“Downton Abbey,” Dammit.

I’m trying to write a post about Downton Abbey for my entertainment themed blog, but I keep looking at the clock and thinking that I should get to bed.  It’s getting kind of late and I have too much to say.  I wanna turn my light off soon.  Plus, I wanna watch an episode from season two, and episodes of Downton Abbey are about 50 minutes long, so I should get to it if I wanna get to sleep at a halfway decent hour.

Watching Downton Abbey again feels strange.  When I first started watching it several years ago, I had just become unemployed.  My mother and I devoured the first season in a day and a half, just in time for the premiere of season two.  The second season was also a blast — progressivism and Spanish Flu and temporary paralysis.  There were only two or three episodes left to air when my mom came home one day and told me she had bought the entire season on DVD at Barnes and Noble.  This meant we didn’t have to wait another several weeks for the thrilling conclusion — the answers were at our fingertips.

“Wait, what do you mean it’s already on DVD?”

“The British version,” she said, smiling mischievously.  “The episodes have already aired in the UK.  Now they’re all on DVD.  At Barnes and Noble.”  We laughed like villains.

About a year later, season three premiered.  I had a job.  It was a silly job, but it was something.  I didn’t have work the day Downton Abbey came back on, though.  It was an exciting afternoon of coffee drinking and pajama wearing.    Then, a few days afterward, my mom and I had a fight.  I downloaded the rest of the season and watched it without her.

It was a stupid fight.  I guess it was necessary, though.  Well, no, not necessary, but kind of unavoidable.  That’s ok.  We’re close, so that’s what happens.  If I ever have a daughter, I hope I fight with her, too.  It’ll hurt, but it’ll be better than never fighting with her.  You only never get mad at people you don’t think about.

Anyway.  I watched the rest of season three by myself.  I was really sick that day.  I couldn’t breathe through my nose.  I was sad, and sick, and alone, and then sad things happened on the show and I felt even more sad and even more alone.  I couldn’t tell anyone about what I had just seen, because everyone else was watching it legally, and I couldn’t tell my mom, because she hadn’t seen the episode yet, either.  Because she was also watching it legally.  Without me.  Because I was mad at her.

Two months later I moved out of my parents’ house and immediately got sick again.  This time I had a fever and my throat was on fire.  All I wanted to do was lie on the couch and watch Downton Abbey, because it’s a great show to watch while you’re sick, even though it’s only going to make you sad.  I kept putting it on, but every time I did there was all kinds of, “This isn’t my thing” and, “This is boring” and, “We should rent Wreck It Ralph.”  There was also Branson.  Tom Branson.  Jealousy over my attraction to Tom Branson.  The chauffeur.  The Irish chauffeur.  The fictional Irish chauffeur.  And for all my reassurances of, “Tom Branson isn’t a real person,” I was never quite forgiven.

But that’s all over.  That is so, so over.

Season four premiered on Sunday night.  I didn’t watch it ’till Monday.  And it was silly.  And it made me happy.  And some parts of it annoyed me, and those parts made me want to email my mom.  So I did, because we’re not mad at each other anymore and haven’t been for a long time.  Because we love each other.  Really love each other.  So we worked things out.

Watching Downton Abbey in my own apartment makes me feel like I’m getting away with something — like I’m meeting up with someone I was temporarily estranged from, or catching up with an old friend I was previously banned from seeing.  Either way, the series is entirely too important to me.  I’m ok with that, though.  Why should I be embarrassed?  I watch the show and I feel happy and sad and excited and nostalgic and I think about love and sadness and change and forgiveness and good riddance.  There are worse things I could do than love Downton Abbey for deeply personal, totally inflated reasons, right?  I mean, just because it’s dramatic and stylized and British doesn’t have to make it stupid.  Right?  I mean, it’s not stupid.  It’s…It’s…

it’s motherfuckin’ Downton Abbey, bitchesAnd I’m gonna watch as much of it as I like.

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Radio ON.

I’m sitting on my bed listening to a recording of my old radio show.  My main one.  “Dancing Barefoot.”  It aired once a week on KZSC Santa Cruz from 8:30PM to 10:30PM.  It began in June 2008 and ended in June 2010.  Sometimes it was on a Tuesday night and sometimes it was on a Wednesday night.  For about 10 weeks, it was on Tuesdays from 6:00AM to 9:00AM.  It wasn’t a dance music show.  It wasn’t a Patti Smith show.  It was both.  And neither.  But there was still a formula.  There definitely was.

The recording I’m listening to right now is dated May 11, 2010.  The disc says “Part One.”

I just heard my 23-year-old self say the following:

“You’re listening to KZSC Santa Cruz!  Under the moonlight!  THE SERIOUS MOONLIGHT!  MY SHOES ARE OFF!  TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF, DANGNABBIT, AND DANCE!

Then I played “Walkin’ on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves.

That was actually pretty cool to hear.  To hear me.  Me, being loud and bold and silly.  Good for you, 23-year-old Steff.

Yoga is great.  Walking is great.  Running is great.  Meditation is great.  Fine wine is great.  Hot baths are great.  Chocolate-dipped Animal Fries are great.  (I assume.)  But there is no stress relief in this world quite as affective as hosting a fucking radio show.  It’s absolute catharsis.  It’s romantic exorcism.  It’s energizing.  It’s soothing.  It’s stressful.  It’s a fucked up Zen garden riddled with nerves and noise.

(“Planet Claire.”  Good for you, 23-year-old Steff.)

I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who would rather blow off steam by drinking and screwing, and those activities do have their place.  For me, though, there’s nothing like talking into a massive microphone, addressing an attentive-yet-invisible audience and challenging yourself to play a series of three (or four…) songs in a row that flow together perfectly…and end right at the exact moment you have to go on the air and give the Bat Time and the Bat Station…

You can’t ignore things when you’re hosting a music program.  You can’t force yourself to forget things when you’re hosting a music program.  You can’t move on to the next thing when you’re hosting a music program.  You can (and have to) put on your best “I’m chipper!  Let’s rock!” voice, but after you’ve hit “Play” on a certain song and there’s nothing for you to do but listen and wait, you are gonna sit and think about exactly what’s inspired you to put on that certain song.  And it will be loud.

The air room.  The motherfuckin’ KZSC air room.

This recording.  It’s killing me.  In a good way.

“Just Like Heaven.”  I played “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure after making a brief announcement.

I am now sitting on my bed, at age 26, singing “Just Like Heaven.”  When I was 13 (unless I was 12), I sat up in my bed rather late listening to this song on repeat (on a Discman, no less), deliberately memorizing the lyrics.  And on May 11th 2010, 23-year-old me felt it necessary to play this song on the air.

Wow.  I must have been in a serious 80’s mood the night of May 11th, 2010.  I followed “Just Like Heaven” with “Love My Way” by The Psychedelic Furs.

“Love My Way” is on the first volume of The Wedding Singer soundtrack.  Adam Sandler was my first love.  By listening to the soundtrack to The Wedding Singer, I felt like I was somehow close to my beloved Adam.  I was 10.

And now I’m 26.  And I am singing my heart out to these songs alone in my room while listening to a recording of my 23-year-old self spin these synthesized love ballads for an attentive-yet-invisible audience.  I had a slew of problems back then.  I have a slew of problems now.  I guess I also had problems when I was 13 and 10.  What’s nice, though, is that sitting here in my bedroom listening to this recording is helping me remember that Stephanie Callas, regardless of age and life experience and whatever bullshit gets played on KROQ, has always been the same damn person.  Will always BE the same damn person.

“Age of Consent” by New Order.

I wonder what I was thinking about the night of May 11th, 2010.  Well, lemme take that back: I know exactly what I was thinking about that night.  For the sake of time and not turning this post into a total downer, I’m gonna keep the secret to myself.  Still, as I said a moment ago, Stephanie Callas is still Stephanie Callas.  Still sorting through the same stuff.  Still reflecting on stuff and healing from stuff and listening to New Order when necessary.

