Monday, April 21, 2008

You Get A Lifetime Warranty With That

Memo To Self: Cancel Blog

I have a gym membership, and I predominantly use it to workout with a personal trainer. I told my trainer recently that I would like to increase my gym time to daily (on those days when I am not with him) and how beneficial it would be to have him record what I was suppose to do at each machine including it's number, name, the weight and position pegs, and the position of my body. I've used these machines over time and should know them, but after studying Pilates for a while, you learn that every body part should be positioned properly before beginning the movement. My plan is to make up a ringed notebook to carry along with me, so I can be doing the workout correctly. There must be more than eighty machines at that gym, and it's a lot to hold in your head. This week I will take the recorder to the gym, work on some of the machines during my regular training session and build the information as I go.

With that plan in mind, I went with a friend to Best Buy on Friday night, and I quickly found a small Sony recorder that will more than meet my needs. Waiting in the checkout lane, the cashier said, "Would you like to buy the warranty for this item? It covers nine years for only $9.99." My friend said, "No thanks, she won't be needing it." "Are you sure?," the cashier asked. "Absolutely," said my friend. "She's only getting it for her suicide note."

We were still laughing about this when we went into the Container Store to buy a full roll of bubble wrap. The cashier asked us what we were talking about, we told the Best Buy story, he laughed, paused, then queried ....Now should I ask what you are going to do with all of this bubble wrap?"

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blues Traveller

"If you are in your zoned section for longer than three minutes, jet acceleration will not be safe to persons in dispersal area. To avoid being singed by jet exhaust, please exit your vehicle on the right, and walk through the blue zone on the left." ~~ THX 1138

I was reading Hue, a blog devoted to issues of color, and yesterday they reported that Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) would be part of a pilot program for stress reduction in specific airport screening areas.

Concourse A: Hot Rock Massage Therapy And Anal Probe

A description of the special screening area from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) states, “Mauve, blue and purple panels of lights glow, low decibel ambient spa music hums, and smiling employees offer quiet greetings and assistance.” How do you quietly greet someone you are about to perform a strip search on?

I immediately thought of George Lucas' first film, THX 1138-- a futuristic world where sex and violence are portrayed on televisions while it's citizens are drugged to control their emotions and behaviors. Where androids dream of electric sheep.

"What's Wrong?" ~~ THX 1138

TSA planners have been tinkering in a warehouse near the Washington, D.C. airport testing these new techniques. "You can actually influence some behavior subliminally through color," said Catherine Lillie, head of the checkpoint-testing team. Can you imagine lavender tones and bloop bloop tones soothing you through long lines and shoe trays; where airport security wands zap miscreants into thinking twice about what they are packing.
About to depart from Logan Airport one day, I couldn't help but notice a wall display of what not to take on the plane. There was the usual display of knives and nail clippers and stun guns (joking on the stun gun, friendo) but one item fascinated me. A pizza wheel. My first question was "Why?" yet obviously someone at some point had attempted to bring a pizza wheel onto an airplane.
In the name of public safety and service, I'm here to warn you against the pizza wheel. You may find yourself being lead behind a mauve and azure screened CPR (cavity probe room) while "There's No Place Like Om" pulses around you. Keep your Sbarro Supreme in the main concourse, and you should be fine.

Blue flower, red thorns! Blue flower, red thorns! Blue flower, red thorns! Oh, this would be so much easier if I wasn't color-blind!” ~~Shrek

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Booger Baseball And Bobby

Very late last night, I was thinking about a former high school classmate, and I started googling her name. I found her on a reunion website: the reunion I failed to attend and have consistently failed to attend. I went to a large high school in the Washington, D.C. area, and I've taken flak for not going to these things. A D.C. hair salon owner (and high school classmate, but not the same year) goes to his reunions and would nag at me saying "What are you avoiding? They're FUN!" I told him I never saw it as avoidance, per se, but rather high school had been a prison sentence for me. I couldn't wait to be free of it. I also pointed out I had never attended one college reunion (and I attended several universities) again, just no interest in walking memory lane. Luckily, I don't have to hear that anymore. I stopped going to him after years of watching him focused on his own head in the mirror instead of mine. I remember stumbling in there one Saturday and he was doing a former cheerleader's hair, and then she started nagging at me, "You've got to go." Rah, rah...."no."

