Ben Franklin Lied to Me

What IS the big idea Ben Franklin?

This has nothing to do with the early worm.

Ben Franklin lied to me when he told me “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” He conveniently failed to mention “writing job application cover letters” and “health insurance screw-ups.”

Taxes are somewhat avoidable if I’m incomeless (thank you, refunds!).  But since I do want to have some Ben Franklins to pay taxes on (read: to buy shoes with) then I need a job, which means I need to write catchy yet professional cover letters. I have a natural aptitude for self-deprecation, but apparently, when you apply for a job, self-promotion is a more useful skill.

“To Whom It May Concern:

There isn’t a photocopier I can’t conquer, a triple-half-caf-soy-latte I can’t perfect, or a database I can’t manage… I also know lots about John Singer Sargent…etc.”

With each completed cover letter and packaged resume comes a mini-celebration and the glint of hope. I do a little shimmy, walk away from my computer with a self-satisfied smirk, and imagine the possibilities. Maybe this week I’ll get to put on my “interview outfit.’ Maybe next week there will be a contract and the promise of a paycheck. Maybe before the month is out, there will be a new kayak and an apartment upgrade… Yes, with each application the possibility of a new future…and the promise of free health insurance.

Death is more certain than taxes, but since I want to stave off this certainty for as long as possible, I need health insurance. It may not be a catch-22, but it’s a catch-of-some-number.

In 24 hours, I will be officially uninsured again. My university extension plan ends and there will be a month gap before my new coverage kicks in. As an accident-prone athlete with a predisposition for sinus infections, health insurance is a necessity. In theory, under the new health care laws, as a 25 year old in flux, I’m eligible to become a dependent on my parents’ insurance plan. But for a number of ridiculous reasons, that can’t happen for me until April — my 26th birthday is in July, leaving me with 4 months of coverage. Atena Fail. So in an attempt to find an affordable alternative, I’ve put upwards of 20 hours into health insurance related inquiries. Now, I have applications to complete and processing time to wait out.

In the meantime, I’m going to move into a bubble. I’ll have my cellphone with me, you know, just in case Sotheby’s wants to talk to me about that CEO position I applied for…

Why I’m Not Going to Read Julie & Julia and Why you shouldn’t NetFlix the Movie

Don’t hate me — I’m not a bad person. But, the truth is, Julie & Julia is a bad movie.

First of all, Amy Adams is not captivating or compelling enough to play opposite someone with the presence of Meryl Streep. Yes, I know Adams was nominated for an Oscar when she played opposite Streep’s power-hungry Sister Aloysius Beauvier in Doubt, but in Doubt, Adams was a supporting character whose childish innocence is a foil to the sinister fanatical Streep. In Julie & Julia, her character is an equal. But Oscar nominee or not, Adams is not Streep’s equal.

Second, Julie Powell as she is portrayed is not a captivating character. In theory, her story is great — a failed author works for the city helping mop-up the emotional mess of 9-11, in frustration turns to blogging to find renewed sense of purpose. Yet that story fails to be interesting on screen. Most uninteresting is the fact Julie can cook. Everything she cooks, even before she begins the Julie/Julia project is “amazing.” Lame. I wanted her to actually learn how to cook while working her way through Julia Childs’ “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” I wanted stuff to burn, fall on the floor — in short I wanted Julie to be more like Julia… a little imperfect.

Next, there’s the sex problem. I really didn’t expect to see, or want to see for that matter, Stanley Tucci make out with Meryl Streep or Chris Messina make out with Amy Adams in a movie about mastering the art of french cooking. While “French,” “lover,” and “food” are all terms that meld beautifully with one another in most circumstances, they fail here.

There is hope for redemption in Meryl Streep’s masterful portrayal of the American icon, Julia Childs. Streep’s voice and mannerisms morph uncannily into Childs’. You forget it’s Meryl Streep on screen. The problem is the Julie segments distract horribly from Streep’s Oscar-caliber performance. While Streep deserves the recognition, the movie is so weak on a whole that I feel it’s a crime to give the project any sort of trophy. it’s a shame — Julia Childs’ life is worthy of a film and Meryl Streep was born to play her… but Julie & Julia is the wrong bio-pic.

