Thursday, February 4, 2010

Warning: This blog will not induce uncontrollable laughter. Read at your own discretion.

Big sisters are the crab grass in the lawn of life -Charles M. Schulz

So today I got in a fight with my sister. I was in one of those sleeping moments where you could get up from bed and be fine for the rest of the day, or you could continue to sleep for no reason whatsoever. Well, my sister called at that moment. This was not the cause of our argument, and the reason for the argument is not important. But what is important is that I was bitchy and gave her advice that maybe I should have kept to myself. I know right. To be honest, it’s hard being the older sibling and in this case I was a super-bitchy one.

But let’s back this story up. I guess you could call the story of siblings a love story just like any other. My sister is 3 years, 355 days younger than me exactly. Apparently when I was told that I would have a baby brother or sister my entire family was on the way to Put-In-Bay and I asked if the baby would come “Before the boat ride.” Wasn’t I preciously precocious? I don’t remember that, but I do remember when my sister was born. I recall riding to my grandparents’ house in the dark and I was wearing a white and yellow striped shirt with skiing penguins on it. No lie. I remember it clearly.

Then I remember weird things about her infancy. Like when we got our first family picture taken as a four-member group instead of a trio, and I almost dropped her on the floor. Then laying on the floor in her nursery in the pink shag carpet and smelling that pink baby lotion. I also remember when she got to the point when babies cry for long periods of time for no reason and my mom would take her out on our front porch and rock her on our swing…and I would sit in the living room with my fingers in my ears.

Her toddler years were a blur to me and I don’t recall lots about them sadly, but then again I was like seven. She was a unique kid back then to put it mildly. She used to cram several pacifiers in her mouth at once and her clothes were perpetually stained with mustard or, on more interesting days, a sucker might be stuck to her back. She also started wearing her pants low-ride style far before any gangstas did…so don’t be hatin’.

I think we got along ok back then. But then things went downhill pretty fast. Probably from ages six to ten I hated my sister and she hated me. Ok, we didn’t really hate each other. But the domestic violence got pretty nasty. She clawed, I hit, she pulled hair, I kicked. I threw a softball at her head once, and she kicked me in the jaw when I was lying on the floor. Straight out of COPS huh? They probably would have pulled us out of the house in handcuffs kicking and screaming at each other. When I had friends over it seemed to me that she would purposely ruin my life by being a little pest. I would have liked to lock her in a cage and throw away the key. I think our family thought we were like oil and water and would never, ever get along. And I remember people saying “Those girls couldn’t be any more different.” And it’s true. I was pretty sensitive as a kid: quiet, artistic, prone to having my feelings hurt. But my sister was a “firecracker” to put it mildly. Or as our grandparents may have said “That girl is full of piss and vinegar.” She was very social, stubborn, and didn’t give a shit what anyone thought. And maybe that’s why I hated her so much. She was all the stuff I didn’t have an ounce of. The big sister is supposed to be the tough one and I probably envied her.

Things mellowed out as we got older and we were just less interested in each other. She was popular in school and I wasn’t so much, but it didn’t seem to matter. People still couldn’t believe we were related (“You’re not step-sisters?”), and we were more different than ever. Then I went away to college, and things began to change. It’s the epitome of “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” And being three hours away and not seeing her for weeks, sometimes months, began to be more difficult.

I think that’s when I realized that she was my ultimate best friend because she knew more about me and had more shared history with me than anyone else could or would ever have. She’s the only one who could ever truly understand the weird oddities of our family or appreciate little quirks about our childhood. We both love the classic rock of our young days and have the same laughs at our made up games as kids. We can remember the names of each other’s Barbies and exactly what we used to chose for our Happy Meals (I got a hamburger with only ketchup, she got nugs with hot mustard sauce). I know that despite shared pasts some siblings just won’t get along or don’t have a similar bond, and I’m very lucky that I finally realized that I have that with my sister. I sometimes find myself pitying only children because in the future as our parents get older I’m going to need her to lean on. As much as I want to give her advice and be the big sister who takes care of everything, she’s pretty tough herself and I’m going to need that.

So now that my sister and I are essentially grown-ups, we get along better than we have since those early days when I tried to get her out of her bassinet while my mom was in the shower. That was not a wise choice as a four-year-old. We have our differences still (I like trashy reality shows, she berates me for it), but she’s half the reason I decided not to move too far away from home when I graduated. I need someone to dominate Classic Rock Catch Phrase with and somebody that will shout out why the song is important (because my dad played it while we were riding in his old rattle-trap MG convertible). So this is for her as an “I’m sorry for being a jerky, know-it-all older sister” and a “Happy 22nd Anniversary of the Day we Met.” i'm proud of you and I love ya Malooch!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Movin’ On Up, To The East Side

Much of my blog posts in the last year have focused on my quest for a job and the things I did to pass the time after moving back home. Well, I’ve made some progress! I don’t have a job yet, but my friend/platonic husband/domestic partner got one and I made the move with him. It was sort of in the works for awhile and will most likely afford me more opportunities in my professional field. So I did it. It’s done!

