I’m full of anecdotes; invite me to your dinner party

Craigslist Ad #1: The One Where Some Lady Made Me Feel Like a Jezebel

The first house I toured was blocks away from the Berkeley campus. A Chinese national going by the name of “Susan Smith” opened the door and asked me to take off my shoes. She showed me a room with a free-standing wardrobe, a barely-there window, a twin size bed and an Ikea desk.

She spoke very quietly and asked me every question at least twice. She told me that she didn’t like anyone to use the dryer late at night because it kept her up.

I said I’d take it and she told me I couldn’t have any male visitors then repeatedly asked if that would be a problem. I repeatedly told her it wouldn’t be a problem. Then I never heard from her again.

Craigslist Ad #2: The One Where I Gave a Crackhead Suggestions for her Skin

The second place I visited was, almost literally, a shithole. It called itself a hotel but it was really just a short-term apartment complex. The landlord didn’t answer the door when I arrived, but his right-hand woman did. She walked with a limp and took three full minutes to get to the bottom of the stairs where I was waiting. I expected her to be old and infirm, but she was barely middle-aged. She asked where I worked and what I put on my skin. I told her Burt’s Bees radiance cream and made sure to mention that I used it every morning. I walked with her through the hallways of the complex and she showed me the communal bathroom where a rusty sink was installed underneath a funhouse mirror and where black bile sat, unflushed, in the toilet. A woman who looked like Stevie Nicks if Stevie Nicks had never been famous yelled for the woman giving me the tour. My tour guide yelled back something unrelated and gave me a housing application to fill out. She told me to return it with a deposit and the room I viewed that day could be mine.

I said thank you and ran.

Craigslist Ad #3: The One With the Marijuana in the Backyard

Next I visited a bus in the backyard of a landscaper who grew marijuana in her garden. “I love fucking you” was written on the ceiling above the makeshift bed where I would have been sleeping.

Craigslist Ad #4: The One With the Certifiable Michael Jackson Superfan

Soon after that, I visited a house in East Oakland owned by a woman whose main interest was “prison justice.” Her house was a “fragrance free zone” and reeked of dirty hair. She let stray cats stay in her yard and wore screen printed tees decorated with the faces of little black boys. A replica of Michael Jackson’s white sparkly gloves were encased in a glass box above her non working fireplace and phrases like “make that change” were scribbled all over the bricks that sealed the fireplace. I thought she was an asshole.

Other good ones:

Craigslist Ad #5: The One Where the French Professor Studying Stem Cells Held My Purse and Almost Accepted a Handshake as Payment for a Bike

Craigslist Ad #6: The One With the Girls Living off Food Stamps in a Beautiful Victorian House Near the Lake

(And somehow, it makes me like everything here a little more, makes me want to grab the city’s hand and smile and point and say “look what I went through to get to you”)


Saturday Night Live could solve all of our debt problems

There. Done. Let’s recess until September.

Okay, but really, let’s talk about this.

Don Pardo: And now the Not Incredible Adventures of the Down and Out Dollar.

American Dollar: Oh, boy oh boy. What a year, it sure does stink being a US dollar. Here it is, 2005, and I’m at an all-time low. I used to be on top of the world, now look at me – good for nothing. Who wants a measly old dollar?

Euro: Dollar? Is that you?

American Dollar: Oh. Hey Euro.

Euro: Oh my goodness Dollar, you look awful!

American Dollar: Oh jeez, here we go again.

Euro: Look at me, look at all my wonderful colors, aren’t they supercool? You like my hologram? Look at it this way, now look how it changes!

American Dollar: Oh boy it sure is nice. I wish I had a hologram.

Euro: Hey Dollar, do you want to hear a joke? Knock, knock.

American Dollar: Oh, who’s there?

Euro: Germany. And France. And Greece. And Italy. And Denmark. And Luxembourg. And Belgium. They’re all stronger than you, hahaha ha! Is that not funny?

American Dollar: Oh come on Euro! That ain’t a joke. Gimme a break.


Who is our in-house accountant at the White House?

I guess when they get to that level they’re called economists and the budgets they balance stop being about numbers and start being about parties, but maybe we’re missing out on something because of that.

I mean, shouldn’t there be a group of people sitting at wooden desks in corner offices keeping track of our budget anyway? Imagine them hunched over complicated calculators, reams of paper shooting out one end, pencils behind their ears and glasses perched on the end of their noses while they finally come to the end of one fiscal year and press the equal sign. Now imagine them shaking their heads in disbelief.

“Oh, no, no. This does not add up.”

