Tuesday, December 28, 2010


When I started Toolbag Tuesday, I opened with the story of Peter, who put a dead baby shark under our apartment because he was mad at my roommate/his ex-girlfriend, Amy.

I said I’d do another post specifically about him, because life with Peter was absolutely nuts. Nuts to the point that I didn’t give any guy from his hometown a chance because I was convinced that the small South Carolina city must breed nothing but crazies.

Peter and Amy met in high school. They dated for four years, throughout his entire college career while she was still in high school. They did the long-distance thing, a 2-hour drive away, and they broke up and got back together a lot.

Peter really lost it when Amy broke up with him three months into her college career. I lived with Amy at the time, and witnessed the crazy firsthand.

I remember the returning of the stuff, which back then used to be things like CDs and VHS tapes before everything was downloadable.

Peter came over to return some clothes and a handheld back massager from Brookstone. But he also brought a stack of photos they had taken together over the past four years: homecoming pictures, prom pictures, graduation pictures.

He didn’t need to return the pictures to Amy, but he was trying to be hurtful and dramatic.

I heard them shouting outside in the driveway and peeked over the balcony to inspect. I heard him say something like, “have a good LIFE!!!” and I saw him throw all the pictures up in the air at her, so they were floating down on top of her head.

He made it rain with memories, y’all.

Then, he took her back massager and RAN IT ALONG THE SIDE OF HER CAR, making a while line appear, and dropped it on the ground and got in his car and drove off.

Fortunately, Amy was able to rub the white line out of her car. Unfortunately, they continued to hang out/get back together/break up/fight/make up for the next several months, and he wreaked havoc on our house.

I told Amy that the day he broke our door down should have been the last straw.
Yes, Peter BROKE OUR DOOR DOWN. I had a friend visiting me in South Carolina from New Orleans at the time and was very embarrassed.

Of course, we all thought that our house had been broken into and ROBBED when we got home from the bar that night and saw the wood door had a piece carved out of it, à la judo chop.

We didn’t live in too safe of a neighborhood, so it wouldn’t have been entirely surprising that our house was broken into.

As we instructed the only male with us to go in first and look around, with a crowbar, our neighbor came over looking distraught.

“Hey, the guy that broke your door was tall with dark hair and drove a pickup truck,” he said.


“He kept screaming ‘Amy, Amy!’ and I didn’t want to call the cops because I figured he was your boyfriend or something.”

We looked at Amy, who would always say, “That couldn’t have been Peter.”

“Well,” the neighbor said. “The pick-up truck had a construction company logo on the side of it.

Peter’s dad’s company.

“YOU BEAT OUR DOOR DOWN??” Amy yelled at Peter when she called his phone.
“Noooo, I wasn’t even downtown tonight,” Peter said.



Amy had to call Peter’s mother to tell her the story so he would come over and repair the door. (The landlord was fine with that arrangement).

His mother profusely apologized and sent us an “I’m sorry” bouquet of roses, which made me think it wasn't the first time Amy had to call her.

Peter and his buddies spent the next four days replacing the door, and the four of us who lived in the apartment became increasingly infuriated having to step over them and their beer cans on our way to class.

The day the door was completed, we found a handwritten note on looseleaf paper next to the bouquet:

Dear ladies,

I’m sorry about my blatant disregard for your property and privacy.



No one ever ID’d Peter for putting a dead baby shark under our house almost a year later (Amy dismissed the idea), but we all knew it was him because he was that crazy.

And, since we still needed to get even with him for beating our door down anyway, we decided to blatantly disregard his property and privacy.
With dog shit.

Peter had recently moved into an apartment two blocks away from us, which was absolutely intentional.

One day, as one of our roommates walked her dog, she picked up his droppings in a plastic bag and walked the few blocks to Peter's car that was always unlocked with the windows down.

She smeared the poop all over his cushioned seat and on the window.

We figured it couldn’t smell any worse than the rotting shark.

I don’t remember a backlash from Peter for that deviant act, no angry door-banging, no accusations from Amy about it.
Perhaps Peter has enough enemies with dogs that he wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint it on us.

Which is good, because I wouldn’t want him calling my mother to make me clean it up.


Saturday, December 25, 2010


When my twin sister, Joy, and I bought a house in South Carolina, our parents and brother started a tradition of driving from New Orleans and flying from Los Angeles (respectively) to visit us for Christmas.

This turned out a very dysfunctional and forced lesson for us about how to be grown ups and host and make a scrumptious dinner for five.

Our first year as hosts didn’t pan out well (no pun intended) because we didn’t shop for food until Christmas day. Seriously. I don’t know what we were thinking.
We were genuinely surprised that all the major grocery stores were closed.

Thank God there is a small, yet well-appointed 24-hour grocery store on the beach near our house that never closes. We bought up its entire produce in 15 minutes at 10a.m.

