Monday, February 28, 2011

With Regahds from (Neah) Bahston

I've said it before (see: Twitter), & I'll say it again: The accents in New England continue to astound me. Every time a native opens his or her mouth, I'm truly shocked by the dialect that emerges. Sure, I've heard tell of that infamous "pahk the cah" accent, but prior to moving here, I was under the misguided impression that such exaggerated pronunciation existed only in the likes of the "The Departed."

I can admit it: I was wrong.

At the risk of offending Lexa & Erin & any other pals who are products of Beantown, I'd like to list the top three phrases I've so far discovered sound truly comical when spoken with a Bostonian accent. Drumroll pleeeeease:

  • The first shocker came when I asked an unassuming WalMart employee where I could find Chapstick. "It's ovah neah the phahmacy," she told me. I literally just stared at her, mouth agape, for about 10 seconds before I regained my composure, thanked her, & headed off toward the Chapstick aisle. After tweeting & Facebooking my surprise.

  • The iPhone case I purchased at Target came with a $5 rebate in the form of a Target card. So naturally, the cashier handed it to me & informed me, "This is a $5 rebate in the foahm of a Tahget cahd."

  • A nearby furniture store, Bernie & Phyl's, runs commercials featuring its two very excited owners speaking in loud voices about, you got, it their "furnitchah stoah." As a bonus, they also use the phrase "depahtment stoah." 

Seriously, everyone here is a caricature of Cliff Clavin.

I can hear you asking me me why the novelty hasn't worn off yet. "They're going to keep speaking like this!" you're saying. "Get used to it!"

And to that? I say: Nevah.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Onions, Alcohol & Anatomy Lessons

This is probably not how I ought to preface a post, but what the hey: I am embarrassed by how lacking this post is in content. Still, I've been hanging on to a few funny photos stored in my (new) iPhone (4!), so I thought I'd pull a photodump & share them with you:
 
For starters, this "side of onions." And by "side of onions," I mean THIS IS A WHOLE BOWL OF ONIONS. Like, if I put the pieces back together, I suspect it'd be at least an onion & a half. And for the record, I only ate approximately four slivers.

 
I don't think you can put something like "Fuzz Buster" on your menu sans description.  In fact, my friend ordered & ate it, & we still didn't know what was on it except for some special sauce called Fuzz Sauce. That is not a descriptor.

Well, OK, Target. You're sort of on the right track. Mouthwash does have alcohol in it, after all. Still, I don't think it's the kind of thing you want to, say, serve at a dinner party. The good folks at Yellow Tail may be offended.

I want to know why the House of Blues Cleveland thought this particular piece of artwork was appropriate - in the women's restroom no less. It clearly resembles some part of the female anatomy. So of course my friend Sammi & I had to stop for a photo op.

Friday, February 18, 2011

#StandWithPP. I Am.

A year & a half ago, I attended an interfaith memorial service for Dr. George Tiller, the reproductive services provider who was murdered by an anti-choice activist in June 2009 while he attended church. It was there that I realized just how much the issue of choice matters to me. I am pro-choice; I have never believed in anything less than a woman's right to choose what is best for her own body & her own child. I came home from the service & wrote this post about my passion for this issue.

Today, my stomach turned when I learned that the House of Representatives voted to cut funding to family planning service providers - namely, the ever-controversial Planned Parenthood. What you may not know - because, for the most part, the media glosses over it - is that it is currently illegal for family planning service providers like Planned Parenthood to use federal funds to provide abortions - so they don't. Instead, they use these federal funds to provide vital family planning services, including contraceptive services, STD & HIV/AIDS screenings, cancer screenings, pregnancy testing & prenatal care. Tax dollars don't fund abortions - they fund services intended to both prevent unwanted pregnancies & ensure the birth of healthy children.

