Here's the Rub

Saturday, July 30, 2011

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The card said:


Inside, a gift card to a local spa. I know what you're thinking: BOYFRIEND JACKPOT.

I've had professional massages before, but they always left me feeling like I was missing out on all the hype. So someone rubs oil on you for awhile & touches you awkwardly & you fall asleep a little bit. What's the big deal? I'd never left a massage feeling any less tense than when I walked in.

Except: I had massive back surgery, remember? Which means I also have some nerve damage. Which means I'm basically the Iron Man of back massages - nothing's gettin' through this armor. So when I received this gift card, especially with such a firm directive for usage, I knew I had only one choice - a deep-tissue massage.

I scheduled it for 10am on a Saturday because I'm a masochist. Like I ever wake up before 10am on a Saturday? At 9:40, I rolled out of bed & found myself with a dilemma: What kind of underwear should you wear to a massage? I didn't want my massage therapist to think I was, like, dressing up for the occasion, so nice black undies were out. Then again, I didn't want to look like some slob in granny panties, either, so, um, half my underwear drawer was out, too. After deciding upon sensible beige underthings, I dressed in what amounted to pajamas (so much for dressing up for the occasion) & groggily set off for downtown.

Here's what I discovered: 
  • Massages are weird, especially the face-up parts, because gravity is weighing on you & pulling your mouth into a frown, as gravity is wont to do, but you don't want your masseuse to think you, like, hate your massage. Thus, I spent a fair amount of time focusing on whether I look sufficiently contented.

  • They're also weird because your first instinct, when someone is tugging on your arms & pounding on his shoulderblades, is to grunt, or at least moan approvingly. But again, you don't want to weird your masseuse out by appearing to be, you know, really enjoying the massage, if you know what I mean. The couple of times I let a noise slip out, my eyes flew open in embarrassment to see if I'd repelled Masseuse Marni; I hadn't.

  • Other reasons massages are weird include the calming background music that always sounds like the "Titanic" soundtrack & the fact that you want to apologize for things like sweatiness & cellulite.

  • And finally, massages are weird because at the end, the massage therapist whispers something like, "Just get up whenever you're ready," & you want to cling to her leg like a small child having a temper tantrum & beg her never to leave you.

What I realized during my massage - which was out-of-this-world awesome, I should note - is that a massage isn't necessarily a frivolity. Those 50 minutes made me feel like a new woman, guys; when I stood up, basically everything cracked. I'm an adult now, almost in my late 20s, & if I want to get a deep-tissue massage once a month, so be it. I'm allowed. As soon as this realization occurred to me (somewhere around the time Marni was doing something to my neck that caused my joints to make funny, whooshing noises as they loosened), I felt very Cartman-esque: "Whatever, whatever, I do what I want!"

Gift card or not, the decision has been made: I am now a massage believer. Iron Man has been felled. In a good way.
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"This is me, yo, right here."

Friday, July 29, 2011

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A week from today, I will turn 27. How do I feel about this? I haven't yet decided. This looming age puts me decidedly out of my mid-20s and smack into my late 20s, that dreaded pathway to 30. They're just numbers, no big deal. But they taunt me just the same.

By almost-27, I know a lot about myself, but there is so much more to learn. So who am I, at this moment?

Well, let me tell you.

I have seen Jimmy Eat World in concert three times and have cried at all three. I have only mastered the art of cooking pasta. I always cheat at Monopoly and miniature golf, but I always admit to it. I don't wear bracelets because I can't bear the way they feel clanging against my wrists when I type. I own a .22 but have never shot anything other than a porcupine. I have three tattoos, all of which currently look like I had them inked in prison.I am still bitter that the Washington Post didn't choose me to be a participant in Date Lab, despite my really funny answers to their questionnaire.

I had my first kiss during "Forrest Gump" while wearing a sweater vest (me, not him). I once said "thank you" when an old boyfriend told me he loved me. I fear commitment, perhaps because I am perpetually convinced that everyone will, sooner or later, leave. I'm in love with my cousin's childhood best friend. I tell my cat I love him more than I tell any human being the same. I sometimes wear a fake engagement ring so weirdos don't hit on me. I went to three proms & five homecomings. I pride myself on being friends with almost all of my exes.

I don't do laundry nearly as often as is respectable. Until this year, I had never eaten a hamburger or a plum. I wore a back brace when I was 11 and shaved my head when I was 22. I have twice been in bar arguments that ended with my being ejected from the establishments in which they took place. I have given three eulogies - one for my father, one for my grandfather, one for my ex-boyfriend. I drink two Diet Cokes a day for caffeine because I don't like the taste of coffee. I take medication for anxiety & stomach problems. I dream of being "discovered" on this blog & asked to write a book.

