Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Christmas Story in three parts. Part 3: I hate humanity

Let's start with this e-mail, shall we?

I got it 11 days after I tried to purchase my Fung Wah bus ticket online, eight days after I got yelled at by the Fung Wah woman I called (Me: "Hi, I'm supposed to leave Saturday and my debit card record still says the ticket is pending."
Angry Fung Wah lady: "You come here, buy ticket."
Me: "Well, I already bought one, so I'd like to just try to figure out if that one will come through."
AFWL: "That's what I say, you come to office, buy you a ticket at window!")

And best of all, the e-mail came three days after I completed my trip. I'm still not sure what they want me to do though.

For my return trip to New York, Fung Wah the dance remix was exponentially more horrible than the ride up. It included features such as a seat next to the lavatory, an extra two hours stuck in traffic and a seatmate who wouldn't stop shouting into his cellphone. We all learned a lot about him, including but not limited to what he got for Christmas (a $1,000 Best Buy gift card, a sweater that he didn't really like but it was expensive, so he's keeping it, and a gift card to "Bloomies" among others.), what his plans were later that night (movie with Rachel. "That one with the woman, what's her name....she might be English"), and some tale of woe involving some street urchin his aunt took in for the holidays. ("By the time he opened up his third or fourth $500 present, he had to leave the room he was so touched. It meant a lot for me to remember not everyone is used to that.")

We were also privy to a fight with his sister when she tried to change plans. See, he only gets three weeks of vacation a year, which is not a lot (Editor's note: Screw you, pal. I got one day off for Christmas and had my pay docked.) There was shouting and name-calling and finally a resolution. But there were no winners, especially not the rest of us, who had to hear the story three more times as he called different people to bask in his righteous anger. ("And then I said, Laura, that's not a lot, I work extremely hard and in my downtime I try to pack in as much as I can...I know right? finally she saw she was being unreasonable.")

There's $10 that says she just got sick of his whiney, nasally voice and if that’s the case, Laura, you had a Fung Wah full of angry people on your side.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

If an assistant is at work and there’s no one to assist, does she make a sound?


It’s 2:00 and I’ve not made a peep. There was an e-mail for me earlier today, so I got to stick a Post-It on my computer that says “Nanette bus. cards” and then promptly forget what it means. (For a while I had one I wrote that just said “Anna?” and I eventually threw it away because it was frustrating me to not know A. who Anna was and B. what she wanted from me. Nobody named Anna has come looking for me though, so I think this has an important lesson: You can get out of doing things by avoiding them. P.S. Boss, I’m just kidding.)

Here’s today's breakdown:

9:04 – arrive at work.

9:12 – call mom.

9:25 – find out that I got her a duvet cover instead of a shower curtain for Christmas. Huh.

9:36 – decline to speak to assorted visiting relatives.

10:10 – write “Nanette bus. cards” on a Post-It.

10:32-10:57 – write previous blog entry recapping Christmas.

11:20 – clean out purse. Find deodorant, two dollars.

11:44 - briefly learn about the life and times of Gerald Ford. Appreciate how he overcame being named Gerald. Wonder if I thought he was already dead.

11:50 – go to bank. Witness man cut in front of woman by removing the retractable barriers while she looped around the maze.

11:51 – consider saying something to him. End up rolling eyes commiseratively with woman.

12:44-1:10 – attempt to get into the American Girl doll store for my cousin’s birthday present. Admit defeat. Realize there are too many people on 5th Avenue/Midtown/planet Earth.

1:20 – buy Whoppers from cafeteria.

1:22 - wonder why sign said "malted milk balls."

1:26 – eat Whopper

1:29 - eat Whopper

1:34 - eat Whopper

1:38 - eat Whopper

Consider eating another Whopper. Blog instead.

Christmas Story Part 2: A very Hector Flores Christmas

Against all odds, the Fung Wah delivered me in one piece (albeit with a small bleeding spot on my scalp). Yes, I am a hero.

I go from solo traveler to someone enveloped in a family. Red shows up with her dad, and I’m told a story that I immediately know will change my life: the ballad of Hector Flores. It must’ve been like shepherds hearing about a babe in a manger.

Red (who works at an elementary school, by the way) was in a meeting about a first grader having trouble. The obligatory 100-year-old kindergarten teacher/town buttinski leans over the table and confides, “Well that’s no surprise, you know who his father is, don’t you? Hector Flores” in a tone meant to make everyone gasp “Not THE Hector Flores?”

Apparently he’s the town’s simpleton Lothario (my new favorite phrase) and has, as Red put it, been kind enough to contribute to the town’s elementary school population boom. All with academic trouble, none with the last name Flores. (Hector is a love ’em and leave ’em kind of guy. He doesn’t leave his mark.)

Hector popped up repeatedly through the weekend. He generously brought Red’s mom several gifts, leaving the sign of the H on the tags, not unlike Zorro.

Red’s an only child, and her parents took me in as one of their own. (In a bit of corporate humbuggery, I couldn’t get paid this week unless I was at my desk, even though the office is technically closed. There’s no work to do today, so I may post several times.)

Her mom made me a welcome basket with cookies, Cape Cod shell candy and other goodies. That was more than enough treats for me, but they also got me Christmas presents and filled a stocking. I was speechless.

I also got to meet their neighbors. Red was explaining that the mom is “a young 40,” and “gives us all hope about getting older.” But I still wasn’t prepared for my introduction to her being her standing on her couch, conducting with wooden spoons.

Red’s mom and dad are the 7 and 8 year old kids’ godparents, and they literally had to drive their SUV across the street with gifts because it was more than four people could carry. For the next hour, the kids opened presents while we drank wine and ate cheese and crackers. They were the perfect kids, totally grateful and excited about the gifts without being insanely wild. At one point, the daughter opened up a soft sweater and hugged it saying “It’s beautiful and just what I always wanted” before trailing off into a blissful sigh. It’s fun to have rent-a-kids for the holidays. You need someone in the house to sprinkle reindeer food, track the sleigh and be fully prepared to hop into bed early because your babysitter has threatened to call Santa.

In addition to drinking my body weight in mulled cider and lighting luminaries I also got the pleasure of meeting her mom’s old friend Bonnie, one of those people who—instead of just nodding politely while someone tells a story—confronts them with, “What do you mean? Why is that funny?” Good times, Bon. Glad you came out.

We watched “White Christmas,” from like the ’50s, which was pleasant enough, but the real fun came at the end, when star of the silver screen Rosemary Clooney decided to share the most passive aggressive memories about her costars. Among the gems:

“She was the dearest friend. We traded Christmas cards for years until my list got to be over 600 people. It was just too long. I still think of her fondly though.”
Red yells out from the back: “Did she just say she bumped someone from the Christmas card list?”

“We were supposed to perform for the king of Greece, but when Bing found out he went ‘Not me’ and hopped the fence to go golfing, leaving us all lip-synching.”

“I remember there was one line in the song that Bert loved, and he’d sing it really loudly. I’ll never forget that line, it was just so funny to hear him sing it so loud….anyway….” (goes on to another anecdote.) Red: “What was the line, Ro?”

I may have to be at work, not working, this week, but I’ve come back refreshed, stuffed from good food, sore from laughing and restocked with a year’s supply of lotion. And, as with my night with Hector Flores, I’ll always remember it fondly.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Christmas Story in three parts. Part 1: Putting the fun in Fung Wah

I took the Fung Wah, aka the Chinatown bus, to Massa chusetts for a proper New England Christmas with my friend who lent me her family for the holidays. Luckily they were worth it, because the Fung Wah tested my tenacity. Any bus that will take you to Boston for $15 cuts corners somewhere, and in the case of the Fung Wah, that comes at the expense of English-speaking bus drivers, overhead bins with doors and the requiste pointing-out-of-the-exits routine. (There was no announcement at any point before departure, they simply took off when the bus was full. How refreshing that they treated us like adults who can figure out the obvious, I thought, until I realized all the emergency signs were in Chinese.)

