Monday, April 28, 2008

books n stuff

You know what book I like? Of Mice and Men. Whenever I come on to my blog and am trying to think of a title--my titles usually spur the topics of my posts--I think of writing, "I done a bad thing, George," as the title because it seems so catchy, like it would encompass anything if you really wanted it to.

Moving on. Slacking off is easy. My friends and I were sitting in the corner at Extended Day after school and being lazy in all different, beautiful ways. One was playing with her Mac laptop charger, which has these plastic pieces on it that clip on and off for no reason. Another girl was in front of her massive pink Dell laptop on Yahoo Answers, on which she spends apparently a lot of time and loves. The third girl was stretched out with her To Kill A Mockingbird packet and dictating questions for Pink Laptop Girl to ask on Yahoo Answers. Me, I was just spacing out and making up excuses to talk. At one point I annotated my social studies textbook (without a highlighter), but that's about it.

Obviously we are in desperate need of some LIVES, please.

Then, because God just can't let me have one good day without anything bad, my mom called me while I was on car line. See, I'd heard that track was canceled because of the bad weather, but oh no. She informed me there had been a meet and why wasn't I there. I responded that I had no idea.

This is why I am screwed. Can I not have a single nice day? Can I not talk and say things that don't sound weird (for once) and flirt and prove the English teacher wrong and finish all my homework really fast? One time?

No. I should've known.

And no I am not being a whiner!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

cycles of addiction

Unfortunately, I'm in health for the last quarter of the year, so today we learned about inhalants. The only thing that stuck for me was the term "cycle of addiction," which, although it's about something serious, strikes me as funny whenever I say it or think it. For instance: cycle of addiction!!

Doesn't that make you laugh? No? OK.

I have a confession to make: I've been a bad Jew. I've chewed 2 pieces of gum, eaten 2 Tootsie Rolls, stolen 2 chips from my friends' lunches, and had a piece of cake made by my friend Katy that was absolutely to die for (hate the expression but had to use it, sorry).

I feel so naughty.

Also, there's something else I have to rant about--that's what this blog is for, anyway, ranting. I hate it when other people get me into trouble. My friends have gotten me yelled at by my advisor three times in the past two days, and it's definitely not fun. Also, in French class today, the girl behind me kept kicking my chair, so I kept moving up my desk, until the teacher finally singled us out and scolded us because she "had to talk." I'm sorry, but she's lecturing all class; does it kill her to say something else? And it was the other girl's fault. It just was. If you're reading this, Olivia, I am totally going to get you kicked out tomorrow.

Just you wait. All of you...mwahahahaha...

Just kidding.

Hey, guess what? I got a 16.7 on my 100-meter today at the track meet. It was fun. Some people said I was fast. Also my friend lost her tiny stud earring under the bleachers in a moment of brilliance. Yeah, I do hang out with some smart people.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

kids at my school

Kids at my school are so judgmental. Just because someone goes to public school or is black doesn't mean anything. But because they're all stuck-up and go to private school, they think they're so amazing. My English class was interesting today because my teacher wouldn't call on me when I had something contradicting to say about what this girl had said. She'd been saying stuff about how "at a public school, someone with a Louis Vuitton bag is, like, popular, but the other poorer kids aren't, so the girl with the Louis Vuitton bag would be more comfortable hanging out with the other rich people."

No comment.

Monday, April 21, 2008

"Why I Am Iris" update

Fast forward six days. It was the Wednesday before my bat mitzvah. I was lying on the couch with one of Hannah's magazines and a bowl of Rice Krispies—therapy food and intellectual reading—thinking about seeing if there were any decent movies on TV when Dad walked in with the kind of determination on his face that either meant I had a chore to do or he had accomplished something and was about to tell me to get off the couch so he could watch some kind of sport. Or occasionally it meant he'd just gotten off a particularly long conference call. In that case the determination didn't really make any sense; I liked to imagine it was determined frustration with whomever he was just talking to.

