Weekly Shocks' Blog

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Missing the States category.

Hey! I guess I know what to get Elin Nordegren for Christmas!

Oh, my pretty England. What horrors will you wrought upon the Christmas season this year? What’s that, you say? Divorce vouchers? Why, brilliant! I hope they come in a variety of colors and fonts, just like the wedding invitations you and your soon-to-be-ex so lovingly chose together, invitations that now symbolize the crumbling wreck of putrid failure that is your marriage. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!


Reason Number 45789 to Love Boston

The Sox just dropped their second straight game to Satan’s League of Mincing Creeps in the Bronx. I think the Sox were momentarily disoriented playing so close to the gaping maw of hell and subsequently forgot a slight detail of baseball: in order to win games, teams need to, you know, score a run or two. Oops.

Anyway. We’ll toss that sadness aside for the moment. The Red Sox are not the reason why I love Boston today, although they usually are about 65% of the time.

I love Boston today because in Union Square, there was a celebration of Fluff.

You may not know what Fluff is because you may not live in or around Boston. How sad for you. Fluff is pure, sweet, gooey, sticky, marshmallow goodness packaged in a friendly white and blue tub large enough to stick your entire head in, if you’re so inclined, and sugary enough to leave you bouncing off the walls, giggling and drooling, for days at a time. I had a friend in college – who may or may not be the author of this particular blog, but don’t tell her I told you this, because she’s kind of unstable and might hit me if she knew I was spilling her dirty secrets online – who once survived a sophomore year finals’ week on nothing but Diet Coke, Milky Way bars, four hours total of sleep, and a tub of Fluff. The stuff is viscous, miraculous crack.

And it was created right here. Well, technically, it was created in nearby Somerville. Somerville is not-for-nothing nicknamed Slummaville. It’s the kind of place where all the girls are named Krystalle and they all smoke by the age of ten and they all go to the packies to buy beer for their dads when it’s their weekends with the kids. Everyone is Catholic, everyone smokes Marlboros, everyone drives a car referred to as “the Shitbox,” and it’s a safe bet that your Shitbox is gonna get stolen someday if it hasn’t been ganked already. In short, it’s exactly the kind of place where you’d expect a product like Fluff to be created.

And I love it. It appeals, deeply and profoundly, to my inner sanctum of white trashiness, a trait that Oxford tried so hard to beat out of me and failed.  Massachusetts – the Great Commonwealth apparently has nothing better to do – is currently debating a bill making the Fluffernutter, a combination of Fluff and peanut butter, its state sandwich. Now, I personally think peanut butter is quite possibly the most disgusting food product on earth besides cilantro, but I’m all for this move. It’s about time Fluff got the respect it deserved, even if it does have to be paired with something so obviously revolting and inferior. But, hey, Massachusetts is brilliantly skilled at condescension already, isn’t it? Did I mention who the Sox had to go visit and play and LOSE TO this afternoon? For the second day in a row? I mean, Christ on a bike. The horrors we suffer.

Fluff as the state treat. Yes. Perfect move: fitting in so many ways, I say. Let’s do it.

Well, bugger me sideways.

Here’s your “No shit, Sherlock!” fact o’ the day:

If you live in another country for three years, you’re bound to pick up some of that country’s charming, distinctive speaking patterns.

I didn’t fully realize this until I came back from England for my first long holiday. The British-isms kept popping out of my mouth like teeth from a hockey player. I said vaguely unacceptable things like ‘trousers’ for ‘pants,’ because ‘pants’ on my side of the metaphorical pond meant underoos. I said ‘queue’ for ‘line,’ because, let’s face it, the euphony of ‘queue’ is delicious. I said ‘cheers’ for everything, because, well, cheers. Why the heck not. Worse, my already somewhat pretentious northeastern American accent had warped ever-so-slightly into fake British. My family and friends just loved this. I had become one of THOSE Americans who bugger off to the motherland for a bit, then come home too good for their own accent.

Speaking of bugger, I love that bloody word. I do. If you haven’t poked around the archives here at Weekly Shocks (and if you actually haven’t done so, you’ve broken my heart), get busy and count how many times I use it. Then report back to me, because I’m too lazy to do it myself. But I’ll bet I use bugger, on average, at least once a post. It’s a great word, even if I didn’t know what it actually meant, in all its naughty glory, until long after it started making its sparkly guest appearances in my daily utterances.

(Oh, so you want to know what bugger means, too, do you? I could direct you to UrbanDictionary.com, but if I did, I’m afraid you wouldn’t come back, so I’ll summarize briefly: when a man and another man love each other very much, sometimes they turn the lights down low and engage in an activity Thomas Jefferson once decided was punishable by castration. I betcha UrbanDictionary doesn’t tell you that, now, does it? You’re welcome.)

It’s not just the British-isms that plague my speech, though, bugger it all to hell. I lived in Germany for a year before I ever saw England. Germans have a rather disconcerting-yet-quaint habit of speaking German instead of English (silly, isn’t it?), so I pulled a ‘when-in-Rome’ while I was there and I spoke German, too. For the most part, anyway. When I came back to the States, I discovered, with an appropriate mixture of amusement and terror, that I had forgotten large swaths of my native tongue, the language I had been babbling fairly comprehensively for nearly two decades. Giggle if you like, but just remember: it’s all fun and games until you find yourself tripping over your words like a 4am drunk, struggling to remember the English for ‘Bahnhof’ and ‘Löffel,’ and your parents subsequently suspect you’ve picked up a nasty little drug habit during your peripatetic year in Europe.

Now, this is just excellent fodder to write about in my epic blog of the ages, but the sad fact is that I’m going on professional job interviews and the good, kind, lovely folks who might read this blog so I better say nice things interview me inevitably pick up on my distinctive and uneven speech patterns. Not that I’m bellowing out ‘bugger’ and ‘schnitzel’ during interviews, mind you. But I have had a few folks ask where I grew up, then pause, obviously perplexed when I tell them, quite simply, Boston. People from Boston don’t sound like me. They sure as hell don’t sound like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting or JFK asking not what your country can do for you, etc., etc., either, but that’s not the point. I’m not famous and am therefore not allowed to sound as if I’ve been punched repeatedly in the mouth by a boxing midget on speed. (Now, there’s a fun image to contemplate, isn’t it?)  So sometimes I try and give the whole ‘I’ve-been-in-Europe-a-long-time’ speech, but really, that kind of makes me sound like a pretentious ass. The fact that I sort of am a pretentious ass doesn’t matter. “Pretentious ass” is not exactly high up on a potential employee’s list of desirable qualities, now, is it.

So! I’d really like my old accent back. I asked Oxford to return it months ago, and Oxford being Oxford laughed in my face, then sent a batshit crazy person dressed in a tutu and wielding a bow-saw after me. So we won’t ask Oxford for anything anymore. Safer that way. That leaves you kind folks: if any of you has a spare, normal accent lying around – really, any regional variety is just fine, as long as it’s consistent – please send it my way. We can discuss payment later, or not, because I’m broke, but maybe I’ll write a blog post thanking you. Then you’ll be famous. Sort of. Well, not really. But still. I’d appreciate it. Ask not what Weekly Shocks can do for you, damn it, but what you can do for Weekly Shocks.

