“You Like Me, You Really Like Me!”

the_versatile_blogger

My blog has been awarded The Versatile Blogger Award!  Awesome.  A big thank you to Christine, the author of the witty and charming The Book of Alice, for nominating me.  Your blog was one of the first I started to follow, which makes this nomination from you extra special to me.

Am now eagerly awaiting for Ed McMahon to appear on my doorstep and present me with my giant cardboard prize check for $1 Million.  (Perfect timing, too, because the gas and electric bills just arrived.)

The Rules

  1. Add the Versatile Blogger Award to your post.
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog.
  3. Share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
  4. Include this set of rules in your post.
  5. Nominate 10 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award in this post.
  6. Notify each of the nominees by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

7 Random Facts About Me:

  1. It took me 15 minutes to figure out how to make the Versatile Blogger Award image appear on my page.  I dunno how I ended up getting it on there, as I just kept copying and pasting over and over until it magically stuck.  Made mental note to get more up to speed on the secrets of blogging magic (apologies — this is only my 3rd week as a blogger, I’m working on it!)
  2. My favorite breakfast is McDonald’s Egg McMuffin with strawberry jam and a hash brown smashed into the sandwich.  Trust me, try it — it will rock your world.
  3. I like sleeping on my couch better than sleeping in my bed.
  4. I am going to publish my first book this year…so help me, God.
  5. I am having a pathetically hard time trying to think of 7 semi-interesting things to list here.  This reminds me of those old-school chain emails people used to send around where you have to answer a bazillion questions about yourself and then forward the list of questions to 10 friends or else something really bad will happen to you, e.g. you’ll die, you’ll have 7 yrs of bad luck, you’ll go blind in one eye, etc.
  6. I need to pick up toilet paper from the store tomorrow.
  7. Against all good judgment, I fed my dog Duncan some table scraps tonight, which has backfired on me (literally) by turning his, um, be-hind into what I’ve affectionately dubbed “The Punisher.”  Wow, what an interesting note to end this list on.

The Nominees

  1. Susan Kiernan-Lewis – A wonderful blog packed full of great advice for writers!
  2. jaceyna: For Words So Slow – An up-and-coming artist/poet/screenwriter shows off her stuff.
  3. Kassi-Oh Sewing – Wonderful blog on sewing, crafts, and DIY (I almost typed DUI – probably shouldn’t be writing this post while sipping a beer) by a very talented lady.  I wish I could make the things she creates!
  4. Foodimentary – I love food.  This blog is a beautiful, informative, and fun site for all things food.  If you’re a foodie or just like reading about and looking at nice pics of food – check out this site.  You won’t be disappointed.
  5. MIKE IS HAPPY. RELATIVELY. – Mike’s blog makes me laugh every time.  Check out his The Tao of Chubby post.  Hilarious!
  6. Bermudaonion’s Weblog – A really good book reviewer’s site with fair and insightful reviews.
  7. Edward Hotspur – An interesting, inspiring, and lovely blog that I like to check out regularly.
  8. Word Salad – A funny and imaginative blog by a young aspiring writer.
  9. dampsquid – This blog defies categorization.  You’ll just have to see it for yourself.
  10. Life and Laughter – Humorous blog about life by a very talented writer.

Check out these blogs – you won’t be disappointed!


The Key to Winning on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is coming up.  Would really like to meet the person whose idea it was to create a day where people are forced to participate in a head-to-head match against their significant other (“S.O.”) in a game of “Who Loves Who More?”  Would like to congratulate that person for being the biggest sadist this side of Hades.

While recalling V-Days of the past, I decided to try to come up with a V-Day Gift rating system based on personal experience and the gazillion accounts I’ve heard from scorned friends who inevitably flood my voicemail box and email inbox every February 15 regarding the V-day Violations that have been committed against them.  Hope that maybe this rating system will help prevent future violations, especially by those who tend to be repeat offenders.  (And by “repeat offenders” I mean guys.  I’m not hating.  Just trying to keep it real here.)

Each potential V-Day gift listed below is given a base rating on a scale of 1 to 10.  (1 being the lowest, as in, this gift is best viewed as a gag gift or a foundation gift upon which other, much better gifts will be built on.  10 being the highest, as in, if you get your S.O. this gift, you’re good, man. Go buy yourself that Scarface poster you’ve been wanting to hang up in the bathroom.  She’ll say ‘yes’ this time.)

