Friday, July 30, 2010

Endorsements: July

Author's Note: I actually went back and read a little bit of this one, and thought it'd behoove me to let you know I was pretty hammered during the entirety of writing this. More so than usual. This could be a waste of time for you.

Every month I used to do an entry where I would express and comment on the random thoughts that plague my head for nearly 24 hours a day, including the hours during which I try to sleep. But then I got a Twitter, so I could just type up these random thoughts concisely and the same amount of people would read them as will probably read this (about three). I’m not saying I won’t do more random thoughts entries in the future, because I probably will. You can’t restrict all randomness to less than 160 characters. In the meantime, though, I’ve been kicking around some ideas I could do at least monthly that would be fun, and figured I’d concentrate on what I like. So, I’m going to endorse some things, and tell you why I endorse them. Maybe you’ll agree with me, and maybe you won’t. I’ll warn you right now: I’m not going to endorse Lady Gaga now or probably ever, unless she somehow finds a way to murder Chad Kroeger with a whale harpoon. (I’m contractually obligated to make fun of either Nickelback or something in reference to Lady Gaga every time I write something.)

Ties: I wear a tie pretty much every day for my job. I’m not saying this because I want you to think I’m sweet and have a very professional and high-paying job (because I don’t, and if I did, I wouldn’t tell you because I like to pretend like I’m poor, so you can add “Being Bohemian” to my list of endorsements for the month), but because I’ve found a certain amount of power in wearing a tie that I never knew existed. You see, from grades seven to 12, I dressed not unlike Allen Iverson prior to the NBA instituting a dress code: baggy clothes that were much too large for me and were almost exclusively t-shirts and basketball shorts or sweatpants. I see pictures from that era and am reminded how much things and people change over time. Instead of me increasing my clothing size as I get larger, I’ve gone the opposite route. (I used to wear XXL t-shirts, and now I usually wear large. I’m not sure about my underwear size, because I don’t wear underwear.)

Anyway, I’m trying to say I became conscious of what modern fashion entails, and how to make myself look somewhat presentable, at least in a sartorial way. I’m pretty sure I could get by on most days without wearing a tie to work, based solely on the fact that a lot of the people I work with only wear them on days it would be rational to, when they know they’ll be going out of the office to conduct an interview or check out a court hearing and because nobody ever says anything to me when I don’t shave for like six consecutive days and look like a homeless person (the only thing separating me from one is the tie, actually). The reason I wear a tie is because it adds a certain level of “pinache” I wouldn’t normally have, especially because I enjoy wearing paisley ones and other ridiculous types. It makes you look a little better than you would have otherwise, no matter what.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, it takes roughly 30 seconds, give or take, to put on a tie in the morning. Do it. That’s like 1/87th how long it takes those kids from Jersey Shore to do all that stupid shit to their hair that only makes them look like a tanner version of me in my fourth grade school yearbook picture (minus the turquoise turtleneck, which could actually be considered more fashionably acceptable now than a fucking Affliction t-shirt). You might get some compliments from the girl who works at Sheetz who sometimes will hook you up with extra croutons and grilled chicken on your salad, especially if you’re rocking that white, navy and baby blue paisley Michael Korrs number she complimented you on that one day.

Also, I have it on good authority that, if you take a woman out and you’re wearing a tie it will increase your chances of her wanting to make an amateur sex tape with both parties naked except for the tie by a pretty significant percentage.

