Category Archives: Questionnaires

103 Things

Pilfered directly from Catherine’s Web site (which, by the way, I just caught up on, and she has a photo up of The Pancake Corner, which is where I ate my lone meal during the 8 hours I was in Amsterdam — love it):

First, the instructions, if you want to do it: Fill in numbers instead of Xs. Cut and paste with "I have done # of these 158 things" in the cut tag.

I Have Done 103 of These 158 Things

[1] I have read a lot of books.
[2] I have been on some sort of varsity team.
[3] I have run more than two miles without stopping.
[4] I have been to Canada.
[5] I have been to Europe.
[6] I have watched cartoons for hours.
[7] I have tripped UP the stairs.
[ ] I have fallen down an entire flight of stairs.
[8] I have been snowboarding/skiing.
[9] I have played ping pong.
[10] I swam in the ocean.
[11] I have been on a whale watch.*
[12] I have seen fireworks.
[13] I have seen a shooting star.
[14] I have seen a meteor shower.
[ ] I have almost drowned.
[15] I have been so embarrassed I wanted to disappear.
[16] I have listened to one CD over and over and over again.
[ ] I have had stitches.
[17] I have had frostbite.
[ ] I have licked a frozen pole and got stuck there.
[18] I have stayed up til 2 (and beyond) doing homework/projects.
[19] I have been ice skating.
[20] I have been rollerblading.
[21] I have fallen flat on my face.
[22] I have tripped over my own two feet.
[ ] I have been in a fist fight.
[23] I have played videogames for more than three hours straight. (Simpsons Hit-and-Run was my undoing last year. We played until sunrise just to see if we could.)
[24] I have watched the Power Rangers.
[ ] I attend church regularly.
[25] I have played Truth or Dare.
[26] I have already had my 16th birthday. (Good lord, the blogosphere is young.)
[27] I have already had my 17th birthday. (Good lord, the blogosphere is still young.)
[28] I’ve called someone stupid.
[29] I’ve been in a verbal argument.
[30] I’ve cried in school.
[ ] I’ve played basketball on a team.
[ ] I’ve played baseball on a team.
[ ] I’ve played football on a team.
[ ] I’ve played soccer on a team.
[ ] I’ve done cheerleading on a team. (COME ON, people, where is FIELD HOCKEY?]
[ ] I’ve played softball on a team.
[ ] I’ve played volleyball on a team.
[ ] I’ve played tennis on a team.
[ ] I’ve been on a track or cross country team.
[31] I’ve been swimming more than 20 times in my life.
[ ] I’ve bungee jumped.
[32] I’ve climbed a rock wall.
[33] I’ve lost more than $20 (in possession at one time)
[34] I’ve called myself an idiot.
[35] I’ve called someone else an idiot.
[36] I’ve cried myself to sleep.
[37] I’ve had (or have) pets.
[ ] I’ve owned a Spice Girls CD/cassette.
[38] I’ve owned a Britney Spears CD.
[ ] I’ve owned an N*Sync CD.
[ ] I’ve owned a Backstreet Boys CD.
[39] I’ve mooned someone.
[ ] I have sworn/yelled at someone of authority before.
[40] I’ve been in the newspaper.
[41] I’ve been on TV.
[42] I’ve been to Hawaii.
[43] I’ve eaten sushi.
[ ] I’ve been on the other side of a waterfall.
[44] I’ve watched all of the Lord of the Rings movies.
[45] I’ve watched all the Harry Potter movies.
[ ] I’ve watched all of the Rocky movies.
[ ] I’ve watched the Three Stooges.
[46] I’ve watched Newlyweds.
[47] I’ve watched Looney Tunes.
[ ] I’ve been stuffed into a locker/I have stuffed others into lockers.
[48] I’ve been called a geek.
[49] I’ve studied hard for a test and got a bad grade.
[50] I’ve not studied at all for a test and aced it.
[ ] I’ve hugged my mom within the past 24 hours. (If only it were an option for me; she’s in Maryland.)
[ ] I’ve hugged my dad within the past 24 hours. (See above. Not possible. Damn. This test isn’t fair. DON’T JUDGE ME, TEST.
[51] I’ve met a celebrity/music artist.
[52] I’ve written poetry.
[ ] I’ve been arrested.
[53] I’ve been attracted to someone much older than me.
[54] I’ve been tickled till I’ve cried.
[55] I’ve tickled someone else until they cried. (With mirth. Does that count? Like, it wasn’t horrid torture tickling or anything.)
[56] I’ve had/have siblings.
[57] I’ve been to a rock concert.
[58] I’ve listened to classical music and enjoyed it.
[59] I’ve been in a play.
[60 ] I’ve been picked last in gym class.
[61 ] I’ve been picked first in gym class. (Thank GOD for the days when my friends got picked to be captains. We had the worst teams ever, but hey, we picked each other first.)
[62] I’ve been picked in that middle-range in gym class. (Our school was fickle.)
[63] I’ve cried in front of my friends.
[ ] I’ve read a book longer than 1,000 pages. (I have NO IDEA. I probably did for school at some point but since I can’t name it, I’m not checking it.)
[ ] I’ve played Halo 2.
[64] I’ve freaked out over a sports game. (This doesn’t even BEGIN to cover it.)
[ ] I’ve been to Alaska.
[ ] I’ve been to China.
[ ] I’ve been to Spain.
[ ] I’ve been to Japan.
[65] I’ve had a fight with someone on AIM/MSN.
[66] I’ve had a fight with someone face-to-face.
[67] I’ve had serious conversations on any IM.
[68] I’ve forgiven someone who has done something wrong to me.
[69] I’ve been forgiven. (Well, I hope so, anyway.)
[70] I’ve screamed at a scary movie.
[71] I’ve cried at a chick flick.
[72] I’ve watched a lot of action movies.
[ ] I’ve screamed at the top of my lungs.
[ ] I’ve been to a rap concert.
[ ] I’ve been to a hip hop concert.
[73] I’ve lived in more than 2 houses.
[74] I’ve driven on the highway/been on the highway.
[75] I’ve driven more than 40 miles in a day/been in a car that went more than 40 miles in a day.
[76] I’ve been in a car accident.
[77] I’ve done drugs.
[78] I’ve been homesick.
[79] I’ve thrown up. (And how. Thank you, college. And high school. And The Summer of Excessive Drinking and Inappropriate Behavior. And that thing I got two Christmases in a row.)
[80] I’ve thrown up on someone. (My sister Julie, which made my mom laugh too hard to help her for a good 10 minutes, and my Cabbage Patch Kid, who was very real to me when I unloaded on her by accident in the car.)
[81] I’ve been horseback riding.
[ ] I’ve filled out more than 10 MySpace/LJ surveys. (Proudly, I have done none.)
[82] I’ve spoken my mind in public.
[83] I’ve proven someone wrong.
[84] I’ve been proven wrong by someone.
[ ] I’ve broken a leg.
[ ] I’ve broken an arm.
[85] I’ve fallen off a swing.
[86 ] I’ve swung on a swing for more than 30 minutes straight. (It was ALL ABOUT THE SWINGS at recess. You got one, you never gave it up.)
[86] I’ve watched Winnie the Pooh movies.
[87 ] I’ve forgotten my backpack when I’ve gone to school.
[ ] I’ve lost my backpack.
[ ] I’ve come close to dying.
[88 ] I’ve seen someone die.
[89] I’ve known someone who has died.
[90] I’ve wanted to be an actor/actress at some point.
[ ] I’ve forgotten to brush my teeth some mornings.
[91] I’ve taken something/someone for granted.
[92] I’ve realized how good my life is.
[93] I’ve counted my blessings.
[94] I’ve made fun of a classmate.
[95] I’ve been asked out by someone and I said no.
[96 ] I’ve slapped someone in the face. (It was by accident, but still. He was very surprised. So was I.)
[ ] I’ve been skateboarding.
[97] I’ve been backstabbed by someone I thought was a friend. (Several times in fact.)
[98] I’ve lied to someone to their face.
[99] I’ve told a little white lie.
[100] I’ve taken a day off from school just so I don’t go insane.
[ ] I’ve fainted.
[ ] I’ve had an argument with someone about whether cheerleading is a sport or not.
[101 ] I’ve pushed someone into a pool. (Sadly, not out of fury.)
[102 ] I’ve been pushed into a pool.
[103] I’ve been/am in love.

* It wasn’t an official whale-watching trip — it was a snorkeling trip in Hawaii, but one of the benefits was that they took you past places the whales would be and would stop and search for them, and stall any time we found one so that we could all… well, watch. Which is why I’m counting this as done.

Mememememememe

I’ve been tagged. So, although I can’t ever think up good answers for these memes, here I go.

