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...