Mine too.

Haha! Am I the only one left who finds Garfield funny? Yes? Oh well.


Back to America Land tomorrow. YEE HAH.

The Californian Moon. Multiplied by 400.

Have I mentioned I’m a little homesick?

God bless the broke, broken, and bumming state of California.

In other, not-America-or-bum-related news, I’m planning a trip to Germany at the end of this month. Once upon a much more bright, innocent, and schnitzel-filled time, I used to live in Germany and spoke the language pretty fluently. But that was a long-ass time ago (I have bums on the mind, it seems), and I have long since forgotten most of my glorious, crabby Deutsch. Therefore, I expect that my shiny and sparkly return to my erstwhile home should be interesting. I also plan on getting there via train, because every plane that leaves the ground these days seems to end up crashing in a fiery blaze into an ocean or a farmer’s house or a napping cow, and, well, I’m just not up for that. So, my peripatetic journey will be England to Deutschland via train. Hot dog. I am crazy like a fox.

Ahem. I’ll take credit for this, thank you.

From The Boston Globe, today (July 5th, 2009):

“Six Red Sox made the All-Star team, including 17-year veteran Tim Wakefield for the first time.”

Did I call this? Yer darn tootin’, I did.

Congratulations, Mr Wakefield, sir. Very well deserved, and I hope you have a kick-ass time in Beer Stadium.

Oh, America.

Well, slap me on the bum and call me Fanny. What’s going on, my good people? How’ve you been? Hope you had a boozy and goofy but not too crazy 4th. Though if it was crazy, send me the pictures. After you get released from prison, of course.

Wow, it’s been a while hasn’t it? Yeah, I know, this blog is filled with far too many shameful instances of me disappearing for days, even weeks at a time without so much as a hint of explanation, then returning, all grovelling and stinky,  begging forgiveness, and offering up more pathetic attempts at wittiness. That’s how I roll. But I’m back now, so you may all rejoice, sigh, grimace, sob, vomit, or whatever it is you do in the comforts of your own home when you read my blog. I’m not one to judge.

Speaking of judging, it’s a good thing I’ve finished with my degree (exam went well, thank you) and will be heading back to Yank Land in a couple of months, because based on what I’ve been reading on the glorious intrawebs, the country is all kinds of screwed up. You people obviously need me. Beyond the recent spate of celebrity deaths that have plagued the land of my birth, seriously, folks: what the hell is up with your state governments? Let’s look at a brief rundown of all the absurdity that has occurred in the past few weeks, yes?

The Democrats in New York locked the Republicans out of the State Senate, after the Republicans apparently tried to ‘seize control’ of the place as if it were Alcatraz. Neat-o.

The “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” is trying to change its name, and not because it’s stupidly long and no one even knew the ‘Providence Plantations’ bit even existed, but because that bit is apparently too reminiscent of slavery. Exquisite.

We all know about Mark Sanford’s little disappearing act into the arms of a certain Maria in South America and how he put his saucy little jaunt on the tabs of the South Carolina tax payer. I had a fun few days before the news of his rather predictable affair was discovered wondering where exactly he was and what he was up to. Holed up in a mental institution was my first (and way more interesting) guess. Either that or he skipped off to join a circus. Given how things are going for him at the moment, either of those two options seems to be a good next move for the man.

Good old Sarah has dropped the reigns of power up in Alaska, though I can’t quite figure out why (her unscripted remarks have led me to believe that she’s going to try out for the WNBA, though).

California is so broke I suspect Arnold is gonna hafta raise funds by taking that role in Kindergarten Cop II: Slaughter in the First Grade after all.

Minnesota finally settled the months-long legal battle over its Senate seat and gave the thing to a comedian, because, clearly, the whole issue was nothing but a joke anyway.

Really, guys, I know it’s been a while since I’ve been home, but I expect that you can hold the fort down a bit better than this. It’s fun reading about it and all, but it’s getting a little embarrassing, too. Get it together, people. I’ll be back soon, but first I have to take care of that Harry Potter actor who contracted the dreaded swine flu, and then there are those Facebook photos of the new M16 boss in a Speedo that need to be destroyed, so I’ve got my hands full at the moment. Carry on as best you can without me, ok? Be strong. Also, go figure out which team Ms Palin is trying out for. I have a bet with a friend here.

Bits of Fluff in Revision Period: Tim Wakefield better be on the All-Star Team or I will be very, very grumpy.

We’re approaching the midway point of the 2009 baseball season. I’ve kept my baseball posts fairly limited for a couple of reasons: I’m a fan of the sport, but I’m not a complete diehard and I worry that if I post one incorrect statistic on a player or fact about the game, some crazed lunatic (almost certainly a Yankees fan) will come after me with a wrinkled copy of  the MLB Rule Book, a tub of warm, flat Budweiser, and a swinging baseball bat, and then it’s bye bye writing career and intact skull. I also tend to ramble when talking baseball, because I miss being able to see it everyday and there’s that whole thing about absence making the heart grow into a bleeding, sopping mess of loquacious nonsense and it’s just such a beautiful sport and I adore it ever so much and for the love of GOD, will you just stop it with the baseball talk already. You’re in England, no one cares about that silly game here. OK, message received, point taken. But I do want to ask one minor, rhetorical question:

How freaking awesome has Tim Wakefield been this season?

Yeah, I know, his ERA isn’t top notch. I said rhetorical, damn it. Shut up. Look at the positive. Nine wins on the season: that’s tied for second best in baseball right now. Two complete games already. He’s leading the Sox (who are doing just fine, thank you, two games up in the AL East with a tidy little .609 winning percentage) in wins and just a touch behind their ace Josh Beckett in ERA and innings pitched. He’s getting the job done and well done, too. Oh yeah, and he’s 42 years old. Booyah.

It’s still a long shot, but because of his high win numbers and strong performance, there have been whispers from some and bellowing shouts from others (mostly Sox fan-lunatics, God bless ’em all) about getting Tim on  the All-Star roster this year. I make it no secret that Tim’s my favorite player and in my devoted irrationality, I think he should be on the All-Star roster every year. But this time, it’s different. Tim, is after all, 42. And, sure, he can probably play at his level for another four or five years, assuming the Injury Demons leave him the hell alone. But you know there’s only a limited amount of time left before Wake has to put aside his nasty little knuckleball and ride off into the Florida sunset.  Before he does that, though, doesn’t he deserve a spot in this fun and mostly meaningless midsummer game with the big, disgustingly overpaid superstars? Especially this season when he’s been so solidly, unassumingly good? I say hell yes.

