Saturday, May 27, 2006

Under the Sea

Let me preface this by saying that I have friends who are truly good photographers- see my links for details. I'm just a girl with a digital camera, an iBook, and a dream. Actually, I wouldn't even say I have a dream. I'm just sort of a pack rat when it comes to memories and I take a ridiculous amount of pictures. I have a theory that the more pictures you take, the more likely it is that one of them will be actually worthwhile.

Last weekend, I went to the Great Big Shiny Atlanta Aquarium. Mostly I was annoyed by the company picnic attendees that continuously shoved and yammered and smacked gum. Seriously, when you're in an aquarium, you're supposed to be quiet because that's what it's like underwater. There are no singing crabs or chattery clown fish- it is just deep and blue and zen-like and I wanted to kill all of those people in the annoying blue shirts!!!

Obviously, the Aquarium was not a zen experience this time around.

That said, check it out:

Formation Gliding! And...

Tripped-out Jellyfish!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Marissa Cooper: A Two Part Series

Part 1: Marissa Cooper: A Cautionary Tale

Perhaps you remember the OC update of year’s past. I stopped writing it for two reasons.
1) The PeaceCorps friend that I wrote it for sheepishly admitted that St. Lucia television broadcasted The OC and she didn’t actually need an update.
2) I just kind of got bored with The OC

I never stopped watching it. Sure, I skipped an episode here and there, but I stuck with it. I was there for the Fab Four doppelgangers, Marissa’s lesbian experience, Seth’s descent into narcissism, the wasted chemistry between Anna and Seth, the continual downfall of Jimmy Cooper, and I even stuck it out through the travesty that was Oliver. At some point during this last season, it started to feel like a chore to catch up with The OC on my DVR. But I kept slugging along out of some misguided loyalty. Call it cognitive dissonance because of early devotion. It was like that friend from childhood that you can’t ever really desert even though you no longer have anything in common.

And last night, they killed Marissa Cooper.

On the one hand, hell yes! I never really appreciated Marissa. She seemed to attract broody handsome types that have some fatal flaw, and they all seemed to be hopelessly devoted to her beauty and nothing else. She had no personality, no sense of humor, no obvious stellar qualities… but they were all obsessively committed to her flawless bone structure and waifish figure. She doesn’t even have boobs. Of course, this male harem didn’t include any actual prime specimens. Marissa consistently chose boys who eventually ended up wanting to shoot her, rake her lawn, beat up her ex-boyfriend (one of these was actually a girl), get drunk and fall off a cliff, or run her car off the road. Granted, I didn’t date much in high school, but mostly boys just stopped calling and that was the worst thing that happened. So, let that be a lesson: be careful, little girls. You may think you want drama and passionate romance, but all it’s going to get you is dead on the side of the road.

On the other hand, did they really have to kill Marissa Cooper? Sure, she had the personality of a spatula (and she looked like one too), but she was basically harmless. She just flitted around wearing the latest styles and occasionally made Ryan’s life more complicated. Why couldn’t they just ship her off to Greece with her dad and have her make guest spots about once a year only re-cast with one of the girls from High School Musical? Or maybe they could get Lindsey Lohan to do it and that would be at least really funny and ironic.

Now that’s she’s dead, everyone is going to be all maudlin. Ryan’s going to go into some broody haze and sit around staring at the ocean having Marissa flashbacks from dark hallways while yet another cover of “Hallelujah” plays. Summer’s going to have no female best friend until they make Taylor a regular and then we will all want to gag ourselves. Seth will try to be comforting to everyone and end up leaving them to sail to Australia when everyone pushes him away. Kiki will relapse because they need a reason to do that storyline again now that Sandy is on the straight and narrow again. Our only hope is Julie Cooper. Perhaps the tragic demise of Stick Girl will push her over the edge back into supreme bitchdom and sluttacular gold digging. I don’t want a maudlin OC; I want a deliciously scandalous and self mocking one!

I read an interview with Josh Schwartz, series creator, and he admitted that The OC basically sucked for a while there and he’s coming aboard full time next year to bring back the glory days of that golden first season. He said they killed Marissa to generate interest in the show and get the fan base buzzing, and I guess it worked because here I am. In the meantime, Mischa Barton is graciously telling the media that she just wanted to do what was interesting and best for the show.

