Wednesday, December 29, 2010

And Then Apple Destroyed My New Years Resolution


It was the year I went on a road trip with a potential serial killer. It was the year I ate dog soup. It was the year I became the editor of a magazine. It was the year I fought a woman with terminal cancer. It was the year I lived with a paranoid schizophrenic. It was the year I illegally disposed of human remains. It was the year I learned I was Rambo.

Basically, I rocked this year so hard it died of an intracranial injury.

Now, 2010 in review:

I survived Americorps. Barely. One of the various inane requirements at my alma mater was a career aptitude test. Our high school guidance counselors supposedly used this test as a means of pointing wayward students in the direction of a viable career. Unfortunately for my counselor, I very quickly realized that this test was a sham – surely, no one could fall for questions like, “Do you want to rescue infants from burning buildings?” No, I didn’t want to rescue infants from burning buildings. It would be nice if someone rescued infants from burning buildings, but it would not be me. Were they trying to be sneaky? Clearly, this question really meant, “Do you want to be a firefighter?” Why wasn’t the test a piece of paper with a box that said, “Write your desired career here”?

I deemed that the test had no intrinsic value and answered the questions accordingly. When it came time for my parents to meet with my counselor regarding the results, the appointment was a somber one.

“Well,” said my counselor, “Brittany seems to be equally disinterested in everything.” This was not what my parents had been expecting of the daughter who was on the high honor roll and a member of the California Scholarship Federation.

“Although,” – we waited with baited breath for the good news – “She really, really doesn’t want to help people.”

As it turns out, I should have heeded the results. After college, I had one of those typical what-the-hell-am-I-doing-with-my-life panic attacks and signed up for the Americorps VISTA program – as suggested by my mother, who, as it turns out, is in complete denial about the type of person I am.

While everyone’s Americorps experience varies, the general consensus seems to be that the VISTA program in particular is a soul-sucking hell hole. In the end I learned a very important lesson: organizations only value what they pay for. Also? I am terrible at working with wealthy housewives. In conclusion: my year in Americorps helped me come to terms with the fact that there are many jobs I would immediately be fired from. Most of them include ill-behaved homeless children and fundraising events.


[Sometimes, you can only afford Mexican goat milk caramel spread.]

I lived in a two bedroom apartment with three other people. My measly Americorps stipend was meant to force me to live in poverty, and that I did. My roommates and I quickly learned that some things were worth splurging on – bleached toilet paper and quality cuts of beef, for instance – while other things could be purchased at the local Mexican market. Most of our income was reserved for alcohol.

My roommates were so awesome that they made up for the fact that we were collectively starving to death. That is, with the exception of one roommate who taped a piece of paper over her laptop’s webcam “to keep the Feds from spying on her.”

Cancer Dad was cancer free. In a surprising twist, my father didn’t get cancer in 2010. He had spent the past few years being diagnosed with cancer on three different occasions and then subsequently declaring that his death was imminent (usually in public places). In 2009, he very nearly became the Bionic Man when a surgeon decided that the best course of action would be to replace Cancer Dad’s entire sternum with a titanium plate. That didn’t happen, and the doctors never did figure out what kind of cancer he had. Yet, he’s still here.

Grandma only made it to 99 years of age. While Cancer Dad surprised us all by not getting cancer, Grandma surprised us by passing away. We thought she would live for eternity, so it was all really quite shocking. She didn’t go silently though – rumor has it that some hospital employees might be filing lawsuits. You see, she didn’t kick the bucket. She kicked an orderly. In the face.

I illegally disposed of my grandparents' bodies. Because Grandma passed on, we finally carried out Grandpa’s wishes to have their ashes mingled together and spread over a horse corral. As it turned out, this was the worst plan of all time. However, I am determined to make this a tradition. Yes, that’s right. I intend to dump human remains behind the same house in the future. Although Cancer Dad disappointed us by not keeping his word and dying, I intend to forge his Will so that he, too, can be mixed with horse manure when he finally does pass on. And then I will make my children do the same to me.


[I really think that is supposed to read, "God Forsook Texas."]

I went to Texas and it was every bit as awful as I suspected. I still cannot comprehend that there is an entire state comprised of strip malls, vacant lots and herds of cattle.


I took The Boyfriend to South Korea and we survived. Barely. The Boyfriend is the worst traveler of all time. But he decided to take our relationship to the next level by inviting himself on my second Korean excursion, possibly as a romantic gesture. He packed for our journey while downing Four Lokos and the next thing I knew, we were in Bucheon and he had only one pair of clean pants.

I got a job as a writer. Though my mother constantly bemoans my "Que Sera, Sera" attitude, it tends to work for me. Despite the economy, I was only unemployed for a week and a half after the end of my Americorps service. I threw a bunch of resumes out in cyberspace, and now I'm a full time assistant editor for two trader magazines (and I have fun benefits like health insurance and a 401k plan). The whole thing is really surreal. You work for some newspapers, maintain a terrible blog, and then people are all, You should be a writer! And I’m like, That’s kind of hard to get into, yo. And then I get this job and people are like, What’s a trade magazine? And I’m like, It means I’m the reigning expert on bus chassis and mass notification systems (well, maybe not)! And they’re all, Wait, you don’t get paid to write about zombie cows?!

I got my own apartment. One of the huge upsides to being paid a living wage is that you can afford to live on your own. I now reside in a kick ass apartment walking distance from the beach. And although I’m too much of a bum to ever actually go to the beach, I do reap the other benefits of single living. Those include watching Netflix in my underwear and drinking wine in my bathtub. Judge away.

I discovered that I have two secret half uncles. Turns out, all the men in my family have been married multiple times to women who mysteriously died. Subsequently, the offspring resulting from these unions were abandoned. Said uncles were discovered by my brother Topher, via Google.


I found a 200-year-old book in the trunk of my car. I’m on the verge of being signed up for the television show Hoarders, but my pack rat ways have led me to several exciting genealogical discoveries. Turns out I’m the descendant of the commander of the IX Corps of the Union Army (Civil War, yo!), Brigham Young, and the founders of Parkesburg, Pennsylvania. I am also a descendant of Peter Gunnarsson Rambo, a Swedish immigrant who came to the New World in 1640. Turns out Sylvester Stallone's Rambo character is Peter's namesake. Basically? I'm awesome.


[Cat? Or space mutant?]

I was deemed responsible enough to adopt a furry creature. Three weeks ago, I adopted an Ewok from a rescue agency. Okay, so maybe it was a Himalayan cat. Either way, she looks like a space alien, performs complicated aerial assaults, and has the uncanny ability to look exactly like Jabba the Hutt when necessary.

In summary: I have no idea how it happened – but I started 2010 as a confused, poverty-stricken recent college grad and left it a self-sufficient professional writer with a pet Ewok and a roof over my head. It’s astounding how quickly things can change.

I conquered 2010, bitches.

And then, with astounding speed, 2011 conquered me.

That's right. I already failed to uphold my one new year's resolution - to eat breakfast. But I'm going to have to blame Apple for this one.

