Here are things I have not received from the US Post Office that I know were sent to me:
2 issues of The New Yorker
2 issues of Time Out New York
2 copies of disc 3 of season 2 of The West Wing, as I had Netflix resend it because I thought it had gotten lost in the mail
A USC alumni letter asking for money
A bunch of charities asking for money
A lot of credit cards trying to get me to use them
Coupons for a DSW in New Jersey
My mom sending me clips from various news articles she found interesting because she’s awesome and old school
Losing access to your mail is like losing access to hot water. You take it for granted until it’s not there anymore and you keep checking in hopes that it will make a sudden appearance. And then you become really smelly and gross and your hair gets all greasy and your friends suddenly stop taking your calls (or texts — modern society!) and you decay or you just give up altogether and take a cold shower. So yes, losing access to your daily mail is just like losing hot water. I am excellent at metaphors.
The night of the homecoming dance, when Scott had not won Homecoming King as he had prematurely bragged to the family he would, he stomped upstairs in a huff, the smell of sweat and cheap beer wafting off his tuxedo. The next morning, still dark outside, with the sun only starting to make its ascent up the hill outside their tract home, Lisa was woken by the sound of a crash outside of her bedroom. She opened the door a crack. There was Tricia Kimble, Scott’s date, with her bleached beach blond hair and teased bangs adjusting the puffy sleeves of her magenta dress, wobbling in black pumps. Lisa looked down at the ground. The sound of the crash had apparently been Tricia stumbling into the small bookshelf next to Scott’s door where he kept a stack of Sports Illustrated magazines. She looked up from the mess to the intruder and met eyes with her briefly, a moment wherein she recognized the fear and panic in the girl’s face like that of a mouse who has come face-to-face with a cat. Without saying a word, Tricia removed her heels and tiptoed down the carpeted stairs and out the front door.
“Wake up,” Lisa hissed as she returned to her room. She ran over to her bed to look out the window, kneeling on her mattress and propping herself up by her elbows on the window sill. Lisa and Leta’s room was upstairs over the garage, which gave them the best view in the house to observe the comings and goings of the neighbors and the other members of their family. “Leta, wake up!”
Leta was fast asleep, her straw-colored hair plastered to her forehead. She mumbled some approximation of, “What do you want?” which came out as, “Whaaaaaawannnt.”
“There was a girl in Scott’s room!”
“What?” Leta’s eyes opened instantly.
“Tricia Kimble! Scott’s date!” Lisa tried to keep her voice down, but the gossip was too good.
Leta, apparently now fully awake, also crawled up on her knees and stared out the window. They saw the bright yellow beacon of Tricia Kimble’s hair shine in the moonlight as she stumbled down their driveway into the night.
“She sure can’t walk in heels very good,” Leta observed. “She’s stumbling all over the place.” She got up and started marching on her tip toes around the perimeter of their room, her legs comically bowed in different directions like a cowboy in heels. Lisa started laughing until her stomach hurt, her eyes watering. She got up and started walking around on her tip toes as well, mirroring and then exaggerating her sister’s movements.
“Look! Look!” Leta said and ran to the closet. She climbed up on top of a clothes basket and started digging around on the top shelf. There she found a bright yellow sweater. She plopped it on top of her head and began walking around the room again, running herself into the beds and the desk chairs and the doll house in the corner. “Oh Scott,” she moaned, her voice whiny and high-pitched. “Scott! Poor Scott! You poor thing, what a terrible fate it is to have lost the title of Homecoming King!”
Lisa thought she would never stop laughing.
With a loud thump, their revery was ended as Dani apparently had been woken up by the antics in the room. “Shut up!” she shouted, although her voice was muffled by the walls. “Shut the hell up, monsters!”
“Shhhh,” Lisa said. “You woke up Dani.”
Leta lowered her voice. “All I want to do is comfort poor widdle Scott,” she said, wrapping the sweater around her head and jutting out her lower lip.
“Why do you think she was there?” Lisa asked as she crawled back into her bed. The scratchy pink bedspread rubbed against her legs and she shifted herself to cover herself in the cool night.
“I don’t know. Seems like a dumb move to me.”
“I know. So stupid.” Leta flopped back down on the bed. “He’s just a jerk anyway. He deserved to lose.”
“Scott,” Leta whispered. “Oh Scott.”
That night Lisa and her sister fell asleep smiling.
Just so you know, if I see you on a subway and I do not expect to see you and you don’t see me, I will go out of my way to avoid you. I will put the collar of my jacket up and bow my head real low and turn my iPod up super high. I will pretend like you don’t exist. I hate nothing more than surprise subway greetings. Mind you, it’s nothing personal. Even if we are best friends, or we talk to each other every day, or you’re my brother or sister or my mom or dad, I will go out of my way to avoid you. I will do anything in this world to not talk to you. And if we do happen to see each other on the subway, and I act all happy about it, and I’m all normal-looking and typical-sounding, I just want you to know in advance that it is a lie and I am secretly dying inside, very slowly.
