November 30, 2011

Small Talk

Oh man, so after all this talk about holiday parties I've actually been invited to some. To holiday parties filled with people I won't know. Which means I will have to small talk. Which means it will be awkward. Which kind of makes me not want to go. Which is lame because I was the one who thought it would be fun in the first place

It's just, I don't want to talk about my job. Oh well, I do this thing mumble mumble technical words spoken so quickly no one could understand but yeah I like it and I work with good people and yeah, I mean, I'm interested in pursuing new work, but I mean, in these tough economic times, but yeah. Oh. It was nice to meet you. 

And I don't want to ask you where you're from.

Oh. Gaston. Nice. 


Oh Michigan. I haven't been there.

Me? I'm from Newberg. Yes, the beach is nice. But Newberg is not near the beach. Yes, that's Newport. Ha. Ha.

And I don't want to talk about how we know the host because then it becomes this thing where you basically admit that you're not really friends, just acquaintances really, and are probably in their email address book under the label People to Invite to Cocktail Parties (B-List) and then it turns out the person is like, their best friend, and they're like, Yeah, I've never seen you before so I thought maybe you were just a random. Joke!

And how do you get out of a conversation when you don't know anyone else? In a normal situation someone who you know would come up and say, Oh hey. Let's gossip about so and so's new boyfriend, and you excuse yourself (or not, depending on your level of intoxication) and then you guys go cackle in the corner. But at a party with people you don't know, you just get to the point where there's nothing left to say but neither of you see anyone else you can latch on to and you start chugging your drink faster and faster as the conversation goes on until you can stop and say, Oh look. I need a refill. And then you run.

It's daunting. But I'm better than that. I will not let Holiday Party with People I Don't Know beat me. I'm working on a mental list of conversation starters that don't center around work or where you're from or how you know the host (Example: What's your favorite dinosaur?). I can be that person.

November 28, 2011

Workout Dignity

My main reason for joining a gym was that I needed a respectable place to work out. For many, many years I was gymless. My workouts consisted of pilates mat exercises, sporadic jogging, and those random toning workouts they present in womens' fitness magazines. I would do these in my living room (if no one was home, or in the privacy of my room, if someone was home). These random toning workouts also required cardio which I supplied by adding moves stolen from Flashdance and MC Hammer videos. When I lived in 834, Heidi always knew when I was "working out" because I would disappear into my room, weird thumping noises would commence (as I bounced around my room with weights in my hands), and I would reappear with a red face and disheveled hair. It was not for the eyes of others.

I knew I was going to have to relinquish my secret workouts once Sam and I moved in together, but that was a small price to pay. I mean, I enjoyed them, but my dignity was worth maintaining. Working out at the gym is like a pantomime of exercise. The smooth glide of the elliptical trainer, the effortless slide of weights on cables. Those machines are made for maintaining your cool in public. You can't come back from Donkey Kicks. You can't come back from the Twister combined with the 5-pound weight Fist Pump (patent pending).

I'm not sure what happened this weekend, but the illusion came crashing down. Perhaps we were both still drunk from the toddler-thigh-sized maple bars we consumed earlier that day at the Huckleberry Inn, but I suddenly found myself doing team ab workouts with Sam, to a mix he had created (it seems solely for the purpose of working out) and suddenly all bets were off. He was doing these manic pushup things while I danced around with hand-weights to Jerk it. Red Fang came on and we were both headbanging and leaping around the living room. We suddenly traded and he was spinning around in circles with the hand-weights while I lunged around with my hands on my hips. It could only be described as a diabolical workout frenzy.

And we shared it. He may never look at me the same, but at least he knows.

November 22, 2011

Reading Rainbow

In light of our current lack of sunlight, I've been reading like a fiend. In the summer I read less because I feel guilty for sitting inside when there is any hint of sunshine, so this absolutely disgusting weather is my green light for obsessive novel reading.

I just finished Jonathan Frantzen's Freedom. So good! An investigation of a love, marriage, a family's path through life ,and the choices we make in the face of infinite choice and well, freedom, this book is a total page turner with inspiring prose, well-crafted characters, and an all-encompassing nowness that is refreshing and accessible. I recommend.

