Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Taking a Moment...

Hello Friends.

This weekend's Rapture and Oprah's ascension into tv Heaven has me reflective. Both events make me think of Dr. Phil, which is weird because the only other time I think of him is when I see a picture of Jeffrey Tambor in a suit. Anyway, the Philibuster says we have these defining moments in our lives. Moments that change your perspective in such a way that your life is never the same. The invention of the Snuggie notwithstanding, I can think of one such moment in particular. But if the world is now going to end on October 21st (they re-did some calculations and wouldn't you know it? That old guy is super sorry), I need a couple more by then.

Dream: Have some kick-ass life-defining moments in the next five months.

Goal: Achievable. I'm trying to get outside more and take more risks (the other day I had a mojito!), so something momentous is bound to happen.

Plan: Examine my existing defining moment and determine what I have learned. This is lengthy and not all that funny, so skip ahead, or get comfy, grab a drink (perhaps a mojito!) and settle in.

It happened last spring. Names have been omitted to protect the muddy. I was visiting a Friend at her house, but I must have been early, or she had something to do, or there was a small fire or something, because I volunteered to take Friend's child (we'll call her Child) to a nearby park for a half hour or so. Now I love Child. Not in a way you love tuna fish sandwiches or early seasons of Cheers, but in a really meaningful way. Child is so curious, creative and smart that we connected immediately and could play for hours before she'd get bored with me. This was not the best day for a trip to the park, though. In the midst of spring thaw, it was warmer than it had been, but everything was covered in water, ice, and mud. We arrived at the park through a grassy embankment that was disgusting. We hadn't been out two minutes and we were already filthy. The playground part of the park was equally precarious. In fact, it was covered in water and unfit for play. Child was none too pleased with this arrangement and grew quickly bored with my game: Goose-stepping around the perimeter. After a few muddy rounds of tag and “Don't go over there, it's icy!”, I gave up on our park adventure and insisted we head home. Child protested, but I don't think she was having much fun either, so begrudgingly, we began our journey back to Friend's house.

Worried about scaling the grassy embankment covered in mud, I opted for the quicker and (I assumed) safer route of the asphalt and concrete alleyway which connected the playground to the houses. The alleyway was just as muddy, however, somehow muddier than the grassy area, and Child, fed up with my wet blanket ways, went straight to the muddiest portion of the alleyway to play. Cold, wet, and muddy myself, I would have none of it. My plan was to take Child by the hand, move her to the less muddy side of the alley and walk on home. As I approached her, though, when I was less than a foot away, I became literally stuck in the mud. My feet anchored me to one spot, and Child took no notice and continued playing. That's when she and I realized that she was stuck too.

At this point, those wise aircraft safety instructions about securing your own oxygen mask before helping a child with theirs would have come in handy. Instead, I reasoned, I would lift the small child, place her on clearer asphalt, get myself unstuck, and soldier on. Child was and is not heavy, but her boots were buried under a mound of thick muck so I knew this would entail a good, lift with your legs sort of lift. So I crouched (my feet still stuck), safely grabbed Child, and lifted mightily. She came up way too easily, and I realized I had lifted her out of her boots, which were still stuck. The momentum of my mighty lift and her small frame meant that I had overshot it big time and, with Child in my arms, I started to fall backwards.

I can't emphasize or begin to convey how scary this moment was. I had lifted a child above my six foot frame, my feet were bolted to the ground, and I was now about to fall backwards, onto asphalt and concrete. The lift and the sense of falling happened so quickly in real time, but it was amazing (and cliched) how everything slowed way down in my mind. My most prevalent thought was, of course, “You cannot hurt this child. You must do something now. Above all, the child must not be harmed.” This thought was on top of layers of incrimination and self-hatred, “You fucking moron!” I thought, “What made you think you could ever look after a child! Look at what's happening! Look at what you've done!” Instinctively, (remarkable that instinct would kick in now in spite of my amazing lack of intelligence so far on that day) I remember pulling Child down to hug her frame to my chest and stomach. I remember thinking, “She has to land on the fleshiest part of you. Break her fall with your pizza gut.” At least I can honestly say my concern was not for myself in this moment. I was hoping against everything that I could cushion her impact with my lungs or something so that she might only be shaken up, not injured, and have the presence of mind to fetch an adult while my brains leaked onto the asphalt.

