Sunday, September 30, 2007

The suck list and how Grandpa's not your typical grandpa

Sucks to...

- Paper cuts. I currently have five.
- Running out of whiskey on a Sunday.
- Boring weekends.
- Writer's block. And that little voice in your head that tells you what a talentless sucktard you are.
- Weekends that go by too quickly.
- Having many, many channels and nothing to watch.

No sucks to...

- Elvis Costello. I wish I was Martha Plimpton's character in 200 Cigarettes and he played at my party, only I wasn't passed out and informed of said performance the next day.
- "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson. It's the song from the Old Navy commercial and I heart it because I like the way she sings "I-I-I-I-I lo-o-o-ove the way you call me baby."
- Weekends in general. No matter how quickly they go or how boring they are, they are like pizza. Always good.
- Bangs!
- Tamales.

I bought a suit this weekend. Not because I have an interview or anything, but because it was cute. I originally went to the mall to buy a dress for my Jewish grandpa's party in November, but the suit caught my attention and alas, I came home with no dress.

On the subject of the party, this soiree is totally impromptu, totally not in Grandpa's nature. Sure, he loves the company of checkered characters...but I don't think I've every heard of him throwing a party just for the fuck of it. At any rate, I'm know, for the checkered characters and stuff.

Grandpa in brief
He's 89, Jewish, originally from San Francisco, and inherited millions of dollars from his dad, who made a fortune making paper and being the ambassador to Italy during the Eisenhower administration. Grandpa's traveled all over the world and when I asked him where he hasn't been, he said, Romania, Antarctica, and some countries in Africa he can't recall. His favorite places are Brazil, Mexico, Russia and Italy. He's documented every trip on video, as he is crazy about video taping everything and editing them on his gnarly video editing software. He and Grandma live next door to my mom. He enjoys his nightly "chingaso time," which is his version of cocktail hour, exactly at 9 pm, and consisting of two shots of Scotch on the rocks. I've been invited to "chingaso time" about three times in my life. He introduced me to classical music. He also took me to Sea World when I was 11. And now he's throwing a party.

Checkered characters Grandpa's been known to hang with:
- Lirio, a Mexican lounge singer wannabe actress who used to put on shows in Grandpa's living room, complete with microphone and feather boa. She was notorious for not wearing underwear. I know this because my mom pointed out to me how her pubes stuck out of her dress. Lirio taught me the song, "El Negro," a very politically incorrect traditional Chilean song about how a kid is telling his mom that a mean black man is bothering him. I've also seen a video of Lirio taking a shower in Grandpa's shower. She's not doing anything except showering, but yeah, there's so much wrong with the fact that such a video exists and that I saw it.
- Jerry, the accordion player. He was my piano teacher for a short period of time, but I mostly saw him in Grandpa's living room having "chingaso time" and/or playing his accordion. He used to call songs, "diddies" and he ate eucalyptus-flavored cough drops like candy. He was married to a Jehovah's witness who never came over to Grandpa's house. A self-proclaimed Bohemian, Jerry used to go to the Czech Republic every year with just enough money to get there and back, and for food. He'd stay with relatives and study their language and culture for no particular reason, only for his own amusement. One time he sat down with our maid, who was from a small Indigenous village in Oaxaca, for hours and wrote voracious notes on how to say this and that in her dialect.
- Connie, a Canadian expat pianist who lived in Rome. She was tall, wrinkly, had red hair and smoked like it was going out of style.

And that's Grandpa.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Benz

I've never really cared for Mercedes Benz. Both my parents drive Mercedes. My dad: a 1977 baby blue diesel he bought off an old couple for $1500 about 10 years ago. It was at the time I was about to get my first car and when we went to see the car, I thought maybe it was for me. I had about $700 and told my dad that I was willing to contribute the money to purchase the Mercedes and he can just keep driving his current car, a 1989 red Chevrolet Beretta with no muffler. I gave him the money and we bought the car. Once the car was ours, he told me, "Honey, I don't think a 17-year-old girl should be driving an old diesel engine. You wouldn't know what to do with it." And then he gave me his old Beretta. For the $700 I gave him. Nice trick, dad.

