17 December 2007

'Tis the season

Ah, Twelfth Night. One could possibly argue that the season is officially over. The drummers drumming have been given, the magi have arrived. Enough! But I will persist: 'tis the season.

I had a great holiday with my family. I "hosted" the family this year due to potential professional commitments. We rented a home for a week in Hood River, Oregon. It was quite lovely, and the house was much better suited for six crows than my Portland apartment. For many of us, it was our first White Christmas. The snow on the lawn, however magical, was not nearly as enjoyable as the company inside the house. It was also not nearly as entertaining.

One of my earliest vacation memories involves my Dad throwing a particularly colorful hissy fit before throwing a cassette tape out the car window when I asked if we could please flip the tape over and listen to the other side. I'm sure there were other underlying reasons for tossing the tape, but when it comes right down to it, I am too young to remember much more than watching the iridescent brown film flying down the road out the rear window of my parent's Buick. Since then, Crow family vacations aren't quite complete without Dad getting mad at the car, getting mad inside the car, or doing something he might later regret with the car. This trip was no exception.

On the first night, Mike drove the car down the driveway. Or, he drove half of the car down the driveway and the other half onto a ledge in the neighbor's yard. Granted, he was driving a rental and the driveway was very narrow. It was quite rainy, and Mike couldn't get the traction he needed, even with the help of a very eager and very generous passerby. At one point, the car's rear tire was about three feet off the ground. I seem to remember asking, "Umm, Miguel, are you sure that's a good idea?" as Dad balanced precariously on the hood, his feet bobbing around the tire while the stranger dude was at the wheel with the pedal to the metal. At another point, our eager assistant almost impaled his girlfriend with a wet board shooting out from the front wheel drive tire. Luckily, Mama Crow was on hand to call a AAA tow truck and to raise the stakes to the point where my dad and his new buddy would give up on trying to machismo their way out of this predicament. I made omlettes and turned on the weather channel, one of Mike's favorite pacifiers, and I think this helped, too, though not nearly as much as the tow truck.

The highlight of the gathering was my nephew. This the first of many Christmases we'll spend with him. KenKen and I were fast friends when we met a few months ago. My sister's cats always liked me right away, too, which leads me to believe that we two sisters stink alike. I don't think he changed much looks-wise over the past two-and-a-half months, but he's now capable of crawling, bouncing, hoisting himself up and standing with assistance. He's quite a jolly baby, and very intent on everything that is happening around him. It was fun to watch him wonder at Grandpa as he makes impressive nose blowing noises, or peering out the window in Mama Crow's arms. As Auntie Kim, I spent a good deal of time with KenKen riding around on my shoulders. Ken loved this, and would bounce around, grabbing two fists full of my hair to steer me about a la Remy in Ratatouille (a film we enjoyed one evening). Once Mike put his grandson on his shoulders. Kenneth tried to grasp onto some hair, but there was nothing up there to grab.

My brother-in-law, Brian, has garnered quite a reputation among my familiars for being one of my prime sources for simultaneous amusement and frustration. This trip did little to discredit his status as a minor celebrity among the Crow clan. Brian is trying to learn his fourth language. He's already fluent in Japanese and English, and he's a native speaker of Mandarin. None of these languages are particularly easy, so good on him, right? But instead of following Mama Crow's suggestion that he take a few "improve your accent" style ESL classes, Brian is trying to learn Spanish.

Now, this is the fellow with whom I often tease out the phrase "vomiting vultures" because his tongue twists it around to sound more like "womiting wohtuyls". I realize that this is culturally insensitive and a little bit cruel, but it also makes me laugh until I question my capacity for bladder control. Spanish is turning out to be similarly disastrous. After all, a large portion of Spanish depends on successfully pronouncing syllables. There's a lot of V and R sounds in Spanish, which aren't part of the Mandarin phonetics. Brian would try testing out his new language skills with me, since Spanish is my foreign tongue of choice.

"Quay soweltay!"

"What the heck are you saying to me?"

"What luck! How lucky!"

"Do you mean 'Que suerte' Brian?"


