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This is why I shouldn’t be allowed to meet celebrities

June 27, 2012

Most days, I consider myself to be composed, well-spoken and respectful of other people’s boundaries. I’m by no means the sort of care-free, confident person who wanders through fields of wildflowers wearing white linen pants during her period — or ever — but, you know, I get by.

But all those traits go into hiding like a celebrity after botched Botox when I’m in the presence of someone famous.

My mind goes blank, rendering useless all the time spent rehearsing and talking emphatically into bathroom mirrors, committing to memory how I’ll flatter yet impress the object of my admiration with the right balance of reverence and repartee. I lose control of my limbs, my movements becoming forced and stilted, as if I were drunk-dancing the robot. And like the love child of Dustin Hoffman as an autistic savant in “Rain Man” and a stammering Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech,” non sequiturs and mangled sounds bypass my internal filter and spew forth toward a traumatized target.

After what amounts to a hit-and-run, I relive the interactions ad nauseum, torturing myself for not being able to even momentarily feign coolness. My top three most awkward celebrity interactions are as follows:

3. NORAH JONES, 2007

I’d been milling for more than an hour late at night in the drizzling rain with a hood pulled menacingly over my head next to Norah Jones’ tour bus. Which was parked in an abandoned alley. And I was the only one there.

What I’m saying is, if I were Norah Jones, I would have been scared of me.

There was no way of getting out of this situation without coming across as a crazed stalker with excellent taste in music. Well, I could have just gone home. But posters don’t sign themselves.

Signed under duress.

Eventually emerging from the stage door with a few of her bandmates, Norah approached me, said hello, and was lovely and gracious and thin and prettier in person. That bitch. She then motioned to my poster. And that’s when I realized I didn’t have a pen.

“I thought for sure there’d be other fans in line with Sharpies dying to meet you,” I said, inadvertently insulting her by drawing to her attention the fact that no one else was there. Smooth.

Dispatched to fetch a pen, her manager left Norah Jones alone with dodgy me in a dark alley in a rainstorm. For about 10 painful-for-her minutes, she listened as I jabbered nervously about the only topics I could think of on the fly: my job, sucking at piano lessons as a kid and … the weather. Silence probably would have been a better way to go.


In a bid to meet Emily Saliers and Amy Ray, I waited with a few dozen other fans, amusing myself by eavesdropping on nearby nervous chatter. “Emily looks like she’s lost weight,” observed one. “I heard she’s dating a supermodel,” commented another. I stood there in silent judgment, confident that I was much calmer and collected than these losers. Plus, I’d already settled on what I’d say to Emily, my favorite of the duo: “You make life a little sweeter.” Simple, genuine, not in the least bit grounds for a restraining order.

What I hadn’t counted on was Amy coming out first. She put her arm around me, we smiled for a photo and then I blurted, “You ma-KE li-fe a LITT-le swee-TER,” accenting the wrong syllables and sounding like a stroke victim. Concealing her consternation, she thanked me, said something about the fans making it all worthwhile and continued on.

Also signed under duress.

Emily was trailing right behind, and I was suddenly overcome with worry that she’d overheard what I’d told Amy. As a lesbian, this is something I don’t often say, but I’d blown my load too soon. I was without a Plan B, something else I’m unaccustomed to saying as a lesbian.

I stood there starstruck, unable to string a sentence together. When Emily, still damp from performing, pulled me close to mug for the camera, she remarked, “Sorry I’m so sweaty.”

Here was my big moment — my chance to thank her for writing music that would make my ears jump for joy if they had legs. “That’s OK,” I stuttered. “That’s … how I like it.”

Yes, I effectively told one-half of the Indigo Girls that I like a woman who perspires or has a gland problem.


So many Lawsbians had shown up for her tour stop at Brookline Booksmith that although Jenny was doing a reading on the lower level, the closest I could get was listening through speakers upstairs. But my tardiness was rewarded as bloggy babes Cameron and Marian and I were positioned close to the front of the signing line, as that portion was upstairs so suck it hard, on-time downstairs people.

I’d corresponded with Jenny before, so I thought maybe I’d get through this celebrity sighting unscathed. Also, I had brought her a present, so even if I forgot the script I’d learned like a Chinese Olympian memorizing a routine for fear of shaming her family on the world’s stage, the gift would at least give us fodder. She once blogged about her fabulously taxidermied pirate alligator Jean-Louis who is missing a hand; on eBay, I found an alligator hand that had been made into a back scratcher. Synergy, I thought.

As I was about to launch into a prepared speech, she disarmed me with a compliment. “I love your hair!” Jenny squeaked. Or maybe she said, “Your hair is awesome!” I don’t really remember. For all I know, she could have said, “Your hair is on fire and made of snakes!” That fact that she was addressing me at all was the verbal equivalent of being zapped by a mind-eraser in “Men In Black”. I was done.

As she signed my books, I hovered awkwardly over her right shoulder. The back scratcher, which she’d accepted with glee and placed beside her, seemed to call to me. As follows is my thought process in italics, and what I actually did in bold:

Do not pick up the back scratcher.

