Que Sera Sera


Josh, one of my very favorite people on the planet, moved to New York last night. Ryan and I ate octopus balls and drank beers and played Yahtzee til 1 am while waiting for his flight to get in, and then we all celebrated the fact that we were living in the same city again by staying awake for another four hours. We woke up around noon today and went to eat, where we each admitted our very worst deepest darkest secret to one another, but only after the other two had to guess it first. You should try this with two of your best friends, preferably over breakfast in a crowded diner. Then we spent the afternoon watching 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain and hanging out on Ryan’s roof.

Here are some pictures, mostly without captions, mostly because I’m really freaking tired. Also, you should listen to the Bonnie Prince Billy version of “Dream of the Sea” while you look at them, because that’s what I listened to on repeat while I posted them. If I wasn’t so tired, I’d throw a link to that up here, too. Sorry, internet. I’m slowin’ my roll these days.


First of all, I have to say that this Blizzard 2005 business is weak. So, it snowed. A lot. But it’s not like it snowed scorpions, or even thunder snowed, which I had heard some exciting rumors about and was very disappointed to get weather blueballed on. I don’t understand people freaking out about weather. It’s just weather. It’ll change eventually. That’s sort of what it does. In the meantime, there’s all this alcohol and Trivial Pursuit to deal with, so quit interrupting my program every five minutes.

After getting home at 3 am on Friday, I stayed inside the rest of the weekend and sort of glavened out, reorganizing my bookshelves into my own personal Dewey Decimal system that involves categories like Essays, Reference, Norse Mythology, Lost Generation, Edward Gorey, Hide When Mom Comes. My parents called me on Saturday night, and apparently they’re back in college because they’d been drinking margaritas and playing records, and insisted on holding the phone up so I could hear the entirety of a Peter, Paul and Mary song I’d liked when I was four years old. If you live in Tulsa, could you please drive over there and make sure they’re waking up and making it to class on time?

I didn’t leave the apartment until this morning, which was an odyssey involving both the Kraken and Circe and a near-riot at my subway stop. The train got stuck in the station full of passengers, and the platform kept filling up with more people, and then they ordered everyone off the train and no one could move. People decided a good way to handle this situation would be via yelling and then shoving and then fighting. I had my earmuffs on and was reading my book and trying to just ignore it all, which worked until I caught some guy’s elbow in my ribs. I arrived at work two hours late to find my boss out for the day and nothing in my inbox, so I’m going to order lunch in and then hide out in the ladies’ room and finish the dirty book I’m reading. Also, I just entered a Super Bowl pool even though I know nothing about football. I feel good! Let’s do this!


I’d like to take this moment to recognize everyone on my roster for really giving it their all lately. Apparently everyone I know called a meeting where there was a Power Point presentation and handouts with an outline titled How Can I Fully Realize My Awesome Potential To Better Amuse Sarah?

For instance:

My number one brother calling me last night to tell me that on the first day of his creative writing class, the professor had them fill out a sheet with questions like What do you believe in? and my brother wrote “nihilism.”

My number one pal Sarah N. alerting me to the fact that tomorrow night at Antarctica, you drink free if your name is Sarah. Now you know where to find me before OH WAIT IT’S COMING

My number one roommate Liz’s boyfriend Rob throwing a party tomorrow night to celebrate his moving out of Manhattan and to Brooklyn. I applaud this decision for anyone, but this means that Rob will be at our house more often now, probably playing Dr. Mario on our couch. That warms the cockles of my old sea-farin’ heart in a way you just cannot understand unless you witness it firsthand.

My number one band The Hold Steady putting on the best show I’ve ever seen them give last night, probably because they’ve just recorded the best album they’ve ever done. Seriously, it’s so good it makes me want to bleed. I don’t even know what that means, but I’m leaving it.

My number one pen pal Jason sending me a letter. Jason’s letters are always a treat, and usually there’s a little pick-me-up enclosed, like, say, a stick of cinnamon chewing gum, or a picture of a tiger that he found on the ground, but this letter was especially great because it was written in code. I decoded the letter while watching The Daily Show and eating nachos. All in all, a great experience. My favorite part was where I could tell he meant to say, “I’d sell my first-born for a cigarette,” but instead wrote “I’d sell my first-born a cigarette.”

Speaking of mail, I seem to have received a letter from my number one former Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, written from the Beekman Arms Inn in Rhinebeck, NY. Which is funny, because Liz and Rob were at the Beekman Arms Inn in Rhinebeck just last weekend. I keep meaning to ask if they ran into each other, maybe at the breakfast buffet. If there’s two things Alex loved, it’s women and build-your-own omelette bars.

Oh, also this one guy at work bought me a milkshake. That was pretty great.

So thanks, all my friends. I wish I had a minivan so you all could pile in and I could take you out for a post-game pizza party. I’d give everyone a whole roll of quarters for video games. And, since we’re playing pretend, I’d also give each of you one of those fist rings with your name spelled out in diamond across your knuckles. Except for you, Zielazinski. What do you think I am, made of fake money?