So where did I move? Let’s play a guessing game! 1) It’s a decently sized-city…and because there are many of those in the contiguous 48 states I will say it’s 2) near a body of water. Seattle? No. New York City? Nope. San Francisco? Uhn-uh. Miami? Nein. You’re probably thinking...Oh God let it be at least Myrtle Beach or something to which I would say …Oh no! Much colder. Yes…I have moved to Cleveland. The Mistake on the Lake. But don’t you dare call it that. Considering the other city I wanted to move to has been known as Shittsburgh, I would say I have a penchant towards things that need fixed. Let’s hope that doesn’t end up including men and used cars. But I do love rust-belt cities and I’m very excited to live here. It’s no cosmopolitan place…but when you think about all the rats and garbage in NYC it’s not that perfect either.

One of the best things about my new ‘hood is that I can literally walk to a drug store, coffee shop, movie theater, Goodwill, and lots of awesome restaurants. Also if I’ve got five dollars burning a hole in my pocket there’s a Subway right around the corner. We also can see the rapid trains from our apartment door, so I finally live near really great public transit! There’s also a two story Target not far away…you should see how you get your cart to the second floor. An amazing feat of engineering.

One of my favorite things to do is learn a new city and if that didn’t involve actually moving my shit to a new one I would do it every few years. I like learning the best pizza places and bars for happy hour. I enjoy finding the local grocery stores and getting a new library card. And I also love driving around and figuring out the best way to get places so you can talk about it with other locals later. But that is proving to be a challenge for me because my ‘hood has some panic-inducing intersections to contend with. You think I’m a wuss? No no no…these intersections have like 5 streets coming together and complicated signage that is supposed to help but only makes me cry out in horror “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” So I usually just pray that I’m behind someone who knows that their doing…regardless if it’s the way I need to go. But I’m slowly figuring it out. Trial and error can be a fun game if you’re patient enough…which is a virtue I’m trying my best to attain.

Other fun things that have happened:
•We broke our built-in microwave the first night we were here. How? I dunno… but when they came to replace it this week they did so while I was sleeping and I had no idea the repair man was in my apartment. We essentially had an intruder and I continued to sleep. That bodes well for me I think.
•My roommate’s cat vomited on my bed…and I think I might be slightly allergic to him. It makes me very sad. :(
•We essentially painted our entire apartment the first week, and let me tell you, these are some INTENSE colors. But I love it. I’m so damn tired of painting though. I kept pitying my grandfather because he used to be a house painter for a living. How did you do it grandpa? How?
•There’s a pizza/pasta place by our apartment called Capitan Tony’s…and it’s owned by a middle-aged Asian man. The day we signed our lease my dad came with us and then we went to Capitan Tony’s for dinner…and my dad and “Capitan Tony” became great friends He even made us complimentary chicken wings to entice us back.
•The first grocery shopping trip we went on was to a store really close to the apartment. We took our sustainable reusable bags and went over…thoroughly intoxicated by the walkability of our new lives. It was all well and good until we bought waaaay too much stuff…including beer and milk. I really would have liked to see us walking home, from the perspective of an onlooker. We were walking really fast then adjusting the bags, then cursing because our arms were dying under the weight of canned goods. At one point we walked up to the rapid train tracks and I just kept walking to which my roommate said “Aren’t you going to look both ways!?” I replied “Well either the weight of these bags or the train is going to kill me…so just keep going!” It was a good lesson in buying less food more often.
•We got a speeding ticket already. I won’t say which of us…because it doesn’t matter. We just did. Then we saw the cop the next day at Walmart. He’s super hot.
•We’ve watched Jeopardy every night and kept score like we always told each other we’d do when we moved in together. A couple times we’ve been drunk…which always makes it more fun. And we’ve gotten in fights already about it. This week is the College Tournament of Champions, which automatically is very exciting because we will know more answers! It’s going to be a really fun week during the Teen and Kids Tournaments.

