Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

A Social Experiment

Yesterday, John and I decided upon a social experiment.  As we popped the cork of a bottle of champagne to celebrate his acceptance of a job offer for next year, we agreed to have a snark-free evening.  What’s that, you say, dear reader: you can no more imagine John being snarky than you can imagine me being snark-free? Well first of all, poop on you.  Second of all, within the confines of our own home, John and I engage in a fairly balanced, tit-for-tat snarkfest.

I will now take bets on who snarked first.

You lose.

It was Muckle.

Eight minutes into the experiment, he said, “And that’s why men are better than women.”

Now for a quiz.  Was he referring to:

a) penises

b) muscle mass

c) the patriarchy

d) Wham! Fantastic, the first CD I ever owned

e) Y-Chromosome DNA

But, fair readers, it wasn’t a sweep.  Four minutes after John’s first barb, I uttered the following, “Some Christian you are.”

Was I alluding to Muckle’s propensity to

a) pray to Hecate

b) disbelieve the story of Genesis

c) lie to his parents about where he is calling from

d) eat latkes

e) don hot pants

Regardless,  I think we learned something: going snarkless is fine, but it’s always fun to criticize fundamental qualities like gender and religion.  And Muckle looks really good in hot pants.

To top it all off, later that night, I learned that I had won John’s apartment cleaning services in the recent Sloan charity auction.  Now I get six hours of apartment cleaning from him, and I don’t have to feel guilty. And you can be darn sure he’ll wear those hot pants as he cleans.

I’ll warn you when the cleaning is going down so you don’t accidentally stop by for a visit (or so you can plan a “surprise” visit accordingly).

Now that’s what I call a marriage.

Just Another Blawkward Monday…

I’ve arbitrarily decided that Mondays are the days on which I will blog about awkward encounters.  Each Monday, I pledge to recount an awkward story from the previous week.  Should social graces and/or fortuitous week-long awkwardness avoidance prohibit my detailing a recent event, I’ll dig into the endless cesspool of awkwardness known as my past to tell you a story.

I will protect the innocence of those involved by giving them code names, which will involve inserting either BL or AWK somewhere into their names.  The reasons why should be obvious, and frankly, so should the identities of my awkwardness victims.

Today’s tale comes from my recent past.  John had a recruiting event in New York, so we decided to make a weekend of it.  We journeyed down under separate cover so that in case one of us died, the other would still be able to care for Awkus and Blydie.  Ok, so we did it because the company flew him down, whereas I had to take the bus because our society places a greater premium on degrees from fancy business schools that it does on wannabe memoir writers who spend a lot of time in sweatsuits.

John got to New York way before I did and proceeded to partake in  corporate initiation rituals.  He briefly swung by the hotel to let me in to the room so that I could watch Sydney White, a retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves starring Amanda Bynes.  The film takes place on a college campus, and instead of dwarves, they’re dorks.  Yup.  Did I mention poignant ending, in which the dorks are elected to student council in a rousing defeat of Rachel Witchburn, made me weep?  And that’s not even the blawkward encounter.

Post-crying jag, I joined John and the gang at a bar.   The venue played a lot of late-90s hip-hop—embarrassingly, one of my favorite genres—although being a broke writer rapping along to “Money Ain’t a Thang” with a mob of consultants feels like kind of a lie.

I ultimately latched onto Blaudrey, the other Sloanie at the event, and Awko, her boyfriend.  Blaudrey is someone I don’t know terribly well, although I’ve enjoyed chatting with her the few times we’ve found ourselves in the same social setting.  This time, our conversation went something like this:

Me: Awko, you’ve done quite well for yourself.  I think Blaudrey is the most beautiful girl in your class at Sloan.

Awko: Uh, thanks.

Me: No, really.  She’s, like, really, really hot.

Awko: Thanks.  Yeah, I think she’s beautiful.

Me: No, like, seriously.  The hottest.

Awko (scuttles away): Hi, random stranger.

Me (sidling up to Blaudrey): Hey, so I was just telling Awko how you’re the hottest girl in your class at Sloan.

Blaudrey: Oh, uh, thanks?

Me: No, seriously.  I’ve thought about this a lot and discussed it with a lot of people.  You’re totally the best looking girl in your class.

Blaudrey: What about Blog and Awkward?

Me: Oh, Blog doesn’t do it for me.  And, yeah, Awkward’s hot, but not like you…

Blaudrey: Gee, thanks (begins looking around for Awko, or for anyone else who will rescue her from me).

