Happily For Now

Those of you who know me well will agree that I have a reputation for chasing the romantic unattainable. That sounds bad, like I only pursue doomed relationships or bad boys or something. That’s not what I mean. To put it bluntly, I tend to fall for gay men. To put it more bluntly, I’m what my friends refer to as a “fag hag.” (Side note: Not my favorite term.)

And while this preference of mine may not serve me well in terms of marriage prospectives, I stand by it. Gay men dress well, they care about their hair, they always have something sassy to say, and they notice when I lose weight. What is there not to love? (Side note: I know this is a very broad generalization; I’m referring to the gay men I’m attracted to.)

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because I recently watched the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding over fall break—Princeton’s random post-midterms weeklong vacation—and realized something. I always attributed my love for gay men with my ties to theater. I’ve been doing musicals since I was six and, predictably, the only men I ever pined for within that community were flamers–a word I refuse to think of as offensive because flames are bad ass. Alas, no! As long as I’ve been doing theater, I’ve also been watching this movie. (Side note to parents: My Best Friend’s Wedding is not appropriate for kids under twelve and is not fully appreciated by kids under eighteen. My parents were silly.) Anyway, I’ve been watching My Best Friend’s Wedding for as long as I can remember, but I only just realized that George Downes–played by the charming Rupert Everett–is at the root of my obsession with guys who like guys.

George: "I'm fabulous." Julia: "Duh."

George is clever, handsome, suave and sophisticated. For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, George is Julia Roberts’s best friend and boss. When her plans to woo back her former boyfriend/current best friend Michael—now engaged—falter, George flies down from somewhere decently far away to comfort her. Julia proceeds to use George by feigning an engagement to him in hopes of making Michael jealous. Instead of getting angry, George rolls with it and ends up enjoying the spotlight a bit too much (and by that I mean just enough). He bursts into “I Say a Little Prayer For You” over wedding brunch in one of the most memorable moments in the history of rom-coms. And even though Julia is a selfish, conniving woman who sabotages happy engagements and uses her gay best friend as a temporary plot device, George forgives her and SPOILER ALERT dances with her at Michael’s wedding to a barely legal Cameron Diaz at the end of the film. Yes, George gets the gal (technically), cheering Julia up with his “jungle cat” moves on the d-floor and with the reassurance that she did the right thing by letting Michael go. This twist in the plot is what makes My Best Friend’s Wedding such a good, surprising romantic comedy. It’s also what makes me glorify gay men as dependable, debonair and altogether more interesting than straight men. (Sorry, Michael. You’re handsome but you’re kind of an idiot.)

Michael: "I can be fabulous, too. Gah."

I’m not sure why I thought this realization was noteworthy. Maybe it’s because I’m finally getting to that age when love has the potential to be real. I mean, for God’s sake, Cameron Diaz’s character was a 20 year-old a rising senior in college when she and Michael got engaged. Yehk. But I guess what I take away from George Downes is that, while I may not be experiencing my “happily ever after” for a while (or want to, for that matter), my gay best friend can offer me a “happily for now”: he can tell me I’m worth something, cuddle with me, and tell me he adores me despite the thing between my legs that he’s afraid of. Now that’s true love.

(Side note: I love you, Doug.)

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Greetings from Paris!

My last post was a bit dramatic, wasn’t it? Bleak, too. Well, I’m happy to report that I’ve been in Paris for almost three weeks living in a Princeton alum’s flat. This alum is a friend of a friend of a friend of my mother’s, and we managed to get in touch with him about 5 hours after I wrote my “DOOM” post. So no worries. I’m not selling my body at the Moulin Rouge—although my apartment in Montmartre is about 5 minutes away from the famous club.

I’ve been waiting to write on this blog because I wanted to absorb the city a little bit and make a list of the pros and cons or something. But after three weeks, I feel like I still need more time to complete my lists. In the meantime, I can share a few ridiculous things that have happened to me. It is me, after all.

