Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How I didn't sleep with Madonna

For the first time in 34 years, I was completely unable to fall asleep. It was the most frustrating thing and I'm not sure what the problem was but if it ever happens again, I'm going to knock myself unconcious with a blunt object.

It all started last Thursday just before midnight. I had to be up at 5 Friday morning to collect Jeremy from midtown by 6 (we were heading up to Boston for yet another weekend of complimentary luxury...this time at the Taj, formerly the Ritz). At the last minute, we decided to leave @ 6 because snow was expected mid-morning.

By 1:30, I'd yet to fall asleep and the anxiety level was growing. I imagined my brain was a frozen Windows operating system: I kept hitting CTL+ALT+DEL but to no avail. The system would not shut down. By 3, I was pretending to sleep but fully aware I was living a lie.

I looked outside and saw that snow had already begun in earnest. I texted Jeremy: "no point in leaving @ 6 to beat the weather. it's already here. let's leave at 10." Worried that he wouldn't make it to Boston in time for happy hour, Jeremy replied, "if we leave at 6, we can sit in traffic that much longer."

I tried changing my environment and moved to the living room couch. By 4, sleep had not arrived but the realization that my fish are totally OCD did. Every one of my 4 tanks was alive with crazed fish pacing repeatedly in the same hurried pattern from one end of the tank to the other. I'd hoped their swimming would relax me but instead, I found myself wondering if they make Adderall for amphibians.

After 20 minutes, I decided sleep was not forthcoming and began getting ready to leave for Boston. It was the worst possible scenario: sleep deprived and driving on snowy, unplowed roads at high speed. But, a $2,000 a night luxury suite at the Taj overlooking Boston Common awaited. So, off I went.

After stopping at Dunkin Donuts for liquid crack, I warned Jeremy that I hadn't slept and was therefore liable to crash or strangle him at a moment's notice. As we drove through the slush out of NYC and into Connecticut, my brain began to disconnect from my body.

Sensing a head-on collision with delirium, I plugged the iPod in and set its playlist to Madonna (common ground for Jeremy and I). This led to forced consciousness and 50 miles of "top 5" Madonna video lists...

Top 5 worst Madonna videos (this was hard to keep at just 5)
1. "This Used to be My Playground"
2. "Love Don't Live Here Anymore"
3. "American Life"
4. "Love Profusion"
5. "True Blue"
(runners-up: "Me Against the Music," "Who's That Girl?" "You'll See")

(what's with the flag PowerPoint presentation?)

Top 5 best Madonna videos (this was equally as hard to keep at just 5):
1. "Express Yourself"
2. "Open Your Heart"
3. "Like a Virgin"
4. "Hung Up"
5. "Vogue"
(runners-up: "Rain," "Material Girl")

(no one does cone bras and nipple tassles like my girl M)

Top 5 WTF Madonna videos:
1. "Fever"
2. "Erotica"
3. "Deeper and Deeper"
4. "The Power of Goodbye"
5. "Bedtime Story"
(runners-up: "Jump," "American Pie," "Get Together," "Nothing Really Matters")

Top 5 most-unappreciated Madonna videos:
1. "What It Feels Like for a Girl"
2. "Hollywood"
3. "Frozen"
4. "Secret"
5. "Bad Girl"
(runners-up: "Don't Tell Me," "Music")

Top 5 most-depressing Madonna videos:
1. "Take a Bow"
2. "Oh Father"
3. "La Isla Bonita"
4. "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina"
5. "I Want You"

I found it especially hard to remember the videos as we listed each despite saying it just 2 seconds before. So, I recorded the lists on my phone's voice notes; unfortunately, I also forgot to save the note. Kids, this illustrates why you shouldn't stay up all night cramming for an exam: sleep deprivation robs you of the ability to remember stuff.

If my Madonna "top 5" story doesn't convince you, maybe a Harvard study will:

Missing from Harvard's study is my "Top 5 Reasons Why Sleep is, like, Important:"
1. It helps generate HGH (Human Growth Hormone), without which Roger Clemens would look like Screech.
2. Dreams are a great way to live out fantasies involving crocodiles.
3. If rats are any indication, you'd die in 28 sleepless days (of course, you'd probably collapse into sleep before dying but the coffee table you'd hit on the way down might finish you off).
4. What fun is a yawn/fart/stretch in the morning if you're awake before doing it?

