Thursday, November 19, 2009

What I've Learned From Katie Couric

Kaite Couric is a journalistic master at infusing her own conjecture, speculation and opinions into her questions by simply prefacing them with, "Some would say that..." before tearing somebody a new one. This technique has made every writing assignment I've ever had to complete for a meathead criminal justice class so much more tolerable.

Some would say that criminal justice classes that attempt to create new and dynamic dialogues about social issues might be a waste of time since almost everybody who takes them would prefer to just kill everybody and let God sort it out.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'm Pretty Sure Just My Friends Read This....I Mean, Right?

So that's why I feel safe enough to share that my Target purchases tonight included both a bra and a prescription to treat acne. It's official! I'm 15 again! They say that you can never go back, but I'm pretty sure I proved them wrong tonight.

But the main reason I wanted to write was to share all the awesome things this drug for my acne is supposed to treat. To wit:

Lyme disease
Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Filariasis (look it up)

That is effective!And it better be, because I'm starting to feel like Edward James Olmos.Facially. Inside I feel like Lou Diamond Phillips.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Unbearable Whiteness of Being Me

Despite the fact that I am almost always the only white girl at my job and that I've worked there over three years and I am under the depressing delusion that I am somehow 'down', there are still wonderful things for me to learn about black culture nearly all the time.

Like for instance! Did you guys know that black people have their own version of the Happy Birthday song? And that it's better? How does a person go 31 years not knowing there's a peppier, less monotonous, more euphonious version of a song we all have to sing at least three or four times a year, bare minimum? Skip to 1:10 or so for the chorus. I did an informal poll of all my black friends (very popular) and before the question "Which version of Happy Bir-" can leave my mouth, said friend will sing this better version. I think you have been keeping this from me on purpose, Black America.

There's a lot I have to learn.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Precious Moments

Every job has its sad rituals performed nightly in quiet desperation. The escort who washes out her panties in the sink. The lonely shopkeeper flipping "We're Open!" to read "We're Closed." The Historical Society volunteer re-fanning all the brochures about the local water mill and antique mall. And each night, I reset all the alarms on my cell phone that remind me what time to dispense anti-psychotics to children each afternoon, to my morning wake-up alarm.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

For the Win

Earlier this week I got into a disagreement with a ten year old girl about whether it's better to be a kid than an adult.

Girl: Don't you miss being a kid?

Me: Nope.

Girl: Yeah, but being a kid is better. You don't have to pay bills or do dishes or-

Me: I never have to go to school ever again. And you do. Tomorrow.

Girl: That's cold.

Friday, October 30, 2009

"It's Unlikely the World Will Ever Again Come Across Musicianship Like Sophie B. Hawkins's"

When you guys were young whippersnappers, did you ever find yourself at the Walden Books poring over the latest issues of Creem, Q, or Rolling Stone? I know I did. And while this experience hardly substituted for the more authentic virtues real relationships with other people might have fostered, it still introduced me to a writing genre that sadly seems to have gone the way of The Lemonheads, and for which I still feel just a twinge of nostalgia: Drop Cap Journalism.

In Drop Cap Journalism (DCJ), it's a rule that every article has to immediately drop the reader into the action with the great alternative pop stars of the 90's via the effective method of the decorative drop cap. And almost every article seemed to start the same stupid way.

Michael Stipe simply will not eat off a small spoon.


It should come as no surprise that Liz Phair wants to begin our interview with a discussion of blowjobs.

DCJ articles almost always featured evocative (kind of) and artsy (sort of) photography, sometimes with said decorative drop cap superimposed over it. If you got really lucky, the article would have the drop cap, the artsy photo and a lot of hyperbole about someone who at the time seemed timeless, and yet.

On this rainy night on the road in Ottawa, the world literally stops for Adrian Belew. (photo caption: "Belew boards Ottawa bus.")

And yet! And don't even get me started on Sassy. Don't even get me started.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Possibly the Nerdiest Thing About Me

I never learned the "30 days has September..." mnemonic as a kid. In my high school German class, we were taught it freshman year as something cool we could rattle off and feel like we spoke German. Thus, the only way I can remember if a month has 30 or 31 days (like say, when it's two in the morning and I'm mapping out my homework to-do list for the week), is to say it in German to myself. Like Dwight Schrute. I will now do it for you, and please German grammaticians (and I know there's a lot of you), don't judge the spelling.

Dreissig tage hat September, April, Juni und November. Alle die noch ubrig blieben haben ein un dreissig ausser Februar.

I probably have to do this, on average, like three or four times a month.Pretty useful! Not nearly as useful as knowing Spanish, for instance, but what can you do?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Enumerated Reasons The Relationship Was a Bad Idea: A Reflection in Passive Voice

1. Books were purchased and followed that advocated food combining.
2. Answering machine messages inadvertantly disclosed too much while showers were taken.
3.Vanilla air fresheners were placed in every room.
4.The sentence was uttered, "She was the only one who understood my cats."
5.Drugs were bought while people waited unwittingly in the car.
6.The word 'fag' was used in common parlance.
7.Cure albums were heard playing at full volume from your condo after it was disclosed that things were moving too fast.
8.Front doors were answered drunkenly on a weeknight.
9.The unwillingness to eat vegetables was bragged about.
10."Mistakes were made."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Writin' Junk

Just wanted to share this excerpt I read in Slate today about the organizational habits of some famous people. Below is Curtis Sittenfeld's answer regarding how he gets things done. It's nice to know published authors suffer the same shortcomings as me. And I feel bad about her dog, too:

"Curtis Sittenfeld, author

Three things:

1) If I'm writing, my trick—which isn't that tricky—is to close all windows and files except for the document I'm working on and not to check e-mail (I truly don't understand how anyone who has e-mail that pops up automatically ever accomplishes anything) or to answer the phone. And I don't have a smartphone, which eliminates that temptation. If in the course of writing I need to look up information online, I've found that it's best to just put a place-holder in the document and find the information later—once I'm on the Internet, all roads ultimately lead to celebrity gossip. Right now, I'm not sure if it's more embarrassing that I'm conversant with Avril Lavigne's divorce or the disappearance of Jessica Simpson's Maltipoo.

2) If I'm trying to get something done that's not writing-related, my similarly untricky trick is to turn off my computer. I've found that when I step away from it but leave it on, I can't shake the nagging feeling that I should be responding to e-mails, even though when I'm actually sitting in front of the computer, I have no problem doing things other than responding to e-mails (see above re: Jessica Simpson's dog).

3) Politely saying no can free up astonishing amounts of time. I'm still trying to learn how."

She Thinks I'm Real

Just wanted to relate a quick story. I'm reading a book right now about the nature of acceptance, particularly as it relates to our everyday thoughts and actions.In particular, the book talks a lot about the impact of seeing ourselves as lesser than or negating our presence in the world. The author tells a story about a little girl going out to eat at a restaurant with her parents. She tells the waitress exactly what she wants (a cheeseburger), to which her dad replies that she will not be having that and proceeds to order something different for her. The waitress at first seems to consent, writing down what the dad orders, before turning to the girl and asking what she wants on her cheeseburger. As the waitress walks away, the little girl triumphantly says, "She thinks I'm real!"

I love that story. I don't know about you, but I can definitely relate to the sensation of feeling unreal in so many situations. Sometimes it takes the input of others to understand our own authenticity. Isn't it really exciting in those rare instances where you can feel that connection between yourself and another person? When, for lack of a better phrase, they think you're real? I get chills just thinking about it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What I Did Last Week, pt. 1

Blog Post, via my notebook 4 days ago:

I'm writing this on a flight to Salt Lake City. I left Seattle a week ago and now I'm coming back. When I left, I wasn't sure if I was going to end up going to my dad's funeral. I also wasn't sure of the weather in Ohio in October. I packed a light, black sweater just in case.

Here are some things they don't tell about going to see your dad in the hospital:

-The ICU is really nice.There's free coffee from an instant machine. You can choose regular, decaff, espresso or hot chocolate. More than anything, you just appreciate the presence of this machine. It seems a very thoughtful gesture.

- The people who've been waiting on loved ones in the ICU know the score.In your head, you call them The Professionals. The first Professional you meet is a calm and pleasant 11 year old girl who quietly and cheerfully occupies herself all day long in the adjacent waiting room. Why isn't she in school? It must be a pretty bad situation that she's here all day, out of school long? But her behavior never betrays concern. She is a Professional. The first time she helps you is when you're just trying to get through the damn door into the ICU from the waiting room."Just push it," she says. You try again and fail. "No, don't turn the handle. You just push it, " she says helpfully. Somehow this simple act has you confounded. You have not flown across country for this; you have not come here to be outsmarted by a door. "I'll help you!," she says in a way that somehow doesn't make you feel entirely functionally retarded. With the measured patience and professional smile of a stewardess, she puts down her copy of Breaking Dawn and with one efficient heave of her pre-pubescent hip accomplished what you cannot. "There ya go!," says the tiny boatman as she helps you wade into to the beeping, pinging, metallic Styx of the ICU.