I picked up the back scratcher.

Put down the back scratcher. Just no.

I moved the back scratcher toward Jenny’s arm.

Do not under any circumstances touch Jenny with the back scratcher.

I slowly ran the back scratcher up and down her arm.

OK, wow. This is happening. You’re scratching Jenny’s arm with the hand of a dead alligator. Seriously, stop.

I increased the speed and intensity of the scratching.

It’s not too late … is the name of the third album by Norah Jones, whom you once frightened and practically held hostage in an alley. It’s *totally* too late for you now.

Continuing to stroke her, I commented to the New York Times bestselling author whom I was assaulting, “See, this alligator hand is a surprisingly great scratcher!”

Did I congratulate Jenny Lawson on her much-deserved success, tell her how flattered I was to be mentioned in her memoir or thank her for being born? No. No I did not. I exfoliated her upper arm.

Someone please remind me of these mortifying moments when I’m itching to meet another celebrity.

Henceforth I hope Jenny wields this alligator claw back scratcher like a creepy yet awesome wand. And that she doesn’t press charges.

P.S. Please forgive me for dropping off the interwebs as I recover from today’s ass surgery. I’m not really sure how long I’ll be gone, but your well wishes have meant a lot to me. I’ll still be obsessively checking email and Twitter because I’m having my coccyx cut out of my ass, not my iPhone surgically removed from my hand. I would love it if you left a comment here telling me about one of your embarrassing celebrity run-ins, which will totally make me feel better while I’m in the hospital. Well, that *and* the opiates.

In the spur of the moment, I discovered doggy style isn’t my style. Because I’m a cat person. And other reasons.

June 12, 2012

Making small talk during an exam, presumably trying (and failing miserably) to make me feel more at ease, my physical therapist informed me that the only two joints in the human body that must be mobilized internally are the jaw and tailbone.

Can you guess which one I was having mobilized from the fucking inside?

Hint: The session involved latex gloves, a lot of lube and the sort of sex that requires a safe word.

It was the most — and only — action I’ve had all year.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you might remember that about a year and a half ago my tailbone spontaneously started hurting. My first line of defense was purchasing a plethora of pillows popular with postpartum mothers and piles sufferers, which didn’t cause me the least bit of embarrassment because I’m an adult. (I totally made my mom carry my tush cush at restaurants and movies.) When the pillows proved ineffective, my next bright idea was to sit on “The Kennedy Men.” My doctor didn’t consider that a long-term solution, even though the tome was almost 900 pages and it would have taken my ass months to finish it. She’s a slow reader. After various anti-inflammatory drugs, acupuncture, a cortisone injection and physical therapy all failed, I was quickly running out of options to avoid a rarely performed ass surgery — SURGERY OF THE ASS, YOU GUYS —and that’s where our sordid story begins today.

My physical therapist advised me to have a light dinner and not eat 12 hours before our booty call, which would end with her knocking at my back door. No shit, I thought. Because this seemed obvious. And also because the goal was no shit. And feeling better or something. But I was mostly focused on not shitting.

I always sort of thought that, as a woman who doesn’t want children, I’d be spared some of the indecencies expectant mothers must endure during pregnancy and delivery: to name a few, the very public viewing of your privates, elbow-deep probing and possibility of pooping on the table. I’d also felt sort of smug that I’d never have to “turn my head and cough” for a doctor during an annual prostate checkup for men of a certain age, with the possibility of pooping on the table. And yet here I was, lying on my belly with my rump propped up and wrapped in a barely-there paper sheet, being warned that this procedure could cause me to, in fact, poop on the table.

Before the anal probing began, the physical therapist lodged a chair up against the door because the examination room didn’t have a lock and she’d “hate for someone to walk in on us.” It was basically like the opening scene of every adult film ever made. It makes sense, then, that the fancy term for tailbone is coccyx, which is pronounced cock-six. Which sounds kind of like a p0rn. As in, “The producers are hoping Grande Mocha reprises his role in ‘Cock 6,’ because ‘Cock’ 1-5 were so successful.”

Also, I’m sorry, because I’m pretty sure I just ruined grande mochas for everyone.

Overheard while I was being taken from behind:

“OK, I’m going in. Try to relax.”

“I’m so sorry; I need to use both hands.”

“Did you wash your hair this morning? It smells nice.”

I grunted, “Yeah, thanks,” and something about Herbal Essences shampoo. But what I meant was, “STOP SMELLING THINGS.”

We repeated these incredibly pleasant and not at all violating mobilizations twice more over the course of a month. In some cultures, my physical therapist and I are now married and/or could be jailed. Then, as the poo de grace, I had an ass ultrasound and guided cortisone injection with three medical professionals — a doctor, his assistant and my physical therapist — in the room. I now refer to it as “the 12 o’clock showing,” or “that time I was anally gang-raped.”

Overheard in my rear view:

Huh. You really do have a tail!”

“See this blood vessel? It’ll probably give you hemorrhoids someday.”

