Archive for April, 2010

Paging Dr. Freud

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

This is an actual dream I had last night.

It’s probably a better peek into my life than any boring stories about what I’ve been up to  lately. (i.e. not much)

30 MPH

I can't drive 55...or 30.

I was driving way too fast – say 90 when the speed limit was 30 – and having trouble controlling the car. All around me people were having accidents and fender benders. Suddenly, I had to stop, and I had to push on the brakes with all my might to make them work. They stopped in time, but I watched as other people crashed into each other all around me.

Meanwhile, I would relase pressure on the brakes on my car, which then caused me to bump into the car in front of me again and again. Fortunately, they didn’t seem to mind.

Soon thereafter, I reached my destination and was suprised to find myself at an old mall. Even more strange, it was a mall from my youth and it was unchanged. I walked inside, and to the right was my childhood pediatrician’s office. The reception-area was in a sunken living room kind of space and covered in brown wood paneling. There was an African American lady by the desk, and she called out to me by name.

“Vanessa! Vanessa! There’s something I’d like you to know!”

“What’s that?”

“If you ever get a chance, you probably don’t want to see the BeeGees. With so many of the original Gibb brothers being dead, it’s not a very good show.”


Blamin' It All On the Nights on Broadway...

I thanked her, and as I walked away, I suddenly wondered how in the hell that woman knew my name.

I walked out into the mall area and was shocked by how much it resembled the Harrisburg Mall of my childhood. Then, from the right, a group of women ran up to me, again, calling me by name. A couple of them I immediately recognized, and I was stunned to see them there.  One of them was definitely Lily Tomlin.

They brought me into a room that reminded me of a school nurses’ office and sat me down. Then, one of them began to explain that due to recent decisions in my life in the last few months, plans had changed. In some ways, my life would stay exactly the same as it was. On the other hand, I was going to have a son, and I was going to name him something that reminded me of a sandwich but which I have hence forgotten (Croque Monsier? Po Boy? Grinder? Pastrami on Rye? Grilled Cheese? Hero? Ruben? One can only guess…)


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Drag Me To What the Hell

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

So as you know, I don’t usually do movie reviews.

In fact, minus my initial infatuation with Avatar and the occasional sentence or two of bitching, there really haven’t been any movie reviews in the nearly two years I’ve been doing this blog.


Let’s stop to pause on that tidbit.

I’ve been doing this for almost two years.

Two years.

Which safely estimates to 800 or more hours.

33.33333 entire, 24-hour days of my life have been spent blogging.

2 year old cupcake

On June 6th I'll have been doing this for two years. Wild.

And for what???

And why???

God only knows.

Probably something along the lines of the explanation suggested by my German friend: I didn’t get enough attention as a child.

It seemed like an insulting ‘observation’ at the time, but he’s probably right. Why else spend two years (or at least several hours a week for two years) talking about yourself to people who don’t actually know you (for the most part)? We could devolve into all kinds of self-psychoanalysis on that topic, but why?

Moving right along, I am 99% sure I read a really good review – and maybe even a couple really good reviews – of this movie called Drag Me To Hell.

Drag me to hell choke

I don't even remember what was going on at this point, but I'm sure it was gross.

And although the trailer seemed impossibly stupid – and it struck me even then as really, really unfair that some lowly bank employee gets nailed with a nasty gypsy curse because some icky old lady can’t pay her mortgage – I decided to trust said positive review and rent it.

First mistake.

How did this fate befall me, you ask?

Well, the other day I was at the Redbox (my new favoritist thing), and there was nothing new I wanted to see, but the box contained – you guessed it – Drag Me To Hell, so I figured for a mere $1.09 (we have some serious sales tax in this state) how could I go wrong?

Second mistake.

Red Box

Ah Redbox, you cruel seductress...

There’s where Redbox gets you. The illusion of convenience. The self-deception that they’re strategically located somewhere you are every day anyway – the grocery store, the Walgreens – so what’s the harm in picking something up? It’s practically free!

But then the next day comes, and you decide to scrape something together from the aging items in your fridge, and then the next day comes and you realize you don’t REALLY need to fill that prescription, and then the next day comes and you forget to put the movie in the car, and then the next thing you know, you’ve spent $13.08 renting Inglorious Bastards and never even watched it.

And don’t even get me started on the lines when all you’re there to do is return. It’s like a law of the universe that when I make an actual move to finally return a movie, ten other people are magnetically drawn to the very same RedBox and then inexplicably compelled to read the reviews of every single item contained within it. Twice.

Until there’s a Redbox in my kitchen, it’s not really as convenient as you’re led to believe.

Drag Me to Hell gypsy

Best to just give this woman an extension on her mortgage payments...

