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Valentine's Day List 2013

Feb. 14th, 2013 | 12:33 am

Those of you who have been coming here for 11 (ELEVEN!) years, thank you. This year is a bit of a sea change. Luke and I have been together since List the Fourth and, while I could continue to hash material from my 20's forever, I am happy, and joyous, and less cynical than in years past, in large part due to this incredible relationship. So, this year, I offer just a few short words on the subject. You see, while Luke and I have been together for much less time than many of the couples we know, we are much happier than ... a lot of couples, regardless of how long they've been together. Because I hope to be with him for much, much longer, just a few things...

1) Healthy relationships aren't built on common interests. When you go through the death of a parent or the birth of a child or anything else of significance, it won't matter if you both listen to the Misfits and hate Uggs. The mutual interests that are built together are the best ones, anyway.

2) Parameters are established through word and through action. After long enough, actions cancel out words. Any unexpected change in parameters without talking with your partner is a breach.

3) "Be the type of man whom you want your daughters (or future daughters) to marry."
-Pater James Moore

4) Your dating dealbreakers will become the things that you find adorable about your life partner.

5) Never stop riding motorcycles together. Never stop doing the glorious, ridiculous, bonding things that drew you to each other in the first place.

For previous years, go here.

To purchase last year's book of all ten lists, go here.

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Valentine's Day List 2012

Feb. 13th, 2012 | 10:56 pm
location: Den
mood: awake

Purchase the book, with all 10 years, pictures and diagrams and funny book-back quotes, here.

All content and concept created by Marisa Lenhardt unless otherwise stated. Copyright laws apply.

1) If you feel the need to tell me, within your first sentence to me, that you are a physicist, I hope you understand you won't be getting any.

2) "Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy, absentminded. Someone sober will worry about things going badly. Let the lover be." ~ Jelaluddin Rumi

3) A man who is not only willing to walk 60 miles with you to fight the disease that killed your mother, but who gets his mother to join in the walk, is pure gold.

4) Beware the only child. Undersocialization runs rampant, with everything requiring discussion (see VD list 2011, #1). Selfishness is pervasive.

5) Not like licking an ice cream cone. Like eating a peach.

6) Try fucking outside of your social circle every once in a while.

7) Men - when you go to move an animal off the bed to clear space for the sexins, gently placing them on the floor is sexier and may get you more head than kicking them off rudely.

8) Not sure what level of post-relationship comfort has been reached when you determine that you and your ex think the same girl is hot. It's not as awesome as the level where you get to tell him she's 14, though.

9) No joint email addresses. Except maybe for your wedding. If you're going to spend $40k on a single day, it's a comparatively small mistake in the scheme of things.

10) 1) Small dick
2) Impotence
Just two of many, many reasons it's a great idea to have sex on the first date. Waiting until 3-4 dates and a nice connection in means they'll KNOW bad sex was the reason you stopped seeing them.

11) Yes, if it's under 5 inches, you have to try harder. Life's rough.

12) Men are primal beings. Not having a firm handshake and not looking them in the eye when you meet is a recipe for a pissing contest.

13) Anyone who thinks my choice to travel is more selfish than their choice to breed hasn't done a carbon footprint comparison of both activities.

14) I don't have a problem with strip clubs. I don't have a problem with anyone going to strip clubs. I don't have a problem with anyone who goes to strip clubs hitting on me. I DO have a problem with people who spend so much time at strip clubs that they expect a non-stripper to respond the same way as a stripper does to your gross, hamfisted come-ons. Go sharpen your teeth elsewhere; there's not enough money in the world.

15) I'm glad you're happy now. I'm sorry I wasted all that time listening to your heartbroken bullshit when we really don't have a friendship to speak of. I'm a sucker.

16) I don't care what you call it. The first time my partner and I are invited to a breakfast double-date with you and your "just hanging out" friend, you are in a relationship.

17) A Mans Biggest Mistake Is Giving Another Man The Opportunity To Make His Woman Smile..(twitter:MartyFLawrence MartinNot lawrence)

18) Love is leaving multiple meals in the fridge so she doesn't starve while you're out of town.

19) Men - I don't care how good you think your aim is - don't put that disgusting carpet thing around your toilet. Instead of seeing the nast around the base of the toilet, we'll smell and, heaven forfend, feel, it first.

20) Which reminds me - yes, I did use the term "heaven forfend" and other big words before we met. Get over yourself.

21) In a long-term-relationship, you may have to remind your partner (ok, women... you're going to have to remind men) that it's not acceptable to attend a black-tie event in jeans, or to meet a new friend while wearing pyjamas. This is payment for all the times they make you dinner... right?
a. Yes, you'll have to make dentist and doctor's appointments. But it should mean you're never taking out the trash.

22) He will not respect you just because you tell him to respect you. Try NOT sleeping with him if he treats you like shit. That's where respect is born.

23) All men hate the smell of nail polish remover. Do it in another room.

24) A whirlwind romance will not teach you to communicate with someone, to court them, to pick up on any of their signals, or get to know them until you're in too deep.

25) Once you've won the argument and gotten your way, you do not additionally get to pout because your partner is unhappy about the outcome. Cook a nice meal and give head.

26) The number of times you say "we need to talk" is inversely proportional to the amount you're getting laid.

27) He really, really doesn't care that she's dumb.

28) Dear men - no, you are not allowed an opinion on women in labor, their choices or their actions. Dear women not currently in labor - your opinion is also irrelevant.

29) You don't need to say "crazy vegan ex". You can just say "vegan ex".

30) I hate it, but it works. Compliment my intelligence, my writing skills, my motorcycling skills... anything other than "wow, you have a great voice" and "you're pretty".

31) It's over when he stops putting a mug of coffee on your nightstand in the morning.

32) Take a step back from being hurt that he's not in love with you to realize that you're not in love with him.

33) Yes, if you fuck your boss, you will get a promotion/raise. Sorry, ladies - this is, indeed, the way the world works.

34) A crossover from the performer rule list - if you feel the need to do something stupid like sleep with someone with whom you're performing, wait until the week before the show closes. That way, by the time the run is over, you'll be able to appropriately extricate yourself.

