I am the last of the famous international playboys...

When I'm feeling a certain mood I still listen to Morrissey and David Bowie. It's hard to put a name to this mood, because honestly, what sort of mood do you have to be in to want to listen to those two in the same sitting?

Perhaps sparkly and misunderstood.


Do not mock the broom handle, Ms. Parker.

It's... Stupid Storyday!

This is a true story. I am a superhero. Don't tell anybody.

I remembered this particular stupid story (in this instance the "stupid" refers to the actions in the story, not the story itself) while taking a walk last night through my beautiful residential neighborhood. Ah, the birds. The lack of interesting restaurants. The large piles of dirty snow. As I returned to my apartment complex and looked at the balconies on the outside of all the buildings, I fondly recalled this story of stupidity.

Once upon a time, when I was in college, I lived in an apartment in Smallcollegetown, Wisconsin.1 The apartment I lived in was a fairly old apartment with some rockin' industrial-style carpet - the kind you normally find on cubicle walls. The apartment building was technically two stories, but there were also apartments in the basement of the building which provided each building with three floors of apartments. I lived on the top floor, roughly two-and-a-half stories above the ground (due to fire codes requiring the basement apartments to include windows).

One evening about this time of year, I was lounging in my apartment debating whether to put up the giant wooden butterflies I'd found at the craft store for $.25 on the wall without asking my roommate's opinion. While hanging one butterfly near the balcony window, I realized that the evening was particularly fine indeed. I decided to go outside on the balcony and enjoy the sunset and ambient sounds of nature (we lived next to a swamp, though I preferred to call it the quagmire, home to several million operatic frogs and a pterodactyl).

I went out on the balcony and pretended I was somewhere tremendously exotic and exciting that just happened to be full of frogs. I think I attempted to say something in French, like, "Oui! Vive le France! Le moulin!"

After enjoying this for several minutes, I decided that I would hang the garish wooden butterflies across from my roommate's door so she could enjoy them as soon as she awoke in the morning and headed back inside. I hung up the garish wooden butterflies, had a very sophisticated bottle of Jones Soda, and waited for my roommate to come home and be surprised and delighted with my decorating ideas.

Oh, wait. No. That is not at all what happened.

I have mentioned that the apartment was not new. This meant that some of its entrances lacked sophisticated security devices, like locks. The sliding balcony door was one of these. In lieu of an actual lock, the landlord had provided us with a broom handle to place in the tracking on the floor, which would stop the door when a would-be burglar tried to slide it open. Brilliant! I laughed at this security device heartily when I moved in, knowing that any moron could get around a simple broom handle. It was just a matter of ingenuity, and most burglars have this. Strangely, it did not deter myself or my roommate from moving in and living in this apartment, the threat of ingenious burglars hanging over our heads.

What actually happened that evening was this: When I slid the balcony door closed behind me, I had accidentally nudged the broom handle into its place in the tracking on the floor. I realized this when I tried to open the sliding glass door and it moved two inches before abruptly stopping... having hit the broom handle.

"How about that, whaddaya know," I said, scratching my head. "Guess I'll need to use some good old fashioned ingenuity to get out of this pickle!"

What was my ingenious solution to this problem? I tried to open the door again, harder.

Shockingly, this was not successful. "Huh, I was pretty sure that was going to work," I said, mildly concerned. "Gee whiz."

My next ingenious solution was to use my cellular phone to call my roommate, who was at work, for help.2 So I took my cellular phone out of my pocket and called my roommate, who came to let me out of the apartment within fifteen minutes. She loved the butterflies.

Except this is not what happened either.

In those days, cellular phones were much bigger than they are today. They did not easily fit into pockets. My cellular phone was sitting on the couch next to some butterflies, unfortunately on the other side of the balcony door.

My next plan was to wait for my roommate to come home and let me out. I decided that this was not a good plan after pressing my face to the door so I could see what time it was on the VCR clock (in those days everyone had VCRs and large cell phones), and realized she would not be off work for at least four more hours.

The next plan was to try to open the door so quickly and forcefully that the broom handle jumped out of the track and onto the carpet, thus allowing me back into the apartment to finish the decorating. Predictably, this did not work at all, being essentially the same thing I had already tried five previous times.

"Well," I said to myself, "What to do, what to do... I wonder what my many fictional heroes would do in this situation."

"Alohamora," suggested Ginny Weasley.

"Unfortunately, I seem to have left my wand next to my cell phone," I explained.

"The chip in my arm would have alerted MI-6 to my predicament at least fifteen minutes ago," said James Bond.

"And my arm-chip seems to be malfunctioning," I said, cross. "Miss Bennett?"

"I'm with Mr. Bond," Elizabeth Bennett said, matter-of-fact.

