Friday, August 31, 2012

Bravery Beyond Measure

In the venn diagram that makes up me, there are many circles. But there two specifically that overlap in a relevant way - relevant to this post, anyhow. The first thing you need to know is that I was a child in the 1990s. This, incidentally, was the prime time to be in elementary school. I was afforded the pleasure of drinking Mondos while eating Dunk-a-Roos, watching Rugrats and Power Rangers*, and perhaps most importantly, enjoying the sweet sound of classic boy bands like Backstreet Boys and NSYNC**. Not only were those harmonies superhuman, but no one had to worry about their child singing along to verging-on-porn lyrics***.

*Until the day I die, a part of me will always want to grow up to be a Power Ranger. 
**Which, by the way - BSB > NSYNC. Yeah, I said it.
***Seriously, how are they going to put "Whistle" on KidzBop? This is a concern I have.

The second, considerably less fun circle is that I was a chubby kid. Yes, it gave me a complex. Does all my self-deprecation make sense now? Have you solved me? But I wouldn't change it; everyone should be chubby for a bit as a child. See, IT MAKES YOU NICER. Nobody should be "good-looking" in elementary or middle school. Our egos will balloon enough as it is, let's not start them at age three - I'm looking at you, Toddlers and Tiaras.

Have you figured it out yet? What happens when these two things overlap? Take it away, diagram:

             The weird part is that I found this diagram pre-made in a Google search.

YES friends, in the late nineties Harry Potter had begun taking over the world, or it had at least reached the states. In short, it was not a good time to be a fat kid.

My best friend was a hilarious ginger boy, and with my dark, dark hair I fancied us Harry and Ron. Oh no, the world assured me, you are Neville Longbottom, the sad fat child wizard. "No, I'm the hero!" I wanted to say, "Can't you see it underneath the chins?"

I cannot tell you how many times - especially in middle school when I was at peak fatness - someone cheerfully told me how I reminded them of Neville. The fact that they were smiling brightly as they delivered this tidbit did little to remedy the fact that hearing that made me feel like I'd been STABBED IN THE FACE. As I'd force a smile and say, "oh... really?", what I would be thinking was, "I know I'm fat, YOU DON'T NEED TO REMIND ME."

But I got older, I thinned out, and this comparison drifted to the back of my mind. Then a year or so back, it became very en vogue to make your Facebook picture that of your celebrity lookalike. It was only then I started compiling the celebrity lookalikes I'd received over time.

In high school, I was in a production of Macbeth; I played Banquo.**** My lovely friend Michelle played Witch Three. When she, at college, was again cast as Witch Three, I went to visit her and see her college version of Macbeth. I met the new Banquo, and joked to him, "I feel like we should duel or something!" New Banquo - who, fun fact, later went on to be a contestant on The Glee Project - told me he thought I looked like (or reminded him of) Kenneth from 30 Rock.

****And I gave us all the phrase "Money in the Banquo".

While I love Jack McBrayer, I found this suspect. It didn't seem accurate. And that's not nearly the weirdest one I've gotten. A friend of my roommate's told me I looked like Napoleon Dynamite. And again here, they told me excitedly*****My face fell immediately. Devoid of any other thoughts, I actually sputtered to this person I'd just met, "...why would you say that to me?" His face followed mine's suit and fell as well. Consolingly, he mustered some "oh, I... I'm sorry, I didn't mean..." but I'm pretty sure I just wandered away, my face still etched with horror.

*****It's always excitedly. They're so bloody happy to tell you you're ugly.

                      Do I really look like Napoleon Dynamite? You decide.

But at least Napoleon Dynamite is an actual human being. Some kids I was volunteering with - don't act so surprised, I'M A NICE PERSON, DAMMIT - were throwing around celebrity lookalikes for each other. I offhandedly mentioned I didn't have any lookalikes, and one of the guys goes, "no no, you look like Ratatouille!" Again horrified, I asked, "do you mean I look like Patton Oswalt? Or the animated character??" "No, the animated character. The chef." "Oh, ok, good, yeah" I said, finding that option the less upsetting of the two.******

******Let me state for the record that I find Patton Oswalt to be a wildly talented and hilarious man. It's just for a kid with a fat complex... y'know. It wasn't great to hear.

