In which Caroline discusses “The Power of Me.”

The other night, I was looking at notebooks in Barnes & Noble when I overheard the following conversation:

Dumpy, middle-aged single woman with a swollen, tear-stained face: Excuse me. Can you please direct me to the Self-Improvement section?

Sullen, twenty-something-year-old employee: The what?

DMASWWASTSF: The Self-Improvement section. Self-help? Improving self-worth? I’m looking for a book called The Power of Me.*

*Amazon’s listing for this title: http://www.amazon.com/Power-Me-Guide-Living/dp/1432720341/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269961818&sr=8-1woman

**Please note that the cover of this book consists of a poorly Photoshopped image of a woman with talons releasing a bird that is not a dove over a body of water that might be the River Styx.

The most important detail of this anecdote is that the dumpy, middle-aged single woman with a swollen, tear-stained face was standing literally NEXT TO one of those new-fangled electronic kiosks they have at Barnes & Noble when she asked this question. You know, the kind of kiosk where you type in what book you’re looking for and it tells you exactly where that book is located and you can even print out a little slip of paper with that information on it so you literally never have to utter the words “I’m looking for a book called The Power of Me” out loud.

‘What,’ I wondered, ‘is this The Power of Me you speak of, Miss Lady?’ I decided to look it up online when I got home and found this explanatory blurb on www.bookschristian.com:

“The soul is the very essence of who we are as individual human beings. The soul is created by God; it is the feeling center of who you are. The battle surrounding this life is for your soul. The challenge is will the soul choose to follow good or evil. Live a blessed or a cursed life!”

Heads up: I’m nominating this blurb for ‘most incoherent, poorly edited and unintentionally scary’ blurb of the decade – but also ‘most informative!’ Did you know that your soul is the ‘feeling center of who you are’ before you read that? I sure didn’t. And apparently, there’s a battle going on RIGHT NOW for my soul! Why didn’t anyone tell me that? I would’ve liked to know, especially since if my soul makes the wrong choice in war, I could end up living a cursed life…

…maybe one in which I find myself standing next to an electronic kiosk in Barnes & Noble asking where the Self-Improvement section is.

In which Caroline reminisces about Scotland.

I just found my Moleskine from my last year at St. Andrews. The following entries were made on my last full day in Scotland and on the day I moved home to NYC.

Leaving Scotland For Good

Tesco, St. A: An alcoholic in front of me was buying a pack of 10 cigarettes and a bottle of cheap red wine at 1:30pm. Shaking uncontrollably, he said, “My day is getting better by the minute!” as he stuffed the cheap red wine into his little backpack. Talk about DEPRESSING!!

Edinburgh Airport: A boy who looked perfectly ‘normal,’ save for an eyebrow piercing, sat down and pulled out an actual little crystal ball that he proceeded to stand up and do tricks with like he was a member of the Harlem fucking Globetrotters. He was completely unashamed, even when the crystal ball fell loudly to the ground and when a Scottish man in a kilt said, “that was fucking brilliant, mate, but your flight left ages ago!” and his friend laughed. In between practice sessions, the boy sat down and read from what appeared to be a Penguin Classic.

Lack of Shame in Scotland

There are many kids at St. Andrews who are already peripheral members of society and still decide to break out sticks lit on fire at parties on the beach and twirl them while knee-deep in the North Sea. During these fire-twirling sessions, they wear their breathable cargo pants rolled up so they won’t get wet. My questions: where does one practice that skill? And who looks at someone twirling fire in wide-legged cargo pants and decides that they want to be just like that person? Most importantly, why doesn’t this fire twirling ever go awry? Because THAT would be entertaining: “Help me, mate! Me fockin’ favourite trousers are melted to me fockin’ legs! An’ I rolled ’em up an’ everythin’!”

