Sunday, December 28, 2008

top ten albums...

Just finished my Top Ten Albums of 2008. It took me waaay too long to make this. I kind of let it make me crazy. So enjoy.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Oh, (ginger) snap!

I woke up in a start realizing that I totally forgot to put out milk and cookies for Santa! I hope he comes anyway...

Monday, December 22, 2008

I am never leaving Portland.

Look. I know I'm supposed to hate this snow. This snow is keeping people from leaving the airport, it's keeping people from going Christmas shopping, it's making it so none of my boxes are ever going to get here in time, it made it so my dad and I had to cart my 50+ pound suitcases half a mile uphill in the snow (and my sister is absolutely facing the same fate when her plane is scheduled to come in tomorrow). I get it.

BUT LOOK AT IT! IT'S BEAUTIFUL! I shoveled for an hour. And now I'm going to go outside and shovel some more. And I know I'm supposed to hate shoveling. But shoveling is like playing in the snow for grown-ups! You get to build SICK ESKIMO WALLS! Your dog thinks it is the funnest game EVER when snow is being tossed all around! I like shoveling, and I like snow, and I don't mind staying inside all day and reading novel after novel and listening to Best of '08 music lists and talking to Avery on the phone. Christmas break is THE BEST. I LOVE being trapped inside with my parents and my dog and my cats. The only thing I want in the world is for Allie to come home. But otherwise I'm pretty fucking happy. 100 PERCENT FUN!!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

76 percent fun!

I just need to tell you this one story. I mean, there is a lot to tell, honestly. There have been a lot of fun experiences had lately. On Friday night I stayed out until 2 a.m.! I am a PARTY ANIMAL. That SAME NIGHT I experienced for the first time in my entire life the wonder that is Baked Brie (also known as the greatest food man has yet invented). There were other triumphs of that night, involving lighting little plastic army men on fire and also involving Brazil, but that's not the story I want to tell you.

The story I want to tell you is ALSO not how I spent eight hours yesterday in Hannah's kitchen making and canning amazing, authentic lemon curd (from local Meyer lemons!). Lemon curd and butter cookies and mushroom tomato sauce and cauliflower curry and New Wave Dance Mix and "Harold and Maude." I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, "ALL IN ONE DAY!?" And I am here swearing on the legacy of Bud Cort that I am telling the truth. This may sound like the perfect day to you. That is because it was. But again, that's not the story I want to tell you.

I want to tell you a story (surprise!) about Avery.

Maybe I haven't told given you very much background on Avery. Here are some things about him: 1. He has fetal alcohol syndrome. In Sped Speak, this translates to being one of those uncategorizable "OHI"s (other health impairments), because he is moderately retarded and severely physically impaired. Avery lives Uptown. Last summer, his mother died in front of him. He doesn't have a father, and he lives with his 8osomething grandmother, who broke her hip last month. Avery doesn't really have a lot, and he doesn't ask for a lot. And despite all of that, he is SUCH a good person. He loves people, he makes people laugh, he enjoys being alive. And all he wanted in the whole universe for Christmas was a cell phone.

So you know the punchline here: We got him a cell phone. We got him one of those WalMart ones with 500 minutes to put on it. All in all, it cost the three of us (me, Kristen, and Jayda) like $60. And SERIOUSLY YOU GUYS: No kid has EVER been happier in his LIFE, EVER, to receive ANYTHING. Avery started freaking out and spazzing around the room and shouting, and he peed all over himself because he was so happy. I can't put this into words. I should have committed it to film but I didn't have the foresight. Imagine the absolute best Christmas movie you've ever seen ever about a kid finally getting the present he has always dreamed of, and then magnify that climactic scene by a googleplex.

I kept thinking about how when I was a kid I never really cared all that much about my Christmas presents. I remember one year I got this really expensive keyboard (which I still have), but all I wanted was a Polaroid camera, so I just kind of sulked for most of the holiday. I don't think I even said thank you. I mean, that's typical of a kid like me, really. I don't feel all that bad about it. But you know, Avery has called me twelve times in the last two days. Just to say, "Hey Ms. Johnson, how you doin'?" "Hey Ms. Johnson, I'm just chillin' right now!" "Hey Ms. Johnson I'm watching Court TV are you watching Court TV?" Next year I'm gonna get that kid an iPhone.

Friday, December 19, 2008

75 percent fun!

Wow. So. Most successful Christmas party of all time. I mean, honestly, it was the perfect party. And now I feel completely prepared to tell you what you need to do to throw the perfect party, in ten easy steps:
  1. The perfect number of guests to invite is 9. This is particularly perfect if you have exactly 9 chairs on hand. This is the perfect sized group to allow for little break-offs and to accommodate all-group conversations at the same time.
  2. Martha Stewart has the best cut-out cookie recipe. I should have known that. Martha Stewart probably IS a cut-out cookie.
  3. White elephant gift exchanges are awesome.
  4. When making the invite list to your white elephant gift party, be sure to invite at least two artists who will take the "white elephant" thing literally and will bring a present that in some way actually incorporates a white elephant. Perhaps by transforming a pudding Snak Pak into an elephant by coiling wire around it. (You'd probably have to see this to understand what I mean.)
  5. Catchphrase is awesome.
  6. You don't put vodka in eggnog (or soynog). You put brandy or rum or whiskey. Makes all the difference in the world.
  7. As "good" as your homemade apple cider was at your Halloween party, the expensive apple cider they sell at Whole Foods is better. Like, way better. And you can definitely put a cinnamon stick in there and say you made it yourself.
  8. If you put chips and salsa out for your party because you think it's possible your guests will want to eat something besides cookies and frosting, know that the artists you invite to the party (see number 4) will use the chips to decorate their cookies. And this will be awesome.
  9. Putting a Star of David on your Christmas tree cookie is funny and ironic and also pretty inclusive.
  10. "All I Want for Christmas Is You" should be played often and loudly and preferably on repeat at any party you throw during any season regardless of theme or religious affiliation.
Yesterday we lost four hours of the school day because of a "fire."

On Tuesday we took the kids on a field trip to the Contemporary Art Center (which is an unbelievably cool place in general, and has some of the best Prospect.1 exhibits in the whole city [I was especially in love with the Bob Marley video piece, and I notoriously HATE Bob Marley, so that's saying something]). The trip was horrible because of this one woman who was so incredibly rude and condescending to my wonderful students and actually quit her job in the middle of leading them in a workshop. She called them idiots and told one pregnant girl that she shouldn't have gotten pregnant in high school... I don't know. I can't communicate in words how hurtful she was. She broke Derren. Derren is this wonderful, 450-pound boy who I work really closely with. No matter what you do to him, or say to him, or try with him, he is always chatty and loud and playful, bouncing back from whatever comes his way. But after meeting this woman, he shut down for the rest of the day and refused to talk to anyone or do anything.

But the whole experience helped me realize how much I love these kids. I mean, I haven't cried in about three weeks, but seeing the kids beaten down like that, I had to step away and cry for a little while. I couldn't stand seeing the people I love more than anyone in the world hurt like that. After it was all over, I took my group aside and told them I was so impressed with them and proud of them, and that they were the reason I woke up every morning. As soon as I said that, I realized how true it was.

And then on Wednesday we dissected fetal pigs. FTW.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A quick happy story

I met Chlora May at the post office a few weeks ago, and I gave her a ride back to her nursing home. I loved hearing her stories about her life and her children and the way New Orleans has changed over time, and at the end of the ride we exchanged phone numbers. At first, Chlora May called a lot and I visited her once a week. But then after Thanksgiving, the phone calls abruptly stopped, and I assumed the worst. But yesterday I called just for some kind of closure and found that she was not only alive and well, she had fallen in love. She apologized for not calling me in a while, but she said she was too busy going on hot dates with William!

I thought I should share that, as corny and cliche as it is. It kind of made my heart swell.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

72 percent fun!