-You may develop a crush on your dad's doctor.He is only about five years older than you and not your type at all. Not in the real world, at least. In this weird, adult alternate reality, there is something comely about his Dockers and stories of playing football at Ohio State. There are two main reasons you like him. One is that he will not laugh at your father's jokes, which secretly pleases you a great deal. You are tired of these jokes and hearing them retold for each new day's RN or Respiratory Tech, whose names become an endless blur erased and rewritten each shift change on the white board.* You wish instead of telling jokes, your dad would say "I'm scared." That would certainly cut to the chase.

-But the other reason you have a crush on him is the fact that he oozes competence. In this surreal cluster fuck of a situation, competence is rare. All day long at your job you have to be competent. You have to be competent when you are filling out your mom's Medicaid paperwork or when you are talking to the hospital's discharge counselor who met your dad last week when they had to bring your mom here. What a colossal fucking mess. You want someone else to be competent for awhile and to make decisions and to be authoritative. You want the doctor to notice you and appreciate you. This situation may be fucked up, but you are not a fuck up you would like him to please note. To wit, you do not ask stupid questions. You maintain eye contact when he says things that are difficult for daughters to hear. You let your mind wander and imagine maybe your competence is a siren song to him; so much easier to deal with than the other family who have been crying over the tiny form in the bed in the room next door for three days.He is discussing your dad's new "manual soft" diet plan to prevent choking. You imagine your even gaze tells him everything he needs to know. He catches your eye. He is tired of acting competent all the time, too. There is a weird, primal part of you that wants to cope with all this death and near-death by doing it with this doctor. But it's not even about him. You just desire an infusion of competence.

*Also written on a corner of the white board and never erased during your time there is a tiny cross with three simulated beams of light drawn from it at 45 degree angles. You wonder why it's never erased. You start to harbor fears it is Secret Code for the RN's and that the numbers of Jesus rays emanating from it somehow denote the difficulty level of the patient. If five Jesus rays represented the most intense patients (assessed using a numerical system not unlike the Thai restaurant 5 star spiciness system), you feel like three Jesus rays seems just about right for your dad, who is never rude but certainly far from easy to work with.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I've come back from a week or more of complete neglect of this blog to find I now have seven followers! How did this happen? Surely not through effort of my own, I can tell you that much!Thanks new readers!

I am currently in Ohio Being An Adult. Turns out Being An Adult is an unending psychic nightmare, though I am currently living out the nightmare I've been dreading for the past seven years. It feels cathartic to finally begin to work through it. I think everybody here is going to be fine. I think I am going to be fine.

Thank you friend-readers for being my friends. Your support means a lot to me! I will post more next week once I am home and caught up on things.

I have eaten so many delicious carryout items and drunk so much wine and taken so many walks.Books were finished, rooms were swept, lists were made and meticulously checked off. Fears were allayed.I'll be back soon.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Wow. I just realized I haven't written anything in a week, which isn't like me. Except it is, because I'm the one forgetting to write. I've actually had quite a few blog ideas this week that I keep thinking I should write about. Eh. They'll keep. Right now, I just want to share a gross story.

So this morning I went to the dentist. I was fully prepared for the run of the mill, 6 month cleaning experience but it was to be so much more. Let me start with the back story. Growing up, I had horribly crooked teeth. Jewel-crooked, maybe worse. I wasn't able to get braces until my early twenties. Prior to the orthodontics, I had to get my wisdom teeth removed. All eight of them. Two behind each back molar. Apparently, this is freakishly rare, though I didn't know that at the time. Their presences probably contributed greatly to the crowding. to me getting my braces off. They cemented a top and bottom retainer in behind each row of teeth. I was supposed to have it in for two years. It's been close to ten. I won't let them take them out. I know my teeth. My teeth are from Kentucky. My teeth are from holler. My teeth can play the banjo. THE RETAINER STAYS.

So today, they told me my teeth looked good, only how often do I floss between my front teeth, in front of the retainer? Floss there, I asked? I didn't think I could.But I floss everywhere else. That's good, right? This set off a flurry of activity in the office and several hygienists came over and then the dentist had to come confer. It seems that by not flossing between those teeth, my gum tissue had started to GROW OVER the metal wiring of the retainer in the back.

Now, I am not a wuss. I have a pretty high pain threshold and suffer zero dental anxieties. I can take a shot in the gums like a champ. But then the dentist used a special device to thread floss through my two front teeth (right at the point where they join the gum)and I YELPED. I actually got halfway up out of the chair and clamped my hand down on the dentist's wrist, so bad was the pain. They were pushing through the gum tissue, tearing it away from the metal.They basically busted my mouth hymen. I went home and slept for five hours.

There are two morals to this story:

1. Floss
2. Never schedule a dental appointment on a Saturday. It will ruin your Saturday. Schedule it on a weekday and make it your job's problem.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Dane Cook Bit

You know what joke always gets a laugh out of teenagers? Going "Awwwwwwwwk-ward" when something is awkward. I've touched on this before,but today I had to go work at a different club with different teenagers and experience the dread that one of them will accidentally comment on something about my physical appearance I had heretofore been unaware of (true story, why do they always gotta say random shit?). So, I wanted to tear down some walls and I thought "I'm gonna lay my 'awkward' bit on them." Sure enough, it wasn't long before something awkward happened and I was able to pull that reliable, old comedic workhorse on out. It gets laughs every time, but with each usage, I feel more hollow inside.

Now I know how Dane Cook must feel.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Four Is a Long Time Ago

Once, when he was four, they told me that everyone was going back to Mexico. Just as soon as their mom got out of prison in California. The oldest, the only girl and the baby. Their Abuelita, too. That only leaves him. He didn't have the right papers. But he could stay. They would find someone to take him in. And so, for a week once, I was a maybe-mother. But that was before the notion passed back into that haze of abstraction from where it had been prematurely plucked and handled ever so briefly, molded into something tangible.

Five years passed and mom got out of prison. She was there for awhile, but then went away again. Nobody I talk to seems to know where. She left behind a new baby. A girl. But I went back and I saw him, same baby face but perched atop a nine year old's skinny body and gangly legs. He ran like a boy, kicked a ball like a boy.I ran up to him and hugged him and felt him stiffen. His eyes betrayed mistrust. Who is this strange white lady, he must have been thinking.

But I didn't mind. It only makes sense. Even at nine, four is a long time ago.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Undone Manifesto

Many thanks to the friends who gave me some encouragement and kind words as I hit my blogging seven year itch. In reality, I think it's been about five months, but the time flies quickly when you're trying to think stuff up.It also goes really slowly.

A few friends touched on the fact that it is hard to put yourself out there for scrutiny and I would agree, though I don't think it should be overly hard. As an old boss of mine at the bookstore used to say, "This is not an inner-city emergency room we're working in, people. It's just books, so don't take it so seriously." He's a little right. It's just writing, but I continue to be inspired by people that put themselves out there through any means of expression. The same modicum of guts it takes to write something and push button publish it are the same as those it takes to sing in public or ask somebody out on a date or dance even if you're afraid you look really stupid. And you usually feel better for having done any of those things once you try it. What's the worst that can happen?

One of the things that has been inspiring me lately, is the Done Manifesto. It got some publicity awhile back when it was first making its rounds, but I came back to it recently. I actually put it over my desk at work and read it every morning. It's as effective with regard to lame work tasks as it is creative endeavors. Here it is, in its entirety:

1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
3. There is no editing stage.
4. Pretending you know what you're doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you're doing even if you don't and do it.
5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
7. Once you're done you can throw it away.
8. Laugh at perfection. It's boring and keeps you from being done.
9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
11. Destruction is a variant of done.
12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
13. Done is the engine of more.

Of course, being a manifesto, it's easy to parse the logic of some of these statements, but taken as a whole, goddamn.... I think they're onto something.#10 has been particularly inspiring to me. I am in no means a perfectionist, but I think I have the tendency to let ideas (in any arena of my life) incubate to the point of stagnation. Not because I am afraid of failing, but maybe because it is more comfortable to hang onto something and assume that something external will call you to action with it. I'm trying to get over that.

A good friend from Cincinnati, for whom I have enormous respect, once theorized that there are Makers and Appreciators. Makers make and Appreciators sit back and assess. He made these statements to another friend (in his eyes, an Appreciator)who was arguing passionately against him. At the time, I didn't regard myself as particularly worthy of any kind of assessment. It was clear to me where I fell on that spectrum. The friend with the theory was as close to a working artist as can be found in Cincinnati and instead of taking stock and thinking about how I felt about his idea,I just took it as truth. With all due respect to a great guy, that was a big, fucking mistake. For too long, I thought of myself as an outsider to the creative process and that because anything I created in private was unknown, that it was not worth knowing. We are all Makers and we are all Appreciators. To divide people unnecessarily like that is to say that art or expression is only best handled by those with some sort of expertise, who, with pedantic wisdom, show the rest of us the way. I call bullshit on that.

