Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What a Whirlwind! Live-Blogging the Last Day of 2008

1:04 am: I totally edited this post last night at 1 am to say happy new year all you weirdos, but then um, apparently it didn't go through, which I think means I was drunk, 'cause I don't remember what else I said. So I'm just posting this thing right now when it's actually 1:04 pm just because I am. HAPPY NEW YEAR WEIRDOS!

9:43 pm: Plans to play Rock Band have been interrupted by a lack of a "sensor" and I don't know what that is or anything.

8:53 pm: I am ready for lots of alcohol. Let's get high!

7:14 pm: Natalie thinks it's freezing and has purchased a Happy New Year banner. I have to keep reminding her that when only like three people are coming over, it's not a party, it's a "get-together." Last year I spent New Year's with one person in my room and it was beautiful, the year before that I was in Vermont at Ro & Kelly's cabin with two couples and it was also actually quite lovely and the year before that I feel like I was um ... I remember very little. I recall seeing Natalie, Lo ... a bar ... someone's apartment? The drink? Bolivian Marching Powder?

7:10 pm: Re: Lozo's comment about the girl who plays "thirteen" in HOUSE stealing Haviland's career -- that's Olivia Wilde! She always plays bisexuals. I've never seen HOUSE but I saw her in The O.C. like 40 years ago and as I've said you know I like to read about teevee but not watch it. They're totes different, no worries.

6:47 pm: Natalie just saw a man who'd "thrown up and defecated all over himself" and was lying on the subway train and she got out and ran to the conductor and stopped the train and told him someone was sick and possibly dead in one of the cars. Natalie is a Good Samaritan.

6:05 pm: "Are you gonna live-blog that I'm being a weirdo and making you talk to me on the phone 'cause I just wanna hear your voice?" (Haviland)

6:02 pm: Haviland is making me talk to her on the phone.

5:38 pm: Cannot make graphic, do not have image editing software because my computer is at the apple store. So instead I will just write:

Riese & Haviland walk into 2009

That's a pretty big font. Okay, be back in a few hours.

5:33 P.M.: JK. It's too bad to post. Back to the graphics idea. I think I put on too much eye makeup. Is it time to start drinking? This day feels oddly like every other day.

5:06 P.M.:
Ah HA! I've decided what to do. I'm going to post this short story I wrote five years and another lifetime ago. Because it starts & ends on New Year's Eve. The only problem is I'm a much better writer now, but that will be proof of our ability to evolve. Like as people. Then I will go to the liqour store.

4:06 P.M.
: Maybe I'll do the year in pictures, since my New Year's Post is only half-written and probs would look hotter in 2009. Also it's been a long day, I should've gotten an unlimited metrocard just for the day, I think I took like four subways and two buses. When Natalie comes home I feel she's going to want me to like do something. I am open to going to the liquor store.

3:42 P.M.: I'm going to write an actual post here, you know, in pieces or whatevs. I might even make a graphic! For now all I want to tell you is that this year, I resolve to acquire the following superpowers: omni-linguism, mediumship, flying, shapeshifting, technopathy, time traveling and teleportation. What are you gonna do? Stop drinking, start exercising, stay on a budget or something? That's cool. We're all in this together guys, don't forget that!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Stuff I've Been Reading (Aug & Sep & Oct) and Autowin Book Club #3

Hey guess what! I'm a finalist in the 2008 Webblog Awards for Best GLBT Blog. I bet you guys are really excited for voting to begin on January 5th, you know how annoying I get when there's a contest to be won, I won't stop 'til I've snagged a Pulitzer and/or Nobel. Autumn's got her trigger finger ready, Lozo's got his zipper ready ... go team!

It's been a while since I've rolled out a "Stuff I've Been Reading" (read the first one here) but I wanna start book club again in January, just in time for your New Year's Resolution, which'll probs be "read more books," so you know -- here we are. Is it weird when I go from like "this is my heart" to "I like books!"? I figure I've gotta do a New Year's Post which'll probs have feelings and that's in like two days. Listen up I feel my feelings. Oh, life. I thought you were supposed to be a film? A thriller? End in tears?

Re: Book Club -- I considered pulling an Oprah and making everyone read one of my already-favorite books so I can re-bask in the glory of its goodness all over again (don't worry it won't be holocaust lit or a heartwarming family saga) but then I had an even better idea (more on this later).

Have you ever noticed that Oprah's books generally employ identical sentence structure in the titles? [Noun/Adjective] + of + a/in/an/"is a" + [noun]: Light in August, Love in the Time of Cholera, The Pillars of the Earth, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, East of Eden, The House of Sand and Fog, A Map of the World, Mother of Pearl, The Heart of a Woman, The Deep End of the Ocean, etc.?

My first novel, The Autobiography of Sancho Panza, will fit neatly into that category as soon as publishing houses actually start printing books again therefore motivating my agent to motivate me.

Onto "Stuff I've Been Reading." I've fallen terribly behind. I'm catching up.

Books Read in August:
The Worst Days of Your Life, ed. by Mark Jude Ponier

In September
Lying, by Lauren Slater
The Night of the Gun, by David Carr
Samuel Johnson is Indignant, by Lydia Davis
The Housekeeping Vs. the Dirt, by Nick Hornby
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

In October:
Going Down, by Jennifer Belle
I Live Here, by Mia Kirshner w/J.B MacKinnon
The Black Veil, by Rick Moody (started, couldn't get into it)
Anagrams, by Lorrie Moore (began to re-read, finished in November)

So I'll get to that. But I left off in August, yeah? The August of my thwarted content, hot hopeful August in which I managed to almost read one entire book while preparing to leave Planet Harlem.
"When children learn to acknowledge the gravity of their loved ones' sorrows, they're no longer children."
- Rattawut Lapcharoensap, At the Cafè Lovely
While waiting for Book Club selection Lying to be delivered apparently by Sherpa or Camel, I charged slowly through The Worst Days of Your Life, twenty short stories with adolescent protagonists edited by Mark Jude Ponier, which I wanted to like, and usually did, but sometimes didn't. It may've been slightly too long, and I'd get caught in endless quagmires interspersed with gems like the editor's own Thunderbird and Kevin Canty's Pretty Judy.

On the subway from one apartment to another, Milton the real estate agent kept reading over my shoulder and asking me questions, I wanted to smack him in the face or mentally pimp-slap him with a cheeseburger.

By September I felt the right book could turn my mood right around, frown upside-down, and I started reading Lying (discussed here) right around the time I stopped couch-hopping and moved into A;ex's Long Island Family Palace for the month. The Long Island Rail Road is a Supreme Place to Read and so I read a lot.
"The problem with your life is behavior, not disclosure. Secrets are what addiction calls foreplay. If you want to live a life that you can be honest about, live one that is worthy. The answer to life is learning to live." -David Carr, The Night of the Gun.
After Lying, I needed The Night of the Gun as rehab and it was on sale at Target and I'd read about it in New York Magazine. I'm always a fan of high-achieving addict stories. Where Slater disregards truth and deliberately misinforms to service her sociopathic, self-indulgent and self-important motivations, Carr straight up "investigates" his own history (one tends to forget things when one is often on crack) with sixty videotaped interviews, legal and medical records and three years of reporting. His prose and consequently his narrative is sparing, balanced, exacting and compelling. It felt solid, like a lot of things did then in my life, reassuring & methodical, redemptive. His insight on addiction and truth too, was valuable.

Then I read Samuel Johnson is Indignant by Lydia Davis. I don't remember a word of it, but I remember it made me feel slightly crazy like all my thoughts were actually thought fragments. The stories felt like story fragments I am not clever enough to understand. Maybe it took three days to read. Amazon recommended. Babypop sleeps on the train, sometimes when I was reading this book I'd fall asleep too. Have you guys read this? Am I missing something?

At the Border's by Penn Station, I used the bathroom, bought a coffee, extracted a Borders Rewards card that turned out to be a gift card I'd forgotten about (and still don't remember the source of) and walked out with The Housekeeping Vs. the Dirt , Nick Hornby's most recent collection of "Stuff I've Been Reading" columns from The Believer, which I enjoyed very much.