It was a really, really good weekend. When I woke up at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning, I had my doubts. I thought to myself, "I get myself up at the crack of dawn every single day. What the hell was I thinking volunteering to take eight kids into the wilderness where we inevitably won't sleep and we'll have to cook meat over a fire?" I was clearly grumpy, so I ate a Pop Tart. Then I felt better.

But I felt even BETTER when we loaded the kids into the car and headed out for Mississippi cranking Lil Wayne like it was our job and identifying all the many brown pelicans along the swamp. Two hours later I started to realize that the students at Rabouin High School -- even a sample size like this one -- are far and away the most energizing and entertaining people I have ever met in my life. While we sat around making Pudgie Pies (these are basically glorified grilled cheese sandwiches, and they are also AWESOME) the students asked with genuine intrigue if it was true that I was really a "veterinarian" (vegetarian). Yes, I was. What did I eat? Vegetables, bread, things like that. Did I eat fish? No. Didn't veterinarians eat fish? No. How was I still alive? I wasn't sure, but I usually didn't question it. Didn't I wonder what turkey tasted like on Thanksgiving? No, I had a Tofurkey. It was lucky I had brought some Tofurkey with me. All the kids decided they wanted to try "just a tiny bit." Only one boy liked it. Everyone else said it was disgusting (with complaints ranging from it tasting like baby food to it being made from mashed up lima beans).

We also went "birding," but that became a problematic endeavor once I saw a tufted titmouse and "titmouse" proved to be too hilarious a word not to dwell on for approximately an hour. And we DID make meat in tinfoil, and it was AWESOME. I wish I could have video taped the whole weekend; I don't think I've ever laughed so hard. Definitely not while camping.

But in some ways it was hard. December 13 this year marks one of those personal anniversaries for me, and I didn't want to be alone. The wilderness is a place where it's difficult to not be alone, even when you're with exuberant teenagers. Probably good, though. I did get to see a really old cemetery, and you all know how deeply thrilled I become over really old cemeteries.

There is one week of school left before I trek back to Portland. The traveling is growing a bit exhausting. But I'm getting that kind of excited feeling in my chest about Christmas. Who in their right mind doesn't love Christmas? Well, I guess a lot of people whose religions don't adhere to it. But the smell of it, and the sweaters, and the things you get to eat, and the music, and the red-and-green jigsaw puzzles. Apparently there is even snow in Portland right now. It's difficult to have an aversion to that stuff, I think. Maybe I'm wrong and I've just been spoiled with really wonderful parents who make Christmas this fabulous, familial time. And if that's the case, you can just come over to my house for Christmas this year. Because chances are, I miss you.

Friday, December 12, 2008

69 percent fun!

Okay, WHY do I not give myself food points!? I went to this guy Phillipe's house for dinner tonight and he's a chef at Houston's and he made these extraordinary zucchini fritters and cauliflower puree and I thought, "Heaven is currently in my mouth."

Isn't this an extraordinary picture of Avery? I love that he finds joy in everything about being alive. This is basically his expression all the time. Except when he is making his "sexy face."

Speaking of "sexy face," my cat is being the best boyfriend EVER right now. He's making all these sexy breathy little gurgles and purring and resting his head on my shoulder. WIN.

What I have NOT been doing a good job of lately is exploring the city. This is partially because it gets dark so early, but partially because I've been lazy and I haven't been prioritizing having fun. Luckily, I HAVE been prioritizing staying sane and quitting smoking and eating well and teaching. Which are probably more important than having fun. Maybe.

But tomorrow I'm taking my students camping. Yep. I'm loading them into my car, along with sleeping bags and pillows and fleece blankets, and we're driving to Baton Rouge at 7 in the freaking morning. And for this I am giving myself one point in advance. Because that's pretty fun. And if we see an endangered species, it's going to be THROUGH THE FUCKING ROOF.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

68 percent fun..

I've spent a lot of time very involved with being a teacher lately. And that's good. Publishing adorable quotes from students seems kind of cliche and unnecessary, but that's just what I'm about to do.

Derren: Ms. Johnson, it's true that when you drink wine coolers and eat a lot of cabbage when you're pregnant then your baby gonna have pretty skin?

Sophie: Vince, do you know what a pelvis is?
Vince: Yeah, he's that dude from Memphis right? From, like, the '40s or some shit?

Derren: I want to be a nurse when I grow up. You know, 'cause I want to do something where I be helpin' people. (pause.) And you know, there ain't no men up in that job, ya heard me? So I get bookoo ladies.

It snowed in New Orleans today. People acted like it was both the apocalypse and also the most awesome thing that had ever happened. I wished we could let the kids run around in it like they wanted to, but we kept them inside and by the end of the day it was all gone. Such is the inevitable nature of snow in the deep south.

Also, Ben is coming to visit. Thank GOD.

On Tuesday I drove to Baton Rouge to visit John and June, who Alex and I stayed with during Hurricane Gustav. As the story goes, the storm hit much harder there than it did in New Orleans and we stayed around for like four days, trapped by fallen water oaks and smashed power lines. It was amazing to see the neighborhood cleaned up, and the house with all the lights on, and the tiny dogs who wore diapers. We ate peanut butter-pear salad and pasta with roasted pepper sauce and blackberry cobbler, and I wanted to give myself 50 food points, but then I realized I don't give myself food points (partially because I'm not in Weight Watchers). Anyway, Baton Rouge is automatically fun. Spontaneous hour-and-a-half nighttime solo road trips are bonus points.

Things are quiet; fine. I am continuing to get pretty hilarious Craigslist responses. Marianne is wearing bundle clothing (you know -- zillions of sweaters and wool scarves and skiing hats and shit like that). I am reading a great deal so I can buy people up-to-date novels for their Christmas presents. My cat is sleeping on my feet. Awesome.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

68 percent fun!

It was a really good weekend. If you're wondering if I bought you a Christmas present, my answer is this: YES. YES I DID. I have never had such a euphorically successful shopping day. I recognize how completely and totally girly that sounds. But cut me some slack, I spend a lot of my time liking Star Wars and the NBA and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, so I think I'm allowed one stereotypically girly blog statement.

It was a beautiful day here, and my mom and I talked on the phone while simultaneously watching cat videos together over the internet for an entire hour. That's when I realized my mom was the perfect long distance boyfriend. Too bad we're related. And in that case, too bad I live in Louisiana and not Tennessee.

Last night I played Hoopla with Jayda, Drew, Kristen, and Jayda's cool friend whose name I can't spell but phonetically starts with a T. Did you know how AWESOME Hoopla was? ME. NEITHER. I am totally buying that for everyone who I didn't find New Orleans-themed Christmas presents for today. I think that game could actually stop most violent crime and several wars. I am now envisioning Al Quaida members playing Hooplah with George W. Bush. AND IT'S AWESOME.

Things are generally fun right now. There are just two short weeks of school until Christmas, and I realized (as I continually COULD NOT STOP TALKING ABOUT THEM ALL WEEKEND) that I'm totally crazy about my students. We had some really rough spots last week (total crying-over-events-that-happened-at-school tally: 4), but such I suppose that's just part of it. As you can see by the fun-o-meter, I'm feeling pretty fun. I have been staying out LATE and chillin' with people WAY more than normal. I have only made about fourteen emo statements TOTAL in the last week and a half. And that's kind of whoa-y because over Thanksgiving break I was essentially speaking Emo as if it was a language.

Lots of fun planned for next week. Stay tuned. I'll teach you how to make lemon curd (!) and a cool lampshade out of string (actually you can just click on that link to see how to do that. I read about that in the latest issue of ReadyMade. But I made one and that is a SICK CRAFT. Sick as in good. Not the bad kind of sick.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

something real.

