BY Jodi

10/01 Direct Link
Lloyd scratches off the price tag from the side of the bottle of melon-cucumber-kiwi soap and carefully reaffixes it to the bottom of the bottle with a piece of tape. This way, if guests are snobbishly curious enough to wonder what he paid, they'll have to exert a bit of effort to find out. Some people are so pretentious!

"Lloyd," one guest says after using the facilities, "do you have scissors? You left the tag on one of the hand towels."

"How gauche," Lloyd thinks, "to bring that to the host's attention," hoping the guest notices the scissors' handles: mother-of-pearl.
10/02 Direct Link
Since the first time we had the bo bae with mock duck at Thai Basil, there hasn't been an occasion when it hasn't made an appearance in front of at least one of us. It's gotten to the point where not only do we both order it, foregoing all other options, but we get a third order as well, which we split between our two plates. I can imagine nothing quite as enthralling and awe-inspiring as gazing down at this untouched, pristine bounty. This must be the way mountain-climbers feel when gazing up at the brilliant majesty of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
10/03 Direct Link
How far does an apple or potato or anything else from the enormous display outside Fairway have to roll away from the store before I can pick it up from the sidewalk, thus claiming it as my own, without someone dashing after me, blowing a whistle like a Keystone Cop, accusing me of theft? Is there a distance beyond which the store relinquishes ownership, thereby rendering the errant item "up for grabs" for whomever doesn't mind that it'll need a bit more washing than one that had remained firmly in the display? Dare I use myself as a guinea pig?
10/04 Direct Link
It's sometime pre-New Jersey, so I must be under five, and my mom is either cramming soap into my mouth or sprinkling pepper onto my tongue, because apparently my use of filthy language demands drastic action. Although I'm not thrilled with this punishment, I don't dare tell my mom it's really not as terrible as she thinks. I mean, after all, am I not the kid who eats the gloopy white paste off the plastic stick attached to the lid, bits of Naugehyde off the sofa's arms, and enough of my own finger flesh to warrant calling it a snack?
10/05 Direct Link
Years ago my friend Susie was a flight attendant for an airline that transported military personnel and their families overseas. The flights often originated from countries where very little, if any, English was spoken. Although she only spoke English and a few textbook-type phrases of other languages, Susie was not daunted. Indeed, she not only welcomed the challenge but relished it. Pantomime, patience, voice inflection, and smiles went a long way. She never imagined, however, that she would have to communicate, in any fashion, this instruction: "No, Ma'am, you do not put babies in the overhead compartment." Yet she did.
10/06 Direct Link
I'll never understand the people who still haven't figured out how to maneuver through airport security. They're cut of the same cretinous cloth as those who, before the advent of EZ Pay, would dig around in the car seat for money the moment they got to the tollbooth, or those who, when in the supermarket checkout paying with a check (yes, even in these days of debit cards), haven't filled in the date or name of the store and act as if they've just learned how to sign their own name while waiting in line. How do these dimwits survive?
10/07 Direct Link
Hello! Only several days in, and already I am presenting an errata sheet, to draw your attention to the hideous fact that I mistakenly typed "EZ Pay" in yesterday's entry instead of "EZ Pass". It would be one thing if I had just dashed it off without any regard, but no, I had deliberated over it for somewhat longer than I should and still got it wrong. I suppose I had "PayPal" on the brain.

And now I'm wondering, "Is 'EZ' even correct?"

And then thinking, "Wouldn't it just be EZ-er to just Google it?"

Ah, indeed it would. Brilliant.
10/08 Direct Link
At volunteer orientation, a shabbily-dressed presenter, so nervous that even her voice was sweating, stands in front of the room beside a screen onto which screenshots of the New York Cares website are projected, advanced by a remote control. Some dimwit with a chewing-gum voice asks if there'll be a contest to see who can volunteer the most, and I mutter to the gorgeous Colombiana next to me about how, yeah, because that's the point of volunteering. Her shoulders and long black hair shake in concert with her laugh. Ah, so orientation isn't a total waste of time after all.
10/09 Direct Link
Sixth grade, my first in the new house and new school, and I survey the kids in my new class. Interchangeable beige brats, zipped into Toughskins, buttoned into doofy plaid shirts, parading in forgettable footwear right out of a 1950s science textbook? Come on! This is 1974, damn it!

The class photo has me seated front row center, one hand gripping each knee, leaning forward, staring straight into the camera, challenging: Any of you freaks hip enough for my jungle-animal print Qiana shirt, camel moleskin bellbottoms, and royal blue crepe-soled semi-platforms with the thick red laces? No? Didn't think so.
10/10 Direct Link
"Nobody should have to go homeless," the scruffy man shouts as passersby rush past him and the enormous glass jar on the card table behind which he stands. He advises, with more than a hint of irritation, that even pennies will help -- just in case, I suppose, we're wondering if he'll make change for the C-notes crammed in our coat pockets.

