Monday, 31 August 2009

Our House Parties are Going to Be Ridic

Brady and I just belted "Take Me Or Leave Me" at our table at Musical Mondays at Splash. We used to sing this at the top of our lungs in my minivan in high school, with Brady as Maureen and myself as Joanne. (We always sang it that way - ostensibly because Brady can nail a falsetto and I can rock the alto part, but also possibly because Brady's actually the diva and I'm actually the anal-retentive geek in our relationship.)

Not to brag, but it turns out we've only gotten better with age.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Nomad Update

Yay for being temporarily not homeless! My brother left town for work for a week, so I'm apartment-sitting his place in Murray Hill. He just moved to the place and hasn't set it up yet, so I'm still cutting up Gatorade bottles to make cereal bowls and nursing a cup of coffee for two hours to jack wifi from every independent cafe in a ten block radius. But still, sleeping in a bed is a fairly massive improvement.


Emma and I went to this party last night where one of the female go-go dancers was wearing underwear, a bra, and then the neck and shoulders of a turtleneck.

I'm so determined to popularize the sixth of a turtleneck look, it is not even funny.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Yay, Nomads

I haven't seen Lawrence for two years, which is sort of unacceptable when you consider that a) we lived together for two years during college, and b) this made us friends instead of driving us to hate each other. So that ends now! Lawrence came up from DC yesterday and we met up with Emma for the afternoon, and I remembered why I liked being in Lowell so much. (Oddly, Lawrence, Steve, Emma, and I will all be in Europe a year from now, so cross your fingers and hope we're as awesome in diaspora.)

We went to Penelope for lunch, then wandered downtown to Momofuku Milk Bar for banana cake and compost cookies. (Emma flagged the compost cookies, which have pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch, and chocolate chips. They are basically the bakery equivalent of my garbage can salads and garbage can stir-fry, and they are delicious.) We wandered back to Queens to watch some 30 Rock, and then Lawrence took off back to Manhattan, Emma's roommate made mojitos, and Emma and I whipped up some basmati rice from her government-sized bag and made some Thai vegetables in peanut sauce and then we all sat down for a stereotypical rum-laced family dinner.

(I was going to spend today at Spike Lee's celebration of Michael Jackson in Prospect Park, because why not? but that and the chihuahua races were cancelled due to weather. I can't believe I left England for this.)

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

No Place Like Home

Well, that was a crazy weekend. David (the brother, not the significant other) had to wait for someone to come fix his air conditioner on Sunday, so I took Kelly to brunch at Vynl, Madame Tussauds, and 9 to 5, all of which were so much more fun than I expected. Madame Tussauds is the kind of place that I'd never really planned to see on my own, but then a friend got us tickets and we spent like two hours taking racy and generally inappropriate pictures with wax figures of famous people. Despite the fact that we kept yelling "SHA-RON!" across the house at each other the whole time I was home, Kelly refused to sit next to the Osbournes because they looked too real. (She loosened up after that, though, and was sure enough that Woody Allen was not actually alive that I got an excellent picture of the two of them that I really, really hope my parents will use for a Christmas card.) 9 to 5 was even better (Allison Janney is quite possibly my favorite person, ever), and then after that we basically went back to David's apartment and basked in the air conditioning while I did the NYT crossword. (I'm too poor to splurge on things like "cabs" or "meals," but I somehow still spent $5 on the NYT. I'm going to pretend it was because I needed to have a copy of the magazine's special issue on women and development.)

On Monday, Kelly really, really wanted to go to a taping of It's On With Alexa Chung, and I somehow got us tickets to the taping and stood in line with Kelly for two hours so we'd be sure to get into the audience. I'd never heard of the show, but it's one of Kelly's favorites - to the point that she was so giddy that I had to tell her to calm down multiple times as we went up to the studio and got placed directly behind Alexa. (If you watch the episode, I'm one of the five young men in the audience - specifically, the one who is at least a foot taller than everyone else there.) I was mostly having fun watching Kelly having fun and feeling old because I literally had no idea who any of the guests were. But then Alexa ended the episode by showing off her new Mac and giving a free iPod Touch to everyone in the audience. Sometimes, it literally pays to be a good older brother, and since Kelly talked me out of selling it so that I could afford food and weekend editions of the New York Times, I've spent the past two days downloading apps so I can listen to NPR and play Mrs. PacMan. It's basically the most useful tool ever.