Me (hating social cues): Seriously.  I’ve thought about it a lot.  You’re hot.  Ooh!  I love this song!  “One, two, three and to the fo’  Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre is at the do’… ”

Blaudrey escapes under a storm of the requisite hand-gestures which accompany my rapping.

END SCENE

Now, this scene is in some ways an upgrade from another game I’ve been known to play, “Get Drunk and Talk About Myself,” which often precedes a stirring round of “Who Wants to Come to My Pity Party?”  But Blaudrey may well wind up working with John next year.  And now she’s probably afraid of me.

But she is really pretty.

Blomotional Strategies

Good day, Blogophiles!     

Today’s title, Blomotional Strategies sounds dirty, but really, it’s just a hybrid of blog and promotional.  And it’s my title because today I’m going to write about promotions and business.  Whenever I write business, you should pronounce it Bizz-Nass in your head, which indicates that I am writing about it in a flippant and sardonic way and that I actually know nothing about it.

First order of business: I’m currently trying to sell a bunch of old stuff on Ebay: DVDs, video games, chaps, the usual.  I’m totally out of storage space, and one of the best ways I can think of to support myself as a writer is by selling things I don’t need.  Unfortunately, no one else seems to need them either.  No bids yet. 

I also took my wedding dress to be cleaned because I’m thinking of selling that on Ebay, too.  Especially since it’s going to cost me $140 bucks to clean it.  That’s right, I’m paying more to clean my wedding dress than I’ve paid for anything else in my closet (except a pair of size 28 Seven Jeans, worn exactly once before my thyroid disorder was diagnosed–available now on Ebay!).  I’d like to solicit feedback on the idea of selling my wedding dress: feel free to comment.  Am I being anti-sentimental?  Should I be crafty and make it into an outfit/pillow/shroud/parachute/1000 hankies? Or do I have to keep it in my closet for the next 50 years attracting moths and taking up space?

Next stop on my morning of commerce, the consignment shop, where I was hoping to unload more premium denim (this time, too big!), and several shirts which I finally admitted a) will never come back in style b) I am too old to wear.  Some of you may remember that whole 70s porn-star phase I had right after college, which involved a lot of metallics and pleather.  I want to apologize for that.  And offer you any pieces from the collection you might secretly have admired–yours now at bargain basement prices.

The real promotional excitement happened as I tried to do my good deed for the day.  “Excuse me, sir, excuse me,” I called out, running to thwart the unfolding tragedy.  “There’s a cup of coffee on top of your car!”  He laughed and handed me a $5 Starbucks gift-card!  And this was no ordinary car, it was a Zip Car!  Starbucks and Zip Car–two great tastes that apparently go great together.

“It’s not coffee, it’s a magnet,” he explained, as he zoomed off to foist free coffee on the next unsuspecting do-gooder.  

I was pleased, of course, but I also felt duped!  And it got me thinking, what other sorts of fake scenarios could companies concoct to reward us for trying to be decent human beings.  Perhaps Nine West and Cottonelle could team up.  If we tell the woman she has toilet paper stuck to the bottom of her shoe, we get a $10 shoe coupon (shupon, obvs) or a roll of toilet paper.  Or maybe no teaming up is necessary.  Glide floss could reward us for telling a stranger he has spinach in his teeth, or I could strategically place a boogie in my nose and give you a trial size pack of Kleenex if you point it out. Yes, it seems guerrilla marketing really is the wave of the future (except here in Boston, see  http://edition.cnn.com/2007/US/01/31/boston.bombscare/index.html ).

Maybe that’s how I can unload some of this stuff.  I’ll go out without pants, and if a stranger points out I’m not wearing pants, she can buy my old jeans for half-off whatever it is I’ve decided to charge for them! Everybody wins!

Blogoreferential

One of the cardinal rules of the writing workshop is that one shouldn’t write about writing.  

And yet so far, all I want to blog about is, well, blogging.  First of all, there are all of your lovely comments to which I want to respond, but probably won’t.  Blogs invite dialogue, but to post to each individual here might grow tedious for my three other readers.  

But I have a more sinister confession.  Today’s awkward encounter, if you will.  Between me and my computer (no, not that kind of encounter, you pervs).  

I’m already obsessed with my own blog.  