The trilled double r's were particularly bothersome to me. He would follow me around showing off his trilling skills, or lack thereof. I think of the dexterous tongue roll needed for the double r's as being very focused in the front of the mouth. With Brian, it's guttural and throaty. It sounds a little like he is trying to cough up a hairball from giving his burro a tongue bath. "Sounds German?" asked Mama Crow, perplexed. "I AM NOT SPEAKING DEUTCH!" says Brian. Oh boy. Wunderbar!

Brian also caused me to be vaguely annoyed making me chauffeur his ass all the way to Beaverton for a "networking opportunity" when I really wanted to give my family a personal tour of my adopted home town. This was the one thing I really wanted to do while everyone was here, and it was prevented thanks to a fussy baby (forgivable) and Brian's excursion (not so forgivable). The frustration of this was relived when he dragged me and Jennifer to the the Tofurky world headquarters. This event has a not so interesting story about wandering back and forth and pissing off Jennifer and annoying a pregnant vegan with his "networking skills." One would think he would have gotten a clue after the fourth round of freebies she gave us. If anyone needs some tofu lunch meat, give me a call.

Anyway, in the wake of my wonderful holiday, I am reminded that 'tis the season, indeed. 'Tis the season for depression. I have a tendency for getting sad, S.A.D. and really fucking depressed. My first experience with depression dates back to my last year of high school. It left me with a self-awareness beyond my years and an aversion to Jimi Hendrix. I've had several recurrences, but none so memorable, or so drastic as the first. Since then, running on a sort of low-grade depression is sort of my norm. Like everyone, I have my ups and downs and my minor existential crisis or two in which I declare that I have no marketable job skills.

I will say that this bout of depression knocked me on my ass faster than most, and with fewer overt warning signs. I went from feeling pretty good in the week I spent with my family to spending several days with the mental capacity to do little more than stare at that paint on the wall. This transition happened in a matter of two or three days. I got a nasty virus, and as usual, this couldn't have happened at a worse time. By slowing down to shake the bug, I think the stress of my the past few months caught up with me. My days were marked by exhibitions of self-sabotage and blathering incoherently on the floor of my apartment. While today is better than yesterday, I still feel a very long way from normal. I am distracted, hazy and hopeless. I want to do nothing more than withdraw completely and take an indeterminately long break from reality.

Part of the upswing of having a history of depression comes with the knowledge that one rarely gets what one wants, and this is sometimes a good thing. With this cognizance, I can take better care of myself. It doesn't matter how badly I want to slip out of the context of the real world, I need to get help, and that needs to take priority.

15 December 2007

A Gift in a Moment

I went for a walk through downtown Portland this evening and it finally dawned on me: 'Tis the season!

I'm not quite sure why today marked my sudden awareness of the encroaching holiday. One might have supposed that Christmastide would have settled in as I stood in line at Trader Joe's listening to Macca's proclamation that everybody everywhere was "simply having a wonderful Christmastime!" I'm sure this song has played each time I've visited TJs in the past month and a half, much to the chagrin of the store crew members. Apparently my years of saturating my brain with The Beatles has rendered me immune to the implications of this ditty.

My Christmas oblivion is partially steeped in the fact that I've been stuck in some sort of theatrical chrysalis of research and rehearsal for the past month. Those who are fluent in the language of theatre might consider this my personal "living the dream" moment. My other friends and associates probably assume that I've had my head up my ass for the past four weeks. The truth probably lies somewhere between the two.

I'd adopt this as my official excuse for a delayed reaction to the holidays, but truth be told, Christmas has taken me by surprise for several years now. I think my new holiday tradition involves a pattern of avoidance and subsequently, a nostalgia for a particular holiday tradition at the Casa de Crow (also known as my parent's house).

Mama Crow is admirably gentle, generous and all other sorts of soft, comfortable words that begin with the letter 'g'. My mother has run a gift tree for what must be thirteen or fourteen years. She calls this project Christmas Gift Tree. Whereas I might shout out loud "LOOK AT ME AND MY PHILANTHROPY," Mama Crow stands quietly by with a clipboard full of loose-leaf binder paper taking names of gift givers. If someone takes notice of her efforts, her humble response seems to suggest that gift tag ornaments on the tree appeared there as if by magic.

