Thursday, December 13

Driving Lesson # 1

I wish I'd been tape recording my first driving lesson, so that I could give you a tally on the number of times my driving instructor told me: "breathe" and then "breathe, relax, check your mirrors, stop clutching the wheel, breathe."

Learning to drive is just like any other big navigational movement -- walking, swimming, dancing -- it takes awhile before the movements are natural, instinctual, automatic. It's a bit humiliating to find something so very difficult...and then have the realization that Britney Spears, the Hilton sisters, and co all manage to drive on a daily basis. Maybe sometimes against the direction of traffic, but still. They're doing something on vicodin and booze that I have trouble doing while flat sober.


My first driving lesson is in Chelsea, at lunch hour. You might think that's a better time than morning or evening rush hour, but it mostly means dealing with illegally double-parked trucks making deliveries. Since the two scariest things right now are shifting lanes and making right turns, this is not so good. As well as delivery trucks, I also encounter:
  • a homeless man on a bike with all his (apparently not so) meager possessions strapped on to the back, biking the wrong way on a one way street
  • cobblestones in the meatpacking district -- they make the car bumpy and swervy
  • emergency vehicles going down 17th street. When I pull over to the right, I'm fearful of getting too close to the parked cars. Of scraping. Of knicking. I have no insurance.
  • 15 billion jaywalking pedestrians
  • one crazed pedestrian who feels that I'm too close to him -- I'm not! -- and pounds on the car with his fist while I'm coming out of my right turn. This causes me to come to a abrupt stop, and then be grateful no one was turning behind me. The car is not for the knockin', sir.

Thursday, December 6

Most Responsible Drunk Driver Ever

Last night I had a few drinks called "pink drinks" that were served in pint sized glasses. Everyone kept asking what exactly was within the pinkness. "Well, you start with half a glass of vodka, add some sprite, and then top it all off with grenadine. Or cranberry juice. Whichever, just so long as it's pink."

Although I am not old enough for the medicare offers that keep coming in the mail (26! Not 62!), I am old enough to know when a drink is a disaster. And yet I had two. And then a few more delicious beverages. I don't want to belabor this, because Thursday night quarterbacking of Wednesday night's drinking is boring. The important thing is to know that I was scheduled this morning for my first driving lesson.

And so at 4:40 AM, when I woke up so parched that I could swear my body was only 89% water instead of 98%, my overwhelming worry was that I would still be drunk come my 8:30 lesson. I just sat through the five hour driving class, which is mainly devoted to the evils of drinking & driving, and the benefits of seat belts, so I am as fully aware and educated about the dangers of alcohol as I will ever be.

Which also means that I knew coffee, hot shower, cold shower would do nothing for me potential drunkenness. So instead I tossed and turned my way 'till the morning only to have my instructor call me and cancel the class. Although I'm still an idiot when it comes to beverage selection, this bodes well for my future as a non-drunken driver. I think.

Friday, November 30

Start the Countdown

You'll recall that this is the blog of the world's laziest blogger* – not the world's most ambitious or creative blogger, and certainly not the most consistently updated blogger. But get ready for something very exciting. It's called: NaBloPoMo and it's an entire month when you blog once daily. (Basically, it's the lazy person's version of NaNoWri Mo, where you actually write a novel. In a month. The world's laziest blogger is certainly not yet capable of such novelistic creations.)

People: it will be awesome. More gross dental excavations in my mouth. More stories about pie failures & maybe successes. Hopefully not more stories of scary things people say about my ass on the street.

So, please get ready and prepare yourself for November 2008 when I will be blogging once a day. Start your countdown for a year from now, because nothing is better than an ambitious project deferred. Oh, wait, actually. . . Linda has started The Countdown already.

*this leads to all sorts of fun with referrers.

Tuesday, November 20


There's a definite right way to make pie. And then there's the frankenstein pie that J and I made last weekend. One of my favorite food bloggers posted incredibly helpful pie tips
on the very same night as our pie making adventures. Sadly that carrier pigeons did not arrive in my RSS reader until after I took a bit of the pie and said, "that's not flaky and delicious!"