What a missed opportunity.

Woes of the temporarily uninsured

So get this — as of May 20th, 2009, I am no longer a student. In July, I had Swine Flu (woooot!). My student health insurance expired on August 31. So this means that for the last 11 days, I’ve been uninsured. Last night at fencing practice, a foil slipped up under my mask and hit me in the side of the head. No blood, no scrape, no concussion. Phew. Dodged that bullet. 15 minutes later? Ankle gets caught on strip, rolls one way then the other. Cracks 3 times. Walks it off. Or so I thought… while I was walking to locker room about two hours later, after a lesson, two more cracks, pain shoots up leg. Okay, just a passing thing? Hmm… maybe not. During the commute home, excruciating pain shooting up leg, can’t move toes, can’t touch foot without squealing. Fuck. I’M UNINSURED and I THINK MY FOOT IS BROKEN.

I’m writhing in the front passenger seat of the car, contemplating pulling into the ER, but I decide to hightail it home. I don’t have health insurance and my bill from the Swine Flu incident included an x-ray and had totaled at $2,600. Now, there are a lot of stairs between my car and my bedroom and I can’t put any weight on my left leg, which has turned into a kankle (this is a technical term for super swollen ankle). So I hop… on one leg…up 3 stairs to the walkway, 12 stairs to the house, 20 steps to my bedroom. I hop into the shower, literally. I hop out of the shower. I fall over putting on my PJs. I scream. Even after icing and 6 advil, sleeping is a chore. Every time I turn, my foot catches on the blanket and pain shoots up my shin. fuck.

The first thing I do when I wake up? enroll in the continuation plan option on my expired health insurance. Next? Go to doctor.

Verdict on foot? No broken bones. phew.
Total cost: $25 co-pay + $6,111 for health insurance = $6,136.
Wallet? Empty.
Doctor asks if I have a rich boyfriend yet. Answer is still no, though one is now definitely needed.

It’s that time of year again

Yes, it’s Prom season. The time of year when young men rent their first tuxedos, when young ladies buy over-priced single-use gowns and spend hundreds of dollars on over-coiffed hairdos and porn-star makeup. For some, it feels like a dress rehearsal for a wedding, except, perhaps, for the fact that we’re far less particular about our Prom date than about our bridegroom/bride. And then there’s also the fact that a solid white dress at this senior year tradition is perhaps one of the biggest prom faux pas.

The truth is that I had no intention to go to my senior prom. It took a fair amount of convincing to get me to hand in my deposit, and even then I wasn’t sure I was going to go through with it. Since I was ambivalent about the event, I was ambivalent about dress shopping (imagine, me ambivalent about SHOPPING). But if you’ve ever wandered into the evening wear section of any department store, you know just how many dresses, mostly bad, there are to wade through. The task of finding a decent prom dress is daunting. Mission Impossible? Pretty much. I had visions of passing hours, days, even weeks trying on Jessica McKlintook monstrosities and finally having to resort to some sort of pink, multi-tiered confection of tuile and crinoline. No, no, no, no, no.

my prom attire 002Determined not to show up at my prom in the same dress as someone else, I decided to leave the suburbs and try my luck at the Bloomingdales in Manhattan. I wandered around the racks of floor-length gowns, dumbfounded. A voice rang from behind me: “Why don’t we try couture upstairs.” Thanks, Mum. 5 minutes later I was in the dressing room, trying on a hand-beaded tea-rose pink silk dress made by a boutique London designer named Meghan Park. 15 minutes later, it was in a garment bag and we were heading upstairs to Le Train Bleu for lunch, my prom dress in hand.

It was the first dress I tried on. And it was an ace. A safe bet — the kind of dress that would look better if I lost 10 lbs, but didn’t demand weight loss to make me feel fantastic; the kind of dress I would wear again and again, for the next 30 years if I so choose. At the cocktail dress length of mid-calf it was nontraditional for prom. In fact, on the day of the event, there were only 2 of us who didn’t have something that skirted the floor. Today, there seems to be a split between the shorter numbers and the toe-hiders.

