Monthly Archives: October 2009

Harvard Magazine Personal Ads: You Complete Me ( )

When you graduate from Harvard, you’re automatically put on the distribution list for Harvard Magazine, a monthly publication full of big words and BMW spreads.  Each month, I eagerly await my issue.  When I finally get it in the mail, I go straight to the classifieds, to the land of people who love Mozart, clam bakes, and “the outdoors.”  There is truly nothing more entertaining than reading Harvard personals.

Every personal ad in Harvard Mag starts out the same.  It’s almost always a woman, over 40, who is “sensual” and “witty.”  I imagine that prior to placing this ad, she’s endured several blind dates, countless eHarmony mismatches, and more than a few country club flings.

In this month’s issue (Nov-Dec), there were 25 personal ads.

  • personals21 of the 25 ads were taken out by women looking for men (only 1 was for a man looking for a woman… the 3 others were dating service ads)
  • 3 of the women were CEOs or CFOs
  • 5 ads mentioned France or something French… examples of appropriate shout-outs: joie de vive, coq au vin, Musée de Orsay
  • Hobbies that received multiple mentions: traveling, skiing, photography, Maine, birdwatching, and biscuits

I don’t know why I get so much pleasure from reading the mini-resumes of the old and lonely.  Perhaps I’m seeing my future… I have to pick up tips on how to write my own personal ad, twenty years from now.

So, how will it go?  Here are some lines I liked from this month’s magazine:

“Feel like an unpaired electron?” … I do!  All the time.  And you do too?  Well… isn’t that ionic?

“Extremely cute… dark alluring eyes hint at mystery and reveal quick intelligence and happy surprises.” …This is from the first woman who likes biscuits.  She also describes herself as “slender”.  Are you happily surprised?

“Magic ability to playfully enjoy humor.” …This is the second woman who likes biscuits.  She would like my “ionic” joke.  Blame it on magic.

“Looking forward to meeting personable man (59-73)” … Apparently, 74 is just too old.  And unless she has a strange aversion to numbers 58 and below, I’m guessing that she is 59 years old.  She ain’t no cradle robber.

“Great legs.  Classy, approachable, adventurous… can catch 75lb sailfish.” … Sailfish are the fastest fish in the world (I learned this from “Fun Fish Facts” in a D’Angelos kids meal), so she must have nice legs to catch one of those bad boys.

“Warm, classy, intellectual not dry or stuffy, just the real deal.” …Tell it like it is, homegirl.

So, with these cues in mind, here is my own Harvard Magazine personal ad.  I made it rhyme, just because it shows off my magic ability to playfully enjoy humor:

Are you an open parenthesis?  Have you always been looking for someone to complete your thoughts?  Complete your life? Well, I can turn your parenthesis into parentheses / I can turn your “me” into “us” and your “I” into “we” /  I am sexy and sensual and very classy / I like opera and Shakespeare and good duck confit (there’s my something French) / I look forward to meeting a man who can try / To love me and look me right straight in the eye / And tell me my legs are the best he has seen / Then feed me some biscuits all covered in cream / And though he must be over 18 in age / I don’t mind an old geezer as long as he pays… / …attention to me, and that’s all that I care / If he’s jobless or homeless or bald without hair / As long as I know that he really wants me / I just want to complete my parentheses, please.


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My Halloween Costume

In honor of my favorite Tuesday night TV show, I will be dressing up as The Biggest Loser this Halloween.  I will be stuffing my Biggest Loser t-shirt with candy, which is appropriate because 1) it’s Halloween, and 2) it’s a metaphor for obesity.  Throughout the night, I will give away my candy (social message!) until I become skinny again.

biggestloserSomeone told me that the costume could be offensive.  But, it’s just Halloween… This is the night where ninjas, pirates, and sexy nurses come out in droves.  This is the night where 12-year olds can turn into their favorite promiscuous pop star.  So, I don’t think that dressing up as The Biggest Loser is offensive… just reflective of American society.  I won’t even give any lectures on Type 2 diabetes or the spread of childhood obesity.  All I plan to do is pass out candy from inside my belly.

Don’t hate me.