35) Even if you're both in happy monogamous relationships with other people, hearing that he remembers what you were wearing that time you kissed almost a decade ago will make you smile in all the right places.

36) Hearing that your least favorite ex was outed on the internet as having contracted an STD after you were together is like Christmas.

37) We like to see women naked. We like to see men naked if we're going to fuck them.

38) American men don't know how to flirt and American women are easy. It's a catch-22 which means that American women are going to get laid like crazy abroad and American men will only get laid by American women. And Aussies.

39) The first unprotected sex after an AIDS test is like taking a crap right after you shower - you won't feel really clean again until your next shower.

40) Sex. Cheaper and more effective than couples counseling. If it doesn't work, increase frequency. Caveat - has to be with your partner.

41) What are your three favorite things about your partner, that make you smile when you think of them? Don't have three? It's over.

42) It's a sad fact that every woman needs to be able to sprint.

43) That guy who avoids confrontation and refuses to admit when he's wrong? You've got yourself a beta male, right there.

44) Dear ex who said "shouldn't you be getting over this by now?" 6 months after my mother's death - thank you for setting the bar so low for helping my partner through such a difficult time. It takes so little to be comparatively awesome.

45) I tried to throw out the inscribed journal you gave me (I can't imagine having wanted to use it even when we were together), but I filled it with lists of the things I hate about you, so now it's too funny to throw away. Thanks for that.

46) The initial meeting is luck. Everything else is how hard you work at it. Some work is fun, but a healthy relationship isn't "luck".

47) He will always have one solid response when you ask him what you can do to make him feel better. You need to be willing to do it.

48) No, I'm not going to hang out or otherwise interact with you beyond what's necessary if your woman is a psycho jealous bitch. It's not that I'm worried I couldn't take her. It's that she's gutless and her sniping comments lead me to believe she's the kind of woman who would set fire to my house rather than approach me directly to air a grievance.

49) Save the "be more open-minded, try polyamory" speech for a girl in her 20's on whom it might work.

50) Romance matures with a relationship. Flowers and chocolate are lovely in the beginning. Later, rubbing your feet and bringing you a glass of wine when you've had the world's shittiest day is one of the most romantic things in the world.

51) I hate relationships, but I love being with Luke.

All years here.

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Deathiquette II : How it happened is not relevant

Feb. 8th, 2012 | 10:45 pm
location: Den
mood: calmcalm

People tend to die of one of two things - illness, or an accident. A few of the very fortunate will die of old age, in their beds, while asleep. Odds are this is not what happened. If so, mazel tov. If you were close to the deceased, you are not a person who needs to ask "how", because you know. If you were not close enough to know, you do not need to know. Your curiosity may FEEL as though it is killing you but, trust me, you will survive this. You will ask how the person died. If the response is cancer, you will ask what kind. If it was lung/mouth/esophageal/throat/anything like that, you will ask whether the deceased was a smoker. If the answer is yes, you will make a tsking sound. If the response to the first question is "motorcycle accident", you will skip straight to the tsking. Or, you will ask if the deceased was drinking. Allow me to remind you of the following: You are not Jesus, and you are not God. You cannot resurrect, and you are not fit to judge. In the 80's and 90's in San Francisco, if someone was found out to have had HIV or AIDS, the next immediate question was "Are they gay?", as if a person who got it through a blood transfusion was somehow more deserving of health than someone who enjoyed regular ass-poundings in a bathhouse. Fuck your judgment. It does not matter HOW the person died, only THAT they died. Acceptable questions are "Was it sudden?" or "Was it expected?" This will give more depth to your empathy. I'm convinced that the true reason behind the judging line of questioning is humankind's fear of dying. Don't worry - you'll get there in the blink of a redwood's eye. And, whatever's on the other side, it won't matter how you got there.

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Deathiquette I : Your estranged parents aren't dead

Feb. 2nd, 2012 | 12:15 am
location: Den
mood: tiredtired

Caveat : I have not necessarily grieved more than anyone else. But I'm in the habit of writing snarky posts about my own experiences.

Your parents aren't dead. If this is true, say that sentence to yourself over and over again before you open your mouth to mention your estranged parent(s) to someone who is grieving. I am always amazed when people compare the death of a parent to their parent(s) with whom they have chosen not to speak. No one is saying that having parental strife is easy, or ideal. The point is in the choice. The idea that an estrangement, regardless of who initiated it, is anything at all like having that choice removed, regardless of the relationship of the bereaved with their dead parent, is inconsiderate at best and unconscionably self-centered at worst. If you COULD pick up the phone and call your mother right now, shut up, take a deep breath, and say you're sorry for the bereaved's loss. Please, save the comparison. It is one of the idiotic things people can say to the grieving that will slice through the fog and haze of grief and create sheer rage. Of course, if your aim is to distract a close friend from their grief for a moment, well played.

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Disney Design or: How I Learned to Stop Grousing and Love the Mouse

Nov. 2nd, 2011 | 02:21 pm
mood: awake

I am a woman in my 30's with no children, no plans to have them, and I love Disneyland. I am too old to have been raised with the "Disney Princess" onslaught, and too young to have grown up with E-Ticket rides as the park was developing. In fact, as a child, I went only once, when I was 4 or 5 years old. I only remember being surprised that not ALL supertall legs belonged to my parents, and being too petrified to get on space mountain.

Fast-forward 18 years, add more than a touch of a gothy-rebellious youth-hood, 16 years of dedicated vocal training and one Conservatory degree, a combination of items that left me alternately alienated from my fellow classical musicians or spooky friends, depending on the day. It was as a jaded 23-year-old one year out of school and with a mother dead less than one year that I returned to Disneyland, at the insistence of a friend who had grown up in Orange County. I was prepared to scoff, to be underwhelmed, to loudly not understand what the big deal was and to insult every unoriginal parent who forced their child through this consumption factory. The cheery workers (clearly brainwashed), the bright entrance, the sheer Disney propaganda. This was going to be easy.

