Sunday, December 12, 2010

Memoirs of a Sore Face


Many of you may know that I've been known to get up to new shennagins by embarking on a new hobby or curiosity. Well last night, I did just that. I tried contra dancing. A hippity hoppin Scottish folk dance, complete with a band (that has a fiddle, squeeze box and a jolly piano) and then there is even someone who calls out the moves. It sort of brought me back to middle school when I was subjected to square dancing.

My friend and I were some of the youngest ones there by about 20 years. However, that is what I liked about it - a multi-generational atmosphere is optimal at all times. They are hard to find. I danced with an elderly man who smelled like an antique store.

Well let me tell you, partner dancing is a very healthy thing to do. It helps with rhythm, you get great exercise (heck, I jumped around for three hours and didn't even notice I was tired), and it's great for your brain (to be specific your substantia nigra). But, not only that, everyone is happy as can be with a big grins on their faces.

When the crowd goes to their homes, you go to yours with a sore face from smiling. And you relax whilst you get all those endorphins out of your system and think "I wonder when I can go back again!"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Prandial Jocundity in the Afternoon


The pre-holiday season has settled upon this great modern city.

Today I experienced what some experts might call "holiday cheer." I shall recapitulate now, so if you want to know more...read on!

I went down to the bakery in search of sweet prandial delight, like figgy pudding or a pain' au' chocolate. But when I arrived, I was so overwhelmed with the pastry potpourri that I simply did not know what to do. So, I stood there completely dumbfounded until the attendant gaily approached me and inquired of my desire. I just continued staring at all the heavenly treats thinking that maybe I'd get fifteen pastries and take several bits out of all of them and then consequently get myself into a sickly stupor. But then the attendant asked me if I needed a recommendation, which was godsend, because it is not advised to be eating several bites of 15 pastries.

So, he happily recommended to me the mint chocolate chip cookie. I immediately agreed with his suggestion and went to pay for my treat. He asked if I wanted something to drink so I said "a coffee please."

Okay, this is the climax of my tale.

He said, "That will be $1.69, no charge for the coffee."
me: "no charge for the coffee?"
him: "nope, not today."
me: "Man, this is my lucky day."
him: "I hope it really is your lucky day!"
me: "I feel very validated"
him: "hahaha"
me: "HA! HAHA!"
me again: "well, bye"
him: "bye"

I gave him a real jocund smile and then I doctored up my FREE coffee whilst looking at it affectionately (like I always do).

I pranced out of the store full of pre-holiday cheer, validated feelings, and a hot cup of coffee.

What's the point on this nonsense?

The point is to spread holiday cheer (you big buffoon)! Instead of saying "Oh poppycock!" or "Humbug!" this season, I urge you to give away free coffee and what you will get in return in a happy smile (like the ones pictured above, that happy couple has probably gotten word that there is free coffee at whatever event they're at).

YOU have the power to change the world.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Whimsey's of Littering


I did a very quaint thing today - I read the news. I came upon an article about Naples and their garbage problem. Apparently the whole city is up in arms and there is a garbage strike and rubbish is everywhere. Now, you may think this is surprising, but as a former news-reader, it really isn’t.

About two years ago I read an article about Naples garbage problem. The landfill was full and they have nowhere to put their waste. And then the financial crisis hit and Hurricane Agatha and well, we all forgot about the garbage issue there. But now, it reemerges with gusto. And we’re back to point A!

You might think garbage strikes sound quite exotic and romantic. Oh garbage strikes...sigh...some people get it all...You probably imagine feisty protesters and the freedom to litter till the cows come home. You might imagine the how joyful it would be to kick an empty yogurt container along the sidewalk as you enjoy a stroll. Oh the bliss of garbage strikes...how romantic.

Well, I’m sorry, I’ve got to correct this misconception. I’m one of those people who got to deal with a garbage strike at one point in my life and let me tell you, they're not all they're cracked up to be.

Actually, they’re unromantic. They smell. Everyone is cross. They cause traffic jams. They even cause pedestrian jams because pedestrians also have to maneuver around the mounds of garbage. Not only that, but there are flies and bugs and rats. They cause respiratory infections and aid in the spread of disease.

We’re all cross enough as it is without the misfortune of a garbage strike. So, remember, toss your rubbish in a bin and be thankful that there is a nice garbage can waiting for your peanut shells and banana peels. And then smile nicely at the garbage man and tell him "thanks!"

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

All Grown Up and Cartilaginous



When I was a child, adults would frequently ask me this annoying question.

"Hello little girl, what do YOU want to be when you grow UP?" (the caps lettering insinuates higher pitches). And then after that question the usual "A wuzza wuzza a boo! a boo!" generally followed along with the nose pinching and hair tousling.

Well, I had hopes of becoming a renowned jockey. ("Oh DO you? Oh you SO funny!") Yeah, I do want to be a horse jockey, what's so funny about that? My brother wanted to be a woodpecker so I felt my dream of being a jockey was something attainable. But, I always knew that was unrealistic since I was so large, but nonetheless I wanted to be a jockey. So I became a closet coffee consumer to stunt my growth. It didn't work; I'm still above average height.

Well, now I've grown up and today I became something I never thought I'd be when I grew up. A cartilage. To be more specific - an arytenoid cartilage.

Today in my anatomy class, my professor said "Allright folks, I need nine volunteers." My youngest child syndrome emerged and I thought "attention" so I shot my hand up enthusiastically, he pointed to me and I sashayed up to the front of the class confidently. A few others volunteered but the professor then had to campaign to get nine people to come up on stage. Weird.

My innovative professor had this idea to make a human larynx. My role was to be one of the arytenoid cartilages. I have to say, I was a bit jealous of the thyroid because, it's bigger. However, my right arm got to be a muscular process where my classmates attached to (my muscular classmates).

I will now give you a recapitulation of the learning process.

Me and the other arytenoid cartilage held on to the end of a scarf and the thyroid held onto both scarves to form the vocal chords. My muscle classmates played the role of the muscles that moves the cartilage (me) and then pushed and tugged me in various directions. The professor demonstrated to us what causes vocal folds to open and close. My acting skills were challenged but I managed to shine and only had a minor amount of stage fright.

Allright, you're thinking "cool story," but I'm going to move on with my life now.

Hold your horses. Here's the thing, we never know what we're going to be when we grow up. We only speculate.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd grow up to be an arytenoid cartilage.

Who knows, maybe you'll grow up to be potassium ion, a one-man band, or a dictator or well, you get the idea.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tip Your Hat to Your Burger


A few years ago I went to this coffee shop. I did the usual and I ordered a coffee with room for cream. I then spent several hours doctoring up my coffee (adding cream, swirling it with a wooden stir stick, smelling it, adding more cream, looking at it affectionately—you know the usual routine). Anyways, then I walked down the street and about a half a block from the coffee shop, I took my first sip and I stopped in a moment of nirvana. I mean, it was REALLY good coffee, better than other coffee. It was super nutty, aromatic, with hints of chocolate and of course lots of half and half. It was one of those odd moments where I actually stopped and literally savored the moment. But, please note, it was involuntary (much like when food goes down the wrong pipe, you involuntarily cough), I involuntarily enjoyed this moment of utter bliss.

Well, one of my secret desires is to be one of those people who has a travel show and goes around eating foods and after they’ve taken a bite they generally say some extreme sentence and go off about HOW GOOD IT IS!

So, sometimes in my head, I pretend I’m a travel show person eating food and saying witty things about it. But generally, I think the statements both I and them say are exaggerated and voluntary. The coffee incident was a genuine one of shock. But overall, things are good but not great. We voluntarily drum up things to say about how great the food it. And I’m not saying the food is repulsive, but it’s not necessarily life-changing. There are a few exceptions to this phenomenon in which I find myself involuntarily exclaiming about how earth-shattering something is. I can’t help it, it’s a need, I have to rave about it. Sorry dudes.

My list of Foods that Really Truly and Most Certainly Are Genuinely Earth Shattering (Universe Shattering?)

Chevre cheese: No matter how much I try to pretend that I’m pretending when I rant on and on about how life-changing it is. I really mean it. It’s so creamy and amenable—probably the least-offensive cheese out there. It’s great with beets and balsamic vinegar. Or you can just take the log of cheese and start chomping it down, like you would a carrot, but you might get sick and people would think you’re weird. Oh my, I sure and writing a lot about this cheese, I can’t help it, hmmm, maybe you should go buy some. I’m just saying. I will esteem your character if you do. (but then again, I’d esteem your character no matter what, after all, you’re reading this blog).