Blue Light Special

I don’t know why people even bother going to bars or using the internet or whatever it is people do to try to meet other people, because if you’re looking to meet and mingle, you need only go to the Astor Place Kmart on a Friday night. I’ve stopped by on my way home from work to pick up a few things three times now, and each time someone has tried to pick me up instead.

The first time it was a woman in the mouthwash aisle. I was looking at the bottle of ACT versus the bottle of ACT x2, trying to determine if there was any difference save the snowflakes on the label, when she sized me up and turned on the charm.

“What’s the difference here?” she said, holding aloft the same two bottles I had in my hands. Seeing a fellow consumer in pursuit of the same goal, I felt comfortable answering, “I have no idea.”

“I can’t even tell! They both say the same things! I usually just buy the plain ACT, but this one says it’s new, although I can’t tell why based on the ingredients!”

I know, I said.

She could see that this was getting her nowhere, so she tried another angle. “Have you heard those ads where they say you can just use mouthwash in place of flossing? Can you imagine? What if someone had steak?”

Yes, I answered. I had to meet some friends after my Kmart trip, so while I shared her confusion, I wasn’t looking to strike up a conversation. I smiled and selected a mouthwash and started to walk away. Apparently the smile wasn’t the best idea.

“Are you sure you want the blue?” she asked. “I like the green.”

No, I’m pretty sure like the blue, I said.

This was beyond comprehension to this woman, that someone would prefer the blue mouthwash over the green. “Really? Have you ever tried it before?” She was completely incredulous, and looking at me like I was an idiot. Flirting tip: bringing up food residue between the teeth and questioning the other person’s intelligence aren’t going to get you anyone’s number.

Yes, several times.

Now I was just annoyed. Who is she to come in and question my mouthwash flavor preference? She doesn’t even KNOW ME.

Then she struck upon an idea that I’m sure seemed foolproof to her. “Wait,” she said, a smug look crawling across her face, this smile that said, oh, I’m about to corner you, and you are going to fucking love me for it. I know this smile well because I make it myself while flirting, and now I know never to do it again.

“Wait,” she said. “When you buy gum, do you like spearmint or peppermint?”

Can you imagine being in a relationship with this woman? Ordering in a restaurant? Trying to control the remote?

“Peppermint,” I said. “Blue. I like blue.” I’ve been alive for over 27 years; I’ve got my flavor preferences pretty much down pat. Did she really think she was going to trip me up on this one? That I’d been buying gum blindly all these years, unaware that pink meant fruit and blue meant mint? That only she is privy to the holy gum wrapper color code secrets?

“Oh,” she said, clearly defeated. I almost felt bad for her. I mean, you can’t argue that point any further. She took a gamble and lost big. I smiled good-naturedly and walked past her to the next aisle.

“Okay, well, maybe I’ll run into you again later!” she called wildly after.

The next time I got cruised was in front of the wall of body wash, opening each one and sniffing. This sort of decision is always hard for me, because, like the gum, I know that when it comes to body wash scents, I generally don’t want the blue or green and do want the purple or pink, but I still have to smell each one individually. But after three Waterfall Orchid Berry Whatevers smelled like three different powdery grandmas, I just feel confused and lost and unaware of my own bearings. Which is why this guy caught me at my most vulnerable.

“I wonder what a glacier spring is supposed to smell like,” the man next to me said. I had noticed him shadowing me on the past three aisles, but in my body wash scent haze, I just figured he needed fingernail polish remover and tampons, too.

“Really cold water,” I offered.

“Ha! Ha ha! Hahahahahahaha!” he said, laughing way too hard and loud and hurting my Juniper Spring Mist-addled brain. He had a hint of a Southern accent and was wearing real shoes, like he had to wear a tie to work. About my age. He was clearly looking for a wife. He couldn’t think of anything else to say, but still hesitated three feet behind me for the rest of my shopping trip, until I studied a package of Pampers to throw him off.

The last time it happened, I wasn’t even shopping. I was using the ATM when a voice behind me said, “Hey.”

I turned around and looked down to see a 5 foot tall man wearing one of those brightly-colored woven Guatemalan belts I had in high school.

“Do you like world music?” he said.

I hate it when people open with a question that throws you. I used to live next door to this couple that was perpetually stoned, and probably didn’t have the cells to spare in the first place. The first time the guy talked to me, he pointed to my homemade Rushmore Beekeepers shirt and said, “Heeeeey! Have you seen that movie?” Uh. Well, yes. That’s why I made this shirt. Which is clearly a homemade shirt. About something that happens in the movie. But the first time I had a conversation with his girlfriend, we were both in laundry room and she suddenly said, “Do you know Dan Rather?”

How do you answer that? Well, yes, I know who he is. Everyone knows who Dan Rather is. But the way she asked it made it sound like she wondered if I knew him personally, if we hung out, if perhaps Dan Rather was the one helping me make all that noise late at night. I said, “Uhh…” and then she went on, “Because he was crying on TV just now.” Then she got her whites and walked out, leaving me standing there holding a wet towel with my mouth sort of open.