Guess what. Nick Hornby's done with his "Stuff I've Been Reading" column at The Believer. I don't know why. Obvs they should hire me to replace him. I'm already doing it. It was a good collection per always. Wit and literary recommendations. An excerpt from And Then We Came to the End, which I then got my brother for Hanukkah.

People have been telling me to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower for centuries, but every time I thought about it I'd see that mtv books label on the front and think, eh, this is crap, it's practically neon. But it wasn't crap, it was perfect.

I ate this book in two days. It was so honest. It was the book I needed to read. Sometimes a book hits the spot like a meal. I read it at Alex's, and on the train. It's so tiny & perfect.
"The feeling I had happened when Sam told Patrick to find a station on the radio. And he kept getting commercials. And a really bad song about love that had the word "baby" in it. And then more commercials. And finally he found this really amazing song about this boy, and we all got quiet.
Sam tapped her hand on the steering wheel. Patrick held his hand outside the car and made air waves. And I just sat between them. After the song finished, I said something.
"I feel infinite."
And Sam and Patrick looked at me like I said the greatest thing they ever heard. Because the song was that great and because we all really paid attention to it. Five minutes of a lifetime were truly spent, and we felt young in a good way."
-Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
It's a YA novel, maybe. It makes all the hard parts about high school seem sweet and important, all the little things. What it's like to be an adolescent with major depressive disorder who's too smart to just descend into oblivion as your emotional brain desires. I think this book was in my head when I wrote this post.

In October I moved from temporary living situation #4 to temp living situation #5 -- a teeny tiny room in Haviland's former NYC apartment. I walked places a lot so there wasn't as much reading.
"New York is a convenient city to go crazy in. You can always stop and have a diet Pepsi with a malfunctioning straw. You can remember what soothes you and what you must do next. I had a date with a client who loved my young skin and my "gentle touch." It was almost my birthday. I stopped at The Gap. They didn't have any more striped shirts, but when I got back to the dorm, I found it."
-Jennifer Belle, Going Down
I ate Going Down, by Jennifer Belle, which Slicey reviewed in Interlude magazine [the same issue I wrote a book review for] and they had it at my favorite church thrift shop where I often get books. The topic of sex workers in Manhattan is one of my faves, and its' rich storytelling material (see: Mary Gaitskill, Miranda July, Michelle Tea, Maggie Estep) when not infused with the typical trappings of glossy Showtime-ready fluffly romance-novel shit (see: Tracy Quan, The Secret Diary of a Call Girl) -- when it addresses ugliness frankly and without condemnation rather than making it into a kitschy oh-ew-menaresogross-thisishowishavemylegs story. Bennington is a keen and searingly honest narrator, and her voice made me feel crazy and reckless but hard.

I ate this book pretty fast. Also though it got a bit redic at times w/r/t clever precious quirkiness, like a super-amateur Tama Janowitz. Also sometimes the protagonist became redic to the point of losing my sympathy or empathy to any degree. It's clear Belle could've done better, she's got the talent. If you like Miranda July you'd probs like this book. I mean I ate it, it was delicious, for real.

Caitlin sent me I Live Here (written by Mia Kirshner who plays Jenny Schecter in The L Word, along with J.D MacKinnon, the creative directors of ADBUSTERS and really a whole ton of amazing artists, mostly it's stories from the people they talk to) 'cause she knew I'd appreciate how fucking cool it looks -- and it ain't Jenny Schecter's book, y'all. It's kinda strange when Mia's actually talking about herself. She's no Hemingway but that's totally besides the point -- it's clear, too, that Mia sees her acting work as earning money to do real worthwhile work like this project. All profits go to Amnesty International & The I Live Here Foundation, dedicated to telling the stories of unheard & silenced people. Kinda puts the Jenny nonsense into perspective.

I read it during the election. I don't know. It's just amazing -- the will to live. Chechen refugees, ethnic cleansing in Burma, the disappearing women of Juàrez, AIDS in Malawi. People go on just to go on, like just to survive, in situations so horrific and inhumane, after being raped, beaten, seen family members murdered, lost their homes, gone hungry, worked as sex slaves, been sent to prison unjustly, transformed into child soldiers, born with HIV ... and here we are watching Hardball and talking about Sarah Palin's shoes. The Juàrez section was the worst, the hardest. You should get this book. I mean it's a good cause, and the book itself is beautiful, just really stunning, in four little notebooks of documented tragedy. I mean; any way to become aware of what's going on is a good way, we all need to be more aware.

SO! Autowin Book Club. I'm doing something that'll seem totally random this time but I think it'll be interesting.

As I may've mentioned, I interned at in 2005 -- I've published two long essays there (one under a pseudonym, you'll never find it/guess, trust me) and some shorter pieces while interning. I wanted to work there 'cause it's one of the first successful internet magazines ever, it basically defined the genre. It's possible you've gotten a date on nerve personals, but um, that's not the point of the site, though it was a genius profit-generating concept.

Rufus Griscom & Genevieve Field, co-founders: "We chose [sex as a subject] because sex is a subject that people lie about, which provides a great opportunity to do some truth telling. We chose it because it's a subject rutted with cliches and fogged by convention,; a subject few have navigated with originality ... we believe that women [men too, but especially women] have waited long enough for a smart honest magazine on sex ... it's about sexual literature, art and politics as well as getting off."

Nerve continues to win awards, defy expectation, diversify content, and has now released Nerve: The First Ten Years, which I got in the mail two days ago. Everyone who's entered my room since then (all three of them) have been like "ooo! what's this! it looks so neat!" 'cause it does. Also it came with condoms and lube from Good Vibrations.

Soooo all ye poor college students -- the entire book is available online for FREE. Yup. All of it. For free. A "stunning retrospective [which] celebrates Nerve's impact on popular culture with its stimulating essays, interviews, fiction and photography."

Whaddya say? If you wanna buy it, go for it, it's really hot, or just sit in the bookstore and read it. There's heaps of stuff in there that we can talk about and you can tell me your favorites, I'll tell you mine, and we'll all become more evolved people, discussing a plethora of topics that will suit your ADHD.

Includes: Dr. Joycelyn Elders and Rev. Dr. Barabara Kilgore on masturbation, Chuck Palahniuk, Spalding Gray, Lisa Carver, Jonathan Lethem, our dear dear Lauren Slater (opening: "My father sleeps with prostitutes."), Robert Olen Butler, Em & Lo, Sam Lipsyte, my favorite Mary Gaitskill interview ever, Steve Almond, Alice Sebold, Aimee Bender, Jonathan Ames, Will Doig interviewing Norman Mailer, pieces like "Goodbye, Metrosexual," "Heart of Glass: My Sexual Fantasies about NPR," "The Guide to Being a Groupie" and "Innocence in Extremis." Plus cool photos and a story that opens with "as her Siamese twin joined at the skull, I know Becca wants to fuck Remus as soon as she says she's going to dye our hair."

You in, Brooklyn Boy? Okay, let's go! Finish by January 31st. It's in short pieces, there's photos, just like the internet, I think you guys can handle it. Discussion begins first week of February. RIGHT Here! Here!

Also as pennance, the February book club book is gonna be a serious literary novel, so get your brain ready. But read this one first.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Year in Review 2008 [All I Know is That I Should]

Dear Dad,

I’m writing you from the airplane. It’s a really tiny jet, just one seat in my row and two across the aisle. On the right side (I’m on the left) you can see the sun setting across the whole wide world. There’s one solid line of burnt orange, sandwiched by a dark sheath of cloud and the earth below it. It’s pretty beautiful.

I had lunch with your Mom and Dad today. Grandma’s doing well, actually, better than I’d expected, maybe even better than she was a few years ago. Grandpa just sits in his chair, he doesn’t know what’s going on. We were having dinner yesterday, for Christmas – we still do our celebration on the 24th, but now on the 25th I'm flying instead of going to the movies like we used to do together -- and everyone was watching the babies play with their new toys and Grandpa says “Where am I?” and everyone ignored him. It was real quiet and maybe only I heard him. He says stuff like that all the time.