And finally, the 5th reason why sleep is important:
5. It helps you remember stuff like putting gas in your car before attempting to drive 230 miles. Yes, by exit 91 in CT, my car's idiot light came on indicating that it was about to run out of gas. When I left NYC, I had 1/4 tank and even sped by gas pumps on my way out of a rest area (although I did pause to think about checking the window washer fluid levels).

150 miles later, the needle was absolutely BURIED below "E" as we crossed into the no man's land between CT and Rhode Island (population: one seagull, Jeremy and me). Luckily, my car sputtered into the ONE gas station located off exit 92. It was the closest I've ever come to being disowned by my Dad (he said he would do so if I was ever stupid enough to run out of gas).

Anyway, I finally fell asleep Friday night sometime after 11 in a fluffy, feather-filled bed at the Taj, snow still falling softly outside in the hushed streets of Boston. I'd like to say it was the best sleep ever but I awoke at 2 AM thanks to my Mom's snoring (she'd joined me for the weekend) and I ended up sleeping on a couch in the suite's living room.

Thankfully, there were no OCD fish nearby.

(Boston from our 16th floor windows: during snow; after snow)

(the room where I finally fell asleep, complete with a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What a Ducassehole!

Sunday marked the 13th anniversary of my sobriety. Yep, I haven't had a drink in 13 years. That's 676 weeks; 4,745 days; 113,880 hours and 23 minutes (but who's counting?).

I can't be sure because shit really was THAT fugged up back then but I'm pretty certain my last fall-down-the-stairs binge was Feb. 17, 1995. I only know this because it was the Saturday after Valentine's -- oops, just looked it up and seems I've been celebrating the wrong day all these years (we didn't have the Internet back then, OKAY?). Whatever, it was Sat. Feb. 18. Doesn't matter -- I still don't know what day I had my last sip of alcohol on because it wasn't important enough to remember at the time.

I always say, "ugh, if I'd known then that it would be my last drink, I would've filled a shopping cart at the liquor store and holed myself up in a Motel 6 for the weekend." And that pretty much sums up the problem. I'd been drinking since I was 11 and was starting to black out so it was time to nip it in bud. Even though I was only 21 (and hadn't even made it to the nut-flavored liquors yet!), I did my time in AA and it's been nothing but Sprite ever since.

I usually spend the anniversary by myself, reading through my grandfather's notes from his own stint in rehab (he'd been drinking all his life and spent the last 17 years of it sober) but this year would be different...

Jeremy had invited me to dinner at world-renowned chef Alain Ducasse's new restaurant, Adour, at the St. Regis as part of his review for West Palm's Simply the Best magazine. Turns out, they put him in one of their best rooms, the "Tiffany Suite," a massive suite overlooking 5th Ave. and Central Park. Free dinner at a 5-star hotel? Crashing in a $5,000 a night suite twice the size of my apartment? Duh! I threw on my best H&M dress and headed out.

(the view of 5th Ave. and Central Park from one of the "Tiffany Suite's" many windows)

The restaurant's decor is meant to look like you're at the bottom of a champagne bottle, which should've been my first hint. After a less-than-impressive meal (Jeremy's had better halibut from Lean Cuisine), we ordered dessert. While I waited for my tea to steep, I tried a leaf-shaped chocolate that one of 10 people serving us had brought.

My lips immediately pursed as the taste of alcohol filled my mouth. I looked around the room in a panic: how many strokes would I cause among Adour's elite clientèle if I were to spit the chocolate back out? My mind raced for an answer -- wasn't there a scene about this in Bridget Fonda's crappy American take on "La Femme Nakita?" My one remaining brain cell couldn't remember (kids: this is a lesson in binge drinking's long-term effects: do it only if you want to depend on friends and family to remind you of things like your name for the rest of your life).

I swallowed the chocolate and looked at Jeremy who, between sips of his Jameson and gingerale, had wondered what the hell was wrong with me. I explained that I'd been poisoned, ironically, on my 13th anniversary. "Well, as if we didn't need another reason to hate this place AND the French!" he replied.

