Friday, December 16, 2005

Alien Babies

In the past month, I’ve had a number of friends share with me news that they’re expecting. I have now officially passed the phase in my life that, when someone tells me they’re expecting, I don’t follow up with “expecting what?” This is probably a sign of maturity, but I still have a long way to go. I’ve tried my best to get over it. I’ve tried to be a grown up. I’ve tried to focus on the positive, but the fact remains. Having babies grosses me out.

Procreation is one of those unique processes that involves lots of unpleasant bodily functions, but is still widely thought of as being beautiful. From the reports of my pregnant friends thus far, carrying a child seems vaguely reminiscent of eating bad Indian food. You’re slightly nauseous, and you might occasionally feel faint. The early stages of pregnancy seem largely characterized by a mild general discomfort. Fun.

All of this is redeemed, however, by the excitement of the ultrasound. Describing her recent ultrasound, my friend Ms. K said “you can see the baby, and it’s moving all around, acting like a baby.” Which takes me to my biggest peeve with pregnancy…something is growing INSIDE YOU. Although some may find the signature pregnancy bump to be Botticelli-esque, to me, it’s like a tumor with its own nervous system.

My pregnant friends thrill at the thought that later in the pregnancy, they will feel the baby. One friend described how, late in the third trimester, you can sometimes see the movement from outside. A vague imprint of a fist, moving across your navel. All of this strikes me as far too similar to the preemptory scenes of Alien. For those unfamiliar with the Ridley Scott cinematic classic, Alien involves Sigourney Weaver bravely battling against a breed of extraterrestrials who procreate by violently emerging from the bodies of their most recent victims. The central image is that of a claw/paw/whatever shooting out the chest of said victim.

For the most part, I’ve tried to keep my distaste to myself. It hasn’t been too hard, as I’m sincerely super excited for my friends. If anything, my aversion to the procreative process has helped me to focus on the crux of child-bearing. Carrying a child is hard, but starting a family is even harder. When two people decide that they're ready to face the challenge because they love each other, and they want to share that love with a little one. Well, that’s something even Sigourney and I can appreciate.

We’ll appreciate that from afar though. As much as my husband and I are enjoying wedded bliss, at least for the time being, we’re both still suckers for those 10-minute abs.

Ms. J

Monday, December 12, 2005

Hallmark Moments

I decided to send holiday cards this year. Although I’ve always been a fan of cards, I admit that my decision to join the Hallmark masses was largely motivated by my mother-in-law.

My mother-in-law belongs to that rare breed of socially-perfect people. She’s the type of person who never says the wrong thing, who knows the exact nicety called for by any occasion, and who is frequently described as “lovely.” Prior to meeting my husband, I had a vague idea that such people existed. I also had a vague idea that I was not one of these people.

My family is practical to the point of being abrasive. Prior to a recent vacation, my mother e-mailed me: “If anything happens, our attorney is Todd Landsley.” She thought, if she and dad were tragically wiped out, at least I should know who to call for my inheritance. As a family, we’ve generally dispensed of most sentimental trappings. For Christmas this year, Mr. J considered streamlining the process by just asking for cash. It’s only a matter of time before we start buying our own gifts.

If my mother-in-law knew about this, I have no doubt she would balk. Or, more likely, she would send me something heartfelt and handmade. My mother-in-law is the grand empress of heartfelt handmade things. One-of-a-kind jewelry made by local artisans? My birthday present. Adorable frosted cookies from the gourmet store? Every appropriate holiday, without fail. Charming newspaper clippings? In our mail, with a “thought you’d enjoy this” note. The last time my own mother sent me a newspaper clipping, the headline read “Woman killed by flesh eating bacteria.” There was no note.

Like most people, I want my mother-in-law to like me. I especially want her to like me because, well, she’s really lovely. I figure cards are the first step to achieving her genre of zen. In the past few months, I’ve sent cards for occasions I didn’t know they even made cards for. I’ve sent cards for pregnancies, engagements, jobs, moves, and sympathy. The other day, I saw a card for “loss of pet.” I almost bought it just to have one on hand.

Cards are a small thing, but I figure marriage is all about learning to adapt. Come to think of it, maybe I should send my husband a card to express this. I should ask his mom, I bet she has something perfect.

Ms. J

Friday, December 09, 2005

Wanted: Sidekick Posse

Recently, while watching VH1's "Best of 2005," I came across one of this year's most bizarre cultural highlights. Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Girls.

For those, like me, who missed Harajuku the first time around--a brief synopsis. The Harajuku Girls are four Japanese women who serve as a posse for pop-artist Gwen Stefani. They appear in her music videos, they accompany her on the red carpet, and they've even been known to vogue a bit behind her during interviews.

When the Harajuku Girls first appeared, they were met with some intense opposition. Rather than get into my personal opinion of their significance, I would instead like to focus on one aspect that everyone can agree on: THIS IS A BIZARRE JOB. How exactly does one interview for such a position? Was there a posting on Monster? Did people send resumes? What do you file as on your tax form?

My parents have a hard enough time understanding my career as it is, I can't imagine trying to sell them on this. I can see my dad now, "So, let me get this straight. You'll wear children's clothing, you'll dance, and your boss will refer to you as 'Angel.'..." I don't even want to picture how that conversation would end.