Anyhow we were watching the babies. Carrie and her husband have a boy, Kyle and his wife have a girl. I guess we always knew they’d be the first ones to do that.

Grandpa’s chair has a button on the arm-rest so he can lift himself up almost all the way into a stand. Sometimes you’ll just be sitting there and you’ll hear this buzzing – that’s the sound the chair makes when he’s pressing the button to go up. That’s how you know Grandpa wants to go somewhere.

Everyone helps him get up and then he gets on his walker and walks to the back of the house, then he gets confused and Grandma goes and takes him back to the chair. She takes care of him all the time. It’s something to do.

Anyhow, it was good to see them and see everyone – Mom, and your sisters and my cousins, and to spend time with Lewis. I guess you know what happened with S., I’m sure your sister told you about it, or maybe she didn’t. All the lies he told and what he took from her; his mother. One of the things I learned this year was that that kind of thing actually happens more than people think. You know – people make up lives and stories they like better than their true lives and stories. Sometimes they do it for love or money but usually they don’t even know why they do it, they just do it. Like how I don’t know why I sometimes get swallowed in darkness, it just happens and there I am with my eyes open but nothing around me seems light.

I wish I’d had the time to know you. Maybe what I mean is I wish you'd had the time to know me. I’m obsessed with you.

Last night we were talking about Obama and Aunt B said “You know I’d always wondered about your father, you know, like now with Obama -" and I said that I know you would’ve loved him. (Mom said that too, she called me the day after, she wishes you could’ve seen it happen. You know Aunt B went door to door in the whitest whitest parts of plain flat Ohio for Obama? She did that. And you should’ve heard Grandma talking shit about Palin Dad, you would’ve been so proud of your parents. (Grandma told me a story about when they first met my Mom, the first “Jewish person” they’d ever met, and Grandma made these potatoes wrapped in bacon, and Grandma Goldstein went apeshit? Amazing.)

Then Aunt B said, Oh no honey. I mean I wonder if your father would have been in the cabinet. I laughed like we were talking about spaceships or something. He was on track to be an economic advisor for Clinton’s second term, she said then. I probably laughed again. I mean still as I write this I feel like I’m writing lies too.

Uncle T said: At the funeral, strangers came up to me and said losing Vic is not just a loss to the accounting community and to U of Michigan and to Price Waterhouse but losing Vic is a loss to the world economy.

We talked for a little bit about that; you know, how you never told us anything. Top ten accounting researcher in the world, Lewis saying your study was material in an investments class he took in college. You never told us anything besides that your work was boring and we didn’t want to hear about it.

Maybe telling myself you quit while you were ahead was the only thing that got me through, so I’m going to say that I think they were bullshitting about that too. Everyone seems better in retrospect. I mean it’s over Dad so what can anyone really say?


Everyone always talks about how you were a genius. Does that mean I’m a genius too? Sometimes I feel really stupid, Dad.


Anyhow so I was going to tell you about 2008. It’s probably weird that I’m putting this on my blog. You get it though, you always knew this is what I’d be doing. When you and Mom started having me dictate my diaries to you before I knew how to write? You told me it mattered enough to write it down. Maybe that’s all I needed, maybe that’s why I guess you get this.

I hope so ‘cause everything I do, I do hoping you’d approve. It’s kinda difficult since you’re dead, I have to do a lot of guesswork.

Anyhow so 2008 was crazy. 2007 was crazy too but 2008 was a different kind of crazy. You're a good person to talk to about the years because it's your birthday. December 31st. You were born and then the new year started right away.

I’ve spent the last two years in other people’s fantasy worlds. I think that says something about my ability to accept the world as it is. It’s just that as it is; the world is sort of ugly and mundane and miracles don't happen every day. In the subway I look around me and see faces like paper plates. It’s just that I died when I was only 14. Fuck. I’m sorry. I mean that you died when I was only 14.

I’m obsessed with you, I like you so much, I talk to everyone but you. I pretend sometimes I couldn’t care less.

I've learned that I don’t have eternal life, that I haven't been chosen by some higher power to change the world, I'm the one with that choice, and speaking of the opposite of that I learned this year that I’m not truly able to jet to Malibu and drink cocktails and read novels by the pool all the time and over-tip and give everything to everyone who ever needs anything. It was fun though to believe those things. It was a time. We laughed and ran, like you did. Always running, laughing, always in the air going places.

I tell you Dad, I loved it. All the places I got to see. I’ll see anything. I feel like everything is interesting! Crossing that bridge at night in Austin, heat like a desert dressed up as an acoustic embrace.

The moment right before Austin I first saw my secret cyber-savior walk up the stairs to my stupid linoleum Harlem place and even though I was so nervous I was already high enough to not know what to say, and stayed nervous for weeks, and then how this year I nearly lost her like I lost you – I mean it Dad -- and how one day when we have that kind of vocabulary Dad? I’ll understand how much it meant that I didn’t. We didn’t lose her. Anyhow I was talking about flying.

The peace of the bed in Miami, alone when they went into town without me. Hiding from the world beneath those sheets, and the silver to eat with. I said, what do you want. I said, I have access to your happiness. I know someone who knows someone. I said I was a superhero. No one is but like I said anyway I was talking about flying. The thing about flying is all you see. You can see for miles, sandwiched in that hot orange place between earth and sky.

I went to a lot of places, which is funny ‘cause in ’07 I never went anywhere at all, just to Philly, and out to the hospital and out to see her family in the suburbs. ’08 is the first time I’ve traveled for the sake of traveling since you died.

Right after you died, we tried to go on vacation without you but it wasn’t the same so we stopped trying at some point. It wasn't anyone's fault, it's just we were reminded. Grandma mentioned Hawaii, she still remembers the food on the airplane. That's the farthest away your parents have ever been from home, because you took them there.


In 2008, I tried to fix the biggest hole that’s ever been dug in my heart since you’ve died and for a lot of reasons, I failed. So I just have to let that hole sit there, un-fixed, and do what I can to tread efficiently and productively on the fissures. I am figuring out how to see it and feel it and say: that's okay, I can go on.

I’ve found some wells of happiness. I sometimes sit at the bottom, splashing and happy as a clam.
I mean it. Eyes like saucers, blue and open to anything, even me.

I had a really brilliant June and July. A solid January full of hope. Some of February. Oh ... some of all of it.

I can’t really say anything more about that part of my life because something else I learned this year is that when I write things down, I make them true – permanent at least – so I try not to do that to things that are still happening. I don’t want to fuck with time and space. I mean that I do – I do want to fuck with time and space. What I learned this year is that I actually cannot do that. All I have is this time, my little space. Insert myspace joke here.

I think I’m more confident now than I was, even if I don't deserve to be. Remember how I kept getting fired? I was the worst. Not all of us were put here to work, Eileen Myles says: “Why can’t I just act that way. why can’t I write everything down like my life counts, like I’m the Queen of England or Bobby Vee, and that way I can be safe and not have to wait to die ... why can’t I live right now. Because I am not rich, I am not a saint. But I do know this: not all of us were sent here to work.”

Actually I think we are all sent here to work, it’s just different kinds of work.

Anyway Dad I was talking about flying and in that burnt orange space I need to tell you that anyway I have this hope that people are gonna come to me when they oughtta. I gotta believe that things are gonna work out somehow and that all choices in retrospect become good ones because they are true and if something is true it must be good. Anyway I was saying honesty is a real bitch.

I want to be more self-reliant because when I hand the wheel over to someone else, I’m not even like a backseat driver. I just recline and stare at the stars and wait to become infinite.

Like you; infinite.

