Saturday, April 29, 2006

Just a silly, very short story...

You know what I’ve always wanted to do?


Write an entire story using nothing but dialogue.

Sounds kinda boring.

It wouldn’t be boring. I don’t think. Hey, are you listening to him? He asked if you want cream.

Oh, yeah that’s fine. No, wait – milk. Nonfat. You have skim?

You’re gonna ruin a perfectly decent cup of Starbucks dark roast with skim milk? What’s the point?

Fine – you guys have whole milk? I’ll take whole milk. But no cream. No, wait – two percent. You don’t have two percent?

Just mix the whole and the skim – it’ll be good enough. Anyway, like I was saying, I’ve always wanted to write an entire story using nothing but dialogue.

Well, you’re the writer. I really wouldn’t know anything about that. Seems like you’d miss out on a lot of detail if all you wrote about was two people making small talk about, like, drinking coffee or whatever.

Who says it has to be about drinking coffee? That really WOULD be boring.

Okay, then what would these people be having a dialogue ABOUT, exactly?

Ouch, ouch! Burned my tongue. This is hot.

No kidding, Einstein. That’s why they put the warning on the cup.

No, they put the warning on the cup so I can’t run out and sue them for involuntary taste bud slaughter. Ow. Seriously, I don’t think I can taste anything now. Oh wow, thanks – since when did you get all chivalrous and start holding doors for women?

I’ve always been chivalrous. If you didn’t notice it’s because you don’t pay attention.

I don’t pay attention? Oh, that’s funny. That’s really funny. YOU on the other hand, are paying quite the amount of attention to that girl in the pink t-shirt.

What girl?

Oh puh-leeese. You think I don’t notice when you ogle other women?

Ogle? Ogle? I would never ogle anyone.

Really? Is that because you’re such a gentleman, or because you don’t know what the word “ogle” means?

I’m not an idiot. And I don’t ogle. Observe, perhaps.

And let me guess – your powers of observation are directly proportional to bra size.

That’s not fair – like you never look at other guys?

I might look… occasionally… but I just look. And then I look away. A quick look. A glance, perhaps. A glance and then a look-away.

And that makes you a better person because… ?

I didn’t say it made me a better person. Forget it. I shouldn’t have brought it up. Go ahead and ogle. Ogle all you want. Check out the blond walking the Chihuahua.

Ugh. Too Paris Hilton. I prefer someone a little more Salma Hayek. Maybe someone with a German Shepherd…

You’re such a liar.

It’s not a lie. Contrary to popular belief, not every guy in the universe has a thing for Paris Hilton.

I so do not believe you. You’re telling me that if you were stuck in an elevator with Paris Hilton, you wouldn’t—

Oh, elevators are a different story.

You’re such a jerk.

Well, I AM a man…

Glad to hear you take responsibility for it, at least.

We should get married.

Excuse me?

We should get married.

What are you— are you proposing?

I’m just saying… you know, it might be good. We should do it.

You’re proposing on a street corner with a cup of coffee in your hand?

Something wrong with that? Would you prefer I was holding a Coke can?

You’re seriously asking me to marry you while we’re standing here waiting for the light to change, across the street from a Paris Hilton lookalike?

Can you think of a better place?


Hey, you know your story idea? The one about the dialogue? I think it’d be cool.


Yeah, really.





I’m saying yes, you Paris Hilton-ogling idiot.

Well, good. Now you have something to write about.

Friday, April 28, 2006

I Heart NY

This weekend, the movie “United 93” is opening in theaters around the country. And I have to wonder – is anyone really ready to see this movie? I know for a fact that I’M not. I haven’t even been able to watch the trailer. And any time the ad pops up on TV, I either quickly change the channel, or leave the room. If I can’t bear to watch 30 seconds of footage, how could I watch an entire film? I still can’t watch that infamous video of the planes hitting the towers, either. If I happen to stumble upon that video, my eyes involuntarily snap shut – it’s not so much that I don’t WANT to watch it, it’s more like I CAN’T watch it…

I was looking through some old photos, and found a bunch of World Trade Center pictures I didn’t even realize I had. I don’t live up in the northeast anymore, so I don’t see the city as often, but I wonder if the present New York skyline will ever stop looking strange to me. I wonder – when I hear of someone hoping to visit the Empire State Building to relive a scene in “Sleepless in Seattle” – if my first reaction will always be, “but the twin towers have better views of the city.”

It’s interesting the kinds of things we remember, and the details brought to mind, after certain events in our lives. The last time I was in the Trade Center, I wandered around the observatory floor, stepping up to windows and pressing my forehead against the glass. I’m not afraid of heights as long as I know I’m in a secure place – and I never could’ve imagined such a building would be brought down to earth years later. After my family and I had taken pictures or bought souvenirs or whatever it was we did, we rode the elevator back down to the nearly-deserted lobby. There was a great expanse of empty hallway, and blank wall, and freshly-vacuumed carpet. And the only other person I could see, as my small family group headed for the door, was a Muslim man praying next to the span of empty wall. At the time, I may have glanced at him, thought something like, “yup, that’s a guy praying,” and that was it. I walked out of the Trade Center, and I never visited again.