The blue Mercedes (which I would've looked so cute driving) ended up outlasting the Beretta, which lasted me about three years, breaking down a week after I virtually killed it on the drive from Brownsville to San Marcos. Then I sold it to my hapless neighbors, who left the car parked in the apartment complex for months because (surprise!) it was a total lemon at this point. I warned them, though. Matt and I didn't have a way to get around for about six months, save for the shuttle bus, which drove us to and from school, and nice friends with whom we hitched rides to the grocery store and such.

My mom's car, on the other hand, is a new Mercedes. I'm not quite sure how she can afford it on her teacher's salary, but nice cars are kind of a priority for her, so there you go. I'm not crazy about driving it because it's bulky, the seats are uncomfortable, and I'm very aware that it's a nice car by the way people look at me on the road. I'm not into that sort of attention.

But something happened yesterday morning that changed my mind about Mercedes.

I was downtown, about to cross the street from my parking garage to the building I work in when I saw a pretty blonde girl turning slowly into my parking garage. She was wearing sunglasses and a pretty blouse, and listening to loud fun music -- the epitome of a young urban professional enjoying her drive to her downtown job. I saw her, thought about my dented Hyundai with no CD player and one working headlight, and suddenly wanted what she had -- her car, her sunglasses, her wardrobe, her placid expression that could best be described as content. You couldn't tell if she was going to work, happy hour, or coming back from a massage.

Her car was baby blue like my dad's. I decided that the blonde girl probably comes from a family of money and that's how she has that car. That's the most logical reason behind a young twenty-something driving a car like that, right? Or maybe she prioritizes like my mom. I doubt it, though. If she does come from money, then I don't feel so envious anymore. Yes, I still want that pleasant drive to work, but I wouldn't trade my dad's $700 tricky Beretta experience for anything. If I came from money, then I wouldn't know things like how to get my car running by opening the hood of my shitty Beretta every day after school and pouring water in the radiator (antifreeze was too expensive). I wouldn't have been the girl with the worst car of her group of friends and was always voted to drive "across"...meaning, drive across the bridge to Matamoros, Mexico, which was where the high school kids in Brownsville go to party. And if I came from money, I wouldn't be strangely proud that I am the only 26-year-old I know who's never had a CD player in her car...

But the winds are a-changing, because I'm feeling the itch to upgrade. I want a car that I feel good about. A car that I will wash more than twice a year. A car that has a CD player. The next car I buy may not be a Mercedes, but it will definitely be one in which I can listen to my music. And for sure one that won't get me voted to drive "across."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The exercise

Note to self: Download the song, Teenagers, by My Chemical Romance. Maybe that new Linkin Park song, too. Did I just say that?


As I am trying to build my portfolio in the event that my cousin's agency calls back for an interview, I picked up an old textbook Matt tried to get me to read about four years ago. It's called "Creative Strategies in Advertising." I'd finished the first chapter back then, which inspired a very awkward fake campaign for pencils in which I used Matt's sister as my model. That was #5 in the "Suggested Activities" section.

Today I did #3, which is an inventory of my "creative resources." Here goes.

Favorite films
- The first one that comes to mind is Annie Hall. I've only seen it once, but it's Woody Allen's most famous movie and I love, love, love the dialogue he writes for his characters -- in his world, EVERYONE stutters -- and I also appreciate his almost deviant attitude toward love and adult male-female relationships. La-di-da.
- I also love Cabaret. The music's dope and Liza is fierce.
- Born Into Brothels inspires me.
- Zoolander makes me laugh.
- So does Grandma's Boy.
- The Royal Tenenbaums is cool. It's offbeat, not necessarily about romantic love -- it's more about a fucked up family I wish I knew. And every scene is perfect with its comically dramatic frames and colors.

Favorite entertainers
Sarah Silverman. She's not afraid to be weird and has a smart-ass mouth.

Favorite music
- Spanish rock
- Cuban music. Think Ibrahim Ferrer and Buena Vista Social Club.
- Emo rock. Don't judge me, monkey!
- Pretty much anything that's got a fly beat, intense lyrics and a sensitive/introspective/depressy feel to it.

Ugh. I hate reading books. I just can't commit. But I do like the stuff in my Norton Anthology books from college, Ayn Rand (currently reading The Fountainhead) and William Carlos Williams poems.