But I got distracted. Maybe it was the delightful candy apple; the candy not too thick, the apple perfect and crispy. Or the sheer glee of the teacups. The Haunted Mansion, unabashedly catering to those of my ilk? The Splash Mountain employee handing us our printed picture, telling us that she'd graduated from NYU and just loved working here? It was hard to say. The more I scratched, the deeper it went, and it was still genuine. The smiles didn't fade, there was no undercurrent of snark pervasive in other amusement parks.

Years passed, with annual trips to Disneyland. I continued to sing, I stopped holding on to my grief for dear life and allowed myself moments of happiness without the need to temper them with sarcasm. I started to work in the field of Design and Research. My sharp edges faded (though never disappeared). I sometimes wore color. I developed compassion and empathy and began to value those things over intelligence and the condescension it so often accompanies. I giggled with glee as I entered the gates of Disneyland. With varying degrees of success, I indoctrinated others. A boyfriend would join me just because it meant seeing me giddy with joy. Fellow friends who had also stopped Taking Themselves So Seriously joined trips, or went on pilgrimages of their own. I became aware of the phenomenon known as "Bat Day" (http://www.batsday.net/home/home.html) and, though I never attended, I knew that I was not alone in my seeming incongruity – a child of subculture borderline obsessed with the poster child of the mainstream. What was happening? This was a greater mystery than my fellow Burning Man campmates listening to Britney Spears (the irony alone is enough to hook you… the catchy tunes and mesmerizing teen bounce will keep you there). This was real.

And so I researched. Rather than simply enjoy, I came armed. By this point I had worked in Research and Design for years. I had always been insistent on form combined with function (if you never use the laces on the boots, they shouldn't be there), and now I had a dictionary of User Interface terms to accurately describe my observations. Luke helped – as a structural and architectural welder with a penchant for functional design, he comes away from any structure with a wealth of observation. He couldn't stop saying things like "Look at the welds on this chain. They're perfect." or "I would've quit my job to work on the structure for 'Soarin' Over California'." His first time there since he was a child, I turned away from him for a moment and turned back to see him eating an orange. When I asked where he got it, he said "tree" and pointed to a tree at the end of Main Street. Of course. His eyes wide open, he saw something that thousands of people had likely missed – this was real. And it was delicious. It was real because you were onstage with the players in one of the most brilliant sets in the world. Yes, there's a "backstage", and the reason that everyone seems so chipper isn't just because it's in their nature to be, it's because they are their role. They live, breathe and eat it, creating a Truman-show type reality that we are only too happy to enter. My landscape architect friend flipped over the plants on Storybrook Garden - things she had never seen before, bonsai plants carefully tended daily, rarities cultivated and often completely ignored by parents simply wanting to sit on a calming boat ride and their children who probably couldn't care less about miniature versions of the homes of various Disney characters. I am continually impressed with the evolution of Nightmare Before Christmas merchandise; from plastic gee–gaws to lovely home décor, graduating as I have from a crappy college apartment to my own home where a non-Disneyphile must be placated with quality items, not plastic junk.

Last weekend, I experienced the ultimate. Club 33. Walt Disney's private club, created as a haven for his investors, above the hustle and bustle. I was lucky enough to get a reservation (TWICE!), and to finally, after years of hearing about it and wanting to go, get closer to understanding the mastermind behind all of this. A four-star restaurant. Incredible food. Impeccable service. Not a kitschy Disney item anywhere. Gorgeous china (made just for Club 33, of course - http://www.flickr.com/photos/26571763@N00/6297334187/in/set-72157627892555545) and the feeling that, if you are there, you belong there, and would you like your food now or would you like to watch the fireworks from the balcony while we keep it warm for you? This was the pinnacle – this explained everything. From the perfectionist mind that wanted this as the tower from which to enjoy success stems all of Disney's attention to detail – from the change in sidewalk patterns between park sections (check it out next time you go from Toon Town to FantasyLand) to the perfectly manicured trees, to the dioramas in my very favorite attraction, the Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Our evening ended with a private escort through a closed Disneyland through the front gates. The streets, freshly watered, glittered as the lights were still on. My heart swelled as I enjoyed this moment, one of the rare moments in life where expectation and hope and imagination set the bar impossibly high and the experience still manages to clear it by miles. I had gone into the heart of the beast and emerged even more impressed with the execution, the attention to detail, the commitment to the experience. These are all fancy ways of saying what the mainstream has known for years – it's magic.

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Living Eulogy VI, Irene

Sep. 24th, 2011 | 12:09 am

Every friend of hers has, at some point, wanted to be her. She is the toughest walking example of femininity I know. A CTO, mother, motorcyclist, handywoman, and one of the sanest brides I've ever encountered, she will go down in history in our group of friends for having handy in her purse the correct random spark plug to help out a friend...a spark plug that didn't go with her motorcycle.

Her unflagging optimism is like kevlar against bitchiness and negativity, and the women with whom she surrounds herself are encouraged to new heights simply by basking in her presence.

I can't remember the first time I met Irene. It had to have been some time in the early 90's, when I first started going to Death Guild. She was a well-respected goddess, maneuvering her KZ1000, tending bar, showing up at my senior recital at the Conservatory even though we had never spent time together one-on-one. She had quite the impact on a fledgling goth, still working my way through white-face, black lipstick and listening to the Sisters on repeat during ridiculous boyfriend fights.

How the world changes in a decade or two. I am now utterly spoiled, spending several hours a week on the ferry with Irene. It's not every day but, lately, it's been more than half the week. We meet in the morning, bicycling to the ferry. At first, it was big stories; big job news, big singing news, big kid news. Over the months, it's become the idle chatter of the closest of friends - what happened last night, small frustrations (often mine but, when hers, always tempered with the aforementioned unflagging optimism), silly stories and what we did over the weekend.

On the ferry home, we are relieved. The day slips away and we watch the city fading into the distance as we shake off the stress of the day, sometimes with a glass of Baileys, like 15-year-olds. We then bicycle home. There is always more to say and, so often, more insight and pearls of wisdom at the very last moment before our goodbyes at my corner.

I have come to cherish these days on the ferry. Knowing I will start and finish my workday with one of my best friends makes it a little easier to leave for work in the morning.

