Saturday, November 14, 2009

I'm still lurking about

This blog is not dead, I swear. I know I haven't posted anything of substance in forever, I am just totally uninspired by my life right now. I'll come back one day.

Lady C

Monday, September 07, 2009


I have never been able to resolve my feelings about Andy Warhol, and attending his museum in Pittsburgh only made my confusion worse. Eccentric genius whose very life was performance art? Arrogant prig, self-absorbed in his own belief he was genius? A phony? Maybe my confused perspective was his actual goal. (He even wore a gray-haired wig before he naturally grayed. Isn’t that pretty cooky?)

Here’s the source of my current angst: a banana necklace.

I traded a hula hoop from my Etsy store for a handmade lamp-worked glass pendant of a banana on a black background. The artist described it as reminding her of Andy Warhol’s banana art, which it kinda does, but more plants the seed in my mind that that’s what it is. I wear it with my ID necklace as kind of a totem. Life’s bananas, but it’s a performance art theater of the absurd participated in whether opting to or not.

When I feel on the verge of bananas, Andy Warhol reminds me to act my role in the theater of life. I can’t control bananas, but I can sculpt it to my own script, sans gray-haired wig.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

First, an explanation

I know I don't write as much anymore. It's for a couple of reasons.

Number one, real life is sort of more prominent in my day-to-day than it has been in the past. There's not as much space for writing.

Number two, I have found out that people where I work have found my blog. My blog started out as PG when I thought I was writing for my family. When they didn't read, I upped it to PG-13. When I realized just a handful of select friends were really reading, I pretty much took the blog to rated R.

Now that I'm more exposed, I feel compelled to be more careful, but the stories I really want to tell are still rated R. The diarist side of my brain hasn't found its way back to the simpler, less potty-mouth times. And it's not even that I swear, it's my questionable subject matter. Like writing about potties.

And now, enjoy a doughnut with me.

Glory hole

I have a weakness for Krispy Kreme doughnuts that borders on pathological. When I was a kid, for evening entertainment my parents would load us in the station wagon and take us to Krispy Kreme. We’d watch as the raw doughnut dough circles came down the conveyor belt and slid into the deep fat frier. Then, like magic, that rotating arm would flip the doughnuts and fry the other side, leaving that thin white band of unfried dough around the edge of the confection.

Glory of glories, the fried dough made its way to the shower of icing. A curtain of pure liquid sugar joy glided dreamily over each doughnut. And the icing, that transcendental wonder of the icing, some of the curtain of sugar glaze never made it onto the doughnut and fell back into a recovery vat. Oh, heaven above, if I could just stick my face in that sugar rain and catch the extra in my mouth.

“Now frying,” the sign blinked, my favorite sign ever. “Now frying,” the still warm doughnuts were delicately pricked directly off the line with what looked like a bamboo chopstick and placed in perfectly gridded order in a dozen-sized box. Dad ordered one box plain glazed, one box chocolate glazed. We all ate one of each, sitting in front of the magic doughnut conveyor belt, watching with rapt childhood attention, high on sugared sweets.

Twenty-five years later, and I have become allergic to wheat. I discovered it one day after eating a waffle. I felt horrible afterward. The next day, I did not eat a waffle, and I was fine. Just in case, just to prove the scientificity of my experiment, I ate a waffle again. I was sick. Like anaphylactic sick. So, poof, the world of wheat disappeared. I’ve been off wheat for a while now, and although I miss it like I’d miss chocolate (mac n’ cheese! Where are you?), I’m safely healthier.

Today, however, someone brought my supreme weakness to work—Krispy Kreme. My co-workers can never remember that I’m allergic to wheat (not that it’s their job to remember), and more than one person said, “There’s Krispy Kreme in the breakroom.” Evil. Pure evil. I ignored the Krispy Kreme, I reminded myself it was poison, I fought my burning sweet tooth, but I succumbed.

I was sitting alone in the breakroom eating a snack of string cheese. Two open boxes of Krispy Kreme stared at me. “They’re not there,” I said. “You’ll die,” I said. But then the much, much louder voice said, “DIE IN A GLORY OF CONFECTIONER’S GLAZE!”

I picked up one doughnut, gently, not breaking the integrity of the glazing shell. “I’ll just take a bite and see what happens.” I chewed slowly, afraid and exhilarated. Swallowed first bite. “I’m OK.” Next bite, chewed deliberately and carefully. “I’ll finish this doughnut, and that will be all.” I felt fine. My throat didn’t squeeze, my nose didn’t run, I didn’t sneeze—I was fine. “OK, another doughnut.” Thoughtful bite, careful chew, swallow. Second doughnut, gone and no reaction. Then the glutton in me took over, my doughnut demon started screaming, “Third doughnut! Third doughnut!”

You know I listened to the doughnut demon.

I knew I was really pushing my limits with the third doughnut, but I told myself, “There’s always the emergency room.” Yes, that is actually how I justified the third doughnut, a trip to the emergency room for eating a third doughnut.

Bite, careful, slow, bite. I knew this was my last Krispy Kreme ever, and I knew it had to be perfect. Alone, in the breakroom, with two boxes of Krispy Kremes as my friends, I started doughnut three. I chewed deliberately. I chewed carefully. I chewed mindfully that this, this glorious confection was my last. I savored like I had never savored before.

I finished, still terrified I’d be in the emergency room in minutes, but reveling in the magnitude of my doughnut accomplishment. And then my throat got tight. Assessment: throat not emergency room tight, throat allergy medicine tight.

I rushed to my office and tore apart my purse looking for that lone Sudafed I knew I had floating around in the bottom. “Sudafed, Sudafed, must not die,” I chanted to myself. Finally, Sudafed, lots and lots of water.

My nose ran for a while and my throat burns, but I did it all for Krispy Kreme. It was stupid. Terribly, wretchedly stupid, but for Krispy Kreme I took the chance. Three doughnuts. My last three doughnuts, and god they were worth all the agony for the joy of those precious minutes of bliss. I don’t need meditation, my transcension is fried.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Footloose and fancy-free? Not so much

“And stay away from the lakes,” the HOA orientation woman, says. “It may not look like it, but there’s gators in there.”

The orientation group stares at her with our mouths half-open.

“Oh yeah,” she says. “We just pulled out a seven-footer last week.” A seven-foot alligator. Living fifty feet from my brand-new home.

“And because it’s been exposed to humans, they euthanize them.” Gator, euthanized, for living in my lake. “It’s done humanely by the Fish and Wildlife Service. Well, actually, they contract it out to someone, but anyway. Once they’ve been around humans, they can’t be rehabilitated.” She pauses. “And don’t forget, all the lakes are interconnected through underground systems, so don’t think there aren’t gators in your lake. Believe me, they’re there.”

“Gators?” a shaky woman asks.

“You can’t see ‘em, but they’re there, believe me.”

Am I scared? Horrified? Both? I shoot a look at Matthew and mouth “OMG,” meaning, “freakin seven-foot alligators fifty feet from our brand new home.”

A friend told us, “If you walk the nature trails, your dog will get fleas and ticks. Oh, and so will you.” But, the realtor had us believing in the recreational possibilities of our dog walks on the nature trail. That’s bunk too?

The HOA woman tells us, “And the snakes on the nature trails—let me tell you that I don’t walk the nature trails. Moccasins, cotton mouths, Southeastern rattlesnakes….” I shoot another look at Matthew. He looks kinda blank.

“I tell you, one time, I was in my golf cart, and there was a moccasin right in my path. He was mean, they’ll strike unprovoked, and he was lookin at me,” she trailed off. “I turned around and went another way.”

Tick infestations, alligators, vicious snakes, what sinister place have we moved into?