I had already bought the turkey, and felt accomplished. It was sitting cold and naked in the bottom shelf of the fridge with its legs tied together with string.

Neither Joy nor I had considered that we needed to get food for side dishes before Christmas morning.
Joy also needed to figure out what SHE was going to eat as her main course because she’s a vegetarian and hates eating animals, and she especially hates when animals’ legs are tied together.

One year, my mom got Joy a TOFUrkey from Whole Foods, which was made of soy and we all agreed it looked greasy and odd and Joy pushed it around her plate and doubled up on mashed potatoes instead.

“I don’t like it when it LOOKS like an animal,” Joy said. “It’s disgusting.”

The next year, mom got her a “Field meatloaf” from Whole Foods, which was pretty much a brick of buckwheat.

“CARDBOARD!” Joy declared. It had the same fate as the TOFUrkey.

Yet, as we frantically ran around the beach grocery store, specialized vegetarian dishes were the least of our problems. We had to figure out what we were going to do with just five potatoes the grocery store had left, and most of the five were all wonky and mis-shaped.

“BROCCOLI! WHAT ABOUT BROCCOLI??” We yelled to each other, looking in our baskets at the colors of the food already represented. (Our mom told us there should always be something green in every meal).

Wine! Canned cranberries! Butter!
We spent close to $100 that morning (F.Y.I. no one usually spends more than a case of beer and cigarettes $20 at that place). Because we spent so much, we were entered to win a drawing for $50 worth of groceries.

“Good luck,” the cashier said as we left, and I don’t know if he was talking about the drawing or us assembling a meal with the food we just bought.

Joy and I high-tailed it back to our house and had our brother, Franklin, come over and we (plus Google) got the turkey dressed and in the oven and boiled potatoes while Joy put up Christmas decorations and cleared off the dining room table.

Joy and I kept getting irritated with one another, because that’s what twins (couples) do when they live together and get stressed out.


I sulked as I buttered day-old bread, while Franklin peered into the oven to check on the turkey, pouring chicken broth over it. Our parents were set to arrive in fifteen minutes.

“Those tied-up legs are HORRIBLE!” Joy said.

Our freak-out wasn’t necessary because our parents aren’t the fancy types that would turn their noses up at a NON-TABLECLOTHED TABLE or anything.
I think we just realized the responsibility of being hosts WAY too late and really wanted to make up for it in the thirteenth hour. (This is what procrastinators do).

Our parents arrived right on time and made very nice comments about how it smelled great, and we tried to keep them in the living room so they wouldn’t see how little food we had to serve.

We were waiting for a Christmas miracle, like when Jesus turned the fish and loaves of bread into…way more fish and bread.

My dad dropped wrapped presents under our under-decorated tree and then picked up a non-descript plastic bag and said he was going to go to the kitchen.

“UM…why are you going in there dad?” we asked. “What do you need? The bread is already buttered, if that’s what you were wondering.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he told us and we followed him into the kitchen. It was then when we saw the Christmas miracle we were waiting for.

He pulled out a pan from the cupboard and poured some oil into it. (He politely ignored the wonky potatoes on the stove, looking dry.)

“What are you doing??” we asked again. “We don’t have anything else to cook.”
He gave us a “don’t worry about it” stare and pulled out of the plastic bag an entire bag of fresh, large Louisiana shrimp.

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” we shrieked. “Where did you get that???”
“I drove it up here, on ice,” my dad said. “Now do you have any crab boil?”
Being native New Orleanians, we did. And Tony C’s.

Our dad whipped up a shrimp and onion dish that was better than anything they serve at Acme Oyster House and it became the most delicious appetizer, and main meal for Joy.

In fact, it was so filling that by the time all the rest of the food was eaten and our Duncan Hines boxed cake was iced, everyone was too stuffed to even eat a piece.
“Well, here’s to a successful first Christmas in your house,” my mom toasted at the end of the meal.

Joy and I were friends again and that point, and said, yes, well, it was totally not a big deal. Franklin rolled his eyes.

The turning-a-little-food-into-more-food theme continued throughout the holiday, when we got a call saying that OUR NAME WAS PICKED FOR THE $50 GROCERY GIVEAWAY.

JESUS CHRIST!” we shrieked.

We redeemed the $50 the following week. We didn’t buy potatoes.

Merry Christmas, y’all.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

26 things you didn’t know about me

My twin sister, Joy, got me an US Weekly subscription for Christmas last year (best present ever!!!) and there’s this feature where they have celebrities write out “25 things you don’t know about me” lists and sometimes you learn things like how Nicole Kidman “gets the best sleep on planes” or that Kristen Davis has been off the sauce for 10 years.

