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Sweater girl

 

I have a uniform.

Basically if I’m at home or don’t have to teach, my preferred outfit is exactly this: Black yoga pants, Brooks running shoes, long-sleeve v-neck t-shirt and a cardigan sweater. It’s what I’m wearing in the above picture. It’s what I’m wearing as I’m typing this right now. As long as the thermometer reads anything less than 70 degrees outside, this is my preferred way to greet the world. It says “Hello, I am a middle aged woman and I prioritize coziness over giving any fucks.” This is enhanced greatly by my decision to eschew underwire bras most of the time, which is the penultimate step of the transition to my final form, which I think is possibly Dorothy Zbornak.

Over the last decade, every year, I have bought myself a new cashmere sweater. Usually this purchase is funded by some unexpected money — a freelance project completed, a gift card, an award or publication — combined with a deal and/or extraordinary sale. It ends up being about a hundred bucks a sweater — a little luxurious for someone who primarily wears head-to-toe Old Navy.

Basically I min-max everything in my life. I use either drugstore lotion or fancy expensive shit. I either drive a super nice car or a super cheap beater. I either fly first class or I take the cheapest most inconvenient flight I can find (such as my upcoming flight to Weetacon which involves a Southwest flight into an airport 120 miles from Green Bay but then coming home on Allegiant out of a closer but different pain in the ass airport). I’m either choosing a cheap noodle shop or Shake Shack for dinner or batten down the hatches, we’re hitting Colicchio and Sons. I’ll either uncork a $100 bottle cab sauv or I’m singing the praises of the Kirkland Marlborough Sauv Blanc which costs a princely $6.99 at Costco (seriously, check it out, it’s yummy).

Apparently I hate bell curves — I live in the margins. And so it goes with my fashion — high or low, there’s no middle ground for me.

When I mentioned to a local Las Vegan about my love of cashmere, she said “Oh, I used to love that too. Then the bugs got into my cashmere.” I scoffed. I store my cashmere with cedar balls. I get it regularly dry cleaned. Except for my very first cashmere sweater that is now over fifteen years old (which is the reason I got serious about cedar in the first place), I have never seen evidence of insects eating my cashmere.

“You’ll see. I hope it doesn’t happen to you,” she said.

Reader, it happened to me.

The other day, I put on my favorite argyle cashmere sweater and realized there was a hole. No, two holes. No, three. Shit, six holes. WAIT A FUCKING SECOND — dozens of holes. This was no boating accident!

Now I’m in a panic. First of all, it’s not like I can find a replacement — that sweater was from four years ago, it has long since sold out. Second, WHAT THE FUCK. How are insects getting into my sweaters when they are stored with cedar? Is the local Las Vegan sweater bug that much heartier than those in Wisconsin? Plus, I have literally NEVER seen a moth in my closet. Never, not once.

Now I’m wondering if it’s not happening while it’s at the dry cleaner. I checked all of my other sweaters — not a one have holes at this point. Why would there be over a dozen holes in one sweater but not a single hole in any of the others, which are all stored folded one on top of the other on a shelf in my closet?

I’m still wearing my argyle holey holy sweater, despite the damage. I really can’t blame the moths. It IS a delicious sweater.

In other news, my new cavalier attitude toward my physical possessions allowed me to take an old nubby weird cashmere sweater and chop off a sleeve to create a luxe dog sweater for my mother-in-law’s five pound yorkie Cricket when she visited this past month. Sometimes I shock even myself.

Thus, two of my precious cashmere sweaters have been sacrificed to the fashion gods this month. I am hoping this means that the spring clearance sales will provide a bountiful harvest.

 

 

Weetacon Prom-posal

When I moved to Las Vegas, the big question everyone had was “What about Weetacon?”

Yup. What about Weetacon.

In June, Esteban and I flew out to Vegas to find a house and my friend Jake drove down to hang out with us. During that week, we ate many questionable meals, tried not to melt in record-setting heat (120 degrees LITERALLY in the shade) and sat in our hotel suite drinking Utah cold brew coffee with Bailey’s and brainstormed the million ways we could answer that question. There were two proponents for pushing the pause button — after all, not only would I be in grad school full time and unable to supplement the budget out of pocket anymore, I would also physically need to travel as well. It was an additional layer of complexity. Plus, I was insisting on remaining an active board member of my literacy charity in Green Bay, which ended up being a full time job three months of the year while we worked to create the largest literary festival Green Bay has ever seen.

So we talked about what a world without a Weetacon would look like. We also talked about doing it in Vegas. We also talked about just keeping calm and carrying on — the option that had the fewest votes from my concilliaries.

In the end, as supreme emperor of Weetacon, it’s my decision and so I’ve opted to not mess with the magic. Every year, we tweak the Weetacon formula — sometimes because we’re sick of doing the same thing and sometimes because we have to (for instance, the old farmer who owned the horses and sleigh and farm where we held the sleigh ride? He’s gone to the big wagon train in the sky, so sleigh rides aren’t feasible anymore) and this year is not any different.  For instance, our Bad Bar was flattened last May, so we were looking for another location for the drunken debauchery/silly sober fun time already. We roll over any speed bumps and just get creative. For instance, June tapped out of making the brat and booyah extravaganza a few years ago, and Esteban took up the helm of stirring the Belgian Penicillin and grilling up the sausages. Over the years, we’ve modified the menu to accommodate allergies, vegans and gluten-free diets — but much of this depended on turning our kitchen into Weetacon HQ and now our kitchen is in another time zone. So this year, rather than trying to find a suitable replacement for Esteban’s amazing cuisine, we’re going big in another direction:

Weetacon Prom!

We’ve always had a big group meal and a private Bad Bar experience, so this year, we’re going big or going home. Prom King and Queen will be crowned, promposals are being proffered, and fancy duds are being sought. It’s going to be a night to remember, a fantasy under the sea, and all in the safe confines of the Weetacon Tribe. Plus, a nice sit down dinner that accommodates everyone’s dietary restrictions.

Additionally, we’ll have a group dine at Weetacon favorite chicken hall, Van Abel’s (home of pitchers of chocolate milk and all the BAAAAAARS you can eat) followed by our favorite private karaoke party with a KaraOREOke nibble bar. Plus, you know, good stuff like the world’s funniest charity raffle and basically an entire weekend hugging it out with the coolest people on earth.

I’m really looking forward to this, let me tell you.

To be honest, it’s an experiment. Weetacon excitement has been dwindling in recent years. We used to always sell out by Jan 1 but this year, we haven’t yet. So who knows what will happen next year. I love so many of these people more than anything — they have shaped my relationships and are people I trust explicitly with my life. They are literally some of my very very best friends. While I’m sure that we’ll always have a place to hang out together, it may stop being so open and start becoming invite-only. But for right now, even though we don’t know what will happen in the future, Weetacon 2018 is a go.

