Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Drowning with sorrow

Setting aside for a moment the tragic loss of thousands of lives, many of whom were unable to evacuate the coast and were stuck in New Orleans with all the morons who said "oh, no! We'll ride it out!" That whole mess aside, I am really devastated by the loss of New Orleans. NO was, arguably, the coolest city in the USA. It was the epicenter of a unique culture. Jazz, that amazing genre of music which has been called the only truly American art form, was invented in NO. It was an intersection of several cultures, which over the centuries evolved into something utterly itself. It was French, Creole, Carribean Indian, and African. The Creole language is unique to the NO area. NO was famous for its food, hospitality, parties (Mardis Gras in particular), and general otherness. There's no other way to put it. It was it's own thing, and it didn't give a shit about the rest of the world.

The city is gone.

As of this morning, 80% of the city was under 20 feet of water or more, and the water was still rising. it was estimated that another 10% of the city would be under 10 feet of water within a matter of hours. The city is at the mouth of the Mississippi River delta, and is situated below sea level. It only existed because of a series of dikes, levees, and pumping stations, which continually pumped water out of the city. The levees were destroyed by the category 4 hurricane, and the pumps are no longer operational. The death toll is estimated in the thousands. I think that's conservative, because soon people will start dying of diseases that will be spread by the water. The water which currently has thousands of dead bodies floating in it.

No one's saying it yet, but the city is gone. It won't be rebuilt. The coastline will be redrawn. Even if people were willing and able to spend the billions of dollars necessary to drain and rebuild the city, it would quixotic fantasy, since nothing would prevent the next F4 storm from repeating the devastation. (Oh, damn. I just did it. I was going to try to write this post without using the word "devastation." Well shit.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Small town

All my life I've been hearing a phrase, one that I always took to have little to no meaning. A phrase that was collective wishful thinking at best, mass halucination at worst. The phrase is "downtown community."

Now, I was born in a small town. And I live in a small town. I pray to god I don't die in a small town. And this town likes to think it has a "downtown community." The downtown community, i suppose, refers to the 8 people who live on Main Street, as opposed to the 35 thousand people (like myself) who live way out in those suburbs, and have a 3 minute bicycle commute to downtown.

The existance of this so-called downtown community has been used many a time as the justification for all kinds of rediculous city spending projects. As in "we have to have faux brick sidewalks to improve the aesthetic for the downtown community" and "we should take Main street down to one lane in each direction and add extra parking to slow traffic for the safety of the downtown community."

Give me a fucking break. Downtown Jackson is a 1/2 square mile area with 3 traffic lights, no housing to speak of, and more empty buildings than occupied ones. The sum total of downtown activities consists of an antique car show once a month during the summer, in which the same 20 antique cars show up and the same 200 toothless, flipflop-wearing, beergutted rednecks show up and spit tobacco on the sidewalks. It's dead people. Get over it.

How do I know this? With what authority do I speak? I work "downtown." I work in a convenience store. I'm not proud of this, but it is, well, convenient, and it's half-decent tax-free cash until I move to Bristol. My work in the inconvenience store (IS) consists primarily of selling pop and cigarettes to aforementioned flipflop fashionettes (how d'ya like that there alliteration, Maude?) and listening to them babble at me, sometimes for upwards of 30 minutes, about their miserable lives. And why do I do this? Because there isn't enough business to keep my busy with customers, so while I'm sitting by the til being bored, people take it as a free licence to treat me as their fucking therapist. Christ, there isn't even enough energy in the "downtown community" to keep one clerk in the only convenience store in town busy!

One of my regulars is Russ. Russ smells. He does not practice personal hygiene. He likes to tell me stories about the "nigger" he killed (his language. I never use that word), and his little daughter (someone had sex with him?!?!?). Often he cries. He likes to bring me treats. I eat nothing that man has touched. He calls me "little lady," which I'm sure he thinks is very respectful. Though if he's so concerned about being respectul to a lady, he shouldn't tell me stories about being kidnapped by "wetbacks," or "gook-hunting." I ask him to not use that language. He aplogizes, keeps on using it, and eventually starts crying.