“I had a Patti Smith request.  Someone wants to hear something off ‘Easter.’  So, here’s the first track off of that album.  It’s The Patti Smith Group with ‘Till Victory.'”

You either like Patti Smith or you don’t.

I saw Patti Smith in San Francisco when I was 21.  I had been in L.A. that weekend.  I had to make it to S.F. by a certain time.  I was driving a minivan and I got a speeding ticket somewhere outside Montecito.  I made it to S.F. in time.  The show was incredible and I was standing right against the stage and at one point Patti Smith sat down and held my hand and looked straight into my eyes.  I mouthed “I love you.”  It was during the interlude of her song…called “Dancing Barefoot.”

Again.  You either like Patti Smith or you don’t.  Because Patti Smith is never going to be exactly what you want her to be.  And nothing upsets shitty people like disobedient women.

The disc is over.  Maybe “May 11th 2010 Part Two” is somewhere in this CD case.  The recording ended with “(Sittin) on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding followed by “Oh! Sweet Nuthin” by The Velvet Underground.  I think that transition encapsulates what I was always tryin’ to go for — unlikely harmony.

Unlikely harmony.

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We. Don’t. Need. This. Kind. Of. Shit.

Peggy coulda kicked Pete Campbell right in the balls. All up in his balls. But Pete, being a squirrelly little sack of shit, would have probably taken her to court. So Peggy didn’t kick him. She didn’t kick him square in his weird ballsack. Because she’s smart. She’s smarter than Pete Campbell. She didn’t need to kick his shriveled sack. The damage is already there.

And sure, she fell for Pete fucking Campbell, but she woke up. She did.

And that was the end of that.

And now Peggy is a rockstar.

And NO ONE likes Pete Campbell.

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While I Was Sleeping.

Last night I came home to find a pile of envelopes with my name on them.  They were from places like UCLA Health, Keck Medical Center of USC, Wells Fargo…oh, and that company I have to pay to keep our water on.

“Fuck, fuck, fuuuuuck” I muttered while sorting through the pile of bills, bills, biiiillllls.

My roommate laughed.  I laughed.  Then I sighed.

“Dude, I know that once 2014 gets here my life is still gonna be my life, but I really need 2013 to be over.”

“Yeah,” she said, her tone softening.  “You’ve had a pretty rough year.”

I had a difficult time getting to sleep.  When I go to bed anxious — as in, “I’m lying down — why is my heart racing?” anxious — I have a tendency to, ya know, fall asleep for a few seconds and then wake up gasping for air.  It’s very strange.  Eventually I’ll fall asleep and stay asleep and everything will work the way it should, but during those moments where I find myself suddenly sitting up in my bed panting…well, it’s terrifying.  I described it to a doctor recently.  She still said I was healthy enough to be operated on (thus the bills), and she turned out to be correct about that.  I’m basically saying I don’t have regular Sleep Apnea.  I don’t think.  I mean, when I go to bed in a perfectly fine mood without a care in the world (rather, with a manageable amount of typical day-to-day worries), I sleep like a friggin’ log.

Anyway.  Enough about my myriad anxiety manifestations.

When I finally conked out, I dreamt I was at a party.  I don’t remember who hosted the party, but it took place at a beautiful cottage in a picturesque, woodsy location.  Imagine a Thomas Kinkade painting and then add a bunch of people standing around with red SOLO cups.  Everyone was outside talking, and CHRIS O’DOWD was there.  That’s right, ladies — Chris Friggin’ O’Dowd, the cutie-est, most patootie-est Irishman around.

Here he is in HBO's "Family Tree."  ::Sigh::

Here he is in HBO’s “Family Tree.” ::Sigh::

You guys, he was so into me.  Yes, in the dream.  He was…he was just down.  He was so down.  He wanted The Steff.  More than that, though…he seemed to genuinely like The Steff.  He kept smiling at me and laughin’ at my jokes and givin’ me compliments like, “You’re so interesting!”  I was so happy, you guys.  I was so tremendously happy.  Somehow, for some reason, Chris O’Dowd wanted to hang with little old me, and it felt perfectly natural and perfectly perfect.  He was a gentleman and a sweetheart and I felt completely at ease with him.

Now, years ago, I described a celebrity-themed dream to my first therapist (I say this like I’ve had dozens…I haven’t).  In my dream, Dustin Hoffman guided me across a busy crosswalk on the Las Vegas strip.  He looked me in the eyes and told me something profound, which I ended up forgetting, and then I woke up.  My shrink was trying to help me figure out why Dustin Hoffman, of all the artists in the world, was the one who was offering me guidance.  To her, it was no accident that my brain conjured up images of Dusty while I slept — there was a very real explanation.  You can read about it here.

So, why, out of all the cute men in the world, was Chris O’Dowd the one making me feel special at a party?  I don’t know the man.  I don’t read internet gossip about him and I don’t know anything about his personal life besides the fact that he’s married (to a woman who has her own interesting damn career).  What I do know is that I find him very funny in his movies and television shows, and I find him very charming in interviews.  I love that he was on Girls.  I love that he was in Bridesmaids.  I love that he was on a Christopher Guest show.  I love that he stars in the film adaptation of one of my favorite books (that happens to have a kickass female protagonist).  I love that he co-created and co-wrote a comedy series about a little boy with an imaginary friend.  It’s called Moone Boy.  It’s on Hulu.  It’s the sweetest show ever.  Watch it now.  

 

"Moone Boy"

“Moone Boy”

If I ever learned that Chris O’Dowd was a total asshole, I would not only be very disappointed, I would also be very surprised.

Still, why him?

Because he’s entertaining.  Because he seems like he’d be fun to hang with.  Because he’s creative and has interesting ideas.  Because he’s not a Hollywood dickhead and his beard is awesome and I love his curly hair.  He’s unpretentious.  He’s hilarious and OUT THERE without being over the top.   He’s driven.  He’s successful.  He gets shit done.  And dude, when you watch Bridesmaids, you’re supposed to root for Kristen Wiig to end up with Chris O’Dowd, not Jon Hamm.  And ya know what?  It works.  Ya don’t sit there thinking, “Yeah RIGHT.  Like this Irish dude could ever upstage The Hamm.”  Ya sit there thinking, “Girl, he made you a cappuccino.  Calm down and get back into that damn bed.”

But really, I want to wake up tomorrow and find Chris O’Dowd in my room holding a cappuccino talking about how he wants to bake all day.  I would feed him allll the cupcakes.

Perhaps I’ll dream of that tonight.  But for now, back to last night’s dream…which took a rather dark turn right after I told Chris O’Dowd I was going to go inside the cottage for a drink.

“I’ll save you your spot,” he said, smiling.

By “spot,” he meant the spot where I was sitting.  At that point, everyone at the party was sitting on a wooden railing that lined a concrete walkway that lead to the cottage.  I smiled at Chris O’Dowd.  Then I stood up and walked away.  Moments later, I heard a loud CRACK.  Then I heard screams.  Then I heard a large THUD.  I turned around and saw that the wooden railing had snapped, sending the guests tumbling to the concrete.

They all landed on their heads.

Including Chris O’Dowd.

I screamed.  I looked around to see if I was the only one who hadn’t been sitting on the railing when it snapped.  I saw one dude standing by the railing — his eyes were popping out of his skull as he he struggled to remove his cell phone from his pocket.  He kept dropping it and picking it up and crying.  I ran over to him and yanked his phone out of his hands and called 9-11.  After I hung up I ran over to Chris O’Dowd to see if he was ok.  He was unresponsive.  As I sat next to him trying to wake up him, I noticed that a few of the people who had fallen had opened their eyes.  A few of them were wriggling around, trying to stand up.  One of them looked directly at me — his eyes were completely white.  Completely.  No pupils.  No irises.  He started grunting.