Today, the House of Representatives made the fight about something it isn't. Disregarding the facts, they proceeded with a vote that would strip Planned Parenthood & organizations like of all its government funding, thereby leaving approximately 5 million women nationwide without the access they depend on to crucial family planning services. Of course, because these organizations disproportionately service low-income women, it's low-income women who will suffer the most under these cuts.

Today, I made a $50 donation to Planned Parenthood. My eloquent friend Lexa gave more, writing, "I just donated to Planned Parenthood because: my body is not a pawn, I believe all women should be able to access reproductive health services, giving $100 makes me feel not quite as helpless, Rep. Pence needs to know how I feel about his political grandstanding, and because, for me, it is the morally right thing to do." You can too.

Today, I took two minutes to write to my Senators to ask that they not let this dangerous, demeaning bill go any further. You can, too.

Stand for something or fall for anything, they say. So I'm standing. I #StandWithPP.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Joke's On Lady Gaga

My college friend Aman Ali is one of the funniest dudes I know - or knew, I guess, because it's been awhile since we've been in touch. Such is post-collegiate life, I suppose. Anyway, he's really funny. So funny, in fact, that he travels the country - nay, the world - both solo & with his comedy group, the Muslim Funnymentalists (yes, they went there). He tells people jokes, & they, like, pay him for it. I never had to pay him to tell me jokes; in fact, I was often sitting next to him in the college newsroom, begging him to stop telling me jokes so I could get my work done. Or something. Yeah, I just made myself sound a lot more serious & goal-oriented than I am.

Anyway, I saw this bit on Aman's Facebook today & wanted to share it with you, mostly because it made me LOL & also because I was proud of myself for having thought basically the same thing when I first heard these Gaga lyrics. Does this make me funny? Yes? Cool.

"Lady Gaga in her new song says it doesn't matter if you're 'black, white or beige.' Ummm, I'm pretty sure it does matter if you're beige. I'm not trying to holler at a girl who can only be described with colors in a Crayola crayon box. That's the same reason why I wouldn't mess with cerulean or periwinkle girls."
The new Gaga song is a blatant ripoff of Madonna's "Express Yourself," but that's a story for another day. I expect better of a woman who wears a meat dress & shows up to awards shows inside an eggshell.

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's Like We're Our Own Brat Pack

Last night, I met up with friends at our favorite townie bar. Though I don't typically make a habit of going out during the week, this outing was warranted & much-needed. On the anniversary of Dave's death, we needed a little bit of togetherness. It was a motley crew: me, two of Dave's best friend's (one of whom is also my ex-boyfriend), plus said ex-boyfriend's girlfriend, his other ex-girlfriend (kid's got good taste, don't hate), Dave's brother, & other sundry friends from both before & after his death. [And yes, everyone I know has dated everyone else I know & we are one big happy family (finally) & the world should probably be more like us. Small-town holler.]

It was low-key, nothing major. Just us & some Miller Lites & a jukebox we pumped full of mid-'00s emo music, like Onelinedrawing & The New Amsterdams & Rocket Summer & Brandtson. It was exactly what I needed to celebrate the life of someone I loved so much, as well as to celebrate the life of mine that I love so much. And while I promise to stop being blog-cheesy really soon, after all the support you guys showed me on Tuesday's post (THANK YOU!), I couldn't help but share with you how darn happy I was yesterday, on a day when I've normally been an emotional wreck. A sign of the time, perhaps: We're growin' up, & it's not so bad after all.


And no, these pictures sure don't make it look like we're growin' up, I know. But it looks like we're having fun, right?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chicken Not-So-Little

Just your average Sunday afternoon shopping trip in the suburbs of Cleveland.


This feels pretty DCesque, I've gotta admit. Chicken in a shopping center, chicken on the Metro... Same diff! People dressed as poultry are clearly a nationwide phenomenon.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Near-Life Experience

It was six years ago tonight that my ex-boyfriend's best friend called me at college to ask a favor. Dave was depressed, Kevin said, & he was starting to worry. Would I call & check in on him, just to say hello? I obliged, somewhat begrudgingly - exes aren't exactly mood brighteners. Would he even want to hear from me? I called, but when I couldn't reach him, I didn't try again.