I am sure my high school friends for the most part would find this odd. I did have friends, quite a large circle, and expanding every year I was there. I didn't limit myself to "same age group" in getting to know people. Of course there were cliques. I made friends in every clique group. Still do. For this last reunion, I knew several of the people on the committee. They sent me the paperwork. I ignored it. A childhood friend, from babyhood really, had written on the back of the envelope, "I really want to see you." I thought, "Fine. Call."

In my own defense, I consider myself a very good friend, and I also sustain friendships. I have many that go back from the time of my birth. There is one photograph where my mother is holding me in her lap when I was six months old, and one of the little girls (who was then two or three) is looking at me, the baby, and I'm reaching out to her. We are still friends. The other little girl in the picture, I've lost touch with, but I'm still in contact with her brother, who was even older.

Insomnia had set in, and I was immersed in this website, and all 194 images from the reunion. It was...disturbing. It was frightening how few faces I recognized. I had to really study their features and usually I could pick out "something" in the eyes or a smile that seemed familiar, but it was appalling how much I had blocked out. I am not talking about strangers. Some people portrayed grew up on the same street with me. We had known each other since birth.

I saw Helen, a quiet, shy girl and I thought, "She still has a sweet face." There was the captain of the cheerleaders, another neighborhood girl. Unlike most of us, she got pregnant right out of high school, married a twin, gave birth to twins, then (and I heard this later) started up an affair with her also married ex-boyfriend from back in middle school days, and that was the last I heard. There she was with an even different name from birth, husband number one and ex-boyfriend. "Still a tramp," I thought. JOKING! Not.

One girl's picture I saw amazed me. She was painfully plain, awkward, speechless with shyness, and I have a distinct memory of her being tortured by a gang of girls in gym class. There she was smiling, sophisticated, polished, and I thought, "Wow." Seemingly no psyche damage done. All is forgiven." There was Janet, another neighborhood girl, but with crappy rings on each finger, a top cut way too low and tattoos on her breasts. I thought, "What a slut you've turned out to be....and you still can't put on eyeshadow."

This picture viewing was getting brutal. One girl was present whose father was murdered in his store, while she was still young. She was beautiful, but sad around the eyes. I wondered what her life had become. Another good friend, still so pretty, pretty, but sad eyes again. Ouch. And the men. The men. Some with obviously younger women. "Mike and his lady friend." I thought, "Uh huh." And then one mug that hadn't changed at all, if anything, he's the one who looked exactly the same, only it was a boy I couldn't stomach. We sat next to each other in 7th grade. I thought, "You were a nasty, arrogant, bullying creep then, and you still look like one." I also thought, "When you aren't around these people from your past in such numbers, it's easy to ignore the notches of years. Ten years? More? What's to keep the years from appearing seamless and lacking the drama and punch this bunch could land on you in ten minutes."

Then I saw Bobby. Bobby was this freakish boy I had known since elementary school. He was tall and painfully thin. His skin was that pale fish underbelly white and covered with freckles. Freckles on top of freckles. The hair? A Toni gone bad. Red afro. He looked like a normal man now. His wife looked pleasant. But, oh that horrid memory, which Nabokov worshipped, and I usually voice as a blessing and a curse. I remember too much, and I remember in detail.

In sixth grade, Bobby's desk catty cornered mine, and one day he took out a white handkerchief and laid it out on his desk. He then drew a baseball diamond onto the white fabric with a pencil. Then...stick with me here...he started picking his nose and putting the boogers into the diamond and using his finger, or a pencil, he was flicking them into the outfield or the baselines. I said, "Bobby! What on earth are you doing?" "Playing Booger Baseball." I'm laughing even as I write this. Booger Baseball. Sports is ignoring an entirely untapped resource of talent. Thank God he didn't hit one out of the ballpark, because that would have been "me," and that would have meant more punishment.

One last memory of Bobby. I had a horrid sixth grade teacher. The worst. She drove a little sports car, and you just knew she was killing time until she became Mrs. Dr. So and So and the rock on her hand and the right zip code to prove it. I loathed her. She loathed me. One day at the end of school, we stood by our desks, waiting for the bell to ring, and Bobby pulled his gray cable knit sweater over his head (he even wore ugly sweaters.) As he pushed his arms through, both sleeves fell off. BOTH. I cracked up. Who wouldn't laugh at such a thing?

