winners The only thing worse than having peers who are more successful than you is having people who are younger outdo you. (My friend Jenn came up with the latter point when a young alumni from her college starred in “Carrie, Part 2.”) You know Morrissey, lead singer of the Smiths? He recorded the very peppy, sweet-sounding tune “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful,” which makes me laugh.

Do I want my friends to be well, happy, productive, and successful? Of course I do! But I wouldn’t mind cornering one of those adjectives for myself either. I have a friend who is an internationally renown poet (in fact, I no longer refer to her by her name but by Internationally Renown Poet, and she’s friends with all the young, hot novelists whose books are being turned into movies. She’s a really nice woman and when she heard me bemoaning my average fate, she tried to comfort me with “Don’t worry, you’re young. You’ll get your book published,” which I thought was very sweet, but I also think untrue. I don’t live in a world where you can presume success is yours the way she, and the other top literary talent of the country, are able to. I might have a few years ago, as a promising young undergrad at a prestigious Ivy League university, but baby, those days are long gone along with my awesome (never appreciated) metabolism rate.

Briefly, I thought of joining the Alumni Club, to, I don’t know, somehow assimilate myself into greatness, listen to lectures, quote Kierkeguaard and Kant over a hot toddy and cigar in tastefully decorated, revered halls. I would breathe a sigh of relief, knowing I have finally arrived. BUT the fees to join are insanely high and frequent, and I don’t really need to spend money like that to fantasize when there’re plenty of places I can do that for FREE, like I dunno, at the library, in front of the boob tube, over my favorite jigsaw puzzle, etc.

The trick is to be happy anyway. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!


Phillywaffles My friend Becca and I traveled to Philly to visit Sung-Ji, Greg, Danny, Kirsten, and Danny and Kirsten’s brood of Simon (7), Bishop (3 or 4), and Koan (1 or so) “what is the sound of one cheek farting” Kashock. (Not my koan joke; see Katherine Min’s short story about dating a monk.) As soon as the boys arrived to Sung-Ji’s house, they hit the ground running, relaying from the living room to the kitchen and back, wrestling, using each other as horses, smothering each other. It was like being in a pin ball machine all of a sudden. Amazing how little they were and yet the entire atmosphere exploded once they arrived.

Sung-Ji made an amazing chicken pot pie and salad with a fancy dressing I like talking about but will probably never make. Then two kinds of waffles and maple syrup sausage for brunch the next day. All weekend, I skipped my friend Jesse’s advice of always being at a “five” on a hunger scale of 1 to 10 and got seconds, which made me feel like this:

Miss Piggy

which is too bad because really, we would all prefer to feel like this:

Dolly Parton

No heat!

heat miser! Oh man, when my folks moved to Brooklyn this fall at my behest, it was a gigantic, life-changing move — for them. They left their house of more than twenty years in idyllic, suburban New Jersey, to a smaller apartment, a more low-maintenance home near me, a total big deal. We moved them, so that the two of them would no longer have to shovel snow, drive a car, climb onto the roof to empty the gutter, or obsess over the flooding garage. But now, every time something goes wrong with their apartment, I feel an overwhelming amount of guilt. Although I really try to help their sense of well-being, I flip when things go wrong, and the transition has been anything but smooth or cheap. First of all, with any NYC-area property, you spend less time looking at it than a piece of clothing — that’s how nutty the market is. And only after living in the new pad have problems come up. The latest being the LACK OF HEAT.

Last Thursday was their first night with heat or hot water. As usual, Dad goes with the flow and Mom bemoans her tragic fate in life. After we agreed they could survive the night in their apartment, I watched Fox News announce it as “the coldest night of the year,” estimating the number of homeless and families without heat would DIE that night, which freaked me out. I worry about them — they are officially seniors, frail and tiny, as well as 100% fat-free. (Their lack of body fat makes me wonder if I am adopted, among other characteristics they exhibit). Like, among my nicknames in Korean for them (list is short, due to the fact I don’t speak the language) is meh-doh-chee (this tiny, puny dried fish) and kah-shee (fish bone).

While I was away this weekend, they somehow figured out who to hire to do this and that, something to do with a five-year-old boiler being dirty and needing to be replaced for five hundred dollars, which stresses us all out and makes me feel entirely responsible. I can’t help it — I feel responsible for the weather, the weird, sneaky things the pad reveals. But hopefully, HOPEFULLY, life will slow down and things will quit falling apart.

Mice Redux

No pictures. My kind super felt sorry for me and installed glue traps around my apartment–by the radiator, beneath the stove. They’re not humane, sorry to say. Heard awful stories where the poor mice get stuck on them and cry and scream, then eventually starve to death. Hideous. I can’t even deal with fishing, people (holding the pole for hours and chatting, yes; actually feeling something alive struggling for its life at the end of my line, not so much).

Luckily, there is mercy in the world and the mouse has not returned. The only thing the glue traps have ensnared are the edge of my stockings–and let me tell you, they’re powerful. I had a mini-trapped-mouse experience. Like just imagining something trapped in the trap with me was enough to inspire me to flail around uncontrollably around my kitchen, dragging the 25 cent contraption all over, yelling “gross, gross, gross.” 

Eight Seconds in Madison Square Garden

bullriding Saturday night, David and I got invited to box seats in Madison Square Garden for a bullriding competition. The whole contest for a million dollars started with a prayer (“bless our riders, our livestock, and bless this great competition of bullriding”), an appearance by Rudy Giuliani (Really? Running for president requires he do this on a Saturday night?), and some U.S. soldiers.

Each dude gets released from a pen on top of a bull which from all the way at the top of Madison Square Garden, still looks like a mac truck. I think the object is to stay on a bull for eight seconds with one hand in the air, like that movie starring Luke Perry, keep your chaps on and not get trampled on. Then after getting spun and tossed off the bull like crazy, you have to scoot quickly and get your bum on top of a fence so you don’t get…gorged. After watching ten or twenty, I finally stopped screaming. It’s just scary–when a dude falls off and the bull is stomping so wildly they literally fly high in the air, you just worry they’ll stamp on someone’s chest or hand or head or pinky. I don’t know. As I watched the bulls 360, I thought to myself, Not an activity for say the nausea-prone or the pregnant.

I worry about the lives the bullriders lead. They can’t really be more than high school educated and, like minor league baseball players, they have to travel to each town and muster up enthusiasm for a dying demand for this particular life skill.

There was one rider called “Mike Lee.” I got excited. Was he Korean? Nahhhhhhhh. In fact, most of the crowd seemed to be caucasian with cowboy hats on except for this one small group with yarmulkes.