Saturday, February 24, 2007

Martin Luck.

The parentals were here this past week, and my younger sister flew in for the first few days of their trip. Thinking a quick run to Vegas would be a good idea (nothing says family time quite like gambling and overpriced drinks) Vanessa and I rented a car at the airport before picking Deb and Steve up at baggage claim.

The woman at the Rental company set us up with wheels and casually slipped into conversation, "And just so you know, the car is not allowed to leave the state of California, and there is a fine if that happens..." to which Ness and I gave each other a fast glance. So she went on to mention this California clause three more times and had me initial the part of the contract that said it again while asking, "Where will you be traveling?" To which I said, "Um, Southern California." Basically taking a bat and beating Jiminy off my shoulder.

So we got Deb and Steve, repeated "Vegas Baby" a few hundred times, and drove through the night to arrive at the strip.
It wasn't the best idea we've ever had.
My father doesn't believe in easy money and prefers to stand to the side of whoever is gambling and ask them, "Do you really want to do that?" My mother has a strange fascination with slot machines but won't bet more than $2 at a time. So when that runs out--usually after 2 pushes of a button--she sits and stares at the machine. I won $350 on a $10 roulette bet and refused to gamble for the rest of the trip, and Nessa made up for all our high-roller shortcomings by losing everything she had on her. It was nice. Vegas really is evil though. It takes hope and greed and pumps them full of oxygen bringing out a sick combination in people. But it also has great food, so, it's a toss.

My dad was fed up with the whole thing. When my mom used the ATM it said there was a $4 fee and he hovered over the machine asking, "I just spent $4 on that?!" To which I explained, "Dad, relax. She's not playing the ATM."

We decided to stop gambling and went to a piano bar, which was insanely fun, but quickly ruined. My father loves to sing and dance. On the car ride down to Vegas he goes, "Turn this louder! This is my song!" "Breathe, by Anna Nalick? That's your song?" In retrospect, we shouldn't have taken him to the piano bar. He sang along so loudly that at one point my mom had her entire face covered with her hands. On the chorus of "Highway to Hell" he was at least three beats behind the crowd and shouting, "Heeeeeellllll" long after people had finished, causing most of the bar to turn in our direction. The height of our collective embarrassment was reached during Bryan Adam's "Summer of '69".
You don't know social awkwardness until your father is sitting in a large group of people shouting 69.

When I went to use my credit card that night it was declined. Hmm, weird. I pride myself on good credit so I called to see what the problem was. After talking to a woman on the phone she explained that there had been a mysterious $1600 charge to my card and that they had frozen the account to investigate. I grew nervous replaying the initial marks I had made on the rental contract agreeing to a fine if we left CA.
Bank Lady: Well, this charge is for an airline service. Have you flown anywhere or purchased a ticket to fly?
Me: Well, I rented a car at the airport, could that be it?
Bank Lady: Well, this is saying airline, but it's possible. I need to put you on hold.
Me: (Heart sinking) Oh. OK.

While on hold with her I explained to my parents the entire situation. That my card number had been stolen and someone bought a plane ticket with it...OR...the 3-day car rental was going to cost $1600.

Bank Lady: OK, Ms. Martin, it appears you've been a victim of identity theft so we're going to cancel this account blah blah.

When I got off the phone with her, there was a collective sigh of relief.  It's OK!! It's just identity theft!!!!

When we returned the car there was no additional charge. It was the biggest win of the trip.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Chill Cycle.

Since all of my underwear was nearly stolen a few months ago, I've taken to waiting in the laundromat while my clothes spin around. Today was clothes AND bedding day, which is really just too much. Carrying a large bag of laundry, an oversized jug of detergent, and my huge comforter creates all sorts of Three Stooges moments trying to fit through doors. Only, it's just me--a single stooge.

After moving everything from the washers to the dryers, I had some time to kill. I had nothing to read and was too lazy to walk back to my apartment, so I thought I'd take the time to settle. My parents are coming out here this weekend so I figured it would be appropriate to center myself before their arrival. And the pleasant smell of color-safe spring coupled with the rhythmic spin of my sheets created a nice little environment to clear my mind.

There's a large mural of a jungle scene in my neighborhood laundromat. I'm confused as to why. I guess it would make sense if the name of the place was called, "Wild Wash" or "Amazon Rinse and Fold," but it's called Doug's Suds. I like to think Doug's son is an artist who paints jungle murals exclusively. He had a tough time finding work (jungle murals are so rarely needed these days--outsourcing) so when Doug opened up the business his son was like, "Hey dad, I have an idea for a mural for the laundromat."
I thought about Doug and his fictional son for about 5 minutes before trying to achieve inner peace.