I've been wanting to make a pie for awhile -- more because it seems like a fun project than out of desire to make pie. Once I achieve pie success, it will be promptly delivered to the Boy Who Loves Pie Most. But until I actually make a good pie, it seems silly to invest in equipment. As it turns out, that is Pie Making Mistake # 1.

Instead of buying a fancy schmancy pastry cutter, I used a fork.
But there's no sense saving money in favor of taste; the most important
thing with pie is that you handle the dough as little as possible. After all, you're talking about something with only THREE ingredients - fat, water, and flour. Mix those together incorrectly, and you're left with the familiar paper mache glue of grade school.

Pie Making Mistake #2 was either not adding enough water, or else, not refrigerating the dough long enough. And, finally, Pie Making Mistake # 3 -- the silliest -- was not baking the pie long enough. In fairness, we were watching an entertaining video, and I feared distraction-induced burnt pie.

All-in-all, the pie filling was tasty, but the crust can be improved. As you can see from above, making a pie can be deeply terrifying. Do not attempt until you have consumed a bottle of wine, otherwise you will have no rolling pin at all.

Monday, November 19


I'm so very metal. (Thanks to Linda; she's very clever.)

Sunday, November 11

I hate the cold. It's precisely around this time of year when I start wondering why I'm living in New York. I hate the cold so much that I'm ready to retire today, move to Florida, and begin my life of early bird specials and rounds of doctors' visits. If I move to a retirement community -- with a pool, obvs -- will you all come & visit me?

Thursday, October 25

How I Almost -- But Not Really at All -- Dated Someone Famous

I once had a coworker who really, really wanted to be my mentor. I still don't know why. But nearly every day, there was IM-sent advice. And not just any advice. Her words of wisdom would have put me on a path far away from my own predictions for my life. [That's not, of course, to say that I knew where I was going with my life then. Or, even, that I know what I'm doing now.]

“Grasshopper! You should work at Conde Naste,” would read a typical IM, sent before we’d even had coffee. Later on, more IMs: “Men’s Vogue! You'll be great. I'm going to call some people.” This, despite the fact that I get twitchy when I’m not dressed in jeans, never have been capable of vomiting, and respond terribly to criticism and negative reinforcement.

The best was when she wanted me to date her friend. But not just an old friend from college or a coworker from a previous job. No. My mentor wanted to set me up with Gary Shteyngart. This was not a date that ever happened; there just isn't enough alcohol to have gotten either of us through the "getting to know each other" portion of the date.

Here's a little chart to show how the small talk would have gone:

[OK, while it would be sorta funny if the small talk was a blank space, there really is a chart. Just keep scrolling, and feel free to mock my lack of HTML skillz.]

Has sold millions of copies of his two bestselling booksHas sold many books, at Bookcourt bookstore
Is RussianWould have had a Russian last name if her wacky grandfather hadn’t changed it.

Went to Oberlin
Went to Brandeis. (Ok, finally, something we possibly have in common: Liberal colleges.)

Is “as funny as a young Evelyn Wagh” and wrote a book that’s “remarkable”; “brilliant”; “not to be missed.”
Occasionally makes people laugh, generally while they have a half-surprised expression on their face. Was once described as “sassy.”
Wrote a NYT notable bookWrote many essays in college. Excellent email writer. Sporadic teller of stories here.

Friday, July 13

The Long Hiatus is Over, the Sequel

more things I did while not writing stories for you...

5. One of my brothers is traveling, and stopping over for a bit in Odessa. For some sibling solidarity, I've been stepping up my visits to Little Odessa. I'm pretty sure they're exactly the same.

One of the many medical theories that I've made up is: You can't get skin cancer from a tan you achieve while wearing sunscreen. So after I sit on the beach for a while, willing the sun's rays to cut through my SPF 45, I go to the Russian supermarket. I'm intrigued by the indecipherable Cyrillic and by the way Russians seem to manage to squeeze meat into every food option, so that both the potato and beet salads have mysterious small pieces of meat within them.

