Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Knockin’ on Barren Nothingness’ Door

I don’t waste my time arguing about the existence of God for the same reason I don’t sit around arguing about the existence of Santa Clause. Because I am a man of results. And back when I was still a believer, I asked Santa for a Lamborghini with my name on the license plate, just like the poster I had in my bedroom. And he got me a hot wheels. Real funny. So instead I asked God for the Lamborghini, figuring I might as well cut out the middle man. The next day at school (the very next day!) I find out that Christine Aguiar won the science fair competition because my Plexiglas display on the workings of series and parallel circuits looked like “my dad helped too much,” even though I drew the entire poster board myself.

That’s when I first knew that I was all alone in this world, and that if you want something you have to go out and get it for yourself. Or just dial down your expectations and shoot for something more attainable, like a 4-door Saturn or a new TV. Or, better yet, just stop wasting your time on with ambition – because you can’t fail if you don’t try.

But I understand that it’s a touchy subject, which is why I keep my opinions to myself.

And contrary to popular belief, a Godless life isn’t all that bad. When other people cheat on their taxes, they’re all, “I’m going to hell,” and you’re like, “Eh, I’ll just pay the fine if I get audited.” Or if they stub their toe, they shout, “Jiminy Christmas!” and you shout, “You’re a fag.” It’s just easier, in a way, to not constantly have the holy spirit looking over your shoulder. Right now, for instance, there is a father kissing his baby daughter on the cheek at the table next to me in Starbucks. And it would be cute, if he wasn’t making these obnoxious puckering noises while he does it over and over and over and over and finally you’re just like, “Why don’t you just eat her!” And if the holy spirit was over my shoulder I would have to feel sorry for such a mean-spirited reaction, but instead I’m kind of happy with myself because now every time I look over I picture the father like a preying mantis sprinkling salt on his daughter’s head before taking another bite. And that’s kind of amusing.

But then the other day, I was coming back from a walk with Puppy and as we approached our car parked out front of our apartment, I noticed a piece of paper in the windshield. My first thought was, “YOU COCKSUCKER PIGS, I’M GETTING THE FUCKING LICENSE PLATES TOMORROW.” But as I got closer, I noticed it wasn’t a ticket. So my second thought was that some beautiful woman had seen me exiting the car earlier in the day, and now she left me a note saying something coy like, “Ur cute!” or “Do you like to be choked?” But then I unfolded the paper and saw this:

LastScan1

So first I thought, “Wow, she’s really wordy. And her handwriting is awful.” Then I realized that it’s not that her handwriting sucked, it’s that the note was in Spanish. And even my high school Spanish was enough to translate “Santo apostal San Judos, amigo de Jesus.” (Translation: Stupid apostle Saint Judas was a pal of Jesus.”

Right away, I’m thinking that this flirtatious note is getting off on the wrong foot. But, you know, the whole “revirgin” thing is big right now so what the heck. But the more I study the note the more I realize that it is, in fact, a full on prayer. Not like a prayer to get into my pants. Just a straight-up prayer for the salvation of my soul.

I wonder: Why was this left on my car? I scan the other 20 or so cars parked on the street, and there are no notes on their windshield. For some reason, whoever left this note decided to leave it for me. Most nonbelievers would chalk this up to dumb luck, but for some reason (maybe it was the way Puppy cocked his head staring up at me, or the stiff vodka tonic I had before I left) I took it as a sign. Of all the cars in all the world, you had to leave a Spanish prayer on mine.

Since then I’ve been trying to live better. Being nicer to people, a calmer driver, more tolerant when I’m standing at the counter in CVS and the girl who is supposed to be ringing me up is carrying on a conversation with a co-worker about how her underwear is riding up her butt so much, and then she excuses it all by shooting me a look like, “When did you get here?” meanwhile she’s been price scanning my toilet paper for 30 seconds now. And you know what? It’s felt good. Real good, in fact. I even tipped the waitress when picking up a take-out order the other day. And when I did, I looked over my shoulder and winked at the holy spirit that I’m sure was smiling down with a tear in its eye at how another one had been saved from the eternal damnation of hell.

Then yesterday Brooke came home after running some errands and we had this conversation:

Brooke: “I jut ran into our neighbor. She was telling me about this crazy Spanish prayer that someone left on her car.”
Me: (trying to act surprised while my faith crumbles) “Oh, really?”
Brooke: “Yeah, she said like five cars on the block had them stuck in their windshield.”
Me: “Well I guess that means that no one’s special.”
Brooke: What?”
Me: (running to the bedroom and slamming the door) “Never mind!”

So now I’m back to a soulless existence, which is totally fine. Because being holy was hard work, and it got in the way of lots of things I had to get done. Like picking up my new license plates. So yesterday when I went out to the car and saw another piece of paper on my windshield, I wasn’t surprised that it was a ticket; I was just happy things are back to normal.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Miami Mondays: Drinking!

