Thursday, August 16, 2007

My Other Blog

Cusp of Normal* is the new home for the blog formerly known as My Other Life. Originally, I intended My Other Life to be a place to brainstorm and flesh out ideas for freelance articles to pitch to various publications. It turned into something very different than I had intended--so I have moved (most of) the content from My Other Life to the page you are reading now.

Unfortunately, the comments could not be salvaged. :(

I'll be using my old blog URL as a way to maintain an online portfolio of my published writing.

I think I'm going to like it here.

*A special thanks to Karen Hoffmann for inspiring the name of this blog. :P

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I am filling out a registration form for a volunteer activity that requires me to select a size for the obligatory free T-shirt. As my eyes scan the choices, I am getting a quick reminder of the obesity problem with which Americans are struggling.


Let's see... if I had to pick... I would probably go for somewhere between extra-small to medium. This is not because I follow a strict diet, a regular workout regime, or even have a significantly fast metabolism. I don't know why I'm so petite, but I do know that I am sick of receiving free t-shirts that hang like muumuus on me. I would really rather receive nothing at all than be forced to wear something that makes me feel ridiculous and childlike.

Clearly, larger sizes are being very well accommodated. Now what about the rest of us?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Advice from Chuck Klosterman

Chuck Klosterman, author of Killing Yourself to Live; Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs; and Fargo Rock City; was in Pittsburgh last night for a signing of his latest book Chuck Klosterman IV. I really haven't laughed that much in a long time. They could have charged admission and it still would have been a packed house.

I had the opportunity to ask the question: If you are interviewing someone and find that he/she is really not that interesting, do you have any tricks to spice things up?

In his response he said everyone is interesting to some degree. If someone is boring, finds out what makes them boring. I thought this was brilliant.

As you would expect from Klosterman (pronounced with a long "O"), he made a lot of cultural observations. One that I found to be particularly funny/true is that it is getting increasingly harder to tell if someone is the "coolest person around" or the "dorkiest person around." It is indeed a fine line in this hipster-rich generation.

The reading that he selected from his new book explains why he thinks it is important for everyone to have a nemesis and an archenemy. He says, "We measure ourselves against our nemeses, and we long to destroy our archenemies. Nemeses and archenemies are the catalysts for everything."

In case you are confused about what the difference is between a nemesis and an archenemy, Klosterman explains:

"You kind of like your nemesis, despite the fact that you despise him. If your nemesis invited you out for cocktails, you would accept the offer. If he died, you would attend his funeral and—privately—you might shed a tear over his passing. But you would never have drinks with your archenemy, unless you were attempting to spike his gin with hemlock. If you were to perish, your archenemy would dance on your grave, and then he'd burn down your house and molest your children. You hate your archenemy so much that you try to keep your hatred secret, because you don't want your archenemy to have the satisfaction of being hated.
Klosterman suggests if you are still confused between the distinction, just ask your girlfriend to explain it in detail:
"...women have always intuitively grasped the nemesis/archenemy dichotomy. Every woman I've ever known has had at least one close friend whose only purpose in life is to criticize her actions, compete for the attention of men, and drive her insane; very often, this is a woman's best friend . Every woman also has a former friend (usually someone from high school with large breasts) whom she has loathed for years (and whom she will continue to loath with the intensity of a thousand suns, even if she sees her only once every ten years). This is her archenemy. Women intrinsically understand human dynamics, and this makes them unstoppable. Unfortunately, the average man is less adroit at fostering such rivalries, which is why most men remain average. Males are better at hating things that can't hate them back (e.g., lawn mowers, cats, the 1986 Denver Broncos, et cetera). Most men fail to see a world beyond themselves; if given the choice, they would connect themselves to nothing. But greatness cannot be achieved in a vacuum, and great people know that."
It's like he is inside my head! Granted, my nemesis is not a former best friend from high school, but he really does hit the nail on the head for a description of my personal archenemy. I'm not really comfortable commenting on the size of her bust, but "the intensity of a thousand suns" is probably a close estimation.

P.S. Klosterman liked the dinosaur bones at Pittsburgh International Airport!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Shh! I don't want "scooped"...