The whole trip was a blast - we went to MoMA and I took her through Chinatown and Little Italy for lunch, and we spent a lot of time hanging out in the apartment watching South Park and Futurama. It was actually kind of sad yesterday when I dropped her at La Guardia and sent her back to Fargo - the trip confirmed that I'm way too high strung to be a parent ("Look, someone dropped grapes on the subway!" "Kelly, don't... why would you stomp on that?"), but also that my little sister is turning out to be pretty terrific and a ton of fun.

It was also kind of sad because the rest of my day was more or less disastrous. I spent four hours taking Kelly to La Guardia and staying at the gate until she was airborne, went to the Apple Store and realized I couldn't afford a $30 sleeve for my iPod, found a RadioShack and bought a sleeve for $20, walked all the way to David's and realized that I'd bought a sleeve for the iPhone that protected my iPod about as well as wrapping it in a plastic bag, and had to trek back to exchange it for a $10 sleeve that said on the box that it was for "the 2th gerneration iPod Touch." ($10 does not buy you spelling.) I got back and collapsed on the sofa, and then got a call from Brady with good news and bad news.

The good news is that we're scheduling an appointment this week to sign a lease for an apartment in Hell's Kitchen that is more or less perfect for Brady and I. The bad news is that the lease begins September 15th, which means that I'll have spent a month sleeping on the couches, futons, and vacant beds of various friends, relatives, and very loose acquaintances in New York before I actually move into my apartment. If I have any friends left by the time I have a housewarming party, I'm going to consider this a success.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Hello, Brooklyn

First of all, AMY RAY WAS SO GOOD. The rest of the day was fun, too - Kelly and I met David for lunch at Two Boots, then I took Kelly up to Central Park and to the Met, where all she wanted to do was sit on the steps like the girls from Constance. (She is so clearly my sister.) We got on the subway to go to MoMA, but the sky somehow darkened while we were underground and we resurfaced and were like, wow, it sort of looks like the apocalypse. We're usually pretty hardy, but we estimated that we would be spending about forty-five minutes in line, and that we had about five minutes until it started pouring rain. So we decided to go on Monday and went to Sugar Sweet Sunshine for cupcakes instead. (We've basically been alternating between pizza and frozen yogurt, so this was dietary variety.)

And then I dropped Kelly at the apartment to wait for David and booked it to Brooklyn for the Amy Ray concert, which was AMAZING. Toshi Reagon was opening, which is why I got tickets for the Friday concert in Brooklyn instead of the (much closer) Thursday concert on the LES, but I didn't know that Gail-Ann Dorsey (!) was playing backup for her or that Melissa York (!!) was playing drums for Amy Ray. It was like four queer rockstars for the price of one. And Amy Ray not only played all the songs I like off her new album, but did Blender, Sober Girl, and Put It Out for Good off of Prom, which are like my three favorite tracks from that album. (In keeping with my habit of developing a massive crush on people's drummers, I now have a huge crush on Melissa York. To the point that I almost threw my underwear on stage.)

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Best Text Messages: Wednesday Edition

The frontrunners are:

- a text from Brady saying he found the perfect apartment for us in midtown Manhattan,
- a text from David notifying me that my name can be anagrammed as "synchrotron diarrhea,"
- or a multimedia text from a number I didn't recognize, which turned out to be from my littlest cousin, Emma, and just said "i got side banges" with a picture that she attached herself. It is easily the cutest thing I have seen all week.

The best part is that all three of these things are verifiably true.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Triple the Fun

I move to New York tomorrow (ack!) with my just barely fourteen year-old sister in tow (ACK!) for some triple-duty bonding with my brother, who's been living in the city for almost a year. (My even younger brother, who's between the two, is starting college this week, so that's kind of a big deal and preventing him from joining us.)