“My assistant is going to have to spread and hold open your … gluteus.”

Seeing as how the doctor’s hand was already half-way up my rectum en route to what felt like my lungs, it seemed a little late for Latin pleasantries. But maybe he didn’t want to be cheeky. Well, any more than he already was.

I asked whether I’d be given a keepsake image from my ass ultrasound — assault-trasound, if you will — to force my friends and family to look at, like pregnant ladies repeatedly shove at you until you concede that yes, that creepy, shapeless blur is the most precious creepy, shapeless blur you’ve ever seen. The medical team thought my request was just a crack. Butt it was not.

Harold the bone spur is welcomed by his sister, Mango the neck lump.

Many, many “Silkwood” showers later, I wasn’t able to put the specter of surgery behind me … so to speak. In a couple weeks, I’m going under the knife for a coccygectomy; in other words, I’m having my tail removed. I hope my cats don’t take offense. My official diagnosis is coccydynia — Latin for pain in the butt — caused by a bone spur at the tip of my spine and an unstable coccyx. If you’ve ever seen my ass before, you know that’s ridiculous and I should totally get a second opinion. My ass is, without question, the most stable part of my body. Low-rise jeans cannot contain it. I’ve got more junk in my trunk than a hoarder’s hatchback after a liquidation sale at Costco. Even J.Lo‘s like, “Damn, girl.”

For the record, though, I didn’t poop on the table. But it sort of felt as if I had. Because what goes up … will scar you for life.

But I do like the breaststroke

June 4, 2012

According to a new study, one in five adults admits to peeing in pools, and 10 out of 10 bathing suits make me look like a bloated before-photo in an ad for experimental diet pills that help you lose weight but probably irreparably damage all the organs you can’t live without, and last year in Boston 100 percent of a woman’s body went unnoticed for two days after she drowned in the deep end a murky public pool and in the meantime families were unknowingly playing Marco Polo in chlorinated corpse water, and I’m really bad at math and don’t remember how to do fractions but even I know this all unequivocally adds up to why at age 10 falling off my bike and smashing my wrist was kind of the best thing that had ever happened to me because it meant I was spared the horror of taking swimming lessons with my fellow fourth-graders who, while blessed with a bitchy thinness that made me both hate them and want to be them, weren’t nearly as conniving as their husky classmate who would maim herself or feign malaria to get a doctor’s note every year just in time for pool season. Allegedly.

Wardrobe malfunction — before wardrobe malfunctions were all the rage — in the mid-1980s. This is possibly the only photographic evidence that I’ve ever worn a swimsuit. You’re welcome, world.

My thoughts about the popular summer pastime are further expressed in this conversation with my friend Dana:

Me: I blew everyone away with my sex appeal at the gym today. Or possibly my oppressive stench, because I didn’t get a chance to wash my workout clothes.

Dana: I can see it now, the girls lining up to ask you out.

Me: If by asking me out, you mean asking me to leave. Then yes. I can see that happening, too. On account of the oppressive stench.

Dana: It’s a gym. Stench is a badge of honor. Or at least buys you some personal space. Or is the reason I like swimming.

Me: My fear and loathing of swimsuits always stood in the way of my learning to love swimming.

Dana: Oh, I despise bathing suits. But I love swimming.

Me: But, you kind of can’t do one without the other. In public. Unless you’re leading some sort of exhibitionist lifestyle that I’m not aware of. I guess it’s true that you never really know someone …

Dana: No one can see what the hell you look like once you’re in the water.

Me: But there’s all that time before and after swimming when your body, precariously stuffed into a skimpy layer of lycra that looks like you left the house wearing only Spanx and shame, isn’t a watery blur.

Dana: You wrap your towel around yourself most of the time, so it’s just six seconds between hanging up the towel and getting into the water.

Me: The longest six seconds of. your. life.

Dana: But swimming makes your arms look awesome. And in the water, you’re almost weightless.

Me: Huh. Like space travel?

Dana: If I said it was like space travel, would you try it?

Me: No. Because in real space travel, you get to wear a slimming suit that hides all your problem areas. Actually, it hides pretty much all your areas. This is probably why people become astronauts. That, and their taste for Tang. And their aptitude for science or whatever.

Dana: Swimming is actually nothing like space travel.


Dana: This is making me want to go swimming later.

Me: This is making me want to wear shapeless clothes and never leave the house.

Jenny Lawson’s book, I AM IN YOU

May 22, 2012

My funny friends, just chillin’.

A friend sent me an email the other day that said: “So, non-sequiter, but do you know that YOU ARE IN THE BLOGGESS’ BOOK?”

My first reaction was to tsk-tsk at her misspelling of “non sequitur.” Priorities.

My second reaction was akin to that time Tom Cruise crazily clambered up Oprah’s couch.

I’ve been slowly working my way through Jenny Lawson’s side-splitting memoir, “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened,” but I can only devour it in 10-15 page bites because one of my cats cannot not sit on books. Upon receiving that email, though, I started feverishly fast-forwarding until I came to Page 289, where staring back at me was the familiar, fabulously taxidermied face of Grover Cleveland, the poker-playing, pistol-packing half of a smoking squirrel that I once sent to Jenny as a thank-you gift for being awesome.