So on that note, naturally I have already had Drag Me To Hell for four days. And I had it in the car to return. But I didn’t feel like dealing with the machine. Or the inevitable wait. And then the “In for $4.36, in for $5.45” logic starts in, and I decided to keep it one last night. But instead I watch Celebrity Rehab and The Best of I Love the 80s and House Hunters International and then it’s 8pm, and I decide to finally sit down and actually WATCH it. Just sit on the couch and pay attention.

Third mistake.

And then I pick the Director’s Cut over the theater version.

Probable fourth mistake, but seeing as I never saw the theater version and now never will, I can’t say for certain.

It’s at this point that I’m reminded that my dad always drew the line at movies where they stuck a big bug or alien creature into someone’s ear wherein it inevitably crawled inside and took control of their brain. The classic line-in-the-sand moment occurred during Wrath of Khan. And although I was rather young and wasn’t particularly bothered by the imagery, I vividly recall how much he was.

Drag me to Hell gypsy in car

If this was real life and this was me, I'd probably be dead right now. Choked to death, specifically.

However, now I have found my own equal, and henceforth I am going to take a commensurate stand against abusing my eyes with the sight of projectile vomit or blood or insects or brownie batter flying out of the mouth and nose of one person and into the face (and usually open mouth) of another person.


Not necessary.

If I were suddenly plagued by a noteworthy and unpredictable digestive disorder, I would just start carrying a big bucket and handing out cards explaining the situation. Forewarned is forearmed.

At the same time, should your new nemesis not be so considerate, there are some obvious self-defensive techniques.

  1. When you see dark brown or insect-based projectile vomit coming your way, close your mouth.
  2. When a  horrible gypsy monster old lady person is up in your grill, do everything possible to turn your head because when it comes, it’s coming hard, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.
  3. When inundated with three? four? such scenes (I lost count), go ahead and start laughing. Like when she hosed down her boss with what I guess was blood or black coffee or the aforementioned brownie batter? It was so horrifically. unthinkably awful that it was, well, funny.

    But don’t take the fact that I giggled at the projectile puke as an endorsement.

    Drag me to Hell grave

    I think some vomiting occurred around this point. When DIDN'T it occur is the more obvious question.

    I think probably it was a defense mechanism.

    Because it’s really nothing I would want to see again any time soon. Or ever.

    And as for the rest of the plot, who the hell knows?

    Something about a really pissed off gypsy lady who loses her house and decides to punish the girl from Matchstick Men. And the guy from the Mac ads tries to help her, but he’s too wimpy and milquetoast to be of any real good. And the nasty gypsy lady somehow manages to break into the girl’s car and hide in the backseat and offer up a seriously vicious fight for such an old lady.

    And despite all the violence, the worst was when the old lady was sucking and gumming on the Matchstick Men girl’s chin thinking she was biting her because she didn’t realize her dentures fell out.

    And you do have to wonder what kind of crack dentist made dentures that look exactly like chipped up, browned out 75-year old rotten teeth?

    Definitely turn that guy into the ADA.

    Anyway, it was not all a loss.

    Drag Me To Hell taught me a thing or two I never knew about the banking business.

    And that lesson has been duly noted: The next time I need a loan or want to request a third extension on my unpaid mortgage, I’m going to dress up like a monstrous gypsy with bad fingernails and even worse teeth and hope the loan officer has seen the same movie.

    If all else fails, maybe I can hope to at least projectile vomit on someone?

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    I am a weather witch

    Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

    It’s true.

    I bring the sun.

    cute woman with glasses

    New hair. And yes, that is my bathrobe. Who's to say it wasn't the morning???

    I got back from Mexico at midnight on Tuesday – a day that was apparently rainy and 50-something degrees – and it has been sunshine and 70-degree temperatures ever since. Yesterday it was almost 80.

    Today was calling for 72 and thunderstorms, but outside my window there’s nothing but sunshine. But of course.

    A bonafide week of summer in the middle of April in Washington?

    You can’t call that a coincidence.

    And you shouldn’t.

    It’s all me, and I’m not afraid to take credit.

    In other news, I have new hair.

    You may not think that this is news, but you would be wrong. You see, in a blog that’s all about the boring minutiae of my life, things such as new hair are huge news. Particularly if you’re stalking me or have plans to do so. It’s important to know that I am now a redhead with bangs.

    Otherwise, said redhead with bangs otherwise has very little to report. I’m back to editing The Food Machine (the book I finished editing – or so I thought – in February) and then after that I’ll start editing Zion (the one I wrote in Mexico)

    More new hair

    Basically, the game plan goes something like: do the best work I possibly, humanly can and then see what happens. Not much of a game plan, perhaps, but nobody said pursuing your dreams would be easy.

    When I consulted the I Ching a couple weeks ago for advice, it came out pretty much the same.

