Friday, January 30, 2009

Signs of the physical apocalypse

Two days ago, I discovered odd-colored hairs after blow-drying my hair. Despite my advancing age and eventual decrepitude (yes, I have sort of decided to dislike being 31), they were not grey hairs. No. They were thick black hairs. Whose hair fucking does that?

I have, my entire life, not had dark hair (it is, however, naturally slightly darker blonde than I've kept it since 2003). I have certainly never had thick hair -- one hairdresser once described it as children's hair, and she was right.

But now, at the dawn of my eventual physical decline, I am growing thick, dark hair. I assume this is some sick and unfortunate precursor to going grey. The problem with dark hair, of course, is that I am extremely fair skinned and -- like my dad who has the dark hair with which I am, apparently, to be cursed in my thirties -- have blonde eyebrows.

Fine. You know what? Fuck it. I already learned that you can, indeed, dye your eyebrows. And I have always wanted to do something dramatic with my hair. My hair is thus on notice: you are being dyed. And soon. And it will be dark. This is what you get.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Misty Water Colored Meme-ories

At the request of the inimitable Jason Linkins, I review 2008 -- otherwise known as "The Worst Year in My Life So Far" and try to think of things that made it less than sucky.

4 favorite memories from 2008
Dancing with my dad at my sister's wedding -- no slow dances, thanks -- to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and having him tell me that he couldn't hear the song without thinking of me.
When my mother told me how proud my grandmother had always been of me -- of my ambition, and my education, my first career and even my second -- even if she'd never told me.
The night I told one of my best friends that I loved him, and he told me he loved me, too. (I don't really say this a lot to anyone, like, ever.)
Splitting a bottle of 14 year old wine with Alexandra and Markus around their dining room table the night before their wedding like it wasn't any big thing, and like it was.

4 favorite movies in 2008
Tropic Thunder
In Bruges
Run, Fatboy, Run (context: Spencer Ackerman took me to see it the Monday after my sexual assault, after I spent a while being questioned by police and then found out an ex of mine from high school died. I mostly remember that it got me out of my head. The second time I went to see it, the film ran upside down and backwards after the first reel, so my friend Lesley and I got drunk on the theater's dime. It might really suck.)
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (sue me, I loved Pan's Labyrinth)

4 favorite foods in 2008
The chocolates at Veritas
The garlic spätzle at Bistrot de Coin
The pumpkin ravioli in sage butter sauce at Urbana
The wild mushroom and butternut squash risotto at Bistro Bis

4 places I loved in 2008
Saarlouis, again
Denver, Colorado
San Francisco, California
New York City

4 events I loved in 2008
Duffy opening for Coldplay at the Verizon Center
The events of my birthday
Yeah, I'm sick, but I genuinely had a good time cooking testicles
The first Philly excursion, which occurred when I really needed a break from my life

4 things I liked in 2008
All the amazing friends I made this year -- Jason, Caro, Kay, Kate, Erica, Spencer, Latoya, Becca -- who helped me through and made me laugh and gave me hugs when I needed them.
Making some sort of living at this writing thing despite the ups and downs.
Being all journalist-y at the Democratic Convention
The Cyclone Coaster at Lakeside Amusement Park

4 things I am looking forward to in 2009
The things I already plan to change about my life
The vacation I damn well plan on taking this year
The new hair color
The fact that it can't possible be as bad as 2008

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Best freebie ever?


You decide. I can't.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Embrace

In my family, it's hard to say from whom I inherited my stubbornness, or what my friend Jeff once upon a time called my orneriness, or what my friend Jason more recently called my contrariness. It's a good bet some of it came from my maternal grandmother, who passed away just after Labor Day.

One of the things my grandmother was known for doing was putting away "nice" clothes for later, or for "good," after which she'd never (or hardly ever) wear them. We all eventually developed feints to try to trick her into wearing them: my aunt would tell her she got it at an outlet and it didn't fit but she couldn't return it; my mom would pass 'em off as hand-me-downs; I would disguise my handwriting and "mark things down" to a point that she wouldn't feel bad wearing it. Sometimes it worked and sometimes -- as my mother discovered going through her clothes this past fall -- it didn't.