Two days later, he was dead.

I have a notoriously terrible memory, but I will always remember exactly where I was & what I was doing when the world fell apart. The littlest details, like what I had for dinner that night & the exact sentence that broke the news. I remember who answered the door when I finally stumbled to my sorority house in tears & who tried unsuccessfully to consoled me, all the people I called to share the bad news. It is maybe the only night of my life that is memorized practically in its entirety, from terrible start to terrible finish.

I remember verbatim my conversation with his mother when I arrived at her home the next day. "My baby died, Kate," she wailed, & the others who grieved around me as I sat in a corner, cross-legged & alone, trying to make sense of the letter he left behind. The stranger who came to comfort me as I wept quietly to the tune of Jimmy Eat World songs. The phone call to my rabbi from a gas station parking lot because I didn't know who else could comprehend the enormity of how badly it hurt.

I remember what I wore to the funeral & who was there, who spoke & what about & the name of the local mega-church pastor who led the service ineptly &, ironically, without nearly as much soul as Dave had. The trinkets the many mourners left in his casket - a watch & pennies & the mood ring I left behind & the paper hearts we buried him with on Valentines Day. The' collared flannel shirt he was dressed in to cover the unspeakable bruising to his neck; the way his pale lips looked waxy & too flat & his hair was parted at the wrong angle. The sappy music that played at his service & how much he would have hated it, the song that came on in my car as my friend Sean & I drove to the cemetery. The rain that fell mercilessly down on us as we said our final goodbyes.

I didn't eat for nearly a week, but I remember the Sonic grilled cheese I chose as my first meal when I suddenly realized I was starving. The pile of letters & Valentines that awaited me when I returned to school, piled upon my desk in place of awkward spoken condolences from sorority sisters who didn't know what to say. The classes I couldn't finish & the incompletes I took, allowing myself to play the pity card with compassionate professors because I literally could not bring myself to put any additional effort into living my life correctly or sanely or with any semblance of normalcy.

When Dave died, my very first thought was that I was angry - angry that he went first, that he ruined my plans. Angry that I couldn't do the same for fear of looking like a copycat. Angry that he left me behind before I could bring myself to do it. What would his life have been like had our timing been reversed? It's something I still can't bring myself to think of.

I remember with excruciating precision the exact details of his passing & the events surrounding it, but I can recall almost nothing of my own pain, of the crippling depression that brought me so close to the edge in the months both before & after his death. As soon as he died, there was no exit for me: I knew I would be staying. That's not to say the pain disappeared because, oh, God, it didn't. It went on for a long, long time, so long that I ruined friendships & relationships & all kinds of important things as I raged through life in a debilitating haze. I believed there was a light at the end of the tunnel but try as I might, I still couldn't see past the unbearable darkness.

I don't say it often because, memories or not, it's a painful & sometimes even embarrassing truth to bear: Dave's death saved my life. The potential implications of that sentence terrify me, even now as I write it all down - what will be the repercussions of my admitting it aloud? Will it come back somehow to hurt me, derail me? But I won't be quieted by a stigma that would keep me from acknowledging how far I have come & how much I have changed in my quest to accomplish the simplest & most difficult of tasks - staying alive. It feels infinitely selfish to say so, to dare to feel thankful to be alive only because he is dead, but knowing the reality of the state I was in, I can say with confidence that had he stayed, I likely would not have, if only because I had no idea the magnitude of the impact that such an action would have had on the people who loved me.

Why am I telling you this? I don't tell people this. I don't want your pity & I don't need your encouragement. But I want you to know that, as cliche as the phrase has recently become, it does indeed get better, & I'm a testament to that. Six years later, the dark, twisty mess that was my life is unbelievably, inconceivably beautiful - but only because I have made it so. My life is beautiful because he made me recognize that it is so. My life is beautiful because his life was beautiful, & in watching the tragic end of someone whose existence held so much promise, I vowed to myself I would not give up on my own.