Also –  and I know this counts for squat when deciding All Star Game rosters –  the man is, from everything I’ve heard and seen, one of the nicest guys in baseball. No temper tantrums. No eye rolls. No brooding moodiness, no smashing up locker rooms and hotels after a difficult game. No throwing his teammates under a bus in press conferences. He’s willingly done some time out of the bullpen in the past when his knuckleball has been shaky, and he’s such a team-oriented, easy-going kind of guy, you sometimes get the feeling he cleans up the locker rooms and scrubs the toilets at night when the rest of the team has gone home. He doesn’t beat his wife or go out partying with Madonna. You’re never going to see his mugshot plastered all over the morning papers after a raucous night out during which he wraps a borrowed BMW around a tree and strolls away uninjured before spitting in a cop’s face and getting carted off to the drunk tank. That’s just not who Tim is. He has a family and he golfs in his free time. He donates absurd amounts of both his time and money to charities, mostly involving kids. He’s been nominated about eight hundred times for the Roberto Clemente award, which he has never won, because he’s Tim. He’s your classic nice guy: he does his job, does it well and with little fanfare, but because life is occasionally a bitch, he’s passed over for everything.

Well, damn it, not this year. I want Tim in the All-Star Game. When asked if he was hopeful and excited about the possibility of being on the Team for the first time in his long career,  he gave his signature nonchalant, hardworking, ‘the-team’s-the-most-important-thing,’ nice guy answer: “Yeah, that would be pretty cool…Hopefully I’m at least considered for a spot, and if I make it, great. If not, I’ll finish up the second half.” No biggie, right? Bullshit. Heck, Timmy, if you’re not gonna lobby for own your well-deserved inclusion on the All-Star Team, I’ll do it for you. I’m drawing up the bumper stickers and the campaign buttons now. I’m organizing the parades. I’m bitch-slapping all the killjoy know-nothings who inquire, with baffled stupidity, ‘Who’s Tim Wakefield?’ To hell with ’em.  TIM WAKEFIELD FOR ALL-STAR. Oh yes. It’s the right thing to do.


Pretty, but watch your toes for the nibblin' foes.

Pretty, but watch your toes for the nibblin' foes.

Boston.com is running a tragic little feature about what graduating college students are going to miss about the beloved city when they abandon it this summer. Now, I fully admit that I miss Boston like mental when I’m here in lovely Britain, but some of the answers on the website make me wonder if these kids ever once ventured off campus in the four years they’d been there. My favorite response is a glowing tribute to the Christian Science Center Reflecting Pool. Granted, it is a lovely place in photos, but anyone who has spent more than five minutes there knows it’s infested with more rats, mice, and mosquitoes (not to mention crazy homeless people) than your average medieval village. Why don’t we all just contract the plague while we’re at it along with a healthy dose of leprosy, get rid of the sewer system, and dump our poo into the streets? Add a few drunken chants of “Yankees suck!” and now we’re really in Boston!

I’m gonna staple this thing to my forehead.

This may surprise some of you, but I am not the most organized person in the world.

“But Kris,” you’d exclaim (Well, you’d exclaim that if you knew my name is Kris. Hi. My name’s Kris.), “your writing is so elegantly precise and so agreeably direct! It’s enough to make Strunk and White weep tears of joy! How could you not be a paragon of virtuous logic and care in your day-to-day living?! How could you not be a shining example of calm, meticulous order in an otherwise traumatically nebulous, careless world of intellectual anarchy and deliberate obfuscation! And when do I get paid for saying this on your cheesy blog?”

Well, thank you, imaginary reader (see my accountant, he’ll take care of your promotional fees), but the sad fact is that whatever precision I bring to my writing disappears altogether when it comes to the more pragmatic elements of my life. My room, for example, is an utter wreck at the moment, as it usually is. It was fairly orderly when I left it a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve been back for more than twelve hours, so, of course, it now looks as if the Royal Air Force has been using it as a weapons’ explosive training ground. In fact, the only time I ever really clean my room is when I’m procrastinating work on my dissertation, the first draft of which is due this weekend, so chances are good this place will be spotless by tomorrow.

Regardless. I’m usually pretty good at hiding my complete lack of sense and order because people tend to hear the words “Oxford graduate” and automatically assume I’m way smarter and more mature than I actually am. I used to feel somewhat uncomfortable and guilty about misleading people like this, but these folks also usually think Oxford is just a subsection of Hogwarts and we all carry wands with unicorn feathers in them and have classes in broom-riding and shape-shifting, then holler absurdities like “wingardium leviosa!” at each other during exams (that last part is only true if we’ve been drinking, people!). So I’ve just come to the conclusion that there are simply enormous numbers of sadly deranged lunatics on this earth, and I continue along my happy, messy way.

One of the side-effects, though, of being a mess is that you lose everything. Because I am a broke grad student and own almost nothing of value (except, of course, my Sigmund Freud action figure: yes, I really do have one and, yes, it is every bit as awesome as you’d expect it to be), this usually isn’t a problem. Last fall, however, I lost my passport. While I was in England. Two days before I was due home for Thanksgiving. I believe the phrase “Son of a bitch!” left my mouth with alarming frequency when I came across that charming little discovery.

If you’ve never lost your passport while in a foreign country, go ahead and down an entire bottle of Jack Daniels, get into a cab, tell the driver to drop you off at “the zoo” (No worries if there isn’t a zoo anywhere near you: just wave a sawbuck at the driver and that temptation combined with your intoxicated charm and projectile vomit will get you a punch in the face so sharp you’ll see exotic birds circling your head. See? The zoo.), then toss your wallet out the window while en route. That’s pretty much what losing your passport in a foreign country feels like.

The best part about losing your passport right before you’re due to travel is that you get to make the Journey of Shame to your local Embassy in order to get a new one. It’s so humiliating. The place in London looks like that armed compound the Branch Davidians had in Texas before Janet Reno blew it up. That’s always a comforting image to have in your head when you’re trying to replace your primary identification document several thousand miles away from home, isn’t it?! After you get frisked by the guards armed with Uzis and answer a hundred questions about why you’re there bothering them and whether you’ve had any contact with farm animals recently (seriously?), you’re herded into a holding cell that has all the charm of the DMV with none of its efficiency. For the next six hours you sit on a metal chair and occasionally get called up to have a conversation with a screaming, angry troll behind bullet-proof glass who demands every identifying piece of information you have ever collected over the course of your life in exchange for a TEMPORARY EMERGENCY PASSPORT. A TEMPORARY EMERGENCY PASSPORT is only valid for a year and possession of one automatically puts you at the top of the “Immediate Strip Search and Anal Probe Required” list at every airport in the whole damn world. Flying internationally, once a minor inconvenience, has become a bad episode of Cops with a touch of The Twilight Zone thrown in for extra disorientation and shame.

I still have my TEMPORARY EMERGENCY PASSPORT and I’m still grilled about it every time I fly in and out of the UK. “Where was this issued?” “Why are you flying on a temporary passport?” “When was the last time you were in the Middle East and TELL US THE WHEREABOUTS OF OSAMA BIN LADEN RIGHT NOW OR WE’LL KILL YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY!!!!” OK, I made up that last part a little, but it’s still a royal pain-in-the-ass. When I do get around to getting my permanent passport, I’m stapling the damn thing to my forehead and telling anyone who objects that I’m starting a new fashion trend and you’d better join me before becoming hopelessly passé and tacky. It’s all the rage, people. Hop on board before the anal probe gets you.