I felt really, really, genuinely happy tonight watching French films and drinking champagne with Karaline, Hannah and Leah. Easy, normal, college happy. Not excited happy or think-of-the-prospects happy. But happy. And safe. And it's been a long time since I've felt like that.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

assorted fun

I was not sure if I was going to be able to go to an NBA game for a while. This was a sad feeling, because nobody loves the NBA like me. Well, of course, some people do. These are the other people who (like me) have season tickets to their hometown games, who (like me) subscribe to "Slam" Magazine and who (like me) dream about three-ways with Brandon Roy and Chris Paul. Actually, I think it's just me and Chris Tognotti. Anyway, I was not sure if I was going to be able to embrace the NBA this season because it is just a little too attached to the past, and I am in a "moving forward" kind of place right now. This was all too bad because I DO have season tickets to the Hornets, and they're a pretty good team this season (PRETTY good. Not as good as I had hoped.)

But I went last night to the Suns game with Caitlin and Avery (Penn friends!) after having dinner and lots and lots and lots of beer at their house (we walked the 2 miles to the Superdome down Bourbon Street, which is always an experience). And the game was awesome and I obviously can't give up the NBA. At long last, that's been decided for sure. Oh, what a game. Sad to miss Nash and Shaq, though. But on the other hand, without them, the Hornets obviously slaughtered.

We met up with 5+ others at the game and as we were leaving Avery started to sing the national anthem. It wasn't long before everyone was singing it, very loudly, very happily, to the amusement of the throngs of people leaving. That was COOL. I guess you had to be there.

See the picture up there? It came in a three-part letter from a boy I've never met who I sent an initial letter to earlier this month. What I love the most about it is this image -- birds on the wire, my favorite aesthetic in all of the universe. Now, this boy could not have possibly known this fact about me, but he included this sketch anyway. The world really does come together in nice ways.

Portland was good. Good not great, but it will be great next time. Mostly the "not great" part of it was that I got really, terribly, pneumoniaey sick on Wednesday night. Blame Ariana. But we got to cuddle and chill and watch ABC Family Christmas movies in wool socks and eat grand platters of slumber party foods for hours and hours and hours, and she can sleep with the television on, so she was a really good significant other to have for the week. We also embarked in lots of girly retail therapy and "Sex In The City"-y desserts and hour-long boy-related discussions. So that was all very plussy. And seeing Alex was very plussy, and seeing Alex's family as well (although I spent no more than 10 minutes with them and I wish it had been more). And of course MY family, who put up with me and put up with me and put up with me, even when I made putting up with me quite impossible.

Easing back into school. I had a bit of a backslide there, but I can feel myself approaching a certain point. It's like the point in a swimming race where you are crouched on the little diving board staring down at the water and you know the whistle is going to blow soon and you have this moment of experiencing how wet and sandpapery the diving block feels on your feet, and you poise yourself and decide you definitely, definitely want to be in the water.

Monday, December 1, 2008


The most powerful Katrina stories I have heard have been from cab drivers.

Two precursors to this thought: 1. My students probably have very good Katrina stories. Most of them spent a very long time in Texas because of the storm. But it's one of those subjects that comes up on its own, and generally, my students don't let it come up. There have been times when I have asked, of course. Once a student told me about how he watched someone get raped in front of him at the Superdome. But see, it's too painful, even for me, and we change the subject; talk about math instead, or Biology, or Final Fantasy, and pretend like Katrina was a long time ago, and that everything is safe and okay now. For some, that's what school is for. So that's the first thing. And 2. I am very, very good with cab drivers. I would say that my way with cab drivers is among my greatest talents in life. Almost without fail, I can get a cab ride for half the asking price by being personable. Keys to this trick: Be female, be wearing something kind of tight and/or skanky, and be sitting in the front seat. Sometimes I can even get the ride for free if I'm lucky, but I always pay anyway. I am genuinely fascinated by cab driving.

I mean, it has to be a pretty amazing profession. First, you have to be a map. I don't like riding in cabs with GPS systems. What's the fun in that? Part of being a cab driver is that you're supposed to be able to hear "Mount Avenue on the South Side" and know exactly where that is. I like maps, so the idea of being a human map is very attractive to me. Second, I hear people have sex in the backs of cabs, so that would be interesting if you were a cab driver. Third, I imagine you meet a lot of terribly interesting people, see a lot of terribly interesting road blocks, and witness a lot of little punctuations in your usual scenery every day because you spend all your time staring at it. From the bottom of my heart, I love to talk to cab drivers.

In New Orleans, the conversation in the cab always starts about the weather. "Isn't it cold?" "Isn't it warm?" "It's been raining an awful lot, hasn't it?" This segues kind of naturally into the subject of hurricanes.

I'm amazed by this, but ten out of ten of the last cab drivers I've had in New Orleans came back after Katrina. I don't know if I would be able to come back. But people here regularly impress me with their strength. They wear it like a beard you know you can't grow: "Yeah, whatever, I'm emotionally strong and weathered, what're you going to do about it?"

Once a man told me about how he plucked his indignant mother off her lower 9th ward property days before the storm, but how her best friend stayed and drowned and they saw her on the front page of the Texas paper, facedown in the deluge. "That was the week I learned how to text message. Because sometimes your phone wouldn't work but you could somehow text message. All I wanted to do was text message."

And the driver who came back and didn't have electricity for a month but he and his wife started to write short plays for each other to perform and they'd stand behind the kitchen table and pretend they were the television.

And yesterday, coming home from Thanksgiving break in Oregon, the man who came from India, who had family in Mumbai. And I said, "That must be awful, you must have been terrified last week, is everything okay," and he said, "It was nothing next to Katrina. My daughter still cannot drive through a puddle."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

fun hummingbird.

A hummingbird just landed on me. I'm not kidding! It was a purple hummingbird. I forgot how much I loved birds. My mom has these dozens of bird feeders outside her window (which kind of make her appear to be a little bit crazy) and she has everything: sparrows, flickers, multiple varieties of finches, EVERYTHING. Watching the birds out her window makes me feel safe.

Ari is visiting. +150,000 points.

Friday, November 21, 2008

things you should know if you ever reach out to girls who post ads on craigslist:

A comprehensible but in no means comprehensive guide:
  1. For your first e-mail, you should capitalize the following words: "I," the first word in a sentence, and "Barack Obama" (NOTE: You must capitalize BOTH "Barack" AND "Obama." Very important.)
  2. Here are some words that you don't need to capitalize: "Basketball," "Television," "You," "Me," "Car," any words which follow the word "my" (examples: "my Television, my Car, my Cardboard Box Business")
  3. Seriously, why are you capitalizing all these words which are clearly basic (not proper) nouns? STOP DOING THAT.
  4. The only time it is tolerable to say "ur" instead of "you're" is in a text message. With a girl you have been dating for like a year already. Even then it is a stretch. It is NOT appropriate to use this "conjunction" five or more inexplicable times in a 25-word e-mail.
  5. Please don't send an e-mail which says only, "U seem like a qT but ima hafta C A pic."
  6. I'm probably not going to send you a "pic."
  7. I don't really want to see a "pic" of you. I especially don't want to see a pic of you with your "muscles" showing. Or other things. Seriously, dudes of the Internet: exhibitionists much?
  8. If you send an e-mail that says, "I voted for McCain, did you?" I am probably just going to blacklist your e-mail address.
  9. Take a hint: if she doesn't write back within three days she's not interested. Multiple follow-up e-mails are not necessary. Nor are more "pix."
  10. Uninteresting qualities that you don't need to brag about in introductory e-mails: Fondness for organized sports, fondness for getaway vacations to places like beaches or mountains, fondness for beer, fondness for dogs, being a SWM, working at an "Office Space"-type job, living in a suburb, having an obvious nickname (example: Spud).
  11. I don't want to tell you what kind of music I like to listen to.
  12. Come ons work waaaaay worse over the Internet. Just because I'm articulate on Craigslist does not necessarily mean that I'm tired because I've been "running through your mind all night." (You think I'm kidding. It happened.)
  13. Just because I mentioned enjoying pie in my post does not 1) mean I want you make sexual innuendos involving pie, or 2) mean I'm going to think your pie pun is particularly clever.
Long after taking the post down, I'm still getting e-mails. Highlight: A man who sent me just a naked picture of himself wearing a porn mustache, black sunglasses, and a coyboy hat titled "hotbiscuitboy.jpg". The rest of the major highlights are described above. Woe.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


The last two days... so much. Too much for right now.