Whatev. We all know that she’s boozing it up on the set of some independent film where she plays a coked out groupie with suicidal issues while wearing too much eyeliner and what amounts to a ratty pillowcase in lieu of a dress. She probably thinks this is a step up in her career and she’s breaking free of her typecast as a teenybopper actress. She is wrong about this. It makes her just like every other teen star out there.

Stay tuned for Part II of my special on the tragic demise of Marissa Cooper: Marissa Cooper is Dead and I Don’t feel So Good Myself, in which I psychoanalyze the cultural impact of Marissa’s death and it’s symbolism in the quarter life crisis. Basically, I’m going to bitch about my job.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Roomba my Heart

As promised, happier topic this time.

Last Wednesday, something glorious happened: I got a Roomba. And it is everything I dreamed it would be.

For the unenlightened, a Roomba is a robotic vacuum cleaner that zooms around your apartment or house and cleans the floors with little to no involvement from you. You just set the timer and watch it go.

And wonder of wonder, it works. It really does clean every inch of the floor and it really does pick up dirt and lint. When it’s done, it miraculously goes home to its base to re-charge for the next mission. (No lie- the owner’s manual calls each cleaning a mission.)

Thursday morning, I sent my new Favorite Thing on its trial mission. Then I sat for at least twenty minutes agog at the wonders of the Roomba. It was like watching TV but more productive. And since I’m me, I immediately gave it a name and a personality.

Her name is Ruby. I like to think of her as a wizened old woman who chain smokes on my porch on her breaks. There’s turquoise shadow smeared well over the boundaries of her eyelids and she teases her crackling hair into stiff curls along her forehead. She’s the type that was probably a groupie for a heavy metal group in the 80s and therefore has sagging rose tattoos on her shoulders. She listens to me chatter incessantly about the trials of my job and the flirtations from last weekend with a smirk and an expression that clearly speaks of the insignificance of my life. As she sucks up dog hair and bread crumbs, she drifts into fantasies of hugging the leather clad back of a Hell’s Angel. She speaks with the rasp of someone whose vocal cords have been pickled by jager bombs and whiskey and unfiltered cigarettes.

Actually, the Roomba looks more like a well manicured and efficient German maid named Olga, but I think the crusty and worldly Ruby is much more interesting.

I think I may be anthropomorphizing a little more than is healthy.

Anyway, despite my love for Ruby and my awe at her thoroughness and appreciation for her talents, Shelby basically hates Ruby. This isn’t surprising considering that Shelby despises anything that distracts me from her.

When Ruby first played her opening musical sequence (all the while mumbling to herself, “I used to sleep with Axl Rose. This is bullshit”), Shelby’s bat like ears sprang to full attention. Her eyes tracked Ruby’s progress across my floor with bewilderment that quickly faded to suspicion. An interloper! Another creature under a foot tall moving steadily across the floor- uninvited! And it makes noise!

It didn’t take long for Shelby to work up her courage to approach the newcomer. Unfortunately for Shelby, Ruby has an automatic dirt sensor, so she quickly changed course to follow Shelby around. Shelby scampered away with an indignant bark and darted under my legs to regroup.

Once Ruby returned to her path around the sofa, Shelby re-emerged with a new game plan: surprise attack. She lunged for the hard plastic cover with a battle cry, darting forward and backward at Ruby with agility shocking for an octogenarian schnauzer. Finally, fearing for the safety of both of them, I scooped Shelby’s writhing body up and moved her across the room. She struggled for a bit and then quieted down to size up her enemy. Ruby continued her steady progression around the room as if nothing unusual had happened (I suppose if you woke up to find yourself in bed with The Edge and Slash, you would be nonchalant about a yapping dog).

From this point on, Shelby determined Ruby to be a mightier opponent that she originally suspected and decided to give her a wide berth. Now, when Ruby is trolling around and I call Shelby to me, she will take the longest path around Ruby possible and stay close to my ankles for the duration of the mission.

I figure it’s a good thing that Shelby has decided I’m the alpha dog in this scenario rather than Ruby. Frankly, I’m not sure Ruby isn’t planning to kill me in my sleep by sucking my face off with her infrared sensors.