When the maître d' approached to see how we were enjoying our desserts, I cross-examined him:

"Excuse me, what is in these chocolates?"

"Zees iz zhe passion fruit, zees iz zhe prailine and hazlenut, and zees iz zhe vanilla rum."

"I see. So the ONE chocolate I ate was filled with vanilla rum?"


"Figures. You should inform guests before if anything has alcohol in it. See, as of 5 minutes ago, it was 13 years since I've had any so if I go back up to my room and clean out the mini bar as a result of eating this chocolate, I'm comin' back down after to kick your ass."

(stunned silence) "Madam, we are very sorry..."

"At the very least, you're paying for the mini bar."

I'm sure it was the first time anyone physically threatened Jean Paul after he asked, "and how iz everyzing?" Jeremy nearly choked up a lung laughing.

No, I didn't drink anything as a result -- please, it's going to take A LOT more than a piece of chocolate to knock me off. Even so, I can't help but feel like my precious record has been ruined. Like, I was throwing a no-hitter up until Alain Ducasse squibbed a stupid piece of "chocolat" through the infield grass.

It's a matter of pride when it comes to the record I've touted all these years. How can I say, "I haven't had a drop," now? It's like the Patriots saying "yeah, we won 'em all...yep, all except for that one at the end." Well, at least I'm
4,745-1 (damn you, Ducasse!).

(WTF face outside "a dour" restaurant the next day)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Gammy was a "Rolling Stone" ('til she read it)

Even though I just wrote yesterday about my wonky eye and I try to limit my time here (MySpace is virtual quicksand), I just GOTTA share an email I got from my grandmother today -- she's hip like that. Well, maybe not THAT hip.

See, she ordered a magazine subscription to help my 9-yr-old cousin Mandy raise funds for her Girl Scout troop. What happened next is a funny, poignant example of generational differences:
1) My "Gammy" is a member of the Greatest Generation
2) My Dad is a Baby Boomer
3) and Britney Spears is, um, a member of Generation Y the Hell Not

My grandmother's email in its entirety:

Hi Jennifer,
I ordered a magazine through Mandy's Girl Scout group to benefit the them. Without thinking about it, I just checked off the least expensive magazine. Well. it was "Rolling Stone". Wow! Was I surprised when I started to read an article about Britney Spears! What a potty mouth! The actual bad words are in the story. Needless to say, I had no idea what I was buying!

I checked with Aunty Nancy to see if I could transfer it to Frankie or your dad. He (your dad) happened to call her while we were talking, and he was all for the idea. That's the type he enjoys.
I called the customer service line to request it be sent to your dad instead of me. They said no problem and it will be sent to him starting in March.

Imagine, a 77 year old broad, living in an elderly highrise getting "Rolling Stone"!!! That's funny!!! I got some strange looks when the mailman came!
Take care. See ya.

xxx ooo

(she SO could've pulled off that bald look)

p.s. the email is also a good example of how far Rolling Stone's hipster stock has fallen.

p.p.s. I love that my grandmother refers to herself as a "broad." I'm going to start saying that, as in "that broad Britney really knows how to entertain!"

p.p.p.s. see what happens in the lull between football and baseball? First I write about Paris and now Britney. (sigh) Imagine how different this country would be if Pat O'Brien had been forced to play outside instead of clipping from his mom's People magazine between nose bleeds?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It takes a big girl to admit she has a bigger eye

Back when I had a full-time job, I used to block out my old (and I mean OLD) boss's nonsense by perusing gossip sites like and I remember laughing one day when they wrote, "Paris Hilton and her wonky eye made an appearance last night on the red carpet." Ha ha! Paris and her wonky eye!

Not so funny anymore. In the past week, I've seen two photos that clearly prove what I've long feared and never wanted to admit: I, too, have a wonky eye.

(received this one tonight from my friend and former co-worker -- a photo she'd taken of me and my Man last December: the evidence is now irrefutable)

How to correct this? Do I accept it as Paris has (that jewel of morality and respectable behavior)? Or do I simply apply more makeup to my right eye to balance things out? Should I say "arrrrrgh" when I smile for the camera so it appears intentional? Or do I put my a-mazing Photoshop skills to work on my own face?