This was my response to World Music Guy. Do I like world music? Uh… no? But do I really even know what world music is? Like all that chanting and drum stuff? Just its very name sounds awfully all-encompassing, and implies that ruling it all out in one fell swoop would be sort of hasty. So I stood there, my hand on my ATM card, saying, “Ummm…” until he said, “Because I know this great band playing tonight, if you want to go.”

Now I had this to deal with: I had no idea there were even world music bands. So I kept standing there, making general clueless noises like “Anhhhh?” until World Music Guy shook his head in disgust and walked away, basically rejecting me. In Kmart. On Friday night.

My problem with any sort of come on or pick up is that I get bogged down in the details. I don’t immediately comprehend that someone is flirting with me; I think they’re just honestly interested in what that picture in my locket is, and then want to hear all about my childhood crush on the boy from The Neverending Story, not that they're trying to lean in and smell my hair. One time my friend Erin asked me to come over and watch a Jenna Jameson movie with her, and during a scene where Jenna was having sex with a pirate on a ladder, I said, “Wait, is she having sex with him as a distraction so the other passengers can escape, or because she really wants to?” The question hung in the air for a minute before we both burst out laughing. This is who I am. I question plot points in porn. Can you have my phone number? Sure! Do you collect them or something?

Happy Birthday, Baby

Yesterday was my brother’s 21st birthday. I’ve said this before, several times, but my brother and I are pretty different people. We have the same parents and sense of humor and taste in music, but other than that, to be honest, he’s sort of an enigma to me. It’s like, “Hey stranger, you’re more related to me than anyone else on the planet! What are you going to do next?” And, for him, it usually involves wrestling some dude named Jank or shaving his hair into a mohawk and memorizing pi up to 80 digits or catching a fish with his bare hands. My friend Tad loves to hear stories about my brother, and he’s always asking when he’s coming to town again so he can meet him. Then he seems torn, and says, “Man, it’s like, I really want to hang out with him, but part of me thinks that dude would just light me up, no second thought.”

In response, here is a one-act play based on this picture of my brother from Halloween 1987:


Me: Happy Halloween! I’m going as a '50s girl!

My best friend Stephanie, who is now a hot doctor married to another hot doctor with a really cute baby: I’m going as a banshee! That’s the Scottish ghost of a woman who wails under the window of a house where someone’s about to die!

My brother: Oh, hey, what’s up, I’m four year old Stephen Brown. You might think I just happened to roll up to the party in this thing, but the fact is that I’ve worn this outfit every single day this year. When I go to preschool, I might change it up a little by pairing the top with jeans, but there’s still a definite Superman vibe. I like to save the cape that velcros on for special outings, like trips to the grocery store. Don’t spread this around, but I even sleep in this rig, because it’s actually pajamas!

In honor of Halloween, though, I’m going to make this fey mincing face and rock this weird early '80s porn star haircut.


Also, I’m not kidding about that catching-fish-with-his-bare-hands part. When I went home this summer, my dad and I were waiting on my mom and brother to get ready so we could all go out to dinner, and we ended up watching the miracle that is Okie Noodling on PBS, where leathery shirtless toothless men named Red just stick their bare hands into holes underwater and resurface with live catfish up to their elbows. My dad and I were sitting there with our eyes and mouths open, struggling to form words, when my brother came downstairs, cargo-shorted and shower fresh and smelling strongly of Nautica Sport, glanced at the TV and said, “Oh, I’ve done that before.” OF COURSE HE HAS. He’s Stephen Brown.

Guess What I Got for Christmas?

Oh, you heard me.


Y tu

Last night Gael García Bernal ended up sitting next to us at the bar. He kept putting his drink down closer and closer to my coat, and I kept secretly hoping that he’d spill it, because then maybe he’d apologize and offer to buy me a new coat, and then whenever anyone would compliment my new coat, I could say, “Oh, thanks, it was a gift from Gael García Bernal.”

Instead we just ended up giving him our raffle tickets when we left. The whole walk to the train, we swapped names of the famous people we'd seen while furiously scanning the faces of everyone who passed us to see if they were famous, too. Scott won the minute he said “Rue McClanahan, with a face like leather.”

P.S. This happened one month to the day that Blaise made this comment. She is clearly a wizard or Fate or future-maker of some kind, so now I just need her to post about my scandalous affair with Christian Bale and sit back and wait. February is going to be so awesome.

I think that I shall never see/Mighty Ducks 2 as lovely as a tree

In my dream last night, someone was flirting with me by sending me smart ass word game poems, so I decided to respond in kind by writing this flippant yet scathing little haiku about how Emilio Estevez was born in Oklahoma. Because everyone knows that nothing says oooh burn but also you’re cute like telling off Emilio Estevez in a haiku. What? I know. Anyway, it took me the entire dream to get both my message and my meter right, and I woke up right as I nailed it. Then I spent all of my shower counting out the syllables in Emilio Estevez’s name on my fingers, trying to remember the exact delivery. Just for future reference. Guys eat that shit up.

Things You Cannot Say Without Sounding Like a Total Douche

Joyce Carol Oates
concept album
Banana Republic

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