Mussamun Curry: All curries in Thai restaurants are pretty tasty, but this is my latest gig. It’s so rich and peanuty yet spicy. Next time you catch some Thai food, ditch the yellow or green curry and check this one out. You won’t be disappointed. And it has anise spice in it (I’ve found it, it’s this star shaped spice that looks like a starfish). It’s usually with beef so it’s quite savory and hearty and filling and sticks to your ribs and mind-boggling. Brah!

Naan bread with almond filling: I’ve only had this once, many years ago when I was in London (with crazy cousin Ethel [not her real name]). It’s pretty much impossible to find, but if you happen upon it, I recommend buying it in bulk and stocking up. Naan bread is so light and comforting and when you add almond paste to it, it’s almost dessert-like. Although it’s been about five years since I’ve eaten it and I’ve had many other meals since then, I will always remember this for some reason. Hmm, maybe it was exceptional.

$1 McDonalds Cheeseburger: Just seeing if you were paying attention. Totally overrated, and not that great, but it will sustain life (for awhile at least), and it's cheap.

All right, so now you’re wondering why I put in McDonalds? I mean, that’s not good food at all! Well, here’s the thing, you’re not going to come across universe-shattering food all the time. But this is no reason to spiral down into a deep and dark depression. Food is meant to sustain life. You need it in order to live. (Guuh?)

So, I encourage you to remember this: Don’t go around being all depressed because the food wasn’t as good and you wanted it to be. You’re still alive because of it and you should be deeply grateful to food because it’s what keeps you alive.

Ah, Food, love it or hate it, you still need it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Ninny Admits



I don’t go around proclaiming to be some sort of scatterbrained person. Although I am a slob at heart, I am not scatterbrained. I have this ability to remember that under a giant pile of clothes in my room, there lies a purple hair elastic that I plan on using. I also know that in a suitcase in my closet there is a bag of vitamins that my mom gave me a few years ago, and I know they’re still there. In a certain book on my bookshelf there is an a worksheet on the rules of the Spanish subjunctive verb conjugation - that’s where it is, in case I ever need it. Thus, I’m not generally a list-maker or very organized. It’s all a jumble that none but I can understand.

But this week, I had an occasion where my ability to remember things failed me. And I’m starting to question my highly advanced and efficient system of organization. Or maybe I have dementia.

I park Bike all around town. Sometimes tied to a lamppost, sometimes parked in the bike parking lot of the building I reside in, and sometimes harnessed to a fence near a friend’s house. I generally remember what random place I put it. But this week, I mis-parked my bike and then I assumed some nitwit must have come along and managed to steal it. Instead of facing up to the fact that I have a minor case of dementia, I foamed at the mouth in a rage shaking my fist whilst simultaneously saying less than complimentary things about the lowlife who took my bike. But er, after that, I remembered that I tied Bike up to a lamppost and not diligently in the bike parking lot in the basement of the building. So, I took back all the less than complimentary things I said to the imaginary villain who did not take my bike. And I went and retrieved Bike who had so patiently waited for me whilst cruelly shackled to the lamppost. .

So, I learned two super highly important life lessons from these situations.

1. Don’t just assume someone stole your bike.
2. You’re the nitwit, not them.

Number one is pretty important, but I think number two is the more important. Often times, we blame others or something else when really we ought to blame ourselves. Luckily for me, I blamed an imaginary person instead of going around accusing people of stealing my bike and calling them blockheads or something. At least I didn’t have to go back with abject apology.

But, I am reminded of some occasions where we don’t remember that we are the nitwits.

I remember my six year old cousin attempting to operate a ipod (not a good idea) and she was flipping through it and frustratingly exclaiming “it won’t do that!!!” We’re not actaully sure what she wanted the ipod to do, as she could not yet read. Nonetheless, she just didn’t know how to operate an ipod. She was the nitwit, not the ipod.

I had horses when I was a large child and I remember several occasions when the horse did not listen to what I told him to do. Well, it wasn’t the poor horse. I just didn’t know how to tell the horse what to do. I was the nitwit, not the horse.

So, before you go around blaming others, or blaming technology for your lack of knowledge or for the malfunction of your memory, remember this: You’re the nitwit

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Shod in Green


Shoes are thing of high priority to beings with feet (that includes horses too, mind you).

You see, I came to this conclusion three years ago when I went and dropped $120 on a pair of red Earth shoes. Since then, I have managed to scuff them up and wear them into the earth (pun most certainly intended). Now, I don’t mean to use this Internet space as a cheap advertisement for Earth shoes, but I do have to say, wearing them is like walking on clouds. As I looked at them recently, I concluded that they were too old and if I want to play grown-up and be taken seriously, then I’ll have to find something else.

And so I went merrily down to the local shoe shop with thoughts of spending money fresh in my head. Whilst there, I perused the shoes, inspecting each one tediously. I shook the shoes, smelled them, estimated their weight, measured them and listened to what sounds they made. Whence I came upon a very peculiar pair of green shoes. I shook them; no sqeaks or squawks - perfect! I smelled them: mmm leather. I weighed them: they weighed nothing more than a feather. Lastly, I tried them on and was delighted. It was then that I realized that the shoe cobbler made them with me specifically in mind and what a tender fellow that shoe cobbler must be - to do such a thing. He took into consideration my arch, my lengthy toes and my heel shape. I was flattered and subsequently felt an overwhelming desire to demonstrate my gratitude by ya know, buying them. “Thanks Shoe Cobbler.”

So, I pranced around the store, experimenting with them in various positions. When I stood on one foot, they were still comfortable. When I skipped, they obediently skipped with me. When I stopped skipping, they stopped to. And when I looked at them affectionately, they did nothing. (Shoes that look back at you and say “hello” give me something of a fright). I decided that these were the shoes for me. So, with buoyancy, I handed over pots of money to the friendly cashier for these green things (who complimented me! How magnanimous of her!). And then I I scampered off feeling more than usually pleased with myself.

It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve had these green things and they have already evoked compliments that mostly sound like this “CUTE!” and “adorable!” However, I don’t know that they will actually be all that beneficial in making me more believable in the game up “grown-up,” which was um, sort of the whole point of me going shoe shopping.

As a general rule, those who buy green shoes have a tendency to reject the idea of growing up. So, I warn you you dear friends - be very wary of green-shoed people. (Or horses).

(okay, fyi, that picture really isn't the shoes I bought...[protecting reputation])

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wild Beauty to be Tamed




Recently, I had the horror of noticing my reflection in the mirror. What I noticed was a girl looking back at me that looked like she hadn’t seen sun in about oh...twenty years and not only that but she sure looked like she could benefit from adventure. So, I went and diagnosed myself as having lack-of-adventure-sickness and a serious lack of sun-basking. I decided to take a vacation for “health reasons.” ‘Ah, a nice non-relaxing vacation full of adventure will do,’ I thought brightly to myself.

I managed to bamboozle my roommate into joining me by sulking around engulfed in a deep depression and frequently mentioning what fun a tropical vacation would be.... And before we knew it, we were setting foot in the very outdated airport - think big hunks of concrete and varnished red brick that gives one a desperate longing for the 70’s and a far away dewy look in the eyes. Yeah yeah, smartypants, we went to Maui, Hawaii! Kowabunga! (sorry, I just had to add that).

As proper adventurers we were not put up in some fancy hotel resort type of outfit. We found ourselves down at the local budget hostel which was occupied by a collection of ragged backpackers, fellow adventurers, a few surfers and absolutely no honeymooners.

There are a vast amount of reasons why one would enjoy a tropical vacation. One could mention things like beaches, hammocks, pina coladas, snorkeling, ivory sand and sunshine. But what has always drawn me to the tropics is the rainy jungle. Yeah, now ya know,I like the jungle. What of it? In my mind, it’s where things happen. It’s this wild uncultivated lush green land with lots of exotic animals and plant life. It’s where Puma’s pounce, new medicines are uncovered, where Tarzan met Jane and began an illicit affair, and of course, where much of the show Lost takes place. (Now how can one mention the jungle in this modern age with the exclusion of Lost, it would be scandalous to do such a thing).

So in order to indulge myself in Jungle pursuit, we drove right on through it utilizing the notorious Hana Highway.


THE ROAD TO HANA!

Why did I put this in caps? Simple. It is one of the few things I’ve com across in the acquisition of volumes of knowledge and wisdom (tee hee hee) that truly merits an all caps title. Yeah, you should go there.