Then it happened. Somehow, against all explanation, my foot was unstuck and I was able to step back, steady myself, and set Child down as I had intended! She was completely unaware than anything had happened, only that her boots were over there somewhere, and I felt the greatest, most palpable sense of relief. Because my feet were stuck, yo! As in absolutely immovable in those moments before the lift. There is no physical explanation as to how my foot would have become suddenly so free as to allow me to regain my balance. I'm not a religious or even very spiritual person, but something inside me believes now that there was some kind of force moving the chess pieces here.

I've told this story to other people, including Friend (Child's mother) who put Child into a bath as soon as she got home and noticed me shaking like a leaf. They've all had similar reactions along the lines of, “Well, kids aren't as fragile as you think they are!” or “Nothing really bad would have happened, you're making too much of this!” But it's one thing that I keep going over and over in my head, one thing I've never been able to turn into a dinner party anecdote. That combination of danger, total panic and relief is one I hope never to experience again, but will surely feel if I have kids of my own someday. I guess I should hope that whomever would be giving those kids to me never reads this.

So what is the lesson? Something contrived about how the sun can't shine every day? About how we should avoid, at all costs, being sticks in the mud? About how we should hold children to our hearts, quite literally, lest we be flung into Heaven backwards?

Oprah stood and talked for an hour today; no guests, no cars, no elongated voooowellllls!!! and the gist of her yakkin' was gratitude. Be grateful for what you have, for what you have experienced, for what you will experience. How lucky am I that my defining moment thusfar has been a spring day with my littlest Friend? For I've never witnessed a true disaster, never seen someone die, never seen a man hit a woman or a parent beat a child. I've never experienced war, never gone to bed hungry, never truly wanted for a single thing in my life. When the world ends, or I take my last breath in it, I hope I will remember how lucky I was to have the Friends and Family that I have, all the love that infinitely grows and expands like thawing ice over the earth, how grateful I was to step back, take a Child by the hand, and soldier on home.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Stunned Silence Followed by Slow-Claps...

Hello Friends.

There was this one Ally McBeal I saw (shut up, you guys) where she was hired to represent this guy Malcolm who was suing a girl who promised to go to prom with him and then refused. Malcolm's minister gets all up in this case and says the girl has to keep her promise so that Malcolm can go to the prom and sing a song for all his classmates. The hearing ensues and everybody talks about how Malcolm is socially inept and introverted and going to prom would be a huge social risk he was taking so it was vitally important that this girl go with him. The judge refuses to grant the order and dismisses the case (which really should have happened more often on that show; Ally McBeal was an extended study in bullshit legal proceedings), but Ally feels sorry for poor, awkward Malcolm and convinces him to go anyway and she will be his date. He's reticent, but she puts on an age-inappropriate dress and shows up on his doorstep, so how can he refuse? So they go to the prom and then this happens: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slGrRxp88xE

It's significant to mention here that this is Groban before he was Groban. Evidently, David E. Kelley (the creator of Ally) saw Groban in a bar, or something, and so impressed he wrote a show around him. Groban didn't have a record out yet or anything, so nobody knew what he might sound like until he opened his mouth on that show. I don't know, perhaps something doesn't translate here, since Groban is now an easy listening staple you can't get away from, but when I first saw this on television ten years ago it was shocking. You don't expect that perfect, operatic man-voice to come out of that awkward, scrawny package (and he's got to be Jewish, doesn't he? How does he reconcile that will all the Christmas albums?). And it's not as if I've become a huge Groban fan since then (quite the opposite, in fact, I really can't buy what he's selling), but I'll always remember how perfectly that episode captures that “You've defied all expectations and I'm unbelievably impressed!” feeling.