My last Christmas present to her failed. For years, she and my grandfather had wintered in Florida, so their stash of cold-weather clothing was limited, to say the least. And then, after a winter illness in Florida a few years back, they decided that they wanted to be closer to their family in case anything happened (to my grandfather, was the unspoken and now-ironic thought process) and moved back to upstate New York. This made gift-giving fairly easy, as we could all give them winter clothes. That last Christmas, I gave my grandmother a fleece sweatshirt from LL Bean -- my grandmother never wore sweaters, but always layered turtlenecks under sweatshirts with cheezy grandma prints on them, and I was determined to rescue her from that. So I gave her a v-neck fleece with a center panel of her favorite shade of blue and side panels in ivory -- kind of an aprés-ski look, but not too pointedly.

Two weeks after she died, I went home for my sister's wedding and found it on the dresser in my old bedroom. My mother had found it in her "good" drawer, which means she'd probably never worn it, and gave it back to me. I threw it in a bag, brought it home and threw it in a drawer with my yoga pants and t-shirts and forgot it, until last night.

I was getting ready for bed and opened the drawer in search of... I don't know what, really. A tank top? A different shirt? But there I saw the sweatshirt. And it was chilly enough in my bedroom, so I put it on for the first time since I'd gotten it, and I started to cry. I remembered -- too vividly -- saying goodbye to her for the last time in August, knowing that she didn't know it was the last time or even, necessarily, that I was there at all. And my mom asked that I not make a scene when I left, so I leaned over the railings on the hospital bed and brushed my lips against the thinning skin of her forehead, already cool to the touch, clenching my jaw and squinching up every muscle from my cheekbones to my forehead to hold back the tears, willing the muscles in my throat to relax enough to say goodbye without choking up.

And then I walked out into the hallway where the unaccountable sun was shining in from the windows, and I shook my mother's hand off my back, and straightened up and walked away. I think a tear or two escaped, probably, from my traitorous eyes, but the rest of me held firm against the tide. But alone, last night, I didn't have to straighten up, and I didn't have to be strong for anyone else, and I didn't have hold back the tide. And so wrapped in my grandmother's sweatshirt, I cried for that goodbye, and for the phone call that came in the middle of Mitt Romney's RNC speech telling me she was gone, for the deep hug my friend Asma gave me that night in the midst of the Republican hordes streaming by that meant so much to me in the midst of so many strangers. And then I feel asleep and dreamt of her snow-covered house in Cooperstown and the cold, distant parlor, the yellow, bubbled juice glasses and the leather chair in the family room that smelled like Grandpa's cigarettes, all of which are long gone, too.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My little secret

My not-really-dirty secret was that in addition to writing for Jezebel, Foreign Policy's Madame Secretary and The Daily Beast this past week, I was working as a stringer for Us Weekly doing some of their inaugural coverage. Unexpectedly, my friend Emily just e-mailed to inform me that my byline appears in this week's inaugural issue -- I thought it was just contributing-reporting stuff! So, um, go buy it. I won't tell anyone. Besides, I've got to buy two copies to mail to my parents and my grandfather, so you know I'll be getting stranger looks than you anyway.

UPDATE: My teeny-tiny byline appears in about an 8 point font on pages 19 and 20. Emily has some damn good eyes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On the radio again, and this time it isn't scary

I was on the Marc Steiner Show yesterday, which airs on WEAA, the NPR news station in Baltimore and is produced by the Center for Emerging Media. Listen here, and I kick in at 3:40.

Add another line to the resume

I had my first piece published in The Daily Beast tonight! Go read it!

The 'Out' Crowd at the Inauguration

The week in Hillary-ana

So I'm behind what with all the work I've had going on, but catch up as I do!

Thursday 1/15/09
The votes are in
Harry Reid misses Hillary already, nearly cries
Hillary says goodbye to the Senate
Bill Clinton mucks up everyone's hearings

Friday 1/16/09
Hillary will be pretty in pink for the inauguration balls
Hillary Clinton, party animal
The Hillary end-of-the-week news dump
Take the Hillary poll

Monday 1/19/09
Senate might play the waiting game on Hillary's confirmation
Hillary at Emily's List luncheon yesterday
Hillary's electrifying EMILY's List speech
Was Hillary almost VP? Or just almost not secretary of state?