I’d been blogging for only about two months when Jenny, a collector of ethically taxidermied creatures and probably Al Gore‘s inspiration to invent the internet, linked to one of my posts accusing Ellen DeGeneres of being a vampire, sending thousands of her readers here. It was pretty much the coolest thing that had ever happened to me, so I wanted to express my gratitude — by sending her a dead animal in the mail. As is customary in our culture.

After debuting on her blog, Grover Cleveland took on a life (after death) of his own, burrowing his way into memes and even Jenny’s Wikipedia page. Now, he’s forever immortalized in a New York Times bestseller. Which might be the closest I’ll ever get to having my own book deal — besides once being on a book — and I’m oddly OK with that.

On the next page, Jenny says I’m “someone who appreciates fine art.” Which is totally going on my book jacket someday.

This is now my baffling claim to fame.

And I have photos of my cats chewing on Grover Cleveland’s face to prove it.

Making friends ❤

Isabel and Teva were so transfixed by the deceased squirrel dressed as a cowpoke that I couldn’t deny them the chance to gently maul it. Also, the bite marks added character. Surely, I thought, this would be the first and last time I ever bought a whimsical carcass for a celebrity. But I was wrong, as usual, because I’ve since mailed Jenny two other dead things. I really need to stop underestimating myself.

A few months ago, the Blogologues gals and I were brainstorming how to get the blogosphere buzzing about our comedy show. I told them I kind of had rapport with The Bloggess. Rapport based on a dead squirrel. Which is kind of the best rapport ever. As a long shot, I contacted Jenny and asked whether she possibly could help us. To our surprise, she wrote back immediately, and in typical Jenny fashion she bartered publicity … in exchange for a cheap dead reptile.

“I do know of a place that has some great taxidermied baby alligators in clothes,” she wrote, stating her preference for one dressed as a baseball player or matador, then pointing me to an emporium in Milwaukee. Because of course she knows of a place that has baby alligators in clothes.

I soon found myself on the phone with Karen at Antiques on Second, who didn’t bat an eye when I called her cold and told her I was looking for dead baby alligators dressed as a bullfighter and ball player. And then she searched high and low through three floors of vendors. And then when she found them, I asked her which alligator wearing people clothes she thought was better, and without hesitating, as if it were totally normal and she answers that sort of question all the time: “Well, the baseball player has a cute little hat.”

I ended up grabbing them both, because I didn’t want to separate them. Like kittens, basically. And because Jenny has given us all so much that really there aren’t enough furiously happy boars’ heads and dainty mouse orchestras and angsty weasels in the world to ever do her justice.

According to UPS, the eagle landed the next day, and maybe it’s confusing to talk in code here when really what landed were dead alligators, but something had gone terribly wrong. The offering had arrived, but not at its intended destination. Apparently, I accidentally sent two dead baby alligators to a random house in rural Texas. But I’m sure that sort of thing happens all the time in Texas. Or at least when you live next-door to the Bloggess. There goes the neighborhood. But she blogged about our show anyway, even before the gators got there. Because she’s a horrible businesswoman who might not understand how transactions work. And a truly wonderful human being.

Adopted alligators looking totally jazzed to finally be in their forever home. (via

Jenny just announced another leg of her book tour; she’s coming to Boston in June. I couldn’t be more excited to meet the woman who inspired me to start writing, who makes me laugh uncontrollably with her outrageous antics, who has changed my life in the most absurd and awesome ways, and who is responsible for my becoming a lifetime member of PETA to clear my conscience.

Also, most famouses would take out a restraining order if you repeatedly mailed dead animals to their doorstep. But not Jenny. And that’s why I’m still legally allowed to attend her book signing. I’ll be there with bells on. And by “bells on,” I mean “another dead thing I found for her on eBay.” You’re welcome, Jenny.

And thanks so much for everything.

Told you so.

Blogologues is like my third cat. But less furry. Like a creepy hairless Sphynx that always looks pissed. I mean that as a compliment.

May 14, 2012

A few stormy Sundays ago when my clock/radio went off at the crack of 2 p.m. because I didn’t want to waste the day, I was roused by the old-timey tune “Singin’ in the Rain.” Startled, Isabel rolled off the bed and tumbled to the floor. Rushing to her aid, I scooped Isabel up in my arms, tossed her over my shoulder and started singing and swaying along to Gene Kelly‘s serenade:

“I’m singing in the rain /Just singing in the rain / What a glorious feelin’ / I’m happy again.”

It wasn’t until the second time that I spun around and dipped my very tolerant 14-pound cat while gliding across my living room’s slick hardwood floors in my pajamas that I realized: I’m happy again.