The Hana Highway is this winding topsy turvy road through the jungle and through northeast Maui. It has oodles of measly one lane bridges and cars are obligated to yield cordially to one another (and curtsy) whilst they wait their turn to go over the rickety bridge (constructed in 1911 or some other out of date date). We made a point of stopping and eating a coconut mango smoothie and banana bread. Then we puttered along in our tiny white rental car stopping at various waterfalls until well, we were a bit waterfalled out. Nevertheless, we did manage to get several photos which will have the caption “Me under a waterfall.”

After we were all tired out, we of course managed to meander up some trail deep into the Hawaiian forest. Now what makes this hike so especially memorable is that it was partially through a bamboo forest. As I was hiking I was trying my very best to put into words what a bamboo forest sounds like when the wind blows through it. This is what I came up with: it sounds like a broken xylophone being hit upon by a piece of bamboo and various notes, harmonics and melodies are played. And this tune is accompanied with a peculiar smell. A smell not dissimilar to tropical tree sap mixed with rain and a bit of guava. Truly an elating experience! I think I’ll put it in my book that will be titled “100 Things to do Before you Die.”

Now the drive gets a bit stranger after all this. We eventually found ourselves in the southeast side of the island which is quite different from the northeast. There were no evil jungle princes, mermaids or other such nonsense here. Actually there was not a thing there. Perhaps a few mountain goats trying to find some thistle for mid-afternoon tree (isn’t that clever?!). We drove by a lonely church and that’s about it. Not the mention the bumpy rather road where it appeared that someone said “oh lets pave the road, which tiny plot?” And then they closed their eyes and threw hunks of wet asphalt at the road which eventually dried and became a nice bump to bump over in your tiny white budget rental car.

And then we topped it all off at The Big Beach. The End. (for now)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Having Greatness Thrust Upon Oneself


I recently encountered a new situation in which my lack of abilities failed to do much of anything. This is very usual for me.

A few nights ago, I was driving in my automobile and I noticed that it just felt strange, almost as if I were driving along some bumpy railroad tracks. So, after I put my car to sleep in his parking space, I inspected all of the tires to see if perhaps I had a flat. Well, it was dark, but my optic nerve did not detect any problems, so I sashayed on home with thoughts of food on my mind.

Well, today I approached my dear car and noticed something very startling, the previous night, I had been semi-hallucinogenic. When I had decided nothing was amiss, I was dead wrong - something was quite amiss. The tire had indeed deflated. Upon closer inspection, I realized I of course managed to run over something black and poky. So, I ran through all my options in my head as to how to get around with a flat tire. Could I drive on the freeway with a significantly deflated tire? I thought not. I wondered about the bus. I knew I could hop on the 96. But then, I put in my Rosie the Rivitor attitude and said "I'm going to change this flat If It's The Last Thing I Do!" And then I pounded my chest and yodeled loudly.

I imagined myself as a true Rosie, with my red bandanna, my big biceps (which really are something to look upon with complete adoration [big exaggeration]), and my blue mechanic jump suit (I've really got to get one of those - very stylish).

I unpacked my spare tire and looked at all the pieces confoundedly. Confidently, I began to follow the easy instructions. Put car in park. Put on emergency break. Blah. Blah. Blah. I looked closely at the picture and it did not appear that I had all the pieces and the clock was ticking (I had to eventually be at work). "Ah, what a great excuse to give up!" I thought happily to myself.

So, I did a very un-Rosy thing, I put the whole lot away and sat down and pouted. The thing was, time was ticking and I really had to scuttle away to work. So, I gave it all up and called a cab, which incidentally turned out to be great fun. I had a very friendly cab driver who gave me lots of attention and asked me all sorts of questions about what exactly it is that I do for work. In the end, I felt quite validated even as I handed pots of cash over to the cabbie.

The adventure for tomorrows schedule remains the same - figure out what I'm going to do about my flat tire.

What I Learned: I can't do it. Give up. Stop believing in myself.

(Okay, really, I could have done it, I just lacked any drop of motivation to really get down to business and in the end, it cost me a $25 cab fare).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Moon of Choice



Recently, my friend Butterfly (not her real name) said to me, "Do you know what I would really like to do?" I retorted to her question with "What's that?! Oh do tell!" I was expecting a story. And then she simply said "I would like to take a walk along the Columbia River." Then I thought to myself "Hey, we have a Columbia River really close to here." And so I said "I can make it happen!" After all, walks along rivers called The Columbia are quite attainable when one lives with by a river with that very exact name. Now, had Butterfly mentioned that she would like to stroll along a river with the name of Euphrates or Ganges, I don't think I could make that happen...

So, we drove out by the airport and made a point to stop at Ikea where we gorged on meatballs for $2.49. After that we drove around, for longer than we had planned, looking for a place to park the car. Really, it's a very enjoyable walk. You're right by the airport and these giant metal tubes with wings come sailing toward you only to land at the airport and deposit pasty looking travelers who haven't eaten in five hours and have been breathing recycled air. Well, that wasn't us, we were breathing air that smelled like the river and we were enjoying watching the gaiety of people frolicking about in the water.

What struck me most about the outing is quite possibly something that has also struck you in the past week, if you happen to live in the same corner of the world as I do. The marvelous moon.

As it was rising it looked like a big giant moon who had eaten too many pancakes and might come crashing down on the hills in the distance. I wondered to myself if the moon had gone and had some extra asteroids or comets for a midnight snack too. But I didn't mind that the moon had eaten too many pancakes or comets and was a bit of an obese moon; it was magnificent! After it rose a bit, it made a point of casting showers of diamonds onto the water that lingered and shimmered in true jazzy uptown style.

This got me to thinking, which as many of you know, is something I recommend doing with utmost caution. We've a great moon when compared to all the other moons. I never much liked Jupiter's Ganymede or Callisto. But our moon, well it's quite a moon and I think I've figured out why.

Why our Moon is quite a Moon and why it's better than other moons.

1. Our moon makes very friendly company whilst you're eating the last bit of papaya you've got left in the refrigerator.

2. It provides great light if you're in the mood for a moon dance.

3. Humans have walked on it (Can Jupiter's moon say that? NO! Well, I mean, Jupiter's moons don't talk...)

4. Provides moon beams which inspired Frank Sinatra to write about carrying moon beams home in a jar.

5. It really is more than a paper moon floating over a cardboard sea.

6. Our moon was the inspiration for the idiom (that I just love) "You just want the moon on a stick!"

So, there ya have it. Many reasons about why our moon is better than other moons. Go ahead, tell your friends. And next time there is a full moon, well I just hope you remember that our moon is quite a moon.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Result of a Lack of Force

We are all on this giant ball, affectionately called Earth. Earth has an orbital rotation of a whopping 66,000 miles per hour. Not only that but we're going in a big giant circle around the sun. Yes, and we're all in this together.

On some days, when I realize how fast this ball is spinning, I feel an urge not to move a muscle as to not wreck the perfect balance. I don't want to fly off the ball out into a cosmic void. However, then I realize that I've got a great friend call gravity and I know I can relax and just enjoy the ride we're on, without getting dizzy (oddly enough).

Now, I'm no scientist but this I can assure as, as an esteemed citizen who has taken a physics class gravity is something to cordially tip your hat to.

Yes my friends, don't forget about gravity. That subtle but strong force that keeps you from flying off Earth.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Senior Citizen to Tip Your Hat To


Every year, the local college around these parts throws a dance show extravaganza. It consists of community dance classes. People get on the stage and show the audience what they're made of. There's something for everyone: modern dance, ballet, rumba, cha cha, hawaiian, tap and even cowboy dancing.

Now, I have had the very good fortune of going to this highly venerated show on two occasions and each time I think to haughtily to myself, "Ha! I could do that!" And, maybe I could. Or..maybe I couldn't.

The show consists of community dance classes and anyone can sign up. Thus, there are varying levels of performers from all walks of life. They don't discriminate on age, socioeconomic status or freckles (whew).

What struck me about the first time I went to the show was a senior citizen who danced his heart out amongst the 18 year old hard bodies. He must have been about 75, perhaps 80. And this year, I went again, and there he was again. Hurray for him!

We all imagine ourselves as some fit senior citizen and the truth is, we're unlikely to be that. Although the elderly dancer didn't do the splits in the air and then land in some weird uncomfortable pose that wowed the audience, he did manage to do some jumps and he jogged around the stage enthusiastically with the other dancers. Although he did hobble around about two or three steps behind the others and he did make the show look a bit off kilter, but who cares? Needless to say, I was impressed!