Unless it’s an actual crisis, I usually let political dramas roll right on by while I focus on more important things like Katy Perry’s smurf dress or Ryan Gosling’s abs. But what I thought was just the dramatic flair of contemporary American politics actually turned out to be the dramatic flair of  contemporary American politics that could potentially create a crisis.  This was made even more interesting to me because I’m in the midst of managing my own budget.

Me and the United States government: twinsies!

Earlier this week, I was cruising Videogum when one of the comments led me to a summary of the debt ceiling debacle by Howard Marks, whoever that is (he works at a capital management firm, as indicated by the letterhead). It was all told in layman’s terms and except for a few digressions into Personal Opinion Time, or P.O.T., at the top of page nine and the bottom of page 10, it’s factually based and stays away from bias—even in P.O.T. he stays away from bias.

“For the last several years as I’ve visited with clients around the world, I’ve described the typical American as follows (exaggerating for effect, of course): He has $1000 in the bank, owes $10,000 on his credit card, makes $20,000 a year, and spends $22, 000. And what do lenders do about this? They mail him additional credit cards.”

He uses this as a jump-off to explain how the typical American’s fiscal health compares to that of our country as well as countries around the world.

What I took away from this article was that we need to balance the budget (OBVIOUSLY) and that in order to get any real, effective and lasting change in America with our budget, we are going to have to hurt for a while.

Real talk. I have been wistfully staring at the large, neon metro tote on MZ Wallace’s summer pop-up shop and quietly sighing to myself because even though I loved it at the beginning of summer, I never actually saved any money so I could buy it without guilt at the end of summer.

“In addition to balancing the budget and growing the economy, I think we have to accept that the coming decades are likely to see US standards of living decline relative to the rest of the world. Unless our goods offer a better cost/benefit bargain, there’s no reason American workers should continue to enjoy the same lifestyle advantage over workers in other countries.”

If you want to read more on the debt ceiling debacle before the August 2nd solution deadline, Pro Publica is constantly updating a reading list here that I am constantly not reading because one really great article is enough for me but maybe you’re interested in more. Kudos, you, people who click on that link!

my milkshakes

When Oprah decided to introduce The Secret into the world in 2008, I was a little annoyed because a book like that already existed and it was called Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting. There are probably plenty of other books that have the same premise, but I don’t know about them. Both books endorse lifestyle changes based on the power of positive thinking and both books are a little uncomfortable to talk about in public, because it’s a little hippie-hippie-alternative-shake. They both encourage taking ownership of your life though, which is kind of Oprah’s whole thing–and should probably be everyone’s thing.

After the Fleet Foxes concert Monday and finding a remote writing job through Media Bistro (it involves Yahoo!, their “omg!” entertainment site and getting assignments about balding celebrities and Shannen Doherty – it’s a long story), I am a full-blown hippie-hippie-alternative-shake believer. It’s not surprising though, it’s not like I haven’t been there before.

You know who’s a really good example of positive thinking without actually intending to be a really great example for positive thinking? Tina Fey. In Bossypants, she recounts work stories and admits that she had never written a full length screen play before Mean Girls and had never written a book before Bossypants, but just did it because she knew she could. Both times it worked out well for her.

And look what one of her creations has spawned: an Internet meme!

Was this a fad? Why are there so many variations of this on the Internet? Can we get more of them?

I can’t remember what led me to these videos, but once you watch one you have to watch another. I’ve been watching since Monday.

They’re just all so special and unique and hilarious and ENTERTAINING.

I like the way she butchers that last line.

This guy is actually pretty good? My favorite part is the Buffalo Wild Wings “Winging Beauty” hat behind him as he plays Cady Heron. Plus, his username is Headgaymes. HeadGAYmes.

“Don’t a-stomp your little last season Prada shoes at me, honey.” Anybody else get that vibe? I mean, right?! She was a lesbian!


If you’re not impressed by that dude, I hope you’re at least jealous.

Happy Friday! Let me know if you practice (and master) that Puerto Rican booty shake.

10 American Women More Interesting than The Duchess of Cambridge

As you may or may not know, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are currently on a tour of North America. They’ve spent X (I’m not going to bother looking up the actual amount) of days touring Canada and will spend X amount of days in the United States.

The official twitter page for The Duke and Duchess, Clarence House, sent out an unintentionally hilarious tweet Friday morning saying: “…the next stop for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is California, to strengthen US and UK ties”

LOLOLOLOLOL to strengthen US and UK ties. Calm down, Clarence House, it’s Los Angeles and WE’RE ALL FINE.

According to People magazine they’re staying at the British Consul-General’s LA residence—where Helena Bonham Carter and Tom Hooper have stayed—and they’ll be attending a BAFTA event where Jennifer Lopez is also a guest. Also, something something the Beckhams something something (probably).

