taking the passive out of passive-aggressive

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Those damn SUV drivers--every time I think I've got their number they change up on me. First it was the flags, then this summer, it was the OBX stickers, and now it's the yellow ribbons! Gigantic yellow ribbons--well, sometimes they're red, white, and blue--and they say things like "Support Our Troops."

It's an innocent-enough sentiment, really--who doesn't want to support our troops? They're ours, after all, and they're troops too, so it would be downright bad not to support them. If you said, hey, I don't support the troops, you'd be some kind of Jane Fonda, wouldn't you? And everyone knows that except for that embarassing aerobics video, Jane was OVER once she stopped Supporting The Troops. (She was hot in that Bond movie, though.)

And yet I can't help thinking that maybe these people don't REALLY support the troops. Like maybe buying tons of gasoline at a time from states that support terrorism and inurgencies in Iraq is maybe, um, not exactly helping. But to suggest such a thing would be to suggest that one's own neighbors are, shudder, unpatriotic. And we can't have that. None of us is unpatriotic, right? United States Uber Alles!

So you go, SUV drivers. Paste those ribbons round the old oak tree. Make sure everyone knows that you've got one hand driving your tank, the other on a cell phone, and your mouth around Karl Rove's cock. (BTW, I cannot even believe i just typed the phrase Karl Rove's cock. You know I'm going to get a million google hits on that one, right?)

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Years ago, when I was young and cool and hanging out at bars with other young and cool people, I always thought it would be great to have some kind of Baltimore-hipster scandal sheet, or even a Liz Smith-style gossip column. You know, "So-and-so was seen at the Vous with a stripper who's not his girlfriend... guess the wedding's off!" or "Wonder where so-and-so is? In rehab in Virginia!"

Obviously this could never be done in any practical way, even in the days of the zine (although I saw a few zines that approached this line) but nowadays, young hipsters have the Internet! And I truly believe the Internet has reached its true potential with the Baltimore Craigslist Rants and Raves Board.

I've been spending a lot of time on this board, which is completely anonymous, reading the anguished gasps of twenty-something enraged hipsters over slights to their bands, their collective virtue, minor annoyances, bartenders they want to sleep with, and people around town they hate. Also present on the board are their more convetional counterparts, office workers mostly, who complain about the bitch in the next cubicle and their bosses. As a group, they gossip-monger and spread baseless rumors. They write long political screeds in either all caps, or no caps. They lament over lost loves. Most of the time, they are clearly drunk, even the ones in offices. Their collective desperation and rage is delivered with vitriol and bile under cover of complete anonymity.

I love it.

If you had to describe Baltimore to someone, you'd start with the fact that this is a very. very small town. You can't sleep with someone without everyone knowing about it--and remembering it for decades into the future. No one asks where you went to college--they wonder where you went to high school. Everyone knows everyone, and if you don't, you might as well get the hell out of town, because no one wants to know you if you don't already know someone. And the amount of alienated bitter people around here is astounding and wonderful.

I suppose if you are a person who feels at home in California or Portland or Austin, this city would be a living hell (another favorite topic on the R-N-R board: why this city is a living hell.) But having grown up in a city whose atmosphere is equal parts joyful drunkenness, rage, corrupt politics, and class warfare, I find it all very stimulating and amusing. "So that's what that asshole is up to now!" I might exclaim while reading a particularly gossipy post. "Thought he'd have grown up by now." Or "Why won't this bitch shut up? She's clearly off her rocker and it's no wonder her boyfriend broke up with her." Or "Wow. Everyone in town really IS drunk!"

I know that craigslist has RNR boards for every city; I haven't checked all of them out yet. But Baltimore's seems so far to be the most vitriolic and alcohol-fueled of any I've seen. It matches our civic character: we are a tough group of angry motherfuckers, who also continue to hold out the unreasonable hope that things could be better, if only all the assholes weren't screwing it up for the rest of us.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Wow! I placed 9,241st! Whatta record. This was behind the fife player, the old guy carrying a giant flag, and the obese short woman... but still, I made 10-minute miles for 10 miles, and that's not bad for a pack-a-day smoker, six months postpartum, who didn't train for the race and whose idea of pre-race prep is to go to a party and "carbo-load" the night before (five Bass Ales).

Bad side effects of running 10 miles: chafing below the arms, needing to wear orthopedic shoes all week, legs that feel 2 inches shorter than before I ran. Good side effects: lost two pounds immediately post-race, feel like a million bucks, and now I know I can do it.

I've never run with 20,000 people before, and that was strange. It took us 10 minutes just to get to the start line. My sister kept taking off ahead of me and then I'd catch up. My Ipod died at mile three--have I mentioned I HATE MY FUCKING POD--and I had to run the next seven miles with no sound but the labored breathing of fellow runners, barking police dogs, and Army guys saying "Hoo-AH!" at every mile marker. Oh yeah, and the battling Bush/Kerry runners, who kept cheering for their candidates as they ran. Jeez, people, give it a rest.

I'd also never been that close to the Pentagon before. You know, if someone said to an architect, "Please design us a scary-ass, gigantic military bulwark" they couldn't do any better than the Pentagon. Army boys in camo hung around looking a little bit confused (slinging their M16s over their shoulders and saying "Hey, are walkmans okay? Yeah, walkmans are okay... no cell phones! Cell phones are okay? Okay...") I have to admit I have a soft spot for 18 year olds in their hottie camo outfits. I'm all "Oooohh, protect me!" However, when you see them up close and realize that they are the final boundary between Us and the Enemy, you begin to lose a little confidence in the military machine. I mean, half of them don't even need to shave yet.