It’s currently en vogue to refer to prostitution as “the world’s oldest profession.” Which is cute, I guess. But a quick analysis of my own common sense tells me that I’m pretty sure guys weren’t paying for it At The Beginning. These were cultures where women were thrown in volcanoes to appease the angry fertility gods (it’s true – I saw it on “Gilligan’s Island”). Let’s just say I don’t think guys were sitting around saying things like, “Man. I’ve got to get laid, but Bethsheba just isn’t putting out! Maybe I could slip her some clay to loosen her up . . .”

If you ask me, the world’s oldest profession is drinking. In fact, I could probably make the argument that prostitution wouldn’t have even been invented if drinking hadn’t happened first. Paying money to stick your wahoo in a girl’s hooha just seems like a idea hatched over a few too many gin and tonics. And this is precisely why if drinking wasn’t the first profession (baby delivery, maybe?), it has at least proven to be the most influential. You think I was sober the day I decided to start a blog? Heck no! It was like any other Thursday, and work was slow so I had a few with lunch (maybe instead of lunch; things were tight back then). And I haven’t been sober since.

Spanning farther back, my personal history with alcohol is long and storied. The first time I got drunk was at one of my sister’s parties in high school. We raided my parents’ liquor cabinet (sorry, mom!) and since I was the last to claim a bottle, I was left with Canadian Club whisky (wtf, mom?). After a few disgusting sips, I learned what all the fuss was about: No longer was I a lost, confused adolescent. Now I was a lost, confused adolescent with a purpose, which, at that time, was to find something to mix with Canadian Club whisky. And the more I drank, the more I realized that when you’re drunk you can do all the things you normally do – watch TV, sing Billy Joel, cry because you’re not sure why your body is changing or what all these new feelings mean – except have more fun while doing it. It was revolutionary, and I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to it.

Flash forward to my time living alone in New York. New York is an easy, though expensive place to drink. On every corner there is a bar or a liquor store or a bodega hawking $10 six packs of Miller Lite. Rarely if ever will you get carded. (The first time I ventured inside my local liquor store during college I brought a plastic jug of vodka up to the counter. The salesman looked at me and said, “What year were you born?” I looked up at the ceiling and curled my lip while doing some math in my head. “1977?” I replied. He promptly took my twenty bucks.)

Miami, though . . . where do I start? The same way that my first few sips of Canadian Club gave me my purpose, so too did Miami find its purpose in supplying liquor to the masses. Indeed, I imagine the whole idea of MIAMI was hatched over the sixth round of Mai Tais somewhere around Fort Lauderdale when someone said, “What’s below us?” and his friend replied, “I’m not sure, but you can b-low me!” and everyone laughed and someone fell off their bar stool.

Sure, there are your expensive cocktail joints. You’ll easily pay $12 per drink at most hotel bars. But sit down at any old bar during happy hour (like I did the other day while “working”) and when you order a beer, they’re likely to bring you two for one. That’s two beers, at the same time, for $3.50 ($4 if you’re unpatriotic and drink international). You can even ask for your drink in a plastic cup so you can take it to go. (Try doing that with a hooker.)

What’s more, when you need some vodka, you don’t have to Google map the nearest liquor store. You know why? Because, in an idea so profoundly good and pure, THEY SELL IT A WALGREENS. When you think about it, it just makes sense. Buying condoms? Don’t forget the tequila! Too much tequila and now you need a pregnancy test? Buy some scotch! Couldn’t convince her to have it taken care of, so now you need diapers, baby powder, and wipes – which is OK because they’re kind of nice to use on yourself? IT’S BOURBON TIME.

What I’m trying to say is, in some ways Miami was made for me. And if I wasn’t sure of that in the past, I was made 100% certain this past weekend when Brooke and I went out to dinner with some friends to a tapas bar in the back of a gas station convenience store.

(I’ll give you a few moments to clean up your blown mind.)

That’s right: You park in the gas station, go into the convenience store, walk to the back, and like the gates to some trailer park heaven, the store opens up to a wine bar with something like 25,000 (approximation) bottles of wine to choose from. You pick your bottle from the shelf and they tag on a $10 corking fee. I was incredulous at first. After all, I can think of like seven great things to do in the back of a gas station, but sipping a 2004 Barbara d’Alba certainly isn’t one of them. But when we clinked glasses and took our first sips while overlooking the nearby Ho-Ho’s display, the reality sunk in: Miami has cornered the market on excellence in getting drunk.

el carajo

brooke pump-1
Further proof that Citgo is the best place in the world.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How To Sell Online College, or “Just Like Your Local College Girl, But Without The Commuting”

Online college

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Burden of Commitment

First off, let me apologize for all these impromptu hiatuses (hiati? Hold on, now I need to look this up . . .) Interesting: Apparently the plural form of “hiatus” is either “hiatuses” or “hiatus” – just like the singular word. I guess it’s like one of those trick words teachers used when you were first learning about plural words in grade school, when they would write a bunch of words on the board and ask the class if they were singular or plural and it would start out easy like “dog” and “trains” and then get a little harder like “cacti,” but you were holding out to answer the hardest of the hard because you were a nerd, so when the teacher wrote “flock of seagulls” on the board and everyone thought it was plural you were like, “no, they’re a band – a singular band” and everyone (including the teacher) laughed at how queer you were.