I'm nearing the end of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (thanks Rachael) and it's been enjoyable as well. Since I was just there, it's nice to read something that takes place in Brooklyn and recognize the street names and all that. Graham Street! I was just there!

I'm looking for my next victim. Any suggestions?

November 18, 2011

Time to Party?

Okay, my inbox has been flooded lately with all these ads for special holiday dresses, festive accessories, and the like. Also, around this time the the lady magazines start giving you tips for how to avoid becoming fat at all the holiday parties you attend (like there is a never-ending parade of holiday parties, like your calendar is booked to the brim), such as: only drink low-calorie white wine and eat a protein before the party so you won't fill up on cream-cheese filled puff-pastry. So, what I'm thinking is, well, two things.

One, I love dressing up and this whole festive party dress thing is really appealing. I am the sort of person who will buy some crazy sequined dress (like the one above) with the thought that I will be able to wear it at some event at some time in the near future. Basically, this advertising is directed at people like me. Also, I love delicious snack food that is served with toothpicks. Who doesn't? I wouldn't even follow those tips, I would not eat a full meal before I attend the party and I would just wholeheartedly enjoy that delicious scallop wrapped in bacon. 

Two, I'm never invited to holiday parties. I mean, if you believe magazines and advertising, there are people out there holding charming, cocktail-attire soirees at which they serve eggnog and hot whiskey drinks, and everyone is covered in glitter, and there's mistletoe, and pompous laughter, and the evening ends with dancing and maybe a very classy gift exchange in which things like gourmet olive oil and tickets to Cirque du Soleil are traded. But I don't know these people. I'm not even sure they exist. But if they do, these parties are happening without me. And I think it's tragic.

My call to all of you is to host some sort of glamorous function that requires wearing fancy clothes. And invite me. Mostly because it will be fun, and also because I want an excuse to wear sequins (and I have some real treasures stashed away for the gift exchange).

November 16, 2011

How to Pick Up Portland Girls X

I went to New York last weekend and it was glorious. There is nothing like a long weekend to ward off the impending doom of winter doldrums. While I was there, I basked in the differences of the coasts, the odd sartorial choices of stray dogs, the neverending food and drink opportunities, and the slightly more aggressive path that East coast males feel obligated to take. I have a single friend there; we went out to bars and talked about various dating disasters and feelings and all that shit. Along the way I had some epiphanies.

Be a Metal Guy: Somewhere between the Bushwick Social Club and Ontario (Canada-themed bar, woodsy is in) I had an epiphany. My friend should be dating a metal guy. Metal guys are awesome. They always have been. Remember? While some of you were busy being dorks in thin cotton turtle necks and Charlotte Hornets starter jackets and playing Nerf football, the metal guys were wearing their black t-shirts covered with horrifying things under a sheepskin lined denim jacket and scratching band insignia into their binders with a protractor. They can play instruments, they have an encyclopedic memory of bands and rock history, and they will never make you listen to some song that they made using an Ipad app. 

The more I pushed this epiphany on my friend, the more I convinced her and myself. Metal guys are dorks but in an awesome, unselfconscious way. They don't like a band because it's cool, they like it because it rocks. They are loyal. They don't jump on bandwagons. They have nice hair. We went to a rock show on Saturday night and my friend was impressed by the amount of guys present, though the cute baby-faced one did turn out to be a girl. Either way, the crowd showed a refreshing enthusiasm that has been missing since dudes stopped dancing and started perfecting the toe tap. Metal guys will always have my vote.

Get Aggressive: West coast guys could learn something from East coast guys. I'm not saying you should try on some sort of Jersey Shore affectation, but there was a refreshing amount of eye contact in the bars. A random sidewalk approach even occurred, which obviously, was spurned but represented a determination that is sorely lacking here in the land of pines and rain. Let's be honest. People go to bars to meet other people. I'm not sure why, because it appears to be practically impossible, but when one is single, one goes to bars and looks around and hopes there is someone there who finds them attractive and loves kittens, gluten-free beer and dead-stock Levis as much as they do. Stop pretending you don't want to meet a lovely lady at the bar, make actual eye contact with someone, and maybe try to chat with her.

