Thursday, August 28, 2008


I went on a job interview. The office was in a poorly lit motel room attached to a well-lit rustic bar. My interview was with the president of the company. We sat on opposite sides of one of the double beds in the room and discussed the job requirements. I think some reference I made to Battlestar went over well, because he bounced over to my side of the bed, but I was sitting right on the edge and we both rolled right off. I squawked, rather unprofessionally, and struggled to pull myself upright on the floor. That signaled the end of the interview.

They ushered in the next interviewee as I gathered my things and squeezed past him to get out the door. The rest of the company's employees were gathered in the kitchenette off the main room, and they burst out laughing as I dashed out. I could really use a drink.

Luckily, the bartender in the attached bar was just opening up, so I bellied up and asked for some lemonade. He was pissed off, and complained for hours about kids these days while I waited for my drink. Eventually I gave up and left to meet my roommates.

They were gathered near a pond outside my old high school, trying to solve a math problem. "If we solve this problem," Erik said, "the princess will pass her class and will love us forever." I offered to help, but Erik quickly figured it out. I mean, the assignment was to find the area of a hexagon---it wasn't that hard. We just figured out different variables for the area and circumference, then asked the princess to think of her favorite thing in the whole world, write it on a piece of paper, and put it in an envelope. Somehow that was the answer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I didn't sleep at all last night. When the sun came up, I got up and punched my bed. I threw all the sheets at the wall and pounded them with the pillows. Ugh.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

following your dreams

A famous conservative elder senator sat next to Natalie Portman on an airplane. I can’t tell you which senator, or the details of the flight. But the senator and Portman became friends, and she convinced him to drop his staunch anti-environmentalism stance and support green initiatives. She also convinced him to go public with his transvestism.

A friend of mine tipped me off about the senator’s upcoming presentation at a breakfast meeting for an important Senate committee and hooked me up with a press pass. The meeting took place in an old theatre, and I took a seat in one of the boxes. The committee members and their aides were spread around the main floor, lacklusterly eating donuts, drinking coffee, and looking through paperwork. Several of them were doing the crossword puzzle.

The senator came on stage in his usual gray suit and striped tie. Natalie Portman came out with him, also wearing a suit and tie. The two of them looked the room over in silence. Then some burlesque music started playing, and they started dancing. In unison, they ripped off their suits to reveal fringed black thongs with rhinestone embellishments. Both of them were topless. They shimmied across the stage in the name of the environment, but the committee members were nonplussed.

My friend who had got me in escorted me out through the stage entrance. “We knew he was going to do that today, so we didn’t invite the press,” he said. “Thank god half the committee members were missing, too.”

I thanked him for the show, then hurried off to meet my family for our trip to the pick-your-own-fruit farm. We all packed into the van, my parents and my brother, my cousins, my aunt and uncle, my grandparents, and the foreign exchange student who was my rival. We found a pretty good spot in the harvested hay field that doubled as a parking lot and headed in, only to find that it was actually the Olympics.

I received a schedule that told me I was supposed to be running in the women’s 200m qualifier heats on a certain day, but the date had been cut off on my schedule, so I wasn’t sure when. I was pretty sure I missed it. I got really mad and started screaming at my dad. “How can you just sit there when I just missed my only chance to be in the Olympics?” I hollered. He got mad, too, and we both went into hysterics. But then it turned out I was already qualified for the final, so I dashed down to the track to take my spot.

There in the next lane was my rival, the foreign exchange student who had been making my summer miserable. She was running for Romania, I think, but I never really paid attention to where she was from. We set up our blocks and got into starting position. Then the gun went off and I ran my heart out. I thought I’d come in last. After all, I hadn’t run a 200m dash since high school, and even then I wasn’t very good. But it turns out I finished second, losing by a hair to that goddamn foreign exchange student. I hate her, I hate her, I hate her. But, you know, spirit of the games and all---I walked over and shook her hand. She smiled her smug Romanian smile and I wanted to punch her face off.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

late-night bike adventures

I was staying in a fortress with my extended family. The grownups got bedrooms and my cousins got the foldout couches. I was stuck on a cot in the corner, which was fine, because the foldout couches were pretty much impossible to sleep on anyway. Someone important was also staying with us, or else we were somehow important, because the fortress was heavily barricaded and guarded.

To pass the time, we conducted experiments on slugs. At first I thought the slugs were kind of gross, but I got over it. Soon I let them crawl along my arms and snuggle against my ear. Looking back, this is still kind of gross.

So the hypothesis we set out to prove in the current experiment was that slugs, being stubborn and contrary, would only eat food we did not want them to eat. We set out a chicken caesar wrap on a table and let the slug do its thing. It ignored the wrap. Instead, it crawled on my arm, down my torso and leg, and onto the floor under the table, where someone had dropped a stray french fry. The slug latched onto the fry and hightailed it for a corner of the experiment room.

My partner exclaimed, "It's true! He went for the fry!"

The slug, who had turned into a small man resembling Kal Penn, shouted tinily, "Of course I did! Can't you give me some real food? Who wants a freakin' wrap?" He was carrying the french fry, which was about half his height, in both arms like a giant bag of laundry.

Suddenly, one of the copy editors, who had also been staying with us, went nuts. She was convinced the guard stationed outside the front door and across the highway was actually a terrorist planning to kill us. She tore out of the door with a gun, and we all chased after her to try and stop her. We dodged through the traffic on the five lane highway like it was multiplayer Frogger and assembled on the dusty median, where the copy editor was pointing the gun directly at our guard. The guard was actually a very nice, non-terrorist guy, and we all knew it. The copy editor's eyes looked all crazy. Her normally neat hair was blowing around in unseemly wisps.