I doubt anyone else in my family even remembers that man, and I’m not sure why I do. In fact, he pretty much drifted away from the recesses of my mind the second I walked out the door. I didn’t think of him again until after September 11, 2001. As it became apparent that Islamic extremists were behind the attacks, and ordinary, law-abiding people who happened to be Muslim were interrupted from their daily lives by FBI visits and who-knows-what else, that man suddenly came back to my memory. I wondered who he was – did he work at the Trade Center? Was he just visiting? Was he in the building on September 11? Was he still alive? I wouldn’t even recognize him if I saw him today, but I still wonder about that man…

And I have to laugh at some of the “preventive” measures being employed these days. And I don’t mean “laugh” in a “ha-ha, that’s funny” kind of way. More in a “that’s just ridiculous” kind of way. Like when Faisal told me about how he and his brother were detained at an airport because the moniker “Mohammad” happens to be in both their names. I mean, putting aside the fact that Faisal is so far removed from “terrorist” that he’s a different SPECIES, it’s just a completely unreasonable approach. (Yeah. Let’s stop everyone who has the most common name on the planet and hold them for questioning. That’ll make a big difference.) It’s like the proverbial needle in a haystack…

But you know, maybe I’ll start applying the same logic to other people and situations. For instance – has anyone heard of Erik the Red? He was a Viking from Scandinavia, and he killed several people and probably pillaged and plundered and did a bunch of other bad Viking things, too. Obviously we wouldn’t want anyone like that to be hanging around an airport, or, God forbid, a ship yard. And wait a minute – my BROTHER’S name is Eric! Uh oh, and what’s more – my BROTHER is Scandinavian!! Whoa. This could be a problem. Obviously my brother is a Viking, and if anyone ever lets him on a cruise ship again, there WILL be pillaging and plundering. That makes perfect sense, right?

Anyway, I miss the twin towers, and their impact on the New York skyline. And I prefer to remember them as they are in these pictures. NOT as we’ve seen them so many times over the last several years – broken, torn apart, falling, in ruins. I hope that the man who was praying by the lobby wall was – and still is – praying for peace.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Caution -- graphic content...

I can't remember if I shared with everyone the picture of my stitched-up finger after my tragic Sicilian umbrella accident. So, if you like pictures of stitches, here ya go. And if not, well, that's too bad, because you're already here and you've probably let your eyes wander to the picture already...

Now THAT is one attractive finger... I just tried to take an "after" picture so everyone can see that my finger has healed quite nicely and barely has a visible scar -- but it's surprisingly difficult to take a photo of your own finger. Especially when said finger is on your right hand, and the button on the camera is also on the right side. Because then it's necessary to employ some sort of left-handed contortionist move in an effort to reach the button, while at the same time ensuring the camera is balanced on the table in such a way that it will NOT crash to the tile floor and shatter into tiny pieces. Yeah, I should probably just get someone else to take the picture...

And as long as I'm looking through my pictures, here are a few more random shots of random things:

Sunset over my neighborhood...

Shutters in Monaco... not sure if anyone else thinks this is a cool picture, or if it's just me. Probably just me. :)

Check me out -- I'm naked! Oh wait, no I'm not -- I was in Hawaii and I was wearing a strapless dress. (And this is not THAT kinda website...)

Fish at the Maui Ocean Center...

We also saw these jellyfish at the Maui Ocean Center -- I loved these things. They glowed in the dark, and sort of bubbled up to the top of the water and back down again -- they made the whole tank look like a giant lava lamp...

My brother Eric! The coolest brother ever! He's so great, and nice, and funny, and -- hey, is that a White Sox shirt?? I HAVE NO BROTHER....

Me and Rick, on some cruise somewhere sometime...

And this is a door... not to be confused with those shutters a few pictures above...

And that concludes another blog post filled with random pictures..... :)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Where in the world?

I am wandering around my house in a panic, opening drawers and looking through cupboards. I am overturning piles of books and flipping through pages of magazines. I am staring bewilderedly at my empty kitchen table, as if expecting something to materialize on its surface. I don’t know what to do.

I have lost my map.