It’s been kind of a weird few years of being at a crossroads geographically and professionally, failing spectacularly at online dating and spending a lot of time in solitude. Not that I’d been unhappy, per se. But subtracting the negative “un,” there’s really no prefix that I could add to make the word “happy” more positively describe how I’d felt. “Anti-happy” would give the impression that I’m a happiness hater. “Post-happy” sounds as if it would spew forth from underneath an ironically mustachioed lip of a douchey hipster who’s so over happiness. And “be-happy” is what Bobby McFerrin told us to do in the ’80s.

On this particular Sunday, I knew I’d soon be heading back to New York City to visit my new pals, the cast and crew of Blogologues. About nine months prior, I received an email out of the blue from ladies who ‘logue Alli Goldberg and Jen Jamula of Lively Productions, who had stumbled upon my blog through interweb magic and were seeking permission to stage one of my blog posts in their comedy show featuring material culled from the web and performed verbatim. I was sure it was just a one-time thing. But it has happened four times now, which means it’s probably not a fluke. It is the opposite of fluke. Flipper, I think.

If left to my own devices, I’ll sit in the back row, lurk in dark corners and sulk into my beer. I’m a people person. But these two social butterflies push me out of my crabby hermit shell. They introduce me to their friends and save a seat for me at the bar and have given me an open invitation to crash on their couches that they’ve probably already realized is a terrible mistake because I’m there all. the. time. Suckers.

In the most recent run of Blogologues, I traveled to New York City twice to lend a hand with publicity and folding programs and offering moral support when the projector decided to not project. By month’s end, I’d seen the show five times. Seriously, you’d think I was sleeping with one of the actors. Which is why I’ve asked Alli and Jen to cast a blond, 30-something lesbian who looks like a young Julie Andrews next time. I have the show’s best interest at heart. And by “the show” I mean “my vagina.”

(Related: I want to adopt a daschund and name her Fraulein.)

I saw the si-i-gn. (Sorry.)

The sort of happiness I’ve been feeling lately usually corresponds only with those rare, fleeting moments when I’m in love. It’s odd, then, that this wave of felicity has nothing to do with romance. Or sex. Or Keri Russell. I haven’t even kissed someone in six months, three weeks and five days — but who’s keeping track? I am keeping track. I’ve been leading such a chaste existence that I’m strongly considering starting a petition to legalize human-cat weddings. Now that President Obama has come out in support of same-sex marriage, conservatives say that people marrying animals is the next logical step. They’re absolutely right. The tides are turning.

But I can’t help but think that none of this would have ever happened if I hadn’t suffered a series of heartbreaks and started blogging to share my bizarre stories when I’d never felt more invisible and unheard. I’m not saying everything happens for a reason — I do not for one second buy into that namaste nonsensebut everything happens. We can drown in our sadness or say fuck it, let’s go swimming. Metaphorically. I don’t actually swim. Body issues.

I may not have found a partner yet, but Alli and Jen, to whom I affectionately refer as my “straight girlfriends,” found me. And it’s been wonderful to have new purpose, to be part of something I’m really proud of, and to be in a “we” again. It wasn’t the sort of love I’d been searching for online, but it is really, really awesome. Suck it, internet dating.

That last paragraph? It’s partly plagiarized from my bio on the Lively Productions web site. A few months ago, Alli and Jen made our relationship official and asked me to join their team. And that makes me super-happy.

P.S. Someone interviewed me about blogging and Blogologues. I’m just as surprised as you are.

P.P.S. Here’s a clip of the adorable Wendy Joy as me, Alli Goldberg as my mom, Jen Jamula, Dave Thomas Brown and Matthew Cox in my post about Passover and Easter from “Blogologues: Younger Than Springtime”:

And then I got a book deal and was mentioned in The New York Times. Sort of.

May 2, 2012

Announcement: I got a book deal!

OK. That’s not entirely true. But I am most definitely in a book!

Although that depends on what your definition of “in” is.

All right, fine, if you’re going to be a puritan about prepositions, I’m not so much in a book as on a book. Which still totally counts as a book deal.

Responsive Pleading

My dear bloggy friend Marian Kent, who waxes poetic at Runaway Sentence, emailed me a couple months ago to tell me that her first collection of poetry was being published in the spring. I was so elated for her. And also foaming at the mouth with jealousy. And Listerine. Because I check my email obsessively, even when in the bathroom, because my name is Jessica, and I am an interwebaholic. The first step is admitting you have a problem.

The lovely Marian also was writing to say that she was putting a comment I’d left on her blog on the back cover of her book.


… FOR ME! …

… and whatsherface or whatever.

The tome, “Responsive Pleading,” came in the mail last week. The second I slipped it out of the envelope and placed it on the kitchen table, Isabel sat on it. And I was all, “Must you sit on everything?”

This is why I never read. Also, laziness.

Then I remembered that I shouldn’t be one to talk, and that my cat probably learned this behavior from me. Because I once sat for months on a thick book called “The Kennedy Men” in an effort to keep my injured tailbone from coming in contact with chairs, because I was not yet willing to face the embarrassment of buying and using an ass pillow. That shame was *so* 2011.  I’m sitting on an ass pillow as I write this. I have three ass pillows. I’m kind of an ass pillow connoisseur.

