Sunday, December 31, 2006

Greetings from Austin

My New Year's wish for all of you is that you have a place in this world you love so much that it feels like it can save your soul, fortune cookies that can make you cry, and a friend who'll give you vintage cowboy boots that you'll wear and wear, even if they are a little big.

Happy New Year's, ya'll!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Fried Baloney and a Little of the Ol' Domestic Violence

or: Notes on Texas

I guess maybe I've been out of Texas too long because when I heard that my brother tried to make a fried baloney sandwich, I thought that was the punchline of the story right there. But apparently fried baloney is a Thing. A Thing that exists and that people know about. I have lost touch with my gastronomical roots. Blue states: this is what the heartland people are apparently eating! Fried baloney! Look upon the lunchmeat, ye mighty, and despair.

The punchline of this story, in fact, was that he was trying to make a fried baloney sandwich and kept heating the oil to insane temperatures because he was waiting for it to boil. Nearly burned his house down; I scribbled "Fry Daddy" on the holiday shopping list real quick-like. A friend of mine in high school burned her kitchen to a crisp in a ill-fated attempt at jalapeno poppers, so this is a genuine concern. We were supposed to go see a performance of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite that night at the symphony, so it was kind of a theme evening.

* * *

As long as I've been in Dallas, the place had some sort of identity crisis. Probably dates back to the oil boom, if I had to guess. There's a real yearning there to take its place with the cool kid cities, to have the restaurant scene and martini bars and high-end shopping and high culture accouterments of the Manhattans and the L.A.'s, even though each and every resident of Dallas would claim they'd rather be buried alive than live in either city. And at the same time, the place can't get too far away from just being down-and-dirty Texas, and kind of likes that too.

So when you're in Dallas, you can kind of kick it either way. You can hit the see-and-be-seen circuit, or you can do like we did last night and just head on over to the bowling alley, and break up a little domestic violence in the parking lot on the way in. Seems more fitting, somehow. Seriously, this couple was wailing on each other, and the man had several marked bruises on his face, and seemed to be pushing her towards the open trunk when we walked up to interrupt. She was howling something about their five kids and why'd he gotta wail on her like that. We called bowling security on 'em and wondered if there was some kind of deal, like, break up a domestic fight and get a free pitcher or something. We were sorry for the couple of course, but it sort of felt like a nice and proper homecoming. Undiluted Texas, yes sir.

Good Thing She's a Little White Girl

When it came to dishing out the common sense genes in my family, I think I wound up with slightly more than my sis, but we're both cursed with pretty meager servings. So this is not to lord it over her, this story, because god knows I've pulled some boneheaded stunts while traveling and precisely why i haven't ended up sobbing, passport-less in more consulates in this big world is kind of a mystery.

But this is about her boneheaded stunt, reprinted without permission.

So little sister is traveling from her home in New York to Texas for the holidays. She's running late, she's frazzled, so she accidentally leaves her carry-on at the security checkpoint and dashes to the gate.

Turns out her flight is canceled, so she has time to notice that she has left her bag unattended in a New York airport. Woopsie-daisy. Back to the checkpoint, she notices a cluster of security guards ringing her bag. At this point, naturally, one's mind frantically catalogs the contents. Oh god, what's in there? Tampons? Beef jerky? At least, that's what I would be thinking. Little sister had a little more to worry about.

What was in her unattended bag in a New York airport? Why, her Arabic dictionary, some journals on terrorism, and her hand-written notes on Al-Qaeda for an article she was preparing for work. Talk about pretending to be a terrorist.

For all that, it defused pretty quickly. She announced that the bag was hers, the guards gave her a stern once-over and told her not to do it again. It's true, she doesn't look very threatening, but times are tense and girlfriend was maybe one allahu akbar away from getting herself disappeared. Instead she was upgraded to first class; there is no justice to be had in airports.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Five Things

Catherine wants me to tell you 5 things that you didn't already know about me. Let's see how uninformatively revealing I can be.

1. I am not going to Albania in January. Related: this is most definitely the first time I have voluntarily foregone foreign travel and perhaps reflects a certain growing maturity. (Lies! It reflects the fact that Mom said she'd take me shopping if I didn't go.)