What does this mean for you? It means that there are still hotel rooms available and still time for you to register! All you have to do to register is send $149 (this covers the room, DJ, karaoke guy, dinners and other expenses we have as a group) via Paypal and you’re registered. Then you reserve your hotel room at the world’s best little Irish inn, St. Brendan’s using the group rate “WEETACON” for just $89 per night (which includes really good wifi and a pretty damned delicious breakfast, plus hot cookies in the afternoon — I am not making that up) and you’re all set.

Then all you have to do is plan a really great outfit for Saturday night (make sure your pants are ‘eating pants’) and figure out if you want to dress up for WeetaProm or go as a “chaperone” in regular clothes, and practice your moves for our legendary Soul Train Line Dance, because that shit? That shit is happening.

What are you waiting for? Weetacon is March 23-25 in Green Bay Wisconsin!

So, dear reader, do you want to go to prom with me?

 

The Good Place

We’re coming on the end of a full month-long visit with Esteban’s parents, Ward and June. We never adult very well and they teach us to become better adults. As houseguests go, they basically are like boy scouts — they taken only memories, they pack out their garbage and try to leave the land better than they found it. As such, I haven’t had to do laundry in a month because June claims that folding laundry relaxes here and they always take out the trash, so basically they are the best house guests ever. We were on top of each other a little more while we only had to share one vehicle between the four of us — and that single vehicle was a pickup truck, so a great way to transport lawn waste but not the best way to transport four grown adult human beings.

Sharing a living space with septuagenarians is basically my speed. They have projects, they go for a walk every morning, they make plans, they run to the grocery store for things and then they chill out in recliners under blankets and nap. My kind of party people!

I managed to find a decent replacement for my beloved Murano. I had to make a pretty big compromise — I really really loved my Murano. But on the second to the last day of the year, a very extremely reasonable low mileage used vehicle kind of fell in my lap and it had seat cooling, so I was basically convinced. To be honest, I’ve been really super hating the impending doom of Las Vegas summer coming again so soon. I actually got a second degree burn in September when I left my car parked outside in full afternoon sun for two hours without a sunshade in the front window — and the second degree burn was from metal on the INSIDE of the car. Each perfect and affordable used car I found happened to also be black with a black interior, like my Murano, which gave me serious pause. However, my new-to-me Chrysler 300 is silver — with a black interior. Since I don’t anticipate much snow action, it really didn’t make sense to pay another 10K for essentially the same car only in SUV, plus this Chrysler is basically the desert beast — it has built in seat cooling! An automatic sun shade! Long distance start, so I can hit the button while I’m waiting for the elevator at the parking garage and the AC should start helping the car coast down from 135 by the time I get to my usual parking spot on the 4th floor. Plus, parking won’t be traumatic. I expect that it will never see Wisconsin and that will be just fine with me. It was affordable enough that selling it before we move back will be a better idea than putting it on a trailer and hauling it back. It seems to be the ideal desert car — I see a lot of these around town, almost as many as I see Jeeps. Although I do have to say that the Jeep Renegade made a strong run for my heart!

I’m also getting ready to dive into the new semester! I have spent this week getting my class in order and starting to read my coursework. Did I mention I have THIRTY books on my book list this semester? How will I ever keep track? I also just ordered the NERDIEST Amazon order ever — 1000 Oxford notecards. Apparently 200 notecards last semester was not nearly enough and when I purchased them I thought it would last me for a year! Ha! In other alarming news, I now have strong feelings about notecards.

It has been so weird having an entire month off. While I’ve also been going on excursions with Ward and June and sometimes Esteban (we went to a cactus garden! Fern was in town so we went to Red Rocks! We went to Fremont Street, which was terrifying and will never happen again!), I’ve also been doing creative work. I put together my short story collection and sent it out to a few contests. I worked on my novel. I read literary submissions for the literary journal that is my day job. I did charity work for the book festival I help throw. Basically I lived my days like a trust fund baby, except without the discretionary income.

It’s so weird after working full time since, well, I was 25. When you have a job, your vacation days are squirreled away. You dole them out strategically and usually crush more projects and errands into even staycation days than a typical work day. But having a “winter break” in graduate school? Shit, guys. This is the kind of luxury I’ve completely forgotten. My stress level was pretty low in school but now? Non-existent. The only stressful thing in my life was looking for a car, and then we solved that problem and then I had another two weeks of NOTHING CRUCIAL. Sometimes I watched The Crown. Sometimes when I got bored I helped June with her puzzle. Like… that is my life now, I guess? I’m totally down with that to be honest.

But all of that is about to change — after Monday, I’m back in the shit again, shoveling, to paraphrase Mulligan in “Hamilton.” Thirty books, you guys. Thirty freaking books.

I am so lucky. I don’t know how I got this lucky. For real.

 

 

 

 

Put a little English on it

One of the few silver linings to Esteban’s terrible surgical misadventure situation was that the complications and healing from that illness inspired him to really ramp up his chef game. He was literally starving and unable to swallow anything thicker than cream of mushroom soup for months and months, so when he finally could swallow softer foods, he threw himself into trying new and complicated recipes and really optimize the experience. I am happy to take second place in the Best Chef In The Bix Household because it means that I get to eat so many noms!

Now that he can eat normally, his culinary adventures have gotten grander. He’ll basically try anything once and we’ve had a great many favorite new meals out of it. For instance, I hate green olives and yet, I love his arroz con pollo! I would never dream of putting cinnamon in a savory braised meat dish but he now discovered not one but two savory meat dishes that have cinnamon in them that I LOVE. And of course, his baking has achieved great heights, from making Tom Collichio’s parkerhouse rolls to his daily “turbo bread” that amounts to a crusty loaf of steaming hot goodness in less than three hours, start to finish.

Since we moved to Las Vegas, there are a good many Wisconsin delights that I can no longer beg, borrow or steal. One of my favorites are the in-house made English Muffins at Blue’s Egg in Milwaukee, which became my favorite escape from the hospital when we were there for 40 plus days. Alas, we are now poor as church mice and I can’t afford to jet off to Milwaukee whenever I get the craving for a spectacular English muffin.

Enter Esteban the Galiant.

He made me English muffins, you guys. From scratch. And I’m going to share with you the recipe! He offered to write up his notes and let me post them here.

Because he started actually taking notes about halfway after he realized that the dough wasn’t a horrific nightmare mistake, there are only photos of the process halfway through, unfortunately. Just imagine a blobby gross ropey pile of goo and that’s what the dough looked like, but trust me, it was worth it. So worth it.

 

 

Esteban’s English Muffin Guest Post

 

This recipe originates from an Englishman. Being American, I had to use what we had. So our equivalent of “strong white flour” is bread flour, in specific King Arthur. But I do enjoy using metric measurements, so no conversion of the weights. As to the “sachet of instant yeast” I buy 1lb bricks of instant Red Star yeast and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. Before you get all weirded out about how much I bake, here’s the thing, I don’t bake that much. A brick of instant yeast like that is seven bucks. Each of the little three-packs of yeast at the store are two to three dollars each. So fuck that, a brick it is. I buy a new brick every year, pour the rest down my drains, its good for them. For this recipe, I used two teaspoons of the yeast.