On the plus side, they are liberal with their passenger lists, so although I had tickets for the 10 a.m. bus, they encouraged me to hop on the "9:15." It wasn't until I got to Boston that we discovered that there was no 9:15. How delightfully horror movie! Also, there was a small, pale little girl running up and down the asiles who looked like a little girl who died 30 years ago that day. Wonder what that was about.

Before the bus even leaves, the woman in the row next to me starts going to town on some yogurt. My first thought was "Oh, lovely! That's perfect bus food. Quiet and unsmelly." That was before I looked over to see her licking the spoon. The lid. The inside of the container. Like she was Alanis Morissette in the back row of the theater. This exercise was repeated twice more.

Because you only seem to hear about the Fung Wah in conjunction with phrases like "drove off the overpass" or "flipped three times" or see it with photos of dazed Chinese senior citizens wandering the highway, jokes flew about me wearing a precatutionary Special Olympics helmet. At one point we crossed a bridge in total fog, zero visibility, and I figured I should help out the beat reporter who draws the assignment and just go ahead and write the accident story lede and pin it to myself.

Red calls with about a half hour left in the trip. "Are you surviving? Use your helmet yet?" she asked, and for her touble got me screaming "Christ! Ouch! The fuck?" as at that exact moment a binder fell directly on my head from the overhead bin. I like to think it's a metaphor for the whole Fung Wah.

Coming (at some point):
Part 2: A Hector Flores Christmas, and Part 3: My Triumphant Return.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Does CNN think I'm busy or retarded?

CNN has got to be the perfect solution to being on the Internet at work. You look like you're catching up on today's Ahmadinejad updates (oh, Mahmoud, you so crazy!) but you're really getting sucked in by this:

Answers: Don't do it, and yes, she is.

CNN is quickly becoming my top source for all cat-who-called-911 news. But I have to say this takes the cake for uselessness.

The greatest part of this is that it's like a six graph story with three bullet points. WTF? The reader has voluntarily given up a few minutes of their day to read about Jessica Simpson being dumb (Weird, they forgot the Breaking News tag. Huh.) but CNN thinks they still need to distill the item to its essence and parse the difficult language found within the body of the story.

I know this is how Bush prefers getting his news, but the rest of us probably have the wherewithal to slog through the entire 200-word story to answer our burning Simpson-related questions. Or maybe, just maybe, they actually wrote it for Jessica to tell her what’s going on in her life.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


The three most underwhelming Christmas songs:

3. Feliz Navidad — Please note that the singer and his merry band of assembled children never actually get around to wishing you a merry Christmas (in English at least). They just keep saying that they want to. Well you know what singer-I-won’t-make-the-effort-to-Google? I wanted to get you a present, but I didn’t. Please just treat my intent to as an actual gift.

2. Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? — No they don’t, Sir Bob Geldof, they’re from Ethiopia, which is a predominately Muslim nation. Do you know that the nation is more animist (Animism: the belief in personalized, supernatural beings (or souls) that often inhabit ordinary animals and objects, governing their existence.) than Christian?
Fun Kate fact: Do you know sometimes I’ll Wikipedia things even though I just said I wouldn’t Google something?)
I’m still waiting for the sequel “Do they know it’s Chinese New Year after all?” for the good people of New Orleans. Update: Still no snow in Africa this Christmas. It’s not looking too promising next year either.

1. Little Saint Nick — Christmas comes this time each year? Are you kidding me?!?!?! This is what we like to call “phoning it in” Brian Wilson. Could you stifle your yawn long enough to get out the chorus? It sounds like you wrote it during a commercial break and recorded it as soon as you dug up an old xylophone and a brother to sing falsetto. A sample: He don't miss no one /when he's haulin' through the snow at a frightening speed/With a half a dozen deer with Rudy to lead/He's got to wear shades cause the snow really flies/and he's cruisin' every path with a little surprise.

Also, the song ends with “little Saint Nick” and the bracketed instruction to “Repeat for a long time.” That’s the song equivalent of me just trailing off at the end of my entries with “blah blah blah” or maybe even Zzzzzzzzzzzzz…

To sum up. It is December. Christmas comes in December. We, the Beach Boys, like cars, to the point of shoehorning car/sleigh metaphor together. Pay me royalties or I’m locking myself back in my room.

Maybe I’m just bitter because Brian Wilson almost took my hand off last Christmas. I went to watch him pull an Ashlee Simpson lip-synching-stavaganza while taping a special for NBC. Because my dad is the only one I know who might like the Beach Boys, I called him when Brian was done.

Me: I was like three feet from him. You’ll see when it airs tomorrow. Man is he a bad lip-syncher! Did he have a stroke?
Dad: That’s so cool. Remember when you put me on the phone with Ed Helms? (Editor’s note: See entry “Ohmigah! It’s Ed Helms!”)
Brian Wilson turns corner to enter limo.
Me: Ohmigah! It’s Brian Wilson! Mr. Wilson, will you say hi to my dad?

I hand the phone to him and he takes it, attempting to shut the car door at the same time, nevermind that my hand is between the door and the car.

Brian: Hi Dad.

He hands the phone back as I cry out the hilariously succinct “My hand!”

And just like that, he was gone, with a cry of “Merry Christmas to all and to all" zzzzzzzzzzzzz......

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The A train experience

My usual two daily brushes with comedy are the wannabe comedians who accost people in Time Square with, “Do you like standup comedy?” in the hopes they’ll come to one of the myriad clubs and happily pay $32 for a pair of Bud lights to make the two-drink minimum.

(When my brother and his friends came to visit, they weren’t able to avoid the solicitors. Maybe it was because by the time you’ve dodged a full block of people it’s like you’ve just finished a slalom course and your resistance is worn down. Maybe it’s because if you answer “no” to “Do you like to laugh?” it makes you feel like you’re admitting that you like to set fire to the elderly. Whatever the reason, I came out of Starbucks and we had tickets to a comedy show that night. It was actually pretty funny. We got to see Jim Gaffigan, who(m) I like. And the doorman/ticket taker did a set too, which was much better than the woman who actually abandoned her joke before she got to the punchline. (“Just forget it. It’s new material and it’s not funny yet. You’re right not to laugh.” You don’t see that on Comedy Central.) )

The other bit of humor in my day is the conductor on my morning train who calls it “the A train experience.” For some reasons it always makes people smile. Related: My new synthesizer-based group is called Kate and the A Train Experience.

But yesterday I hit the jackpot: Homeless guy standup! Forget everything you know about homelessness because apparently it’s awesome.

I got on the A train (experience) at 59th, and a man got on behind me, mumbling. Nothing out of the ordinary yet. Apparently someone said, “Here comes that guy” because the next thing I knew, he’d launched into his routine, which actually got laughs instead of fear.

Open strong: “You damn right ‘here comes that guy; you in my living room! Look, you got your feet up on my couch. I can’t sleep at night, cause all night the doors go bing-bong-bing-bong-bing-bong. You alls just jealous, you pay $1,800, $1,900 a month for your apartment and it don’t go nowhere. I pay $2 and I go all over the city.”

Be edgy with you take-my-wife-please joke (explain why you’re homeless): “She was 398 pounds! She wanted me to buy her steak all the time. Do I look like I can afford steak? So I left her and went to live here.” Yes that’s right. Homeless on account of steak.

The grand finale (leave ’em wanting more): “And when you leave, please do me a favor and take your newspapers with you. I got company coming over tonight.”