And thank you guys for sweetly calling bullshit on my attitude. I'm done with it. Done is the engine of more.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Blogging: Am I Over It?

Friends, I am just not feeling it. Can you offer any words of wisdom? What do you do when the problem is not that you don't want to write, but that....nothing is going on or at least nothing that can be interpreted in any kind of meaninful or interesting way that would make it blog-worthy? I speak to whomever is still reading this.

Here's the poem Danse Russe, by William Carlos Williams because I don't have a single interesting thing to say:

If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,--
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
again the yellow drawn shades,--

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Poem on My Birthday (Because I Can)

Adult Epigram

The romance of the precise is not the elision
Of the tired romance of imprecision
It is the ever-changing same,
An appearance of Again, the diva-dame.

-Wallace Stevens

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quarters: Our Nation's Most Valuable Currency

Don't believe me? You obviously have a washer/dryer in unit and haven't had to ask, hat in hand at every retail establishment, for anything they can spare.Renter? Pariah? Renter? Pariah? It's so hard to tell the difference sometimes.

Live that dream.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What the Kids Are Doing

The Jerkin' obsession seems to be waning a little bit among the teens I work with compared to its summer high, so I should probably address this issue before it goes the way of the Crank Dat, the Roger Rabbit or the Tootsie Roll and slips away into the ether of pop culture. And probably before it gets resurrected by VH1 in 3-5 years and turned into something evoking far more nostalgia than it merits.

But anyway, The Kids. This is what they like. Every year brings another frivolous dance craze, but I got really excited when I first saw this one because I thought to myself....something about that dance looks familiar.

Here's the video that started the craze:

And, for the record, it is a weird hybrid of The Charleston.....

And Cossack dancing:

It is also murder on the quads and not for those who value their knees. Still, it's nice to see the kids getting their cardio in. And in skinny jeans, no less! Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. We can all go back to our adult lives now.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

All Day Long I Write Novelty Songs in My Head

Today, I only wrote one and I'll share it, but the entry is about something else. Here's my verse:

"Like thievery with words
Break in,
Crawl 'round inside n'
When you least expect,
I flip the script like Joe Biden"

But want I really want to talk about is how irritating mandatory minimum numbers of discussion board posts are when one is enrolled in online school (or "Computer College" as I sometimes think of it).

Forfuckinginstance, I just had to respond to four introduction posts by classmates. That means I have to find four unique things to say to people who are all essentially some version of the same working adult as me. The standard bromide (that's my second Ayn Rand reference this week if you're counting) is to blandly congratulate the classmate about how it sounds like they're really busy and to wish them luck this semeseter. The worst is the follow-up. "Do you and your husband plan to stay in Utah, then?" Not because these people aren't lovely, but because each new semester of school is like one of those wedding receptions where you're not seated with anybody you know. And you're being graded on it.And you've never worked this hard at small talk in your life.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Philleas Fogg: Life Lessons*

*As per challenge from Doug

I'll admit, this writing prompt was harder than the one for my junior writing portfolio at WSU: 'What is the True Meaning of the Word Hero?'(NOT MAKING THAT UP), but with a little help from Wikipedia and a brief distraction by a kitten with eyebrows, I think I'm now ready to tackle it.

I've never read Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days.I even suspected Doug of misspelling the name Philleas, which I had mistakenly thought was spelled 'Phinneas.' I may have also thought the character was a frog because his last name evoked it for me.All of these limitations come together to form my life lesson: Learning about things you have no knowledge of is humbling and then, later, it's fun to think about how wrong you were.I've never read this book,so instead here's some times I've learned a valuable lesson.

Some examples:

-Until college, I thought an alternative pronunciation of 'epitome' was 'epa-TOME' and that an 'epa-TOME' was the pinnacle of an epitome. ex. "Re-reading a John Grisham novel at your parents' house because you forgot to pack anything to read is the 'epatome' of desperation."

-I used to think Gran Marnier was pronounced Gran Mariner and may have said this out loud.

-On a trip to Dublin, I wanted to see the Forty Foot swimming hole mentioned in Ulysses, but I didn't know it was only for old men and that they preferred to swim in the nude. So I didn't know it would just be me and my friend Sarah, age 17, staring at naked old men. And offending them.

-Once, when working at Subway in high school, I was searching through some scrap wood, turning boards over to wrap and place one of those hideous party subs on. I noticed a co-worker was watching me and when he asked me what I was doing and I told him looking for holes, he asked "On...both...sides of each board?"

I don't know. There's a lot more times I've embarassed myself and learned from it, but this blog is starting to turn into a narrative hairshirt. The rest of this week, I'm either not writing about myself or only presenting myself in heroic, Howard Roark-ian terms.

With less than an hour to spare, here's your entry, Doug. Why again did I do this to myself exactly?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Nope. No. Huh-uh. NO.

If there's ever been a more cynically-crafted and calculating song written under the contemporary country banner (I'm looking at YOU, Rascall Flatts), I've yet to hear it. Although I admit, my visceral reaction to this song wasn't as bad as the first time I heard My Humps and I was incensed that they were obviously using a developmentally disabled girl to sing the chorus (ahem):

PS: Does this make them hipsters?

And Now, I'd Like To Perform For You My Red Skelton Comedy Routine

My heart longs to tell the story of the boy I would not let perform a Red Skelton skit at the camp talent show, but my brain reminds me that writing about kids has gotten many an educator in trouble.Firing trouble.

Please, friends, let this morsel be enough:

I refused to let an awkward teen perform a halting, unintentionally absurdist, seat-squirmingly uncomfortable, Andy Kaufman-esque interpretation of a Red Skelton comedy skit. IN THE YEAR 2009.

I am the Simon Leis of my own little world.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Throw Pillow of an Entry

So I've had the above postcard in a crappy Ikea frame following me around from apartment to apartment for over 10 years. The caption says "We keep buying things thinking 'that'll look better' and it just doesn't"

I keep it around because it makes me smile and also to remind me that buying stuff (unless it's books or food or plane tickets) almost never makes me feel better. I was reminded of it when I was sitting here trying to improve this blog that's been kicking around in my drafts for a week. I keep thinking of stuff to add to it to dress it up, make it more cohesive, funnier, you know -- better. But, I just can't.

Oh well, win some, lose some. I'm gonna post so my brain parts can move on.

Oy, has it been a terrible year in hip hop. I thought it was pretty dumb before I had to drive 12 pre-teens around for 8 weeks ("That's my CUT!") but afterwards, realized it was not only dumb, but bleak and miserly in its creativity, as well.

Some minor standouts:

Kanye's solo on Kid Cudi's Make Her Say:

Hold up! Born In 88....
How Old Is That?
Old Enough

David Banner on Anthony Hamilton's Cool:

But you the answer to my question
The 'eh to my dreams. You a radio killa
We can call our white friends up
and drink a Miller...

Jay-Z on Swagger Like Us:

No one on the corner got a bop like this
Can't wear skinny jeans
'cause my knots won't fit

And I'm pretty sure those last two came out in late 2008. Has there been anything good that I missed? Blech.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's Getting Better All the Time

So I just started back to school and I'm really happy I've kept blogging here all summer and didn't let that part of my brain atrophy even in the midst of all the television watching I've managed to squeeze in. When I had to do my first academic writing tonight, I was happy how easily it came again when I had to flex those muscles. tells me that facile is an adverb and can be used in place of 'easily' but when I take easily away and add 'facile' into that last sentence, it sure doesn't sound right. I take back everything I said earlier about writing.

I also leave I Survived, Obsessed and Intervention long enough sometimes to go to the gym. On Monday nights, I have Pilates class which is pretty fun, but it may be the only time during my week I actually grimace in pain. Every time I fully extend my left leg, my hip pops out of its socket which I've been told over and over is 'no big deal.' Actually, I don't know that for sure, that's just what I say to myself every time it happens and I wince: itsnobigdealitsnobigdealitsnobigdeal.But tonight my teacher told me she could see me making tremendous progress. She said it to everyone in the class, but the rest of the ladies are old and they never really try very hard so, like the John Hinckley of my pilates class, I'm convinced she's talking directly to me, but IN CODE.

Finally, I'm calling it. Fall. Let's just start. This has been a really, really difficult summer for many of my friends and family. I say we give summer a long, last lingering kiss and then....goodbye.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Favorite Song by: Anthony Hamilton

Cornbread, Fish and Collard Greens is one of those songs that when I first heard it, a few years after its release, I felt angry I'd never heard it before. That's a good song and Anthony Hamilton is generally too overlooked anyway. It's a shame.Plus, there's food in the title. Reckanize:

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Husbands of Walnut Grove

For some time, it's been culturally accepted that one can learn a lot about a man from his choice in Charlie's Angel crush. I mean, that's cool and all, but it's kind of like choosing between three different beige paint samples. In the end, the winner is still a beige paint sample. Did that metaphor fall apart? No matter, it's time someone considered the female counterpoint to this phenomenon (and not involving Bo or Luke, preferably).