Sometimes people speak to me in Russian, and I am, of course, uncomprehending. I feel far from my grandparents and great-grandparents then, but closer as I buy from one of the 12 varieties of pickled mushrooms. We may not speak the same language, but we can connect over a shared affection for pickled vegetables of all varieties. (thx for the image.)

6. I accidentally bought mom jeans. That's right -- there they are in all their unflattering glory. I will ride any fashion trend to the bottom of the cliff. Leggings? Sure! Cowboy boots? Why not? White belts? Go for it! I'm sporting an ironic hipster mustache right now. OK: that ones actually a lie. But I'm pretty sure if it were possible, I'd do it up.

The PS to this story is that my mom saw this picture on Flickr & sent me an email saying: "But Madeleine dear, I wear tapered jeans now!"

7. I freed my bicycle with the help of a super-lovely security guard!


So maybe I wasn't so busy. And wasn't having so many adventures. But I was busy enough that my room wound up looking like this:

Scary, huh? ALL CLEAN NOW, I promise! In fairness to the mess (and me!), when your room is the size of a jail cell, it's easy for that to happen. Really: it could've happened to you too. Or maybe just me.

Tuesday, July 10

The Long Hiatus is Over

I know. It's been FOREVER. I've missed you too. What can I say? I was busy thinking about the "audience" for this blog. Man, sometimes I'm so pretentious.

Maybe I forgot this was blog. When you look that up in the dictionary, does it read "self-indulgent joke"? No offense, audience, but I'm going to ignore you for awhile and curb my faux deep thoughts.

Here are some of top moments of the past few months. I'll never leave you for so long again. Or maybe I will.

1. I had a birthday and my friends were so rad that I
apparently thought I was Lindsay Lohan, and the paparazzi
were stalking me. The guy with his back turned in that friend Dan, cause of the many festive shots I took that evening.

Look at me in my "no more pictures" mode.

2. I completed step one of my dental implant. On the same day that we had our apartment fumigated. Cause nothing makes the transition off Novocaine better than lysoling your entire apartment while fumes that are literally killer waft around you.

3. I went on a date with a boy who said he'd eat a puppy. Clearly he was not stalking me on the internet since he didn't know my feelings about puppies. Sure, there was context for his comment, but really, no context can explain away puppy-eating.

I feel that professions of your love of puppy-eating might possibly qualify as the worst date strategy ever.
(thx for the image)

4. I gave blood and I didn't faint. Although my arm did turn purple & green & yellow and things did not look so attractive there. If you've met me, witnessed the squirming, been present for previous Victorian style attacks of the vapours, you realize the not fainting was quite the accomplishment.

More highlights to come. No, really!

Wednesday, June 6

Poofread This!

Read this sentence:

Now read it again, and count how many F's appear in the sentence.

[here's where I would put a "read more" jump, if only I knew how. Sorry, suckers!]

How many F's did you see? Most people will say four, but there are actually seven. It's the "of" that gets you -- it just doesn't look like a word that should count for much. Tricky, huh?

Why this nerdy game? I am taking a proofreading class. Remind me of this class -- which is helping me craft a new definition of the word "boredom" -- the next time I start talking about going back to school.

Last Monday, I bought a bottle of wine on my way to class to drink later at home. Next week, I'm thinking of bringing a corkscrew, since I nearly tried to pry the cork out of the bottle with my teeth midway through class.

I didn't know I could break so easy. Somewhere in the middle of the jokes about APA style and the incorrect usage of Google, I realized I just wasn't the nerd I'd always imagined myself to be.

There's nothing comedic about APA style. It's tricky and annoying, but it's not funny.

And hey! How about you figure out that Google is a search engine, not a source! You can't say that Google is a bad source; that's like saying that the library is a bad source. You mean that some sites -- often discovered with Google -- have false, poorly fact-checked information upon them. True enough. But you can't blame Google for that. Or you can, apparently, but it'll make me twitchy.

Wish me luck with my fourteen remaining hours. I will be staring at my watch, despairingly, through them all.