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No Pity For Old Men

In 2006, I did an internship at a now-dead investment bank in New York.  During my first week in orientation, I remember sitting in a large auditorium with the rest of my summer analyst class.  We had just endured several hours of listening to men in ties drone on about insider trading, compliance issues, and SEC regulations.  Finally, a woman stepped up to the podium… hello, HR!  We were talking about sexual harassment.

bclinton-lewinskyAs interns, we would only be at the company for ten weeks… but apparently, we all needed a lengthy lecture about appropriateness in the workplace.  The sexual harassment talk is akin to the private parts talk that mothers give to their five-year olds: “If someone tries to hug you, run away… No one should ever touch you there, except for the doctor… If someone does try to touch you, tell the ombudsman immediately!”  We listened to the woman outline the company’s sexual harassment policies, then went off to happy hour next to a strip club for drinks with our new managers.

Last January, when I started my full-time job, I had to watch another sexual harassment tape.  (Companies must hire the same video production company to produce their ’80s-style anti-groping propaganda…  Every single video has at least one woman with frizzy hair and Coke-bottle glasses who serves as the object of a mustached man’s affection.)  I also had to fill out several online forms, in which I answered survey questions like, “Should Bob put his arm around Sue?”  And, “Is Sue allowed to kick Bob in the groin?” (My recollection is fuzzy on the exact wording.)

lettermanSo, given my extensive immersion in the rules of sexual harassment, I figured that other places would have similar policies.  Like CBS.  Or, ESPN.  Or… the White House.  Then again, who can say no to Dave Letterman, Steve Phillips, and Bill Clinton?  “Yes, Bob, please put your arm around me.  And more.”

Then again, after witnessing the indiscretions of my fellow summer analysts with their bosses/mentors/HR reps in those ten weeks, I suppose the harassment talk didn’t serve as much of a deterrent during my internship.  And in my current company, work couples (or “inbreeders”) are common.  In fact, if you aren’t dating a colleague, then you’re likely to get laid off; as they say, it’s all about who you know.

brookephillips.jpgClearly, sexual harassment education isn’t working.  We’re still seeing predatory white-haired males hit on chubby young females.  We’re still  dealing with desperate, ladder-climbing women trying to leapfrog from cubicle to front office.

So, what can we do to reform the system?  Should we ban hugs from the office?  Give philandering men an attractive, no-strings-attached, government-sponsored public option?  Or maybe we just need to make better sexual harassment videos… Well, I hear that a writer, a production assistant, and a former TV host (Mr. Personality!) are all looking for jobs… Once we find an unemployed, mustached predator with white hair, we’re golden.

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Work Diary, October 21, 2009: The Song Never Ends

8:00 AM – Waking Up to “Music”

I wake up to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” on the radio.  I don’t know it yet, but this song will be stuck in my head for the rest of the day.  Oh, joy.  I think I’d prefer the theme song to Lamb Chop’s Play-Along instead.

8:45 AM – It’s There to Warn Tourists

lamb-chop-puppetOn my way to work, I pass by a disturbing billboard in Times Square.  Of course, there are hundreds of billboards in Times Square, usually featuring Hawaiian Tropic girls and Calvin Klein models in their underwear.  This one, however, has a magnified picture of a bed bug.  It appears that bed bugs have become such a big problem that they warrant their own Times Square billboard.  I love New York.

10:21 AM – Wrong Number…

I get a call from an unknown number.  When I pick up, the guy launches into his pitch: “Hi, my name is Andrew Porter. I love the morning show.  I’ve noticed that Al and Matt dress in different suits every day.  Well, I own a custom clothing company… Wait, this isn’t NBC Today?… You’re not Al Roker’s assistant?… Can you direct me to Al’s assistant?… Well, goodbye.”  Click.

1:29 PM – Guaranteed to Suffer Injury Due to Karma 

a-rodIs it cruel to wish bad things onto other people? …Probably.  But, what if that other person is Alex Rodriguez?  I have an animated discussion with a co-worker about misfortunes that could befall A-Rod:  A-Rod breaks his leg.  A-Rod gets hit by a taxi.  A-Rod gets a shard of glass in his eye after an aggressive mirror kiss…  We’re not bad people.  But we’d just rather cheer for the Taliban than for the Yankees.