In order to figure out which, or what combination, of the following gifts to get your S.O. on V-Day, you must prepare yourself for battle by first calculating the number of points it will take to appease your S.O. using the following (very scientific) formula:

(Length of Relationship in terms of Years + Number of Times You Pissed S.O. Off in the Past 6 Months – Number of Times S.O. Pissed You Off in the Past Month (But Only if She Admitted She was Wrong)) x [Number of Weeks S.O. Gave You the Silent Treatment After Last Year’s V-Day Debacle – 1/2 (Number of Times You Apologized For It Afterwards)] ÷ (S.O.’s Expectations – S.O.’s Capacity for Forgiveness) 

Simply plug in the numbers, refer to the ratings below, and you’ll know exactly what you need to do to have a Happy V-Day this year.

 

Stuffed Animal:  V-Day Rating = 2.0 points

– Corollary #1:  If stuffed animal has sentimental significance (e.g. a stuffed kitten that looks just like the pet cat your S.O. grew up with as a kid and loved, or a stuffed fish to mark the memory of the first time you said ‘I love you,’ which happened over a dinner of sashimi and spicy tuna rolls.) = 4.0 points

– Corollary #2:  If stuffed animal is the carrier for something sparkly in a small box  = 8.0 points 

 

Chocolates:  V-Day Rating = 4.0 points

– Corollary #1:  If chocolate comes wrapped in foil and is found at the check-out line in most grocery stores =   — 1.0 point  (as in negative points)

– Corollary #2:  If chocolate comes in a box wrapped with plastic, and you bought it at Walgreens =   3.0 points

– Corollary #3:  If chocolate comes in a box wrapped with ribbon, has the word “Belgian” on the front, and made you say “WTF — How much?!  There’d better be tiny diamonds and gold nuggets hidden in the nougat centers, or I’m gonna be pissed.” =   8.0 points

 

Flowers:  V-Day Rating = 6.0 points

– Corollary #1:  Plastic flowers or any type of house plant that comes in a clay pot =  1.0 points

– Corollary #2:  If S.O. has a favorite flower, but you either don’t know it or forgot it and bought her a dozen of whatever was on sale = 3.0 points  

– Corollary #3:  If S.O. has a favorite flower, and by some miracle you remember what it is and get 2 dozen of them with a lovely card attached delivered to her office so that she can rub it into all of her girlfriends’ faces = 9.0 points

 

Any Gift That Shows You “Really Know Her”, “Understand Her Needs”, or “Have Been Paying Attention to All the Clues She’s Been Dropping Since the Beginning of January”:  V-Day Rating = 6.0 points

– Corollary #1:  If you get her a calendar, hand soap, or anything else you’d typically get as a gift for that Aunt you only see once a year =  1.0 point

– Corollary #2:  If you mistakenly get her a gift based on the preferences of your previous S.O. –> run for the hills.

 

Sparkly things:  V-Day Rating = 9.0 points

– Corollary #1:  If she actually likes what’s in the box and says “It’s just what I would’ve picked out for myself!”  =  10.0 points  

– Corollary #2:  If she knows you spent a lot of money on it, but she thinks it’s ugly =  7.0 points 

– Corollary #3:  If she knows you tried to trick her by putting the cheap piece of crap you bought at Claire’s into an expensive-looking box you got from a real jewelry store by buying something and then sneakily keeping the box when you returned it the next day like you had planned =  0.5 points

– Corollary #4:  Add an extra 0.5 points to any of these if you gave it to her with a gift receipt.

So, there you go.  I wish you all the best of luck this Valentine’s Day.  May there be less blood spilled on this day in 2012 than in years previous.


Dear Inventor, Please Invent This

Late one night, I caught an infomercial for the Snuggie.  Could not help but be baffled by the fact that someone put a lot of time and energy into inventing something that is essentially a blanket with sleeves.  (Then, just to test another theory, I went into my bathroom, grabbed my bathrobe, and put it on backwards.  Hmm — just as I thought.)