After the race, we turned in our shoe chips and in return they gave us a bananna, a bottle of water, a muffin, and a little medal. The little medal reminds me of these Soviet "znatchkes" we used to collect in high school--little propaganda pins with Lenin's head and stuff--only these had the scary-ass Pentagon on them. It was raining all morning, so we didn't want to hang around in the "hoo-ah" tents, as they are called, and instead got coffee and I smoked a well-deserved cigarette. Ah, physical fitness.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

I'll be running the Army 10-Miler tomorrow, along with a bunch of jarheads and other assorted military types, as well as dwarves, the handicapped, and small children. All of the above will pass me within 2 miles, and I'm sure I'll be wandering along behind, doing 15-minute miles while messing with my Pod. ("I simply have to find that White Stripes song or I'll never make it past five miles.")

My sister tells me that at mile 2, there is a clump of bushes where lots of people suddenly feel the need to stop and poop. Now, I don't understand this. Presumably most of these people are experienced runners, and mile 2 happens for them each and every day. Do they have to poop at mile 2 on their normal run? Also, who the hell poops in public? That's just gross.

At mile six or seven, the vomiting begins. This I can sympathize with a little more. It's not as humiliating and besides, running hard for long distances does tend to make one's tummy a little bit upset. But when I see other people throw up, I get really sick too, so I'm going to try and avert my eyes.

Oh yeah, and it turns out? I was supposed to be drinking 75 oz. of water a day, all week. Oh well, maybe I got that much water out of my beers.

I'll post my time tomorrow (provided I can manage to sit upright). I'm aiming for under 2 hours.

All I know is I'm gonna have a helluva hankering for a cigarette by mile 8.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

What I want:

1. My children to stop whining. They can get almost anything out of me as long as they don't ask in that annoying whiny voice.

2. To be one of the cutest girls on the street again. Ever since that Carolyn Bessette clone moved in, the rest of us housewives feel a little bit wilted.

3. To be able to recognize fashionable shoes when I see them. I see these shoes and I'm all, who the fuck would wear that? And then I find out that I'm fashion-backwards and I'll be wearing them too, but way too late to be cool.

4. Maintain the three-beer buzz all night.

5. Find out exactly what other people are thinking. Is it really "mmm... whopper value meal... sex with hottie.... mmmm..... lampshades"--or is that just me?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

There's nothing like having an infant scream in your ear all day to really refine any feelings of resentment you have towards your family. My impatience and rage has been honed to a razor-sharp point after 12 hours of screaming and fussing, although of course I don't say anything--I just seethe here by the computer, trying to avoid everyone in the house.

In desperation, I turned that rage outward today. Since the baby wouldn't let me put her down, I spent all afternoon calling Sinclair advertisers while pacing the house. I love this kind of slacktivism--anything that involves staying home in your PJs while making a political statement is okay with me. Bumper stickers? Hell yeah! Emails? Sure! But ask me to recycle and sadly, I seem to be incapable of it (a fact which the log cabin republicans down the street actually berated me for, if you can believe that. I wanted to say, "Look, at least I'm not a Lesbian for Bush, okay?")

Perhaps my disaffection and ennui is also caused by the fact that last night I went out with my ex-boss, a very large man, and made the mistake of trying to match him drink for drink. I always regret this the next day, but I clearly lack self-control.

For the love of God, I need a job.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Housewifery is a lost art. Darning socks, mending clothes, drying out the sink, and all the hundreds of other little things that my mother did, and her mother did, are simply beyond me and most of my friends. Most of us can manage dishes, childcare, straightening--but the thousands of tiny details get lost.

My mother, for instance, used to sew all my halloween costumes. The process began in August and wasn't done until a week before the big day, and it involved going to the fabric store, picking out a pattern and a fabric, endless fittings and getting stuck by staightpins (accidental? I think not!) and the final moment, the big reveal... trying on the costume for Dad, who would clap his hands around his scotch. Now, could I even do that if I tried, if I wanted to? No way. We go to Party City and pick out an outfit and that's it.

Mom also used to vaccuum every day, hem my uniform skirts, cook massive meals every night (complete with candles at the table), help me study for exams, kept the fridge spotless, mopped the floors, did all the laundry, and went out on weekends with my Dad. I might add that through most of those years, she also owned a thriving business and/or worked full time. How the hell did she do it? Did she have some arcane knowledge that she never communicated to me? Or did she maybe just give me such a sense of entitlement that I think I shouldn't have to do all that stuff?

Now, I cook dinners. I always have, even when I'm working. (I don't eat the dinners--yuck, once I've cooked them, I'm done.) I do most of the laundry, the yardwork, and straighten the house. I don't clean--I hire someone to do that--and I don't do major home repairs, although I do paint walls. But my house is never the tight ship that my mother's was, and I don't know why.

I've worked most of these years, it's true. But even now that I'm home, I can't make the place as perfect as my mother always did. My children's hair is messy, I'm not terribly put-together myself, the basement is a pigsty, and the garden is barely making it. Food rots in the fridge. The beds get changed twice a month. The baby gets a bath three times a week, which is how often I can remember to bathe her.

My mom wanted me to achieve in a realm beyond the domestic; she wanted something more exciting for me. And she wanted me to make enough money to outsource my domestic duties. And where do I find myself? Trying, unsuccessfully, to emulate her version of perfection.