Camping (aka, Spending Money to be Voluntarily Homeless)

One of the dangers in living in a country as beautiful and temperately mild as the UK is that you occasionally run into people who think spending lots of time sleeping on the ground outside and fending off wild animals is just the most brilliant idea in the whole wide world. I seem to know all of these weirdos. Most of my friends know better by now, but when I first moved to this country, every six weeks or so one of them would drop acid and then suggest six of us pile into a tent designed for two small children, hike through the wilderness until pus-filled blisters oozed through our socks, and then ended up wishing each and every one of the others were dead, eaten by wolves, and roasting in hell. Ah, good times.

I may not have made myself clear: I am not a fan of camping. Seriously, what’s the point? I’m spending a bloody fortune to educate myself so I won’t have to be a homeless bum burning leaves for warmth. Why do it “for fun?” Judging by the number of camping enthusiasts out there, I sincerely worry that there are large swaths of mankind who actually enjoy going days on end without showering, peeing and crapping in the woods, and getting dysentery from a half-raw, half-burnt dinner of moldering hot dog buns and roadkill. A love of camping suggests dark things, my friends, very dark things, indeed.

I think my view on camping may be tainted by the fact that I lost a good portion of both my soul and my sanity the first time I went and have yet to retrieve either. I also lost many of my toenails as well. Those, luckily, I got back, which I should be grateful for, I suppose. Still, it was an utterly traumatizing experience. One day, when I was eleven, my parents decided they wanted some quality time to themselves, so they sent their three pre-teen daughters off into the woods of New Hampshire, along with a pair of well-meaning but woefully unqualified camping guides, six other inner-city girls, and a Ziplock bag filled with trail mix. It was times like those when I questioned whether my parents really loved me. I think the entire trip lasted only a weekend, but I seem to remember slogging up the White Mountains for months, perhaps years, wondering if there was in fact a merciful God and what I had done to deserve such punishment at His hands. Really, there are only so many ice storms you can endure and only so many times you can sink in mud up to your waist before you start thinking maybe that eternal pact with Satan in exchange for a warm bed and a shower isn’t such a bad deal after all.

On Day 7,435 of our Journey Through Hell (or Day 2, I can’t really remember) I decided halfway through our afternoon death march that a change of socks was in order. My feet were soaked, either because of the previously mentioned Mud Pits of Doom or my blisters had finally broken and a lovely combination of blood and pus was now filling my boots. These boots were ever-so-slightly too small for me, which isn’t much of a problem if you’re a city girl and have no intention of hiking, but “ever-so-slightly too small” turns into “instruments of unmitigated torture” when you’re on a dirt trail twelve hours a day, trudging up a bloody goddamn mountain. (Did my parents love me? Seriously?) Anyway, as I slumped on a boulder, peeling off my filthy socks and wondering how this could possibly get any worse (WARNING WARNING WARNING IT GETS ALL KINDS OF ICKY AWFUL WORSE), four of my toenails responded by committing suicide and peeling off entirely from my foot and onto the sock!!!!! Holy Mother of GOD!!!!! I mean, honestly, what do you do with yourself when you’re eleven, your parents clearly hate you, your boots are too small, you’re covered in mud, your toenails have shuffled off their mortal coil, and you have seven hundred years left before you can go home again, take a bath, and change your underwear?!

So, yeah, thanks anyway, but I’ll take a pass on the camping if you don’t mind, freak. You go right ahead without me, though, and have yourself just a lovely time getting a rash, pneumonia, and Lyme Disease. Just make sure you take a shower or three before you come see me again, ok, buddy? Enjoy!

Sloth: American Style


Important stuff first: despite rumors to the contrary, I had nothing to do with this.

Now that we’ve dealt with those heinous accusations and slurs against my good name, sincere apologies for falling off the grid the past couple of days, folks. I’ve been rather busy with my loving family, visiting the poor of my parish, tending to the sick, concentrating on my prayer life, celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, and, in general, being full of crap.

I actually have been busy, sort of, but mostly I’ve spent my time happily readjusting to American life, which for me means delicious laziness. Part of this is obviously because I’m on vacation at the moment (don’t tell my supervisor that), but, really, life in the States offers all kinds of modern conveniences that make day-to-day activities so blissfully easy it paradoxically becomes difficult to do anything at all. Seriously, compared to America, living in England is like being on an episode of Survivor, only with stranger accents, more beer, and, thankfully, fewer body lice.

I never expected this when I first went to England. It’s not as if the country is some Third World hell-hole. Oxford, for example, is a jaw-droppingly lovely city, rich in history, culture, architecture, and traditions, a place where you can feel confident that students and locals alike will stumble out of pubs at 2am, bellowing about the football, and then vomit all over themselves and each other before brawling in the streets and passing out in pools of their own blood and urine. True, glorious civilization, as it were. And thank God I live there, because there are only so many American yokels I can take before I go utterly mad and disown my entire redneck family! Haha!

(My mom is totally going to kick my ass.)

Anyway, England. There are all sorts of things about England I didn’t expect. Like windows without screens. Which is fine as long as you never want to get any fresh air without every bug in a fifty-mile radius coming into your room and draining your body of all its blood while you sleep. But, hey, not having any blood is actually a benefit in the UK. Partly this is because everyone there looks as if they wandered off the Twilight set, but mostly it’s due to the fact that the British have yet to master the grand technological wonder of mixed faucets. This annoys me to no end. It is impossible to wash a damn dish in that country without either burning off all the skin on your hands or having your fingers turn into icicles and snap off into the sink. But, again, because you have no blood, at least it cuts down on the clean-up. And you’ll need every bit of help you can get in the clean-up department, because the English don’t seem to like garbage disposals either. I found this out the hard way. After a hearty meal of hiding bits of blood sausage under a giant, oozing pile of mushy peas, I was appalled to discover that the hole in the kitchen sink was simply a hole without any sign of the friendly, waste-grinding machine I had taken for granted all my life. Nothing makes you long for a garbage disposal more than digging around in a kitchen sink hole and bringing out fistfuls of greenish, black-flecked gunk that reminds you of a gangrenous wound, or, worse, that revolting meal you were just forced to eat. It’s enough to make an American weep for home.

Ah, beautiful American living. It really is a glorious place, but it does turn me into a drooling cow. When I’m in Oxford, for example, I walk three to four miles a day, easy, just because I have to – there’s really no other way to get around the city unless I want to get squashed under a lorrie while riding my bike or wrestle with the drunks on the bus. And walking in Oxford is wonderfully pleasant: the city is so conducive to strolling around, I can’t imagine navigating it any other way. I always wonder if the people trying to drive in its impossibly narrow and curving streets are either high on crack, insane, or both. On the other hand, when I’m back in Boston, which is supposed to be one of the most walkable cities in the US,  I cannot be arsed to walk the two blocks from my house to the mailbox. I swear this is shamefully true. This is partly because Boston drivers are, in fact, both high on crack and very, very insane, and view sidewalks as simply the far right lane, so getting mowed over while on a peaceful stroll is more than a remote possibility. But it’s also because no one – NO ONE – in the city would even think of walking to a mailbox and if I were seen doing so, I’d either be shot or carted off to a looney bin.