"What?" I said.

"Why don't you just use your grapple?" asked Batman.

"Because, Bruce," I said, "These are pyjama pants. They do not require a utility belt, and thus I don't have my grappling gun."3

"Bruce? Bruce who?" said Batman, very loudly, before grappling himself away.

"Lame," I said. It was.

"I'd fly, probably," said Superman, "Or just jump."

"Neither of which is really an option for me," said I, "But thank you for your input."

"I'm sure I wouldn't have gotten myself in such a situation in the first place," said Scarlett O'Hara, "Being outside, it's savage."

"Why are you here? I never even liked you very much." Clearly this was not shaping up to be the solution I was hoping it would.

"I would just move the broom with my mind," said Matilda. I sighed loudly. "Well, you asked."

"You forgot your towel, didn't you?" said Ford Prefect, shaking his head. "Shame, that."

"Yes, I forgot my towel. Why aren't any of you normal people?" I was becoming agitated.

"Hey," said Elizabeth Bennett.

"So... you don't want to use the Force, then," said Han Solo, "That's cool, hokey religions... just kick in the door."

"No. That is a stupid idea," I said. "None of you are being very helpful. I'm starting to wonder why I waste my time with you people."

"[I wouldn't mind being stuck on the balcony,]" said Amelie, only in French, "[It's a nice evening.]"

"I didn't understand a word of that," I said, growing very cross. "This is America, Amelie."

"I'd make something out of rope," said Laura Ingalls Wilder, "And I'm not imaginary."

"Neither am I," said John Muir, "Though I suggest you just stay out here and endeavour to better understand the wilderness. That marsh over there, that is."

"AAAGGGHHHHH," I explained. There was no rope on the balcony.

"Why don't you just jump down?" said Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a shrug.

"No!" I exclaimed, "Look, it's very far! It's two-and-a-half stories! And the ground looks particularly hard from up here!"

"So?" said Eowyn, "You'll be fine."

"I. Am. Not. Jumping," I said, with what I believed was an air of finality.

"Think not of what others would do," said Yoda, "Think instead of what you would do."

"Apparently, this is what I would do," I said, "I would try to think of what my many fictional heroes would do in this situation."

"And when this fails?" asked Yoda, all mystical-like.

"You are astoundingly annoying in person," I said. However, I did start thinking about what I would do in this situation when all my fictional heroes failed me. I figured I'd probably do something dumb. I might pretend to be Mrs. Spider-man and swing down to the balcony below mine.

This started to seem like an increasingly great idea. Let's leave aside for a moment that out on the balcony it seemed perfectly logical that being married to Peter Parker would result in Spider-man powers for both of us, and move directly onto this as the new plan. I would Spider-man down my balcony, swing onto the balcony below mine, and then jump the remaining half-story to the ground.

I put a leg over the railing of my balcony and realized that two-and-a-half stories half-over a balcony railing looks quite a bit higher than two-and-a-half stories with both feet on the balcony. However, Mrs. Spider-man would not be daunted by such things, and I swung the other leg over the balcony. From there, I sort of squatted down and inched my hands down the railing's bars until they were as low as I could get them without letting go and falling to my death. Or at least to my extreme discomfort.

Then I swung onto my downstairs neighbors' balcony, like Mrs. Spider-man! I was elated! I was not dead! I was standing on my neighbors' balcony, and they were watching me from inside their living-room! I had interrupted their peaceful Survivor party by Mrs. Spider-man-ing onto their balcony!

"Um." I said, and jumped over the railing onto the ground. "Until next time, true believers!"

I did not realize until I got up the stairs and outside my own apartment door that I had not considered whether my front door was locked or not. But that is a stupid story for another day.

1 I think everyone should have the opportunity to go to college in a small college town, as Smallcollegetown was, because quite a bit of the town goings-on really do revolve around said college. This fosters a sense of pride and school spirit. This is very exciting when you come from a large enough town to have four high schools about which the town cares little. Unfortunately, the small town I live in now can not be considered a college town despite the college, due to the presence of a monstrous professional football team around which everything, including much of the college goings-on, revolves. But I digress.

2 You might be asking why I simply did not shout for one of my neighbors to let me out. There were a few reasons for this. 1) I did not know any of my neighbors on this side of the building, 2) No one seemed to be coming or going on this particularly fine evening as it was Spring Break and most normal people were in Cabo showing their boobies, 3) I was at this time in my life, single, and very self-conscious around boys. Had I called for help and been rescued by a boy, I would have been mortified and we all know that there is absolutely nothing worse than being very embarrassed.

3 Oh yes, did I mention that I was wearing my Curious George pyjama pants? I was.


What's the craic?