I have to say, a jungle scene doesn't do much to settle the nerves. Raffi once hung a picture of a snake above our TV for about 5 minutes before I asked him to take it down. I couldn't sit and veg without thinking a giant cobra was on me. So while the mural is really not that convincing (i think there's a sea otter in it) I found it hard to relax while staring at it. So I closed my eyes for about 20 minutes until I heard the dryers buzz and I went to check on my stuff. Everything was still wet. I dumped a few more quarters in and went home. In my heightened state of awareness I figured, if someone really wanted my wet comforter, they could have it. Plus, the jungle scene was really tripping me out.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I Don't Recommend The Duck.

There's a woman at work who is genuinely very sweet, but I can't bear to listen to her speak. Every time I see her she insists on telling me insanely long stories with tragic endings that leave me upset for the rest of the day. She's the Chinese Debbie Downer. But like I said, she's very sweet. So I listen with concern, trying to guess which horrible way each story will end.

She just returned to work after a 3-week vacation in Hong Kong. Cornered in the office, I asked how her trip was. This single question set off a detailed account of each day as it related to the progression of an illness that started upon her arrival. (I've mentioned before that when people talk about illness I start to feel sick. So by the time she hit week two of her rundown, I'm quite sure I had a rash or some sort.)
Knowing that the story wouldn't end with her death I asked, "Did you go to the hospital?"
She replied in the affirmative like I'd just spoiled a big part of her story. Pressing on she said, "The doctor said to wait two days and if I still felt sick, they would test me for H5N1."
I did the cartoon double-take and waited for the punch line, but Chinese Debbie Downer doesn't have punch lines, and I started to freak out.
"Bird Flu?!!"
"Wait, so did they test you for bird flu?!"
She stood there giving me a dirty look that said, "If you'd wait five seconds I'd get to that."
I gave her a look that said, "Dude, if you've got the bird flu you best flap the wings and fly because I'm about to flip."
I don't know what the symptoms of bird flu are but I started rubbing my throat with a real panic that a gobbler might start to grow.
She laughed and said it was just food poisoning. And then I got to hear about how horrible that can be.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cause: Unknown.

In an effort to get the word out about my book, I'm organizing a full-blown campaign.  I get that it's hard to market a book when the author lacks a following.  That's why I'm launching a three-step plan to create some buzz around Jessica Martin (that's me! bzzz), author of "Open Eyed Sneeze" (oh, you mean that book I keep hearing about? bzzz).
My plan consists of wristbands, a scandal, and rehab. It's the trifecta of American notoriety.

Step One: Wristbands.
Wristbands are so five minutes ago that they're actually ten minutes ago. And bringing back something that's ten minutes ago is cool is an ironic way--like mustaches. So I'll be asking guys in skinny jeans or girls with skinny ties to wear "Open Eyed Sneeze" wristbands and spread the word through aloof looks and trendy hair.

Step Two: The Scandal.
This is tricky. How can I get the attention of the focused and disciplined media? Astronuts , Anna Nicole, naked Britney Spears--I mean, this is the news we're talking about. How can I compete with the news? OK, I think I have something. I'll arrange to get tickets for "The View" in New York and just as Rosie is introducing the hot topics I'll jump up out of my seat and start shouting, "Open Eyed Sneeze! At blogspot! Dot Coooooom!"
Rosie will be annoyed, a feud will ensue, and I'll be a hot topic for 3-4 weeks.
The Donald will start to wear my wristband.

Step Three: Rehab.
Rosie and I will be cool after I agree to attend rehab for my 3-step campaign addiction. Rehab will consist of throwing away the wristbands while in a nice resort in Arizona. People will hear of my struggle and be moved to follow me--whatever that means.

It seems like a lot. But from what i hear, it's easier than trying to market the work of an unknown writer.

Tell your friends.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Well, sure.

If you live on Earth, you've most likely heard the story about love-crazed Astronaut, Lisa Nowak, and her attempt to kill a woman over a man they both apparently loved. Even if you don't live on Earth but have read any Shakespeare, you know this story. It's classic.

Woman falls in love with man.
Woman suspects another woman is interested in man.
Woman drives from Texas to Florida wearing diapers to kill her romantic rival.
Everyone involved is an Astronaut.

This story has all the elements of a tale that will be told throughout the ages in that it's universally (snap) relatable. Love triangles, jealousy, NASA, diapers--these are just timeless themes. Yes, "diapers" is a theme.

