The Last Good Day of the Year
Ye Olde Inevitable Year-End List:
Best movies I saw this year: The Return of the King; Kill Bill; 28 Days Later; Spellbound; Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story
Best movie that I bet would be on that list had I actually seen it: Lost in Translation
Worst movie I saw this year: Love, Actually
Worst movie I saw this year that I don’t think I actually saw: Hulk
Best book I read this year: I can never decide this. I just finished Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides, which I enjoyed reading, but found the ending pretty lacking. I also thought The Partly-Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell and The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket were excellent. However, I probably had the best time during my annual re-reading of The Chronicles of Narnia, which always surprise me by getting better every year.
Best book read to me this year: Cruel Shoes by Steve Martin, as read by M. by candlelight in my boxed-up apartment
Best CD produced this year that I actually bought this year: The White Stripes, Elephant
Best show I attended this year: Tie: Yo La Tengo at Warsaw, October 10/Bishop Allen in Steve’s parents’ backyard, August 8
Best kiss I received this year: I could be coy and say that the year isn’t technically over yet, but if I’m completely honest, I’d have to admit that my best kiss of 2003 happened on Valentine’s Day, during the part of the movie Purple Rain where Prince sings the song “Purple Rain.” Shut up. It was a good kiss.
Best month this year: June
Worst/hardest month this year: April/November
Most impetuous decision made this year: Tie: Quitting my job and moving across the country/Spending $.99 to download an R. Kelly ringtone for my phone
Best outcome of most the impetuous desicion made this year: As of presstime, both results are still pending.
I kept a good number of my 2003 resolutions, as shown here and here: I wore more red lipstick, I sang and danced solo to “Hey Big Spender,” I dated men who owned more than one pair of shoes, and I did not get my heart broken, or at least not freshly broken. Also, three of my friends were real sports about holding up their end of the deal by having babies. I didn’t technically start a bar fight, but I did get thrown out of a bar thanks to Ryan starting one, and the outcome on the make-out-with-someone-who-has-a-black-eye thing was sort of murky, although I did manage to give at least one good one after several botched attempts. However, I have yet to throw my drink in anyone’s face, and I’ll be very honest with you: I didn’t wash my hair every single day.
In 2004, I resolve to start every day by listening to “Crazy Train” by Black Sabbath while in the shower, not date any boys who are clearly kindergarten babies who stick their heads in gravy, and find a way to spend a considerable amount of the year on Stephen Colbert’s lap.
My unofficial motto for 2003 was Sleep When You’re Dead, and I think my unofficial motto for 2004 will be Don’t Let No One Get You Down, courtesy of this awesome Latino gangster sticker my friend Kerry sent me.
Over Christmas, I went to a friend’s wedding and got pretty drunk pretty quickly on the free champagne, and for awhile there I was dead set on getting into the hotel pool wearing nothing but my fishnets and T-shirt, but then I suddenly realized I was tired, and decided instead to just go to bed. I see this episode as a roughly accurate analogy of my 2003 and my 2004. I spent most of 2003 attempting to get over 2002 by looking for a good run of trouble, and while that made for an entertaining and busy year, I think I’m going to spend 2004 looking for something a little more lasting.
I still probably should have gotten in the pool, though.
Happy New Year, all. Don’t let no one get you down.
You might be happy to know that I made it back to New York in one piece, and without even having to vomit out of the window of any moving vehicles. I met a very nice boy on the plane who insisted over and over again that I should come over to his house, but then his ears started popping and he had to sit in his mom’s lap and hold his blanket until he could stop crying on his own. There is a lesson here that I am too tired to learn.