Maybe it's just wannabe performers who get this feeling, but doesn't everybody at some point in their life want to do something with such excellence that everyone is stunned into silence and then raucous applause? I sure do, which leads me to my new Dream.

Dream: Have a “Groban on McBeal” moment of my very own.

Goal: Achievable, because I've seen it happen lots of times. For instance, I was at a piano bar a few weeks ago (shut up, you guys!) where this timid guy (just like Groban) awkwardly approached the stage (just like Groban) and started with a little preamble before he song. He explained that what he was performing was from the failed sequel to Phantom of the Opera (Son of the Phantom, I think it was called, or Phantom 2: Surf's Up!) and undoubtedly the audience of musical theatre geeks stifled a groan. The people before him had sung stuff from Hairspray and Adele covers, stuff the audience knew and could sing along to, but not this dude. So the unfamiliar music starts up and he blows the roof off the place! He Andrew Lloyd Webbered the shit out of that song! The audience collectively leapt to its feet, cheering and applauding, and the emcee couldn't get the room back for several minutes afterward.

For me, it can't be singing. I can barely carry a tune and unless the band Naked Eyes is playing a concert and their lead singer suddenly falls ill and they need someone to sing their hit “Always Something There to Remind Me” who knows almost all the words and kind of the melody, then maybe. Otherwise, I need something else in order to properly Groban this bitch.

Plan: Orchestrate the opportunity to defy all expectations and unbelievably impress a group of persons with the flawless execution of a thing, like:

Athleticism. There's this old turtle of a lady who comes into my store and buys three kleenex boxes every day. She moans, “Hi there” when she walks in, then “Bye now” when she leaves, carrying two boxes in an old bag and the third in her other hand. I don't know what kind of spill she has in her house, but it's always three boxes every day with a permanent scowl and very minimal chatter. Anyway, what I've organized is this: over the speakers sometimes, our store plays the Kenny Loggins hit “Highway to the Danger Zone.” Loggins is an even bigger “lite favourites” staple than Groban, so it plays a lot. The next time “Highway to the Danger Zone” plays and Old Turtle is in the store, here's what's going to happen. I will run full-force towards Old Turtle while someone inexplicably cranks up Loggins. Then, she will drop her kleenex and lock her hands together palms-up, making a kind of step for me. I will step into her hands and she will lift upward so I will do a backflip (in the air!!!) and land right side up. Then I will lock my hands and flip Old Turtle. Wouldn't that be the most amazing thing you ever saw? She had better start training now because I'm hoping not to be working there forever.

Comedy. Standing up is as difficult for funny people as it is for paraplegics. I've tried a few times at some different open mics and have garnered reactions from mild titters to blatant heckling. Once, I tried telling the joke, “Maybe I should put all the money I spend buying jeans in a larger size towards gastric bypass surgery” and got as far as “Maybe I should-” before a drunk shouted, “Maybe you should shut the fuck up!” He got my biggest laugh, which he barely earned. I tried to play up the laugh, applauding him and saying, “That's the best line you'll hear all night!”, but it came off as desperate and sweaty as I'm sure I looked and felt at the time. The heckling times scared me off so much that I've tried other ways of writing jokes (follow me on Twitter, if you want here: http://twitter.com/#!/BigCityJames) and will get back on horse soon enough, but at some point I want to Gaffigan it up good, then drop the microphone Chappelle-style and head back to my Sprite, victorious. By the way, at all the comedy clubs I visited, Sprite has been at least four dollars! They would really rather you drank alcohol there, I guess.