Today, I’m going to list 26 things you didn’t know about me, because the "25 things" is totally US Weekly's deal and, more importantly, I can’t edit the list down anymore.

1.) I could literally watch the TV show The Office all day every day on repeat and still be entertained.

2.) I have a freckle on my right big toe and when I bend it, it looks like an elephant with a freckle eye.

3.) My college graduation was the best day of my life.

4.) Think about someone you know who is horrible at directions. I’m worse.

5.) If I ever have a daughter, I will name her Joy.

6.) My favorite beers come in green bottles

7.) I had a pet box turtle when I was little, and he ran away. His name was Roadrunner.

8.) I am fascinated by trains, yet have never ridden on one.

9.) I have distinct memories from pre-school, I don’t know if that’s normal.

10.) My favorite color is light grass green.

11.) I get really nervous when my car gas light comes on.

12.) I’m allergic to mushrooms.

13.) Almost every relationship I’ve been in has been long-distance at some point.

14.) My mom really hates Toolbag Tuesday

15.) I could have been a collegiate gymnast had I wanted it more.

16.) I was bitten in the face by a yellow lab when I was six.

17.) My childhood best friend who I haven’t seen in a decade told me this year over dinner that I’d always pretend to be the newspaper reporter when we’d play.

18.) My older brother told me when I was five years old that Santa Claus didn’t exist and I was truly devastated.

19.) For two years, Joy and I told our mom that our tattoos were Henna…and that we kept getting them redone.

20.) I’m a world champion jumproper. My elementary school team won fifth place in the 1994 Junior World Olympics. Joy and I did back flips into double dutch ropes and the finale included us jumproping on our butts. (I can — and still do — this trick at parties)

21.) I want to see a whale in the wild and travel to Canada before I die.

22.) I think Amsterdam is the most beautiful city I have ever been and actually looked into how I could live there permanently. (FYI: You have to prove to the government that you can provide a service that no Amsterdam-born person can provide…like make a good falafel).

23.) I think Folly Beach, SC, is paradise

24.) I am really good at naming cats. Shout out to Spinach and Marbles wherever you are.

25.) I am genuinely surprised that I made it this far in life with all ten fingers and ten toes still intact.

26.) I needed to get stitches in Tennessee on a family trip and the hospital wouldn’t take me because I am not an Indian, and we were on a reservation.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010


A week before Christmas several years ago, I was out with my best friend Holly doing some shopping when she got a text message from her boyfriend, Brian.

She read it, confused.“What?” she asked aloud. “Brian just texted me ‘Craig T. Nelson.’ What does that mean?”

“The guy from that TV show ‘Coach???’” I asked.

Holly’s high-pitched screams pierced the quiet in Barnes & Noble all the way to the self-help section.

“I knew he was going to get me a Coach purse!!!!” she squealed, as employees gave us a stern look. “Oh my God!!”

“Craig T. Nelson was also in Troop Beverly Hills,” I pointed out, quietly. “Kuuumbaya my Lord…”

Brian and Holly went out for six months after college. He was a cute bartender and (seemingly) loved to buy her things like jewelry, roses and dinner.

They took a winter trip together to the mountains around Thanksgiving and walked around a big, fancy shopping center where Holly saw her dream purse.

She put her hands and eyes up to the glass of the Coach store. It was leather, it was blue and it was…very Craig T. Nelson. It was also several hundred dollars.

“It’s in my hall closet right now,” Brian responded to Holly’s “REALLY REALLY???” text.

Holly was thrilled by the news. She had bought him equally extravagant items as well, practically buying out Banana Republic’s entire men’s collection.

I guess if you like someone enough, you have no problem dropping hundreds and hundreds of dollars on gifts for them.
But it turns out Brian did have a problem with the fact that he spent $300 on a purse.

He really had everyone fooled since he seemed to be so excited about the gift — remembering she wanted it, buying it well in advance of Christmas, even thinking of a riddle via text message to let her know he bought it.

You’d never think he’d throw it back in her face before the Christmas break was over. But that’s what holiday whiskey will do to a person.
(Maybe he just didn’t like the sweaters Holly bought him.)

They exchanged gifts on Christmas day and the purse was PURRFECT, and all was right with the world.

Two days later, however, Brian was singing a different tune, and it wasn’t a Christmas carol.
It was more along the lines of buyer’s remorse.


“It’s not ridiculous if it’s a nice, leather purse,” Holly said. “Why are you bringing this up NOW?”

“I jusss thought about it,” he said. “I don’t see why I had to get you something so expensssive.”

“You didn’t have to,” Holly said. “I didn’t ask you to, we were WINDOW shopping.”

“You just want to be treated like a PRINCESS,” he said, pouring more whiskey. “Do you even KNOW that in most cultures, PRINCESSES are treated like dirt?? They don’t get ANYTHING.”