So, really, it’s much safer for me to stay indoors, enjoy my home filled with mixed faucets, lovingly caress my garbage disposal (this wasn’t the brightest idea I’ve ever had, by the way), and do nothing. Sweet, sweet nothing. I know, I know, it’s not much of an apology for my lack of blogging over the past couple of days, but frankly, it’s all I can muster on the limited pool of energy I’ve got left after all the conveniences of American life have sapped me of my will to move. God bless this country. Moo.

Aw Crap, It’s Only the Governor.


You’ll forgive me (or you won’t, that’s cool too), but today is Opening Day and I’m carefully monitoring my heart rate to make sure the old ticker doesn’t explode inside my chest, then leak out of my nostrils.

Finally, after a long, dark winter of sketchy reports from some bizarre place called “Florida,” endless injury-watches on aging, hurting men, and months of mega-million dollar trade talks falling through at the last, miserable second, finally, finally, finally, baseball season begins here in Boston. As a life-long Red Sox fan, this is basically Christmas in April, except Santa is being played by a bald man named Francona and includes an elfish second baseman MVP, who probably stands in at about 5’4″ and weighs 120lbs soaking wet. God love ’em all, I can’t wait for that opening pitch. And for the first time in, oh, ages, I’ll actually be in the city to enjoy it.

It’s not easy being a baseball fan in England. The Brits have some sweater-wearing, tea-drinking, pansy-ass pseudo-sport called cricket, which is enough like baseball, sort of, that they pretty much ignore the real thing over here. Cricket is a monstrously complicated, yet soul-crushingly uninteresting game that goes on for days and is often prescribed as a sleep-remedy for incurable insomniacs. For the life of me, I fail to understand its appeal in any other capacity. But, after three years in the UK, I’ve come to accept that there will always be oddities about that strange and wonderful country and its mildly insane inhabitants that will forever perplex me. Besides, I haven’t got time to delve into the attraction of cricket: I’m too busy trying to figure out how Pop Rocks work.

Anyway, if you’ve been a Red Sox fan long enough, you’re bound to have more than a few memories that you just love boring into the skulls of OTHERS, i.e., the non-fans, the people who are slowly but surely starting to hate you and your massive, pulsating, ubiquitous tumor of a team. I’m no exception and now you’re all going to have to suffer through my favorite Red Sox memory. You poor suckers. Of course, seeing the Sox win the World Series in 2004 after that epic comeback against Satan the Yankees is a classic. And watching cars being set on fire as a means of celebrating said victory was perhaps the highlight of my senior year in college. But that’s too easy. I gotta tell ya, the best memory I’ve ever had of my boys occurred on May 1, 2006, which was really just a run-of-the-mill, early season, fairly forgettable game at Fenway…OR WAS IT?!

Of course it wasn’t, you fool! This was the first head-to-head match-up of Sox vs Yankees in 2006! This was the Light vs the Dark Side, this was Innocence, Trust, Teamsmanship, and Consummate Love of the Game vs Soul-Sucking, Money-Grubbing, Devil-Worshiping, and Fun-Hating Banality! This was real baseball! And this was also the first time that that traitorous, throws-like-a-girl doorknob Johnny Damon would return to Fenway Park after his mercenary defection to the Evil Empire. The crowd was already in fine form, jeering loudly at our once beloved Johnny and the Bleacher Creature Faithful were busy throwing dollar bills onto the field in order to shame the troll-like beast for his hypocrisy and sordid infidelity. Well, either that or they were trying to get the saucy center fielder to strip. It’s always a little hard to say with Fenway fans, especially after the alcoholic third-inning buzz sets in.

Regardless. Jeering on Johnny was not my favorite part of the game. Big Papi David Ortiz blasting a Mike Myers’ (another former Sox) fastball into New Hampshire to put my boys on top was not my favorite part of the game. The clean cut Red Sox win, sending them into first place in the AL East was not my favorite part of the game. My favorite part of the game actually occurred before it had even technically started, but it demonstrated just how incredibly awesome (and absurd) it is to be a Red Sox fan.

See, once upon a time, there was this catcher named Doug Mirabelli. I liked Doug. He was unassuming, cheerful, had the speed of a walrus on land, and he hit around .200 in a decent season. But Doug could catch a knuckleball and he could do it better than perhaps anyone else in baseball. And it just so happens that my all-time favorite Red Sox, in fact, my all-time favorite baseball player, is a knuckleball specialist named Tim Wakefield. I had never seen a knuckleball pitch before, had never even heard of it, in fact, until Tim joined the Sox way back in ’95. Immediately I was hooked. Watching a knuckleballer pitch is, for me, baseball at its best. At the very least, it’s never, ever boring. When Tim’s on, he’s damn near unhittable, and it’s an absolute treat watching batters swat hopelessly after this softly-tossed ball that dances around at about 55MPH before dropping out of nowhere deep into the strike zone. The problem, of course, is that when Tim’s off, it’s like a pig to the slaughter, and batters have a field day launching his pitches out of the park like golf balls. Perhaps even more nerve-wracking is that the knuckleball is almost as impossible to catch as it is to hit, which is why many in Red Sox Nation groaned miserably when they learned that our dear Dougie had been traded to the Padres in the 2006 off-season. Who was going to catch Timmy now?

For a while, the Sox tried a kid named Josh Bard who showed some potential by only having about 479 passed balls in seven games with Tim, which actually isn’t too shabby for catching a knuckleballer for the first time. But rumor had it that Dougie seemed a bit unhappy out in the San Diego sun and was lonesome for his battery mate and old team, a team that actually had a fan base who gave a toss about it. So the Sox got him back. On May 1st. The very day Tim was scheduled to pitch against the filthy, slimy, disgusting Yankees who had also tried to get Dougie on their team that day, for no other reason than to screw over the Sox. (Wikipedia tells me this is true, and as we all know, Wikipedia never lies.)

The question, the drama, the excitement, of course, was, would Doug make it to Fenway in time to catch Tim? And if he didn’t, who the hell would? The televised pre-game festivities were an exercise in raising blood pressure. I remember sitting in my living room, rocking back and forth with my knees clutched to my chest, wishing, praying, pleading with the Big Guy to get Dougie into Boston as soon as possible, to zip him down into the Fens via turbo jet if necessary. Nothing was too good for Dougie. The announcers were beside themselves, hopped up like crack fiends,  practically ripping their hair out over the anticipation of this game (this regular season, one-out-of-162 game) and all that it might mean to the Sox. And where the hell was Mirabelli? Would he get his ass to the PAHK in time?! I think three of them died of sheer nervous exhaustion and stress-induced aneurysms before the National Anthem was even sung.

