Monday, May 21, 2007

It's gonna be a GREAT day!

I mean, if the conversation I just had is any indication of how things will shape up.

At the magazine, stories are assigned to writers, editors, and top editors, and the flow of copy is reflected suchly and so-forthly. (Reporters gather the information and provide their backup to the writers, who produce the story and then send the text to their editors, who tinker and send it to the top editor, who does any final adjusting and question-asking, and then sends the story to copy for any and all grammarizing. [See, that's what happens when you're a copy editor: You invent words and pass them off as elite language. I is cool. Note the use of bracketization!])

So I was just about to send a story into the next round, but nowhere in the files did it indicate who had written, edited or top-edited it. I found out who edited it, so I called him to ask who else worked on it with him. But it didn't come out that way:

Me: So I understand you're working on this story.
Him: Yep.
Me: Did anybody top you? Or ... bottom you?
Him: [radio silence, until he started cracking up and I went to find the closest corner to hide in]
Me: Oh, god. I'm getting fired.

Why can't I just ask people if they know who wrote a story? Why must I fashion myself into the tooliest tool in the toolshed?

Ah well. May you all get topped and bottomed today. It's the only way to complete the process.

Also, speaking of inappropriate expressions of affection, I finally bought myself a laptop. A brand-new MacBook. I've never had a new computer before, and I must say, I caress it gingerly and stare at it with admiration, trust and longing. It's a little disturbing, but I can't help myself.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

College ruled

Josh is graduating from his mater's program on June 1. Crazy.

This leaves many mixed emotions floating around our house, manifested mainly in his emotions and my emotions clashing to create a tornado-like vortex smack in the middle of our living room. See?

Josh = sad about graduation
Me = happy about graduation
Josh = freaking out about working again
Me = Oh. my. god. pleasegetajobalreadyHELP!!!!!
Josh = casually mentioning going for a Ph.D.
Me = aggressively announcing that Josh getting a job will lead to professionals painting our apartment, dinners in actual restaurants, payments of bills in full, purchasing of tickets to movies and other entertaining activities

Even so, I'm so unbelievably proud of him. I suppose that goes without saying — getting any number of additional degrees is a major accomplishment, and Josh and I have faced various and sundry challenges on the way to this moment. But this whole trek was not easy for him. It's heart-wrenching watching someone you love more than anything in the world struggle and work hard and succeed as they embark on a plan that, in an ideal world, will make their, and by turns your, life better in the long run.

But that run is very long. And that's where the tug comes in. Because while I've always known that there was no choice and that Josh absolutely had to go back to school to make a complete career change — he was so miserable in the music business and knew so clearly that he needs to use his substantial brain for something greater than marketing Joe Cocker records — I didn't know how hard it would be for me. I pictured myself as this stoic spouse who'd be quietly controlled at every pass, taking the financial uncertainty in stride and holding my breath until we could hang his graduation gown over our windows because we still don't have curtains. In a word, I'd be a martyr.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

I think how it feels to be married to a student was best worded on one of my very favorite Web sites, Television Without Pity. For those of you unfamiliar with its greatness, TWoP is an extensive discussion board of TV shows — viewer forums, episode recaps, media posts, blahblahfuncakes. So this morning I was reading the brilliant Al Lowe's recap of last week's episode of Gilmore Girls (I still can't talk about how tomorrow is the series finale; please don't push me, I'm still not ready). There was a scene in which a couple named Paris and Doyle were talking about their summer trip, backpacking through India, and how hyperintense Paris was packing dozens of textbooks to help her prepare for entering Harvard Medical School in the fall. Doyle wants her to relax and enjoy their adventure; she tells him she'll relax in four years when she gets a top-tier residency.

Al writes:

Doyle smiles the knowing smile of all grad-school widows. He sweetly tells her how much he loves her, but I know from experience that in his brain, he is seeing the gaping maw of his stressball future spread out before him like an endless flaming river of pain. Hmm? What's that? Why, yes, my husband is working through his PhD comps right now. Why do you ask?

And that's exactly what it feels like. There's the love, the appreciation, the amazement, the admiration, the support, the knowledge that it's the right thing to do and that you'll both come out better for it. But then there's the reality that for the time they're in school, your own life virtually stops until they're finished, that the number one priority in your house is their education, that the majority of real-world responsibilities rest on your shoulders while they do what they have to do, and that your forward momentum as a couple hangs back while your spouse is walking the hallowed halls of SomeSuch University and talking about how they wish they could stay in school forever. And let's not talk about the debt. Oy, the debt.

It sucks.

It took me a while to stop waiting around to do something for myself. I held my breath for a long time, waiting for the whole thing to be over, and feeling guilty any time I shifted the attention to my own needs. Eventually, for better or worse, I hopped to it (and now everything is about memememememe!). Started my blog. Found a therapist. Searched for some freelance work to make some extra money. Bought myself a much-needed computer (it's supposed to arrive tomorrow! I'm already having an inappropriately torrid relationship with it and I haven't even gotten it yet). And I complained a lot, but anyway. I suppose I didn't realize for a long time that my life didn't HAVE to stop, but it did slow down more than I was comfortable with. And now? In my typically graceless manner, I've been comparing Josh's impending graduation to having to pee: You know when you're on your way home, you feel like you have to pee, but you can hold it? And then when you turn the corner to your house you start doing The Dance? And then you get to your front door and you start unzipping your jeans? And then you open the door, drop your keys on the floor and hope to all that is holy that you remember to lift the lid on the toilet before you sit down? Yeah, Josh graduating feels like that. My body knows it's close, and I have to pee. Problem is, transitions run slow, urgency runs fast. I can't wait for this next phase to kick in, for us to re-start our life together, to do all the things we've been talking about doing but haven't felt we could until he graduates and gets a job. It's all so close. I'm having a hard time calming down. I think our paranoia is our own worst enemy.