Holly stared at him.
“What are you talking about?” she said. “Do you want to take the purse back? Is that what you want?”

“NOOOOO!” he shouted. “I want…to KNOW…why your HOUSE smells like a department store.” He picked up a scented candle off the table and sniffed it.

“What? What’s wrong with a house smelling like a department store? Department stores smell good.”


He kept repeating that line over and over.
(He was also wearing one of the sweaters Holly bought him for Christmas.)

Holly said she told him he was crazy and confusing her, and that she was going to bed and he was welcome to sleep on the couch because he probably shouldn’t drive.

(Before turning in for the night, she hid the whiskey and the purse) haha

Holly decided that maybe some princesses are treated like dirt, but she wasn't one of them. And, there was nothing wrong with anyone's house smelling like a department store.

She ended things with Brian right after the New Year, and never wished for Craig T. Nelson for Christmas ever again.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Landlords and high heels

Every morning this week, I’ve woken up and angrily flipped the bird at my ceiling with a tight-lipped frown on my face.

The “F you” is intended for the girl that lives above me, who wakes up at an infuriatingly early hour CLOMP CLOMP CLOMPing around the room above my head.

I have an extremely hard time getting up in the morning as it is, and thou hath no fury like getting woken up by CLOMPING 15 minutes before my alarm goes off.

She doesn’t just walk around the room. She messes with something in the corner, maybe a chest of drawers because it shakes and rattles, and holy shit I wish it was an anvil, and I wish it would fall on her head.

I haven’t met this girl yet, but I’m considering slipping her an Ambien, at least on the weekends, so I can sleep until noon the way I like it.
Perhaps I can put them in some neighborly brownies or something.

Aside from her PACING around the room every morning, I love my New Orleans apartment.
It’s in a safe neighborhood by the bayou, it has a dishwasher AND a clothes washer and dryer and the best part is the landlord isn’t bat shit crazy.

This is the fifth apartment I’ve lived in, and in my experience, bat shit crazy landlords are more common than not.

When my twin sister, Joy, moved to South Carolina after Hurricane Katrina, we rented an adorable apartment but the landlord was completely off her rocker.

She even admitted she was nuts, and blamed it on the medication she was taking for her arthritis.
We didn’t care; the apartment was in a perfect location, ridiculously cheap and it was only month-to-month. SCORE.

I remember sitting in the landlord’s front room at long table, before knowing she was crazy. She gave me and Joy the once-over and asked us a ton of questions that were supposed to prove we were responsible tenants. She had a big beehive and talked about Jesus a lot.

Even though the apartment was rented month-to-month, we were still given a lease agreement to sign with about 25 rules we were forbidden to break.
Rules? we wondered. Rules, like, no subleasing perhaps? No pets?

We scanned the sheet. There were no rules about pets.

Rule number 1, seriously, RULE NUMBER ONE WAS: don’t flush baby diapers down the toilet.


“Oh, Mrs. Thestakis,” I said. “Neither one of us has children.”

“Well I know THAT, dear,” she said, annoyed. “But when your friends with babies come over…you tell them they can NOT flush the diapers down the toilet.”


“Um, sure,” we said. “No problem.”

It became clear after reading the 25-point list that the list wasn’t general rules as much as a list of specific things that must have happened with tenants over the years that she wanted to make sure never happened again, even if they were a one-time thing and bizarre.

Rule 6: When you put potted plants on the floor, put a plate under it. (We didn’t have any plants).

Rule 11: When leaving a message with a question or concern about the apartment, you MUST leave your contact phone number. (We had to agree to this by initialing it at the top).

Rule 23: Do NOT use a Foreman Grill on the floor. (Haha)

Once we signed off on the list of “rules” with quizzical looks, Ms. Thestakis told us she was paying the water bill. Joy and I mentally high-fived, until we heard her reasoning.

“Because, I know just how much water two people use and if the meter is too high for your unit, I’ll know you have a third person living with you.”

“OK, great,” we said, realizing that responding to the accusation would be fruitless.

Ms. Thestakis would show up at the apartment about once a month, piddle around the four-unit building perimeter complaining to her hired “handyman” about all sorts of things, including the fact that her arthritis is bad and her medication is so strong and no one understands her.

My boyfriend at the time even got her wrath.

He had just walked out the front door going to his car when he said “some lady with a beehive” stopped him on the sidewalk and asked him who he was.

He told her he was my boyfriend, but that still didn’t stop Ms. Thestakis from embarrassing me.

“Are you using the shower young man?” she asked him. “Are you doing laundry? Because I pay the water bill you know.”

“No, ma’am, I think I just flushed the toilet once or twice,” he said, with his sweetest South Carolina accent, mocking her.

“Well, OK then,” she said. “You may go.”