All I can say is this; I hope I'm that limber in when I'm a member of the geriatric tribe.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Plan to Get Attention

One of my blood relations and myself have this sadistic liking to going to the doctor. When musing it some weeks ago we both coyly admitted to each other that we enjoy it. The reason behind this sadistic liking is that when one goes to the doctor, they have an adult who is willing to talk to about their problems. Yes! An opportunity to talk about me! No wonder hypochondriacs exist, it's fun to get all that attention.

Well, the other day I concocted up a foolproof plan to see the doctor, (in order to get attention). The plan was that I would have him look at a suspicious mole on my back that seemed to come up with a new disguise every few days. Some days it was red, other days it's brown and on occasion it's more of a white color. "I know" I thought to myself, "I'll see myself to a specialist under the guise that I have a suspicious mole and then I can get some undivided attention!" (ha!)

The doctor examined it, we talked about skin, I told him I like to lay on the beach with a towel over me and he was very impressed. After that he took a look at my suspicious mole and informed me he would do a biopsy. "Sure" whatever that is I thought.

I was under the impression that a biopsy was the removal of a minuscule piece of skin that goes to be tested and then the specialist decides if there is an impending removal in the future. So, he numbed my pack, I felt some pain (but I didn't cry, so don't accuse me of crying), and then he said "okay, you're done."

I went home only to find a large patch of skin removed from my back. Well, I suppose I got what I bargained for. I got undivided attention from a concerned individual but I also inadvertently got a minor sugary.

So, if you find out that you've had a minor sugary by accident, well look on the positive side, you got attention!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Unpredictable Citizens of the Adrenaline Junkie Affiliation



I have these two adrenaline junkies for friends. They're the types who run marathons, encourage the competition of Iron Man contests, use the word "crampons" in normal conversation and probably have stock in energy bar companies. Not only that but they get high from exercise. Now, I tend to view this as a good thing to be getting high from - considering other options.

Anyways, one day adrenaline junkie one, adrenaline junkie two and myself decided to go hiking. Now, I'm not exactly the type to go around exercising five hours a day. However, I have been known to take a nice leisurely stroll along the water, on flat ground, whilst prattling away on my mobile phone device to one of my blood relations.

Back to the story of adrenaline junkies. They said "Hey let's hike dog mountain!" And I agreed that it was a supurb idea. What I didn't know was that it is an eight mile hike. I'm used to doing little hikes that terminate within two hours.

So we drove deep into the Gorge, crossed Bridge of the Gods and arrived in "the great state of Washington" to embark on an epic hike.

They put giant medical textbooks in their packs to make it more arduous. I armed myself with a small water bottle and nothing more and up we went. At the fork that said "more difficult" or "less difficult" they veered right and opted for the more difficult way (I had no choice in this important decision, so I just followed).

When I complained about being tired and when I begged and whined for a break, adrenaline junkie one said to me "You will get a nectarine when we get to the top" and we pressed on. Well, food usually motivates me, but it all seemed futile. And, I knew there was no convincing my adrenaline junkie friends to turn around, go back to the car and hit McDonald's on our way back to the metropolis. Nope, I was stuck on the tortuous hike.

We did finally make it to the to and my effort was compensated with a tasty nectarine (and a delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich - which really hits the spot when one is hiking). The view was worth the effort, and thus I was inducted into the Adrenaline Junkie Official Club.

Like many things in life - it was a pleasant form of misery. So, two weeks later, I did a silly thing - I did the same tortuous hike yet again.

So, to all of you out there, don't be afraid is adrenaline junkies, because one day, you might find yourself mildly attracted to their edgy lifestyle. And before you know it, you will plod up a mountain, by your own free will.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Art of Well-Intended Manipulation


When I was a large child, my sister and I would brag to one another about who had answered the phone when my dad’s British summer employer rang.

One of us would pick up the phone and say “Hullo?” And a voice on the other end would say so jovially “E-llew, Nigel Stah-foord hier. Is your fah-thah avaailable?” (Oh dear, I’ve just realized that I’ve tried to type a British accent but what came out was an Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation, please just humor me and pretend it sounds British, kay? Thanks!)

“Um, no.” And then my father’s summer employer would rattle on some pleasant nonsense to us in his delightful accent and then one of us got to listen to him with an awed expression on our face.

Later that day one of us was bound to say the other very smugly “I talked to Nigel Stafford on the phone today.” And the other would say “That’s not fair, you picked up the phone last time he called!”

Now, for kids growing up in small town USA, talking to a person on the phone with a bonafide British accent was the highlight of one’s day. After that, talks with one another in fake British accents ensued. I mean, it was one thing to hear a British accent on TV, but to talk to a real British person was downright earth-shattering and exhilarating.

Now, this blog post has been rather misleading, I have no intention of talking about British accents; rather I am going to go on a lengthy and boring discourse about tea. Those who make it to the end will be rewarded with a prize for their efforts.

Well then, you ask; why in the sam-hill are you banging on about British accents if you aren’t even going to talk about them?? What’s the matter with your brain!? Well, hang on there hot-pants. It’s just that…every time I make tea, I think of Nigel Stafford (not his real name, by the way).

Nigel told my dad, who told me, that you never offer someone a cup of tea. You always offer them a nice cup of tea. “Would you like a nice cup of tea?” Now to me, this sounds like some effective way of doing some PR, or it could just be Nigel wanted his guest to stay and enjoy a nice cup of tea. I mean anyone can have a cup of tea, but a nice cup of tea, well I’ll have two thank you very much.

For us Americans, taking tea with a British person is all rather controversial and very un-American. We have historically been known to take all their tea and dump it into the Boston harbor to say “Ha! Take that you British you! We don’t need you and we don’t need your tea!”

Or maybe, saying “nice cup of tea” is a way of bridging British and American foreign relations. We like nice things. We especially like nice cups of tea, as opposed to a horrid cup of tea or an unpleasant cup of tea. But a plain old cup of tea? Well, I’ll pass. A nice cup of tea? Oh, why thank you your majesty. (I know I'm imagining myself having tea with the queen of England...I'll try to control my fantasies)

So, when you’re trying to manipulate a friend into staying for tea and talking about vacuuming and feeding the cat, I’ve found that it is in fact successful to insert the handy little adjective “nice” before “cup of tea.”

I dare you to try it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Carefule Use of Cliches


They say that one bird in the hand is worth two in the nest.

But, how does one really know that? Put a bird in the hand and prove it to them and have two in the nest and come to your own conclusion!

Well, I never really knew about birds in hands. In fact my only experience regarding birds in my hands goes waaay back to my childhood, when my aunt had a parakeet who I would try to get to sit on my finger. But the poultry never seemed to want to get off his swing to come sit on my enticing index finger. I was so repulsive to him that he would rather stay in a cage, instead of coming out into the open on the comfort of my finger. Either that or I was some giant piece of uncoolness to be ignored and scoffed at.

However, finally, after years and years of waiting to have a bird in my hand, I had my chance. It was in a park in Buenos Aires and there were people feeding the birds. And by feeding the birds, I mean right out of their hands. So I sheepishly asked if I could have some of their unpopped popcorn to feed the birds with. They magnanimously handed over their bag. After all, the purpose of locals is to give tourists new experiences with birds, right?

Well, the pigeons arrived. I became so alarmed at the presence of five pigeons on my arms that I threw the bird seed on the ground and shrieked in terror. I even danced a jig in the name of "fru-eek-ing ooout!

At this point, I felt quite silly. After all, I had asked some strangers for their birdseed and I wasn't even using it. Instead, I threw it on the ground like a three year old who is expert in the art of tantrum throwing. So, I knew I needed to put on my big girl panties and just do it. At least for the sake of my tarnished image. So, I took a deep breath and picked up the bag of seeds. The birds followed me in a swarm. This was odd for me because I am used to being a revolting mammal in the minds of birds.

I tartly sat down on the park bench and prepared myself for the impending coniption, but I just had to do it. I opened up the bag of seed and waited for the birds to come back. And come back they did. I had a bird on my head, making a nest in my mass of blonde hair. I had pigeons on my shoulders and birds flying all around me. Not to mentioned the six of seven birds on my arms all trying to get at the birdseed. I hyperventilated and enjoyed the frightening pleasantry--the little talons on my arms, the flapping wings, the beaks pecking at my palm and the sheer amount of pigeons around me.

So, back to the cliche of one bird in the hand being worth two in the nest. Well, after my experimentation, I've realized that it all depends on your perspective. If your head happens to be their nest, then the cliche is rather defunct. What about having fifteen birds on your torso and one hundred around you at your feet? Did the cliche writers ever think of THAT? Didn't think so!