My two options. Quite an eclectic gang we're gathering, huh?

I tried - unsuccessfully, it would seem, based on this post - to brush that off, and told them how I'd often gotten Neville Longbottom as a child. "But hey!" One girl said, "he's really hot now!" This is an argument my friends make to me often. "Neville ended up really handsome", they say. This may or may not be true, but as I remind them, that's not what any of the people who called me Neville Longbottom were talking about. None of them were saying, "Fat kid, you look like Neville Longbottom, and by that, I mean to say that I have seen into the future, and that fat kid grows up into a slim young man with nice teeth. Oh, and I'm talking about the actor now, not the character. You get all that from what I'm saying, right?"

If I thought anybody meant present-day Neville, we might have a different story.
But this wasn't all. I continued lamenting the Neville comparison, turning to another girl and saying, "They told me I looked like Neville Longbottom. So basically it was the equivalent of coming up to me and telling me I was ugly." She - in dead-serious earnestness - said to me:
"But like, he's like really brave."

Brave indeed, young woman. Brave indeed.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Insult to Injury

I looked out my bathroom window and was stunned by how sunny and inviting it looked outside - stunned because I was shocked that all the snow had melted so fast. Only then I remembered my dream from the night before... there had been snow everywhere; the world was coated with it. It was a odd-feeling way to remember the dream, to be smacked into the memory of it by the reality of how false it had been.*

I've always found dream dictionaries to be fascinating - every time I look up the images in my dreams, I see the explanation and think, "oh my god, yes, exactly!". I climbed into my bed and opened my computer, quickly pulling up snow in the dream dictionary. This was the definition verbatim:

"To see snow in your dream signifies your inhibitions, unexpressed emotions and feelings of frigidity."
....what a dick. Um, screw you, dream dictionary. Like, I don't need you to tell me I'm frigid, okay, I know that perfectly well. Just... just rude, is what it is. Rude and unnecessary. "More like you're frigid!" I yelled unconvincingly at the computer and slammed it shut. "Ass."

Spurned by the douche move on the part of an impolite dream dictionary, I strongly needed to save face. How about distracting myself with a read? I looked around and saw a Harry Potter book laying on my floor. It'd do. Surely I couldn't go wrong with the Potter! I grabbed the book off the floor and opened to a random page.

"Hermione's schedule was so full that Harry could only talk to her properly in the evenings, when Ron was, in any case, so tightly wrapped around Lavender that he did not notice what Harry was doing. Conversely, the muggle Alex had not had human contact with anyone he wasn't related to in roughly three days."

I slammed the book shut. What? That wasn't how I remembered it. Oh, and SHUT UP STUPID HARRY POTTER. I hurled the book across my bedroom and it fell behind the large bookshelf that rests against the wall. "Hah!" I shouted in the book's general direction. "Who's not having human contact now?" Stupid book. What a loser it was.

I turned on the television - my go-to escape from life. I treat TV with care, and in return it has always done the same for me. It was an odd time of day and the local news was on. The anchor began to speak.

"No new updates in the dramatic standoff that has kept us riveted for the last several hours.  Alex has still not left his room. We will update you on the situation as it progresses."

No no no no no. Not having it. I got up and ran out of my room - HAPPY NOW, NEWS ANCHOR? - downstairs into the kitchen. I grabbed my iPod and headphones, stuffed the buds into my ears and clicked shuffle. Loser, by Beck. NEXT. You've Got Growin' Up to Do by Joshua Radin. UGH, NEXT. Odds of Being Alone by Amy Stroup and Trent Dabbs**.

"Are you KIDDING ME?" I screamed at the machine as I clicked for the next song. Dickhead by Kate Nash. "VERY FUNNY! I've had just about enough..." I sputtered through my gritted teeth as I clicked one more time. I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked, by Ida Maria. "iPod!" I gasped as I blushed and tore the earphones out. "Cheeky little thing..."