Back to the muffins. The first step is to autolyse most of the flour. The liquid didn’t seem to be quite enough, and I ended up trying to incorporate it, but I fear I might have over-worked it. After the 45 minute autolyse, I added the milk (skim for me, all we had) and the rest of the ingredients. It was incredibly difficult to incorporate those ingredients into the autolysed dough. The autolysed dough was ropy and the whole thing was a too-wet mess. I ended dumping it out onto my cutting board, scraping, chopping and mixing it with a bench scraper and what I suspect is a lot more flour. I scraped and kneaded it for around 10 minutes until it wasn’t a mess anymore.

Honestly, at this stage, I wasn’t sure this recipe was going to work out, it had finally come together but I had worked it so much and added so much flour trying to keep it from being a sticky almost batter-like mess that I was sure I screwed it up. Next time, less working the dough if I can manage it, especially for the autolyse.

With a hearty “well what the hell, it can’t get any worse” I put it back in the bowl to rise for the prescribed three hours. It ended up being four hours, as dinner intervened. It didn’t rise as much as I wanted, nor was it lovely and pillowy. So I rolled it out and cut them into 13 muffins with the last one a re-roll with the scraps. 45 minutes of proofing, which is 15 minutes longer than the recipe called for, but it was chilly in the kitchen, which meant a longer proof.

Then on to my trusty cast iron. For this I used my lovely #10 high stylized logo smooth bottom Wagner Ware. I heated it up slowly and applied just a kiss of butter, like I was making pancakes.

 

This is where the second big learning came. First, on my big gas burner, I was set to #4 (YMMV a great deal on this). I did the first four six minutes on the first side, 5 minutes on the second. This wasn’t quite enough. All subsequent batches were done 6 minutes per side. The first batch, which gets the majority of the kiss of butter in the pan, will not look as good as the subsequent batches, just like the first pancakes aren’t the best ones.

On handing your muffins – Setting them in with your fingers is a no-no. You will see some finger dents in my pictures of the early ones. Put them in the pan, sliding gently with a thin flipping spatula. I turned my first eight with the same spatula, just flipping them over. This lead to a visible loss of fluffiness, as I flipped them like I’d flip a pancake or a hamburger patty and it knocked air out of them. I started gently turning them over with a set of plastic tongs. Then I could control how gently they went back into the pan, leading to fluffier muffins. So slide in gently with a spatula, turn over and remove gently with a set of tongs. The semolina makes all of this easy, although I suspect you can use corn meal if you don’t have semolina.

Temperature at the edge of the pan

 

Temperature at the middle of the pan

 

Despite my love of cast iron, it’s not an even heating kind of pan. As you can see in the pictures, I took some surface temperature readings and we are looking for about 350F as the optimal temperature to cook English Muffins (gleaned from other recipes). My pan was nearly 500 in the middle, but very close to what I needed on the outsides. The third batch of four and the last lonely muffin were done on the outside of the pan, leading to better and more even browning. Also, getting a surface temperature reading showed me that I didn’t have the pan well centered, you can see it in the pics.

While this is heresy for a cast iron lover, I suspect a large electric griddle, where you can set the temp to 350 and have a big enough surface to do all or almost all of the muffins at once is the way to go here. At 12 minutes per every 4 muffins in my biggest cast iron, this was a long process for only a dozen muffins. Or a big cast iron griddle too, if you have a infrared gun thermometer like I do so you can see the hot spots and avoid them.

 

So in the end they turned out. I think that perhaps a touch more salt would be helpful for flavor, but in the end,this was a success, despite the problems with the initial dough.

Homemade English Muffins

  • 300g Strong white bread flour (We used King Arthur Bread Flour)
  • 6g salt
  • 15g butter, softened
  • 15g caster sugar,
  • Sachet of instant yeast (or 2 teaspoons of instant yeast)
  • 180ml Milk (I used whole milk)
  • 20ml warm water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Semolina for proofing

 

First, mix 250g of the flour, and 150ml of the milk together until it combines to a rough dough (and all the flour is wet), autolysing for 45 mins.

After the autolysing stage, add the instant yeast to the remaining milk and warm water and dissolve.

Add the sugar and salt to one side of the rough dough, with the egg.

Next add the butter, the yeast + milk/water, and combine, adding the rest of the flour, until it forms a dough.

Knead it and set in a bowl for 3 hours, for bulk rise.

Once the dough has risen, it should be lovely and stretchy, and glossy almost.

Then roll the dough out to about 2.5cm thick, and cut 8 or 9 muffins (alternatively split the dough into even pieces and shape into muffins), place each muffin on a surface with semolina sprinkled on it.

Turn over (so both sides get some semolina) and then leave for 30 mins to proof.

Heat your cast iron on a low heat, rub some butter in there (but not too much, just to coat the surface initially) and then place 2 or 3 muffins in.

Cook for about 6 mins on each side (though they may take less time) and cool.

Cook in batches, you won’t need to add any more butter.

Split, toast and eat with butter 🙂

 

All credit to the recipe goes to /u/FatherAustinPurcell  and all mistakes or misunderstandings on making it are on me. – Esteban

 

Half agony half hope

The semester is done! Oh my god, the semester is done!

The week of finals was oddly really stressful. I had to write a giant paper on Jane Austen (I’m not joking, it ended up being 27 pages and only because I sort of cheated and didn’t double space the block quotes, otherwise it would have been in the 40s with the works cited page) and present part of it to the class. I had to take an actual final exam on Jane Austen which was weirdly also stressful (seriously, do you recall the name of the estate where Edward Ferrars met Lucy Steele? How about the name of the ship that Captain Wentworth sailed on for his first voyage and then the one he commanded right before reconnecting with Anne Eliot? How about the source of Charlotte Lucas’ father’s fortune? No, of course you don’t, because English majors are CRAZY and our final exams become like hyped up Extreme Jeopardy: Word Nerd editions) and in another class, I along with the other students had to present stealable pedagogy/teaching techniques to the bulk of the English department’s faculty and Dean, which was then voted upon by everyone and force ranked. Plus, teaching evaluations were coming in from my freshmen and while I usually have really great evaluations, I also usually have a LOT more latitude with my lesson plans and can create the projects and assignments from whole cloth, whereas this semester, I had to follow the plan and cadence dictated by the department and also, English Composition is a pretty thankless task, so I was stressing out a great deal there as well.

As it turned out, much like a Jane Austen novel, everything worked out in the end. I got an A in my Austen class (I have no idea how the paper itself went over — I’ll get my copy back from him when I go back to campus next semester). I received first place in the “steal my idea” contest and got an Amazon gift card and an actual crown (which was basically the real reason I brought my A game — apparently I’m very motivated if it means I can wear a dollar store sequin crown without shame) and got an actual A+ in that class (which I didn’t think was a possibility). And the eight students who filled out my evaluations absolutely love me, so yay, my teaching doesn’t suck even when I kind of hate the content/objective.