The teacher kept me after school, and she made me sit and write an essay, explaining my bad behavior. What she really was after was an abject apology while using her controlling bitch tactics on me. I could write, and I wrote, but she didn't like it. "Read that!" she said. "Do you think that explains what occurred?" I said that it was an accurate explanation. She had me write again, and again, and again. Finally, she let me out of there, but it was going on six o'clock, and I had to take my little essay home and have my parents sign it. I don't remember what my mother's reaction was to such a thing, but I'm sure she saw some level of insanity in it.

Getting ready to sign off last night, I didn't think Bobby would want me turning up at the reunion to say, "Bobby! How about a few innings of Booger Baseball? " You think he remembers that?

"The charm of baseball is that, dull as it may be on the field, it is endlessly fascinating as a rehash." ~Jim Murray

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Leaving Chapati Crumbs To Find Their Way

"Don't worry. I've left crumbs to help us find our way home."
(Do not attempt Everest behind this numbnuts)

I was out running an errand last night and walked by an emporium that sold saris. Let's call it...Singh's Sari Palace... with signs that proclaimed, "You Won't Be Sari About Our Prices," and "Think Twice About Zippers." Actually I made most of that up.
What made me halt in my tracks were the mannequins. On March 30th, The Washington Post had an article entitled, "The Mannequin: More Than Just An Empty Face." It quoted the chairman of Pucci as saying, "If it's the right mannequin for the right merchandise, the mannequin will sell the clothes." Clothier Chico's recently introduced a new mannequin for their stores, and the article quoted Claire Brooks (president of brand consulting company, Model People) saying, "I think they've made a smart move. Chico's is about a fun dreamland of upscale resort wear. The new-and-improved mannequins "have that fun, full-of-personality vibe." Personally, I thought Chico's vibe was "mom jeans" and "Oprah weepers," but what do I know.
Obviously someone needs to talk to Singh's Sari Palace about the marketing impact their mannequins are having on the buying public, because the vibe I picked up was "Who kidnapped these white children and took them to Calcutta?" "....and do Hansel and Gretel need to leave chapati crumbs in their wake to find their way home?"

Why do you keep pulling my finger?

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Life Is Just A Bowl Of ...

Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, wrote “things fall apart; the center cannot hold,” and I all can say is “You called that one right, buddy.” Starting last fall I went on a massive organizational attack of “getting it all under control” once and for all. I have four blogs. I was going to write. I like writing. Then. Oh. I don’t know. I was evacuated during a hurricane. I had two eye surgeries. I broke a rib. My heart and mind took poundings harder than that sand, wind and rain that I endured. People left. People died. You want to talk leaving? That is leaving. In my defense, the house looked great at Christmas. I survived the hurricane. “My house is decorated for Spring and looks pretty,” (she said…voice trailing off).

One thing I have kept up with is my reading. As the years pass, more and more, I find I turn to non-fiction, as opposed to the fiction choices of my youth. I once attended a PEN-Faulkner reading at the Folger Shakespeare Library to hear Don DeLillo and he confessed to the same. I will admit I re-read Dorothy Sayers Gaudy Night this week. Gaudy Night is a British mystery novel, written in 1936, set in Oxford. I was craving the passage Sayers wrote about a woman studying a man she cares for, watching him while he sleeps in the boat on a drowsy afternoon on the River Isis. It truly is one of the more passionate things ever written (in my opinion) in terms of how a woman feels about a man’s body:

“…but now she saw details, magnified as it were by some glass in her own mind. The flat setting and fine scroll-work of the ear, and the height of the skull above it. The glitter of close-cropped hair where the neck-muscles lifted to meet the head. A minute sickle-shaped scar on the left temple. The faint laughter-lines at the corner of the eye and the droop of the lid at its outer end. The gleam of gold down on the cheek-bone. The wide spring of the nostril. An almost imperceptible beading of sweat on the upper lip and a tiny muscle that twitched the sensitive corner of the mouth. The slight sun-reddening of the fair skin and its sudden whiteness below the base of the throat. The little hollow above the points of the collarbone. He looked up; and she was instantly scarlet, as though she had been dipped in boiling water. Through the confusion of her darkened eyes and drumming ears some enormous bulk seemed to stoop over her. Then the mist cleared. His eyes were riveted upon the manuscript again, but he breathed as thought he had been running.” That, my friends, is a passage that captures passion. It also explains volumes, to those men who think they understand the female mind so well, just how women do feel about men’s bodies. Our eyes are not glommed onto what you might expect. The woman who wrote that? Plain as a boiled Sunday supper.