This week, Irene celebrates what is considered by some to be a landmark birthday.

If the last few years are any indication of the quality of the years following the milestone birthday, we're on to something.

Irene is proof that, in the world of misfits, there is settling down without settling. There is fiercely facing adulthood, real adulthood, not the trying-on-mom's-heels adulthood of the 20's, with deep friendships, not the cloying happy-hour small talk with which so many people seem satisfied. Irene is the rare friend that one meets in their late teens and about whom one's initial instincts turn out to be right.

If the next [milestone number] means friendships like these, I'll take every wrinkle and sunspot that goes with it.

Here's to the next chunk of decades. May they be full of laughter, wisdom, Baileys and ferry rides.

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Jul. 10th, 2011 | 11:23 am
location: Heidelberg
mood: awake

Every time I go, it's worse. This time, additionally, is the first time since 1996 that the in-addition-to travels are falling after the time in Schwalbach, rather than before. It's a bad plan, knowing you're still so close and that you're not going back, not this trip.

Whenever people get the urge to call me some sort of ridiculous globetrotter because my family happens to be so far away, or tease me for going to Europe "so often", I remind them of what this is - their Wisconsin. Their Grandma and Grandpa. Their homemade meals, endless days pouring into warm nights, mosquitoes, running, laughing, tripping, knee-scraping, over-protective application of painful antibiotic, their much-younger cousins growing into amazing young men, their uncle who is the last sibling remaining and who can tell you which teacher it was who knew that Mom was the best at math (Prescott). They just all happen to speak German.

This is where we ran wild for days, where our traditional grandmother sweated over bean soup made fresh from the garden and chastised us because our barbies didn't wear underwear. Where, for an entire Summer every Summer, our amazing uncle was our surrogate Dad while our Dad worked away in America. We strove to please our uncle, who never stopped working, who still hasn't stopped, who is outside of the house working on, perfecting, fixing, building, harvesting, *something*, every moment that he is not having lunch or dinner...and sometimes even then he is tinkering, fixing something with one hand while he eats with the other. This, for me, is the example to which all the men in my life are compared, why only Luke makes sense as a partner to me and why so many men in the world seem lazy, with soft hands. This is where we learned to drive (a tractor, of course, but a stick shift nonetheless) by the time we were ten, where we ran to get ice cream as the truck went by, where I ran around the barnyard and fed the chickens and struggled to load haybales that were nearly as big as I was.

Whether or not my brother and sister would say it this way, they will not disagree when I say that this is the place that shaped us. This is the place where I learned who I wanted to be in the world - a genuinely kind person, a person who did what they said they were going to do. A person who didn't complain. A person with a little bit of knowledge about many things to get around in the world. A person who holds her home sacred and who is careful about who comes into it but ensures that, once people are invited in, they feel welcome, knowing they can use whatever they want as long as they keep things clean and don't break anything. :) Someone who can go from working in the field during the day to a concert at night without missing a beat and with no one the wiser. Someone who knows the German word for spark plug and two-stroke and can at least monkey around a little bit with both of them enough to be helpful and not in the way. Someone who is game to drive whatever vehicle is put in front of her. Someone who does largely what they want in the world without self-consciousness, but who would never consider doing something simply to be noticed. In short, someone of whom her Uncle would be proud. We all have our goals, and some days are better than others. :)

As the train pulled away and I hugged my cousin and said goodbye to my Uncle, who didn't bother wiping the tears away (unselfconscious), I got that same knot in the pit of my stomach that I always get - that fear that this time is the last time. The fear that I forgot to say or do something crucial.

This place is so deep within my heart; in core scolpiti and, while I know that to live here is not realistic, that things change and it is, as everywhere, not frozen in time, that my amazing chef of an aunt and my role-model uncle get older, my cousins are fully interactive and the obvious product of 12 months a year with their Father, I have not romanticized it. The sunsets are still perfect over the fields. The warm afternoon rain still creates a sparkle and the sun takes a million years to set. People still say hello on the street and the rostwurst and frittes from the stand for 3 Euro are still better than America's best attempt. The ponies still eat whatever you have in your hand, the geese still hiss and the chickens still hide eggs in utterly illogical places and the ice cream man still comes. Above all, people I can barely remember smile widely as they take my hand and say hello to "Marina's sein Kind."


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A Story.

Mar. 23rd, 2011 | 12:12 pm
location: SF Office
mood: contemplativecontemplative

A neat story about something that happened to me.
By Marisa Lenhardt, aged 30-cough.

Many moons ago, before some of you were born and before many of you started drinking, I was in high school with a sweet, slightly nuts, talented guy.
After a year or so, he stopped going to my high school, and that was that.

Fast forward a decade or so, add the creation of facebook, stir.

Out of the blue in October I get an email from this guy with whom I went to High School, needing extras for a Francis Ford Coppola film on which he was working. I happily complied, thinking that, at worst, it would be an excellent opportunity for some camping asshattery with some good friends. I put out feelers and got some replies from various folks in my friend and extended circle. A truly lovely mix of people who responded even without knowing who was involved with the production.

We had our initial interview/photos and, a few days later, were called for a screen test.

I followed the woman who did our screen test deep, deep into the recesses behind the public areas of the Rubicon Estate in Napa. I saw my friend from high school, John-Paul and, in a fit of surreality, noted that we looked like the same, but adult, versions of ourselves. It was fantastic to see him, and I was at ease. We slowly gathered and, after a while, were taken in separate vehicles up even further into the wilds to a house. We headed up the stairs and there, seated at a large dinner table, was Mr. Coppola. As we came up, he said "Have a seat. I want to introduce you to my friend Val". We tried not to stare at the IceMan and took our seats around the dinner table. The 5 of us who'd come up in the initial car filled in the space around the table, acting as casual as possible. I had had a pretty good idea that Francis (I can call him that, I think) would be there, but hadn't been prepared for, you know... Doc Hollywood. Francis immediately put us at ease with a volley of intense, intelligent questions, a skill clearly developed with years of human observation. All of the women did readings with Val, during which he made us laugh with fantastic ad libs, and most of us were quite relaxed by the end of our readings. Francis regaled us with tales of filming 'Apocalypse Now' ("did you see that?" he asked.).