Friday, December 15, 2006

This just in: Earth revolves around sun. Roommate still crazy.

Because people have been begging (begging!) for crazy roommate Monica updates, here ya go.

Things were going smoothly. I had my mold-catastrophe Thanksgiving (How many walls did your bedroom have over the holiday weekend? Because if it's more than three, you have me beat.) Monica seemed to express the proper human emotions for the situation, i.e. saying, "Oh that sucks" and the like. In what will probably be her finest hour as a roommate, she even helped me bring all my stuff back in to my newly spackled room. I thought, "Well maybe she's just socially retarded at first. I guess she’s coming around."


I don't see much of her (owing to the fact that I avoid her at all costs) so there was nothing to report after that. Until last night.

I had told her I was putting together a Goodwill box of clothes and that she should feel free to add to it. Apparently to her that meant she should feel free to add my laundry to the box. That's right. She went through my laundry bag (which had a detergent bottle on top, so there was really no doubt it wasn't to be donated) and randomly selected some of my shirts, pants and a small area rug to give to the poor and/or thrifty.

Nice to see you're still sticking with the crazy theme, Mon.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

He denied knowing them three times before the cock crowed

I was finishing up some Christmas shopping last week at Borders. (Yes, you're all getting books from me. Because I like paying a lot for shipping, that's why.)

I make my way to the deceptively innocuous travel section and see three oily teenage boys' heads bowed over a book with Talmudic intensity.

I catch a few snippets — Is that hair? Who's that flexible? Where's her hand? — in what can only be described as reverent awe.

None of them spot me at first, then one notices a girl (a real live girl!) in their midsts, and he instantly becomes the all-knowing wise old oak of the trio.

“Geez guys,” Pimply McRetainer says, “It’s a reverse 69.” He is suddenly disgusted by his rube friends, who clearly have not only embarrassed him but also insulted his intelligence.

Then he marches off.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Monday Morning Dance Party Vol. 12: "Middle school dance" edition

Remember how in middle school the boys would bathe in cologne and not get closer to the girls than they had to? Glad to see this guy is sticking with the theme.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

It's like the writing is music to my ears, and music is pain to my ears

I hated playing the flute as a kid. I hated to practice. I hated concerts in the gym/cafeteria (gymeteria?). I hated the long, black skirts all the girls somehow owned that make them (fine, us) look Pentecostal. I hated talking about aperture and 8 counts. I hated the oboe player behind me. I hated the stentch of my band teacher's dreams deferred that even a 13 year old could smell.

I'm not sure if this ties in or not, but I was also really bad. Last chair all the way throughout my short and painful middle school career. I was this kid who would relucantly practice, only to have the teacher say, "You didn't play this week at all, did you?" "Yeah jerkface, I did. I'm just really not the musical type" is what I did not reply.

To entice me to pick up my silver wand of doom, my mom would dangle the New York carrot in my face. True story: She hated the idea of me being a writer so much (unstable career move!) that she'd entice me with "But if you get good enough you can live in New York like you want and play on the subway for money!"

She was not joking. Sadly, this was all too real. (Because whereas writing might not be stable, subway music is, as everyone knows, a straight shot to greatness and a 401(k).)

Despite being in 7th grade and living in Iowa, states away from a subway system, I knew this was probably not the brightest path my future could take.

But every time I pass a subway musician, I can't help but think what might have been.

The underground musical range is staggering. Would I have been part of a professional duet? Playing that sad-sounding Chinese string insturment? Cranking out the Christmas tunes on a trumpet? An accordian version of "Guantanamera"? Or been like the man under the 42nd street stop who just listlessly inhales and exhales into a harmonica? Because let's face it, no matter what instrument I picked up, it wasn't going to sound any worse than my flute skillz.

(Sidebar: I went to visit a friend at 125th street last summer and heard "Guantanamera" literally three times. Thrice! On the subway, outside a restaurant and then blasting from a car. I like when people embrace stereotypes.)

I usually see these minstrals while I'm on my way to my job. At an office. Where I write. But I can't help but thinking how great it would be to make people pay me to go away.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

But hark, what makeup through yonder window breaks.

I ducked into Sephora yesterday to get a Christmas present for a friend of mine. Previously, I've boasted about my gift-giving talents, but this trip shattered that notion.

Quickly, I realized the error of my ways. Much like Vinnie Chase is Queens Boulevard, my friend is Sephora. I'm 82% sure she has 97% of the bronzers, lip venom, lotions and potions on the shelves. I can't even do that math. And oh dear Jesus, the staggering shades of reds and pinks. It's more than one person can deal with.

This is the girl who was more crushed than I was last year when I didn’t get that beauty editor job.

Me: Yeah, so it looks like I didn't get it.
Her: (Muffled sobs)
Me: It's OK, I'll get something else.
Her: But, but all those free nail polishes!

My usual experience at Sephora involves me skulking around, testing teal eyeshadows and trying to put on as much makeup as humanly possible while ducking salespeople and making a serious, pondering "Yes, I might buy your wares" face.

Then I steal make liberal use of their of their rookie error of not putting a "one per customer" sign on their tissues and Q-Tips and slink off into the dark night.

But today, oh today would be different. They'’d finally make commission off me. Or not.

It was like being a co-worker of Bill Shakespeare, being handed his birthday card to sign and getting told to just jot down a sonnet or a little iambic pentameter.

(Sidenote: The last co-worker goodbye card I had to sign was for a guy whose last name was Teoh, and——because I never had any interaction with him——I had nothing to say, so I wrote "Every time I see your name, I want to sing 'Day-O.' " My office clearly has some sort of hire-the-handicapped quota they met with me.)

Apparently, lotions that smell like desserts are very big right now. As are bubble baths that smell like margaritas and daiquiris. Usually when I come home smelling like alcoholic beverages it's unintentional and not entirely welcome. After being knocked backwards by a few choking smells, I admitted defeat and fled.

Which is why I can write this post. She's getting nothing from Sephora me.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Monday Morning Dance Party Vol. 11: "She's better than you" edition

She can hold eight fans. You often spill your beer. Game, set, match geisha.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Whos down in Whoville

Christmas! Yeah! It really truly is the hap-happiest season of all. Especially in Midtown, where you can celebrate with your 50,000 nearest and dearest. The other day was the Rockefeller Center tree lighting (slash one-year anniversary of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson almost cutting my hand off. That's a story for another day though.)

On tree-lighting night my cubemate called me over to her window.

Her: "Listen, you can hear singing."
Me: "Wow, it's like being in Whoville. Maybe Christmas really doesn't come from a store. Yep, I think my heart just grew three sizes."

So welcome, people from all over this great nation of ours. And I suppose the rest of the world. (People who presumably live in places where trees are in abundance come to New York to see foliage. This, I believe, might be that irony that people keep telling me I should look into.)

Someday, I will win my Pulitzer for an expose entitled "Tourists: Why do they realize nobody is behind them?"” It will feature a hard-hitting look at why they stop dead on the sidewalk, why they get flustered when people won’t stop so they can take photos as they try to block the whole sidewalk, and of course, why they don'’t understand that you walk on the left side of the escalator.

To answer your questions:
1.) "The tree" is that way. It's huge. You'll see it.
2.) Yes, the skaters too.
3.) I promise, it'll be faster to walk than take a cab.
4.) I understand it's 7 blocks. Walking will still be faster.
5.) I'm happy to take your group photo for the Christmas card, but let's get you out of harm's way first.
6.) No, don't buy that NYC Santa hat.
7.) Yes, it's a real Rolexx. That second X is for x-tra love from New York to you.
8.) No, I won't give you directions to the Times Square Applebee's. It's against my religious beliefs.