I'm not perfect & I'm not perpetually happy & there is still plenty to be fixed & bettered & changed. But had I taken my own life at 20, as Dave did - as I had seriously considered doing - I would never have known the beauty of my life as it is now, the beauty of life in general. I would never have experienced the rush of accomplishment that comes with realizing you've stamped out your own darkness, that you've stood up to it & announced that you will not be taken down after all. The victory of looking back on who you were & comparing it with who you have become & acknowledging not just that you're alive but that you're finally really living.

I miss him every single day, even after all these years. I miss him not just as an abstract concept of a young man whose brief life so meaningfully impacted my own, but as a real person, as an artist & musician, as my high school sweetheart & my first love. He changed my life, & now I try my damndest to live it in honor of him - happily & passionately, as I am confident he would have done had he made it through to this side with me.


"Do we have the strength to make it there?
Would you think less of me if I said yes?"

Monday, February 7, 2011

I Talk Like Ohio

I'm obsessed with the way people speak. One of my favorite icebreakers is to ask people what words they use for various things, but it always make people nervous, like they think I'm judging them. Which I guess I sometimes am, but that's a different story. The topic today is not judgment but regional dialect; I gots it.

I will admit to being pretty nervous about posting this video. I'm a writer, y'all, not a... a talker. Talking makes me nervous. Still, I do it a lot & fairly proficiently, so there's no reason you shouldn't see me doing it, right? So here we go! Warning: It's (accidentally) a whopping seven minutes long, so either block out a chunk o' time to devote to my voice/face, or move it along. (Awkward/vain, I know, forgive me. Also forgive the heinous thumbnail Blogger chose, which is what I get for not being patient enough for Vimeo.)

video

The Words: aunt, route, wash, oil, theatre (I now suspect a Canadian wrote this list), iron, salmon, caramel, fire, water, sure, data, ruin, crayon, toilet, New Orleans, pecan, both, again, probably, spitting image, Alabama, lawyer, coupon, mayonnaise, syrup, pajamas, caught,

The Questions
:
  • What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
  • What is the bug that curls into a ball when you touch it?
  • What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
  • What do you call gym shoes?
  • What do you say to address a group of people?
  • What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
  • What do you call your grandparents?
  • What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
  • What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
  • What is the thing you change the TV channel with?
So... how do you speak? And do I speak funny? And should I feel as nervous about pressing "Publish Post" as I do?! In the words of the great Timabland, "Talk to me, girl."

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Just Add Water

Wild & crazy Friday night with friends, no alcohol required. BYO spongey capsules, $1 a package at Target.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Best of the Land

You've been warned: If you hate looking at photos of other people's vacations, this is not the post for you. That said, I promise not to show you a bunch of slides (do people still use slides?) of scenery of places you don't care about. Rather, you can consider this a highlight reel of sorts, with commentary & camels.

Readyyyyyy.... GO!

On our first full day in Israel, our trip leaders asked us to close our eyes as we got off the bus & as we held hands in a row, they led us to the overlook of Haas Promenade, where they instructed us to open our eyes to one of the most breathtaking views I've ever seen. And then? We feasted.

This? Is a smiling camel named Carl.

This is my friend Jen & me riding a camel named Marjorie Laverne, so dubbed because we could not decide between Marjorie & Laverne. Creative, I know. But you guys: I could feel it breathe. And I could feel its body, like, shudder & sigh when it peed. And the camel behind me kept sidling up near my leg like it wanted to hang out with my foot in its big, camely mouth. So I looked like this a lot of the time:
 

While roughing it(ish) in a Bedouin tent (with all the modern amenities, though I did get locked in a bathroom) in the middle of the Negev, we gathered around a campfire for a good old-fashioned singalong of such woodsy favorites as Tom Petty, The Eagles & U2. There I am, wearing green sweatpants that didn't keep me from experiencing the absolute coldest night of my life as we slept in a 50-person tent. But still, the singalong was nice.

