Sunday, March 01, 2009

Literary F My Life

I was introduced to the site, and I've begun obsessively checking it the way I did when I first found Overheard in New York in high school. A lot of the life failures are very similar: my boyfriend inadvertently admitted to having an affair by sending an insultingly-worded text message meant for his secret lover to me, my parents went on an exotic vacation with my brother and not me, my good deed indeed went punished. There is something compelling about being able to sum up the (perhaps newfound) sorry state of one's life with one particularly telling short anecdote. For instance:

"Today, I was having sex with my boyfriend. When he was about to orgasm, he screamed "Yes Brittany!" at the top of his lungs. My name's not Brittany. That's his sister. FML"

This got me set on a mental game in which I tried to think up how different characters from books would sum up their lives on the site. I now present the results.

"Today, I found out that my mysterious benefactor is a convict, not the aunt of the woman I love. I thought I was being groomed for marriage. FML"
-Pip, Great Expectations

"Today, my best friend spurned the goddess of love, Ishtar. Now one of us has to die. Guess who got picked. FML"
-Enkidu, The Epic of Gilgamesh

"Today, my uncle married my mother. FML"
-Hamlet, Hamlet

"Today, my crush, Ashley, told me that loves me, but that he still plans to marry his fugly cousin. FML"
-Scarlett, Gone with the Wind

"Today, I found out that my fiancé already has a wife. She lives in the attic. He told me it was no big deal, we could just move to France. FML"
-Jane, Jane Eyre

"Today, my mad wife set the house and fire and then jumped off of it. I lost a hand and my eyesight trying to save her. FML"
-Rochester, Jane Eyre

"Today, my wife is going to sleep with another man. What is that man across the street, across cross that hangs in the cathedral. FML"
-Bloom, Ulysses

"Today, I woke up naked. And made out of the parts of several dead men. FML"
-the Creature, Frankenstein

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Accident

I thought it would be funny if someone got into an accident because of an ambulance. It wasn't.

Zoelle and I were going to work yesterday morning when it happened. We came to a T intersection when we heard an ambulance. We figured out it was coming from the left when we were already in the intersection, and stopped for it. By the time it cleared, our left turn light had turned red, leaving us out in the middle of the intersection, blocking traffic. A woman from our right waved us on.

As we rolled out to clear the intersection, a sedan from the same direction as the ambulance plowed into our driver-side door at thirty miles an hour. We had enough time to register that we were about to get hit, and covered our heads just before the impact.

The worst part about car accidents is the sound they make, that crunching pop of metal on metal. The guy didn't see us and didn't brake, so there was just less than a second of warning before it happened. We saw the car as it was on top of us, and then the seatbelt was jerking against my chest and I couldn't breathe. The last time I've had the breath knocked out of me was when I fell off the zipwire in the third grade and landed on my chest in the mulch. It's a decidedly scary feeling.

My glasses flew off my face and the car filled with dust. I fumbled around my lap in shock and felt these tiny glasses in my hand. I immediately freaked out, thinking my glasses were broken, but it turned out that Zoelle's smaller pair had just flown into my lap and mine had been thrown to the floor. Then, in disorientation, as Zoelle tried to figure out if the other driver was okay, I yanked desperately on my seatbelt, unable to figure out how to unhook it.

We all climbed out of the cars—Zoelle had to climb out of the passenger's side because her door was crushed in a blocked by the other car. We all got to the side of the road and surveyed the damage. The front axle of Zoelle's car had collapsed, and front driver's side was crushed in, the windshield was cracked, and the wheel was at a diagonal to the ground. The other car had an accordianed front and was dripping oil. He had hit us hard enough to turn our car in a different direction. Both cars were totaled. And here's the kicker: No one stopped.

A county police officer was driving by and stopped for us. He asked us, and I quote, "Alright, so who ran the red light?" It was a discouraging day, to say the least.

We all got out with minor injuries, just some bone and tissue bruises, and epic soreness from where the seatbelts jerked us and where our knees ate dashboard. The feeling reminds me of that morning the first volleyball practice of the year, after I'd been bumming around and falling out of shape all summer. Parts of my body I forgot existed are aching.

I think what I'm left with now, rather than trauma or shock, is lingering surprise that it happened at all. When it was happening, I was split between fear, the sense that everything was going to change, and a feeling of inevitability. Now, it's just the thought, "Really? Did that seriously happen?"

I got to see my chest x-ray, though, which was cool. Looking at my spine and ribs, I thought that the human body is really impressively constructed. The only way to make myself feel better and appreciate my newfound awe for human existence was to eat a meatball sub and take a nap. Which I did.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

This American Life

I'm obsessed with it. I've long since accepted that loving NPR makes me a middle-aged, white woman on the inside. But recently, with the introduction of the "This American Life" podcast into my life, I am completely in thrall to NPR. I laugh. I download multiple episodes a day. I try to keep from crying on the BART when listening to depressing segments.