The straps were added post-prom to make them NYC ready

The straps were added post-prom to make the NYC ready

The shoes were more of a challenge. Bergdorfs, Bloomies, Nordstroms, and Neimans all came up empty. Ironically, I found the shoes in Kansas when I was in Kansas City for a fencing competition. They were Stuart Weitzman and simple d’orsay pumps. Like the dress, they have been worn since (and modified to make them even more wearable). I also did my own makeup, and as for the hair, only curlers to enhance my natural wave,

It’s too late for me to lend any advice to the current prom-goers — dresses have been bought, appointments with the MAC cosmetic artists have been booked, and the updo already tried, tested and approved. Though I will say to current juniors starting to think about senior year, graduation and prom — ladies, buy a dress you’re going to wear again, and gentlemen, don’t try to match your cummerbund with her dress, you’ll just look like an idiot.

A few things I don’t understand about today’s teenagers

Why the Jonas Brothers are “cool” yet no one remembers Hanson.

Why 14 year olds have i-phones. One thing I learned coaching High Schoolers is that they don’t check email. They don’t need i-phones if they don’t check email. In my day, all my cell-phone could do was make a phone call.

“LMAO” and “bff” — I still don’t really know what these stand for. Best Fucking Friends? Maybe that’s the NC-17 version.

Facebook albums filled with photos taken by their computers or mobile phones. Seriously, kids, simplify. I don’t get why people under the age of 18 feel it’s necessary to post 4 identical photos of themselves with their BFF making faces in front of their laptop. I guess “redundant” doesn’t enter the vocabulary until college?

Please, Sir, Will You Stop Tapping… It’s interfering with my blogging

I’m currently sitting in Columbia’s Art and Architectural Library — Avery. It’s a lovely, cavernous, old-world sort of place with grottoes of books, iron railings around the second level of shelves, and huge wooden tables with proportionately huge wooden armchairs. On days like today, when the outside temperature is in the 60s and the sun is shining, the big floor to ceiling windows illuminate the marble columns and recessed white ceiling, making it a warm and cheerful place to get some writing done.

Across the table from me at this very moment is one very STRESSED business schooler. Or maybe he’s an undergrad in economics — I don’t know, neither do I care. His book bag and coat are both on the table, intruding into my work space. He has a venti starbucks cup, which must have once contained a non-fat, extra-shot iced latte. Now all it contains is ice, which at evenly spaced intervals he feels the need to shake and tip into his mouth and then CRUNCHING on them. He has a lot of ice cubes still to go. I hope they turn the heating on soon…

In between the ice-rattling, he rotates among “spider push-ups” (this is the name my parents have given to the act of spreading out one’s fingers, holding the two hands in front of your face and then pushing them together so that the fingers tap and spring off one another… it makes a tap-tap-tap-tap-tap sound… especially when the fingernails need a good trimming), face scratching, pen chewing, head scratching, frenzied writing, watch checking and over-zealous page turning.

Oh! Oh! Oh! He just picked his nose and looked at it… now he’s resuming the writing. Back to the nose now… now the ice.. now the writing… page flipping… face scratching…

Now he’s standing, finger twitting, page tapping, sneezing (I am not gonna say gablessyou), page sorting… he hasn’t stopped moving and noise making.

I’ve decided this man shouldn’t drink coffee. Not only is he red in the face, clearly HE HAS A LOW CAFFEINE TOLERANCE… so low in fact it makes him act like he’s on crack.

Typically, when I’m working in Avery, I find it counterproductive to listen to my i-pod — it just ruins the ambiance. Except for today. Today, the ear buds are in and Stevie Ray is cranked up all the way.

This fellow has just confirmed my belief that B-Schoolers should stick to their own library. There they can crunch ice, hell, even talk on their blackberries. Once upon a time I was all for cruising for future CEOs in Uris, but I think my tablemate (did I mention we’re the only two people  at the table… the other end is totally empty) has officially made me change my mind… that and the increased number of architectural students now making use of the art history study room… did I mention how very sexy architects can be? 😉

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