He slapped down a piece of graph paper on the coffee table in front of me. Hasty black words ran across the page, letters running into one another and being capitalized where they shouldn't have been. When Dad was a child in school, teachers had tried to make him write with his right hand because they were still convinced that being left-handed was evil. He wasn't ever actually taught to write because he supposedly a spawn of Satan. Talk about bias affecting someone's life—now we know that even spawn of Satan deserve to learn to write. There was also a pen in his hand, the Bic kind that lets out lots of ink when you don't want it to, which he didn't seem to know what to do with. He discreetly set it down on the front hall radiator behind him. "That," he told me authoritatively, "is what has to be done before Saturday."

I gulped. "Not family cleaning time. No way."

"Why doesn't anyone ever want to clean?" I gave him a look. "Fine, fine, you're young, I get it. Youth is wasted on the young."

"Dad. The saying is, 'Life is wasted on the living.'"

"Goes either way. Look. I need you to make a list of songs for the candle lighting, and then I need you to help me with my not-a-Jew prayer." OJ Simpson, not a Jew, I thought, remembering a lyric from Adam Sandler's 'Hanukkah Song.'

"How long do I have for the list thing?"

"About an hour. Then I'm going to the gym." My dad got more endorphins than most people out of exercise and practically had an obsession with the gym. Happiness and wisdom were his two biggest aspirations, what he wanted out of life, and between his crazy job, family problems, and other whatnot, he had a right to go to the gym if it made him happy.

"OK, thanks." I smiled briefly and returned to my cereal. Finally, I gave in and turned on the TV. Unfortunately, as tends to happen when you trust a television, everything on was terrible. The choices were few and far between. Did I want to watch Super Sweet Sixteen or Dora?
What was I asking myself? Who would want to watch either of those shows? Depressingly enough, the answer to that question was most likely everyone I know. I poured the rest of the Rice Krispies down my throat. Manna from heaven for a tortured soul.

The next day, I left school early to get a facial and manicure. The best part about that afternoon was that I got to miss band practice and softball. My friend Julia and I made up half of the whole flute section in our school band, and she was dramatically better than I was. In fact, I was so embarrassingly bad that I made every effort not to actually blow any air into the instrument so I wouldn't wreck her chances at becoming part of the New York Philharmonic. The same was true about Julia in softball; I felt like all the spectators at our games were only there to marvel about how magnificent that girl with the flowing blonde hair was and how she must have been playing forever. She was the best friend who did everything better than anyone else, who would end up being a supermodel and a high-paying lawyer, who would retire by the age of forty and live in a beautiful Park Slope apartment. There was no way I could ever beat Julia. It was saddening to know her and yet an honor to even have met her.

The woman who painted my nails was wearing way too much eye makeup. She reminded me of my fifth-grade social studies teacher with her caked-on foundation and layers of overly thick mascara. Her eyes were sunken deep into her face, which made it incredible that she could apply so much glittery green eye shadow. The overabundance of cosmetics made it difficult to look at her.

At one point, Dad came in to see whether it was time to pick me up. He turned out to be fifteen minutes early, but Makeup Lady was thrilled. She eyed him from beneath her Vera Wang glasses, which she obviously didn't need for vision but was wearing because they were the hallmark of New Jersey suburbia: not classy but shiny enough to pass. "Is that your dad?"
I noted her not-too-shabby diamond wedding ring. "Yeah."

"Ha! Thought he was your older brother."

Ick. Don't talk. Just give some of that attention to what you're getting paid for. You're painting my fingers. My nails, lady, you're supposed to be painting my nails. God. "Haha. Yeah." I grimaced.

"What does he do for a living?"

Oh my GOD. "Um, he's the director of the IT stuff for a major law firm." Her face expressed totally undisguised incomprehension. "He works with computers at a law firm," I said slowly.
"Oh computers, that's nice."

Uh-huh. You know what else is nice, is having your nails painted. My mother is not paying eighty frickin dollars or however much this salon scams you for so that her daughter has red hands and white nails at her bat mitzvah. PLEASE FOCUS. "Yeah." I twitched.