My good friend Lauren is visiting me for a few days, but she woke up this morning with her throat swollen shut and talking like Marlon Brando. I pulled out my flashlight, looked down her throat, and proclaimed it strep, but she wasn’t having any of my amateur diagnoses, nor did she appreciate my assertions that perhaps it was “BJ-itis” on account of her “giving it out to all them graffiti guys.” After a lengthy visit to the Beth Israel Medical Center’s Minor Emergency Room, where the doctor took one look down her throat, proclaimed it strep, and then shot her ass full of penicillin, I briefly considered a career in medicine, but then I remembered how I get lightheaded while taking my own pulse and decided to try my luck with this whole unemployed thing a bit longer.
For the past few days, I’ve been formulating this theory. My theory is that for almost every single person on the planet, there’s this one sentence, and that almost every single person on the planet believes that if this one sentence was said to them by the right person at the right place or at the right time or with the right words, everything the person longed for would come true, and their life would right itself, or start an entirely new and glorious path, and they’d finally be happy.
Of course, I know this one magic sentence won’t really do all of that, but I still think almost every single person on the planet hopes to hear it, and that’s partly the thing that keeps them alive.
So I want to hear some sentences. Feel free to be anonymous.
Comfort and joy
In about an hour, we’re heading over to my cousin’s new house for Christmas Eve with my dad’s side of the family. My cousin has three small, loud, and very sharp-toothed children, and the evening usually ends with someone bleeding — one year it even began with someone bleeding — and really, that’s entertainment enough for me, but word on the street is there’s a room in this new house decorated entirely in a Titanic theme, so I have extremely high hopes for tonight.
Merry Christmas, all. I wish you nothing but the best.
Every hit I ever had was tossed up right here
While driving around town today doing our Christmas shopping, my brother told me about his previous evening’s activities, which involved bloody knuckles and a fire extinguisher and “some Arabian dudes,” and then he had to call someone named Kyle to apologize for ruining a hotel party or something. The whole time he was talking I felt like Bill Murray in Rushmore when he watches his twins wrestle and tells Max Fischer, “Never in my wildest imagination did I ever dream I would have sons like these.”
Today all of my clothes were in the washing machine, so I had to search my closet, and behind my prom dress I found a corduroy Abercrombie & Fitch shirt from my freshman year of college, and decided on a whim to wear it. Then in the car my brother was listening to the Violent Femmes and Odelay, and it was sort of like stepping back to 1996, only with less BLANK.
I just accepted a dare from Adam, and tonight I have a bachelor party to crash. Also, I can’t stop saying “it’s DELUX, son” like that wanksta kid in the Coca-Cola faux Cribs ad.
I am so sick of me.
I’ve been sort of busy.
I spent the first half of Friday on a plane headed back to Oklahoma, and due to my heavy dose of dramamine, the second half passed out on my parents’ couch with our collie by my side.
Saturday night began at a Christmas gathering with old family friends where there was a sort of impromptu talent show, with some people playing guitar or piano, and some people chugging beers in 3 seconds. I performed my one and only party trick before heading out to the bar and meeting up with every single wonderful person I know, including a charmingly drunk Mrs. Byrne, who systematically tore her hose and then removed her underthings while still at the table.
Last night I planned a quiet evening at home with my parents, watching TV and eating cupcakes, but then my phone rang at 10 and I found myself downtown at the railroad tracks around 3 am, hopping trains with a person in an excellent coat who has had admitted to having sex in a library, and is therefore sort of my hero.
Tonight I saw LOTR: ROTKTRLTKTKTK with Tony and Emily and my sweet sweet Cameron, who is approximately 8 feet tall and held my hand all through the spider parts and then let me wear his coat in the rain. I thought I was going to come home and get to bed so I could get up early and go buy my dad spy binoculars, but I just got a voicemail from my friend Josh, calling from what sounded suspiciously like a speakeasy, and demanding I meet him for two-stepping and bourbon-drinking. When I called him back and asked what he was up to, he said in his slow sly voice, “I’m looking for a whole heap of trouble,” so it looks like bedtime’s coming late again for me tonight.
The rest of this trip holds the promise of a new baby, a wedding, a hotel, and visits with deranged extended family members, not to mention Christmas, but right now, I have some trouble to find.
