I blame my sister (costume edition)

When I was in elementary school, my family would get really into decorating the outside of our house for Halloween. My older sister, who was a teenager at the time, was especially into making it legitimately creepy.

One year, when I was in fourth or fifth grade, I had just gotten home from trick-or-treating, and my sister and her boyfriend were passing out candy. I was dressed as a gypsy girl. As we stood on the porch waiting for the next round of kids, my sister had a vision. “Kelly!” she said. “Go sit in that chair and pretend to be dead!”

Obediently, I draped myself across the chair, eyes closed, mouth slightly agape. I must have been like that for a while (and possibly fallen asleep), because by the time I heard the rustle of candy dropping into plastic bags, I was over it. I abruptly stood up – at which point the little costumed boy on our porch let out a blood-curdling scream. Apparently he’d been a little too convinced by our ruse, and thought I’d either woken from the dead or was a dummy come to life.

His mom was pissed. It was very awkward.

WTF, sis?

Fast forward ten years…

This time it was not actually Halloween. However, I was home on break from college, and my sister excitedly called to tell me that she and her neighbors were throwing a Napoleon Dynamite-themed costume party. I was pumped and started crafting the perfect outfit to be Deb: calf-length leggings, a short, pastel tie-dye dress, fanny pack, slouchy socks with sneakers, and of course – the piece de resistance – a major side ponytail.

I showed up to the party feeling pretty good. I walked in, and it was a scene straight out of a movie – music blaring, everyone’s heads turning in slow motion to stare at me, and my heart thumping with the realization: no one else is in costume.

Soon my sister emerged from the crowd, covering her mouth with her hand to hold back laughter. “Oh my god,” she said. “Oh my god, I forgot to tell you we changed it.”

Shortly thereafter I grabbed hold of a bottle of wine, and thus began an epic failure of a night, the details of which do NOT need to end up on the Internet – but all of which I do blame on my sister.

Happy Halloween, sis!

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I don’t know about you, but I’m [SO NOT] feeling 22

I haven’t slept through the night in about two weeks. Saturday night, for example, I slept from midnight until 3:20 a.m. By 5:54 a.m. I was making muffins. By 6:45 a.m. I was in the fetal position under an afghan watching Everybody Loves Raymond.

So I apologize in advance if this post is unreadable, because my mental faculties have severely declined. Like yesterday at the gas station, halfway through filling my tank, I realized I had chosen – not regular, not super – premium unleaded. Then very nearly cried about it.

It’s been a fun couple weeks! (I have a feeling the culprit is a big stressful change about to occur in my life, but that’s not what I want to get into — let’s keep it nice and frivolous today.)

Aside from having a hard time accomplishing basic tasks, the biggest side effect of lack of sleep has been this: I look awful. I once blogged about the many situations where I physically cannot look pretty – this needs to be added to that list.

Once upon a time, in my early twenties, I could stay up til four, consume many margaritas, and wake up the next day all bright-eyed and rosy-cheeked. Sure, my hair may have been tousled and my eyeliner smudged, but in a cute way – not in a horror movie way which is what I’m working with now.

I literally looked in the mirror yesterday and thought, “Well, this is it. I’ve lost my looks. It’s all downhill from here.” And then I tried – very slowly – to reason with my sleep-deprived mind. That doesn’t make sense, I told myself. You’re still only in your twenties. It can’t all be over. There must be an explanation for why you currently look like Kristen Stewart’s much older and even more miserable aunt.

And then it dawned on me: oh yeah, because you haven’t slept in days.

When I was 20, there was a period of months where I routinely went to sleep at 2 a.m., then hopped out of bed at 6:30, showered, did my makeup, straightened my hair, and went to work looking fresh. Sure my energy would dip in the afternoon, but it was nothing a quick brownie break couldn’t handle (which, of course, I could consume daily without gaining weight – because I was 20).

But friends, that’s all over now. Now, lack of sleep turns me into a shell of a human – and an unsightly one at that.

But, hey. To quote The Mindy Project: “You’re not 22, so what? No one is.”

And if you are 22…enjoy it. Soon you too will need a solid eight hours…and a really good moisturizer.