Four jobs I’ve had:

  1. Friday-evening newsreader for WSND radio station in South Bend, although most of what I had to read was stuff we’d run in The Observer that week, which made for a pretty dated little show. We read some AP stuff, though. Loved it. I had such a good newscaster voice.
  2. TWoP recapper
  3. Technology reporter; the other day I was remembering the time when I thought I’d be doing that forever, and then remembered some things that happened on that job and decided that life did me a HUGE favor by unfolding the way it has.
  4. Intern for The Calgary Herald, where I got to cover thrilling things like locally written cookbooks (I still have some of them, which is what brought this to mind) and how to wallpaper your house and all KINDS of community-oriented stuff that, I will freely admit, is the FIRST stuff I skip when I thumb through a newspaper today. I did get to be on the Metro front page when I got forced to be a pawn in a sting operation — they wanted a story on how easy it was for minors to buy cigarettes (you had to be 18 in Canada, and I was 16 at the time), so I had to go to 10 places, try to buy smokes, and report back about whether I could. To this day I feel like kind of an asshat for that — like I was ratting out my compadres, or something. But, when you’re 16 and they say they’ll give you a joint byline on B1, you do it, you know?

Four movies I can watch over and over:

  1. Clueless
  2. When Harry Met Sally
  3. Clue (huh, maybe the presence of that word in the title is all it takes)
  4. The Scarlet Pimpernel (not the Leslie Howard one in black and white; the color Anthony Andrews/Jane Seymour version).

Four places I’ve lived:

  1. London, England
  2. Calgary, Canada
  3. Austin, Texas
  4. Miami, Florida

Four TV shows I love:

  1. Aaron Spelling’s work in the 1990s — one can’t be asked to make this Sophie’s Choice. Too hard.
  2. Grey’s Anatomy
  3. Everwood
  4. Deadwood (again with the word similarities. Name your next show Yes, Dearwood, and I will totally watch, it seems).

Four places I’ve vacationed:

  1. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  2. Peter Island in the British Virgin Islands
  3. Wengen, Switzerland
  4. Tuscany/Umbria, Italy

Four of my favorite dishes:

  1. Thanksgiving dinner in its entirety — the whole thing is one giant dish to me, really.
  2. Chicken tikka masala, as done by this one particular Indian restaurant, Tandoori Nights.
  3. Lobster mashed potatoes, which I have only ever had at a restaurant, but which I have thought about every day since.
  4. A good steak.

Four sites I visit daily:

  1. Photobucket, for practical reasons;
  2. Yahoo Sports, for fantasy-football reasons;
  3. Well Fed, for culinary reasons;
  4. Page Six, for nosy and bitchy reasons

Four places I would rather be right now:

  1. In bed — especially today, as it’s rainy
  2. On a ski slope
  3. At strip class
  4. England

Handoff. I hereby tag…

… I was going to tag Jen’s partner in blogging crime, Catherine, but then I saw that she already did it on her other blog; Jen tagged the other bitches when she tagged me, and Jason in all his fancy blackness did it already as well. So I’m going to tag Grant, via his non-food-oriented blog. He will probably ignore me.

Which Wine Am I?

As an occasional drinker of The Little Penguin wine — it’s… not great on its own merits, but it’s good plonk — I decided to do the Which Wine Are You? test provided by the company’s Web site. I am, as many of you know, a sucker for tests that don’t tell me anything important.

There were a few questions where more than one answer applied. The first time I took it, I guessed as best I could, and came out as Chardonnay; then I went back and changed the answers on which I had been most torn, and came out… Chardonnay again. I don’t even really drink white wine — apparently I’m a sucker for Red Wine Mouth, which I always get in full force the morning after I guzzle — so I find my results amusing.

The Web site’s definition of Heather As Chardonnay is incredibly unhelpful. I am, it says, "a fun and light-hearted penguin who believes in true love… under those feathers beats a heart of gold. Good times and good friends are never far away, which is why the Little Penguin Chardonnay is your social beverage of choice."

That’s it. Nothing about why Chardonnay speaks to people who believe in true love. Nothing about how it really speaks to the soul and the taste buds of a person who has a heart of gold. Personally, I think a nice rich cab or a shiraz might just as easily embody all those things, except perhaps "light." So, what, if you’re a red wine, you’re heavy of heart?

Perhaps it came out this way because I didn’t ever choose any of the showy strut-your-stuff answers, so I got a very mild wine rather than something bold…?

Wow. I really, really think that’s about all the thought I need to apply to this today.

Note To Self: Buy A CD Soon

Jessica handed me this baton, and who am I to break a chain?

1. What is the total amount of music files on your computer?

At work, only 73; even though it’s faster to buy stuff here and download it, I haven’t gone on a real spree in a while — mostly because everything I think I want, I realize Kevin already owns.

At home/on my iPod, I have about 1300 songs. I haven’t gone through and loaded all my CDs, because I don’t want to muddy up my library with stuff I know I don’t actually want on there, so I’ve done selects instead. But there’s a massive stack of CDs I need to borrow from Kevin and load, so that’s going to up the total considerably when I get around to doing my shopping in his personal music library.

2. The last CD you bought is:

I can’t even remember, sadly. It’s been ages. I’ve never had much of a habit of purchasing CDs, and iTunes has made me even worse about it. I’m exactly the person record companies hate: If you give me a shot at buying only a handful of songs off a particular album, I’ll do it, because I don’t care if I have the pretty packaging and I have low patience for wading through stuff I don’t like.

Luckily, for every person like me, there is a Kevin, who routinely shops for CDs and buys them without always listening to them first, simply because he’s curious about the band or the album itself. I feel like the music shopping he does more than outweighs my lack of participation in that particular business.

Um… crap. I bought my mother Kelly Clarkson’s new album and a Norah Jones disc, because she got a new car and is always complaining that she has no CDs of her own. For me, it was probably one of the twice-yearly Now That’s What I Call Music CDs from England, which I buy every time I’m over there or which I have my parents buy if they go and I don’t.

3. What is the song you last listened to before this message?

In all honesty, the Passions theme song, because it’s currently on my work TV. And I listened to ESPN Radio on the way to work this morning, so the last time I listened to music was on the way home from the gym last night. That would’ve been "Loser" by Beck, which ended right as I parked my car.

4. Write down five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

Let’s see. My current favorites on my Running playlist, because I need to be very distracted while I’m doing that or else I won’t last very long, are: "Oooh, Stick You," by Daphne and Celeste; "The Fast Food Song," by the Fast Food Rockers; "Electrolyte," by R.E.M.; "Don’t Mug Yourself," by The Streets; and of course, because it was used in a Nike commercial once and now I associate it with athletics, "Bittersweet Symphony," by The Verve.

When my iPod’s on random, it’s been turning up these songs a lot lately: "Stefano Zarelli," by Momus; "Scared," by The Tragically Hip; "I Don’t Believe You," by the Magnetic Fields; "Boneyard Tree," by The Watchmen; "We Will Become Silhouettes," by The Shins.

Songs that always mean something to me: "Forever Is Tomorrow Is Today" by David Gray; "Trouble," by The Crash; "Ignition," by R. Kelly, which I feel I should explain is because it got played at the New Year’s party Kevin threw when we had just started dating, and so I have all these amusing memories of him and his friend Jason dancing deliberately ridiculously to it; "The Gambler," by Kenny Rogers, because it was the first song to which I knew all the words; and "Heaven Can Wait," by Meatloaf, because the piano arrangement is one of my favorites to play on that instrument.

General faves that always put me in a good mood: "Queen of Hearts," by Juice Newton; "Walkin’ On Sunshine," by Katrina and the Waves; "Lovin’ Each Day," by Ronan Keating (I know, I know, that’s pathetic — but it’s such peppy Britpop, and I am not made of stone); "Hey Pretty," by Poe; and "Jump," by Girls Aloud.

5. Who are you gonna pass this stick to (three persons and why)?

To Dan and Casey, because they’ve made two great mixes for us now and I’m always interested in what they’re listening to, and Pam, because she made me a Poe CD and she rocks.

Lazy Friday

Work has been frustrating. Life has been frustrating. So, rather than cultivate a spark of originality today, I’m going to take a page from Jessica’s blog and complete a questionnaire she found from a Splendora mailing. [I'm also working on my own "101 in 1001," which will make an appearance as soon as I can think of enough things to flesh out the list.]

What to wear: Coats, coats, coats. I’m totally a winter weather and clothing person, so I love cute coats and am slowly starting to acquire a few beyond my boring leather jacket. The trouble is knowing when to deploy them in Los Angeles, because there is a very small window for coats thicker than a blazer. Additionally, I am always on the lookout for more pairs of jeans. I ought to invest in pants of another type, but I can’t get off my denim kick. I think it’s because work is so casual that all my cute jeans turn into daytime jeans very easily, and it makes me want to buy more cool pairs of going-out jeans.

What NOT to wear: Legwarmers. Tapered jeans. Any of this resurgent 1980s fashion is really not worth the aggro of rifling through your pictures in another ten years and going, "Oh my God, ANOTHER era of my life for which the photographic evidence of what I wore must be destroyed!" If you insist on riding that wave, at least do yourself the favor of hiding your camera for a few years until something else pushes this trend out again.

What to shoe: I’m with Jessica — the toe should be pointy and the heel should be high, for maximum cuteness. Although I do have a very fun pair of round-toed pink Nine West shoes, but the lack of point means that they only fit with certain pairs of jeans.

Biggest Shopping Splurge: I just bought a Nanette Lepore jackety thing at Anthropologie, on deep sale, but it was still a little more than I’m accustomed to paying for clothes. And I’m not totally sure if I’ll keep it. But for now, that’s my biggest splurge on an item; before that, it was a killer sexy dress from Bebe. And soon it will probably be a pair of Sevens or something.