I lost the Eiffel Tower – On my first full day in Paris, my new friend Simone (a PU student who offered me a place to stay until I got my apartment) and I decided to explore the city of lights on foot. We started around 3 pm, casually making our way toward the Notre Dame cathedral, stopping in Le Marais (a nest of French hipsters) to buy a 3-euro bottle of rosé. When we got to the cathedral, we ate our dinner of baguette sandwiches and watched awkward European tourists take pictures near the entrance. Simone suggested we try to make it to the Eiffel Tower before sundown. Some rain clouds were heading our way, so we got on the metro and exited right near the tower. We could even see the top of it from the metro stop. And yet, as we got closer, we kept losing sight of it. Turns out that in Paris, the narrow streets result in closer-together buildings, which in turn make it very difficult to navigate around landmarks. Simone and I circled the Eiffel Tower for about an hour (we must’ve overshot about 5 times) despite being less than a 10-minute walk from it.

I was asked out at midnight in Paris after seeing Midnight in Paris – Simone’s friend Kate made a suggestion to us that we go see Midnight in Paris in the center of the city. Simone and I loved the idea, so we all decided to go to showing that week. When we got to the theater, I realized how stupid I’d been to not bring a sweater with me. I was absolutely freezing inside, so I pulled my knees up to my chest and tried to pull my dress over them—something much more effectively done with oversized sweatshirts. I realize now that in my attempt I may have flashed my upper thigh a few times to the man sitting to my immediate right. Midnight in Paris was lovely, though I could not for the life of me understand why Marion Cotillard’s character would fall for Owen Wilson’s weird impression of Woody Allen. Regardless, I really enjoyed it, and seeing it in Paris was surreal. As Kate, Simone and I walked out of the theater (at midnight), someone tapped me lightly on the shoulder. I turned to see the man who’d sat on my right in the theater—someone I now saw was a Russian in his late 20s or early 30s. He asked me if I would like to get a café with him somewhere nearby: “Especially after seeing that movie, I thought I should ask.” Now, objectively, this was a seriously romantic gesture. I dunno, maybe I’m just a sucker for movie/life crossover moments. I so desperately wanted to say yes…but considering that the guy was my senior by roughly a decade and that our only interaction was my accidental thigh flashing throughout the film, it all felt a little bizarre. It didn’t help that my two friends were giggling uncontrollably behind me, either. Red-faced, I thanked him profusely for his offer and respectfully declined. When I went clubbing that weekend, one guy hit on me by asking me if I believed in love spells and another tried to convince me that my brand of shampoo reflected my level of sensuality. I guess I took Russian guy for granted.

I got sick – For the past week, I’ve had a nasty virus (probably from my not-so-cleanly experiences at French nightclubs). Luckily, the day before I got my bug, a friend of mine from Princeton gave me her DVD set of Slings & Arrows, a wacky dramedy about a Shakespearean theater troupe in Toronto. I convinced myself that staying in bed and watching 18 episodes of the Canadian show was probably the most culturally immersive thing I could have done given the circumstances. Since my apartment didn’t have internet at the time (I have since borrowed a work friend’s FreeWifi account info), and because my French phone had run out of credit, I exclusively watched S&A in bed while eating the remnants of my groceries (a jar of green olives, a pack of salami, four cartons of yogurt, and Special K with “fruits rouges”). Then I hobbled over to the local supermarché and bought a second jar of green olives, another pack of salami, more yogurt, and a new box of Special K. In my defense, I also bought a bag of crêpes. You know, to experience France and stuff.

On the intersection of Rue des Écoles and Rue de la Sorbonne, I pointed to La Sorbonne and said to Simone, “Hey, I bet that’s a school!” – That’s really the whole story. Simone has told it many times since. It ends with a man standing near us saying “No shit” under his breath in French—and, of course, with Simone laughing hysterically. For non-Frenchies, “école” means school, and I am an idiot.

Okay, bed time. More later. I wrote most of this post a week ago, and so many things have happened since. French things. À bientôt!

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I’m taking a brief break from the fetal position to write this short blog post about the effectiveness of the fetal position. I really can’t endorse it enough. After successfully unveiling my landlady as a fraud, I was feeling pretty good about myself. But now it’s Thursday. As in, the day before Friday. As in, the day before the day I leave for Paris.