I had a weird stress flash as the semester concluded, particularly on Thursday night after my final workshop (which went 50 minutes late because sometimes grad students like to talk, even when they are reading impossibly stupid things out loud, they must not cede the floor, by gum!). Happily Esteban had decided to drive me to class and wait out in the car (have I mentioned that we only have one working car? Because that is still the case… as it turns out, it’s difficult to go car shopping AND deal with finals in the same mental space/time continuum) while I was in the workshop that would never end, so I was spared the always stressful Thursday night drive home, plus I got to chat with him and unpack everything that had happened throughout the week.

We had very little free time beyond that — on Friday, I had a programming meeting for the book festival I’m working on, and then after that, we went car shopping, and then again on Saturday, more car shopping with a brief break to see Star Wars, combined with still recovering from the hell cold that ate Las Vegas. When we had energy, we were cleaning, since we were expecting three house guests on Sunday, and to be honest, we live like farm animals when I’m in school, apparently, as I’m scatterbrained and ridiculous most of the time.

And maybe that’s it… I’ve been juggling about 70-80 hours a week of emotional and mental workload for sixteen weeks solid and I had a serious freakout about potentially getting anything less than an A in my classes, because if you get two Bs, you’re basically kicked out of the program completely and then I would have uplifted our lives for nothing and also failed to fulfill this incredible gift of free grad school tuition plus a pretty fun job. So that would have super sucked if I fucked all of that up because I chose to sleep instead of writing a cogent paper on Jane Austen’s interior feminist motives.

And that, dear reader, is the ever present theme of this blog: Wendy continues to be her own worst enemy and beating herself up for failures that haven’t even happened but could, damn it, could happen.

I’m working on that. I really am.

 

 

Cold is a relative term

 

I have been so stressed that I could weep.

I have been researching a term paper on Jane Austen for the last three months and over the weekend, I banged it out — over 10,000 words because apparently I don’t know how to rein it in at all. The worst part is that I don’t feel super good about it — the transitions are terrible and I probably would reorganize it if I had to do it all over again. I also really probably shouldn’t have included this tremendous sidebar on whether Charlotte Lucas was or was not a feminist, which I used in support of my argument about whether or not Jane Austen predated the concept of the cinematic gaze by 200 years. And what, you may ask, does Charlotte Lucas’s conformity to the patriarchy have to do with cinematic gaze? It made sense at the time, but also, I was on a lot of Dayquil and may or may not have written that part during hour 10 of the marathon writing session.

Now my Jane Austen final is over, my term paper handed in, the final for the class I’m teaching has been administered (Oh my god, you guys, my kids — they are so amazing. I can’t even believe some of the things they created. They were just incredible. I am so gobstopped by their creativity and amazingness) and I have just one more final class tomorrow and then I will have completed my first semester of PhD World and oh my god, I’m half exhilarated that it was so fun and also I can easily see that it will get harder as I get promoted next year to fiction editor and have to do all the reading ever and also start studying for my translation test and my prelims.

My car, as I mentioned, is dead. I can’t afford the car I want. The cars I can afford just seem like terrible investments, either high miles or really old — or let’s face it, some of them are just ugly. This very fact has frozen me to be unable to move onward. What’s more, despite the fact that Las Vegas is a fairly large metropolis, there are certain “large metropolis” things that it doesn’t have, like a ton of car dealerships. Thus, most of the potential cars I’m finding via the internet are in LA or San Diego, and I don’t have time to go there because finals week. Because I am sick. Because I have no time. Because everything.

We also test drove a bunch of used cars over the weekend. I’ve narrowed down the selection to a Kia Soul, a Toyota Camry, an older Nissan Murano or weirdly a Jeep Renegade. I’m kind of surprised about the Jeep Renegade, honestly. When we moved here, we noticed the huge saturation of Jeeps here. We joked that we knew that we would have been true Nevadans if we suddenly felt the urge to buy a Jeep. Except now I test drove one and huh, turns out I like Jeeps.

Basically the current pro/con list is centered around whether I want the height/size of a crossover or the cheapness of a sedan.

But right now, Esteban and I are both sick, so we’ve taken a break from test driving so that I can focus my energy on finals week. I did get a flu shot two months ago, but honestly, being in close quarters with so many people, all of the germs on everything, touching the same faucets and doorknobs and papers and everything, I pretty much knew I’d get sick and give it to Esteban.

It seems unfair to have a cold when it’s so warm outside, even though it’s December. Right now, I’m reading on Facebook about my friends back home in Coldington, where they got seven or more inches of snow. It was 70 degrees today when I went to school to administer my final exam to my class — I had a sweater on but realized I was probably stupid for wearing it. That said, it gets “really cold” here after the sun goes down. Mid-50’s. I know. I disgust myself too. Maybe my body just knows it’s getting dark early and decides that we must be cold now. Stupid situational awareness body.

We also went to the DMV to get our Nevada driver’s licenses last weekend. On a Saturday. Okay, even though Las Vegas doesn’t have a very good selection of used cars in its proximity, big props for DMVs that are open on Saturdays. Even bigger props that I made an appointment and we basically spent less than five minutes waiting. However, once we were at our person, we then stayed there for like two hours (I am not joking). We had brought all of the paperwork that ever was and it turned out we STILL didn’t have enough paperwork. You see, in Wisconsin, you’re not required to have your car registration. Your registration is your license plate update — the little sticker that goes on the physical license plate. We might have been given a receipt for that sticker but you don’t have to keep it so of course we don’t have it, also because WE MOVED ACROSS THE COUNTRY and who the hell knows where that went because it wasn’t important in Wisconsin. Well, in Nevada, it’s important. Also, weirdly, W2 forms are valid forms to prove your SSN even though you yourself could write anything at all into your W2 form. Luckily, we had smartphones and could forward old paperwork to our very nice DMV person, but still, we were there for two hours. And then they’ll send us our cards in the mail because reasons.

This is who I am turning into — a card-carrying Nevadan who drives a Jeep and puts on a sweater the moment the mercury drops below 70 degrees.

So tell me, blogerati — what are you doing to de-stress this holiday season?

 

Bix’s in-depth look at the fashion in “White Christmas”

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a complete sucker for the movie White Christmas. It basically has all of my favorite things — classy dames, flamboyant performers, a hotel and when times get tough, they put on a show. This should be the answer to all of life’s connundrums, quite frankly. Need to raise money to pay off your debts? Put on a show! Can’t deal with your aging parents? Encourage them to get active and take tap dancing lessons for your new all senior revue. Want to start impeachment proceedings? Let’s create a humdinger of a performance with a real show stopper ending that will get them out of their seats.

It’s the funniest trope that usually makes me roll my eyes too — just like every tv show writer in LA loves to write about characters who live in LA and are writers, Old Hollywood loved to make movies about entertainers. It’s particularly handtippy because it suggests that these people are breaking into song and dance because that’s how they think. As though plumbers and computer programmers and librarians can’t just break into song and dance to tell us what they’re thinking? That could happen, guys. That does happen.