As we prepared to leave, the assistant director leaned and whispered something into Francis' ear. Francis then looked at me and said "You're an opera singer. What will you sing for me? Manon Lescaut? La Rondine? No... Gianni Schicchi." I agreed that Gianni Schicchi certainly provided the best a cappella, and before I knew it, I was standing fewer than 5 feet from the man, as he filmed me singing 'O Mio Babbino Caro' on his iPhone. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Val film it with his iPhone, as well. When I finished, Val said "Well, that was unexpected," and Francis said "Very nice." We all left soon after, and I was giddy for hours.

I did not get a speaking role, but I was asked to participate as an extra. I was, of course, disappointed, but was still excited at the prospect of the aforementioned potential camping asshattery.

Fastforward to November.
A group of us were asked, during the coldest few days of the month, to meet for a few days. We arrived at the gorgeous location and began (with help! How strange) to set up camp. We were told that, that evening, Francis would be camping with us.

I am firmly in the "I'll believe it when I see it" faction of human thinking, and so I went about the day, and by evening time we were sitting around the fire, eating food that had been prepared for us (how strange!), sharing a drink or two. The hours ticked by, a few people went to sleep, and after a while, a gentleman came down to the campfire, casually, with a couple of younger men, who carried a chair for him. People slowly quieted as they realized who'd arrived, and there was a brief, awkward moment of "ok, now what?" I did the thing that comes naturally and offered a drink. Francis says "You're the opera singer. I can tell by the profile." "Yes," I replied, "But that doesn't answer the question. Would you like a drink?" He asked what I had, which was Scotch. He wasn't interested in that, but agreed to a home-made liqueur provided by a friend. The next few hours were spent sipping drinks, including an absinthe made for Mr. Coppola, trading stories and, for brief and ecstatic moment, Francis getting me to sing "Si, mi chiamano Mimi" and getting him to sing Rudolfo's "Si". My dear friend David bore witness to that, and I caught his grin from across the fire.

Soon enough, it was late and cold and we had a long day the next day. We said our goodnights, and a few of us stayed up a bit longer before turning in.

First full day of filming -
I awoke to a craving for fresh fruit and headed up to the communal snack/kitchen area. I brought my company iPad in an attempt to check my email. I was met by Francis, who engaged me in a discussion about the meeting he had with "Steve", and about Adobe and Apple's ongoing battle. After showing me a nifty wireless keyboard and syncing it with the iPad, it was time to get ready dressed and meet the costumer.

John Paul finally made it down to say hello to us in camp and, as I painted his nails, he told me that Francis planned to add a scene for me to sing. I couldn't even register this as possibly being true, so I went about my day as normally as possible, camping in the middle of the week with a film crew. There were giggles, takes, retakes, and everything you ever hear from anyone who's done extra work - it's a lot of stand around and wait. But the novelty of it didn't wear off through the weekend, and there we were, walking the same path over and over again.

At dinner, I set my plate down across from an unattended plate which happened to be Mr. Coppola's. Sweet Lulu sat next to me, and the two of them talked about burlesque ("My kids got me Dita Von Teese for my birthday." "That's a great book!" "I think he means... they actually got him ... Dita Von Teese.") Filming went into the evening, and temperatures dropped below freezing. We huddled around cold propane fires, and Francis asked what I'd sing for him if I were to sing a scene. It began to seem more real. That evening, filming wrapped up and we gathered around the real fire for a bit before heading to sleep.

The next day dawned a bit warmer, and all of us got up in the exact same costumes as the previous day.

It wasn't too long into filming that Francis said "We're filming your scene today...what will you sing? Public domain, of course..." It was at this point that I thought it might actually happen. My nervous energy built throughout the day, until I was actually wrapped into a body mic...and then it was real. The costumer was sweet, and supportive, and listened to my nervous ramblings. And then, immediately after a scene during which I had to physically exert myself and without even a chance to get water, I was on. As I prepared, I realized I had no water handy. I turned to dtk and said "I would kill for a bottle of water right now". It took a moment to realize that the three people that began running were running to get ME water. I'd forgotten about the mic. Possibly the most surreal moment of the entire shoot. The sun was setting, and Francis sat about 30 feet away...directing. ME. I can't say what I sang, or what the setting was, or what I wore...but I can tell you that, during the course of the first song, the line of people behind the camera watching went from about 8 to pretty much everyone on-set. And that, when I finished my first song, Francis had to wait until the applause stopped to remind people that we were "still rolling". He gave very little direction and I felt very comfortable, not nervous at all, as I was simply giving a performance to a few people as the sun went down, echoing across the lake.

At the end of the third song, Francis said "you can applaud now", and people did. Then he said "print it", and that was it...we broke for dinner and I had a small moment of glowing glory as people who are much more accustomed to the short takes of the film industry paid me beautiful compliments... and I glowed, and glowed, through the rest of the filming that went to 2am. I got the chance to ask Val for a copy of the video he had of me and he said that, if I gave him my card and Francis approved it, no problem. Turns out that, because I was in costume, Francis didn't approve it, but I did get a very nice email from Val's assistant explaining that. It shows a surprising amount of follow-through.

Giddy from the whole day, I drank with a few of the crew until the sun came up. At one point someone turned to me and said "Hey, you're the only talent still out drinking!" And I giggled. talent! heh.

The next day dawned harsh and cruel, as DK, Jocelyn and I slowly and steadily packed up, far fewer people to help with this process than with the setup. The ride home was slowly waking from a dream, and Luke sweetly unpacked the truck for me as my left knee had completely given out.

Today, I go with a few of these folks to watch the first screening of the film. My scene is still in it. I hope it stays.

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Valentine's Day List 2011

Feb. 14th, 2011 | 05:18 pm

All content and concept created by Marisa Lenhardt unless otherwise stated. Copyright laws apply.

The anti-wedding edition, apparently.

1) In relationships as in life, not everything needs discussion.

2) Flirting is my default. It's a better social lubricant than booze, with fewer regrets later. But remember what we learn in strip clubs - flirting does not mean you're getting laid.