I have some really good friends you’d really love, I’ve always been blessed with good friends. When I fall to pieces they’re there. When THEY fall to pieces they’re there. Like angels. They aren’t angels because no one is angels but they are very similar. There are some people I love with a deep, radiating love, a love so strong it transcends logic but not in a crazy way, just in a super-love way. Like the way superheroes love other superheroes after they’ve lost their powers.

I have really amazing readers who do crazy things for me! It’s so awesome, I think you’d be kinda proud of me sometimes.

I’m living with someone I love and I love our apartment and being here with her. I get scared just writing that, I always jinx good things.

"Listen, my truest love.
I've tried to clear a late century place for us
in among the shards.
Lie down, tell me what you need.
Here is where loneliness can live
with failure,
and nothing's complete.
I love how we go on."
(Stephen Dunn, “Loves”)

So anyhow. I’m still writing and editing videos. Still scraping by. Still have all kinds of debt I know you’d hate. I think you wrote the book on how to avoid that. I still rely too much on substances to make me feel anything other than this. “Not me” is what all those pills and drinks should be called. I’ll just have a “not me on the rocks.” But Dad I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon, so I’m gonna figure out how to better live with it.

I guess that’s the thing – accepting things as they are. Accepting discomfort and making a life anyhow. I want to start my own magazine online so I’m going to do that, alone I guess, starting real soon I hope, I’m getting ready. Or not, I mean. I was talking anyway about flying. One time we went running together, you and me. One time in Orlando she jumped on the grass, one-two-jump-on-three. Everything was beautiful and perfect. It’s just that I rarely let go. I let go a lot last year and this year. I was dropped too, but first I opened up to like ... I dunno. Joy? Comfort? I just always felt like if first I had the help to jump, I could fix something. Just I want to help the world get better. God, I mean, that’s so pretentious. Who am I, no one. But that’s the thing who cares? I’m no one but if everyone is who is no-one wants to help the world get better than surely we’ll all make a difference like by default.

I think I have some things to say and I’m hoping there are people willing to listen. I know the economy has crashed – which probs made your head explode, how avoidable that whole thing was – but we have a new president who you’d like. Hope and that.

I feel optimistic right now, who knows how I’ll feel in five minutes. I feel sad right now, I wish I could die tomorrow and I hate myself for a selfish wish. I feel so happy, I feel so beautiful, I feel ugly, I feel terrific, I feel whatever the fuck ever, who cares. Enough feeling ... I'm hoping to act on that.

I love how we go on.

Anyhow, I just wanted to let you know what’s been going on. I know you’ve been worried. I keep trying.

You two were so close, your Mom said to me. You two were glued together. You were just two peas in a pod.


So, you, it’s Christmas. I’m writing you now from my bed, it’s been several hours since I was on the plane. My friend picked me up from the airport, I had champagne and we talked about how things are better in a lot of ways since last year, and how there’s nothing else to do but go up. Okay, so we didn’t say that about going up exactly but that was what was said. We will. What I mean is we try to predict the future, which is boring 'cause it's never true, so in the meantime we can play infinite. Anyway I was talking about flying.

I made some bad choices this year, you know. But I grew and keep on.

My number one feeling is dancing. My number two feeling is:

I love the past, which doesn't exist
until I summon it, or make it up,
and I love how you believe
and certify me by your belief,
whoever you are, a fiction too,
held together by what? Personality?
Voice? I love abstractions. I love
to give them a nouny place to live,
a firm seat in the balcony
of ideas, where music plays.
(Stephen Dunn, Loves)

I just want to live like music.

I'm still trying to reach you.

As Ever,
All my Love,

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Every Day is Christmas Day Top Ten Holiday Specials Spectacular

(My brother) Lewis & I had a team meeting today and decided next year we're gonna do this thing on a nice spring weekend. Mom said okay if we can go on outings. I said let's go to the Henry Ford Museum, Lewis said okay. I said let's go when Greenfield Village is in season, Lewis said "that's pushing it." That's fine, I'll churn my own butter, I don't need a historical recreation village to work my wood for me.

Anyhow speaking of the good parts of Christmas, as a young Jew in Amerika, I grew up la-la-loving Christmas Specials. They warmed me from my navel to my gut (short path physically, but long path emotionally) and made me yearn to be like everyone else, as I so often did as a child. In retrospect, perhaps this elementary burning desire to fit in was a kind of overcompensating -- feeling intrinsically abnormal (queer), I wanted even MORE to constantly appear normal (Christian). In further retrospect, I think it's 'cause Christmas Specials rock, I love the endings with the HANDEL! and the CAROLS! And the pan out! Everyone smiling & doing that squeeze-hug thing!

I've been writing this in bits and pieces. As much as this is a Sunday Top Ten obstensibly about Christmas specials, this is just a scrapbook of my slapshot brain in ten-minute intervals over the last three days.
The perfect present for anyone on your list. If they don't like it, then they're a bad person. Srsly. So it's a win win.
+++"Sunday" Top Ten:
Every Day is Sunday for Jesus Top Ten Autowin Christmas Special

10. Cross-Country Reunions: People from far-away places all come together for the joy of Christmas, yeah? Jonathan Franzen's novel The Corrections is not actually a Christmas special, it's a book (one of my top ten favorites actually), but anyhow it takes about 500 pages to unravel the events resulting from the mother's determination that the family MUST have a "real family Christmas" that year. It's a popular plot for family-reunion centric films and television cast reunions. In the Autowin X-Mas special, Haviland would come all the way from L.A. (or Savannah, where she currently is) to someplace we all wanted to be like Belize.

Actually, my day-to-day functional "family" -- my friends, that is -- we're never more spread out than we are during the holidays. It's weird, that urban life does that to you, and then going home you end up feeling more disjointed and out of sorts than you do the rest of the year, which I think is the opposite of what Charles Dickens intended. Or G-d.

It might surprise you that for two girls who spend most of our Christmas vaycays texting each other in all caps about various neurotic inabilities to exist outside our prescribed comfort zones, Haviland & I share a deep burning love for The Christmas Special. Especially A Very Brady Christmas. We made a whole vlog about it but there was no sound. These things happen. Not in X-Mas specials, in X-Mas specials there'd be a miracle, and the miracle would be Sound. 9 times out of 10, "a computer disaster being fixed" would be my kind of miracle.
9. Angels: It's dangerous to confuse people with angels. (Magnolia: "it's dangerous to confuse children with angels.") I do it all the time, I'll never stop. I wouldn't mind a Juliana Hatfield angel, like Angela got in My So-Called Life's Christmas episode, Angels. Hatfield's voice is probs how angels really do sing. Soft, but weathered. Santa wasn't a huge surprise for me, it was always hard to believe one dude could buy and carry around all that shit. But angels? Why not? Why the hell not?
Jordan : My old man used to knock me around, too ... he hasn't done in a couple of years, though. He's too scared. 'Cause the last time -- I-I threw a chair at him.
Rickie : Well, I'm going to light a candle for you on Christmas Eve.
Jordan : Oh, yeah, you think that changes anything?
Rickie : Yes.

[At the end, Jordan lights a candle. 'Cause he feels the spirit of hope & togetherness, just like the whole Chase family as they all go to church together with Rickie because his Dad beats him but they're all together in church and singing and the angel died from freezing but that's okay.]
8. Pageantry!: I used to love this book The Best Christmas Pageant Ever -- the Herdmans are this white trash family that everyone else hates. The kids fully smoke & swear & drink and eschew church but by some YA novel-esque twist of imagination and ridiculous fate, they're all cast as leads in the annual pageant. As expected, Hijinks ensue. I can't remember exactly, but I feel like it was awesome and everyone got the true meaning of Christmas in the end, which is good will & brotherhood to all mankind. There's nothing I love like a poorly put-on community theater-style play, and I put on many in my day.

Though I did execute an admirable production of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (I was Cindy Loo-Hoo) in 1991, I haven't had another chance to exercise my video making skills with any of the classic stories of Christmas. Maybe next year. Haviland can be Dasher and Vixen. I'll be Cindy Loo-Hoo again, obvs. I epically failed the first time around 'cause my cousin Glen made me laugh so hard I almost wet my pants for real -- when it was announced that it was Christmas-time he popped out of bed like a jack-in-the-box with big wild eyes and went "IT IS?" and then you can see my little Bam-Bam ponytail just bobble on my head as I attempt to contain myself.