I trust you’re doing well.
Every year at Christmas, my mother sets aside one gift for me to open last. This gift, regardless of size, is always wrapped in pink foil paper, and instead of a bow, it has the white feather angel from 1950 that sat atop her Christmas tree as a little girl. This present is called, appropriately enough, my angel present. As hokey as this all may sound, I always look forward to my angel present, because it’s consistently hands-down the best present under the tree. The angel present is either the most special or expensive thing I asked for, or something I never even thought to ask for, but is so incredibly kickass or touching that all other gifts pale in comparison.
There has only been one year that the angel present failed to deliver, and that was 1990, when I opened it to discover a box of calligraphy pens.
There was nothing inherently wrong with the calligraphy pens. I didn’t specifically ask for them, but, you know, whatever. I played around with them, because I was a pretty artsy kid, and fond of writing utensils. However, I made the grave mistake of teaching myself calligraphy one winter afternoon, and actually excelling at it, and then telling my mother about this, and thus this angel present became the cross I had to bear throughout the rest of my youth, even into my adult life.
My mother told her friends I could do calligraphy. Suddenly I had clients, upper-middle class women who wanted me to whip out a Kahlil Gibran passage for a wedding gift; bible verses or Henry David Thoreau quotes suitable for framing. Whenever I was low on cash and there were no babysitting gigs in sight, my mom would bring up the calligraphy. “Why don’t you make signs, and hang them up at church, or at dad’s office?” This invariably led to me spending an evening or six sitting at the dining room table, scowling, while my mother stood over me, using a ruler to make VERY EXACT AND MATHEMATICALLY PRECISE LINES that were dark enough to use as guides, but light enough to be erased later. And also? The fun part about calligraphy? Is that you write it on parchment, so when you mess up, you get to start over completely, because they don’t make parchment wite-out. Thanks, angel present!
Aside from various heartlifting surburban mom quotes, I did my father’s company Christmas cards for twelve years in a row. My college roommates would always look at me like I was crazy when, in the dead of finals week, I’d sit hunched over at the kitchen table until 3 in the morning, writing return addresses in red ink on the backs of foil-lined envelopes. It gave me calluses and muscle cramps and headaches. It made me irritable. I hated it, but that Christmas money wasn’t going to earn itself.
After college, once friends started getting married, I was asked to address a lot of wedding invitations. I didn’t mind this at all, since it’s generally well-known that I have nice handwriting and they were my friends, but if anyone ever even thought of mentioning calligraphy, I would shoot lasers out of my eyes and they’d suck the rest of their sentence back into their mouth before they even got to the offending word. I loved them, but they should have known better. I don’t uncap that fucking pen for anyone anymore.
Or so I thought until last week, when I emailed my dad and asked him what he wanted for Christmas.
“Remember that poem I wrote for your mom on our 20th anniversary? I thought it would be a nice gift for our 30th if you did it up in calligraphy and we had it framed.”
I grimaced and made fists with my hands and got out the goddamn parchment.
My roommate came home tonight to find me hunched over the kitchen table.
“What are you doing?” she asked, hanging up her coat.
“Calligraphy,” I said, through gritted teeth.
I paused a moment before sighing and replying, “There is no short answer to that question.”
She stood over me, pulling off her scarf, and then said, “Could you teach me?”
I wanted to scream no, like in The Godfather Part II when Kay tells Michael it wasn’t a miscarriage, Michael, it was an ABORTION, it was a son and I had it KILLED, because I won’t bear another one of your sons because this is EVIL, and this evil has got to END HERE.
Instead I said, “okay.”
Weekend 1 2 3
Good: Going to hear Jonathan Safran Foer speak at the Brooklyn Public Library on Saturday.
Better: Some woman during the Q&A asking him, completely straightfaced, “Don’t you think it’s interesting that you were once a receptionist, and now you receive?”