Like a zombie.

Then they all started wriggling and grunting and murmuring and I was terrified.

I looked toward Chris O’Dowd, but he was gone.

Just then, the paramedics arrived.    They did a quick examination of the guests who had fallen.

“They all have brain damage,” one paramedic told me.

I gasped.

Then my alarm went off.  And I woke up.

Perhaps I need to start looking on the brighter side.  Ya know.  Just bright enough to prevent future dreams of finding a worthy companion and then immediately losing him to a freak accident.  Perhaps this is simply a dramatic re-telling of every relationship I’ve ever been in.  Perhaps this is an unearthly, yet spot-on representation of the last year of my life.

Perhaps all of the above?  And perhaps tonight I’ll watch some Moone Boy before bed…just to help put me in a slightly better mood.

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Stupid Hippie!

Wow, guys.

Like, really.  Wow.

Ya know, I’ll admit it right here — sometimes I talk like a lazy ass Californian.  I use the word “like” a lot.  I use “ya know” and “so, yeah” and “totally.”  To emphasize confusion or indifference, I will often end a sentence by saying, “I mean…” and shrugging my shoulders.

Make no mistake, though — I’m an eloquent motherfucker when I wanna be.  I can use words like “egregious” and “superfluous” in sentences.  I can pontificate about “hegemony” and “heteronormativity.”  I can say things like, “Her taste in movies has always been somewhat plebeian” and know what the hell I mean.

I’m also not an idiot when it comes to politics.  I stay informed as best I can.  I have opinions on issues other than immigration, gay marriage, and legalizing pot.  I drank lots and lots of red wine both times President Obama was elected (the first time to celebrate, the second time to help finally relax).  I find Anne Coulter irrelevant and I get a little bit irritated at Bill Maher when he has her on his show.  Really, Bill, there’s no point in giving her any more exposure.  She’s a nut.  She belongs in her basement.

Ya know what else I have opinions about?  Universal healthcare.  Obamacare.  The Affordable Care Act.  SOCIALIZED MEDICINE.

That’s right, SOCIALIZED.

All right, so, like, why the hell am I, like, totally talking about politics?  And, like, what’s this have to do with, like, hegemony?

Yesterday I was exhausted by 6pm.  Like, totally worn the fuck out.  I had to drive downtown to attend a tasting at a fancy-ass restaurant (oh, it’s so HARD to be ME and DUDES I ATE CROISSANT BREAD PUDDING), and the combination of LA traffic, total darkness, and a full stomach was rather Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz WAKE UP YOU’RE DRIVING THROUGH BEVERLY HILLS.  Realizing that I was far too tired to shower and blow-dry my hair before bed, I decided to stop at the CVS near my apartment and buy myself some dry shampoo.  Then I thought, screw it, let’s also get some Q-Tips and a new razor.  All the beauty.  All of it.  Just go wild.

I walked up to the entrance.  Standing in my way was a man in a suit holding a microphone, and a woman holding a giant camera.  I knew I didn’t exactly look camera-ready, but oh, how I hoped they’d ask me to maybe answer a few questions…

They did.  Well, it was one question.

“What are your thoughts on President Obama and the Affordable Care Act?”

“I think President Obama is doing the best he can.  I think that government programs like this one always create controversy when they’re first instated, and there are definitely a few kinks to iron out, but I think that if we all work together and act like adults everything will be fine.”

“Thank you.  What’s your name?”

“Stephanie.”

“And your last name?”

“Like ‘Maria.'”

“Thank you.”

I went inside.  I found my dry shampoo and my Q-Tips.  I didn’t buy a razor because there was some kind of bullshit lock thing and I wasn’t about to go hunt down some person to assist me because honestly, I don’t really give a shit.  (Tonight, in fact, during my Pilates class, I wore my sexy black workout pants that show off my hairy calves.  I asked myself, “Would Amanda Palmer be embarrassed?”  The answer was a resounding “FUCK NO.”  I didn’t think about it again.  DEAL WITH IT.)

I got home.  I fell into bed.  I poured a glass of red wine…

Suddenly, I had a facebook notification from a friend: “Holy Cow, Just saw you on Chanel 9 talking about Obamacare — I never watch TV; I just happen to be in a hotel tonight. You looked great!”

What what WHAT?

I found the clip.  You guys…I FOUND THE CLIP.

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/video/9522811-former-pres-clinton-tells-pres-obama-to-keep-word-on-obamacare/#.UoMj86CcrBk.facebookhttp://

My first thought was, “Shit, I should have asked them to give me a second to put on some lipstick.”  My second thought was, “Man, I really love that coat.”  My third thought was, “WAIT A GODDAMN SECOND, WHY DID THE WOMAN BEFORE ME GET SO MUCH MORE SCREEN TIME?”

I watched it again.

“I…think President O-BAAAAMAAAAAAAA….is doing the best he can.”

THAT’S ALL?  WHAT ABOUT THE GOOD PART OF MY OPINION?  WHAT ABOUT THE PART WHERE I TALK ABOUT “GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS”?

Ok, real talk.

Did I expect them to air my snarky comment about how we all need to “act like adults”?  Hell no.  That woulda been way too subversive of them (not to mention downright honest).  However, did I expect them to only use the three seconds where I sound somewhat…dazed?  I didn’t.  And that was my mistake.

You guys, this particular shitty news story was put together to further freak people out about the Affordable Care Act.  Ya got Bill Clinton talkin’ about how Obama messed up.  Ya got a doctor talkin’ about how the website is shit.  Ya got “Jody G” talkin’ about how she’s “disappointed in Obama right now.”  AND THEN YOU HAVE ME.  ME, going, “Errrrrrrrrm, uhhhhhhhh, Obaaaaaaaaaammmmaaaaaa…” while the words “Affordable Health Care Supporter” flash across the bottom of the screen.  “Jody G” didn’t say anything particularly interesting, you understand — she got more screen time than I did because she expressed dissatisfaction with Obama.  I, on the other hand, expressed patience and understanding.  Perhaps I didn’t sound like a Harvard grad, but I did sound like an educated person with an educated opinion.  Except, of course, during the part where I said, “UHHHHHHH….OBAAAAAAAAMMMMAAAAAAAAA….”.

“Liberal Media” my ass.  Lesson learned.  And y’all watch out next time yer buyin’ dry shampoo.

I’m going to watch clips from Network now.  And cry.  Because not much has changed.

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Perfect.

I know I’m not a perfect human being.  I’ve never had any illusions about that.  I am fairly confident, however, that I’m damn decent.  That is, I at least have enough decency to strive to be better.

I don’t blame other people for my insecurities.  I could probably blame outside influences for my lack of confidence when it comes to the whole exterior beauty thing.  But ya know what?  I’m 26 years old now.  It’s kind of up to me to get passed my awkward fucking adolescence.  So what if I had the most gargantuan retainer the world will ever see.  So what if it was dark blue with SPARKLES…

It’s up to me to forgive myself for not choosing a slightly less conspicuous hunk a’ plastic.  It’s up to me to accept that just because I wasn’t a sexual dynamo at 13 doesn’t mean that I’m doomed to be unpretty in my twenties. It’s no one’s fault but mine if I go out to a bar and end up standing in the corner feeling fat.  It’s no one’s fault but mine if I watch a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and spend the entire time making a detailed list in my head of all the things she has that I don’t have.  It’s no one’s fault but mine if I stand next to an Amazonian beauty and curse myself for being born a pissed off pigmy.

When I was in middle school, a chubby boy I had never met in my life called me “saddlebags.”  It haunted me for a while.  I can’t lie.  Does it haunt me today?  Naw.  I mean, if I had a time machine I’d go back and beat his fat ass, but I’ll be okay if that never happens.