Try the Internet: Not just for sexual predators and women who are obsessed with marriage, cats, and long walks on the beach. Apparently everyone is doing it. There is no shame in internet dating. It may in fact be the dating mechanism of the future, and someday people will feel awkward and embarrassed when telling the story of how they met on a ferry when her hat flew off and hit him in the face. Not convinced? I know someone who is dating an attractive stripper. This happened via a popular free online dating service. Seriously. It doesn't mean you're ugly and desperate, it just means you want to date someone.

November 9, 2011

Going on a trip!

I'm heading over to New York tomorrow to hang out with friends. I have tentative plans to go to a Russian bath house, a flea market, and hope to come back with some gems. For some reason this song keeps playing in my head whenever I think about my trip, so you know, there's that.

November 8, 2011

Sordid Side of Town

Let's talk about the sordid side of getting married. The bachelor and bachelorette parties. They're weird right? Maybe I don't really get it because I grew up without television and my parents are the kind of people who didn't have the parties before they got married (not because they didn't like to party but they just didn't), but . . . . I guess I just don't really get it.

I understand having a night out with your friends. I think that's nice. But shouldn't they be a more fun version of a usual night out?  There seems to be this American mythology and expectation surrounding the notion of the bachelor party. I've attended a couple bachelorette parties and they have all varied pretty drastically, but there always seems to be penis paraphernalia and veils. For they guys, you see the ramped up version in movies like The Hangover and Very Bad Things, like, this is your last chance to touch a bunch of boobs and possibly have sex with someone (which somehow isn't cheating) before you are doomed to a horrible, monotonous existence with the one you love. This seems really counter-intuitive to the whole concept of marriage but the industry supports the idea that this is the guy's last night as a single man. There was even a show called Stag: A Test of Love. This show filmed the bachelor party and then showed it to the fiancee the next day and then filmed their horrified response. That was an actual show.

 So, I didn't really know what to expect when I went to Kyle's bachelor party. I was the only girl, which was fine, but definitely awkward. We got a back room at Pho Gia and set Kyle up at in a table in the center like it was last supper or something. I brought him a gag blow up doll I snagged at a garage sale, which we all tattooed with a Sharpie, and then we went to Sandy Hut for drinks and jello shots. The blow up doll was surprising popular. Or maybe not so surprisingly. He was pretty great.

If I have a party, I just want to go camping with my friends. What do you guys think? Are traditional bachelor/bachelorette parties an important part of getting married? Am I missing the point?

November 7, 2011

It's All Over

Wow, what a weekend. Being in a wedding is hard work, but also, not really because you're doing things like being a good friend and dressing up and smiling and drinking lots of wine and eating food and talking to people. So, you know, not like going out and chopping down a tree or something, but also not as easy as sitting around in the Romance Killers all day and watching television. 

Kyle and Emily did such a great job planning this wedding, and having been around for the whole planning process, I know they worked really hard, but also focused on the good stuff and didn't let it get all consuming. The result was so festive and fun and unique to them.

There was so much laughter and excitement and smiling. I got to see all my friends who don't live here because they all came out for the wedding, and it was just really great to see Kyle and Emily surrounded by the people they love, affirming the fact that they love each other. Highlights included getting ready at the Nines (thanks again Darci and Liz!), the story of how Kyle and Emily came to be, Emily's sweet catfish poem, certain unnamed men crying in the audience, the really awesome photo booth*, listening to the toasts (and giving one which was terrifying but also very exhilarating), girl's time in the bathroom complete with illicit whiskey swigs, talking with the bride and groom's parents about the bride and groom, dancing to Robyn, delicious chocolate cake, dancing with Laurence (he came up from SLC!), and finishing up the evening at our place with The Last Unicorn and pizza from Dominos complete with Awesome Crust.

*Kyle Carnes set up the perfect photobooth. Here's a post about it.