She fired several shots, but her aim was terrible. The bullets came right at me, and I had to run around in the median trying to dodge them. Luckily, my bike was there, and I hopped on and took off. I had plans to hang out with my soccer team at the movies, anyway.

The cinema had a whole room devoted to self-serve candy---at least twenty of those giant gumball machines that give you handfuls of Mike and Ike or Sour Patch Kids instead of gumballs. There were also displays of candy bars that you paid for on the honor system. One of those creepy twins that I keep seeing around town (at dodgeball, on the CUNY station, at H&M, in my dreams) stormed in, told us to cover for her, and ducked down to steal some candy bars. My other friends pointed out the security cameras. "But it's not like they really care if you steal anything," one of them said. Regardless, I was too chicken shit to take anything.

I hopped on my bike again to head home. It was now dark out, and I was trying to turn left at the intersection of 14th and 6th without a helmet. I should mention that I have never ridden my bike in Manhattan before, ever. It was terrifying. I took off as quickly as I could at the light and tried to keep up with traffic, but there were cars everywhere, and for some reason I was carrying a book that prevented me from braking with both hands.

I stopped in at a coffee place, where this really cool person I know works. I wish I could be as cool as she is. I don't really wish I worked at a coffee place again. I was there with an investment banker type who somehow had never been in a coffee place before. He must live under his desk or something. We were standing outside, talking to the cool barista girl, when an elderly couple from the neighborhood walked by. The barista went inside and made them free drinks because they were a charity case. We waited for them in the store, browsing through bins of death-themed tchotchkes. They soon came back, showing off their fancy drinks---a peanut butter mocha ripple and a coconut latte.

My banker friend became fascinated with the drink process---although I think he just had a crush on my cool friend. He watched her make all sorts of drinks for other customers, putting a dollar in the tip bar every once in a while, even though she hadn't made him a drink. I got fed up and decided to continue my trip home, but that meant riding on the 110 freeway at 11 p.m., and I knew I wasn't going to get very far.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

brief summaries

I wanted to buy a large inflatable apple from Goodwill, but it wasn't for sale.

I got a job arranging plastic food for a banquet in a model home.

I read a book and realized it was set in my apartment, two years before I moved in.

I found out George Harrison had written a Beatles song about me. It had my name in it, but he spelled it wrong.

I needed a copy editor to work on a book by these twins who own a pizzeria and play dodgeball, but they had all gone to the seashore to take pictures. The copy editors were all fully dressed in tweed and corduroy, and they were getting wet sand all over their sensible shoes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

green performance art

I was taking turns living in an igloo in a foreign city that may or may not have been Bangkok. I'm leaning toward "may not," as it seems unlikely that an igloo would last very long in Thailand, and this living arrangement went on for months. At the end of it, my igloo-mates returned to New York to turn the experience into a performance piece. The performance was completely organic, with zero carbon footprint. Instead of explosions, they used some kind of hemp-based steam. We lounged about in a large square park as they projected images into the trees. My friends hated it, but after all that time in the igloo I couldn't stand to hear them belittle my experience. We sort of caused a little scene among all the blissed-out environmental activists. I was mortified.

Friday, August 8, 2008

late for class (with bikes!)

I was back in high school, and needed to get from Troy High to Athens High in 40 minutes for a class. So I decided to ride my bike. The ride was so so hard, uphill all the way, and my bike is kind of crappy. It didn't help that halfway along I obtained an intern, a slow dumpy girl who wasn't very bright and insisted on asking me stupid questions the whole time. Every five minutes, she would get distracted by something and stop or pull into oncoming traffic. I got so frustrated that I tried to leave her behind, only to hear her yelling, "Wait for me! Wait for me! Don't leave me!"

We stopped at a pier to do something sneaky with motorboats, and then at my aunt and uncle's house. After that, or maybe before, we came across my dad's tunnel amusement park, which consisted of two short tunnels you could ride your bike through. Making ghost noises in the dark was encouraged.

All in all, the trip took way longer than it should have.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

my mother, the entrepreneurial earth goddess

My mom decided to open her own store, one of those places that sell jewelry and incense and herbal remedies. This sort of place seemed out of character for her, but I agreed to help her set it up when she promised me I could work behind the counter on my days off.

Apparently, starting this kind of store involved secreting a large bundle of starter herbs out of the jewelry/incense/herbal remedy store where she was already working (I had no idea!). We had to sneak in when the owner was out to lunch. My mom's friend and co-worker went behind the counter and pulled out a large bundle of some pink-flowered herb I'd never heard of, wrapped in a swaddling cloth. My mother held it like a newborn. "Let's get out of here," she said.

Monday, August 4, 2008

anti-strip search

My family was returning from a visit to Soviet Russia. It might also have been Iran. At the border, guards made us get out of our car while they searched it. As we watched from a distance, they opened all of our bags and put on every piece of clothing we'd packed. One guard had on five shirts, three coats, and a pair of underwear on his head. They appeared to be conducting a Chinese fire drill, jumping in and out of the car and running---prancing---around in our personal effects. This was hard to watch.

To pass the time, we wandered into a freedom garden erected on the non-Soviet or non-Iranian side of the border. A balcony extended over the border, with grates in the floor so you could look down and see the foreign ground. There was a library section with the 100 greatest books of freedom of all time. For some reason it was all American writers from the 1920s. But they were all first editions, and I couldn't help thinking they would be worth a lot of money if they ever made their way out of this garden in the middle of nowhere.