Heroism. At least once, I'd like to blow-up some kind of invading space craft. I wouldn't be able to fight an alien militia in hand-to-hand combat, but I could get comfortable enough with one of those fire-spraying guns and blow up their vehicle while they're trying to park it. The best part would be when the people in the neighbouring town heard the loud explosion and they would wrongfully assume it would be the human army that perished, and not the aliens. But then a small, tanned boy would see something out on the horizon from the window of his trailer and scream, “Jon! Jonny come look! Come see!” and Jon would come out on the porch, wearily, drying a dish with a rag wrapped around his head (I don't know why we live in a trailer now or why a small boy is there, but I don't know why aliens would invade either so just go with it). Anyway, as the sun rises over the desert, I would emerge on the horizon, tired but muscle-y, and Jon would drop the dish he was drying, scream something in Spanish and run towards me. I would assure him that everything would be alright from now on, and the small boy would say something funny (because it would be such a childish and wrongheaded observation) and we would tousle his hair and laugh.

The more I think about it, the more I think I'm missing the point of the experience. I don't need the glory of defying expectations and thrilling everyone, I have enough people that like me as I am and don't require me to perform gymnastics for their approval. The pleasure from the Groban scene, and the performance in the piano bar, was witnessing greatness. I take more pleasure in watching my friends onstage, or seeing them karaoke with finesse, or when Nikki Payne followed my set at the comedy club and fucking killed, then when I try to do those things by myself. We all have stuff that we're good but maybe not great at, and we should be allowed to do them at work, at home, or in public. We should get paid for that shit. Somebody take that case to court.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Oh, Those Blockbuster Nights...

Hello Friends.

Due to time and budget constraints, I'll have no vacation this summer, EFW (except for weddings). That's been the case for several years now. The last proper summer vacation I remember was a great trip to B.C. about five years ago. I saw my friends Andrea and Shannon, we ate and drank and laughed ourselves stupid. I bopped around downtown Vancouver solo for one of those days, feeling healthy and wealthy (and a little Asian) among the fancy shops and high-rises. And I reconnected with high school friends Lewis, Scott and Parker for a trip to Kelowna and a nearby beach/island place where we stayed. A great trip all-around, as I remember it. I got the worst sunburn of my life, incidentally, and the worst part about it turned out to be that I couldn't suck my stomach in at all. I cash the “suck it in” chip at least twenty times a day so to spend those few days bloated and cherry red really cut into my beach lounging experience.

Anyway, Parker managed a movie theatre at that time, so the night I arrived he pulled a few strings and arranged to have us in his theatre after hours for a midnight preview screening of what was sure to be the hottest ticket in town, the yet-to-be-released Transformers! Even though this movie was a few days short of actually coming out and making a ton of money, the buzz around it was such that it was sure to be the blockbusteriest of summer blockbusters. Parker had invited us, his visiting friends, as well as local friends of his, which were more the bar guys, more into sports and cars, more... like d-bags. Well the d-bags lost their shit over Transformers. The laughed at the unfunny jokes, cheered at the computer-generated special effects, they wanted to be Shia LeBeauf and doink Megan Fox. Micheal Bay knew what he was doing, in other words. I was less than impressed, of course, because if life is a cabaret, I'm the wet blanket in the corner. Sadly, I've always been like that when it comes to summer movies. If everybody loves something, I reason it must be terrible and congratulate myself with some godawful French movie about countrysides and family secrets and scalding cups of tea. Anyway, I can't spend another summer avoiding the big movies until they are released on video, gather dust for a few years, then become movies to show ironically at hipster parties (“Who brought Arachnophobia? Was it you, Zane? Kudos, Zane!”). This summer, I'm going to the movies!

Dream: See all the summer blockbusters in theatres!

Goal: Unachievable. Prohibitive costs aside, I couldn't possibly see every movie which opens this summer; there are huge openings every weekend! But I shall kick it off in earnest with Bridesmaids, starring Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph (the two funniest people from the last five years of SNL), which opens this weekend, and pick and choose a few titles from now until September.

Plan: Only pick surefire winners and get the tickets early for:

Beer Tits. Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and Anthony Hopkins star as three college buddies desperate to score some beer tonight! But wait, what does that girl have? TITS?!?!