Putting all that aside (into a remote nook of my subconscious where I can pretend it doesn’t bother me until I hear “I Ran” and burst into tears and have to tell people that it’s just because the song is so powerful), I have to explain why hiatuses are inevitable. Sometimes a person just needs to relax, and I don’t know about you, but I find nothing more relaxing that giving up on the world: looking around and seeing nothing but inevitable death and purposelessness. Then you come home and watch a “Top Chef” marathon and decide that the most important thing you can do right now is make a hamburger and season it perfectly. It’s invigorating in a way, because responsibility is a man-made convention, just like destiny and the recommended dose of toilet paper sheets. (Four? Why don’t I just wipe my ass with the broadside of my hand.) And getting back to basics (survival, beer, TV, etc.) can really put some perspective on things.

Which is why I didn’t blog last week.

Which is kind of a shame, because it was an interesting week. Brooke had an old friend in town, so the two of them decided to shack up at a hotel and do girly things (INSERT GIRL ON GIRL ACTION JOKE) leaving me and Puppy at the apartment to fend for ourselves.

Now if there is one thing that working from home has taught me, it’s that I could make a full-time job out of taking care of myself. You don’t realize how much structure a job adds to your life. You like to think that you’re all grown up now and you choose to wake up in the morning and choose what you wear and choose not to drink screwdrivers with breakfast, but in fact it’s the delicate hand of your career guiding your every action. So when you have to make up those imaginary boundaries yourself to keep your life on track (e.g. showering) it can sometimes feel like an added responsibility more than a really simple thing that even dimwits understand. And we all know how I feel about responsibility.

When we first started this working from home experiment (right around the time I cooked a hamburger at 11:00 a.m.) Brooke took on the role of de facto “boss.” She coerced me to wake up, shower, shut off SportsCenter, and get to work. In return, I silently resented her – like a real boss – and the natural order was restored.

So when it came time for her to leave, she was apprehensive. Although I convinced her that I could fend for myself in a fully autonomous situation, while I was saying “Yes, I’ll remember to give Puppy his medication,” in the back of my mind I was really thinking “Could I barbecue inside if I turn on the fan?”

Needless to say, the reasons I didn’t blog were many (TiVo) and profound (the beach), and while I’ll stop short of apologizing, I will say this: Brooke is back in the roost and I’m easing myself back into blogging. Not so much like you might ease into a warm bath, but more like you ease into the ocean on a hot day. You know, when you first put your feet in the surprisingly cold water and think, “OK, that’s enough.” But then everyone will call you a pussy if you don’t go all the way in, so you keep on walking, and it’s alright as long as the water is only on your legs, and as you walk you involuntarily jump up a little every time a wave comes in, but then finally you can’t avoid it anymore and the water touches your genitals and it’s not so much like you’re in pain or discomfort, it’s more like “WHY?” Which is to say there will be hiccups, times when my blog touches my genitals and I think “WHY?”, but for now this is enough:

While Brooke was away, I, of course, passed a lot of gas, mostly in the morning when I first woke up. This is the thing I miss the most about living alone.

The first morning I awoke alone, I half-consciously slid back into bachelor mode and ripped a resounding fart. It was loud. So loud, that it woke up Puppy, and a second later his front two paws were up on the edge of the bed as he looked at me wide-eyed like, “WAS THAT THUNDER?” It became our routine, a morning wake-up call of sorts, and by the end of the fifth day when the fart boomed out, Puppy moved with no urgency whatsoever and slowly and deliberately jumped up on the bed and looked at me sullenly like, “We’re still doing that?”

Yesterday was Brooke’s first day back under our roof, and it was exciting for all of us – right up until we this morning. We arose in silence, Puppy and I, and as I walked to the bathroom to coax out my gas in the quietest way possible, I locked eyes with Puppy. In that awkwardly long gaze, we shared a silent lamentation for the transient nature of freedom and the constraints of responsibility.

And with that he followed me into the bathroom.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

I’ve made this blog suck for the week. It was hard work, but I did it.

I’d like to thank my Delta Airlines pilot, who I’m pretty sure got us lost ON THE RUNWAY at JFK. I’d also like to thank the cashier at Publix (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) who nearly killed me with incompetence when I had to check out twice (because the first time it “didn’t do nothing.”) I’d also like to thank my West Coast tax guy – just in case I’m worried about being bored and under-stressed in the coming years, that audit you’re setting me up for will do just the trick in the lazy days of ’09. And finally, I’d like to thank Jorge at Brickell Honda. Some people may think that knowing how to do your job is an asset, but if that was the case then we wouldn’t have gotten to spend such an extraordinary amount of time together in the past two weeks. Brooke thinks you have a crush on me. I think you’re missing a chromosome. (And you love coming to our apartment for the free water.)

Great work everyone. Now let’s just hope the guy with the anvil standing on the roof outside my front door doesn’t go and mess it all up.