Next time you plan on using that cliche, please consider your audience, you might need to say instead: "fifteen birds on your torso is worth one hundred surrounding your feet." Because their nest may be your head and you might have more than just one measly bird in the hand.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A World Affair with Soccer




My claim to fame (if you can even call it that) was that by a minute chance, I just happened to be Germany in 2006, during the world cup. No, I did not plan to attend the world cup, it was merely a coincidence that I happened to be there to enjoy the festivities. And now I like to start sentences with "When I was at the World Cup..."

Anyways, it has been four years now and it's that time of year again: the world cup. And, I am not watching the festivities. In fact, I have no idea who is playing and the appalling truth is that I don't even care. The other day, at work, I watched America versus England only because I happened to be near a TV all day; it was by pure default that I got in on the festivities. And, it was a total waste of effort because the game was a tie. How anticlimactic! (However, I think it was rigged because America and England need to maintain our political ties and thus for one of us to win would simply show a lack of sportsmanship, don't you agree? Might wreck some treaty or something.)

However, erm erm..."when I was at the world cup..." I was watching America play Ghana (on TV) and I experienced what it means to be a fan and to care about the outcome of the game. Never in my life have I cared who wins whatever game. But, there I was watching the the US play Ghana and every time the US almost scored, I felt my heart leap into my throat and a sense of "Come on! You can do it" enveloped me. I was glued to that TV; I was a fan. I really wanted my team to win, but of course they lost because Americans don't care much about soccer-er-football. And, I have never NEVER been a fan of a sports team (unless you count the mens Romanian gymnastic team [big grin on face]).

Anyways, now when I hear people going on about their favorite team and "oh dija see that score when blah blah?" I understand their excitement. I have a vague sense of what it is like to be a fan and to have loyalty to a team. Because, it even happened to the likes of me once upon a time.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Trite Topic

We in the Northwest are made of some of the toughest material know to man. We withstand brazen weather such as mild winters and cold summers. But please, let me get on my soap box to yammer about the weather.

It was summer, or so I thought... But back in April I was nefariously deceived. I sat on the patio in anticipation of warm days and I imagined my (highly-paid) servants feeding me grapes. But, my daydreaming experienced an unforeseen interruption when the cold weather reappeared after a frighteningly short disappearance.

It is now June and rumor has it, we have still not hit 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a record.

Now, I really try not to go about making blog posts about the weather. I mean how trivial. But, as banal as it may seem, it truly is of utmost importance. After all, studies show that about 99% of norhtwesterners are dangerously low in vitamin D. This weather is really an urgent matter of public health.

But, I can no longer help myself. The red flag that told me I must vocalize my woe was when I got out my warmest winter sweaters and wool socks. It was then that I knew, someone has to talk about this (because no one is...).

Anyways, we can do nothing about the weather except to adapt and cope with our untamable feelings.

But, for all of you out there who find yourselves disconsolate and painfully forlorn in regards to the weather, let this be a reminder to look on the bright side of things. It can't get any worse, can it?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The End of a Sigh


The world moves in a cyclical motion. And this week, that has been the case. it became the end of the academic year at the fine and esteemed institution I attend. (?)

In September, it was the beginning of a fresh new school year. Bright-eyed student walked around with their new messenger bags, trendy glasses and expensive text books on a sunny September day. They discussed their classes with one another and anticipated the future challenges. There were lines at the bookstores, lines at the financial aid office and just overall chaos.

Well, that sense of excitement has evaporated and all that remaines is the residue of once excited students. Now, they're all wilted and overworked. And the photo of this blog post commemorates a moment in the library when I decided to whip out my digital camera and snap a photo of the recycle bin, in an attempt to be cool and artsy.

Yes, it is the week of finals. This means late night studying, a lack of parties, a life devoid of soirees momentarily, and no intellectual late night conversations in coffee houses. Nope, it's time to buckle down and study.

The library is overcrowded with zombie-eyed silent students and their books. The garbage bin is stuffed with paper coffee cups and fast food paraphanelia.

Like so many things in life, something has ended, not with a bang, but with a long drawn out sigh of relief.

Fare thee well academic year 2009/2010!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Learning to Entertain Oneself Via a Detox

After many months of contemplating and weighing my pros and cons, I have officially committed social suicide. You're probably wondering what form of social suicide I've gone and committed this time. Yes, I am still wearing clothing. No, I didn't get an 80's perm although....hmmm

Okay okay, I'll tell you what social suicide I've committed. I deactivated my facebook account. (gasp!)

At first I wondered what I was missing out on. I ridded myself of a very significant daily activity and I have to admit, it felt weird. It became such a habit for me to peruse facebook whilst not really accomplishing much of anything, when I should have been studying the difference between sibilants and stridents.

The other day I thought to myself "Ive been facebookless for about three weeks now."

And I was wishing I could make that my facebook status. But (sigh) I can't.

If you want to do a media/technology detox. I recommend deactivating your facebook account (you can always reactivate it at anytime). The primary downside is that people use it to spread the word "Hey, we're going to pick blueberries tomorrow, meet under the bridge and we'll carpool." I am no longer a part of those messages. So, I do realize someone has to make a special phone call to me to get the message to people like me. And I appreciate their effort.

But without facebook, I've found that I am spending more time reading the news, listening to NPR and even reading a few more books. (By the way, I highly recommend reading "A Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde). However, I've also learned that there is always something on the Internet to look at, even if you don't have facebook.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Communication Catastrophe

Communication. Like it, or love it. If you're a human, a tree, a t-cell, a robot or a wallaby, I'll bet you have problems with it. We all do. Even those who stand on a platform in the plaza and loudly proclaim "I'm an excellent communicator!" Well, they're probably a well-below average communicator like the rest of us commoners down here in the square wearing our drabby brown peasant fashion and using common street language.

Take comfort in knowing that we all have communication issues.

Here are two examples of miscommunications I have had in my own life.

Example One

At the grocery store, I was waiting in line with all my groceries--milk, bananas, frozen peas, hummus, chocolate and horse meat (just kidding! Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention). When the next line to the one I was waiting in opened. I asked the cashier if he could "check me out." He said, "sure Miss." But he began to scan my groceries and did not check me out. We had made a verbal contract which he was failing to fulfill, I thought about igniting a bitter confrontation. But then I realized what he thought I meant by "checking out," and that I was experiencing miscommunication. This was very disappointing and despaired as I paid in cash.

Example Two

So there I was in Germany, I was at a some social gathering and I kept bumping into the same guy. So, I asked him his name (which I had forgotten).
He said "You again!"
I replied, "Ta da! Me again! Seriously, what's your name?"
"You again!!" This time with more emphasis.
"Me Again!" This was a fun game, and I was enjoying it immensely as I am amused by abnormally simple things. But, I really wanted to know his name. So, I asked one more time.
I got the same reply "You again!!"
And then it hit me, his name was "Jurgen." A very common German name.
And then, like a true ditz, I said "Oh, like, I get it now!"
This was amusing, slightly embarrassing and so I pretended (or perhaps didn't pretend) to be a very silly ditzy girl. Yet another example of miscommunication.

Those are two examples of miscommunication that I have had in my own life.

I have this advice to bestow upon you when you find yourself in one of those miscommunication situations.

"My Really Good Advice:"


1. Don't Panic; this only makes you look self-conscious.
2. Relax; don't sweat the small stuff, and it's all small stuff.
3. Act like a ditz, a meathead, a delinquent or someone who doesn't speak the language if you have to. In other wards, fake it 'till you make it.

If you follow these three easy steps, you will walk away from that awkward situation with your dignity intact. (and perhaps even an amusing story to tell)

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Dying Dream Revived


Rarely does one's attempt to change my life or go out and do something work. I can think of one other occasion, other than today, where that happened. The last occasion where something persuaded me to get off the couch and go and do something occurred a few years ago. I was bored, so I started thumbing through some advertisements whence I came upon an ad for some cute and colorful socks. I thought to myself, "I want those." So, I actually went to that store and bought those very socks. Really, that never happens.

Well, once again that happened when something just looked so great, I had to try it out for myself.

Last week I found myself on the couch with various ailments and my apothecary wasn't doing the trick of healing me. So, I just let the ailment run it's course. In the meantime, I found ways to entertain myself (mostly through netflix).

I found myself watching the movie "Julie and Julia." Well, anyways, it's about some girl who decides to cook everything in the Julia Child's French cookbook in a year, and she blogs about it, becomes a pseudo-celebrity blah blah blah (sorry about the plot spoiler). And, as she was cooking all these recipes, my mouth watered. But, what made my mouth water most was artichoke with hollandaise sauce.