Generally, I’ve noticed that the Scots are weird about the personas they create for themselves. I think it has to do with the question of how you go about individualizing yourself when you live in a completely homogenous, class-based society. Once you’ve aligned yourself with a group over here, you are not changing your mind about it. And if you went with becoming a “goth,” which means you decided to only wear knee-length pleather coats and listen to mainstream rock music from the late 1980s for the rest of your life, then you’d best have developed a thick skin and a nasty attitude – because, well, look at you, for God’s sake. I remember one time when I was going for a drink with some kids that I did Classics with – I’d had a mishap with self-tanner and had an orange face with color concentrated mostly on my upper lip. I looked like hell – like an Oompa Loompa who was in the middle of hormone replacement therapy. So when I showed up at the bar, I said casually, “Don’t judge me – I made a bad choice!” and then laughed. One of the girls, who happened to be wearing neon green mesh arm-warmers and had a lip ring and filthy hair, said to me, “We’re not judgemental,” as she rolled her beady eyes. That about sums up my experience here.

PS: In airport now- I keep seeing a man everywhere who has slicked-back hair and emotionless reptile eyes. Having a slight stress about the likelihood of this flight turning into something like the movie “Red Eye.”

PPS – Now he is sitting across from me on the plane!!!

Ahhh…those were the days. PSYCH!

In which Caroline tries to make sense of something awesomely weird on OkCupid.

Just now, while skimming through OkCupid profiles how I do, I happened upon a rather promising potential date: 22, male, over 6 feet tall, good taste in music/books/movies and cute AS. I was about to rate him highly in the hope that we would forge a love connection – but then I saw his gem of an answer to the standard OkCupid prompt “most private thing I’m willing to admit here”:

My ideal partner would be a woman who is into pegging.* I’ve never been attracted to guys, but I would love to be some girl’s bend-over-boyfriend.

*Pegging is a sexual practice in which a woman penetrates a man’s anus with a strap-on dildo, says Wikipedia (in a grossly clinical and graphic way).

WOAH. Seriously, WOAH. Most people respond to that prompt with a funny little anecdote about their childhood or a statement like “the fact that I’m on this website.” THIS dude decided to respond by confessing to wanting to be done in the butt by a girl with a fake dick. I mean, I’m all about being candid, but DAMN.

I have so many questions for him. Did he not look at anyone else’s profile before he made his own? Has he not realized that, for the most part, the people who discuss such things on said website also have a proclivity for carrying around a filthy duffle bag filled with chloroform and sturdy rope? Or is he simply making it clear that he exclusively wants to date a girl who enjoys beat poetry, cooking farm-to-table dinners and wearing strap-ons?

It’s not the fact that he wants to be pegged that is boggling my mind. Hey, man – you do you; I’m not going to judge. His fantasy isn’t even that weird, in the scheme of things. It’s just…what if he’s never talked about this before, and then someone he knows sees him on Quickmatch (which happens ALL THE TIME) and then every time that person looks at him all they’ll be able to see is him with a ball and gag in his mouth getting pegged??? I’m so worried!!!

Then again, who am I to talk? I used that prompt as an opportunity to brag about how I built my soundproofed, cedar-lined S&M dungeon ALL BY MYSELF in ONE WEEKEND. Isn’t that impressive, though?

UPDATE: Here is YET ANOTHER “most private thing I’m willing to admit here” that talks about PEGGING!

My New Years Resolution was to be more honest, so here goes:

I am a cross dresser. It’s not that I want to be a woman, I just
really enjoy wearing womens clothing. I am also quite bi-curious
though I’ve never actually been with a man, yet. I don’t want to
list myself as bi on here, because I’m not sure I’m ready for that
stage of my life at this moment.
As things are now, I have a strong fetish for pegging (where you,
the woman would wear a strap on and I would wear a dress
and…well, I’m sure you can imagine the rest). Again, it’s not
that I want to be a woman, but gender reversal and male anatomy
highly interest me. I feel that this is something that’s very
important for a partner to know about me right from the
start.
Whew. I feel better now!! Here’s to 2010!!!

In which Caroline tells you about the car accident she maybe could’ve died in this morning.