In the meantime, here are a few tourist carols to warm your crusty old heart.

Oh holy crap!

Oh holy crap, the tree is big and shiny
It is the night to get in the way.

All around, weary New Yorkers are groaning.
Waiting for you to stop and take your picture.

Faaaaaall on your knees, poooooooose with your brother.
It doesn't matter where, or who is behind you.

Oh tourist, oh tourist diiiiiiiiiiivine.

Deck a tourist

Deck a tourist for blocking the doorway
Cause that really gets in your way
It dawns on them a little too late
That blocking entrances makes us all late.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hey David Blaine, any chance you're a middle child?

Know how when you turn a corner sometimes and there's a man suspended in a gyroscope three stories above the street? It pretty much solves your problem about what you'll be doing on Thanksgiving afternoon.

After what I'd like to call "Everyone in my life dropped the ball on me except David Blaine," I was alone for Thanksgiving. No turkey (nor tofurkey), no family, no nothing. I was stomping around the city, muttering to myself about my stupid friends who had family in the tri-state area, when who should appear before me like a vertigo-inducing mirage: The Harry Houdini of our generation. Apparently he was doing some stunt for Target where he spun for two days, then tried to escape so he could take 100 little Oliver Twists on a shopping spree.

I was hooked, mostly because I couldn't get down the street because of the crowd. It had it all: charity, my favorite store, my love of gyroscopes. Unfortunately, it did not have any suspense. I mean, he wasn't even holding his breath this go around. Also, they gave him a key to unlock himself, which I'm pretty sure takes the mystery out of it. Gob Bluth couldn't have messed it up at that point. Basically, he just unlocked himself then jumped down. People kept pushing past me; they couldn't leave fast enough. In the distance I think I heard a child cry, "You sir are no David Copperfield!"

So we'll consider this the second-greatest time I saw David Blaine, following the much-publicized "Blaine in an Underwater Bubble" experiment in May. There wasn't much to see that time until his skin began falling off. When you need an audience to see you so much that you're willing to waterlog your epidermis, people start to assume you weren't hugged enough as a kid.

I figure I'm averaging seeing him pop up randomly every six months. Sadly, I missed him in the block of ice in Times Square. But I'm looking forward to clearing my schedule for whatever's next for this attention-deprived man. Locked in a box of bees? Flying a kite in a lightning storm? Wresting a bear to the death on the Brooklyn Bridge? A door-to-door survival challenge through the South Bronx?

Whatever it is, David Blaine, know that New York cannot get enough of you and your need to create huge traffic jams while everyone gawks at you.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire!

Well, not my roof, but someone's. Someone precariously close to my apartment. I came out of the subway and stepped into a scene from "Backdraft." There were eight or nine firetrucks blocking off streets and professionals scrambling up ladders a few buildings away, trying to get on the roof.

I don't think the fire was all that serious, since the people in the building were amusedly watching the show from the windows. And at one nearby intersection, a woman meandered through the crosswalk as a fire truck tried to back up. Bitch, you're gonna get us all killed.

When she was finished, the driver asked me if it was safe to back up. Seriously? This is the method you're going with? I'm suddenly in charge of saving lives?

You should know about me that it's my greatest urban fear to have to use my fire escape for something other than drinking. (Safety first!) I was walking around a few weeks ago and there was a big puff of white smoke that emerged from the top of this building, like a magician had just finished a trick. I had the 9 and the first 1 dialed quicker than you could say, "Habemus Papam."

And I know that if there were a fire, I'd panic and try to save random stuff.

Laptop. Logical enough. My coat. Practical, no problem there. Photos. Aw, memories.

But I know the firemen (sorry, firepeople. Girls can be anything they want to be!) would find my charred self in the shower with my fingers still around the shower curtain rings, mid-unfastening. I love my shower curtain. It's periwinkle, which is a harder color to find than you might imagine. It brings joy and sunshine to my showers, even when the hot water decides to not make an appearance.

(Sidebar: The last time the hot water flew south, the super came up and all but scolded us for wasting his time. "What you want hot water for? It's not even winter yet.")

So, here are just a few of the things I would throw down to New York's Bravest while flames lapped at me:

Shower curtain. aforementioned great color.
Gray-blue canvas of silkscreened dandelion puff. Modern and simple. Makes my room complete.
Various favorite dresses and sweaters. I'm be damned if I'm wearing burned clothes to work.
Favorite books (including but not limited to: "America, the Book," "The Know-It-All" and "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again." I'll want to stay literate as I begin my new life on the mean streets. (And I have to say that I love the image of me not just trying to save random books, but frantically combing through my bookshelf amidst a housefire for specific ones.)
Marshmallows For roasting. I'll be the hero of the fire.
My TV. Out of spite, because I'll probably be angry and not handling it well.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Were you on Opie and Anthony yesterday morning?

No? It was just me then.

(That's also the tactic I go with to tell people it's my birthday.)

For people (hi mom!) who have never auditorily collided with Opie and Anthony, they were banned for a few years after broadcasting a couple having sex in a church. People found it to be a bit controversial. For some reason.

But now they're back! Awesome! And somehow my need for coffee collided with their need to entertain commuters with fart sounds.

I don't know how it happened, I don't know why it happened, I don't know what was said. All I know is that Jim Norton was doing part of the show outside my Starbucks. He's this guy:

There was a massive crowd gathered to listen to the little bald man's ruminations on life. I emerged with my coffee and he said something that I mercifully couldn't hear. About 40 people whipped their heads around to look at me. Jim nodded. I nodded/waved/scowled/smiled (harder than it sounds) and went about my day.

Seriously though, if you happened to be listening at about 9:15 Nov. 20th, please let me know what Jim Norton said about a girl in a green coat.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Monday Morning Dance Party Vol. 9: "A lesson for all of us" edition

Remember as you head off into the workforce today: Even if you're a backround dancer, you can steal the show.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Terror Alert: Red backpack

(This isn't him. If it's you I'll happily admit I stole the picture of a random guy and will take it down. Don't sue!)

I have a bruise on my side from a seatmate actively digging his elbow into me yesterday, a shy, fairly "normal" (as opposed to "homeless and shitting himself") looking guy my age.

As I shifted around trying to get him to stop touching my sideboob, he yelled at me, "You think you can take up more room?" Keep in mind that he was in a solid quarter of my seat and the train was packed. If he'd just moved his arm the problem would have been solved, but instead he applied force. It was as close as I've ever come to being in a fight. I pointed out that he was in fact in my seat, but he was having none of it, continuing without regard to logic, "What? Is it your seat? Did you pay for it?"

You know, as opposed to the non-MetroCard system he apparently uses.

More baffling wordplay was to follow. When I showed him how the MTA actually makes the seats different colors for handy differentiating, and showed him how far into the yellow he was, he decided to forgo the principles of physics and reiterate that I was in fact in his seat, and should find another seat if I didn't like it. (Editor's note: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD THERE WERE NOT ANY OTHER SEATS.)

Know how you lie awake at night and wonder how you might die? Yeah, I don't have that concern so much anymore. I will be knifed/shot/choked on the train for shouting things like, "I don't blame you for trying to cop a feel. You probably don't get close to girls very often."

I then stayed in the half seat for another two stops for good measure before moving directly opposite him. He kept staring at me openly for the next few stops, so I did the ol' switcheroo where I got off and hopped on another car so he thought I left.

Imagine my delight when I got off at my real stop and he got off too. Luckily, he didn't see me. Nor did the aw-fucking-some ever-vigilant MTA booth operator see him.

"Guy with a red backpack? He just walked past you?" I asked hopefully, trying to find out which way he went.

"Nope, I didn't see nufin."

