Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Quick Notes on a Nerd in Amish Paradise

Photo by natalie419, via Flickr
In general I try not to listen to people’s conversations on public transportation, at restaurants, or on the street, as about 99.9% of all that I hear annoys me. Speaking a second language doesn’t help, as I can’t block out those annoying conversations that may just sound like a jumble of noises to others. But every once in a while, I hear a real gem that I believe warrants repeating, if only so we can all collectively roll our eyes, readers.

So I’m on the subway this morning going to work. It's already claustrophobically tight in the car, with people smashed against each other and invading personal spaces ad nauseam. In front of me is a balding business man who looks harmless enough—were he not punching a balled-up fist into his other hand and saying, repeatedly “let’s go” to nobody in particular. In back of me is a wolf pack of raging dorks, guffawing unbecomingly.

“So, I used to actually live in Pennsylvania,” says one geek, so loud that the entire subway car flinches. His voice tells me he is a) young, b) a total nerd, and c) not from New York City, as any of these characteristics guarantee that the person in question does not get that nobody wants to hear their MOFO conversation.  

“That’s right, Amish country,” the nerd continues in all his glory, while the Business Freak starts to twitch. “And you know what’s curious about Amish country?”

Geeks 2, 3, 4, and 5: “Herdeeherdeeher what’s that?”

Nerd 1: “Well, I’ll tell you it’s their naming conventions. They may be very serious people, but the names of their towns are . . . let’s just say, VERY risqué."

Geeks 2, 3, 4, and 5, riled up now: “Herdeeherdeeher, like what?”

Nerd 1: “For example," (allowing long pause for dramatic effect) "There’s INTERCOURSE, Pennsylvania.”

Geeks 2, 3, 4, and 5: *explosive laughter.*

Nerd 1: "And there’s BIRD-IN-HAND, Pennsylvania . . ."

Before I could flip out in passive aggressive angst, or get punched by Business Freak, I slipped out at my stop. I could hear the orgasmic laughter of the dweebs as the doors shut behind me. Part of me was relieved I didn't have to listen anymore, part was disappointed—what other wild and crazy names does the Amish country boast? And lastly I was left confused. Unless you're naming your “John Thomas” a bird, men, why is that name risqué exactly? Please answer in the comments section.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Craft Box

It’s official. I'm old. And what gave it away, do you ask? Well, it all started with some crafts . . . I’m not talking Minecraft or witchcraft, people. Nothing as interesting as that. I'm talking about making freaking arts and crafts.

Working at a journal in Manhattan, I’m expected to stay current on social media (ugh). We recently created a Pinterest page at work, and that’s where it all went downhill. As I trolled around the site learning how to use it, I was suddenly lost in a magical world of recipes, DIY, home décor, and crafts.

It was innocent at first. I saw some cute ideas for Halloween—mummy candles made by wrapping gauze around a mason jar, vampire pumpkins, using a drill to make artful jack-o-lanterns. The possibilities were endless. At first I just “pinned” these ideas because I liked them. Then I started to think . . . hey, I can do this!

Before long, I began to go to sleep thinking about crafts I could make, and wake up with the intention of executing them. I became a frequent flyer at Michaels and AC Moore. I’ve made mummy mason jars, turkeys out of mini pumpkins, gourd candle holders, reindeers out of wine corks (and boy, do I have a LOT of wine corks). My crafts began to take on a life of their own, so much so that for Christmas I was given a craft box to organize all the ribbons, buttons, googly eyes, and other shite I’ve started to accumulate. Friends expressed concern, my father called me “Martha Loser,” my brother asked my mother in confusion, “Why is she so into crafts?!”

Others expressed relief. When focused on crafts, I'm not as cray as usual, and it keeps my anxiety, bossiness, and neurotic tendencies under some semblance of control.

This past weekend, a friend who I was going to visit texted, asking what I wanted to do over the weekend. She mentioned yoga, pedicures, shopping, and then said, almost shyly, “or we could do nerdy crafts.” My eyes lit up like a slot machine. Jackpot! A partner in crime. “Should I bring my craft box?” I replied. And though we got teased mercilessly all weekend for being craft nerds, we had a great time with our creations and drinking wine. The result: the Valentine's Day wreath below (no, it's not a toilet seat cover like my brother thought, or a life preserver).