I live in awe and fear of my Roomba and I can’t believe I waited so long to get one.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Truth Is...

The Friend That Is No Longer

I haven’t posted in a while because I was trying to get the words right. I’m still not satisfied but I decided tonight that’s it’s time to move on. Excuse the odd pronoun use; I wanted to keep things as general as possible. Next time I’ll try to choose a more cheerful topic like “Why It’s Awesome that Josh and Donna are Gonna Do It on The West Wing.”

The topic for this piece has been rolling around in my head for a while, but I’ve been hesitant to put the words together because of all the possible ramifications. Talking about Friends That Are No Longer Friends is like playing hopscotch in a minefield (or mindfield, really). Chances are there are plenty of ways to set off silent alarms, and it seems easier to just let the bombs sit quietly and undisturbed. So I ask myself why I’m doing this. Why don’t I just continue to store those memories in labeled boxes in my closet? Why don’t I ignore the muse and write some trifling piece on modern courtship?

Because I saw something that reminded me of someone I once knew, and I hated myself for having the snap reaction to IM that person to tell them what I saw. And I shouldn’t hate myself for that. It’s not fair that sad endings lead us to color entire relationships. There was a thing that was good in my life, and it isn’t anymore. But it feels like if I acknowledge the good part, then I’m some kind of pathetic push over still blindly trying to hold on to a sour friendship.

I’ve decided to do the brave thing and admit something we all know to be true: Bad endings don’t erase good middles; they just make them more painful to remember. I’m going to go ahead and that I’m glad to have known all of my Friends That Are No Longer.

We all have these shadows—we all have the Friend That is No Longer. This is different from the childhood friend whom we remember fondly and would be glad to see. These endings are harder to swallow than romantic relationships gone awry because we don’t have to end one friendship to begin another. We always have something to lose if we stay with a girlfriend or boyfriend that isn’t exactly what we want, but a friend can fall short of perfection and still be worthy of keeping in our social circle.

The Friend That Is No Longer is the one left us with the clear assertion that the friendship is over; we are no longer welcome to share inside jokes and call at all hours of the night. Perhaps we initiated the ending. Perhaps it was an unhealthy friendship. Maybe there was a betrayal. Maybe it involved a member of the opposite sex. Possibly the person who knew our deepest vulnerabilities used them against us in a moment of frustration. Maybe you were 10 or maybe you were much older. There might have been barbed words exchanged; there might have been damaging silences. There could be a chance that you’ll reconcile, or maybe you know that it was ultimately a good ending. There are a thousand variables and we all have our own sad stories of the Friend That Is No Longer.

You have a good life now. You have a solid group of friends. You’ve gotten really into bowling or writing or sailing or whatever. You have a job that you love or a job that you love to hate. You have a new crush and it makes life interesting. You go along day to day and hardly consider the Friend That is No Longer. You’re on your merry way when you see a commercial, you hear a song, a note falls out of a book and you are sucker punched. All at once, you are flooded with moments.

A dazzling display of movie reel flashes spin through your vision as you re-play memories. There is the Friend That is No Longer and the Friend That Once Was. They are two separate people. As much as you may loathe or fear the current version, there will always be a version of that person that lives on inside you that is attached to thousands of positive moments. Sometimes, when you feel particularly bitter about the current state of affairs, you wish you could summon the old version of your friend so you can bitch about the new one. You wish you could jump in Marty McFly’s Time Machine and just spend an afternoon watching movies with the old version. You wish you could erase the ugly ending so that you could treasure the good moments without that bittersweet taste in your mouth. As you feel yourself weakening and considering the possibility of hunting down this old friend to beg for reconciliation, you summon all the negative energy and rage and disdain for the new version. But you can hear Coldplay in your ears and can’t help murmuring:

‘When the truth is, I miss you.”

You miss playing in the imaginary world you created together and the fake names you gave each other. You miss the way they laughed when you admitted to writing bad poetry about your high school crush. You miss the flurries of one line e-mails that started out to impart some news about some actress and turned into an excuse to exchange witty banter. You miss people watching and mocking individuals in ill-advised clothing. You miss riding in the car next to them in comfortable silence. You miss watching that one special tv show together and dissecting the finer points of the characters.