3) Dear random guy; do not touch me without my permission. Definitely do not use "I'm a massage therapist" as an excuse. Certainly do not subsequently question my comfort with my own body as a way to bully me into allowing you to touch me.

4) Yes, talking badly about an ex is to be avoided, unless it will give your current lover an ego boost.

5) Ladies - at no point are you to suggest your boyfriend/husband/man get rid of/sell his motorcycle. He knows that you have no intention of ever "letting" him have another one. Of course, if breeding deep resentment is your goal, this is a good way to go.

6) As a direct corollary to the above - a motorcycle is something you accepted when you got into a relationship with someone who rode one. If, however, your previously non-riding partner suddenly decides to start riding, discussion is warranted.

7) Dear former suitor - when I said I was looking for "anyone who can keep up with me", I'm sorry I didn't specify "anyone who can keep up with me without being coked out of their mind." Thank you, drive through.

8) If you are being dumped over the phone, pull the fuck over.

9) Dear almost-60-guy; do not tell me that that 38-year-old over there is within your age range. You don't just look like an asshole; you look like a stupid asshole.

10) Re. the above; On league - if you are in your 50's, and she is in her 20's, and you are a leery, frumpy, balding old man, she is out of your league. If you are in your 50's, and she is in her 20's and shallow, and you are a leery, frumpy, balding old man with millions in the bank, she is in your league.

11) I don't give a shit about your wedding. If we are friends, I do give a shit about your relationship and your happiness. But please, don't feel I'll be insulted if you don't invite me.
a. No, I don't feel like I'm being a bad friend because my reaction to pretty much any wedding announcement is "Oh, shit, here we go again." I'm pretty sure that makes me most women's only realistic friend. You know what women hate? Realistic friends.

12) If you've called your friend three times in a row to bitch about your boy troubles without once asking how your friend is doing... you're an asshole.

13) "What are you thinking?" and "we need to talk" are henceforth stricken from relationship discussions. Refer them back here if they try that shit.

14) If you are my friend, and you tell me you have cheated on another friend, you have three days before I tell my friend. If you are not my friend, and you tell me you cheat on someone who is my friend, you had better hope you can get to the phone before I can. Ditto the latter if the friend is Ben or Leslie.

15) For an idea of how your partner will take the news of you cheating, try suggesting an open relationship.

16) If you are in a ridiculously conceived, ill-thought-out, all-around bad relationship, I will not speak against it. Unless it's abusive. Speaking out against such things only makes you resent me, but it's worth it if you're being abused.

17) Dear ex's - if I was stupid enough to leave a special photograph at your house, please, for the love of god, return it before the crazy bitch you date next destroys it.

18) She says: I feel fat. You say (and this is the only acceptable response): You're nuts. You look fantastic. But I've been feeling like I could do with more exercise if you want to do that together.

19) More definitions: Hawtkward = hot awkwardness. It's awesome.

20) Chicks don't like this.

21) Loud chewers have a strong gag reflex. Hot if they're willing to give it the old college try, but is likely to mean "just not that much head for you".

22) Can We Date?

23) Upon bringing your new girlfriend to meet some friends for the first time, try to ensure she doesn't deliberately insult everything about those friends, unsubtly, unless you relish the idea of them laughing at her and pitying you 30 seconds after you both leave.

24) The nicest way to let someone down gently has to be to say "the sex we'd have couldn't possibly be as good as the sex I have with you in my fantasies. My multiple fantasies."

25) Of course I'd rather be with someone who's experienced. Who else is going to appreciate the full magnitude of how fantastic I am in bed?

26) It's not that I have anything against white collar boys. It's that I don't have the patience to explain the terms "aftercare" and "safeword" to a weeping manchild in khakis and a polo. ... Ok, maybe I have something against white collar boys.

27) You might be over him if, when you hear a story about him at a party, all you can think is "huh. I was pretty sure he'd be dead by now."

28) YES, he is looking at her ass. That doesn't mean he is going to cheat on you with her.

29) Translation (mostly for the benefit of women) "Maybe someday" = "Definitely someday, but not with you."

30) Nothing is more heartbreaking than an amazing friend married to an asshole. I have nothing witty to say. It makes me want to cry. If you get yelled at or ignored as a matter of course, you deserve better. Please leave.

31) Multiple divorces mean you should remember that the consistent factor in all of your failed relationships is you.

32) My most intelligent friends are the ones least capable of maintaining a relationship, or even of knowing how to play the games required to get into a relationship in the first place.

33) It doesn't become nagging if it's heard the first time. Or, if you just admit it and say "it's not going to happen" the first time.

34) I don't care if you've "seen it all before". You haven't seen mine before. It's a cheap ploy, and it won't work.

35) Straight men - need to get laid? Theater. You don't even have to learn to act. Just learn to walk and chew gum at the same time. You'll get into a chorus and be surrounded by a flock of theater women, mostly straight and usually surrounded by gay men.

36) Lifestyle choice celebration party: wherein, if I make it to 40 without forcing my friends to visit a wedding registry or buy any baby shower gifts, I am throwing a party to celebrate non-traditional decisions. I'm registering at Cask and La Perla. Luke and I having a small civil ceremony to de-complicate our wills and hosting a potluck soooooo doesn't count.

37) Presents that will get dudes laid is not so inaccurate.

38) Dear Mom, thanks for instilling in me the German ideals of marriage as a partnership, with little focus on the day itself. As a result, I have a stronger partnership than most, and a house instead of a photo album of me in a white dress. Your current issues will still exist, and likely be magnified, after your fantasy day with the lie of a white dress and the $30,000 house-down-payment pricetag. Except it will be much, much much harder to get away.

39) More definitions: Prennoyance = The knowledge that a train wreck of a relationship is going to end in tears and you're going to have to pick up the pieces.

40) Pay attention:
Quiet guy, wants to be your friend, not too aggressive unless there's another guy and then it's all about the one-upmanship thing = has trouble keeping it up.
Overly cocky, faux alpha male, condescending about other guys behind their backs = small.
Friendly guy, sweet, hawtkward = unrealized potential.
Quietly confident guy, doesn't engage unless he really has something to say = has it and knows how to use it. Enjoy. Don't play games.