In short: I met a woman whose house was built from the ground up by Usher; a boy with paint on his shirt who works for the New Orleans Green Project; older teefers at the Hookah Bar (the Hookah Bar is excellent); a girl who smokes from the long cigarette holders they used in the twenties. I learned secrets. I slept in my car. I read three novels in two days, I talked everything out with my cat, my best (non-cat) friend in New Orleans moved away. I shook my students, hugged my students, laughed with them, listened to their inappropriate poop jokes during the period of covering the digestive system, someone else got shot. There are 206 bones in the human body and two kinds of fractures they can get (I just learned that today). Spent $50 on candy, rode the streetcar, had someone put flowers in my bike basket while it was parked at the park. And more.

But most importantly: "Yours Mine and Ours" is the worst, most implausible, completely inexcusable movie I have ever seen. And NetFlix should have told me that. Instead, NetFlix told me I would LOVE this movie. And I was skeptical, but NetFlix knows me, or so it claimed. Well, that's the last time I trust NETFLIX, let me tell you THAT.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

fun folk!


So while I was pretty drunk at this party last weekend this girl I barely knew named Shosh was like, "I have FRIENDS in New Orleans!" and she was beautiful and I was feeling the weight of being unbelievably lonely here, so, appropriately, I flipped out with happiness. And then I entered their numbers into my phone, and then I promptly forgot that I had done this.

But this morning, as if from a guardian angel, Shosh (who knows how she got my number) texted me and said, "REMEMBER to call my friends in New Orleans!" So I called her friends in New Orleans, completely aware of how weird and creepy it was going to sound for me to be like, "Um, hi, you don't know me, but I barely know some of your friends from Penn. Would you like to chill?" And these friends (actually, it was only one friend, and I didn't call, I texted, and her name was Caitlin) was like, "YES."

So I met Caitlin for a beer in the Marigny. And it just CLICKED. Just... "click!" And I felt this enormous wave of relief, like I had sat down across the table from my mom (if my mom was 22 and had an awesome boat purse). We bonded like crazy, and I wanted to say, "You have no idea how lost I've felt," but I didn't say that. That's one of those things I would say while drunk that Joe Stadolnik would find unattractive.

Speaking of which, Joe is moving on Thursday, which I found out on Friday, adding insult to the grand injury which my life was then. I guess it's what's best for him, but it blows for me.

After feeling great about discovering Caitlin (and her subsequent GAGGLE of people from Penn who also live in New Orleans), I went and sang karaoke alone. Finally. And it was awesome and I want to sing karaoke forever and for a living. Two people bought me drinks after that, so I took the streetcar home.

We had a halfday today and here is the dream I had while enjoying my halfday off:

(IT WAS A WEIRD DREAM. Interpretations will be appreciated):
(I now forget a lot of it. I hate that. I should have written it down. But I didn't. But it's okay I still remember the highlights):
A bunch of stuff happened before this part, but the first part I remember is that I got back together with my ex-boyfriend, Mac. Who was suddenly... very hairy? And we started doing all the things together that we meant to do but had never done, which in this dream included having sex in a lot of public places and adopting a tree and flying a kite. While we were in the middle of doing all these things (simultaneously, somehow), we ran into Jayda (my dept. chair and good friend at school in real life) with her (real life) boyfriend Drew, and they had a baby. It wasn't Jayda's baby, though. It was her sister's baby. So we decided to all go to the mall. In this dream Mac 1) was from New Orleans and 2) could fly. So he started talking about how he used to live in New Orleans and it wasn't like this before; now there were way more gangs. Also he flew around so I could never see his face. Then we were at the mall and the baby had been not waking up for a while, but we were for some reason not worried about this. Then at the CINNABON of all places Jayda realized the baby wasn't breathing and Drew started giving it mouth-to-mouth and they were PANICKING their brains out. When I saw the baby, it looked kind of green and really still and I could tell it was dead and this very dramatic music was playing. Then Mac started screaming about the dead baby (which Drew and Jayda were still trying to revive, to no avail), and he turned into a puddle. Like Alex Mack.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

mostly fun.

Worth mentioning: Philadelphia.

I should go into depth about Philadelphia. Frankly, it took essentially everything I had to get myself out of bed this morning (Vince let me have his this weekend and he slept on the floor, so I felt like a princess). I just thought, "What if I didn't come back to Teach for America and just moved into this beautiful house where it is snowing outside?" Well for one thing it would probably be kind of frustrating for Vince, who lives in the best bro-pad ever, complete with Did-You-Get-Those-Hand-Me-Down-From-Hugh-Heffner black leather couches, appropriately crinkled posters for indie bands with cute girls in them, lots of tall stairs, a huge projector screen in the attic, and a Eurotrash roof with perfectly moldy roof furniture.

This is Vince Levy. It's from when we lived in Williamsburg together (yes we were once that hipster-trashy). Barring Ben and Jessica, Vince is my oldest friend. We used to sit up late at night in the high school newspaper office discussing things like Jack Kerouac's "On The Road" and Rilo Kiley and running a marathon (funny story: Now, more than six years after those conversations, Vince is finally running one next week). This is one of those good friendships you try to document twenty years down the line in a schmaltzy scrapbook.

The trip to Philadelphia was as perfect as it possibly could have been. If I don't brag about the highlights I'll be doing a grand disservice to the entire underlying unspoken rule about personal blogs that they must either a) be spotlights for the activities you desperately want credit for participating in or b) be muffled little internet cries for help about how shitty everything is. Well, it would be a disservice to Idea a), at least.

So: Highlights From My Trip To Philadelphia:
  • We went to a party at a Secret Society. I don't think I understand how cool this was. I mean, yes, I saw the line of people who were not on the list waiting to get in, and I saw Vince stride right past them to get let into a secret entrance in the back. I saw how beautiful everyone was, and how well-stocked the bars were, and the DJ with his one headphone pressed to his face with calculatedly religious focus. But I know in my heart that spending hours at a party at a SECRET SOCIETY is the kind of dream that wannabe-coke-dealers jack off to at night.
  • I got drunk and was definitely not awful. I even think I was kind of charming. Which is good because last week Joe Stadolnik told me that I should opt to never ever get drunk because it's desperately unattractive on me.
  • The food of the weekend was: BIG sandwiches with lots of cheese and salt and pepper, skinny-crust east-coast pizza, more of the first two, strong black coffee and imported beer. Nothing more delicious or unhealthy.
  • THE ROSENBACH. I don't even know how to talk about the Rosenbach. It is far and away the coolest place I've ever been. I expect Vince realized that I would think so and whisked us over there on Saturday afternoon for the most worthwhile hour-long tour I've ever been on. The Rosenbach is a rare book collection, library, and historical house from two lavishly rich and prolific book collectors in the 1800s. It has the manuscript from "Ulysses"; the first edition (and every subsequent edition) of "Moby Dick" as sent by Melville himself to Nathaniel Hawthorne; an exhaustive collection of Shakespeare; extravagant "Alice In Wonderland" editions; seriously, you name it, they had it. I have never had such a hard-on for books before. And that's saying something, as I briefly majored in Book Arts. Truly, I've never seen so many beautiful books and I literally stood around DROOLING for an hour. On top of that, The Rosenbach is maintained on the first floor exactly the way it was when the family lived there. Philip Rosenbach was obsessed with birds and had tons of bird stuff (sound like anyone you know?). The woman who gave us the tour told us about how the family had dozens of exotic birds flying around the house at any given time, and a huge aquarium of turtles in the attic for making soup.
  • We shopped at H&M and then started to walk home through all the sight-seeing sites. In Love Park there are hundreds of skaters doing sick tricks (no other way to describe this) and the Statue of Penn looks like he has a boner. For a while, amidst a "Fuck Prop-8" rally at City Hall, we watched bird formations curl and fall against the sky. A good, time-stopping moment.
  • Vince bought me tickets to go with him and his friends (read: needlessly beautiful, glamorous and interesting) to the M83 concert. I let myself get into it for a while (they are the kind of band that plays with a deep seriousness and intensity as if to say, "This Music Is God"), and then chilled with Vince at the back watching the well-dressed college kids flit around and flirt with each other. I felt a little too old for concerts. And then I felt like I wanted to stay at that concert forever. Those were conflicting emotions. I let myself weigh them both appropriately.
You know, Penn is beautiful. The people are beautiful, the architecture, the trees. Since I've moved to New Orleans I've been floored by how old things are here compared to on the west coast. But in Philadelphia, old is even older.