In your mind, you can see this person now. You wonder if by some confluence of the cosmos, this person is also tilting his or her head in remembrance of you and what once was.

But there is no movie moment. There is no swelling music and montage of friends sprinting through torrential downpours to find one another. There is no tearful phone conversation or comedic meeting in an airport years later. The friend that is no longer is gone from your life. You will never have closure. There will be no fond reminiscing over drinks or shy smiles across a crowded room. There is no ending other than the one you have. After all, there are movies that end that way too.

So the commercial for the show you used to watch together ends. Itunes skips to the next song on your list. You place the note back in the book and reshelf it. And the Friend That is No Longer goes away with them. The rest of the day you feel melancholia drifting on the edge of your mind, but you’re okay.

You’ve moved on, but the truth is, I miss you

Monday, January 30, 2006

Eight Reasons Not To Give Up

Lately, there's been a general problem in the male gender. And I'm not saying that as a bitter single girl; it's a pattern observed by several others. More than one of my friends has thrown her (or his) hands in the air lately with the declaration, "That's it! I'm done! No more boys!" I swear that some sort of memo went out for the month of January that basically instructed the lot of them to generally suck. And with Valentine's Day fast approaching... um, yeah.

But let's face it- contrary to what Maureen Dowd might postulate, we really can't do without the male gender. In the end, we like them too much. We like that they surprise us with sweet gestures and logic us out of silly situations. We like tasteful cologne and well-fitting sweaters. We like boyish grins, and so help me, we even like that they can fix things. Not that I couldn't fix things, but it's a real time saver.

So, to help balance the scales against the rampant jackassery (anyone up for creating, I present to you 8 guys that are safe, good people. They may mis-step from time to time, but they're solid and they should restore your faith in inter-gender relations. Some are famous, some are fictional, and some are regular joes. Go on, have a crush on one.

In no particular order:


Name: Jon Stewart
How You Know Him: The Daily Show, America:The Book
Crushable Features: Razor sharp wit, endearing smirk, and he's like fifty times smarter than you.
Squee-Inducing Quote: "Yes, reason has been a part of organized religion, ever since two nudists took dietary advice from a talking snake."

Oh, sure. He's an obvious choice, but he's a classic for a reason. Clare and I used to watch him and gush that we would vote for him for president. Hell, we'd vote for him for head of the PTA. We'd sit quietly and listen to him read aloud the ingredients for a Fiesta Salad as long as he added in the occasional, "Waaaaah?"

Name: Jim Halpert
How You Know Him: The Office, An American Workplace
Crushable Features: Mop-top hair, dry sense of humor, creator of the Office Olympics, and puppy dog devotion to engaged receptionist Pam
Quote: "Because right now, this is a job. If I advance any higher, this would be my career. And if this were my career, I'd have to throw myself in front of a train."

Poor, sweet Jim. You probably knew him in high school and didn't pay much attention then either. Give him a second chance. Gush over his raised eyebrows to the camera every time Dwight says something ridiculous. Coo over his subtle attempts to woo Pam. He's just so darn cute with that lost puppy expression.


Name: Chrisseneric. (Chris and Eric)
How You Know Him (Them): my college dorm
Crushable Features: Killer blue eyes (both of them!), fantastic bear hugs (Eric), talented gift-giving (Chris), looking good in uniform (Eric), and pop culture saavy (Chris)
Quotes: "I really am just a big dog." -Eric
"Hey, 3 out 4 voters can't be wrong." -Chris, on his sense of humor.

It's a twofer! True, I could have included these boys seperately, but this way we get 9 total. The important thing about these two is that they are lifers- these are the guys that stick. They've seen some serious female craziness and they keep sitting there with those amused smiles. This dynamic duo lived in the room underneath mine during our first year in college and some of my best memories inclue the two of them (No! Not like that!). If you want to go to an All You Can Eat Chinese Buffet, play Trivial Pursuit until you pass out, hike through Europe, or fire big guns from boats- these are the men you've searching for.