Ms. Thestakis was quite frugal, and had a hard time agreeing to do anything that required money.
One night, someone knocked on our door and we weren’t expecting anyone. Joy and I nervously peered out of the front window but it was so dark and rainy, we couldn’t see anything.

We asked who it was, but got no answer, and then got scared and took our cat and hid in the back bedroom for the rest of the night.

“We really need a light for the front stoop,” I told Ms. Thestakis the next day. “It’s a safety thing.”

She loudly sighed into the phone.

“This is why I don’t like renting to girls,” she said.

We bothered both her and the handyman about putting in the light for a few weeks and one day it was finally installed.

“Don’t break it!” she told us. I could envision another rule being added to the list.

When Joy and I bought a house together a year later and moved out, we called Ms. Thestakis to say we’d be out by the end of the month (and we left our phone number).

She called back on the 5th, and we told her again, that we were moving out.

A friend of ours who was in medical school wanted to move in right after us, so we told Ms. Thestakis she didn’t have to worry about finding a new tenant. (We warned our friend about the rule sheet).

MAN WE ARE SO NICE, I thought.

…which is why I was especially furious when we only got half our deposit money back the next month.

“WHAT THE---!” I yelled when I looked at the check and called her immediately.

“Ms. Thestakis, this is only HALF of what we were supposed to get back from you,” I said.

“Oh, yes, well you didn’t tell me that you were moving out until the 5th of the month, and I require a full 30 day notice.”

“WE CALLED YOU ON THE FIRST!” I said sternly. “It took YOU five days to call back! And what does it matter anyway, we found you a person to move in the following month!”

She said she’d have to talk to her husband about this, and that she couldn’t deal with any “drama” right now because her arthritis was acting up.

I sent her a hand-written letter outlining all our points about why we absolutely deserve to get our deposit in full. (Also: we need closing cost money Ms. Thestakis!!!!!!)

A week later, we received a check for the difference, and she left me a long, sigh-heavy voicemail about how MR. Thestakis was the one who agreed to this.

She was the last landlord I’ve had, and this was in 2006. My current apartment, that I moved into in November, is the first time in four years I’ve had a landlord.

I was worried about dealing with a Ms. Thestakis lookalike. My concerns weren’t helped by the fact that my roommate and I were looking for places to live on Craig’s List.

Craig’s List? That fly by night website??? With its “BEWARE OF SCAMS” disclaimer???

But, the landlord was very nice and quickly responded over email and phone. She said she owns 17 properties in the neighborhood, and didn’t mention having arthritis.

We signed a year lease and even got to move in a week early.

And I love it, except for the CLOMP CLOMP CLOMPing before 8 a.m.

I am currently debating how to fix this.
So far, flipping the bird at the ceiling has done nothing to stop it.

I can’t very well tell her not to walk around her apartment, I can just see the conversation now: “Excuse me, can you please stay OUT of your front room until the sun is all the way up? Thanks.”

No, I have to do something more creative. Like break all her high heels. Or install wall-to-wall carpeting when she’s at work.

Maybe I can flush a diaper down her toilet and hope she gets evicted.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Oh, Facebook.
Such a wonderful outlet to catch toolbags being toolbags.

Back in the 90s, it used to be that if you were to catch your guy with another girl or being dumb, it was through multiple avenues, a lot of he said, she said.

To quote my favorite movie in the whole world, Friday:

Joi: Who the f*ck you go to the show with last night?

Craig: I didn't go to the show last night.

Joi: You ain't got to liiiiie Craig, you ain't got to liiiiie...

Craig: Ain't nobody lyin, I didn't go to the show.

Joi: Yes you did. Cause my sister-in-law's baby cousin Tracy. She told me that she saw you at the show all hugged up with some tramp. Now tell me whoooo she was.

Today, you don’t need your sister-in-law’s baby cousin. You can just go on Facebook to see that the guy who stood you up for happy hour drinks “checked in” at a bowling alley with “@Amanda.”

Joi: Oh helllllll naw, who the f*ck is that bi*ch?

…said my friend Leslie to me on the phone last month. She was drunk at happy hour with an emergency girlfriend who met her last minute.

“Wait, so, you NEVER heard from Jeremy?” I asked her.

“NO!” she screamed. “He said we’d meet at this brewery at five-thirty and he never showed up and I’ve been texting him. And I just checked Facebook on my phone and he’s bowling. With Amanda.”

I could almost hear his Friday-esque response: Quit trippin, that’s just Debbie from down the street.

Amanda, however, wasn’t from down the street. She was his new lady.

“Never be single!” Leslie wailed “MEN ARE SCUM.”

Leslie’s case probably isn’t the worst one you’ve ever heard about Facebook outing someone for being a liar or a loser or a creep.

There are probably hundreds and hundreds of websites about Facebook calling someone out. The interwebs never lies!!