“And if you get a flat tire on your bicycle on the nature trail at night, don’t feel around for it. There could still be a snake tooth in there.”

Me, terrified, “Do bear bells work?”

The whole room turns to look at me like I’ve just appeared from outer space. “You know, bear bells. You wear them in the woods. The bears hear the bells and are afraid that something’s in their area so they hide. Bear bells?” Everyone turns back to HOA lady.

“Well I’ve never heard of that, and I have no idea.”

The sheriff, who’s been silently sitting at a desk the whole time says, “I’ve never heard of it, but I wouldn’t trust it. Just don’t walk those trails after night.”

We leave, afraid of ponds and nature trails. I thought, “If I stay away from the ponds—which I had no intention of visiting in the first place—I’m pretty safe from alligators. I doubt they’ll come as far as our house exploring out of the water.” Much later I think, “Reptiles are cold-blooded. Are snakes really striking wayward bicyclists on trails at night?” I’m not a fish and wildlife expert, but I am confused. And ticks? I used to be a nature-hiker (remember the bear bells?); I’ve had enough ticks in my life to know how to get rid of them, and I’ve seen enough Discovery Channel horror stories to know what Lyme Disease looks like. No, I’m not out of the woods, but at least I feel a little better.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Dripping to the top

Tonight, I went to Blockbuster for a really bad movie. Matthew’s out of town, so I have guilt-free anonymous liaisons with trash media, then never tell anyone but the internet about it. Fortunately, this is a blog. No one reads blogs anymore, right? Just Twitter?

Anyway, I’m at Blockbuster picking up a Lindsay Lohan straight to DVD movie when I realize I have to pee. Pretty bad. But I’ve used Blockbuster’s bathroom before, and, I gotta tell ya, I’m plannin on holdin it til I get back to the house. It’s not like Blockbuster’s bathrooms are gross or anything, it’s just that it’s a *huge* production. I mean, first you have to ask at the desk, and they oh-so surreptitiously announce it over the intercom that a manager needs to let a customer into the bathroom. Just in case you don’t feel embarrassed yet, you have to stand around waiting for someone with the keys while that whole, long, Friday night check-out line stares at you. Makes you feel real classy.

But the Blockbuster pee party doesn’t end there. Not only is a key-holding manager necessary to let you in, but they stand there and guard the door after you go in. Process that. You’re peeing. A Blockbuster employee is on the other side of the door waiting for you. Which is more humiliating? The peeing or pee-observing? I really don’t want to find out from experience because I’ve got to say that pee observation sounds hand’s down more humiliating than being spied on. And what do they think I’m doing in there? If I were desperate enough to go through all this pee-drama, I can assure you that I’m there on serious business.

Blockbuster. Friday night. Bad movie. I *will not* pee in Blockbuster. I *will not* pee in Blockbuster. I can totally hold it til I get home.


Half-way to my car, I realize that this is probably not going to go according to plan, but I am determined that I am not turning around and going into Blockbuster. I, Christine Wy, am going to make it home. No. No I’m not. OK, there’s a decent gas station really close by, I’ll just duck in there.

I headed to the bathroom. I could hear flushing sounds, so I knew someone was in there, and I figured I wouldn’t have long to wait for her to come out. Not long enough. Immediately after the flush, the door opened, and out walked an attractive young woman. “Oh my god, she didn’t wash her hands!” was my first thought, being a germ-obsessed weirdo. Ew. Now, being skeptical of her hygiene, I decided to check the toilet seat to see if she had peed all over it—I absolutely loathe seat pee-ers. Yup. The non-hand-washing attractive woman had peed all over it. Dammit.

I weighed my options. Wipe the seat and sit, or perch and add my own spray to the Pollack-speckled seat? I opted for perch.

Relieved of my troubles, literally, I realized to my horror that now someone else was standing outside the bathroom waiting to use it. Oh no! Now this stranger is going to think I peed all over the seat, when really it was a whole urine chain of events that were now completely out of my control!

I did what any level-headed gas station restroom user would do: I tore off extra toilet paper and wiped down the seat. I cared enough what a gas station stranger using the restroom after me would think that I actually wiped down her throne. I’m ashamed, sad, and confused, but that lady will always think, “What a clean, attractive young woman that was peeing before me!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Los Pericos, what do you see in this image?

You may want to check the Wikipedia Rorschach Test site soon. It appears to have some errant Wiki-fiti of an Argentine band squeezed into the intended content.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dream entry #8

I dreamt about the Russian mob running out the local crime syndicate. The leader of the mob was named “Chemkin,” which I don’t think is a real Russian name. The last thing I said in the dream was to someone trying to get the Russians’ attention: “You don’t find Chemkin, Chemkin finds you.” Pretty bad-ass.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Songs forgotten, faded photos

Like most 18-year-olds, I had some pretty warped ideas about what constituted a healthy relationship. Case in point: Bruce. I wish I could remember his last name so I could publish it. (Just because I retroactively hold onto warped ideals that I expected at the age of 18.)

So, Bruce. He played guitar. I believed that if he really loved me, he’d write a song about me. He did write a song while we were dating, and I kept waiting for him to say “and this is for you,” but he never did. I’d go to his house and he’d pull out his guitar and play his song, and, like a dummy, I’d sit and watch, waiting for those words. I just knew he was so on the verge of it, I could feel my mind meld pulling the words from him, “and this is for you.” No. No one had a song about me.

Like Bruce was a “musician,” he was also a “photographer.” He had this super amazingly hot 20-year-old “best friend” who he’d go shoot with. They’d break into places like the abandoned train station together, and she’d be the subject of all his photographs. GRRR! Another great chance for him to show me his boundless love by making me the subject of his photographs--gone, poof, goodbye. Having little pride at the age of 18, I begged him to take me on his photo excursions and photograph me, but he never did, saying it was better to be with the super hot girl because she was a photographer too. He did photograph me once wearing a beret and sitting in a vintage rocking chair, but he said the photos didn’t come out right. Woe betide me.

I had no pride, Bruce had no shame. He was much older than me, which I thought legitimized my awesomeness, but really it just proved his absolute creepazoid-itude. He did get me into bars, which was cool, but mostly he just stepped on my fragile 18-year-old self-esteem with big steel-toe combat boots.

Thanks for teaching me valuable life lessons, Bruce. I hope you grew up eventually too.

Friday, June 26, 2009


How do you non-germaphobes see the world? Do you touch PIN pads then lasciviously lick your fingers? Yeck! I am prompted, “Please use the PIN pad device below,” and I nearly die. Think of all those grubby, nasty, un-washed fingers that have danced there before you. Just seconds before you were there, someone wiped their nose and touched the PIN pad, and now here you are, typing that little number on the PIN pad with your innocent little digits, while germs wait to attack you.

Elevator buttons? I’ve gotten pretty good at those—I jab with my knuckles. I used to jab with my elbows, but it became too random, stabbing at those little dots with parts of the body that aren’t supposed to be wielded with dexterity. Knuckles. Matthew once looked at me as I jabbed the up arrow with my right knuckle and said, “Really? It’s gotten that bad? Knuckles?”

Yes, knuckles! I have never seen a cleaning staff disinfect door handles or elevator buttons.

O! And the door handles! At work, I cross myself, say a prayer, turn in a circle three times, and just grab like nothing is wrong. If only my office mate knew the horror I cringed every time I had to touch her office door knob. Not that it’s her, but that it’s all the co-workers, all the staff, all the students—they’re all touching the doorknob with boogery fingers.

At my last job, archiving at the newspaper, I would work the Sunday shift by myself. My ritual was to arrive ten minutes late, go to Starbucks for something insanely decadent involving white chocolate or caramel, and then use Clorox wipes on every surface in the office.