That’s right, it’s been up a mere fifteen hours or so and I’m already checking it repeatedly to see how many visitors it’s had, calculating the effects of posting a doubleawk link in my status on Facebook, and frantically checking for subscribers.  According to feedburner, I have none, so I would greatly appreciate it if you would slow my racing heart by getting off your asses and subscribing.

Of course blogging about blogging probably isn’t the best way to get you to do that.  

So let me blog about the history of my life as a blog junkie.  A quick flashback, if you will.  I actually remember when I learned about what a blog was.  I attended the Columbia Publishing Course in 2002; blogs weren’t in the curriculum yet, just vague references to new media.  But a rather pushy Italian woman in the course kept asking about blogs: Why weren’t we studying them?  What role would they play?  Had we read hers?  We mostly ignored her, or occasionally imitated her talking about her blog in a way that made her sound like Dracula: “Why won’t you read my blog?”  I didn’t know what a blog was, to tell the truth, and even the explanation that it was a weblog made little impression on me until said Italian woman wrote some rather unkind things about the director of the program on her blog.   That got my attention, if only briefly.  Career suicide, I thought (wrongly).  And, How can she think that electronic diaries are going to change the publishing industry?

Well, I guess it’s clear who the idiot was on that one.  And frankly, career suicide in publishing before getting my job as a publicity assistant would have saved me eight miserable months.  But I digress.  And also, I want to be on the record as saying I love the publishing industry since I am hoping that one day it will publish my book.

John occasionally accuses me of being addicted to the Internet, which is really embarrassing.  And also slightly true.  But I figure it’s a better boredom cure and procrastination technique than eating, which was my old favorite way to entertain myself and kill time.  The ten pounds I’ve been able to keep off without exercising can be credited to the fact that I enjoy spending large swaths of time dicking around on the Internet (no, not that kind of dicking, you doublepervs!).

My first blog was Perez.  He did a lot for me: weaning me off US magazine, helping me unwind during a free period at school, providing me with pop-cultural knowledge in quick, easy to digest morsels.  And then, as obsessed as I was with seeing what was going on with Britney or Brangelina, I suddenly wasn’t.  Celebrity gossip seemed too redundant, too banal to read every day.  And half of the celebrities were people I’d never heard of: The Jonas Brothers, Shia LeBeouf.  So as quickly as I’d fallen for him, I was so over Perez.

Next came my phase of lurking on creative writing grad school blogs, where I’d look for ideal programs, nervously check up on everyone else’s application progress, and pray to find typos so that I’d know I was better than the competition.  But that, too, turned tedious.  People asked the same questions repeatedly, posted condescending replies, and got their feelings hurt by condescending replies.  Plus, the anxiety was contagious and I manufacture plenty of that on my own.

Political blogs are my most recent downfall.  It was debate season that got me hooked on Wonkette, Jezebel–not just politics, but culture and snark, too!–and The Huffington Post (which isn’t really a blog I suppose). In the several weeks leading up to the election I got minimal work done, as I scampered from Blog to newspaper to poll sites, obsessing over each new detail.  I actually had to make a rule for myself that I would only look at such sites during mealtimes, a rule which completely failed in the week before the election.  I thought it would stop post-election, but there are new political matters to obsess over–the cabinet, the financial crisis, where the Obama girls will go to school.  But at least I’ve cut way back.

And now my own blog, consuming in a different way.  Comments to read, stats to check, design and function elements to tweak.  Oh, and posts to write.  As pretty much all of you know, I’m trying to be a writer.  And yes, the book is going pretty well, thank you.  Grad school apps (and other things, see above) have been a bit of a distraction, but chapter four is coming along and I’ve written about 90 pages in total.  So yes, this blog might become a time suck, but I figure time spent writing is a good thing no matter what.  Or that’s what I’m telling myself.

In an effort to stave off any blog fatigue you might be feeling with my blog already, I promise to make the next post about something unrelated to blogging.  Oh, and I might even let that husband of mine have a say or make an appearance, since ostensibly this is a couple’s blog.

It should be noted that WordPress spellcheck doesn’t recognize the word blog.  Nor does it recognize WordPress.  A tragic, self-effacing irony.  Or a hint that blogging about blogging is wicked boring.

What’s in a name?

That's awkward, all right.

I started this blog because of Patrick, superstar coauthor of the hit blog “Everything Else Plastic Bag” (EEPB) at http://morganpatrick.wordpress.com.  Seeing the pleasure I took in drafting haughty comments in response to his posts, Patrick suggested I get my own blog.  But in a nice way.