Decided to start listing things that really need to be invented, in case people realize that they already have a Snuggie if they have a bathrobe and the Snuggie inventor finds himself in need of new invention ideas to push.

Invention #1)   Customizable, multi-toned car horn with voice recording capability

Because sometimes “meep! meep!” just doesn’t cut it.  Like those times when a driver cuts you off in rush hour traffic and makes you miss your exit.  In that case, you need to be able to crank that “meep-meep” up to blasting-air-horn to get the message across.  And for those special occasions that require a more nuanced message, let a driver speak through his/her car via customized voice recordings:  “My wife’s water just broke and I need to get her to the hospital so move the f%&# out of my way!!!”  “Your blinker has been on for the past 10 miles.”  “Lady, if you don’t get off your cell phone and pay attention to the road, I’m going to side-swipe your minivan, I swear to God.”

Invention #2)  Device that will state the obvious in situations where nobody wants to acknowledge the obvious out loud

Was walking through Brookstone when I came upon a display of “neck massagers” in the middle of the store.  Watched in horror as a young child held up one of the “neck massagers” to her father and asked if she could have one of these in pink.  Stared aghast as middle-aged women held the sample models to the backs of their necks to try them out.  Gasped aloud when an elderly woman banged one of them against the side of the display table when it failed to turn on, and a store attendant rushed over to help her with it.  At that moment, I wished for a device that, with a push of a button, would free these people from their delusions by stating the obvious, “Just because they’re in Brookstone, doesn’t make them neck massagers!”

Invention #3)  Human-grade electric fence

Last week, was standing in a grocery line in front of Man With No Respect for Personal Space.  He stood so close to me that he stepped on the backs of my heels every time the line moved forward.  Standing in a long grocery line is bad enough without his nostrils shooting hot breath onto the top of my head from point-blank range.  If only I had a human-grade electric fence that would zap him back two feet and keep him at a socially acceptable personal space distance.

Will add to this list as needed…

Good News Bad News

Good news:  Downstairs neighbor took proactive step towards easing her dog‘s separation anxiety by getting another dog to be his companion.

Bad news:  New dog companion also has separation anxiety and its screechy wails are even more painful to listen to than original dog’s barking and howling.

Good news:  Finally got  manuscript back with editor’s comments.  Editor’s comments were very positive and got me geared up to tackle the rewrite.  Dove in head first with enthusiasm.

Bad news:  Realized I have no idea how to do a rewrite.  Spent hours every day this week putting in and taking out commas and replacing adjectives with better adjectives (then deleting the adjectives altogether).  Very lost.  Head hurts.

Good news:  Sammi and Ronnie are no longer fighting.

Bad news:  No longer see the point of Sammi and Ronnie’s presence in the Jersey Shore house if they are not trying to kill each other.  Cannot quite figure out the meaning of their existence in this new context.  Am having a weird 3rd person existential dilemma about it.  Am  hoping Ronnie will have a bout of ‘roid rage soon and “dog” Sammi, so that their reality t.v. existence can once again be justified.

Good news:  Finally got myself to do the thing I dread most — check my mailbox.

Bad news:  Upon opening mailbox, several weeks of piled up junk mail leaped out at me like a jack-in-the-mailbox.  Mail bounced off of my frozen-in-shock face and scattered all over floor of entryway.  Had to make two trips to get all the mail to my apartment.  After throwing away the dozen Victoria’s Secret catalogues, the – Bed Bath & Beyond catalogues, and all the mail addressed to the previous tenant of my unit, still ended up with a tall pile of mail to sort through.  Pile of unopened mail currently sitting on edge of desk, staring at me whenever I enter the room.  Think maybe the mail hates me as much as I hate it.

Good news:  Think the serial killer who lives upstairs has given up his murderous ways.  (No moans or screams for almost a week now.)

Bad news:  Think the serial killer who lives upstairs has taken up late-night carpentry as a hobby instead.

Good news:  Only spent $2 on lottery tickets this week.

Bad news:  Did not win the lottery.

That about wraps up this session of “Good News Bad News.”  Until next time…

The Runaway Dog and the Bad Samaritan

Yesterday, I parked my car outside my building after returning home from a trip to the suburbs with my dogs, Duncan and Woody.  When I opened the back door to leash them up, Woody shot out of the backseat in a move that reeked of  premeditation and started running around my neighborhood like a dog gone mad.