And I still haven’t found a place to stay. I’m…homeless.

But the fetal position is really helping me deal with my overwhelming sense of doom. DOOM. I highly recommend it over wall-punching, screaming into a pillow, and calling Parisian housing agencies repeatedly to leave angry voicemails in broken French. The fetal position don’t cost a thing (i.e. a fist, a voice, or $2.00/minute). Also, fun fact: you can give your knees hickeys!

For those of you who would like to use my method, just follow the instructions below.

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It’s Scam in a Can!

So great news! I have an internship in Paris this summer at a television production studio. It’s pretty much my dream job, and almost nothing can get me down!

Almost nothing.

Of course, I leave for France this Friday (that’s in, count ’em, 4 days). And of course, just as I’m about to send the money to the landlady of the apartment I secured, I find out that I’m being scammed. Bamboozled. Hoodwinked. Plain ol’ f*cked.

How did I figure it out? Well, I give credit to the Sherlock Holmes miniseries I’ve been watching on Netflix, which has noticeably helped sharpen my induction skills and reinforce my conspiratorial tendencies. So for the internet scammers out there hoping to up their game, here are a few tips for how not to give yourselves away, courtesy of my own lovely bamboozler Caroline Marie Billard.

  1. Don’t forget your own name: Most real people don’t. Remembering your own name is important for tasks like filling your name in on legal documents, signing off in emails, and being a real person. Upon reviewing my email exchanges with my almost-landlady, I noticed that the order of her name kept switching around. I thought, perhaps, that she sometimes went by Caroline and sometimes went by Marie. But when she referred to herself in one email as “Billard C. Marie,” she officially pulled a fun-house mirror on her own name and sex. Which brings me to…
  2. Don’t forget your own gender: When I insisted that I hear my landlady’s voice on the phone, she took about ten minutes to get me a phone number. When I called, a man with a scruffy voice and a distinctly not French accent answered. He didn’t speak English well, nor did he make much sense. First, he answered to the name of Caroline when I asked, saying “Yes, I just type to you!” Then he quickly–and brilliantly–amended by saying he was Caroline’s husband. It was a hilarious and wacky mixing of signals. I felt like I was talking to Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire–you know, if Mrs. Doubtfire was an Albanian man trying to scam me out of $2500 and then sell me into sex slavery.
  3. Don’t forget that the little details matter (to your scammee): When I initially asked about how I’d get my key, Caroline said that she would send it to me by mail. But that excuse seemed strange on the Tuesday before the Friday I was meant to leave. When I pressed her about how she would get me the key and whether she could send it to the doorman of her apartment instead, she responded, “That’s not important, don’t worry about the keys!” Caroline, don’t admit you’re robbing me before I figure it out. It’s rude.
  4. Don’t forget your time zone: “She is reading. In library. She cannot talk. Only me,” Caroline’s husband cleverly replied to my mother’s demands to speak to his wife. And he would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddlin’ kids. And by “you meddlin’ kids,” I mean my mother, me, and our basic grasp of arithmetic. We realized that it was 6:30 am in London at the time (where my scammers allegedly were), and then Google told us that no libraries in London open before 9 am. For the first time [in the history of ever EVER], I am thankful to a library for its hours.
  5. Don’t use your mother as a scape goat: After I turned down the apartment, my landlady begged via gchat, “Oh my GOD! Don’t do this to me! I already told my mother. Do not disgrace me!” AHA! French mothers don’t care about the disgrace of their children. I know for a fact that they’re much too busy smoking, drinking, contemplating their underarm hair and generally sexing it up to notice they even have kids. Thanks again for the tip, Princeton education!
  6. Don’t let Google maps give you away: Upon doing a Google search of my apartment’s street view, I saw that the place looked pretty legit. Lovely balconies above the main, stone door, and right next to an Indian spa. Ooh la la! Someone’s getting a foot massage this weekend! But something suspicious happened when I noticed that the spa didn’t have its own address. I Google-searched the spa and found out that it was…the same address as my apartment. When I brought this up to my landlady-man–in large part to amuse myself and watch him/her/it squirm–he/she/it responded by saying, “Oh, that’s the supermarket where you get all things you need!” “But it’s the address on the contract I signed. And it’s a spa.” “My mother rented out this space to them. I swear! …Do not disgrace me!”
  7. Don’t fit the exact description of what a scammer is: To be fair, I think my scammer was trying to throw me a bone here. Literally every Craigslist warning fit my guy’s description. Red flags include a landlord who’s “out of the country and needs the money wired,” a deal that is too good to be true, and refusal to meet face-to-face. Damn it, scammer! You’ve disgraced me!