Well…that’s a good beginning to Cleveland I think. There will be many more stories to share and bars to report on. Thanks to those who have read my blog when my life was a little less interesting and independent. I’ll try to keep my thoughts coming and snarkier than ever.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Talkin’ Bout My Generation

While writing my last post I realized half of it was about how nutty my parents are. And I don’t really think it’s just my parent’s individual personalities that make them crazier than bat shit. I think it’s also the generation they came from and how quickly our generation has labeled them “lame-os.” I mean, these are people we love very much (moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents) but they are like, so totally not informed. If you think about any time in your life that you have wanted to appear awesomely badass, I can guarantee your parents are not a part of that scenario. So these people raised us and essentially molded what we have become; how can they have such a different understanding of things…especially language? It’s as if we speak a different dialect of English. Allow me to explain…

Gay/Queer: Seriously these poor words have been so tangled in a weird web that maybe it isn’t even totally the fault of generations. But still “gay” and “queer” used to mean “happy” and “strange” to a majority of the baby boomers. But now the greater portion of society uses these words as derogatory terms. After being a substitute teacher for a year, I cannot tell you on how many instances I’ve heard “That’s so gay,” or “Stop being such a fucking queer dude.” I really, really would like to say “Oh child. It’s ok. I know using these sophomoric generalized terms for homosexuals makes you feel very confident in your heterosexuality. But I know my fair share of actual gay men. All you need is a trip to Banana Republic and a couple gin and tonics and you’d fit right in. Stop being such a dick. Oh, and you’re tardy. Thanks.”

Thong: Once upon a time my family was going to the Ohio State Fair. Enchanting. My mother looked at me and said “Uh…you’re not going to wear thongs to the fair are you?” I was aghast. First of all, who wears two thongs and second, what business was it of hers what kind of undergarments I wore? (Not that I wear thongs that often. You may tell me that I won’t have panty-lines with them. So friggin’ what. There are a lot worse things than people knowing I’m actually wearing underwear.) After we translated through our language barrier, I realized my mom was talking about my flip-flops. This is an essential word to work out with parents, especially if you hear your dad yell, “Hey! Watch out. You have dog shit on your thong!”

Dutch oven: This is a real good one. One of the small joys in my life is discovering that something juvenile and disgusting (and funny) has an actual name. Dutch oven is one of those things. If you are sleeping with or sitting cozily on the couch with someone and you are flatulent, most people would hope the smell dissipates away quickly before the bomb is smelled. However, if you are a big jerkwad, you pull the covers over your blanket-mate so they most assuredly know you farted…and have to smell it up close and personal. You have just created a Dutch oven. When I heard my aunts talking about a Dutch oven one day I busted up laughing. Why were they talking about farting under the covers and gassing one of my uncles? But of course they weren’t talking about my childish definition of the term…they were talking of the cooking apparatus. I really hope I never cook something that calls for preparation in a Dutch oven. If I open the lid to get a whiff I’ll probably die of laughter before I finish my recipe.

Douche bag: One of my favorite movies is “Wet Hot American Summer.” If you’ve never seen it you really should if only because these actors are in it: Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Chris Meloni (chyeah, the tough-ass from Law and Order:SVU), Michael Ian Black, and Molly Shannon. Good shit right there. One of the best lines is in a scene where a hoity-toity, hot girl calls a nerdy kid a “Douche bag.” His response “Douche bags are a hygienic product; I take that as a compliment.” Imagine what our parents thought when we started tossing that term around. I find myself using it daily and in many different parts of speech: “What a douche bag,” “That’s so douchey,” “He majors in douche baggery,” you get the picture.

Grill: In boomer generation speak, this is my dad’s favorite thing. Grilling me about what jobs I’ve followed up on, marinating a chicken he will eventually grill, looking lovingly (and covetously) at all the grills when we go to the Home Depot. But I think a lot of people my age think of something else when we hear the word. For a long time when someone was invading my space or personal business, I was fond of saying “Get up out my grill, jeez.” Then all our favorite rappers decided that they would make retainers cool buy dipping them in gold and chrome and bedazzling them. What up…we got Grillz!

Junk in the Trunk: This is a favorite of my sister and me because my mom so eloquently shouted it out one day. I think it was the morning my sister was moving back to college and she was cramming all of her stuff in her car. All of the sudden my mom opens the trunk and says with a sigh “Jeez…you’ve got a lot of junk in your trunk.” I believe we were in tears with laughter. And I’m sorry we weren’t laughing with my mom, we were laughing at her. If we had been quick with witty comebacks I’d have treasured if my sister would have said “Thanks for noticing my bootylicious ass Mom. Much apprec!”

Shot your wad: I’m leaving this one for last because it is an epic tale that I still laugh about daily. I’m not kidding. When I’m feeling sad, I simply remember this favorite thing and then I don’t feel so bad. So my parents, sister, and I went shopping at a furniture store because my mom was picking out a loveseat or chair or something. After agonizing over the decision, my mom chose her furniture and we went out for dinner. As we were leaving my sister and I did the requisite chug your drink, refill, and take it with you move. We’re American, come on, when it says free refills you best get several! On the way home, sipping our pop in the back seat we hear my dad say to my mother “Well, you really shot your wad tonight!” Choking and sputtering and general pandemonium from my sister and I. “What did you say Dad??” we shouted. He explained that my mom had really spent a lot of money…so apparently he used the time-honored saying “Shot your wad” to express himself. I don’t know about you…but that phrase most definitely, definitely doesn’t mean the same to the younger generation as it does the older. So I’m not going to go into detail. Parents: just don’t say that. Ever. Please. Thank you.