Strengthening ties, yo!

They’ll be doing some very basic political things too, like shaking hands or whatever. I don’t know. I’m not Clarence House. I’m just a person!

I am not anti-William and Kate. I like weddings. I like wedding stories. I like pretty dresses/hats/things. I like them! I can seamlessly turn any conversation into a discussion of Kate Middleton’s outfits—which are very rarely interesting and almost never impressive to me but that’s a whole ‘nother post (that I will not be writing) (ps, her formal gowns are ALWAYS killer though, she always looks great in color, she always wins Spring Fling Queen). And no duh she’s pretty and no duh they look great together. But that’s not saying much about them individually. Besides I just like nice celebrities—which is what they are: celebrities.

I mean, the royal family basically does nothing, right? They’re just kind of royal in name and get money from their government and sometimes go on tours where they’re able to attract attention to certain causes in provinces they represent—which is great. But basically, they’re on Welfare and just happen to have ancestors who paid off their houses and left them a bevy of family heirlooms in the form of precious jewels and crowns.

Please correct me if I’m wrong.

On Thursday morning I was eating breakfast on campus before I had to go to work and I was feeling pretty proud of myself for consciously watching one of the millions of flat screens in the dining area tuned to CNN.

They talked about Casey Anthony and the final space shuttle mission for two seconds apiece then cut to a way too long segment about the royals and their tour of Canada.

It reminded me of when Paris Hilton’s popularity was at its apex and it seemed like there was some secret law that mandated that every news outlet talk about her every five minutes of every day.

Here I was thinking we couldn’t talk about truly great people because news networks had to fill their daily quotas of namedropping Real Housewives and Kardashians, but no! We have time to talk about the “Royal Couple” so that theory is false. I was/am annoyed because there are other people we can fawn over and we never do.

Did you know that for the first time in eleven years the Today Show did not interview the Newbery and Caldecott Award winners? Do you know who they interviewed instead? Some tangerine from Jersey.

So, instead of waiting for someone to write about people who I’d like to know more about, I’m just going to write about them. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself, yadda yadda, et cetera et cetera, the end.

I know there are way more than ten American women more interesting than The Duchess of Cambridge, but writing about more than ten seemed like overkill and less than that seemed neglectful. The ten I chose come from a variety of backgrounds, represent multiple races and political beliefs and here’s a hint at the first woman: if you can’t take her out tonight, try another day.


Last night I realized there is a reason “set and keep a budget” is number one on my to-do list and why I’ve been avoiding it for so long.

Jenny Blake, of Life After College, has a Four-Step Budget Template in ExCel that I sort-of took advantage of last year. I say “sort-of” because I think I filled it out then never looked at it again because I am Veruca Salt.

There it is: I am Veruca Salt.

You see, Veruca and I are both entitled children, although our entitlement comes from different places. Her (heaven help me, I am seriously writing about a fictional character) entitlement comes from never having heard the word no; mine comes from never saying the word no.

In the Four-Step Budget Template the first step is to fill in your income. This is what lulls me into a false sense of security. I work in an office during the week, at a chapel during the weekend and I get a semester stipend for the volunteer work that I do with our event planning board. Now, throw in sixteen credit hours, “free time” (work outs, hang outs) and don’t forget sleep! And you’ll see why I feel entitled to a new MZ, extra guac and the occasional four hour flight away from deadlines and the like. Because when I say “yes” to one thing, it’s always a secret promise to myself to say yes to something else just for me—which isn’t bad, technically, it’s just not always reasonable.

The second step in the budget template consists of the “must have expenses,” like: I must pay my rent and utilities if I’d like to keep up with the “I am human” illusion—also, my cell phone bill so I can either constantly ignore my friends’ text messages or constantly lament the fact that they never text me (Step #1 in being Veruca Salt, ie THE WORST: always feel burdened).

In step number two therein lies the rub. For in sleep what dreams may come and in must-have expenses all those dolla bills from step one must go.

Step three is where the “nice-to-have” expenses come in, like yoga classes twice a week, that previously mentioned MZ, or even enough money left over for a concert and a book—which I want: all of the above, no exceptions please.

Step four is the allowance, which is what’s left over when all the expenses are taken out of your income.

If I cut one job (which I’m really thinking about doing: life’s too short! Carpe diem! I’m over it! Et cetera, et cetera!), that reduces my allowance down to twenty dollars a month. TWENTY BUCKS.

