Inaugural Gowns, NPR-style

Well, it has officially stopped raining in Los Angeles, but too-mucky-to play-on-without-getting-stuck-in-quicksand field conditions canceled my first soccer game in more than a month. Good thing – we were scheduled to play the first place team in our coed league, and they were probably scheduled to kick our ass. And I don’t even want to know how out of shape I am. If my 6 V. 6 ladies’ league game (by sheer force of luck, we, the Lightning, are the defending champions) goes on as scheduled on Saturday (at 10 am thank you God, like I really want to start waking up at 7 am on Saturdays again to make it out to Duarte by 8), the whistle will blow, I’ll make a run down the field, and then I’ll collapse into exhaustion. But then again, I imagine there will be 12 girls on the field having the exact same shock to intense aerobic exercise. On Sunday we’re playing the big field 11 V. 11, and I, as center midfielder, am the player who does the most sprinting. We’d better have some subs, or I’m fucked.

Anyway, to complete my night being a lazy athlete, I decided not to do Bikram yoga class tonight because the dentist shot me full of Novocain earlier this morning, and that stuff sort of makes me feel dizzy and nauseous…and I feel like I’m trying to work stoned, just like I did when I was a waitress at the Kingston Bar and Grill in Portland during Summer 2001 and it was just me and the cook (I wish I still knew that dude’s name – he was positively nuts. I wonder what HE is doing now…and that other cook who was practically a genius but really loved making food) one night on the late shift, and it was dead so we got bored and went in the walk-in fridge and smoked a bowl, and then like ten tables walked in simultaneously, and since weed turns me into a slow-motion, anti-social, brainless vegetable that can’t really do anything but eat popcorn and PopRocks, drink Slurpees, and listen to Radiohead and Belle and Sebastian, I had to (kind of) rise above my dwindled mental capacity and wait on people for the sake of restaurant business and tip money. Luckily, I was in such a fantastic mood and had elevated people/sales skills. I listened in awe to strange things coming out of my mouth like “Yeah, the chicken strips are really, REALLY good. Delicious. That’s totally what I’d get if I were you,” and “The beer special tonight is Pabst Blue Ribbon. Tell me you don’t want an ice cold PBR right about now and I'll tell you you're lying.” I think I came away with the best tip night ever.

Anyway, today I wasn’t so lucky to be busy in a lethargic state. Work moved across nine hours at a slug’s pace, with just as much slime. My boss gave me a dirty look as I hurriedly left and bid him a good night. His look said, “You slacker. How come you’re not working unpaid overtime? (Do I ever?) Obviously, you don’t even care about your future in this company.” No, I don’t. I felt like giving him a look back that said, “Hey buddy. This is my job, not my future.” Anyway, one of the many select perks of my job is that getting a cavity filled does not cost an arm, a leg, and two middle fingers. As much as I hate going to the dentist, I am very lucky to have insurance that will pay for it. Many of my entertainment professional peers (roommate included) do not have benefits, mostly because the companies they work for are too cheap and have mostly freelance employees, and it’s just not worth it to invest in their health. This sucks, but it’s the way it is. Americans are uninsured. It’s no longer a news flash. Bush thinks it’s more important that we get a man on Mars than look into universal healthcare that will protect us against stingy companies. Those very same companies probably gave him more money for his re-election than it would cost to insure their employees. So the system’s fucked; Hillary knew it, and she actually cared, but she failed to deliver when her own husband was President. Like with Monica Lewinsky, it must have been the GOP coup working against the Powers that be.

I remember writing papers in college, when I didn’t even care about politics; I just wanted to make it to Darwin’s Happy Hour on Friday afternoon. I remember being in American Foreign Policy class Fall 2000 and not caring. At the conclusion of our take-home final, we had to write an opinionated yet informed assessment of the differing foreign policy perspectives of Gore and Bush and how each would affect American relations with the world if elected. I wrote this assessment at a time when I didn’t care to vote (I was pretty apolitical and self-centered back then and used the reasoning, “my vote won’t make a difference.” But we all know that’s a pretty shitty excuse and I may as well have voted for Nader) and I didn’t care to speak up in class when the Air Force ROTC Republicans, somehow channeling the future of Iraq WMD-Saddam/Al Queda ties justifications, sounded off patriotic propaganda about Vietnam and Desert Storm, hogging at least 10 minutes of every class. But no matter how careless I had become, in my Bush assessment on that take-home final I basically foretold that he was going to fuck sideways our standing in the world with an isolationist superpower approach to international relations. So maybe I did care, a little bit, a small progression upwards to the overly opinionated liberal I would someday become. My friend Mike and I were discussing college carelessness the other day, which is probably how I got onto this topic. Like me, he aced every paper and every test, went to every class (To this day, I still don’t get why some of my college friends bragged about skipping class all the time. Now, I don't care if you skip class, but don't brag about it as hard as you would if you'd banged two chicks at once. Wow, I’m impressed. You’re not only drinking/smoking/snorting your parents’ money, but you’re also fucking your college education. I wish I could be more like you. My parents would cut me off, and then I could work as a diner waitress the rest of my life. Sweet.), but we both feel like we didn’t care the whole time…we didn’t really learn anything even though we both walked away from Rudy Guiliani’s commencement address magna cum laude.

Maybe I’m just hitting my academic stride now, which is fine, but I wish it had happened in college…would have been a lot more convenient. Now I can’t stop the news feed (I consume NPR, LA Times online, Newsweek, New Yorker, Spin, etc.) when I used to dread my forced collisions with the NY Times (for the inevitable “What Happened Today in the News? You should know if you want to work in the American mass media!” quizzes). I can’t stop writing when I used to put all papers off until midnight the night before due date (something about the pressure…and the camaraderie I felt among others trying to pull an all-nighter, even though I didn’t any cocaine on my side). And most importantly, I’ve become a total bookworm nerd even though my booklist is 20 and growing…and I used to bullshit through all the response papers in college, without having read the book, and I got A’s. Go figure. Anyway, now that I’ve supposedly hit my academic peak, my plan is to keep this plateau as long as possible. The feeling of being informed…and more informed…and more informed…it sure trumps most drugs. Only more proof that I belong in the world of academia…not because I’m smart but because I’m happy there.

Oh, I almost forgot. NPR did a thought-provoking, innovative, informative segment on the glamorous, high society Oscar de la Renta-designed inaugural ball gowns this morning, at 7:50, when I’m well on my way to work. You think KCRW (the NPR station out here) reporter Steve Inskeep and I give a flying fuck what Laura, Jenna, and Barbara Bush’s gowns look like? Obviously Inskeep was trying to make the most of a worthless, airtime-grubbing story when he asked the Society Editor of the Village Voice (whose name escapes me…she is the expert on the gowns and why they are so goddamn special), “Who is paying for all this?” I was half-expecting an answer like, “Why, Steve, the American people are paying for it!” But instead I got, “The Family.” Yes, the Bushes are a mob. Tell me something I don't know. At least we know where some of that $40 million went.


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