    Hsü / Calculated Waiting

    Deep Waters in the Heavens:
    Thunderclouds approaching from the West, but no rain yet.
    The Superior Person nourishes himself and remains of good cheer to condition himself for the moment of truth.

    Great Success if you sincerely keep to your course.
    You may cross to the far shore.


    You must now endure this Dangling — either a carrot before your nose, or a sword above your head.
    This strange mix of apprehension and anticipation is a Purgatory.
    There is nothing more you can do to affect the outcome.
    You must now submit to the Fates.

    Even more new hair.

    So submit to the Fates, I will.

    Hello Purgatory! What time do you serve cocktails?

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    Taking my cue from 70′s horror flicks

    Saturday, April 17th, 2010

    Remember that part in The Amityville Horror where they first go to check out the house and it (in a rather urgent manner reinforced by the use of a voice that gives new meaning to ‘guttural’) instructs them to “GET OUT.”?

    El Centenario house

    My second - and much preferred - casita in Mexico. It never told me to 'get out', but the worm did start to turn in the last 24 hours...

    Two things have always struck me about that moment:

    1. An  inanimate object’s – in this case, a house – powerful sense of boundaries.

    2. The human beings’ complete and total disregard of said request/order.

    Now, I don’t know about you, but I climb into a rental car and it starts shrieking about how it’s going to twist me up in a fiery ball of molten metal or even just whispers something about how I’d make a nice hood ornament, and I’m out of there. No delays. No questions asked.

    Same with a house that utilizes the voice of Satan to share an opinion about whether or not I lease the place.

    I’m a child of the 70′s.

    Best to heed the cultural wisdom, tune into the collective unconscious, and get the fuck out when you’re told.

    That stated, in a mostly polite and largely incompetent way, Mexico gave me the old heave ho.

    Woman in yellow room

    The thing with these casitas is that they seem to repeat the exterior color on the inside, so you'd better pretty much LOVE whatever you decide to paint the thing (primarily red, coral, and yellow).

    It started on Monday.

    And – admittedly – 99% of the problem, or at least the incompetence part, was Telcel. Telcel is – from what I can tell – a very large cell phone and wifi and maybe other stuff it can’t do well provider. It’s also owned by the richest man in the world, Carlos Slim Helu. These two facts (large/incompetent Mexican company and richest man in the world) may or may not be a coincidence.

    I say not.

    Considering Telcel has managed to embezzle $75 out of my tight ass in just two weeks, I’d be impressed if I weren’t pissed.
    So as not to devolve into the category known as ‘general bitching’ let me summarize and say it was an experience that can only be described as an extremely frustrating, time-consuming, and largely bullshit internet experience.

    Bravo, Slim.

    Richest man in the world

    Carlos Slim Helu. I don't know about love, but I'd say this is pretty much proof that money can't buy you looks.


    But it’s not just Slim and his crap ass company that showed me the door.

    There was a trifecta: Internet, Rash, and Bugs – also known as RIB.

    When the RIB situation starts to unfold, you know it’s time to head north.

    In addition to my extensive and expensive internet woes, I broke out in a massive itchy rash all over the lower half of my body. I never nailed the culprit, but it was either my Mexican-bought SPF 15 or my “Lecha de Burra” cream that caused it.


    You read that right.

    I’m a friggin’ idiot.

    You think I might have given pause at buying a lotion called “Milk of the Ass,” but no.

    I didn’t really look at the packaging.

    Or the words.

    Or the picture of a donkey with a wreath around its neck.

    Woman with can of beans

    I love beans. So much so that I eat them from the can. And I'll eat them cold from the can. Like a hobo. Wanna make something of it?

    I was basing my decision on smell.

    And donkey milk smells damn good, apparently.

    It sure does cause a hell of a rash though. Or the sunblock.

    Either way, I was so freaked out, I didn’t apply anything to my skin for the last three days.

    Finally, rounding out the RIB, were the insects.

    First came the fruit flies.

    Then the house flies.

    And then, there I was, lying on my stomach working out my lower back, when I noticed several grains of rice crawling around. And then my brain started it’s slow turn around the hamster wheel, and I realized that rice doesn’t wriggle.

    And I never made any rice.

    And those are MAGGOTS.

    Frickin’ MAGGOTS.

    Woman in pool

    In the pool. Make note of the hair, because it's gone. Let me rephrase that: It's not GONE, but it no longer looks like this. You shall see shortly.

    Jumpin’ Jesus on a Pogo Stick MAGGOTS.

    Oh, the horror.

    Did you know maggots burst when you crush them under your flip-flop?


    A nice, satisfying pop

    Long story short, Mexico showed me the door – at least for now – and I graciously exited stage left.

    But no worries.

    In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger via one of the ten DVDs I had with me: I’ll be back.