I love so many things about White Christmas — Rosemary Clooney is absolutely fantastic. Danny Kaye manages to be goofy and also elegant in the same breath. There’s many instances of my favorite old-tymey Mid-Atlantic accent. Plus loving panoramic vistas of Pinetree, Vermont’s Columbia Inn the Hollywood backlot set. Plus, of course, the songs. The dancing.  The fashion!

We’ve all heard of Edith Head, the holy fashion saint who won eight Oscars for costuming and is responsible for every look we are still trying to emulate today (Have you ever tried to recreate the Audrey Hepburn look from Breakfast At Tiffany’s or Roman Holiday? That’s Edith Head you’re channeling. Grace Kelly or Kim Novack in any Hitchcock movie? Edith Head. Bette Davis in All About Eve? Edith Head. Jane Fonda in Barefoot in the Park? Edith Mofo Head. Anyone in the Elvis movie Girls! Girls! Girls! You best thank Edith Head! Edith Head! Edith Head! )

I basically need these looks in my wardrobe stat.

Head was faced with a lot of interesting/fabulous challenges for this movie. She had to create actual dance costumes, but also party gowns, cocktail dresses and general every day looks for our intrepid crew of entertainers.

So of course, the costume-y stuff in White Christmas is amazing.

I actually contest that I’d like to see these two garments on the opposite actor — I think the teal would have been amazing on the redhead. But still, just look at the details here — I’m also entranced by whatever is happening on that gold situation in the left background — 100% would wear that in a dress form (because I’m not a 20 year old dancer with an ass that could crack a walnut).

I’m starting with this because to me this is the most boring of all of the costumes in White Christmas. Sequins on dancers. Feh. The color story is gorgeous and the lines are awesome — Note that even though they are very bare, there’s no actual cleavage — that’s some great tailoring. Thanks Edith. Mutual, I’m sure.

Would I wear it? 5/10 (but the gold thing in the back is amazing and I’d probably find a reason to wear that)

 

 

Next we have the giant feather fan scene. It’s famous of course, but no one ever notices the beautiful dresses! Again, the sisters are completely covered with these tea-length tulle and chantilly lace confections and yet, absolutely gorgeous!

It’s important to keep in mind that this setting is in Hollywood, Florida in an open-air supperclub. Hence, lovely Carribean-colored costuming with a Cuban flair of the bolero belt.

 

 

What’s hard to see here is that there are bits of glimmer and light sparkling from the tulle — maybe tiny crystals or sequins sporadically placed under the top layer of the tulle to catch movement. There’s also sequins or crystals in the feather fans — you can see some of the sparkles in this shot above. Note the sequins on the gloves as well — in a fade of course. Edith loved her some sequins.

Edith, you saucy minx.

How do you think they possibly matched the color of the gloves so well to the color of the lace? I’m willing to bet that Head’s costumers did a color dye match — as Clooney’s original costume has been found (or at least a reasonable facsimile, although the museum owners are fairly certain that it’s the original) and the lace is very faded now while the crinoline retains its beautiful cerulean blue after more than sixty years. Had to have been color-match dyed.

Would I wear it? 9/10 (I already own something very similar, only not in this shade of blue, but I would wear the heck out of this)

After they performed, the Haynes sisters change out of their performance clothing into cocktail dresses to meet with the famous entertainment team of Wallace and Davis (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, respectively) to get feedback on their act. During that discussion, Kaye and Vera-Ellen’s characters abscond to do their own dance number, which is fortunate that Vera-Ellen’s character Judy has had the foresight to change into an outfit that is pretty dance fabulous. Check out the layers of chiffon and all the sequins, because Head loved sequins like sorority girls love making t-shirts. Case in point- sequins really do make the world better.

 

The swishy swoony tea-length skirt is perfect to not only show off Vera-Ellen’s amazing footwork but those blousy sleeves exaggerate every arm movement in a very dreamy and OSHA non-compliant dance number with Danny Kaye (who cuts a fine figure in Head’s trademark sleek suiting himself). Check out the movement.

 

 

Here’s a better closeup to admire some of the sequin detailing on the illusion top of Vera-Ellen’s dress.

 

Would I wear it? 7/10 (I need a different pink, and I’m not Barbie-doll proportions but would wear)

Meanwhile, Betty (Rosemary Clooney) has a lovely sexy off the shoulder periwinkle dress. Fun fact: I painted my office this specific color, based on this dress. It made everyone think I was secretly pregnant and making a nursery for a boy. I just really love the color.

 

Wait a second, is that some cleavage, Betty? Yes, I do suspect this is the first moment that our virginal Betty Haynes is using her assets, which might be why Phil (Kaye) and Judy (Vera-Ellen) think that Bing Crosby’s character is head over heels in love. Because seriously, that rack.

Lawd, why wouldn’t you show it off more, Betty?

 

Would I wear it? 10/10 I love everything about this, including the bracelet and the giant “here is my vagina of doom” emblazing on the skirt.

Next we have to give it up to the male daywear costumes. God, there are are so many great male looks. Head was really in her element with the strong silhouette.

 

 

 

Would I wear it? 10/10 but this all is totally wearable today, although I’m concerned that Bing Crosby’s hat is too small for his head and also, pipe smoking is no good, man, no good.

Of course, there’s the titular song — which is played twice, once in the opening on in wartime France and once again at the end, which “CUE THE SNOW” solves the problem suffered by Pinetree, Vermont, which is that there’s no snow for the ski season because by singing about it, the applause of all the servicemen brings forth the snow.

Here’s the thing — everyone remembers the fur. No one remembers all the silk charmeuse and the sequins.

Also known as “Edith Head was here” in costume language. There is a whole lot going on in this supposed Santa costume. I wish my Santa wore sequins, is all I’m saying.

I just want to point out that this must be one incredible movie if I almost forgot to talk about the finale outfits — like in which world does dressing head to toe in scarlet and white fur, swathed with sequins and not one, not two, but THREE giant berry and gold leaf brooches, and that outfit barely registers on my collective conscious about the fashion in this movie? Like, this is seriously the least exciting costume scene for me.

Would I wear it? 5/10 (Who am I kidding, I would totally wear this, I look GREAT in that color. Also, I covet the shit out of Betty’s fur muff. I’d definitely want a pocket in there to hid my snacks and lipstick.)

 

There’s a tremendous debate among the White Christmas fandom about Vera-Ellen’s neck. Vera-Ellen had a famously thin figure and a ridiculously tiny waist — she really was the tiniest wisp of a woman. Head chose to costume Vera-Ellen primarily in things that covered her neck.

The theory is that Vera-Ellen was suffering from anorexia, which made her neck look unreasonably old or unsightly, so it was hidden.

I think, however, that this was an Edith Head thing — I think she made the decision to cinch in her incredibly small waist and give Clooney’s fabulous decolletage the starring role. If she’s going to have Rosemary bare at the neck and have a ton of outfits featuring Vera-Ellen’s legs, Head clearly wanted to give emphasis to Vera-Ellen’s balanced features.