I don’t blame other people for the fact that I have struggled with panic attacks since I was 18.  Who would I blame?  The engineers who designed and built the 405?  Thomas Jefferson, for inventing the dumbwaiter, which would eventually evolve into a tiny fucking elevator?  Some other old dead white man, for inventing the desk job?  How about the nervous fish I evolved from?

I put up with the fear of impending panic attacks for four years before I finally saw a therapist.  She helped a bit.  She listened to me as I cried about my grandmother and all my shitty ex-boyfriends.  She worked with me to accept that it’s okay to show emotions, and that it’s ok to admit when I’m angry, sad, or scared.   A year later, still far from perfect, I talked to another professional.  She listened to me as I described how I managed to bring my anxiety level from an 8 to a 2 by practicing the breathing exercises she taught me.  She listened to me as I described how I convinced myself I was going to choke on my own tongue.  She listened to me when I told her about the time I felt a slight twinge in my abdomen after taking a sip of my dad’s wine.

“I spent an entire week thinking I had liver cancer, I said.

She smiled.

“Pretty potent stuff your dad’s drinking.”

And we laughed.

Yes.  I laughed at myself.  I laughed at myself for how silly I sounded and I laughed at myself for having such a vivid imagination and I laughed at myself for the sake of staying afloat.

Sometimes people close to me mention what a total hypochondriac I am and how it’s so funny that I’m so damn nuts.  During those moments, I feel a little hurt.  A little betrayed.  I wonder what motivates them to make jokes about my struggles.  Do I think about those incidents from time to time and get angry?  You bet I do.  And ya know what happens next?  The anger passes.  And I’m over it.  Again.

I know I’m not a perfect human being.  Never told anyone I was.

Sometimes I’m not the best at letting things slide.  Sometimes someone’s hurtful comments strike a nerve and I turn into the Incredible Hulk’s terrifying bitch of a sister.  I say hurtful things.  I yell.  I hurl insults that are intended to damage a person’s entire psychological makeup.

Yes.  I am capable of complete and utter nastiness.  But ya know what I’m also capable of doing?  Apologizing.

I’ve made numerous apologies in my life.  I’ve mustered the strength to say, “I’m so sorry.”  I’ve told family members and close friends, “I was wrong.”  I’ve sworn up and down, “I will try not to do that next time.”  I’ve explained, “What you said hurt me because” and closed with “but that isn’t your fault.”

Of course, it’s up to the other person to accept my apology.  It’s up to the other person to decide if I’m worth forgiving.  It’s up to the other person to relax and listen and make the next move.  If things go wrong from there…what else can I do?  Probably walk away, I think.  Be patient.  Acknowledge defeat.  Practice the breathing exercises various pros have taught me.  Forgive myself.  Let go.

Sometimes I really want someone to immediately see eye-to-eye with me.  Sometimes I not only want my actions to be forgiven and my apologies to be accepted…I also want to hear, “I understand.”  I don’t only want forgiveness – I want vindication.  I want to be assured that even though I said or did a shitty thing, my actions didn’t defy reason.

I’m not sure where this comes from.  I think that a lot of people may have this in common with me.  All the same, is it asking a lot?  Possibly too much?  Yes.  I think the correct answer, unfortunately, is “Yes.”  We’re all flawed humans and we all operate completely differently and we all have things we’re good at and things we’re bad at and holy shit it’s remarkable more of us don’t beat each other up more often.  And I’ve already said it – I’m not perfect.  But is the sin of wanting to be understood that much of…of a sin?  Well, fuck “sin” – is it a mistake?  Is it mean?  Is it selfish?  Is it completely insane to want to be able to express yourself, be forgiven, and be heard?  Actually heard?

Aside from being perhaps a little naïve, is it…is it really that bad?  Is it really that bad to want a little reassurance from time to time that I’m not a total monster?

I guess the answer doesn’t matter.  I guess all that matters is that I try to work on it.  Too.

Strange Bedfellows.

Last week, my parents discovered they had bed bugs.  In their bed.  Only their bed.  I wasn’t bitten up and my brother wasn’t bitten up; just Steve and Barbara.  They don’t know how it happened.  They’re both rather fastidious people.

On Monday morning my mom had someone spray the house with all-natural, yet highly allergenic whatnot in order to kill the little bastard bed bugs.  The night before the insurgence, my mom brought a gray suitcase into my room and dropped it on my sofa.

“Ya may wanna pick up the stuff piled next to your bed,” she said.  “They’re gonna be spraying your carpet.”

I took her suggestion.  The suitcase is 3/4 full.  Its contents?  A veritable cornucopia of Dorky.

I shall now list for you the “stuff piled next to my bed” that has now been transferred to a gray suitcase on top of my sofa.

1. The Godfather Trilogy DVD Collection. 

Fully remastered.  The bouquet Johnny Fontaine sends to Don Corleone is so damn COLORFUL.

2. A Bag of Crackers

My mom brought this to me the night I came home from work after spending nearly two hours in the nurse’s office battling dehydration and low blood sugar.  Mom had also brought me soup, but I kept the crackers in case I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like a twitchy, malnourished mess.  Rather, still feeling like a twitchy, malnourished mess.

3. A Burned DVD copy of A Streetcar Named Desire

No one, but NO ONE, is sexier than Marlon Brando in his skin tight t-shirt.  I fell asleep to this movie every night for a good six months.

4. The Complete Works of Arthur Rimbaud

It has the English translations and the original French.  I memorized “Sensation.”  I was determined to memorize it in French, too.  I still haven’t done that.  I bought the book last October.  Damn.

5. An Illustrated Copy of The Fan Man by William Kotzwinkle

Some people keep The Bible by their beds.  And so do I.

6. A Green Journal with a Butterfly on the Cover That I Bought at Logos Bookstore in Santa Cruz, CA

Page One:

2-20-11

In Santa Cruz for the weekend.  This paper is incredible.  I can’t tell if the guy next to me is cute. Ya know, this bar isn’t ideal for writing.  Well, the vibe is, but the position I’m in is slightly uncomfortable.  I saw an absolutely beautiful guy downtown.  He was playing guitar and singing his heart out.  He looked and sounded so gorgeous. 

7. The Favorite Game by Leonard Cohen

Picked this up last November.  I found it on eBay.  The last time I picked it up was one day in December when I was sitting in the waiting room of an Urgent Care in Westlake Village waiting to talk to a doctor about a bizarre ailment I was convinced was killing me.  It didn’t kill me, and I never finished this book.

8. Planet News by Allen Ginsberg

I bought this book of poetry in San Francisco.  I was there last February for five or six days.  I spent my first day there walking around North Beach.  After having a few beers at Cafe Vesuvio I wandered over to The Beat Museum to ask if they had copies of the poems I submitted to them for a poetry contest they held back in 2007.  They didn’t have copies, but the guy behind the counter searched the internet archives for a good twenty minutes trying to help me out.  I felt kinda guilty for making him look, so I bought something.

9. A Black, Ringed Journal My Parents Bought for Me at Citylights Books When I Was 19

The opening lines of “HOWL” are printed on the front cover.

Page One:

3-06-06

When I get angry I feel my shoulder blade muscles tense up and form a knot that hurts for days.

I can feel it pinching back there whenever I try to write

or type

or just fucking hold a book.

I once tried to work out the knot by wearing Icy-Hot bandages at night

But they just soothed the area around the hubbub of angst.*

I’d peel the bandage off in the morning and my skin would

smell like chemicals.

God knows what kind of cancer it’ll give me.

Maybe the doctors will prescribe me some pot.

Then I could sell it on the streets and use the money to hire a masseuse. 

(*I feel like kicking my own ass for “hubbub of angst.”)