Tuesday 1/20/09
Clinton doesn't get confirmed today, has words with John Cornyn
A blue, blue Hillary Clinton

Wednesday 1/21/09

Who will fill Hillary's seat, if not her shoes?
John McCain goes to bat for Hillary
Mr. de la Renta: What were you thinking with Hillary's inauguration gown?
Hillary confirmed as secretary of state

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Meme time

Ok, so I keep getting tagged in these Facebook notes about "20 Things You Don't Know About Me" and I get that it's a meme and I'm all for participating in memes BUT I am pretty sure more people follow my shit on Facebook than do on this blog. So I'm doing it here.

1. I was born with a cleft palate. No, not the lip thing, it was in the back of my throat. It was repaired when I was a toddler.
2. Because of the cleft palate, I have a man-made uvula that hangs to the left and fails to prevent me from throwing up through my nose.
3. Lettuce is the grossest thing you can throw up through your nose.
4. I have had 6 surgeries under general anaesthesia so far in my life.
5. I have never broken a bone or been stung by a bee.
6. I didn't start drinking regularly until I was 20.
7. I got dee-runk for the first time at a hard-core goth/sex show in Germany because it was the only way to survive. There's a picture. It's not a good one.
8. I had acupuncture regularly for 2 years in an effort to cure my migraines that had become nearly constant. It worked.
9. I took ballet, tap and jazz lessons from the age of 7 until the age of 17. I took modern dance and African dance lessons for 2 years after that. I also swing dance.
10. My mother refused to pay for violin lessons anymore my senior year in high school despite it having been a lifelong dream of mine because she decided I didn't practice enough. She continued to pay for my younger sister's cello lessons despite the fact that she didn't practice any more than me. I have never really forgiven her for that.
11. I wanted to play violin my whole life because my parents gave me the record "Big Bird and His Orchestra" when I was 4.
12. I never lose a gross-out contest.
13. I lost 30 pounds 4 years ago because I was too cheap to buy new clothes in a larger size and my pride was offended. Also, because I nearly cried when the bra-fitting lady at Macy's told me I was a DD or a DDD. She felt terrible.
14. I've never considered myself a happy person.
15. I learned how to control my temper, but not before it cost me more than I really wanted to lose.
16. I've never had a pet.
17. I kill houseplants.
18. I have been deliberately hit twice in my life. I would rather be hit harder than not fight back again.
19. I used to think I would rather die than be raped again. I wouldn't, apparently.
20. I only cry silently.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ibid

Corner of Constitution and 14th. Coincidentally, I have to pee like crazy right now.

Yes, we can have porta-potties

Also, it is holy shit cold out. This weather is why I'm practically a shut-in.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Presidency, 10% off at Harris Teeter

And after this, the whole section with wine is closed tonight. Fuck.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I really want to be friends with this woman

Stacey Grenrock Wood, call me.

The Rules for Oral Sex

  • When Receiving: Give her some kind of warning. "I just came!" doesn't count.
  • Always reciprocate.
  • Better yet, ladies first.
  • When giving: It's a clitoris, not a Tootsie Pop.
  • Work harder, not smarter.
  • Is your tongue starting to ache? Really, really bad? Like you think you can't go on? Relax, you still have twenty minutes to go.
  • This is still bugging me

    Last night, when I probably should have been working and definitely should have been sleeping, I was instead bouncing around the Internet when I saw a quote on Peter Feld's tumblr attributed by others to Nietzsche that Peter and I both felt didn't sound very Nietzschean.

    There's really nothing like a late night German-y Google project to get my blood going. So I researched, he added his own research and we're debunking. I don't know where it's really from yet, which is bugging me, but we firmly believe that the quote “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you” was not written by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Suck it, Internet. Nietzsche was a lot of things, but a lame emo emotional-masochist is not one of them.