This does not apply to on-the-street greetings because you’re not trapped inside a metal tube underground.
I like your Jumping Jack story. Was that the funniest thing that happened you in Dublin?
Anon, a mouse.
There were many funny things that happened to me, but in terms of amusing cultural differences, I am reminded of this post I wrote in July 2008, only a few months after I arrived in Dublin.
After Wall-E, my coworker drove me home. Flo-Rida and T-Pain came on the radio. I commented that this particular song was really ubiquitous, the kind that lingers in your head and remains there, inescapable.
“What are ‘apple-bottom jeans?’” she asked. “Is that something all Americans wear?”
“Oh, no,” I said, not sure how to really explain. “It’s something that’s popular in the hip hop community, I think. It’s meant to sort of accentuate the woman’s booty.”
“Ah, and what’s booty? I’ve always wondered. Is that like… Just the bum or is that like the front and back combined?”
“Just the butt.”
“Okay, so the apple bottom jeans…?”
“Accentuate the butt. If you have an apple bottom, apparently you have a really nice ass.”
She sat back in her car and pondered this for a bit. “Gotcha. Apple bottom jeans. Now, these boots with the fur…?”
“We don’t need to apply this overblown—and, frankly, patronizing—idea of “social responsibility” to Bridesmaids. It’s a funny, audience-pleasing movie that generated enough word of mouth to succeed without some manufactured bigger-picture ideal elevating it into something its creators never intended it to be: A recent New York Times piece suggests Kristen Wiig is uncomfortable with the notion that her movie is any more “groundbreaking” than Baby Mama or Romy And Michelle’s High School Reunion.”—Everybody who thinks Bridesmaids didn’t go far enough in Empowering Women should go read Genevieve Koski’s piece at the A.V. Club and take a Xanax.
No American Girl Doll Your parents wouldn’t buy you an American Girl doll because $80 is a ridiculous price to pay for a toy, which would then inevitably lead to the purchase of multiple accessories ranging from the overpriced ($18 for “Winter Accessories,” consisting of tiny doll mittens and a hat), to the exorbitant ($56 for an “Ice Cream Set,” consisting of tiny plastic scoops of ice cream), to the highway robbery ($349 for a “doll’s chest,” a.k.a. tiny wooden box).
You grew up to be financially independent, level-headed, unspoiled, and still just a little bit resentful whenever you walk by American Girl Place.
“All along, Patty had been unaware that time is as adhesive as love, and that the more time you spend with someone the greater the likelihood of finding yourself with a permanent sort of thing to deal with that people casually refer to as ‘friendship,’ as if that were the end of the matter, when the truth is that even if ‘your friend’ does something annoying, or if you and ‘your friend’ decide that you hate each other, or if ‘your friend’ moves away and you lose each other’s address, you still have a friendship, and although it can change shape, look different in different lights, become an embarrassment or an encumbrance or a sorrow, it can’t simply cease to have existed, no matter how far into the past it sinks, so attempts to disavow or destroy it will not merely constitute betrayals of friendship but, more practically, are bound to be fruitless, causing damage not only to the humans involved rather than to the gummy jungle (friendship) in which those humans have entrapped themselves, so if sometime in the future you’re not going to want to have been a particular person’s friend, or if you’re not going to want to have had the particular friendship you and that person can make with one another, then don’t be friends with that person at all, don’t talk to that person, don’t go anywhere near that person, because as soon as you start to see something from that person’s point of view (which, inevitably, will be as soon as you stand next to that person) common ground is sure to slide under your feet.”—"A Cautionary Tale" - Deborah Eisenberg
It’s almost 11 o’clock at night and I can’t open up my Word on my computer and this is of great distress to me. I have to submit for my writing class tonight, and how am I gonna do this without Word? Google Docs is not cutting it. I ask you…!
Also I’m having a lot of conflicting thoughts and feelings about the news that has recently come to light about Osama bin Laden. Oh what’s that, you say? Another take on what has already been an exhausted subject, with millions of people opining throughout the land on this man, and his death, and What It Means. No, this is not that. This is not that because it can’t be that because I honestly don’t know what to think. I just don’t. I have tried to have a stance, an opinion, something where I could stand and shout, “This is what I believe!” and I find myself wavering endlessly between This and That. I felt good when I found out he was dead and then I felt bad about feeling good. And then I felt good that I felt bad about feeling good, because I thought that this meant I was a moral person and I should feel bad. But then I felt bad again, and then I felt good again and my whole entire day has been this cycle of good/bad. If the Germans have a word for The Happiness at the Expense of the Misfortune of Others, then what is the word for this feeling of The Conflicted and Complex Emotion Upon Hearing of the Demise of an International Terrorist That Orchestrated the Plot That Killed Thousands of People? I think it would sound very silly. Schadenfreude sounds very silly so I think this would be something like, Kermplatfuntensladen.