Me and my friend K-dawg are cooking up quite a delicious marketing scheme. All I need now are some duck-shaped glass jars to buy wholesale. Where can I find those, anyhow?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Things I Really Want

Banana Guard: Specially designed to keep your 'nanners bruise-free. This is a huge scientific break-through! I am so tired of bringing bananas to work only to find them a mushy mess upon my arrival. Thank you Banana Guard! I especially like the glow-in-the-dark model, though it is unavailable at this time.
Get yourself a banana guard: $6.99 for a single, $12.99 for a 2-pack, and $29.99 for a five-pack.

Edge lovers unite! I know it might strike some of you as odd, but I always try to score an edge piece when eating home-made brownies. Now, every peice can be an edge piece. Go ahead, dance. You know you want to.
All the edges you can eat for $34.00.

I have been in a hotdog phase for a few months now. Who knows when it will end? I should stop running from my cravings and purchase this fantastic little guy. A pop up hotdog cooker! It cooks two individual hotdogs with a hot coil system, and simultaneously toasts your buns too! Radical.
$49.95 Dogs and buns sold separately.

And now a place to sit while enjoying those nummers nanners, brownies, and dawgs... the Air Chair. I guess my fascination for "porch-sittery" began when I realized my new apartment has hooks on the porch just begging for something comfy to hang from them.
Now on sale for $59.98

Finally... what I really want... Season 8 Gilmore Girls. Ah, a gal can wish, can't she?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ending The Junk Mail Blues

A pile of credit card offers, car insurance deals, and student loan consolidation information. It's something I've come to expect in the mail almost daily. It isn't out of the ordinary to receive three offers from one company in one week. (I hate you Discover.) For those of you who feel my pain, and wince at the thought of a small forest dying in your name at the hands of the credit and insurance industries, I come bearing news of your salvation.

I received an e-mail from my bank today (also a frustrating form of junk mail, even if it doesn't kill anything except my spirit), and it had a handy list of Do's and Don'ts to protect yourself from identity theft. I scanned it quickly and as I was about to hit "delete" my eyes struck gold:

"Shred all personal and financial information, including those 'pre-approved credit card offers' before you throw them away. To request exclusion from these mailings call: 1-888-5OPT-OUT."

I grew giddy at the thought of ending the seemingly endless onslaught of paper harrassment and fished my cell phone out of my purse in eager anticipation.

The whole process took less than three minutes, but you may start to feel yourself slowly losing your sanity as you shout things to a robot on the phone. I think it is a sacrifice well worth it.

My robot friend told me I should stop receiving solicitations within the next few months. Hallelujah!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Tastes Like Dissapointment

A quick update on the girl scout cookie situation:
I heard whisperings that girl scouts had set up shop a few blocks from my office yesterday afternoon. I headed over with hopes of purchasing a box of Thin Mints for my mom and a box of Do-Si-Dos for myself--you know--just in case mookie was in Mexico by now with my cookies.

Just moments ago I opened the box of the peanut butter sandwiches, hoping to savor the creamy deliciousness mixed with the texture of the oh so perfectly crunchy wafers that I so adore. Instead, I thought to myself, "Are these stale?" Something was not quite right. I immediately scanned the box for an expiration date, but instead found a string of confusing numbers that I do not have the ability to decode. Hoping it was my imagination, I took another cookie from the box. Nope. This cookie is definitely not what I had been lusting after.

After a quick round through the "circle square" office, I had all the data I needed. Forcing cookies down the throats of several employees had led to this conclusion: these cookies are victims of transfat-removal. The horror! In an attempt to do their part to make the country healthier, the girl scouts have launched an assault on my favorite cookies of all. They have left me with an orange box of dissapointment, with two more boxes on the way. As one colleague said, "They still taste good. They aren't the same, but they don't taste like boogers or anything." Another said, "Transfats aren't good for you, Amanda. Just get used to it." Boo.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wherefore Art Thou Do-Si-Dos?

O Do-Si-Dos, Do-Si-Dos! Wherefore art thou Do-Si-Dos? Girl Scout cookie season is upon us, yet I seem to be cookieless. This is an utter hell for a self-declared Cookie Monster such as myself. I placed my order many weeks ago with a mystery man known only as "mookie." He was throwing himself down at the feet of his former colleagues, begging that we buy cookies from his daughter via a mass e-mail to my department. Because I'm fairly new at my job, I do not know this mookie person. But I do know that I am a Do-Si-Do fiend. I sent the mook-ster an e-mail in which I requested $14 dollars-worth of Do-Si-Dos, Thin Mints, and Samoas. He was supposedly collecting money when the cookies come in--"usually mid-February" he said in the mass e-mail.