    The day in hearing-blogging


    By the end of the day, I got a little punchy, which explains, perhaps, why I IM'd Spencer Ackerman something vicious and profane about David Vitter. But you should read it from the (completely not dead) horse's mouth.**

    ** No animals were harmed in the making of this joke.

    Branding you can believe in

    As seen at Union Station in Washington DC. I'm totally going to want to kill myself by the end of this thing.

    Blogging, blogging, blogging

    So, I'm seated in the press section for Hillary's confirmation hearing, writing away for Madame Secretary and Jezebel.

    Amusingly, for my first post, my inimitable editor and bloggy colleague, Carolyn O'Hara, chose this wide shot, having no idea that I was in it. Yeah, I have my hair in a bun today. My second post is here. There will be two more.

    Monday, January 12, 2009

    Everyone's got a new gig (temporarily, at least)

    As you might have heard, today I started a week of guest-blogging for Foreign Policy magazine's "Madame Secretary" blog about Hillary Clinton. I'll be live from tomorrow's Senate confirmation hearings (no, really!), but today's posts you should check out, too.




    Friday, January 9, 2009

    Get your podcast here

    From Erica, to celebrate the occasion of my Prager radio interview, which is now available in podcast form.

    In addition, I am now getting hate mail from Prager fans, which I was last night drunkenly inspired to respond to exclusively in German. It seems to confuse them, if the responses are any indication.

    Tuesday, January 6, 2009

    In my head

    In response to my earlier post that I'll be debating the merits of Dennis Prager's arguments about marital coitus and the provision thereof tomorrow at 1 pm ET on KRLA 870 (streaming live, people), Spencer Ackerman put up one of his own entitled, perhaps appropriately, "Smack My Bitch Up". Naturally, I now have that song in my head, so everyone ought to.

    I love that song. I just hope Spencer's right about who will be the bitch tomorrow.

    Something I missed

    For reasons that will become obvious and that I will update below when the post goes live, I decided to watch the video for "Peaches."



    It turns out that, having been without cable until the age of 22 (long after this was in heavy airplay), I've never actually seen the entire video the whole way through. Ninjas? What the fuck?

    UPDATE: The post that inspired me to listen to this song is (finally) up: Obama and peach cobbler.

    Monday, January 5, 2009

    Let the shitstorm commence

    In December, I responded with my usual joie de vivre to Dennis Prager's two columns on how women should just stop denying thier husbands the sex those men so desperately want. Well, if that wasn't quite enough for you, I recommend listing to KRLA 870 radio live or live online on Wednesday, January 7 at 1 pm ET to hear me debating it with the man himself.

    And, if you were really masochistic and wanted to call in, the number is 1-877-243-7776.

    UPDATE: If you can't listen live, it'll be available as a podcast at that same address thereafter.

    Technology is a wonderful thing

    Dear Peter and Chris:

    Rather than untag your photos, you do know it's relatively easy to create a Facebook profile in which most people only see what you want them to see, right? In fact, you can change the default upload setting to private, so that when you do upload photos you actually have to actively choose to make them public. That what I do, because, really, when I'm old and grey, I actually want to remember a time in my life when my hair was blonde, my breasts were (relatively) high and my liver was still the appropriate color. I just don't want anyone else to see 'em until then.

    Also, I know I said it before, but that Favreau photo was totes fake.

    Sunday, January 4, 2009

    Made me laugh

    Right behind the tampons , next to the condoms and under the many pregnancy tests in my local CVS lies the lubricants. And yet under those lies a wealth of unintentional hilarity. Under the flavored lubes (note: I DO NOT recommend ever, ever putting the mint version anywhere near your vagina unless you enjoy leaping up in the middle of sex and frantically running for the shower and soap) lies the shelf on Mandelay, "enhancement" cremes (as in, a rub-on version on Enzyte)... and a paternity test kit. Next to, of course a multipack pregnancy test kit. Me, I just wanted some tissues, which are in this aisle, too. So, if you're trying to get pregnant, not sure who the baby daddy is, but happen to miscarry and need some pads, some mandelay gel and some Kleenex to cry into, this is your aisle.

    Eep

    I have a twofold problem. One is that I often think uncharitable thoughts about people and am easily annoyed or pissed off. This would, of course, be less of a problem if I could let things go and/or had a filter between my brain and my mouth.