Aside from Them Duke Boys, the closest current parrallel I can think of would be the Window-into-the-Soul decision of which twin on The Hogan Family (never to be called 'Valerie,' she's dead to me)you most identified with. Hint: there is only one right answer, and that is Mark, obviously.

I say it's time for a new barometer for the ladies.Let's relax and take a trip to Walnut Grove....... but to whom would I devote my chaste attentions? I admit that as an 8 year old, my favorite was Almanzo though I now recognize this as folly. Let's consider them piecemeal....

Almanzo Wilder, husband of Laura Ingalls
Pro's: blondly-handsome, strapping, wore suspenders
Con's: Call Chris Hansen, because Laura was like 14 when they met (I think she was just going to put these clothes in the dryer and wondered if Almanzo would like some lemonade?)

Adam Kendall, husband of Mary Ingalls
Pro's: darkly-handsome, sharp dresser, sensitive, likes to feel your face
Con's: Adam episodes were the WORST for the melodrama and if living with him meant countless turgid violin solos playing as he stared into the mid-distance, no thank you

Which brings me to my choice:

PERCIVAL DALTON!, husband of Nellie Olsen

Pro's: opinionated,smart, non sass-taker, funny Jew
Con's: Only one--found Nellie Olsen appealing

The decision is obvious.

Oh Percival, you have my permission.

Mexican Magical Realism Camera

Worthy of a post all its own. Thank you, Tricia:

"Same thing happened to me last year when I bought that RV where it was always rainin' inside."

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Rifling through your parents' things can sometimes yield unexpected treasures, like biographies written at age 4 and dictated to a nursery school teacher. The text above reads:

"When I grow up, I'll be a fire lady and put out fires. I'll make a lot of money and buy a car- a Chevrolet. I will not get married.I will have 3 children. I'll call them Will, Susie and Strawberry. I'll live in a trailer and I'll play a violin. I will go to St. Louis on vacation."

Some true points:
1. I DO put out fires. ALL fucking day long. Ask my co-workers.
2. I do make a decent amount of money for the non-profit field, which is sad.
3. I am not married.
4. I did play the violin.
5. I have gone to St. Louis on vacation

Not bad at all.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Favorite Song by: Alejandro Escovedo.... not available on youtube. It's called Pissed Off 2 am, if you're interested. It's a title and a song I think everybody can relate to. In lieu of that, I give you this clip of Escovedo playing a still-terrific song on the patio of a bar he presumably had played at, as people load shit around him. He's one of those singers that sound exactly the same live as on an album, which is rare in my opinion. Fun fact: Many people are aware that Escovedo is none other than Sheila E's uncle (who by the way, looks absolutely banging at age 51) but how many know that he is ALSO Nicole Richie's biological uncle? Isn't that interesting? Doesn't it seem like she should have more talent than she does? But I digress.

My Favorite Song by: John Cale

A new segment (blogment?), in which I don't particularly feel like writing and instead, ask you to indulge me in a youtube clip of a favorite song by a favorite artist. Tonight, a twofer. But let's start with John Cale. Cale's album Vintage Violence is one of my all time favorites and in particular, this song. What it lacks in visuals, it makes up for in

Monday, August 17, 2009

Better Than Sleep

I wait for them to go to bed, but not just the first time. There’ll be ups and downs. In the meantime, I'll lie on the floor and watch tv so quietly, I have to strain to hear it. She can sleep some nights, uninterrupted, for 15 hours at a time. Other nights, a creak on the stairs is enough to wake the whole household for hours. These waits are the hardest.

I wait expectantly these nights and impatiently. Their sleep offers me admission, but my body is a co-conspirator. Inside it, a lagging Pacific circadian reminds me I’m out of place again. I’ll be up all night and always asking the same question. These things happened, right?

I-75 runs through their backyard and across it, planted improbably in an old corn field, sits a mosque. There were some concerns when the farmer finally sold. Near-native son Muhammad Ali came for its dedication. Sometimes, the police cruiser doesn't even have to stay the night anymore. It’s changing here. Likely as a concession to the neighbors, the Mosque only broadcasts the call to prayer during Ramadan. Rarely, I’ll be home in late summer and I can hear the muezzin.

I'll put down my things and I’ll walk outside and listen.

Make haste towards worship
Prayer is better than sleep
I bear witness

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In Between Blog, Trying To Scheme Blog

This rambling effort marks my 50th post! It's been a difficult blogging week because all of my personal reserves are tied up in making it through this work week. It's been a long time since I've been the sole entertainer of kids for 5-6 hour stretches and I'm convinced the only person that likes being 'on' that much is Robin Williams on a 70's coke bender. I have exhausted all free possibilities for pre-teen youth within a 30 minute driving radius and reached my idea nadir when, on a foggy day last week, I just drove them to a cemetery and told them it was haunted. Then we did grave rubbings. This seemed sufficient.

This week we were invited, photo-op style, to Safeco Field to learn about steroids (*COUGH*potcallingthekettleblack*COUGH*). About 80 of us got to sit ...fieldside(?)and hear a talk from a trainer who'd lost a brother to steroid abuse. Despite my cynical mien, the talk was sincere and pretty affecting, or at least it was up until the point when he asked for crowd participation on a question about steroids' effects and some kids from the Police Athletic League said "It makes you grow TITTIES!" and then couldn't stop laughing.So......

After that, relief pitcher Mark Lowe, rakishly handsome in jeans that cost $mycarpayment, talked to us about how he developed diabetes. He's only 26 and just found out two seasons ago that he had the disease. He delivered a pretty good talk, making a tangible connection between his formerly poor eating habits and his culpability in developing the disease. He's very skinny in person and talked about carb regulation a lot. One of the most fascinating aspects of his talk was that he said, as a relief pitcher, he has to be ready at a moment's notice to go into the game and so he has to spend a lot of time checking his blood sugar in the dugout. Once he gets the warning he will be up to pitch in a while, he checks it one last time and either eats or injects so that he is in his ideal blood sugar pitching window. This seems like a hassle and you have to give him credit for what a pain in the butt this must be. Also, when a developmentally disabled girl asked a really long, rambling question, he gallantly answered and even made a joke to make her feel more comfortable. I can't express how this basic kindness made me feel relieved. I'm not sure that professional athletes are held to even the most basic standards of civil behavior, so him going above and beyond made me pleased.

Finally (FINALLY), we were allowed out onto the field and got to have M's first base coach (and former Mariner, Red Sox, Phillies and then Mariners again player)Lee Tinsley run us through warmups that despite their doofy appearance, made me sweaty and winded in no time.The best Tinsley moment was when I overheard a spirited debate between some of my kids as to whether or not Tinsley was Ken Griffey Jr. Clearly, these kids did not grow up in the Junior era.

Then, one of the trainers came to take us through some different exercises, though his main role was to answer the roughly 250 Ichiro-related questions the kids had. Here's some of what I learned:

-Ichiro is the most disciplined player this trainer has seen in 27 years
-Ichiro goes to bed and wakes at exactly the same times everyday, whereupon
-Ichiro eats the same breakfast every day prior to
-Ichiro doing the same morning calisthenics before
-Ichiro drives to the ballpark to work out
-Also, Ichiro is the only player that works out daily on the road (how could this be true, I wonder)
-Ichiro's body fat is 5.8%, the lowest on the team
-Ichiro regularly tells his trainer he plans on playing until he is 50 and they don't think he's kidding

On our way out, the kids were each given an autographed picture of Mark Lowe and I stood in line for mine, too, because I could. We were also given a promotional poster of a kids' Jackie Robinson night from 2003, because...not sure. I took that, too.

I had a very big day.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thursdays With Morrie

I just had the following heartwarming conversation with an elderly man at Subway. Let's call him Morrie:

Morrie: (remarking on my UK t-shirt) KENTUCKY! That's where I grew up!
Me: Oh really? Where?
Morrie: Ft. Mitchell!
Me: Oh, I'm from Cincinnati.

Awkward pause.

Me: Do you ever miss it?
Morrie: ......What? No! I mean, you've been other places, right? There's a lot more to see in the world than that place.
Me: I hear you.

So, here's a question for you guys. Since I've had some recent success getting validation from other friends (ok, just Pam) that she too can feel/sense other people's vibrations (*blogjumpingtheshark*), I'm interested in knowing, can you discern the atmospheric differences in different parts of the country you visit? Before I go further, allow me to acknowledge that I am aware I sound like a nutball. For instance, when I think back to different states I've lived in, I can recall not only sights and smells, but also the kind of twing or hum I felt in my head when I was there.It doesn't have anything to do with how much I like or dislike a place.

If you think I'm crazy, consider this:

A man named FLIP SPICELAND backs me up on this. I'm not sure if I'm happier about this or the fact that the website where I found this thinks that if I like that video, I may also be interested in one called, "How to masturbate as a women," sic, obviously.