While I was growing up, I was often recruited to help with the preparation for Christmas Gift Tree. Thanksgivings were spent with cramped hands from cutting out bells, stars and heart ornaments from construction paper. These ornaments were strung and labeled with an intricate alphanumeric coding system best deciphered by Mama Crow herself. Each ornament was checked out and returned with a gift. Even as a young upstart, I remember being pleasantly surprised by the high rate of return, and by the generosity of the gift givers.

The entire Crow family Christmas decoration, tree trimming, etc. is postponed until the last gift had been delivered. Our family gifts are stashed away, or not yet purchased. Indeed, this is Crowcrastination in the best sense of word.

My favorite part of the Christmas gift tree is a single moment. It's the moment that sums up what Christmas is about in absentia of both sales totals and religious rituals. It's the moment where the switch is thrown and I'm suddenly ready to accept that the holidays are upon us. Unfortunately, I've missed the opportunity to experience this sensation for the past several years because I don't live near my family. But even when I'm not around to experience it, I accept the reality of the holidays only after I recall the memory this moment.

After the gifts are returned, there is one day in December where you can walk into my parents' house to find not one corner of free space. On this day, I will walk into my childhood home to see literally hundreds of beautifully wrapped presents to go to children I will never meet. Each gift is a little representation of the dose of joy it will bring both the giver and the recipient. Collectively the packages, for a split second, bring me an overwhelming sense of happiness. I am so proud that my family can contribute to this project. Mostly, I am proud of Mama Crow and thankful for her gift of a memory that represents everything that is right with the world.

There's my Mama, who deserves a more quality photograph.

26 October 2007

You May Be Suffering from a Condition Called "Life"

I used to have a Callahan cartoon hanging on the wall of my old cubicle. It said: "You may be suffering from a condition called 'Life'... ask your physician about a new treatment called a swift kick in the ass..."

I think it might be time to get in touch with my doctor. I have a lot on my plate this next month. I've also been trying to grapple with how my life has been going over the past few weeks, and the results are not so pleasant. Many of my internal monologues are beginning: "If only I had... I wish I would have..." I feel like someone put the Pluperfect Subjunctive lesson of a Spanish for Dummies tape on a permanent loop.

Obviously, I've had a lot on my mind. To add to my list of complaints, things around me aren't quite working right. For example, my alarm clock is a paltry little travel alarm. I've had it for years and it serves its purpose well, despite the years of sustained abuse that has left its plastic frame cracked and dented. One of my favorite features of this clock is a temperature display. Currently, the thermometer on the clock reads 93.5 degrees. That can't be right because if I were to venture a guess, I'd say that the temperature in my drafty old apartment is pushing 50 tops. It's really cold in here. I'd turn on the heat, but the noise is really distracting.

Okay, so an alarm clock isn't a big deal, especially considering that the time is correct. I probably need to replace the battery. But I am continually running into a number of snafus- some of which are probably imaginary. The clock is a good example. When it comes to dealing with the problem, I can identify a potential remedy, but I can't find the impetus to take care of it.

Instead of mustering any sense of urgency, I've been retreating into myself. This must be a hazard of living alone. I don't think the shyness I've exemplified lately is naturally occurring. Something has turned up the amplitude of my introversion. The fact that my work has (temporarily) been largely independent in nature hasn't helped much either, I'm sure.

I probably need to give myself more credit. Let's hope a self-congratulatory pat on the back does the job of a swift kick in the ass. I won't be headed to the doctor anytime soon... who thinks up these atrocious health insurance plans?

22 October 2007

Death of a Cat

When it comes to discussing work on this blog, I try to follow the old Internet adage of "Be ye not so stupid." (a doocery, perhaps?) This is fine by me. Typically, nothing much happens and my fellow employees are good folks who drink a lot of crappy coffee and are mildly amused by the daily useless fact I post outside my cubicle. (Today's: Jupiter's moon Io has over 300 volcanoes.) But this issue has been bothering me is a way much akin to an itchy tag in a new garment. I might as well bring it up in this forum as an attempt to cut out its irritation on my psyche.

