL "Simon" sketches.

So, I'm done. Officially done with my master's degree. I graduate next Monday. Grades posted on Saturday. Done. Finished. Kaput. I hope they spell my name right.

Today my department spilled in and out of elevators heading to the first floor for our special "congratulatory luncheon"--a poor excuse for a reward during which V.P.'s smile encouragingly, use words most of my coworkers probably don't understand, and make us do things like yell "we did a great job!". Perfect. I love humiliation. We sat facing front in a stuffy room and shoved stale, soggy wraps into our mouths while discussing which one of the company-logoed "door prizes" we hoped we'd win. My name was drawn. I chose the tote bag.
My department recovered $190 million dollars last year, or roughly $2 million per person.
Thanks for the wraps and tote bags, fuckers.

My cat is pissed off at me. We decided he was getting a bit too, hmm...rubenesque? So, he's now on a diet of Iams diet cat food. He does not appreciate this, and tends to follow us around meowing insistently.

I'm at this weird stage where I've put on weight, so most of my clothes don't fit that well, but I don't want to buy new clothes that won't fit when I take off said weight. So I tend to wear the same outfits or combinations of outfits over and over.

My parents are coming on Friday for my graduation. This is the first time they've come to visit since my undergrad graduation, and the very first time they've come to Boston. I'm pretty psyched. I think they're bigger drinkers and partiers than I--Mom keeps saying things like "Just so there's beer, it doesn't matter if it rains!", and "It's important that we keep hydrated!" I'd like to point out, as a sort of disclaimer, that my parents are neither alcoholics nor white trash. They're actually semi-parrotheads. Hope I can keep up.

My birthday cake is sitting unmade in its original mixlike form on Sean's kitchen table. My birthday was almost a month ago. I have resigned myself to a cakeless existence.

My friend who works at an apartment complex in a Cleveland suburb was telling me the other day that they've dropped the rent on their one bedrooms to $395. I can't seem to find a 2 bedroom for less than $1500. Fucking Boston.

I posted this on Crystallyn's site, but for those of you who don't read it--the crazy Boston cat lady apparently had an excuse for why she took her great dane with her everywhere--she has a disability. She's dyslexic. Seriously--my roommate pulled it off the AP wire. I love it.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Music Makes the People Come Together...

The big thing that seems to be circulating around my daily blog reads these days is responding to a Friday Five that asked questions about which songs make people happy, sad, turned-on.

I won't be participating in THAT, per se. You see, I find that such things quickly become an exercise in displaying one's hipness. "Look! See how many unusual bands I like! I am uber hip!" And well, the songs that evoke a given emotion in me aren't necessarily a reflection of my "Actual Musical Tastes".

So, I thought I'd share some songs that bring to mind certain phases of my life, or things/people that/who are important to me. Music seems very connected to the limbic system--hearing a certain song can take me (emotionally anyway) straight back to the time I associate it with.


Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit It was my junior year in high school. I was wearing some combination of shredded jeans shorts, black tights, a see-thru top, and combat boots (or something very similar to combat boots). While cruising around, my friend Lisa (a hopeless girly preppy) and I met up with some kids we went to school with, and their friends from another school. We went to Wendy's, ate some hamburgers, and headed off to a huge fires-in-trash-cans party at the beach. I ended up hooking up with a guy who played in a band, and we "dated" for a bit--till I started hooking up with a different guy. One who didn't play in a band. Big mistake. Always stay with the band guy when you're in high school.

Live's Lightning Crashes I was riding with my ex, hopelessly lost in the middle of nowhere, on the way back from seeing "The Crow". He was driving ridiculously fast, careening around hairpin turns and barely staying on the road. I clutched the door handle, afraid. "Can you please slow down?", I whispered. He just glared. I remember being so afraid, wanting desperately to get out of the car but not knowing how to do so. Pretty much sums up the whole relationship.

Green Day's Good Riddance/Time of your Life I was sitting with Brandy and Robb at Snow Oasis, eating snowballs with marshmallow and loving the warm Baltimore evening; and I said "this is one of those songs that makes you feel like it's the soundtrack of your life. Like, I'll say 'I remember this part. This is when Brandy, Robb, and Amanda were sitting at Snow Oasis'." And I have, ever since.