Having had quite enough of technology for the time being, I decided to go for a run, clear my head and give myself a free endorphin boost. Pull your jaws off the ground, my "runs" last about 15 minutes. And there may be walking in between the running. I can't say for sure. So I took off down the street, turning out of my neighborhood and running along the highway. I don't normally like to do this, as I hate people seeing me run - it looks as dumb as you'd imagine - but y'know, desperate times. The cars whizzed by and... I was stunned as I realized the drivers were holding signs out of their windows. I stopped running to read the signs, each with only one single word written on it.


"HOW ABOUT YOU GET A JOB, HUH?!" I screamed in a full rage down the road at the cars that had already passed me. "AT LEAST I'M RUNNING! YOU'RE FAT!" The cars were out of sight. "PROBABLY!" Jesus christ. I've had it.

In my room I crawl under my blanket.

...You guys, I think my subconscious might be an asshole.

*Does that make any sense whatsoever?
**This is a great song, by the way, go have a listen. This isn't a paid endorsement.***

***Paid endorsement.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shameless Sweeps-Month Ratings Stunts

I received very kind reactions to my season premiere last week, from acquaintances both expected and un. Somehow even my mother managed to discover it, which should frighten any reasonable person as to how scary the information age is. She has no Facebook, can only figure out the internet in so far as to do online shopping, and often forgets what she's talking about in mid-sentence, yet even she somehow got ahold of my posting. No matter, I shall press on as if I'm speaking only to my contemporaries.

Those contemporaries had one comment that I kept hearing over and over - "Who are you again?" Or maybe it was, "You can't write just a couple of times a month!". I'm not sure which - definitely one of the two. So have no fear friends, I will now be writing just once a month! Bye! See you in September!

Okay, so I'm pretty sure they meant I should be writing more than a couple times a month. But here's the thing nobody seems to realize: writing is work. I wrote that whole thing myself. Straight out of my brain. I had to think of all that stuff, and it took effort. Effort is not something I'm overly acquainted with - sitting: yes, eating: definitely yes, effort: um... rain check? 

But honestly, more than that - I'm truly afraid I won't have anything to write about. My life is at its all-time most boring. Let's take a look at a roughly guesstimated version of my schedule from yesterday:

  • 12:00 PM: Wake up. Check Facebook/E-mail/Twitter. 
  • 12:30 PM: Go allllll the way downstairs to make a tuna sandwich for lunch.
  • 12:35 PM: Bring tuna to my bed so I can eat it while I continue my Arrested Development marathon.
  • 3:00 PM: Conclude Arrested Development season one, begin Arrested Development season one DVD commentaries.
  • 4:00 PM: Conclude commentaries, take dog for walk.
  • 4:30 PM: Conclude dog walking, go for run.
  • 4:45 PM: Conclude run. What a workout. 
  • 5:00 PM: Shower, then begin Arrested Development season two.
  • 6:30 PM: Eat hot dog with jalapeño mustard for dinner. While watching Arrested Development.
  • 8:00 PM: Sit down to watch True Blood with a piece of pie.
  • 9:00 PM: Cut myself another slice of pie to eat during Breaking Bad. Decide, if someone asks, to say I only had one piece and that someone else must have cut another. 
  • 10:00 PM: Watch The Newsroom. Ugh.
  • 11:00 PM: Feel guilty about the pie, begin doing sit-ups.
  • 11:02 PM: Conclude sit-ups. 
  • 11:03 PM: Return to bed to continue watching Arrested Development season two, occasionally interspersed with interviews of Julianna Margulies on YouTube.
  • 2:30ish PM: I fall asleep. I dream of a massive outdoor multi-floor rave, where thousands of young people are dancing and partying. In the center of the ground floor is a circular stage, where a school performance of Macbeth -starring my friend Michelle as a witch - is taking place. They conclude their matinee and ready themselves for their next show. I excuse myself from my friends on our scaffolding and wander down a couple flights to the stage. For some reason, I am dressed as a scarecrow. As the show is about to start, the actors gather around the stage. The lion is there. The tin man is there. The scarecrow is late! I want to go on instead of him. I know it's wrong, but I really want to be on that stage. I want to play. The tin man and lion, mistaking me for someone who goes to the school, tell me to jump in and be the scarecrow. I'm secretly thrilled that they don't know I don't belong, but to cover my bases, I say, "are you sure?" non-chalantly, as if I don't care either way if I go on. But they say it's fine. We all get on stage and take our places, and I hurriedly text my friend Jenna to come down to the stage because I'm going to be in the show! Only then do I remember Michelle is in the play - she'll see me! She knows I'm not supposed to be here! The lights come up on the actors and I catch Michelle's eye. She looks at me with an expression I've seen from her many times in life: a glare of annoyance - made all the scarier by her witch costume - but with a slight smile; she finds me funny and she can't help it. Most importantly, she can't say a word, because she's too committed of an actress to stop the show. My triumph is rendered suddenly useless when I remember I don't know any of the lines. I had watched the matinee, so I think as hard as I can, trying to remember the words the scarecrow had. I sing along to the first song, surprising myself by being in harmony with the tin man and lion. I fake my way through and fortunately I get to exit the scene fairly early, and I begin running underneath the stage, through the bowels of the industrial complex, desperately seeking Susan. And by Susan, I mean the actual person playing the scarecrow because I DON'T KNOW THE LINES. Lots of very young theatre crew members are hammering steel and hot metals, there's fire everywhere. I stop to wonder if they would consider themselves blacksmiths. I ask a pretty girl if she knows where the scarecrow is. She points me towards the costume shop. I see him in a room, distraught at having his part stolen. He sees me and lunges at me, screaming and slamming me into the wall. I plead with him that I'm just here to give him his costume back, I only went on because he was late, I swear. He does admit that he was late, and rather than continuing to fight with me, decides to bury the hatchet and rush to make his next entrance.