Fashion Security Blanket: Jewelry, honestly. I feel like a cute necklace — always silver, often with some colorful focus point — can liven up anything you’re not feeling wild about, as long as nothing clashes. I also have this stretchy black shirt with white pin-stripes that seems to look good on me no matter how much my stomach is trying to give the illusion that I’m pregnant.

Favorite Historical Period: It might’ve been fun to be a flapper, although the Great Depression does loom somewhat over that era. I guess I don’t have a favorite period in which I necessarily want to have lived; I do enjoy studying any British History, so I’ll say the period during which Richard III was running the ship over there is really interesting to me because I once got really into the conspiracy theory that he was framed for what happened to the two little princes (and no, it’s not a Michael Jackson thing). But of course I can’t remember any more what my arguments were, so I’d like to study that again someday.

What to see (movie): Not Sideways. Man was that movie overrated. I’m ramping up for The Incredibles, because I’m a Pixar junkie, and I’m really curious about Finding Neverland.

Favorite Bad Movie: Jess said it first, but she’s right: From Justin To Kelly is a horrible, horrible movie. An absolute nightmare. But Xanadu is at the top of this list. It’s wonderfully, terrifically, amusingly, deliciously awful. You are watching a career die (Michael Beck), you’re witnessing proof that Olivia Newton-John can’t dance and has cankles, and you’re watching Gene Kelly slum it in his final feature-film performance. It honestly makes you wonder whether he spent the whole movie wanting to open fire on the set, or if he actually thought this flick was going to remind the world how splendid he was in Singin’ In The Rain. It verges on being uncomfortably sad, but then the unexplained animation kicks in and everything is fine again.

What to listen to: There is no song more marvelous, upbeat, and completely accurate than the triumphant "C Is For Cookie." Cookie Monster had his shit together. C is for cookie, and that is good enough for me. The moon with a large bite out of it does look like a C, but you really can’t eat that. If I said Carrie, Jessica and I were driving home from The Grove last Saturday and were NOT shouting that song at the top of our lungs as it blared from my CD player, well, I would be a filthy liar. … Also, I found a great live version of Aimee Mann singing Coldplay’s "The Scientist. I don’t like Coldplay, but her rendition is great; maybe it was her song first, I don’t know.

What to eat: I’ve been into the veggie potato chips lately, for inexplicable reasons. If it’s salty or at least mimics a potato chip, I have a remarkable ability to convince myself that it tastes good. Baked Lay’s, at heart, really are not that tasty, but I somehow I genuinely like them and will eat many of them in one sitting. Ditto with these veggie chips. And at least this way I can tell my mother I ate spinach. She just doesn’t need to know how it was processed.

Where to eat it: Jessica and I had a great meal at Orso a while ago, and I’m dying to try this place at the end of my street which is a restaurant-slash-art gallery. Luna Park on La Brea is good, too. But none of them serve veggie chips. Those I eat at my desk.

Morning Person or Night Owl?: In a perfect world I’m both; in reality, I’m also sort of both, which might explain why I’m yawning all the time. I used to be a champion sleeper, but since moving in with Lauren, who is a morning person, I’ve gotten accustomed to starting my day before 10 a.m. and I actually enjoy that. But I still love being up late, so generally I will go to bed ridiculously late on weekends, sleep in one of those two days, and then go back to getting up early for work and going to bed at 1 a.m.

Worst Vice: Biting my nails and picking at my eyelashes. Also, I can’t make myself eat fruits and veggies regularly at all, and I am horrible at grocery shopping. I consider that a vice of sorts.

Most Thrilling Famous Person Meeting: When I lived in Austin I met and chatted with Quentin Tarantino and John Waters — separately — and those encounters were very intriguing. They knew well the guy I was with, so mostly they talked to him, but it was fun getting a sense of their personalities and thereby concluding that they are exactly as you would imagine; exactly as they seem. … It was pretty fun meeting Tyra the first time, although meeting Nigel was better because he gave me a big ol’ kiss on the cheek and that man is hot, hot, hot. … It’s worth saying that if I met Joe Montana, which I have not, I would probably be so nervous that I’d throw up all over myself before getting to shake his hand. I was so in love with that "brilliant, extraordinary man… of destiny." Ten points to you if you know what movie that line is from… think, think… hint: Steve Martin, Michael Caine… Correct! Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Color That Best Represents Your Personality: Purple. I love pink but I wouldn’t say that the color pink defines me particularly; nor does my other go-to, blue. Because I’m a weird mix of introvert and extrovert, based on how well you know me, I think "purple" is a good choice because it is a cool color with warm elements. In essence, purple is a red-blue hybrid, and so am I.

Latest Obsession: Getting a new iPod, even though my old one might be working decently again; the Thursday Next books; finding a pair of black pointy-toed boots; whether I should change my hair color. My natural hue is a hard-to-duplicate reddish-blonde-light brown mish-mash, and once I change it hard-core, I’m scared it’s lost forever. Which might not be a bad thing, but I won’t know until I try, and … it’s a circular thing.

A Recurring Dream: That a) a few teeth, or b) all of my teeth are coming loose, coming out, or crumbling completely. This dream pops up once a week, usually.

An Entry Like A Casserole

With thanks to Jessica, and therefore Jason (after that, follow the link trail), for providing me with an entry I can work on all day, little by little:

1. A song whose lyrics you thought you knew in the past, but about which you later learned you were incorrect.

In "The Sound of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel, I always thought the line was, "Silence like a casserole." Which made complete sense to me, as I have never known a casserole to be chatty and might even have coughed that up as an example if anyone had asked, "If shyness were a food, what would it be?" Casseroles are obviously one of the more likely candidates to be introverts — they’re not flashy, they’re not particularly whorish for attention, and they’re what you throw together only when you want easy food for the week, or when the neighbor’s dog died and they can’t be bothered to fix a real meal, so you want to make them something unobtrusive and plain. Casseroles just quietly exist in their Pyrex prison, letting you heat and cool them at will until their crust turns furry and you scoop them into a garbage bag.

So not only did I not think to question the accuracy of "Silence like a casserole," but I even giggled about that line to my friends in fifth or sixth grade, certain that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were the premier humorists of the music world.

The line, incidentally, is "Silence like a cancer grows." Not exactly the same sentiment.

2. Your least favorite song on one of your favorite albums of all time.

I’ve always loved The Pixies, and I liked "Debaser" off of the brilliant Doolittle without ever, apparently, truly hearing the lyrics. For some reason, they just washed over me. But recently, I actually listened to the song, realized Frank Black is singing about mutilating a body part I hold sacred, and now it’s a little bit ruined for me. I can’t very well sing along in the car with the kind of reckless abandon I’ve come to crave, and besides, simply hearing "Debaser" now makes That Body Part sting. So even though empirically I still can say it’s a good song, I’d have to say that it’s become my least favorite track on Doolittle.

And I’m not sure how I got this far in my relationship with that album before paying attention to the "Debaser" lyrics; I guess I’m an inattentive and dispassionate lover.

3. A song you like by someone you find physically unattractive or otherwise repellent.

Sheryl Crow makes me want to puke in my underwear drawer, but I don’t mind two of her songs off of Tuesday Night Music Club, and "First Cut Is The Deepest" doesn’t make me want to die, either. In every other instance, though, she inspires me to rip off my breasts and wear them jammed in my ears to plug out the noxious noise of her droning, coached-hard-since-"Leaving Las Vegas" voice. The amount of critical praise lavished on her and her albums (prove to me that "If It Makes You Happy" isn’t actually the exact same sequence of noises one would make while being mauled by two mating bears) is borderline intolerable to me, and I am gravely dreading the day this summer when her hopelessly misguided and apparently legally deaf boyfriend Lance Armstrong fails to win his sixth consecutive Tour de France, which will lead the world to conclude the obvious: that Sheryl Crow’s vagina is poisonous.

Is it too obvious to name a Michael Jackson song? Because, my God, the man can pen a catchy pop tune, but he looks like a sparrow that’s been eaten and vomited back up by some sort of jungle cat. But "Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Thriller," "Billie Jean".. the list of brilliance goes on so long, it’s practically a eulogy, which is disturbingly real the more apparent it becomes that the Michael Jackson who wrote those songs is dead to us.

Come to think of it, I don’t think this category is fair, because it’s too hard to answer. There are just too many hideous people who are great singers or musicians, to the point where it’s depressing to think of making a list and leaving out so many other good choices. Lucinda Williams is no great beauty, but she’s a genius; Steven Tyler, Ric Ocasek, Christina Aguilera, Jason Mraz, Chris Robinson, Marilyn Manson, and Alicia Keys (yeah, I know, but for some reason, she bugs the crap out of me in every single way) have all turned my stomach with their physical appearance at one time or another, yet I don’t turn them off my radio. Except for Alicia Keys. (I told you. She bugs.) I don’t find Nelly the least bit attractive, but "Shake Your Tailfeather" and "Hot In Herre" are mainstays on my "Running" playlist on my iPod. And I don’t advocate pedophilia, but "Ignition" and "Hotel" are two R. Kelly offerings I find a little bit painfully, shamefully, addictive — although technically "Hotel" is by Cassidy, so maybe I get a pass for that.