A still Isis runs deep

I order most books via the intralibrary loan system, because I often can’t find what I want to read, and I no longer have full blown access to the Library of Congress. Sometimes, I’ll idle around the “new” shelves and pluck at random, never with much hope. I was getting books ready to go back to the library later today. I have The Bush Tragedy waiting, and some other books. I just finished Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.’s Journals from 1952 to 2000. That was a treat. I tracked down all of the Cormac McCarthy books I hadn’t read. That was a mixed blessing. His writing is perfection. His apolcalyptic visions can become so oppressive, you have to walk away and find reaffirmations in humanity, the best way you can. Either that, or invest in good weaponry.

I’ll give it to you…fast and hot.

Just yesterday, when I was going through books needing to be returned to the library, I put aside Nigella Express: 130 Recipes For Good Food, Fast by Nigella Lawson. Nigella is one of those television food performers who spends a lot of time in the kitchen showing what Ms. Sayers would call an inordinate amount of bosom, and she spends a lot of time….licking things under a vaselined lens. Goujons of Sole, rated R.

Ms. Lawson had been widowed from a highly regarded journalist, but is now married to a well known advertising mogul, Charles Saatchi (think £££££,) so why she isn’t lounging around having oiled slave boys bring her nibbly things, *clapclap* I’ll never know. I realized that I had read all of her books, never cared for one of them, never made a recipe from one of them, and had to wonder what I was doing with the latest.

Nigella Express is the usual. A lot of photographs of her wearing tight sweaters or bathrobes (don’t we all cook that way?) One page of the book was nothing but this. I was baffled.

Proof that she isn’t a victim of bad British dental hygiene courtesy of the National Health?

….as opposed to…..

I realized while flipping through the receipes that there was a lot of repetition of food types: fried, oily things, greasy cuts of meat (invariably shown with beans,) pureed soups that are often green, molten chocolate thingies and then a slew of what I put into the slop-glop-plop school of cooking, but the British have evolved into whimsical names like...

...treacle pudding

...and syllabub jumble

...and jumbleberry crumble

...and Eton Mess

and roly poly and steamed spotted dick . I was trying to explain the concept behind steamed spotted dick just the other day.

Never mind the bollocks, where's your spotted dick?

Then there was this mess: "Ginger Passion Fruit Trifle," which reminded me very much of going to the creek as a child in the Spring and gathering up frog eggs:

You never see frogs anymore. Now you know why. Actually it’s an environmental pollution thing, but you just never know, do you?

Cooking is about balance and harmony." ~~ Nigella Lawson

"Please Sir? Can I have some more?"

Sure you can, Pete…and you’ll be on the bowl for a fortnight.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Five? I'll Bet I Could Give You Ten

I was lying down briefly, after I had gotten home and unloaded my day (bags, papers, put away, put away,) and I debated taking a nap (too late). I started reflecting over this past week…a lot of it not so great, and read my email...most of it not good at all, and I thought, “Try and think of five things that were pretty good about today.” Hmmm:

1) I saw so many varied, blooming trees and noticed how incongruous that pink and white tissue seems against some of their urban backdrops, but I’ll take it where I can get it, including my varied daffodils. I’m especially enjoying the white on whites this year.

2) I finally started working on another blog piece today after having just posted yesterday so “score” on that. I didn’t get it finished, but it will be. I hope I can produce more.