These are just a few of the many, many examples of the generation gap. Especially when it comes to language. If you have any interesting stories of miscommunication please post a comment with your story. I think the only way we can move past our differences and to once again understand each other is to share our experiences. Haha…or we can just continue to be douche bags and make fun of our loved ones when they make silly blunders. That’s way more fun.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Full House

As of today, I have been living with my parents for 14 months and 15 days. Of all the things I thought I’d do after finishing graduate school, needing to move back home was not on my list. But, if you care to remember, the economy bailed on its American children like a deadbeat Dad. What a douche. So here I am, bunking with Ma and Pa. Before I “analyze” this stage of my life I just want to issue this caveat: I love my parents very much and I am thankful everyday that they welcomed me home with open arms, free living accommodations, and food. That being said…I sure as shit miss my independence. Here are just a few of the pros and cons of my situation…so if you are faced with moving back home (as it appears many people my age are) you will have some points on which to base your decision.


Cons: As often happens when children leave the nest, their space gets turned into an office or guest bedroom. My dad dreamed of a place for his long-hoped for Bowflex, but my mom vetoed that and my room became a huge closet. For instance, right now all the Christmas presents are piled atop my old furniture. So I inhabit my sister’s old bedroom, which has two twin beds in it. Bitch time: I miss my double bed. There I said it. Even my dorm bunk was better because it was extra-long at least. My feet hang over the edge of my current bed and I almost rolled over the side several times before I got used to the size of it. This Thanksgiving it was sort of bizarre to sleep in the same room with my sister. We kinda felt like Bert and Ernie. I also don’t have a lot of room for my clothes so for about six months I lived out of four suitcases (partly because I’m lazy, partly because I thought it felt too permanent and defeatist to unpack).

Pros: I have my own bathroom!! I’ve never had my own bathroom before…and might not ever again when I (finally, hopefully, one day, soon) move out. But right now, in my parent’s house I do! Suffice it to say, no one really wants to use my bathroom because my products and dirty clothes make it nearly impossible. But I have to claim one private space right? Also my parents have Dish network!! Over 200 channels! They got this after I went to college…so I feel like this is my time to make good use of it….which I do…all day.

Food and Beverage

Cons: I’m gaining weight.

Pros: When I was in graduate school I went through a phase of seeing how little I could spend on food. And while one night I found myself eating a bowl of corn and a piece of bread and butter, I lost weight and had plenty of money for weekend festivities. But now that I’m home there’s a veritable smorgasbord in our kitchen. Name brands! Full course meals! And my parents pick up the check when we go out to eat. (It doesn’t help that my dad always orders the onion ring appetizer at Applebee’s). So it seems that prosperity does make people fat. Also I’m convinced that when you move back home you go through a period of light alcoholism. For awhile my mom would oblige when I asked her to buy me a twelve pack, and I took the liberty of casing the liquor cabinet. Look, I know it sounds bad…but I don’t have an Xbox and a whole stash of weed to pass my daytime boredom. I snapped out of it when I saw that half the recycling was Keystone Light cans. Yeah. Embarrassing.

Roommates (aka “My Parents”)

Cons: I’d lived pretty much independently for the six years preceding my return as the prodigal daughter. So since high school I’d only had smallish doses of my parents. But now they are my roommates, landlords, what have you. I think one of the truly horrible and, at the same time, amazing things about parents is that even if you love them they can irritate the living shit out of you. And it’s pretty much universal. Let’s take my mom for instance. She tends to belabor points. (In laymen’s terms she nags…but that’s a tidge harsh no?) I know she does this because she cares and she’s scatterbrained and busy and goofy. But still…I’ve been known to come to my breaking point with a harsh “I GET it Mom, ok?? I GET it!” (You can judge me right now if you want. Go ahead).

And my dad…well he’s a whole different can of nuts. He’s a practical joker and the disregard of societal norms doesn’t embarrass him in the least. He’s like a man-child when it comes to clothing. Some days he decides that he wants to wear cowboy boots with dress pants or…whoa nelly wait for this…white socks with black loafers and a brown belt. He also fancies himself an “artist.” Honestly he borders on genius when it comes to concocting crazy projects he morphs from ideas on the DIY channel. He’s into making lamps out of nontraditional objects (think bowling balls, jars of marbles, liquor bottles, skulls…kidding!!) and recently he began chopping up old records for his designs. I thought he had dropped some acid one day when he said he wanted to buy canvases, spin them around really fast, while dripping paint on top. (Parental drug-based humor. What? I don’t like literary boundaries.) I’m convinced that if he didn’t marry my mom he’d live in a huge house full of his manic designs. And he’d have a long braided pony-tail. And wear white socks with black loafers and a brown belt.