10. Light Blue Journal I Bought from Paper Source in Santa Cruz, CA

I’m not sharing Page One.  I can’t.  I will, however, reveal that it was written on Friday, October 16, 2009 at 12:54pm.

It was interesting to read Page One of this cute little unfinished journal, because it’s my retelling of the beginning of what turned out to be a very frustrating, rather sad story.  It was all so seemingly innocent at the time, but now that I’m looking at these scribbled words written by the 22-year-old version of myself, it’s obvious that this very frustrating period of my life left a rather sad impression on my ability to trust people.  Perfectly sweet people.

Perfectly sweet male people.

That Fucker.

11. A “One Line A Day: Five Year Memory” Journal from Barnes and Noble

I am so bad at keeping up with this thing.  There is literally just enough space to write one sentence per day.  I thought it seemed interesting.  I haven’t written any memories in it since January 9, 2012.  I wrote, “First unemployed Monday.”  That was a fun day, actually.  Mom and I went to the zoo.

12.  A Tennessee Williams Collection

Includes Summer and Smoke, Orpheus Descending, Suddenly Last Summer, and Period of Adjustment.  It also includes a personal essay by Tennessee that spoke to me so profoundly the first time I read it that I literally threw the book across the room.

So much for the past and present.  The future is called “perhaps,” which is the only possible thing to call the future.  And the important thing is not to allow that to scare you.

13. Perfection by Julie Metz

A memoir I had to read for my writing group.  I was intrigued for the first few chapters, but the whole thing became so damn indulgent after a certain point that by the end I found the narrator annoying and stupid.  I must take great care to never become an annoying, stupid narrator.

14. Another Tennessee Williams Collection

This one includes Battle of Angels, The Glass Menagerie, and A Streetcar Named Desire.  I read this one on a flight from JFK to LAX.  Despite having watched A Streetcar Named Desire a dozen fucking times, I still teared up while I was reading it.  Tennessee may be damn easy to lampoon, but he’s also really fucking hard to beat.

15. The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 by Richard Brautigan

There are sex scenes in books that make you want to have sex, but not often do you come across sex scenes in books that make you want to cry.  Cry for what?  I don’t know.  Nostalgia?  Longing?  Loneliness?  Wishing and hoping that somewhere out there someone remembers you and your body just like Richard Brautigan saw this girl and her body…

It’s a hard decision whether to start at the top or the bottom of a girl.  With Vida I just didn’t know where to begin.  It was really a problem.

After she reached up awkwardly and put my face in a small container which was her hands and kissed me quietly again and again, I had to start somewhere.

She stared up at me all the time, her eyes never leaving me as if they were an airfield.

I changed the container and her face became a flower in my hands.  I slowly let my hands drift down her face while I kissed her and then further down her neck to her shoulders.

I could see the future being moved in her mind while I arrived at the boundaries of her bosom.  Her breasts were so large, so perfectly formed under her sweater that my stomach was standing on a step-ladder when I touched them for the first time.

Her eyes never left me and I could see in her eyes the act of my touching her breasts.  It was like brief blue lightning.

I was almost hesitant in a librarian sort of way.

“I promise,” she said, reaching up and awkwardly pressing my hands harder against her breasts.  She of course had no idea what that did to me.  The step-ladder started swirling.

She kissed me again, but this time with her tongue.  Her tongue slid past my tongue like a piece of hot glass.

16. A Light Blue Guitar Pick from Amoeba Music in Berkely, CA.

I’ve now been to all three Amoebas.  The one in Hollywood is The Best.

17. Jason Webley’s Only Just Beginning

This is his favorite album of his.  This is also my favorite album of his.  It’s just his best album of his.  “Music That Puts Everything Together” brings me to my knees.  Oh Jesus, and “Map.”  And “Icarus.”  And “With.”  And “Coda.”

Of course they’re all better live.  I’m damn lucky that I know that firsthand.  Jason Webley live is more life affirming than…anything, really.  Except maybe Leonard Cohen live.  Speaking of which…

18. Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen

This is a Hell of a novel.  There is a scene where two men — The Narrator and his friend, F. — are driving at top speed in F.’s car down a dark highway.  F. is pleasuring himself while he drives.

F., put it back.  Enough is enough.

Never put it back when it gets like this.

My God, I’ve never seen you so big!  What’s going on in your mind?  What are you thinking of?  Please teach me how to do it.  Can I hold it?

No!  This is between me and God.

Who but Leonard Fucking Cohen would come up with “This is between me and God”?

I had Jason Webley sign my copy.  I knew he was a Leonard Cohen fan and I wanted to impress him with my dorkiness.  Because, ya know, traveling to Seattle to catch his 11-11-11 show wasn’t dorky enough.

Stephanie

I’m glad I remember your name.

And I’m glad that you came so far for my concert.

And I’m glad that you like this book.

♥ jason

11-11-11

approximately

18. And the Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave

Nick, I love you with all my heart and soul, but this novel is no Beautiful Losers.

19. Scattered Poems by Jack Kerouac

Gotta love a poem called “Pull My Daisy.”

20. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita, light of my life.  Fire of my loins.

‘Nuff said.

21. A DVD Copy of the Remake of Alfie Starring Jude Law

I bought this from the Blockbuster in Westlake right before the damn thing closed down for good.  Ya know what?  This is a terrible movie.  It is.  But damn, I really get a kick out of it.  It’s so atrocious it’s funny and Jude Law is just POSING the whole Goddamn time, which is all at once hilarious and fucking hot.  He’s so hot I wanna punch him in the face.

22. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz

An award-winning play my mom read earlier this year that she insisted I read as well.  Still haven’t gotten around to doing that.

23. Writing the Memoir: from Truth to Art by Judith Barrington

I have a lot to say about this book, but right now I am completely distracted by the fact that the author’s last name is Barrington.  I purchased this book before that last name became such a significant part of my life.  Co-workers of mine who are reading this, I’m sorry.

24. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Patti Smith is really into this book.  I found a copy of it on my mom’s bookshelf on a rainy day last November.  I read the first page, and then I decided to go buy a ukulele.

I attempted to make a video for you of me playing the ukulele, but my mom interrupted when she came in to ask me if I wanted anything from Lassen’s.

25. A Blue and Black Leather-bound Journal Given to Me by My High School Journalism Teacher

Page One is humiliating.

Here’s something from Page 12:

12:00am August 10, 2005 Wednesday

I bought a CD today.  I’m listening to it now.  It feels great.  Not as great as kissing.  Music makes me think of kissing — probably because I sometimes kiss to music.

26. A DVD Copy of The Graduate

Two nights before I moved back to my parents’s house after living in Santa Cruz for five years, I downloaded this movie and bought a bottle of Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon.  At this point, I had already moved 99% of my furniture out of my apartment.  All I had was my twin-sized mattress, which was, at that point, pathetically sitting on the floor of my bedroom.  I sat on my pathetic mattress, drank my pathetic cheap wine, and watched Benjamin Braddock try his best not to be pathetic.  I cried a lot.

27. A DVD Copy of The Road to God Knows Where

Behind the scenes of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds touring the United States after Tender Prey was released.  They’re all so young and beautiful.  I fall asleep to this one a lot.  Nick is such a jerk to journalists, but not in a Bob Dylan in Don’t Look Back kind of way.  All the journalists that appear in this movie are such idiots that it really isn’t Nick’s fault that he comes off as so smart and so snide.  The people interviewing him really have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about.

28.  A DVD Copy of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

I will defend this movie until the end of time.  If, someday, I find myself with some spare time and some spare money (by the way, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!), I plan on writing an in-depth analysis of all four (or, by then, 15) Pirates films.  No one will publish it and no one will read it, so I’ll probably just send the manusctipt to Johnny Depp and wait for his reaction.  Maybe I’ll get to become one of his various best friends and I’ll start getting invitations to parties at Keith Richards’s house.