3) I ran by the grocery store tonight. In the language of Bush, “Didn’t want to. Did. Glad.” When I came out of the market, it was twilight and birds were twittering about, settling in for the night. I looked up at this sickly tree, and there were two birds in the branches. I stopped and had a conversation with them. I asked them why they stayed apart when they should be joining the other birds. That it would be nicer and they could get all cozy and warm. Then I had a pretend conversation between the birds. I admit it. I’m not ashamed:

Girl Bird: "Yah Yah Yah. You with the berry in your beak. I know your type. I’ve seen you on the ground all fluffed out and strutting around. I’ve seen you flying around gathering twigs and grasses. I know what you really want."

Boy Bird: "All the mod cons, my little chickadee."

Anyway. They flew off to the others. They took my tip on the bird pajama party. They can spin platters like...."Rockin' Robin." Tweet. Tweet.

4) I went to pick up some books on hold at a library. They use the machines where you check yourself out. For some time now I could swear the machine was saying, “Please do not forget to take your libary card.” Today I was sure that’s what it said. There were people next to me, using the other machine. It repeated the phrase. Others waited. I turned to them and said, “It’s true.! It’s saying libary.” We laughed and discussed that this is what it’s come down to at the libary. When I went outside, right by the front door, there was a holly tree. I looked down. Berries. I was at the liberry. I should have complained at the dest. Driving down the road, I heard an amblance.

5) In the checkout line at the grocery store, I picked up the new issue of OK magazine with Britney Spears on the cover: the issue that’s been all over the place this week, “Britney’s Slim Down Secrets! How She Lost 15 Pounds in Four Weeks!” I held the issue up to the cashier and said, “…and here’s Britney’s secret. That photograph was taken in 2003. I read the gossip blogs on the ‘net. I make it my job to spread the truth. Her secret is a time machine." The cashier could not stop laughing. I told her, "OK magazine lies. I do not lie." Laughter. I was playing to a solid house. When I was done with my checkout she said, “Thank you for making me laugh.” I wondered. Who makes me laugh?

That’s five. What could ten be? Let’s see.

6) My mountain laurel is blooming. Lavender blossoms.

7) I sent a birthday card to a friend and did a bangup job with it. I would show it or describe it, but he reads this blog, and he hasn’t gotten the card yet, so….

8) Tattoos that made me laugh. Last night when I couldn’t sleep, I was channel surfing and caught part of L.A. Ink. The artists were at a convention, and one woman wanted to pick up some ink from a former colleague in Chicago, a remembrance of when she lived there. He sketched out a rat with a banner beneath it saying “Chicago.” At first she was reluctant. He said, “Chicago has rats.” She agreed and let him ink a rat on her wrist. Tonight, I saw a woman in a short sleeved top with what I thought were two black panther tails curling down her arm. She lifted up her sleeves. On both arms, down the back, F holes. “Like on a guitar,” she said.

9) Listening to my iPhone go off and hearing my ringtone: the opening staccato rhythms of The Dropkick Murphys doing “Shipping Up To Boston.” I keep seeing Jack Nicholson driving over the Bunker Hill Bridge in The Departed. I love crossing that bridge at night.

10) Explaining steamed spotted dick.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Stuff Of Life

Last night, I was talking to an old friend online. He has lived out in San Francisco for some time now, but he's originally from Baltimore. He was drinking tequila while he made his dinner.

Today he sent me a news article debunking past medical advice that we drink eight glasses of water a day, calling it a health myth. I told him I did so nonetheless, as I like the taste of water, and I prefer to think I'm keeping my system hydrated and flushed.

I told him how the night before, a television ad had come on for Don Eduardo Tequila and I had thought of him. "More like Don Pardo," he replied. Then he added. "…like my champagne….Dom DeLuise."

We didn't get around to discussing the dangers of Hyponatremia: fatality from water intoxication (too much Ecstasy.) Maybe we'll save that for another time. We did discuss the living dead, and I don't mean the party girl who had a heart attack from dancing for eight hours, blowing a whistle.

His neighbor is dying of a pancreatic cancer. He told me, "One day I saw him and something told me inside he was dead . I said, "You can see death inside people at times. I know twice in my life I've looked into someone's eyes and seen death lurking in there. It's like they've already given up and let death in." He replied, "Yeah. I couldn't drink at a bar one night because the bartender looked like a corpse. I told my friend this and he was laughing, that was Thanksgiving. On New Years, they found his corpse in his apartment. He had stroked out over Christmas."

:::Thinking About The Whistle Song by Pulsedrive:::

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