Best: Jonathan Safran Foer answering, also completely straightfaced, “Uh, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Good: The strangers sleeping on your living room floor turning out to be very nice.
Better: The strangers sleeping on your living room floor buying you drinks and complimenting your cooking.
Best: The strangers sleeping on your living room floor inviting you to come visit them in the far-off city where they live.
Good: Discovering that your roommate was also an avid Babysitters Club reader in her youth.
Better: Getting really excited upon this discovery and rattling off not only all the full names and offices held by every BSC member, but also COMPLETE TEXT PASSAGES from memory.
Best: Your roommate still agreeing to eat dinner with you after this outburst.
Best2: Your roommate actually cooking dinner for you after this outburst.
Last week I saw In America, and despite it totally being a magic negro film, I left the theater wanting to hug people, and ready to commence baby-making immediately.
Tonight I saw Love Actually, and now I no longer believe in love, and doubt it has ever existed in any shape or form for anyone or anything ever in history of the world.
But, like, in a good way.
P.S. If I ever happen to meet anyone who gushes about how cute this movie was, not only will I cast them out of my life forever, I’ll chop off their pinkie finger to mark them for the rest of humanity.
I got back a bunch of pictures from my trip home for Thanksgiving that probably won’t be interesting to you unless you’re one of the people featured therein. Also, this sort of turns into a weird photo essay about my hair at one point, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Been an awful good girl
If I had a boyfriend, I bet he’d buy me a digital camera for Christmas. Thanks, imaginary boyfriend! I have an imaginary blowjob with your name all over it.
Me, I got nothing
But you should definitely check out the launch issue of Sit & Spin Magazine, where my interview with Brandon Bird would live now, had I gotten my shit together in time.
And back again
Being home for a week was exactly what I needed. I missed big midwestern sunsets and driving and my mom’s cooking. I swear I did nothing but eat cream-cheese-based foods the entire time, but somehow managed to LOSE WEIGHT, probably because I also ran with my dad every day. Also, I got to see every single person I loved and missed, and it only reaffirmed my belief that I have the very best friends on the planet, so much so that I sometimes secretly pity other people for not having my friends, too.
I also visited the kids I used to babysit for, and they ran up the driveway to me, arms outstretched, just like a made-for-TV-movie, shouting “Sarahbrown! We didn’t know you were coming! We have three snakes now! One is a California King Snake! There’s Blacky Two and Blacky Three! Blacky One got lost somewhere in the house.” I took great care not to sit on the ground while inside.
I went shopping with my mother and bought a black furry hat that makes me look vaguely Russian. I will accessorize accordingly with vodka. I also bought some argyle kneesocks, which I will accessorize with a cherry lollipop and pigtails. Then I visited all of my possessions in storage, switching out some CDs to take back with me, and lovingly touching my mattress and couch and boxes of books. I wanted to wear an orange jumpsuit and play conjugal visit, but my mom was there, so it would have been a little awkward. Also, the storage place plays really loud country music inside, so that totally killed the mood. I pay $104 a month for a climate-controlled unit, and my poor belongings have to pine away for me to the tune of Toby Keith. These are surely the times that try men’s souls.
Yesterday on the flight back to New York, I got some serious motion sickness and threw up, and everyone stared at me but didn’t say a word, and then when I asked the stewardess if I could throw away my barf bag, she told me that the captain had turned on the Fasten Seat Belts sign so I’d have to hold it until the plane landed. That was awesome. Then I threw up again out the cab window on the ride home, and the cab driver got all mad like I was the first person ever in the history of the world to puke out a cab window. I paid him extra so he could wash his car, lugged my suitcases upstairs, and was in my inflatable bed by 7 pm. Today was much better, though, because I spent most of it in my pajamas, listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas CD and sipping Tony’s mom’s famous orange spice tea and watching it snow.
Given the choice, I’m always going to prefer to be on the ground, well-fed, and among friends. I’m just an old-fashioned girl that way.