Im walking so I can save the $4.50 cost of a round-trip subway ride. It's a month when I'm thisclose to making my rent. I want to say, "Yeah, and that's why I'm not giving YOU anything, schmuck."
10/11 Direct Link
Is there any reason why you must stand in the hallway outside my apartment at 10:30 p.m., looking like a tattered heap of Cindy Lauper's discarded "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" wardrobe, whining loudly into your cell phone to someone who no doubt wants to hear it about as much as I do? Can't you take it outside?

I ask you this face to face, after seething at you through my "Magic Eye" peephole. After trading my enormous gray sweatshirt for a snappy little T-shirt. Because it's very important to look stylish when you're telling someone to shut up.
10/12 Direct Link
The few times I've deigned to browse through the crap heaps at Victoria's Secret -- thinking, incorrectly, that maybe the quality of the merchandise has magically earned the right to its price tag -- I've been ambushed by a rabid saleswoman hellbent on letting me know she'd be delighted to discover my correct bra size by way of the tape measure draped around her neck like a gym teacher's lanyarded whistle.

I can't help but be grossed out when I see one of these ghouls emerging from an occupied fitting room. This is perhaps the truest form of booby trap.
10/13 Direct Link
When T was young, I used to look at German Shepherds on the street and think there's going to come a day when I'm going to see my sweet boy's face in every German Shepherd I come across, when every dogface of this kind is going to reduce me to a mess of tears and the desire to fling myself down on the sidewalk and wrap my arms around the dog's neck and hug so hard that its person-companion will have to pry me off. That day did come, a year and eight months ago today, and it's still here.
10/14 Direct Link
Stores that offer a variety of coupons and "rewards" and "gifts" at the same time should not be permitted to restrict shoppers from using them in combination with each other. If Ann Taylor gives me a $15 birthday "gift" and a $20 "Style Rewards" card and offers a coupon for 20% off in email, they should realize that the likelihood of my spending more in their store increases with each offer I have tucked into the special slot in my wallet designated for these things. But then again, maybe Ann Taylor, in saving me from overspending, is really helping me?
10/15 Direct Link
I have yet to meet a dog who doesn't print his "R"s backwards. You'd expect this from a bulldog, whose burly paw you can't even imagine grabbing a crayon (the preferred writing implement of canines) or a Chihuahua, whose paw would shake too hard to hold one, and especially a Borzoi/Russian Wolfhound (check out their alphabet), but a German Shepherd? One of the smartest breeds? Even these guys don't get it right.

Cats, on the other hand -- or paw, really -- not only print the R correctly, but, when writing in script, illuminate all letters like a medieval monk.
10/16 Direct Link
Once a month, the residents of Selis Manor, a facility for blind and low-vision people, along with others bused in from other facilities, congregate for two hours of live music in the auditorium, along with coffee and snacks. I was astounded by the quality of the performance and cheered alongside another volunteer.

"Look at that man," she said, indicating one who, eyes closed, swayed to the music with an enormous smile on his face. "He's in his glory!"

I closed my eyes, thinking maybe I'd hear the music the way he did, and realized there was no way I could.
10/17 Direct Link
Just like I have no problem with people eating junk food if their diet is otherwise full of healthy food, I have no problem with people using "bad words" if their vocabulary is otherwise expansive and lively. But if your conversation is clogged with shit, that's just as bad as subsisting solely on a diet of it. I love a good FUCK for sure, and use it often, but I feel I have earned the right to do so because I can just as easily flip the switch and color my language in ways that are not quite as "colorful".
10/18 Direct Link
I just learned that Baxter, the 19-1/2-year-old therapy dog Id learned about through Facebook, left this world on Friday. When I first heard about him, on October 12, I already dreaded the inevitable -- the day when Id see, on Facebook, that hed left this world (dont make me say the D word). And yes, I know he had a marvelous mission in this life, that he loved and was loved, but still, that doesnt mean Im not crying here in the wee hours of the morning, not feeling such an incredible loss for this beautiful dog I never met.
10/19 Direct Link
As long as she remembers, everyone has called her "Babe" instead of Evelyn. At 85, she's still Babe, and from time to time in the 15 minutes she's kept me at her door during meals-on-wheels delivery telling stories about her long-dead husband, hints of Babe peak from behind the Evelyn facade.