My friend’s daughter found out that her boyfriend wanted to break up when he removed the “in a relationship with..” thing on his page. She got an email about it.
"Peter is no longer listed as being in a relationship with you. Thanks for playing."

But they were in high school.

We’re supposed to be more grown up than that, right?

Not Charlie.

My friend Gwen was in a six-month long-distance relationship with Charlie (don’t do it kids!) and hadn’t heard from him in a week.
No text, no calls, no surprise four-hour drive to see her for the weekend.

“Um, hello?” she texted. “Are you OK? Are you in jail?”
Then she became worried. Emails went unanswered, his phone went straight to voicemail. She even called his friends to see if he was OK.

“Haven’t seen him,” a friend replied.

Gwen didn’t have to wait long to see him. Before even hearing from him, she saw him — on Facebook — tagged in an album of a friend she didn’t know.
The pictures were date stamped that weekend, and Charlie was drunk, doing keg stands and smoking a bong.
Idiot. You gotta privacy that shit.

Gwen promptly ended their relationship, both on Facebook and in real life.

Charlie didn’t even know that Gwen had seen the incriminating pictures, because his response to her “it’s over” text was, “I’ve been so freaked out about how much I like you that I needed some time to sort out my feelings.”


Ain't nobody playin but you.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Small easy

A few months ago, my friend and I were at a bar on Frenchman Street in New Orleans, and didn’t have cash to pay the cover charge.

It was OK; it turns out the bouncer and I WENT TO SUMMER CAMP TOGETHER and he remembered me.

“SEBASTIAN?!?!?!?!” I screamed and gave him a big hug. He got us in for free.

I haven’t lived in New Orleans in ten years, since high school, and I was nervous when I moved back home four months ago because I left a ton of friends, and my twin sister, back in South Carolina.

“I’ve got, like, TWO friends in the city!” I wailed.

That’s not true. I see people from the past wherever I go.

It's partly because my brother, twin sister and I did a lot of things growing up in the city. We went to several schools, played on several teams, and, clearly made an impression at summer camp.

It’s helpful that I look the exact same as I did when I was in high school. Having a twin sister is also nice because the number of people that recognize me has doubled. And I don’t mind pretending to be Joy.

I’m equal parts impressed and grateful with people’s memory and face recognition skills, because I felt really lonely when I first moved here (Still do sometimes, life ain't peachy all the time). But, I have enjoyed playing the memory game:

One night, when I was out dancing, I ran into my friend from middle school’s little sister, who strangely enough, is now old enough to drink.

Another friend from middle school works in my building, I see her in the elevator on the ride to my office.
I also ran into her at a restaurant the other weekend, and we chatted while waiting for a table with our dates.

At a wedding I went to with my former boyfriend, I met his co-worker’s fiancé, a girl I used to do gymnastics with. Her name is also Jenny.

At an event at the park, the girl giving out wristbands was my best friend from elementary school, and we reminisced about how our social studies fair project about Cuban refugees made it all the way to the state finals, y’all.

And the other night, I went to a neighborhood bar and saw my old high school swimming coach. He bought me a shot.

I’m starting to see a (drinking) pattern.

At another wedding, I randomly saw a friend from high school who’s brother was the best man. We caught up the whole reception, I think she even taught me the dance for a Lil Wayne song.

For the newspaper I work at, I had to talk to a public relations person, who happened to have been on the high school newspaper staff with me.
“Yea, I totally stuck with the newspaper thing,” I told her. “How funny!!”

Speaking of high school, I’ve rekindled my Catholic High School friendships big time. My roommate is a friend from high school who I haven’t seen since our five-year reunion, five years ago. And she’s awesome.

She keeps up with more friends from high school than I do, girls I also haven’t seen in five years. I ate fondue with them the other night. Effing delicious.

Last Saturday night, my roommate and I hung out with the guy who was my HIGH SCHOOL WINTER FORMAL DATE, who randomly hung out with us all night long. All we needed was some corsages and boutonnieres.

At a Saints game, a friend who went to a different high school and her boyfriend coincidentally had seats right across the aisle from me. WHO DAT!

Another odd connection: A guy on my kickball team was the second person my twin sister ever kissed. (He called me Joy for the first two games.)

Speaking of second kisses…seriously this happened…I was a wingman for a friend of mine, and the guy I was stuck talking to was the second guy I ever kissed.

“No effing way,” I said.
“Didn’t we used to make out in middle school?” he asked me.
I was suddenly embarassed.
“I think that was my sister,” I said. Haha

Two weeks ago, I ordered a second beer from a bar and told the bartender my last name so he could put it on my tab. He said he already knew who I was.

“We went to elementary school together,” he said. “And, I work at the pharmacy near your house and get your parents their prescriptions.”

“Of course,” I said.