Sperry Top Siders and Nike Free Runs: The former is a boat shoe, the latter is a running shoe. Both are unfathomably comfortable once broken in, kind of like a baseball glove or a middle school dance once Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” from the seminal film “Armageddon” is played and kids start making out. The reason I love both of them is because they’re actually more comfy without socks. Since May, I’ve worn only these two selections of footwear for the majority of the time, with sandals making brief appearances when I’m really trying to let loose. I literally have not had a pair of socks on my feet since May, and that’s reason enough for me to endorse these products, because I, for some reason, despise wearing socks. Aside from that, though, I can’t really say much about the Nike’s, except that my pair has neon green on them, which I feel is pretty rad. The Sperrys, though, those are good for other reasons, paramount among them being that they make you look richer and more sophisticated than you really are. It’s key to not overdo it, though. Leave the pink Polo at home, and if you do decide to wear it, leave the collar down. Unless you want to look like someone whose Dad paid his way into that financial internship and uses primitive words like “Brah” when attempting to have a conversation about torn clothing with people who work at Abercrombie & Fitch. (Side note: I see this on a lot of people’s Facebook profiles who work for A&F under employment information: Employer: Abercrombie & Fitch. Job Description: Model. What the hell is that? The first time I saw that on someone’s profile I was like “No way is that dude a model for Abercrombie. I’ve seen those guys on bags and oversized posters, and there is no way he fits the mold. This guy doesn’t make me feel like I should never eat a French fry again. “ I’ve since learned that’s what they call the people who work there. I think a more accurate description would be something like “salesman,” or “clothing folder.” That’s like me putting Employer: Newspaper. Job Description: Pulitzer Prize Winning, Eight-Time New York Times Best-Selling Author instead of Reporter.)

Workout clothes on women: Since I’m apparently blogging exclusively about fashion right now (I watched The Devil Wears Prada recently), I felt like I should endorse this. I don’t know why, but I love a girl in a sports bra and some running shorts. I’ve got no real reason for this. I just like it. This falls into what I like to call the “Apple Jacks Paradox,” which means you like something for no real explainable reason, other than “you just do.”

The Anti-Hero: The anti-hero has been around for a very long time. It’s someone who is likable for unconventional reasons that don’t really mesh with them being a good person. I came to the conclusion that I liked the anti-hero when I was watching a Showtime marketing clip from Comic-Con the other day, where they interviewed David Duchovny and Michael C. Hall from the shows Californication and Dexter, respectively. Duchovny plays Hank Moody, an alcoholic and promiscuous writer, and Hall plays Dexter, a serial killer who only kills bad dudes. They have characteristics that make you like them, even though they aren’t good people like Superman or Mother Theresa. It’s more realistic for a person to relate to an anti-hero than a true protagonist, because most of us aren’t real heroes in any sense. Anti-heroes have room to make mistakes that you’ll almost immediately forgive them for If Clark Kent committed adultery, I think a lot of us would be a lot more let down than if we found out some dude was a murderer that was only offing people who had also killed numerous innocents while robbing a bank. An anti-hero doesn’t have to be good all the time, and that makes it so much more significant when they actually do something admireable.

Lady Gaga could turn, in my eyes, from a complete disappointment (except for the song “Alejandro,” which I do enjoy) to at least an anti-hero if she assassinated Chad Kroeger.

Also, I just opened my refrigerator to get another lemonade for grown-ups (I’m making my own Mike’s Hard Lemonade except with more booze, which means I can’t endorse drinking like somebody who has chest hair this month). While in there, I found some uneaten Chicken McNuggets left over from a late night trip I made to McDonald’s last night to combat my currently healthy cholesterol levels. I immediately chuckled a little bit to myself (pretend I’m Carlos Mencia and always laugh at the shit I do) and said out loud in my empty apartment, “Those aren’t going to make it through the night.” As a person who is trying to be healthy and drop some weight, I guess that makes me an anti-hero. Without the promiscuity or sociopathic tendencies. This may not have even made any sense. I just wanted to convey that I have McNuggets in my fridge, which should probably make you immediately jealous, because they’re (arguably) better cold. I think maybe it cancels out some of the grease, or something.