Theoretically, the following scenario could happen anywhere. Or, at least any place where people routinely congregate for hours on end; just as long as it was a place where people come together with familiar strangers on a daily basis. It has nothing to do with my j.o.b. It has very little to do with the well-caffeinated cohorts on an individual level. My point, I hope, has very little to do with the event itself and more to do with how we treat one another in social situations. So I'll give this one a go, and hope for a modicum of success.

Last Wednesday, one of my co-workers parked her car in the on-site parking lot. After a few minutes upstairs in her cubicle, someone from the smokers' crew informed her that her car was meowing in the most terrible way.

Recently, this lady had been pleased by her two newly acquired kittens. They were to help as mousers in her rural property in a town named after a local volcano. One kitty had crawled up into the engine block. The cat was very much alive, and very cute, despite the fact that one of its front legs had been partially amputated. By which I mean to say that part of its leg was completely missing, but the entire appendage was not lost. It was a gruesome injury, and there was quite a bit of blood in a non-hemorrhaging sort of way.

I do not brag McGuyver-like veterinary skills, so I knew I would not be able to cauterize the bleed with a Bic lighter and a staple remover. But I also knew that the kitty would bleed to death if someone did not do so within the hour. I thought it was quite an intrepid little feline to have survived being mangled and to balance itself in the engine block of a vw bug for a 30+ mile commute. I was sure it could probably live a pretty decent life as a three-legged cat.

The woman was understandably shaken up. She called her husband (he was home sick with the flu) to figure out what to do with the cat. She spent quite a while deliberating. Several co-workers stepped up to the plate: they would help the lady take her kitty to the Dove Lewis emergency animal hospital. When the woman voiced concerns about financing a visit to an emergency clinic, one man even offered to cover the expense up to $5000.

But the lady decided that an emergency clinic would not do. She decided to make the return trip to her home 30 miles away in order to pick up her husband before bringing the cat to her local veterinarians office. The cat did not make it to the vet.

Now, almost a week later, people are still talking about this kitten incident. Perhaps I bear the brunt of the gossip because of I am situated between the office supply cabinet and the fax machine. This, oft to my chagrin, seems to be the prime place for folks to shoot the breeze. Or perhaps they are drawn in by the trivial ditties on my whiteboard (Friday's: Queen Elizabeth I was obsessed with her hands.) and feel that I might be perceptive to their commentary. It could be that I have developed a talent for listening.

People have come to me with a barrage of complaints against the woman. Mostly these people are critical of how she handled the situation. Inevitably, they bring up the issue of accepting help when it is granted, the financial obligation of pet ownership, or codependency. Everyone has some sort of opinion about the situation. It seems unprecedented in my work environs, but people are coming to me hoping for my hermeneutic viewpoints.

I am trying to remain neutral. Yes, I have very strong opinions about what it means to be a responsible pet owner. Yes, I wholeheartedly throw my hands up in celebration of independence. But is it really my place to critique this woman because I may have made a few different choices? Absolutely not.

When all is said and done, this event was purely an accident. This woman had to make a choice under trying circumstances. There was no black and white answer.

02 October 2007

Leavin' on a midnight plane to Brooklyn.

I'm headed off into the wild blue yonder this evening. Wish me luck on the red eye! Tonight's flight is the start of a whirlwind adventure that I hope to chronicle here in the near future.

I still have some last-minute frayed ends to tie up before I leave. In my rush to get stuff done, where am I directing my misplaced anxiety? Forthcoming library fines. They are as yet non-existent, but I fear that I'll misplace some materials I borrowed in my furious wake. Ridiculous!

01 October 2007

The Hunks of PBS

A few weeks ago I was (rightly) accused of watching too much PBS. Many people have argued that my affection for its wonderful programming was just and appropriate as there is no such thing as too much public television. I beg to differ. I realized I had a problem waiting in the queue at the grocery store. I caught a glimpse of a gentleman in line ahead of me who was wearing a plaid flannel shirt. This conjured fond memories of watching This Old House; the mere recollection of which made me salivate. I think that spells serious conditioning, if not a serious public broadcast consumption problem. If bell is to Pavlov's dogs, then plaid flannel is to me.