Also, there’s footage from award shows showing Vera-Ellen wearing a strapless dress and her neck on display and it’s a perfectly normal human woman neck.

Can we talk about how much you want this sweater? And Danny Kaye’s jacket? I want all of this please.

 

Sadly, the cream sweater has aged poorly and is very yellow/tan now, although this might be a white-balance problem for this photo, because in other shots, it looks more cream.

Would I wear it? 10/10 She pulls it off, baby.

These people are traveling on a train. These are their travel clothes. Vera-Ellen’s character is wearing a bullet bra and there is nothing wrong in the world. She also has a brooch on her belt because hey, you’re Vera-Ellen, you’re a human Barbie doll, you should sure as shit show off your impossible waist. Again, I’m confident that this was a decision by head, much like the decision to always give Rosemary Clooney dark bottoms whenever possible (lady had righteous child-birthing hips. If I’m not mistaken, she was pregnant with her first child Miguel Ferrer right after the movie was filmed)

 

Would I wear it? 4/10 for Vera-Ellen’s mustard outfit (would look terrible in mustard) but 10/10 Rosemary’s entire situation.

Since we were just talking about Rosemary Clooney’s hips, let’s look at what we can learn from this styling. See how everything is nipped in at the waist, but all a single color so your eye is just drawn to that great styling at the decolletage?

While watching the movie, it read as black to me, but it’s actually a very dark emerald. Great for Clooney’s coloring. And mine, actually.

The back is amazing too. Basically the entire thing is perfection. It’s saying “look but don’t touch” and I love it.

 

Would I wear it? 10/10 I covet this dress. I want it with half sleeves and you would never get me out of it.

Visually, it’s a transition for the character — she’s about to have her world view challenged. Her sister doesn’t need her anymore — and she feels broken-hearted over a kiss with Bob Wallace that has now fizzled significantly as she misunderstands some gossip about him. She’s in a dark mood already when she enters the party — we know this immediately from this dark cocktail dress, but as soon as Judy announces her engagement to Phil, there’s no reason for Betty to stay in Pinetree anymore. Judy has just told her that she’s “freeing” Betty from her sisterly duty in the act — essentially Betty interprets this as the act being dead now because Judy is going to clearly become part of the Wallace and Davis show and Betty’s choice is to either stick with her sister and this guy that she finds deplorable or go off on her own. So she’s outtie.

So Betty flounces to New York (as one does) and oh holy shit, it is ON.

 

If only we all could look this good when we go into our emo funks. Please, Betty, don’t hurt ’em.

 

Bitches gonna burn. Bob Wallace never had a chance, Betty.

Sexy sexy Betty. Not only does she sing about how love has done her wrong, she is so sultry and scorching that you could ignite half of the eastern seaboard with those curves. And just when you think Edith Head has out Edith Head-ed herself with those proto-Michael Jackson evening gloves? Wait until you see the back view.

ASS RHINESTONES!?!  I’ll be over here, recovering.

Would I wear it? 25/10 All of this. All of it. I would also like the four dancers to flank me at all times.

Back in Pinetree Vermont, we still have a show to put on.

You can tell Edith Head was like “Look, I don’t care that my sequin budget is in the tens of thousands of dollars, we need each and every one of those sequins. Do you hire Edith Head because you want understated? No. Now go away, I have 459 people sewing costumes for the Mandy sequence and those butt bows aren’t going to tie themselves.”

Just a little subtle dance number, nothing to see here. You know, a slow day in the Edith Head fashion studios.


Betty is head to toe swathed in sequins, again, with bare decolletage but a long gown that covers her legs. She almost never reveals legs — it’s all curves for Clooney. The backside gets a red train of tulle and sequins as well, although Betty really doesn’t dance, so it’s more for a streak of color and interest than anything.

Meanwhile, Vera-Ellen is ALL legs and no decolletage. Thus is the word from Edith Head.

 

We get the repetition of the sequin gloves but otherwise Betty and Judy are completely opposites. Clooney’s character is sleek and controlled, Vera-Ellen’s Judy is all about the swish and swirl. Her train is about as close as Head ever got to a cape (“No capes!” — yes, The Incredible’s Edna Mode was absolutely inspired by Edith Head), but this is a genius way to show off the amazing tapping and footwork from Vera-Ellen while also giving her the visual swish to turn her into a mesmerizing frantic motion machine.

Would I wear it? 3/10 Vera-Ellen’s Mandy outfit, because I am not Vera-Ellen. 9/10 Clooney’s outfit, because hot damn it’s basically perfect, but I like sleeves.

Another practice dance/Vera-Ellen showcase number contains this amazing mustard number where again, the glory is drawn to her legs and her impossibly tiny waist (which if you didn’t notice it, is highlighted with THREE belts).

You should watch the video of this scene. It’s awesome and really shows how happy and amazing she was as a performer.

Would I wear it? 10/10 in a different color because I look terrible in yellow.

All of this. I will take it all. Wrap it up. Including both of Rosemary Clooney’s coats, which I don’t understand in the course of plotting but okay sure. The white coat does show up in a later scene, so maybe she’s just carrying it in from the train.

Would I wear it? 10/10 like you even had to ask.

There are so many amazing looks in White Christmas but now we get to the one that I remark upon in EVERY viewing, and basically covet so hard that it was the inspiration for this post.

This Vera-Ellen moment.

Basically if you had to wrap up every bit of Wendy Bix into a single outfit, it would look like this. A study in contrast, graphical punch of black paired with white plus houndstooth and a little flash of unexpected color.

I love this outfit so much.

See the red shoes? Because it is perfect. IT ME.

Wait a second… the skirt is enormous and she doesn’t even flipping dance in it? OMG I am dead now.

Would I wear it? 100,000/10 WRAP IT UP AND GIVE IT EXACTLY AS IT IS.

What about you? Which outfits are your favorites? I didn’t have the space to feature all of the amazing Head designs here — like that fantastic pink outfit on Vera-Ellen in the “Choreography” number. What old school fashion are you coveting this party season? Tell the comments!

It matters what we name things

Back in the 90’s, I worked in a department that contained 40 women and 0 men. Most of those women had worked in that company, in that very same job, for over 20 years — I was the youngest in the department and the next youngest was 10 years older than me (and not super happy about no longer being “the baby” although how one can feel like “the baby” when one is over 30 years old is beyond me). The women who sat in the farm-like stanchion desks (all facing inward in long rows, butts hanging out into the aisles, not even actual cubicles, but literally just tables in a row with walls that stopped six inches beyond the desk, like a library study carrel) around me were all over 40. I was privy to their discussions, the things they valued and the piques when something didn’t go their way. Which was, quite frankly, often.

I was really struck by how much they cared about things. Little slights were turned into big affairs. Tiny mistakes were Big Deals (TM). Things that happened twice were Trends. I often turned my chair back to my stanchion to roll my eyes at them… probably doing an insufficient job of hiding my exasperation. I had just turned 26 — I took entirely different things seriously. Bigger scale things. Grander things. Things that I felt mattered.