I started wiping my keyboard, my mouse, and my phone. Next I made my way over to the office door and scrubbed the handle from the interior and the exterior. The refrigerator doors got a go-over, and, if I were feeling really crazy, the cupboard doors that hid the fridge got a good bleaching too.

Last to get bleached were my co-workers. My lovely co-workers. I had nothing against them, but computer keyboards are like the second most contaminated surface after toilet bowl handles (we won’t go on the subject of toilets and aerosol fecal spray--we just won’t). So here were my co-workers, Chicago, winter, flu season, sneezing and typing in their own stew of germs and they didn’t even know it.

On a light day I’d just use some Lysol and spray down all their keyboards and phones. On a “Christine’s nuttier than usual” day I also Clorox wiped all of their work stations. Thoroughly. I like to think that I was doing them this special favor that they didn’t even know about. Like I was the germaphobe’s Clark Kent, weirdo newspaper girl by weekday shift, germ warfare nuclear committee on weekends. Every Monday, they’d return, grumbling about The Mondays, but, I knew, I knew I did them a huge favor and they were returning to sanitized desks, delivered via yours truly.

I have actually spoken to more than one clinician about this. They all agree that while my germaphobia may be exaggerated, I’m actually not OCD. Isn’t that comforting? I’m a mild form of nutters, not full-fledged therapeutic-like.

OK, now a big secret that’s not a secret anymore because I’m telling you: I hate sharing computers with my husband. He’s not a germaphobe. He could have touched nearly anything and been perfectly OK with it. He could have touched the garbage can, not washed his hands, and then touched the keyboard! Yeep! I deal with it, OK, I’m not crazy. I suck it up and pretend like it’s OK and deal with it—then every few days I do a sweep of the house and Clorox wipe all the computers.

Here’s the worst part: my neuroses don’t transfer to any useful hang-up. Touching a bus railing gives me cold chills, but looking at dog hair on my floor that really ought to be vacuumed doesn’t faze me at all. Why would that be? If something directly impacts my distorted sense of safety, I am god-awful uptight. I have Selective Narcissistic Neuroses Disorder.

I have to go wash my hands now. I touched the keyboard AND the mouse.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Eating at my heart

Cravings are curious, unpredictable things.

When I moved to Chicago in 1998, I was shocked at the number of hot dog stands. Everything from one window booths to large sit down restaurants committed to the peddling of hot dog cuisine could be found anywhere in the city, no matter the neighborhood. Weird. I can’t think of any culinary predilection in my home of Louisville, Kentucky like hot dogs were in Chicago.

I resisted the hot dog ubiquity, but, caving in to the expediency of the dog, I tried one of Chicago’s venerable hot dog institutions, Demon Dogs. It was directly under the Red Line train across the street from DePaul University where I was a student. Desperate for protein, I gave it a shot.

First, Demon Dogs was one of those “Chicago guys” kinda places—you have to say that with the rough Chicago accent to make sense. Demon Dogs spoke a different language than I do, and the entire operation moved through order, prep, and sale so quickly that I had no idea what to do. There was no dawdling in line. You stepped up, stated your hot dog mission, paid, and received it—no nonsense allowed.

Despite my minor panic attack at the foreign wiener experience, I managed to pull it off. Over to one of the stand-up tables, the kind that should have had bar stools but didn’t. First bite of my first Chicago dog: “snap.” What the hell was that? Freaky feeling in my mouth. OK. I can do this. I can order and eat a Chicago hotdog. “Snap.” What the fuck?

I felt ill. My dog had a texture unlike any I’d ever experienced. I ate it, because, like I said, I was pretty hungry, but believe me when I tell you I did not enjoy it.

I went home and described my Demon Dog to Matthew, “And then, when I took a bite, it snapped!”

“That’s just the natural skin casing.”

“The what?” I asked, totally grossed out by this conversation and getting queasy to think of what I’d eaten.

“Chicago dogs are made with a natural skin casing unlike hot dogs you get from the grocery store.”

Natural. Skin. Casing. That means ... intestines! Oh my god. Demon Dogs put me off the whole Chicago dog experience for quite a while.

My first job in Chicago I worked in a chintzy mall store full of second rate shops and scary food. Hungry and desperate again, I went for the Chicago dog. I braced myself, “Snap.” What was it with natural skin casing?

The mall dog broke some sort of barrier for me, though. Yeah, Chicago hot dogs snapped at you, but maybe they weren’t so horrible after all. After the mall dog, I became more experimental. I’d end up trying lots of different hot dog stands, and, eventually I learned to love the snap of a natural skin casing.

From disgust to adoration, me and the dog. I’m typing this from Florida, far, far away from the Windy City dog. And I’m craving. I’d give anything for a natural skin casing dog right now. Cravings are curious, unpredictable things.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Facebook's alternate reality

I’ve blogged a little about it before, but Facebook is doing straaange things to my head.

One: I have learned that I am a Negative Nelly. I look back and remember all the reasons relationships with Facebook’s ghosts of the past didn’t work. They’ve contacted me and told me all the wonderful things they missed about friendship with me. [Insert eerie noise of brain doing flip-flop here.] Hold up. There’s a different perspective?

OK, there being different perspectives is going to seem acutely obvious to people with more evolved brains than mine (most of you), but coming from an apparently self-centered person, this is huge. The world doesn’t exist solely as I see it.

Result of FB Lesson One? I have forgiven some of the hurt that signaled the end of former relationships. I have mentally salvaged the good bits, dusted them off and said, “Yeah, this is worth holding on to.” Channels of communication are re-opened and I’m feeling the love again.

Two: There are people I thought were friends who I may have to de-friend in the real world. A woman I singularly admired as the coolest, awesomest girl I knew keeps company with total flakes. It’s harsh to judge people by lame, isolated computer-generated quips, but the digital company she keeps speaks volumes about her. She gets eighteen comments for everything that she posts and they all say, “Love you!” “You are so cool!” “Rad!”

FB isn’t a digital collective of genius conversation, but all of her friends are so inane. Why would she keep the company of so many sycophantic nabobs who can never string together a more coherent sentence than “Your [classy, elegant party] ruled! Yeah!” And all eighteen of the other respondents said the same thing. What digital “friends” universally declare incoherently that this major, beautiful milestone in your life “ruled”? Unsavory. Sorry friends, you’re judged by the company you keep, and your company says “tacky” all over it.

Maybe that’s the Negative Nelly and I should assume that some people have trouble communicating via computer, but, um, that many of them? I’m going to have to go back to Lesson One and remember the good conversations I’ve had tete-a-tete with this woman and hold onto what I believe about her intelligence. Who knows why we have the friends we have, I guess, I just wish that hers reflected her better nature.
Facebook, you blow my mind. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but Facebook is reconstructing my world view.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Neuroses installment #155: Earplugs

Since moving to Florida, I have not been able to find my favorite brand of earplugs. When I mentioned this to my office mate, she said in disbelief, “You have a favorite brand of earplugs?” I mean, she’s kinda used to the weird stuff like this that comes out of my mouth, so I don’t think she was that shocked, just mentally adding another tick mark on the list of “Christine’s insane” tally. Usual stuff.

So the problem is that my globally favorite brand of earplugs is Leight Sleepers. I highly recommend them if you can find them at your drug store. Their purpose: live music. They are absolutely the right sound dampening to let the music in adequately and still hear people who talk into your ear without the live music making your ears ring the next day. Instead, you come home refreshed, having had a fun time and not sacrificing ear health.