29. A DVD Copy of The Ruling Class

Just watch it.

30. The Complete Fawlty Towers

This show never got boring or bad because the British know when it’s time for a television show to end.  There are only 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers, but they are all perfect.

31. A DVD Copy of Blue Velvet

I watched this not too long ago.  I had a 103 degree fever and I was sitting on the couch in my empty house shivering and sniffling and coughing.

A video is worth 1,000 words:

32. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live DVD: God Is in the House

It’s pretty good, but Warren Ellis had joined the band by this point, and it’s upsetting to watch Nick try to divvy up his affection between Warren and Blixa.  And Blixa just looks BORED out of his mind, even during “The Carny.”  It saddens me.

33. A DVD Copy of The Darjeeling Limited

I can’t listen to people criticize Wes Andseron.  It’s a sin.

34. A DVD Copy of If….

My Malcolm McDowell obsession was one of the best things to ever happen to me.  He made a lot of crap movies, but it doesn’t matter, because he also made If….

This movie should be shown to everyone everywhere.  Politicians should watch and be warned.

35.  The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

I read two chapters of this self-help book in May right before the training period for my new job began.  I had been diagnosing myself with various terminal illnesses every day for two weeks and I was losing my Goddamn mind.  I had been unemployed since January and I was at my absolute wit’s end.  Two chapters of this thing had me back to normal.  (As in, I was suddenly cured of my lung cancer, throat cancer, liver cancer, brain cancer, and Parkinson’s Disease.)

36. A DVD Copy of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live at Brixton Academy, London Thursday, November 11 2004

As long as I can shut my bedroom door, sit down by myself and watch this shit, then I can never really lose sight of the fact that my life is rather good.  And that I’m a bad motherfucker.

So, yeah.  I’m thinkin’ I’ll just put all this stuff back where I found it — piled up next to my bed.

 

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1956 Called. Apparently It Doesn’t Want Petty Misogyny Back.

Holy Mother of All That Is Holy.

Yes, “Mother.”  Life-giver.  Caretaker.  Diaper-changer.  Housekeeper.  Chef.  Chauffeur.  Goddess Supreme who deserves nothing less than complete and utter reverence.

This article, if you can even call it that, was brought to my attention this afternoon by a good friend of mine via facebook.  It’s titled “Things women must learn from men.”  (That’s right.  It doesn’t even have proper capitalization, and yet there it is, in writing, for all the internet to see.)  This friend of mine deemed it, “one of many reasons why no one likes Yahoo!”  I opened up the link expecting to see some asinine dissertation on lipstick shades and sexting, but, instead, I saw something a couple million times more terrifying.

The piece begins:

Things women must learn from men

Beyond doubt, women are the finest creations of the Almighty. They posses some qualities that are even beyond the comprehension of men. However, if they adopt some of the qualities of men too, they will undeniably be the better sex.

From the beginning, this article (feature, commentary, whatever) is a complete waste of time.  First of all, I’ve had enough of The Almighty being used as a tool to minimize womankind.  It’s bad enough that He keeps coming up in the political discussions of the [mostly male] sociopaths who run this country, but does He also have to make appearances in Yahoo! puff pieces?  BAD Yahoo! puff-pieces?

“They possess some qualities that are even beyond the comprehension of men.”  This is just boring.  If I wanted to be entertained by this kind of shit, I’d pour myself a drink, put on Down with Love, and call it a day.  News Flash: there is no “better sex.”  There are amazing men and amazing women, as well as shitty men and shitty women.  And please, let’s not minimize gender inequality and bring it down to the level of Boys vs. Girls like it’s Coke vs. Pepsi.  Please?

Oh, but you’re going to, aren’t you?  You just are.  You so are.

There is no foreseeable end to the battle of the sexes. So it would be wise to come to terms with the fact that both sexes have some qualities that are unique to each of them. Men are creatures of physical strength, chivalry and pride whereas women are creatures of beauty, grace and elegance. However, there are some things that are universal to all men, but went somewhere missing in the case of women. Let’s take a look at some of those things.

Most things just aren’t universal.  That’s not my UC Santa Cruz liberal education talking — it’s just a fact. “‎Men are creatures of physical strength, chivalry and pride whereas women are creatures of beauty, grace and elegance.” I’m gonna hafta stop ya right there…I can accept the fact that my brothers can lift more weight than I can, but I can belch like I have balls.  And what about all those [awesomely sexy] skinny men out there who just plain cannot gain muscle?  Also, who the Hell is to say that men cannot be elegant?  Have ya seen Fred Astaire dance?  Have ya seen David Bowie sing “Ziggy Stardust” in a kimono?  Have ya seen Cary Grant do ANYTHING?

Yeah.  What NOW, Yahoo?

But oh, we’re not even at the rules yet.

1. Dialling down Emotions

Women have a penchant for being dramatic. It is understandable that women are sensitive beings, but having emotional outbreaks over the most trivial things is something that can be avoided for the better interest of all.

All right.  I will be the first to admit that I cried two nights ago when I heard the opening bars of a Tom Waits song come on my iTunes shuffle.  It was one of those moments where I wasn’t sure why I was crying.  I was crying because I was tired.  I was also crying because I was happy.  I was also crying because the moment was perfect.  I was sitting in my room alone typing a list of all my film and music heroes, and then Tom Waits started singing to me, and all was right with the world.  Often times, when punched in the face by a beautiful piece of art, I will let the tears roll free.  (And yes, if it were a certain week of the month, I probably would have cried more.  It’s SCIENCE, assholes.  EVOLUTION. VITAL TO THE SURVIVAL OF HUMANKIND.  That being said, let’s stop minimizing a woman’s period.  My last period made me so sick I ended up in the health center at work unable to walk and unable to drive home.  But, then again, I’m just an emotional woman.  I shoulda stuck it out and crashed my car.  Like a man.)

And let me be even more frank.  Men are emotional creatures, too.  It is completely unfair that males are taught from a very young age that is it not acceptable for them to cry (get nervous, get scared, get excited, etc.).  Who came up with that rule?  And does it really make things easier for everyone?  To just walk around like volcanoes ready to erupt at any moment?  Instead of labeling any singular display of emotion as “dramatic,” lets just accept that humans are meant to have emotions…shall we?  Maybe?

Also, when my high school boyfriend agreed to watch Moulin Rouge! with me and ended up loving it, I fell so damn in love with him.  I also loved it every time he showed up at my house in the morning with an iced Americano.  Ya know why?  Because it’s awesome when men are sensitive AND when they like taking care of a woman.  In fact it’s hot.  So, what does that teach you?  Fuck you, Yahoo!

2. Be More Realistic

Often, women seem to live by a make-believe perspective that clouds the reality from them. While it is perfectly appropriate to be positive, it is not apt to blatantly ignore your flaws and faults. Embracing faults and living with them is something women can learn from men.

Okay.  So women do things like watch wedding shows and dream about their ideal centerpieces.  They also dream about meeting ideal partners who treat them with respect.  Guilty as charged.

“Embracing faults and living with them is something women can learn from.”  Right, uh, because men never spend hours at the gym showing off their hard earned muscles?  Because there hasn’t been an increase in men of all sexual orientations who do things like have their nails manicured?

AND FUCK YOU, PLENTY OF MEN HAVE RIDICULOUS EXPECTATIONS OF WOMEN!

Think of all the scum bags out there who only date women who have breasts implants.  Think of all the scum bags out there who only date women who are smaller than a size 8.  Think of all the scum bags out there who only like blondes, or only like redheads.  Think of all the scum bags who can’t stand the sight of a woman without makeup. Think of all the scum bags out there who assume that every woman is insane (and rich!) enough to regularly allow a total stranger to cover their vulvas with hot wax in the name of eradicating unwanted, all natural pubic hair.