Didn’t we learn this in kindergarten? (A customer service story)

Yesterday morning I was out of coffee, so I dragged myself out of bed, threw on a grandpa sweater, and drove to the nearest Starbucks. There’s a Dunkin’ Donuts right down the block, but their coffee kind of tastes like jet fuel, and besides, I wanted to see if I could get my hands on an apple fritter (no such luck – those things are elusive).

I immediately regretted my decision. I stood in the unmoving line while drama unfolded at the register, ultimately resulting in two women getting their money back. I watched as the two people ahead of me fidgeted and shifted their weight. All the poor guy in front of me wanted was a chocolate chip cookie, and the woman a chai tea. Finally, I reached the register and ordered a grande caramel iced coffee and an everything bagel.

This is not how it went down (source)

“Tall caramel iced coffee,” called out the girl behind the drink counter.

“I’m sorry,” I said to the cashier, “is that my drink? Just checking because I ordered a grande.” She consulted with her coworker; they then proceeded to argue about it right in front of me.

She returned to the register. “Ok, and a multigrain bagel.”

“Oh, no, it was an everything bagel.”

“Ok,” she said, ringing it up. I looked at the screen; it said “multigrain bagel.”

“Oh, um, that was an everything bagel,” I said.

Just then, the other girl called out in an extremely agitated tone, “I have a grande caramel iced coffee over here – SOMEBODY ordered it!” Whoa. I finished paying and walked over to pick it up. At which point the drink-maker muttered loudly, “For fuck’s sake.”

Seriously!?!? (The cashier then appeared – and handed me a multigrain bagel.)

Here’s the thing…it’s not about getting the wrong kind of bagel or the wrong size coffee. Who cares? What I don’t understand is the rudeness. I’ve experienced this several times recently, and I just don’t get what possesses someone to be blatantly rude to a complete stranger, especially one who is being polite to them. It’s so odd to me.

I still have nightmares (source)

I understand customer service jobs suck. I get it. Years ago I worked as a hostess at P.F. Chang’s when it first opened in the mall. If you think people in suburban upstate New York won’t wage an all-out riot when they’ve been waiting three-plus hours for their chain restaurant Chinese food – well, they will. It gets real.

What I don’t understand is what it is about customer service encounters that brings out this rudeness in people – on both sides of the interaction. Didn’t we learn this stuff in kindergarten? Treat others as you want to be treated. Be kind to your neighbor. Say please and thank you. What happened to the Golden Rule? Can’t we all just get along??

Later that day, though, my faith in humanity was restored. I went to my local Italian market for meatballs and the kid behind the counter – probably about 19 or 20 – was the most delightful human being imaginable. “What a nice boy!” I said to my boyfriend as we walked away. (“What a nice boy”!? Am I elderly? I don’t even know.) Then the same thing happened at the supermarket. Two sweet and wonderful people to one horrifying one? Not a bad ratio. 

Still, I did e-mail Starbucks customer service to let them know that in the future, I would go to Dunkin’ Donuts where nobody swears at me.

Time to vent (part 2)

I feel bad breaking my long blogging dry spell with nothing more than a rant, but…that’s what I’m doing. Last time I vented, I felt so much better. Today I’m taking issue with…

  • Twerking. Not the dance itself. Not Miley Cyrus. The term twerking. Listen…Miley’s VMA performance was awful. We know this. She looked like a drunk 12-year-old, and it was embarrassing. But for me, the worst thing to have come out of foam-finger-gate is the fact that I now hear the word “twerking” on a daily basis. Still. Can it please just stop? I can’t take it anymore. That, and the fact that every time I see my little sister now, I myself am forced to say, “Please stop twerking.”
  • Littering! Recently I was at my parents’ house talking to my mom on the front porch when a guy drove by, rolled down his window, and hurled his Dunkin Donuts iced coffee cup onto the street. (My blood pressure is literally rising as I type this.) What the %@#&$!? What kind of person thinks that’s ok? Here’s the thing…people do dumb things. People break laws. I’m not saying it’s right, but it doesn’t necessarily mean someone’s a bad person. But littering? That tells you all you need to know. If you throw garbage out your window, there is something fundamentally wrong with you as a human being.