I’ve been getting by with these purple things that I found at a drug store, but they are too dense, the music is garbled, and I can hear nothing of my friends’ voices. Suck. Must have Leight Sleepers back. Google search!

Google turned up several results, the first of which was a 200 pack for $20. Seemed excessive since I really don’t see live music that often. OK, next two offerings are Leight Sleepers brand but not the style I like. Ah, here’s one, a ten pack for $3. Perfect. Click on the store, enter information, go to check out, shipping price $15! You’re kidding me, right? A ten pack of foam nuggets? Not cool dude, not cool.

I searched through the Google results again, but nothing was right. I took the plunge. I bought a case of 200 earplugs. And, the sale was through Amazon, so why not buy two books I’ve been wanting? Things I Learned about my Dad (in Therapy) and It Sucked and then I Cried. Now I qualified for super saver shipping! Rock.

Anyone need earplugs? I have about 160 I can spare.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Losing Me

I was a substitute teacher in Chicago public schools. Believe it or not, the students and in-class work really weren’t that bad. You hear “Chicago public school,” and I know you are thinking terrible scenarios, but it wasn’t the kids who gave me trouble—it was my fellow substitutes.

When there were more teachers out than there were subs to cover, one of the schools I worked at would put all the subs they had in the auditorium and turn all the students loose to sit in sections by class. As for my co-workers, there was this ancient guy who came off like a weather-beaten Chicago mafia grandfather and three young women about my age. I naively bounced into the auditorium thinking “Oh yay! Three new friends!” I sat down, smiled, did the “Hi I’m Christine,” and they all kind of scowled at me. The old guy scowled because that’s just what he did, but I had no idea my cohorts would be Negative Nelly’s too. They wouldn’t look at me, talk to me, or sit near me, and I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t let me fit in. I couldn’t see that we were so different.

I overheard them complaining about no money, shitty jobs, too many student loan bills, and credit cards, and I thought, “I have those problems too… why aren’t they talking to me?” For whatever reason, I was just not invited to the in-club, but I so desperately wanted to join. I came up with a strategy, next opening I got, I’d pretend like the world was crushing me with debt and joblessness too. I mean, it was, but if I dwelt on it I’d be too depressed to move. Moment came, I laid it on.

“Yeah, I don’t make hardly any money here, especially since they don’t call me every day.” They rolled their eyes and groaned, sympathizing.

“I mean, I have crazy student loan debt that I have no idea what to do about. And my credit card? I used that just to survive college, now I have to seriously pay it off? With what?”

“Oh yeah, me too,” one of them said. “I mean, you pay so much for school, then, this is what you get?” We nodded and mm-hmmed.

And then, I felt horrible. They were finally talking to me, but as we continued commiserating, I felt the pull of the credit card and the crappy unreliable job and my rusted-out car.

I was miserable. I went from naïve, cutesy little, “Hi! I’m a teacher!” to an amazingly unhappy depressed person. I would get the morning phone call, “Can you teach today?” and my heart would sink. “Oh great, another day of misery to trudge through.”

Those young women didn’t become my friends. We may have reached a sympathetic level of communication, but they did nothing but bring me down. When I was around them, my world-weary miserable-with-life self would come out. Around them, I became less myself because I had traded in my happiness for acceptance into a tribe of petulant twenty-somethings.

It’s hard to look back at the simpler Christine and not regret the way life’s grind wears out a person’s childhood presumptions about the future, but I can’t forget the learning opportunities I’ve had along the way. The public school triumvirate taught me that sinking to the lowest common denominator just to ease loneliness really isolates you from yourself. I don’t think I’ve lost my naivety completely, but I know I’ve gained maturity from all those hard lessons earned at my innocence’s expense.

Random internet word-spew:

"I guess you can be a bitch like that when you are queen of the internet?"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Global finance and baby asparagus

The greatest economic indicator is going to be my stomach. If you see me eating organic ground turkey, baby asparagus, and pre-cut watermelon, then the world is fine. If, however, you peek in my shopping cart and see ground chuck, French style green beans, and canned peaches, then you know we are in trouble.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wild, sweet fragrance

Wild honeysuckle cascades down the wood fence south of my front porch. Every time I open the door, the nectar-drunk scent hits me bodily; I feel enveloped in its honeysuckle cloud. I inhale honeysuckle with my nose, my mouth, my eyes, and my arms, as it exhales through the soles of my feet. I feel the pure essence of wild honeysuckle deep in my lungs, inspiring my limbs to breathe in the scent too. My chest fills with the lightness of invisible clouds.

Our wild honeysuckle is technically an invasive weed. In the two years we’ve lived here, I’ve seen the vine quadruple in breadth, overwhelming the cultivated ivy below it. But we’re poor renters here. Our landlords would never spend enough time at our homes to notice their weed-choked flower beds filling with honeysuckle, so why should we bother?

I bank on cultivar indifference. Every year when I smell honeysuckle I am reminded of how homesick for the scent I was during its absence. I yearned for its deep fragrance even though I had forgotten it was missing.

This year, for whatever wild, fanciful reason, I am even more in love with the honeysuckle vine than usual. Quentin Compson taught me a deep power of honeysuckle’s role in our memories, and I feel reverberation of his knowledge every spring. Each breath I take, I pray, “Please don’t let anyone notice this weed and wish it harm. This year, please, let the sacred scent linger longer in my body. This year, let me breath deeper.”

Next year, surprise me again with your wild blossom.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I love finding graffiti in Wikipedia. Behold:

In 1559, Spanish Pensacola was sam so fine following year.

I italicized "sam so fine" for emphasis. Love it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Footie--not futbol

My feet hurt. I have really bad arthritis in my subtalar joint, droopy arches, and pronation. I like my new podiatrist, but her voodoo isn’t working on my right foot.

I want to go to South Africa.

In college, I somehow ended up friends with the long distance track team. And somehow they were almost all from South Africa. The South Africans told a story of a foot guru who could fix anything.

Way out in the bush, a place where there were no roads and you’d bust your car’s oil pan in a minute, there lived a man who was a master of feet. He analyzed feet and just from looking could make any orthotic to custom fit your footie needs.

The weird part of the foot guru? He used phone books. He cut pages of phone books and stacked the leaves to fit the arch.

His phone book supports were always perfect. The runners expressed reverence for his skill and spoke of him with awe. The grueling trip through the bush was worth it all.

I want that. I want to go the bush country of South Africa and have the most perfect arch supports ever. Bye-bye subtalar joint pain! Bye-bye pronation! Hello strong arches!

I’m jealous. There must be a foot guru in the United States, right? I’ll take phone book supports—no problem.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Creep-o's in my closet

Actual e-mail to my boss:

Boss, I’ve decided my office is haunted. I hear strange irregular tapping sounds coming from behind me all day. It’s always been like this, but I thought it was a bathroom noise—people coming in and out. I no longer think that. The sound comes from behind me where there’s a maintenance closet.

Rather than call a priest, I propose that I need a noise cancelling radio system next to the noise or those fancy Bose aircraft worker silencer headphones.

I used to just ignore the noise, but now I am thoroughly creeped out.

Sincerely freaked,
Christine Wy

Actual response:

How about I call Bose and ask for an exorcist?


Sunday, April 12, 2009

The lady condescends

I’m talkin to a guy who obviously has an accent. Somehow the accent comes up in conversation, and he says, “Besides, no one can understand me.”

I could understand him clearly, but whatev. I asked, “Where are you from?”

“Sierra Leone.”

Brain wheels start churning badly, and fortunately my Thought Filter was semi-functional that day.

“Blood diamonds!” Brain shouted.

“Shh!” via Filter.

“Forced child labor!” Brain again.

“Quiet!” Filter says.

“Civil war!”