Oh, and the atmospheric twing I associate with Kentucky might be described as "sinusylethargicdrone."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fall Party


1 VHS copy Legend of Sleepy Hollow (if not available, replace with It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown)
2 Pumpkins (carved)
6-10 Maple Bars
Apples, assorted
Sweaters, any variety
1 store bought pumpkin pie, gross crusts removed
Cider, alcoholic or otherwise

Mix with smell of burning leaves, let steep in nostalgia. Repeat yearly.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Joy and Pain

This compelling visual juxtaposition below is pretty much a scene right out of my life. The dancing lady is me, minding my own (as you do) and the fighting juiceboxes represent my scary-ass neighbors. Not just one set of neighbors, mind you, but an entire building of, as my dad abbreviates it, NLC's (or, No Library Card). By an accident of zoning or ill providence, our two buildings face one another across an alley. Directly. About 12 feet apart. Their building is like one of those Richard Scarry cross sections where you can see what people are up to as they go about their daily lives. As my friend Kiley best described it upon seeing it for the first time, "Oh no. Bedsheets used as curtains means dysfunction."

And without further ado:

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Issues Facing White People

So I've noticed a disconcerting trend at my local farmer's market (farmers' market? I don't really know where the apostrophe goes). One aspect of the trend, Parade of Dogs, I can totally get behind. I love dogs. I frankly can't get enough of them and consider a dog's absence from my life a much greater misfortune than my lingering singletude.I think all dogs, small and yippy, large and foreboding, are worthy of love.Which brings me to my concern: the escalating exotic breed oneupsmanship that I see going on amongst all those out buying swiss chard and goat flesh out of Coleman coolers from strangers.

I have never before seen, in person, some of the breeds I've seen this summer at the market. Great Pyranees, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Bouvier des Flanders (look it up), to name a few. And these aren't even the ones that weird me out. No, it's the giant dogs. The Irish Wolfhounds, the Neapolitan Mastiffs, the Newfoundlands (miserable looking in the heat), and last week, the Leonberger. I know these names because I ask the owners who invariably seem a little annoyed to constantly be answering questions about their dogs, but COME ON. When your dog is the size of a Smart Car, it draws attention and you love it. You know you do, weirdos.

And there's nothing wrong with pure breed dogs. I get it. But the sheer number of such unusual dogs (and of such heft and general thickness) is starting to make the dog ownership feel kind of icky and fetishistic to me, like all the white guys in Seattle who only date Asian girls. The dog trend is particularly galling given the staggering number of healthy dogs that have to be euthanized at shelters. It's all enough to make me paraphrase Jennifer Aniston's take on Brad after he left her: I think they must have a sensitivity chip missing or something.I didn't think this blog would ever see a Jennifer Aniston quote, but there it is.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dream Song 29

Well, let the youtube links begin. Sometimes I get excited because I realize that things I was jazzed about 7 or 8 years ago have a Whole New Life, thanks to the internet. Ok, mainly just thanks to youtube and wikipedia.Parenthetically, did you guys realize that the Wilco album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out seven years ago? It's pretty hard for me to fathom. I was working at a book/music store then and I remember it was originally supposed to have been released on September 11th of 2001 and got pushed back and when it did finally come out there some passages of lyrics that seemed eerily prescient at the time. A few days ago, I moved my passenger seat in my car back and found the cd wedged under the rear floor mat. I've been listening to it again for days. It holds up.

About the same time as the release of that album was also the height of my John Berryman love. The love continues to this day, but boy was I into him back then. I was trying to remember part of one of his poems a few minutes ago and found this clip of him reading one of my favorite of his Dream Songs. Prior to ten minutes ago, I had never heard one of my favorite poets speak, so this is pretty damn exciting for me! He is also clearly smashed -- BONUS!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

5 More Minutes

My approach to exercise classes and parties is strikingly similar: Just keep telling myself I can leave in 5 more minutes if I want to. And then I usually end up staying until the end for both and not regretting it.

I'm such a recovering quitter that if I don't let myself have a mental escape hatch, I'd never do anything at all. I'm thinking it was Johnny Cash I heard say "You put the screws on me, I'll screw right out from underneath you." I feel you, Johnny.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This Is Just To Say

One of the ways I used to pass the time in high school, aside from hanging out with my gay boyfriend (Hi Ryan!), reading Edie Sedgwick biographies or eating lunch alone next to the ceramics kiln in the art room, was to memorize poems out of our English class textbooks. One of my favorite poets for memorization was William Carlos Williams. He was a figure, much like Chaka Khan, John Fogerty, or Lindsey Buckingham, who I intuitively understood was famous to adults for once having been someone important, but whose significance mostly escaped me.

Despite this, one of my favorite poems of his to memorize was his This Is Just To Say. If you can't remember it, it'll probably trigger your memory if I tell you it's the short one about the plums and the icebox. Yeah, you know it. Despite my affection for the old guy, when it came time for our class to analyze his dreaded red wheelbarrow poem (memorized that one, too), I didn't just act like I wasn't interested. No, I had to take it a step further. Pejorative usage of the word 'gay' might have been involved. I'm not proud. And you know what the worst part was? Not that I chose to not be brave and not that I chose to sell out something for which I actually had deep affection. No, the worst part was that the classmate I had chosen to act cool for, that I had mocked this poem and poet to in poor taste, was actually fucking related to William Carlos Williams. He was her great-great uncle or something. Hell, her last name was even Williams. Out of a school of 2,000, out of a nation of millions, this was my luck. I completely deserved her disgusted side eye that day.

This is for her:

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
The words
That came out of my mouth
That day

And which
You had probably
Long ago

Forgive me
I was so young
Foolish and

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Heart My Knock Knees

....but this is not a post about them. At least, not exactly. I spent some time thinking about my knock knees today in yoga class. I've been doing yoga now pretty regularly for about 5 years and I've gotten pretty good. What has been humbling though are there are certain simple poses I just cannot do, regardless of how long I practice. For this, I blame my knock knees.

I used to position myself in classes to ensure I could never see myself in the mirror because the image I saw was different than what I felt I must look like. My anger with myself and the dissonance between how good I felt and how different I looked would ruin my mood and invariably break my concentration. I went for meditation and got hyped up on self-hatred instead.

But then things began to shift in all kinds of ways. I can't attribute the shift to a fixed moment in time or even anything conscious on my part. I just fucking mellowed out. About nearly everything; the way I looked, how other people perceived me, the course my life was taking.It didn't exactly happen when I turned 30, but damn if it wasn't close.

For a while after my mom's diagnosis with Alzheimer's, I went to counseling. It felt good to articulate my anger and voice my worries. My counselor was great and invariably pretty adept at seeing through my bullshit and calling me on it, but I do remember arguing with her somewhat over her insistence that I'm hard on myself. Having a counselor tell a woman she's hard on herself is kind of like a psychic telling you you'll have some decisions to make. Duh. Just generic enough to make you feel like someone understands you. But the thing is, I still think I'm not too hard on myself. In fact, I kind of pride myself on my resilience and my ability to laugh and say 'Man, I really fucked that up. I'll try harder next time.' And I do. And this works for me.

But it wasn't always that way. I wasted many, many years hating who I was and getting sidelined by self-consciousness. I missed out on a lot, but thankfully those times seem to be passing. I've got another birthday coming and I'm grateful that I feel the self-consciousness slipping away. A little vanity is good, but it goes a long way. I'd just rather be happy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Backyard Boogie

I've been staring at this screen for twenty minutes hoping that something to write about will come to me and instead, all I have are the lyrics to Backyard Boogie going through my head over and over:

"Straight from Inglewood and you know that it's all good/
You can put that on your hood everyday"

While I'm ok with this, I also sense the mounting frustration that's coming with my self-imposed challenge to outblog myself this month and, in the process, sometimes sacrificing quality for quantity. Ahem. Time's up for today in an hour and a half and I know myself. If I walk away, I will sit down on the couch and watch my favorite show, I Survived, until I fall asleep with a half-drunk glass of wine in a plastic tumbler beside me and wake up just in time in the morning to go to yoga.

I Survived is great because it tells first person accounts of people's brushes with death and invariably gives me a leg up on all others who chose not to watch. When the tanker truck collides with the oncoming train, when the hostage-takers are assessing potential hostages for the taking or when an abusive ex-husband invites you into his house to ostensibly sign some paperwork, that shit is ON. I (will) Survived.

Yoga class is great because people fart and other people try not to laugh.

I know that many times throughout this week I've thought of surefire blog topics and, I'm telling you, if I could thing of a single one of those gems right now, I'd be killing it. Instead, I will leave you tonight with some sage words from Mitch Hedberg:

"Sometimes in the middle of the night, I think of something that's funny, then I go get a pen and I write it down. Or if the pen's too far away, I have to convince myself that what I thought of ain't funny"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


And of course, what I remember are the things I can't take back. How, as a petulant teenager, I would tell her to stop chewing so loud. And other things that shame me and more than I care to write about. And then the helplessness that I am starting to lose hold of the threads that bind my memory to the sound of her voice. What did a sentence sound like? How would she ask me a question? Did she always call me by my middle name?