Small Easy. Gotta love it.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go finish some work because I need to get out of here on time so I can go to a Christmas party tonight…with a friend who I used to swing dance with in high school.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I can never remember which historical figure declared, “I can not tell a lie” and admitted he chopped down the apple tree or the cherry tree or whatever.
Was it Abraham Lincoln? George Washington? George Washington Carver??

Well, whoever said it probably lied again in his lifetime.

Everyone lies, right? I've written about toolbag liars before.
I'm not talking about little white lies, like when you say you’re on your way but really, you’re really running ten minutes late, or telling the server that the beet and goat cheese pizza was good when it was…NOT.

Elliott was a liar and he didn’t just tell little white lies. He was an amazing liar, and would tell the most ridiculous, asinine stories I’ve ever heard.

How did I know Elliott was lying? Because in these stories, he developed super powers.
Like the ability to breathe underwater.

I was over at his house with one of my college roommates, who he had a huge crush on. We were sitting around watching TV when he casually mentioned that he was surfing on the South Carolina coast and got sucked under a big wave, maaan.

He said it was totally scary and the waves kept crashing over him and crashing over him and he was underwater for FOUR MINUTES before he was able to surface.

“You can hold your breath for four minutes?” asked my roommate. (She was a biology major.)

“No, I didn’t hold my breath,” he said, annoyed. “I took in little sips of water and used that for oxygen.”

We both gave him a quizzical look.

“Um, Elliott, you’re not a FISH, you can’t turn water into usable oxygen to breathe,” she said. “You don’t have gills.”

(Biology snap.)

“Yes I did!” he exclaimed. “I totally did, I’m not going to argue about it anymore!!!”

We sat there starting at the TV, awkward, and then I remembered a story Elliott told where he was in a car accident and flipped his car and calmly got out and turned the car rightside up by himself, with just his bare hands, and continued on his road trip to Florida.

"YOU'RE SO STRONG, ELLIOTT!" I'm sure he wanted me to say. I used the word "crazy" instead.

We decided to leave Elliott's house during the next commercial break and caught him in another lie on the way out the door.

He spent the first part of our visit talking about how his brother died and nobody knows why or how he just disappeared total conspiracy theory, and then we saw a letter addressed to his brother, stamped, on Elliott’s front table next to the electric bill and cable bill.

“Isn’t Gary your brother?” my roommate asked. “Why do you have a letter going out to him? In San Diego? You said he lived in Florida.”

“I can’t find the strength to throw it away,” Elliott said from the couch.

We found out later from a mutual friend that Elliott’s brother was alive and well IN SAN DIEGO and WTF is wrong with Elliott??? He has a problem. No one called him again.

I thought about Elliott yesterday when my friend Alyssa told me about an amazing liar she dated.

He was a doorman at a bar in the French Quarter but somehow had a huge, loft apartment and two expensive cars and never explained it.

He told her he had three brain aneurysms, and that he was lucky to be alive, and that she was lucky to be dating him.

“I feel like if he had three brain aneurysms he’d be dead, or at least not be able to drink alcohol,” Alyssa thought. She considered that he had lied to get sympathy.

Joe called Alyssa from his cell phone one night out of the blue and told her he was in London, at a “pub” with his friends.

“What?? When did you decide to go to London?” she asked. They had hung out two days before, and he didn’t mention it.

“Oh, you know, just spur of the moment,” he said. He said he was pretty drunk and hung up quickly. Then he called her the next day.

“I’m back!” he said.

Alyssa googled “world clock” and did the math. If he had really been in London, he would have called her at 7 a.m. his time, and it sounded like he was at a loud, crowded bar. Like one in the French Quarter. At midnight.

“Do you really expect me to believe you were in London last night and are back today?” Alyssa asked. “That 8 hour flight went by really, really fast then?”

He laughed and then said he had to go, and their relationship collapsed, much like a brain artery…during a brain aneurysm.

Or one’s lungs if they try to hold their breath for FOUR minutes.

George Washington would be so disappointed.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

She’s so cold

My dislike for cold weather is aggravated by my lack of proper winter clothes.

As a New Orleans native and former resident of the South Carolina coast, fur-lined boots, puffy jackets and socks aren’t a necessity as much as fashion statement, and those types of items bought at Marshall's have little to no warming powers.

Of course, quality doesn’t really matter when it never gets colder than say, 30 degrees, and when it’s that cold, I don’t leave the house.

I used to think Patagonia and North Face jackets were for the rich and name-conscious — the Louis Vuitton of outerwear, if you will — and never thought that something actually made for cold weather would make a difference in body temperature.

But, when I visited a friend in Boone, North Carolina in college, IN THE MOUNTAINS, Y’ALL, PEOPLE REALLY LIVE IN THE MOUNTAINS!!!, I was so cold, I couldn’t think.