November 4, 2011

Wedding Weekend

As most of you know, I am a groomslady in Kyle's wedding. It's happening. The bachelor party went down last night, complete with a private room at a pho restaurant and a novelty toy blowup doll christened something Branson (Chuck maybe? From Death Wish? I don't know). I was a partial attendee last night. Partial because I only went to dinner and then to the Sandy Hut and ducked out once strip clubs became the main topic of conversation. More on that later. Anyway, the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner are tonight! The wedding is tomorrow! Everything is happening so quickly.

To get everyone in the wedding mood, here are shots from the last fantastic wedding I attended. Lauren and Ben were married down in the redwoods on Lauren's family farm. It was a beautiful wedding and included the added benefit of a weekend away and the adventure that came with it. I'm pretty sure we all walked away with some stories.

Congratulations to Kyle and Emily! And belatedly, once again, to Lauren and Ben.

November 3, 2011

New Favorite Band

Just when you think you will be stuck listening to the Beach House (or whatever) album on repeat  forever, a new band jumps out from the hedges. I mean, they're not new, but new to me. Mr. Gnome is from Cleveland, Ohio, which is also the inspiration for one of my absolute favorite Youtube clips. Barille's voice shares the keening edge of Karen O's, their guitar/drum combo rocks, and their cover art is comfortingly weird. What else could you ask for?

November 2, 2011


I want to thank you all for participating and entering all your great, creative entries in this contest. It was really fun to read everyone's stories and see your creative talents in action.

Also, just to remove the anonymity factor, our contestants were:

Elizabeth Burnell-Untitled

Johanna (Johanna's mom)-A Scary Halloween Story... A True One

Kyle Arthur-The Long March to the Bathroom (A True Story)

Gabe Rodriguez-The Haunted House (or, Deuce Numm-Bertew gets his First Pube

Sam Grant-Numbered graves photo

Kyle Carnes-Getting killed on the stairs photo

Emily Dart-Mclean-Creepy clown photo

Alexa Heidrich-The Origins of Elias

Benjamin Dayton-The Godforsaken

And by popular vote the winners of This Contest is Haunted are Emily Dart-Mclean's creepy clown photo (apparently that's her at age seven) and Benjamin Dayton's The Godforsaken. Nice job, you guys.

You win a copy of neo-classic slasher film Scream. Yay!

November 1, 2011

This Contest is Haunted Tie-Breaker

Tallying up the votes for this contest has been like watching an epic horse race between Man O' War, Secretariat, and Seabiscuit (minus Toby Maguire who obviously ruins everything). What? You've never been obsessed with books about racehorses?  Forgive the reference and contribute to the ultimate tie-breaker. There is a three-way tie and only two prizes. I need you to vote for your number one favorite out of these three. Please vote in the comments. The top two take all.


2) The Godforsaken

Denver’s annual zombie crawl is upon us once again. Last year was my first encounter with this disturbing phenomenon, having just moved to the city from Wyoming a few weeks before All Hallows’ Eve. I’ve since discovered that the living dead are drawn toward urban areas as there are just far greater opportunities for feasting on human flesh than out in the sticks. I had never before encountered so many fucking zombies in my entire life.

Sure, you have your enterprising ones disguised as traveling salesmen or delivery drivers come to the ranch every so often, but being loners, these specimens are easily dealt with, relatively. You can spot them by their jaunty walk, and occasionally then have scars of gaping wounds, but they usually know enough to cover those up. Three guns are necessary. At least a twelve-gauge rifle, the biggest shotgun you can get your hands on, and a pistol with a decent kick. An initial shotgun blast to the midsection slows them down as they approach—don’t wait to see what they’re selling, to be sure, they’re peddling your goddamn demise—after the first shot, they’ll be dazed but don’t think you’re done. As they’re staggering and screaming all fucked up like—faking pain is a tactic they employ—you have to run up, getting as close as possible, and sink the rifle shot into the cranium. The pistol is for back up at close range only. And you better hope to Christ you don’t have to use it. Once they’ve stopped moving, you have about twenty minutes to sever the legs and arms, and what’s left of the head. If you wait too long, they will reanimate on your ass. This is the worst part because the smell is horrendous, and contrary to popular lore, those limbs do not easily separate from the body. Each part must then be buried at least 7 feet below ground and not within a fifty-yard radius of any of the other parts, neither from that particular zombie, nor from any others you’ve previously buried. Each spot must be clearly marked.