On Monday, January 3rd, all 15 of the alarms I had set for myself failed to go off. Apparently, Apple experienced a massive failure in which iPhone alarms malfunctioned in the new year (how is this shit even possible, yo?). It was like Y2K all over again. Except it really happened this time.

In summary: I was late to my first day of work in 2011, and subsequently I did not eat breakfast.

That's got to be a world record in resolution breaking.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Starving Dog, a Sharp Stick, and a Thought on Family at Christmas

While I was abusing my stomach and ears this morning with a gingerbread latte and some seasonal music, I caught the tail end of a conversation in the next cubicle:

“…Like my dad always says, ‘it beats a sharp stick in the eye’!”

I can’t help but think that our families have way more to do with who we are than we would like. But this season – while I watch my sexist, alcoholic grandfather hit on waitresses, and tune out my Paraguayan aunt’s lecture on the herbal remedies she sells out of her compound in Pahrump, Nevada – I will be thankful.

I will be thankful for my cousin who was arrested in Columbia with thousands of dollars in her shoes; for my (secret) half uncle who posts science fiction about moon colonies on his blog; for my 6’7” great uncle who robbed an ice cream parlor at gunpoint; for my grandmother that was committed to an institution after she hallucinated that there was a flock of ducks in her living room.

All these people make me who I am. (Which – in the case of my mental health – is probably not a good thing.)

I am also thankful for all the relatively useless advice they have provided over the years. (As my late paternal grandfather used to say, “Never hire an architect who wears a cape.”)

Despite their best efforts to the contrary, my family makes me proud. Their endless antics, absurd secret lives, and collective arrest record are not to be dismissed. Thank you guys for everything.

But, as my dad always says, “Brittany, you need that like a starving dog needs two assholes!”*

Well, merry Christmas and a happy new year!

*Clearly, I win the “as my father always says” contest.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Someone Owes Me a Million Dollars (and it Might Be Sylvester Stallone)


First of all, apologies to the blogosphere for my overwhelming lameness as of late. I have become very busy and important, and therefore unable to blog with pathological frequency. I will try my best to get back on the bandwagon.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I am wildly unhelpful if you have real life problems. This is mostly because my family taught me that if you are experiencing serious issues, you should probably just shut up about it and quietly plot your revenge. Which means, really, that I am never going to give you sympathetic or useful advice during the terrible, dark periods of your life.

Take today for example. The Graphic Designer, a former squeeze of mine, has been experiencing some unemployment-related issues since the economy up and died. I could offer some nice, supportive banter. Or I could offer something semi-logical that is based on my actual life experiences:

Me: Don’t worry. It's impossible that you won't get a job for the rest of forever - unless, of course, you're one of my insane relations. In that case, you’ve blown millions of dollars on a koi pond, an assortment of rare cacti, and a home theater system and now you live in someone's basement in Chicago. But that's totally different.

The Graphic Designer: Oi vey, how is it I know that YOU KNOW somebody exotic like that?!

Me: Dude, you have no idea. Last week I traced my family back to a guy who came to the New World in 1640. He has an apple named after him.

And so forth.

Now, it may surprise you, but everything I said in this excerpt from my ill-fated gchat with The Graphic Designer is quite true. I am related to an eccentric former millionaire who spent all his money hand-building a koi grotto next to his swimming pool and installing a custom recliner in his living room that doubled as a huge remote for his theater screen. (He very kindly offered to let me “party at his place” whenever. Shortly thereafter, he filed for bankruptcy. Oh the devastation.)

I am also the descendant of a Swedish immigrant who ventured to New Sweden (now known as Delaware) in 1640 and consequently witnessed William Penn’s treaty with the Lenape Indians for the acreage that now constitutes the city of Philadelphia.

Peter Gunnarsson Rambo traveled across the seas onboard the Kalmar Nyckel, quite inexplicably, with a sack of apple seeds. He subsequently planted them all over New England, and the resulting variety of apples was dubbed “The Rambo Apple.”

Now here’s the important part.

If you’re thinking The fuck, the dude’s name was Rambo?!, you might be onto something.

Back in the day (circa 1970), a writer named David Morrell was trying to come up with a name for the protagonist of his latest novel. His wife came home with a bag of apples that she claimed were particularly delicious; he asked what they were called.

If you guessed “Rambo apples,” you are now displaying signs of average intelligence. Congratulations!

Morrell’s book was called First Blood and it inspired the infamous Rambo film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone.




Bitch, where are my royalties?!

I mean, hell, Sylvester Stallone’s character was indirectly named after my ancestor. Are there no benefits in that?! You mean my poor great great grandfather Ezekiel Rambo Young (I couldn’t even make this shit up) had to live his whole life with that ludicrous moniker and it means nothing?! (Unfortunately, Peter’s descendants were really into naming their sons Ezekiel. And my poor great great grandfather was named way before they knew our family name was going to become an 80s cinematic sensation.)

(Thousands of angels are playing their tiny violins as we speak.)

So, basically?

The estate of David Morrell can send me a check (or money order!) for a million bucks and we’ll call it even.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Aunt Fanny, A Brass Bed, and My Potentially Dangerous Bathtub Problem


Once upon a time, I thought I was normal. That is, until my mother started a llama farm in an abandoned neighborhood. More on that later.

Anyway, as I've gotten older, I've also grown increasingly eccentric. I thought this was a common occurrence - until I figured out that other people weren't obsessed with Mexican water salamanders, phallic Bhutanese wall paintings, and giant squid. But, in the tradition of basic human nature, I'm going to blame all of this on something besides myself. Yes, that's right, I'm blaming it on genetics.

It all started a few weeks ago when I woke up at four in the morning freezing my ass off. This wasn't very surprising, since I was submerged in a tub of frigid water.

But wait, I thought. Why am I in a tub of cold water?!

See, I couldn't really remember at the time - due to a developing hangover - that I had drunk perhaps a bottle and a half of red wine earlier that evening. It was all part of my participation in a party I shouldn't have even been at, considering I had work the next day. But none of this really explains how I got to be in the bathtub.

At some point during the evening, I had decided that I was going to be responsible and go to bed. The party was at The Boyfriend's house, so this wasn't a major inconvenience - I just crawled under his covers and prepared to block out the noise coming from the living room. Unfortunately, I had not been responsible enough. I was already so drunk that the very act of lying down made me feel like I was on the deck of the fishing boat in that George Clooney disaster, The Perfect Storm.

I got up just in time to relieve myself of the contents of my stomach in the proper receptacle.

Immediately afterward, my eyes fell upon the bathtub.

Let me explain my drunken logic. Everyone in the known universe understands that to avoid hangovers, you must take the proper precautions by drinking a lot of water. I considered my science lessons from eighth grade, and the word "osmosis" seemed particularly appropriate (and amusing). Why yes, I thought, I will absorb water through my skin! Like in osmosis! It didn't occur to me that no one ever talks about taking bubble baths to cure hangovers. I didn't care. Osmosis is a natural scientific process, and therefore it was sure to work!