Using “Haha” in text messages although you’re not really LOL’ing: This has become commonly acceptable technological vernacular, and I definitely embrace it to a (probably) astounding level. I’d say about 74 percent of my text messages are either precluded or ended with “Haha.” Sometimes both. I don’t know how this ever came to be, but I can definitely say that it conveys a non-serious vibe in a type of communication where true meaning and emotion is difficult to trace. I can honestly say I’ve gotten text messages where people haven’t put “Haha” in there and I’ve been nervous about how serious they were trying to be. If you throw the “Haha” in there, it immediately relieves a certain amount of tension that’s inherently found when you’re a bit nervous about the way a person might respond to a not-so-thought-out or potentially controversial text message

Parenthesis: Because I use them way too much.

Staying up for 24+ hours straight: I did this earlier this week. I had an excellent night that ended much later than I’d expected going into it (one of the best nights I’ve had in quite some time). The end came when I returned to my apartment in the college town where I used to live (I have an apartment there until mid-August) at just after six in the morning, except I decided that wasn’t the end. I opted, since I was sobered up by that point, to drive myself to my new home about 45 minutes away. The sun was coming up while I was driving, and it’s just a cool feeling to know you’re still awake 24 hours after you woke up the day before. It feels like you beat some kind of system, and when you do finally pass out it’s extraordinary.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

They Took My Dog

I woke up this morning to a call from my Mom. This isn’t a rare occurrence, since I often sleep past the hour when most people deem it appropriate to make a phone call, and my Mom loves making phone calls. When she makes them, she likes to talk about a lot of things, many of them slightly trivial. So, I wasn’t all that worried about it, I didn’t panic and immediately assume something was wrong.

But then she told me that she and the other four members of my family not including me were all going to the vet early that afternoon to put our dog, Tori, to sleep. I met this with a surprising amount of stoicism, since she was my first real pet and I’d pretty much grown up with her. She’d just turned 14 1/2 the day before. I told my Mom I thought it was the right thing to do, because she’d been sick with an aggressive cancer that had started in her right hind leg sometime during the winter and had been spreading ever since. Also because my Mom immediately revealed to me that Tori was bleeding rectally. This combined with the fact that she could only barely use three of her legs, had lost more weight than Jared Fogle and would spend a pretty good chunk of her day (when she wasn’t sleeping, which was rarely) either laying in her little bed or barking at things that weren’t there convinced me that what I was telling my Mom I meant with all my heart. I’d already come to this conclusion when I went home last weekend, and had found her in a terrible condition. I had to pick her frail, bony body up -- she was sickly, supermodel skinny, with more hair -- and take her outside to do her business, and she struggled greatly even popping a squat, because of her useless leg and low energy levels. I was further convinced that it was time for her long and, I like to think, good life to end when my Dad, who was the closest to Tori of any of us (as soon as he came home from work, she followed him like, well, a puppy), said he thought it was about time to put her to sleep.

All of this confirmed for me what I’d always really known, that my first pet was going to die really soon, but I still had a glimmer of hope that maybe she wasn’t that bad and would continue to stick it out. This changed when my best friend Evan, who has known Tori for almost as long as I have, came over. In the 11 or so years they’ve been acquainted, and in the hundreds of times Evan has walked into my house, Tori has never not given him an unbelievable amount of shit. She fucking hated Evan, with every fiber of her tiny being, and she would bark and bark and bark incessantly at him anytime he was in her domain. She could sense his arrival, and she would find him. This time, though, she acted like she didn’t even know he was around, and I suppose she probably didn’t. When he was near her, she didn’t even bark, except when she would growl or let out a little yelp at the wall, which definitely wasn’t Evan. She was at that point where she didn’t know her best friend from the people she hated the most. If she didn’t want to hassle Evan, I knew she didn’t really want to live anymore. Since she was a small, indoor dog, he was her equivalent of the postal worker or paper boy. She’d lost the ability to fight her own fights, realized it, and unlike many bitches the world over she decided she didn’t want other people to fight them for her. She’d become dependent and docile, and that wasn’t my dog’s personality (dogonality?).