4:34 PM – That’s What She Said

We are having our monthly operating review with one of the senior executives of the company.  We reach a slide about demographics, which shows our increasingly male base.  Our concern is that we are driving away females.  The COO studies the slide for a minute.  Then she asks: “So, are women not coming at all, or are the men just coming on top of women?”  Pause.  “I didn’t mean it like that.”  Awkwardness.

TOTALS: 6 minutes lost trying to convince Mr. Porter that I was not Al Roker’s assistant, 100+ songs played to try and rid my brain of Miley Cyrus, and 1 extremely awkward meeting in which I strain a muscle from holding in laughter, because clearly — given my choice of music — I have the maturity of a 15-year old.

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How to Scar Your Children For Life: Give Them a Crazy Name

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I will name my children (cats) when I hit baby-making (cat-buying) age.  I’ve often considered just marrying a man with a great last name (like “Smith”) so that the naming process will come easy: “Black,” or “Hammer,” or “Gold.”  Yes, I’m going to be that kind of mother: the one who will name a boy Sue.

In reality, I have learned that in order to truly scar your children, you must follow the lead of celebrities.  Most famous people, as ambassadors of “individuality,” take on great efforts to ruin their offspring.  Personally, I think it’s just a narcissistic attempt to ensure that the next generation will never overshadow them.  (I mean, come on: Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s poor daughter Apple will have to put up with juice and iPod jokes for the rest of her life.  She’ll be addicted to prescription pills by age 10.)

falconOf course, wannabe celebrities take it even further: use your progeny to catapult yourselves to fame!  It’s especially profound when you name your child Falcon, and then pretend to send him up in a giant helium balloon.  But alas, Falcon was not flying through the skies of Colorado; instead, he was hiding in the attic.  Poor Falcon participated in two Tupperware commercials before we discovered that his wings were clipped by dear ol’ Dad.  Just another case of tiptoeing the line between fame and jail… at the expense of your scarred-for-life children.

So, in order to ruin my brood, I’m going to name my babies (cats) something crazy too.  My friend recently sent over a list of the 50 craziest celebrity baby names.  I winnowed it down to my ten favorites, with comments:

My 10 favorite celebrity baby names:

  1. Liberty: Ryan Giggs (the other sibling is named “Death”… they are rivals)
  2. Ireland: Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger (much cooler than “Britain”, and likely to be more fun at parties)
  3. Kyd: David Duchovny and Tea Leoni (will always be a bad speller)
  4. Ocean: Forest Whitaker (this would be better if the father was Billy Ocean)
  5. Fuchsia: Sting and Frances Tomelty (she has already picked out the color of her prom dress… it will be Gothic black)
  6. Moxie CrimeFighter: Penn Jillette (the child is actually an anime cartoon)
  7. Pilot Inspektor: Jason Lee and Beth Riesgraf (it’s only unique because “inspector” is spelled with a K)
  8. Camera: Arthur Ashe and Jeanne Moutoussamy (no wonder why Canon sponsors the U.S. Open)
  9. Saffron Sahara: Simon and Yasmin Le Bon (the first child to be named after a Crayola crayon)
  10. Jermajesty: Jermaine Jackson and Alejandra Genevieve Oaziaza–previously married to Jermaine’s brother Randy (it sounds royal to me…and super classy, like Mom and Dad)

I’m thinking of a name like “Pocahontas” — full of built-in baggage and yet, still, educational.  And then, I would definitely marry a “Smith”…


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Oddities in New York City

In order to live in New York City, you must have at least one of three attributes: you have to be a) certifiably insane, b) oblivious, or c) an icebox.  Why is that?  Well, let’s break it down:

If you are a) certifiably insane, then you will fit right in with the wackos and the strung-out boozhounds in the city.  In my ten months living here, I’ve seen the following oddities in New York:

  • nakedcowgirla gentleman jogging in a thong onesie
  • a person dressed up as Spiderman, casually walking down the street, as if window shopping
  • an older woman dressed as the “Naked Cowgirl” in Times Square, with very little covering her backside…