I decided that there was something about perimenopause that made women lose their minds. Their voices raised. They stopped caring about makeup and their figures. They lived on their little Soap Box, stumping for this or that inconsequential little thing like it was their role on this earth.

I’m their age now. And I get it.

I am tired. I am pissed. I am now being treated like an invisible person. I am discounted because I’m past the age of mattering, of being beguiling. I realize now that the only reason women have power in their 20s and 30s is because men want to have sex with them. This truth sinks in my belly like a stone, a weight that I can feel with every step, every movement. I no longer care what people think because they don’t. They don’t care what I think. I have nothing to lose because I lost it already.

Those bigger scale things are important, but you can’t change the big stuff until you attack the little stuff.  The numbers of slights, the discounted discussions, the times that I said something and then a man repeated it as though I hadn’t said it and everyone suddenly hears it now and tells him he had a great idea. The tallies are scratched in columns in my brain. Two things that happen ARE a trend because it’s not two things, it’s twenty, thirty, eight hundred things that I have seen happen and I know that shit is going to go down in exactly that same way. I have seen what’s lost. Little things ARE big things. Little things are in fact the ONLY thing.

The election told me that people.. that women… would look at a woman who has literally been training her entire life to run the country, a woman who has been in government for a lifetime, who held the third highest position in the entire nation for eight years, quite possibly literally the most qualified person in the entire world to be the next U.S. President and instead give that job to an uneducated, untested, narcissistic self-entitled manchild.

That’s how much we hate women. That we can take 20 victims of sexual assault and say “Well, maybe they’re in it for the money.” That a self-confident woman who is passionate about her career and tries to get ahead will be inevitably called “abrasive” in their performance reviews and that people will literally tell you that in order to avoid the label of “bitch” at work, you need to agree with people even when you don’t.

I mentioned taking back Resting Bitch Face a few posts ago and called it “The face that won’t automatically say yes” but let’s think about that for a minute. The culture is binary — you’re either happy/going to say yes or you’re a bitch. Those are the options! Not a strong woman. Not a woman who thinks for herself. Not a woman who has confidence. A BITCH. By not being a yes girl, your default status is bitch.

It matters what we name things. It matters because it’s a subtle cultural correction, telling women that they need to front as approachable, friendly, someone who would be pleasant to be around. It matters because it is telling women that what they think is less important than how they look. In fact, I think more people need to have Resting Bitch Face. In fact, this phrase itself is just one of the reasons we should all be pissed as hell.

Remember back right after the inauguration? Millions of women marched on the first day of the new administration to show how mad we were. It was a good moment. We felt the energy. We felt invincible. We felt like we mattered.

But consider this: Have you ever trained a new puppy? They want to chew on everything. They NEED to chew. Plus, it tires them out. So when they start chewing on things that matter, like your Manolo Blahniks or your midcentury modern bookcase, you hand them a chew toy. They focus on the acceptable thing — the thing you don’t care if they ruin — so they won’t damage the stuff you care about. They put all of that energy into their jaws and it pulls out all of the stress out of their bodies and then they go take a nap because they’re exhausted and they no longer want to chew on your shoes.

We remember being whipped to a lather last summer on social media. We now understand that forces were using social media to manipulate us through very strategic behavioral response mechanisms. This is something that SOUNDS like a conspiracy theory, except it actually happened. This is a fact. Even the Russians agreed that they did it. So, we know that Jared Kushnier’s big data team knows more about how we make decisions than we do — and unfortunately, there’s a playbook for how to take over a government and we now understand that it was followed to the letter.

Or… is being followed.

So — what if #metoo is a chew toy?  What if the strategic masterminds looked at all of the women who were pissed off, looked at their own chimp bragging about serial sexual assault, and orchestrated a movement to provide us with dozens and dozens of chew toys? What if Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein and Al Franken (ESPECIALLY Al Franken) is the thing they don’t care if we destroy? What if the same social media tides are still churning, what if our profile likes and follows are broadcasting loud and clear exactly which levers to pull, exactly which dog whistle we’ll hear?

Let me ask you this: Do you still feel energized? Do you feel invincible? Do you feel like you matter? Do you feel like you have hope?

What if this isn’t actually a dozen little things but really One Big Giant Fucking Terrible Thing?

No matter where you fall on the argument of “witch hunt” versus “speak your truth”, you have to admit that something is happening culturally really fucking fast right now. The #metoo hashtag started trending on Sunday, October 14th. How are we already here now? The week the Weinstein scandal broke, the executive branch was dismantling Obamacare, had taken serious flack for ignoring Puerto Rico’s rising death toll from the hurricane and the previous week, we were all still reeling from the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history while the man refused to acknowledge gun control and said that the attack was “in some ways a miracle.”

Maybe you’re not studied up on how governments are overthrown, so maybe the best analogy to what’s happening right now is that the election was like Harry Potter book four: Voldemort is back except no one who matters believes it. They say that anyone who claims he is back is just looking for attention. And a few people know that dark things are happening, but officials aren’t taking action, and the damned Death Eaters all got organized and put on their Dockers and grabbed tiki torches to show a public rallying cry to ignite their forces (ala the Quidditch World Cup and attack on the muggles).  So what did the good guys in the Harry Potter series do? They organized small groups of dedicated individuals. They strategized. They put extra protection around vulnerable targets that might have been strategic to the Death Eaters and their propaganda. They refused to get so swept up in the small stuff and kept themselves on track for what really mattered.

The longest books are still to come. We’re going to lose people. We’ve still got to find six fucking horcruxes and destroy them (I suspect the snake is maybe the pedophile running for Senate).

Time to train in Dumbledore’s Army. Rise up, eyes up.

 

 

 

 

 

The problem with looking too closely

My entire weekend was spent neatly divided into four segments, in order of time spent: Working on my Jane Austen term paper, car shopping, sleeping, charity work.

This is the last full week of classes so things are coming to a head in my semester — basically, everything is due, my students are freaking the fuck out (some of them rightfully so, as one or two were clueless or didn’t take the work seriously and now have skipped so many classes that the syllabus tells them they cannot pass the class, so they must make up enough of their unexcused absences with makeup work to erase just enough missed classes to get them under the “I flaked out more than 20% of the class meetings” bar), the holidays are almost here and I’ve done NOTHING, and then of course, my car is gasping for its rack and pinion system. I do not have time to look for a car. I do not have time at all.

But look we must. We spent all day on Saturday, minus one charity board meeting, looking at and test driving cars. We went through a roller coaster of denial — essentially I just want another Murano. A fatty leather swank Murano, which is exactly what is sitting in my garage right now, weeping steering fluid onto the garage floor. Except you know what I am not? A double-income tech worker. I am a graduate student. I get paid in unlimited printer usage, Lifesaver candies and pocket lint, which do not have a very good exchange rate for Nissan luxury edition Muranos.