This morning on my way to work, an 100-foot-long electrical cable flew out of the back of the truck in front of my cab and got twisted around the cab’s tires and undercarriage, which made us swerve dangerously, almost spin out, and then stop short in the middle of Madison Avenue. 

Do I even have to talk about how fucking insane that is? Well, yeah, because that’s the point of having a blog. What a weird thing to happen in New York City – and what a terrible way to die that would’ve been. The news story probably would have gone something like this:

“A lazy bitch who took a cab half a mile to work every morning for a year finally got her comeuppance when a freak accident involving an industrial electrical cable getting caught in the tires of her cab caused the cab to plow into approximately 20 offensive Upper East Siders who enjoyed the pain because most Upper East Siders are closet sadomasochists.”

I’m still alive, though! Why, you ask? Because, in the words of Nicki Minaj, “I’m a bad bitch / I’m a I’m a bad bitch.” Also, we were going at, like, 20 miles an hour.

In which Caroline discusses what music NOT to strip to.

Yesterday at dinner, one of my best friends from college, Kelly, who is hilarious and wonderful, told me that she recently went to her first strip club. It was while she was in Boston for her cousin’s 22nd birthday, and she said the experience was a weird one – not because the strippers were unattractive (in fact, they were apparently quite good looking), but because they were dancing to the music of two of no one’s favorite bands: Nickelback and Staind.

She wasn’t kidding. The strippers in this strip club in Boston were actually gyrating, giving lapdances and removing clothing to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2NGe9mLAEc. Can you imagine? Who thought that was a good idea? That is the most depressing shit I have ever heard of in my life.

I can imagine a conversation between the owner of that strip club and one of his dancers: “Ok, Candy – when Frankie puts on Train’s classic, ‘Drops of Jupiter,’ that’s your cue to rip your shirt off and slide down the pole upside down. Make it sexy.” How could that soundtrack be anything but a total bummer for every person in there? I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that the goal of owning a strip club isn’t to make your customers burst into tears or feel like they need to go home and call their exes/bastard children/priests.

Kelly’s story got me thinking of other songs that should never be played in a strip club. Here’s a short list of them.

1. “What Would You Do,” by City High.

2. “Dance With My Father,” by Luther Vandross.

3. “Daughters,” by John Mayer.

4. “Cat’s Cradle,” by Cat Stevens (or Harry Chapin, take your pick).

5. “When You Believe,” by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.

6. “Pie Jesu,” (esp. this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJidPdlBKm8).

Anyone else have any suggestions? Let’s hear them – but not while someone is stripping.

In which Caroline discusses Tonya Harding.

This weekend on TruTV, I saw a commercial for “The Smoking Gun Presents: World’s Dumbest” in which Tonya Harding herself says the following: “My track record may not be great…but it’s NOTHING compared to these guys!”

Wait. What? No. That’s just not true. You, Tonya, helped plan and execute a malicious criminal assault on Nancy Kerrigan that involved a crowbar, a spooky, unexpected attack by a random dude and this memorable/awesome moment in sports history (at the 2:00 mark): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6T09XWRkq5M. Then you were banned from ever being an ice skater again, so you became a wrestler. And then a boxer. Or something? And then there was a porno tape? Barf x 20,000, Tonya, because you look like the ugliest Cabbage Patch Kid that they never made because it was too ugly to sell.

Also, apparently this happened (says Wikipedia): On February 12, 1997, Harding claimed that she was abducted at knife-point outside her home by a bushy-haired man who forced her to drive to a rural area, where she rammed her truck into a tree and escaped by running into the woods. Police found no evidence of an abduction. This alleged incident happened on the opening weekend of the 1997 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.[35]

So, to recap: Tonya Harding is batshit crazy. And ugly. And in denial, apparently, because here’s a teaser of an episode of “World’s Dumbest” from www.trutv.com:

The Smoking Gun strives to make the planet safer by exposing the idiotic antics of the world’s dumbest daredevils. Watch twenty dangerous stunts you won’t want to try at home, including a man trying to hang-glide while being towed by a snowmobile and a motorcyclist standing up on his seat, eating a sandwich as he rolls down the road. Not to mention the inline skater who breaks one arm, then gets back on his skates the very next day to attempt a stupid stunt that breaks the other arm.