But alas, March is about to come in like a lion and I have not a cookie to my name. If there are any entrepreneurial Girl Scouts reading this, your services are in need. For the love of all things holy, bestow your glorious peanut butter sandwich cookies upon me!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Got Goo?

We all have our guilty pleasures. I’m not afraid to admit that I own some albums that blew the minds of friends who consider me someone with respectable taste in music. Sure, I can understand people who turn their noses up at *Nsync. But I lived my “coming of age” during the late 90s—so it is only expected that I own a scary number of boy band albums and matching ticket stubs to boot. Anyhow, we all have some musical love-affairs that we prefer to keep on the QT. However, I am a strong believer that the Goo Goo Dolls should not be one of them. A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, has a high regard for my musical standards. I’ve even turned him on to some inspiring artists such as Josh Ritter and Regina Spektor. But I want to know why it is so hard for him to believe that I truly think Dizzy Up the Girl is an important album? Maybe “important” is too strong of a word. But nevertheless, this album is damn good in my opinion. It’s one of the classics that I can play regardless of any particular mood. Who doesn’t (perhaps secretly) adore “Iris” and “Slide”? This album is chock-full o’ hits. “Baby’s Black Balloon.” Hello?

Since about my freshman year in college I’ve been pop culturally-inept. (Oh, the year of my reality-TV overload--brought on by my smut-addict of a roommate. “Bachelorette.” “Joe Millionaire.” “Real World.” Need I say more?) It didn’t take long for me to detest all things “popular.” (This includes most sorority girls. Sorry.) So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I didn’t follow the Goo Goo Dolls’ somewhat recent comeback attempt. I did notice their cover of “Give a Little Bit” taking the pop culturally-savvy group by storm. This was enough to keep my Goo collection limited to recordings that predate my aversion to pop culture.

So the cat is out of the bag. I think everyone’s music collection should be a little Gooey. In fact, “gooey” should be a term to stand for music that has substance and relevance but is under-appreciated by the music snobs of this world.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dancing with the Devil

I recently discovered the writing of Andy Whitman (fellow Ohio University alum) in Paste, where he most recently found himself relating to Bob Dylan's "melodic middle-finger salute." Whitman admires Dylan's "When the Ship Comes In" from The Times They Are A-Changin', and believes it to be the "greatest apocalyptic revenge song ever written." "Why settle for a mere insult when you can summon wholesale destruction on an epic, biblical scale?" Whitman asks.

Whitman says, deep in his heart he wants to smile on his brother--but it's so hard to hold on to that sentiment as you are being cut off on the freeway, or when a "brazen telemarketer" interrupts your dinner.

Though I'm sure I've probably read his stuff in past issues of Paste, this particular piece in the Scrapbook really sang to me. After learning he is from Westerville, Ohio--a place where I've had the pleasure of munching on freshly baked doughnuts in a quaint bakery at 2 a.m. on a balmy winter night--I wanted to know more about him. I googled him and found his blog, Razing the Bar. A particularly old post about his beef with American Idol hit a nerve with me. I felt strongly compelled to leave a comment along with the 57 other people. I signed up with blogspot, and acquired this very blog that you are reading now--just so I could tell Andy the story below. Unfortunately, his blog only allows comments from "team members." I'm still new to this blog thing, but I think that means, "You weren't invited to this party. Loser-face."

I don't want this venting to go to waste. So enjoy:


I've only recently discovered your writing, but consider me your newest fan. Though I'm rather late to the table on this post, I'd like to contribute to the discussion. This reminds me of an equally soul-sucking show that is brainwashing our country. Dancing with the Stars. Maybe you've heard of it. I've never sat through an episode, but it is something my mom has been known to watch... and therefore I am fully aware of the spectacle. I have to say I'm with you on the possessing a true desire to love mankind... but this show is only one of the many reasons why that is a most challenging goal.

Let me cut to the chase and share with you a conversation that I overhead in an elevator about a month ago. Two women, one in her early 30s and the other approaching 40, were discussing what a blessing Dancing with the Stars is for the citizens of this great nation. They continued to praise the show saying it is exactly what people need--it is bringing culture to our dumbed-down society. I bit my tongue. Held my breath. Tightened nearly every muscle in my body. Waited till I reached my floor, and exited the elevator. Suddenly, I could breathe again. Forgive them, for they know not what they do.