So why am I telling you all this? There's a point, really, and I'll be there in a minute.

I was talking on the phone yesterday with my old friend, Shamrock. Shamrock and I have known each other since we were born. We grew up on the same street, played together as kids, and in high school when the other kids trash-talked me, she was the only person to publicly defend me. An act made all the more remarkable, as she was extremely popular, and was putting her own reputation in serious jeopardy by associating with me.

Shamrock is great. She's got a little girl who's teriffic, she's worked her ass off to support herself and put herself through school while raising a child, and I'm really proud of her. Included in her herculean efforts was a stint waiting tables at a downtown bar. She was describing this phase of her life and mentioned the abundance of undesireable characters that would attempt to monopolize her attention during the lunch rush or take advantage of her generosity by begging for freebees. I said to her, "You must know Russ, then."

"Oh, my god yes," she replied. And we swapped Russ stories and our mutual exasperation at the knowledge that he somehow managed to breed. (An accomplishment I've yet to achieve myself. Mystifying.) During our conversation we discovered that we knew many of the same miscreants, and I finally began to realize that there actually is a downtown community. It's not a community in the sense that I think of a community, namely, a group of people who associate with one another due to common values or interests. No, I learned that a community is actually a small collection of inbred people who are unable to escape one another's presence and so insead retreat into the safety of their own warped fantasies. And we've got one. Boy, have we got one. And thank god I'm leaving. The thought of working in that convenice store for the rest of my life is turning my stomach so fast that if you wrapped my torso in copper wire I could power the Superdome. Yep, that's my community.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Oral fixation

Saw the ol' dentist today. Lovely guy. Got me choppers cleaned up and polished and took some x-rays to make sure i don't have any problems, which I don't. I just wanted to double check before I move back to the land where the dentistry is rated as highly on the international spectrum as the cuisine. You'll be pleased to know that I passed with flying colors. (Since I know you've all be sitting around on pins and needles just waiting for news of my gingivitis situation. Which, by the by, is no longer a situation. Yay.) This means that I've got a clean bill of health to go and use my sparkling mouth for whatever purposes or activities I deem desirable. Double yay. Queue forms here.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Civl War is an oxymoron

Well, it turned into a beautiful day after all. The clouds broke, the sun came through, and it's like a steam bath out there. Not that I object - I'm tropical. After the sun came and drove away the gloom, I heard the squirrels chatter, the birds twitter, the canons thunder, the lea...

Wait. The what now? The canons thunder? Yep. This weekend is the 273rd annual Cascades Civil War Muster. (Do the math. Go on, I dare ya.) Every year at the end of August thousands of "reenactors" congregate at Sparks Foundation Memorial Park, just a block from my quiet home, wearing replica clothing, carrying replica weapons, and having replica battles. Or so they claim.

As a child, the CWM was a chance to spend a day with my big brother, to walk around amongst the canvas tents and look at old coins (he was a collector), leather goods, and assorted hand crafts, and to eat elephant ears and drink fresh lemonade. I liked it mostly for the food and for the chance to follow my hero and nearest genetic relative about for a few hours. It was never about the war, the history, or any of the other shit they claim reenactments teach kids. It was way more about the elephant ears. (For those of you who don't know, elephant ears are dinner plate-sized pieces of sweet dough, deep friend and covered with cinamon and sugar. In Pennsylvania they are called funnel cake. Elsewhere they're just called fried dough. Here, they are elephant ears, and they make me happy.)

As an adult, I'm bothered by the muster, not just because of the noise (which is doing my cat's head in) or the smell of gunpowder (which I rather like), but because of the history it's not teaching. Or more accuately, because of the non-history it is teaching. CWMs and reenactments don't teach people about the greusome horrors of the American Civil or any other war. They present a pretty, romantic, glossed over view of history that is dominated by dainty women in pretty clothes and fair food. (We just keep coming back to the food, don't we?)