Somehow I bet you didn't. Ever hear of the "See Something, Say Something" campaign? Are we seriously letting you be a line of defense in the war on terror?

So anyway, if I turn up dead, lobby for it to be made into a "Law & Order" episode. I'd like Kiera Knightly to play me.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday Morning Dance Party Vol. 8: "Shiny, happy people" edition

We're gonna make it big guys. We're gonna be stars. Just look at my attention to detail; I got stocking covers for my skates.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Leaving my mark, one M at a time

Like many fools, I send out Christmas cards every year.

I search for the right words that say "have a pleasant holiday of your choosing, or simply acknowledge that it's winter," and struggle to fill up the appropriate length so you don't just get a piece of paper that says "Happy Holidays! Kate."

Turns out, I've been wasting everyone's time. This year, you're all getting personalized M&Ms. Can you imagine boiling down a year's worth of sentiments into four lines of eight characters? I can.

Boy can I.

Although the rules prohibit name brands (So no, "Suck it, Red Sox!"), celebrity names ("I will find you, Macauly Culkin") or inappropriate language ("You look like shit today!") I'm pretty confident I can find ways around all those rules.

What could be more delicious than candy? Candy that speaks to your personal hopes and dreams (or fears and shortcomings). If you're on the list, consider this your Christmas card and feel free to reciprocate in kind.

(This is true: Before you buy, you have to swear "you are at least eighteen years of age (nineteen in Alabama and Nebraska; twenty-one in Mississippi." So don't get any crazy ideas, Mississippi teens. You can't be trusted to make your mark on an M until you're of legal drinking age.)

For Good Roommate, who's had a rough month.

For crazy Monica, my other roommate, who ain't all there.

For Mom, who worries.

For Dad, apparently an international man of mystery, who got Legionnaire's disease.

For my sister, Annie, who needs to start delivering nieces and nephews to me so I have an excuse to go to Baby Gap. I want to make her feel awkward and pressured as possible.

For her husband, Matt, in the army.

For my brother, Kevin, who doesn't read my blog or get regular haircuts. (Damn you, character limit!)

For "Wigurski," who doesn't really know what my job entails, but isn't afraid to make requests anyway.

And finally, for nobody in particular. Want to make that criticism/threat go down sweeter?:

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Hometown heroes

In honor of last night's elections, I bring to you a sampling of my former hometown newspaper's (predominantly) political letters to the editor. These have it all, ignorance, inflated senses of importance, often a failure to grasp grammar. I'm a little uneasy, because there's actually no comment I can add that makes these any funnier/sadder.

* I'm a caring mother of two and a grandmother. Let’s make (redacted) a place where my children, your children and our children's children will like. How about ice skating also? Yes! Disney on ice and much more. I love it. I really do.

Remember yesterday when I said I hate the elderly? I take it back. They're awesome with the non sequitirs and...hey peanut butter Magic Johnson!

* It now seems politically correct to educate Americans about the Islamic religion of Muslims.
Does the (redacted newspaper) plan to have feature stories, with one full-page and several column inches, for all local churches and their different beliefs? There is a cable news network that has the goal and theme of "fair and balanced" reporting of the news. I'm hoping to see balanced and equal coverage in the (newspaper) of the traditional religious beliefs of local folks who are Americans.

YES! Let's kick off the religious isolationism. It's all fair and balanced as long as I agree with it. No foreign ideas, no loud noises, no sudden movements. NO SUDDEN MOVEMENTS! KEEP YOUR HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE THEM! (Extra points if you know what network she's referring to. I hate when people talk in riddles.)

* Wherever in today's world the dominant religion is Islam there is religious persecution or limited exercise of another faith. That is in stark contrast to the blessing of religious freedom we enjoy in our land. People are free to believe and exercise whatever is their faith. They are even free to deny faith and religion. It is what people sought who came to these shores from a land where they suffered for their faith. In a few weeks we shall commemorate their sacrifice with Thanksgiving to the Lord who guided them and preserved their lives through their voyage aboard the Mayflower, which carried both believers and non-believers.

What sort on non-believers sneaked on to the Mayflower? Any why? A hankering to live on maize and mate with girls in pilgrim hats? And nevermind that whole Salem blip.

* This letter states facts about Col.(redacted), the Democratic congressional candidate from (state redacted) Second District.

What a thesis sentence. It's like that old adage: Tell them what you're going to say, say it, then tell them what you said. Sometimes you don't just want to leap in with the facts. Give people a second to adjust.

* Seems we don't always know the good in people, unless someone points it out, so I am. Thank you (redacted) for being the person you are.

Yep, can't argue with that point. You have my vote. This "being the person you are" is called damning with faint praise, lady. That's like seeing a newborn and just saying, "That's a baby all right."

* Farming is a seven-day-a-week job, every day of the year, no matter the weather. (Redacted) doesn't know what it means to "call in sick" because he realizes the importance of agriculture to (redacted) County. My dad wakes up every morning to make a diligent contribution to the agriculture industry.

I know the meaning of "call in sick." Sound it out. I don't know the meaning of throwing your dad in the mix, unless your dad is also the candidate. When your kids are doing the letter-writing campaign, time to bail.

* I would like to express my thoughts on what I thought was a tacky plea for votes. Monday night I attended my daughter's chili supper and band concert at her school. This was a fundraiser event to support the band and celebrate Halloween. While at the chili supper, I noticed about five or six candidates there. I didn't pay much attention to them because I assumed they came with family and friends and any support for the band is always welcome.
However, it wasn't very long until I noticed several of the candidates circling the tables and asking people for votes. They were passing out cards and magnets and I'm sure were making uncomfortable small talk with people. They were with me anyway. This, in my opinion, was tacky. I came to relax and enjoy the evening and support my daughter and the band. I didn't come to be bothered while I ate.

Tacky, people! Tacky! A man wants to eat a chili supper and see a band perform at a high school and you go and ruin his classy evening with your magnets and small talk. Well good day sir. I said good day.

* I have known (redacted) and her late husband, (redacted), for many years.

It's just another victory against verb tenses.

* (Redacted) will work hard for you. He is a man that lives by the motto “His word is his bond.” Thompson is the owner of Thompson's Trophy Center, and was previously in advertising with several local stations. He is a good listener and he will take action.

Bonus? Dreamy eyes.

* Our political system is out of control
Oh no! MSNBC predicted Friday morning that this election will wind up in the courts, just like it did six years ago.
We who cast our votes decided nothing. Our political system is out of control. The lust for power and money has driven us from a surplus to near bankruptcy in just six short years. If we can find anyone willing to serve out of patriotism, we need to find them fast.

Can you feel the vague yet intense sense of panic?

* Her motto has been, "Do what it takes" to make a difference in the lives of (redacted) County's children and youth.
I believe she has lived up to that motto and should be retained as judge.
Another motto that seems also to apply is, "If it's not broken, don't fix it." Our Family Court system is working well under the current leadership, let's don't try to fix it.

Yes, let's don't and say we didn't do.

* On Election Day, remember pre-pay gas
It has been several months since the city commission passed a law requiring gasoline purchasers to pay for their fuel before they can pump it.
I didn't like this practice when it was implemented, and I like it even less now. When you want to fill up, you have to stand in line to pay twice, once to pay your deposit or leave your license, and again when you go back and pay for it.
Every time I have to do this, I think of (redacted) and the other commissioners that started this practice. I would just like to remind all the voters of (city) that if you don't like this ordinance, now is the time to vote these commissioners out of office and bring in some new ones.
Out with the old and in with the new. Give him and his friends a message.

Gold-medal winner of misplaced rage.