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    Chivalry is not yet dead

    Sunday, April 11th, 2010

    This is the only country I’ve ever been in where men will drop babies and old women and test tubes of volatile, nuclear substances to run and help me put my grocery bags in the back of the car.

    Sitting by the little (very cold!) pool at the house.

    And they’re not even store employees or anything.

    Just helpful dudes who think I look weak or needy or blonde.


    I’ll take it.

    It makes me feel kind of like Grace Kelly or something.

    In other news, I may resemble a dainty starlet of the 1950s (at least south of border. Give me that.), but I stink like a caveman.

    Did you know charcoal does not necessarily come in pre-formed, palm-sized briquettes? But that it can actually be half of a tree trunk and fourteen tiny scraps creating the substantial weight in that large, dirty bag? And when that sh*t gets under your nails, it’s like the anti-French manicure.

    It’s the Brittany Grease Monkey.

    The Parisian Welder.

    The Provencal Blacksmith.

    The I’ve Been Working on the French Railroad All The Live-Long Day

    Hermanos Gonzales Super Taco de Baja

    Driving to the Hermanos Gonzales Super Taco only to discover they're closed on Sundays. Boo hoo.

    But there’s no time to dwell on that dainty, girly, To Catch a Thief crap now. Somehow you have to get a fire going and get the tree trunk itself going and eventually – say fourteen hours later – you’re ready to grill your chicken.

    I know, it’s a lot of work.

    And a lot of time.

    I did not know that either.

    All of this was what we Grace Kelly-types like to call “quel surprise”.

    But now that I smell all camp fire-y and manly and “Me. Fire. Cook. Meat.” I’m also a bit proud of my new knowledge. Like anything hard-won, it feels like a victory. And smells like one too.

    Or is that Napalm?
    Or is that redundant?

    In other news, I have been unwell.

    Not so unwell as to render a visit to a Mexican clinic or a life flight out of here, but unwell enough to disturb my precious and deeply beloved sleep.

    And that ain’t right.

    I think they served yogurt like this at Auschwitz. Pineapple, celery, and cactus. And the other one is prune. Yummy.

    As I’m pretty sure you all know by now, I have a minor condition called Interstitial Cystitis.
    Admittedly, being a pain condition, in some cases it is anything but ‘minor’, but luckily my version is relatively minor.

    Until it flares up, and then I’m always like, “How the hell did I not remember how horrible this was!?!? Get me a morphine drip and get it NOW!!!”

    My IC has a few known foes: spicy peppers, excess red wine, and stress.

    Checking off the latter two, the issue a couple nights ago was brought on by some excessively hot pico de gallo made with serranos heaped upon some already  spicy pulpo tacos.
    Damn, they were good though.

    Not quite good enough to account for my suffering, but still good.

    And in the spirit of full disclosure and entertainment at any cost, step right up and gawk at the true and very pathetic story of how desperate I was the other night (FAIR WARNING: This is not for the squeamish or vomit story sensitive): Upon waking up in the wee hours and realizing my bladder was on goddamned FIRE, I mixed up and drank a huge glass of baking soda and water in order to alkalize the situation. You’ve heard of baking soda on a grease fire? For better or worse, it’s the same thing with my super sensitive ulcer-esque urine tank.

    A pretty horsey spotted near Bahia Coyote.

    For those of you that are visual and/or literal: It was at least 16 oz of water and a three honking tablespoons of baking soda.

    And murder going down.

    Out of sheer horror, I chased that with a plain – swimming pool sized – glass of water.

    Then I went and laid down.

    And pulled the blankets up around me.

    And thought happy, alkaline thoughts.

    And felt overwhelmingly like barfing.

    So after a while, the barfiness gained strength and I got up and sat in the tub (thank god for the tub!!!)

    There, I threw up projectile baking soda water vomit four different times into said bath (Big time Exorcist projectile vomit, yet pretty clean vomit, as things go).

    And worst of all, I had to fight to keep the remainder of the hideous, nauseating beverage down because I knew I needed it to deal with problem #1, the original problem that in turn led to the new nausea problem, my angry bladder.

    Eventually I went back to bed.

    Many have tried, but few have mastered the in-pool-novel-writing technique. It's a matter of opportunity as much as skill and determination.

    And I’m better today.

    And taking it easy on the serranos.

    And no red wine in sight.

    Sorry about the gross story.
    But you asked.

    You didn’t ask?
    Oh apologies. It must be all this hanging out by myself in the Mexican desert making me imagine conversations with you that aren’t actually happening.

    On the upside, I will be in a middle seat on USAirways Flight 330 to Phoenix in less than 48 hours. I will miss the sun and the cacti and the tranquillity, but I seriously cannot wait to go home and hug my dog and watch some cable TV.

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