Shortly after drunkenly clambering into the tub, I was interrupted by The Boyfriend who had noticed I was missing from the party.

"You're in the bathtub?!" he asked incredulously.

"Yes I am!" I replied.

He saw there was no getting me out, so he returned to his other, non-bathing party guests.

Now this is where The Boyfriend fails as a boyfriend, and I fail as a human being with at least an average amount of intelligence, because - no joke here, kiddies - I completely fell asleep.

For three hours.



When I awoke at four in the morning, I had been sawing logs in the bathtub for 180 minutes. I somehow dried off and put on something resembling pajamas, dragged myself to the bed, and promptly passed out again.

When the sun rose and work beckoned, I wanted to die. I pulled on my clothes and drove to the office, and then spent the remainder of my morning trying very hard not to puke on my keyboard. Clearly, osmosis does not apply to drunk people.

Suddenly, The Boyfriend appears on gchat. The following conversation ensued:


Now, the worst part about all of this is not that my boyfriend left me drunk in a tub to die, it's that I had done this sort of thing before. Only the other time, I was alone in a hotel room. During a conference.

But anyway, my bathtub obsession is well documented. Ask anyone that knew me in high school. Or middle school. I was very prone to taking phone calls in the bathtub. Death was not a concern then either - clearly I wasn't worried about electrocution. My bathing habits had gotten to the point that my dad would knock on the bathroom door and ask if I "wanted to take a call." Lately I've even gotten in the habit of taking a glass of wine and my ebook reader into the tub with me - a deadly combination that has not resulted in my electrocution or drowning - yet.

But anyway, back to genetics.

Yes, I blame this on genetics. After the unfortunate "my-boyfriend-left-me-in-the-tub-to-drown" incident, I recalled a story about some relatives that I had heard a very long time ago. I have since verified this story with my grandfather, so what you are about to hear is all true. Beware. You might not want to be friends with me after this, because I'm probably going to turn into a crazy drunken hermit with 800 pet llamas and a half ton of gold bricks under my floorboards. (You might want to stick around for the gold bricks though.)

So. Here it goes.

Oh yeah, I haven’t changed the names. Because they are awesome.

Once upon a time, circa the late 1800s, my great-great-great aunts, Fanny and Emma, were taking the word “spinster” to a whole new level.

Neither sister had ever been married, so they did the logical thing and lived under the same roof for their entire lives. This was the same roof that their mother, Grandma Lurch (once again, these are real names) lived under.

Anyway, to make matters worse, Aunt Fanny and Aunt Emma also shared a bed. Not in a sexy way. In an it’s-the-1800s-and-my-sister-and-I-share-a-bed sort of way. Like in all those period drama mini series on the BBC.

The bed shared by Aunt Fanny and Aunt Emma was a big old brass bed with metal posts and decorative knobs and all that crap. But the bed wasn’t always big enough for the two of them – sometimes the sisters would get into terrible fights.

Fanny and Emma’s battles have become legendary. Over a hundred years later, my family is still talking about them.


Well, because, when Aunt Fanny and Aunt Emma would get into their dramatic screaming matches, the altercation was apparently never resolved by bedtime. And since the sisters shared a bed, well, something had to give.

What gave was Fanny.

Aunt Fanny – according to numerous sources – would get so hopping mad that she would gather up her blankets and pillows, march down the hall, and…


…make herself a bed in the bathtub.

Now, surely, you must understand where I’m going with this. See? It’s genetic, people! I can’t help that I have DNA-based bathtub problem! This can undoubtedly be proved through science!


Now stop making fun of me.

And stop leaving me in the bathtub to drown!

But back to the story - luckily, this story has a happy ending.

Fanny and Emma, the extraordinary stay-at-home spinster duo, were entirely supported by my great-great grandfather, as he had married a close relative of theirs. (Why, I cannot imagine. Would you marry a girl if you knew she was related to a pair of crazy broads that shared a bed and occasionally slept in a bathtub? Oh wait. Shit. No, come on now, I’m only distantly related. Sexy male readers, fear not!)


Well, after the pair passed away (probably from whooping cough or the plague or something) my great-great grandfather went to their former home to clean out their belongings. Halfway through cleaning up the mess, a workman disassembling the big brass bed calls out to him, “Sir! You should come look at this!”

So, my befuddled relation makes his way to Fanny and Emma’s bedroom, where the workmen have pulled the knobs off of the bed posts. Stuffed inside the frame are wads upon crumpled wads of cash!

They pull the bed apart and discover that Fanny and Emma have hidden seven thousand dollars in the frame of their big brass bed!

Keep in mind this is still the 1800s, and seven grand could probably pay a laborer’s salary for a year, or buy you a huge piece of property. So like, CHA-CHING.

Like I said. You should probably stick around for the gold bars I will be hiding in my crawl space in 50 years.


It’s genetic.

P.S. This post is dedicated to Matlicious on Twitter, who got my lazy butt to stop neglecting my blog. And he did it using the phrase "awesome sauce". Clearly, this guy is fan-fucking-tastic!

P.S.S. I swear I had good reasons for my blatant blog neglect. I moved. I got a new job. Shit be crazy up in here!

P.S.S.S. I promise I will explain the llamas. Soon. I swear.

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Friend Turco is Looking for Groupies to Have Sex with His Band


Remember my friend Turco? The one who doesn’t have herpes? Well, apparently, the post I wrote to get him laid was so successful that I am now being bribed to pimp his band.

And when I say successful, I mean that a handful of teenyboppers replied to it on Facebook with gems like, “Wait, did you really crash your bike?”

I was certain the dead fish and pink deer would tip people off that I cannot be taken seriously.

Which is why I was confused when I got a Facebook message from Christoff – self-appointed manager of the band Tangent – with the subject line that read: “Blog Skillz?”. The message asked me to pimp the band in exchange for mind-altering substances and a subsidized cover charge.

Well, here I am again, throwing my integrity out the window, because what Christoff lacks in managerial skillz, he make up for in rad faux-velvet rock star wear. And bribery.

[If you are looking for yuppie pirates, fake basketball players, and preteens, then Tangent is the band for you!]

Chrisoff has offered me (and my nonexistent friends) free admission to Electric Haze: DJ & Rock Band Event at The Waterfront Concert Theatre in Marina del Rey. He has done this so I will take photos of Tangent free of charge. To sweeten the deal (and get shittier photographs?) he has offered me “a few drinks”. A.k.a one drink. If he’s not too busy dedicating songs to his girlfriend.

These bribes, as it turns out, are much more tangible than the pizza and $30 check that I was promised by Turco if I got him laid.

So cheers to Christoff’s terrible business decisions. (Which include, but are not limited to, asking me to write this blog post in hopes it will attract attendees; changing his name to Christoff to “increase business” which apparently it did – according to Christoff. Since, you know, he’s an economist. Apparently we live in an age where you can be an economist without an Econ degree. By the way, I’m a neurosurgeon.)

But if you’re someone who can tolerate trance music and dudes that spell the name Christoph/Christof/Kristoff wrong, this might be the show for you!