Well, I’ve learned a lot today. Largely that listing a scammer’s errors is not even close to as satisfying as scammees think it will be. It really only makes them feel very, very dumb.

I feel very, very dumb. But at least I’m a dumby who’s still got her $2500, and who has a recorded gchat conversation reminiscent of the unveiling of a criminal at the end of a Sherlock Holmes book. Only, you know, with a lot more typos.

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F U, China Pavillion.

Hai, blog! I know it’s been two months since I wrote on your face, but there’s a good reason. I haven’t thought of it yet, but when I do, boy howdy! Until then, I’ll give you a quick debriefing on my life since January and share some fun facts about a country my sister is pretty fond of.

Debrief: I turned 20, I got into an eating club called Princeton Tower Club (it’s fantastic, and I’m under contract to say no more than that, for serious), I starred in a play on campus called Recent Tragic Events and it was great, I had a torrid love affair with a certain star of Two and a Half Men, I proposed a musical to direct next year on campus (fingers crossed), I went to China for spring break to hang out with my parents, sister, and sister’s boyfriend, I’ve skipped four lectures since returning from China, and one of the facts I listed is a lie.*

Now on to some China facts. I figure since it’s unlikely that I’ll go back there–at least for a while–it’s worth sharing my perspective of the country. After all, Morgan does it all the time. Can’t be that hard. (Ooh, buuuuuuurn!)

::Knuckle crack:: Okay, let’s do this. WOO!