I think he covers the "morally repellent" part of this question. I’m drawing a blank on other recording artists who are (yes, R. — "allegedly" disgusting human beings, but I know they’re out there, and I know that at one time or another I’ve said, "I feel like I shouldn’t like this song, but…" or, "I feel like if I shook his hand, it would be sticky, but I have to admit I’m starting to like that song."

Perhaps I should cite "The OJ Murder Story," by Gangsta Pat. I’m not sure if Pat’s personally offensive, but the song certainly is. It’s also kind of fantastic, though, for that reason.

4. Your favorite song with the name of a city in the title or text.

"California" by Rufus Wainwright is one, for sure. And I know it’s not a city, but "La Cienega Just Smiled" by Ryan Adams is a great song. "Panic" by The Smiths counts, too, doesn’t it, for the lyric, "Panic on the streets of London." God, I need my iPod in front of me. This is insane.

5. A song you’ve listened to repeatedly when you were depressed at some point in your life.

Anything by David Gray, as he was kind of the soundtrack to The Heather and Alan Show — not in the repulsive sense that multiple songs duplicate our problems or thoughts, but because we both love the White Ladder CD and bought each other David Gray discs at various points in our association. I listened to it a lot while I was missing Alan, both during and after our relationship, and I now associate it with the lonely feelings rather than the happy ones. His music can be sort of blue, so it’s good for when you’re down and trying to wallow in it. Also, "Glycerine" by Bush.

6. Ever buy an entire album just for one song and wind up disliking everything but that song? Gimme that song.

Not in such a very long time, but it used to be a common practice for me. I was a terrible offender. I bought a Screaming Trees CD once, because I liked "Dollar Bill" — which I already owned on the Singles soundtrack. Bad gamble, as I proceeded not to latch onto any of the rest of the Screaming Trees’ songs.

Also, Rusted Root’s Remember. Didn’t live up to When I Woke.

Oh, and this one�s pretty good: I bought the Primitive Radio Gods CD the summer that the group’s one hit, "Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In Your Hand," came out. To be fair, it was because Julie and I hung out that entire summer; my family was in the process of moving from Calgary to Houston, and especially on the Houston side of that move, she and I kept each other sane. So we made a mix tape of all the songs we heard on the radio together, and that involved making some embarrassing music purchases. I don’t think we ever actually listened to the rest of the CD, and I couldn’t tell you what it’s even called.

7. Your favorite song that has expletives in it that’s not by Liz Phair.

"Boom Boom Baby" by The Scabs. "The Asshole Song" by Jude. And I have a weakness for "Untouchable Face" by Ani DiFranco. That’s one for when I’m pissed off.

8. A song that sounds as if it’s by someone British but isn’t.

"Gay Bar," by Electric Six. Indeed, absolutely anything by Electric Six. They’re awesome, though. I saw them at Coachella and they were outstanding.

9. A song you like (possibly from your past) that took you forever to finally locate a copy of.

This is a random one, but it’s by a band that I think is from Newfoundland called Great Big Sea. I heard of them through a friend in Calgary who had their tape, and who recorded two songs for me onto a cassette that I’ve long since lost. The group sings totally sincere but odd music, usually about fishing or being on a boat or other aquatic catastrophes, and I just finally found a live version of one of their jig-style tunes, "Excursion Around The Bay." Score one for me.

But the song of theirs I really want, which is so hilariously and I believe unintentionally overwrought, is a slow ballad about water pollution that involves the lyrics, "I’ve spent my whole life out there on the sea. Those government bastards now take it from me. It’s not just the fish — they’ve taken my pride! I feel so ashamed that I just want to die." There are crashing waves and some flutes… It’s a marvel, truly, and that one I still seek.

I also like "A Hundred Lovers" by Timbuk 3, and have never been able to find a complete version of it. Napster, in its heydey, hooked me up with someone who had a partial copy, so the one on my iPod cuts off about two-thirds of the way through — but at least I have it. I’d still like to get it in its entirety, though.

10. A song that reminds you of spring but doesn’t mention spring at all.

"Walkin’ On Sunshine," by Katrina on the Waves (hey, spring isn’t always sunny — that counts as not mentioning spring), "Sadness Grows" by Spirit of the West, and "Martyr" by Rusted Root, because I can recall myself driving on a warm, sunny South Bend spring day with the sunroof open, happy finally to have weather that warrants it and desirous of catchy music to blare from my speakers.

11. A song that sounds to you like being happy feels.

"Lo Boob Oscillator" by Stereolab. A lot of it is the perky keyboard and backup vocals. Also, my latest obsession: the remake of the Pointer Sisters’ classic "Jump," by Girls Aloud. It is musical crack. I can’t stop listening to it. I have it on my iPod, which currently has over a thousand other songs on it and counting, yet that’s the only one I seem to want to hear.

12. Your favorite song from a non-soundtrack compilation album.

"Ooh, Stick You (Your Mama Too)" by Daphne & Celeste, off the British series of Now That’s What I Call Music albums. I believe that’s on Now 45. And from the same series but a different album: "The Fast Food Song," by The Fast Food Rockers, which is on Now 55.

13. A song from your past that would be considered politically incorrect now (and possibly was then).

Morris Minor and the Majors did a Beastie Boys parody called "Stutter Rap" about a rapper who both displays and laments his stutter and explains how frustrating it is, for example, that "the record’s nearly over when the vocals start." I would imagine that in today’s whiny, humorless society, The American Association Of People Who Have Found A Pretentious Synonym For Stuttering And Are Unsuccessfully Trying To Popularize It would shoot out a press release condemning "Stutter Rap" for being insensitive. When really, they should congratulate it for pointing out the tragic truism, "It’s hard to rap when you’re born with a st-st-st, st, st-st, st, st-t, st-t, stutter!"

14. A song sung by an overweight person.

Remember Alison Moyet of Yaz and Erasure? Or was she not overweight when she was in those groups? Not that it matters. She crooned a good tune regardless of her appearance. This question’s a bit mean.

Not that such things have ever stopped me before, so let’s plug on: "Optimistic Thought" by Blues Traveler still works for me, for the most part, even though I’m over that band. That should be under songs that make me think of spring, actually. And I’ll also mention that India.Arie song (the one with the line, "My worth’s not determined by the size of my clothes," or whatever) that was big two years ago, — not because she’s overweight, but because she’s normal-sized and dares to be proud of it.

15. A song you actually like by an artist you otherwise hate.

She makes my skin crawl, and I want to slap the snarl off that sullen face, but I can’t help liking some of Advil Latrine’s — er, Avril Lavigne’s — songs, specifically the hideously, grievously titled, "Sk8er Boi." And I really, really hate Destiny’s Child, but "Bootylicious" is groovy.

And did I mention that Sheryl Crow is not my favorite artist? I might have forgotten to share that, so I should add that I frequently try to forget that I can tolerate a few of her early offerings — a realization that hurts because she is a basket of stank.

16. A song by a band (whose members actually play instruments) that features three or more female members.

How many women are in Belle & Sebastian? I think I counted three up there at Coachella, either singing or playing something unusual. So let’s go with their "Piazza, New York Catcher," "Stars of Track and Field," "Storytelling"… well, anything. I love them.

And one cannot pass this category without mentioning "Manic Monday" and "Walk Like an Egyptian." The Bangles were the best. That was the first time I’d ever run across a woman named Michael, and I thought it was kind of fascinating, right up there with the existence of my male science teacher named Kimberly.

17. One of the earliest songs that you can remember listening to.

Easy: "The Gambler," by Kenny Rogers, the first song to which I knew all the words. I’ve had "The Gambler" memorized since I was five, aided in large part by it being the first song on the tape we had of Kenny, which was convenient for me because I rewound it and replayed it over and over again — something that CDs and the iPod have made blessedly simpler for a pathetic creature of repetition such as I.

Also, "The Wanderer" by Donna Summer, which was the first song on that cassette as well, and therefore my favorite. Evidently I rarely made it past the first one or two songs back when I was four and we were playing cassettes in the Buick station wagon. And although I remember loving that song, I couldn"t sing a note of it today — no idea at all how it goes. Finally, completing the trifecta of songs from my youth in Houston: "Cry Me A River" by Crystal Gale, who fascinated me with her enormously long hair.

18. A song you’ve been mocked by friends for liking.

Doug used to roundly criticize Lauren and I for our love of Britney Spears, so I will cite "I’m A Slave 4 U" here, in honor of the time Lauren and I listened to it on repeat in the car (again, a trend for me) in order to decipher the line, "Because ahomanaymanay." As it turns out, that’s not the lyric. It’s, "Because I hide my name and age." We looked it up. And cross-referenced it. (A few erroneous transcriptions, in combination, led us to the right translation.)

Blessedly, my friends haven’t mocked many if any of my musical choices, because they all either share them or can match my odd choices with equally quirky ones of their own. Lauren’s filed a few acoustic or just guitar-centric songs I like under her mind’s reviled "Whiny Guy Music" category, but that’s about it. And she likes "Yeah," by Usher, so that’s my ammo if she decides its open season on my musical tastes.