It was such a traumatizing chill, an annoying bite all over every inch of exposed skin, I’ll never, ever forget it. And this was in the fall.

My feet were cold, my face was cold, my arms were cold. My three layers and Marshall’s “fleece” sweater, were pathetic.

I tried to enjoy staring at the fall colors of the leaves changing and peering over RAVINES down into GORGES, but I couldn’t stop shaking.

“Can we pleeease go back to the car??” I asked, stamping my feet to get blood flowing.

“Here, put this on,” said my friend, Jason, who lived in Boone and had an extra Patagonia fleece in his car.

I didn’t argue. The minute I put one arm into it, I felt at least 10 degrees warmer. I zipped the Patagonia up completely and was able to keep my short arms and hands completely inside the long sleeves.

I stared at Jason, wide-eyed.
“This is the warmest thing I’ve ever worn in my entire life,” I said. "Thank you. Thank you, I think you saved my life."

And that’s when I discovered the need for a good sweater, one that’s not on the sale rack for $9.99, no matter how cute the buttons are.

I learned about another cold-weather necessity when I studied abroad in Spain during college: Boots.

Not cute, knee-high boots that you wear over (Marshall's) skinny jeans with your striped "fleece." I’m talking about boots that you wear because OH MY GOD it’s below freezing outside and tennis shoes don’t cut it.

Who knew that tennis shoes weren’t warm?

The Nike’s that I tried to pass off as winter shoes in Spain literally felt like they had big, gaping holes in the toes, and with each step I took, more cold air would blow THROUGH them up to my ankles.

I’ll never forget that freezing feeling either.

“Necesita zapatos otros,” my Spanish “mom” told me when she saw my dirty tennis shoes and saw me shaking at the kitchen table one day.

She wrote down the name of a store in town and instructed me to get some “botas.”

“Botas? Ya tengo botas!” I told her. I ran and got my boots out of my bedroom (the ones that I wear over my Marshall’s skinny jeans) with a chunky heel that was most impractical on the stone and brick streets and sidewalks.

She shook her head and frowned.

The next day, I went to the store she suggested and found these tall, light brown suede boots, practical AND cute, and they became my first legit pair of warm footwear.

(Sure, they were way too big because I didn’t want to let the shoe salesman down because he kept saying “Perfecto! Perfecto!” but I figured I could just wear them with two pairs of socks because IT WAS THAT COLD.)

They didn’t let me down. They kept my feet warm for the rest of the semester, and I could even walk in them through PUDDLES without the water soaking through to my toes.

What a concept!!

Now that it’s SUPER COLD in New Orleans, (49 degrees at 9 a.m. makes me want to hibernate like a bear until May), I’ve been reminded of my inability to dress for the season.

Other people have reminded me too.

The biggest critic was my late grandmother, who lived in New York. When our family would visit for the holidays, she would pitch a fit if I left the house without a hat.

(It wasn’t that I was against hats, it’s just that I didn’t own one. What do you mean by “hat,” Nana? Like a Mardi Gras hat??)

“I don’t have a hat,” I told her. She didn’t believe me.

“Look,” she told me sternly, pointing her finger. “Everyone in town ALREADY KNOWS you have PRETTY HAIR. Now put a hat on, or you’ll get sick.”

My twin sister, Joy, and I laughed at the hair comment, how she somehow thought I was so self-absorbed that I would forgo wearing a hat so “everybody in town” could see my hair.

I dug in her front closet and found a knit hat and slapped it on my head.

“Happy? I got a hat now,” I said. This was several years ago.

Yesterday, almost the very same thing happened.
It was cold and rainy and I did not at all dress for the occasion.

I did have a raincoat, as that IS a necessity in New Orleans, but I was wearing a short sleeve sweater (from Marshall's, yes, a short sleeve sweater, it exists.)

I was eating lunch with a friend in a fancy grocery store’s dining area, when an old woman literally stopped her grocery cart on the way out of the store and stared at me.

“Look,” she told me when she approached. “You’ve got pretty hair and all, but you need to cover your arms!” She pointed her finger at my pale, exposed biceps.

I was confused at first. I had been in the middle of an animated conversation, and my arms had been halfway raised at that moment, so I thought maybe there was something dangling off my sleeve.

“You’re going to get sick!” she said to me. My friend laughed.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got a coat!” I told her pointing to the long-sleeved raincoat on the back of my chair.

“Well, cover those arms,” she said, and walked away. My friend and I both remained confused about the hair comment.

I thought about it on the drive back to work.
Maybe she made a mention because my hair is really long, and can provide an extra layer of warmth in this DEATHLY cold winter season.

Maybe she meant it as a “props to you for wearing something that resembles wool on your head, but extend that shit down to your elbows!”

I should have asked her to buy me a Patagonia sweater.


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