I hate the elderly

A byproduct of tiny island + 8 million people is that in public areas, like cafes and Starbucks, you share your table with strangers. They ask, "Mind if I sit?" and you say no and you either chat for a minute or maintain silence. I've gotten job leads, shared matzo on Easter Sunday with two gay guys, commiserated about jury duty with a girl spending her per diem on meatloaf and gotten asked out on a date when I was sick by a guy who assured me, as suavely as possible, he had "a very strong immune system."

It's really one of the nicer ways to connect to people, eating at the Whole Foods cafeteria-style tables with strangers, feeling like we're on a commune with our overpriced squash soup.

This is not how it's supposed to happen:

The setting: Under Rockefeller Center
The time: Lunchtime yesterday
Characters: Yours truly and Crazy Old Lady

Me: Hi, do you mind if I sit?
Crazy Old Lady, sitting at a huge table by herself, surrounded by chairs: You can have a chair.
I stupidly assume this is an invitation to sit down, so I sit.
COL: (screeching): What are you doing?!?!?
Me (Bite of pretzel on way to mouth): sitting?
COL: I said you could take a chair.
Me: But there aren’t any tables.
COL: That's not my problem. You have to wait like I did.
Me (stomping off muttering): Oh your grandkids must love having you around for the holidays. You are not a national treasure.

And scene.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Monday Morning Dance Party Vol. 7: "Cam-bodacious" edition

Hey guys! Remember that great song "Walk like an Egyptian"? Let's all stand on that high wall and balance like a Cambodian!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Name: Kate. Hobbies: Drinking water, using toilet paper

One of the worst things about my apartment (besides mentally unstable Monica) is the 80-year-old faucets. Apparently in the Roaring 20s, people were unfamiliar with the concept of "pleasantly warm," "gradually heating up" or "temperatures under 756 degrees."

Every once in a while I'll see a news story about some kids having to get skin grafts because of their old pipes and I can feel their pain. (Not literally, because I'm smart enough to turn on the hot water and leap across the kitchen in one fell swoop. Stupid kids.)

But in a figurative sense, I'm right there with them in the hospital ward.

The pipes also have this thing where every other month or so they unleash a torrent of rust on an unsuspecting handwasher or showerer, so that it suddenly looks like you're showering in blood. You can use your powers of deductive reasoning to assume that the water at casa de Kate doesn't taste too good. I have to import all my beverages, which is quite a pain since I live five flights up and have those cartoon arms that swoop down when I make a muscle.

This is a good time to note that I also appear to be the designated den mom. Monica is in charge of leaving crazy notes; Good Roommate added the pet cat; and I rearrange the living room furniture, hang the Christmas lights, clean and buy supplies. And before you say I'm just picky or something, note that when I was barely around this summer, the toilet had a brown ring in the bowl at water level, the cat hair eliminated the need for hallway carpeting and the shower was so gross the landlord actually cleaned it one day when she popped in.

So, although I like to do me some good scrubbing, I'm not a neat freak. (Though I do have my peccadilloes. I only clean the toilet while naked, right before I shower to ensure I don't get toilet germs on my clothes. I realize this makes no sense, since my clothes come in close proximity to a toilet several times a day. I also just realized this is probably someone's very specific fetish and I'm about to get some weird Google hits.)

Cleaning gripes aside, I know it's not too much to expect of my roommates to buy toilet paper occasionally. "Just stop buying it and let them fend for themselves" you say. I've tried. I don't know what they do but I always crack before they do. Can I really be the roommate who starts keeping her toilet paper under her bed? That's one step from using a label maker for my food.

All this led up to a perfect storm of awkwardness tonight, which finds me at my local grocery store stocking up on big bottles of Pellegrino and economy size bundle of toilet paper.

The cashier and I made eye-contact (I'd previously been on a seven-year no eye-contact streak) and I made a face that conveyed, "Yep, that's my night. I'll be drinking insane amounts of water and sitting around waiting to pee."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Oh crap. I forgot to train for the marathon.

I know I meant to. I distinctly remember being really inspired last year around this time.

The runners wear their names on their shirts so they can find themselves in pictures, and my friends and I took full advantage, cheering for them by name. Inspirational sayings like "Pump those crazy legs, Susan!" and "C'mon Dave! Do it for your country!"

We also sipped coffee as we watched people in extreme exercise-induced pain, so all in all it was a nice morning. The highlight was a trio–parents who wore shirts saying, "I'm running for Bryan" flanking their son with Down syndrome and the son with an "I’m Bryan" shirt.

Tears. Actual tears.

Then, in a fit of sniffily, vaguely patronizing hubris, I thought, "Surely if they can get their acts together to train, I can too." And walking away that crisp autumn morning, I fully intended to.

Then the holidays rolled around, so you know how that goes. And, well, January and February are cold in the Northeast corridor, so that was out. By spring, I'd gone running a few times and felt back on track. (Pun alert!)

Someone pointed out that I wasn't wearing great shoes and that I might damage my feet. I'll show them, I thought. Do Kenyan runners have Nikes? No. They train barefoot in the mountains. (Editor's note: Turns out I’m very wrong, and also probably racist. Kenyans have top-of-the-line equipment.)

Then it was summer. And summer is hot. Also, long about June I found out you have to enter a lottery to get in. well what's the point of being able to run 26.2 miles if there's a chance nobody will see you do it? The glory? The pride? The sense of personal accomplishment? Screw that.

Still, in September the weather cooled down again and I laced up ("shoes that will damage (my) feet." Whatevs! I’ll be damned if I'm shelling out money for this endeavor) for some halfhearted jogs, convincing myself, “Well I walk a ton, so I’m pretty sure the marathon is as much mental as physical.” To that end, I bought flipped through a sports psychology book at Barnes & Noble.

The cool fall breezes called to me, but I didn't listen. I noticed a lot of people in the park huffing and puffing in Lycra and other fabrics not found in nature, and I tried to figure out why they were all zipping along.

Oh. Right.

So in the second of many, many years I'll say this: Next year I'm doing the marathon. It’s the only way I'll get to use my "Part Irish, part Kenyan" T-shirt in any sort of context that makes sense.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Everybody limbo!

Highlight of my day EASILY was I got a stack of maybe 20 papers—I must emphasize without a paperclip—to balance vertically on my desk. Pure joy. There is no second place. There was also no paperclip. Twenty loose papers. Come on.

It reminded me of this photographer I read about over the summer. I forget where he lives, so I'll just go out on the nuts-o limb of my crazy tree and say Williamsburg. He made a whole exhibit of taking pictures on the subway of people's faces as they realized they weren't going to catch the train. He had some quote like, "Sure, there are bigger tragedies in the world, but you can't beat that moment for one of pure disappointment."

And it's true, nothing will get your day off to a more pigeon-kicking start or make you want to take to your bed with the vapors at the end of a hard day more than realizing you've got to spend an extra 15 minutes in a special kind of poop-infested underground lair created by the City of New York. It's like limbo between earth and hell, where unbaptized commuters go. It's doubly bad if, like yesterday, you miss it by inches because you were trying to not shove your fellow man down the subway stairs. Sometimes I get the impression that people with crutches just aren't really trying. Are they using their disability as a...well, crutch I guess?

I've thought about what the opposite might be. It's not when you realize the train is coming, because that's a gradual joy. You can crane your neck out precariously and talk yourself into thinking you see lights and feel the rumble. For a moment of unadulterated, pony-under-the-Christmas-tree delight, I have to go with landing an apple core in the garbage can across the room. Because it's always a little surprising, and if people are there to witness it, I truly believe that's what winning a three-peat would be like.

My endorsed sneaker logo would be the apple core. And my motto would be "Nothing but wastepaper-basket."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I've been blogging about NASCAR and boy am I exhausted!