Who? Olivia Wilde plays Olivia Munn, a sexy ingenue looking for career advice from Jessica Alba (boldly portrayed by Jessica Biel) on how to have a career and keep her hot husband, Ryan Reynolds (Ryan Gosling). She sees many of her contemporaries fail, like Evan Rachel Wood (as played by Rachel Leigh Cook), Bridget Moynihan (Michelle Monaghan), and Amber Tamblyn (Shambly Crambles). But at least she'll always have the love of her father, Bill Paxton (played, in an Oscar-worthy performance, by Bill Pullman).

I Have a Vague Recollection of Something Happening Here Several Summers Ago

Disney's Wartz: In a heartwarming, computer-animated tale for the whole family, we delve deep under the skin, and get to the heart. Danny is about to go off to college, but that means the warts on his upper thigh are ready for one last adventure! Whitehead (Jonah Hill) and Pus-face (James Franco) are two buddy warts ready to take the journey with Danny but Blackhead (Tracey Morgan) has other ideas! Can they all agree to get along before the evil dermatologist (Meryl Streep) decides to have them lanced?

Glee School Musical. Uh-oh! Can the Glee Club put on a musical before the big championship sing-off?

MILF-Fated. Single girl Trixie (Katherine Heigl) and her widowed Grandma Dixie (Jennifer Lopez) are wooed by the same dashing older man (Justin Bieber). Will either of them win his heart, or will he be wooed away by that cold, rich snob (a flagpole with a blonde wig on it-in negotiations)?

Faster & Considerably More Furiouser.

Who Are You Sicker Of? Gerard Butler and Vince Vaughan star.

Loud Equals Funny. Steve Carrell and Will Ferrell match wits with Chris Rock and an air raid siren. Nobody quiets down for a fucking minute.

Jennifer Aniston's Most Recent Failure

Okay, so not all of these exist yet, but I feel like we're closer to them then we think. My problem with these mass-market blockbuster movies is that they're ostensibly fed to us with a spoon. The characters are so simple, the stories so unoriginal, and the soundtracks so Nickelback-heavy that I just want to stay home every summer. But my unwillingness to enjoy such something as light and palatable as a popcorn movie suggests there's something wrong with me, not the movies themselves. So maybe this summer I should just lighten up, fork over a few bucks, turn my brain off, and for a few hours, take a vacation.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Upside of Down...

Hello Friends.

It's been grey and rainy here, and the maintenance staff of our building has been replacing the windows all week so we can see how gross it is outside much more easily. I'm grateful for the cosmetic change, several of the old windows are cracked and streaked from various accidents, but it's meant that every morning at seven-thirty, some asshat starts banging and drilling one of the suites in our eight apartment walk-up. I can't sleep through it and invariably drag myself out of bed to find Jon bright-eyed and hard at work, who says, “Well it is morning, James!” in a condescending tone. He's right, but I work late, and stay up later, so what's so fucking good about it?

My grouchy demeanour is due in part to that, and in part to a series of circumstances that have me a little blue lately. Not blue as in Conservative, mind you. Their trouncing of my main man Layton is one of the contributing factors to my funk (I'm happy that Orange made major strides this time, but they're all a little too cheerful considering that Harper's actually better off thanks to this latest election). Also, I lost out on two jobs this week, both of which had major potential. It didn't help that this week in my current job, a pipe burst in the ceiling above us, causing dirty water to literally seep through the walls (we couldn't close the store though, god forbid we'd be out any money). And Dr. Jon just found out his term has concluded where he teaches and, due mostly to budgetary restraints, he will not be renewed, so he's been scrambling to find other employment all across the land. The thought of never leaving my job makes me sad, but the possibility of leaving my new home makes me sadder. I have faith that Jonny will find something great; probably a better fit than his previous job, but I worry if I don't make professional strides in turn I'll become some bitter housefrau, still selling Cheetos and condoms in some random college town.