"Oh sorry." "No, no, it's OK." Of course it's OK. Everything's OK when your bat mitzvah is in two days and your grandmother has decided that both her brother and stepbrother have to have prayers in their honor and your math grade is suffering and your brother was just hospitalized for three days. Everything has to be OK.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

savannah outen

I'm trying so, so hard to dash through and write my entire short story. I was on a roll until I looked up "Stop and Stare" on YouTube and found Savannah Outen's video of it. Turns out she's a 15-year-old "online singing sensation" with over 29,000 subscribers on YouTube. Her music video just debuted at the high school where she shot it. She has a single and music video coming out later, as well as singing the Star Spangled Banner at the LA Rangers game on April 27th, my sister's birthday.

Cool, huh. Not that I think she's so great or anything--I mean, she sings pop songs, which I hate--but it is amazing that she really has gotten this far. It's pretty fairytale.

Oh and by the way, if you comment on the snippet I posted just underneath this post, I'll give you the awesome ending I've already written (guess I'll have to write in the rest of the story too).

part of my short story, "Why I Am Iris" - middle

That night, I dreamt my parents got divorced. It was bizarre, a mix of Little Manhattan, which I'd just watched, and my mom and dad's fight over Bailey. It had been the middle of dinner when the dog's leavings had been spotted on the front hall rug. My dad loved that rug. He'd bought it as a Christmas (which we celebrate for fun) present for himself, along with the cell phone for my sister and new curtains for me. My mom and I, however, hated the rug with a passion and wanted to get rid of it, expose the beautiful, golden hardwood floors with honey-colored diagonal slats that ran a constant throughout our entire house. To put it simply, the rug was ugly and reminded us of stewed tomatoes; the floor was pretty and reminded us of caramel; basic human instinct appeals towards physical attractiveness.

My dad was to this rule, as with every other, an exception. He went for tattered Converses, paint-spattered jeans, leaving cobwebs trapped inside the windows because they provided "character." He adored the tomato-sauce rug with the polluted-ocean border and was terrified to remove it lest the wood floors' glow become diminished by thunking backpacks and stomping feet. When he spied, out of the corner of his eye, the dog turd on the carpet, he got that look in his eye. The look he got when talking about putting his dad's huge old Poughkeepsie house on the market, the look he got when my sister talked back, the look he got when my brother left the seltzer uncapped or I didn't say hi to him after he got home from a week in Boston. This was what we liked to call the don't-look-at-me-like-that look. If only looks could kill.

So he sent the death glare to ten-week-old Bailey, eating the strap on Hannah's flip flop, and stormed over.

"Do it how the vet said," my mom piped up. My dad, of course, grabbed the thing's neck so hard that I screamed. I am not a scream-y girl, but when I heard Bailey squeal like that, I admittedly got scared. He shut Bailey in the crate and returned to his seat at the head of the table. At this point, my peaceful night of chicken and rice became Dinner Theater.

"I would really like it if the dog were paper-trained," Dad said angrily, eyes glistening.

"Well this is how I'm doing this," Mom replied, still calm. "I raised four dogs, all paper-trained like this. I know what I'm doing."

My dad's face hardened. "I'm getting sick and tired of my house getting ruined by the damn thing." He was pulling the man-of-the-house card. Don't do it, I mentally cautioned him, don't do it, she hates that, don't...

"Fine. Do you want me to put down the paper and station myself in the kitchen and watch it all hours of the day? 'Cause that's great. I'd do it. I have nothing else to do." This is what happens, I telepathically told Dad. She has unearthly amounts to do. Don't even go near that nerve. She's gonna kill you. Or worse, she might even cry...oh Dad, please...

He rolled his eyes at the speed of quicksilver. "I just don't see much of an effort being put into it."

That was it. Right to the chase. I could sense what was about to happen. "You don't see much of anything." Ouch. I felt a vibe; I knew Hannah and even little Nat were both thinking about Dad's other life in Boston, how much he was never home and we missed him, how much Mom must have missed him. It was almost like she was a single mother. I remembered how, last winter, Dad had promised to tell his boss Mary that the traveling had to stop or he would quit. Since then, the flying back and forth had increased so much that every single week, without fail, Dad spent two, three, maybe even four nights a week in Boston. Whatever happened to promises? I could kill Mary.

Mom went upstairs. I looked at my chicken. Nat looked at Hannah. Dad had the look.