Once Isabel found something else equally uncomfortable to recline on, I read Marian’s book in one sitting. And it is truly gorgeous, cover to cover. Especially the back cover.

I read a lot of blogs and leave a lot of comments. When I’m racing through my reader and launching quick remarks into virtual reality, sometimes its really easy to forget that there are very real people on the receiving end. To think that one of my comments touched someone so much that she put it on her book is pretty fucking fantastic. And *this* is why everyone should always leave comments on blog posts. Wink.

You should buy my our her book. It contains gems such as this one, titled “Roswell”:

Maybe you were sent
to remind me of my belly
fully of bold assertions,
or perhaps you are meant
to paint my dreams
such that I remember what I am.
You are part of what lies
beyond the here,
and now I’ve found a circle.
Maybe the aliens burnt you in the dirt,
fueling you with enough evidence
that I believe in you. — Marian Kent

The day after Marian’s book arrived, The New York Times mentioned my blog in a rave review of “Blogologues: Younger Than Springtime,” a comedy show featuring material, including one of my posts, performed verbatim from the internet.

Well, by “mentioned my blog” I mean “linked to me in a nondescript hyperlink that barely anyone clicked on and that I didn’t notice the first 20 times I read it.” And by “rave” I mean “worst ever.”

Shit gets real before and after this paragraph.

It’s fine. A bad review from the Times is a rite of passage. I would have been pissed if the theater critic hadn’t given us a shitty review. We’ve gotten plenty of good press from other sources. Also, more than 30 fans of the show have left their own glowing reviews in the comments section, noting that the critic is a poopyhead. I’m paraphrasing.

So, as I was saying, I got a book deal and was mentioned in The New York Times.

Two major life goals crossed off the bucket list. My feelings about this can best be expressed by awkwardly posing like Mary Katherine Gallagher and proclaiming, “Superstar!”

My boss Paul tracked down a copy of the NYT arts section and left it on my desk at work. I took it home later that night, and before I could file it away for safekeeping to show my grandcats one day, Isabel sat on it. Because of course she sat on it.

Teach your children well.

One-way ticket on the Grey-found bus

April 19, 2012

While sitting on the toilet the other day, I found my first grayish-white hair. On my head, you pervs.

I resisted the urge to lament my misspent youth. And my misspent 20s. And my misspent $30 on that perpetually full Brita pitcher with a fancy green lid! built-in electronic filter indicator! and comfort-grip handle! that I bought because this time will be different that has failed to shame me into drinking more water and instead has become a 10-cup measuring device of my dyed-in-the-wool dehydration. Because this time was, in fact, not different.

No, instead of allowing that rogue hair to catapult me into a crisis, I felt a solidarity with my gray cats. After nine years together, I’m slowly, strand by strand, starting to look like Teva and Isabel. Or possibly Bonnie Raitt, with her bitchin’ white streak. Either way, I’m fine with it. Sort of.

Isabel was born this gray. #ladygaga

The weird thing about this lone light hair amid my auburn locks is that it’s pure white at the tip, but as it wends its way toward my scalp, the turncoat turns back to red at the root — the Little Gray Hair That Couldn’t. I’m not sure what it all means, but I’m guessing it’s some sort of metaphor for my life. Even my hair is apparently wishy-washy, indecisive and can’t follow through. Awesome, my hair is insulting me.

The other night at work I couldn’t locate the wayward follicle and started to wonder whether I’d been mistaken. Perhaps it was just a cautionary tale, a message from The Ghost of Gray Yet to Come telling me I’m meant to do more than just tweeze the day. That’s when my co-worker Melanie and her 20/20 vision accepted the challenge. Her eyes narrowed to slits as she hunted, like a lioness ready to pounce on a gazelle who’s going gray. “Ah ha! Found it!” she gloated. “It’s *so* wiry.” She’s very helpful.

A few days later while I was washing my face in the shower, I wiped the shampoo suds from my eyes only to find an albino eyelash at the tip of my ring finger. Which, technically, is just a finger, because it bears no engagement or wedding ring. Constant reminder.

One gray hair I was prepared to gracefully accept. But two? This is all happening so fast.

I channeled kneecapped ice princess Nancy Kerrigan circa 1994 and shower-cried “WWHHHHHY? WWHHHHHY?” Then I remembered that she went on to win the silver medal. Silver — the official color of second place. And the elderly. And linings for the unbearably optimistic. Evoking Nancy Kerrigan suddenly didn’t seem like such a sterling idea.

My gray hairs are proof that my gray heirs and I aren’t getting any younger. It seems as if it was only yesterday I brought Teva and Isabel home in a cardboard box with air holes. This past year, we finally started to show our ages as we each had minor health scares: I developed complications with my practically prehensile tail, Isabel suffered a brief injury, and Teva did her best Telly Savalas impersonation by licking herself bald. Innocence lost. As an aside, I take issue with the vet for always calling Isabel “Chunkers.” That is not her name. And she’s obviously big-boned. 

The camera adds 10 pounds. Shut up.