Sure, eating a sandwich while motorcycling is probably a bad idea (unless it’s ham), and inline skating with a broken arm is a fucking stupid thing to do, but neither of those things involve a crowbar, a spooky, unexpected attack by a random dude, a sex tape OR a made-up abduction at knife-point by an invented “man with bushy hair.” (NB: some of us can’t help our frizz, aight? Sheesh).

Final score? Well, I WOULD have said Everyone that isn’t Tonya Harding: 1. Tonya Harding: 0…but she has a standing gig doing comedy on TV. Cut to my head exploding like a Fembot’s from disbelief.

In which Caroline realizes that she might be the Grinch.

Half an hour ago, while I was on my way to get a coffee from the deli down the street from my office, I was stopped by a group of bright-eyed, bushy-haired twenty-somethings who were each holding a basket filled with brightly colored pieces of paper. “Here,” one of them said to me a little too loudly. “Now YOU have a GREAT DAY!”

Written on the neon green card he’d just handed me were the following words (capitalization and punctuation intact):

you are breathtaking! es un individuo conmovedor! have a GREAT day! tenga un GRAN día! Love, Feel Good Day

According to Google translate, which is my new favorite toy, “es un individuo conmovedor” means “is an individual moving,” which is, oh, I don’t know, not even CLOSE to “you are breathtaking.” Apparently, one (weirdly anthropomorphic) Feel Good Day didn’t bother to ask one of the THOUSANDS of Spanish-speakers who live in this neighborhood how to say “you are breathtaking” before printing out hundreds of these ‘pay-it-forward’ coupons. Adding insult to injury was the fact that, annoyingly, nothing on the piece of paper was capitalized except the last four words.

I thanked the kid who gave me the card the only way possible: by saying, “What kind of Dementor would I be if I wasn’t taking breath?” and sucking his soul out through his mouth.

In which Caroline teaches you how to not get murdered.

Since making my foray into the world of cyber dating a few months ago, I’ve developed a few sneaky tricks that I’m confident (read: sure as hell hope) will prevent me from becoming the next ‘decomposing body found in a ditch’ that you read about on CNN.com. The most important of these tricks is the following: always ask your potential date, point-blank, if he is a serial killer. Like this: “I also love Sno-Cones and desperately want to own a pug someday – but I can barely feed myself right now, lol! What are your favorite coffee places in the city? Are you a serial killer?”

Asking this question is crucially important because doing so changes the power dynamic of your cyber relationship. Would a serial killer actually go ahead and kill you if you’d eliminated the vital element of you being surprised about being his next victim? I’ve seen Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent AND Law & Order: SVU, and the answer to this question is: of course not. Instead, he’d 100% definitely think to himself, “Oh, she’s too clever/brazen to choke to death. I’m just going to take her to see the Tim Burton exhibit at MoMA and buy her a hot dog, instead.” Right? Right!

If you played your cards right after that, you could totally become ‘that one girl that [insert serial killer’s name] managed to have a normal relationship with while he was busy beating the shit out of prostitutes every other night.’ I’ve often wondered what it would feel like to be that girl. My guess? Pretty fucking awesome. I mean, your beau would be getting all of his bad energy out by battering runaways about the face and head. He’d probably be pretty nice to you by the time he got home from his escapades.

Personally, if I suspected that anything like that was going on with my boyfriend, I wouldn’t ask questions. I’d just be like, “Ok, Xavier, it’s totally fine that you’re going out at 2:30am and wearing a balaclava- but make sure you bring me a Caramel Frappucino when you get back home and please try not to wake me up with your hysterical sobbing again tonight.”