Vince remains one of the smartest and most valuable people in my life, and he will have to work to avoid success. I was genuinely jealous of his whirlwind, glamorous existence. But I don't know if I'd be able to pull it off; I'm too attached to being alone to have a gorgeous posse like that.

On the other hand, the norms of my life continue to be depressing. I have start having uncontrollable, quiet outbursts of crying whenever I am confronted with something I want but cannot have. Examples:
  • When the flight attendant said with trembling fervor, "We're going home" on our way to Memphis.
  • Re-reading chunks of Barack Obama's acceptance speech. The thing I am saddest to have lost since I moved here is my sense of belief that change is simple or easy or even probable. I mean, I always blindly assumed that it was. And now, here, I see that it's not.
  • Any mention of getting a dog. Especially with a significant other or family member.
Back to school tomorrow. Who knows how.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

25 percent fun.

Okay, I'm going to go ahead and fess up. I posted an ad on the "Personals" section of Craigslist. On the "Strictly Platonic" part, I promise, but nevertheless it was desperate move. I'm just really looking for some best friends who fit me. I don't know why I figured I'd find them online. I guess I just thought that because I am online so often, all my kindred would also be online in New Orleans. So here's the ad I posted:

I'm really, really lonely. I also suck at meeting people because I think I come off a little strong. I'm seeking a partner in crime. Past crimes have included: planting flowers where they don't belong (not a euphemism), making baked goods in dirty shapes, writing letters to strangers, sidewalk chalk murals. I understand that it may seem like I'm not a very dangerous criminal. I'm not. I like: Nintendo over PS, the Hornets (I have hella tickets for this season), Scott Pilgrim and kin, things related to birds, eating out, Charlie Parker, pie, catching lizards and/ or frogs. I dislike: sloppy drunks (I kind of am one, though, so I'm a hypocrite), super-low-brow humor, crime drama shows, regular Hershey's chocolate, people who chew too loudly. Note the pie. I really like pie, and I like to make it for my friends. Lately I have had very few friends because I just (read: five months ago) moved here from Portland, Oregon and things swing differently down south. But maybe you'll be one?
See? Pretty harmless. And I figured if I found anyone who knew who Scott Pilgrim was (thanks Nadim) I would have found a soul mate and everything would be right with the world.

But I found NO ONE. NOOOO ONNNNE. I got 112 responses to this post, and they were all (except one) from men who were obviously trying to get laid. And, um, they were way too old for anyway. And they all attached pictures of themselves and EVERY SINGLE GUY looks EXACTLY the same -- slightly overweight, white, probably pledged Sig, baseball cap, I'm-disguising-my-beer-belly-with-this-ugly-facial-hair goatee. I am not exaggerating when I say I got 112 responses. I got 112. And not a single worthwhile partner in crime.

Actually, I wrote one person back. I even asked him good questions and set up a very charming scenario about peanut butter sandwiches (don't ask), and here is what I got back:

"ahahhahaha idk ru watching top chef? did u think my first response was clever? did you like the subject line?"

New Orleans, I am disappointed. Why am I failing so miserably at meeting cool people? I have never had this problem before. Did I get fat? Do I have a really foul stench? Do all cool people hang out at some bar on the other side of town? What is going on here?

Tonight: Pizza, beer, Scrabble, pie with Joe. Cut his hair (myself one night... oh Regina) and watched "Escape From Witch Mountain." Pretty average on the fun-o-meter. I'm clearly in a rut.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

25 percent fun.

Since we last spoke, there was another shooting. Yesterday I spent my entire day off cooking slow foods (beans, lentils, rice, potatoes, vegetables), taking care of sick Marianne, and writing like a maniac. The weather is starting to become more familiar and northwest... y. I have fake flowers pinned all over my walls and pictures of birds. I'm faking it.

School was fine. Devin looked at his new behavior plan, which I had decorated with various prizes for showing up to class and getting his work done (Devin is always at risk of being expelled, but he always narrowly avoids it, usually because we all love him so much). He could win Hornets tickets, parties, candy... all kinds of great swag. And I don't really care if he meant it, but Devin said, "I want this. I want to do this. I don't want to do it for any of that stuff, I want to do it for my mom." His mom died last year. I really think he meant it. Peoples' humanness still startles me. I forget, sometimes...

Most of my music got deleted from my old hard drive because it started eating itself. My iTunes library is depressing. All I want to do right now is read and write and listen to all the pretty albums I had backed up. Alas.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

25 percent fun!

Nothing is as remarkably boring as being sad. People aren't interested sadness. I should take that back: people are interested in sadness if it is new and fresh. They are interested in sadness if they are uncharacteristically bored, or if they think they can easily cure the sadness. Personally, I treat sadness the way my mother does: as something that the sad person is trapped inside of, like a fairly basic wire cage with the lock on the outside. I always assume I can find the magical secret key that will free my friends from their sadness, and then they will feel better and I will be rendered an instant hero. I am always much too talkative on the phone with my sad friends, suggesting antidotes for their problems at a chattery-fast pace (You should go out on weeknights! You should start a blog! You should listen to Swedish pop music! You should read graphic novels beneath sycamore trees!).

Of course, no one is going to solve it for you. My mother, in her infinite kindness, put up with me last week while I brattily rejected every one of her misery-elixirs for my particular ailment (You should buy a new pair of shoes! You should find an entirely new set of friends! You should balance your checkbook! You should drop out of Teach for America and move to Walla Walla and try to relive your college life for as long as possible!). I'm deeply grateful to her, because she is probably the only one who is not bored with me being sad. After my embarrassingly egomaniacal summer of crying every night and nervous breakdowns, I've officially run out of emotional IOUs and shoulders to cry on.

No one really wants to read a blog where some 20something waxes poetic about how much life sucks. There's nothing profound in that; we all know it. I need to pull myself out of it. Again.

I've done a lot of things that have been FREAKISHLY fun (Read: Grant Park on election night). Then I offbalanced all of those things by crawling under my covers, panic attacking (a new verb?), and eating exclusively foods of the 90 percent carbohydrate set. I've left woe-is-me voice mails ("Mary? ... It's... Sophie. I'm just... things are so.... hard right now. I'm just... I think I should go to the hospital... I'm so miserable... I don't know what to do... I am going to lie on a bed of nails... I am going to drown kittens to distract myself from my current... unbelievable... melancholy... Anyway (snifffff) you don't... need to call back..."). And then I indefinitely logged myself out of GChat (I didn't just Invisible myself, I actually LOGGED MYSELF OUT), deleted my Facebook account (briefly), and effectively hid from the world.