All of that said, I have to admire Ms. Stefani for her pluck. This just further shows us that celebrities can do just about anything. With enough money, you can even find someone willing to be your "cultural reference." Who knew?

Ms. J

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Secret Stache

My friends Mark and Matt decided to grow mustaches for charity. As of now, they have one more week of growing to go.

Favorite of the postal worker and the seventies porn king, the mustache has recently experienced a bit of a revival. Brooklyn hipsters, always on the look out for new ways to be dramatically ironic, have embraced the caterpillar lip as so ugly it's cool. Which leads us to the obvious question, is there really such a thing as ugly cool? And, if there is such a thing, are mustaches it?

Pugs, ugly cool. Tommy Lee Jones, ugly cool. T-shirts with slogans, ugly cool. Mustaches, possibly just ugly. There are very few men who can pull off a mustache. Tom Selleck, Phil Jackson, my father-in-law. Most guys look at best unkept, and at worst, like they're selling a used Chevy. The pursuit of ugly cool has led many a man astray, and I conclude that mustaches should be left to the experts. Unless you're quite the king of hip, I would tread lightly. The other day, I saw an average-looking guy on the subway with mutton chops. It was bad news all around.

Ms. J

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Why We Moved to NYC

Mr. J and I come from a very large family. Like most teenagers these days, some of our younger cousins maintain blogs to generally document their lives. Every now and then, I'll check these blogs to see what the young 'uns are up to.

One of said cousins recently posted some truly rockin pictures. These pictures were all taken in her small town's annual holiday parade.

Exhibit A

This is a tractor. The tractor is covered in twinkle lights. The tractor is being driven by a man in a santa hat. The tractor has on it a sign that says: "This tractor was confiscated from a drug dealer in Marion County." Just say no, kids.

Exhibit B

This is the Neuter Commuter. It drives around the county, sterilizing animals. There is a real need for such a service in this community. Apparently, the other side of the Neuter Commuter says "don't litter."

I would usually make some witty comments at this point, but let's face it, these images speak for themselves.

And to all a good night.

Ms. J

Monday, December 05, 2005

Where to?

I don’t ask a whole lot from my cab drivers. I want them to not get lost, take the most efficient route, and not try to lie to me about how much change they’re carrying in order to swindle more cash from me. Is that really that much to ask?

I was running late yesterday and hopped in a cab to take a quick ride uptown. I gave the driver a 20 and asked for 15 back. He looked at me as if I had insulted his mother and told me that he had no change and needed smaller bills. When I told him this was all I had, he started to lecture me on how for such a short cab you need to bring change. I replied that while I was sorry, my ATM unfortunately did not give me smaller bills for cab rides. Just when things were about to turn ugly, he magically produced 15 dollars and said that was all he had and now I was leaving him with, “Nothing, nothing.” I passed up the opportunity to point out that since he had taken my 20, he was actually 5 dollars richer than a few minutes ago.

After relaying this story to a friend, she shared with me a very similar cabbie experience. If fact it seems that it is not uncommon at all to have a taxi driver-passenger standoff- where you clearly have no intention of leaving a 400% tip and you both sit there waiting for the other to produce the change they’re secretly hiding.

It’s sad that our society has degenerated into one where we attempt to scam each other by being dishonest about how much change we’re carrying. Oh well, I guess it's just one more way that New York has made me bitter and jaded.

Mr. J

Friday, December 02, 2005

Holiday Cheer

I’m so jaded right now.

When I moved to New York, I thought it would be a great opportunity to participate in all those holiday events you see on TV. Just in the past week, there has been the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Rockefeller Tree Lighting. Being the ever eager New Yorker, I bundled up and went out for both things, only to find a much grimmer picture than the winter wonderland that Katie Couric and Dick Clark always broadcast.

For starters, while I’m not a terribly claustrophobic person, I nonetheless don’t appreciate having someone cradled up in my armpit. Unfortunately, tight bodily contact seems to be a prerequisite for these events. The Thanksgiving Parade passed uneventfully enough, though it gave new meaning to the term “Love thy neighbor.”

However, things got much worse for the Rockefeller Tree Lighting. After work, a friend and I tried to get over only to find that the police had blocked off the roads around Rockefeller center. After quite a bit of fruitless searching for an unguarded entrance, we almost gave up when a friendly police officer noticed our plight. He asked us if we wanted to see the tree lighting, and when we replied in the affirmative he asked us our age. Noting our quizzical expressions, he quickly followed up with, “Well if you’re over 21, you should try to go to one of the bars along 6th Avenue. They got TV’s set up there and you can watch the whole thing.” I think he was offended that we seemed a little under whelmed by his hot tip.

The worst part about all these events is that it seems 90% of the people at them are tourists who have no problem sitting outside all day for seats. While I always welcome visitors to this city, it nonetheless annoys me when they preclude me from enjoying it (I have to pay taxes here damnit, I feel like I should get some type of consideration). But it’s ok, since it’s the holidays I’m trying not to be bitter. In fact, come New Year’s, you’ll find me in a bar waiting for the ball to drop.

Mr. J