10 things about China that are freakin’ weird

  1. Baby pants: All babies under three years old have these slits in their pants that expose their ass cracks; these pants allow them to poop/pee/make tourists uncomfortable pretty much whenever they want. I know my sister mentioned this, either to me or on her blog, but I can’t express how weird it is to see. Luckily, I never actually saw a kid squatting on the sidewalk. I did, however, see a guy sitting on a bench, taking a nap by putting a towel over his head. He looked so peaceful…
  2. The China Pavillion: It blows my mind that people waited 9+ hours to get into this flipped-over pyramid of despair. The entire exhibit was so outrageously stupid and boring. When we got into the Pavillion after an hour and half of waiting in line, there was another line inside (if Satan hasn’t already incorporated this fun twist into the architecture of hell, he should consider it). When we finally got on the elevator to the top floor and saw the real exhibit, it was the most masturbatory display I’d ever seen. To be fair, I think that was kinda the point, but still. My favorite part? The video that China created for the Pavillion’s GIANT movie theater. At the end, the movie skips fifty years into the future and shit gets real. And by “real,” I mean animated birds and flowers spring up everywhere (?!). Bottom line: Eff you, China Pavillion.
  3. The statue behind the China Pavillion: It looks like something Tim Burton passed through his kidney. Shaped vaguely like a malformed molar, the monstrosity is crawling with demon babies, cherubs with shark appendages, dinosaurs, metal grating, and severed limbs.    Then again, at least it was interesting to look at. EFF YOU, CHINA PAVILLION.
  4. Snack food: Chinese people love roasted chestnuts and corn. Seriously, I saw people walking around with corn-on-the-cobs in their mouths like ball gags. So strange.
  5. No driver’s rage: Morgan’s boss Bob tried explaining this to us at dinner, but it still struck me as bizarre. There just isn’t any road rage in China. Despite the fact that people get hit by cars all the time–ALL the time–and cars are constantly missing one another by an inch, no one’s ever mad about it. My original theory was that driver’s rage doesn’t exist because driving laws are never enforced; what’s there to be mad about? But Bob said it was because cars have only been available/affordable on a mass scale in China for a decade or two, so no one’s got that sense of entitlement behind the wheel yet. In due time, Chinese people. In due time.
  6. Fancy fast food: KFC is the most popular restaurant in China. No joke, they’re on every corner. I know Morgan mentioned it, but it’s just too weird not to reiterate. KFC. And McDonald’s is huge, too, of course. But what’s so different about international fast food chains in China–besides the fact that they incorporate fishy flavors into their menus like crazy–is that they’re not low-class. In fact, they’re kinda nice. Every McDonald’s we saw was at least two stories tall with really nice seating areas and pretty wallpaper. Pizza Hut had a 20-page menu and served a wide selection of pastas and mixed drinks. As an entrepreneur, Bob explained that the Chinese don’t really understand or like the concept of fast food. “When we introduced drive-throughs for the first time to China, people would drive by and order, and then park in the parking lot and come inside to eat.”
  7. Inexplicable lack of cheese: This just upset me. In some foods that are typically eaten with cheese, Chinese people replace the delicious topping with a strange, sweet substance that looks vaguely yellow. Chinese people LOVE SUGARY THINGS, even when they shouldn’t be sweet (i.e. ham & cheese croissants).
  8. Takin’ pictures of white people: They do it. They think we don’t notice, but we do. A blond woman we met in line at the China Pavillion (EFF YOU!!) said that she was chased through a museum by a crowd of Chinese people with cameras like a wild animal.
  9. Taxi rides: You know the Knight Bus from Harry Potter? Yup. Exactly like that, minus the Jamaican…head…thing.
  10. No tipping, no manners: These two ideas sort of go hand-in-hand. There’s no tipping in China. There just isn’t! You may think this is an awesome money saver–and it is–but it can kinda suck too. Though you don’t have to tip your waiter, you may have to wait 20 minutes to catch his/her attention. And while you’re getting a foot rub, your masseur might comment that your beer belly makes you look pregnant (sorry, Dad).  The idea of “good service” is not something Chinese people want or need, probably because it’s a waste of time and there are SO many customers. And as a result, some basic American etiquette doesn’t do much good. People shove each other through crowds all the time, they spit constantly on the sidewalk, and they harass the hell outa you at the market.

10 Things I love about China

  1. The fabric market: A cool concept if you can get used to haggling down the price of anything you buy. The fabric market is a huuuuge place in which people can make you pretty much whatever you want. Bring a dress that you want in a different fabric and BOOM, perfect replica two days later. Pretty neat!
  2. Cheap taxi rides: 30 RMB (less than $5) for a 15-20 minute ride! Taxis in Princeton cost $20 for a 5 minute drive to the train station.
  3. Soup dumplings: Probably one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had. And there’s a sexy element of danger to them, ’cause the soup’ll burn the crap out of your flesh if you’re not careful.
  4. Cheap massages: 1-hour foot massage = 78 RMB ($12). 1-hour full body massage = 78 RMB ($12). Number of foot/body massages I had on my trip = 3 (3). Not even close to enough.
  5. Chinese ads: Hilarious, buh-zarre, nonsensical, poorly photoshopped, and filled with white people. A perfect example of the topsy-turvy worship of Western culture in the east.
  6. Old Chinese women: Fierce. These women look DAMN good, are supah cute, and live to be like 130 years old. They’re also extremely independent. You never see them hanging on someone’s arm or being a nuisance. They’ll even shove you around if you don’t move quickly enough. When I get even a little bit old, I may move to China and learn a thing or two from these ladies.
  7. Watermelon juice: Almost all restaurants had it, and almost always did I order it. When I get pregnant (in the far, far, far, far future…far), I foresee crates of this stuff in my kitchen.
  8. Booze: “No need for your ID, ma’am. WE DON’T GIVE A SHIT.” In China, there isn’t an underage drinking problem. If you have the money, you get the booze. Is there even a legal drinking age there? If there is, it’s probably enforced as strongly as traffic laws.
  9. Portions: Family style all the time, tiny plates. BRILLIANT. These concepts + chopsticks made me the slowest, most conservative eater at the table and in the restaurant. Possibly in the country, and I only say that because I know the old people are fierce at everything.
  10. My sister & Rick (obligatory): Love you guys ‘n’ stuff.