I apologize, this has been a depressing few paragraphs, but it's where my head seems to be at the moment. I like to think I'm a generally positive person, I hope that I am, and believe me, I know these are champagne problems to have. However these things work out, they will simply work out. Complaining doesn't do any good, though you wouldn't know that from Facebook. Facebook comes across sometimes like the break room at a terrible workplace. Everybody comes in, nobody exchanges pleasantries, and we all try to get our bitching out at once (“Just dropped my iPhone in the toilet, FML!”, “My car is making that sound again!”, “WHAT is WRONG with this COUNTRY???!”, you get what I mean). People face tougher challenges all the time, and quite admirably, and though I can't change these circumstances, I can surely change my shitty attitude.

Dream: Perform a series of activities designed to boost my self-esteem and mood.

Goal: Achievable. I had both lunch and dinner dates with friends today and they were terrific. I had last seen my dinner date (Bradley) about a week ago, and hadn't seen my lunch date (Jenny) in over ten years, but in both cases we fell right back into conversation like it was yesterday. Isn't that the best feeling? Good friends have that ability to make you happy, lucky, and grateful, but you can't be a friend-leech who expects all the people in your life to make room in their overhead compartments for all your goddamn baggage. But if friends can boost your mood to amazing degrees just by being there for you, surely there are tricks and tips you can use to elevate your mood all by yourself. This is what I have learned about that.

Plan(s): Several. Besides being a good speller and dry-of-scalp, I am also resourceful. Here are a few quick tips to put a quick smile on your face and make you feel awesome.

  1. Wear a shirt with muscles drawn on it. I took a university-level Psychology course while still in high school (purely so I could start sentences off like that) and I remember very little of it except that the man who taught with a very Psych professor-sounding name (Dr. Fleischman, or Dr. Rosensweig or something) and one of the maxims he lived by was that he didn't believe in accidents. Everything we did was intentional, he explained, whether we were aware of it or not. That made his bizarre fashion choices endlessly appealing. He would sometimes wear a shirt with muscles drawn on it. Like one of those tacky t-shirts you get in those awful novelty stores. But surely they've improved the technology and can make a shirt in a realistic colour with realistic muscles on it. I suggest wearing it under a partially-unzipped hoodie so passersby just get a glance at your muscle-y terrain, and also keep in constant motion while wearing it and stay a safe distance from people so that no one can tell that's not your awesome body under there. Confidence-booster!

  2. Eat a cupcake. I know this seems out of place if you're not a six-year old or a library at her retirement party, but just go to one of those pretentious bakeries and spend too much money on a cupcake. It's little, so you don't have a lot of food-guilt, and a good cupcake is better than most of what's on tv right now so just buy one you idiot.

  3. Play a game with a child. Sure, kids are cute and everything, but can they colour as good as me? Can they play chess as good as me? Can they hold their breath under water longer? No, no, and no! Challenge a kid just to beat them.

  4. Take all the hundy's and five-hundy's out of the bank of your parents' Monopoly game. Have someone taller than you stand over you with the money and “make it rain!” To keep up the charade, see if that taller person will have sex with you on the pile of money.

  5. Set up five handguns on a rickety old fence. Then take a can and hurl it at the guns to try to knock one over. You're welcome.

  6. This is a longer one, so settle in. Wake up early and go the nearest, cleanest public washroom you can find. Ideally this bathroom would be one of those small ones with just a toilet in it, or one with only a single toilet stall. Ensure that the bathroom is relatively clean and, this is important, has not been used in some time. That's why I suggest getting up early, so you can be the first person in the newly-cleaned bathroom. Either that, or wait until maintenance has just been completed on the washroom. It's vitally important that the bathroom doesn't smell... you know... bathroomy. No lingering odours are allowed for this to work. So, you lock yourself in the stall (or tiny toilet-room) and open your purse (or mansack) and get to work! I always bring some Body Shop bath beads, a Glade “Fresh Linen” deodorizer, a vanilla votive candle, a bakery fresh cinnamon bun, and a few drops of Chanel No. 5. You must layer these scents effectively. No one smell must overpower the others, but there must be distinct top, middle and base notes. Make it your own. I have a friend who uses patchouli and lemongrass, have fun with it! Wait until someone else enters the bathroom before adding your final scent to the mix (I like placing a lilac blossom behind the toilet tank). Then, leave the stall in a sheepish way and toss out an embarrassed “Sorry” to the guy (or gal) waiting to use the toilet after you. S/he will no doubt be annoyed, figuring that using your stall will be a passport to Fart City, but they will enter it to find... a smell paradise! Wary at first, soon they will inhale deeply, moving about the stall in ecstasy, deep in an olfactory trance the likes of which they have never experienced. “Who was that amazing person?” they will wonder, as you leave, “And what could they possibly eat?”