And remember I said he doesn’t have a lot of shame? Well one day he sent me to the local carryout to get a bag of ice for our cookout. When I got to the checkout the cashier girl looked at me rather strangely. I figured it was because I looked like I hadn’t showered in days, when she said “Uh. I think you’re supposed to take home some hot dog buns.” My father had called the carry out because apparently he forgot about cell phone communication. I shudder to think of how he described me: “Uh…yeah she’s got brown hair, is carrying a bag of ice, and looks like a hill jack. Tell her to get some hotdog buns.”

Pros: My parents are so entertaining and actually spoil me way more than they should. Most weekend mornings my dad gets up and makes a big fancy breakfast, and often times he breaks out my grandma’s recipe for carmel toast. Yes…it’s a good as it sounds…and no you can’t have the recipe. And he always makes me laugh…whether it’s intentional or because I catch him watching something on Lifetime Movie Network. And my mom takes care of me even though I’m admittedly too old for such things. She always asks me if there’s anything special I’d like for dinner or if I want to rent a pay-per-view movie with her (even though she always falls asleep before they’re over). I’ve also had a good time turning her into a fan of The Office (“Oh my God, that Dwight is so crazy!”), and I’ll miss watching it with her every night when I move away.

So do the cons of living at home outweigh the pros? Not really in the way I expected. I really shouldn’t be living at home because I do need to be responsible, get a job, and recreate my own adult life. And I know that time will come soon when I am able to do that. But while I’m struggling to make that happen I suppose having my parents as roommates isn’t as bad as it might appear. So if you have to move home, don’t be embarrassed. It happens. But try for a shorter tenure than me. Don’t drink too much. And if your parents are as cool as mine, thank them every once in awhile for welcoming you back into the nest.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

“Sometimes You Wanna Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name”

Its not really a secret to those who know me…but I like the sauce. Devil’s brew. Firewater. You get the picture. And surprisingly enough I didn’t start really drinking until I was 21 (gasp…whaaat??) It’s true. But by then I was on a rugby team and my days of sobriety faded into the sunset. One of the benefits of not drinking until I was legally allowed was that I didn’t get an underage intox in college and I didn’t have to hide in a dorm room playing beer pong on a closet door. I got to saunter right up to the bar and stagger out 4 hours later. Bars hold a special place in my heart, most likely because I’ve been to quite a few and I try to find the beauty in each. I enjoy a fancy martini bar where the drinks are served by tenders in all black attire. I like the douchey sports bars where beefy frat guys shout at the flat screens and order wings and loaded potato skins with their pitchers. I adore gay bars where I’m referred to as “girl” or “sweetie” and am complimented on my “gorgeous pashmina scarf.” And I also love Irish Bars where it’s imperative you know the proper way to pour a Guinness and to give the toast “Slainte.” (It don’t rhyme with “ain’t”). But of all my bar boyfriends whom I’ve loved, I have given my heart to my one and only. The Dive Bar. In memory of my hometown’s dive bar which recently closed, I dedicate this post to “The Red Owl Inn.”

My first exposure to what I would come to think of as a Dive Bar was from my one of my parent’s favorite shows “Cheers.” You could argue that Cheers is not a Dive Bar…and you may be right. But I classify it such because of the feeling I get from it. Like the theme song says “Wouldn’t you like to get away…sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name. And they’re always glad you came.” Who wouldn’t want to go to a place like that? When I got a little older my dad would take my sister and I to a Dive Bar after work with him (it was a restaurant too…don’t shit your pants). It was called Dewey’s and they had pizza and video games. Like a Chuckie Cheese…with beer. (Sounds like heaven huh?) These bars began to ironically feel safe to me. The sounds of laughter and classic rock. The gentle yet sarcastic jabs from the bartenders to their clientele. These were working class people sitting down for a beer, enjoying time with friends. What could be better?

When I got to college, the Dive Bars were significantly scaled back with preferences towards the clubby type atmosphere where dancing resembled sex and over-priced drinks were served by scantily clad women. There were a few bars I enjoyed more than others and they generally involved cozy venues where the restrooms weren’t filled with sweaty cry-barfing girls, with well-meaning friends saying “He’s an ASS-hole Stephanie. You’re too good for him!”
When I got to graduate school, after a long exhaustive search I found my favorite Dive Bar, which has still not been surpassed. Its name: The Bier Stube. The Bier Stube was a Dive Bar at its finest. The floor was perpetually sticky. They had two dart boards. The juke box specialized in classic rock. You left your tips in a bucket. There was shag carpet stapled to the table legs. And the piece de resistance…they sold beer to go. Yes. The night doesn’t have to end at 2:30 suckas! All in all the Bier Stube was pretty disgusting, and amazing. And ironically enough, when I went to Germany there was a bar in Dresden called the Stube which was amazing as well. (Germany /Beer/Stubes deserve their own post…mostly because of Beer Gardens and liter drinks…and French fries served with mayonnaise dressing. I’m tearing up right now thinking of it.)