  • Online dating sites (yes, sites, plural) for people with food allergies. This is a real thing. You can apparently even search by allergen to find a “match.” Um…is finding The One not challenging enough? Now it has to be The One With The Soy Allergy? I can’t even. Like, “So Jane, what are you looking for in a guy?” “Oh, you know, just someone with Celiac Disease.” How is that even relevant other than being able to share food? Is that really what defines you as a person? I have severe environmental allergies – should my primary criterion for a boyfriend be that we sneeze in unison when there’s a high pollen count? Honestly, maybe these sites aren’t the worst thing, because if two people meet on one…they probably deserve each other.
  • Updated to add: I really, really wanted to vent about this too, but I just couldn’t have said it any better myself. Amazing.

I’m glad I got that off my chest! Anything you need to vent about today?

Online reviews, wolf shirt, and Rick

I don’t really have any unhealthy addictions…smoking, drinking, overeating (usually), gambling. But online product reviews…ohhh, online product reviews. I’ve mentioned before that no one will go to the drugstore with me because of the amount of time I can spend scanning the aisles, reading labels, going back and forth between different brands of toothpaste or conditioner. But little do they know the black hole that is me, my laptop, and online reviews.

I can seriously buy nary a baking sheet without researching it on the Internet and reading all available online reviews. And, it’s virtually impossible for me to commit to something that costs more than $20 if it doesn’t have at least a 4.5 average star rating on Amazon. Sometimes I even read online reviews of products I already own, as though my own review isn’t the only one that counts at that point. I try to limit this obsession for my own sanity, but relapses always occur. A fine line sighting in the mirror can turn into an hours-long eye-cream-review bender.

Needless to say…I like to make an (excessively over-) informed decision. But lately…something has cast doubt over my trusty online reviews. Well, first of all, in the course of my job searching, I’ve noticed a lot of “jobs” that offer to pay people like $10-15 a pop to write positive Yelp reviews. Which made me realize the same thing probably takes place with products on sites like Amazon. Then, I started noticing that quite a few reviews I’ve seen just didn’t sound quite…real. In fact, they sound a lot like the blog comments that get filtered straight into my spam folder.

And then…I found Rick.

I was – what else – reading online reviews of facial serums when I saw one by “Rick.” It said, “My girlfriends, I have four at this moment, say I have a baby skin. My secret: Kiehl’s midnight recovery concentrate. It is great, make me handsome and hot.”

Haha, I thought, and moved on to another product. But there…was Rick: “My skin is pretty new since I started to use Kiehl’s ultra facial cream, One girl, one day, stopped me and give me a kiss just for that. She said: your skin is beatiful and shiny like the moon. We have started a romance, but I think she is so obsessive and jealous. I have to end our relationship.”

Intrigued, I clicked the link to see all of Rick’s reviews. Here are some of the items Rick has left rave reviews for:

Maybelline nude lipstick: “I have bought this lipstick, But I never used it, ok? I am a real man. A macho man! I am only curious about it!”

Oakley sunglasses: “i feel the Power when I put my Oakley! I walk trough the streets and the people are afraid of me! I feel like the Terminator, like the Man! I recommend!”

A pair of Ipath sneakers: “I loved this Ipath. Everyboby in my street likes too. They asked all the time where did I buy it. I don’t say to anybody because I wanna be the only one, the coolest guy, the guy that have the most beatifull and different tennis shoes in my street, hahhaha, I am very smart…”

A little girl’s dress: “It’s so small for me. I think I will wear as a shirt in my job. I work in a office. I am afraid people say I get crazy. I dont care! I like it!”

The only thing not Rick-approved? A One Direction iPhone case: “I hated! But I needed to buy for my niece as a gift. The case is the most horrible thing that I have seen in my life.”

And the most intriguing part of Rick’s reviews? Each and every one is an Amazon Verified Purchase. Hmm.

So really…who’s behind all these online reviews? Someone being paid to write them? A robot? Rick?? It’s thrown my whole purchasing strategy into a tailspin!

But…the upside is, it also reminded me of this. That classic page of Amazon wolf t-shirt reviews that first swept the Internet years ago and still makes me laugh to this day. There are now 2,571 reviews! And good news – the shirt is still available.

Don’t apologize to me

So, Paula Deen’s recent release of two (apparently there are now three; make it stop) aggressively awkward apology videos (seriously, I was slowly curling into a ball while watching them, they were so uncomfortable) reminded me how much I truly hate celebrity apologies.

