Monday, August 26, 2013

In which our heroine contemplates martyrdom

I've noticed that I tend to shy away from controversial subjects on my blog.  Not intentionally.  I guess I just sort of view this blog as a net to catch all my more fun neuroses and not really a place to pick fights with the crazies of the internet.  Although I can't tell you how many times I've held myself back from writing a not so impartial blog post siding with one particular Real Housewife in whatever feud she was engaging in that week. But you know, clearly I have blog standards.

So what hot button issue is up for debate tonight?  Well nothing, really.  I'm sorry, that was kind of a misleading intro.  But for the record, I am a big fat libber socialist, so you can put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Too much?  Should I just go back to discussing bravo t.v. programming?  Or regular t.v. programming? Or I could just stop typing all together?...

...too bad.  But don't delete this url from your internet browser quite yet, I am not actually going to discuss politics.  I am however, going to type pretty candidly about something that I have been struggling with a lot recently.  So you still might want to brace yourself for some emotional oversharing.  In fact, you might want to go ahead and make that a rule when you come here from now on.

One of the many perils of approaching each day by trying to be the best version of yourself is that you will fail 95% of time.  Sometimes, they are small failings, like being internally annoyed when the overly tanned Mom and her two douche bag teenage sons monopolize the frozen yogurt machines.  Because that IS annoying.  And sometimes, they are big failings, like doing something kind for someone else and feeling aggravated when it is either not noticed or not appreciated or not reciprocated.

I have the driest of dry senses of humor.  Like Sahara dry.  It's just my nature.  I'm sure you hadn't noticed it until I pointed it out to you just now.  (I rest my case.)  Anyways, occasionally my sarcasm can leave people with the distinct impression that I am less than a nice person.  Of course, my resting bitch face doesn't help matters either.  But the fact of the matter is that I do try to go out of my way to be considerate and to help others.  (What can I say? Jesus and Sesame Street taught me well.)

And I shouldn't be motivated by any sort of return.  I shouldn't care if my good deeds don't receive some ticker-tape parade level of recognition.  I shouldn't be so narcissistic as to think that my actions are so grand and impacting.

But sometimes, sometimes it's difficult not to be a whiny little woe-is-me B, especially when it feels like I am putting out approximately 80% more effort than about 80% of the people around me.  And then here we go, down the emo rabbit hole, where I become the grossly abused and put upon candidate for sainthood, two miracles shy of being recognized by the Vatican.

Naturally, I try to quell this way of thinking as soon as it starts percolating in the obsessive side of my brain (which is...both sides) because it's just so arrogant and unfair and completely unproductive.  It's also not largely based on reality.

Sure, I open doors for people more often than doors are opened for me.  Sure I offer to help people more often than they offer to help me.  Sure I email and ask friends how they are doing more often than they do me. But it shouldn't matter.  And it doesn't.  Most of the time.  C'est la humanity.

I'm working on it.  Hopefully someday this will be a way of thinking I reserve only for my children.

But in the meantime, on the eve of Moses' return, when I've stayed up way too late typing and proofreading this post when I could have been sleeping or watching season 2 of Awkward, let us all shed a single tear for me, Wendy Kozak, the greatest (and most persecuted) martyr that the world has ever known.

I swear I wasn't kidding about the whole dry humor thing.  I guess it's just pretty subtle.

Until next time, kiddos. Ta-ta.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Snoopy, come home

It's been a challenging week.

And yes, I realize that it is only Wednesday.  You don't have to be a jerk about it.

Moses is currently on the east coast; he was in Ithaca and now he is camping in the Adirondacks for the next few days, which means that he is incommunicado, which means that I have no one to listen to all my random thoughts and ramblings, which means that I am going to type all those random thoughts and ramblings at you.

I knew you wouldn't mind.

Before he left, Moses sent me this picture that I have been staring longingly at ever since.

I'm sorry, but is that not the handsomest man you've ever seen? Yes?  Yes.  Now back off, he's mine.

When Moses initially left for this trip, I thought I would be fine.  I mean, we lived apart for a year, I can hack ten days.  I'm not Bella Swan and/or insert name of equally codependent heroine of young adult fiction franchise here (I'm sorry I couldn't think of any other characters but couldn't quite bear to type that sentence into a google search box that has already seen one too many variations of "what does cancer look like?")

Work has been INSANE recently with the start of fall semester, so no Moses means no distractions, which I initially thought would be a good thing.  I thought I would just work all day, come home, exercise, eat simply, and then watch five hours worth of Princesses of Long Island.  I would be so busy and so preoccupied/delighted by my absolute power over my nightly t.v. programming that I would barely miss him.