So I did.  And of course was faced with every blogger’s first conundrum–what do I call my blog?  (See EEPB’s first post).

Naming a blog is something akin to naming a baby.  Ok, maybe not, but I’ve never had a baby, so I can imagine them as equivalent experiences.  And, much as I named this blog with no input from my husband–my alleged coconspiritor here–I hope to do something similar when we have actual, human children.

Names have long been a topic of discussion and contention between John and me.  Perhaps this is bound to occur when one person was given the 7th most popular name in America in the year of his birth, while the other’s best showing was in 1920, when her name was the 933rd most popular.  Maybe we understand names as serving fundamentally different purposes.  I like my unique name because it signifies only me (well, me and the famous swan-fucker and, according to Facebook, a fair number of Filipina women).  But to most people who know me, I am the only Leda.  John, on the other hand, must share his name with his father, his cousin, his uncle, several acquaintences, and approximately four million other men in the US.  Perhaps this also says something about our propensities to share, and our differing needs to be the center of attention.

The first time I met John’s mother, she said to me without malice, “I like names like Katherine and Elizabeth.”  Nothing wrong with those names.  I have a best friend named Katherine and might have been called Elizabeth myself, according to my mother, had it not sounded so horrible with Eizenberg and had my father been willing to consider it.  But being a Leda feels to me quite different from being a Katherine or an Elizabeth, and it’s a difference I appreciate.

But I didn’t always.  As a child I loathed my name.  Leda Murcia Eizenberg.  Not even a syllable approaching what I perceived to be “normalcy.”  Why didn’t you give me one common name? I’d whine to my parents.  I felt strange, like an outcast.  I had to learn to spell my name early because no one else could understand it, nevermind spell it.  And today, when asked for my name, I often don’t even give it, but launch right into spelling.  “First name: L-E-D-A  last name: E-I-Z-as-in-zebra-E-N-B-as-in-Boy-E-R-G-as-in-girl.”

My fifth grade remedy to this perceived humiliation was simple.  I added a middle name.  One that would allow me to wiggle my way into slightly more typical American girlhood.  Of course, it was Kathryn.  My parents were unconcerned, even supportive as I went so far to put the name in my yearbook.  “Leda Murcia Kathryn Eizenberg.”  The meter of it still sounds as normal to me as the rhythm of my real name, although I’ve long since booted the name from my own, a reminder of when I longed to fit in, rather than stand out.  Who am I kidding?  It was during a time when I wanted both to fit in and to stand out.

The current name debate in our household revolves around whose name should go first when we have children and hyphenate.  Yes, we realize that Eizenberg-Muckle and Muckle-Eizenberg both sound downright horrible, and that we’re potentially dooming our children to a lifetime (or a childhood) of dorkiness.  But I’ve taught high school, and let me be the first to tell you, you’d much, much rather parent dorks than cool kids.  Essentially, John and I are both jockying for first position.  We both know that children are more likely to use and identify with their first last name.  Tradition has it that the mother’s name goes first, at least in our culture.  But John is quick to point out that the Spanish culture with which I claim such affinity puts the mother’s name second.  I think Eizenberg-Muckle sounds better; he thinks Muckle-Eizenberg sounds better.  Surprise, surprise.  I tend to think that if I lug a baby around for nine months, I should get to call it whatever the hell I want.

And no, this post is not our way of telling you we’re pregnant.  We’re nowhere near pregnant.  Didn’t you see me at _____ (fill in recent party where I had multiple glasses of wine)?

No, the only thing being born today is Doubleawk, our “couple’s-blog”.  So what’s with the name?  Well, I wanted it to be short.  And I wanted it to be uniquely us.  But by us, I mostly meant me because John’s at school right now and I’m not sure of his blog-o-participation.  Awk is, of course, short for awkward, and it’s an English teacher’s favorite lil’ comment when her students have pooped the bed syntactically.  But in my classroom, and subsequently my life, awk became shorthand for any of those little awkward moments or beats we might encounter throughout the day.  And double is a favorite prefix of mine–perhaps borrowed from Orwell’s 1984–meaning very, or extra.  The pun here is of course that as a blog written by a couple, there is a doubling going on.  And if you know John and me at all, you’ll know we’re both capable of being quite awkward.

And thus our first baby was born.