“I’m getting tired of this,” Filter exhales.

“Ooh! The fighting, is your family OK?” Actual mouth says. “D’oh!” Filter says. “That’s some nicely condescending National Geographic crap--assuming he considers himself lucky to escape some horror.”

Polite gentleman: “It’s safe. There hasn’t been fighting in years.”

Brain: “Yeah, like two, right?”

Filter: “Shut the fark up already!”

Friday, April 03, 2009

Random thing that pisses me off

Wanna know what really grinds my gears? Semi-pro singers who grab-up karaoke spotlights. Don’t you get enough attention singing on your own that you can let us Plebes have a little fun and not be intimidated by you? Like, what’s up with that?

So, Matthew and I were at a party. This party boasted karaoke and 80’s music—perfect! But, no, awesomeness was not to be had. First, no one at the party but us was into the 80’s music part. Second, some woman jumped up the second the karaoke book was passed around and instantly had her smug little face in front of the microphone. I didn’t think about it too much until she opened her mouth and belted out an amazing pitch-perfect rendition of a Janis Joplin song.

Dood. Give the rest of us a chance—you just took a little piece of my heart.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

One day I'll be infected

My adventures with toxoplasmosis gondii effing continue. Why can’t I get away from this germy-virus thing?

Our neighborhood is a veritable dog buffet of cat shit since all the feral and “outdoor” cats poop willy-nilly in the sandy soil. Joy to Blanche DuBois, champion of munching all things disgusting!

I do try to keep her away from cat poop, but she’s so low to the ground that it’s hard to tell when she’s sniffing to mark her territory or sniffing to snatch a turd. She’s eaten many a cat turd on my watch, but yesterday I snapped.

Blanche found herself a whopper of a poop fest, and I flipped out. I wrenched her mouth open and started to pull the poo from her mouth. Ever tried this particular maneuver? The poo is slimy and doesn’t want to come out—it’s not like grasping a twig or something reasonably solid. She had worked it down pretty far, so as I held her mouth open with one hand and yanked with the other, she gagged and tried to twist away.

Successful in extracting the turd, I didn’t feel vindicated. I looked at my right hand and thought, “What have I done?” My right hand was covered in semi-moist cat shit. It was my turn to gag. I nearly did vomit, and I held my hand as far from my face as I could. I choked, walking to a palm tree to wipe my hand on its leaves, but this didn’t really cure the waves of nausea.

I yanked the dog leash and wrestled Blanche home, her own necessities be damned. New dilemma: my house key was in my right pocket, and my right hand was covered in gritty shit. I banged on the front door with my left elbow. Twice. Finally Matthew acted goofy and looked through the curtains at me. “Open the damn door!” He obliged and walked away.

“My hand is covered in cat shit. Take the dog. I have to clean up.”

“What?” he asked.

“I got mad at her for always eating cat turds so I reached in her mouth and pulled one out,” I explained. “Now I regret it because I’m absolutely disgusting.”

I let go of her leash and headed for the sink. I used the dish scrubber, dish soap, and a follow-up of bleach. I still felt unclean, though I was probably technically sanitized. I felt I could never use my right hand again because it would always be tainted by that notorious toxoplasmosis carrier, cat feces.

Unhelpfully, Matthew didn’t come to the rescue. I was so mad at the dog I could barely look at her, but he didn’t help. He left her leash on her and didn’t feed her, leaving me to finish the dog walk routine, even though I yelled at him to take care of her.

I didn’t want to touch her, didn’t want to get near her mouth, didn’t want her to belch after dinner, didn’t want her to fart—didn’t want to be anywhere near the organism that reminded me of my terrible fear of infection by toxoplasmosis. But, I did it. If Matthew wasn’t helping, it didn’t mean that her care wasn’t over.

Her sit and stay routine before being rewarded with access to her food was harsher than normal, but what was I supposed to do? Overlook the fact that I had just scrubbed gooey cat shit from under my fingernails?

I still haven’t forgiven her, and this morning I pushed her face away from me every time she got too close. I felt a twinge of guilt for being mad at her for doing something that comes naturally to dogs, but I just couldn’t deal with my emotional connection to her mouth.

I am resolved to be nice to her tonight, but I am not particularly pleased. That mouth still represents colossal horror.

Asshole's revenge

I have a large proboscis. I’m OK with it now, but I really had to grow into my nose, both physically and emotionally.

As a pre-teen, I was teased mercilessly by my peers. They made my life at school a terrible hell, but I obviously survived their cruelty.

My best friend toward the end of middle school was Gretta. She had one of those super cool older sisters that even though she was still in high school; she only hung out with college-age guys. The guys didn’t like me, but they mostly ignored me.

One dreadful sunny day, the college guys turned on me. “Chris ‘nose’ everything,” they taunted. I couldn’t believe adults would be so awful—I thought they were supposed to be mature. “Get it, Chris ‘nose’ everything,” they said over and over.

I played dumb to protect my broken ego—I pretended they said “knows.” Over and over I politely defended myself. “I don’t know everything.”

“No, no, get it? Chris ‘nose’ everything.” Laughter.

I stubbornly continued to protest until they eventually gave up their game—which took them way too long to tire of.

I haven’t heard anyone comment on my nose in years, though it’s still a rudder on my face. I will try to say I outgrew caring, but I know that if someone taunted me again, I’d cry on the inside.

Those jerk-wads have their revenge now. I have a dog that “nose” everything. Blanche must touch everything with her nose. Whether it’s your hand she’s sliming with her wet nose as you type, your laptop, the software I tried to peacefully install this morning, she must give it a good sniff.

Those ass-hats may have been totally out of line, but I kind of ‘know’ what they felt now. My nose my have irrationally irritated them or have just provided jockstrap humor, but now my “nose of the south,” Miss Blanche DuBois, noses all over everything.

I’m not in a dog nose mood today after an incident happened between me and her yesterday afternoon, and I’ve pushed her face away every time she’s gotten in my business. I feel mean, but I just can’t do nose right now, I say as my allergies kick in and my own nose feels like a time bomb.

Blanche ‘nose’ everything.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

There are but seven plots in the world

I just realized that Bridget Jones's Diary is Pride and Prejudice. I feel ripped off.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Do you want to save changes to Document 1?

I normally write my posts in Word then copy them to the little Blogger box. It's just easier that way since Word tends to make me look smarter when it prevents me from making grammatical errors. Today, however, I'm freestyling and microblogging the little things on my mind straight into that Blogger box. We'll see what happens next.

I experimented with wearing no panties. My crotch has this amazing ability to sweat like armpits, and I haven't figured out what to do about it. I tried no undies. To summarize results: no underwear good for social occasions involving standing; no underwear very bad at work.

I bet I've blogged this before, this exact issue: Matthew wants a condo; I want a house. Matthew wants to ensure someone else mows the lawn; I want to live in a neighborhood. I hate this fight. We've had it before. I think I'm right, and he thinks he's right. It's too bad he's wrong, but he's the major financial backer. Sorry, Blanche, you probably won't get a real yard to play in.

I am re-reading Pride and Prejudice. I've never said this before, but I'm saying it now: the movie versions are better. I didn't remember it being this way, but the novel is so tediously bent on absolute precision. Movie concoctions distill the emotions from ten pages of internal strife to a couple of minutes of cringing in disbelief. I freakin love Jane Austen, but Pride and Prejudice, better on film. Sorry doll.

I feel like my life is all screwy--big surprise! Things are topsy-turvy: I want this; I have this goal; is it the right goal; is something else better? I am planning to start an associates degree in computer networking this summer. On the one hand, it seems like a good career move. On the other, it seems like I'm awfully over-educated as it is. My best guess is to start the program and see if I hate it or not. I just have to try.