And once, on a whim, I went to a psychic and she told me not to wait around for love anytime soon but that a move may be in my future. And then she asked if there was anything else I wanted to ask about and I paused and then I said, maybe this one thing. It's not important but I carry it around with me at all times; it hangs here, suspended. And when I do something callous or foolish, I reach inside my chest, right below my sternum and I tug on it until it can be seen, point to it and say, hey, blame this thing.

I can't remember everything that came next, but it had something to do with doorways and a man with a black dog and I'm a loved child.I'm a loved child. And somehow this punctures the thing then and there inside the close room and I feel release. I had thought its pendulous weight corporal, but it was made of something different.

That night I dream of a man with my ears. His back to a darkening sky, in front of a house I've never visited. He is, as always, caught leaning on his Ford. He whistles and a black dog shakes off the road dust and trots toward him, tail wagging. The motion of his head says, she's inside;go home.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Random Memory, Pt. 2

At a Sonics game when there were Sonics games.Remote-controlled blimp hovers overhead. I see it drop something that begins to flutter down towards me.I climb on my seat to reach it and am rewarded with a $50 Safeway Gift Card.

A toddler is next to me, in her mother's arms. She turns to me and asks,"When da pwane fwies by next time, can I catch it?"

"No," I say and recline in my seat to daydream of my spoils and watch Luke Ridnour botch something easy.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Random Memory

Working late at the bookstore on Singles Night. Being approached by a nervous man in the Art/Architecture section while shelving.

"So....." he begins.

I thought to myself.

"What do you do for fu-"

"I'm working!"

Dropping books behind me, I flee.

And, scene.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tacoma Scene

Both couples were dining al fresco on the Tacoma waterfront at low tide, which didn't bode well. From my table, I could see the two couples sitting opposite one another at adjacent tables. I started to eat my meal and saw a commotion on the deck. One of the men from one of the couples was frantically waving his arms at a passing boat, gesturing wildly. The people around him seemed confused. The boat moved out of view. He sat down but looked distracted. His girlfriend had her back to me and I couldn't read her face. The other couple moved closer together, heads almost touching as they talked. A few minutes passed. Another boat came into view and again the same man ran to the edge of the deck, but this time his pleading worked. I saw the boat move closer to us. The man jumped up from his table and tried to exit the restaurant through a floor-to-ceiling window. The waitress directed him to the exit.

The crowd on the deck had started to move. Diners got up from their tables and moved to the railing. From my left, I could see the man gingerly stepping over rocks, steadily making his way down to the water and toward the boat. Someone yelled that he was stripping naked, but he only stripped down to his boxer shorts. He walked until the water reached his neck, still gesturing to the boat which intermittently gunned its engine or turned in circles, making waves. I saw something tiny and white float towards him and saw him grasp at it, catching it but throwing him off balance. I heard the people on the deck cheer.

For a few minutes, he was lost and I couldn't spot him from my vantage point. When he came within view of my window, he was carrying something in his mouth and scrambling up the rocks wearing the wet boxer shorts and holding his dry jeans. At some point, between my view and the restaurant's entrance, he must have put his jeans back on.

I asked a passing waitress what he was doing out there. She said someone had dropped an i.d. and it fell between the slats of the deck and drifted out into the Sound. When the man came back, most all of the other diners cheered for him. Though the other couple hadn't cheered, he walked right up to them. From out of a soggy pocket, he pulled out an i.d. and handed it to the girl. She gave him a stiff hug, her boyfriend just gave him a nod.

The wet man walked back to his table. Someone else on the deck had bought him a beer. His girlfriend ruffled, then smoothed the hair at the nape of his neck. Across from them, the other couple turned their chairs to the water so all the rest of us could see were their backs. The boyfriend put a meaty arm around the girl. I ate the rest of my food ruminating on which of the two of them was the bigger asshole.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

That's What I'm Talkin' About!!

A few weeks ago, a request was made on here for an awesome play list and I knew just the person to go to: my ex-boyfriend! I am pretty fortunate to have two pretty awesome ex-boyfriends I still get to talk to and Joe is one of the best human beings out there. Additionally, he is freakishly knowledgeable about music. Hence, my first ever, GUEST COLUMN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Presenting, ahem....Joe Kuth!

I got a pretty vague theme from Sam to go on here, so I just went with what I want to hear right now and what's fun to share: mostly short songs, the summery and exuberant, a good mix for driving. I do love a good weepy song, but you'll find none here. I was surprised Sam asked me to put together a playlist, because her post gave me the impression she was talking about current rap and R&B, which is not really my area, although I do like a few songs from that last Lil' Wayne quite a bit, and that Clipse album from a couple years ago made me feel like I was missing out on a bunch of other great stuff. Sharon Jones and Black Joe Lewis are pretty great too.I didn't stretch to be inclusive, and it's tough to squeeze jazz or afrobeat jams on a mix anyhow let alone summarize the entire history of black music, so these are just my own choice cuts of 60's -70's R&B/Funk, chestnuts from rap's golden age, and a few other oddball things.

1. Audio Two - Top Billin' You know your rapper is good when the song sounds perfect and fully realized over barely more than a sparse 808 Beat Box. I can think of a few others like this by Run DMC, BDP, LL Cool J, Special Ed, but Audio Two's classic debut might be the best of all.

2. Shuggie Otis - Aut Uh Mi HedMy favorite Shuggie song, well, right this second at least. He's a wizard. There's a great Sharon Jones cover of Otis' "Inspiration Information" on that new, mostly dull Dark Was the Night benefit compilation.

3. ESG - Erase YouIf they could retool that sitcom Sista Sista so that it was about the Scroggins sisters growing up in the 70's, I would be really into that.

4. Jungle Brothers - What U Waitin' 4?Back then these guys were not known for dance songs, they went off the rails with it later.I think that's a Kool and the Gang sample...maybe?

5. Bootsy's Rubber Band - I'd Rather Be With YouThere's a commercial for Cincinnati's Hard Ta Knock Shop ("Urban Street Wear") that is Bootsy Collins' most memorable performance ("On the ONE baby!"), but this song is pretty close. Eazy-E did an even more ridiculous and much pervier cover of this on EFIL4ZAGGIN.

6. MC Lyte - Cha Cha ChaI had nearly forgotten about this one until I heard it on that great new Fly Girls! collection of otherwise obscure lady rappers (Dimples D?! the Cookie Crew?!?).MC Lyte sounds just like Audio Two's Milk (see 1.) because they are cousins, or so the legend goes. I could look it up but then, so could you.

7. Lee Perry and the Upsetters - Black PantaThe first song off Perry's first dub album is hypnotic and impossible to resist.Gotta love the way that melodica(?) winds and unwinds.8. Betty Davis - Shoo-B-Doop and Cop HimMiles' ex. I almost put "He Was A Big Freak" here, but that one is just a degree too sleazy. Just the right amount of sleaze on this one. Allegedly tattooed on Davis' bottom: "This Ass Invented Fusion".

9. Curtis Mayfield - the Makings of YouCurtis' voice is so good that even lyrics like these, he can sell it.

10. Vanity 6 - Make Up Awesome and slutty Prince proteges. On a later album sleeve, one of these girls is wearing lacy lingerie and holding a teddy bear. It's weird.

11. K.M.D. - Peach FuzzZevLoveX downs downright amiable here, back then we never knew he would emerge after a decade of seclusion as MF DOOM, the bleakest sounding rapper ever. This was their first single (I watched the video debut on Yo! MTV Raps, sigh), years before brother and K.M.D. member Sub-roc's sudden death haunted Doom's every rhyme.

12. Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band - SunshowerOften sampled, the original is still the best way to hear it.

13. De La Soul with Q-Tip - A Rollerskating Jam Named SaturdaysPretty self explanatory, and a tough one to argue with.

14. the Cookies - I Never DreamedOne of the best of all girl group songs. I have to admit this guy sounds pretty fantastic.

16. Big Daddy Kane with Biz Markie - Just Rhymin' With BizThis has some of the braindead but brilliant lyrics I've ever endless source of Kane and Biz wisdom really, but my favorite line:steppin' on roachesi get ferocioussupercalifragilisticexpialidocious

15. Zapp - Be AlrightMy hometown hero Roger Troutman and company, here pretty light on the vocoder for once. 2Pac sampled this one.Who do you hate worse, Troutman's brother or Marvin Gaye's dad?"

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I Even Have a Column in Ebony Called 'Musings'

The other night, as I was drifting off to sleep and, for some reason I can't explain, I thought to myself, "Wow. It is REALLY weird that Marilyn Monroe was married to both Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller." Now I don't claim to know much about any of them, but isn't this bizarre, if you think about it? Had she just married one of those men, I wouldn't think anything of it, but to compare the two of them, I can't help but feel someone in that whole situation was much more complex than one would expect.

I'm going to go with Joe. I bet Marilyn Monroe was exactly as you would expect her to be; sweet but clingy, lovely but damaged, kind but self-involved. Miller? He was a writer, for Pete's sake. Of Marilyn, he said, "She was a whirling light to me then, all paradox and enticing mystery, street-tough one moment, then lifted by a lyrical and poetic sensitivity that few retain past early adolescence." Thanks Wikipedia! So Miller loved the paradox and....ugh...all that mystery.