If you’re still not sure, let me give you a few reasons to attend even though you will not be receiving free alcohol and admission like myself:

1. Turco’s orgasm face. If you were at all tempted to sleep with Turco after that other post, this is definitely the show for you! Turco plays the drums like he’s having sex with them. His face is contorted by spasms of pleasure at being able to beat his drums like he beats other things. After watching several Tangent shows, I have become convinced that this is what Turco looks like in bed:


However, you are going to have to verify that for me.

2. T-shirts. Tangent sells shirts at their shows, and I know you’ve always wanted a shirt that will make people ask you if you’re really into geometry.

[Neither of these groupies managed to properly display their band shirts. FAIL.]

3. Drug taking opportunities. The show has two stages, which means that one is purely manned by DJs. The DJs at this show are named DJ Tyler Larkin and DJ INF3CTION, and they will probably be spinning some serious trance music. This can be effectively coupled with ecstasy, so I hear. I don’t know who these DJs are. The first one obviously forgot that DJs can pick cool names. And the second one wanted people to associated him with preteen text messaging and/or terrible graphic designers.

4. Fartbarf. THERE IS A BAND NAMED FARTBARF. Need I say more?

5. Me. If you’re a fan of this blog, I will totally autograph a body part of your choosing. Also, if you promise to buy me booze, I will claim that you are one of my close personal acquaintances and I will demand that Christoff let you in for free.

6. Vice Versa. The Boyfriend is the lead singer of Vice Versa, and he sometimes performs in his socks. This can be amusing. Blake also plays in this band, and he makes cheesy grits, which taste delicious. Also, he is recently single, and will probably go on a date with you despite your halitosis and obvious drug problem. Turco plays drums for Vice Versa as well as Tangent, which means reason number one (orgasm face) also applies. Matt, the bass player, wears a woman’s jacket with fuzzy cheetah print sleeves to every show – mention to him that you know this, and I will buy you a soda.


Now that you've been totally convinced of this show's worth, you can click here for details.

P.S. In all likelihood, Christoff will immediately realize that asking me to promote this event was a catastrophic idea.

In that case, you will probably not get not get free admission in exchange for booze, my autograph, or a soda in exchange for mentioning the cheetah coat because I will be banned from the facility. If I am correct, that means half of the awesome reasons to attend are now void, and you should immediately commence a boycott.

UPDATE: The Boyfriend has informed me that Matt wears a cow print jacket, not a cheetah print jacket. I tried to argue, but apparently The Boyfriend gave the jacket to Matt and should know. In hindsight, I should have realized that this jacket was The Boyfriend's, since A) it is a piece of women's clothing, and B) it is horrifying, and C) he was quite upset that I didn't get the animal right. My apologies.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Apologies to the Person Who’s House We Illegally Dumped My Grandparents’ Remains Behind Yesterday


Several years ago, I was traumatized to discover that my grandmother was keeping her late husband’s remains in the closet next to her handbags. My much younger self had been under the impression that my grandpa’s ashes had been thrown into the ocean like most people; instead, he was gathering extra dust, waiting for the day my grandmother passed on so the two of them could have their ashes mingled together.

Well, he waited a very long time, because my grandmother passed away only just this year, several months shy of her 100th birthday. Oh, and how poetic it would be – I mistakenly thought – when we finally took grandpa out of the closet and laid them both to rest.

Unfortunately, my grandfather’s wishes were that he and my grandmother should be spread over the horse corral where he once kept his horses. This seemed like a nice idea until yesterday, when my family actually met up to do the deed.

You guys, now I know, there is a reason why people choose to throw ashes into the ocean.
Also, I can now add “illegal dumping of human remains” to the list of things I’ve accomplished in 2010. That wasn’t even on my To Do List to begin with!

You see, you can’t exactly just go throw your family members’ burned bodies all over public property. But my family has very little regard for the law, and we showed up after hours at the local horse corral like a bunch of bandits armed with urns.

When we had all gathered – Cancer Dad, Wife Number Four (or Five), my uncle, aunt, brother, two cousins, and a random girlfriend of a cousin – I asked loudly with my typical lack of tack, “So, what’s the plan? Are we dumping the ash and running for it?”

Cancer Dad gave me a quizzical look, to which I replied, “Um, Dad, you know this is illegal, right?”

You’d think after 66 years or so of life, Cancer Dad would have this kind of basic knowledge. However, he looks at me and says, rather condescendingly I might add, “No it’s not!” At which point Wife Number Four (or Five), in a rare moment of clarity, yells, “Of course it’s illegal! Why do you think we’re all here after hours WHEN NO ONE ELSE IS AROUND?!”

Now that it has been firmly established that we are all possibly going to be thrown in jail for unlawful disposal of not one, but two dead bodies, we begin the rather difficult task of finding an appropriate place in which to empty out the urns.

In hindsight, what we really should have done was tied the bags of ash to some horses, poked holes in said bags, and let the horses run for it. Because what really happened is not in the least bit poetic.

First of all, do you know how much ash one human body can produce when you burn it?



And while ash is soluble in, say, ocean water, IT IS NOT SOLUBLE IN DIRT.

This is more basic stuff my family should know, really.

Anyway, we all start marching towards the horse corrals, hoping that someone – anyone, really – will find a decent spot in which to perform our little ceremony before we run out of space.

Cancer Dad decides the best course of action is to dump his parents behind their old house, which backs up to the horse corral.

Okay, seriously, with all the picturesque cliffs, vast beaches, beautiful hills, and open land in my hometown, someone please explain to me why we are dumping my grandparents’ remains BEHIND SOME POOR UNSUSPECTING PERSON’S HOUSE?!



Cancer Dad picks a sad looking tree and then we all look at each other expectantly.

There is no way in hell I am doing this. Right now, it is still possible for me to run in the opposite direction if the police show up. If I pick up an urn, I’m totally going to jail.

Finally, my aunt settles it. She instructs Cancer Dad to pick up one urn, and my uncle to pick up the other.

I smile as the universe proves, once again, that some things transcend life and death – Cancer Dad, with all his crippling mommy issues, picks up his father’s urn. His brother – the one with daddy issues – picks up his mother’s urn. My brother, Topher, turns to me and snickers, “I didn’t see that one coming!”

And this is where it gets funny.

No really.

I am expecting a cinematic experience here, people. The sun is supposed to start setting. The sad music should swell; our eyes should be filling with tears. The wind should carry the tiny particles of ash away, and my grandparents should disappear into nothingness.

This is clearly not what occurs.

No – when you dump a sandbag-sized container of ash onto the ground, it stays there.

Like, really, really stays there.

My grandmother’s remains hit the ground first, as they are much fresher. Sadly, my poor grandfather has spent over a decade in a damp closet, and he’s a little – errr – chunkier?

Cancer Dad shakes the urn in frustration.

“Hit the urn! Hit the urn!” cheers my aunt.

I have now basically doubled over and am frantically trying to smother my laughter with my hand. Topher shoots me a death glare.

My aunt continues cheering my father on.