    Actually, this might be a four-fold problem. Maybe 5.

    Knowing that I have a tendency to get annoyed easily, be uncharitable and let my mouth run, I have made a concerted effort for the sake of having friendships and relationships and decent family ties to try to recognize when I am doing this and stop myself. Unfortunately, as with everything else, I tend to go overboard and instead of giving vent to legitimate feelings of anger, annoyance or disappointment, I tend to just try to keep my mouth shut until I have found the perfect thing to say that expresses the anger, disappointment or annoyance without giving rise to a discussion/argument that has the potential to end the friendship. Often, this means I do not say anything until my annoyance or anger boils up and busts its way out of my mouth in the least charitable, most embarrassing (to the other person) and bitchiest way possible.

    This tends to happen when I am either ragingly hormonal or black-out drunk (because, if I haven't blacked out yet, I still probably know better). I have done this twice in the last year, apparently (not that I remember), including once this holiday season. In the last case, rather than expressing to my friend that his behavior last year was inappropriate, cruel and unwarranted, I bit my tongue for 6 months, published an account of his behavior on the internet, got piss-drunk and repeated that account of his behavior with more details to another guy in front of him. I am guessing, having only heard pieces of this particular story of my life of which I have little recall, that the account of said behavior was accompanied by "And now he wants to sleep with me again," which, while cold, is the thought I have sober when hearing what I said drunk, so I probably said it drunk.

    I feel like, as with the last time I did something similar, had I been less concerned with keeping the friendship and more concerned with having an honest conversation that his behavior was dickish, I probably would have been less of a cunt. But I feel like, having been just beaten down emotionally so much the past couple of years, I have begun to just accept that people will treat me like shit, and so, when they do, I'm a little too numb (when sober) to be that upset about it anymore. But, apparently, I'm just sublimating things for the sake of keeping the peace rather than really not being upset about them in the first place. And then, when I add alcohol, the little dams I build inside my head start to spring leaks and out gushes everything that I've been thinking about incidents I could've sworn didn't really hurt my feelings, only with more profanity, less grace and more emphasis on reciprocity.

    So.

    I either need to start telling people off sober, or stop getting drunk with people that I haven't yet told off. As a corollary, I probably need to stop being such a masochist about the people I allow into my life. So maybe that's my resolution for the year. That and read more books.

    Saturday, January 3, 2009

    The song I am currently completely obsessed with

    Don't ask me why, but I can't stop listening to this damn song, which Greg gave to me on iTunes.



    Yeah, I'm still going through stuff to sell online, and this is how I procrastinate.

    Blast from the college past

    I was going through my books today, putting a few dozen up for sale as a part of my divestment plans, and as I flipped though an old textbook, "Classes, Power and Conflict," I found some old homework that made me laugh. It's all handwritten on ruled notebook paper (God, I feel old), but rather than scanning it in, since it's not readable in these margins, I'll reproduce it minus the scratch-outs below.

    Megan Carpentier

    1) What explanations are there for division of labor between the sexes?

    Universalists: when one sex must perform tasks, it follows that the other is forbidden to do so -- enforces reciprocal dependence and assures heterosexual marriage: woman are exchanged between families which is a mechanism supporting interdependency, and, since women are being exchanged and men are exchanging, women benefit less from the created social bonds which leads to a hierarchy that is universal in all societies.

    Feminist Revisionist: or it is just "separate but equal," and it is the bias of the observers that says that it is male-supremacist and it stresses the importance of what women accomplish.

    Variationist: isolate the variables which coincide with the greater or lesser autonomy of women: contribution of women (and their control over such contribution) to subsistence, organization of tribal vs. state societies, requirements of the mode of production, wealth and private property, the boundaries of public and private spheres.

    [side notes: devalued labor -- skilled were just generic, not monopolized, or very skilled; men are in the public sphere and women at home (private); no access to money made women dependent; guilds monopolize price, skill]

    sexual stratification occures with social stratification which is dependent on and fosters an increase in social surplus, and women lose status when they lose control over subsistence through a change in production and a devaluation of their labor, works becomes private and family centered, division of labor becomes hierarchical, and men assert power over other men by using the nuclear family above the kin group. control over women is maintained in the family by men and sustained by social institutions

    2) Why is the relationship between power in the market and power in the family reciprocal?