I'm "dieting." I did great for a few weeks, then bad habits unconsciously picked up. I have to be very mindful. I want to starve myself into anorexia, but I know it's stupid and my body will never do it. I've considered that laproscopic band thing, but then you lose weight so fast that you need cosmetic surgery to remove all your flappy skin. No easy choices. I guess that's a pretty concise summary of life though: no easy choices.

I tried to adopt a pitbull today. It's supposed to be a real lover, but Matthew reminded me of my vow. It took my cat four years to get used to our dog. My precious cat probably has about four years left, and I don't want the remainder of his life to be spent cowering in terror of the new family member. Plus the pitbull will probably eat the cat before they can reach any amicable settlement. Our family is fine the way it is. I have to believe in the things in my life that are precious.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The list will never end

I just thought of another awesome Christine Wy song lyric:

"Yeah, I fought the four leaf clover and always win."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gibberish and mumbles--and my reward

I got some good karma today. I went to sit on the back steps at the library to eat an apple. There was already a guy there, and from behind he looked like a student. I said, “Do you mind if I join you?” And then I realized he was a homeless dude chillin on private property and that he might get in royal trouble with the campus police.

I sat with him anyway. He talked to me a little, but mostly he talked nonsense to himself. I really liked his sweater though, and I kind of wished I could trade him something for it. That’s a tangent.

So generous Christine kicked in (I know, you totally didn’t know that side existed). I said, “Hang out for a minute, and I’ll be right back.” I took him the grapes from my lunch. I couldn’t tell if he cared.

He asked, “Do you have a book I can read? I need something to read.”

I went to the discarded book cart that was on its way to be free books for students, and I found him a book of short essays and poetry. I still couldn’t tell if he cared.

I didn’t mind that I couldn’t understand him; I knew I’d done all I could to make his life a little better. That’s all I can do. All I can expect to give. Now I feel a little lighter.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Staples in my skin

Short staple cotton. I loathe short staple cotton. Like, I don’t know if I can use words to describe all this without using swears and visual aids. Unfortunately, I don’t have a camera with me, so you will probably get swearing without visual aids.

You know those nice, crisp, fresh sheets that stay soft without feeling limp? Those are good old-fashioned long staple cotton sheets. They don’t get pilly, they stay smooth, and they feel the most refreshing on your skin.

“100% cotton” sheets that get pilly where you sleep on them, seem stringy and kind of chunky, feel velvety at first but turn on you and feel disappointing—those are short staple cotton sheets. You have them. I know you do. You probably got them at a deep discount (or got fleeced) at Target or Bed Bath and Beyond. You were probably sucked in by the term “Egyptian Cotton.”

First off, “Egyptian Cotton” is a shit term that means nothing. Sure, cotton from Egypt *can* be nicer, but that’s long staple cotton, not the leftover fluff from the carding of the longer fibers. Short staple cotton is cheaper and more widely available. If you want those nice, crisp sheets, you have to shell out bucks for long staple cotton. This is extreme, but one year someone wanted to spend $200 on me for Christmas. What did I want? A $200 set of sheets (minimum 200 thread count per square inch, but that’s a completely different rant). Nothing else. She was incredulous. She didn’t know there could be $200 sheets. You don’t *have* to pay $200 for long staple cotton sheets, but I didn’t want her bargain hunting for the wrong thing because she didn’t know what to look for.

Short staple cotton looks tired in clothes. Ever washed something and it dried bedraggled and droopy after one wear and wash? Short staple cotton. For example, it’s used in shirts designed specifically for discount stores like Dress Barn or Gap Outlet. I’m a frequent Gap Outlet-er because we have one two miles away, but I know I’m paying for shite. I know they’re lulling me in with their brand name but that the collar and wrists are going to stretch and that the width is going to bulge. I know I will look disheveled and poor. Yeah, that’s right, poor, I said it. Short staple cotton doesn’t flatter you and makes you *look* like you paid less.

And the sheets, oh the sheets. I’ve been fooled. Beautifully sheened cotton machine folded into a perfect cube—oh, heart’s delight! But, inside that zippered vinyl bag--lies and broken promises. You wash, and you realize there are little fibers poking out loose all over looking like soft fuzz. First you think the sheets are downy soft, but, after a couple of washes, the sheet begins to distort and not cover your body correctly.

Short staple cotton. Bane of my existence. And cheap cashmere. Don’t get me started on the farming practices of cheap cashmere and its global impact. Sheesh.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Weird Al Yankovic (re: "I'm Fat")

I have discovered that I am fat. This was not an overnight sensation, but last night I realized that the mirror ain’t lyin.

I wore something that turned out to be seriously unflattering last night. I caught a look at my butt in the mirror, and, gasp! It was huge! I turned this way and that to see if any view made my wide load look any smaller, and, no, it didn’t. Not at all. In fact, it seemed to be mocking me and looked larger every time I shifted my perspective.

I turned from looking at my enormous ass to look at my profile in the mirror. Counterbalancing the rear, my belly looked huge and distended. No wonder people in Chicago who saw me infrequently asked me if I were pregnant: I looked more like a house every time they saw me.

Five pounds here, ten pounds there: I climbed the weight to height ratio in the stratosphere. I typed in my data in the Mayo Clinic health calculator, and I’m obese. I tried another calculator, and it too said I was obese.

WTF? Why did I let this happen to me? I remember all the brownies and the cookie dough and the carrot cake, and now I think, “what the hell was I doing to myself?” I don’t know. I was just so unhappy that sugar was the only thing that made it feel better, even if it were just a temporary release.

As one of my doctors glibly stated, “It’s a lot easier to put it on than it is to take it off.” I let that be my mantra for a while, my excuse. “Oh well, if it’s so hard to do, then I’ll just live like this.”

But living like this led to more brownies and more ice cream, and now I have to put the brakes on it all. My regular breakfast of cereal and coffee. Lunch is now salad with some protein and an orange. Dinner is home cooked lean meat. Snacks are yogurt and popcorn.

“Diet.” What does that mean? The food you eat, the dining habits you break, the grueling trek up the stair climber? I don’t want to drink the Weight Watcher’s Koolaid, but my friend is right: “diet” is a mean word with all its connotations of deprivation. “Lifestyle change” is the right combo. I am remembering not to order all that bacon and sausage at IHOP. I am going to eat spinach omelets. I am going to get protein from avocados and olives. I am going to learn to eat sardines.

I don’t own a scale. Presumably I’m “lifestyle changing” by the way my pants fit. Lemme tell ya, they ain’t no better yet.

I’m a fattie boombalattie. Until Sunday, I had fat pride. “This is my body, deal with it.” I don’t know what happened to my ass in that mirror on Sunday night, but my body composition is totally transformed: this is not how I want to be. I don’t want to look pregnant forever.

And husband? He makes fun of fat people when we’re out in public. When will that be me? When will he look at me and say, “Jeez, put down that cupcake already”? I don’t want my belly to see that day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lifehack: Mission Dinner

Just in case you haven't received one of my whiny e-mails, you may not know that I am allergic to the top most common food products: wheat, chicken, and peanut. (There are others, but they're more arcane.)

Having the general yuckies, I wondered what to do for dinner tonight. No chicken soup. No beef soup with noodles. Ah! Beef broth and rice!

I cooked some short grain brown rice, heated up some beef broth, poured the former into the latter, and voila! Anti-allergen-under-the-weather soup.

However, this beef broth doesn't look like the stuff that comes from beef noodle soup. We'll see how mystery soup turns out.

***Update. It wasn't quite "right," but it was edible.

Darwin and me

Today we celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of Charles Darwin. Here’s a quote from him that Google found for me:

I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.