Right?  Wrong.

Also, three out of the seven Princess of Long Island episodes are locked as part of some horrible tease feature on Hulu Plus and the locked message tells me that to see these episodes I can connect Hulu to my t.v. provider.  To which I respond, do you think I would be paying $8 american dollars for your service if I had a t.v. provider?  Somebody is smoking el crack pipe here and it is NOT me.

So as you can see, I seem to have gone some rare and as of yet undiagnosed form of stir crazy.

I've just been so bored and so weirdly emotional.  I mean, I am sort of an emotional person to begin with. Just thinking about the line "that I should rise and you should not" from the Irish folk song "Parting Glass," makes me well up a little bit.  And I wept WEPT at the end of Homeward Bound: the Incredible Journey and, I am not too proud to admit, at a particularly poignant and narratively rich Google Chrome commercial.

Does no else's chest knot up while watching that?  No one?  Fine.  The overly sentimental cheese stands alone.

And sure my work week has been stressful, but I don't typically need to ask my coworkers for a hug at the end of the day just because I know I'll need it and Moses is not home to give me one. Thank goodness my friend Ruth gave me a hug tonight after dinner because I think that might just last me until at least Friday night.

So where was I going with all of this?  Really, it's anyone's guess.

These are just somethings that have been on the old mind-grapes recently and that desperately, desperately need to be heard and acknowledged because they just do.  The world is pretty busy revolving around me, after all.

There is a distressing shortage of t.v. shows to watch.  Wait, let me rephrase that.  There is a distressing shortage of t.v. shows that I WANT to watch AND that I have access to.  I mean, I could watch all 12 seasons of Drop Dead Diva, but I'm not going to because I have to draw the line of t.v. shows I find unacceptable to watch somewhere and it may as well be there.

There is a new show on Bravo called Eat Drink Love about young women on the LA food scene. Seriously, Bravo?  It's like you and the Food Network put together a focus group consisting entirely of my hopes and dreams and used that to create your new fall line up.  You make me regret canceling cable. There are you happy, now?

Is anybody else digging Admiral Kathryn Janeway as Red on Orange is the New Black?  Because I sure am.

Why is 90's fashion back?

More importantly, why do I kind of like it?  (Well not the shoes obvs.)

Also, no.

Just no.

Getting warmer Forever 21...

I think I've come to the conclusion that most of my thoughts are about clothes and television.

This is actually a picture of the inside of my head:

That about sums me up. #YOLO #Killmenow #Mosescomebacksoon!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The smallest of victories

I am a chronic overachiever and with that comes a distinct yearning to please those around me.  I'm sure most reasonable people dislike causing displeasure and I'm no different, except that I really, really hate it.

I am also non confrontational.  To a fault.  Sure I am sardonic--one former student even tentatively characterized me a spunky(?)--but I would be m.o.r.t.f.i.e.d if ever actually hurt someone's feelings.  Unless, of course, that person happens to be a grade A douchebag, in which case, they probably deserve it and if my life were a 1980's John Cusak romantic comedy (if only!), my verbal tirade at the rich bully threatening the teen center would probably garner some type of slow clap.

But while I have no problem shaming those I find morally or philosophically reprehensible, I'm not really combating Karl Gebhardt on a daily basis, am I?  Nope, I'm mostly trying to find a polite way to tell the employee at Time Warner Cable that I don't want to upgrade my current plan to the big spender deluxe package (even though it will allegedly be cheaper), in fact, all I wanted to do was to update my billing address.  And this reader, this is what I suck at.  I turn into a total mouse, my face flushes red from the pressure/embarrassment/discomfort/all of the above, and I end up agreeing to things I don't actually want just because I want to be moderately amiable.  Or I say no and feel racked with guilt because my capacity for empathy knows no bounds (which consequently often makes me hate myself a little on a regular basis when people think I don't like them), fueling all of these fictional narratives about how I am the big bad bitch that ruined all of these long suffering and orphaned people's lives.

So you can imagine my initial hesitation when Moses asked me to take the car in to get the head light fixed and the oil changed.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Wrong.  Soo much, soooooo much anxiety about taking it in and somehow being coerced into buying a new car to put inside Moses's car turducken style.

The name Wendy actually means "totally rational and not the least bit batty" in Welsh.  No it doesn't, but it should because clearly that it what I am.