I almost never return materials to the library on time. I almost always order grande skim dirty Chais after a DC barista got me hooked on them. I am hypermobile and also probably a hypochondriac. I do not wear shorts or anything strapless. I will always choose Miller Lite over craft beers or cocktails. I never wore braces on my teeth, but I sleep with a mouthguard to keep myself from grinding them. I send more snail mail letter than anyone I know. I have a bad temper that I work hard to keep under control. I don't identify as religious, but I do feel connected to the spiritual & cultural aspects of Judaism.

I used to perform in high school musicals & showchoir competitions & served as secretary of Student Council. I went to two colleges & somehow graduated with only one close friend between the two of them. I decided I wanted to be a journalist on September 11, 2001, but 11 years later, my journalism degree gathers dust while I do congregational work for a Jewish nonprofit. I met my best friends at my first post-collegiate job & still spend an embarrassing amount of time missing my life with them. I prefer my hometown's towniest bar over any bar fancier, cleaner or less full of people I went to high school with. I try to wear "nice" clothes daily, even though I work from home & rarely converse with anyone who isn't a barista or my boyfriend. I often don't shower until lunchtime.

I do not have a savings account, & I am not yet particularly fiscally responsible. I want to be a vegetarian but can't bring myself to stop eating chicken or bacon or start eating vegetables. I am a size 14 & still have acne. I aspire to be an author but have never written anything of publishable substance. I hate exercising more than I hate anything else else in the world. I sometimes worry that I have bad taste in fashion. I have blog insecurities because I don't participate in memes or have a white-space theme. I am terrified of spiders, velvet, cancer & divorce.

I have stopped pirating music and now pay for everything on iTunes. I bought an iPad that I have no idea what to do with. I watch too much TV, including ABC Family atrocities like "Pretty Little Liars" & "Switched at Birth." I hit the snooze button for approximately two hours before getting out of bed. I read books on my Kindle app in the bathroom. I sometimes use the Cheats With Words With Friends app when I'm really stuck in a Words With Friends game. I do not particularly like babies or animals. I might move to Israel if I could bear to be so far away from my family & friends. I still think "Dawson's Creek" holds advice to all of life's problems, big & small; "Friday Night Lights," too.

So there you have it. For now. Bring it on, 27. Let's add to the list.

*A million bonus points if you know the title reference & are not my boyfriend.
**Sorry, babe.
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In Which I Fail at Being a Jewish Woman

Thursday, July 28, 2011

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This cholent looks delicious.
Which makes it clear that it's not mine.
Nathan is soon starting an Intro to Judaism class (not my doing, I swear!), & in advance of it, he asked if we could make some type of Jewish food. I'm no chef, but I do love my (his) crockpot, & we had some stew meat in the freezer from the local farmers market, so I concocted a plan to concoct... cholent!

Yeah, I don't really know what cholent is, either, but the idea is that you put a lot of tasty crap into a crockpot & let it cook overnight. You're supposed to make it for Shabbos dinner, I guess, but, hey, ain't no harm in home cookin' all week long. Hey, I even found an article titled "Top Ten Reasons Why Cholent is Like Sex."


So I asked two of my favorite Orthodox ladies, Daphne & Chaviva, for their cholent secrets, & then, armed with their suggestions & a myriad online resources, Nathan & I set about creating some "Jew Stew" of our own.

We included:
  • Cubed stew meat (which is beef... I guess?)
  • Barley
  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • A can of baked beans
  • Onions
  • Chickpeas
  • Lots o' BBQ sauce
  • A half can of beer (PBR, if you must know)
  • Seasoned bread crumbs
  • Copious amounts of paprika
  • Water

It simmered overnight, tempting me with the delicious smell & the simple fact that I couldn't open the lid because, you know, that's how crockpots work. Finally, we busted it open, & there it was, all burnt- & carmelized-looking.

You know where this is going, right? It tasted... not good. Nathan claims to like it, & we each had a bowl for dinner, but... guys, it just wasn't good. It tasted bitter & mushy, with an unsettling texture & no real flavor. It tasted like something you'd be served at an orphanage. Gruel, without the "Please, sir, I'd like some more."

I confess, I'm disappointed. I was so jazzed about my cholent, convinced it could be nothing but delicious, so upon my misfire, I'm feeling a bit like a failure of a future Jewish mother. What kind of Jewish woman am I that I screwed up a simple stew?!