  7. Create and perform your own, “You know what? Fuck this!”. For example, walk into Holt Renfrew and demand that a personal shopper accompany you. Then head straight for the designer sections. Idly toss a Burberry scarf into a Louis Vuitton satchel. Laden your shopper down with a Gucci suit, some Prada loafers, and a Badgley Mischka Technicolour Dreamcoat. When you have loaded up on hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of designer crap, say you're about ready to pay, but you need to sit for just a moment and take a breather. They will more than happily oblige and get you a place to sit. Once you've sat down, politely ask for a glass of water and copy of Black Inches magazine. If they ask you to repeat yourself, do. Be more precise if you need to, “A cylindrical cup of drinking-liquid and a quarterly publication devoted to African American men and the measurements of their genitals. Post-haste, shopkeep!” They will sputter and stammer and say they don't have a copy of Black Inches for you to peruse, despite your request. Ask them to repeat themselves. Once they've done so, stand, gather your purchases in your arms, throw them to the floor and say, “You know what? Fuck this!” Also acceptable: audition for American Idol. Get past the producers and jump whatever hoops you need to in order to get to the judges table with Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, and the other guy. Then say, “Where's Kara?” and they'll look at you blankly. Then go, “Kara Dioguardi? Best judge ever? Voice of a generation? Kara!” Start looking for her behind the judges table. “KARA! You know what? Fuck this!” Storm out.

  8. Omelettes.

  9. The hot friend fake-out. I don't know if I won some friend lottery of if I'm just extremely superficial, but I've got more gorgeous friends than one man deserves. After a fun night out, I was taking the subway home with one such devastatingly hot pal. We were sitting across from this douchey guy, you know the type, with the tank top in winter, sitting with his legs wide open as if to give easy access to the whole world. Anyway, Douchey gave my dear friend a once-over which I doubt she even noticed. Her stop came before mine and just before she got off the train, we embraced and she kissed me goodbye. Well, you would have thought Douchey was going to explode. He didn't know that we were a straight girl and gay guy with a long history sharing an innocent smooch, he thought she was my girlfriend. He stared at me the rest of the way home with a mixture of envy, disbelief and anger that made me feel amazing. I would never exploit these friendships for this purpose of course, but it really is an ego-boost to destroy a Douche like that.

I can't think of self-esteem, or the id, or the ego, without thinking back to the Psychology class of old Dr. Steinenstein, of the muscle-shirt fame. Though his class didn't stay with me, his personality did. How often do you meet a character of such... character? A few years later, the Doctor was working on the roof of his house, fell off the roof, and became paralysed from the neck down. This was shocking news, I had never known anyone who had been through this kind of thing, and as I thought more about it, I suddenly remembered his philosophy: he didn't believe in accidents! How does a man who doesn't believe in accidents deal with a sudden fall and paralysis? An article appeared about him in the paper shortly after his fall. “I don't believe in accidents.” he was quoted as saying, from his wheelchair. “So I wondered, why did I do this to myself? What will this teach me?”

I couldn't believe he had held so strongly to his convictions, particularly in the face of such overwhelmingly bad circumstances. To fall from a roof and wonder, “Why did I do this to myself?” is to be a person who does not bemoan his fate. The lesson, I suppose, is to keep the complaining out of Facebook, out of conversation, even out of our perspective. Life is not what happens to us, but what we do to ourselves. Time to look out a new window, while the old ones are carted away, damaged by our lack of care and attention, for there are no accidents.