3 Things I just plain hate about China:

  1. The internet: Slow and restrictive, the internet constantly froze when I was using it in China. Moreover, it kept me out of the loop of hilarious pop culture events. No YouTube or Facebook!? I had to find out about Rebecca Black from my culturally-retarded (but lovable, pretty, and intellectually superior) roommate! So much shame.
  2. The smell: Like gasoline, fish, and urine in one big bowl. Add salt to taste.
  3. The fear for my life: I almost got hit by a car. A lot. And I guarantee you if I’d been hit, people’s first reaction would have been to take pictures and exclaim joyously, “I GOT A PICTURE OF THE DEAD WHITE GIRL!”

That’s it for now. I’ve got to go get my laundry and start my homework. This has been fun, blog. Let’s do this more often.

*I only skipped three lectures. And for the record, what Angus T. Jones and I have is real.

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Don’t Stop Believin’

The guy down my hall has been playing music from the Glee soundtrack at full blast for the past two days. Even worse, he’s exclusively played “Don’t Stop Believin'” on repeat for the past hour. I’ve never so seriously contemplated murder before. Admittedly, a big deterrent is the fact that I’d be killing to the soundtrack of Glee.  I may be murderous, but I’m not tacky.

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Finals = Suckfest

A fun little tidbit about Princeton is that we have our finals after Christmas break, making the holidays less a well-earned vacation and more a source of guilty procrastination and perpetual terror. Another fun fact is that I created this blog on the first Monday of finals period. In hindsight, not the best way to keep my #1 resolution alive. I realize I haven’t posted anything for almost a month, and after the immediate death of resolution #2 (RIP, “exercise more”), I felt it was important to explain myself. My lack of blogging was not reckless abandonment, but rather the result of my serious case of LBS (lazy bastard syndrome).

Now that finals are over and I’ve had five days to recover–and by “recover,” I mean watch the entirety of season 1 of Friday Night Lights sans pants or shame–I can finally get back to what I do best: endlessly ramble. Ironically, the one thing on my mind I can talk plenty about is…well, finals.

They suck a lot. A lot. I would go as far as to call them a suckfest. Harsh, I know, but do you know how much money I’ve spent on food from Panera Bread (my study location of choice) this week? And did you know that if you register your Panera card, you can get a free smoothie or espresso with almost every purchase? The answers to these questions–“a lot” and “you bet your ass I knew”–have had a universally bad effect on my life. Even worse, my ass got fatter, which I would love to blame on the blog somehow, except I haven’t been using it. It was probably the five mango smoothies from the past week. Curse you, Panera Points!

Anyway, I’ve decided that lists are my new Favorite Thing (along with all of Oprah’s suggestions and snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes), so I’m going to use a list to record the profound things I’ve learned from finals time. You know, to teach the little ones and stuff:

  1. Starting a ten-page philosophy paper the day before it’s due is a terrible, terrible idea. Doing it may result in mental breakdowns and spontaneous wall-punching.
  2. Panera Bread is your enemy. Always.
  3. Friday Night Lights is your friend. Always.
  4. If your roommate decides to start a blog for the purpose of stalking your blog, she needs more attention (from you and/or professionals). Love you, Emily!
  5. Noise canceling headphones, despite making you look like kind of an asshole, work splendidly when you need to work in a noisy place, i.e. Panera Bread.
  6. Blocking Facebook for the sake of productivity is smart. But blocking YouTube is even smarter.
  7. There can be found no element of dharma that is not interdependently originated; therefore, there can be found no element of reality whatsoever that is not empty.
  8. Quoting excerpts from your final on “The Buddhist World of Thought and Practice” makes you sound super sophisticated. (See #7)
  9. The shower famine that occurs every finals period is inescapable. Surrender to the grease. It is the word, after all.
  10. Yeah, you’re probably gonna get a C on that philosophy paper.

Okay, time to go watch season 2 of Friday Night Lights. More posts to come!

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