You know that I adore St. Patrick's Day. I studied in Ireland, I have an Irish last name, I like Irish music, I like fish and chips, and I like Guinness. Hooray for Saint Patrick's Day! Today I am wearing my most garish green argyle sweater and Irish national soccer team jersey, participating in the ritual "Giving Out of the Shamrock Stickers."

That said, I would like to clear up some of the misconceptions about Saint Patrick's Day/Ireland I noticed today.

1) Only people who think someone in their family several hundred years ago was from Ireland can participate. FALSE. People who like St. Patrick's Day do not have to be any sort of hyphenated Irish at all. They like to have fun and if they are worth having fun with, do not care if your last name is O'Reilly or Gonzales. If you feel weird about it or left out anyway - make up some Irish ancestors. Your great-great-great uncle Seamus? That guy was a trip. (I promise no one will know.)

2) One must be completely, smashingly drunk to enjoy Saint Patrick's Day. FALSE. Did I mention the ritual "Giving Out of the Shamrock Stickers?" I think I did. While drinking is an activity heavily associated with March 17th, it is not necessary for celebrating or enjoying the day. I am not drunk, and had a pretty fantastic day. Have some tea and Digestive biscuits. Watch a stereotypical Irish movie (Waking Ned Devine is a good one). Look at pretty pictures of one of the most beautiful islands on the planet. Wear some awful green socks. Eat some soda bread and blood pudding - heck, throw a piece of ham on your plate and call it bacon. All of these things are sufficient Saint Patrick's Day celebratory things, drinking not necessary.

3) Irish people in Ireland hate Saint Patrick's Day, don't wear green or go to the pub, this is a ridiculous and stupid American tradition that should be stopped. HALF FALSE. I admit I was guilty of this one before experiencing an Ireland Saint Patrick's Day myself. While real Irish people (that is, born and raised in Ireland) generally do not wear green or shirts with shamrocks on them today (or... ever), they do spend the entire day at the pub. I know, because I was there, and there were more Irish people in the pubs in Cork than Americans. Don't try to tell me Saint Patrick's Day in Ireland is more like our Thanksgiving - it's not. Unless your Thanksgiving includes going to mass in the morning then booking it to the pub to have some craic, food, and spirits with friends for the rest of the day. (In which case - invite me next time.)

4) The IRA is cool/it's okay to hate on the English if you're "Irish-American" FALSE. While I think it ought to go without saying, the things I hear every year at Milwaukee's IrishFest compel me to inform the small portion of Internet that reads my blog: Not cool. The majority of people in Ireland don't think the IRA is cool. Americans who put "26 + 6 = 1" stickers on their cars and say things like, "Get the British out of Ireland, the Irish have made it clear they don't want the British there," (seen in the New York Times blog comments on Friday) don't know what they're talking about and should remember that people in other countries really hate it when we get involved in their political disputes without understanding the issues (and sometimes when we do understand them). I'm certainly not an expert on Northern Ireland politics by any stretch of the imagination, but I did live there and would like very much for people to do some research before they open their mouths, especially today.

End of soapbox!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! What's the craic?


Pants pants pants stuff pants drinking pants.

I did laundry today. I took my favorite pair of jeans out of the dryer (yes, I dry my jeans... usually this is not a problem) and discovered that I had shrunk them to a ridiculous size. They looked like a 3rd grader's pants. I was very disappointed and things might have been thrown. I tend to get very attached to my pants.

You may be aware of the fact that I am very stupid in the morning and do things that don't make much sense when I am very tired. This morning, in a stupor of tiredness, I put on my shrunken pants.

Some part of my brain is still stuck in the land where I weigh 50 pounds heavier, because my pants fit (I have lost zero pounds since washing these pants). They just don't look like pants that I think would fit me. You'd think I'd have gotten over that by now... nope. My mental image of myself is still me at age 22. This is poor. I am delighted that my pants fit, though. Hooray for pants!

New topic: Underage drinking! You all know that I am very uptight about underage drinking. I do not judge people who drink before they are 21 (seriously, I don't - I did drink in Ireland when I was 20 because the drinking age there is 18... and now I get to say that my first alcoholic beverage was a Guinness down the street from the brewery at a 200 year old pub, which is awesome - but when I got back I abstained until my 21st birthday, which wasn't particularly hard). It was a completely weird and bizarre notion to me that anyone would - it's illegal! I considered it something other people did that I didn't do because I was too uptight. There has been much debate in the United States recently over changing the drinking age to 18 and whether that would make the 18-20 year old age group safer. I'm not sure how I feel about the subject.