Name: Zach Braff
How You Know Him: Scrubs, Garden State, Chicken Little
Crushable Features: That whole I laugh-at-the-world-but-i'm-really angsty-and-thoughtful-as-evidenced-by my directorial-debut-in-Garden-State
Quote: "It's the kid inside of us that keeps us all from going crazy." (as JD on Scrubs)

You can have a crush on the character he plays with his quirky obsessions (The Jeffersons) and amusing flights of fancy. You can have a crush on the artist he is with his quarter-life-crisis turn on Garden State. Or you can have a crush on the shyly smirking actor who once said he couldn't even date a girl that has never seen Casablnca. Pick one and go.

Name: Fitzwilliam Darcy
How You Know Him: Pride and Prejudice, both book and movie
Crushable Features: Brooding stares, excellant equestrian skill, verbal prowess, tight riding pants, and Pemberley.
Quote: "If I loved you any less, I could speak of it more."

There's a reason that Pride and Prejudice has been made into a movie in about 50 different incarnations. There's a reason that Colin Firth even has a career. There's a reason that Jane Austen is so respected and revered by modern day women. That reason is Mr. Darcy. Sure, he starts out surly and snobby. But he changes for the woman he loves and there's no more powerful aphrodisiac than that.

Name: Sam Seaborn
How You Know Him: The West Wing
Crush-worthy Features: liberal idealism, dazzling smile, gentlemanly manners, and mad writing skillz,
Quote: "You're a cheap hack. You go after Leo, I'll bust you like a pinata. "

The West Wing has a whole bevy of worthy contenders, and ordinarily I would go for Josh with his bantery wit and dimples. Sadly, Josh is just a little too bipolar, and he's always overlooked and misused Donna. So, we move on to Sam because he's impassioned, he's all sweet to Ainsley Hayes, and, um, he's also Rob Lowe. Plus, you know he's a good kisser because he dated a call girl.

Name: Thomas Jefferson, aka TJ
How You Know Him: American Revolution, American Presidency, and the Univeristy of Virginia
Crush-worthy Features: incredibly vast intelligence, secure enough in his manhood to wear heels, Monticello, and historical relevance
Quote: "I'm a great beliviever in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it."

Ok, so should you choose to heap adoration upon TJ, you also have to contend with the fact that he's dead. But come on! He's a Renaissance Man! He wrote famous government documents! He designed two buildings in the Historical Registry! He founded the best freakin' University ever! He spoke French fluently! And hey, Sally Hemmings! History wins!

Name: Justin Cox
How You Know Him: University of Texas, Photographer Extraordinaire
Crush-worthy Features: the eye of the artist, internet saavy, that whole modern elegant look, and cutesy drunk IMs
Quote: "if/when you come visit we will run amuck and have a crazy-go-nuts fun time."

You can probably guess this is not a picture of Justin. This is actually my dog. But he's as cute as her, and I don't have a picture of him. This is the guy that created my pretty blog design and he has a real eye for beauty in the unique (see his portfolio). He's sweet, he's witty, and he can hold his own in Pop Culture Trivial Pursuit. Snap 'em up!

All right, girls (and some guys)- go forth and flirt! I mean, as long as you're not really stalking. You know who you are.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Since U Been Riddled

I adore Kelly Clarkson.

Seriously, I do. From her days on American Idol as "The One with Personality and a Voice" to her current days on the cover of Blender. I love that she eats cheeseburgers, that she was "just good friends" with Justin Guarini, that she tore apart some guy's apartment in her video, that she currently seems to be in a leather bustier kick, and that she says 'cool beans' as often as some people say 'like.' Christine and I have her on our "People who would hang out with us if they only really knew us" list. I don't care that she's a cheesy pop singer or that she got her start in reality. She's spunky, she's got a voice like buttah, and she could destroy Lindsay Lohan in a barfight. I love Kelly Clarkson and I don't care who knows it.

So, imagine my delight that someone would create the Kelly Clarkson riddle. Not only does it highlight Blender's Woman of the Year, it also creates an excellant opportunity for procrastination and mind teasing.

Even if you don't like Kelly, go check it out. It's based on an old Internet riddle game, and it really does challenge you to think. I'm not even sure I can explain how it works. Just go to the website and read the FAQ and then prepare to spend all your free time for an indefinite period of time puzzling over Kelly. Also, I'm on Level 5. Has anyone unscrambled the picture yet?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Shelby and Goat

Goat staring down at her as if he might eat her is what makes it art.