When you're a kid and you say "I almost wet my pants" you're usually actually kinda serious. Now it's just a figure of speech I guess. Obviously everything's under control in that area now and also was at the time. I've been writing this in stages as I have a series of small, self-centered meltdowns, and I think that comes through in the writing. I wonder how many people really read the random middle bits, I bet you mostly skim through. Get the start, get the end, comment, go read AfterEllen. For all of you in the middle, don't be surprised if you get a miracle in your stocking.
7. Sing-a-Longs: Say what you want about Jesus, that kid wrote some smokin' hot tracks. Mom used to hate it when I'd try to turn Christmas songs into Hannukah songs just so I could sing them, but I WAS DREAMING OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS. Boyz II Men's "Let It Snow" didn't necessarily imply Jesus. Driedel Driedel Hoo-ha is a bad song. I'm a big fan of David Bowie & Bing Crosby singing "Little Drummer Boy." My heart melts for "Do They Know It's Christmas," and all other charity-centric Christmas musical ventures. War is Over? Possibly one of my favorite songs of all time.

In the secret Christmas Special of my life, we'd all gather together and do "Hark Herald the Angels" like at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and I'll turn out to secretly be an amazing singer. I love it when that happens. OMG! I just remembered that I've gone all X-mas season without listening to my favorite Christmas song of all time, "All I Want For Christmas (Is You)" by Mariah Carey. I gotta crank that shit up tomorrow on the drive to Ohio!

Sorry, I went to youtube to look for a video, and I saw her (I only subscribe to Susan Powter, FourFour and Sara Benicasa, I'm very picky obvs) and her new video titled "the best holiday gift ever." This is my gift to you. No it's not the gift of wellness and fat-burning. It's the magic of transcribing anything Susan Powter says onto paper. It's one thing to hear it and quite another to read it. I'm not skipping anything here, that's not what the dashes or ellipses mean.

"This is the finale because i'm keeping my hair like this for as long as I like 'cause the stuff i'm gonna do with black roots and blonde tips -- the freedom of it! The feeling of it on my head -- don't even ask -- I'm gonna be doing a lot of big sweaty stuff -- and I just -- need like -- cute that you can -- POSH SPICE-E it up -- because it's time you see what's going on, I haven't been able to show you -- it's time you understand -- should I tell you? That I just did a yoga class, but not just yoga, not even just -- when I talk about exercise, don't even think that you know what I'm talking about, because you don't. I'm talking about wahtever I do which sometimes involves exercise and whatever I do which sometimes involves and weaves in and I take pieces from sprint energy and burning fat and yoga and step and I do whatever the hell I want whenever the hell I do it and by the way it's FREEZING."
5. Surprise Guests: A new puppy! The Ghost of Christmas Past! Santa Claus! The soldier is home from war! Families Reunite! It's Rickie! The kitten is warm! It's Elijah! It's Jesus! It's Tickle Me Elmo! Daddy's dressed as Santa Claus! the Surprise Guest unites the cast of said Christmas special, is unexpected and delightful and often homeless. Often enters in large wintery trenchcoat, shakes off the snowflakes and is embraced by children. Is a breath of pine-green-fresh air. I'd like to request Ryan Clayburn or Uh Huh Her. Those would be my top two favorite unexpected guests who are alive. Tinkerbell wants me to mention Littlefoot but she'll see her soon enough.

Sometimes it's not a surprise guest so much as it is a surprise FROM a guest. Like in the Saved by the Bell Christmas special, which takes place in the mall (the mall is one of my many obsessions), where the girl Zach is crushing on turns out to be homeless. Luckily it's Christmas so everyone gets some turkey. I don't like turkey but if I was homeless I might change my tune.

Who will be the surprise guest at tomorrow's Bernard family Christmas? Wouldn't it be funny if I was like -- ALEX! No. The surprise guest will be Tinkerbell. At the Hannukah party, she was not well received. I do not have high expectations for X-mas recieving of Tinkerbell. Hopefully next year I'll be dating someone famous but secretly gay, like Ellen Page, 'cause then my family would be eased into the idea gently, via movie star.
4. Muppets! The first X-mas special of all time, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, featured a cast of 100% wooden puppets. Why not muppets? 'Cause they hadn't been invented yet. Luckily times have changed. No offense to the wooden puppet movies, I loved those too.

Muppet movies combine all of my favorite aspects of visual entertainment: Muppets (I'm actually 1/2 muppet, true story), carefully coreographed singing & dancing numbers, witty inside jokes, and famous people dancing with muppets. This year's Muppets X-Mas Special features Jessie Martin, Mayor Bloomberg, Jane Krakowski, Uma Thurman, Whoopi Goldberg, etc. It doesn't hold a candle to A Muppet Christmas Carol or A Muppet Family Christmas. To be honest I only watched about 10 minutes of the new one. Where was I? I love muppets. What was the point of this Top Ten? The point is that somehow I've managed to spend the last three days entirely in my head, no matter where I've been.

Which is why I wish I was a whole muppet, not just a muppet in some pictures.
3. Random Star Buffet: Instead of actually writing this, I've been watching the Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special with featured special guests Cher (iconic pop diva!), K.D. Lang (lesbian lounge singer!), Laurence Fishbourne (serious actor!), Frankie Avalon (cheesy 50's crooner!), Charro (lunatic with big boobs!), Whoopi Goldberg (versatile comic actress!), Magic Johnson (basketball star!), Little Richard (actual singer!), Grace Jones (wearing an incredible outfit and signing!) and Oprah Winfrey (talk show host!) This video of KD Lang (starts around the 2:00 mark) in a denim bedazzled DRESS singing "Rockin' around the Christmas Tree" will probs make your head explode. (See screenshot, left). Pee-Wee's special is really first-rate, you should watch it.

In my Christmas Special, I'd also like to assemble an all-star group of unrelated iconic figures. Obvs Haviland Stillwell and Tegan & Sara. I'd need some good dancers, maybe the cast of "In the Heights" or those little boys from Billy Elliot. Julie Goldman 'cause she's funny. Barack Obama -- good speaker, very popular right now. The Fab Five in their college form. The revival cast of "Sweet Charity" doing "Big Spender" or Audrey Hepburn doing the dance from Funny Face. RuPaul. Maybe if The Cure wanted to stop by. I'll think about this one I have some more. Who'd be in your variety show?

3. Even though we're adults and adults have problems our tragedies are overcome by the spirit of family and togetherness!

The best christmas special of all time, 1988's A Very Brady Christmas, is the perfect archetype of how adult Christmas should go. See -- Marcia's husband just lost his job, Peter's having an affair with his boss, Bobby dropped out of school to become a race-car driver, Jan's getting divorced and even Sam the Butcher has left poor Alice for another woman! Then Mike gets trapped inside his building! WHO WILL SAVE CHRISTMAS?

Well the kind recapper on IMDB explains: "In the end, Mike gets out of the trap after Carol (and the rest of the gang) sing O Come All Ye Faithful."

So there you go. No but really -- this never happens. Maybe if you're in Jesus's family, 'cause I thnk it happens sometimes for birthdays. But never has someone been like "man, we were all really down about Uncle Horace leaving Aunt Gertrude for a boy he met at the gas station, but then the spirit of Christmas overtook us, Grandma even learned to walk again! We just sang O Come All Ye Faithful!" In this sense, Christmas movies are the best kind of sci-fi fantasy films, and they fill you with a hope rarely replicated in life. If you've got the real thing though, then man -- you are lucky. I had it once. Honestly, I did. We did. I loved Christmas so fucking much, it was the best time of the year. Now we've got some grab bag of adult tragedies. Liars, tramps and theives. I'm the liar, Tinkerbell is the tramp. Just FYI.
2. Travel Debacles Resolved by Magic Polka Bands!
Did you think I'd get away without relaying a moment-by-moment recap of my X-mas travel debacle? Of course not!