I don't want to brag, but I'm a really great gift-giver. As those Yoplait commercial idiots would say, like "Shoe shopping while eating chocolate good." (Ad guy 1: "My ex-wife likes shoes a lot. Let's add that in." Ad guy 2: "I see a lot of girls eating candy bars when they have their periods. Gotta rep that too." Ad guy 1: "Great, we're done here. Time to bash stuff with football helmets.")

For my birthday last month, my friend Becca got me the novelization of "Snakes on a Plane," which weighed in at a logic-defying 400 pages. Single spaced.

It was a direct nod—some might say a thanks—for a summer filled with my Snakes on a Plane song-and-dance routine. ("Song and dance" could be overstating it. It was more of a musical chant "Snakes on a Plane, Snakes on a Plane, I'm so excited to see Snakes on a Plane!" combined with a mix of the running man and The Carlton. I'm telling you, it did not get old.)

Because those wacky Internets told us it was the cool thing to do, it was my summer's exclamation. There were many uses:
"Snakes on a plane that bowl is hot!"

"Snakes on a plane I'’m tired!"

"I can't worry about that deadline. Who has time when there are snakes on a plane above us right now?"

Now of course, that sounds lame, but during summer 2006 it was hot, hot, hot! Ah, it was a simpler time. Sadly, the movies out right now don't work as well: "Running with scissors I need a drink!" "Flags of our fathers did I just stub my toe." No, not cool. I'm trying out random celebrities now: "Tina Yothers that music is loud!"

So Becca gave me 400 pages of snakey goodness. The only thing I had to worry about was finding a gift to match the brilliance. Enter the NASCAR Harlequin romance book "In the Groove," the heartwarming/sexy story of a simple kindergarten teacher who has an ex Photoshop her face onto a nude body and distribute them on the Internet. After she loses her job, she gets hit by a car driven by a NASCAR heartthrob, and well, you know the rest. Story old as time.

Please, please, if you do nothing else for yourself today, treat yourself to the description:

"She wouldn't know a NASCAR star if he hit her with his car...and he just did. Sarah was a kindergarten teacher until a sleazy ex-boyfriend got her fired. Now the only job she can find is driving the motor coach for racing star Lance Cooper. She doesn't know a thing about NASCAR - and she's off to a rocky start when she doesn't recognize her ultra-famous boss. Lance can't help but notice Sarah's sweet smile - and how seriously unimpressed she is with his fame. Her reaction piques his interest - and he's convinced she's a good-luck charm. But Sarah has no interest in Lance's jet-setting life; she'd rather deal with spitballs than one supersexy race car driver. Too bad whenever he comes near her she turns hot as race fuel. Soon things begin to heat up on the track, and Sarah begins to wonder if she might be able to teach one famous race car driver a few lessons about love. "

It's not just the awkwardly shoe-horned in racing imagery, like "her checkered past might distract him from the checkered flag," or the pandering moments like "she had a plain face but there was something pretty about her." And "I think being a kindergarten teacher is a noble profession." But just the puzzling sentences like "His stomach felt like he'd just eaten 12 monster tacos." First of all, who would eat 12 not just tacos but monster tacos? And why would this be used to describe being nervous before The Big Race instead of being about to be sick?

This book should get a Pulitzer. It's funnier than Dave Barry. But in the words of Reading Rainbow, you don't have to take my word for it. Here are two actual reviews from Amazon: (all spellings are sic)

"In The Groove is a blast! It's funny, sexy and romantic. My daddy has always been a huge NASCAR fan so all of the quips and explanations about sponsors, teams and fans had me smiling in remembrance. Lance is sexy and handsome and he's a really sweet guy too. Sarah is the kind of girl you want to see happy. She is such a nice person and her kindness and positive attitude are infectious. In The Groove is a story that I just raced through. It's so entertaining I couldn't put it down. I finished the last page with a satisfied sigh. Read In The Groove. It will take you on a fast, fun and romantic ride!

I took ITG down with me on the loooong drive to the Daytona 500 this past Feb and it was the best thing I could have done! It got me psyched for the race, it made me laugh, made me cry...UNREAL!

The character of Sarah is so loveable as the every-girl you could totally see yourself in her. The driver Lance just oooozes the kind of swaggering sexuality that you would imagine your favorite driver to have. Pamela makes it EASY for you to tack the face of your Jeff Gordons, Carl Edwards or Kevin Harvicks out there onto Lance Cooper and that was more than enough for me!

The story was so hot that I must admit, at parts I found myself reading so fast I had to go back over it all and soak it in! LOL. Trust me, you will NOT be disappointed by this book in the least!!! I cant WAIT for Pam's next book "On the Edge" to come out!! Thanks Pam for writing these deliciously wonderful books that tantalize the need for NASCAR and some goood lovin!

Congrats "Chrissy," you're the first person who's ever combined a NASCAR event and reading something that wasn't printed on the back of the Cheetos bag. And really? It made you cry? I guess it makes sense, what with the shocking ending of them ending up happy and all. And don't "LOL" yourself, makes you seem desperate.

Another take:

"The chemestry between them is great and real, but I'll tell you this is a squeeky clean romance novel. There are NO sex scenes in this book. It completely skips over all the physical romance. Even the language is vague and tame. No dirty or highly suggestive words. There is a hot kiss or two, but that is it. I only mention it because I know I like my romance novels steamy, but besides that I still found this book great."

Cause I like my NASCAR romances, but I'll be damned if they're gonna make me read between the lines (or lanes. Har.)

You can keep the party going with the author over at

Monday, October 30, 2006

Monday Morning Dance Party Vol. 6: "Here, take this pill" edition

Just because you're stuck with your family for the Armenian holidays doesn't mean you can't wave your hands in the air like you just don't care. Holla!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Summary: There's a lot of hair in my office garbage can

I was putting the final touches on my Halloween costume (maternal Angelina Jolie) and realized I've probably already scared more people than your average hobgoblin this year.

(The only thing scarier than a gnarled-up goblin mask is one of those machines with a motion sensor that starts cackling when trick-or-treaters come to the door. I mean, scare kids, don’t scar them for life. Sidenote: Do you think the people who put those by their door are trying to help with America’s obesity epidemic by giving kids negative associations with candy?)

At lunch today I ran to a Jack's 99 Cent Store, where the sign says "Everything 99 cents…and up." I felt like pointing out to Jack that that is kind of true for most stores, but there was no time. I was on a mission. I had to get three little dolls to duct tape to myself.

Early on the plan got derailed when I realized that they only had black princess dolls left. Whatever, I thought, I'm Angelina. I don't see color. So, no doubt crushing a small girl's dream to own a small black princess doll, I scooped up the last three.

I've now spent the last half hour printing off faces of Maddox, Zahara and Shilo Pitt-Namibia-Jolie and giving the Maddox doll a faux-hawk. Then I stopped to write this. Yes, my boss is out of town today, why do you ask?

In total, I've worried, or at the very least puzzled, the following people:

The store clerk who rang up a professionally dressed woman in her 20s casually buying three identical black dolls in the middle of the day.

The coworker waiting for something to print as I came over and got the random assortment of pictures of someone else’s babies.

The coworker who walked by as I was cutting a doll’s hair and glue-sticking it straight up.

The coworker who just did a double-take at the six tiny feet poking out of my purse.

And tonight:

The janitor tonight who will no doubt quiver when he looks in my garbage can and sees piles of hair and wadded up faces of babies, wondering if it’s a voodoo ritual.