I could go on?  And I am NOT anti-man.  I’m anti-scum bag.  And this article.

I LOVE MEN.  I love men SO MUCH that I can’t stand the idea of them being portrayed as emotionless, hard-hearted assholes.

3. Be Daring

Life is something that can only be thoroughly enjoyed by taking risks.  Women often hold back on some of the most crucial junctures of life when they should have just taken the leap. Mankind has made numerous advances just because of man’s affinity towards risk.

I think this is a thinly veiled plea for anal.  Yeah.  Definitely.

4. Be Less Intense

Women are always picky on the details even up to the point of obsession. They seem to over-analyze and complicate some of the simplest things in life. While attention to detail is a good quality, women should learn not to push the limits of the same.

“Women are always picky on the details even up to the point of obsession.”  I wore a sleeveless dress to a party a few weekends ago and I didn’t bother shaving my armpits.  No one noticed.

Again, what is this “always” bullshit?  This suggests that men are “never” picky about details, which is completely unfair.  Generally speaking (see what I did there?), men are not completely mindless wastes of space who sit on couches not giving a shit about absolutely anything that transpires in their lives.  That is the kind of man you see in commercials who sits idly watching his pragmatic wife clean the floor with Swiffer wipes.  That man isn’t real, ok?  And if he is, he’s single.  And probably high.

Finally, I’ve dated many a man who had more than a touch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  “I can’t hang out with you for the next few weeks.  I have a midterm.”  “Don’t touch that door handle!  Wash your hands!”

See?

5. Driving

No offence to the ladies but they just never seem to get the hang of driving a car. They even have a hard time parking the car. So this is one of the practical traits that women can learn from men.

I am not even going to dignify this with my opinion.  I am not going to tell the story of the time when my father decided to teach me to drive a stick shift before I had even been behind the wheel of an automatic and he ended up hitting his head against the windshield because he neglected to fasten his seat belt before DRAMATICALLY yelling at me to slam on the breaks.  I am not going to bother saying that both of my brothers have had minor fender benders, while I have never EVER had a minor fender bender.    I will say, though, that I noticed you spelled “offense” as “offence.”  This tells me you’re probably English.  I know that because I pay attention to detail.  Just like Sherlock Holmes…who, I’m rather sure, had a penis.

6. Forgive All

Men don’t hold grudges; they seem to sort even the biggest fights over beer. Women can surely learn a thing or two from the brotherly bond of men.

The brotherly bond of men?  You mean when you’re paid to beat the shit out of each other in stadiums?  Or when you have one too many beers and end up punching each other in the face and getting thrown out of bars?  Do the men who run the world start hideously destructive wars with each other because they can’t figure out when and where to meet up for a couple pints of Guinness?

To reference my own life again, plenty of males have held grudges against me.  Many of my ex-boyfriends held grudges because I broke up with them.  Ya know why?  They didn’t like being broken up with.  It hurt their pride.  It hurt their feelings.  It made them sad and angry, because these men were (and still are…) human-beings with emotions.  Oh, I was plenty sad and confused as well, don’t get me wrong, and I’ve had more than one Closure Conversation with an ex-boyfriend that led to BOTH of us getting a little bit weepy.

And yeah, men have de-friended me on facebook over trivial fucking grudges.  We all do dumb shit.  ALL of us.

7. Technology Literate

Women and technology don’t go well. While men humbly embrace their geeky side, women like to keep a reasonable distance from it. It wouldn’t hurt for women to learn a thing or two more about their gadgets.

I know ALL THERE IS TO KNOW about my “gadget”. It’s got six different speeds.

Do you have six different speeds?

8. Sense of Humour

Men can be light-hearted about almost anything while women are not that receptive to all kinds of humour. Women can certainly enjoy themselves more by increasing their range of humour.

I don’t know where this is coming from.  Have you not seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  When asked why she is married to Roger Rabbit, Jessica — the ultimate example of realistic expectations, right? — simply states, “He makes me laugh.”  Women LOVE to laugh.  It’s all we do when we get together.  Ever wonder why the words “giggling” and “girls” often appear right next to each other?  It’s because girls often DO spend lots of time giggling.  It’s fun.  Why do you think we love having epic sleepovers so much?  We laugh our asses off.

My first love was Adam Sandler.  I find Jack Black irresistibly sexy.  Drew Barrymore married Tom Green, for fuck’s sake.  And ya know what?  I know plenty of men who loved Ted and hate Woody Allen movies.  How’s THAT for not having a “range of humour”?

The article just kinda ends.  Just kinda sits there.  Like a fucking turd.  There’s no conclusion, or final paragraph of cookie-cutter wisdom that synthesizes all these ideas and leaves the female reader with the boost she needs to transform herself into the perfect woman with the help of these eight easy tips.  Then again, judging by the intelligence displayed within this list, I’m sure that whomever wrote this was absolutely exhausted by the time he or she finished typing and hit “submit.”

I’m exhausted, too.  I’m done with the commercially accepted assumption that Women’s Rights are synonymous with splitting a dinner bill.  I’m exhausted by the fact that there are people out there who read this Yahoo! piece of shit and took it seriously.  I’m exhausted by the idea that young girls are taught that “feminist” is a dirty word.  I’m exhausted by generalities, vagaries, and steadfast expectations.

So exhausted, I am now going to watch The Sopranos with my younger brother and one of my very best girlfriends.  We are going to stuff our faces with guacamole and watch people manipulate and shoot each other.  We are going to laugh at Pauly and cringe at Christopher.  If something offends my brother, I am not going to make fun of him.

Also, I’m gonna brush my teeth for the first time today (as it’s now 4pm and I have company), and I think I should also put on a bra so my breasts don’t get all saggy and give men the wrong idea that breasts are body parts that are just as subject to aging and gravity as their balls are.

Plus, it’ll feel good to get out of this room.  I’ve just been writing here in my bed all day.  On my laptop.  That I don’t know how to operate, apparently.

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Clean Up Your Act. Or, Ya Know. At Least Make It Funny.

Why is everyone so Goddamn eager to stick up for Daniel Tosh?  What contribution has he really made to comedy?  I know he has a show that I’ve never watched.  I know he does stand-up that I’ve never seen or heard.  I know that people know his name.  What has he really contributed, though?  As in, who the hell is he, really?

Like I said, I’ve never ever watched his show or his stand-up acts, but I just want to point out that most people I’ve spoken to about Tosh’s humor seem to think that the man is just not that funny.  I’m sure there are plenty of perfectly nice people out there that put on Tosh.0 and laugh their asses off, but I’ve never met any of those people — at least not as far as I know.  (If any friends of mine out there are reading this and thinking, “Shit, I LOVE that show.  Now Steff’s gonna hate me!” please calm down.  Chances are, I like YOU more than I DISlike this Tosh asshole.  Once more, I don’t even watch the damn show.  That’s how much I care about him.)  That aside, I think it’s safe to say that the man is not going to be remembered as an important comedian of our time.  In fact, I’d bet every cent I have that the man only has a few more years before he’s headlining at the Chumash Casino.

Anyway, this guy made a rape joke.  In fact, it wasn’t even a joke.  According to the girl who actually experienced this whole thing, Tosh was up on stage making awkward comments about how “rape jokes are always funny.”  So, you see, he wasn’t even making rape jokes — he was just making weird statements about rape jokes.  He said, “rape jokes are always funny,” and this girl — who, at the end of the day, is a damn brave girl — disagreed with him, and said, “Rape jokes are never funny.”

Now, I’m not gonna bother going into the sexual politics of what happened here.  I’m going to keep it very simple.  Ready?

I wouldn’t really call that “heckling.”  She didn’t say, “YOU are not funny, you asshole.”  She just disagreed with his statement.  Because that’s what the line was — it was a STATEMENT.  It wasn’t even a damn JOKE.  He wasn’t up there making JOKES.