Though I admit I have a bit of a problem with the PBS viewing, I have no intention of giving it up. After all, the station regularly affirms that the problem is brought on by viewers like me. I am very much looking forward to a winter of evening Sunday evenings curled up on the couch with some mulled beverage and Masterpiece Theatre. It's an exciting life I lead.

So, by special request, I present to you THE HUNKS of PBS. It's a list of twelve, just in case my local affiliate wants to turn it into a calendar for their next pledge drive giveaway. I tried my darnedest to stick to current or upcoming programming. In lieu of naming specific months (i.e. Mr. March), these gents are listed in order of preference.

12. Rudy Maxa

Aw, Rudy's trying to give us a big hug! Mr. Maxa hosts Smart Travels: Europe with Rudy Maxa. He was previously known as The Savvy Traveler on NPR. I am relatively new to this show, but Maxa makes his way onto this list because he gives me the pleasure of watching a travelogue sans Rick Steves. I appreciate the vantage of an experienced traveler, but Steves' has afflicted the American tourist with an unfortunate dependence upon money belts. Mr. Maxa's show is one of the first PBS programs to appear in HDTV. Way to be ahead of the curve!

11. "Everyman"- The PBS Logo

Never underestimate the value of a silent partner.

The PBS "Everyman", deigned by the infamous branders at Chermayeff & Geismar, is one of the most infamous insignias in television. It's meant to imply that Public Broadcasting Services puts people before profits. It suggests that we are all a part of PBS, one phoned-in-pledge at a time. Sure, Everyman has had a few nip tucks since his inception, but like fine wine he improves with time. He sits in the bottom corner of my screen as like a good friend. He has a discerning eye and usually has unquestionable good taste. His androgynous appearance evokes thoughts David Bowie's gender bending days. Delicious!

10. Christopher Kimball

Chris Kimball of America's Test Kitchen is one of my personal favorites on the list. His wit is dry and tart, and his looks are classically geeky. He has more charisma in his bow tie than most of the chefs featured on the program possess collectively. Sometimes he acts like an erudite jerk, but this only adds fuel to my fanatic fire. He samples pies, beans, pork tenderloins and other delicious fare, but viewers remain hungry for him. In one of my favorite episodes, he tests white wine vinegar with no chaser. If that's not living on the edge, what is?

9. Alan Alda

Former M*A*S*H star and king of the crossword puzzle clue makes a crossover to Public Television as the host of Scientific American Frontiers. Alda tours around, giving viewers a peek at the exciting world of scientific progress. Alda is a standout host, with an enthusiastic and genuine interest in the subjects he is covering. Most notably, Alda asks terrifically astute questions. Good show, Hawkeye. I watched an episode about mechanics over the weekend. It featured the World Cup of robot soccer, self-propelled submarines and sundry other projects. An M.I.T. professor equated the elation he feels at his anual mechanical engineering contest as a "geekgasm". I'm relatively certain a spontaneous geekgasm happens to viewers like you every time Alan Alda appears on this show.

8. Jim Leher
Oh, Jim Leher. Now that Lou Rukeyser is gone, you are the shining beacon of the older generation of PBS hotties. You bet I'll tune in to your News Hour. Eat your heart out, Paul Kangas in Miami.

7. Norm Abrams

Plaid shirts, works with his hands, Bostonian accent. The Master Carpenter on This Old House and The New Yankee Workshop must have a long line up of hopeful apprentices.

6. The Ninth Dr. Who

There have been 10 incarnations of The Doctor in the BBC's seminal sci-fi time travel drama. Chris Eccleston was the ninth doctor, and he's currently gracing the airwaves as Dr. Who thanks to the lag that occurs when PBS picks up British programming. I've never really been able to jump on the Dr. Who train before. Perhaps this is because my perferred science fiction falls well within the dystopian literature vein (think: Brave New World, The Handmaids Tale, et al.) Or, perhaps it is quite simply because Dr. Who has never been much of a looker until no.9. Eccelston's Doctor is broody and tempermental. He is quite simply the most luscious gent to step out of the TARDIS.

5. Ken Burns

I've caught several episodes of the latest Ken Burns series "The War" and not just because Oprah told me to watch. I find this to be a fascinating era unblemished by my academic traditions. You see, I always had the history teacher that would spend hours prattling off figures on the Revolutionary War before "jumping around a bit" in the curriculum to make sure we knew about civil rights during Black history month. By the end of the year, we were are far as the Empancipation Proclamation. I also learned that for decades Americans believed Commies were bad, but let's face it, I figured that one out in English class.