Of course, you can still survive New York sans-crazy if you are simply b) oblivious. By oblivious, I mean that you will inevitably encounter the following, yet you still won’t bat an eye:

  • sidewalkfeces of all kinds, including, but not limited to: pigeon, dog, rat, human, and hybrid combinations of all four
  • smells… bad ones
  • and many a sidewalk puddle so disgusting that, if you were to be splashed with its contents, would compel you to burn your clothing, and perhaps chop off any appendage that encountered the filth

Lastly, to live in New York, you also must become c) an icebox. This is not a suggestion; it is an actual necessity, especially in these recessionary times.  If you have a heart while living in New York, you will likely end up broke, homeless, or jogging in a thong onesie through the Upper East Side.  Since January, I have been asked for money by:

  • homelessjesussolicitors in the subway
  • solicitors living in the streets (one, with a pet rat nesting in her hair)
  • solicitors imploring me to help the children, support the troops, feed the hungry, cure cancer, go green, buy booze, and welcome back Jesus

The great thing about living in New York, though, is that once you get past the insanity, the filth, and the ever-present guilt (“sorry, I don’t have any cash, but here’s a cough drop”), you can pretty much put up with anything.  There is nothing out there that can make you feel uncomfortable, because we’ve seen it all, right?


Tonight, I was walking home from work when I encountered someone else who was walking step-in-step with me.  Now, this doesn’t seem all that strange… until you think about the unwritten NYC pedestrian rule.  The sidewalk is like a one-lane highway.  You don’t ever have two cars on the same side of the road, going at the same speed.  You either pass, or let the other guy pass.  But for three blocks, this woman walked right next to me.  I sped up.  She sped up.  I slowed down.  She slowed down.  It freaked me out.  Finally, I took a detour into Duane Reade to see if she would follow me.  But thankfully, she went on her merry way.

Is it just me, or is that whole scenario stranger than the 70-year old Naked Cowgirl?  Or… am I just heading down the path towards (un)certifiably insane?



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When Television Gets Bad, It Gets Ugly

I think TV is like Thai food — it’s either really good, or horrendously bad.  However, unlike pad thai dripped with e.coli, sometimes I can’t tell when a show is bad.  I keep on tuning in, watching week after week, until the evil hits me straight in the face, like Chris Brown.  Afterwards, at least I can see the crap that I’ve put up with for so long. 

gossip girl 5Every bad show has a breaking point, where it turns into an abusive, sick-inducing pile of garbage.  The O.C. went downhill once Marissa became a lesbian.  Grey’s Anatomy kicked the bucket once Izzy started sleeping with the ghost of her dead husband.  And The Hills was always terrible, although it became even more unbearable once Kristin showed up. 

For me, all of these shows died at critical inflection points: lesbianism, ghosts, and annoying skankbags.  And after watching Gossip Girl tonight, I’m beginning to wonder if GG is heading towards the junkyard too.  This week’s episode featured more inbred infighting (yawn), lovechild drama (yawn), and some creepy old people singing (Sonic Youth is an ironic name for a tone-deaf band of geezers).  The teaser for next week’s Gossip Girl featured backroom gambling.  As if Blair Waldorf would ever set foot in a room with bad lighting.  Come on. 

Sometimes I feel like I know the characters better than they know themselves.  Marissa isn’t a lesbian!  Blair wouldn’t gamble!  But the TV writers come up with such creative ways to make us believe that it could work: blame it on the al-a-a-al-a-alcohol, baby.  Or, blame it on a brain tumor.  Or, blame it on the need for a blonde reality star to serve as the center of Prada-loving Satan’s attention.

In either case, I would like to bid farewell to Gossip Girl, the latest member of the bad TV crowd to show its true colors.   And just for the record, I can’t really tell when my pad thai is swimming with e.coli either.  So I suppose the analogy is better than I thought.

And on a completely random, unrelated note: if you want a stomach-turning experience, please see this terrifying Tabasco commercial with pepperoni faces.  For some reason, it really creeps me out.  I will never eat pizza again.


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