19. A really good cover version you think no one else has heard.

"Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)" by The Reivers. Oh, and Newfound Glory did six punk covers of movie love themes (among them "Glory of Love," by Peter Cetera and "My Heart Will Go On," by Celine Dion) and they’re pretty funny. Two or three years ago I’d have said Travis’s "Hit Me Baby One More Time" or The Gourds’ "Gin and Juice," but both are commonplace now.

20. A song that has helped cheer you up (or empowered you somehow) after a breakup or otherwise difficult situation.

I think I’m too much of a wallower for this — meaning, I don’t generally turn to songs to pull me out of the doldrums; usually I marinate in the misery for a little while. I’m not sure why that is, but I find it easier to match my mood with music than set a mood I hope to achieve. But I do think the aforementioned "Jump" by Girls Aloud is a potential go-to song, as is "Casino Queen" by Wilco, for some reason. Possibly because it makes me think of Las Vegas and video poker and blackjack. And drinking while playing blackjack.

21. What was the last song you downloaded?

"She’s White" by Electric Six. Otherwise known as, "A song about me."

• • • • •

Someone got here by searching for: Pastry Challenge sculptures Reading: Defamer. Driving: Kevin to the airport. I hate saying goodbye to people, particularly in airports. But it was nice to hug him right up to the last possible second.

Never Met A Survey I Didn’t Like

1. What did you do in 2003 that you’d never done before?

Had sex in an airplane bathroom; traveled to a bunch of European countries I’d never seen; actually went so far as to make a vow to drink more and be randier.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Because I’m apt to break any resolutions I make (this extends to Lenten pledges of abstinence, usually from Diet Coke and sugar, that are automatically ill-fated because they’re bloody impossible and a little inhumane) I came up with a bunch of reverse-psychology resolutions last year. That way, by virtue of resolving to do them, I’d automatically do the opposite and something really good would ensue. Let’s see how I did:

  • Gain Ten Pounds: Actually, I lost. Not ten pounds, mind, but bits and pieces; I’m at least one pants-size lower than I was last year, mostly due to having walked ten hours a day for two straight weeks in Europe. It’s not as dramatic a weight-loss as it sounds, actually, but the point is: Mission accomplished on this one.
  • Quell the urge to write: Half-successful. I still love writing and want to do it more, but this didn’t galvanize me to write anything other than diary entries and recaps and reality-show scripts. Maybe this year.
  • Do nothing: Thank God I violated this one, what with the traveling and the flirtation with running and all the drinking.
  • Stay indoors: See above.
  • No more sex: Mercifully, this one didn’t stick either. Without giving up too many details, I had an active but not unhealthy 2003 and so far this year’s off to what I hope is a promising start.
  • Empty the bank account: Did it with the Europe trip, the new laptop, and the iPod. Actually, none of that cleaned me out, but thanks to those little items I spent WAY more on myself than I ever have before. It gave me private, partial fits. I don’t like writing large checks.
  • Embrace the status quo: I cut my hair much shorter, so I think that counts as seeking change. Definitely a violation. I also resisted the pull of reentering an old relationship, which would’ve counted as status quo.
  • Pick at my eyelashes nonstop for three hours a day: Unfortunately, this reverse psychology didn’t work. I still do it. A lot.
  • Wear thong sandals: Regrettably, I also did this. But it was only because I needed shower shoes to wear at the hostels. I didn’t enjoy it. My feet were sickened. My feet were like, "What is UP with you, bitch? You know how we feel about this bullshit." But we sorted it out. It’s fine now.
  • Bite off all my nails: Luckily, I’ve staved off a lot of the nibbling, and managed to grow out some fingernails of reasonable length this year. Oh, sure, they don’t last that long, but at least they have a chance at life, which is more than they ever have before.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

By the grace of God, no one in physical proximity to me popped anything out of her birth canal; that would probably have caused me to pass out from attempting to tie my own tubes. Sure, childbirth is something I know I’ll experience one day, but I don’t need to see anyone else go through it. As Lauren said, "I’ll just deal with all the shit that entails when I absolutely have to." Smartass answers aside, yes, my sister had twins, and one of Julie’s friends had a baby.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My old journalism teacher and mentor, about whom Dan wrote. Jack surprised us all at the end of 2003 by passing away, and the world is the poorer for it.

5. What countries did you visit?

England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, and Italy.

6. What would you like to have in 2004 that you lacked in 2003?

A travel partner. I loved going alone, but it’d be nice to have someone to share it with the next time — someone male, with whom I am involved on some intimate and emotional level. Not that Lauren won’t be an awesome travel buddy when we take our trip overseas on Undetermined Date.

7. What date(s) from 2003 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

June 26, the day I became an aunt twice more.
July 3 — the day I left for my trip.
Dec. 12 — the day I hooked up with the guy I’m now seeing. God, just typing that out made me realize how much I fear the jinx.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Work-wise, it was a good year for me. There wasn’t one single remarkable piece to it. I suppose I’m pleased, too, with the fact that I’ve continued to get a bit more self-assured and confident — little by little, yes, but every tiny bit makes such an enormous difference. I feel like a new person when I sit down and compare me now to who I was when I moved to LA. I still get shy and I still get uncertain, but on the whole, I’m a lot more self-possessed, and although it didn’t all only happen in 2003, it was definitely a year of real progress for me and I’m so proud of that.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I really regret letting the sordid end to the Hunky Cameraman thing drag on as long as it did, and without giving him a big enough piece of my mind when it finally did end. I also remained disastrous at keeping in regular touch with people who are important to me but do not live in LA — I’m just crap at remembering to call.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

The near-fatal Sore Throat Of Restricted Breathing And Certain Doom sidelined me from a Vegas trip. Bastard. And I got the stomach flu at Christmas, along with my geriatric back twinges.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Tie between the iPod and the laptop. They’re both so fabulous. And, to be somber and a little inadvertently pretentious about it, the admission price I paid to go to Dachau was wrenchingly worth every penny.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Everyone’s: Julie finished her thesis, which is something that seemed such an impossible task to her not long ago. Her friends buoyed her in every way imaginable, and I can’t thank them enough for so effortlessly confirming what I already knew, which is that to know Julie is to love her. Lauren continued to turn the scary herpes diagnosis into the most incredible good attitude. Also, all my other friends continued along with me in our general attempts to feel better about ourselves and feel happier with the path our lives have taken. That sounds so… poncey? Maybe. But really, it’s been huge. We all have our neuroses and we all have our self-doubt, and when I look back, I realize how far we’ve all come.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Does The Cowboy count? He was 2002, technically, but the distaste lingers. Also, Hunky Cameraman’s, one of my old bosses, and my own in not nipping the Doug thing in the bud sooner. He deserved better. So did I. At the time I didn’t realize it, or wasn’t ready to, and I wish I had.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Travel. I spent a month in New York in addition to the Europe trip, because it was a totally self-indulgent year for me.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? (in chrono order)

Hunky Cameraman. London trip. New job. New nieces. Another new job. The finished thesis. Thanksgiving with my second family. New guy.

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2003?

"Crazy In Love" by Beyonce; "Move Your Feet" by Junior Senior; "The Fast Food Song" by The Fast Food Rockers; everything on Dan’s Excessive & Inappropriate mix CD; "Please Forgive Me" and "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye" by David Gray.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. Happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. Thinner or fatter? Thinner, despite the best efforts of the Frito Lay company.
iii. Richer or poorer? About the same. Probably a little poorer, but nothing desperate.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Travel within the US to visit friends and family; reading; writing.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying; overthinking; complaining.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I spent it with my family – the best way to do it.

22. Did you fall in love in 2003?

I’m not sure. I never labeled what I felt for Hunky Cameraman; we burned so hot so fast that I’m sure there was a moment or five when one or both of us wondered if that’s where we’d gone without realizing it, but ultimately, I don’t count it as having been in love because I never said it, to him or even to myself.

23. How many one-night stands?

One. God, and even that one was two nights. Oh well. It counts. I didn’t really want it to be two nights.

24. What was your favorite TV program?

Alias was the one I found most consistently addictive, although I loved 24 too. And who could forget the glorious rediscovery of Dynasty?

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No. Well, maybe. Two people? Okay, one and a half. I don’t like that, because one of them is so inconsequential as to be unworthy of a strong emotion like hate, and yet she still fucking RANKLES me to no end, and I need to get over it, and maybe I just did; and one is an old friend who just surprised me with a little backstabbing. I don’t hate him, though; I’m just pissed.

26. What was the best book you read?

White Teeth by Zadie Smith; Neither Here Nor There and Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson.

27. What were your greatest musical discoveries?

The jukebox at our darts bar — fantastic selection.

28. What did you want and get?

An increased sense of calm; romance; a sense of achievement. And that iPod.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

The Return Of The King. I can’t help it; the whole trilogy was just so ambitious and beautifully done.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned twenty-six and spent it drunk at a bar surrounded by people I love and respect, then followed it up with an idyllic two days in Vegas at The Mirage. No complaints at all.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I’m not sure I can answer this one seriously, so let’s go with a decent football season and a torrid night of hot sex with our young stud of a quarterback, Brady Quinn. I could suck on those arms for days. Is that wrong to say about an 18-year old? I mean, he’s legal. He might even be 19 by now.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2003?