But Joe? I think he was the keeper. And who couldn't fall in love with a mug like that? I am hesitant to venture over to his Wikipedia page to find out if he found love after her. I'm just going to hope he did and call it a night.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bear With Me Here

I think I'm probably in danger of making a really simple point with this post, but bear with me. Much like that one kid in your freshman philosophy survey course in college who raises his hand and asks rhetorically, as it is just occurring to him at that self-same second 'What if I just made all of you guys up in my head?', I'm gonna need to think this one through out loud. Parenthetically, the philosophical counter punch to that question would be 'If you did make me up in your head, wouldn't I think you were a lot cooler than I actually do?'

I think others have likely made this point better than I could, but don't you think summer is the seasonal equivalent to the present? If spring evokes the future and all its possibilities and fall evokes the past and all its memories,and assuming that winter is just dormancy and a needed placeholder, that would have to make summer all about the present, right?

WHICH IS WHY SUMMER STRESSES ME OUT. I am constantly trying to appreciate each moment to the point that it becomes a distraction. Yes, this corn on the cob is good, very good. I appreciate this sunshine, I do. No, I do! I think everyone has experienced some kind of miserable sickness that has made them want to make promises to the God of his or her choice that if they could just feel ok again they would make note of every moment they felt healthy. Each laugh that didn't turn into a coughing fit or each restful night of sleep. This is a good intention, but I don't think it's possible in reality.

In order to fully appreciate a moment (or a season), is it necessary to consciously note the enjoyment? And how many moments are even sweeter in retrospect anyway? Maybe that's the key to summer. Maybe the consciousness of it needs to be divorced from the self-conciousness of it. Maybe it's not about telling yourself how much you appreciate a moment, but instead letting go of words and just scrunching sand between your toes.

Maybe all you guys already figured this out. Probably.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tedium ad musica

All I've been doing for the last hour and a half is importing old CD's into my ipod. Join me, won't you? Oh it's going to be exciting. Here's a play-by-play:

>Patti Smith's Easter: I only took Because the Night. I've had this CD for probably ten years and if it's the only song I listen to, it's the only one. And what a great one. If I auditioned for American Idol, I would sing this song. And I would wipe the floor with everyone.

>Billy Bragg's Talking With the Taxman About Poetry. I just love Billy Bragg to death. This album contains one of my favorite lyrics of his:

"Somebody’s knocking at the door/Its later than I think/And it’s time to put on these stinking clothes/And get out there and stink"

>Afghan Whigs's Uptown Avondale EP. I really don't think people outside of Cincinnati listen to the Afghan Whigs and that's ok. They weren't really that good. This album does contain the song lots of frat boys know as "Don't forget the alcohol....oooooh baby, ooooh baby." Also contains a weird, minor-key version of Band Of Gold, another song I would audition with on Idol. This song is pretty fascinating to me. I can never figure out who is the villain--the man or the woman. Hmmm.

>Big Star's #1 Record. I was a big Replacements fan when I was in high school and loved their song Alex Chilton, about Big Star's lead singer. I don't need all these songs, but I will take September Gurls, In the Street (AKA the theme song from That 70's Show), When My Baby's Beside Me and Thirteen, one of my favorite songs of all time:

Yuck. That was the best version youtube had. You might have to trust me on that one.

>Rolling Stones's Exile On Main St. Probably I'm supposed to listen to this album all the way through and stuff, but I'll just take Rocks Off, Loving Cup, Sweet Black Angel and Tumbling Dice.
I think the last good RS song was Waiting On A Friend. They should have just quit right there.

>Beatles' Revolver. God, I never need or want to hear Elanor Rigby or Yellow Submarine ever again. From this, I take Doctor Robert and two of my favorite Beatles songs: I'm Only Sleeping and And Your Bird Can Sing. I don't know why I love these two so much. I just do. Once, on vacation to Charleston (pre-ipod), I thought I brought all my cd's with me to find I had only brought this one. I have good memories of pacing back and forth on the beach listening to this album. Remember how stressful it was to try to take all your important cd's with you whenever you went someplace?

>Le Tigre's self-titled album. I love this album. It corresponds to a sweet period pre-move to Washington. I still remember walking around Northside in Cincinnati listening to this album. This has a good song called What's Your Take on Cassavetes? The chorus of which goes:

What's your take on Cassavetes? What's your take on Cassavetes?
Alcoholic? Messiah!!
Alcoholic? Messiah!!

On a side note, everything about John Cassavetes scares me, but is mainly based on his role in Rosemary's Baby. Side-side note: My favorite piece of dialogue in Rosemary's Baby is every time Mia Farrow explains that her husband (Cassavetes) is an actor and says:

"He's been in lots of plays and television commercials! Like Luther and Nobody Loves An Albatross..."

Bonus Side-Sidenote: This blog was originally going to be called Nobody Loves An Albatross or (alternatively) Everybody Loves An Albratoss, but when all those words get compressed together, this is how the eye perceives it:

So......I decided to not call it that.

This entry long ago stopped being interesting and for that, I apologize.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Games To Play

A rare work-related entry. Today a girl in my camp taught me a great game. I don't think it has a name, but for the purposes of this post, let's call it Two Minutes. In Two Minutes, the object of the game is to talk about an assigned topic for two minutes without taking any excessive pauses and not including any "uh's" or "um's." Way, way harder than it sounds and I am a pretty divergent person.

Topics that proved successful today included: Hot Dogs Vs. Hamburgers (pro's and con's), Why I Won't Laugh at Sam's Jokes and (my favorite) Everything I Know About Tanzania. Not only was the kid who talked about Tanzania victorious (despite the fact that he had never heard of Tanzania), he also included the phrases "successful trading partners" and "rugged borderlands" in his allotted time.

This is a game that can, and should, be played anywhere.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Not That Kind of Swinger

You know how sometimes you 'admit' things, but really those things are kind of adorable and who could judge you for them, anyway? "I admit, I sure do look forward to Tuesdays, which is the day the New York Times publishes its weekly science supplement!" or "I admit, I sure do like actually bringing my car to a complete stop when I see people waiting at a crosswalk!" Right. So this is actually kind of dorky.

Ever since I moved to my new neighborhood, almost every night I walk down the block to the elementary school and swing on their swing set for like, a half an hour while listening to my ipod. It's just really relaxing, and I don't have a yard, so unless I'm taking the trash outside I don't really have a valid reason to just mill around, so swinging/music listening just kind of works for me.This is a sizable dork upgrade from my previous apartment, where I could only ipod dance indoors because I lived across the street from a biker bar and couldn't really enjoy leisurely strolls in the evening.

So, back to this new place. Despite being a woman with a job tangentially related to education, I am always afraid that I come across to neighbors as a total kid lurer, so I always try to look really blase while I'm swinging. I'm mean, yeah, I'm here swinging again and everything, but it's pretty much an accident I end up here three or four nights a week. Whatevs, I'm breezy.

But my FAVORITE part about these outings is that most nights I'm there, so is Awkward Tennis Guy!!! ATG is not cute, so don't momentarily get your hopes up, as I did. He is just a dude, with roughly the same work hours as me and roughly the same lack of familial commitments who practices tennis against the wall of the school every night. He is pretty average at it, but I'm sure there are better swingers/music listeners than me out there, so I can't really judge. But tonight, I was running late and when I arrived, ATG was leaving. I was super excited because I've always thought he must think I'm a weirdo for never acknowledging him or our shared Sabor de Soledad. I practically skipped up to ATG, waved and said "Hi!" But ATG just stared at the ground, shook his head at me and walked away. He is probably painfully shy, but I think my ego was still bruised.

I'll probably skip the swings for a little while. I should probably study for the GRE or something anyway.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Windows of the Soul

I posit that if I were prompted to describe someone in a modest amount of words, and I said that this person was totally the type of person who would say something like "Smooth move, Ex-Lax!" when you dropped something, that this would be sufficient to know that person wholly and no further explanation would be needed.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Reader Participation

As I am approaching the double digits in terms of readership, I would like to issue a challenge. I am officially opening up the forum for readers to attempt to stump me. If you are of a certain age, you may remember the show Remote Control on MTV. I say 'may' because it was pretty forgettable. The show involved dumb questions and an entity known as Collin Quinn and recliners. It was hosted by some curly-headed boring person. But the best part of the show was the finals round which featured rapid-fire questions to the last competitor in a pop culture subject of their choosing. So, for instance, if you knew everything about the lineup of the '85 Bears or something, you could request all your questions be about this one topic. Now, aside from a brief obsession with U2 in middle school which results in me STILL inadvertently remembering band members' birthdays 20 years later, I don't presuppose any special fields of pop culture knowledge. Instead, please just throw anything at me.

For instance, did you know that the 46 Zone Defense really contributed to the success of the aforementioned '85 Bears? Neither did I, but I found this information pretty easily on Wikipedia. So you will have to try harder than that.