Someone suggests that we remove the bag of ash from the urn to speed up the process. My cousin says he believes the bag is stuck in the urn. Cancer Dad whacks the urn harder.

Finally, grandpa is on the ground too. Ash is slowly billowing upwards and coating Cancer Dad’s and my uncle's jeans. My aunt instructs my uncle to stamp his feet to get rid of some of the ash. Great, my family is covered in, well, my other – dead – family.

We are now standing around what is most definitely, without a doubt, a massive sand dune of human remains.

Under a tree.

In the dirt.

Behind some poor person’s house.

“Umm, Amen?” says someone.



And then we all stand there.

I know I’ve got to say what everyone is thinking.

“We can’t just leave it like that!

I’m starting to fear that Cancer Dad’s space plague cancer has killed off some of his common sense or something, because he promptly states, “Yes we can.”

I turn to Topher. “But what if a child falls in it?! Or a puppy?!

Everyone murmurs, and then comes to the conclusion that no, we can’t just leave a giant pile of dead people behind a house and somewhat on a horse trail. It would be wrong.

So, my uncle goes to get the rake he uses to clean up his horse stable.


Luckily, my brother and cousin get to it first – they both grab branches of the sickly-looking tree we’ve just deposed of my grandparents under, and begin spreading the ash around on the ground.

And then they try covering it with dirt and leaves.

By the time they’re done, they’ve basically stirred my grandparents into a soup of dead foliage, horse poop, and other organic matter.

Great. My grandparents are fertilizer.

My cousin – who, oddly enough, had his first wedding – which was pimp and ho themed, mind you - in this very horse corral, turns to his girlfriend (who, for some reason, decided to attend this catastrophe) and says, “Hey! We can get married while we’re at it!”

Cancer Dad chimes in, “Yeah! You can stand on top of your dead grandparents and say your vows!”

So now, a brief letter, from me to my dead and decimated grandfather.


Friday, June 4, 2010

That One Time I Was Scarier Than North Korea Because The Boyfriend Wanted a Pair of Shoes

[Here I am at the DMZ on the clearest day in Korea in 13 years, during the worst relations between the two nations in 20 years. I am standing within sniper range. You think this is dangerous? Don't worry - you're about to find out that I am much more dangerous than any North Korean sniper. Guaranteed.]

The is the epic tale of how The Boyfriend and I managed to get back to the United States despite his best efforts to miss our plane over a pair of shoes. Upon hearing this story earlier today, one of my coworkers asked in confusion, “Wait, who is this about again?!” “My boyfriend,” I replied. “Are you quite certain he isn’t gay?” my concerned coworker prodded.

Well, yes, I am very, very certain The Boyfriend isn’t gay. However, he is very, very odd.

So now begins our story.

Once upon a week or so ago, The Boyfriend and I were happily vacationing in South Korea – much to my surprise, since The Boyfriend never wants to go anywhere. We had ventured to a popular outdoor market in Seoul called Namdaemun, and were happily admiring booths of live octopus, decorative socks, and faux Louis Vuitton paraphernalia with my good friend Kirin. All was pleasant until The Boyfriend happened upon a stall filled with shoes.

[Why buy shoes when you can buy fun things like $900 bottles of ginseng, live octopi, or gutted fish?!]

The Boyfriend is very peculiar when it comes to wardrobe. He wants what he wants, but he always asks my opinion a thousand times – or at least until my opinion becomes what he wants it to be. This happens often because there are only so many times I can hear “Are you suuuure?” before I give up and yell, “Nevermind, that’s totally fabulous! I agree! You should buy it!” (In fact, I have decided to give up entirely, because on the day I insulted his outfit – he was wearing plaid shorts, knee-high socks, an orange dress tie, a burgundy short sleeve dress shirt, and loafers – he was spotted by some Korean fashion bloggers and photographed for a post. So I give up. I obviously don’t understand fashion.)

The Boyfriend fell in love with a pair of ridiculous faux Gucci loafers. And, as fate would have it, these loafers belonged to the only Korean salesman in the whole market who would not negotiate price; even better, his prices were double everyone else’s.

Both Kirin and I protested, because this was obviously highway robbery. With so many shoes to choose from, why pay double for this pair? I reasoned. The Boyfriend sighed in defeat. He knew our logic was infallible. He left the shoes on the shelf.

As it turned out, my obsession with logic would prove to be my downfall. I should know by now that the only way to be happy with The Boyfriend is to let him do whatever he pleases and feign tremendous excitement over him doing it.

The day before we had to leave, The Boyfriend starts muttering about the shoes he failed to acquire.

For our last full day in Korea, we have purchased tickets to the show Nanta – an extremely popular stage comedy that fuses cooking and traditional Korean drumming. I am excited to go – but I agree that we can venture to Sinchon in the hours before the performance. The Boyfriend discovers another outdoor market in the side streets of Sinchon, and frantically shops for shoes.

I glance at the time.

I tell him we have 20 minutes.

And then 15.

And 10.

He argues with my timetable, while sprinting from stall to stall, trying on everything he can find.

We are in negative time now. I’m becoming more and more aggravated. It is all I can do not to grab him by the ear and drag him to a taxicab. I begin seething. He finally gives in and helps me hail a cab. By this time, the traffic in Seoul is at a standstill and I note with a sinking feeling that we are definitely going to be late.


Now, The Boyfriend may lack time management skills, but he still doesn’t like to see me upset. He makes pathetic noises from the back seat of the cab and attempts to give me a back-rub. I threaten him with violence, as is my way. He whines some more. I’ve almost forgiven him when he decides that the REAL reason we’re going to be late isn’t his obsessive shopping, but my inability to direct our non-English speaking cab driver directly to the theater. He whips out a map of the Myeong-dong shopping area and begins wildly stabbing at the theater (which is on a walking street, inaccessible to motor vehicles). Our driver looks confused and starts babbling in Korean and pointing in the direction of our original drop off location. I panic. I tell him to stop it. I let the cab driver drop us off at the subway station walking distance from the theater, and we sprint all the way there.

We don’t make it, as predicted. The Boyfriend starts bemoaning my lack of skills in directing our driver again, and I lose it.


We are finally admitted to the theater by the usher at a convenient point in the show.

I try to remain infuriated, but really, we’ve only missed the first seven minutes and Nanta is so hilarious I can’t be angry. Especially when I get dragged up on stage to pull a trash can off an actor’s ass.

[Koreans really, really like to pull foreigners up on stage during live comedy shows. And believe me, there is nothing quite like being laughed at by hundreds of Koreans in an auditorium and knowing it's partially because you are trying to pull a trash can off some guy's butt and failing, and partially because you are an American trying to pull a trash can off some guy's butt and failing.]

I mean, really, how can you be mad after that?!

We meet up with The Korean Boyfriend and Kirin afterwards for dinner. The Boyfriend suggests we follow up dinner with a trip to Namdaemun so he can buy the now infamous loafers.

We are all quick to point out that it is now the middle of the night and there is no possible way the outdoor market is still open. But we can check! exclaims The Boyfriend. But it’s shut down for the night! I argue. But The Boyfriend wins, because he declares that he will just go tomorrow (yes, the day we are supposed to leave) if we do not go now.