So to really understand what a Dive Bar is (in my opinion only mind you), I believe that a bar must have at minimum 5 of these characteristics. Well at least these are the reasons I like Dive Bars.

1) It has to have a cool name
Case in point: The Library in Columbus, Ohio. When someone asks where you’re going, you say “The Library.” You aren’t lying. And you don’t look like an alcoholic by going to a bar at 2 pm on a Tuesday. It has to be a welcoming name that makes you feel like you belong. Sure it’s fun to go to a bar named Club Morocco or Stratosphere Lounge or whatnot…but that is not a Dive Bar name. Some of my favorites over the years: Lottie Moons, Mac and Joe’s, The Thirsty Scholar, Lucky’s, Out R Inn, Surly Girl, Brat Haus, Nate and Wally’s, Zamakazi’s. You get the picture.

2) Beer, Beer, Beer
You’ve gotta serve beer. If you have liquor based drinks as well, all the better. But beer should and must be the center of your drink menu or you cannot be a Dive Bar. It’s best if you offer pitcher specials and if your bartenders know how to do a proper pour, either from the tap or other container. If there’s anything I hate more it’s waiting for 2 inches of head to dissipate (That’s what she said). Also. You are no friend of mine if you don’t have Pilsner glasses. You know, the thick glasses that don’t (normally) shatter if you drop them off the bar (or karaoke stage). Which brings me to….

3) Music
I’ll admit I love techno, fabulous electronic dance music. I already said I like gay bars didn’t I? But to really feel comfortable and enjoy my drinking experience I want to hear some classic rock. Eighties hits are ok too. I mean tell me you wouldn’t enjoy hearing somebody butcher “Wake me up before you Go-Go.” Wham! on a karaoke machine=nothing better. But I love hearing the Stones (Beast of Burden!) or Led Zeppelin (Street Corner Girl!). And everybody has a great time with Piano Man, Sweet Caroline, and Don’t Stop Believin’.

4) Sports and Entertainment
One of my good friends is pretty antsy…or maybe just ADD I dunno. But one of the requirements when bar choosing , and of a good bar, is “What is our drinking activity?” I personally enjoy drinking while watching sports or movies or just talking. But this friend had to be doing something, which soon wore off on me. Our favorite pastime is darts and my dad goes ape for a pool table. We would often move onto those bar-top video games, most notably Erotic Photohunt. (“Is his ass cheek different in the left picture?”) I’ve also seen a drunken friend dominate at Pac Man. It was pretty epic. In the warmer months we would play Cornhole and Hillbilly Golf (lovingly called “Testical Toss”) and we always had a great time with classic drinking games like Flip Cup and the quintessential Beer Pong.

5) Bartenders
I don’t want to be hatey, but a lot of bartenders are lacking in their barside manner. Maybe it’s because they’re busy or don’t really have a love for the craft but I just don’t like if you’re bitchy or flat out ignore me. I understand it can be a rough job, especially when annoying drunks can’t pronounce the beer they want or sign their credit card receipt. But if you show a little grace and spunk when bartending I will, guaranteed, leave you a huge tip for facilitating my drinking.

6) Dress Code
You aren’t allowed to have one. Except the blatantly obvious No Shirt No Shoes No Service (my grandpa used to add “No Shit” at the end of that phrase just to show its “Duh” factor). But I don’t want to have to dress up in my finest attire to go have a beer. Anyplace that embraces me in tennis shoes and a hoodie is perfect in my book. Every time I go out with friends it doesn’t mean I’m looking to impress a guy…so don’t give me that look biatch. I’m just here to have fun.

I’m a bit of a freak when it comes to hand washing and cleanliness. But I’ll make a smallish exception for a Dive Bar. Your bathrooms have to verge on gross. I shouldn’t want to sit directly on the toilet (and I never do). And if your men’s urinals resemble a latrine trough…all the better. Guys like peeing in odd places anyway. But under no circumstances should you forgo soap. I draw the line there. Especially since the onslaught of the Swine. Gag. Moving on.

8) D├ęcor
What can I say…you can’t have padded couches with throw pillows at a Dive Bar. No sir. Booths, tables, chairs, and barstools are allowed. I also enjoy old beer posters and neon lights. For some reason St. Pauli Girl and Pabst Blue Ribbon signs seem to fit in dive bars. Anything vintage that has to do with sports is also cool. And if you let your clientele write on the walls…BONUS! My friend and I once wrote “Jew vs. Gentile” on a dart scoring chalk board just to see how long it would stay up there.

9) Emotional Attachments
This may seem silly and girlish (Well…I am a girl), but if a place is a Dive Bar to you, you should have some sort of emotional attachment to it. All the Dive Bars I like have that quirky, special feeling to them, the feeling that if someone insults it I’ll fight them to the death. “Did I just hear you diss on Spanky’s? Oh no you did-int!” And most important of all you should feel at home when you enter your favorite Dive Bar. Just like the Cheers theme song says “Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got. Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. Wouldn't you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go, Where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same. You wanna go where everybody knows your name.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How Many Quilts Have You Killed Today Vera?