Christmas specials often involve a travel debacle. These are generally resolved in madcap hijinks and a scene in the airport where the bedraggled traveler will beg for a ticket to anywhere so they can see their family. I cannot imagine this kind of desperation but apparently it happens. JK Mom, it happened to me actually just this weekend.

Obvs I'll be writing Delta Airlines to share my feelings about their performance on Saturday. I arrived at the airport at 3 P.M. and arrived in Michigan at 6 A.M. the next day, meaning it officially would've been faster to drive. Also then I could've brought the kayak. I don't mind airplane delays -- I count on them, actually -- but I do mind an airline insisting that the flight is on time as we sit panicking in traffic, insisting the flight is on time when they tell me I won't even get ON IT 'cause after waiting in line for 10 minutes, I'm 3 minutes too late to check my bag -- I'm calling Alex telling her she's gonna have to come back and get me, I'm calling my Mom telling her I won't be coming home since they can't get me on another flight, and I'm actually upset about this, 'cause my Mom I know will be upset not to see me and I bought a kayak already -- I mind Delta insisting the flight is on time as I literally sprint to the gate, only to then sit through seven hours of them periodically switching the departure time to the present time about every 10 minutes when clearly that isn't gonna happen. It was just ... weird. I could've spent all that time at home, complaining to Alex & making animal noises with Natalie or perhaps exercising at the local gym. Or buying presents. I could've even felt safe wandering more than ten minutes away from the sign, which continued to tell us we were leaving in the next ten minutes.

It was kinda like I was having sex with Delta, and as soon as we started Delta said they were gonna come and i was like, oh, okay, that's unexpectedly quick for you, Delta, but still, that's cool, I'm on board, and then they were like, "no, it's too soon," and you know, we did other things unlikely to immediately incite orgasm or they closed their eyes and thought about my mother making cookies, and then went back to it and then Delta was like "omg, I'm almost there," and I was like ok and we were doing our thing, and then they keep saying they're almost there and then it's like hours and hours pass of me giving it my all and then it's the next morning and still no one has exploded all over the keyboard. Then we get on the plane and wait on the plane for another three hours, which I guess the analogy for that would be unnecessary cuddling when I want to go to bed. Or them being like "now you!" and me being like "I don't even give a shit anymore."

In Home Alone, Kevin's Mom ends up traveling home with a polka band headed by John Candy. I think? That would've been neat.

1. Happy Ending with Singing and Happiness and Togetherness where all is calm and all is bright.

I guess the thing is about Christmas Specials is you know it'll have a happy ending. Not just any happy ending, but the kind where everyone you love is gathered around a mutually loved place, having been through something tough, and the camera zooms out at the end to show everyone who's there, together, and there's music or maybe food, maybe a new dog or random homeless person.

And you watch the whole thing knowing this'll be the ending -- 'cause that's the only thing that's the same about all of these specials and movies -- which's more or less how we all want life to work out too, is knowing that all the delayed flights and fleeting angels and snowdrifts and yelling at strangers are just the little debacles you get through to reach the food and the music and the hugs. The kind where the camera turns and the angel is gone but someone winks, or smiles, knowing they were there, and everything's okay. Or something like that. The tree is all you ever wanted, the wagon makes your dreams come true, life really is that simple. And I'm pretty sure it is, actually, it's ME making it so fucking complicated.

And the grinch's heart grew six sizes that day
xxx xxx

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

I was writing this blog about Christmas Specials, and how I'd like my life to be like one. But now instead I'm sitting here in my Mom's office/my temporary sleeping quarters comparing my fingerprints to my baby fingerprints, photo-boothing and subsequently photo-shopping/poem-ing important documents, making tea and eating Hanukkah cookies like cookie monster.

I arrived at JFK Airport on Saturday afternoon at 3 P.M. for the 4:10 flight they swore was not delayed. Then they started delaying it. Then they delayed it more. And more ... and more ... I reached this room, my final destination, at about 6AM on Sunday morning. You can imagine how excited I was about this, and furthermore, my Mom let me sleep today unitl 5 P.M. It's like I have jet lag. Also it's embarrassing to say I slept 'til 5 P.M. Like I guess the day is over now, I missed it.

This is what happens to me in a house late at night when there's not a drop to drink and my system has lost track of the hours. I look for things I shouldn't look for and try to find things I shouldn't see. I wanted to find my birth certificate since I need to get a new passport, and my copy's gone, but I couldn't find it. But I did find my father's death certificate. An old passport where my brother looks confused & innocent and my mother looks young and ready for Europe. I don't know where she was actually going, I'm just telling you what she looked ready for.

A letter my grandmother wrote to her son. Handwritten four pages and it could break your heart I swear it.I don't know if she wrote it before or after he died, I really can't tell what the occasion was: Once I lay in labor clutching friendly hands, and breathing deeply and yearning for the end; when the fog lifted, a small form lay in my arms and it was my day. A hundred nights I went to your cradle and touched your warm body. You stood in your crib and reached for a sunbeam.

Anyhow it's this stuff that always makes it hard to be here. Not here -- it's not hard to be here here, in Michigan. I know how to be here and be aware of that stuff at the same time. This is where our lives went on, after all, this is where we continued, afterwards, to live. Ohio is still the place we are connected to through him, and we haven't had enough time practicing how to go on when other things keep happening , too, but i guess that's how time works. Time and families.

But Ohio is where we go from here for Christmas, to see my father's family. It was weird at first to go without my mother, then it was weird to go without my father, then it was weird to go without my father's girlfriend because then we were going just me and lewis, two angry annoying orphans fighting about music in a car not suited for the winter weather.

Because Crystal thought Ohio was actually IN Michigan, let me explain before I venture even further into my holiday stories -- I'm from the state of Michigan, this is where I grew up and it's where my Moms live. My Dad's family is the Quaker side, he's from Ohio a different state, located below Michigan. My Dad didn't ever live there as an adult, he lived in Michigan with us. Lately the routine's been that I go to Michigan from NYC to see my Moms, and then my brother and I drive to Ohio, and then I go back to NYC.

When we were kids, we'd all go down to Ohio together as a four-person family and it was a big deal. I couldn't hardly wait! It's not like that anymore. A lot of things are different now obvs and though the holiday season is allegedly about joy & family & togetherness & consumerism, after this weekend's snowpocalypse and my personal Delta Airlnes trauma I've re-determined that it's actually about Family-Focussed Masochism. Why do we insist upon gathering during this specific December week rather than, say, during a nice temperate week in September or May? 'Cause of Jesus? Obvs I think Jesus was awesome and etc but I feel like if he was still alive, he'd probs be in Zimbabwe feeding the hungry, or in Boca with Mary-Mag eating KFC. Next year in Jerusalem kthx.
Anyhow, though I generally avoid excessive nostalgia for youth & childhood -- though I'm actually petrified of it -- it's infected me every Christmas since '95, in different ways. People age and get sick, people have secrets, people have messed up, people don't show up, and all the trying is hard. Flying is hard, trying is hard. I get sort of tense and moody and closed-off and there's lots of slush and we don't go sledding anymore and I snap at people and wish I could go to the gym and I miss New York. What I'm saying is that it's my fault, but it's hard to figure out how to actively contribute to the positive energy of a situation while simultaneously refusing to reveal your actual self to anyone in the room.

I do love these people. I love them, wholly and completely, and they are my family, and they are the only ones who have been around all this time, though less often now. I love them absolutely and love to see them. But the weight of the holiday and the travel arrangements we must make to make it happen and the money that's to be spent when everyone is short ... I just wish we could have a picnic in June and go boat riding and call it a day, a good family gathering. We do well at weddings. Someone needs to get married again. I vote "not it."