41) Compliment. Do not "hit on". "Hey baby. If I told you you had a nice body would you hold it against me?" = NO. "Nice boots. Wanna fuck?" = YES.

42) I read and watched "The Notebook" and at no point thought that the love, adoration and respect the lead characters held for one another was unusual. We should all be so lucky and, believe me, I count my blessings daily.

43) Insecure girls try really, really hard in bed. They're also nuts. Best to find a girl who used to be insecure and just kept on liking sex a lot.

44) What kind of a moron cheats on their partner with a co-worker? SERIOUSLY. You want to get caught. That's the only answer.

45) Saying that a condom doesn't feel as good is like saying a kevlar jacket in a war zone is too expensive.

46) Bridget Jones taught us everything we needed to know about not sending the letters we write when we're drunk. Why don't we learn?

47) It takes a minute to get used to a rental car. You're not going to drive it perfectly the first time you get in. You know what I mean?

48) Dear ex-fiance #3 - a "let's reconnect" email with 2 sentences and 5 misspellings will not get you a response.

49) If they're not willing to take care of you when you're sick, it's not love.

50) You're marrying their kids, too. Anything else is denial.

All 9 years here.

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An addendum to the 2003 Valentine's Day list, from an anonymous donor

Dec. 17th, 2010 | 08:16 pm
location: Den
mood: calmcalm

Those of you familiar with my Valentine's Day Lists (http://phreddiva.livejournal.com/tag/valentine) will appreciate that some dear was was, recently, bored enough to go back to my 2003 list (locked, but available in 2004) and ... write his own addendums. Enjoy.

1) Never date a man with another woman's initials/name carved or tattooed anywhere on his body, unless that woman is his mother, and she's dead.

How about "They're all cunts, except for mommy - and I killed her myself"? Likely misspelled, to boot.

2) If a lover claims not to be able to go down on you because their tongue is too short, it's a lie. This advice is especially helpful to virgins in the audience as that's what I was when I fell for this one.

Agree in principle. Bears making certain he/she *has* a tongue before walking away. 'Cause if they don't... things could get interesting.

3) If someone you are dating shows up with hickeys on their person, consider whether you can recover from this. Monogamy/poly doesn't matter.

I object to hickeys on purely aesthetic grounds and enforce the "three hickeys and you're out" rule. Ruthlessly, regardless of how those hickeys were acquired.

4) Never, ever attempt to teach your lover to drive a stick shift.

In fact, if they can't drive shift, they shouldn't be your lover. They're likely manually challenged.

5) Men who don't drink coffee can't be trusted (present company excepted, you know whom you are).

Agreed. Same for women and dogs. And cats, come to think of it. It's why you can basically not trust *any* cat.

6) Women should not date men who take longer to get ready in the morning than they do.

What's the equivalent rule for women dating women, or men dating man, inquiring minds want to know?

7) Never believe a man who claims that drinking will make him last longer. He might think it lasts longer. That is different, but not accurate.

Aaaaaactually... there is a phase in male drunkenness where the metabolism still works, but the feeling's all gone. Hard to hit, though... and NO fun from the male perspective. One can go forever without ever getting anywhere. At some point in my misspent youth, I actually timed this effect. That's how bored i was with the sex.

8) You're doing a man (and his future lovers) a disservice by faking an orgasm.

And don't think we can't tell. Sometimes, some of us can. And how embarrassing is that? So, agreed. Much better of with "How was that for you darling?" "What?"

9) When a lover gets angry with you for stopping by while he's "studying" to bring soup, YOU ARE BEING CHEATED ON. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

In fact, you may want to try and collect the $200 anyway, no need to get carried away with emotions.

10) Size matters.

And, apparently in all dimensions.

11) Sex on the hood of a car is a lot less sexy than it sounds.

Waste of a perfectly good car.

12) If someone says "ew" or "gross" to you at any point during sex, you are under no obligation to continue. No matter what the excuse.

Wait... "GROSS!" should be my safeword, then.

13) New regulation says that you can say "no" AT ANY POINT during the sexual act, and if the person you're with doesn't stop, it's rape. This is especially helpful knowledge when it comes to hate-fucking.

Reminds me of a rather great "NO!" "DON'T STOP!" hatefuck I once had.

14) That thing about watching the way men treat their mothers to get an indication of how they'll treat the women they're dating? IT'S TRUE. And if he claims his mother is a bitch and that's why he treats her badly... well, that's DEFINITELY something to look at, now, isn't it?

If his mother's a bitch, he's a Hundesohn, anyway. Walk.

15) When relaying amusing sexual stories, it is important to NOT USE NAMES.

Instead, use poignant, unmistakable, and unflattering physical descriptions.

16) When you are dating someone who starts playing Civilization upwards of 8 hours a day (and drinking all of your high-end coffee) the relationship is effectively over. Sorry.

That relationship was over before it started. You never had one. Trust me on that, as a gamer. You were a convenient source of coffee and occasional sex.

17) Likewise, when you tell someone you need your space and they call your family & friends several times over the course of a day, in addition to calling you 4-5 times over the course of the same day, they are unclear on the concept past the point of help. Give up.

Actually, run. Change your number, your state of residence, and sanction the offender with extreme prejudice.

18) When a lover checks your underwear while doing wash to see if you've been unfaithful, the relationship is effectively over. Sorry.

Disagree. Any lover who does my laundry is welcome to check my underwear for whatever they're looking for. I'll deal with the consequences.

19) Never date someone with a framed picture of Hitler in their bedroom & a bunch of WWII Mausers under the bed. It doesn't matter how good the sex is.

Hey, at least you got fucked over good by a master race hopeful. Also, Hitler portraits are considered to be great promoters of bedroom abstinence.

20) Never become engaged to someone you've known less than 24 hours.

Unless they're unconscious at the time. Then, it's OK.

21) Screw that, never become engaged.

Oh, I read "enraged"... so well, yeah. Right.

22) If you do become engaged, don't tell your family until it's been more than 3 months.