Then! Suddenly! A Black SUV flanked by state troopers picks its way down the Fenway traffic zoo! Could it be Doug?! Was he going to make it after all?! Would he stride out of that car, manfully returning to his proper home, and quickly punch Johnny “Judas” Damon in the face before storming out onto the field and single-handedly winning the game, the series, the season?! The driver of the SUV hustled out and quickly and efficiently opened the back door, and, and, and!

And, aw crap, it’s only the governor.

And I’d be a fool not to laugh at this. In fact, I worked myself up into a nice, heady stream of hysterical giggles over my epic, completely disproportionate disappointment over the arrival of the Commonwealth’s leader to a regular, run-of-the-mill baseball game. On television, the surviving announcers laughed at the pure silliness of the situation too, but it reminded me how utterly amazing and obsessive baseball can be in this town. Seriously, where else would this happen? Where else would the appearance of the governor – who, by the way, is a guy named Mitt Romney and is already starting to explore a very serious run for the Presidency –  be entirely eclipsed by the anticipated arrival of some backup catcher for your number four starting pitcher? God help us, if it happens in any place other than Boston, I think we’re all doomed.

Anyway, for the record, Dougie made it in time. Apparently he had to change into a Sox uniform on the ride over to Fenway and caught all of the first inning without protection for his, ehrm, man bits. But these are small prices to pay for Red Sox glory. He threw a runner out in the second inning of the game and the cheers that greeted him at his first at-bat could not have been more boisterous and adoring if he were the second coming of Jesus.  And, as I said, the Red Sox won. Perfect game.

So, yes, I am very excited about tomorrow, but more than a little unnerved as well. See, Opening Day was supposed to be yesterday, and I had this blog post all typed up and ready to go for you good folks. But, again, because this is Boston in April, the weather decided not to cooperate at all: the heavens opened up early in the day and took a giant leak all over the city, washing out any chance of a game for the afternoon. The forecast for tomorrow predicts sun and partly cloudy skies without a drop of rain in sight, but weathermen are known charlatans and liars and I don’t trust a damn one of them any further than I can toss their sorry asses.

Still, tomorrow’s game has to happen. It has to. I’m starting to get the baseball withdrawal shakes here and if I don’t see some ball-playing soon, I may just lose it and start searching the BBC International channels for cricket matches. No one wants to see that happen, so really: if you’ve got a spare minute, wish for some good weather in Boston tomorrow, will ya? Please? I’ll owe you one and maybe I’ll spare you another long, rambling Red Sox-related post in the future. Maybe, though. No promises or anything.


Overheard yesterday (pretty much verbatim) while on a walk with my dog:

“Like, so we went to, like, this totally sketch store near Newbury Street? And I’m, like, ‘Why don’t we just f*cking go to Newbury Street, because the stores there are, like, way better and I need new shoes anyway,’ and then that bitch called me a ‘f*cking stuck up c*nt,’ and I’m like, ‘F*ck YOU, sl*t,’ and like…”

I just smiled. Holy God, I’ve missed the States.

Small, Pretend Dogs: Seriously, Why?

A dog or a four-legged albino Cher? You decide.

A dog or a four-legged albino Cher? You decide.

I’m going back to Boston tomorrow for a bit of a holiday. Hooray! Right now, I’m in the middle of packing. Packing for me is a seven-hour process that involves six hours and fifty-five minutes of procrastination and five minutes of dragging out my suitcase and throwing as much dirty laundry as I can into the thing along with my teddy bear, and, if I can remember them, my toothbrush, passport, wallet, and plane ticket. It’s a pretty efficient process, I have to say.

I love Oxford tons, but I am glad to be going home for a bit. It’ll be good to see my family, friends, the city, and – though I’m loathe to admit it – my small, yippy, and kick-able Pomeranian dog.

No offense to small-dog lovers, but seriously, why? Why bother getting a dog at all? Why not just put a rat on a leash, or have a baby? Babies are nowhere near as high-maintenance as most small dogs, and they probably shed less, too. (Puggles, of course, are obviously exempt from my small-dog contempt.)

I admit a profound bias in favor of large dogs, mostly because they’re way better, and also because I grew up with a pair of enormous, lovable, goofy giant puppies who kicked ass, took names, and drooled lots, the way dogs are supposed to do. My first dog, Barney, was a Golden Retriever-German Shepherd mutt who was so badass he single-handedly devoured a raw, thirty-pound turkey in fifteen minutes. Even when he subsequently barfed the whole thing up in our yard, he did so with a swagger and panache. I’d like to see some rat terrier or chihuahua attempt that! Barney was smart as a whip, too, and we taught him to chase his tail on command by hollering, “Kill, kill!” until he got confused and excited and decided his tail was THE ENEMY. What a great dog.

Five years after we got Barney, we decided he needed a friend. Also, he had finally outgrown his puppy phase and we missed having everything in the house chewed up, peed on, or otherwise destroyed. So we got a Black Lab. Holy cow, what a beast of a dog! My mom insisted on naming her Tasha after a pet she had when she was young. Naturally, the rest of us thought Tasha was a profoundly stupid name for a dog. Tasha obviously agreed, because she reduced our entire house to a smoldering pile of rubble in about six weeks. That dog broke things I didn’t even know we owned. I think she even chewed up the tires on our car at one point. We were all so impressed with this massive fur-ball of energy and destruction, we gave her the brilliantly suitable nickname Trashy, and she spent the rest of her days incessantly wagging her tail, knocking over glassware, furniture, and people with her incessantly wagging tail, and viciously attacking and barking at dust mites.

The one disadvantage of large dogs is that they have a nasty habit of dying. This is how we ended up getting our Pomeranian rat-dog. Our poor Trashy had to be put to sleep due to a painful, incurable illness, and a few months afterward, my dad, older sister, and niece went out ostensibly to pick up something for dinner. They instead came home with the yippy Pomeranian. (This actually happened rather a lot in my family. I can’t count the number of times one or both of my parents would go out to get a pizza or pick up the dry-cleaning and would come back with a new furry creature to add to our menagerie. I’ve just realized how profoundly weird that is.) The Pomeranian had been named Honey by whatever sick and twisted fruit had owned her before and she was the most spoiled, pain-in-the-ass, yippy, and annoying creature on the planet. Of course I love her to bits. And I’m not saying I’d trade her for anything. But she really is a pathetic excuse for a dog. I mean, I can pick her up. And carry her. AND SHE ENJOYS IT! That’s just so wrong. Plus, when I take her for walks, she actually … prances. There’s really no other way to describe the pathetic, high-stepping trot she breaks into when she’s on a leash. It’s fey and embarrassing. Seriously, it’s always a little soul-crushing to be seen with her in public because she clearly thinks she’s the cutest thing this side of the Mississippi, and I really don’t need to be competing with a dog for overall cuteness.

My mom is not so enamoured of our little rat-dog and always threatens to hide her in my suitcase when I go back to England. Yeah, right. There’s so much dirty laundry in my suitcases, the furry mutt would just smother in it. And if she didn’t, she’d probably end up eating my teddy bear. And then I’d have to kill her. And either way, with a dead dog on our hands, we’d just have to get another one, and this one might be even smaller and yippier than the one we have now! Ha! Nice try, mummy. You’re stuck with her.