I totes yearn for a time, that long-ago time, when making puffy-painted sweatshirts as gifts, playing an insipid game for bad chocolate with a wooden spin-top, eating lots of potato products, making paper dolls with my cousins and relishing my father's attention during the two weeks he was actually off work and not on a business trip was the cat's meow. And I don't even like cats. So you know I'm serious if I'm bringing up kittens in a positive context.

I have a new idea I'm going to instate next year to bring the spirit of Christmas back into our lives but adult-like. Doing things the same way we used to do them but as adults can be slightly humiliating, like wearing pants that don't fit anymore. I guess the number one "new adult way to celebrate' is "drinking excessively and discussing the calorie content of pumpkin pie." Hm. I like giving gifts though.

Anyhow enough of my rambling. Tomorrow I'll do a proper Sunday Top Ten, all about Christmas Specials. What are your favorites? Let me know!

What I'm digging right now:
The West Wing: In Excelsis Dio, Christmas with Jed Bartlet, Christmas Cards
Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special
My So Called Life Episode 15 - Angels
The Office
: Secret Santa Christmas Special , Jim Wraps Dwights Desk in Gift-Wrap
Arrested Development's Afternoon Delight
Charlie Brown Christmas and
of course our favorite A Very Brady Christmas

I want to listen to Ave Maria again and lie down on the couch. It's cold here so I need a lot of layers, I sleep like a marshmallow man. I'm safe underneath all the layers and portable too, and when I close my eyes I can be anywhere.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Chanukkistmas! #2: If I'm Gonna Go Down, I'm Gonna Dehydrate with Style

Every year around mid-November, my Mother sends my brother Lewis and I an over-punctuated email requesting our Holiday Wish Lists ???????? and, consequently, she shares her & My Other Mother's wish lists with us, just in case we've become "people who think ahead" since last Hanukkah. Two years ago, my Moms' lists were ripe fodder for bloggetry comedy gold and included "queen size flannel sheets -- no flowers!", "Mac Word," "No-Batteries Flashlight," "Gas Card," 'Beading How-To/Starter Set," the uncharacteristically specific "Sharper Image Digital Dashboard Compass & Weather Station-CE352" and a Lawn Tractor, Snowblower and a Reciprocating Saw.

Last year, they failed me w/r/t providing comedy gold via wish-lists, possibly on purpose. Suddenly Mom #2 lost her zest for power tools (thusly eliminating a re-run of my favorite dyke-with-power-tools graphic) and wanted jewelery (?!?!), and my Mom shifted her passions from apocalypse survival gear to ... an electric toothbrush and a copy of a mix tape I made her in the 90's.

Not like it really matters what they ask for, it's a charade to me as I'm gonna go ahead and buy them books I think they should read instead, just like I do every year. I know my Mom thinks she wants a remote car starter, but who needs to start one's car remotely when all the adventure you need is right here in a wonderful work of LITERATURE? Right? RIGHT!

Anyhow imagine my delight when my Moms' Chanukkistis wish-lists arrived this year full of potential. Perhaps they think that after last year's "Riese being kicked out of the house and sent to a motel" incident, I wouldn't dare continue to lower my potential esteem in their eyes by making fun of them on my blog. Well I just so happen to like motels, so.

Also, "making fun of you on my blog" is the sincerest form of flattery in my world. Obvs look at my list of weirdos. And my other list of weirdos. Those ppl are all my friends. Even Tegan & Sara. I'm calling Tegan right now. She says what's up guys. I told her you said what's up.

So. The following is the wish list. With commentary.


Look at the buttons !!!!! We got so many orders, you guys are Obvsing all over the place, keep ordering ... this product does not disappoint! I'll announce a new giveaway soon ... omg!

Wish Lists.
My Mother:

Tickets for the Mandy Patikin & Patti LuPone concert in Detroit, 4/14/09-4/19/09
Thanks for the deets on date & location, this'll ensure I don't accidentally pick up tickets for their engagement at the Key West retirement community the following week. Also we took my Mom to see Patti LuPone in Gypsy when she visited me in New York, what am I, a Patti LuPone machine. Patti LuPone doesn't grow on trees. Switch it up! It's not like I go see Uh Huh Her ten times in one year and four times in one week or anything.

Almost any other live theater/performance event (includes DSO and opera.)

Almost? See what she's doing here is expecting me to fill in the blanks. Just 'cause I came out of her womb doesn't mean I can read her mind. Even when I was in there I couldn't read her mind, so how could I possibly do that now, I'm not Magnito. Or maybe I could, 'cause she was a McDonald's manager while preggers with me, and now french fries are my favorite food.

Anyhow obviously I'm getting box seats for "Kwame a River: the Chroincles of Detroit's Hip Hop Mayer," it's at the Second City Detroit, family fun will ensue.

Or movie, or museum.
I can't afford to buy a whole movie so obvs I am going to buy my Mom The Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum (that's where budding lesbian moms take their daughters for early bird training, just look at the logo. Here's the hand, here's the hole, go to town) and request that next year that she give me the Giant Bubble or if possible any kind of human body part I can walk into, ideally a heart and barring that, another tunnel or cave where I can hide.

Actually though, um, I just went to their website and they're for real selling exhibits. I didn't know museums could do that? I could play with Ollie Oxygen, Holly Hydrogen, Wally Water and Mr. Catalyst forevs, I wouldn't even need Hav to vlog with me anymore. Also before I give it to her I'm gonna eat all the Astronaut Ice Cream.

Remote car starter.
Why can't my Mom start her own car? wtf? Where does she want to start it from? A lot of questions about this. I think people should start cars up close and personal, like in the driver's seat.

Cooking/baking dish that can go on stovetop and in oven.
Why would you want to put a baking dish on the stovetop? Isn't that what the oven is for? Personally, I know the oven's where you stick your head if you wanna die a là Lady Lazurus, and also for chocolate chip cookies. Maybe she wants to cover the burners so I won't stick my hands on them like I did when I was a kid. I'll find new ways to re-direct the room's attention onto me, mother, don't worry.

Earrings, (gold, hoops, gemstones)
Who do you think I am, Haviland? Hello remember raising me "gender-netural." I am not Haviland. I am Riese. When I get angry, I like to break things. Speaking of ...

Fiestaware pieces to complete my sets: Purple dinner plate and mug, Tangerine dinner plate and mug, Cobalt Blue mug and 19 oz bowl, Heather dinner plate, 19 oz medium bowl, and mug, Ivory dinner plate, 19 oz medium bowl, and mug. (last time I looked, Linens and Things had a great on-line clearance sale)

This is the internet age, I need to be entertained constantly, and I was tuning out already at "plate." I re-attuned at "Heather," since I know lots of cute lesbos named Heather, but then I dropped out again at 19 oz.

Also I fully appreciate that she's given me permission to snag her front-row seats to "Steve Harvey's After Party" but has specified the size of her required tangerine mugs to the decimal.

What happened to the originals is what I want to know.

-Instruction and guidance, sans ridicule and teasing, on FaceBook, etc. usage. (stop giggling and rolling your eyes!)

1. Absolutely not.
2. Not without giggling and/or rolling my eyes. Actually I can do it without giggling, but I have to roll my eyes. What else are my eyes supposed to do? Look at my Mom's facebook profile? "Maureen has become a fan of Patti LuPone"? "Maureen threw a plate at you?" "Maureen would like to invite you to throw a snowball at her vampire environmental cause?"
3. If I srsly can do this and have it count as a gift, that means I'd save myself the price of a gift, which means I'd save myself the work of earning money to buy a gift, which means I can basically think of this as a job, which I would do.
4. Except I can't. I just can't do that absolutely not.

Before introducing you to my other mother's list, let me remind you that I am flying to Michigan from New York. Last year I drove. That turned out to be a bad idea, especially when I cut my finger open with a nail about an hour before departure time and consequently bled all over the steering wheel.

I cannot make fun of my Other Mother in-depth because she didn't give birth to me or adopt me and therefore her love is not unconditional. However, my Mom wrote out this list for her, so really again I am making fun of my Mom.