Don't tell your family anything about your personal life ever, unless it entitles you to monetary compensation.

23) If you bite the bullet and move in with someone, have your own room. Not necessarily your own bedroom, but your own room. I don't care how in love you think you are.

Think "Panic Room". I see a tall, dark, and handsome hardware store clerk in your near future.

24) When your mother looks at you and says "these men are serious", perhaps she has a point.

Always listen to Mom. Especially when she's pointing that Desert Eagle in your general direction.

25) When your boyfriend falls asleep and can't be awakened, knows how to assemble his shotgun in the dark and then does so, storing it under your bed, he may be a speed addict.

He might also be a really, really tired hunter & gatherer. Check his teeth.

26) Do not allow your parents to have your lover's #, and v-v.

See above. Do not give out any information to your family, unless it's at gunpoint or in exchange for monetary compensation.

27) Fire escapes are prime targets for stalkers. Even if it means dying a smokey, fiery death, consider having yours removed.

Alternately, a metal handsaw will nicely fix your stalker up. Try to record their screams on their way down for bonus points.

28) In poly relationships, attempt to not have too incestuous a group of lovers. This is a hotbed for drama.

In poly relationships, screw everyone equally and try not to socialize with them.

29) A man who insists on spending weekends with his parents in order to do laundry does not own scissors for his apron strings.

True. Then again, if that man does *your* laundry, stop seeing this as an issue.

30) A lover who ignores you when you cry should not be called "lover", but perhaps "asshole I tolerate because the sex is hot". And if the sex isn't hot, some re-evaluation is in order.

Any lover who is not moved to hot sex by you crying should be dumped immediately. And if hot sex with a lover doesn't make you cry, the same holds true.

31) This may seem obvious, but if your lover cheated on their previous lover with you, you will suffer the same fate.

Yes. Also, preemptively cheat with their previous lover on them, to balance the overall equation.

32) When you're 15, a lover who hangs out in coffee shops all the time playing chess & discussing philosophy is hot. When you're 25, it's scary and a little pathetic.

At 35, they better own the damn coffee shop. At 45, they damn better well be retired.

33) Do not date a man who uses a .22 to shoot at mice.

Nothing smaller than a .38 will appropriately disintegrate mice.

34) Do not date someone from West Virginia.

Try East Virginia instead. Or, if in a pinch, West Dakota.

35) If a parent dies & after six months your lover says "shouldn't you be starting to get over this by now?", there is no fixing the situation. JUST RUN.

An early warning sign of this type of behavior is your lover's inability to spell "shallow".

36) When you go to fluff your pillow at your lover's house and you discover a gun under the pillow, exercise some caution.

The gun might be loaded, and also, your lover may have forgotten to put the safety back on after his last snuff job. Check pillow for blood stains.

37) If you are an inherently monogamous/jealous/insecure person... DO NOT ATTEMPT A POLY RELATIONSHIP. I don't care how strong you think you are. You will be miserable.

If you have no idea what any of the above multi-syllable words mean, you're blessed, as "dumb fucks well".

38) If you are a woman dating a man who is made very uncomfortable because you are stronger/a better fighter than he is (typically in sexist/misogynistic men), it is your right & duty to beat him up & teach him a lesson.

Also, he might enjoy it and offer to do your laundry if you promise to repeat the beating once he can walk again.

39) Be sure to establish a safe "signal" before using a ball gag. This will prevent uncomfortable/scary experiences.

And remember kids, safewords don't work so well when you're wearing a ball gag... they all come out as "gross!". See above on that subject. It's always better to equip the ball gag with a dead man's switch that sets off the bell once you faint.

40) If you have to request that your lover shower/brush teeth/exercise general good hygiene, consider how important this is to you & proceed from there.

If they don't do it by themselves and regularly, they also likely won't do the dishes... and you can just about forget the laundry.

41) Never date a person who mistreats animals.


42) A man who remembers anniversaries, holidays, etc. and makes romantic plans for them is worth hanging on to. He may also be gay, so be wary.

Then again, a guy who doesn't remember last Thursday probably doesn't remember if he's gay or not... and his lack of memory will come with other exploitable advantages.

43) Don't date anyone who doesn't like the Simpsons. Unless, of course, you don't like the Simpsons... in which case... why are you reading this?

Please, pray tell, what *are* these "Simpsons" you keep going on about?

44) If you are dating someone, and you ask them what's wrong, and they say "nothing", END OF CONVERSATION. Any pouting/sighing/silences are to be ignored after this point!

If "nothing" sounds like they just said "gross"... tell them to take the damn ball gag out when they want to talk to you. Of course, if they're too restrained to comply, just ignore them.

45) Recently acquired knowledge - more fights occur in yellow rooms. Bear this in mind while having it out with your lover. Make sure there aren't knives in said room.

So noted. We'll see what the wall color reveals itself to be once we switch on the light in here.

46) Women are nuts. Men are clueless. The sooner we can all accept this, the better it will be for all of us.

You are right in that nuts are not a cerebral function of the species' males. Women are nuts. Men have nuts. Mind you, men will still try to use theirs as cerebral input.

47) Women's instincts are very rarely wrong. It's ok for a guy to have females or even ex-girlfriends as friends. It is NOT ok for a guy to have a female friend/ex-girlfriend who consistently gives you dirty looks & makes snipey remarks to you behind your boyfriend's back. It is doubly not ok for a boyfriend to tell you you're crazy when you complain about this.

Wait, didn't we just establish women are nuts?

48) Of these traits - 1) good-looking 2) good in bed 3) good conversationalist 4) compassionate - a lover must possess 2. If it's 3 & 4, consider a nice benign friendship.

Personally, I insist on all four, and a minimum of one additional "mystery" trait.

49) Conversation is not a necessity, and can frequently be considered a detriment.

See above, under "ball gag".

50) Being an observant lover (noticing favorite movies, colors, foods, etc.) can bring your relationship to new heights. Likewise, having to be beaten over the head before noticing things like haircuts and fresh paint jobs on cars & apartments will set your lover to wondering exactly what it is to which you DO pay attention.

You're a 45-year-old double-amputeed gay male scuba instructor, right?

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