I admire Darwin immensely, and I use a personalized version of this quote for expressing my disbelief in a higher power.

I am a devoted atheist. I don’t know the exact word for what I am, but I often use Existentialist—ultimately, we are individually responsible for the destiny we create for ourselves. (TonyN should find that statement a pleasant visitation to the past.)

I believe in the sanctity and beauty of life, that there is no reason that the world couldn’t have evolved to create such beauty in ourselves and nature. As Darwin stated, why would a super-being have created complex symbiotic predatory relationships when they seem generated of necessity to adapt to one’s environment? And why isn’t that scientific rationalization beautiful enough to say there is no god? Isn’t there beauty in belief that the universe can create itself in all its complex iterations?

OK, I can’t write more on my dissertation for atheism. I have a bad case of the yuckies, and I’m feeling sort of vertiginous.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Overheard on campus

"If I were to get hit by a bus, it would be like ..."

"You mean there's nothing you would regret?"

"Not a thing."

***So, now wait, are they too young to have regrets, or just too young to realize they have regrets?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

What does that even mean?

"She had a crush on me. She was really into Robert Palmer. Went to one of his concerts. Do you know who Robert Palmer is?"


"I guess she was addicted to love."

"Did I ever tell you what I used to think that song said?"


"'Bite his little face and you're addicted to love!'"

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Death or glory?

Sometimes I weigh the consequence of death versus my freedom. I’m not being morbid, it’s just that there are so many restrictions in my life that I often wonder, “Would I really die if…”

I’m allergic to the most common things you can find around. Chicken. Wheat. Peanuts. Chicken and wheat cause me anaphylactic shock (death by un-breathing). Every time I drive by Chick-fil-a, I wonder, “Is it worth it for that golden delicious fried nugget?” My place of employment has doughnut Wednesdays. “I want. I want that doughnut so badly I’m wondering if I could die with heaven in my mouth.”

Of course not. Of course the tang of the pull is terrible—I cried today in the grocery store when I looked at all the things I couldn’t eat—but somehow I find the resolve to resist. Evidently, my life force is stronger than my death wish. Reassuring to know, but no closer to doughnut covered peanut sauce chicken.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's not about fuel consumption

I have this major problem with song lyrics. If I’m not really sure what they are, I kinda make up random words that sound right.

I have the uber ipod now that I got for Christmas, and I’m putting everything on there I can think of. In the mix: my husband’s Buzzcocks CD.

The first thing I realized was how many live songs I had heard and loved in my life that were actually Buzzcocks covers. Second thing? Lyrics. Now that I can see song titles, a whole world of understanding has opened to me.

My version: “All gas-matic.”

Actual version: “Orgasm addict.”

Their way sure makes a lot more sense. I always wondered why that song was about cars….

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Strangers in a strange bar

My roommate in college found a new bar: “Come on! It’s great! Dollar beers!

I was skeptical. If this dollar beer place was so awesome, why hadn’t we learned about it from our peers? But, she talked enough of us into going that I went along too.

“Dollar beers” turned out to be 5 ounce Dixie Cups of watery Pabst. No one but myself and my friend Jason seemed to mind this place, so we played along. “Yeah, dollar beers, Becky. This is great,” we smiled disingenuously. Jason and I scanned the barroom for threats. The local patrons were all true-blooded rednecks and proud of it. We were the college kids. While my friends laughed loudly, only Jason and I saw the glowering looks from the other clientele.

“Let’s go play pool,” I suggested, thinking it would lighten our wariness of the dive.

We went and laid our stack of quarters on the nearest table. Jason and I kept an eye out, and the two players finished their game, but they started racking up the balls again. We didn’t want to lose our turn, so the two of us walked over. “Hey, um, you skipped us. We had quarters down for next game.

The two players were a short, rotund man with thinning brown hair and a thicker mustache, and a tall woman who had kept her figure despite the fact that all the best efforts of this bar were trying to bring her down. She smiled benignly, warmly, and stretched out her arm to hand me her pool cue. I started to reach toward her.

“Hell no you can’t play pool on this table!” the suddenly red-faced round man shouted at us.

Me: “But, we put our money down.”

Lathering-up redneck slams his hands against the table: “This is Bob’s table!”

“I don’t understand.”

“Nobody plays pool on this table but Bob!” He screamed at me and Jason. Completely at odds, his smiling female companion said, “Go ahead and let them play.” For a second, it looked like we might get the table. But, no.

The short man started shaking his head furiously and getting so red he was starting to turn purple, and he seemed to be puffing up somehow: “You wanna play pool on this table? You gotta ask Bob! This is Bob’s table!”

Jason and I were thoroughly confused. As far as we could tell, only Bob was allowed to use the table, so who were these two?

“Are you Bob?” I asked.

Whoa-ho! The angry redneck looked like he might have an aneurism. “Of course I’m not Bob!” He started shouting even louder, but no one looked our way or made any attempt to intervene. “Do I look like Bob to you?” he screamed at us.

“Who’s Bob?”

“Well Bob’s the one over there!” If you can shout and sound exasperated at the same time, that’s what he did.

“Um, over where?”

“At the end of the bar! Where Bob always sits! Everyone knows Bob!”

Jason and I turned to look. There, at the end of the bar, a tall, well-dressed cowboy wearing the latest Garth Brooks style color-block shirt smiled smirkingly at us and took a pull from his brown bottle of beer. We figured we’d gone this far with angry dude and the oddly smiling pool partner, so Jason and I might as well see it through. We walked over to Bob.

“Can we play pool on your table?”

The cowboy waited, still smirking a cock-eyed malicious grin. “Sure,” he said, really slow. “Soon as they’re finished with their game, y’all can play.”

Jason and I sat back down. Somehow, none of our friends had noticed any of this happening even though it all occurred within a ten foot radius of their table. We were pretty spooked and drank our “dollar beers” grimly. “I’m gonna piss. I’ll be back in a minute,” Jason told me. I sat fidgeting while he was gone. I was rattled by this scary, foreign place, but my friends were all laughing and pounding back their Dixie Cups of beer. Each time the bartender got a tip, she rang one of those brass maritime bells with a bitter vehemence, as if announcing, “Yeah, fucker, I know you didn’t tip me enough.” Each of her clangs shot through me while I waited for my friend.

Finally, at my side, Jason started handing me my coat: “We’re leaving. Now,” he said. After the confrontation we’d just had with Bob and not-Bob, I didn’t question his judgment that something else had gone horribly wrong in Dollar Beer Bar.

“What happened?” I asked as soon as we had shuffled into our coats and left with a few hasty goodbyes to our friends.

“I was standing at the urinal, and when I looked up, right at eye level was the sentence, ‘If you was a nigger you’d be dead now.’”

We were silent for the rest of our walk home to the apartment complex. Jason and I never went back for dollar beers again.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Go Green on the brain

I read in the New York Times online that workers who can see greenery from their office space are happier. I looked at my completely drab and overwhelming (maybe underwhelming) office and thought, “Yeah, I do need some green.”

I set Operation Green Office into motion. Phase One: not tell Matthew because he usually points out that my ideas are hare-brained. Phase Two: requisition a spectrum lamp for my future plants since I have no windows. Phase Three: actually get plants.

Phase One broke down when my mail-ordered spectrum lamp arrived at home. I had to explain why on earth I needed a new lamp. I hedged. I get nervous when I have to answer direct questions so I did the “Hey! Look over there!” approach to conversation dodging. Phase Two was eventually accomplished, but I did finally reveal to Matthew my Office Greenspace Scheme. He turned out to be ambivalent but not unsupportive.