That’s also considering the fact that ten percent of my paycheck is put away in savings as a “must-have” expense. I got my first job at sixteen and ever since I’ve been practicing the ten percent saving strategy, which used to be chump change  but is pretty hearty now. Also, I’ve counted my September festival trip into a second savings tab in “must-have” expenses, because I want to make sure I can afford it. I’d honestly rather cut some “nice-to-have” expenses (like eating out or booze) for a couple of weeks/months for a few days of exactly what I want a few months from now.

Which, I guess is how I would instruct the other Veruca Salts of the world in growing up, because that’s what this. I am getting dangerously close to technically being an adult.

First step: learn patience.

We know you want the world, girl (or boy—Veruco, anyone?) and that you “want it now” but it’s 2011—everyone wants that! Where there’s smoke there’s fire and where there’s demand, there are inflated prices. Also, feline aids.

Sorry 'bout it

Second step: Learn that when you say no (to waiting, work, anything), it means you have to temporarily say no to something else that you want. Like I said, everybody wants everything, meaning you will have to wait for something.

Final step: be original. Veruca is an original; you can tell that by her killer imagination. If it weren’t for her indulgent father, she might have been able to just let that blossom without always needing to have some concrete representation of everything that ever popped into her head (side note: I would pay all twenty of my “allowance” dollars to see a Jumanji remake starring her and her father because you know she’d beg him for a real-life version of the game instead of the plain-ol’ regular game).

Everyone wants everything, so you know what’s cool? Not wanting everything. At the very least, look at what you want and figure out whether it comes from a desire within or outside of yourself.

Rest assured, your life (and heart) will go on without those shoes/that game/that phone/that accessory.

When in doubt, don’t over-think it, do not be a vermicious kinid and Augustus, please! Save some room for later!

who gives a f— about an oxford comma?

A lot of people, apparently.

Yesterday, the University of Oxford Public Affairs Directorate’s Writing and Style Guide suggested that its readers should do away with the Oxford comma.

The comma

As a general rule, do not use the serial/Oxford comma: so write ‘a, b and c’ not ‘a, b, and c’. But when a comma would assist in the meaning of the sentence or helps to resolve ambiguity, it can be used – especially where one of the items in the list is already joined by ‘and’

Then one of the editors on GalleyCat wrote a short post telling its readers about that and then all hell broke loose.

There is nothing more entertaining to me than a straight-up English debate because sometimes I’m a nerdynerd-nerd face.

On the Vampire Weekend video posted below, one commenter said:

PS The Oxford comma is a tragic waste of space — and Oxford University now agrees!

You guys, an Internet troll joined in on the debate!

Linda Holmes, one of my favorite NPR contributors, also joined in, explaining the Oxford comma in the best way possible:

For those of you who enjoy the outdoors and would no more sort commas into classes than you would organize peanut butter jars in order of viscosity, the serial comma — or “Oxford comma” — is the final comma that comes in a sentence like this: “I met a realtor, a DJ, a surfer, and a pharmaceutical salesperson.” (In this sentence, I am on The Bachelorette.)

And then she gave her opinion:

Serial commas. Forever.

My feelings are basically summed up in the first half of that Youtube comment (also, +10 points to that person for calling it a “tragedy”) and the first half of this song.


The fact that this debate is even happening makes this the best week ever.

The debate is still raging on Twitter.

Chicago Style aficionados view it as the Renaissance:

There is outrage:

And, then there’s just fun:

I’m really enjoying this, if you couldn’t tell.

that wonderful moment of suspense… Tip of the Hat!

When you wonder if Tyler Perry will actually come through the gym doors.

“The Kathy Griffin Award will be given each year to the person who is most likely to show up to receive their Kathy Griffin Award.”


Jaleel White is in that Judy Moody movie, which I’m happy to say I know nothing about, so Vanity Fair ran a profile on him this week.

Besides the fact that he’s 34 and has been working in TV for 31 years (wait…what?), I was most surprised that I still knew the theme song for Family Matters and least surprised by the fact that Tyler Perry makes four episodes a week of his television series House of Payne. Homeboy does not understand quality.

“I don’t want to sound like I’m dissing Tyler Perry, but making three or four episodes in one week is not the same in terms of production value of what we did, one a week. Technically, I guess he passed us. More power to him, but it might as well be YouTube videos.” – on being surpassed by Tyler Perry’s show as the second longest running African-American show in the history of television

Hat tips all around to Family Matters, Fresh Prince, Sanford and Son, Good Times and the Cosby’s for understanding quality.

ps, I was totally Bill Cosby for Halloween last year. Surprisingly, I’ve had the opportunity to casually recycle that costume as a regular outfit at least once. Second hat tip to hipsters!

photo via Dads are the Original Hipsters

starting to get addicted to…

You know that saying “Once on your lips, forever on your hips”? That’s the way I feel about celebrity gossip.