My dear friends, it is my last night in Korea and I am spending it in a pitch dark, abandoned market.

I kid you not.

The Korean Boyfriend, Kirin, and I break down into some kind of group hysteria as we watch The Boyfriend literally sprint around the abandoned marketplace as if he can start spinning the globe in the opposite direction by running fast enough, thereby turning back time and opening the market back up for business.

A delirious photo shoot ensues.

[The Korean Boyfriend saves Kirin from a runaway mini van. Kirin is overtaken by emotion in response to his heroic deeds.]
[This market is obviously claiming to be multicultural.]

The Boyfriend returns, defeated – something which we could have already alerted him to, as we have been standing in front of the very stall his shoes are at, and it is clearly locked up for the night.

[Alas, The Boyfriend cannot turn back time. The market remains closed.]

He mutters under his breath about coming back in the morning. I shoot him a warning glance, and then we drag him to a bar where I thoroughly humiliate him by winning a drinking game and forcing him to make out with a poster in the middle of the bar.

Believe me when I say I do these things out of love.

Kissing The Soju Girl Poster from Brittany Swanson on Vimeo.

I mistakenly believe I have taken the ultimate revenge. I have no idea what awaits me in the morning.

I am awakened by the dull thumping of The Boyfriend walking around Kirin’s apartment. I groan, turn over, and mutter, “What time is it?”
“Errr, six in the morning,” he says.

“WHAT?! WHY?” I nearly sob from beneath the covers.

His next statement makes my blood run cold. “I’m going to get my shoes,” he says.

For the first few seconds, I am in shock. I think that he must be joking. Our plane back to the United States leaves today; we need to be on a bus by 1 PM. We have yet to begin packing. The market is an hour and a half subway ride, and he has not taken the subway by himself nor paid the slightest bit of attention to the stations when we have taken it together. He is notoriously late to everything. He thinks the best way to communicate with people who only speak Korean is to yell very loudly in English.

Oh my god, he is going to get lost in Seoul and never return. I will have to explain to his father that I lost him in a foreign country; that I have no hope of finding him again because he doesn’t have a Korean cell phone.

It becomes my life mission to prevent this travesty.

I am simultaneously furious and terrified. I transform into a raging gargoyle.


The Boyfriend is clearly shocked when I launch out of bed and begin beating him senseless with a pillow. I yell incoherent woman phrases like, “WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!” and “WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!” and not so woman-like phrases such as, “THEY ARE JUST FUCKING SHOES, YOU FUCKER!” I am totally more threatening to the safety of South Korea than North Korea is at this point.

But it obvious that my antics are just making him more determined.

There is only one thing to do; I must go with him.

He resists at first, because without a doubt I have morphed into a homicidal banshee who will probably stab him before he gets to the subway. But he waits while I wash my face and throw on acceptable outdoor-wear.
He tries to win me over with his super cuteness, but I am not so easily persuaded this time. He has stolen not only my sanity, but also my sleep – the latter being much more important.

I basically growl at him for both the bus and subway rides, despite his ridiculous semi-marriage proposal/hint which went something like, “Babe, I’m not going to marry you if you make scary faces like you did this morning!” To which I replied in some horribly unromantic fashion, like, “YOU AREN’T GOING TO MARRY ME ANYWAY. BESIDES, I CAN’T MARRY YOU, YOU ARE FUCKING CRAZY!”

[Obviously sane, right?]

We reach Namdaemun, and I am forced to laugh. It is so early, the shops have not yet opened. The Boyfriend has failed yet again.

He drags me to a Dunkin’ Donuts (inexplicably popular in South Korea) to shut me up with food, and we discover that it is so fucking early that they haven’t even begun to make bagels yet.

I start to cheer up, because his obvious lack of success is making me feel much better.

We sit in the Dunkin’ Donuts until they make the bagels; I order a cheese bagel (which I have to wait longer for) and he orders a raisin bagel because he can get it sooner. It becomes obvious that I have the vastly superior bagel, and I get great pleasure out of denying him bites of it while he whines like a puppy dog. My mood improves so much, I write him this lovely letter to forgive him for his shoe-buying antics and present it to him while I chew the remainder of my delicious bagel:

[This note fell out of my bag when I got home, prompting my mother to ask, "Umm, so, did everything go okay?"]

We return to the market, and I expect him to go directly to the stall and purchase the almighty pair of loafers.

He goes there, but does not purchase them.

I am baffled.

Instead, he takes approximately 30 laps around the market and tries on every pair of shoes in sight. The time is rapidly wasting away; I start getting concerned. I ask if he intends to get his shoes. He says he is still looking.

I’m starting to get peeved again. We came all the way back here to buy THE shoes, not ANY shoes. Why is he doing this?!!

We have 15 minutes before my ultimate deadline. I point this out. He goes back to the stall containing THE shoes and tries them on again. And again he tries to negotiate with the stubborn Korean salesman. The man refuses. Literally, Korean men are walking out of the stall and shaking their heads at me to indicate the outrageousness of this man’s prices. I turn to the boyfriend and state the obvious. He will either have to pay full price, or give up on these shoes.

Instead, The Boyfriend selects TWO pairs of outrageously priced shoes and tries to work a deal with the salesman again. The salesman refuses, and demands 130,000 won. The Boyfriend opens his wallet, counts his cash, and confesses to the man that he only has 111,000 won.

The most ridiculous event ensues. This terribly greedy bastard literally goes through The Boyfriend’s wallet to verify that he has no more cash. Then he turns to me and points.



[This dude probably tries to sell dead goldfish to tourists as a delicacy. I'm serious.]

We are victorious; the bastard accepts the 111,000 won for the shoes. And we are only 30 minutes behind schedule! YAY!

I practically drag The Boyfriend to the subway. Then we run to the bus stop. Then we run back to Kirin’s apartment. I tell The Boyfriend to hop in the shower while I pack; then we reverse and I get in the shower.

But, while I’m shampooing, I hear something. Something that sounds nothing like packing.

I yell out, “What are you doing?”

He yells back, “I’m packing!”

I finish my shower, throw on a towel, and walk in on him skyping Turco, no suitcase in sight.


We are definitely supposed to be on a bus at this point.

I’m completely convinced that we are staying in Korea forever now, which I wouldn’t particularly mind, but lord knows he would mind in a few days. And then he would want to buy another airline ticket. And that would be expensive.

I start aggressively imploring him to pack.

Kirin stops by to wish us farewell; it has become obvious that we will not be ready in time for her to walk us to the bus stop, which is like, three fucking miles away.

We finally pack.

And jesus, we have way more shit than I thought.

Carrying all our luggage to the far away bus stop in time seems impossible. We decide to take a cab, which we can catch outside the apartment.

One problem.

The Boyfriend has spent ALL his Korean cash on those damn shoes.

And I don’t have enough to get us to the airport, which is an hour away.

I leave him with the luggage and sprint five blocks to the nearest ATM, which, as it turns out, DOESN’T WORK.