Employee of the month, right here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wherein I say 'lapels' four times in 45 seconds. (Subtitle: Winter coat of my discontent)

If I'm remembering what my 12th grade English teacher taught us, there are only three conflicts that are the basis of all literature: Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Man and Man vs. Self. Finding a coat covers all three. Kate vs. Winter, Kate vs. Other Shoppers, Kate vs. Kate's Doubts About Said Coat. I'd also like to throw in Kate vs. Bank Account, but I'm not sure which category that would be. (Sidenote: I had to delay buying Q-Tips the other day until I checked my balance.)

It's almost the end of October, and like the swallows of Capistrano, I return to the coat section of a major department store near you. It's an annual battle of wits. And every year I lose; I'm on my third coat in three years.

The grey pea coat was in shambles, so last year I got an almost identical tan one, a coat that managed to be simultaneously bulky and without a modicum of protection from the merest draft. Not one modicum. They had the heat cranked up really high in the store, lulling my Spidy senses into complacency.

I realized my mistake the instant I stepped out from the revolving door but I walked around all winter, shaking like a Chihuahua on an ice floe. I'm stubborn like that.

But this year, oh this year my friends, it would be different. Part of my plight is that there is such choice out there. Do I go formally woolen? Puffed up and casual? I fell in love with a red one, but that would clash with a lot of my clothes. Ditto apple green. I really wanted a white one, but I knew I wasn't a talented enough laundress to battle that city grime out. Nobody is.

So after trying on—and this is not an estimate—19,000 coats, I found a semi-puffy one. It's grey-green with gold undertones. (Looks better than it sounds. Or maybe not.) I like that it's long, and warm, and has a cool belt, but here's where it gets tricky: It has a wide collar, like one that goes out to the shoulders, which could be either extremely fashionable, or extremely clownish. After so many attempts, I'd given up the ability, and the will, to care.

I assume I'll be seeing a solid 80% of my readers in Boston this weekend, so feel free to let me know how "wicked queeah" it looks.

Still riding high on my baby-Halloween-costume-designing brilliance, I came up with my dream coat in my head while shopping, which led to this conversation the next day:

Me: "OK, here's what I would do on Project Runway."
A Certain Someone: "Go."
Me: "I would make a puff coat that's not too puffy that looks just like a trench coat, with like the lapels and stuff."
ACS: "I've seen that before."
Me: "No you haven't. I mean like not just a big collar, but lapels. Lapels!"
ACS: "I'm pretty sure I could take you to a store and find one just like that."
Me: "No way, I looked in every store in Manhattan. The brilliance of that coat would make Nina Garcia say, ‘It's a witty interpretation on a classic.' Michael Kors would weep openly."
ACS: "Hmmmm…"
Me: "I'm telling you. So cool. With toggles. And lapels!"
ACS: "Did you just learn the word 'lapel' or something?"

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A cry for help

My boss' phone rang a minute ago when she had someone in her office and before I picked it up for her, I felt the need to yell "I'm on it!" like it was a matter of national security.

I think I drink too much coffee.

You would too though if you had my office's coffee machine. It's from the future! You put in a little pod of grounds and hit a button, and stand back and watch science (? Eh.) in action. I haven’t been so entranced by a piece of equipment since the 6-foot gumball machine at the mall.

Plus, there are like 20 flavor choices. Because I have high standards, I exclusively drink the Colombian Dark Magic Roast, which sounds like the sequel to "How Stella Got Her Groove Back."

Plus, it's just sexy. A big cup of a.m. sexy.

I may not get a "pension plan" or "health care," but that's nothing that my job can't make up to me by letting me drink my body weight in free coffee every day.

Part of the problem is that I don’t sleep. Not a fan of passing out for a third of my time on the planet. To hear my mom tell it, I was some crackhead baby awake at all hours. (Actually, I'm pretty sure that's true. Even then I knew napping was for suckers.)

Yes, I'm aware that just going to sleep after The Daily Show might be the "mature" thing to do in the situation, but long about midnight, I'm ready to do a jigsaw puzzle, do a jig, drink a jigger of gin, play gin rummy, write a letter to Rummy about Iraq, rack up pool balls, swim laps in a pool, pool my money with friends to drive cross country, listen to David Cross do stand up, stand up and pace until I fall asleep. (See what my mind does when it's tired?)

What's a girl got to do to get some Lunesta up in here?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Monday Morning Dance Party Vol. 5: "Every girl deserves to feel like a princess" edition

So let me understand. Each of those loyal subjects looked at this woman and thought, "Yes, I'll do what she tells me."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tokyo Kate

I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm a really big deal in Japan, more popular than Hello Kitty, vending machine beer and rice combined. Bitch, I'm bigger than Nicky Hilton's handbag line

It all started about a year ago when I first moved to New York and went to the Plaza for their pre-renovation sale. Because I'm fancy.

Although I don't think I was stocked up on toilet paper at the time, I'm pretty sure I thought it was necessary to buy monogrammed Plaza towels. Add to that I had several friends getting married that summer and that there was also talk of an eBay venture with my sister. So all in all I was excited to be there for such a historic moment to run amuck and literally unscrew doorknobs from the rooms.

Next stop swankyville.

While waiting in line to buy get in, I was interviewed by four different media outlets. Maybe it was my charming all-American demeanor. It was probably the fact that I'd brought along a rolling suitcase. (It's called thinking ahead.)

Of the reporters, two were from competing Japanese TV stations. Did they sense my masterful use of chopsticks and my longstanding love of "Big Bird Goes to Japan"? Probably. I gave them my A game, really stellar soundbites about the Plaza, its cultural place in our imaginations, and my excitement to buy $7 towels that have a big P on them. Heartfelt sentiments I never knew I thought until I shared it with all of Japan. All in English, of course. I would have loved to have been a Japanese person watching the news that night and seen the same American girl on two channels, giving the same dubbed quote.

Japanese viewer 1: "But I don'’t understand, there are so many other people there."

Japanese viewer 2: "She must be a celebrity."

Japanese viewer 1: "We should see if we can get her to design purses."

Since then, I've been on NHK and other Japanese stations literally every eight weeks or so. Not always interviewed, sometimes I'm just in the background, but I'm definitely getting my facetime. It happened again this morning, as I blithely sashayed in the path of some cameramen in Midtown. I assume I have my own show by now. Maybe it's a national obsession.

Note: To any Japanese readers who may stumble across this site, finding me on the news would be an awesome drinking game.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

If you Google "Saddam" and "sheep" I wonder what comes up?

My brother and I once got in a fight—honest-to-God backyard fisticuffs—about whether or not he invented the joke "Where do sheep go to get their fleece cut? The baa-baa shop."

I'd read it in a joke book and couldn't believe someone three years younger than me could possibly have the genius to spontaneously generate such comedy gold. Sorry, Kevin.

I've known a lot of jokey people, in the vein of "How's the weather up there?" (Get it? Get it? Cause I'm tall.) But nobody over the age of 6 seems to tell a joke with a setup/punchline format anymore. I can't tell you the last time a request was put out for a joke, so much so that the one and only one I can produce on command has expired.

This one is also from my brother, but there's no way his wordplay is sparkling enough to make it up:

What do Saddam Hussein and Little Miss Muffet have in common?
They both have Kurds in their way.

Ba-dum-dum-CHING! Also, ethnic cleansing? Always appropriate. Always hilarious.

I can just picture myself trying to tell this joke to my grandkids someday and being pelted with nursing-home Jell-O before they teleport themselves out of there.

Kate in 2052: "Well, there used to be this dictator of that country, Iraq, that we'’ve been liberating for three generations now..."
Grandkid of the future: "Shut it, Grandma. I have to go clean my silver jumpsuit."

It kinda cuts down on the humor if you have to give historical context.

It's almost like:

What's a Cypriot's least favorite food?

(Seriously, I'm available for weddings and bar mitvahs.)