I was taken completely by surprise, as Woody is a nearly 10 year-old lab who usually spends all day playing a game of “Guess What I’m Pretending to Be” (the answer always being “big furry floor rug.”)  This 85-pound dog,  who has taken to groaning loudly every time he has to “break character” and get up from lying down (usually only to check his food bowl), was now dashing up and down the streets of my neighborhood, leaping over hedges like a gazelle, and artfully dodging capture with the agility of a doggie-ninja.

Panicked that he would get hit by a car (and cause irreparable damage to the car), I ran after Woody, waving my arms in the air, and calling his name.  He ignored me.

I ran back to the car to get the bag of potato chips I was snacking on during the drive.  Then I ran after Woody again, waving the bag of potato chips and yelling “Who wants a treat?!  Woody, do you want a treat?!  Yummy yummy treats over here!!”  Still, he ignored me.

My panic rose at his unresponsiveness to the offerings of food.  If food wasn’t going to get him to come to me, I didn’t know what would.  I got desperate and started tossing potato chips at him every time he ran by, in case he didn’t believe that I actually had something for him to eat.  As the potato chips landed on his back, he simply turned his head to catch one or two without breaking his stride.

Clearly, this dog was toying with me at this point.

After 10 long minutes of this, I was out of breath, out of potato chips, and running low on dignity.  Then, a ray of hope shined on the situation.  A man walked across the street with his dog.  He had undoubtedly witnessed at least some of my humiliating antics to catch Woody.  Perhaps he decided to cross the street in an attempt to help, like any good samaritan would.  Falling right into the would-be trap, Woody spotted the man’s dog and trotted over to sniff hello.  I thought, Hallelujah!  

Relieved, I jogged over towards where the man and the two dogs were standing, already thanking the man profusely for helping me catch my runaway dog.  As I approached, Woody stopped sniffing the man’s dog and looked at me with ears perked, obviously getting ready to bolt again.  I did not slow down, however, as I fully expected the man to reach down and take a hold of Woody’s collar to keep him from running off again.

The man did no such thing.  Instead, he just stood there, watching with mild interest as Woody took off again.  With no time to process my own disbelief over what just happened, I reinstated the pursuit.  As I passed the man, I heard him commentating the scene to his dog:  “Oh look, Max.  Your new friend is running away again from his mommy.  Look how fast he can run.  Look at that fella go!”

W T F ?

Eventually, I managed to catch Woody, but not without several more embarrassing chase scenes through people’s backyards, culminating in my tackling Woody while he was autographing his 27th tree of the day.

As I dragged Woody home, both of us exhausted, I mentally cursed the Bad Samaritan for being a bad samaritan and couldn’t help but wonder [bitterly], What is the world coming to?  Chivalry, it seems, is not only dead, but has become a big joke.  Very sad indeed.

(p.s.  Today, Woody is still recovering from his wild escapade and is about to set a record for number of consecutive hours of snoring by a dog.  Oh, the wondrous joys of being a dog-owner.)

Creepy Coffee House Guy

Realized the other day that I had not left my apartment (other than to take my dogs out to do their business) for 5 days.  Appalling.

Not wanting to officially qualify for “recluse” status, I packed up my laptop and notebooks and went in search for someplace to work outside of my apartment.  My search landed me in the most cliché of all cliché places frequented by writers — the coffee house.

Upon entering the coffee house, I had fears that the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the sounds of whiney indie acoustic bands would drive away the muse.  But these fears were quickly erased.  Unlike the brightly-lit Starbucks down the street, with its eternally smiling automaton baristas and verging-on-Ikea contemporary design, this independent coffee house was…pleasantly bohemian!  Mis-matching furniture, warm light from incandescent floor and table lamps, and bookshelves crammed with used books welcomed me in like an old friend.  This wasn’t just any old coffee house.  This was a writer’s heaven!

Excited to get to work, I chose the biggest, lumpiest sofa in the place and set my things down on the beat-up coffee table facing it.  I whipped out my laptop and looked over the drinks menu as it powered up.  Decided to officially declare the coffee house as the best place on the planet when I saw “Small, Medium, and Large” as the size descriptors.  (Have long been convinced that whoever came up with the size descriptors at Starbucks must be a man, for only a man could think it rational to describe a small as “Tall” and a medium as “Grande.” Just sayin.)

