Monthly Archives: January 2010

It’s hard to exist.

I’m struggling with existence again. As usual. It’s so lame. And it’s also the least lame thing ever.

An old friend texted me a few minutes ago saying, “I hear you’re some kind of comedian now.” And I texted back, “I’m not sure what I am. What are you these days?”


I was riding the subway on Monday, and I was eating a turkey sandwich. The turkey sandwich part isn’t so important, except that the train was crowded and I was dropping lettuce on myself and I felt sort of bad, but not that bad because the woman sitting next to me was eating an apple.

In an attempt to avoid eye contact with any Q Train passengers who might be watching me eat, I started studying advertisements. One in particular caught my eye. For a few reasons:

1. It was for a book and I like those.

2. The concept for the book turns the author into a whore.

3. I’ve long thought about writing a book just like this. Well, sort of like this:

“Publisher’s Weekly” ascribes this book to the “stunt-blog memoir genre”. There is a gimmicky feel to this genre, but it can be done really well! I don’t care if Oprah plugged it, I really enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. Shit was inspiring. I also enjoyed Danny Wallace’s book Yes Man that inspired the Jim Carrey movie I didn’t see.

But as far as stunt-blog memoirs go, this has gotta be one of the most stunt-bloggy of them all. Maybe I’m just upset I didn’t think of doing it myself. I mean, how can you really go wrong when the backbone of your stunt-blog memoir has these kinds of stats:

IF OPRAH WERE… A NATION her 51.4 million weekly viewers and magazine readers would equal more than the population of Canada (33 million), Spain (40.3 million) or Argentina (39.9 million).

IF OPRAH WERE… A PILE OF GOLD she’d be equal to 24,000 14-karat gold bars.

cnnmoney.com reported in January that Oprah ranked second only to Google as the biggest brand newsmaker of 2006. Behind Ms. Winfrey were Amazon, eBay and iPod.

IF OPRAH WERE… A NATIONAL ECONOMY what she’d pump into the U.S. economy would be slightly more than the GDP of the Bahamas. See more here.


The only thing left to do now, now that I’ve accepted I’ll probably never figure out the big existential questions, is figure out what to spend 365 days of my life doing that I can convince a publishing house will make a memoir and make them money.

Actually, my old friend texted back to tell me what she is these days, and it sounds like the perfect title for a stunt-blog memoir: Nomadic Barista.

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Bob Barker, my hero!

Hey! Remember my unconditional love for pigeons? Well, it seems that Bob Barker shares that love! It’s a great day for America:

Bob Barker donates $1 million to save PA pigeons

A TV icon is taking a stand for the pigeons of Pennsylvania.

Bob Barker, the former game show host and one of the nation’s most generous animal philanthropists, has donated $1 million to stop pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania and says he will be joining protestors outside a Bensalem gun club where shoots are being held regularly.

Barker said the donation will go to SHARK, an Illinois-based animal activist organization dedicated to putting a stop to these shoots.

The organization plans weekly demonstrations at the Philadelphia Gun Club in Bucks County which two years ago began holding pigeon shoots despite a cease and desist order issued by Bensalem Township. In 2002 the township said the shoots violated local firearms laws and constituted animal cruelty. The club recently filed suit against activists and neighbors for harassment.

Barker also said he will support legislation being considered in both the state House and Senate that would ban the use of live pigeons for targets and make organizing or operating the shoots a crime. Animal rights activists in Pennsylvania have been fighting to win passage of anti-pigeon shoot legislation for two decades.

Pennsylvania is the only state where live pigeon shoots are openly practiced, according to the Humane Society of the United States. The contests – held at gun clubs, most of them in Berks County – involve launching pigeons from spring-loaded boxes where shooters fire on them at close range. Many wounded birds are scooped up – often by children – their necks broken and the carcases disposed of. But other injured birds end up outside of the clubs only to suffer a slow death from their wounds.

“The very characteristics of a live pigeon shoot are such that the event cannot be held without causing extensive animal suffering,” said Barker. “Live bird shoots are held under the guise of ‘sport’ target practice But they offer neither sport nor hunting.”

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that about 22,000 live birds are used as targets every year in Pennsylvania.

Frankie Valli and Overweight Women

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons were a staple of my childhood, especially between ages 5 and 8. Looking back it seems like they were constantly playing in the car. And my older brothers were constantly complaining about it. About Frankie Valli’s voice in particular.

I didn’t take part in the complaining because his voice didn’t bother me so much as it confused me. I pictured some overweight, homely woman singing when he went really high, and I pictured, well, I guess I pictured someone a lot like Frankie Valli when he sang in his lower register. But that overweight homely woman really, really baffled me! Who was she?! Where did they find someone with such a voice? She was truly an anomaly.

“Big Girls Don’t Cry” made me take pause the most. I didn’t know if I was supposed to take the message to heart. And if I was, I wasn’t sure I was capable of ever being a big girl. This song probably had a lot to do with why I pictured an overweight woman–a big girl–as the person behind the voice.