2. Did I ever mention that my first career choice was to be an orchestral musician? I was a pretty serious clarinet player in my day. And I was a music performance major for my first year in college before I realized that I didn't want to spend the rest of my life confined to practice rooms and emerge with a conversational and intellectual range that didn't extend beyond the relative merits and demerits of reed brands. So I dropped the major, transferred to the University of Texas, and never looked back. Now and then I miss the euphoria of playing in the midst of a top-notch orchestra, but if I ever find a local screwball woodwind quintet that would have me, I think I'd be satisfied.

3. My arm gets totally sore from throwing darts.

4. I had a brief but illustrious modeling career that landed me on a cover. Of a free Dallas-area gambling magazine. I was wearing a wedding dress, and there were slot machines. The issue was about Vegas weddings. Although you'll choose not to believe me, I swear on everything I hold dear that this was a favor for a friend and not a product of my own ambitions.

5. My brief but illustrious modeling career also led to another favor, in which a friend who designs formal wear for drag queen pageants asked me to pose in some gowns. I choose to believe this is because of my height, and dwell no further on it. Those girls do not have hips, let me tell you. Photos of #4 and #5 are hoarded by Mother as incendiary blackmail leverage. I am definitely going to have to produce grandchildren.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Apropos of the previous post, I have a chance to go to Albania in January for a week, and I can't decide if I should do it. I know, this is a ridiculous problem. Bear with me. On the one hand: January in Albania! I've been such a gloomy gus for ages now and nothing perks me up like faraway climes (and frequent flyer miles). On the other: it'll bring me back the very day that spring semester classes begin, I'll have to leave Texas a few days early, and retake an oral core exam that I'd miss. Also, Catherine would probably crucify me for missing her birthday. These are all fine reasons for not going, and probably I should not go. But oh, the wanderlust, the itchy feet. [dramatic sigh; eyes gaze pitiably into the middle distance]

Guess I'll ponder it on the flight back to Texas this evening. That's right, I'm riding off into the sunset and touching down in the homeland. New Year's Eve in Shanri-La (that's Austin for the uninitiated). Yeeha, ya'll!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Blind Item

What Romanian former NBA player thinks that yours truly is a CIA agent with an uncanny taste for vodka? Hint: even by pro ball standards, he is freakishly tall.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Wikipedia, sometimes a less-than-authoritative resource.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

tech support

Does anybody happen to know how I might go about backing up my cell phone contact list onto my Powerbook? I just have that itchy feeling I get when my belongings are about to be lost or stolen, and I don't think that in the age of Bluetooth and what-have-you that I should take to pen and paper like a sucker. And yet, I can't figure it out. Thoughts, suggestions welcome.

(Tried this, but they didn't seem to support my phone.)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Vivisection Saturdays!

This morning I got a call from my dearest childhood friend Clarissa, previously introduced in these pages as the Ringwraith and "Flossie the Freaky Bitch."

Clarissa wants to know, will I go with her to the museum when I come to Dallas for the holidays? Why sure, Clarissa, what's showing?

Well, says Clarissa, they took a bunch of human bodies and dissected them and posed them. They're all preserved and plumped up, somehow, she said. And they posed one dude as a basketball player so you can see how his muscles work. And one is a pregnant woman and you can see the fetus inside of her. [pause] I guess that one's kind of controversial, Clarissa allowed.

Nobody wants to go with me, she grumps.

And neither do I. I'm not so enamored of muscle groups in action that I really want to gawk at a bunch of skinned and flayed human bodies posed about in a gruesome macabre zombie nightmare freakshow of a science exhibit put together by a German doctor, of all inappropriate nationalities. I can only imagine that this is going over like gangbusters in Dallas.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Diary of a Gimp

When you're ambling about town with a clunky orthopedic boot on your leg, baby, it's open season. You're a target for every old lady on the bus who wants to recap her catalog of historical complaints and offer unsolicited advice on how what you ought to do is get a rich man to marry you, is what you ought to do.

Also, homeless people have stopped asking me for money; perhaps some sort of infirm solidarity?


Please, please let this be true.

Scaredy Katze

If there is something scarier than being in a bathroom with the lights off, blindly pawing for the door handle, and catching a glimpse of your reflection moving in the mirror (without realizing there is a mirror there), I'd like to know what it is.

Related: I used to think blitzkrieg was the most deliciously chilling word, but it's overused. Now I think it's wehrmacht. Today I read some phrase like "when the Soviet Union broke the back of the German Wehrmacht," and I swear I got a shiver.

If I ever meet a German moving about in a dark bathroom, I am going to lose my shit.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I'm Melting!