Next Jewish recipe on the docket is Emily's late grandma's kugel, "a meal in itself." No one can mess up cheese & noodles, right? Right?
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Curiosity & the Cat

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

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While watching "The Witches" tonight - which is, by the way, still an absolutely terrifying film, '90s special effects & all - my cat decided to be a cat for once. As soon as Bruno & Luke were turned into mice, he made a beeline for the TV, trying to chase them down.

He was insistent & relentless, going so far as to circle the TV when the mice went off-screen to see if he could find them nearby. As you can imagine, he failed.

I couldn't stop laughing, but Nathan was afraid he'd break the TV. So as you can also imagine, we locked him in the bedroom.
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Lessons Chicago Taught Me

Monday, July 25, 2011

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I attended a family wedding in the Windy City over the weekend, & though I could identify no cohesive theme to the weekend (besides, um, love, obviously. I mean a theme for me), I've gleaned a few key lessons from my brief travel to Chi:

  • Spritzing a little bit of super-hold hair spray to the soles of your feet will keep your fancy new Cole Haans from sliding off.
  • If you have to airspray your shoes to your feet, you probably shouldn't buy the shoes.
  • Do not let the waitstaff refill your white wine glass. I repeat, do not let the waitstaff refill your white wine glass.
  • If you apologize to the bouncer the next day, you will probably make a new friend. Webster at Roof at TheWit Hotel, this one's for you.
  • Conversing with distant relatives is exhausting.
  • The Midwest produces miraculously delicious seafood (see: lobster ravioli).
  • I like any wedding with food stations at the reception.
  • All foods on sticks are delicious. Ditto for all foods served in martini glasses or wonton wrappers.
  • Black-Eyed Peas songs will be banned from my wedding, should such a day ever come. Except "I Got a Feeling" because... well, just because.
  • I am the MacGyver of wedding attire. Distraught when I realized my dress was admittedly too low, I tore the attached beige slip out of my back-up dress & wore it underneath. It looked a little dumb, but it matched my shoes, so I think I pulled it off all right. Take that, Richard Dean Anderson.
  • No matter how much I love my dress, my grandmother will probably hate it.
  • Hava Nagila is the most fun wedding tradition, period. For once, Jews win.
  • A rough day of travel is no excuse for neglecting to call your best friend on her birthday.
  • I, too, am a sucker for a man in uniform.
  • Hot weather causes foggy camera lenses.
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Passive-Aggressive Ways to Confront Your Loud Neighbors

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

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This wireless network popped up on our long drive home from Pennsylvania. Love it.
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Booze, Bullets & Bedding (Alternate Title: Haircuts & Handguns)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

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Oh, hi, it's been 11 days since I've written. But nothing funny has happened in the past 11 days & thus, I've had nothing to write about.


I spent last weekend at my favorite place on earth:

I've written about it before, the hunting club where my faux-uncles are members. My Uncle Dennis, who was my dad's high school best friend, likes to tell the story of the time in 1977 when 14 couples & no kids came to Bear Hollow for the weekend - when they were young, before we existed. And now? My cousin Patrick is on his way to becoming a member himself, & soon that'll be us.

There's no cell service at Bear Hollow, so it's always an excursion spent in blissful disconnectivity. And just like in days of old, we find other ways to entertain ourselves. For example:

Someone brought habanero tequila.

And someone else brought guns (it's a hunting club, guys).

I read a lot of Mary Higgins Clark & wore leggings as pants all weekend & did not shoot anything:

My boyfriend spent a lot of time looking like a hipster, which he is not.

My mom & my Uncle Michael took turns giving my cousin's wife a Justin Bieber haircut.

There were Australian cowboy hats.

And cute dogs.

And a rousing game of Apples to Apples & an inexplicable number of fold-up chairs from Dick's Sporting Goods.

And a bonfire, where we played Never Have I Ever & someone secretly vomited - still no idea who, though we have our suspicions. Also, my cousin's wife misunderstood the rules of the game & thus accidentally admitted to having a penis.

I took an impromptu camera lesson from a family friend & spent much of the weekend taking photos that qualify as artsy in no one's mind but my own.

Did I mention the front porch?

Or the taxidermy menagerie?

And don't worry, we didn't go fishing.
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Chalkin' It Up to New England Language Barriers

Friday, July 8, 2011

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Yesterday, I decided to switch up my normal routine, which consists of wearing sweatpants to work until noon, showering on my lunch break, & working from my home office until the end of the work day.

"Be around people!" I told myself. "See the sun!" So I got in my Civic, bound for the downtown Starbucks, in the heart of it all. I parked a block away, paid my $2, & got to work. When two hours had passed, I got up, walked that block, paid my $2 for another two hours, & got back to work. When I walked to my car later, before the second round had expired, I found this gift on my windshield from the Portsmouth PD:

The ticket threw me for a loop, because my meter hadn't yet expired. The ticket was written at 3:36, but my meter ticket clearly showed that I'd paid through 3:58. Being the diligent adult I am, I picked up the phone & dialed city hall to better understand what I was being ticketed for.