Phase Three was, I don’t know, the most peculiar? I decided I wanted to buy my office greens from the local farmer’s market to support local merchants. Those weeks I sweated alongside my fellow merchants peddling my hula hoops, I developed significant respect for just how hard they work. Phase Three—off to the farmer’s market!

For some reason, anxiety drive kicked in when we arrived. Must. Get. Potted. Plant. Now. WTF? Why did the super fun fair of fares kick in desperation overdrive?

“Here’s a plant vendor! What does he have? Orchids. Can’t do orchids. Where’s the other guy?”

Matthew, calmly: “There’s someone else west of here.”

“Where? Trees. He’s got hibiscus trees. And ewe. POTTED PLANTS???” I was nuts.

Further west, “There’s potted plant guy! I want a pony tail tree. Hi [potted plant guy], I’ll take that pony tail tree. And that cactus. Yeah, I want that cactus. Wait, how much are they? Cool. I’ll take the pony tail and the cactus thank you goodbye.”

Matthew sort of lounged vertically, looking cool as I lost my shit over the farmer’s market.

“Now let’s get fruit. That guy has salad greens. Get the salad greens. That girl has avocadoes as big as my head. Get an avocado. That girl has Satsuma oranges. Get six.”

Running, dashing, sprinting blindly all over the market. I saw nothing. All was a blur to me as I zeroed in on that one thing I thought I wanted. I took no joy from the trip. Greening my office became some sort of psycho spiral that had me swirling in the pony tail plant and pinched by the cactus.

At last. Lamp in place, green plants in pots, and … the worry’s not gone! Now my office seems to be slowly killing the cactus, which I didn’t think was possible. I always tell people that my office is so uncomfortable it makes me physically ill. Now I have evidence. My office is killing a freaking cactus. The verdict’s out on the pony tail plant, but I’m not persuaded that it’s rockin’ out with me to the beat of my ipod. I think it’s more choking desperately, begging for more spectrum light and water.

Thank you for the “inspiration” New York Times. Greening my office has become a source of serious stress for me. Phase Four: detox brain and strategize extrication of plants—mission aborted.

So fickle

How is it that Resolutions never last? Cease fires. Peace treaties. Border agreements. And, most dreaded of all, New Year’s.

I resolved to lose weight and cut back on caffeine this year. Losing weight is only partly for vanity. My mom was just diagnosed as being on the slippery slope to Type II diabetes, so, I thought, hey, maybe it would be good for me to not even have to go there at all. And the caffeine always seems to make me feel worse in the long run, so why do it for the short-term? Noble, indeed.

Today was the day of the inevitable. My bodily border disputes flared up again, and I ate chocolate covered popcorn, and I’m currently drinking my second cup of coffee. Yeesh.

I know that I am not supposed to look at this as the fatal flaw, but instead see it as a little stumble in my progression, but it’s been like a week since I actually started this whole shenanigans, and already I’m facing road blocks.

Everyone else falling down on their resolutions? I usually don’t make any just so that I can’t fail at anything, but this year it just seemed so necessary and poignant.

OK. Tomorrow is another day, and I’ll get it right.

Friday, January 09, 2009

On a bed of final glory

When I was a little girl, we lived in a huge five bedroom house on an acre of land. Our neighbor had a plantation house and probably an acre and a half, filled with crumbling gazebos and detached garages with ancient cars. I lived in a magic place, where I could run free and imagine anything, like all the pretend horses that lived in the stable I imagined under the pine trees. And I had an obsession with the neighbor’s garden shed, and I was convinced gnomes lived there.

But this is not the story I’m telling.

When I was a little girl, a neighbor’s cat killed birds in our yard. I have vivid memories of running to my daddy and shouting that there was another dead bird in the yard. They looked so horrible and beautiful at the same time. A mangled corpse, but all the feathers spread on the ground, more stunning in death than in life, laying like an exotic fan. I was simultaneously fascinated and repulsed.

My father thought dead birds too grim for a little girl, and I was not allowed to watch him dispose of the body. He would pick up a shovel, serious-faced, and march to the dead bird. “No, you can’t come Christine.” (It was always “Christine” when the moment was serious, though I ardently went by “Chris” as a child.) Daddy earnestly marched the dead bird to the garbage can, conveyed by a shovel and laid to rest on a bed of refuse.

I never went to the garbage can to look, which is weird because it seems like something I would have done. Instead, I looked at the feathers that were left on the ground and thought of the sacrifice the bird made for a last glorious beauty.

(Written in response to this.)

Steam valve

I am like, I mean I'm just so like... Ugh! Could I be more like?

Shh, don't repeat this!

Despite my ban made of best intentions, I gossiped today. Sort of. I guess I admitted something I was thinking that didn’t shed another person in the best light. An acquaintance has said to me that he tries to stay out of the fray of a certain circle of people—tries to avoid their attention and power plays, preferring to blend into the background.

This morning, I was alone with him, and I felt confessional. “I—oh, you don’t like to gossip, and I was going to say something kind of gossipy. Do you want to hear it?”

He actually gave a little cockamamie smile, swept his arm invitingly, and said, “Go ahead.”

“I want to go to the FLA conference, but [someone I really don’t get along with] always goes. I so totally don’t want to share a room with [this person].”

Not expecting a response since he is so Cheshire, he actually said, “I understand. No, I completely understand.”

Not a person who I had expected commiseration from at all. Generally, he appears so aloof and outside the fray, that I expected one of his “C’est la vie” smiles and general benign-ity. I had no idea he would actually agree with me about [dreadful person]--pleasant surprise. I guess sometimes gossip is a fabric of social bonding. Too bad. I wish I could find more in common with him than a general concern over [annoying person].

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Hungry eyes

I took the concept of New Year’s self reflection literally: I stared in the mirror. In particular, I was wondering, “What is wrong with my eyelids?”

Wildly generalizing, Asian women are obsessed with eyelids. It has to do with epicanthic folds. The premise is that it’s the epicanthic fold of the eyelid that makes Asian eyes appear smaller than their Euro-Anglo pals. I don’t know what white people’s eyelids are called or if we have an epicanthic fold, but I know that our eye anatomy has evolved to make our eyes look bigger because of an inherited muscular anomaly. Ponder the record of Asian interest in epicanthic folds. There’s the stereotype that we’re called “round eye.” Look at all that anime and manga—they’ve got mad huge eyes, right? Now Google “eyelid glue” and tell me I’m wrong.

Back to me and the mirror in the bathroom (please don’t blink). It’s the end of the year, I’m at my mother-in-law’s house, and I’m staring in the mirror. “I want to go make up shopping tomorrow because we’re in a city with real malls. I don’t wear make up. Maybe some eye shadow? I don’t wear eye shadow. Besides, my eyes look weird. I’ve never thought my eyes were shaped right for eye make up. I’ve never looked like magazine pictures, even when I’ve bought the exact Clinique cosmetics on the page.”

And then, after all this self-talk, it dawns on me. My eyelids are too big. Are mine like almost Asian? Like maybe I almost have the epicanthic fold? Now I’m staring in the mirror going, “No wonder I don’t wear eye make up. My eyelids are weird.”

Seriously, they’re totally weird. Especially when you’ve stared at them for way too long in the mirror.

I saw Kathy Griffin do a stand-up skit on TV where she described going to the plastic surgeon: “I said, ‘Can you move my eyebrows up here while you’re at it?’ and he said, ‘OK.’” Her eyes became the most awesome canvas for make up in the world.

So I’m still staring in the mirror thinking about the Estee Lauder conspiracy against my face, epicanthic folds, and Kathy Griffin, when it dawns on me … what I really need is lip gloss.