The roller coaster involved me trying to make a Murano or a Murano-esque car happen inside my head, but at the end of the day, I just can’t hack a big car payment while we still have an extraneous $2000 a month mortgage payment for an empty house in Green Bay. Additionally, people in this town drive like they are fueling their cars with nightmare juice and the students on campus rarely lift their head from their phones, even while they are in the parking garage trying to park. I have literally left note cards on people’s cars saying “Do a better job parking please” because I’m a cranky old lady and also, hey, teachable moment. So between the actual accidents I’ve witnessed, the accidents that have almost happened to me and the barely conscious fetuses driving their Prius into other cars in the parking deck, it’s a pretty bad decision to invest heavily in a vehicle just because the front seats feel like sitting on Santa’s lap.

The two budget-friendly contenders right now are the Kia Soul and the Honda Fit. My friend Monique drives a Fit and I had a ride in it a few years ago when we both flew from our friend Jen’s wedding back to SF — I remember being impressed with the roominess and the zippiness. Plus, she and her husband are both tall people, and I look forward to a car that both has great gas mileage and is a smaller target for reckless parkers.

The Kia Soul seems to have great headroom — I’ve never sat in one, but I did check one out in the parking lot at school and it seems like a pretty good fit. Aside from the fact that it’s driven by hamsters in the commercials, it seems pretty nice. At least the hamsters have cool music taste? As long as the turning radius doesn’t make me want to scream, it’s a serious contender. I mentioned these ideas to Esteban, who is all over the idea of a much lower car payment. He’s been dutifully researching these options, along with others, and we point them out to each other while we’re on the road, trying to gauge if we only see small tiny fairy-like people driving them or actual full size adult human beings.

The other day, Esteban was driving to the grocery store and waiting by a light and saw one of these possibilities sitting in the next lane over. He noticed that it was being driven by an older, white-haired bearded biker type guy who was definitely not petite. As he was making this this observation, the driver then scratched his left arm, resting in the open driver side window, where there was a scab. The guy peeled off the scab and then popped it into his mouth and chewed on it.

Esteban blinked (“Did I really just see that?”) and quickly turned his head forward. The guy turned his head and stared at Esteban, trying to discern whether Esteban had actually witnessed this act of human depravity, or just happened to be looking at something else. Esteban said he then did everything in his power to have a completely passive expression, while on the inside he was recoiling and trying not to vomit.

“Why!? Why did you hide it? Why did you protect his feelings?” I said, five minutes after he told me the story, which was the first time I could make actual word sounds with my mouth.

“Because! I don’t know! I DON’T KNOW!” He said, still reliving the trauma.

And people ask why women didn’t just tell Matt Lauer to put his penis away? It’s this right here — you’re shocked, you’re in horror, and you revert into a complete “Nothing just happened” protective state because you just can’t believe that actually just happened.

I’m trying to not let the Scabby the Sin Eater sway my car buying decisions. But I’m watching for him. And if I see him again, I’m going to give him my best “For Shame!” judgment stare.

 

Entitled

 

Las Vegas is a city obsessed with VIP status. Many people walk around with the sense that they are a VIP, even when they are just normal people. This is so weird in comparison to Wisconsin, where you are reinforced from babyhood to be cautious of other people’s feelings, make sure that you aren’t taking advantage of someone’s generosity, and above all else, put no one through unnecessary trouble. This is a culture where you hold a door for the stranger behind you, even if they are 30 feet away, maybe even 40 feet away, maybe even 45 feet away, but then you feel guilty if you screwed it up and that guy starts that awkward sheepish run-walk (because they don’t want to make you stand there, holding the door open for them) and you just wish you had timed your arrival better so that you could have both walked in the door together, like friends who have never met.

The result of this underlying cultural agreement is that, for instance, if you are waiting to turn left at a red light, you go through the intersection with urgency if there are more than three cars behind you because god forbid that you are the reason that someone else didn’t make the light and had to wait another round. It also means that people who feel they are terrible at parking their car will walk the equivalent of two or three city blocks to avoid a tight parking spot or parallel parking.

The above photo, taken in downtown Summerlin, is a metaphor for everything different about the Las Vegas area to me.

It’s hard to see, but most of the cars are parked about 16 inches from the curb. However, the car nearest is parked a good two and a half feet from the curb. It’s important to note that every car in downtown Summerlin parks like this. Every damned car.

And so it goes everywhere, in many scenarios. For instance, in the parking garage at school, traffic goes both ways in most of the lanes. There are literally signs on every row stating “Traffic moves in both directions, keep right”. This is especially crucial because in this traffic garage, you have to make a series of blind 180 degree turns and you’re going to need to leave enough room for another car if they are coming from the opposite direction. But none of the other drivers do this. They barrel right up the center, because fuck everyone else, they are goddamned important.

If you want to change lanes on the highway? You are better off NOT using your turn signal, because if you use it, the person in the other lane is going to speed up to prevent you from changing lanes, like it’s a bout of freaking roller derby. I’ve put my turn signal on to change lanes and had to wait for literally four cars to speed up past me before I can get over. And god forbid anyone waiting at a red light show any kind of urgency going through it — when the light turns, there’s a good 5-10 second pause while the front car stops checking Twitter and then decides to gradually speed up to take the light at 5 mph, ignoring the fact that at least some of the 20 plus cars behind them are going to be waiting for another two or three light cycles. And of course, they had time to check Twitter because they themselves had been sitting at that light for the last fifteen minutes while the cars in front of them took THEIR sweet ass time to go through the light too.

Driving is just one of the behaviors, of course. People cut in line all the time. People steal parking spots out from under you. People who are done with their grocery business sit there checking the phone while the cashier checks their phone and all of them ignore the fact that you’re standing there behind them, watching your ice cream melt on the conveyer belt.

And here’s the rub — and I hate to bring this up, but these are all actions of the middle class people who live around my neighborhood. The same people who are literally right this moment standing out on Durango with picket signs imploring drivers to “Save our Community” and completely without irony, “Save our golf course!”  This in front of a tony subdivision called Rhodes Ranch that has 10 foot high white letters (ala the Hollywood sign) that spell out “Rhodes Ranch” amidst dozens of palm trees and man-made ponds and acres of real green grass that no one walks on or gets to enjoy (and which must be watered daily using far more water than you’d imagine because we live in a DESERT and it evaporates quickly) because it’s all just there to be admired by the passing traffic of Durango Road. We live in a desert and these assclowns are watering acres of grass to enhance the entryway to their gated community full of million dollar homes and increasing traffic congestion to publicize their cause celebre to stop a golf course (that only they get to use!) from getting turned into MORE million dollar homes. And they want the people who are driving in from other areas to staff the Vons and Popeye’s Chickens and 7-11s and clean their pools to do something for the love of god save our golf course. This literally happened on Friday evening during drive time, on the very day that the Senate was gutting the lower and middle classes via a firestorm of legislation.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could downgrade human behavior traits like computer parts? Remove a quarter of their self-entitlement and upgrade their situational awareness by about 200%. Because otherwise I sense a revolution is coming and these poor delusional people are going to be the first up against the wall.

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