I took a lot of meaningful, inspirational photos from atop Masada, which we climbed circa 5:00am on a Friday to watch the sun rise. But I'd rather share this one with you, just because I want you to know how serious I am about my love for the Buckeye State:

DEAD SEA. I was under the mistaken impression that you actually needed the mud in order to float, but nope - the mud is just for the fun of it! Also, did I mention that there was a dude sitting on the beach flashing us his man-bits as we floated by?

Also, we played in a waterfall. Not the "Look at this whimsical waterfall!" kind of thing you find at, say, Disney World, but a real live (?) waterfall in the middle of a national park across from the Dead Sea. And hyraxes hung out with us. Or cowered in fear nearby, but still.

While staying at Ohalo Manor on the Sea of Galilee, we did a little bit of a college throw-back by hosting a houseparty in what was essentially an Israeli dorm room. We welcomed everyone who entered the room with a hearty "AYYYYY!" & someone brought pepper vodka. And there was much happiness & merriment from some unexplained aerial view.

This is my new friend Harrison, whose band, Earth Minor, is currently rocking my world (pun intended). Have you ever met someone who just deserved to be famous? Because Harrison is one of those guys. Hard-working & dedicated & passionate & the chillest guy ever - oh, & talented, obviously. Go buy his album, Dark Matters, on iTunes, & you'll want to give him a kiss, too.

Because we Jews are all about tikkun olam, or the repair of the world, we spent an afternoon planting trees at a community garden. But because we are also largely a people made up of what I like to call "indoor kids," it was probably quite a sight to watch 40 of us swinging pickaxes. I'd like to note that I'm wearing a Sex Pistols shirt, which doesn't exactly scream "OUTDOORSY!" But whatever: My olive tree is gonna grow tall, y'all, & maybe I'll even force myself to like olives so that I can visit it someday.

We didn't have much free time on the trip, but one night after closing activity, a participant asked if we could have some sort of directed outside-the-hotel time, so our group leaders led a pilgrimage to the Mediterranean Sea just outside our hotel. Jen & I threw a bad-luck charm into the ocean for a proper sea burial (long story), & then we celebrated the return of our good luck & the fact that we were, you know, standing in the Mediterranean Sea.

Next to this particular stretch of the Mediterranean, there's a statue of something that resembles a hobo bag. Or a uterus. And is creepily flesh-colored. So naturally, we posed as though it were the latter. And if I may be so bold, I think I win the Best Awkward Face While Visually Referencing a Uterus Award. Which is a coveted one.

I hate when people use the word "epic." But in this case, it just may be the only word to use. On our last full evening of the trip, our Israeli soldiers took us to a club in Tel Aviv called Gazoz, where we spent the evening dancing & drinking & being, in a word, epically happy. Just look at us!

If you ask me, this picture will never not be funny. Starring Jen as some sort of futuristic, unhappy Yoda. Starring me with excellent photographic timing. And starring our friend Liz as delightfully amused by it all.

Just hours before we left to catch a midnight flight back to New York, we stood in a circle on a hotel rooftop in Tel Aviv wearing matching hoodies & holding hands & singing cheesy songs & recounting our favorite memories & all the many lessons learned. This picture, I think, sums up so much of how I felt, minus all the tears that came right afterward.

When we arrived at JFK circa 4:30am, Jen & I checked our bags through to Cleveland &... got an email that our flight had been canceled. We went to the GAP, bought new outfits for the day, & spent 24 hours wandering the Big Apple with fellow Birthright participants who were still in town. REMIX!
 

And there you have it, my Israel highlight reel. There is so much I wish I could accurately recount, & the words still haven't come as far as explaining the actual impact of the trip on my neshama, or soul. Maybe they never will. So it's a good thing I've got these pictures, huh? And all these new friends? And a really strong urge to go back?
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