Now, I've never actually cooked an artichoke but it's not that hard. You just put in a double broiler and press "start." Even a pack of monkeys could accomplish that task.

The hollaindaise sauce is a bit tricky. In fact, several years ago I attempted to make the wretched sauce and it turned out in a proper catastrophe. The eggs scrambled and I had to throw the whole attempt away and go and grieve my sad lot.

I love hollandaise sauce and it's a bruise to my character the fact that I can't even make it. Just think, I've lived my whole life in utter shame because I can't make this sauce and every time I try, I fail miserably. My self-confidence? Shot.

But that movie really inspired me and dipping artichoke in hollandaise sauce seemed like something that just might amuse me.

So, yesterday I talked to my an old co-worker who went to cooking school about hollandaise sauce and she gave me some tips. You have to whip the egg yolks until they have lots of air in them and have the pan at an angle and the heat can't be too high. Be patient with it, don't rush it.

With my new information, I waited until just the right moment...NOW!

I mixed my eggs in the double broiler...and they didn't scramble! Triumph number one...

Then I added lemon juice, cayenne pepper, salt and a frightening amount of butter. And the mixture obeyed my commands and mixed smoothly. Triumph number two...

There is a science to this sauce, you have to keep the mixture at exactly the proper temperature. So, then continued to add various amounts of chilled and melted butter and the sauce continued to look like smooth sauce. Triumph number three!

I couldn't quite believe my luck. It looked like hollandaise sauce! I literally gave a jump of pleasure and screeched "I made hollandaise sauce!"

They said "if at first you don't succeed, try again." They (whoever they are) are right!

After being frightened of hollandaise sauce for the past five years, I now can go about my life, with confidence, knowing that I (an unassuming quiet student by day and fervent hollandaise sauce maker by night) can be successful the second time around.

Never never give up on your dreams.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Guilty! New York City

One of my aunts says to me "You've got bitten by the travel bug!" And they say, once you get bit, you never heal. The bite starts in one part of the body and begins to speckle your body as if your body were a globe and it's marking out places that you will go, or have gone before.

My first travel bug bite developed in the New York location of my body. Since then other miscellaneous bites have appeared in various locations.

I was 16 and my parents were naive enough to let me take off to the other side of the continent with weird cousin Ethel (not her real name, in fact she's not even that weird, but it's funnier this way). I had worked all summer in a sandwich shop grilling beef over a hot grill for philly cheese steak sandwiches. I had been saving my wages and anticipating a trip to the Big Apple.

Weird cousin Ethel's sister's co-worker had a daughter who worked as a social worker in Brooklyn New York and well "You should go visit my daugher. She lives in New York City!" Well, we actually took her up on that offer (even though we didn't even know this lady). So, I found myself on my first airplane ride. I sat next to an attractive Swedish guy who talked a lot. I remember actually wanting to listen to the safety instructions but he kept talking to me, so I pretended like I didn't care. I never got the opportunity to tell him that this was my first plane trip and that really, I was a bit nervous. But, the plane didn't crash and my ears didn't hurt and it was all rather uneventful.

We arrived in New York City. I couldn't believe I was really there: New York City. It was so big and the buildings were so high. It took me awhile to realize it wasn't Seattle or Portland or some other city, but New York City. Ya know, where they filmed movies like "You've Got Mail." It's kind of a big deal.

I rode the subway for the first time and did my best to pretend that I wasn't a tourist from a small town in Oregon, but a bonafied New Yorker. I don't think they believed me because when the subway took off, I was standing up and I managed to fall down on some old Indian lady's lap. She had a red dot in the middle of her wrinkled forehead and was wearing a sari. She smiled and I awkwardly apologized. I remember thinking to myself "I'm the only blond person on the subway," as I sat in a sea of Indians, African-Americans, Asians and Arabs. I had experienced diversity to a certain extent on my weekend visits to Seattle to visit relatives, but I had never experienced it New York style. In my small town of scandawhovian origin, I was never ever the only blond; everyone looks like me there. So the subway was an experience.

I do not remember that much from that trip. I do remember this man who played the same song every day at one of the subway stations that we always found ourselves at. But we never gave him money for his beautiful flute playing of "Oh Susannah."

I tried sushi for the first time. I tried tempura. I had the best Greek food that I've ever had, to this day, at some nameless restaurant nearish to Central Park (that lamb was SO tender and seared soo thinly). I drank lots of sugary coffee beverages every day, because that is what teenagers do.

We attended to the US Open and saw Pete Sampres up close (wowsas!). I conversed with a man who shaved his legs as we watched Anna Kournikova lose yet another tennis match. He asked me what I was doing later, I doubt he had any idea I was only 16. Maybe he did and he was a creep. I was too innocent to tell back then.

I watched the heads on the tennis fans move back in fourth in a rhythmic motion as they followed the ball throughout the various matches.

And of course, we walked and walked. We saw ground zero. We saw the street vendors outside of ground zero selling fakleys and rolox's.

We saw "Beauty and the Beast" on Broadway and I was so blown away by the caliber of that show. Broadway was so much better than the third-rate high school plays I'd seen. We took the subway home from the show like commoners and not like regular Broadway show goers.

I saw a very stylish lady, in central Park, in a plaid skirt , boots, and a beret. She was with two kids who were playing frisbee with a yellow lab. It looked like something out of a magazine, the dog, the city in the background, the fashion. Something to remember

I went to a used bookstore and bought a F. Scott Fitzgerald book of short stories, someone had used a maple leaf to maintain their spot. I wondered where the leaf came from and if maybe it came from central park.

Eventually my week in New York City ended. I bought the t-shirt (I heart NY), I bought some red shoes that were my favorite pair of shoes that I ever owned and I bought a few trinkets to give to friends back home.

Then I arrived back in Oregon and wore my I heart NY t-shirt with pride. I began listening to songs like "New York" by Ryan Adams, "New, New York" by the Cranberries, "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra and "New York" by U2. Do you sense a pattern? I talked about my "little town blues" and how I "wanted to be a part of New York, New York."

And that's where it all began. My first travel bug bite. Inspired by weird cousin Ethel. Naively permitted by my parents. And enthusiastically accepted by me.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Reposing Solution to Authentic Discomfort

The world of the traveler contains various aspects such as thrills, discomfort and much much more. But based upon my empirical evidence, I would say it contains more thrills than discomforts. And the discomforts that do exists are a pleasant form of misery which I would also classify as a thrill.

Recently, I engaged in a 12 day journey to southern South America. You guessed it, you clever literate being with legs, I was in Argentina and Uruguay. Two up and coming travel destinations for any cosmopolitan metrosexual or young urban profession (not that I am either one of those).

However, upon arrival back onto American soil, I noticed something rather alarming regarding my personal well-being. I had back pain. In fact, I had been having back for two weeks. This could have been due to excitement, ice cream consumption, copious mate drinking or some other mysterious component. After 12 days of thrills, I finally experienced discomfort as a result of travel

I had a good think and analyzed my previous two weeks; I deduced that the cause of this back pain was the bag I carried on my pilgrimage. But, any traveler (happy or unhappy) must carry something that contains necessities needed for traveling (toothpaste, bug spray, band aids, peptobismal and cute high heels). I chose to employ my hideous pink-green-purple-white bag with sequins that I got at the goodwill for $0.63, which explains why I could afford to take a vacation, as I do my utmost not to spend too much on things I don't really need (such as gnomes and Russian dolls).

Anyways, I carried this bag around for 12 days and put things in it such as doodads, my camera, some shoes, my wallet, my jacket and anything else I felt needed to be contained within this portal. Eventually my shoulders and back began to complain via their preferred method of communication: pain. I ignored it thinking it would go away in a few days like it normally does. But after experiencing the post-vacation blues for a week, the back pain was still there. At this point, I knew I had to do something extreme. Drastic times call for drastic measures. So, I did something I have only done one other time in my life--I got a massage.

I'm a working class girl complete with a cheap bag that causes back pain. I'm not part of the bourgeoisie class that enjoys earl gray tea, cured ham, jams and crumpets on any given Tuesday at 3:00. No, not I.

Massages are outside of my reality. I know they exist and I know that some people go get massages. But, not people like me.

So, with excitement and anticipation, I prepared myself to enter into the world of "people-who-get-massages," (like landowners and capitalists).

I am happy to report that I got a discount on the massage (as I was obviously a first time massage-receiver) and that the experience was a more than pleasant one.

As I was enjoying the massage, on a heated massage table, I pondered as to who composes relaxing massage music complete with waterfalls in the background and flute music.