So readers, if you’re wondering why I haven’t been blogging so often, now you know. I’m too busy a craftin’. And this is how I know I'm old. Instead of going out dancing or partying or socializing, I'm content with my new hobby. This may seem like a cry for help, but trust me, it’s not. If crafting is wrong, I don’t wanna be right. I am a craft addict. And I like it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Magnet

In the past few weeks I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m an annoyer magnet. I hear you, I know . . . I’m easily annoyed. But statistically speaking, is it really possible for so many super annoyers to revolve around me in such close proximity? Do we have a statistician in the house?

Obviously riding the Metro North every day doesn’t help. These trains are packed to the brim with people who suck. People who talk on their cell phones loudly (while this used to only occur during “off peak” hours, it is now a vexing regular occurrence), people who let their kids run amuck, people whose voices carry and not in a good way a la ‘Til Tuesday, people who are sick and shouldn't be on the train, forcing those who are healthy to succumb to their spewing germs, and people who sit next to me and then proceed to act weird.

Like last night. I was on the 7:52—not so late that it should have been the twilight zone, as the late night trains tend to be. I was sitting alone and hoping to stay that way. Then an elderly gentleman with a bright sweater, neat little beard, and a bag that seemed to be filled with rocks (I should know, it landed on me when he thrust it onto the seat) asked if he could sit down. He seemed innocent enough, despite hitting me several times with his elbow as he fluttered and settled. As another commuter barreled down the aisle and hit me with his briefcase, my seat companion even expressed concern, “Gee are you okay?” he asked with a friendly smile.

I was just fine. Until he started to make himself at home. Reading his cell phone and texting (with key pad volume on), scratching himself with fervor, as I began to worry about lice or bed bugs, and yawning loudly. “AHHHHHHHHHHH,” said he, while stretching out comfortably, invading my space. This was followed by constant leg jiggling that vibrated the whole chair (I felt like I was suddenly in Kimye’s disturbing Bound 2 video) and more sighs of satisfaction. I began to lean away, using only half of my allotted space.

As luck would have it Jiggles got off at the first stop, and I could have clapped in relief. The guy across from me met my eye and shook his head. “Bet you’re glad he’s gone!” he said. I smiled back, feeling that all was right with the universe. Until the guy across from me started to misbehave.

No sooner had he made the comment, he began to rummage through his bag in search of a beer, which he then took ten minutes to open by clumsily hitting the top of the bottle as if the twist off cap would suddenly untwist itself from repeat slapping. After finally getting it open, he guzzled loudly, smacking his lips. As he continued to try to meet my eye, I leaned away, scooting myself over to the other half of my allotted space. WHY??

As we approached my stop the man suddenly jumped up. “Did I miss my stop?” he asked the guy next to him, who shrugged as if to say, how the helladeria should I know? “FECK!” he shouted, throwing his arms in the air, beer a swingin’.“FEEECCCCKKK.”  He dashed to the front of the train dripping beer in his wake. “FECCCKKK,” he shouted again. Another drunk man in a suit (when did so many people start getting shitfaced on the train?!) shouted out to him sympathetically. “Man that sucks! I feel for ya.”

“It would have been nice if somebody told me!” he shouted to . . . his seat companion? His drunk friend? The collective commuters? Nobody could tell. “I have a feeling it was on purpose too!” he continued. “Let’s watch this guy sleep through his stop,” he said, laughing wildly. I was scared to get off at my stop, but I had to. He followed me off the train.

“Guess what? Someone decided to NOT tell me it was my stop. Can you believe it?” he asked. I quickly gave him a Gilly from Saturday Night Live “Sarry” before running to the shelter and safety of my car. I’m happy to report no incidences on my morning commute. Happy New Year, readers!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Let the Annoyer Who Is Without Fault, Well, Annoy!

Photo by Frank Hebbert, via Flickr.
Recently, a good friend of mine told me that a coworker corrected her grammar from a casual correspondence that was none of the coworker’s concern. The unsolicited advice was (obviously) annoying, and my friend asked me (an editor who never makes mistakes) if she had, in fact, been wrong. Well, yes, she had been wrong. But just out of curiosity, I asked what her coworker’s correction was. Lo and behold, the annoying, presumptuous coworker was also wrong! It got me thinking: why the F would you correct someone (annoyingly) if you aren’t 100% sure that you are correct?! It just opens a can of worms for you to be forever considered a raging a-hole.