Tuesday, May 29

true story

Let me set the scene. It's a Wednesday. Last Wednesday, in fact, and it's sunny and beautiful in that way where you feel the changing season on your skin. It was 6:30, and I was wearing jeans & a tee and listening to my ipod as I walked up Ave A to meet friends. Catfish Haven was playing as I walked -- my favorite song, "Madelin."

So, ready? Have you got all the relevant details straight in your head?

Me: God, I love this song. And, not just because it's about me.

Oh, hey! You know what would be great? I mean, if I were a big geek, I'd figure out a way

Guy's Voice from a few feet behind me: You should smack her ass.

Me: to snip this song. So it was just the chorus, "oooooh, Madelin"

Guy's Voice #2: heh. heh. [ominous chuckles] No, you. heh. Shut up, she's gonna hear. You smack it.

Me: And then it could be my ringer! Oh, that would be hot... Or annoying. It would definitely be annoying when it rang at work.

Wait. What the hell are those guys talking about?

Guy's Voice: No, she can't hear a thing. Smack it.

Me: What's going on? [stealthily removes one ear bud]

Guy's Voice #2: Uh oh. You see that? Smack it now.

Me: oh, my god. This is definitely not happening. They're definitely talking about someone else. Or a movie. Maybe a Law & Order shoot?

Guy's Voice #1: Now she hears.

Me: Oh, my god. [alertly speed-walks into entryway of bar] If they follow me, I'll scream fire. Yeah. And turn and kick, and gouge out their eyes. What else did my dad tell me to do? Where is the bouncer?!

Guy # 1 & Guy #2: [continue walking, past the bar, the Key Food, and across the street]

Me: I need a mountain dew and a tequila shot.

True story. Let's just remember this the next time someone sighs, and says: New York's just not the way it used to be. Except most likely, that person will be me, reminiscing about the '80s & '90s, when walking was always an adventure, there were no yuppies in Carroll Gardens, and every red light meant an interaction with that corner's squeegee man.

Wednesday, May 16


If you Google "world's laziest person" you'll find yourself here. I like that I'm not the top result -- that would be too industrious.

Wednesday, May 9

I would be riding my bike today, except...

The good news: My bike hasn't been stolen. The bad news? It's trapped -- perhaps forever. (My bike is the pink one, currently being humped by the blue raleigh.)

Tuesday, May 1

Art Brut: Top of the Pops

You should be reading Eddie Argos' blog over at the Guardian. Here's an excerpt that'll prove why. And this isn't even the funniest bit.
It's funny that I'm writing a blog. I have a huge fear and mistrust of the internet since the first time I used it in my local library. When it failed to work halfway through the work I was doing, I rushed over to the librarian in a panic, convinced I'd broken the internet, with visions running through my mind of world economies collapsing and my face on the front of the Daily Mail, headlines screaming "THIS IDIOT BROKE THE INTERNET, HANG HIM". Eventually, when I found the librarian, she calmed me down and explained to me that I hadn't broken the internet, just the computer I was working on and that perhaps the next time I used the computers I should ask her for help. Reading this back to myself now, even though it happened to me and I know it's a true story, it does sound a lot like the plot of the new Die Hard film.

Monday, April 30

The nyc laws put in place to make me a better, healthier person tend to have the wrong effect on me. In economics class, we probably would have called this something fancy and dire, like unintended negative consequences.

A classic example: after the city passed a smoking ban in bars and raised the cigarette taxes drastically, I stopped being a occasional smoker, bumming drags and half cigarettes from friends. Instead, I became a smoker who bought and carried a pack at all times. Who wants to be the person who sits in the bar guarding the coats while the fun kids go outside to smoke & flirt? And with cigarettes costing the better part of a ten dollar bill, who feels comfortable bumming one without spending at least 15 bantering moments with a potentially troll-like person?

The new branded condoms -- the ones given out in every single bar -- are unbelievably appealing to me. Not because I have plans to use them. Sadly, no; there are no plans. No: It's the free that gets me. And so I've been taking them by the dozen, much like I scoop up handfuls of those dreadful diner mints, the ones that are suspiciously gummy on the inside, and chalky on the outside.