    When men have the power in the family, they control the labor of women and children.

    Men enforced job segregation in the labor market and worked to strengthen domestic division of labor and the women's subordinate position in the family which reinforced their position in the labor market. Huband has more upward mobility and higher wages. (Ideology of patriarchy used)

    3) If capitalism requires individuals to compete freely in the market why are women as a group disadvantaged in this market?

    - We don't have perfect capitalism.
    - Patriarchy existed beforehand
    - No organization of women (into unions).
    - Capitalism too advantage of the patriarchal system (came on top of it)


    Can you believe I got an A- in this class? Holy hell, no wonder my professors always used to tell me to proofread shit before I turned it in. Notably, this was all written before I started drinking. Obviously, drinking makes me more coherent and less ideological.

    Public Service Announcements

    My friend Rob works in a bar that I like to frequent which was recently forced to close for the night because the toilets were all clogged up. Rob made a disparaging comment about how it was probably a woman flushing a tampon down the toilet, which I argued with him about. I even bet him that most women know better than to flush tampons down the toilet, being as we all experience regularly how they expand with moisture and are designed, in effect, to clog up plumbing.

    I was wrong. I owe Rob drinks, but furthermore, this is a message for the apparent hordes of women out there who seriously, regularly flush (or attempt to flush) tampons down the toilet. My God, woman, stop! Wrap it up, throw it in the trash (as the box tells you to).

    I mean, for real, the plumber charged the bar $500 just for the gross-out factor of rooting through literally hundreds of used tampons that had been rotting in the system for what one assumes was many months. This indicates that there is a serious free-rider problems -- you are all figuring that you're the only one doing it and just one won't hurt anything. Well, unless you all stop, you are not all the only one doing it. Seriously, trash can. Look into it. Please. I need to drink.

    Friday, January 2, 2009

    Endings

    So, the last two Januarys have been more of a time for endings that beginnings for me, by which I mean to say that today was the last-ever Crappy Hour. And then Rachel Sklar brought up Glamocracy in her Daily Beast piece about the year to come in media and I was like, oh, someone noticed.

    Amazingly in 2009, so many publications still don't appreciate or understand how to use the web. While a few magazines are thriving online others are inexplicably choosing to slash web resources to save print resources. Still others are living on as scary zombie versions of their former selves.

    But there is hope. Despite the general backwardness of Condé Nast online, Vanity Fair is catching on with smart online content, the New Yorker has got some of their best writers on the blog, and Glamour distinguished itself with election coverage on Glamocracy.
    Glamocracy dropped in my lap about a week after last year's firing and enabled me to do a lot of really cool things (original reporting, interviews, be respected for thinking smart things occasionally) at a time when I was figuring I was pretty well fucked. Maybe it staved off the fucked-ness for a year, maybe it gave me a little teeny bit of potential credibility, maybe it just helped pay the bills (oh, Lord, those bills, they await me now) but it was a good time that also has already come to an end so I had another sad moment.

    And then I got up from my obligatory post-being-fired multi-hour afternoon nap and watched with no small level of delight the commenters get grossed out by the picture of the man holding the red crucifix dildo up to his face. The fact that the pictures on the redesigned Gawker pages are so small enabled that! Nick Denton's redesign that makes us all write 35-word intros and sized everything down enabled me to get away with using a picture of a gay man holding a blood-red crucifix dildo in front of his face and I sort of really loved it. Sadly, it got 75% as many page views as a stupid post about Hugh Hefner with a picture of his harem than I ran on New Years Eve (despite it being way less stupid). Oh, Interwebs. Why do you make me have to trick you into a click-through by taunting you with fake titties handled by Hugh Hefner when there are so many more interesting pictures in the world?

    Thursday, January 1, 2009

    The remains of the old year

    Hangover cures from the diner that delivers -- shitty movies, good friends, eggs, coffee, Coke, mozzarella sticks, cheesey bread, chicken fingers, fries added to our version of MST3000. How many ways can we mock "The Crystal Skull"? A lot.