When I said goodbye to her that Monday before I headed out of town to go back to my job and, I guess, my new life, I knew it was probably the last time I would ever see her. I told her a bunch of shit about dog heaven that I’m not even sure if I believe or not. Firstly, I don’t know if there is a heaven, and I’m alright with not knowing for many, many years. Secondly, I don’t know if, when a dog does go to heaven, they get to eat as many Milk Bones as they want. (Who can really be sure if canine obesity exists in heaven? If it does, there’s got to be a ration on treats and Beggin’ Strips.) But I told her both of these things, and I told her I’d miss her. I gave her a kiss and she returned it. I’d like to think she knew whose nose she was licking at that point, and I do. (If Evan had come that close to her face, she would’ve bit his off, no matter how low her energy level might be or how shitty she was feeling.)

A little while after I got off the phone with my Mom, she sent me a picture of Tori (the same one as above). She was in the bed she frequented, and she was wrapped in a towel. She looked so skinny, skinnier than I could ever remember her being before. Even on the night we brought her home, when she was pretty close to being a newborn and tiny puppy. I remember it vividly. We played with this little puppy we were so happy to have, that we thought we’d never have, and we watched “The Haunted Mask” episode of the short-lived Goosebumps television series. When I saw this picture my Mom had sent me, I cried a little bit. I’m not ashamed of that, because I think that’s an appropriate action. Also, it takes absolutely nothing for me to start crying, unlike most self-respecting men, but there’s not a thing I can do about it, so hey. I cried mostly because I would miss my dog, but also because she was going to die while everyone in the family was around except for me. I dwelled on this for a bit, then went for a run, showered and went to work. I wanted to act status quo, and I wanted to try and not think about the fact that, in a way, I was glad I didn’t have to be there to see the family dog put down.

Most of the day went reasonably well. I knew what was going to happen, and knew it was the right thing. I waited for the text message to come from someone in my family to tell me that the deed had been done. My big brother texted me, told me she was dead and that she hadn’t seemed very opposed to a lethal injection. He said she went quietly, and my family took that to mean she was ready. I have no doubts that she was.

Later in the night, I had to go to the conclusion of a little league baseball game for something I was doing at work. When I got there, it was pouring down rain, and the game was delayed. I decided to wait it out in my car. When I was sitting there in the rain, I started thinking a lot about Tori. At first, I was thinking about the times when she was sick, and I got kind of upset. Then, I decided I’d think about all the good things I remembered about her. I got out a notebook and sat in my car writing down some of my fondest memories of her. I thought about how intelligent she was. She could shake with both paws and do all the normal dog tricks like sitting and playing dead and rolling over. I especially remember how, when she wanted something, she would “dance.” She would get up on her hind legs, and drape her front paws out; she looked vaguely like someone dancing without a partner, like she was learning the steps in an introductory ballroom dancing class. She would look at you and continue to dance until she got what she wanted. She wasn’t unlike many people in that respect. I thought about the times we’d taken naps on my bed or on the couch, and the time I taught her to modify her normal handshake skills into a “pound” or “daps” fist-to-paw bump. I thought about a lot of things.

Then, I got back to thinking about how I hadn’t been there for her death. I realized after a while that this was a stupid thing to get caught up on, because her death had taught me more about life than maybe her entire life put together had. For years now, I’ve been a pseudo-emo kid who kind of adopted the idea that when every living thing in the world dies, he, she or it dies alone. (I attribute this to way too many sad songs, books and viewings of Donnie Darko.) The important thing about Tori dying was that she was surrounded by almost everyone she’d spent significant amounts of time with. To dwell on the fact that all of my immediate family had been there at the time of her dignified death when I was unable to be was the wrong way to look at it. I needed to look at it as a lesson. Everyone doesn’t die alone, and it’s important to keep a group of people close to you who you might want to have around when you do die, regardless of whether there’s a heaven, hell, that place the people from LOST were hanging out or anything else.

She taught me that, among other things, and so I guess her work here was done.

It just kind of sucks that Evan can come into my house now and not suffer any hysterics or hassles, but so it goes.