The Entire Barenaked Ladies Live Album My first year in Cleveland! My roommate Sarah would say, almost every morning: "shall we have some barenaked chickadees?" And we'd put it on. God we had fun.

Anything by Gordon Lightfoot PANCAKES. Explanation: my Dad, on Sundays he was home, would make pancakes or waffles. He was the designated "breakfast maker" of the family. And for some reason, he always played Gordon Lightfoot albums while doing so. It became his way of informing the still-slumbering household that it was time to get up--pancakes were a-cookin'! He still does it when I visit. And if I hear a Gordon Lightfoot song in any other context, I experience unbearable pancake cravings. I'm all Pavlovian like that.

Lots of miscellaneous crappy soft rock songs Driving to or from dog shows with my mother. She always played this damn soft rock station. And sang along. BADLY. But it was interesting to watch how the experience of taking part in a hobby that didn't involve my father helped her grow as a person. I remember when we first started going, she was such a timid driver. She'd say: "Be QUIET, I have to MERGE!!!" in these horribly panicked tones of voice. Now, she drives a motorhome the size of a Greyhound bus. And yells obscenities to people who get in her way.

Anything by Hooverphonic When Sean and I first started dating and would listen to them while we "hung out" (ahem) at his place. He demonstrated his mad clandestine belt removal skillz at some point therein.

Pearl Jam's Last Kiss, or Santana's Smooth These song were OFP (that'd be OverFuckingPlayed) the summer I went to the Cape with my boyfriend at the time. So, they always make me think of ice cream, sea grass, and warm sun.

Madonna's Like a Virgin We used to play it at ALL the slumber parties. My parents used to play it for me anytime anything went wrong. They played it when my cat died. So now, I think of slumber parties and dead cats. Which always leads to thoughts of Mandy Guy showing us how her dog licked her hoohaw at her slumber party. Eww. Slumber parties, dead cats, and Mandy Guy's hoohaw. I never need to hear that song again.

Ahh, that was but a sprinkling.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

The End of an Era

Well, I turned in my Master's Project the day before yesterday (*pause for applause*). And--get this crap--Professor Gung Ho didn't even stay for our formal presentations. He was too sick, and scuttled off after the first two Master's candidates had their turn.

So, why did I/we even bother worrying, practicing, creating Powerpoints that amazed and astounded? The answer: I dunno, right now.

But one thing I did realize, as I sat in the Tufts conference room with my fellow matriculators, was that this was the proverbial "it". It was the last time we would be gathered, save for the graduation ceremony itself. And of course, that'll just be Emersonians, not my Tufts peeps.

I sat there, watching and actually fully enjoying everyone's presentations; and realized how far I had come. Yeah, I'm down on my program, but there wasn't a thing anyone spoke about that I didn't understand. There wasn't a theory mentioned that I couldn't explain to you (and probably correctly site it's author, as well...). Whether I'm completely satisfied or not, I HAVE learned a lot. And as I sat surrounded by people who had taken the journey with me, I remembered how consumed with passion for it I had been at the beginning. What happened between then and now to make me so unbearably jaded? I'm not sure. I guess I need to explore that.

But mostly, it began to hit me that this was "it"--this was the end of my formal education, for now. I will no longer be a "student" (at least, not till I find some company foolish enough to fund my PhD...). I will just be me again. I won't have the craziness of the hectic scheduling, or the annoyance of having to buy new texts each semester, or the fun of making countless contacts. I won't be saying: "I'm a graduate student, but I do 'X' to pay the bills..." Hell, now I'm just a cubicle monkey.
Gone is the sense of belonging to something much, much bigger--the realm of studentdom. I'm leaving it, now.

And somehow, this realization brought with it more than a small twinge of sadness. So I sucked down the shiraz in the plastic cup in front of me, swallowed hard, and spoke on the theoretical principles that guided my campaign. The people in the audience smiled back at me. They are my friends, and now; my colleagues. I will miss them all terribly.