Not literally, of course. I don’t think talking about Justin Beiber will give you thunder thighs (but maybe you should stop talking about him anyway, just in case). I think talking about him or investing any time into knowing personal facts about his life will stick with you and find a way to permeate other areas of your life in which it doesn’t belong. But let’s be honest, errant gossip about teenagers or anyone you don’t know doesn’t really belong in your life.*

For instance, I know way too much about Jennifer Aniston.

I know she drinks Smart Water, is dating Justin Theroux (whoever that is), has dated John Mayer, is the daughter of Victor (real name John Aniston) from Day’s of Our Lives (my favorite fact about her!) and is divorced from Brad Pitt.

There are numerous ways I could have written that last fact: had her husband stolen from her by Angelina Jolie, as if he were a possession; was betrayed by her husband, Brad Pitt, for the bombshell Angelina Jolie –as if I actually know anything about the state of Brad and Jen’s marriage at that time; et cetera, et cetera.

The point is: I know too much. We all know too much.

I know so much that I have formed a theory about Jennifer Aniston.

America, or specifically, the American press, will never grow tired of/feel satisfied with Jennifer Aniston’s life  until she is married to a billionaire Greek shipping magnate, being photographed with that assthat hair and that smile off the coast of Mykonos while we deal with unyielding hot or cold weather and expanding waistlines stateside. Because we are obsessed with subscribing emotions to her and our own versions of happy endings for her, regardless of what her happy ending might be. Because she already gave us a happy ending once. Because we’re great with beginnings but can’t deal with the endings that we get. Because we’re still obsessed with her fairy tale.

The idea of happy endings, misrepresented beginnings and unexpected conclusions all lead to my current addiction. I’m starting to get a teensy, tin bit obsessed/addicted to Mia Farrow, by way of Woody Allen (I know, I know)

A letter from Mia to her stepdaughter, Nancy Sinatra:

My children are a continuous joy. The latest is Soon-Yi (aged 6, 7 or 8 — we’re saying 7). She’s from Korea — was found abandoned in the streets of Seoul — with rickets, malnutrition — even her finger nails had fallen off, she had lice and sores everywhere. Now she speaks English and is learning to read, write, play piano, dance ballet & ride a horse. She is also learning that people can be believed in and even loved. These are golden times and I am aware of that every single second.

After reading this TIME article from 1992, I’m really feeling a Jennifer/Brad/Angelina vibe from Woody and Mia, in that the press portrayed them as the perfect love story and of course they were spectacularly wrong about that, at least in the end.


Mia’s humanitarian goals and status as “the betrayed” makes her both Angelina and Jennifer.

Her ethereal, whimsical nature is something worth looking up to, even if it’s just on the surface.

“I get it now; I didn’t get it then. That life is about losing and about doing it as gracefully as possible…and enjoying everything in between.”

I get it now.

I get it now.


*That is an unintentionally misleading statement. I also don’t think gossip concerning people you do know belongs anywhere in your life. But, if we’re being honest here (and I’m always being honest here) my psyche is stuck in constant turmoil between being Cady Heron Before and Cady Heron after. It’s a process.






Tip of the Hat: Teri Garr

I was always kind of in love with this movie. We didn’t own it, but I used to watch it every time it was on TV.

In retrospect, I think the allure lies less in Mr. Mom and more in the Mrs. who holds a prestigious job, parties on private planes (there can be no mistake that she is definitely drunk in that plane scene), gallivants around with her coworkers and is basically a boss (maybe not in title but in attitude) at home and work.

Teri Garr, the actress behind the Mrs. (whose name is Caroline in the film), started out as a go-go dancer then joined the cast of the The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour which set the stage for her professional career.

Born This Way *TM

Her biggest role came in the form of Sandy Lester in Tootsie–which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

"What's the matter with you people? I've been in there for half an hour screaming. Doesn't anybody CARE?"

One year later she did Mr. Mom, which…okay I still think it’s a pretty fun movie, but it doesn’t really make sense for an Academy Award nominated actress (you have to say all the italicized words with an East Coast/Baba Wawa accent) to do that after doing this.

Regardless, tip of the hat to Teri Garr for looking great in the 80s and much bigger things than that.

To be honest, Nolan Miller outfitted Mrs. for Mr. Mom (and was head of the costume design department for Dynasty and The Love Boat. BE STILL MY HEART) so he gets a hat tip for the style.

When shoulders became an art form. Thank you, Nolan Miller