She never knew why they called her Babe until she was way into adulthood and someone referred to her mother as Evelyn. "Funny, but until then, I never knew her name or even wondered what it was. She was always just 'Mom'." She giggles, smiles, and is all Babe.
10/20 Direct Link
In black-and-white days, when a phone was brought to someone's table in a restaurant, you knew the call had to be important, as substantial and full of purpose as the phone itself. The maitre-d' transported the phone with a combination of hushed deference and understated majesty, understanding the urgency of the call and the importance of person to whom it was directed. Today, in days of lurid color, everyone transports his own lightweight phone everywhere and avails himself of the service regardless of environment, often without any real urgency or reason. Oh, how I wish we could dial it back.
10/21 Direct Link
Felicia T., a soft-spoken black woman in a simple housedress, apron, and scuffy slippers, invites me and the two other meals-on-wheels volunteers into her apartment and indicates we should place the food on her cluttered kitchen counter. She bustles out of sight and returns a few moments later with three Barbie-type dolls sporting crocheted hats and matching long dresses that hide toilet paper. As she carefully places them in a wrinkled plastic bag, I struggle to think of something funny so I don't cry. The gifts themselves, a few hours later, will make me laugh, but right now, I can't.
10/22 Direct Link
My and my sister's school photos, fourth and second grade, respectively, doesn't do our Little Lord Fauntleroy ensembles much justice. Snapped from mid-chest up, you see only part of our purple velveteen jackets, a peek of our ruffled collars, wavy locks tumbling around the placid cheeks of two of the wisest- and most serious-faced young lads from the mid-1880s to ever walk the 1970s. Too bad you can't see the matching knickers, the cable tights, the fey buckle shoes.

My sister's impish face looks like she's hiding a secret. Mine just blatantly says, "Years from now I will regret this."
10/23 Direct Link
I don't think I've ever told you that I love how you:

* Reach for my hand on the plane just before take-off and hold it until we're in the air because you know I'm not-too-secretly somewhat anxious about that part of the flight

* Wait until I'm inside my building before driving away to find a parking spot for the night

* Lay out bag after bag of salty snacks at your house so I can choose what I want (all!) from the bounty

* Unlock the door to my apartment even when I already have keys in hand.
10/24 Direct Link
Although the smell of McDonald's offerings can appeal to me in a bizarre way if I come across it in passing -- say, while pirouetting by the open doors of the "restaurant" or sashaying past some hapless schmoe cramming a Big Mac and french fries into his fry-hole on a park bench in the open air -- it is not a smell that I wish to encounter in environments where I am held captive. (Take note, prospective alien abductors.) This is particularly true of airplanes, where there is absolutely no way to escape. Certainly I deserve a break today, don't I?
10/25 Direct Link
Of everyone participating in the Texas-style dancing in this smoke-choked St. Louis gay bar, the only person radiating joy is my friend Mikey.

"She's a good dancer," my boyfriend says of the one lesbian in the room.

"No," I say, "she knows the steps. That's all. Just knowing the steps and going through the motions doesn't make you a good dancer."

Even if Mikey didn't know the dances as well as he did and didn't add his personal spin, his exuberance would've carried him through. A facial expression that runs the gamut from apathy to gloom, however, negates technical proficiency.
10/26 Direct Link
Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Today is my birthday! Happy, happy Sweet 16!
10/27 Direct Link
Although they tell me they go down to the basement to see their spindly old cat, I have a feeling it's only for as long as it takes to dump food in his bowl and take care of any messes he may have made (one of the reasons he's kept in the basement). Would a cat who's used to seeing people be wailing so loudly and insistently? I hope I'm wrong. During my four-day visit, I break away several times and lounge with him on the cat-hair-covered futon, stroking his bony white back, telling him I love him and crying.
10/28 Direct Link
My earliest memories do not go back to the one I wish I had the most. The one I would gladly exchange for so many others, including Nathan Silverman standing on his front stoop with his pants down, his tiny toddler nub glinting in the sunlight, Suzy Creamcheese's coveted leopard-print bicycle seat, and me overdosing on Johnson's orange baby aspirin. I wish I could remember the German Shepherd, the only pet (aside from goldfish) we had while my mom was still married to my biodad. But I know I wouldn't want to remember why we didn't have him for long.
10/29 Direct Link
The mother, father, and two young daughters, all clad in dark blue jeans and long-sleeve pullover shirts, reserve their requested smiles for the camera wielded by their portrait photographer. Glad to see she's capturing such spontaneous moments in the family's life, so the finished product can be displayed in a living room that, I'm willing to bet, isn't really lived in.

I want to push the kids into the fountain on whose concrete ledge the family is propped, so their parents will have to buy them replacement clothes at the gift shop and they'll have no choice but to defrost.
10/30 Direct Link
The gym needs to have a Hallowe'en party for the members, in shifts to accommodate the different crowds throughout the day, where everyone comes as a member they consider the most annoying or obnoxious or just downright scary. No doubt everyone in my group would come as either the shiny-headed schmuck who cranks the treadmill up to an astounding 0.9 miles an hour, the varicose-veined ghoul with skin whose color can be best described as "autopsy gray", or the woman whose legs hang from her hipbones without the benefit of an ass. And those three could go as each other.
10/31 Direct Link
I didn't anticipate that part of volunteer duties for the birthday/Hallowe'en party at the senior center would be to judge a costume contest. I didn't come prepared to disappoint anyone, so I'm not too thrilled when I find myself in the position of having to do so along with two other volunteers, neither of whom seems eager to actually interact with the residents (they'd rather stand off to the side, freeing juice boxes from plastic wrap). My dismay at having to present ribbons to only three winners wanes somewhat, however, when I'm presented with the microphone to make the announcements.