This is not war. People who come from all over the state to watch the "battles" don't see blood, they don't watch soldiers starving or freezing to death, they don't hear the screams of men having their limbs amputated with rusty saws and no anesthesia. They are not witnessing a war. They are witnessing a performance, where men and boys in fun costumes pretend to shoot each other with cap guns and fall down, only to get up a few moments later, smiling, and waving at the appreciative audience members, who are clapping and eating cotton candy.

Not only do these musters fail to do any good with regard to historical education (which is nearly non-existant in this country), but I believe they actively damage what little education there is. This is not a benign event. By presenting a family-friendly performance and saying "See, Junior? This is what war is like," we are sheltering our children from the crucial knowledge they need to make informed decisions about real action, real wars. Like oh, I don't know, IRAQ! We are deliberately presenting them with a pretty, glossy view of humanity's darkest endeavors and crippling thier ability to think critically about genuine human atrocity.

Failing to provide our youth with accuate information regarding our nation's history is a crime, deliberately contaminating them with misinformation is unforgivable, and making a carnival of the carnage that is war is an affront to the memory of every soldier and victim who died as a result of armed combat.

Dark days

It's past 10 in the morning, and it's black as night outside. The clouds are thick, heavy, and low. It's pouring rain.

When I left at 8 with the geriatric beagle, it was overcast and just finishing a spit, but in the 90 minutes we spent sniffing day-old dog piss and rolling on squirrel shit the sky went from brushed aluminum to gunmetal to aplocolypse. We got home, walked in the house, and just as I unhooked the leash from Daisy's collar, it opened up and deluged. We're not just talking rain, here. We're talking build-me-an-ark, Niagara Falls level downpour. I can barely hear the ticking of my keyboard over the wet din in the background.

Gee it's nice.

I've got a million things to do, but the darkness is sapping me of all my energy. It's a perfect day to curl up with a quadruped and finish watching the BBC "Pursuasion" which I started last night. Yay.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Phundy photos

This was taken at the Hopewell Rocks, a beautiful geologic formation carved out by the Bay of Fundy's extreme tides.

Our campsite was located just meters away from Wolf Lake, where we heard the loons call every evening. This is a juvenile loon just after sunrise.

Dixon Falls is a lovely walk (I won't dignify it by calling it a hike - it was all boardwalk and only 1.5 km long) which passes by many secic waterfalls. Good moss. Really, I should have gone into byrology. I just couldn't stop admiring the moss.

The Salmon River was stunning. As you can see, the weather was perfect, and we didn't encounter any other hikers on the trail. It was easy to fill like we were the only people alive on earth. Beautiful. We went swimming in the river where the waterfalls carved out swimming holes. My god, that water was cold!

Base camp. I had the little tent to myself. Two of my friends were in the big one next to me. The nights were moist and balmy, save for one when i got zero sleep because i was so cold. That cold, clear night was painfully beautiful. Painful because I lost circulation in all my extremities, beautiful because the stars were perfect and shimmering and clear.

We went for a wildlife-spotting drive one evening. We didn't see any wildlife (save for a rabbit, a frog, and a few squirrels), but we did see this spectacular sunset.

The Bitch herself, standing by a stretch of the Salmon River.

I don't have HBM's gift for narrative, but I'm going to attempt to share some more of the experiences in words. A picture may be worth a thousand, but there are some things of which you can't take a photograph.

Like my stunned surprise when I learned that on the overnight away from base camp at a remote campsite that was only accessible by foot, we would be hiking in over treacherous terrain with a magnum of chardonay and CHEESE FONDUE! (I volunteered to carry the wine and the toilet paper, figuring that would garuntee my safety. The bearer of the booze and the t.p. is the most indespensible person on the trip.)

On my friend's 30th birthday, we celebrated with a dinner of live boiled lobster. This was camping? Who eats lobster when they're camping? I mean besides Earnest Hemmingway...

L's incessant whining. My god, will it ever end?...