I am dying inside.

I come back to find that The Boyfriend has already put all our belongings in the trunk of a cab, and the driver speaks zero English. I try to indicate to him that I want to use a credit card. He starts chattering incomprehensibly and yelling about the “dole” which I absolutely do not understand.


Twenty minutes later, at which point I am on the verge of screaming because we are obviously never going to home due to The Boyfriend’s fucking shoes, the cabbie calls an interpreter.

The interpreter tells us we can pay with a card.

Umm, what?

Apparently the cabbie was trying to tell us there was a “toll” – but really, that doesn’t matter at all, because he just adds that to our fare which we can PAY WITH A CARD.


So, yes, that’s right dear readers; we got to the airport.

And that concludes the story of how I almost didn’t get back to the United States because of a pair of shoes.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dear God, If You Get The Boyfriend On The Plane Tomorrow, I Will Stop Telling People You Don’t Exist

[My first trip to Korea in July of 2007. No, I don't know why I choose to share photos of creepy seafood and a shot of me riding a huge leather lion. It seemed like a good idea at the time. And now that it is uploaded, there is no going back.]

I know, I know, asking God to prove His existence to me so that I will believe in Him flies in the face of faith as we know it, but you guys, I’m getting a little desperate here.

I adore The Boyfriend, but he’s sort of like a space alien – basic historical knowledge, current pop culture references, and the concept of time all seem to elude him. Usually I think his oddities are kind of cute. But when we are suppose to be on a plane headed towards South Korea in less than 24 hours, I think it’s kind of COMPLETELY TERRIFYING. At this point, all our mutual friends have laughed at me and then wished me good luck because I’ll “need it.”

I knew when The Boyfriend randomly decided he wanted to venture across the world with me that I was in for it. Our only other trip together was a road trip to Northern California, and when I showed up at his house to pick him up and hit the road, he confessed to me that he had no clean clothes. Because it was already close to nightfall, I threw him, and his dirty laundry, into the car and took off anyway. This time, it’s not that easy.

The Boyfriend’s time management philosophy involves constantly omitting important information and promising to get things done by a certain deadline, and then not even blinking as said deadline whooshes past.

Usually, I shrug these antics off. But yesterday I almost lost it completely. I call this incident The Air Mattress Debacle.

Our story begins several weeks ago when I realized the both of us could not fit on Kirin’s couch in her apartment in Seoul. This seemed to be a solvable problem – The Boyfriend’s father owns an air mattress. I asked again and again if The Boyfriend could look at the air mattress and figure out if it would fulfill our needs.

As was expected, this was continually forgotten.

On multiple occasions, I inquired about our air mattress status. “Well,” said The Boyfriend, “My dad says it’s big.”

You guys, I don’t know what that means. You take the air out of the mattress, fold it up, and then how big could it really be? If it fits into the overhead compartment on a plane, I really don’t care. Yet, every time I asked The Boyfriend if he had looked at the mattress, he told me he had not, but that his dad said it was big.

On Sunday night at 10 PM I finally dragged The Boyfriend to his dad’s house for the sole purpose of looking at the mattress.

All the way out to the shed, his dad keeps saying, “It’s a big mattress!” And this point, I am picturing an epic monster mattress. Possible one that can be used as a boat to sail to Korea.

Well, he pulls it out, and I find myself face to face with a perfectly normal sized air mattress that is folded up into a manageable square. I start looking it over. One thing is wrong. THERE IS NO PUMP.

Me: “Do you have the pump?”

The Boyfriend’s Dad: “Nope.”

The Boyfriend: “You need a pump? We can’t just blow it up?”

I stare at my musically gifted boyfriend and his (true story) rocket scientist father. What. The. Hell. I don’t understand. Wait. Wouldn’t the fact that this air mattress is lacking a pump be something THAT YOU SHOULD TELL SOMEONE WHO WANTED TO BORROW IT? INSTEAD OF REPEATING “IT’S BIG” OVER AND OVER?

[This is the point where my mother interrupts my story and says, “You know Brittany, your great grandfather was a very famous and brilliant economist. But he couldn't even tell you the price of toothpaste!” Touché, mother.]


I sigh, turn to The Boyfriend, and ask if he can run to the Big 5 ten minutes from his house the next day and pick up an air mattress with a pump. He says yes.

Fast forward to 1 PM the next day.

Me: “Have you picked up the air mattress?”

The Boyfriend: “No. I don’t have time.”

Me: “What? But you said you could!”

The Boyfriend: “I’ve got stuff to do.”

I hang up the phone and call Big 5 to verify their hours and prices. I call The Boyfriend back.

Me: “The Big 5 is open until 9 PM.”

The Boyfriend: “Oh, okay, I can make it before then.”

Me: “Are you sure? I mean, really sure? Because if you can’t, I’d rather know now!”

The Boyfriend: “Oh yeah, I can make it there before 9.”

Around 8 PM, I call The Boyfriend again to check our air mattress status.

Me: “Did you get the air mattress?”

The Boyfriend: “No, I can’t today, I’m busy. I will get it tomorrow.”

Me: “There is still an hour before it closes!”

The Boyfriend: “The neighbor is over, he needs me to take some pictures of him for something….”


I’m dying inside at this point. I’m a rational, collected human being who always nods my head and lets things go, but this time my brain is about to explode.

Over an air mattress.

But it’s really not about the air mattress. It’s about the fact that “tomorrow” is the day before we have to leave. And I don’t trust his abilities to even be packed by the time the plane takes off, so putting important things off for even one more day is setting off warning bells in my head. Abort! Abort!

I say fine. I hang up the phone.

Psycho ninja axe murderer Brittany suddenly takes over. The girl that hides in the shadows of my normally calm exterior and plots homicide while I pretend to like people.

I am not even joking. I mean, what other logical explanation exists for me texting to him: “You’re in trouble. And I think I might have to kill you.”? THAT IS THE EXACT TEXT MESSAGE.

And he’s all like, Whaaaa? Brittany doesn’t say things like that!

And then we get to the part where he goes all crazy and confesses to being absolutely terrified of going on this trip, plus in constant fear that all the plants are going to die and that his business is going to spontaneously explode because he is out of the country for 15 days.

Oh boy, was this a bad idea. I never should have let The Boyfriend try to leave his natural habitat. It’s just not right.

I take over the air mattress purchasing duties, even though I work full time in an office that I am not supposed to leave between the hours of 8:30 AM and 5:30 PM – and he continues with his list of mysterious last minute tasks which he has all day to accomplish since he owns his own business and works from home.

Well, I thought everything was solved. Until today, when I told him I would come over tonight, help him pack, and then we would spend the night at my mom’s condo and leave for the airport in the morning.


Homeboy needs to take his Corvette to the shop the morning we are supposed to be leaving to have it color sanded. Ummm, WHAAAAAAAAAT??!

And he’s planning to pack at 5 AM, because, dammit, his mysterious list of things he has to do – which he still hasn’t fully disclosed to me – will not be done until the wee hours of the morning.