So the day after that fiasco, when I woke up from the divorce dream, I ran downstairs to make sure my dad's other promise hadn't been broken: that he would not repeat his parents' actions and put us through the turmoil of divorce. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw Dad bent over an Ampad Evidence legal pad. His arm rested at an odd angle. I tilted my head to further examine it. I must have turned my head too much, because he glanced up momentarily and yelped, knocking over a carton of orange-mango juice with his weirdly bent elbow. He let out a colorful streak of swears. "Sorry," I offered.

"Jesus Christ." Apparently he'd spilled most of the juice onto his lap.

"Don't use that language, please, Brett," my mom sang, appearing in the cupboard with Bailey in her arms. She'd walked from the landing to the kitchen by using a short stairwell we'd dubbed the "secret stairs." I never understood why it was ten steps shorter than the staircase we used to get from the same landing to the front hall. I probably never would.

"Don't let the dog—" Dad stopped short at Mom's warning glance. "There's decaf in the second coffeemaker," he sighed with a tone of slight defeat.

"Great." She smiled and put Bailey down, who promptly dove into her Ikea food bowl. I walked around to the kitchen table and pulled a chair over to the cabinet with the plates, reaching for the highest shelf. I needed to wake up. Hopefully pulling a muscle or two in my arm would do the trick, since I couldn't make my own coffee and obviously no one was offering.

"What the hell." Hannah made her charming entrance.

I jumped down from the chair. "Iris, your father hates when you do that," Mom said drearily. Was this supposed to be news? As four- and two-year-olds, my sister and I had been disallowed to even jump up and down for fear of knocking down the plaster on Dad's precious basement ceiling. Thus I ignored her.

"What the hell yourself, Hannah." I punched her carelessly on the head. "What are those, like, swim shorts or something?"

"They're called Soffes, idiot." She kicked me in the back. I grabbed my spine in pain.

"I know they're Soffes but those are, like, obscene. Where'd you get them, Maggie?" Maggie was her tiny, scantily clad best friend.

"Shut up," Hannah retorted, all-knowing. She selected a coffee granola bar and pulled off the wrapper lazily.

"Hey...those are mine...I need caffeine..." I halfheartedly tried to grab it from her, but Hannah crammed it in her mouth. "Twit," I groaned.

"Butthole," she responded, mouth full of coffee beans that were rightfully mine. "Whereza ice cream?" she demanded, opening the freezer. She found it and commenced eating Rocky Road with a tablespoon.

I resigned myself to position of eldest-child bottom-feeder.

Mom had ignored the entire interaction between me and Hannah but thankfully picked up the word 'caffeine.' "Iris, would you like some coffee?" My eyes widened. "Can you make it yourself?" I opened my mouth to respond that she knew I couldn't make my own. "I mean add your own sugar and Lactaid and whatever." I nodded dolefully. "Here." She handed me a steaming mug of coffee and a sack of sugar. I dumped as much as would fit into my cup.

"Thanks." I started up the stairs.

"Go get dressed," she yelled after me. I sighed and jogged up the three flights of stairs to my attic room.

School that day was uneventful except that I fell up the stairs on the way to science, making me late for the test. Luckily my entire class was also late because the school administrators obviously had no idea that they were putting one huge clique together in the same science class. Except me. I was not part of this clique. But that was probably good for my health in the end.
When my mom pulled up the car at home, I jumped out of the passenger's seat and flew over the porch stairs to check the mail. Frantically, I flicked aside Oriental Trading, Pottery Barn, ShopRite coupons, Vanguard bills, and various other unwanted junk until I got a paper cut on my thumb. Sucking on the bleeding finger, I looked down at what had slit me open: a tiny envelope. "Yes!" I called out to my mom.

"How many today?" she asked, climbing up the porch steps—with much effort, due to the four bags of grading I had not helped her with.

"Um..." I turned over the envelope. "Crap." I hate when she does that, I thought.

"What's wrong?" She turned the key in the door.

"Nothing..." I muttered. Hannah skipped through the front hall, kicked me in the shin, and leapt over the couch. "You know," I called to her, grabbing a piece of cold pizza, "I really appreciate that you open the response cards for me."