Dog dynamics. There were 8 people and 5 dogs on this trip. 3 of the dogs had to be kept out of biting range of one another. The people were even worse. This family operates exactly like a pack of wolves. If you understand canine hierarchies, you can figure them out. Last week I witenessed the ascension of a new alpha male. It was beautiful and terrifying and pitiable, all at once.

Good moss.

Temper tantrums from small children are intolerable. Temper tantrums from GROWN WOMEN make me embarassed to share a gender with such churlish shrews.

Provincial bird: the mostquito.

Running at dawn across Caribou Plain, breath and mist, sweat and steam mingling. Sneakers falling on soft pine needles and gentle ground, total exhileration, absolute liberation. I am primal, primordeal, free, uninhibited, unintimidated. I am flying through time, with dew and geologic eras sailing past me as my legs power me across the terrain.

Followed by blueberry pancakes and bacon.

The flavor of the delicious breeze coming off the bay up the ridge where I hiked the coastline one cerulean afternoon.

Stones of every color, side by side on the sand at low tide, smooth, napping in the sun with the periwinkles.

Living a week in the warm and familiar presence of Wally and Viola, sharing meals again, going about daily life, simple chores in their company, hearing their comforatable voices last thing before I go to bed. It was wonderful and bittersweet. Saying goodbye at the end of the week was a serrated pain in my heart. again. i don't know when we'll next meet. it could be a very long time. I hate that about my life.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Home again, home again jiggety jig

back from vaca. too tired and too busy to do any posting at the mo. i'll get some pics and anecdotes up in the near future. tonight maybe. all in all, a great holiday. hung out, hiked, ate lobster. yeah. good holiday.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Bitching, barfing, and Bryan Adams

The Bitch is going on vaca, leaving in just 8.5 hours. She is going here. She will be back in 10 days, at which time she will post photos to make you wish you had her life. Suckers.

Oh, and I didn't make it to the Bryan Adams / Def Leppard concert. No one would come with me. Losers. I wound up going to the county fair with some of my parents' friends (but not my parents) and eating deep fried fair food, which was good going down, not so good coming back up again six hours later. If I'd known I was going to spend the night barfing anyway, I'd've gone on a few rides. What a jip.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Cactus does not equal twat

My Aunt, Sr. Mary Pain in My Ass, does not like cacti. Can you guess why? See if you can follow this logic...

She does not like cacti because they remind her of some of Georgia O'Keefe's desert scapes, which remind her of Georgia O'Keefe's floral works, which remind her of her vagina, which she dislikes because she is a 68 year old nun and is completely out of touch (very literally) with her sexuality. I"m not making this up. She told me this on our recent visit to a botanical garden while we were wandering the arid collections. So in her mind, this

equals this
equals this

equals this

equals BAD.
So she looks at a cactus and sees a vagina.
Lord save us from such trains of thought.

Badass nuns through the ages

I'm tired, and I have a headache, but I had this notion on Sunday and I feel that if I don't get it out there now, it will die a silent death with the majority of my other ideas. That's how it is with ideas. They sort of coalesce in the back of your brain, flit about a bit, and then just dissipate, never touching even for an instant the world outside your scull. Occasionally two of them will bump into each other, have a very brief good time together, and a third idea will emerge, but then all three of them die anyway so it's really no great matter. No, most ideas never go anyhere or amount to anything. Maybe that's why I do this. I think if I get my ideas out of my brain and into a slightly more permanent medium, then at least that there's a chance that someone else will do something with them, even if I don't. (Bare in mind that's not a licence do do what you will with my ideas, all willy-nilly like. If you use one or do anything with it that earns a profit, I expect to be properly compensated in cash or crack.)