Anyways, I decided to man up (woman up?) and take the damn car in already.  I'm an adult.  I should be able to do this without developing some sort of stress ulcer.

So I drop off the car seemingly without incident and walk to downtown Culver City, where I sit outside enjoying the beautifully mild weather, reading Harry Potter, and sipping on a glass of white wine.  About 30 minutes in, I get a call from the car shop and the mechanic asks if I am still in the area?  Yes.  Can I come back to go over the initial inspection.  As soon as I hear the word "inspection" my heart stops a little.

I know that I am going to go back there and he's going to tell me that our car needs $5,000 worth of work. (Incidentally, Los Angeles dentists have also trained me to think this whenever I go in for a cleaning.)

As I make the walk back to the car shop, I tell myself to put on my meanest, hardest, no bullshit poker face.

Which pretty much looks like this:

Convincing?  Didn't think so...

The mechanic sits me downs and goes over a not-as-long-as-I-thought-it-was-going-to-be list of repairs that we need done.

This is it.  This is the moment.  He's going to try to talk me into doing all of these things today and I will grin like an idiot and hand over my credit card and beg him not to hurt/hate me.

But that didn't happen.

Instead, I smiled and said: "I am just going to go with the oil change and the front headlight replacement today.  But thanks for the information, I will share it with my boyfriend and get back to you."

Mental gymnastics, I tell you.

Btw, calling Moses my boyfriend makes me feel about twelve years old.  There's got to be some other stronger intermediate term that doesn't sound ridiculous for couples after nine years together.

The mechanic replied: Okay.  And then off I skedaddled for some victory purchases at target.  And you better believe that as I was leaving the Honda auto shop, I felt like this:

And this:

One small, seemingly insignificant step for any normal person; one huge leap for Wendy.

Happy Saturday.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rando Calrissian

Sometimes I want to write a blog post but all I can muster is a disjointed constellation of haphazard thoughts about nail polish, food network shows, and the perils of reading labels closely during speedy trips to the grocery store.  (Spoiler alert: Jabaneros are not the same thing as jalapenos.)

But today, I am not going to fight the urge to purge these inspid trifling little ruminations.  Instead, I am going to throw caution to the wind and clickety-clack away as if my life depended on entertaining the whole of the internet with my lack of self-awareness.  When in reality it's three people.  And they are not entertained.

Tomorrow Wenoses turns nine.  Nine.  Nine.  In large dog years that is almost deceased.  Oh when will death come? 

I am only kidding course.  With whom else could I have conversations like this about my anniversary? Grammar? No had.
Moses WilksMoses Wilks
table reserved at the huntly hotel for 730 on wednesday 
Wendy KozakWendy Kozak
and you will make it magical 
practice some romantic sayings 
maybe memorize some poetry passages 
(just kidding, I hate love poetry) 
(it's the least inventive) 
Moses WilksMoses Wilks
should i compare thee to a summers day? 
no because a summer's day isn't a bitch 
somthing like that? 
Wendy KozakWendy Kozak

Sigh. I will love him forever.

How many pairs of glasses do you think is too many?  I have only ever had one with the correct prescription at a time and I just ordered a second pair from Warby Parker.  I know.  Who do I think I am, Louis XVI? Next stop on my quest for decadence? Frames for the artwork on my walls.


For the past five years, every night Moses has asked me if I want to watch the Wire and every night I have replied: "Maybe tomorrow.  Tonight I am not in the mood."

Let he who has not willfully resisted award-winning television that he will later probably go on to someday love cast the first stone.


What makes me even more a pariah? I am having trouble getting into Buffy and Breaking Bad.


I know what you are thinking:  they are basically the same show.


I have on fiya (fire) with planning dinners in advance and buying only the ingredients I need at the grocery store.  I would like to thank god, my agent, and pinterest for this great accomplishment.


I talk mean talk but I don't actually harbor anyone ill feelings.  Except pedestrians who walk on the bike paths along the beach. This is precisely how I feel about them:


Moses got a ghost pepper plant at the farmers market over the weekend.  I am sure it won't join the ranks of other foliage before it: death by southern california balcony with less than six hours of direct sunlight.


I wrote a piece about the importance of art education that went out to 7,000 people on the Otis mailing list.  It made me feel incredibly purposeful. 

Especially considering that my blog, in total, has enjoyed 8,000 pageviews in two years.

But who's counting?  me


Sometimes, when I am having a bad day or I am in an ugly mood, I picture famous authors in line at Subway and it inexplicably makes me feel better.