Ok…none of that is true. I’d be scared shitless if I suspected that my boyfriend was a killer. There are, however, women for whom this concern isn’t a deterrent – and women who actively seek out murderous sociopaths and fall in love with them. WHAT is THAT about? How the hell does Richard Ramirez, LA’s notorious “Night Stalker,” have a wife and I’m still single?

In which Caroline tells you not to fuck with Professor A$$monster, ever.

A few months ago, some friends and I spent a particularly unremarkable (though perfectly pleasant) night hanging out at my friend Nina’s house. The next day, to her horror – but not really to her surprise – she received a truly remarkable e-mail from her INSANE BITCH of a Craigslist-found roommate. The e-mail went a little something (exactly) like this:

hey nina,

now that you’re settled into the apartment, i just wanted to go over a few apartment guidelines that we follow…

-awareness of noise level is really important. since we all have different schedules, michael & i keep our tvs, phone calls, computer, music, etc. in our room so as not to disturb anyone at any time of day.

fyi, my contractor wall is really thin and i hear everything outside in my room at the same level…this is especially crucial during the work week as i wake up and go to sleep hours before anyone.

to be honest, your tv belongs in your room. if you continue to use the common areas as an extension of your personal space, you will be paying more rent since this is not fair to everyone else.

-keeping all misc. stuff in our rooms due to the tight space (and fire hazard). since the living room and kitchen are common spaces we try to keep it free of our things. anything else not related to the living room or kitchen needs to be moved to the proper place outside common areas.

-no smoking- of any kind, under any circumstances. i have asthma and allergies. beyond that, it’s rude to smoke in an apartment that was specifically requested to be non smoking. this was one of the very first questions i asked you when we met.

-letting each other know if we’re having people overnight.

-we also try to make sure to use the vent on the stove top when cooking for courtesy (when things have a strong smell, etc.).

these guidelines have worked for us and create respect among one another.

if they don’t work for you, this living situation isn’t going to work for you.

thanks,

j

Did you ever in your life read an e-mail like that? The following e-mail is what I proposed Nina send back to her.

Dear J,

Now that I know these guidelines, I’ll make sure to abide by them. FYI: I would’ve really appreciated it if you’d sent me that e-mail BEFORE I moved in, as I was under the (apparently misguided) impression that paying money to live in the apartment would guarantee me the right to, oh, I don’t know, LIVE IN THE APARTMENT. If I’d known that I would’ve been forced to pay extra to use the apartment’s LIVING ROOM, I definitely would have looked elsewhere – I didn’t realize I was signing up to live in a boarding house in 1902.

Since we’re having this ‘discussion,’ I have a few rules of my own that I must absolutely demand you follow. They are as follows:

1. Please only cook green and orange foods when I am home/going to be home/thinking of being home/saying the word ‘home’. Any other color foods greatly offend me and looking at them burns my corneas (rare birth condition) so it would be really rude for you to cook them.

2. Moving forward, please address me exclusively as “Professor A$$monster.”

3. If you plan on using the shower (an act that is inherently an infringement on my personal space, as the shower is located very close to my room, but one that I will tolerate because it is the considerate thing to do), please only take 1.25 minutes to bathe yourself and make sure the water is no hotter than 57.4 degrees, or else you will have to pay extra for utilities.

4. If you cook food in the “communal” space, you must wash your utensils WHILE you are eating, in addition to before and after, or else we might get vermin and you might have an allergy attack and croak – and we certainly wouldn’t want that, now would we?

Finally, one last thing – my tarantula, Francis, seems to have gone missing. If you find him, DO NOT pick him up – he has been genetically mutated to be poisonous (you knew I worked at a hospital). He really likes hiding under pillows/in dark nooks and crannies/dust-free spaces, so you might want to be extra careful when you’re walking around the apartment for the next few months, until he either turns up or dies somewhere/starts decomposing and we can locate him by the stench of his corpse.

Sincerely,
Professor A$$monster

Why she didn’t send this message, I’ll never know.