Not sure what my course of action will be (if anything). In the meantime, I'm sorry, Paris, for laughing at your wonkiness. I laughed too hard, too soon.

Seems I'm a natural freak of, um, nature and Paris is, well, just a freak. According to The Evil Beet (, Paris' wonky eye is the result of an eye-lift gone wrong. So, I take comfort in learning yet another piece of info that widens the gulf between she and I.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Jiminy Crickets!

Here's something you don't read every day: I just bought 10 pet crickets.

Ever since I left the suburban sprawl of South Florida in 2000 for the concrete confines of NYC, I've desperately missed the sound of crickets. It's not that there aren't crickets here; it's just that my apartment is situated 4 stories up between 2 towering blocks of brick and concrete. The only crickets up here are those being eaten by birds.

Why not get one of those sound machines? I have one and the crickets on it sound like nails on chalkboard. And, as part of the "meadow pond" experience, there's a splooshing noise every 8 seconds that I presume was supposed to sound like a frog jumping into water (but sounds more like someone dropping a deuce).

So, for the last eight years, my travels have been partly inspired by the need to hear crickets again. I mentioned this to my man last November as we fell asleep to their soothing sound in FL. It wasn't the first time I'd told him how much I miss them. I mused, "maybe I'll buy some and keep them in my room as pets when I get back to Brooklyn." He shot up from the pillow, "but that was going to be my Christmas present to you!" Confused, I asked, "you were going to buy me crickets for Christmas?" Yes, it was to be one of my gifts (he's cute and thoughtful like that).

He got me something else for Chrimbo but the conversation cemented the idea; as much as I'd missed the sound of crickets, I'd never seriously considered buying them to keep as pets. So, this week, I headed to the store to get all the gear I'd need to have a happy cricket colony in my bedroom. At long last, I'd have sweet chirping to lull me to sleep every night!

As I searched the amphibian aisle, one of the employees (no doubt counting the minutes until the store closed and he could return home to his D&D game) offered to help. He showed me a horrible contraption with feeding tubes and said, "this is the best way to keep crickets."

"Why would I want to keep them in that?!"

"So you can easily feed them to your snake or gecko or whatever."

As I explained that I intended to keep them as pets, I realized it was like explaining that D&D is a recreational game for pre-teens.

After many odd looks and careful consideration about my crickets' new digs, I rushed home to soak the peat moss and prepare their 2.5 gallon tank (seriously, it's such a lovely smell to have damp earth in your bedroom -- highly recommended for those who like camping or getting lost in forests).

I went back out to the pet store to get my crickets. As I looked over the selection, I was faced with a terrible realization that somehow hadn't occurred to me yet: crickets are bugs. I was picking out bugs to keep in my room. Um, yuck? (Honestly, if one of these suckers escapes, my first instinct will be to squash it.)

So, I opted for 10 baby crickets ("nymphs" as I later learned) who don't resemble cockroaches as much as their adult peers do. Yes, I know eventually these 10 crickets will grow but by that time, I'm hoping I'll have a relationship with them that transcends looks.

(bit blurry but whaddya want for a camera phone?)

When I got home, I released them into their gorgeous forest floor of a tank, turned off the lights and waited. And waited. And waited. No sounds. No chirping. Nothing. Nothing but the same sirens and "are you tawking to me?!" in the distance. I called my man to inform him of the problem. "Leave it to you to buy the only deaf-mute, homosexual crickets in the store," he replied.

Perplexed, I went online to research why my crickets weren't chirping. Turns out, I bought field crickets in their early adolescent stage (here's an interesting fact: crickets live one year -- who knew?!). At this point, they're wingless and crickets chirp by rubbing their wings (contrary to the popular belief that they rub their legs). And they won't grow wings for THREE FUGGING MONTHS!