Entering this gray area forces me to think about our — my and my cats, although I’m sure you’re lovely — mortality. But I just can’t imagine my life without these girls. And I can’t imagine theirs without me. That’s why I’ve decided we’re all becoming vampires. Seems foolproof.

Without Teva and Isabel, this blog would just be called “Alone.” No one wants to read that. And if I’m not around to cater to their beck and call, all their intensive training of me would have been for naught. They’ve spent most of the past decade pussy-whipping me into putting the toilet lid down so they can repurpose it as a launch pad, keeping windows open even in subzero temperatures and leaving the bathroom sink on at a steady trickle pretty much at all times because their water dish is dead to them.

Honestly, none of us has any use for that Brita pitcher. Worse purchase ever.

The lap of luxury.


You remember Blogologues, the New York City comedy show that performs hilarious material verbatim from the interwebs and sometimes stages my writing? Yeah. Me too. Good times. It’s happening again, kittens. “Blogologues: Younger Than Springtime” is running now every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through May 5 at the Players Loft in the west village. If you really love me, you’ll see it. And yes, that’s what date-rapists say. I should probably be in PR.

Semitics and semantics, or My Jewish mother tries (and fails) to understand Easter dinner

April 8, 2012

Conversation with my Jewish mother, as she was on her way to an Easter “dinner”:

Mom: It was really nice of Robin to invite me to her family’s Easter dinner, but there’s something I don’t understand.

Me: What?

Mom: Well, she keeps calling it Easter “dinner.” But it’s at 1 o’clock.

Me: So … ?

Mom: Who eats dinner at 1?

Me: Maybe they just call it “dinner.” Like, in name only.

Mom: They should call it what it is — Sunday brunch. Lunch, maybe.

Me: I think you may be overthinking this.

Mom: And who wants to eat such a big meal so early in the day? Feh.

Me: They do, apparently.

Mom: I’m just saying, if I’m having people over for a holiday, I put out some noshes. We have a bissel of this, a bissel of that, and then we all sit down to DINNER. At nighttime.

Me: Well, every family does it differently.

Mom: I just don’t understand Gentiles. It was the same at Christmas — dinner in the afternoon! Oy vey.

Me: There’s no need to get all verklempt about it.

Mom: I just had a thought. Maybe it’s because our holidays start at sundown, and theirs don’t?

Me: That must be it. So, are you bringing anything to the Easter … meal?

Mom: Raspberry macaroons and dark chocolate-covered matzo.

Are we there yet? There’s an app for that.

March 30, 2012

I learned during a bus ride from New York City to Boston last weekend that “Are we there yet?” is officially a question of the past. It’s now extinct, like dinosaurs. And typewriters. And skinny jeans, in my dreams.

Consulting iPhones and iPads and other gizmos galore, kids no longer wonder whether we’re there yet. They fucking know. And they won’t shut up about it.

“7.9 miles … 7.8 miles … 7.7 miles … We could walk this!” a young boy sitting directly behind me, his hypnotic iPad in a vice grip, excitedly counted down for his mom as we chugged eastward on the Massachusetts Turnpike with about 20 minutes remaining of a four-plus hour, 215-mile ride.

Most people who aren’t as familiar with the Bible as I am might not know that kids have been torturing their parents by anxiously asking the antediluvian “Are we there yet?” ever since Adam and Eve carted off Cain and Abel for their first out-of-Eden excursion. They pulled over for a pit stop at an oasis called Trader Josiah’s, which was known throughout the land to offer more competitive prices on figs and nuts than rival Holy Foods, but the petulant pair’s patience already had expired. The brothers began grilling Adam and Eve with harping inquiries about their whereabouts, prompting the frazzled parents to turn a deaf ear, after terse but ultimately empty threats to “turn this camel around” went unheeded. (Genesis 6:66)

Fast-forwarding a lot of millenia, pint-sized backseat drivers now calculate real-time directions and anticipate every twist and turn of a road trip before it happens. They’re aware of gridlock and accidents in advance, and even second-guess your choice of routes. And instead of asking where we are or how far we have to go or where babies come from, they tell you.

A geography lesson.

“Six more miles, Mom!”

“Only 4.4 miles! So, like, 11 minutes!”

Imagine your GPS were voiced not by a calm yet confident computerized woman — my mom named hers Garmina — but by an antsy third-grader who has been trapped in a confined space for longer than the movie “The Ten Commandments.” And who’s up way past his bedtime. And whose dinner consisted of Coke and candy from vending machines somewhere in Connecticut. Siri? More like Suri Cruise.

“Only 10 minutes until we reach the station!”

Our technology has come so far that children use it to tell us how far we’ve come. When they are sent to their rooms, I wouldn’t be surprised if they google how to get there, comparing the three best routes before making an informed decision on how to reach their destination. “Sure, I usually just take the stairs,” a tween might snootily say to a younger sibling as his gadget guides him through a detour, “but traffic this time of day is a real bitch.”