If you do a Google image search for “overweight homely woman”, this map is the second thing that you’ll find:

Big girls don’t cry (they don’t cry)
Big girls don’t cry (that’s just an alibi)

Seagulls on ice

Don’t you hate seeing seagulls hanging out in, like, K-Mart parking lots?  Or circling the dumpster behind McDonald’s? E very time I see it, a little chunk of my inner child dies.  Go back to the sand, back to salt water!  Back to beautiful and natural things you can depend on–tides being influenced by the moon and sand castles getting stomped on by children named Jason.  Or Bartholomew.  Or Sven.

I don’t know.  Seagulls.  It’s so sad.  It’s sort of like the persecution of Native Americans, the Trail of Tears… only not at all.

“If you touch me you’ll understand what happiness is…”*

*That’s a mighty claim, Andrew Lloyd Webber…

Yesterday I went to the Salvation Army. My plan was to buy a coffee table. The thing that’s so great about thrift stores like the Army, though, is that you never know what you’re going to find. For instance, in the electronics department I found these:

TWO televisions simultaneously playing “Cats”, paired with one television playing J. Lo and Matthew McConaughey’s “The Wedding Planner”. These three screens distracted my attention for at least five minutes. (Five of the best minutes of my life.)

In the end, I didn’t go home with a coffee table.  Nor did I go home with a TV or a VHS copy of “The Wedding Planner”.  (I already own it on DVD.)  Instead, I went home with a pair of rollerblades and a plaid shirt that was in the men’s department even though it’s clearly a woman’s shirt.

Updates on future failed attempts to purchase a coffee table to follow.  I wrote a poem about a coffee table when I was in college.  It was just a list of stuff that had been left on the one in my dorm room after a particularly drunken weekend.

Poets are so pretentious.


Please experience 3:00:

(Arch-nemesis Malignant Girl sold separately)

My mom is visiting me this weekend.  She’s a great guest to have because rather than do “exciting” things in the city like try to get in that hot new club, or score tickets to Cats, we’ve been doing things like drink too much white zinfandel and shop at my neighborhood 99 Cent Store.

I didn’t buy this 99 cent beauty, but I did take a photo of it and think of how to best frame it to produce an interesting social commentary on my blog:

Benign Girl should feel fortunate after reading this quote from Cancer.gov:

Numerous studies have investigated the relationship between cellular telephone use and the risk of developing malignant and benign brain tumors, but results from long-term studies are still limited.

Several studies have investigated the risk of developing three types of brain tumors: Glioma, meningioma, and acoustic neuroma. Results from the majority of these studies have found no association between hand-held cellular telephone use and the risk of brain cancer; however, some, but not all, long-term studies have suggested slightly increased risks for certain types of brain tumors. Further evaluation of long-term exposures (more than 10 years) is needed.

On a related note, as I was leaving said 99 Cent Store, I got accused of stealing a notebook. But I yelled, “No, it’s mine!” and the man believed me.

I accidentally entered a Haley Joel Osment movie last night.

Gosh, that boy sure was cute.


On paper it sounds like a small thing, but last night something happened that really touched my heart. I was shopping at the 24-hour grocery store in my neighborhood. It was about 3:30am. I picked up eggs, two Navel oranges, a box of Cocoa Krispies, one chicken-flavored package of Ramen and one beef-flavored. Faith Hill’s “This Kiss” was on the radio. I sang along while perusing aisles. I squeezed past a man restocking bread. I brought my items to the checkout.

At the checkout counter, my interaction with the man was standard. He unloaded the items from my basket, scanned them, bagged them, and took my debit card. He handed me my receipt and said, “Have a good night.” This is the moment when he would in theory go back to reading a magazine, or texting on his phone, or staring blankly ahead with his elbows on the counter and his head in his hands. Instead, he saw me reach for my bags, and he saw that I was wearing mittens, so he gathered the loops of the plastic grocery bags and he secured them over my mittened hands.

It wasn’t just what he did, it was the way he did it. So casually. As casually as he’d handed me the receipt.

Only handing me my receipt is part of his job.


As I walked home, grocery bags hanging from my mittens, I kept thinking about it. And I also thought about my reaction. I was surprised that in that moment, I hadn’t snipped at him, “I can do it myself!” The truth is, I really could have picked up the bags despite the mittens. And I was kind of proud of myself. Because sometimes it takes humility to accept kindness. To accept help from others. To accept that we’re not powerful and strong and in control all the time. And that just because someone is offering their help, doesn’t mean they think you can’t do it.

This is probably a concept most people just understand. The mitten incident gelled it for me, though. And it also made me want to make a genuine effort to be that kind of kind myself.  The checkout guy at grocery store kind of kind.

P.S. I think these are the coolest mittens ever. I might be kind to myself and pick up a pair to wear while I watch people luge. And curl. And speed skate.