I don’t know you guys. I don’t see this ending well.

Hence, if The Boyfriend gets to the plane tomorrow, I’m going to attribute it to a miracle of God.

And, I will immediately start filming with my HD camera, because by the end of this trip I will have made a mini documentary entitled, “The Boyfriend Versus Korea: A Tale of Cultural Misadventures and Really Huge Cell Phone Bills”. Coming soon to a video website near you.

P.S. I still adore The Boyfriend. Take this as a loving portrayal of my slightly deranged significant other. No really.

P.S.S. I'm actually in a good mood. I just got a call from the agency I interviewed at last week - the executive director wants me to come back and do a second interview with her! That's a good sign, right?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It’s Like, I Was Practically Notorious B.I.G.’s Best Friend

[I promise you, by the end of this post, the title and this picture will totally make sense. Original photo (before I bastardized it) can be found here.]

Oh, Mother’s Day – every year, it gives my mom an excuse to scream “STOP IT! IT’S MOTHER’S DAY!” at me for acting in exactly the way I always do. Which is understandable, considering my mother is a very upstanding member of society who never speaks ill of people and always looks put together, and I’m a sloppy hot mess who can’t stop insulting random people on the street.

It’s terrible, really. I feel bad for her. All she wanted was a blonde, smiley, social butterfly of a daughter, and what she got was evil demon spawn. My inability to take anything seriously makes her want to pull her hair out. I laugh about how the elevator almost killed me, she screams at me because my aunt’s boyfriend back in the 80s got his head smashed by an elevator and he became a vegetable. And it was even worse because he was a successful doctor! How could I even joke about that?!

Then I joke that we should throw open our car doors and clothesline the cyclists. And she screams at me because an acquaintance in college got killed when someone opened their car door in front of his motorcycle.


I really can’t win with her.

But never once have I doubted our relation. This is because my mom’s parents are EVEN WORSE THAN ME.

My grandparents are like my second set of parents.

My grandmother, by all outward appearances, is sweet and loving. She takes her mentally challenged neighbor to the grocery store every week. She gets up at five in the morning and walks the dogs of her ill friends. She grew up in Paraguay the daughter of a missionary, and later taught English as a second language to underprivileged kids.

But if my grandmother walks up to you on the street to tell you how beautiful your baby is, do not mistake her intentions – you’ve just been Evil G’mad!


The second you turn the corner, a smile on your face – remnants of the pleasure you got from hearing from a complete stranger that your child is gorgeous – my grandma has turned to me and said, WHAT AN UGLY BABY!

Seriously. Every time.

It’s like my grandmother gets some kind of thrill out of purposely going up to parents of unfortunate-looking infants and lying to their faces. It’s awesome. And it makes me feel better about my insatiable need to call everyone I see fat and ugly.

Oh top of this, my grandfather is a Class A psycho. We tend to picture 80-year-old dudes as sweet, innocent old men. In the case of my grandpa, this is not even remotely true. Gramps is a bonafide Dirty Old Man – a recovered alcoholic, former undercover narcotics officer, truck driver, and musical prodigy who was expelled from college for selling term papers to his fellow students and charging by the grade. Now in his eighties, my grandpa likes to tell stories about that one time he flipped his car six times and hit a tree but walked away without a scratch because he was drunk, and that other time when he and his brother were in elementary school and decided to steal their dad’s gun to hold up an ice cream parlor.

[A few months back, my grandfather was in the hospital. I asked him if he needed anything. This was his actual response. Like I said, I knew I got that "not being able to take anything seriously" gene from somewhere!]

It is important to note that my grandfather is from an extremely wealthy and powerful family. The wacky ones always are.

Anyway, no one gets my mom’s blood boiling like her dad, even on Mother’s Day. We were driving out to have lunch with my brother near his college, because my grandfather had been yowling about never getting to drive on the freeway anymore. Halfway there, the real fun begins.

Mom: I would not go to Mexico right now, it’s so dangerous because of the drug cartels!

Grandpa: We just need to legalize dope.

Mom: IT’S NOT JUST DOPE! They are bringing meth over the border!

Grandpa: Meth is good for you.


Grandpa: It makes fat people skinny. [At this point, I am snickering uncontrollably, because I know this isn’t going to end well]

Mom: AND THEN IT MAKES THEIR TEETH FALL OUT! It’s highly addictive, Dad!

Grandpa: Is it as addictive AS SEX?!! [insert two straight minutes of my grandfather’s famous evil chuckling]

My mother is now seething. And yelling at Gramps for being wildly inappropriate.

We arrive at the restaurant, which means things are about to get a lot worse. My grandfather is absolutely notorious for being a disruptive asshole at eateries.

We’re at the Olive Garden (because we’re damn classy like that), and the waitress approaches to ask if we would like to try some wine. My grandfather starts off with a bang:

Grandpa: DO YOU SELL IT BY THE GALLON?! [Remember, my grandfather is a recovered alcoholic who hasn’t taken a drink in 20 years.]

Waitress: Ummm….no? [Sometimes we get a waitress that can roll with the punches. Other times we get one that is absolutely terrified of my grandpa’s antics. This one was the latter. She was damn lucky he didn’t try to order opium – he does that quite frequently.]

My mother tries to avert disaster by asking my grandmother if she’d like some wine. My grandfather shrieks, “LIPS THAT HAVE TOUCHED WINE WILL NEVER TOUCH MINE!”


Later, when our food arrives, the waitress offers my mother some Parmesan cheese. My grandfather had gotten his plate before her, and he immediately becomes terrified that he will not be offered any cheese.

Grandpa: Hey, hey, am I getting cheese? I want cheese. Can you get me some cheese?! Hey, CHEESE. DO I GET CHEESE?!!

Waitress: Yes sir, I, hold on…I’m…

Poor girl can’t get a word in edgewise. At this point, we are all yelling, “GRANDPA! HOLD ON A SECOND! SHE WILL GIVE YOU SOME CHEESE!”


My mother – as always – tries to change the subject. And somehow, the first thing she thinks of is that the lawsuit against the LAPD filed by the family of Notorious B.I.G. was finally dismissed last month.

My grandmother smiles. She says, Oh yes, we were there - so much caution tape!

Wait, what? You were WHERE?

The museum! We didn’t know what the caution tape was for! continues my grandmother, as if this is the most normal conversation in the world.



They had absolutely no idea what was going on, so they merrily skirted around the caution tape and had a fabulous day looking at classic cars.

Point One: I have the most badass grandparents on the planet. I mean, they’re evil, disruptive, AND THEY SHOW UP AT THE MURDER SCENE OF A FAMOUS RAPPER AND THEY DON’T EVEN BAT AN EYE.

Point Two: Screw this whole six degrees of separation crap. You guys, I AM SEPARATED FROM BIGGIE SMALLS BY ONLY ONE DEGREE. (And death, of course). ONE DEGREE!!! I practically knew him! THIS IS THE BEST NEWS I’VE HAD ALL YEAR!
[Sorry, my best friend Biggie. I can only look so gangsta.]

Best. Mother’s Day. EVER.