Here are some topics I don't know anything about but am willing to address:

-Why the sausage making process is supposedly so gory.
-Tort law.
-Taxidermy, ethical/aesthetic considerations.
-Mark McGrath: The Rise and Fall.
-What does our cyclical embrace of jumpsuits say about us as a culture?
-Are the reader-submitted questions in Parade Magazine real, because I don't believe anyone has been wondering what Jackie Stallone has been up to these days.
-Pringles: Are they extruded or what exactly is the deal?

I'm sure there are a lot of other things I don't know anything about, but I do promise to give an earnest attempt at answering any questions. So shoot.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Black Music: Why Don't My Friends Like It?

Now, when I say my friends, I'm not talking about you. Don't take it personally. I'm talking generally. Though maybe I need to get more specific: How come my groups of friends can't mix? Over here, I got the crowd that is instantly going to know who I'm referencing if I make a joke about Ignatius Reilly and over here I got the crowd that knows that the song White Gurl, by
E-40, is not about white girls at all. Both groups are cool. I like them. But why so rarely do the twain meet? In other words, what keeps white intellectuals from listening to hip hop?

In his song, Hip Hop Is Dead, Nas raps:

The bigger the cap, the bigger the peelin'
Come through, something ill, missin' the ceilin
'What influenced my raps? Stick ups and killings
Kidnappings, project buildings, drug dealings
Criticize that, why is that?
Cuz Nas rap is compared to legitimized crap
Cuz we love to talk on ass we gettin'
Most intellectuals will only half listen
So you can't blame jazz musicians
Or David Stern with his NBA fashion issues

Nas has a point. Why do we view the black urban experience as a lesser-than form of expression? Well, maybe because idiots write things like this:

A few points: Ok, that song is garbage. Much space is wasted intellectualizing a terible, terrible piece of music. Second point, no the Black Eyed Peas do not represent black music, but in the world of music promotion, where an artist like Nas is categorized next to a Jay-Z, who pretty much must be like Beyonce who of course, is just like the terrible Black Eyed Peas, you feel for Nas and the slippery slope he is placed on. Another reason I detest this Slate article is that the writer falls all over himself like a hipster overexplaining why he is at the mall (Onion reference = white people). It's like when you get a compliment when you ask a friend about your cooking and they say something like "I actually liked it!" What, did you think you wouldn't? Why the actually? And why the implied actually when white intellectuals have to explain liking black music? 'I have to admit, I do like Kanye!' Do you have to admit that or do you hate to admit that? And if so, why?

Here's some of my hypotheticals about why white brainy types might, in fact, hate to admit that. First, a misperception that to appreciate music, one has to identify with the writer's experience from a personal perspective. In this sense, maybe a self-conciousness related to overintellectualized white people guilt. Am I embarrassed a little by how totally into a Tupac song I might get in my car (it's a Mazda, great gas mileage)? Yes, but no more so than I get singing along to The Gambler by Kenny Rogers (I don't have a gambling problem) or Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen (I am not from New Jersey) or Fancy, by Reba McEntire (I have never been prostituted by my own mother). If we take the assumption that we have to identify with the artist from a personal perspective off the table, it opens up to just relating from a human perspective.

Another misconception: Popular music (which happens predominantly right now to be black music) is stupid. Yes, a lot of music is stupid. However, I will see your criticism of Souljah Boy and I will raise you the crappy, inert stylings of Yo La Tengo half-assing a cover of Rasberry Beret. It's different when they do it, right? Cause they're winking at you. You get it. They don't realllllly like it. They just put hours of studio time and thousands of dollars of post-production into it cause, you know. Also, how come black music can't be stupid, too? Even The Clash want black people to be political all the time!:

Ken Boothe for UK pop reggae
With backing bands sound systems
And if they've got anything to say
There's many black ears here to listen
But it was Four Tops all night with encores from stage right
Charging from the bass knives to the treble
But onstage they ain't got no roots rock rebel

Now, I love me some Joe Strummer, but what's wrong with a little Four Tops all night? Being oppressed means you get to have no fun ever? Damn, sucks to be you! I think you need to call Tyrone. I'm gonna go ipod dance to some Nappy Roots in my living room.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Old-timey, part 1

A brief, freeform riff on some of my favorite old-timey things:

Maple Knoll Village Radio! This is a big band radio station broadcast out of a retirement home in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm not even really that big a fan of big band music, but damn if this doesn't feel like some kind of crazy trip everytime I listen to it. A chicken in every pot, Humbert Humbert renting out a room, a little Cole Porter every now and again. What's not to love? Bonus points: The many bumper stickers displayed around town on Oldsmobile Cutlasses and Ford Crown Vics that read "I Heart Maple Knoll Smokeless Bingo."

2. This song from Porgy and Bess:

This has some pretty racy lyrics for back in the day. I will paraphrase because the pidgin English that I think Gershwin intended makes

The things that you're liable to read in the Bible
It ain't necessarily so


They tell all you children the Devil's a villain,
but ain't necessarily so

Really, I can get behind any song that rhymes "home in" with "abDOmen" Bonus digression: Sometimes certain bloggers (along with their friend Jack) are the only white people on the combo Porgy and Bess/Black History Tour in Charelston, SC and use the opportunity to pester the tour guide with questions about The South and the role of slavery and feelings related to being a black tour guide showing tourists a whole bunch of junk related to slavery and would you please sing the crab man song again and sometimes certain bloggers quickly learn they should just shut up and heed Jack's sage advice: Growing up near the south is not at all the same as growing up in the south. So be careful what you wish for. And learn to shut up sometimes.

Ugh....I feel sleep overtaking me. Tomorrow, time for compound words and Night of the Hunter!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

This One's For the Shark Lovers. No, Literally.

I don't really feel like writing tonight, so instead I treat you to an unfortunate picture of me inflating an inflatable shark in an unfortunate place at work today. Unfortunately.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dad Topics

Dad Topic: n, dad [dӕd] topic [ˈtopik]
Organizing principle around which one's father will repeatedly direct conversation.

Ex. Why that damn Beyonce 'Upgrade You' commercial is always on tv.
Ex. Why the husbands on tv shows are so stupid.
Ex. Why the people talk directly to you in pain reliever commericals.
Ex. Why some stores use both the cent sign and the decimal to convey amounts less than a dollar, rendering them, in actuality, less than a penny. (see F.C.)
Ex. Why They put the stale bread up front.
Ex. Why anyone, but specifically Dog the Bounty Hunter, would tie something around one's bicep.

Reader, please submit your own.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Recessive Traits

This is a drawing done by Dad. I have no idea what this contraption is. I do marvel at it, though. I'm the daughter of an engineer and rest comfortably on the far left of the scientific and math skills bell curve. My Mom and I were the only right handers in a family of lefties and whatever anecdotal evidence there may be about the connection between handedess and scientific ability, I sign off on it completely. And even though my poor math skills are essentially what damned me to a high school courseload of classes where I learned how to write checks and count back change (sample classroom speaker: "Let's face it, none of us in this room are 4 year college people. Have you considered the military?") and an exciting tenure in junior college (sample classroom speaker: "Miss, would you please take the baby outside? It doesn't appear he'll stop crying anytime soon."), I still respect this foreign tongue.

This engineeringescheift (made up) seems missing here out west. Coming from Cincinnati and the east in general, it seems we are more exposed to the mechanical pings and tings of industry. Out here, things are a little too sanitized and glossed over for my comfort. Once, my friend Pam (daughter of an engineer) and I, got drunk and started talking wistfully about....I'm not totally sure....mechanical shit? She remembered how her Dad, a train fanatic, made her listen to recordings of train sounds on the weekends and I shared about how growing up in the shadow of Dayton, Ohio and being the daughter of an airplane fanatic meant that every summer weekend was one endless air show and trip to Wright-Patterson AFB after another. Don't even get me started on the fact that nearly every field trip in school meant a trip up the interstate to the Wright Brothers' s shop, again. And again.

Any my sister, who makes a living counting trees for the National Parks Service told me she could never understand why someone would study sociology like I did because, in her words, "God, people are boring." Indeed.

My favorite melancholy mechanical memory involves a story my friend Christian told me a long time ago, about his Grandfather, who ran a hardware and machining shop. Apparently, he was famous for never having missed a day of work in 40 odd years. When he passed away, Christian (himself a constant tinkerer) inherited his ledger. In ornate, old-fashioned script, was every item ever sold in his store over the decades, each day accounted for. On a whim, Christian looked up his birthdate to imagine what his Grandfather had been doing that day. To his surprise, the page was blank. The date was noted, but his Granddad didn't go in to work that day. Christian's birthday had been the one day he chose to miss in all that time.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this entry. I think I am just nostalgic and a little reverent for a time or a place that I don't get to visit much anymore. And I don't know what to do with my Dad's drawing except hang it up and wait around for someone to ask me about it, but that seems pointless. So instead, I'm sitting here drinking a beer and wishing that these words were instead something I could hold in my hand.