I was shitting dynamite when I discovered Denver’s substantial zombie population and the lack of adequate land to dispose the fuckers in. And on top of that, realizing that amazingly, I’m one of the only people in the city who knows how to properly kill and dispose of a zombie, I damn near called it quits and moved back home. But I stayed, if only for lack of money.

A year has passed, and tonight those godforsaken bastards will erupt from the ground like a gonorrheic discharge upon the streets of Denver, and they won’t leave until they’ve had their fill of human flesh. Knowing I can’t possibly eliminate the entire zombie population from Denver has been disheartening as all hell. I’m just one fucking guy after all. But that’s not stopping me from doing my damndest for the protection of the human race. A zombie infestation can get out of control faster than a Wyoming cop’ll have their hand up your ass under the pretense of a narcotics crackdown. For shit’s sake, I’m not going to let that happen.

Dressed in full camouflage, I carry a golf bag with my guns, a hacksaw, some beef jerky for fuel, and a water canteen, to the alley next to Dos Locos, a major stop-off on the zombies’ annual prowl. I hide behind a dumpster roughly twenty-five feet back from the street. A Dia de los Muertos celebration is in full swing. The playful mariachi music falls on my ears in stark contrast to the unsavory task at hand.

My plan is to pick a large male out of a pack as they pass by the entrance to the alley on their way to devour their unsuspecting victims. I’m hoping the first kill will be sufficient to scare many of the zombies back to their graves, because I just don’t have the man power or the space to sever and place more than one or two of them. If this fails, the vile, rapacious fucks will surely tear me limb from limb.

The first batch to pass is no good. Mostly females and skinny ones at that. Hard to shoot and won’t spook any of the others. Just’ll piss them off. I wait for another twenty minutes or so with no good shots. I get hungry and break into the beef jerky. Just as I’m taking a swig off my canteen the perfect specimen appears. Tall and wide, surrounded by a group of about ten other zombies and a few people dressed up for the Day of the Dead fiesta who don’t know any better. Luckily the idiot humans are on the periphery of the bunch. I drop my canteen and grab the rifle; the shotgun would probably hit the humans at this range. I aim and fire. The big sonofabitch goes down. No stagger at all. Everyone else is screaming and running away like I planned. The big one is on its back writhing. I reload and run up, center the barrel’s end near the temple. The mariachi band has stopped. The whole fucking restaurant is deserted save for two guys peaking around the corner of the building watching me. I fire again to end it. The decayed brains splatter my hands and face. The two guys look scared. One of them turns and vomits. I wipe my face with my sleeve and yell to them that everything is OK. It’s dead, I say, and the others have fled back to their graves. We are safe for another year! They run. It’s an understandable reaction from someone who’s never seen a zombie killing. I figure they’ll be fine, and set to work quickly sawing the limbs off. In the approaching distance, sirens blare, and I know everything is going to be alright.


Not so very long ago and not so far away, an unsuspecting new family moved into the spooky, decrepit fixer-upper on the corner of Bones Blvd. and Skeleton Street. The old-fashioned piss-yellow Victorian was obviously haunted yet inexplicably appealing to the merry-go-round of buyers who, like clockwork, moved in and then out, always screaming and frazzled when they turned over the keys back into the hands of Dolores Doodie, the neighborhood real estate agent. Year after year, Dolores would do a little Annette Bening-in-“American Beauty” routine in the newly cleaned, empty house, giving herself a pep talk along the lines of “I will sell this house today!” despite the moaning and groaning soundtrack continuously provided by the floorboards and walls of the home. And year after year, an attractive new family would swoop the place up, high on the dreamy hopes of fixing the place up and reviving its full potential as a neighborhood cornerstone.