I'm addicted to the free.

But here's the part where the consequences get unintentionally negative. I've taken so many -- greedy, unnecessary handfuls -- that they're everywhere. I lend a friend a purse, and she reaches in to stash her lipstick and wallet, and then glances up, smirking. I put my hand in my back pocket at a party (of course, while flirting with a boy) only to pull out the distinctive package. Even at work, I fear opening up desk drawers in front of coworkers.

Any day now, I assume my roommate will come home to find me chugging a gallon bottle of trans fats.

Sunday, April 29

Perhaps I should have predicted that asking my mom to pay for an HPV vaccine for my birthday would result in a strange conversation.

It started out bad:

Mom: Aren't you too old to get that now?
Me: Ouch.

And then it got worse:

Mom: But you are using some kind of barrier when you know...when you know...she glances around, furtively.

Her word choice there -- barrier -- confirms an assumption I've always had about my mother. When faced with the words "madeleine" and "you know..." in the same sentence, she chooses to picture me and whoever the someone else is in bed, but handily encased in layers upon layers of bubble wrap. From within our plastic chastity belts, we vainly grope for the good stuff. Thank god for barriers.

Sunday, April 1

Huge Dork

We were all sitting around in the West Village, drinking nasty fruit-based sangria. We'd been there hours. We'd been there for so long that the waitress had moved us from our outside seats to couches inside. We'd played "what's a trilogy where the second movie is better than the first" and "who can spot the most eurotrash on MacDougal Street?"

Conversation wandered around, and it was only once we were all slightly tipsy that Jen revealed that in fact, she did have a gmail address.

"Really," I said, "then why have I been emailing you at el-crappo hotmail every day?"

"Oh," she said, "it's better that you do that. 'Cause I forward the gmail to my hotmail account."

I think I sputtered for a solid five minutes about how that was the most illogical thing ever, and then a friend, sitting next to me, said: "Just let it go."

"But I can't! I mean, I know I should shut up. It's just that I love the internet so much." File that under sentences I wish had only been said inside my head.

Related: HR agency automatically rejects all applicants who have a hotmail account, since the company's ad requested internet experience. (link via)

Wednesday, March 14

I have this friend, Dan. I don't see him too often, because he's busy being an investment banker and steadily hitting on any woman within 12 years of his age. Everyone needs a life mission, after all.

Dan lives close to me, and I hang out at his apartment often. We both live in walkups, on the top floors (you should see our legs!) but that's about all our homes have in common. Inside Dan's refrigerator, there's always a chilled bottle of white wine, just waiting to be corked; on top of his fridge is an intimidating lineup of bad-tasting, drunk-making 12-year-old scotch.

My refrigerator houses two bottles of lime juice (really, can you ever have enough?), a hard boiled egg, and soy-mayonnaise, bought during a brief-lived health kick. I can't really explain the contents: let's just say that I'm prepared to make gimlets if you want to bring over the vodka.

Like my old elementary school pen pal from the foreign mid-west, Dan occasionally likes to ask me what I do during a typical day. I find his curiosity intensely flattering, but also baffling. If only he knew that a typical day consists only of dreams of puppies & vincent d'onofrio, adventures on the train, dental disasters, working, and complaining. But bankers don't really get to use the internet, and so he'll remain in ignorance, unlike you.

Wednesday, January 17

Puppy, Puppy, Puppy

If you become known as the girl who says "puppy, puppy, puppy," when you see dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages, you're likely to get tagged as the solution to a dogwalking crunch.

And that's how I wound up puppysitting for a week over the winter holidays.

I defy you to look at these puppies (big droolers, by the way) and ever describe young, immature love as puppy love.

Let me tell you: there's nothing about my love for these two lil' puppers that's impermanent. Puppy love is here to stay.

(Bird to the left, and her cousin Bear to the right. Seth won't admit it, but he likes Bear the best.)