Regarding massages I have this to say: a massage is something to be valued, cherished, and appreciated. Because I never ever get them, I have a deep and important appreciation for the art of being kneaded and rubbed by human hands, elbows and arms.

So, to all of my working class constituents, I do recommend you engage in the bourgeois act of massage-receiving. It is a great piece of happiness.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The History of Paying Attention

Many of us city dwellers tend to avoid all the people that we don't know. When someone strikes up a conversation with us, we think "Ah, but I don't know you." And we find ways to end the conversation, but on occasion if we see fit, we find reasons to keep the conversation going.

Well an occasion came yesterday in regards to conversations popping up with people we don't know. I was starving and being the irresponsible being that I am, I had no proper food in the house to consume. My refrigerator looked rather bleak. So, I went out to fetch a salad.

I went down to a coffee shop and inquired if the cashier preferred the Chinese salad or the Greek salad. He recommended Chinese, I blindly trusted him and I ordered the Chinese salad. I was about to be quite smarmy and time how long the salad took (So I could think to myself "Hey, I've been waiting 5.654 minutes!" but I decided I needed to learn patience, so I resisted that very strong urge).

I looked around the place looking for a place to sit when a gentleman approached me and said I may share his table, as there is room for two and there was no other available seats. I sat down at this table with this gentleman who was working on a macbook pro. We made small talk and he told me he was an artist. I raised my eyebrows in amusement. We watched someone spill coffee all over the counter and he said "that is someone you don't plan." I was in agreement with that statement. Then my salad came. I looked at it, foamed with excitement at attacking it and began to enthusiastically eat it. I chomped loudly, and I do feel sorry for the poor gentleman I was sitting next to me. He probably saw nothing but flying pieces of lettuce accompanied by an almond or two, a fork moving madly in motion and the sound of a very strong jaw in full force. Perhaps behind all this there was a face, but if so, it was only a blur. After a remarkably short period of time time, the gentleman said to me "How is your salad?" I replied that it was delicious and he said that I was eating it rather vigorously. I was. (Hey! That's what happens when you don't eat for five hours, okay? alright then!)

Then we continued to engage in smalltalk and he asked me if I liked to cook. I told him that I did and then he asked me what. I then went into a long, detailed and drawn out discourse on a quinoa dish I enjoy making, (as I have a Peruvian friend who told me the secret [I would tell you the secret, but then, it wouldn't be a secret anymore, now would it?]). I enthusiastically told him how savory it is and that really, it's so simple to make. After sometime, he looked at me and said: "What's quinoa?"

This got me to thinking (something I recommend one does only with the utmost caution). We understand our own worlds perfectly clearly, but other people cannot necessarily understand ours. To me, quinoa is an ordinary grain, something that I assume everyone knows about. (sigh yawn and double ho-hum). To him, quinoa? What's that?

So this patient artist listened to me ramble on about how good quinoa is if you cook it this way. But, it was a waste of time, as he didn't actually know what quinoa was. The moral of this rambling is this: don't assume people know exactly what you're talking about. They don't. They have no idea what you're going on about. Be clear. Be explicitly clear.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Relic Revisited


It was a dark and rainy night, in a city that's very weird, and people were in their homes avoiding the downpour. But one very silly girl was out walking home in the rain, that silly girl was me. As I was walking, suddenly I noticed something peculiar and worth my attention. I stopped and starred. There, in a dark corner, was a man standing outside a building fiddling with a machine--an old contraption--a relic of the past, you might say, covered in cobwebs probably. I hadn't taken notice of one of these machines for years and there existence brought me back to bygone days. I continued to unabashedly stare at him in puzzlement.

The machine in question is...the pay phone.

They sit waiting to be used in the strangest places and some of the most obvious too. They're outside grocery stores, on the corner of a busy street, in airports and inside universities. But nobody notices them, much less actually uses them.

And, as I must have stood starring at this young man engaging in his use of the pay phone for about two minutes in amazement and wonder.

I almost had an inclination to throw away my cell phone and find my own pay phone. It just looked so fun.

These days, we don't have the excitement of finding a pay phone, and waiting in line to use it while the guy in front of us says to his girlfriend "please take me back baby. I love ya kid, ya know that doncha?" And we stand there awkwardly listening to intimate conversations, but we don't want to lose our spot in the pay phone line so we're stuck there, being a third wheel...and then the guy puts in another quarter and we think, "Ugh, I just need to call my mom to get a ride home!" Nope, none of that these days as we have the convenience of a phone safely in our pockets or bag. And if we don't have a phone, chances are our friends have a mobile phone we may use.

I have to say, it's all very unsurprising and unadventurous to have mobile phones. It's been years since I heard someone say to me "Hey, got a quarter? I need to make a call." Nor have I received a phone call that begins with "Will you accept a collect call from: 'Barack Obama.'"

But, I gotta say, having a mobile phone is super convenient, but really, there is no adventure or excitement in it. It's all very predictable.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blissful Amygdala


They say ignorance is bliss and I would have to agree. It's all rather nice not to know what is going on.

This morning, I experienced the exact opposite of bliss. It could be that I was at the dentist and it could be that I happen to be taking a neurology class at the moment. Taking neurology classes and going to the dentist don't mix.

So there I was at the dentist feeling, well, horrible. As usual my body was erect in anticipation with fear at the anticipation of the coming pain. The dentist poked a needle into the soft oral tissue and I felt it break the surface and hang out in the space for awhile as something was being injected into me. Ow! I couldn't feel my cheek, part of my tongue or my bottom lip.

As I was going through this I began thinking about it in a very neurological/biological sense. I thought to myself "I am feeling this way because norepinephrine is being released at my neuronal synapses. That's why I feel so alert and awake to this pain. It is firing an action potential and igniting the next cell into action and sending this 'pain' message up to my brain. My amygdala is being aroused and I am feeling discomfort because of fear. I wish my pineal gland would kick into action so I would feel sleepy, but that's hard to do when a giant dentist light is shining in my face."

Let's say that I was not taking a neurology class, then I would be in ignorant pseudo-bliss as to what was going on. Although I still would not characterize a trip to the dentist as bliss.

Going to the dentist is far more enjoyable when one is not engaged in the process of attending a neurology class. Because, like they say, ignorance is bliss.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

An Ordinary First Impression



This afternoon I was feeling adrift and a bit cold. I looked out onto the typical gray day and thought brightly to myself "A dip in the hot tub is clearly the answer to my emotional state!" I threw down the book I was reading and removed myself from the sofa.

I quickly robed myself in proper attire, threw a towel around myself and pranced up the block and across the street to the hot tub. I have to admit, I always feel a bit silly dressed in a towel, in the middle of winter, on my way to the communal hot tub. But hey, keep Portland weird, right?

So, there I was enjoying the not-quite-hot-enough hot tub (but nonetheless enjoying it) and imagining myself, at some boutique, buying one of those "Life is Good" t-shirts. When suddenly, my silly day dreaming was interrupted and I was joined by two of my neighbors. We introduced ourselves and made some smalltalk. I eventually realized the time (as I had a commitment I needed to ready myself for) and I said "Bye! Nice to meet you."

And I was off, but as I was leaving I overheard one neighbor say to the other neighbor:
"She was nice."
"Yeah, she was."

Well at least I didn't repulse them, but what a common and ordinary impression. I'm a little disappointed that they didn't say "That girl was dynamite!" or something else tremendously complimentary and unique. Instead, they characterized me using the most typical adjective I can think of: nice.

But, what can a person expect?

I suppose being characterized as "nice" isn't so ghastly. I guess now that I think about it some more, I'm a bit relieved that they didn't say:
"She was revolting!"
"I agree! Good thing she left!"
"Yeah, now we can enjoy ourselves"
"People like that should be locked up!"
"Here Here!"

No, they didn't say anything like that, therefore I must rid myself of the minor offense I took.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Limo the Legend Lives On

Cats are a touchy topic. And the fact that I am even trying to tackle this topic is all rather ambitious and controversial of me.

Some hate cats; In fact, I know a very upstanding US citizen who is rather appalled by the mere presence of a feline and goes into a state of legitimate but minor fear.

Some love cats; In fact, I know someone who has paw print tattoos on her arms and talks about her cats nonstop and studies feline behavior. And others are neutral to the critters (much like my opinion of chinchillas).

But I am one of those people who, on a scale of one to thirteen, is about a 9.7. I like cats, I enjoy cats, but I do not love them and I do not oogle and awe over them, (with the exception of hairless cats, but I've never seen a hairless cat although I would very much like to). However, when I notice a cat, I feel obligated to bend down and give it a good scratch behind the ears as I am deeply and importantly talented in regards to giving cats scratches behind the ears. And I can't let my talent go to waste now, can I? No.