We all jokingly named our desired personal style, and mine came out, "Wholesome Sexy." I’m not sure I achieved it, but there was some progress.

34. What kept you sane?

The loving touch of alcohol. Also, my family and friends. Seriously. Lauren in particular put up with more than her fair share of overthinking, underconfident moaning, and tears over guys, but Julie and the rest of the gang definitely put in the time and got me out of it. I love them. I can’t say that enough.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

This year, I had an odd fixation on Zach Braff from Scrubs, and of course David Anders/Evil Sexy Sark from Alias, but if Josh Duhamel of Las Vegas wanted to eat a burrito in my bed I wouldn’t stop him. I might even have a nibble, and you know how I feel about Mexican food. Or do you? Well, I hate it. So there you go. I hate it, but I would eat Josh Duhamel’s burrito in a snap.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

I’m apolitical, to what I believe is my detriment. I’d like to improve that about myself, but because I hate what politics can do to people, I’ve been so much happier keeping mum and staying out of the fray.

37. Who did you miss?

My parents, sisters, nieces. My friends Kevin and Mary Beth, who visited once and had the audacity to remind me how awesome they are before returning to Wisconsin, which feels so very far away. I also missed Hunky Cameraman a lot.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

A bunch of people I was fortunate to work with this year. I know I met Jason and the Honky Slut Warrior before this year, but I’m blessed to know them much better now, so let’s count them, too. Oh, and our best bartender at the darts pub. He rules. If I left anyone out, it’s because my memory is appalling. Man, it was kind of a busy year for me. Do my baby nieces count?

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2003:

Drink the wine. Don’t leave your bra in the kitchen. Also, that things always turn around in a good way, even if you have to wait a while.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

"Help me out, here, ’cause my words are falling short." And for kicks, because it fits The Summer of Excessive Drinking and Inappropriate Behavior, let’s go with the classic, carefully and elegantly phrased, "Fuck meeeee! Baby, won’t you fuck me?"

Db_4

Someone got here by searching for: long brown hair below boobs curly Reading: Back issues of The New Yorker, which I have to finish before I can let myself start another book. Problem is, new ones keep coming. It’s the eternal struggle. Drinking: Occasion wine, because my sister rules. More on that later.

Surprise! … Except, not.

It was an innocent early-morning conversation. Typical of most Mondays, I’d been at work no longer than ten minutes before turning my focus ahead to the next weekend. Casually, I mused to Jessica that I wanted to figure out how to spend my last weekend in Los Angeles for a month.

"Saturday night, you’re going to O’Brien’s with me and Lauren," she wrote.

I was surprised. Lauren had mentioned, in passing, wanting another O’Brien’s night at some indiscriminate point, but hadn’t specified this weekend. I didn’t mind this turn of events; I was just thrown.

"Oh, I didn’t know that," I said.

"L didn’t say anything to you?" Jessica wrote back.

"Not that I know of. I hadn’t really decided where to go or what to do yet," I replied.

This apparently triggered Jessica’s internal panic alarm, and she suddenly started dropping capitalized hints faster than a stripper drops his pants.

"Don’t worry — I think MAGICALLY IT WILL ALL WORK OUT," she said. She followed that up with, "I think it will all be SURPRISINGLY EASY."

After hearing about this transaction, Lauren astutely concluded that she and Jessica should tell me the full story: that they’d been planning a surprise "bon voyage" party for me. This was a really touching and thoughtful thing to do, and I love them for it. But let’s face it — the real forces at work here are our growing appetites for Irish Car Bombs and blurry debauchery. So, ore accurately, the party is a gathering loosely hung around my departure that conveniently provides the perfect excuse to get all our friends together in a bar setting and consume alcohol irresponsibly and at great personal expense, also single-handedly keeping the Los Angeles area taxicab racket flush with cash.

My friends rock.

The Evite contained strict warnings against ruining the surprise. Their militant fists of justice were clenched, and eager to lay down some 80-proof smack. Cold fear crept through everyone’s hearts — they all know how violent Jessica gets. Small hands, big wallop.

But through the course of our IM conversation, Jessica quickly began fretting that I’d make plans to thwart their scheme. That turned to gnawing worry, then despair, then all-out panic, all in the span of about ten seconds. Her knee jerked up so hard it gave her a black eye.

"I caved under the pressure," she admitted. "The pressure OF MY OWN MIND."

We had a good laugh, and then agreed never to speak to one another again.

Db_1

It had to happen sooner or later.

I’ve done surveys, posted instant-messenger conversations, and prattled on and on about my procrastination habits, but the one thing I’ve never done until now is a Friday Five.

This may be the only way an entry’s going up today, though, as I’m a little swamped at work. I arrived this morning with the wide-eyed, naive assertion that I would have three acts of my script written by the end of the day. Instead, I have accomplished only half that, sadly without being able to blame general fuckwittedness on my lack of progress. It’s just a long slog.

My head’s swarming with notes and timecodes and interview bites, and there was no room for a kernel of an idea for a new entry. But clearly, as I’m about to more or less go silent for a month, I need to put up as much stuff before I leave as possible. Ergo, I embraced the Friday Five, once I noticed that theesteemed JEM had done it too.

1. How are you planning to spend the summer?

Collecting unemployment checks from the government, once this job ends July 3. Of course, for a good month of my unemployment, I’ll be on my mammoth trip, thus removing me from my mailing address and preventing me from receiving and signing any statements swearing that I’ve been searching for work.

When I return, it’s back to drunken shenanigans and inappropriate hijinks, Drunky But Funky-style. My birthday crops up right after I return, and I’ll get to see Doug again before he departs for law school. Hopefully I’ll get to cuddle a baby. But maybe I should find a job before I plan that.

2. What was your first summer job?

An unpaid internship at The Calgary Herald. I’d job-shadowed a reporter there during my grade eleven year, and liked it so much that I negotiated a deal to return for the summer and write for the weekly community section, "Neighbours." I’m not sure it was entirely legal for them to not pay me yet have me write for their newspaper, but I was too young for one of their summer internships and my parents agreed that any practical work experience was worth the lack of my own hard-earned pocket money. It was a great job, except that one of the weekly features I took over was called "Calgary’s Cooking," about locally published cookbooks. Apparently, people in the fair city of Calgary really, really enjoy writing and publishing cookbooks. But it was good practice for trying to find sassy anecdotal ledes, as no one wants to read a story that begins, "The Best Of Bridge series has come out with its seventh cookbook this summer, entitled Aces Up." That’s just dull. Well, dull-er. But proudly, when I was done with "Calgary’s Cooking," the articles had doubled in length and detail. I took pride in that, even if the paper itself didn’t appreciate devoting so many column-inches to How To Cook, St. Francis-Style: Our Annual Church Fundraising Cookbook.

3. If you could go anywhere this summer, where would you go?

I’m already going there. Excluding Europe, I’d love to see Australia and New Zealand, especially as we have friends and relatives in both places. Although I’m pretty sure the forthcoming vacation will only reaffirm my commitment to travel to Europe for as long as it takes to become my bitch.

4. What was your worst vacation ever?

When I was six, we road-tripped to Cornwall. Not being a road-trip family, we hadn’t thought of little contingencies, such as, "What happens when the six-year old gets car-sick?" I threw up all over my Cabbage Patch Kid, Karolina, and then into a plastic grocery bag for the duration of the drive. The car reeked so badly that we had an Airwick air-freshener in there for no less than six months after the Cornwall trip, and when we arrived at the rental property, my poor mother had to soak and scrub Karolina for hours to get rid of all traces of vomit. (She still has pink flecks here and there.) As a last resort, Mom spritzed the doll with her Chanel No. 5 and presented Karolina to me with a wan smile. I love my mother very much.

I remember little else but standing on Land’s End and eating scampi and chips in a pub. I’m sure it rained.

5. What was your best vacation ever?

When I was sixteen, my parents took us to Peter Island, a resort island in the British Virgin Islands that is one of the most restful, beautiful places I’ve seen, and which liberally poured alcohol down all our throats. But as Julie couldn’t attend, the trip was marred.

I can’t decide. My Rome trip in 2000 was a milestone for me, as I went by myself and navigated Rome alone while my friend Heather — who lived there and whom I was visiting — worked during the days. And I’ve had some idyllic trips to New York City lately, including the one that featured a hop across the pond to London.

I sound like such a little brat! I’ve been really lucky to see some neat places and the purpose of this quiz isn’t to list them and clap with glee. Let’s go with Rome as my best trip, assuming that the one I’m about to embark upon will crush them all in my memory and reign supreme like so many Iron Chefs.

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Someone got here by searching for: "What was Beverly hills 90210 high school newspaper?" And to you, gentle reader, I say, simply, "The Blaze." Writing: This bastard script, plus advance birthday cards for my sister and niece, who’ll celebrate in July while I?m gone. Excited: To go shopping with Jess tomorrow, then to the boozy sendoff party.