Three months? I gotta wait 3 months to hear something?! No way, I'm going BACK to the pet store tomorrow to buy the ugliest, cockroachiest adult male cricket I can find! Mind you, most people buy buttloads of crickets at a time to feed their hungry snakes and lizards. "Yes, I'd like to buy ONE cricket, please. Uh-huh. Yes, THAT cricket." My roommate suggests I go in a bizarre outfit and whacked out hair (more so than usual) and really play up the crazy cricket lady part.

What an effort this has been just to get a sound most hear every night without any effort at all! I hope you fall asleep tonight with the windows wide open and the most profound appreciation for that sweet lullaby (forgetting, of course, the image of the gross bug making it)!

p.s. clearly, I've yet to recover from the Super Bowl.

Lest you think I'm totally nuts (and why would writing a novella about buying crickets make me nuts?), I learned in my research that the Chinese and Japanese have long kept crickets as pets for the very same reason I now do. In ancient China, the chirping was so highly regarded that the ladies of the Imperial Palace kept crickets in small golden cages on their pillows, so that they might fall asleep to the song.

Other interesting cricket facts (from Wikipedia):

* Crickets chirp at different rates depending on their species and the temperature of their environment. Most species chirp at higher rates the higher the temperature is (approx. 60 chirps a minute at 13°C in one common species; each species has its own rate).

* The relationship between temperature and the rate of chirping is known as Dolbear's Law. In fact, according to this law, it is possible to calculate the temperature in Fahrenheit by adding 40 to the number of chirps produced in 15 seconds by the snowy tree cricket common in the United States.

* To hear the mating call of other crickets, a cricket has ears located on its knees, just below the joint of the front legs.

* "Jiminy Cricket!" was originally a polite expletive euphemism for Jesus Christ (as in, "Jiminy Crickets! This was a long ass blog about crickets!").

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Shock and Awe(ful)

It's been two days now and I'm still not sure if I've got this right: we lost? The Patriots lost the Super Bowl? We were on the losing end of 17-14? We're 18-1?

(goddamn Tuck!)

(c'mon, seriously -- WTF?!)

Yes. We were out-coached, out-defended and just plain out-played. Brady spent most of the game on his back (and kept getting up for more 23 times) and our defense couldn't come up with the ONE play that would've sealed the deal.

I think Sunday was the closest I've ever come to crying over a game. If it weren't for the fact that I wasn't alone, I probably would've. But with my Dad, Uncle Albert, Aunty Jane and 3 younger cousins in the room, I had to man up and shake off the urge to curl into a fetal position under the coffee table.

Here's where it gets worse: I had flown to my Uncle's house in Orlando, FL, to watch the game (it's become a bit of a family tradition to watch it alongside my Dad and Uncle -- guess we've had a pretty good run of it as Pats fans). So, on Monday, I had to fly back to NY in the only warm piece of clothing I had: the Patriots hoodie I'd flown down in.

I heard it from every Giants fan on the plane, at the airport, on the train, and in the lobby of my building until I reached the safety of my apartment where I finally curled into a fetal position under my sheets. I slept for 14 hours, hoping to wake up and find it was all just a terrible dream.

It wasn't. Super Tuesday: Dan the Man's phone call woke me up. He wanted to give me the play-by-play of the ticker tape parade going by his office window in lower Manhattan (aka the "Canyon of Heroes"). As I thanked Dan for his call, I made my way to the kitchen to find a dull butter knife. I've been slowly slitting my wrists with it ever since.

Well, not really. I managed to clean myself up, vote and head into the city tonight for a friend's one-man show in the Village. I found the courage to phone up my two Giant fan friends, Bolo and J-Sok (who had attended the parade earlier), and see if they wanted to meet for dinner after. It was time for me to take my lashes.

When we met up later, I was surprised at how easy they went on me, especially after all the smack talking I'd done on the road to 18-1. What nice friends I have -- they only showed me one photo of Eli hoisting the trophy the entire dinner.

Maybe I'll remember their kindness next year...maybe.

p.s. shout out to Jimmy Johnson who reminded us after the Super Bowl of his '86 and '87 Hurricanes -- in '86, they had a perfect season that ended with a huge upset by Penn State; in '87, they had another perfect season and won the national championship. Yes, I know it's college football and probably apples to Orange Bowls, but it made me feel just a little bit better. Thanks, Jimmy (sniff).