Smart and Sassy Bloodsuckers

How come every time (ok, so it’s only happened once before) I write a blog post about something fairly obscure and relevant to only three people other than me, some massive event and/or news story pops up about that very same thing? It’s really quite hard being this prescient. (Forgive me while I start banging my head against the wall to get the steady hum of bullshit out of my ears.)

Anyway, if you were here a couple of days ago, you may have skimmed over a post I made about my ultra dorky high school days. Today, my Facebook page and email account were bombarded with links to the following news story. Boston Latin is apparently being infiltrated by vampires. Pah, I say. That’s just the school sucking the life out of its students. Ba-Boom! Thank you, I’m here all week!

An Obligatory Blog Post About Teenage Angst, or, Could I Have Been a Bigger Pain-in-the-Ass Nerd in High School?

Every once in a while, I get a colorful brochure from the alumni association of my glorious alma mater begging me for money. In my more cynical moments, I’m tempted to send them copies of my educational loan debts and a reciprocal request begging them for money, food, shelter, clothing, dignity, etc., but usually I just dig deep into my bank account and send whatever pittance I’m able to scrounge up. I am, honestly, quite fond of the Boston Latin School despite all of the hellish torture it put me through. In fact, I believe I’ve put enough time between me and my high school days to allow for some of the more gaping wounds to heal, so let’s reopen them, shall we, and relive their horrors afresh.

Boston Latin is one of those brutally prestigious magnet schools that specializes in turning bright, well-rounded, inner-city kids into grade-grubbing, back-stabbing psychopaths, all before they finish puberty. Not that I’m bitter or anything. Modeled after the English public school system, it’s a six-year program, allowing its administrators and teachers an extra couple of years to mold and shape and twist and warp and mutilate the minds of America’s future leaders. And they’ve been doing this for ages. Founded in 1635 (“predating Harvard by more than a year” as it modestly claims at every opportunity), it’s the oldest public school in the country. Because of this (and not because the school has huge entitlement issues and pulsates with conceit and arrogance, I swear), its motto is “Sumus primi.” For those of you not au fait with dead, predominantly useless languages, that’s Latin for “We are the first.” Uh huh. In its auditorium – into which new students are herded on their first day and more or less told they stand an excellent chance of failing out within a year – is a glorious, elegant frieze upon which the names of some of its more illustrious alumni are inscribed. These include Ben Franklin (who failed out himself, but we keep that hush hush), Joe Kennedy (drinking pal of Joseph McCarthy and noted anti-Semite) and Sam Adams (destroyer of tea, lent his name to an expensive and overrated beer). The foyer included a statue of Romulus and Remus feeding at the wolf, which was the symbol of the school. The point was that we, the unwashed, dirty masses of youth and potential talent, were to suckle at the teat of Boston Latin learning and then go on to found epic, glorious civilizations and kill each other. Or something like that, I dunno. If you conveniently forget the killing each other part, it’s sort of condescendingly sweet, I guess. However, you may not be familiar with the actual statue.


Yeah. I’d like to see any kid greet that image every morning, five days a week, for six years, consider its symbolism and implications, and not go irretrievably mental.

I need to emphasize the fact that I did not want to go to Latin. No happy, well-adjusted eleven-year-old would. It’s not as if upon hearing, “Hey! Why not trade in your current life, which consists of having friends and being the smartest kid in your class with a minimal amount of effort to a brand new nightmare existence of having four hours of homework every day and never getting a full night’s sleep ever again?!” I jumped up and down shouting, “Yippee! Where do I sign up?!” No, the real conversation went something like this:

My mom: OK, the entrance exam for Latin is in three months, so we’re getting you a math tutor.

Me: What?! No! I do not want a math tutor! I’m already a giant nerd! Do you want me to die at the hands of a pack of rabid, inner-city school bullies?! And I definitely do not want to go to Latin! I want to be a stand-up comic! Why won’t you support me in my dreams and goals?! Don’t you love me?!

My mom: No. In fact, your father and I hate you with a passion that flames like a thousand suns. You were adopted. And you’re going to Latin, so quit your whining or we’ll give you back to the orphanage!

OK, so it’s possible that I’ve fabricated several key elements of the conversation. Regardless. I distinctly remember feeling a sense of profound dread mixed with an inevitable smattering of pride when I learned I was accepted at Latin, and that profound dread would become my baseline emotion for much of the next six years.

I know that this will come as a shock to many of you, given the coolly sophisticated, sexy lady I’ve since become, but frankly, I was an absolute geek in high school. Hell, I was a geek in a high school designed especially for geeks. Forum editor of the school newspaper, literary editor of the magazine, president of the Public Declamation Society, Treasurer of the German Club and director of our senior-year play: you name the dorky group or organization, and, chances are, I was a member. All of this extracurricular work I did left very little time for academics, and I was, perhaps not surprisingly, a miserable student. By my final year there – at which point I had decided that graduating high school was monstrously overrated and only subjected you to a life of servitude to THE MAN –  I was doing well enough in subjects I enjoyed and barely passing those I did not. My high-minded indignation, of course, was really just a thinly-veiled attempt to mask profound, jaw-dropping academic burnout and sloth-like laziness, and I successfully managed to completely tank my class rank. I think I ended up graduating with a GPA of negative 3, but not before I had insulted and alienated every single teacher I had at the school who would shake his or her head in utter disgust over how much of a time-wasting smart ass I had become in class. (Assuming, of course, I turned up for class at all. I literally missed a third of my senior year of high school. God alone knows how I graduated.)

I’m actually still really embarrassed by my performance in high school, and even more embarrassed by the fact that, despite it, I still managed to do pretty well in higher education. Sometimes, I think I’d like to go back to all of my old high school teachers and present them with my academic credentials and thank them. I’d like to ensure them that, really, even though it appeared otherwise, and I was, in fact, a total dipstick as a teenager, I did actually learn something during my Latin days. I learned enough, in fact, to make most of college a breeze and, much more importantly, my education at Latin introduced me to some of the higher philosophical principles of learning, such as the joys of intellectual challenge and the importance of academic honesty and rigor. Mostly, I’d like to apologize for being such a moronic half-wit. Boston Latin presented a pretty fantastic opportunity for learning, and even a half-assed attempt like mine still produced some pretty fine results, so, maybe I should be more grateful for what I received there.

But then, of course,  I remember that freakish, horrible statue and I decide I’m better off never thinking about that condescending, abusive hellhole ever again. DAMN THE MAN! AND DAMN THAT HORRIBLE WOLF!

The Biggest Threat to Boston’s Residents? Wild Turkeys.

I still read The Boston Globe every day, mostly in an attempt to prove that the city ceases to exist when my glorious presence is no longer there. This theory doesn’t seem to hold water yet, but The Globe can be sneaky, so I’ll keep looking for holes in its coverage of a no-longer-existent Boston.