I get that celebrities’ careers rely on fans and so they feel compelled to try to save face when they do something unseemly. But for me, nine times out of ten, the apology is more nauseating than whatever it is they’re apologizing for.

Like remember when Kristen Stewart cheated on Robert Pattinson – and issued a public apology? Um…apologize to your boyfriend, yes. Perhaps apologize to the other man’s wife. But apologize to…us? If anything, she should apologize to us for her terrible acting and the horrid facial expression she makes in every.single.photo. But for hooking up with some dude? No.

And what is with every celebrity who does something offensive checking into rehab?? Remember when Isaiah Washington used a gay slur to refer to T.R. Knight, publicly apologized, and then went to rehab? Seriously? I abhor homophobia as much as the next person, but since when do you go to rehab for being an asshole? But, it seems that’s the answer now. Cheat on your wife? You’re obviously a sex addict who must go to rehab – after you apologize to all of America, of course.

Not only are celebrity apologies awkward and unnecessary – they’re usually so disingenuous. Whenever a celeb gets caught doing/saying/smoking something inappropriate, they launch into all sorts of backpedaling and self-flagellation. They go to rehab, donate to a charity, shoot a PSA, whatever – but half the time, you know they really have no moral issue with what they did.

I recently read that Joel Madden was kicked out of his Australian hotel because the housekeeper found a small amount of marijuana in his room and called the police. In all likelihood, smoking pot is a part of his life and not something he considers wrong. Still, I kind of expected him to make like a celebrity, hang his head, and issue a statement about the evils of drug use.

But…he didn’t. He just said he was sorry if he caused anyone “too much drama.” That was it. And I loved it. Because he didn’t apologize for something that a) he was not sorry for, and b) in no way affects the rest of us.

I wish more celebrities would follow his lead, eliminating the constant stream of weirdly personal, dramatic, and fake public apologies we are subjected to (and for the love of God, any more Paula Deen videos).

Apartment living

So the other day, I was home alone washing dishes when someone stood just outside the door to my apartment and roared. Like a lion. They were alone. They were leaving my upstairs neighbors’ apartment after a brief visit, one of many brief visits said neighbors receive throughout the day and night…

I mean, what does one do when one is home alone and someone roars outside one’s door? Obviously go completely silent, peer through the peephole while still wearing dripping wet dish gloves, then run to the front window to get another view of the man/lion as he leaves your house, then text both your boyfriend and dad re: the man/lion. Then move your really cute coat and rain boots inside your apartment from their place in the hall in case such creatures return and are prone to theft.

Anyway, suffice to say, I think they might be…selling sandwiches up there (HIMYM, anyone?). And due to this, and their consistently waking me up between 3 and 4 a.m., and setting off all the smoke detectors in the house in the middle of the night, I have developed a hate-hate relationship with them.

This new development (they just moved in) has made me realize the tenuousness of peaceful apartment living. I am very live-and-let-live. I really don’t care what people do in their own personal time as long as it doesn’t infringe on others. I know one of my other neighbors likes to fire up some sandwiches, but they have obviously mastered the art of proper ventilation, so we’re all good. Before these new gems moved in upstairs, a single woman and her newborn lived there. She had craaazy baby daddy drama, which I have to admit I watched like a soap opera, but they never bothered us. Even her baby was quiet.

Prior to this apartment, I had an even more ideal situation, in that I lived in an attic apartment and the two floors below me were businesses. So they were occupied all day while I was at work, but empty when I was home on nights and weekends. The only other tenant was a single guy three floors below in the basement. Well, it was ideal in that I could play my music loud, clean at odd hours, and dance around my living room with impunity – less ideal in that I was always very aware that no one could hear me scream. (Except maybe basement guy and I was pretty sure he wouldn’t have cared.)

So, I realize I’ve been pretty lucky. And in more than a year of living in this apartment, we’ve maintained a delicate equilibrium, everyone coexisting in harmony (except when the girl next door had a stalker…). But, it only takes one expired lease to change everything. Now, I silently fume each time I hear my new neighbors pass by my door and imagine their eviction. I know that’s unlikely to happen, though, at least anytime soon. So I’ll just have to settle for my rage fantasies. Or roar at them?