Hi everyone. Do you remember, once upon a time, when I threatened to quit the blog because I was pretty sure it would end up a big ol' steaming pile of pedestrian whining about graduate school? Then, like 3 of you told me not to. And none of you told me to scram. So here we are. You can only blame yourselves. Don't say I didn't etc.


Look, actually, secretly, I love it [school, not the blog. gross]. In many ways, this is an incredibly decadent, luxurious, nigh-on narcissistic exercise, all this book-larnin'. It's an expensive exercise, sure, but it's also quite indulgent, nurturing your mind and burnishing your resume instead of cranking out widgets and gizmos in the looney-tunes Dr. Seuss factory that (in my personal mythology) signifies the real world. So, while it's obvious that I'm becoming somewhat unhinged, I'm also aware that it's incredibly indelicate to complain about such a privileged and fortunate position.

Anyway, let's get to it.

Oh my gawwwwd.

How to tell you how much time I have spent in the library. I just drew up a Harper's Index-style table to illustrate the numbing reality, but it seemed sort of sad and obnoxious and so I erased it. Suffice to say, a lot. I'm closing down the library more times than I've closed down bars. Sometimes I wander over to celebrity gossip pages and look at Lindsey Lohan and think about her having orgiastic starlet meltdowns all over the west coast and think about myself sitting quietly in the library chair through my 20s and find it funny that girls these days have such choices, or anyway, such outcomes.

I should be more positive about my temporary residence. It is nice that my signature chair, like Memory Foam, is now nicely cushioned about my cushion, even when I'm not sitting in it. And I think I've developed a crush on shelf DS 918 - DT 108.4, what from staring at it so long.

And at least I'm not alone here; there's always the comfort of camaraderie. The girl with far too much faith in the soundproofing capabilities of plywood who goes into study rooms to shut the door and freak out singing Bonnie Tyler. The Europeans who get up to take smoke breaks every 45 seconds and explain football tournament rules to anyone who will listen. My poor, harried study partner who always turns up in the library looking haunted and frantic about something, stutters about for a few desperate seconds, and then, having made up her mind, flutters off to quell some crisis elsewhere.

I just sit here, watching the parade, forcing my fingers to make clacky noises on the keyboard through sheer force of will and epic, feeble mind games. Did you see Lord of the Rings? I'm the Gollum.

I would like a tangerine. [says me]
You don't deserve a tangerine!!!
But I would like one, and I'm fidgety.
Your fingers will get sticky! Type two more pages and then have your sticky tangerine!
I'm picking it up.
Put it down!
Okay. ... I'm picking it up again.
Put it down!
I'm going to write a blog post.
No! Two more pages!


The tangerine's lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And yards to write before I sleep
And yards to write before I sleep.

Incidentally, have you heard Robert Frost was a total ass? And didn't know horses from shinola?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

N E Wayz

So, you know those notes we used to write in junior high? The ones we'd fold up just so, with the little pull tab sticking out? That we'd slip into locker slots or hand off in C Hall before third period? Well, having just lobbed one over a row of study carrels at my friend (my muscle memory for folding the things seems impeccable; the aim, less so), I had an alarming thought. Do Kids Today even do that any more? Is the fine art of note-folding obsolete among our nation's bratty pre-teens? Do they just, I don't know, text one another?

Well, no time to dwell on that. My friend replies that she has spotted a cute boy in the hall and I need to go find out if he likes her (yes or no).

You Lose Some, You Win Some

Con: Texas had a disappointing football season, resulting in an embarrassing Alamo Bowl berth.

Pro: I can go! Wooohooo!

I haven't seen the Horns live since I was a student back in 1801. Madly excited.

Blue Christmas

The freakishly balmy days are finally giving way to more seasonable temperatures, and I'm finally burying the flip-flops and resurrecting the earmuffs. Must be the holidays! My favorite time of year; a season I observe by ritualistically watching Irving Berlin's White Christmas and reading about world-historical tragedies!

Last year, I was mildly disturbing my companions on weekend ski trips to Bakuriani by snuggling up to the hearth apres ski with hot cocoa and Gulag, followed up with Harvest of Sorrow. This year, I think I shall alarm my family by cocooning myself in down comforters with The Siege of Leningrad.

I have not seriously considered the impulse driving me to mix holiday cheer with the depths of human wretchedness. Surely there are some interesting psychological impulses at work here, but I am satisfied to chalk it up to my being a twisted little freak and leaving it at that. Ho, ho, ho!