Unfortunately, this behavior abounds. Last night I went to the Janis Joplin tribute show on Broadway (which was amazing, by the way—the only downside being the other theater goers). The chairs were all numbered, but confusingly each armrest had a different number, so it was easy to make a mistake and sit in the wrong seat. The usher helped me to my seat and told me to just count the seats from the outside in to know if you were in the right one (i.e., seat 10 was 10 seats down). So these two women are sitting behind me yapping away and another couple comes and tells them they have to move down. They immediately get in a flutter and pull out their tickets, arguing that THEY were in the right seats and that the other couple was wrong. My rampant perfectionism could take it no more, and I turned to tell them that they were NOT in the right seats and to move down. “That’s BS,” the woman said to me. “You’re meant to count from the outside aisle.” I said, wanting to add “it’s the new math.” This was met with a quiet “Oh, right.”

And finally this morning on the Metro North (vessel of all annoyers), I was horrified when an old grumpy woman screeched at some young, pleasant exchange students to get their feet off the chairs. “Hate to break up your party,” said she, “but you’re not allowed to do that here.” (Can only assume by “here” she meant in the good ole U.S. of A., thus being annoying and ethnocentric all in one breath. Okay, yes, it IS annoying when youth put their feet on chairs. But these youngins were actually pleasant and cultured, and having a quiet, intelligent conversation rather than being glued to their smartphones. It wasn’t this commuter’s job to stick her ginger head in their space and lay out the law . . . especially when five minutes later she simultaneously broke EVERY unwritten rule of commuting: she space invaded the young foreigners and tried to make nice by conversing with them, she began to hack her germs all over without covering her mouth, she began to talk on her cell phone, and she began to talk loudly to her seat companion. All that was missing was some nail grooming.

So to all ye who annoy: back up on out of others space, do not attempt to teach others when you yourself know nothing, and don’t get righteous unless you know you are right!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The BBQ Club

Living in what city folk would call “upstate” (but in actuality is only an hour outside of the city), has its benefits. The main one: BBQ Bizatches! Since I have become the owner of a deck, I am using my BBQ day and night, thrilled to have easy meals, no mess in the kitchen, and that nice smoked flavor. You name it, I’ve been barbecuing it: clams, salmon, chicken, corn on the cob, brussel sprouts. (I could go on a la “Bubba” from Forest Gump, but I will spare you the details.)

I can also now revel in the selection of marinades at my disposal. It seems like every cook on the Food Network has their own sauce, from Bobby Flay to Guy Fieri. My current favorite: Stubs. (As I told my BFF last weekend after a day of gardening and home depot visiting, these are the simple pleasures of the (close to) middle-age suburbanites. Oh how things have changed!)

This weekend, I went to my local gourmet shop to get me some Stubs, and to go out on a limb and try a product recommended to me by my friend called Soy Vay, a kosher marinade that she claims is to die for. I admit I was slightly reluctant to ask for it, as it sounded funny to say ‘Soy Vay.’ What if they’d never heard of it? What if they thought I was just saying “Oy Vey!” But as soon as I inquired, the shop owner started raving, telling me he puts it on everything. He said he was practically all sold out. There was but one bottle left, and he told me to guard it with my life.

As I went to pay, a large man with a scruffy beard, a U.S. flag bandana around his head, and a motor cycle jacket who looked like a character out of Sons of Anarchy commented on my Soy Vay, saying he, too, slops that shi-at on everything.

“Man, I am barbecuing practically every day,” I said, trying to be friendly. “I’m so glad it’s summer.”

“What the hell does summer have to do with anything,” My Duck Dynasty-esque companion said in a gravelly voice. “I barbecue ALL year round.”

“True,” I said, wishing I hadn’t struck up the convo after all. “And I have a covered deck, so . . .”

“Covered, shmovered!” he shouted. “I’m out there rain and shine, 365 days a year.”

I hurried to pay when he whipped out his cell phone. “Take a look at this!” The photo showed about a foot of snow, with a small, black weber grill looking lonely and cold in the center; a circle of flattened snow had been shovelled around it.

“Made sirloin on that bad boy. That was New Year’s Day! That’s what I call barbecuing, bitcheeess!”

Slightly disturbed, I hugged my precious Soy Veh to my chest and exited. Apparently I was not cool enough to ride with the big BBQ boys. Yet. But I will be . . . mark my words, readers, this winter I WILL BE.