Before apps came maps, but they were understood only by cartographers and Asians. And they made dads very angry. Apps have bridged the map gap for the rest of us. The late, great Etta James, who once was mocked for envisioning a world in which even American children embraced geography, was ahead of her time when she sang, “Atlas, my love has come along …”

“Two and a half miles!” said the now-spastic boy, tweaking like an addict in a mobile meth lab. His legs flailed as he began to bop in his seat, the electric sound of corduroy-on-corduroy charging forth from his thighs.

“Only 1 mile, which is about three minutes!”

For each of his public service announcements, I jammed ear buds deeper into my skull, jacked up the volume and tried to drown out the torment of not being quizzed on where we were, but rather repeatedly being reminded of where we weren’t. Which is just as annoying. Nature finds a way. You know how in “Jurassic Park” the all-female dinosaur clan still spawns by switching sex? Yeah. Like that. 

“We’re getting off on a bridge? No, OK. We’re just stopping.”

“So close! Let’s just push the bus!”

“Mom, only four-tenths of a mile till we …”

“That’s nice, honey,” his mother mindlessly muttered for what seemed like the millionth time, striking the perennial parental balance passed down through the ages of validating while simultaneously tuning out a child.

Because the saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same” won’t go the way of the dodo anytime soon.

P.S. A reader emailed me about Chase Gordon, an amazing 14-year-old boy in Arkansas battling brain cancer. You can watch a video about him here, and send along well-wishes and prayers and kittens via his website or Thanks for always being awesome, you guys.

Online dating is for the birds. And I’m going to grouse about it.

March 6, 2012

Mating season is nigh, and wannabe lovebirds are slowly emerging after a lazy winter of nesting. Except me, that is. I flew the OkCupid coop and went cold turkey about six months ago. Repeatedly ruffled by the online dating wren-around, I eventually choked after doing whatever the opposite of cold turkey is. Hot cock, I think.

Hen again, maybe not. Because I’m jay.

After wasting so much time, energy and bills on something that proved to be nothing more than an albatross around my neck, I admitted defeat, like the hairs on my inner thighs that finally just stopped sprouting after enduring decades of fleshy friction. Pelican you believe I’m still single?

Over the course of a shag-less year on OkCupid, the crane of my existence, the website’s patented algorithms that I don’t understand seemed to be mockingbird me when it declared that I’m a near-perfect match for myself and repeatedly dispatched me emails trying to fix me up with … myself. Although difficult to swallow, I actually had joined to leave my roost and get to know chicks. Chicks other than myself. Now I have major egrets.

But maybe OkCupid knew something — besides college-level math — that I didn’t, because flying through junco profiles with my eagle eye proved trying and tiresome. And receiving correspondence that blew me plover for all the wrong reasons took a toll. And when I spent time with purported matches other than myself, all I ever came away with was the sense that we were totally destined to meet. So that I could blog about them later as a lark.

I met, among 30 or 40 other loons who were nothing to raven about, a cuckoo with a drug problem who asked me feather or not I wanted to be her mistress; a nuthatch who had the gull to wait until our first coffee together to reveal she had a live-in teenage son and an allergy to my feline life partners; and a flighty chickadee who, on our third date, admitted to seeing someone else after going to first base … with my cat. I didn’t even get to touch her toucans.

When your online dating profile is more successful for your pet than you, it’s time to shut it down. So I did. And owl be damned if I ever look back.

That’s not to say I haven’t thought about looking back. Because, having never been much of a flirt or magpie, OkCupid was my only real window into the dating world. Without it, I’m no longer actively searching for dove. Which means that I’m preventing other honeyeaters — best. lesbian. nickname. ever — from searching for me, too. Flycatcher in the ointment. You know how some people say that dove finds you when you’re not looking for it? Those people are fowl liars.

But the whole internet dating experience was so unpheasant that I’m in no thrush to get my goose cooked penguin. Call me a spring chicken, but from heron out I’m going to cheep on hibernating through mating season, duck the vultures and dodos, and sparrow myself the heart-beak. It would, though, behoove me to take a cue from my flock of thigh hairs, which after getting shafted in a chafing setback, started from scratch a while later and now seem to have migrated to my chin.

It just goes to crow that where there’s a whip-poor-will, there’s a jay.


Speaking of being alone — aren’t I always? — I recently went to New York City alone to attend alone the dating-themed comedy tour de force “Blogologues: Come Here Often?” that featured a post I wrote performed by Jen Jamula and Allison Goldberg about being … wait for it … alone. Patterns. The post tells the story of a girl who once left a comment about having a crush on me (Lacey, are you still reading?) and devolves into a rant about hating America. Kidding, FBI. I *love* America! Totally voting for Rick Santorum today! Birth control is a gay agenda … seems like something someone voting for Rick Santorum would say! It was another awesome night (you can watch videos from previous Blogologues here and here), and one dude laughed so hard his nose bled. A lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into these shows, so it was nice to see a theatergoer finally giving back. I’m not going to say any more, because if I keep writing blog posts about a show that performs my blog posts, I’m pretty sure I’ll cause the universe to implode on itself.