Food dehydrator (to make her own Beef Jerky)
- though I admire the DIY spirit, I cannot admire beef jerky, and possibly would have considered this request were it not for this unnecessary detail. For example, on my:
My Wish List ,
I include The Cultural Resistance Reader. Innocuous enough, but what if in parens I added (to start a revolution, kill people, a là the SCUM MANIFESTO, which I expect in my stocking or pay the price). You know?

Kayak, (our stretch of AuSable River is too shallow for a conventional canoe.) - Right. Two years ago y'all wanted a canoe ["We're not getting a canoe, because then they're gonna want me to ride in it." -my brother], and now you want a kayak? Next year you'll be asking for a Moped (global warming has melted AuSable River entirely) and I'll wish I hadn't carted that effin' Kayak onto AN AIRPLANE.

Belt Sander - I don't know what this is. One time at band camp in the psych ward, my ex-girlfriend made me a belt in arts & crafts. Is this like that? I'm just trying to relate to you, bisexual-to-lesbian, it's like mano a mano but en engles.

A large/tall cactus plant and/or a Jade plant. -I'll leave "large/tall" alone, but I think cacti are Weapons of Mass Destruction, so praise Allah I will not bring it on an airplane, but you bet the first stop when I get into Michigan will be the Giant Cactus store to get one of these. Actually I'm quite serious, obvs this is what I'm getting, it's not every year you're actually asked to provide someone with a house plant.We can put it in our new Hands-on Museum.

Readers Digest subscription - The one portable item on this list has already been snagged by my Mom (see Mom, now you can't tell my Other Mom to read this, 'cause then you'll spoil it, like when Lewis told you that we got you a bike, which you no longer ride, good thing we didn't get that Canoe or it'd be collecting dust too, along with my ice skates from the 80's and all the books I try to force you to read).

I shared my concerns w/Lewis re: the portability of other mother's list, and he told our Mom about these concerns, and Mom suggested that, pending security clearance of said cactus, we could get Other Mother a "recipe book to use with a food dehydrator." Or: "Socks, she can never have enough of them." Truer words were never spoken. I mean, who says "I have too many socks?" No one, right.

Lewis asked what my plan was and obvs I told him I will be getting a gigantic/significant cactus plant and he responded: "Now that you mention it, a giant Cactus would be pretty awesome to have around ... if you got space, why not fill it with the most dangerous plant known to man? I'm serious. Add that to my list too. I wonder what it would taste like dehydrated ..."

Clearly it's things like "food dehydrator" that get me going on a nonstop internet investigation. We need a word for that. "The act of investigating something on the internet like a crazy person all night long, prompted by something small and innocuous, convinced that JUST ONE MORE SEARCH WILL BRING THE GOLDEN TICKET."

Apparently, one can produce pretty much anything with a food dehydrator. E.g., "cosmetics, mushroom soup, sloppy joes, pesto and moist banana bread." MOIST banana bread! That's like the Cracker Barrel version of the band Limp Bisket.

What if I just got her a lifetime supply of beef jerky and cut out the middle man? This woman Mary Bell is like a Beef Jerky superhero, and her hairdresser called and says he thinks she's a gay. Whatever, she's still no Kwame a River. I bet she never even drinks water. She's just got no need for it you know. Give me that sandwich, let's dehydrate that stucker STAT.


My brother's wish lists remain similar in spirit over the years though specifics change. As he grows, he changes. Instead of A MILLION DOLLARS!!!! he asks for An American Express Gold Card.

He's also asked for "something that will make my honda ruckus go faster except for the nitro kit." It's like he speaks another language.

Furthermore he has requested a jetpack. With a link, in case we can't find one at Wal-Mart while Kayak-shopping.

He also asked for "anything from except the t-shirts," so I had to go look at, and I found this, which was special too, and I would get it for myself as a joke but it's too expensive. I also saw a "LIttle Einstien" bobble-head I wanted to get for A;ex, but then I forgot:

Luckily Lewis has learned to ask for "books Marie thinks I should read," so I can do what I was gonna do anyway without being asked "where's my kayak?"

Oh also, wanna see a dyke with power tools? She can sand my belt all day!

UPDATE: My Mother e-mailed, two days after sending us her wish list, with a mesage entitled "wish list addition" and the following request: "consistent weekly phone contact from each one of you. and at the very least, my phone calls returned w/in 24 hours, as you would expect from me." Obvs I called her back immediately, between that and the Facebook lessons this is shaping up to be a cheap Christmas/Hanukkah, I'll just get a cactus from the wild, done and done. No I can't do the Facebook thing. Gold gemstone hoop-has, here I come.

In two days I will be in Michigan.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

GRAND OPENING: Pins/Buttons, Baby!

It doesn't get any better than this. Hot & Fast & Cheap & Cool! We're talking 3-D here -- real, live, pin-to-your-peter-pan-collar buttons/pins, wear them here there and everywhere. It's Buttons, Baby! Just in time for the holiday season we bring you your best idea yet -- tiny & shiny buttons that everyone can enjoy together -- male or female, dog or cat, reader or illiterate, homo or strai or bisexual, emo or sunshiney, short or tall, multi-limbed or amputee, rich or poor, dentist or dairy farmer, mother or cousin, these buttons will please & satisfy and they're now on sale in the Autowin Store.

Whether a stocking stuffer or a smokin' hot accessory for your messenger bag, butt, bikini, stuffed animal or fedora, buttons are better than ice cream [not better than Pinkberry, though they are, in fact, less expensive than Pinkberry] and sweeter than Splenda.

These buttons are tokens of affection, apparel of perfection, and the bestest hottest people in the world will be sporting them now & forevermore. Shouldn't you be one of them?

The store is up & running -- it doesn't look that good right now but we're working on it. We wanted to be sure you could get these by Christmas so we had to do a rush job on the website but the buttons, however, are perfect specimens, conceptualized by me & Team Awesome and translated into design magic by Semicolon.

I'll probs offer a few more fun things this week, but I can tell you this for certain: anyone who makes an order on today, DECEMBER 16TH or 17TH, will get ONE FREE BUTTON of your choice! It's actually $0.01, 'cause PayPal is a bitch. But that's practically free, buy it now before the Dow crashes.

Meet The Buttons

, inspired by Tinkerbell, Queen Chief Dog of Princess Worldwide Honor Society. May she bring you 30% of the joy and male dog attention she brings to me. That's actually quite a lot. For all dog lovers and/or haters everywhere.

Or I TOTES HEART ROCK BOTTOM, inspired by, I believe, mememememe, because this one time I said "I Totes Heart Rock Bottom" in a comment 'cause the blog post kinda went on into comments, and then someone said it back, and then we kept on saying it. Now you can say it ... in silver! The letters tumble, just like your soul and your feelings. Obvs every silver lining has a touch of grey, but this one is actually mostly silver.

Or OBVS, inspired by how you feel when she says that thing you totes agree with. Just point. Works for all people in all seasons.

Or UH HUH ... HER? In middle school, I had "best" and she had "friends." In post-post college ennui, it's "UH HUH" "HER?" You can wear them both. Then everyone will know ... how cool you are. Just prepare to be asked about PJ Harvey.

Or AUTOMATIC WINNER, inspired by semi-automatic weapons, love, feelings, and all things good and holy. It's your golden ticket to the winner's circle. Tell the world you've got it on lockdown.


Yup. You want some ... uh huh ... and you'll get autostraddle stickers too, which fit perfectly over the "composition" square on your composition book, or on haviland's bumper, or on your butt.

Even if you have no idea what this blog is, these buttons are still super cute. That's one of the best parts. You can also load up your cart with other delightful Auto-Store items while you're shopping.

We'll have more photos of the buttons soon, but we haven't had time yet. We've been gearing up to ship out all orders within 24 hours of being ordered so if you order on the 16th it will be in the mail on the 17th and so forth. In case you want to surprise your girlfriend/boyfriend/boifriend with something special besides your vadge/whatevs.

Also we just like to make things for y'all. In my next life, I will devote myself wholly to arts & crafts.