And so, not so very long ago and not so far away, the Numm-Bertew clan pulled into the driveway of the old haunted house on the corner of Bones & Skeleton, their blood-red Previa minivan sparkling in the moonlight (they had driven all day from their former hometown and arrived at their new home only once the sun had long set).

The family battled cobwebs and the lack of a porch light before reaching the front door, toward which little brother Deuce was extending his open hand when the thing clicked, croaked, and screeched open without any damn body turning the knob. Deuce’s two older sisters gasped in terror at the haunted house cliché, clinging to each other for protection in an inexplicably sexy way, with both sisters’ visibly pert nipples standing at serious attention in matching tight tank tops as the moonlight cast down upon nothing else but their boobs. Little Deuce paid no heed to his super sexpot teen sisters, of course, owing to his lack of pubes and the fact that, until kids get pubes, haunted houses are still cooler than boobs.

As usual, mom and dad were suddenly nowhere to be seen. Deuce Numm-Bertew and his wet hot American teen twin sisters were technically orphans, you see, but the ghosts of their dearly departed parents were so concerned for preserving the virginal purity of their should-be porn star daughters that they manifest themselves physically in a blood-red Previa whenever the twins were about to lose it to a football team and whisked them away, along with little Deuce, to a whole new hometown and a whole new life.

Just then, a BLACK CAT/JOLT OF SPOOKY MUSIC jumped down from nowhere and scared the shit out of the twins, literally. Deuce rolled his eyes, mumbled “typical” under his breath, and pushed the front door all the way open, revealing a dark gaping expanse into which he bravely stepped. Faced with the classic dilemma of whether to remain on the scary front porch where you and your hot twin just sharted in unison or follow your little bro into an even scarier haunted house, the girls opted to chillax with their poop on the porch and pray for a football team to come along and deflower them in the moonlight.

Inside, Deuce groped pathetically in the cobwebby darkness with the hope of finding a light switch. Little fool was too young to know what everybody does by the time they get pubes: that haunted houses don’t have light switches, and that the place is only illuminated when the demonic powers that be are damn good and ready to light a bitch up. Just then, JOLT OF SPOOKY MUSIC/LET THERE BE LIGHT!!! All at once, the haunted house was ablaze with jack-o-lanterns, hundreds of carved pumpkins lit from within by candlelight, each and every last one of them bearing a strained, constipated expression that was neither sinister nor intimidating yet also not sad or even ironically dopey.

JOLT UPON JOLT OF SPOOKY MUSIC as the house itself begins to shake, quake, even, with the bizarrely straining pumpkin faces becoming even more bizarrely strained with every passing moment. Little Deuce wasn’t scared, though, because having spent all eight of his living years with twin teen hottie sisters with severe sharting anxiety, Little Deuce recognized the nature of these expressions almost immediately.

Without hesitating, Deuce became a man: he grabbed an axe from the nearest place where axes are kept and ran for the nearest mainline pipe. With one fell swoop, as the house was groaning and moaning and heaving and hoeing all around him, hundreds, no, thousands, of groaning, moaning, heaving and hoeing jack-o-lantern faces aglow with the look that only backlogged feces can be blamed for, Little Deuce slammed the axe into the sewer pipe as hard as he could, freeing his new home of her lifelong suffering with one valiant gesture, the act that made Little Deuce just plain Deuce.

And so at that very moment, when the most infamous haunted house on Bones/Skeleton burst from within to flood the entire neighborhood with decades worth of pent up poop and pee, Deuce got his very first pube, becoming a man. As for the house, well, it was no longer haunted at all, freed of the ghosts of feces past and allowed to breathe and be free at long last. With the first rain came a little less poop on the streets, then the second rain and so on, and by the time several years worth of torrentially rainy winters had passed, the formerly haunted house (and the three or so square miles immediately surrounding it) looked good as new.

And so Deuce Numm-Bertew lived happily ever after, with lots of pubes and a poopy twins fetish as his main companions, plus the annual Christmas card he sent to the realtor Dolores Doodie, thanking her for another year in the house she sold his ghost parents.