You see the point I’m trying to make?

Now, I have tried to stay out of Tosh-related conversations since this whole thing went down.  I’m at a brand new job, and I’m trying to be nice to everybody and I don’t want to make anyone too uncomfortable by babbling about all the steadfast convictions I have about every damn thing.  Remaining quiet during Tosh-related conversations, however, has proved rather challenging.  It seems that whenever someone starts a conversation with, “Have you heard about the Daniel Tosh thing?” they always end up mocking the girl who spoke up.  I’ve also heard a lot of, “Well, if you’re gonna go watch a comedian, you have to be prepared to hear something offensive.”

This is true.  This is a true, true statement.  I would simply like to point out, though, that I would be behind this idea 100% if Tosh were actually up there performing material he’d worked on.  He wasn’t really doing that, though — he was just saying dumb shit.

There’s a difference between George Carlin and Daniel Tosh.  There’s a difference between Chris Rock and Daniel Tosh.  There’s a difference between Kevin Hart and Daniel Tosh.  There’s a difference between Louis C.K. and Daniel Tosh.  Ellen Degeneres.  Sarah Silverman.  Robin fucking Williams.  Motherfuckin’ M’ONIQUE.  What’s the difference?  The difference is simple.  The people I just listed are amazing comedians who challenge their audience members to look at — and laugh at — the ugly, messed up truths of being human.  If any of these comedians decided to do an entire routine that revolved around the idea that “rape jokes are always funny,” it would probably piss off and embarrass a lot of people, but it would also make them THINK.  That is one of the most amazing things about comedy — it makes you laugh while you recoil in horror at how fucked up the world is, and that YOU are very much a part of this twisted place.

This is why the argument of “he was making a joke” is invalid.  He wasn’t making a joke, he was just saying shocking shit to get a reaction from people.  Yes, there is a difference.

A few days ago I was watching an episode of 30 Rock.  Popular damn show.  Prior to watching it the other day, I had only ever seen one entire episode from start to finish.  It isn’t the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s damn smart and I think Tina Fey deserves all the credit she gets.

Ya know what the episode I watched the other day contained?  A rape joke.  I don’t know the characters’s names so bear with me while I try to explain.  Jane Krakowski’s character was half-assedly trying to seduce the weird guy from Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  The guy got scared and ran away, and Jane Krakowski called after him, “IT ISN’T RAPE IF NEITHER ONE OF US REALLY WANT IT!”

I laughed.  I thought it was a funny line.  Oh, believe me, I think it’s terrible when people say with strong conviction, “It isn’t rape if the girl was wearing a tank top” or “It isn’t rape if the girl was drunk” or “It isn’t rape if it was a date.”  Trust me, that is some fucked up repugnant shit.  However, that’s exactly the kind of mentality this joke was invoking and, therefore, dissecting.  It was funny because bullshit statements like that are very true to life.  ALSO, the line in question was said by a WOMAN.  The shock factor was there not only because someone said “rape,” but also because the person saying it was a woman.  So there it all is — your shock value, your social commentary, and your punchline.  It was an actual rape joke that was funny.  Are there people out there who would have heard that line and thought, “Turn off this filth”?  Yes.  Absolutely.  And they have the right to turn off the TV.  Is Tina Fey as bad as Daniel Tosh?  No.  Why?  Because she had the decency to write some actual material.  Because she’s a comedian, not a bullshitter.

Are rape jokes always funny as long as women deliver them?  I don’t know.  I’m not really trying to argue that they are “always” or “never” funny.  I’m simply pointing out there difference between what Tosh actually said versus an actual “rape joke.”  Anyone can stand up on a stage and talk for an hour and call themselves a comedian, but not everyone can be a comedian just because they never shut up.

During my sophomore year of college I took a stand up comedy class.  (I also took my first feminist studies class that year.  Ya know what the first thing my professor said was?  “This class is not about hating men.  I love men.”  Chew on that, assholes.)  My stand-up professor was a foul-mouthed queen from San Francisco named Doug.  He let us tell jokes about everything and anything.  People told jokes about sex and drugs and violence.  People told jokes about race and religion.  Really, there was nothing we weren’t allowed to discuss.  Doug’s one rule?  No rape jokes.  Some people in the class thought this was a stupid rule.  In fact, a lot of students started making jokes about how they weren’t allowed to make rape jokes.  None of the jokes were ever all that funny, really, and they really annoyed Doug.  One day, a kid did a routine about a time he peed up his grandma’s nose.  He ended his routine with some kind of dumb line like, “No rape jokes, you guys.”  Doug got on the microphone afterward and said, “I just let you come up here and talk about peeing on your grandmother.  I don’t think I need to be persecuted for outlawing jokes about  rape.”

Doug didn’t have a bad point, really.  There’s an entire world of material out there — why should audience members be expected to brace themselves for an evening of discomfort?  If a comedian can only come up with the line, “Rape jokes are always funny,” I think HE should be prepared for someone to disagree, right?  And then maybe deal with it in a professional, witty manner?

I guess that’s what a real comedian would do, anyway.  At least one with staying power.

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Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Peter O’Toole retired from acting today.  I guess it’s not that sad, really.  I mean, he’s 79 years old.  Ya know.  How much longer could he have kept it up?  Probably not much longer, really.  Plus, it’s not like he was getting meaty roles anymore.  Years and years of getting plastered have left Peter O’Toole looking a little bit more frail than the average 70-something you’d run into in this day and age.  Still, if given the chance, he could probably deliver one more extraordinary performance.  We’ll never know.

What angers me is that all the articles I’ve read today concerning Peter O’Toole’s retirement are almost entirely focused on how he never won an Oscar.  A piece published for the San Francisco Chronicle even went so far as to refer to his eight Oscar nominations as “eight losses.”

Seriously, is the gold eunuch statue that damn important?  This man was nominated eight times.  It’s completely ludicrous that he never won, but aren’t eight nominations good enough proof that the man’s a genius?  He was wasted when he filmed Lawrence of Arabia and Becket, and yet he still earned nominations. That takes some significant talent.  Come on.  Why dramatize the lack of a stupid fucking Oscar?

Also, why not go ahead and tell the truth?  Peter O’Toole never won the stupid Oscar because he’s a drunken Irishman who has never made any apologies for his behavior.  If you’re gonna be a troublemaker in Hollywood, the only way you can still win awards is if you devote yourself to charitable causes.  That’s the only way you can get into the club and still continue to do whatever you want.  Or, ya know, you have to make sure you only make movies where you get to play disabled.  Or gay.

Peter O’Toole didn’t do any of that.  He was just an actor.  A classically trained actor with a perfect voice who played kings and earls and princes with unrivaled finesse.

Worst of all is that not enough people know his name.  Even I only fell in love with him in December of 2010 when I watched What’s New, Pussycat? for the first time, and I don’t consider myself an oblivious idiot when it comes to movies, thank you very much.  Why is it that so many people have asked “Who’s that?” when I’ve mentioned Peter O’Toole, and yet everyone and their mother seems to have heard of Laurence Olivier?  I don’t mean to insult good ol’ Larry, but to say that his career is more relevant that Peter O’Toole’s is just not correct.  Then again, Larry won an Oscar for Hamlet, so what do I know?

I dread the day when all the thespians die.  The Marlon Brando idolaters will be next to go.  Once we lose Meryl, who will we have?  Sure, there are plenty of talented people out there, but where are the juggernauts?  I just don’t see any.

Well, old friend, congratulations on your retirement.  You’ve made me laugh, and you’ve made me cry.  You’ve filled me with inspiration, and you’ve made me feel like a completely untalented waste.  Kick up your feet, pour yourself a Guinness, and have a good, long hyena laugh.  You outlived ’em all, you crazy son of a bitch.

 

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