Dear Ms. Vera Bradley,
Hello. You don’t know me (and after you read this letter you won’t want to know me), but I’m an unemployed 25 year old female living in Ohio. I wanted to write you today to express my extreme displeasure/outrage involving your manufacturing process. It is blatantly clear that you are the (decidedly loaded) evil tsarina in charge of a handbag regime in which countless quilts are abused and more often than you’d probably like to admit, murdered. Yes…I’m aware of your heinous secret…you are a patchwork-loving homicidal maniac and I want you to know that I am whole-heartedly against your practices. It’s bad enough that you destroy the very quilted fabric that this country was built upon, but to parade it around in the form of handbags, totes, suitcases and other various zippered receptacles is inexcusable. From this day forward I am starting a one-woman crusade entitled SOQ:VB=M (Save Our Quilts: Vera Bradley=Murder). Consider yourself warned Ms. Bradley.
With sincere contempt,
An employed 25 year old female living in Ohio

If I were to compose a letter to Vera Bradley (is she even a real person? am I focusing my anger on a figment of imagination?) that is most likely how it would look. Why such hate you may wonder. Such anger for a person you do not even know. Don’t fool yourselves. Vera has brainwashed you too, brainwashed you into thinking you need her fancy quilted bags to be fashionable in 2009. Right now, hundreds and hundreds of Vera-crazed ladies are lining up to wreak havoc on mind-numbingly patterned, quilted bags. Oh yes, there is a massive Vera sale going on in Fort Wayne, Indiana…the birthplace of the regime. You know, I’m an advocate of personal safety in the form of pepper spray…but I fear that these Vera Nuts (otherwise known as our normally docile mothers, aunts, grandmas) will use it on one another to get to that paisley-patterned makeup case. I feel like I can hear it now. Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Jones are talking pleasantly in line about their favorite size and model of Vera bag.

“You know Joan, I just go crazy for that flowered mid-sized pocketbook!” to which Joan replies

“Phyllis I couldn’t agree more. Vera’s latest fabric patterns have been precious! Did you even see that gorgeous plaid one with the cardinals and robins on the trim?”

These are nice sentiments from two gals I’m sure we could venture to call Granny Joan and Auntie Phyllis. But just you wait. They open those doors to the bag wholesale and it becomes a quilted massacre. Joan and Phyllis (and all the other nice gals) become blood-thirsty Vera fanatics.

“I saw that pink striped glasses case first Joan! You nasty slut!”
“Shut the fuck up Phyllis. It’s mine. I’m gonna pummel your fat ass.”
“Oh really? You lay a finger on it and you’re gonna see my fist comin’ at your dome!”
“Don’t test me bitch! It’s a limited edition. I’ve killed for less.”

Alright, alright. That was really dramatic. But honestly, even if they don’t actually act out that violent scene you know they’re thinking it. Somehow the quilted bags of Vera Bradley have become something of a pop-culture phenomenon. What you’d think would just be a small faction of middle aged to elderly ladies with a love for these bags has manifested itself into an all-age fashion accessory binge.

If you are a fan I apologize for the following assessment, but again, it’s just my own opinion. I personally (if you can’t tell) am not a fan of them…aesthetically speaking. Quite frankly I think they’re ugly. But what bothers me most about this quilted-mess is that someone thought up the idea to hack apart and sew together bags (which look like blankets) and is now a bajallionaire. And people actually pay shit-tons of money for something my grandma could make in a half hour! (I’m probably just jealous that I didn’t think of it first. You know…if I’d thought up gaucho pants or scrunchies or some other putrid fashion, I wouldn’t be so damn hoity-toity about hating them so much because I’d be a tanning in Barbados right now outside my luxury villa. So go ahead and hold that against me. Rightly so.)

I also don’t really understand young women who carry them around. I can see how a more mature lady would dig them. That’s cool with me. Get on with your fancy-bag-carrying-bad-self mom. But I saw them daily at my undergraduate institution. I’ll admit that some patterns bordered on “cute” or “permissible.” But girlfriend, you’re 20 years old…do you really think that carrying a quilted purse with hens and roosters on it is the epitome of sexiness? I can’t imagine how deluded your mind is if you think so.