Here's the idea I had on Sunday:

I was at Sr. Pain-In-The-Ass's golden jubilee. (For all you Philistines out there, that means she's been a nun for 50 years.) Mostly it was boring. The Mass was appalling (third worst homily I've ever heard in my life), and the reception consisted of a bunch of people I've never met before accosting me with hugs and making it knownt that they knew all about my life in remarkable detail, thanks to Sr. PITA. It was disconcerting at the very least. The day had some up sides though. (Oh, I forgot to mention the food. It sucked.) For one thing, I got to see my great uncles Hank and Frank. (I'm not making that one up; those are their real names.) The surviving brothers of my late maternal grandmother, Hank and Frank are really the only cool relatives I've got. They're old crotchety Polish men who smoke like chimneys, drink like Churchil, and are two of the nicest, funniest guys ever. I love my uncles. They're truly great, but I hardly ever get to see them. (The last time they graced my presence was at my grandmother's funeral back in 98.) On Sunday Frank announced that he'd cut back on his smoking. My mom said that's wonderful, how much have you cut back? He said about 2 inches-- I used to smoke the long cigarettes, and now I smoke the shorter ones! Ha! Gotta love that man. So seeing the uncles was good.

The other good thing was this idea I had. (I hope you don't think I'm trying to wind you up. It's not all that profound or anything, it's just this thought that occurred to me.) The thing is, I grew up around the clergy. I went to Catholic schools, I had several nuns for teachers, I went to Mass twice a week at least, we had priests over for dinner, and two of my aunts are nuns. (That's gotta be about as much Catholicism as anyone can handle.) Despite that, it was mostly my aunt Sr. PITA that shaped my perception of people of the cloth. I kind of assumed that most nuns were like her: well intentioned, but slightly dithery. The majority of nuns I met in school reinforced this theory. There was the occasional exception, like Sr. Kateri, but I figured she was the rare, level-headed oddity. I figured most nuns took vows because they couldn't look after themselves, and the order provided a secure community that would shelter them from the world. And my image of convents was very much like that of the anti-Christian Bradley, author of The Mists of Avalon, who portrays convents as stone cubby-holes where devout, simple-minded (nearly synonymous conditions in Bradley's eyes), fearful women hid from the harsh realities of life and sang chants and sewed pretty things.

And then I went to this jubilee celebration. There were lots of nuns celebrating jubilees, from 25th to 75th. They organized and ran the whole thing. There was a priest to celebrate Mass, but he was alone. Any other priests or bishops in attendance had to sit with the congregation. They weren't invited to concelebrate, as is the standard practice, because the Mercians don't like their fucntions to be dominated by men. Aside from the consecration, they don't have much use for men, and it only takes one man to do that, so why have a bunch of men at the alter standing there looking important when they're not contributing, right? Right.

These weren't well-intentioned dithering women who took orders because they were seeking a caretaker or a shelter. I looked at the sisters gathered around the altar, and I was amazed at the confidence, the competence, the charisma they exuded. These were not fearful women. They were the very opposite. They were fearless. They take no shit from men. They are absolutely convinced there isn't a thing to be done on this planet that can't be done by a woman. I spoke with some of them. These women run hospitals, they run some of the best schools in the state, they do hard work in hard environments. I have ethical issues with missionary work, but I acknowledge it's inherent danger and difficulty. There were woman who have traveled the world, who have been to its shittiest corners, who have, very literally, cleansed the wounds of lepers (it still occurs in Africa periodically). I met women who have been to prisons, Haiti, Mozambique, Afganistan, El Salvador, Sudan, and Detroit. These women run food banks and shelters, they've been held up at gunpoint, they been attacked, assaulted, and abused.

The Sisters of Mercy are dedicated to serving the poor, sick, and ignorant, and they do it in a way that is not condescending, but nourishing and life-affirming. They used to be quite a conservative order, but my mom explained that during Vatican II they took a left turn and kept on going. They don't wear habits. There are no rules for their clothing save it must be modest, and they only jewelry they may wear is the the cross of Mother MacAuley, who founded the order. I saw nuns with deep, leathery tans, silver hair worn in short, spikey dos, and wearing batik caftans from India and Pakistan. I saw nuns in crisp blue suits and starched bouses that would have camoflaged them on the floor of the Senate. I saw nuns in weather-beaten khakis and jackets that were probably the best clothes they could wear in a ghetto without being instantly mugged. These women were hiding from nothing. They were not seeking protection. They were seeking out and confronting those from whom the rest of society seeks protection: the poor, the violent, the mentally ill, the HIV victims, the lepers, child-soliders, and child runaways.