I'll be in charge of the budget leg of the trip, which will involve as much window shopping, museums that take donations, and eating-while-standing-up as I can fit into the days that my brother is at work. I will be doing this with the kind of enthusiasm that might make you believe that a public bus is fun like a rollercoaster, even if someone is peeing. I think we'll go to the High Line, though, which I think she'll like, and I told her I'd take her jogging and go up to Morningside Heights with her so she can see Columbia. (She's decided she wants to apply there for college, and I'm not doing anything to disabuse her of that idea even if she's likely to change her mind about five thousand times over the next three years.)

So basically, I'm taking recommendations for fun things to do with a fourteen year old who is blessedly into shopping, theater, and eating things that she is skeptical of. And this will relieve my guilt on Friday, when I have tickets to see Amy Ray and Toshi Reagon and will either a) leave her with David, b) lock her in the apartment with a sandwich, or c) put her on stilts and say she's 18. Options!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Your Education Dollars at Work

You really realize what you've learned in six years of post-secondary education when your parents have finished an entire crossword puzzle and then stopped with the clue "Marx collaborator," where they got as far as ENG_LS. What kind of Communists are these people?

Literary Dilemma #2: Hero Versus Nature

I'm in my room trying to sleep, and I can't, because there's a suicidal vole who's repeatedly throwing itself against my window. (Lo, the perils of living in a basement.) Usually, I only sleep in this room during a time of year when every living creature is a) indoors, b) hibernating, c) migrating, or d) dead. I'm too lazy to put on pants and go upstairs to steal the empty bed in my brother's room, so instead, I'm lying awake trying to remember if voles are nocturnal, because that fact makes all the difference when I'm torn between trying to outlast it or lying here and feeling only 75% sure that it can't suddenly hurl itself extra forcefully and land on my sleeping body in a cascade of broken glass.

It sounds like it's using tools now.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

(500) Days of Summer

Natal and I spent tonight at the mall (because we are fifteen) and to (500) Days of Summer (because it's an angsty fifteen). I don't think we've both been in town for the summer since we were in our teens, so that is my excuse. (Also, I refused to see the Hangover, and Zooey Deschanel has great hair to the point that it's almost hypnotic.)

I thought the film was a little too precious, and the ending was a mess - in the last five minutes, they're like, surprise! this is a movie about destiny! even though it's not, and it's not immediately clear what fate has to do with any of the ninety minutes you've just watched. I mostly thought that sucked because the rest of the movie is likable precisely because it doesn't follow a straightforward narrative arc, and I liked it because only half of the experience was watching what happened on screen and the other half was evoking the ups and downs of every time you'd ever been in love and it didn't work out. I thought it was good, but maybe you either have to feel really good about the person you're with to see it, or else have to be so emo about your tortured relationships that it becomes enjoyable in a masochistic kind of way. (Or both.) And this is why I already know that someone is going to ask me if they should see it and I'm just going to freeze and look awkward and not know what to do except say something dumb about Zooey Deschenel's hair.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Dr. Teeth is a Jazz Muppet

Article, fine. But I'm going to find a way to work the phrase "Muppet Diplomacy" into every conversation that I have today.

In Which the Debate Heats Up

Tonight, I had a long conversation about how attractive it is when your significant other is passionate about the same politics and values that you hold dear. As if on cue, I got back and found this clip from the 11 o'clock news in North Carolina, in which my boyfriend can be seen videotaping while Josh schools this guy for being an idiot about for-profit healthcare. Swoon. It is maybe weird that this is a total aphrodisiac.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


Tonight, I managed to successfully juggle a birthday party for my cousin, settling on an apartment in NYC and getting the application rolling, and picking up Natalia for a double-header of coffee at Atomic and drinks at the HoDo, all within a five hour period. I'd say that this was all in a day's work, but then I remember that most of my days involve considerably more work and that this is actually not that impressive as far as crazy days go, and I have to remind myself that it is all in a (vacation) day's work. And then I feel pretty awesome.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Bringing the Town Halls to You

Well, I just volunteered to go stop by Rep. Pomeroy's office to let him know that I'm a fan of universal healthcare, something that I wasn't aware I felt passionately about until I almost got into a fistfight with my grandmother within six hours of landing in Fargo. We've had political disagreements before, but this was the first time that I actually started shaking, and also the first time that I ever used the word "racist." (The two things were very much related.)