Maybe someday I will have the courage to write a poem or short story about Beckett attempting to order a tuna fish sandwich.

Because I have given way to much thought to it.


It took me until this year to realize that the Arthur Miller behind Death of a Salesman was the same Arthur Miller who wrote The Crucible.  


Also, fun fact: did you know he was briefly married to Marilyn Monroe?


I was on an airforce base today for an education fair and it was shockingly devoid of beach volleyball tournaments.  In other news, Top Gun lied to me.


When out to drinks with friends recently, I was asked the compelling question: if you had to date a Teenage Mutant Nina Turtle, who would it be?  To which I responded: Fun-loving Michaelanglo has always been my favorite but if I were being practical, I would choose Donatello.  He's smart, articulate, and he "does machines" which I am sure would come in handy at some point.


On that note, I think I should be done now.  Toodles.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The road too much traveled

Well readers, I'm pooped.  I know, I hate that expression too but it was the first phrase of fatigue that came to mind and I'm too tired to go back and edit it, so I guess we'll both have to deal.

Why am I so exhausted?  It's good of you to inquire, it saves me the trouble of having to come up with some forced transition [wink].  I am road-weary, reader, very road-weary.  Over the past twelve days or so, I have traveled to the east coast and back, to Valencia CA for a college fair and back, to downtown Los Angeles on a Friday (during peak traffic hours) for a Fashion tour and back, and to Las Vegas for a wedding and back.  All together that adds up to one too many cramped hours of sitting and pretending not to feel bored and restless.

Oh boo-hoo, poor little Wendy for having travel opportunities, vacation time, and kind friends who will invite her places.  I know, it's the worst.  Annie only wished her life was as hard knocked as mine.

Okay fine, you win.  I'll type you all about my journeys.  And since you asked so nicely, I will chronicle them in my usual tedious amounts of detail and shifting verb tenses.

So let's start where Maria von Trapp suggests is best: the beginning.

Side note: Moses has never seen Sound of Music.  Feel free to send shame his way.

For the first time in my adult life, I took something called a "paid vacation."  I frankly thought that these were a myth or that they would be something like gracefulness--a gift that other people have and enjoy and that I very much envy, but something that I would never experience myself.  I haven't really accrued much vacation time yet in my new position but enough that I could take a little jaunt to the east.  And by jaunt, I mean 12+ hours of traveling (one way) and the oh so many rejuvenating red eyes through all time zones.

On a not entirely unrelated note, I have been confirmed the worst booker of flights.  Ever.

I always somehow manage to inadvertently choose the flight with the nine hour layover or the one with the five minute layover before catching the last flight of the night because I'll have time, surely.  Except that as the queen of having at least one significant delay that puts a major cramp in my flight schedule style, I almost always miss said connecting flight, which subsequently sets off a cascade of the worst things that have ever happened to me.  But what is traveling without at least one sobfest in an airport bathroom stall, am I right?

This time, though, there were no tears.  I just picked the red eye flight with the five hour early morning layover.  Yay?

Not too shabby considering the florescent lighting and the five+ hours of travel on two hours of fitful airplane sleep.

This is actually part of my avant-garde photography series called "In Airport Bathrooms."  Pushing the boundaries of artistic expression and forcing you to reevaluate your preconceived knows of art.  You know how I do.

Not pictured?  My totally cute cowboy boots.  They're a thing.  I've become quite fond of them really.  I find them inexplicably summer-y.  Anyone's guess as to why because they are very very toasty.

So where did I leave off?  Nowhere.  I've gained no ground yet in this narrative.

Well, there are lots of funny stories I could tell about the flight from LAX to JFK.  They mostly involve the two tanned twenty year olds in full make-up, taking selfies in the seats next to me.  Losers.  Take selfies in airport bathrooms like normal people.

The flight from LAX to JFK was surprisingly not terrible and when I arrived in New York, I hunkered down in front of my terminal with a cup of Dunken Donuts coffee (16 oz of bliss), watched reruns of 30 Rock on my phone and debated whether or not to buy a big old cone of Ben and Jerry's at 7AM.  We'll chalk that up to proximity and awesomeness...

Guyyy, I haven't even gotten to Ithaca yet?  Get it together narrator.

Okay, I will; I am focusing.  So my trip to Ithaca was relatively brief--only about five days.  But in those five days, I managed to check off just about everything on my rather long Ithaca Summer To Do List.