The world did not particularly miss me. The world did not call, nor did it write e-mails, frantically wondering where or how I was. The world continued on its axis, perhaps glad that I was out of order for the time being, because it had other things to worry about -- like, um, THE FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT (+342894723894723984723 points for the country!!)?!

So that's the long-winded excuse for my Internet absence. I could explain away the sadness, but you've heard it all before (shootings, terrible reading, gang fights, bad names, threats, friendship trouble, etc.). I just have to start working my way up again...
  1. I went on a critical mass last night (5 points!). I'm not very good at riding a bicycle. I know that seems like one of those things that you can either do or not do (such as rolling your tongue or snapping), but when you ride in a critical mass you realize there are varying levels of goodness when it comes to riding a bicycle. For example, I cannot a) Ride with no handlebars, b) Pass items from my bike to another bike and back again, c) Fix iPod speakers in my bike basket while also riding, d) Be drunk while also riding (I don't know if this is true because I didn't try, but I wasn't about to because THAT SEEMED DANGEROUS), e) Not make a face that implied that I was focusing a lot on the actual activity of bike riding. Everyone else in the critical mass COULD do those things. But it was still cool. People honked at us because the didn't like the critical mass. People also cheered because they were drunk and they thought it was cool to see a lot of bikes.
  2. Karaline took me on a picnic yesterday (3 points!). We went to City Park where all the trees have Spanish moss and Whitman-y artists' creations hanging from the branches like in a fantasy novel, and there is literally every rare shore bird in North America just chillin' in the various bodies of water. She made something really luxurious involving pasta and basil and we drank hard cider and iced tea. Then we saw this tiny train going along these tiny train tracks in the park and we thought, "We are going to find where that tiny train sets out!" And so we followed the tracks and realized that CITY PARK HAS A MAGICAL WONDERLAND INSIDE OF IT (Read: amusement park). We snuck in the back without paying admission and took the train ride. Why is it that if you are riding on a tiny train it is acceptable to wave at everyone you pass and expect them to wave back at you, but it is totally not acceptable to do that in everyday life?
  3. We got $120 Thai food and ate for three hours (1 point!). I made earrings out of 10-cent mini motorcycles (another point!).
  4. Grant Park is the ultimate bragging right (10 points!). It was everything you might have imagined it was when you watched television, but then multiply that by about thirty-thousand. I can't really describe it without a string of cliches. But I was with Kim and Alex and let me just say that I have never been so happy in my entire life.
  5. Alex and I went for brunch in Hyde Park and we ran into Spike Lee going into a barber shop (2 points!). I can't not mention that because the stars are still kind of in my eyes.
  6. For Leah's birthday we went to a freelance pedicurist, which sounded really sketchy to me but turned out to be AWESOME (3 points!). How is every single apartment in New Orleans cooler than the last apartment I thought was the coolest apartment? At this rate, the next apartment I see is going to have actual clouds hanging from the ceilings and celebrities mixing in the parlor room. We drank hot apple cider and discussed the weary ways of the world, along with the merits of Democracy Now and cheap flip-flops. My toenails are exceptionally clean and also orange. We had dinner at Nighthawks again which is absolutely my favorite restaurant here. We ate at the bar and they gave Leah a free Bloody Mary with sprigs of asparagus in it and onions and olives. Some old man came in with his impossibly young puppy and let it run around on the bar top. That puppy smelled really good.
So things are good. Fine, really. I really miss having a family. Define that however you want. My parents arguing over Halloween costumes, my sister walking with me for miles in Birkenstocks, Alex doing work in my room when I come home from running errands, Ari and '80s movies on Friday nights, dancing for an hour straight at Kim's house after consuming an entire pizza, Jessica and Ben lying on an oversized couch at one in the morning watching "I Love The Nineties." Feeling deeply safe and not alone. I miss that. A lot.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

0 percent fun.

Indefinitely miserable.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I'm just so angry. I don't even think that legally I'm allowed to write about school or about this shooting that took place at our students' homecoming game, but I think it's fair for me to say that no kids should be growing up this fast, period. And it hurts my feelings that Barack Obama hasn't been here in ages. I just can't imagine a place in this country more important (or more seriously broken) than New Orleans. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's this bad everywhere. But if that's the truth then I am seriously, seriously sad for this country. This is not our students' fault, it's not the teachers' fault, it's not the administration's fault, it's not Paul Vallas' fault, it's not the RSD's fault. We are all doing the best we can. But something deeper is more fucked up than we realize.

Let me just say this: if a single student had been caught within 100 feet of a gun at a football game at my (90 percent white) high school in Portland, it would have been on the news immediately, and for DAYS following the incident. But here, I tell my roommates what happened and they say, "Oh that sucks. I'm sorry." It's just pretty run-of-the-mill.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

62 percent fun!

I want to sit down and blog for a long time, but I also want to go to bed while watching Gilmore Girls and reading Scott Pilgrim Volume III (which just came in the mail today). So here are things I learned today.

1. Things that help you feel better when you are feeling down:
  • Cooking with your favorite people in a really clean kitchen. Involving lots of spices like saffron strands and coriander and whatnot.
  • Riding your bike in the sun.
  • Listening to Joanna Newsom with people who also like Joanna Newsom.
  • Eating food from bullet point one.
  • Finding one million dollars that you can keep or spend on opulent things.
  • Holding your sister's Buddy Bear like it is a man.
  • Listening to the Lite Rock station.
2. Things I love about Prospect.1 -- the United States' first biennial ever, which just happens to be in New Orleans (I plan to blog hardcore about this tomorrow, so stay tuned):
  • Everything.
3. Miscellaneous things that were exciting about today:
  • It was Leah's birthday. We all ate food for hours with dozens of people on the Bayou St. John and saw nutria. IN FACT, Joe and Dave tried to throw seashells at the nutria in order to "catch" them. Failures, all attempts. Good food, drink, etc. Tomorrow Leah and I are getting mani/pedis from a freelance nail lady.
  • My letter got published in the Times Picayune! I'm famous. People were texting me all over the TOWN about it!
  • We saw a lot of desecrated robot costumes on Frenchmen, and I was secretly glad I didn't go out last night. It would have been too much for me. The aftermath was almost too much for me.
  • People put bright flowers on graves for Day of the Dead. I like how beautifully death is treated in this city. With such respect and wonder...

Friday, October 31, 2008

58 percent fun, and falling fast.

What is happening? I used to be so FUN! And now it is HALLOWEEN, my fourth favorite holiday (which as holidays go is pretty damn good. It is preceded, by the way, by Groundhog's Day, the 4th of July, and Valentine's Day, respectively. Which will merit further discussion on another day). And I am just lying in bed, having spent the afternoon cleaning the kitchen, blog-browsing, and reading comic books. AN EXCESSIVE AMOUNT of comic books (graphic novels, really). Four graphic novels. In one day. And it's not like they were short little smarmy ones, either. Those were investments, let me tell you.

Yesterday I took the day off. Had sushi with Joe and we went to the BIG book sale in Kenner. After robbing them of some amazing, amazing treasures (first edition of Audubon illustrations for 50 cents?) we sat on the boat ramp to Lake Pontchartrain. It was 72 degrees, the sun was shining, there were... birds. It reminded me of driving out to the lake in Walla Walla and feeling relatively content. But that was then and this time something was unsettling... or maybe just, as hopelessly cliche as it is, unfamiliar. Sidenote: how has NO ONE (including the desperately cultured Joe Stadolnik) heard the Hulkamaniac rap? It's a sick, sad world. Daria was right all along.

After two weeks of quitting, I'm smoking again. I don't understand the sudden lurch in funness. Despite my best efforts I've been inexplicably not-fun for days now. Glum, cat-happy, unproductive. A bit lost.

These mood swings are utterly baffling. I am not menopausal or premenstrual, so rule the hormones out. Maybe I'm just lonely.

My sister sent me a letter today that made me feel so sharply human that it made me cry in that way that we like to cry. And then I was like, "Screw this. They need teachers in Colorado Springs, right?"