TV shows, plays, operas and musicals
- Absolutely Fabulous. I like watching drunk, misanthropic British women ruin themselves and their families with their hilarious selfishness and self-absorption. It's a much smarter show than it lets on.
- I love Planet Earth.
- Sex and the City will always be in my heart.
- The L Word has replaced SATC. Sort of.
- I hate Cats; I like Les Miserables; Phantom's pretty is The Marriage of Figaro. Jesus Christ Superstar is awesome. I love La Traviata and Othello. Don Giovanni's alright. A Streetcar Named Desire rocks my tits off. I just got back from seeing Coppelia in Fort Worth and even though it's not a TV show, play, opera or musical, this ballet kicks ass for a few reasons...chiefly because I watched it with my grandpa at least once a month when I was a kid and finally seeing it in person today moved me to tears. Aside from my personal connection to Coppelia, it's actually a truly impressive show and everyone should see it.

This concludes the exercise. #3 DONE! I'm ready for the next one.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I've got some serious 'splaining to do.

It has been almost a year since I've contributed to this corner of the Internet. I just kind of disappeared from here and went about my life. I admit, I've spent my time elsewhere: MySpace, Facebook, a short-lived new blog (I'll explain in a minute). The thing is this: something about this site became a weird place for me all of a sudden. There was a point in which I read old posts and became embarrassed that I'd revealed so much of myself and wanted to go away, far, far away from it, as if I'd turned a switch that made me not want to share myself anymore. It's kind of like when you're at a party and make a terrible joke and the music stops with a terrific scratch of a record and everyone in the room looks at you and then you run away.

I tried starting over. I created a brand new blog -- a clean slate, one that was untouched, unspoiled by my previous whining about life, work, etc. This new virgin blog was going to reflect how I wanted to see myself...or so I thought.

I find the new blog hollow, unintersting, lacking in substance. It lacks the previous posts that build up, complement, explain whatever current ramblings I choose to publish.

I reread old posts on this site. I kind of laugh now reading about how unhappy I was three years ago at my first job out of college, you remember, the office with the "deadhearts." I grimace at the totally reckless decision to quit that job and go to Italy and then come back to find that I not only had no job, but no real direction, only an album full of pretty pictures and a new fondness for fizzy water.

All this honesty made me shriek and run away. But rereading the posts on this site make me realize that this is me. What the hell am I running away from?

This has happened to me before...when I first started revealing myself on paper. I was 13 and wrote in my journal every day, documenting every event, every feeling, from the way my first boyfriend's hair smelled to the way holding his hand gave me butterflies. I innocently wrote every detail of how my parents' divorce affected me and trips to the mall with my aunt and how I wished I was grown up so I could do whatever I wanted and escape the angst of NOW (silly, silly girl).

After about a year of purging my innermost thoughts onto paper, I suddenly stopped. I'd said too much. I read old entries and hated myself for being so stupid. I put away the journal for a few years and went about my little world of high school, boyfriends, friends. Then at about age 16, I came back to my journal and was delighted by the memories of this and that. My new perspective at the ripe old age of 16 allowed me to embrace my former self and be free once again to start documenting the happenings of the time.

So what I'm trying to say is I'm back. A lot has happened in my life since October 2006 and I'm ready to share again. Some highlights:

- Dallas has been good to us. I've been a proofreader, a marketing assistant, a freelance copywriter, and now I'm at an ad agency (finally). The new gig is sweet (in theory) because I'm finally working in an advertising environment and get to do movie promos. The downside is that I am not doing anything creative, which might change soon. My cousin, who works at another agency, has informed me this week of an opening in her agency's creative department for a copywriter. Currently, my resume and some writing samples are in their hands and I'm wrecked with anticipation to say the least.

- I went to San Antonio for my 26th birthday and partied like a rock star. In attendance were my brother, his band, my dad and friends. And of course, Matt. You should be jealous.

- I participated in my gorgeous friend Crystal's wedding as a bridesmaid: this includes a legendary bachelorette weekend in Austin with the other secretly jealous bridesmaids, a drunken rehearsal dinner, and of course the wedding.

- I went to Puebla, Mexico for my cousin's wedding. On this trip I learned that: 1.) my brother talks more than possibly anybody else in the world when he's nervous, 2.) after meeting a German, a Belgian, and a Finnish, I will never worry about my accent again simply because their accents were so charming, 3.) if I go to one more wedding in Mexico without Matt, my family will think he does not exist.

- I saw my favorite band, ManĂ¡, in concert a few weeks ago.

There you have it. (It's good to be back.)