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.