Natalia needs to get back from camping soon, or she's going to come back to find me erecting a free clinic in my front yard.

Saturday, 8 August 2009


In spite of last week's episode of Weeds (I'm traumatized!) and a bunch of accidents on the M40 that delayed my bus to the airport by an hour, I actually made it to Heathrow and said goodbye to England for a year. Epic! And after a layover in Iceland and a fairly impressive performance dragging most of my earthly possessions through JFK, onto the E, and into Jackson Heights, Emma and I went out for biryani and I basically died on her futon.

And the next two days were kind of amazing, not least of all because I could finally sort of envision what the next year is going to look like and I liked what I saw. I dropped by my office to meet everyone, Brady and I looked at apartments, I spent all sorts of quality time with my besties, and within the first twelve hours of being in the city, I bumped into two of the people I taught with this summer and a guy I went to college with, who was selling real estate in the seat next to me at Starbucks. I didn't get to catch up with a ton of people I want to catch up with, but the upside is that this time, there wasn't the same kind of urgency and I could be like, "yay, let's have coffee in two weeks." And this morning I slipped off to LaGuardia under cover of darkness and made it back to Fargo, where I'm now doing the crossword with my parents and watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I use the term "watching" very loosely here.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Joni Understands

I was just packing dress clothes and listening to Joni Mitchell, and caught this lyric from "My Old Man":

"But when he's gone, me and them lonesome blues collide /
The bed's too big, the fryin' pan's too wide."

...and thought that Joni Mitchell really understands me, because this morning I definitely made a gigantic saucepan full of oatmeal and bananas and then was like ...right, I have to eat this all by myself.

I'm extremely full right now.

Monday, 3 August 2009

My Own Devices

It turns out that my tolerance for Oxford after finishing my job, saying goodbye to all my friends, and putting David on a bus to Heathrow is approximately ninety minutes. I made a gigantic loop around the city for packing tape, my last paycheck, and approximately six vegetables, then deposited all of my uncashed checks at my bank, dropped off my ethics forms and a library-ready version of my thesis at my department, and bought a blank scrapbook, and then sat in my room all afternoon pasting ticket stubs in a scrapbook while half-watching Empire Records on my laptop. It took very little time before I was like, "yep, ready to peace out on Wednesday." And then I packed up all my stuff to put it into storage, to the point where I'm deliberately not packing my suitcases because then my room will look actually depressing.

So basically, Oxford is weird without the people, and I think Oxford and I can part on good terms for a while.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

So Long, Farewell

I really, really hate goodbyes, and also I am terrible at them. The last night of our program involved a 25th Anniversary Ball where all the students and teachers were tearfully bidding each other goodbye, and the best I could manage with any of my students - who were fantastic, and who I will actually miss - was "um, have a safe flight back, and I'll catch up with you on Facebook." And my kids were like, "and thanks for teaching us to be socially awkward, Ryan."

(The kids on my staircase were the polar opposite, and gave me a tub of my favorite kind of ice cream from G&D's and all wrote goodbye messages "to the best staircase advisor/the sexiest man in the program to wear a dress." They are more emotionally developed than I am.)

Anyway, then last night I was free from the tyranny of knowing that I would almost definitely pass a student of mine no matter what pub I was at, and so I messaged a handful of people who I know are still at Oxford and went out to All Bar One for a last night out before David leaves tomorrow and I leave on Wednesday. And, as usual, I was like, "um, I'll probably see you guys in New York, or else I'll be back in a year." And Chase shrugged and was like, "well, have a good life," and I was filled with a warm fuzzy feeling because this is why I am friends with these people.