*Sidenote: I will make an exception for the breast cancer awareness Vera Bags. I won’t hate on anyone who has one of those because it’s for a great cause. I’ll admit I’m a sardonic bitch at times but I’ve certainly got a heart. During the LiveStrong uproar I owned so many of those multi-colored bracelets I looked like a damn Rainbow Brite doll. Hell, if someone made an IBS awareness Croc maybe I’d buy it. (Seriously, I have loved ones with IBS. Trust this, you don’t want the words “irritable” and “bowel” in the name of a disease YOU have.) *End of Sidenote

Anyhow…I think I’ve made I certainly clear that Vera ain’t my favorite gal. But you know what…go wit it’. If you love you some quilted bags…then be my guest. But then again…I might attack you on the street cause I’m on a mission to reconstruct the quilts of America. And your patterned paisley-shit cosmetics bag is just what I need to finish my blanket.

Friday, March 27, 2009

H-Ugg it out, Bitch

After my last assault on footwear you probably don’t want to even hear what I’ve got to say about Uggs. If that’s so…there’s a red button in the upper right corner of this screen that you’re welcome to click. Haha…that was uber-bitchy. Sorry. Please keep reading. It’s not all bad.

But anyways, Uggs aka the fall/winter Crocs. I think every season should have a token pair of intolerable shoes and Uggs shall be that for the colder ones. I’ll start again with the first time I came into contact with Uggs. And lemme tell you…this one is weird. I believe it was Christmas 1996 when these fuzzy, soft leather sexy thangs came into our household. My uncle bought them for each of his brothers (one of those bros being my dad) because he had heard about them from one of his clients and thought they were cool because they were made in Australia by sheep herders or something. Middle-aged men. What can you say? I had never heard of them before this point, but did my dad ever like them. He wore them, as I mentioned before, as “houseshoes.” So my first memory of this shoe staple was seeing my dad trudge out into the snow in Uggs, boxer shorts, and a robe to take out the trash. Real, real fashion forward.

I would randomly put them on as well because they were so soft inside (as Michael Ian Black says on I Love the New Millennium “It’s like sticking your foot into a lamb”). I didn’t really think much of these boots for some time until I went to that fashion obsessed university I mentioned before. To set the scene I’ll just say that this school, in terms of average parental wealth, was a bit out of my league. I got in just fine based upon ACT scores and my GPA…but if I had been trying to get in on Daddy’s good word/dollar (as I assume some did) I would not have made it. The way kids dressed baffled me from day one and never ceased to baffle me until I graduated four years later. I think Uggs crept in my first fall/winter there and didn’t stop (I’m sure it’s still happening now).

First off, based upon my past experiences with Uggs…they just weren’t cool. And I’d have to say that if you were to see your dad traipsing around in them you wouldn’t think they were all that hot either.

Secondly, I had much the same feelings about Uggs as I do with Crocs. There is a time and place for them. With a decent pant in cold weather they are perfectly acceptable in my eyes. But I’ll never forget when girls began wearing them with jean skirts and a skanky ribbed summer. I don’t even WANT to think what their foot sweat was doing to that poor lamb wool lining. But I’d have to say my favorite look (which I hear is being replicated on college campuses all over the nation) is what my sister and I call the “OMG…I just got outta bed in time for Stats.” A girl throws on a pair of tiny shorts with her respective university stamped across the ass. Then she chooses a Gamma Delta Tri Zeta Beta t-shirt which advertises some “A-mazing” activity she and her “sisters” participated in. Then said gal mashes her hair into a messy bun which is supposed to look like she just did it in 2 seconds (like I do), but in reality it took her 10 minutes to get the appropriate bed-head chic look. After the first layer is appropriately in place she finishes with a North Face fleece (black is preferred…although light pastel colors are a close second) and then our subject footwear, Uggs. She also probably takes along her Vera Bradley bag but I’ve got so much pent-up rage focused on those things that I can’t even go there right now (but don’t you worry…it’s so coming). I can’t even tell you how many girls I would see fitting the “OMG…I just got outta bed in time for Stats” look when I was at school. It was painfully obvious that these girls did not in fact “just get outta bed,” and that they should at least use that prep time for a more put together look. Personally I did indeed “just get outta bed” and it was blatantly clear. I perfected the sweat wear look…but hey I was in a collegiate sport (and valued my sleep more than impressing some douche bag guy in my Stats class) so lay off me k? Anyways back to Uggs.
As time went on this fad continued and continued and continued. I even fell somewhat prey to it when I borrowed a pair of my sister’s fuzzy boots (they weren’t Uggs and they were a lot cuter, but I guess it still is in the same genre). And you know what? They are comfortable and somewhat freeing. I felt like I was a young, svelte woman named Natasha living in cold, Communist Moscow who, although under such a strict regime, looked arctic-fabulous daily.

So what are my true thoughts? Again, in my opinion Uggs are acceptable with a) the proper pant and b) the proper cold season. It’s also important that people who wear them understand that you really aren’t “hot shit.” If you don’t believe me I cordially invite to you my parents quaint country home. You can go on our back porch and witness what a grown man’s 13 year-old Uggs look like…and then, if you can stomach it, you can watch him take out the trash in those boots and a plaid, old man robe. Enjoy.