I closed the menu and, as if right on cue, a male server walked over to take my drink order.  “I’ll take a medium house blend with milk, please,” I said happily to him.  As he scribbled my order down, I began typing on my laptop, looking forward to enjoying my reasonably-priced coffee beverage.

But then something strange happened.  Instead of leaving to go put my order in, the server just stood there…and stood there…and stood there.

I looked up at the server and saw him grinning at me.  After another beat or two of this inexplicable, silent grinning, I began to grow uncomfortable.  Had I placed my order wrong or something?  Maybe this was like that sandwich place downtown where the servers verbally abuse you if you don’t place your sandwich order using their quirky lingo?  Except here, you get the silent treatment instead.  

As I wracked my brain for other ways to phrase my coffee order (“cuppa joe with cow juice”? “milky muddy water”? “brew-dizzle of da hizouse”?), the server finally broke his silence: “Have I seen you here before? You look really familiar.”

Oh no.  Please don’t let this be happening.

“Nope.  First time,” I said tersely while trying to smile just enough to be polite but not enough to encourage him further.  I turned my eyes back onto my laptop screen and started busily typing at a rate of nearly 300 words per minute in the hopes that Creepy Coffee House Guy would take a hint.  No such luck.

Instead, he sat down next to me on the sofa.  Nightmare.

While continuing to type at breakneck speed, I stole a quick glance at him, noticing all the warning signs that I should’ve picked up when he first walked over:  The worn corduroy pants.  The long hair tied back in a straggly pony-tail.  The black-socks-and-Birkenstock combo footwear.  The bracelet made of wooden beads on his wrist.  The tattoo of Steven Seagal’s face on the side of his neck.  This was no ordinary can’t-take-a-hint guy.  He was something much worse — Asian-fetish guy.

Suddenly became very self-conscious of my Asian-ness and tried to think of ways to play it down.  Needed to adopt any means possible to throw Creepy Coffee House Guy’s Asian-radar off and make him go away.

First, employed subterfuge to counter Asian stereotypes underlying his fetish.  Asked him what the tip on a $2 cup of coffee is and added, “Geez, I’m so bad at math!”  Effort was foiled when he said my coffee was on the house.  Damnit.

Next, upped my Asian fetish counter-attack by taking it to a personal level.  I pointed to his tattoo of Steven Seagal and scoffed, “Seagal is such a hack.”  Braced myself for his “Seagal is the greatest martial-artist-slash-actor who ever lived” diatribe.  But it never came.

Instead, I caught him grinning creepily at something on the coffee table.  When I realized what it was, mentally cursed my sister for the cute Hello Kitty charm she gave me that was now sparkling way too conspicuously on my key chain, which I had placed on the coffee table.

Without thinking, I grabbed an empty mug left on the table by a previous customer and slammed it down onto the key chain, crushing the Hello Kitty charm to smithereens.  There!  If that doesn’t scare him away, I don’t know what will.

“Wow!  I take it you’re into martial arts, then.  I had a feeling…” Creepy Coffee House Guy said with a knowing wink.  He sidled closer to me on the sofa.  “So, what are you working on?  Are you a student?  What’s your nationality?  I love kung fu movies, do you?  What’s your favorite sushi place?  I saw the best animé film the other night…”

Ran out of coffee house screaming.  Vowed never to leave my apartment again.

My First Taste of Crack Cocaine

Tried crack cocaine for the first time yesterday.  Hmm.  Probably should’ve prefaced that statement with a bit of backstory first…

A Bit of Backstory:  Was feeling sluggish yesterday morning, struggling to make a dent in my daily word count, when Serial Killer Who Lives Upstairs knocked on my door asking if I had a blunt object he could borrow.  As I handed him a hammer and told him he could keep it after he’d used it, he thanked me kindly.  Wanting to return the favor, he said, “You look like you could use a pick-me-up.  Wait here – I have just the thing.”  He ran upstairs to his chamber of torture, came back down and handed me a small plastic bag.  “Enjoy!” he said.

And enjoy I did. Continue reading