“Happy grillin!” I heard him call as the door shut behind me.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day (sigh)

Happy Valentine's Day Readers! Although lame, cheesy, and often disappointing, I know you're all secretly craving a Valentine's day card, box o' chocolate or, if you're me, a jug o' wine. This morning when I checked my email to scour the grand influx of well wishes clogging my inbox, I was shocked at the inconceivable notion that I had but one, from my loyal blog reader and dear friend, Jana Lia. She sent this card from, possibly the best ecard site out there. I firmly recommend if anyone feels down, depressed, anxious, or like jumping off a bridge, they first visit this site and revel in the hilarity of the sarcastic, spot-on, raunchy, timely cards that aren't afraid to tackle any topic, no matter how taboo. This particular card made my day, because, as Jana Lia pointed out...what IS it that Meatloaf wouldn't do? (For my young readers who don't know this song (the horror), please do yourself a favor and click this link.) Perhaps there is a Meatloaf guru among us who knows the answer? If not I can only speculate and invite you to do so as well:

1) Allow backdoor entry with foreign object? (too obvi?)
2) Wear a thong and parade around the room?
3) Serenade his love with Dashboard Light for the 500th time?
4) Exchange necklaces adorned with vials or each other's blood?
5) Watch a Party of Five marathon?
6) File those scary nails and take off that weird costume from the video?

If anyone has the answer, inquiring minds would love to know. Until then, hope you all have a romantic evening with your significant other or, if alone, that you survive the annoyingness that is Valentine's day. And remember, Dear Readers, I lerve you all.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Boring Diner

I recently moved to a complex that used to be only for “the aged”. As a result, I’m considered a “young” inhabitant. Sometimes this works to my advantage (I am the youngest person at the community gym and thus eye candy for the 80 plus!). But mostly it just exacerbates my feeling that I’m getting old, especially when these seniors are more hip and happening than me!

Take New Year’s Eve for example. Wanting a “quiet” night, I went with several people to the local Chinese restaurant, predominantly frequented by the oldies who live in my complex. By 9 PM I was beginning to yawn and couldn’t wait to get home, when suddenly a group of 20 octogenarians waltzed in rambunctiously, their rowdy chatter filling the space. The portly barrel-bodied women donned sparkly shirts bedazzled with sequins and the men wore sports coats over black turtlenecks (one even sported a ponytail). They were happy and animated; disturbing thoughts of they might be getting "lucky" filled my head.They were just starting their night . . . and I was done.

And now on top of it I have been called out twice by the waiter at the aforementioned Chinese restaurant for being a boring diner. Tall, wiry, and bespectacled, this particular waiter took my order a few weeks ago with no complaint. A few weeks later, however, when I went again, the waiter laughed nervously as he approached me and my dinner companion. “You again,” he said, chuckling.

We placed our order, and suddenly his friendly face scrunched up in disgust. For a moment he looked lost in thought. Finally he said, “Same as last time? Really?” Me and my companion exchanged looks. Of the dozens of orders he takes per day, how could he possibly remember what we ordered a few weeks back?

We smiled and nodded. “You don’t want something different?” he pushed. Nope . . . we’re boring. He shook his head, laughing as he walked away.

Last night, we went back. It had been several weeks. The same friendly man attended to us. As soon as he saw us he started cracking up (still not sure what is so amusing aside from our obvious boringness!). But this time I had come prepared . . . I was going out on a limb. Instead of the spicy tuna roll and asparagus roll (without sesame seeds, to avoid my faux allergy), I was going to order a vegetarian roll (with avocado, sweet potato, and Japanese pickle). Instead of the Shanghai soup dumplings, I was going to try a steamed vegetable dumpling. This is called “Living On The Edge” people!

But before I could go cahhhrazy and change things up, he whipped out his pad and said “OK, boring customer. So, same thing, right? Boring diners? Hmmm? Soup balls? Edamame? Haha. Spicy tuna and asparagus roll, no sesame? Red wine? Right? Same as usual. HAHAHA. Same. As. Usual.”*

What happened to the crazy, spontaneous, fly by the seat of the pants girl I was for most of my life? The girl nicknamed “Crazy Amy” or “Amiac” by friends? The world traveller who had eaten cuisine in a dozen different countries? Apparently she got left back in my 20s. I can’t even keep up with the old farts I live amongst and apparently to boot I am now the laughing stock of the Chinese restaurant.

As I left, all of the waiters turned their heads to the side, nodding and smiling. I could hear them thinking “Lame. Boring. Diner.” But I will show them. REST ASSURED readers. Next week, when chuckles comes over with his pad, I will say “up up up, I’m gonna change it UP!” Instead of a STEAMED dumpling, I will go for FRIED dumpling. Maybe a little white wine instead of red? How about instead of a spicy tuna roll, a spicy yellowtail roll.** You see where I am going with this?

*Somewhat (very much) exaggerated for effect.
**Readers, feel free to chime in on dining selections I should be making.