All this was rather a revelation, and it got me wondering about covents in Europe in the middle ages. Perhaps those women were just as strong, just as fearless. Perhaps they joined convents (the ones who joined voluntarily, not the ones who were given as gifts to the convent as infants) because it was the one place where they didn't have to be dependent on men. They wove tapestries and tended gardens and even livestock. Did they sell these goods? Did they have business ventures? Our usual image of religious persons in the middle ages is of monks and friars out doing good, and timid, cloistered nuns shut up with their needles and thread. I would like to know more about the life of monastic women. I would like to look finacial records, tax scrolls, and any monetary records of how the convents were run. I would like to see what, if any, work the nuns did outside the wall, such as running hospices. I could be very wrong here, but I've got a sneaking suspicion that the nuns of the midde ages were occasionally, if not often, very much like the Mericans I saw on Sunday: smart, determined, capable women who cower before no one and go out and do the dirty work that needs doing.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Mental Excrement is one year old today. For the last 365 day, you have allowed yourself to be bored, irritated, interrogated, and occasionally even entertained by that loafer among slackers, Chaucer's Bitch. In celebration of this very non-momentuous non-event, and because I can't be bothered to write anything new at the mo, here are some of my less sucky posts. Enjoy. (Again.)



Tree Hunt

In Depression Veritas

New material is forthcoming.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Not worth a title

I assume the reason that there is no conversation in this room is because your mouths are all engaged in chewing on my chicken salad, and your hands are occupied in moving your sandwiches to and from your mouths. Or perhaps you strained the tendons in your fingers as a result of excess masturbation and are thus presently unable to type.

Saw 12th Night tonight. Not one of my favourite plays. In fact, one of my least favorite. I find it tedious. This production was pretty good, though. Lots of physical comedy. Nearly wet myself at one point.

(Notice that I retain my ability to type.)

Friday, August 05, 2005

Can't win

Me, 3 weeks ago: Mom, I've been offered a job at a party store, working 10-15 hours a week in the afternoon. I understand, however, that I have prior obligations to you and the FSM. Would you be willing to work something out so I can do both jobs?

Mom, 3 weeks ago: It sounds like an excellent idea. I can spare you in the afternoons because the intern is working then. It's daylight hours and right downtown so it's probably safe. Go ahead and take the job.

Mom, yesterday: It's lucky you got that extra job at the party store. The money is actually pretty good. That was quite the little honey pot you fell into.


Me, 3 months ago: Mom, I've been offered the chance to sign up with a rowing club for the summer. I'm not joining an 8 because I know I can't make the committment to the training schedule, but I was thinking of taking up sculling, because that would give me a lot more flexibility. If I miss a practice, I won't be screwing anyone over but me. The only trouble is, it's about 45 minutes away. I would need to borrow a car to get there. Is that something you would be willing to discuss?

Mom, 3 months ago: Absolutely. We almost never need both cars in the evening, so there's no reason you can't use the Prius. I know how much you've been missing rowing. How nice that they offer a summer membership package. This will be good training for you for when you go back to England.

Me, last night: Mom, is there any difficulty with me going sculling tonight? It's Thursday, and the gang is getting together at Dominick's after for a drink.

Mom, last night: I'm not sure. I'll need one car, because I have to be at the theatre. Check with your father and see if he needs the other car. If he doesn't go ahead and go. Have fun and be safe.


(Notice that even though I work 2 jobs, do most of the housework, and almost all of the cooking, not to mention I'm a 26 year old adult, the 'rents still feel compelled to lord the whole food and clothing thing over me. Like I've got a fucking choice.)