"No problem."

"I mean, why would I want to know who's coming to my bat mitzvah? I mean, like, duh." I sifted through the trifle bowl containing the 'yes' response cards, looking for the one that had come today, whose envelope had been left out on the porch. Aha—oh. Into the 'yes' bowl, Hannah had put a response card saying that the Anand family of five could not come.

"I know you love me," Hannah said in a singsong voice. "And also, hey, did you notice the envelope I left out there?"

"Ya think?" I shoved my bleeding thumb in her face. She shoved an exaggerated toothy smile right back in mine.

"Help me." She walked backwards on her heels, sort of dancing, to the dining room table, where a red binder completely obliterated by the name 'Hannah' and a myriad of smiley faces lay uncomfortably underneath a math textbook with a tie-dye Book Sox cover. "Now."

"No." I heaved my backpack onto my left shoulder and began trudging upstairs. Nat's iPod lay on the third stair. I swiped it; mine had gotten destroyed in the washing machine.

"You suck," Hannah yelled up to me.

"Love ya too." And as was customary of my sister and me when we were trying to get back at the other for something minor, I taped the picture of Kevin and Brennan, the dorky family friends who were the same ages as us, onto her bedroom door. Above it I scrawled the words 'Hannah + Brennan' in a heart. It was immature, but even the slightest, most ridiculous suggestion that we would like one of the Hughes boys irked us to no end. I smiled at myself and went upstairs to work.

Friday, April 18, 2008

ugh so sick


I'm sick once surprise this time, I'm sure, as you all--I guess I should say "y'all" there--are used to hearing me lament about how miserably bad my immune system is.

It could be the 4-hour track meet in the freezing cold wearing nothing but shorts and a t-shirt, which was immeasurably stupid of me. It could be the gross multitude of chocolaty food left over after the post-bat mitzvah brunch. It could be eating salad that tasted like fish--don't think it was supposed to taste like that. But whatever it is, I've been bedridden for four days, and I'm missing several assessments, a piano lesson, a track meet, and a dance. That's great. Just great. And to top it all off, my horoscope has been jabbering on about how great my "love life" is supposed to be this week, especially today. Well, unless I'm going to have a miraculous recovery or they're talking about my recent affair with Jolly Ranchers, chocolate, seltzer, and Gilmore Girls, they're barking up the wrong tree.

Then again, I guess I should have seen this coming. In November maybe, as I'm supposed to look out (doc's orders) for the fall and eating too much candy on Halloween. But the weather's been switched around, warm in fall and cold in spring, plus I ate very little candy on Halloween and there was so much bat mitzvah crap left in my house that I've been compelled to eat a truly horrifying amount. So it was bound to happen.

But I really do believe in my horoscopes, so it does kind of suck that it would sound so good today. If only my lungs didn't hurt when I breathe.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

M&Ms, maturity, and lots and lots of money

Although I may have supposedly reached the age of responsibility, maturity, and all that jazz, the bowl of M&Ms sitting seductively on my living room table, left over from the after-the-fact brunch, still lures me to the point at which I cannot help but get up every 5 seconds to grab a few.

There is enough "Jewish Mother" gum in my mouth for the US Army to chew. In my mind, chewing this gum keeps me away from the M&Ms and other threatening puddings, cookies, cakes, candies, pies, pastries, quiches, and bread on the first floor of my house right now. It's very difficult not to shove it all down my gullet, but I've experienced enough food regret this weekend to force myself to know better.
My family and I will be eating cake for the next year and a half or so, I expect. As you can see above, Colette Peters created a sick cake for my bat mitzvah. Simply sick. My mom and I met with her a few months ago for three hours, deciding finally on this design (the books are my favorites). She in turn made this magnificence materialize. In fact, many years ago, she created the groom's cake for my parents' wedding. We have a thing going, us and Colette.
So, I have to say that the expected--and certainly real--relief is overtaken by complete disbelief at the fact that the whole thing is over. Not just the service and the party, not just the day itself, not just the bat mitzvah itself, but everything that went into it. I will never practice again. I will never read my Torah portion again. I will never stress about who is seating where and whether or not Kaitlyn or Darria or my dad's important colleague, who sent me a tzedakah box that I didn't recognize as a tzedakah box until after a week.
Incredibly wonderful as it is, it's also slightly disconcerting.
Then again, who am I kidding, I'm thrilled. I'm ecstatic. And I've got the thousands of dollars, gold earrings, sign board, and "life cycle portrait" to prove it. I couldn't have imagined a day more ridiculously perfect.
Someone up there likes me...not to mention Uncle Lenny and Aunt Rhoda, who sent me $724.12 to boot.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