This was the gift of the century for news outlets. What young reporter doesn't sit in journalism school dreaming about an attempted murder story involving pepper spray, a BB-gun, a steel mallet, knife and some rubber tubing? This is the "get" they talk about on your first day of journalism school.
Note: Look for the Lisa Nowak Edition of the board game Clue in stores soon. "Ms. Crazy Space Lady, in the diaper, with the rubber tubing"

The News really stressed the diaper thing, saying she wanted to kill this other woman so badly that she wore the diaper so she wouldn't have to stop. But it's a 900 mile trip. I don't care how badly you want to get anywhere, you're going to need to stop for gas. The papers never even touched on that. So it's very likely that while pulled over at the Citgo station, steps away from the restroom, she decided, nah, i'll just pee right here.

She's back in Texas now, having been released on bail. I like to think that she's snapped back into reality and realized maybe her feelings for that guy were a little too strong. Wanting to meet someone new, she posted this ad on Craigslist:

"White Female, 5'6/125, crazy, looking for a man who likes long drives, role play, and incontinence. NO ASTRONAUTS!"

Little Things.

The train I rode home from work had "CALM" scratched into the glass of a window. An obvious act of vandalism, but one of the nicer ones I've seen.
Waiting for the doors to open at my stop I saw that someone else had scribbled with a Sharpie on the lighting panel, "Go fuck yourself."
Oddly relaxed, this one made me smile too.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Hey, Nice Jeans.

According to the pictures I've seen and the stories I've been told, my dad used to be quite the dresser back in the day. It's been verified by my mother who would always chime in with, "Oh, your father had impeccable taste. Very sharp, very sharp." And my dad would nod in full agreement, "I was sharp, boy. Very sharp." And this would be followed by him running to his closet to bring out some of his old jackets.
-Yea, that's a nice jacket.
-You bet it is!
And then he would wear it around the house for a few hours.

But with the limited fashion opportunities a life on a farm affords, his sense of style disappeared. I love the guy but on more than one occasion I've literally been embarrassed by his choices. One summer day before my buddy Matt Thompson came over to chill my dad came out to the living room wearing swim shorts and a polo.
Asking him to change, he said it was fine. So when Matt came in he goes,
-uuh, is your dad in his underwear?
-they're swim trunks.
-did you guys get a pool?

Another time when I was in college, they came to visit and when they walked in my apartment, I burst out laughing at his jeans. They were HORRIBLE.
-DAD! what are you wearing?! Those don't even fit!
-I don't know, they were in my closet.
-You need to change, immediately. Go buy pants.
It turns out they were my mom's jeans. I swear to you.

OK, so yesterday, my mom calls from the mall. They're coming out here in a few weeks and wanted some new gear so she took him to Express for men for some jeans. My mom always describes these things with a Ben Stein cadence that I love.
-Your father has tried on about 12 pairs of jeans. Each time he comes out of the dressing room he tests them.
-How do you test jeans?
-He's doing lunges around Express.
He's found one pair he likes, oh, he's coming out. (Those look nice Steve, take those too.) Ok, and he's back on the floor.

Sharp. Very, very sharp.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Did I catch a Niner?

Something is happening at work involving a new floor being put in and it has caused all these additional headaches and created extra jobs that need to be done. It's completely stressful. I mean, I haven't actually been involved in any of it, but it looks stressful. Truth be told, I have no clue what's going on. All I heard was "new floor" and when I went in yesterday everything had been moved around so it took me like 20 minutes to find the cereal--and that folded some unnecessary drama into my day. So yea, I guess if I was asked, I would say it's been a stressful endeavor.
My boss Karen, who hates me, walked me through everything and I tried to fake listen as best I could while looking for the damn granola. After she left my Asst. Manager Tony gave me a walkie talkie and explained that we'd be using them to communicate from the 37th floor to the main kitchen on the 2nd floor.
Need I say more than walkie talkie?!
I don't care how old you are-- people get excited when using walkie talkies. If you don't immediately start shouting, "Bravo Bravo, Roger Victor" or something of the like, well, then, we have nothing in common.

Tony is tech-genius golden boy so he takes these things very seriously.
I like pressing buttons to talk.
He went down to the second floor to test out the range, I stayed on 37.

-Tony to Jessica, do you read?
-Copy that Tony, I LOVE to read.
-Jessica, stop. Can you hear me?
-Bring it on over flatbed.
-I don't know, it's trucker talk. Can you give me the WD-40 on the granola whereabouts?
-Come on!
-Sorry, over and out.
-Don't say over and out until we're totally done! (he was getting a little mad here)
-uhh, sorry Tony. Don't use these things on the daily, over...and out.

We had three different tests like this last night. It was so much fun. I'm using them today for real though and I'm not sure why. Guess I should have been paying attention. cchchhhch.