But I'm so proud of him. Did I mention that?

On a related topic, this is the last time I buy someone a gift three weeks ahead of time. His graduation present is taunting me from its hiding space. It's alive, I tell you. Alive!

Also: After more than four years, we replaced our shitty backyard fence with a far less shitty fence. We had to do this partly because a section of the fence was missing and partly because we have this sitcommy nosy neighbor who accosted us with virulent lectures about how to take care of our property every time we went into the backyard. (Bear in mind, her backyard was a dirt heap for years, and she trained a puppy by basically torturing it, leaving it alone in the backyard for three weeks. Don't get me started. I called the ASPCA.) She managed to corner the contractor to tell him how he should install the fence and she probably vented about "those pesky kids next door," but now the fence is taller and more opaque than ever and WE NEVER HAVE TO DEAL WITH MYRTLE AGAIN because we've completely blocked her out.

I hope. People like that never really go away, do they?

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Monday, May 07, 2007

I wrote all of this on purpose.

I know I work at a celebrity magazine and everything, but very little gossip news dictates my emotions. I admit to being fascinated by the whole Anna Nicole Smith death thing at first because, while the death itself was hardly shocking, the whole scenario was about far more than her dying. And, of course, I'm happy when there are things to be happy about (Kiefer Sutherland — usually wearing a flak jacket — on my TV every. single. week. hotness.), sad when there are things to be sad about (myfavoriteshowever, Gilmore Girls, ending its run this month), and flabbergasted when there are things to be completely befuddled by (Tom and Katie, even as a concept). But it's fleeting, and I move on. I get lunch or something. Except with the Gilmore Girls thing. I'm not over that one yet.

But Paris Hilton getting sentenced to 45 days in jail carried me through the weekend. I wonder when I've ever known such happiness. As my dear husband is so fond of saying, "I love it when people like that get it." (And then he goes on a five-minute-long rant about how unfair life is when Cartman on South Park never gets it, but that's entirely irrelevant here.)

I want to send that judge presents. Dinner for two at the restaurant of his choosing, perhaps. Some might say (well, Kathy Hilton, for one) that the justice system is making an example of PoorLittleParis, but it makes no difference to me. I find her reprehensible, her sense of entitlement repulsive — and the only sad part about all of this is that she'll come out the other end (without having served out her entire sentence) even more famous than before, and this time, her fame will be linked to an actual reason/event/ordeal, as opposed to her current fame, which hinges on what exactly? Showing her vagina at will? Smelling like a ho? She'll (have someone ghost-)write a book, she'll launch The Simple Life: Prison, she'll (have someone else)design a line of clink-friendly crotchless, bejeweled jumpsuits. Paris Goes To Jail (TM) is going to be a brand, and we'll never hear the end of it. All of this pales, however, to the effervescent joy I feel in just knowing she, even briefly, is being stripped of the creature comforts she worships so much. Because without the money she had nothing to do with earning, who is she? Ultimately, I know I don't know this person, and I'm not one of those gossip-rag people who delights in the misery of others, but this is just awesome. Even if her public persona has nothing to do with who she really is, her public persona is so douchey — I don't care how much she loves animals — that this cannot be classified as anything other than a delight.

It's reported she told the judge, "I'm very sorry and from now on I'm going to pay complete attention to everything. I'm sorry and I did not do it on purpose at all." (And then proceeded to blame all her troubles on her rep, the cop, Mother Nature, Mother Jones, the Tooth Fairy, Homer Simpson and Alec Baldwin.) More than anything — more than her skeevy demeanor, her public stupidity, her wonky stink-eye, her inexplicable fondness for unbelievably huge sunglasses — that statement, for me, is the complete embodiment of who this girl is. She's the type of person who feels protected when she spins her behavior into something that was not done "on purpose." She feels absolved if she says she's sorry. She's safe when she plays dumb. And she thinks that if she wears her headband like a halo, she'll be sent home with the apologies of the court and the bailiff's phone number.

(Tangent: What's the deal with celebs wearing headbands to court, anyway? Didn't work for Winona, didn't work for Paris. Maybe the innocent thing will read more true if they wear those rubber bands with the marbles at the ends of them. That totally worked for me when I got caught cheating on a math test in third grade.)

The whole "I did not do it on purpose" rigamarole makes. me. CRAZY. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS. Own up to the fact that you opted out of your own life so you wouldn't feel stressed or inconvenienced. It should never be expected, of course, that Paris Hilton would take responsibility for her own actions — look at her parents, for pissakes — but it's not just Paris. It's people in general. How long can someone live an honest life while shucking their motivations onto others so they can just coast? I'm seeing it so much around me lately, and maybe I'm not completely innocent either (where are those rubber bands?), but I just feel like educating yourself to the details of your life and progressing with them in check is, to borrow from one of my favorite movies, "a moral imperative."

Hm. My soapbox smells like Irish Spring.

Oh, and a free pair of marble rubber bands who whomever can name the "moral imperative" movie.

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