That's got to be a new record. I've now been yelled at twice in one morning for doing things that I asked permission to do and was sumarily granted. What the fuck? It's bad enough having to ask one's parents permission to do simple shit every fucking day when i've been living on my own for 7 years. But, they have let me live in their home for almost a year, and so I swallow my pride and for civility's sake, I ask permission. And I get screamed at anyway. where did I go wrong, here?

This is my favorite: when she yelled at me to get off my lazy ass and get cleaning (this from a woman who consistenly spends at least 2 hours every day playing video games), I pulled out a pad of paper and a pen and asked her exactly what she would like me to do. I was absolutely polite, and not snarky at all. I did this because we have been down this road before, and when I'm asked to clean, the reaction when I'm done usually goes something like this:

"Do you call this clean?"
"Um, yeah. Is anything wrong?"
"Are you blind? How can you call this clean?"
"What did I miss?"
"What would you like fixed?"

My esteemed mother has a case of martyritis. Unlike most people with martyritis, however, hers is not terminal. Which is, of course, the problem. So on this particular morning when she asked me to clean up, I picked up a pad and pen and asked her exactly what she wanted me to do. I wanted her to see that I was taking her request seriously and that she had my full attention, and since I am prone to forgetting things, that I was taking steps to be as thorough as possible. This is the response I got:


At which point she stares at me, expecting an answer. This is her passive-agressive side coming out (normally she's just flat-out agressive). She wants a confrontation, and she wants to be right, so she's creating a lose-lose-lose situation for me. I have 3 possible choice, all equally bad. I can either...
a. Tell her what I think, that it is she who is being rude and obnoxious without provocation, that I was genuinely tyring to be helpful, and I don't know why she thinks I have an attitude problem. Even though it's true, this is one of those occasions when honesty clearly isn't the best policy, tempting though it may be.
b. Tell her what she wants to hear, that no, of course she should not be treated rudely in her own home (never mind that for the moment it's my home too), agree with her completely, and attempt to pacify her as politely as possible. This is a very difficult choice, since by this time I am so angry I am on the verge of physical violence. It's also going to be completely innefective, since I know from experience that when asked a question, even if I agree with it, she will contend that I have an attitude problem and continue to yell and scream like a banshee in labor.
c. Put down the pen and walk away slowly, to give her time to cool off from whatever has her all hot and bothered. I could opt to not play into her hand, to refuse to answer the question at all, to end the confrontation on the principle which she herself taught me, lo these many years ago: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Always walk away from a fight if you know you can't win."
I put down the pen. I move one foot, yes ONE FOOT, in the direction of the door. You can guess what happened.
Yep. Saw that coming. Some days trying to reason with that woman is like dancing with the devil. You just know you can't win, and you never did anything wrong in the first place.

I hate my life. I hate that for the past 9 months I have been less than a person. I am not allowed to express emotion in my "home." I am not allowed to explain that sometimes I am unhappy, that the things you motherfuckers do are really inconsiderate and unfair. I am not allowed to express dissatisfaction or frustration of any kind. Such a gesture, no matter how calmly and carefully stated, is immediately perceived by the parental units as ingratitude for everything they've ever done for me, and they threaten to throw me out. Believe me, if I had anywhere else to go, I'd have taken them up on it ages ago. Then comes...

The Mind Fuck.

This occurs whenever I express any sort of excitement or happiness at the prospect of departing for England on September 21. She gets all weepy eyed and sniffs and whimpers things like "I don't want you to go. You'll be so far away, and I'm afraid you're never coming back! Don't go! Stay here! *Sniff* Don't you love me?"


47 days, motherfuckers... 47 days.

oh, and just for shits, a customer came in to the shop this afternoon, put a bunch of items on the counter, harassed me for 10 minutes about being out of her brand of cigarettes, then asked, "this is a cash only establishment, isn't it?"
"Yes," I replied.
"Never mind." And out she went.

Why are people going out of their way, expending their time and energy, for the sheer purpose of PISSING ME OFF?