Have you found the problem yet?* I'll spell it out for you: the most interesting parts of my day take place when I'm asleep. I'm scared I won't have anything to write about because my life is SO DULL. If you skipped over that schedule and don't believe me, take a closer look. DULL. For heaven's sake, I woke up at noon. How can I write often when my life is so unendingly trivial? Sure, I've got a 13-episode order, but at this rate there's no way we'll get the back nine! (For those of you not versed in TV lingo, all you need to know is that I'm on the brink of cancellation.)

*Hint: what part of my day is most likely to be optioned into a screenplay?

I've come up with a plan. I've come up with three separate scenarios that will make my life infinitely more exciting to read about and really spice things up. They will definitely give me more to write about, and surely boost our ratings to at least a three share in the 18-49 demographic. But enough industry-speak, let's unveil these ratings grabs!

     1. Implement a Voting System
Pros: American Idol is still the highest rated show on TV. Why? People love to call in and vote; to have a say. So perhaps I can find more things to write about by posting daily choices, then reporting back on which choice America made for me! 
Cons: If you think I'm naive enough to trust the psychos and perverts out there on the internet to make my choices for me, you're sadly mistaken. I do have some shame.

     2. Go into Witness Protection
Pros: Talk about high-octane drama! This option would give me tons of action and adventure to describe. Writer's block would be a thing of the past. Also, being in danger instantly makes my writing more meaningful, obviously. Even better, I could be murdered by the mob or something, and then become insanely popular post-mortem, like all great artists**. My martyrdom would surely make my number of twitter followers sky-rocket!
Cons: As much as I enjoy my art**, I'm not sure I'm actually willing to die for it. Just something to consider. Also, does anyone know where I can witness a crime?

     3. Start Turning Tricks
Pros: Sex sells. The dark and twisted dealings of a sad, lonely ho just trying to survive on the streets would surely give me many gripping stories to tell, full of deeply intense pathos. I'd never want for inspiration again! The real-life writings of a call boy... it'd be like a real-life Lifetime movie - From College to Chlamydia: The RegardingAlex Story. People eat that shit UP. 
Cons: ...what if there's no takers? I ain't the prettiest trick on the block and I know it.

Hopefully one of these things will assuage my "nothing to write about"/"I'm boring" concerns. I'll soon let everyone know how I've decided to alter my life to better entertain you, dear reader. Readers.