The Globe is slipping, I know that. For example, a couple of days ago, the paper ran a story that I know for a fact is really, really old. Attack of the Killer Turkeys! The turkeys are coming! Lock your doors, hide your children! It’s true. Turkeys, which were once extinct in the state, hunted off for their tastiness, have returned with gusto. They are now invading the city and boldly attacking pedestrians, pets, cars, the Hancock Building (they WILL bring it down!), etc. It sounds funny, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want a giant, stupid bird waddling up to me, shrieking and flailing, and trying to right the wrongs of its Turkey Day-sacrificed brethren.

"Gimme your wallet and shut yer yuppie gob, you bitch. Gobble, gobble!"

"Gimme your wallet and shut yer yuppie gob, you bitch. Gobble, gobble!"

My mom knew of their coming years ago. She even warned me. One day, when I was still in college, I got one of her newsy emails that seemed basic enough, until halfway through there was the following bit:

I was almost late for work today because there were a couple of wild turkeys wandering up our walkway and they wouldn’t leave! Your dad had to go outside and chase them off with a broom.

Now, admittedly my parents had a house in one of the most residential areas of Boston, but they still lived in the actual city. It’s not like we grew up in the boondocks, tipping cows for entertainment. (OK, we did tip cows for entertainment, but that’s another story.) So, when I read this email, I was profoundly disturbed. My mom was either high on crack or losing her mind. I called one of my sisters to ask if our dear mummy had been sampling some of the seedier treats of inner-city living, but sister-dear also insisted that there were turkeys roaming our neighborhood. Apparently, the drug addiction had corrupted my entire family!

A few weeks later, I was home myself, on break from the rigors of sleeping until noon and playing Ceasar 3 when I should have been in class. One morning, at an obscenely early hour, I was grumpily in the car with my mom, on our way to make some money working at a mental institution. (I swear by the sweet Virgin this is true.) As we pulled out of our driveway, there, on my right, were two massive, wobbling turkeys, wandering down the sidewalk, with a gangsta-like insouciance that was both disturbing yet, frankly, kind of attractive. Almost…sexy. Regardless. The effect was utterly unnerving, and I couldn’t help but shriek


My mom looked at me the way you’d expect a woman to look at her offspring who had just shattered her eardrum with unnecessary profanity at 6:30 in the morning. “Yes. I told you there were turkeys here! You don’t have to holler! And stop swearing!”


My mom spent the rest of the car ride seething in silence. She eventually got her hearing back, though, so no permanent damage done.

Anyway, yeah. There are turkeys in Boston, there have been for a while. OLD NEWS, MR BOSTON GLOBE REPORTER! Take a cue from your colleagues and get back to more important issues, like posting shirtless pictures of Tom Brady! Now we’re talking real, solid journalism, man!

A Cat and The Rat

A cat first:


Indeed. I think I’d kill a man with my bare hands for a Brigham’s hot fudge sundae with chocolate ice cream and lots and lots of jimmies on it right about now. And some good sushi, too, actually. And pizza without corn on it. And bacon, real bacon, not the English stuff, which is just thinly sliced ham masquerading as bacon. And salad. And clam chowder.

Maybe I should eat lunch instead of drooling. Hmmm.

On to The Rat. My niece turns eight today. I affectionately nicknamed her The Rat four or five years ago for reasons I no longer recall. (You may not find a nickname like The Rat affectionate at all, but in my family, it is the pinnacle of warmth and love to give one another nonsensical and/or mildly disturbing pet names that are hugely embarrassing when revealed to non-family members. And they are revealed, as often as possible.  My dad, for example, called me Tin Can until I was 13 when I begged him to stop because friends of mine were convinced that was my actual name.) I only have one niece and in my family she’s also the only grandchild, so, perhaps predictably, she’s spoiled rotten and a complete and total ham. I love that kid: she never fails to make me laugh. I also feel hugely guilty about being away from her on birthdays, which always, always occurs. Even when she was born, I wasn’t really there. Not totally, anyway. Three days before her birth, I had half of my thyroid unceremoniously ripped out of my throat (my doctor prefers the PC phrase “surgically removed,” but I know what that man did to me) and replaced with a tube that drained all kinds of liquid nastiness into a little plastic bag I wore around my neck. There were also many, many industrial staples involved. And lots of painkillers, too. God bless painkillers. They didn’t work in the sense that I no longer felt any pain, but rather morphed my sense of reality into concluding that pain wasn’t necessarily a bad thing in the first place. Why worry about the mild ache I feel in my throat, for example, when the walls are bleeding and no one sees it but me? Also, pain isn’t all that big a deal when the internist assigned to removing your staples has a third arm growing out of her chest and is easily ten feet tall with a voice like Darth Vader.

I didn’t do well on heavy-duty painkillers.

Anyway, when my niece was born, I hobbled in to see her and my sister and, perhaps due to the aforementioned hallucinations, I wasn’t at my most polite, or even my most coherent. My niece was born with a full, gigantic head of hair and I remember feeling profoundly disturbed by this. “Why does she have so much hair? Is that normal? What the hell is wrong with this kid?!” Probably not the best things to say to my older sister who had just experienced child birth for the first time and wasn’t especially impressed with my ‘on too many painkillers’ excuse. Regardless. My niece is, of course, an adorable child, but I will always be haunted by the fact that my first impression of her was that she was a massively hairy runt of a thing, a baby werewolf, perhaps, or a Wookiee. I’ll be paying for that guilt the rest of my life, believe me.

Happy birthday, Rat, I love you lots! Your check for seventy million dollars is on its way! If it bounces, please don’t call the mob like you did last time: the bruises have yet to heal!

Odds and Ends

First, a very happy birthday to my younger sister. February 4th begins the awkward annual six-week period during which time she and I are technically the same age. I still find the pragmatics of this situation and all that it implies about my parents’ amorous relationship deeply disturbing, so I try not to think about it too much. Nevertheless, I love my sister very much and she shouldn’t have her birthday ignored simply because our parents were dirty-minded animals. Happy Birthday, Laur. (Love you too, Mom: I was just kidding about the ‘dirty-minded animals’ bit. Don’t hit!)

Second, I updated my ‘About Me’ page because I had some emails from very confused people wanting to know, quite reasonably,  just who the hell did I think I was writing this damn blog. Apologies: hopefully the page clears up everything. Unless, of course, you actually know me in real life, in which case you probably still have questions about just who the hell I think I am, questions that no cheesy blog post can ever answer. I can provide no further elucidation on that topic, so, you’re kind of screwed. Sorry. I usually find that looking at pictures of beagle puppies makes me feel better when I’m confused, so please enjoy the following:

Awwww! Life makes sense again.

Awwww! Life makes sense again.

Finally, one of my childhood heroes, Michael J. Nelson, the mastermind behind RiffTrax as well as the former head writer and star of Mystery Science Theater 3000, has undertaken what some say is a bottomlessly stupid challenge to eat nothing but bacon for the entire month of February. Naysayers be damned: I think it is a noble homage to the often overlooked wholesomeness and glory of bacon, or, at the very least, a very amusing publicity stunt, so I support him in his quest. Like I said, the guy’s one of my childhood heroes. Anyway, follow his antics at The RiffTrax Blog.