47 days...

Party on, dude.

Good lord, if I didn't know better, I'd think I was developing a social life. Just got back in from 2, count 'em TWO, consecutive parties. Did a hot, sweaty, 15K steady state down the club. Got back to the dock and I was so soaked I couldn't tell where my sweat ended and the humidity began. Went straight from stanky sweaty dock to stanky sweaty bar with crowd of stanky sweaty rowers. (The scenery was lovely, and I ain't talking about the fucking trees, honey. There are few things in this world more enjoyable than watching a boat full of 8 6'+ lads with glistening washboards and damp, clinging spandex come off the water heaving and huffing. It's a beautiful thing. And people wonder why I love this sport. Walleys.) Hung out with the lads, had a few beers. Drove back to hometown and straight to cast party full of lovely Shakespearean actors. Not as fit, but 10 times as poetic, so I'll forgive them. According to one, the great disappointment of his summer was not seeing me in my bikini. Poor dear will have to learn to live with disappointment. (Course, he doesn't know it, but I was doing him a favor. I'm sure whatever his mental image was, it far exceeded the actual product, so really he's much happier without me disallusioning him.) Had a few glasses of wine, flirted like a demon, and genrally had a cracking time. wow. It's almost like having a life...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Culinary fucking genius

Since I began cooking at the tender age of 6 (my mom refused to pack my lunch for me, so as soon as I started all-day school, I had to make my own sandwiches), I have slowly, arduously, with great gusto and many setbacks, been perfecting my own recipe for...

...chicken salad.

Quit laughing. Chicken salad is a fine art, and requires a subtle touch. Sure, any moron can chop up a bunch of leftover roast chicken and smear some mayonaise on it, but that ain't proper chicken fucking salad.

Now, after 20 years of steady practice, I'm pretty handy in the kitchen. I can make anything you've got a recipe for, and I'm pretty good with modification and invention. I do stews and chowders that would satisfy a starving Icelandic fisherman, my pie crusts flake like a bad case of dandruff (there's an apetizing similie for you), and my salad courses are the stuff of legend. I have high standards for my cooking because I require that my food meet numerous criteria. It can't just taste good. Oh no, mis companeros, even McFuckingDonalds can make food taste good. My food must:
Taste good
Look attractive/ have an appealing presentation
Smell appetizing and mouth watering
And most importantly, be extremely nutrious. (With the exception of my exceptional desserts, all of my food is extremely healthy, 'cause I'm one of those granola-smoking health nuts.)

In the spirit of friendship and charity and bragging, I'm going to do something I don't normally do: I'm going to give you all one of my truly original recipes. I made this up. I invented it. I take full credit for it. It's almost totally different from Viola's chicken salad, sort of. I highly recommend you try this out. Your chicken salad eating days will never be the same. Allow it to entice you, satisfy you, and nourish you body and soul and tastebuds. Life is good. (for everyone but the chicken. poor bastard.)

World's Best Chicken Salad

You will need:
4 large, skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Cooking oil
1 Cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
1 Cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 Cup coarsely chopped celery
Miracle Whip (or mayonaise, if you're a loser)

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet. Cut the chicken breasts into strips, and place in pan. (The pan should be large enough so that the pieces just touch. If they are piled on top of one another, get a bigger fucking pan you moron and learn how to brown chicken properly.) Season the chicken while it is cooking. Season lightly with salt, and generously with pepper and paprika. Cook the chicken gently until it is done through. Remove chicken from heat and place on layered paper towels to soak up any extra oil and moisture. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, chop your apricots, walnuts, and celery, and place them all in a large mixing bowl. When the chicken is cooled, chop it into 1 cm. cubes, and add it to the bowl. Add just enough Miracle Whip (or mayonaise, if you're a loser) to glue everything together, about 1 Cup, and mix thoroughly. Enjoy in a sandwich with good brown bread, or as a cool summer lunch on a bed of greens with slices of ripe tomato. Serve with cold ice tea. You're welcome.