Today at school some kids got in a "gang fight" and were stapling each others' skulls so the police officer sprayed us all with pepper spray or mace or something. IT WAS SO INCREDIBLY PAINFUL for the REST of the day. In high school when I got sprayed it wasn't this bad. Then we were on lockdown like prisoners until everyone got to leave at 3. We all started to go crazy, no matter how many B-movies teachers had on file for just such an occasion. I dressed like Madeline. Big hit. Even when the kids didn't recognize the character, they recognized that my coat was made out of bright blue felt and they thought that was neat.

That's a picture of Avery playing Connect Four. Which is all he did all day. But let me tell YOU: that kid is GOOD at Connect Four. He is also the funniest person in the universe, and he knows it. I wish I could just video tape him existing.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

65 percent fun.

I'm taking the day off. I felt like I needed to because I was freaking the fuck out last night and crying like crazy and being really unattractive but now I feel incredibly, incredibly guilty about it. Maybe I should go to school right now. It's not too late, after all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

72 percent fun!

Real talk: I have found the cure to EVERYTHING.

Go to dinner at a top Zagat rated Tunisian restaurant where the tablecloths are linen and the owner serves you himself and the food tastes like butter made by GOD HIMSELF. And then eat there for three hours and order dessert. And have good company. And then you'll feel better. Seriously: I was feeling defeated at my job, miserable in my personal life, deeply unfun, and actually a little physically ill. Now I feel like Atlas. Also I'm really full and I have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Also I have a fairly seriously question:
I have this bumper sticker on my car (see below and to the right). I love it, but some of my students saw me driving and they made this face that kind of said, "That's really funny but we think that is kind of inappropriate and might get you fired." Should I take this off my car in favor of something less offensive such as "I love kittens and peace"? Because I also have that bumper sticker lying around...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

71 percent fun.

On the plus side: The pumpkin party was an enormous success. The weather was EXACTLY PERFECT -- 75 degrees, blue skies, but somehow still crisp. I made the apple cider from scratch for the first time and it was good (good not great, but what are you going to do for your first time?) and the cookie decorating portion of the party rivaled the cookie decorating parties of my mother's infamy when I was in the 4th grade. PLUS there was a parade that passed by our house (FUN!) and I'm totally losing weight (FUN!) and Leah brought her five-week old kitten named Sal (FUN FUN FUN!)

But on the minus side, I had a for-serious breakdown and a "what-is-it-all-for" moment which reminded me terribly of high school episodes. I thought I was so over the whiny my-life-is-an-underground-cesspool-of-doom phase, but apparently not. I don't think cesspool is a word. Doesn't it sound like a word?

Other words that are not real words but sound like they should be real words:

Words that are obviously fake:

Words that really sound like they should not be words but somehow made it into someone's vernacular at some point:

This is an interesting article about words which are not real words.

Excuse me while I crawl into my little hole to sulk my migraine away. Pathetic.

71 percent fun!

Yesterday I actually spent eight hours in line just to VOTE EARLY. It was kind of cool -- hundreds of people waiting in line a full week before election day just to do their civic duty, giving up their Saturdays, you know -- but on the other hand, I had to give up my Saturday. And I had plans, let me tell you. There were like ten festivals I wanted to go to. And I didn't get to go to them. I sat at City Hall. For 8 hours.

But I was fun as possible at City Hall:
  • When we all got shoved into the back room for "phase 3" of waiting I started a sing-along of T.I.'s "Whatever You Like." And people TOTALLY participated.
  • I met six people. One had spent several years in Tanzania volunteering, and one claimed to make the greatest sweet tea in all of Louisiana and said I could come over and have some.
  • I made a collage using chewed gum and various How-To-Run-From-Hurricanes packets and pamphlets
  • I bought three packs of Lifesavers from the vending machine and taught the little girl behind me how to play Lifesaver Solitaire. Then we ate them. And her dad thought that was gross and she wasn't allowed to hang out with me anymore. Which was too bad for him because we were stuck in line together for eight hours.
  • I read the entirety of Scott Pilgrim Volume II. This is my new favorite comic book. Thanks Nadim!
  • Beat ALL HIGH SCORES on cell phone Bejeweled!
Other weekend highlights:
  • Ran into Weezy (plus body guards) on Magazine. No big thang. HE COMPLIMENTED MY BELT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!! Whatever. Happens to everyone.
  • TV on the Radio
  • Saw Assassins at the little theatre in the French Quarter.
  • Aidan had his first beigniet. BFD.
  • Lasagna and gin and tonics at Leah's where we played Clue.
  • I finally watched Camp Rock. And then I puked all over myself.
TODAY is the PUMPKIN PARTY. My favorite day of the ENTIRE YEAR. Besides the day in the spring when it has been raining all week and all the flowers bloom and then FOR ONE DAY it is sunny and beautiful and I skip school. But pumpkin party day is definitely number two. My parents used to throw the best Halloween parties every year. Now a good pumpkin party co-thrower is my only prerequisite for marriage. Good partnership in crime is also favorable. Also good hair. And good-smelling deodorant. And a general liking of dogs, Star Wars, comic books, and the NBA. I guess I'm pickier than I thought.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

69 percent fun!

Besides being beaten up by a student, today was good.

I take it back. Today was not good. This evening was fantastic, though. ToDAY, I lost a lot of blood because I got in the middle of a fight; someone set the basement of the school on fire and the firetrucks had to come; and one of our students is wanted for murder. All in a day's work.

This evening, though, I went to the Ogden Museum After Hours (thanks, Andrew), and it was all I could have hoped for and more. The new exhibits were asphyxiating, particularly the work by Douglas Bourgeois (I wrote in my notebook, so as not to forget what stuck out to me: "women; birds; people in varying stages of despair, displacement, contemplation, isolated bliss. Brand names and '50s sensibility. Race, religion, modernity, pop culture.") My favorite was a piece called "Sanctuary" which featured a black man surrounded by Lucky Strikes, electrical outlets, and gorgeously intricate birds. The pieces were intimate and haunting; they are painstakingly crafted and cathartic to look at. I was standing in front of a portrait of a queenlike woman surrounded by birds' heads, moved almost to tears, when I realized that the other man standing in the gallery was THE ARTIST HIMSELF. So of course I talked to him for some time, recommending him all the Daniel Clowes books I could think of...

I colored at the kids' table and drank Abita Amber on an empty stomach. Then I think I hit on the security guard accidentally.

I know it's been said by everyone who's anyone, but TV on the Radio's new album is perfect, and I've also lately been wrapped up in M83's new one. Listening to these as loud as possible on the streetcar I closed my eyes and thought about the scene from the smoking roof at the Ogden: birds spilling out like paper confetti to a fan across a sky colored like a cocktail and an aging silo labeled "Cotton Mill."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

68 percent fun!

I went to the unutterably perfect mansion-turned-into-a-public-library public library today. Wandered for three hours, reading, sitting, listening.

Shoved into the back of a bookcase-ala-fireplace I found a compilation titled simply "1000 Beautiful Things," published in 1947 and full of the (somewhat boring) editor's favorite quotes, plays, poems, and short stories. And right in the middle, the most breathtaking, heartbreaking, faultless Carl Sandburg piece I've ever read. We all knew he had a soft side:

Under the harvest moon
When the soft silver
Drips shimmering
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers.
Under the summer roses,
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories
And asks you
Beautiful unanswerable questions.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

67 percent fun!

I am happy and alone and the world feels full of potential. I have gotten into the habit of reading a book about every two days, and I have fallen hopelessly in love with reading again. I have favorite jazz spots now because I have been to so many. I have favorite restaurants, I have favorite bike routes.

And today I did the thing that was perhaps MOST long overdue of anything in the universe: I went to the public library.