I think part of the appeal is Ira Glass' soothing, public radio voice with its appropriate gravitas. But I think a little bit of it has to do with the movie Sleepless in Seattle, which I watched for the first time two nights ago. (As a side note, I found the movie disappointing. I spend an hour and a half watching a movie and the main characters don't meet until the end? And there's no kissing? What a crock. I would also like to note that it was horribly misbilled by Netflix as a romantic comedy. It was more stalkerish than anything else, and there's a limit on how amusing a movie about a widower and a woman who doesn't love her fiancé can be.)

But the more relevant point here is that Meg Ryan's character falls in love with Tom Hanks' after hearing him on the radio. That one aspect of the movie really makes sense to me. I think I may not just like "This American Life," but also be slightly enamored of Ira Glass. I know he's horribly too old for me, I'll probably never meet him, and that he doesn't usually speak for that long on the show, but there's something really compelling about those few minutes when he is on air.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Inappropriate PDA

Let me get this out of the way first: Batman was badass. I could talk extensively about many aspects of it, including, but not limited to, Christian Bale's hotness, Morgan Freeman's awesomeness, and the number of people tasting Batman's pointy, flying elbows.

I'm someone who really enjoys action movies. Even if they're crappy and full of plot holes, I can sit through them and be pretty engrossed. Especially if the screen is large and fills my entire field of vision. So, when I'm in a legitimately well done action movie, like Batman, I enter a sort of zone. This is a peaceful mental state which I do not like having interrupted.

Enter the teenage couple. They came in with a gaggle of their loud friends who think they're all very funny. I know. Being with a large group of people you've known for a while is sort of like being drunk: Everyone's much more clever, everything's much funnier, and no one has the ability to control the volume of his voice. I accept this, and think of it as a kind of penance for my own times being in that group who singlehandedly ruins the entire movie/restaurant/walking down the sidewalk experience.

They quieted down mostly before the movie and settled in for a few solid hours of explosions and hand-to-hand combat. About forty-five minutes in, the guy in the couple lost interest in the movie. He started looking over at his girlfriend, who was sitting next to me. She ignored him as he shifted around and tried to make eye contact with her. Eventually, after about fifteen minutes of struggle and a short conversation about how she was tired, they started making out. They would glance at me occasionally. I assume this means they were checking to see if I'd noticed, and if so, whether I was going to throw my soda on them.

And so, the next hour and a half of Batman was interrupted by slurping sounds and elbow bumping. I get it. They have hormones. But if you're going to make out during a movie, why would you sit in the middle of the theater, next to people? Especially when it's a popular movie on its second weekend? The world may never know.

Long story short, I'm bringing a taser and a spray bottle to the movies from now on.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

How to handle a de-magnetized BART card

Retrieve de-magnetized card from the slot. Place hands firmly on top of two metal turnstiles and swing legs over barrier. Walk away nonchalantly.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Isabelle Hicks

I turned twenty on Saturday. As one friend helpfully informed me, this makes me close to 40 than to birth. The celebration has extended into a several day affair, with different celebrations and congratulations. A birthday week, one might call it. This pales in comparison with one person, however: Isabelle Hicks.

On the drive home every night, Zoelle and I pass the local high school. There's an electric sign near it that announces important things in the school. The graduation date, minor news, and, of course, birthdays. It's sort of charming that an inanimate object can greet you with a "Happy birthday!" as you drive by. But Isabelle has taken it to the next level.

She has the fortune of having been born on the last day of school. This is the point at which the secretaries become lazy or leave for the summer. Thus, the billboard remains un-updated for three months. Trumping my measly week by a large margin, Isabelle Hicks has a three-month-long birthday celebration. Cheers to her, and may she have a sweet sixteen until she's seveteen.

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Monday, July 21, 2008


On Friday night a few weeks ago, I went to this magazine release party at the Oakland Museum of California with Zoelle and her mother. We started off the evening by eating dinner at this restaurant called Oasis. It specializes in West African food, which seems to involve a lot of beans, rice and plantains. The food was delicious, but there was one questionable aspect to the menu. My topping options for my black-eyed peas and rice were chicken, cod, and “meat.”

I accept that there may be some translation problems, but what is this mysterious “meat?” Pork? Beef? The flesh of naughty children? There are so many possibilities here, I was almost afraid to ask.

The party itself was a bizarre mix of twenty-somethings and fifty-year-old white women. As someone who’s easily pleased, I was quickly drawn to the circle of people standing around the acrobatic children in the courtyard. Apparently they belong to a circus school; they did some tumbling and crazy hanging rope tricks with no netting or safety harnesses. Watching them and clapping like a moron, I felt jipped. Not only did these kids get to join the circus, they didn’t have to run away from home to do it. As I grow older, it has become increasingly clear to me how much my parents hid from me.

There was also a prize table from Amoeba. And I won two four-day passes to this big festival. From the expression of the woman running the booth, this was a big prize. This is disappointing for both of us, because what I really wanted was the $10 tote bag. But I took my prize anyway, and started scoping the crowd.

It became readily apparent, as the night wore on and we wandered through the various exhibits, food stands, and members of a KISS cover band, that the middle-aged women had an objective. They moved with intent, through the throngs of slow-moving couples and . The women moved in packs,

One man behind me summed it up best. With a mixture of incredulity and fear, he said, “This is a cougar den!”

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