HAC from A to Z

This is something I borrowed from Sara’s site, because I can’t think of another entry for today that doesn’t involve me rhapsodizing over the Starbucks Mocha Malt Frappuccino. So without further ado, here is Stuff You Either Already Knew Or Didn’t Care To Know About Heather, From A to Z:

A – Act your age? I think so. I have the ability to act older than my years, on occasion, and at other times younger, so I think it averages out nicely to my current age, 25.

B – Born on what day of the week? The day Elvis died, baby. A Tuesday. The best Tuesday, at least for my Dad, who collected a bunch of money from family friends who had bet him I would be a boy. Dad knew better. He knew Elvis’ final error of judgment would be to pass his spirit into the body of a dorky chick with no interest in rekindling his drug habit.

C – Chore you hate? Cleaning hair out of a my bathroom sink’s drain. When you shed as much as I do, this is an important task, and a completely disgusting one. Lauren pulled a hairball out of our vacuum cleaner the other day that looked like a ponytail.

D – Dad’s name? Alan.

E- Essential makeup item? Mascara. I don’t bother as much with the rest of it, except for lip gloss, because I don’t understand makeup application.

F – Favorite actor? Whatever. I have no idea! Whichever one is making me pant at any given moment. Because of course it’s not based on talent. Although I think Jim Broadbent is a genius. Compare the drama of Iris to the caricature of Prince Albert he plays in Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, and you realize he can do anything.

G – Gold or silver? Silver. All the way.

H – Hometown? Don’t have one. I was born in Houston, but that city means absolutely nothing to me, as we moved when I was five. But I can’t say "Wentworth," because England technically isn’t my home even though it’s my favorite place I’ve ever lived.

I – Instruments you play? The piano. Also, I taught myself the flute when my sister stopped playing hers. I taught myself remedial guitar when I was 15, too, and promptly forgot all of it. Oh, and let’s not forget that I am an ACE at the recorder. In music class when I was growing up, I got to play ‘em all — the soprano, the treble, the tenor, and the bass, which looked like an oboe and required assembly. You might think this is incredibly nerdy, but… you would be right.

J – Job title? Story Editor. I miss having "Supervising" in front of that, but I don’t miss the stress that comes with it.

K – Kids? No, thanks! Someday, sure, but right now I am way too uninterested in something that would hamper my personal freedom that much. I don’t even want a pet.

L – Living arrangements? I have a roommate. She’s a total slapper. You may have heard of her. Last night that fat whore made me borrow some of her peanut butter. What a skinbag. The other night, she said a cuss word.

M – Mom’s name? Kathleen, a name I love; "Kathie" for short, which I’m not wild about, but I adore my mother and she’s beautiful. My parents are amazing.

N – Need… To date. Proper dating. I’ve never actually "dated," and it’s about freaking time I started, because the long-distance shit is starting to weigh on me and I don’t want to stay depressed about the death of the Hunky Cameraman Affair. I shouldn’t be so picky — I need to be young while I still am, and make mistakes, and make the most of it. Or, you know, make out with hot guys. Whatever.

O – Overnight hospital stays? I’m blessed to say that I’ve had none. I’m either remarkably healthy, or I’m ignoring major signs of trouble. It’s not a big deal when your left foot falls off, though, is it? I mean, that shit reattaches eventually, right?

P – Phobia? The eye thing. That one’s really serious. Oh, sweet mother of the Jesus-child, my eyes just started throbbing form me thinking about how afraid of the pokery I am. The other night I started thinking about this horrible thing that happens in a movie and I seriously was curled up in bed, shaking, totally unable to fall asleep. Gah. I have problems.

Q – Quote you like? I have a few. "Nothing is so bad as something that is not-so-bad," courtesy of my father; the quote in my title bar on this site; anything from When Harry Met Sally; "That judge has hated me since I kinda ran over his dog… Replace the word ‘kinda’ with repeatedly, and the word ‘dog’ with ‘son,’" from Lionel Hutz on The Simpsons; "This is Mr. Death. He’s a reaper," from Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life, but that one’s entirely in the delivery; "We will provide you with sex, which is something that men like," from the MST3000 episode Angels’ Revenge; ah, forget it, the list is too long. Those are just the ones that popped into mind.

R – Religious affiliation? Catholic, technically, but I don’t adhere to any religion in particular. I believe in God. I celebrate Christmas — oh, do I! — and I like to believe in eternal life, if only because the idea of dying and being reborn as someone else, and not remembering being me because I’m now someone new entirely, and wouldn’t that suck to have lived through this stuff and not remember ANY of it… that all sort of addles my mind.

S – Siblings? Two. Both older, one by seven years and the other by five.

T – Time you wake up? Ahem. The alarm goes off at 6 a.m., and I get out of bed at either 7 a.m. or 7:30 a.m. Yes, I know, this is insanity. Oh well. It’s the only area of my life in which I’m eternally optimistic: I’m convinced that one of these mornings I’ll hop right out of bed and work out. Convinced.

U – Unique talent? I can flare my nostrils really, really fast. Really fast. And I have a really strong aptitude for learning accents and mimicking people (well, some people). And I think that thing about the recorder counts, because not that many people admit being able to play that thing really well. Also, I’m really surprisingly adept at overusing the word "really." Really!

V – Vegetable you refuse to eat? All. No, just kidding. Brussel sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, sometimes green beans (unless you put those stupid, wonderful fried onions on them). In fact, beans in general don’t do that much for me. I’m not wild about cauliflower, either. Wow, I am amazed I’m still alive at all.

W – Worst habit? Refusing to eat certain vegetables. Gnawing off my fingernails. Picking at my eyelashes. Drinking Diet Coke (paradoxically, that’s also my best and favorite habit).

X – X-rays you’ve had? My teeth. God, so many of my teeth. And just the regular ones you’ll get when you have a physical at the doctor. There’s got to be a better X than this one? Xylophones: Yes. A hundred times, yes. What else? Xanadu viewings: Too many to count, when I was little; we had the album on vinyl and I memorized all the songs. And yes, I do understand that we’re talking about a movie where Olivia Newton-John wears roller skates and plays a muse and Gene Kelly degrades himself by simply being present, but whatever. It’s a classic. It’s Xanadu.

Y – Yummy food you make? Anything in the dessert family: Chocolate Kahlua Cake, Red Velvet Cake from scratch, chocolate-caramel brownies. I’ve done some great work with hummus mashed potatoes, too, and I make a mean Lean Pocket.

Z – Zodiac Sign? Leo. Lioness. Very apt when I had longer hair, although the short hair’s fairly mane-like as well, I guess, on its really puffy days.

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Someone got here by searching for: mariah carey glitter stripe, which got them here. Watching: God, I don’t even remember what we watched last night. Reruns, I think. But we’re going to watch The Matrix so that we can try to care about the sequel. Reading: The Entertainment Weekly issue with the Top 50 Cult Movies, which is the thing that sparked my eye-pokery phobia — it mentions the movie with the grossest scene ever, OW, suddenly I can’t see anyhting. Seriously, they’re stinging now, people. AAAAAH.

In Case You’d Ever Wondered…

Name = Heather. I won’t tell you my last name; it’s naughty.

Birthday = August 16, 1977, a three exact months before my roommate’s. This means I have a great deal of wisdom to impart to her, so that she might benefit from my advanced development.

Piercings = Two in each earlobe

Tattoos = None. I’m too indecisive and I know I’d end up wishing I hadn?t done it. But for the record, I’d probably get a Union Jack or a wee, wee green four-leaf clover.

Height = 5’5",or 5’4.75" when I’m being honest.

Shoe size = 7.5, on average. My left foot is almost a half-size bigger than my right.

Hair color = Great question. No one knows. Some call me a redhead, some a blonde; I suppose I have blondish-brown hair with red glints in it. And it’s loosely curly.

Eye color = Blue

Length = Chin-length right now, though I’ve worn it past my shoulders for the past four years and I think I like that better.

Last…

… movie you rented = Woody Allen’s Love and Death; we rented Amelie too but never got around to watching it. This was when I was in NYC; generally, I never go to the video store.

…song you listened to = "A Little Respect," by Wheatus

…song that was stuck in your head = "Last Dance With Maryjane" by Tom Petty just gave way about ten minutes ago to "Gloria."

… song you downloaded = An acoustic version of "Ants Marching" from an early and rare Dave Matthews bootleg.

… CD you bought = The Chicago soundtrack and Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me.

… CD you listened to = Now That’s What I Call Music, Vol. 50, from England, and a CD mix I made. They alternate in my CD player right now.

… person you’ve called = Hunky Cameraman

… person who’s called you = Lauren

Do …

… you have a bf or gf = Technically, no. He’d say he doesn’t, either, so I guess that’s the answer. No, I don’t have a boyfriend. Yet I do consider myself involved with someone, simply because no one’s denying that there’s some pretty strong feelings even if we’re not labeling them as anything.

… you wish you could live somewhere else = Yes. Always.

… you think about suicide = No.

… others find you attractive = I guess, but rarely are they people I would want to date. The last guy to find me attractive was drunk, possibly drooling, definitely licking my hand in an effort to woo me, and moaning, "We need to be together. Please. I need you. We HAVE to date" — despite the fact that we were there in the first place because two weeks ago he hooked up with one of my friends and she was deciding whether he was worth the effort. I’d say the answer is a definitive no. He mistook "disinterested sarcasm" as "cutting through the bullshit." Poor boy.