So I will tackle the topic of cats with great care and by illustrating, as best I can with my limited human capacity, the story of Limo. Many of us will remember our dear Limo whether we are cat lovers, cat haters or those void of an opinion to the creatures. And then we will get a dewy far-away look in our eyes and think "Limo really was a legend."

Limo passed away a few months ago after seventeen years of a debaucheries lifestyle. She had two teenage pregnancies (I doubt she even knew the fathers), she roamed the streets at night, scaled walls and made her way into forbidden spaces via burglarious entries—not to mention that killing small animals was her favorite hobby. As a result from her carousing and impulsive behavior, the well-loved degenerate died at the tender age of 17 from a wound in the hindquarters incurred a vulgar brawl between her and a rodent.

Let us rewind a few years to the day we brought her home.

Even back then, her savageness revealed itself. She enjoyed softly biting the legs and feet of her human victims and digging her claws into their flesh. She would hide behind a corner and then attack her victims when they least expected it. She acted as if it were some sort of rambunctious game to be taken with a smile on one's face and a laugh in one's throat. It was as if she was enjoying her ghastly hobby. Despite her strange psychological condition and her love of danger we decided to keep this tabby cat. But, we still didn't have a name for this thing.

As a seven year old, I was in favor of a truly lame name like "Puzzles" or something akin to that. My sibling was in favor of the name "Limo." Yes. Like the car. Why you ask? Well, you see, when you held this cat in an odd position and stretched her out as long as you could, she lengthened like a slinky. We observed that when stretched a bit, the cat was abnormally elongated. Thus, we decided collectively that her name would be Limo because she resembled a long car.

She had at least nine lives and was a highly esteemed mouser, well-known in cat circles for her uncanny ability to discard of any rodent, bird or reptile. She also attempted to off some canines at their attempt to eat her offspring when she was a teenage mother. I cannot stress enough her ability to kill animals as she left them all over the place as if to show off and brag the way women brag about the smokin’ deal they got on some designer shoes at the mall.

Now I do feel like perhaps I am not putting the best construction on dear Limo and I'm only magnifying her failures (hey, we all have failures...some just more than others..). But Miss Limousine she was an overall nice kitty. Although she did not enjoy being held or cuddled she displayed her affection by rubbing her cat hair on the legs of humans. She also liked to stand as a human stroked her fur. She only got truly upset with humans if they stepped on her tail. Although she killed pretty much anything smaller than her (and some critters bigger than her) she respected humans. And I can say with utter certainty that she never tried to kill me or eat me.

Despite her beastliness, her ravenous appetite for rats, chipmunks and hummingbirds I have to say that I loved that cat. And I still like cats in general.
So, with all this to say about Limo, how is it that a quiet unassuming citizen like myself comes to have an opinion of cats that is slightly above neutral when clearly I have been subject to observing their destructive character? It could be that Limo produced a son called Salty who was a delight (the complete opposite of his mother). Salty and I were quite compatible and enjoyed many afternoons sitting on the porch as I dressed him in doll clothes and he sat there purring.

Or, it could be that cats are pleasant to the eyes and their fur is very tempting. One is simply obligated to run their hands through it and give the feline a nice scratch behind the ears.

Or perhaps you don’t like cats because you had a cruel 2nd grade teacher who wore glasses that made her to resemble a Siamese cat.

So, whatever your reason is as to why you like or dislike cats, I am 100% sure that you have good solid evidence to support to position on cats with empirical evidence.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Giant's Plight

Now there is something I really must tell you, which I find quite funny, although children tend to think it's lame.

Sidekick (a friend of mine) works in a school around a large amount of miniature people of young ages, also called children. In this world everything is miniature. There are small miniature desks and chairs to accommodate these small not quite full grown people. So, Sidekick looks like a giant in such an environment. He also makes a point of ordering the tiniest coffees. So, when he arrives at the school, he is holding this small cup that makes his hand look huge. Then Sidekick sits down in a little chair meant for seven year-olds. He then makes really lame jokes that go like this "Hey look! I'm a giant in a small chair with this little cup of coffee. Look I'm such a giant!" Isn't that funny? Well I think so.

But, the kids look at him and don't find his jokes all that funny. But the less funny they think the joke is, the more funny I think it is. Maybe I'll even get him one of those giant pencils that they have at toy stores to make his joke more realistic.

So, what of all this talk of giants? It may all seem irrelevant. But, giants are people too, no matter what mainstream media tells you. Anyways, I usually don't feel like a giant, but last week I found myself in a situation in which I could identify with Sidekicks feelings of giantness. I will continue to illustrate this point by something telling you a seemingly unrelated event.

I managed to let my pile of laundry get unmanageably large this week. So finally, I went down to the basement to fiddle with this problem. I began to do laundry. I put the whites with the whites (although I don't really own any white clothing), the blacks with the blacks and the delicate fabrics with the delicate fabrics.

Well, we got some new washing machines that are green friendly. I still haven't figured out to use them. So, with the delicate clothing, I pressed "lights" well because they were all light colored clothing (light blue, teal and the like). And then I read the instructions posted on the machine "Light= hot water." Oh fiddlesticks! That means I am going to shrink my cashmere sweater (and my super warm wool socks from Finland)! I frantically pressed other buttons on the machine, but nothing changed. I should have read the directions! I went back upstairs and made myself a cup of tea as I waited for my clothes to wash and hoped for the best.

When I went back downstairs, I took the delicate clothing out and realized my sad lot. My favorite (and only) cashmere sweater looked a bit smaller than normal. So, I set my sweater out to dry on the counter and using all my might, stretched it as long as I could, but the fibers seemed a bit too tight and I managed to rip a small hole in it during my stretching exercise.

Finally the sweater dried so I sausaged myself into it. Despite the stretching, it did not fit anymore. I pulled and tugged at the sweater in hopes of making it fit, but all hope was dashed when I realized nothing would work. I looked like a giant stuffed into a tiny piece of fabric meant for a seven year old. I looked hideous and so, like any good woman, I despaired and my cup of tea and I commiserated. I then went through my mental Rolodex of seven-year-olds I know that might want a cashmere sweater but came up empty handed. If you know any, please let me know.

So if you want to feel like a giant, go ahead and wreck a cashmere and then try to fit into it. And if you want to wreck a sweater, I can tell you how.

And also, don't be like me, rather read the directions before you execute an action.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Fleeting Freckles

"Hey freckle farm!" Nothing haunts me and brings me back to 6th grade like those words. This insult was hurled at me by a young man of thirteen years with several moles on his face. I just looked at the bully dumbfounded and speechless. After the fact, I thought of some clever retorts such as "Shut up mole hill face!" But, I was in such a state of complete surprise I couldn't think of a witty reply (or any reply at all). I just continued to sit there with my jaw dropped as I let the insult sink in.

But, he was right. I was a freckle farm. And I hated it!

I was one of those kids with freckles. And when you are a kid with freckles people say things to you. The dental hygienist says things like "Oh look! Freckles! How cute. My granddaughter has freckles!" People make comments to your mother in the grocery store about her freckle-faced child. Grandpas ask you if they can play "connect the dots" with your freckles. Aunts tease you in the summer when your freckles reveal themselves in full bloom. I always won their annual summer "freckle contest" by having the most freckles. They would say things like "Oh look! Here comes the freckle contest winner."

Well, I wasn't enjoying my freckles. I felt like they made me a spotted person. Who wants to have spots? Maybe some breeds of dogs don't mind, but humans don't generally pick out spots to punctuate their face. There is no medical procedure that I'm aware of that gives people freckles. There are no special creams that make ones skin appear more freckley. Therefore, I never saw my freckles as a coveted trait. Rather they were an aesthetic liability as far as I was concerned.

But somehow I managed to survive the trauma of being a freckle-faced child. And as an adult, my freckles have faded and they only reveal themselves after being on a vacation, near the equator, for a month, and that only occurs rarely. However, that kind of happened during the heatwave in the summer. I went over to a friend's house and he commented that I was looking "awfully freckely." And I beamed because no one has commented on my freckles in years.

I have this odd sense of loss. I miss them. I miss the unwanted attention one gets when they have freckles. I wish people would stop me in the grocery store to say "I love your freckles!" But they don't. Because I am not a kid with freckles anymore. The freckles have faded. Instead, I'm just another faceless person in the hustle and bustle.

So, let me employ the old cliche "You don't miss it until it's gone." Well, the same can be said for freckles, you don't miss them until they're gone.

Sigh.