takashi murakami

Here are some pictures from the only Japanese artist I genuinely like: Takashi Murakami.

I went to the exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art this past Saturday when I was going to my old friend's bat mitzvah. My dad picked up a volume about Japanese art in their bookstore, and these pictures caught my eye in a flash. I hate Japanese art usually; the cuteness and clean lines annoy me to no end, especially in anime, which I loathe with a passion. However, I love this sadistic and happy grimness. Check it out and rate it. I posted them to a school forum, too.

Monday, April 7, 2008

reading and running, la de da

OK. I know I haven't been posting, but my mom decided that my siblings and I are not allowed on the computer at home anymore, or at least until next year. Fortunately, my dad is IT director of a worldwide lawfirm, so he's got my back. So let's get to the point, shall we?

I just finished reading White Noise by Don DeLillo, and I have to say I found it to possess many killer lines. Almost every page had at least a couple of punchlines. But I have to leave soon, so there's not too much more I can say about it.

Also, I just started track, and I love it.

Have to go. Thanks and later.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

burn baby burn

I guess it was going to happen sometime. Everyone burns out eventually, right? Just because I get a B doesn't mean that much. As Mark Twain once said, "Don't let school get in the way of your education." Amen, brother.

Is there anything fun about godforsaken Extended Day--as my friends and I call it, Extended Hell? Seriously, I don't want to come here and stay after school, and when I do have to come here, I don't want my blogging to be interrupted by people who think I'm too shy. I'm not shy. I just don't talk to people I don't like. If you think I'm too shy, that's really your problem.

And, my last firey topic, I just read here about the Wednesday afternoon blaze in a 25-story Brooklyn building. I guess it happens all the time, but this was in the New York Times, so this is the one I'm interested in. Turns out three firefighters were injured in my old town. Yeah, I know it's severely uninteresting, but it reminds me of my friend Aidan's dad. Aidan's father, a firefighter, died in 9/11. Aidan's grieving mother, Marian Fontana, wrote a bestselling book, Widow's Walk, about her husband and his death.

Sad, huh? And the kid, being my age, was only five years old when his dad passed away. Talk about tough.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

French fish fiche

Today was an interesting one in terms of April Fools' Day. I have my own take on it: I don't know what to do. My sister is very talented at playing April Fools' jokes on people; she once came back from spring break on April 1st and told everyone that the "splint" on her finger was from slamming her finger in a car door over break and that she was getting it off that afternoon. So the day after April Fools' Day, when the finger was once more bare, no one doubted that her joke was true. In fact, she came out from the whole fiasco with a vigorously signed false splint.

However, I was never able to come up with a good one. Even my mother is better than I am. One April Fools' Day, she convinced my father that he had a tick. Of course he was terrified, but even though he didn't know it was a joke until later, he wasn't all that freaked out because his entire family--they're from the country--has Lyme disease anyway. Not to be mean, but he'd just be fitting in.

Luckily for me, though, this year's All Fools' Day (did you know it's sometimes called that?) put forth a widespread joke opportunity: French class. I'm pretty sure all of the French classes in my grade had a worksheet with fish on it to color in, but I'm also pretty sure that only my class got so into it. Granted, people from other blocks were sticking fish on my back, but that's beside the point. My fish was covered--my own brilliant handiwork--in MY INITIAL! It was extremely fantastic. Even when there are no fish to color and cut out--and hopelessly mangle--we are an enthusiastic bunch.

So if anyone except me is looking for something to get out of this post...I bet you didn't know that April Fools' Day used to be New Years.