**Somewhere, an actual artist wants to stab me.
***Lines remain open for two hours. Local rates apply.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I'm Unemployed: An Explanation

I’m unemployed. Accordingly, money has become a source of anxiety for me. Spending any of it anywhere gives me serious Jewish guilt*, so taking a dog or house-sitting gig from a wealthy family in the hills is something I don’t turn down.

*Though in money's defense, so does everything else - this is how Jewish guilt works, you see.

I explain this to set the scene for you – me, alone, in a ridiculously spacious manse, which itself is alone on five acres of land with no neighbors in sight. It’s pretty lonely, and frankly, a little creepy. I keep envisioning a horrific home invasion in the middle of nowhere - masked men smashing in through the windows and holding me and the dogs at gunpoint - where my screams fall on no ears. (Other than, of course, the ears of my tormentors, who do not call 911.) So to keep myself occupied, I turn on the impressively large television and begin scouring OnDemand for something to fill my time between letting the dogs in and out of the house.

To make a long story short (too late!), as I sat alone, eating mint brownies and actually welling up with emotion at an episode of MTV’s True Life**, I thought to myself, “I think I might have hit a low.”


I needed to get that creative part of my brain working. I wanted to produce something - a something that came entirely from my brain - on a semi-regular basis. It could only be healthy, I figured.

“Booooo”, says you. “A recent college graduate starting a blog?”

“….yes.” Says I.

“Booooo! How cliché and obvious!” Says you.

“…Yuh-huh.” Says I.

Full disclosure: this wasn’t entirely my idea - the seed had been planted by my friend Peter a mere week ago. He demanded to know why I wasn’t writing about television for a magazine or newspaper. Putting aside the fact that his suggestion was made under his false pretense that my dream career is being a TV critic, I went ahead and said to him, “well, um, because they’re not just hiring random people to do that, that I know of.” “Why don’t you just start a blog! You know so much about TV, I don’t know anyone who knows as much about TV as you do! You should write reviews! Then someone will see it and then you’ll get a job!” I told him I felt this was silly, as nobody would be reading it, and therefore, what was the point? He scoffed at this line of thinking. He scoffs at most lines of thinking.

So while this won’t be a TV blog, I just wanted to give myself motivation to do something regularly. I’m going to try to write a couple times a month, for now. It may be about anything – I have no concrete plans – a funny story, something that happened to me that day, my random dabblings in the arts (acting, writing, trapeze)***, or perhaps my recent trip to Israel****. It may be about what TV I’m watching, my oh-so-witty observations about life (button-fly pants: stupid), or my affinity for making awesome portmanteaus (like this gem - exploring alone = lonesplorin'; free of charge, you're welcome).  It may even be about the big questions that seem particularly recurrent for me, such as, “how do I figure out what I want to do with my life?” or, “why can't I make decisions like an adult the way everyone else does?” or, “why am I not watching this in HD?”

Musing on being directionless after college?” Says you. “How original!”

“…are you being sarcastic?” Says I.

“Uh…. yeah. Sorry, I thought that was clear, my bad.” Says you.

So hello internet, it is I! You may be endless, but I have no carved out one tiny little corner where I and I alone am in control! The power! You guys, it’s so true - power totally corrupts. Since I first started typing this I’ve already driven left out of a right-turn only exit, walked my dog without a leash, and jaywalked twice. Who knows what I’ll do next?

“You are the worst. You think what you have to say is so important that it just NEEDS to be read, huh?” Says you.

“No, I’m not like everyone else! I swear!” Says I.

“Really, how so?” Says you.

“I don’t think I’m at all important! In fact, I think I’m super lame! Honestly!” Says I.

“Oh.” Says you. “Well then this is just kind of sad, actually.”
“Wait, come back! Please come back!” Says I.
One last thing - the title of this post is "I'm Unemployed: An Explanation". You may have thought this was going to be an explanation as to why I'm unemployed. But no no no - unemployment is the explanation for the blog.

The unemployment? For that, I have no explanation.

***One of these is a joke.