… you want more piercings = Not sure. I don’t deal well with pain. I could go for a third hole in one of my ears, but I’d just as soon spend the money on something else.

… you want more tattoos = See above — no pain threshold, and a short attention span. I can’t even find a city I want to live in, let alone get an agonizing, indelible mark on my skin that would hurt even more to erase.

… you drink = With gusto.

… you do drugs = Nah. One vice at a time, please, and drinking does me just fine.

… you like cleaning = No. I like when things are clean, but I derive no pleasure from making them get that way.

… you like roller coasters = Not really. I got kind of into Space Mountain once at Disneyworld, but generally, I don’t trust them, and more importantly I don’t trust my stomach. Nor do I trust yours.

… you write in cursive or print = A hybrid. I’m too lazy to write in perfect cursive or in perfect print; melding them is a lot easier. I guess my particular hybrid is heavier on the cursive side.

For or against…

… long distance relationships = For. I think people are worth the risk; obviously, they’re not ideal, and they shouldn’t be permanent, but I think for a period they can actually help strengthen some ties and you shouldn’t give up on someone just because of geography. Separation is not a permanent condition.

… using someone = In theory, against, but we all do it, whether it’s for something benign as feedback or for something more intimate, like sex. I don’t think everyone means to do it, but everyone does, in one way or another. As such, I don’t think "using" someone is always necessarily as underhanded as it sounds; however, I am against leading people on deliberately and for really hurtful purposes.

… suicide = I feel like I should put forth something quasi-intelligent about how we all have freedom of expression, and if someone chooses suicide that means they’re simply exercising their right to live and die and make a statement and own their own futures, but… holy hell, of course I’m against suicide. I think it’ horrible.

… killing people = That is the stupidest question ever.

… teenage smoking = I would be against my teenagers smoking, and I choose not to, so I guess that’s my answer. I am not, however, out campaigning for an end to cigarettes, and I think most of those "The Truth" ads are a steaming pile of horse shit.

… doing drugs = Feh. Generally, I think drugs are idiotic, and that anyone who says they enhance life and creativity are kidding themselves. I wouldn’t date anyone who did anything hard — if they’ve tried it, maybe that’s one thing, but if they seek to do it again, that’s asking for trouble. I’d prefer to be with someone who casually just doesn’t bother with them, because that’s the way I am. But I suppose if I met someone fab who was like, "A couple times a year my friends and I do shrooms," or whatever, I’d deal with it based on how much I liked that person.

… premarital sex = Hell yes. You get yours, people.

… driving drunk = No. I think that’s the dumbest thing in the world, and I have zero patience for people who are like, "Trust me, I’m better at driving when I’m drunk." It’s like, "No, you’re not, you’re just better at kidding yourself when you’re drunk."

… gay/lesbian relationships = Definitely.

… soap operas = Of course. I mean, hi, Passions just introduced a mysterious shed into a character’s life — yes, a SHED — so that he can run around and scream, "WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE SHED?!?" and "Sorry to yell at you — I’m just not used to people asking me about The Shed." That’s fucking brilliant.

Favorite…

… food = Indian. I’ve developed a total obsession with Chicken Tikka Masala and garlic naan bread; it helps that I have happy memories from London of eating Indian food and drinking Strongbow and chatting with local lager louts. Great trip.

… song = God, I don?t have one. That’s an impossible question. I don’t pick favorites easily.

… thing to do = Travel. Laugh. I like to get all my friends together and relax and chat and chill and chuckle over a few ciders. I like to ski and play tennis, but I’m neither good at both nor a frequent participant in either. I also like to shower, but that’s a hygiene thing, not a hobby. I love watching Notre Dame football, or indeed any football.

… thing to talk about = I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love gossiping. I don’t think I have a favorite topic; my favorite things to talk about are the things that are organic and fun in that given moment. Lauren and I had a really funny conversation the other day about what toys we used to play with when we were little, how we played with them, weird "let’s pretend" stuff when we were young, etc. That was a great one that ranks high on my list, but it’s not like we sit down every night and try to pick up the thread again. It was great because it was so out there and random.

… sports = college football and basketball, tennis, NFL football, Everton football (Go Blue! Down with the Red Shite!), Olympic swimming, track, gymnastics, and ice skating. Probably in that order.

… drinks = Diet Coke. Woodchuck/Woodpecker/Strongbow/Blackthorn cider. Water. Orange juice. Margaritas. Some beers. Mostly, I’m padding this list to downplay my total devotion to Diet Coke, which will always be my one and only. I love you, baby! I couldn’t have done this without you. Come to mama.

… clothes = Jeans, a sweater or long-sleeved t-shirt, and a coat.

… movies = Fuck. Um, Annie Hall, When Harry Met Sally, A Room With A View, North By Northwest, Clue, Airplane!, Gone With The Wind because it just rules and "Tara’s Theme" is my favorite movie piece of all time… do I have to keep doing this? I’ll end up listing half the movies I’ve ever seen. I reek at these.

… band[s] = U2, Tragically Hip, David Gray (not really a band, though, I guess), The Smiths. Again, can I stop? Reekage.

… holiday = Christmas, bar none. Thanksgiving is fun, too, but nothing comes close to Christmas. It lasts for more than a month, sometimes, the music is fantastic, and it turns even cold weather into something magical. And there are PRESENTS. So many presents.

… people = Anyone who doesn’t make me want to rip out my own teeth. I could give the "friends and family" answer, and it would be true, but I feel like that’s an answer everyone should give.

Have you…

… ever cried over a girl or guy = Oh yeah. If you haven’t, I think you’re in the minority. Nothing to be ashamed of there.

… ever lied to someone = Oh yeah. The phrase, "He’s sleeping on the couch" comes to mind. Plus, of course, the patented, "Sure, I have renter’s insurance!"

… ever been in a fist fight = No. I once accidentally kicked a girl in the crotch and punched a guy in the nose — two separate occasions — but generally, I avoid stuff like that because I’m a giant coward.

… ever been arrested = No, and let’s hope it stays that way.

What…

… shampoo do you use = Honestly? Head and Shoulders, just to be safe. But I sometimes use Pantene’s curl defining shampoo and Herbal Essences’ pink stuff. Guys always love the way that one smells.

… perfume do you use = None. I have an orange/vanilla/brown sugar thing that sometimes is nice, but usually I forget. On nice occasions I’ll use Clinique Happy. My favorite perfume was the Bath & Body Works "Leo" scent, but they discontinued that ages ago and it makes me sad.

… shoes do you wear = Boots or something else with a chunky heel. I’ll wear sandals out of necessity but it makes me uncomfortable and I spent the entire time feeling self-conscious about my feet, and whether I have an abnormally large big toe. I don’t really think I do, but sometimes that sucker just pops right out at me and starts to laugh, and that hurts me.

… are you scared of = Anything happening to my eyes, drowning, sharks… basically, I hate thinking about prolonged deaths. When I go, I think it’s going to need to be so quick that I don’t have time to be like, "Well, okay, I’m about to die… any second now, I’ll kick it… almost there…" I’m also generally terrified of not being enough — for someone else, and for myself.

… is your boss like = My immediate bosses for the next ten weeks seem really supportive, chilled-out and cool, and together. I’m really happy in that regard. One has a beard, the other is pregnant. My boss above them has blue streaks in her hair. Love her, too.

Number…

… of times I have been in love = Twice

… of guys I have kissed = Not sure. Twelve? Fifteen? Fifteen. I can’t tell if that’s average or very, very few.

… of girls I have kissed = Two, Lauren and Jessica, but they weren’t real smooches — like, we weren’t moved by passion or hot mutual attraction, or anything else that would get a guy’s rocks off. We weren’t getting down and dirty, although the photo of me and Lauren sure makes it look otherwise. But we were drunk and it was New Year’s and there was a camera and it was funny.

… of continents I have lived in = I think this is a trick question for me. The answer is one, right, because I’ve lived in North America and in Great Britain, but Britain is not a continent and doesn’t count as part of the continent of Europe. If New Zealand can be country without a continent — they will kill you if you try to claim they’re Australia — then I think Great Britain can be too. And while I’m at it, Hawaii’s not part of the continental US — it’s a chain of islands — so if you live in Hawaii, can you claim you lived in North America simply by association? I don’t think you can. I think, if you’re been born and raised in Hawaii and never left, that you’ve never, in fact, lived in a continent. These are trying questions indeed. They’re bigger than I am.

… of cheap diary entries like this that I am going to do before writing a real one = I can’t say. I need to get my mojo back; it’s on a lunch break. That’s lasted for three days.

Someone got here by searching for: "Sex with George Clooney" and "Topher Grace skinny" Watching: The NCAA Basketball finals Did Roy Williams really swear on live television? Yep. He tore Bonnie Bernstein a new asshole for asking if he’d be accepting the North Carolina job, then said, "I don’t give a SHIT about North Carolina right now." Okay, there, Roy. Calm down. And possibly, kiss goodbye to the Tar Heels. Wait, where are you going? To the shed.