This is where it becomes obvious that I do not speak New Englander Endlandese English. Without exaggeration, the conversation went as follows:

"They chawked y'TY-ahs," the woman on the line told me impatiently.
"I'm sorry?" I asked, seeking clarity.
"They chawked y'TY-ahs!" she yelled again. Helpful.
"I'm sorry, I don't know what this means," I said, losing patience & hope & confidence in my mastery of the English language.
"Chawk! They chawked y'TY-ahs!"

It went on like this for some time, her defining the phrase by repeating the phrase, & me failing to understand either the words or the meaning. Finally, I was able to deduce that the police used chalk to mark my tires around noon, then ticketed me when I fed the meter instead of moving my car upon expiry of my initial meter. I didn't actually realize it was illegal to do that, nor did I realize "chalking tires" was a thing, both of which contributed heavily to the misunderstanding.

More importantly, I felt like an idiot. I am able to perfectly understand my friends from Peru, Venezuela, Japan, Israel - all "difficult" accents that don't faze me. But throw a bona fide New Englander in the mix, & it's like I'm fresh off the boat. Say what?
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Things at Amusement Parks That Are More Disturbing Than Amusing

Saturday, July 2, 2011

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While in Ohio, I spent a Friday at Cedar Point, also known as America's Rockin' Roller Coast. I think they may have done away with that tagline, or at least the "rockin'" aspect of it, but I shall buck officialism & continue to use this phrase, as it is catchy & makes Ohio sound like buckets of fun. Um, which it is.

In case you're not an in-the-know roller coaster lover, Cedar Point is arguably the country's best amusement park, & it's located in my beloved home state. Resting on the lovely* shore of Lake Erie in beautiful* Sandusky, Ohio, Cedar Point boasts has more rides than any other amusement park & is the only amusement park to boast four rides higher than 200 feet. The oh-so-reliable Wikipedia tells me that Cedar Point has been dubbed "Best Amusement Park in the World" by Amusement Today for the past 13 years. (I want to know who actually reads Amusement Today, but that's beside the point).

I could tell you about how it rained nearly all day, but that we rode the Millennium Force anyway. I could tell you about how the raindrops felt like actual bullets, & yet I laughed so hard I actually couldn't breathe. I could tell you that as soon as I dropped $30 on an ugly sweatshirt with a silhouette of the amusement park (CARNIE ALERT), the rain stopped & the sun came out.

I could tell you all that (oh, I just did? OK), but instead, I would like to tell you about the booty shorts I found on display at the CP Shop, Cedar Point's primary gift store.

Let's break this down:
  1. Get in line... for what? To be next on this ride? The ride that is some 16-year-old girl's barely covered derriere?! Not appropriate.

  2. This is the least offensive of the bunch until you note, as Nathan's brother, Brice, did (with much discomfort) that CP is also the police abbreviation for "ch1ld p0rn" (not typing the real words because I don't want sickos using that phrase to find my blog). So, again... nottttt that appropriate.

  3. This one is pretty obviously the least appropriate. Hop on board this hot pink ass! Wild ride in store! I don't even need to say it, guys, but I will: Just. Not. Appropriate.At all.
OK, so I'm old. And I'm judgy. And I'm childless, yet I still find myself thinking, "Hide your daughters!" From... the horrors of the Cedar Point gift shop?! Let's face it: Sex sells, innuendo is king, & maybe I'm just jealous that my own rear end is too, uh, ample for those shorts.

*Admittedly improper use of these adjectives
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Mama, You Know I Love You

Friday, July 1, 2011

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I can't pass up a blog post with a Boyz II Men reference as the title. Also, today is a special day!

I realized I rarely write about my mom unless I'm posting funny videos of her being a witch doctor or rocking out to Michael Buble. But honestly, writing anything serious about my mom is really difficult for me - way too emotional.

So today (as every day), I shall shirk the serious & take another route:

Happy birthday to the perfect mother, even though you talk to the dog in complete sentences. Even though you own more pair of shoes than any woman could ever need, scattered throughout approximately 89.8% of our house & continually threatening my safety. Even though you let the library permanently "borrow" some of my most cherished items (ahem, that at-home planetarium). Even though you judge me every time I order the bacon-cheddar fries at Rockne's. Even though you're so technologically savvy that you've been keeping tabs on me via social media since my college Xanga days.

Mom, thank you for everything you've done & continue to do to make my life beautiful. I love you more than you can possibly know.
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