Ithaca is pretty magical in summertime; humid as hell but lush and green and I often find myself sitting out on the balcony of my LA apartment desperately craving the idyllic scenery from my parents' backyard at dusk, beaded with lightening bugs and wildflowers.  Hellooo Pastoral!  It's heaven.  Heaven.

All my siblings where in town while I was there, which means that my parents had all of their kids sleeping under the same roof for the first time since last December.  And which also means that I had built in playmates for every activity on the ole checklist.

I don't know why I don't have more photographs.  I always go to Ithaca intending to take an embarrassing amount of pictures and then realize on my way home that I actually only have five.  I regret everything.

So what I did in Ithaca:

1.  [Not pictured] Went to one of my old familiar food haunts Ithaca Bakery no fewer than four out of the five days that I was there.  No wait, I got bagels on the last day to take home to Moses.  So five out five. 

2. [Stupidly not pictured] Went to visit my maternal grandmother Violet.  She'll be 90 in November.  I haven't seen her in a couple of years and my mom didn't tell her that my sister and I were coming, so we were a bit of a surprise.  She was overjoyed when she saw us and said she was glad she didn't have a heart condition.

3-5. [Some of which is pictured!] My brother Scott, my sister Genny, and I hiked the paths at Treman park.  Probably one of my favorites. I am total sucker for stone masonry.

No shortage of hammy photos in the Kozak household.

After our hike, we went a wine tasting in Cayuga wine country.  We got a late start--who knew that wineries encourage you to start drinking at noon?--so we were only able to visit one winery but it was the one I wanted, no need to panic (I know you were).

That evening, we had dinner and a flight of beers on the outside patio of the Ithaca Beer Company and then a bonfire at home once it got dark.  It was a summer day perfectly spent.

6-7. [Again mostly not pictured] The first few days of my trip were pretty mild, cold even.  By my fourth day in Ithaca, it had crept back up into the 80s with 100% humidity.  My hair was pretty unhappy but what else is new.

I spent the morning of my last full day eating fried food at the Ithaca Farmer's Market.  I realize that the combination of fried food and humidity sound awful but it really really wasn't.  I swear.  Maybe it's just a testament to how much I love the Ithaca Farmer's Market. I know I've sung its praises many a time before in more memorable blog posts--back when I was trying harder to be clever and entertaining.  Now, clearly, I don't care.  In fact, I seem to have made a game out of how thoroughly I can bore you and myself while writing this.  Going for the win!

That night I did the whole familiar indecisive dance of should I go out, should I stay in.  I chose the former.  My brother Scott, our neighbor/friend Mason, and I went out for a couple of drinks, which turned into a bar crawl, which turned into me spending a 21 year old's night in a 28 year old's body.

One of the many adult beverages sampled that evening.

8.  [Thank god not pictured] The next 12 hours or so were spent vomiting or being close to vomiting.  TMI?  Too bad.

The trip home was also unfortunately not uneventful.  The flight from Syracuse to New York was delayed, the flight was full that I was guilted into gate checking my "larger" bag. I did to be kind, so that everyone else would have enough space for their bags.  From now on, though, when it comes to airplane baggage, I'm looking out only for number one.  Congratulations jet blue, you turned me into an objectivist.

Because the first flight was delayed, it made what was once a two our layover into a rather tight connection.  So when we got there, really, my little ole bag didn't stand a chance.  Can you tell how this story ends, reader? Well, I'll tell you.  At 2:50 AM, the flight that was originally suppose to arrive at 1:35 AM landed in Los Angeles.  At 3:30 AM, I left LAX sans bag to meet Moses, who by that point had been circling LAX for an hour, poor thing.

That work week was a rough one.  I was coming off a vacation high, suffering from jet leg, I had mountains of emails to respond to, strict editing deadlines that had me working overtime, appointment after appointment with students, and I already mentioned the required mileage.  Needless to say, I was glad when the week was over.  Especially because it meant going to Las Vegas to see Donald and Kaci get married.

Moses, photobombing our own photo.

The literary gals.

Literary themed matches.

Clearly not secure in his masculinity.

Clearly crazy.

As you can see, Moses and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves that evening, even if we did have to sit in the grossest of gross traffic on the way home the next day.

So there you have it.  I am all traveled out and I look forward to this weekend when I lie on the couch, pinterest, and probably watch hour after hour of Chopped on hulu plus while dream of Walking Dead starting up again October.

By the way, I have just given myself the award for the dullest blog post in internet history.  Thank god its over.  You can go about your day now.  Go on, git.