I suppose this might not seem like a big deal to most people, but I think I’ve mentioned once or twice how I have a strange obsession with maps. And the map in question isn’t just ANY map – it’s a map of the entire WORLD. Every country, researched long-ago by vigilant cartographers, is represented. Color-coded. Capitals in bold, next to circled stars. Latitude and longitude. Arctic to Antarctic. And it’s gone. I’m sure it must be somewhere in this house, but I’ve always kept it here, close to my computer. And now it seems to be nowhere. And what do I wish for more? To find my map? Or to not be obsessed with finding it? Perhaps I’ll buy a new map. Indeed, a BETTER map…

Speaking of quirks, one of the fun things about visiting Eric was that I got to hang out with someone who has some of the similar strange habits that I have. I was reminded of this the night we ate dinner at the Indian restaurant down the street from Eric’s place. Eric ordered chicken tikka masala, and I ordered chicken vindaloo – they were similar dishes, although the vindaloo was much spicier. (Which at first, was absolutely perfect – but by the time I was finished with my dinner, my taste buds were holding up tiny little white flags of surrender…) And as we began eating, Eric and I suddenly realized that we were doing the same thing – scooping out chicken from the serving dishes, putting it on our plates, and then carefully dissecting each piece to make sure it passed our stringent meat qualifications. Had I been eating with anyone else, this bizarre ritual would’ve been mocked, or at least questioned. But with Eric, I can actually eat in peace. :)

I’m not sure what Eric thinks about maps, or if he’s spent countless hours studying their various colors and contours and wondering about the mysteries of the countries symbolized. But I AM fairly certain that he is behind my own map’s disappearance. I don’t know how, exactly. But I have to blame someone. And I blame Eric.

Oh wait – THERE’S my map…

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I'm back! Did anybody miss me?

Dave recently pointed out to me that my blog needed some sort of background soundtrack noise – specifically, the sound of crickets chirping. (For anyone who can’t remember Dave, scroll down a couple posts. I feel it is my duty to keep everyone acquainted as best I can through the medium of cyberspace journaling. Really. It’s up to me to make sure everyone knows everyone else. Oh, who am I kidding – I just want everyone to look at the picture of Dave with food in his teeth again…) And I have to admit that Dave had a point – it’s been much too long since I posted anything here.

And what better way to update my blog than to talk about my recent trip to Chicago? I flew up on Tuesday and was met at the airport by a tall, crazy bald guy (who, fortunately, happened to be my brother). Eric was generous enough to let me stay with him, and he even cleaned his apartment before I got there. I think. :) No, actually, I really like Eric’s apartment, and I don’t know what it USUALLY looks like, but when I was there, it seemed a pretty typical guy apartment. I mean, there might have been some clutter lying around, but at least there was nothing weird growing on the walls or anything. And while it's true the only things in the fridge were bottles of water and a package of Swiss cheese, that just gave us an excuse to eat out a lot.

There are a few things about Eric’s living situation that really make me jealous. First, when you walk out the front door of his apartment building, you can make a quick left, stroll across a small parking lot, and you’re immediately at a grocery store. It’s so close that you could dispense with the whole idea of a neighborly, “may I borrow a cup of sugar?” inquiry if you found yourself short of cake-baking ingredients. All you’d have to do was grab your keys and a couple bucks, take the elevator downstairs, run next-door to the grocery store, and you’d be back in your apartment with a brand new bag of sugar before you could say “Betty Crocker.”

The second thing that makes me jealous about Eric’s apartment is something I’ll call “cappuccino proximity.” Again, if you walk out the front door of his apartment building and stand on the sidewalk, you have a clear view of two obvious caffeinated beverage vendors. (And perhaps there are even more lurking around that are less obvious...) But standing there on the sidewalk, you’d have a decision to make – should you turn left, and walk a block to Starbucks? Or – perhaps if you’re in a hurry – should you turn right, and walk the HALF-block to Caribou Coffee? Quite a dilemma.

And third, I’m rather jealous of the various options for dining (and even entertainment) that are within walking distance of Eric’s apartment. Two of the nights I was there we simply left the apartment and walked a couple blocks to various eating establishments. We spent some time one morning strolling past old historic homes on our way to the Pancake House (a great place, by the way). And the last day I was there, we made the difficult cappuccino proximity decision (it was Caribou Coffee this time) and hiked several blocks to the zoo. In the middle of this loud, busy city, we saw giraffes grazing and meerkats fighting and bats hanging in a cave and lions pacing back and forth… all of them, I’m sure, waiting for the day when they can make a break for it and run to the Starbucks down the street.

Anyway, I had a great week hanging out with Eric. And since Dave reminded me (in the middle of a conversation about “life-changing” fried chicken) that my blog has been less-than-exciting lately, I thought it would be a good time to update. And by the way, Dave, we ended up going for Indian food – and while I’m sure the chicken would’ve been good as far as chicken goes, the Indian food was awesome. Yum. Yuuuuuuuum. I’m sure there must be a decent Indian place in Austin somewhere, and now I’m determined to find it. But perhaps I’ll try the life-changing fried chicken next time I’m in Chicago. So thank you, Dave, for compelling me to update my blog. And thank you, Eric, for being such a cool brother and for letting me hang out with you.

And especially thank you for living so close to all that coffee… :)