Experts agree that binge drinking is rampant and a huge problem on college campuses. They agree that drunk driving in the 18-20 year old age range is a problem. Something none of the articles mention is that a college student (particularly in the upper Midwest, in Wisconsin, where drinking is particularly celebrated) choosing not to drink before she is 21 is generally social suicide. A teetotaler on a college campus has very limited options when it comes to social engagements (despite what many parents may think, going to parties without drinking is not a reasonable or fun option). Where does one make friends in college? Not in class, but at social engagements. I just think it's something worth mentioning, because I felt like I was at a major social disadvantage not drinking in college. It took a long time to find fantastic like-minded friends, and that was a real drag.

One thing that struck me while reading one of the articles I read today on the subject was a police chief in Boulder, Colorado who kept calling the students he ticketed for underage drinking "kids." Is that part of the problem? Do we still think that people aged 18-20 are kids? Kids that who can vote, get married, buy guns, have babies, go to war, and apply for a mortgage? Or did this particular officer just see them that way because he is older than they are?

I'm not sure if we should lower the drinking age or not. I lean toward thinking that a drinking age of 18 would encourage more people to call for help if their underage friends drink too much, instead of letting them pass out in their own puke. Maybe it would not be as exciting if it weren't illegal. What I'm not sure about is whether this would just make the problems start earlier - like at age 13. Do YOU have an opinion on the drinking age debate?


I'm easy!

I am going to tell you a secret.

Are you ready?

I'm a huge pushover.

I wish I wasn't, but I am a giant pushover. It's a thing I've recently figured out about myself, in reference to something I will not mention on teh interwebz. Here is a tip: If you ever get the sense that I am unhappy with you (though I try to let people know when I'm unhappy, because passive aggressive? Lame. But still), if you want to get back on my good side, all you need do is something small and nice. Seriously. I will melt and all will be forgotten.

It's so easy! I'm easy! (But not like that!) It might not be a good thing, but it makes me happy enough.

Changing subjects! U2 tour: If you want to go, do let me know. I will be attempting to purchase tickets soon and I am super excited! Soldier Field, Saturday September 12th. Be there or be square! Um, this is not a guarantee of tickets. Just a good chance. :) Crossing your fingers wouldn't hurt.

Changing subjects again! The Biggest Loser: Does anyone else watch The Biggest Loser? While the only other reality show I actually enjoy watching is The Amazing Race (as previously discussed, Phil is the best!), I catch The Biggest Loser occasionally and I kind of really adore Bob. Oh, Bob! This week Bob is wearing a very silly skinny tie with polka-dots, and it makes me want to hug him.


Books that make you go, "Hmm."

U2, Ryan Braun, and Jon Stewart all on the same episode of David Letterman? That's what I call neat.

Have you ever started reading a book you're not crazy about, find that you are committed enough to the book to see it through - but you hate it? And you don't actually want to finish it? I'm having trouble with a book I'm reading. Because I really kind of hate it.

The main character is completely unlikable. It's not even that she's unlikable, but that she's unlikable and so littered with flaws that she's not even sympathetic and I am completely unable to relate to her or care about her at all. She doesn't learn from her mistakes, she doesn't care for anyone but herself, and she's just a horrible person. Horrible person! I wish I liked her, I really do, but I do not. I keep thinking she'll get better and do something worthwhile or interesting or redeem herself in some way so I can get on with the book, but I'm 2/3 of the way through this, and she's as not awesome as she was in the beginning.

If you were in my situation, what would you do? Do I have to finish the book? I kind of feel like I have to finish it. I think I might read every other page so it takes less time.

I did read a really fantastic young adult book called Jellicoe Road, though. That main character was not always likable, but I at least cared about what happened to her. It made me cry, and the only books before that one that had done that were the seventh Harry Potter book and certain Jane Austen novels when I was feeling especially girly.


Get on your boots. It snowed again.

Wow. I'd never seen The Bachelor before tonight, and I think it's safe to say I'll never, ever watch it again. What an awful, disgusting, terrible show! Yuck. My reality show of choice is still The Amazing Race. It's a race! It's amazing! It has a guy named Phil!

U2 is on Letterman all week, the only reason I am still awake. I adore them, but I have to say - U2 is way too big to be confined to David Letterman's stage.

Reading a lot of comics lately! It's helping with the winter blues. I'm very tired of winter. I think I say this every year, but it seems like I go along okay with winter until after the holidays, and then the toughest part of winter starts. I think, "I can handle this, it's only a few more weeks," and then I get to the point where I can't handle it anymore and slowly start going insane. Then I go past the insanity point, it gets even colder, even more snow falls, I drive absolutely everyone in my life completely up the wall, and when they can't take anymore - it means there's only a month to go. We're probably at the five-weeks-left point, so watch out friends and family - the calls from me will start coming soon. Just do your best to talk me down, it'll be fine. If you're not up for it, do feel free to tell me to shut up and go watch some animated Batman.

Please come soon, spring!