The New Orleans Public Library (the main branch) is like a time capsule. I was hypnotized from the start, obviously, but will spare you most of the details (a tiny red book from 1903 called "The Marvellous Genius Works of Comedy of Our Time," toddlers chanting "Namasde" with an octogenarian yoga instructor in the children's wing, dozens of members of FEMA [three years after the fact] set up in the main room to talk to homeowners about options, etc. etc. etc.) I do, however, have to elaborate a little on the third floor. I fell head over heels for the third floor -- a veritable museum of Louisiana annals. There were ancient phonebooks, every newspaper available on microfilm, and best of all a secret exhibit called "Unknown New Orleanians" featuring early, early mugshots of beautiful men and women from the turn of the century, arrested for being "highly suspicious," mostly.

"Old" in the South is not what we think of as "old" in the Pacific Northwest. I used to be startled to find anything from before 1900 -- even when I was digging for it -- in libraries on the west coast. Here, documents date back until the 1700s, and sometimes even earlier. I just finished a book my mom sent me about the history of New Orleans and its music. Did you know that New Orleans was originally so detestable that the French monarchy couldn't get anyone to move here? So instead they had "forced emigration" and used New Orleans as a place to move prostitutes and crooks against their will. With a history like that, no wonder it has the highest murder rate of any city in the country (the murder count rose to 155 today -- a statistic that climbs daily; such terror in this tiny place).

I'm afraid I've been reading too much collegiate fiction to blog without an annoyingly pretentious tone. It's not my fault -- blame Zora Neale Hurston and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I went out to dinner alone. The waitress acted like she was sorry for me, giving me a free beer with my dinner and giving me affectionate-bordering-on-pitiful pet names like "baby" and "sweetheart." Doesn't she realize how much more fun it is to eat alone? Listening in to other peoples' conversations ("And then I boned her! She was so hot I thought she musta been a hooker once") and watching others move outside the window without ever having to try to be interesting or act interested. It's an indulgent gift from God. Well, the poor waitress didn't know any better.

At one point "Return of the Jedi" was playing on silent at the restaurant while "99 Luft Balloons" blared over it. Ecstasy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

64 percent fun!

Things I saw with some students on our hike today at the Barataria Swamps:

times 12.

I mean, there were about twelve of them. That we saw. Some were chillin' on logs, some were swimmin' around with fish, some were hangin' out like one foot away from our feet off the swamp trail. Students gave them creative names like "Swimmer" (for the swimming one), "Boredalot" (for the boring one on the log), and "Big One" (for the big one).

When I told Marianne we saw an armadillo she said, "Now how is that different from an alligator?" And I said, "Um... it's an armadillo."

Now, I know what you are saying to yourself. You are saying, "Sophie, that is nothing but a common egret. You could see dozens of those at Audubon Park every day." To this I would say, "HA, you birding n00b! That is NO COMMON EGRET!!! It's a WHITE MOTHERFUCKING IBIS."

Friday, October 17, 2008

57 percent fun!

The reason I am so fun tonight is because I went to a party and there was actually a flame thrower there. I person who throws flames. And she was throwing them all OVER the places. She was like a flame throwing, flame eating machine. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but if you look up "fun" in the dictionary, I'm pretty sure there's a photograph of a flame thrower.

Also the party was thrown for this guy who almost won on Jeopardy. And he was there and he talked us through his almost-win and I thought, WOW, I know a guy who was on JEOPARDY; HOW COOL ARE MY FRIENDS?

I finally updated I can't believe it's been a month already... where does the time go?

Finally, shout out to Weird Al Yankovic for releasing this song that is not particularly clever but is astoundingly relevant: (I could only find it on YouTube). I would still totally marry him.

Tomorrow the Jazz Park. And probably some kind of huge purchase, because Saturdays have been like that for me.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

54 percent fun!

Wow guys, I am SO MUCH FUN I can't even STAND it.

It's later than I'd like it to be, but I have to wait for these cupcakes to finish baking, so I have exactly that long (probably like ten more minutes) to blog about my terribly exciting and fun life.

We have half-days at school for exam testing, which means all the kids are frantically coming up to the ARC room to get "help" (read: desperately try to cheat) on their tests. I shouldn't say that; it's only true of a few kids, and I actually find it oddly endearing in some ways. In other ways, I find it annoying because it's terribly difficult to provide accommodations for all our students at one time. We do our best.

I stayed way late after school helping prep for the GEE which is a total and complete nightmare, but was good for bonding with Jayda and Kristen and Chelsea and Ms. Holly. Then I rode my bike (with its ADORABLE new handlebars) home and dyed my hair and watched "The X-Files." If I'm going to weigh 9000 pounds I might as well have non-skanky hair, right?

So that was KIND OF fun. Then it seemed like I was probably just going to pass out and not do any fun stuff. But INSTEAD I bought pizza and beer and went to Joe's to watch the Sox game and DIDN'T get drunk (honestly!) and watched the Presidential Roast on NBC and OH MY GOD Barack Obama's speech was funnier, smarter, and quicker than anything I've seen on The Daily Show recently. I was utterly floored. Joe was guffawing with such force I thought he was going to lose a lung or something. It was... phenomenal. Really, really good. Exactly what I needed after those debates last night...

And THEN after THAT (because that really should have been enough, right?) I went to Bourbon Street and stuck to my jazz club word. I visited Fritzels. Fritzels is a German-themed jazz club, and when I say "German-themed" I mean that all the waitresses are vaguely foreign (some are definitely Asian, which is... not really all that close to Germany, but C'est La Vie) and there are lots of German posters on the wall and the club is called "Fritzels." Which sounds a lot like "pretzels." But that didn't really deter me.

I ordered something with Kahlua and milk in it (I've never had a cocktail like that before -- it was fine but not great and I'm sticking to whiskey from now on; I'm just not a sweet drinker), and I read my book amidst all the aging, white tourists who were there to get a sense of New Orleanian jazz flavor. And they got it: The band was classy and they played mostly Dixieland-type numbers. I was especially in love with the trombonist and the trumpet player (mostly because they used mutes a lot, and I think mutes on brass instruments are about the sexiest thing in the known universe), but the tuba player was also really spectacular. It was a straight-up, good band. And no cover! All the little old ladies with their Mardi Gras beads in the audience looked so HAPPY, too. And that was really moving to me for some reason. I sketched them in my notebook...

One of these days I'll put up some pictures, but for now I have to take out my cupcakes and call it a night. Call me one of these days, okay? Despite my funness I'm kind of lonely.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

50 percent fun.

I know, I know. We were making such gains. But I didn't go to a jazz club tonight in favor of watching the debates and thinking about how fat I am, and that was an unfun choice. They were the least fun debates of all tonight, even though Barack Obama was clearly the victor (ahhh-gain), because McCain directly attacked Obama's character and that made me feel icky. You know, like when a mean bully fat kid picks on the angelic teacher who calls him out on his mean-bully ways. McCain looks like an old, disgruntled oompa loompa. Un. Fun. Coulda skipped it.

All my friends are unhappy. The weather is beginning to turn. My job suddenly got really, really hard.

But that didn't stop me from finding a warblers' nest by the dumpster near Rabouin, or from getting my car towed finally, or from enjoying the crunching sound of emptying my Mac-trash. Small pleasures, always.

body issues.

Ohhhh GOD. I got those photos back, and while there are only 3 of me, I look like an enormous elephant-cow-behemoth. My arms are approximately 28 times the width of my face. I look like the Jet Puffed Marshmallow Man, only more pasty and with a shittier haircut.

No one will ever want to kiss me ever again. I am going to get so large I become bitter and I take over of Jabba the Hut (which would actually be cool because I'd get to chill in Star Wars Universe). I'm going to give up teaching because no 20-year-old boy is ever going to be responsive to a non-hot teacher. And that is what I am right now: A non-hot teacher.

Next time will someone TELL ME before I begin to look like I weigh 450,000 pounds?