I've been really impressed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's new series. Of course it doesn't have that simple and powerful throughline of "The Civil War", but it is a great piece of work. It's collage of wartime propoganda, news reels, and layman's commentary makes a very tangible example of the American experience in all theatres of the war. I think it's especially harrowing to see how drastically America at war has changed. Now back to your regularly scheduled escapism.

4. LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton actually left the Reading Rainbow series earlier this year after the rights to the program were bought by a big education conglomerate. As a proud member of the first generation of Reading Rainbow viewers, it's impossible for me to imagine the show without LeVar. PBS likes to keep production costs low and production quality high by airing a lot of repeats, so I'm sure we'll see him again.

Burton actually installed himself quite high on the list because he gave the keynote address at my college graduation. His speech was memorable for two reasons:

1. He appeared to be genuinely greatful for the honorary degree from a tiny little liberal arts university. Most keynote speakers I've seen could care less, but LeVar seemed really proud. He left college for a little acting gig as Kunta Kinte in Roots, and never officially graduated from USC. He was so pleased by the honor, he brought his Momma along to see him "graduate".

2. He lead everyone in attendence in a spirited version of the Reading Rainbow theme song. A tent full of graduates belted out "Butterfly in the sky/I can fly twice as high!" as their parents looked on somewhat bewildered by the fact that we knew all the words. I think there was an overwhelming sigh of relief from the parents camp. It was tinged with echos of, "We installed our children in front of the TV, but yet they still managed to become literate, college graduates! Yessssssss!"

I CAN DO ANYTHING! Thanks, literacy. Thanks, LeVar!

3. George Page

You may not recognize this face, but certainly you will recognize his voice. The late Mr. Page was the host and creator of the Nature series. His voice is like a little slice of heaven, even when he is talking about animals ripping each others flesh off.

2. Oscar the Grouch

Surely Kermit the Frog is the forerunner in the Sesame Street beauty pagent. Kermit's got it all: the looks, the talent (banjo ballads), the humanitarian world view. Kermit would take the cake.

Oscar, meanwhile, may not even qualify for runner up. He's definitely running on the underdog ticket, and that makes my heart pitter patter even more fervently. Besides, everyone loves a misanthrope.

This grouch has a lot going for him. It's not easy bein' green for Oscar, but he doesn't whine about it! He gets cranky and then takes pleasure in his rotten mood. If you're still not convinced of Oscar's prowess, consider this riveting rendition of his song "I Love Trash" which proves that he fits a rather antiquated mold of being a catch:

1. He owns real estate, albeit a trash can.

2. He's fond of his mother, who gave him the tattered old sneaker

3. Oscar was an early pioneer in the sustainability movement: reusing and recycling before it was cool.

4. If he's that enthusiastic about trash... well!

1. Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy

Mmmmmm. Mr. Darcy...

I can say no more, except to add that Masterpiece Theatre is going to broadcast all the complete works of Jane Austen in 2008 . I'll be watching Mr. Darcy will bells on. Just don't expect me to wear anything else. Ring-a-ding ding!

28 September 2007

Lamenta Says....

A few months ago, I played a game of monsters that conjured Lamenta, a new and odious character to add color my life. I love Lamenta, but she's basically like the caricature equivalent of rain on your parade.

Monsters, in case you are not acquainted with the practice, involves a community composition of a monster portrait. The game is divided into rounds, depending on how many players are available. During each round, players are responsible for adding a portion of a monster body. In a game with four players the rounds are traditionally head, torso, legs and feet. Each player gets a piece of paper and drawing utensil at the top of round one. Drawing monsters ensues.

When a player is finished drawing the particular monster bits of the round, the page is folded over so just a hint of the drawing is revealed. Everyone passes their page to the left (because any good debutante or stoner will tell you its good etiquette), and the next round begins. Lather, rinse, repeat. At the end of the four rounds, there is a great reveal of an oddly pieced together monster. The results are often quite amusing. As an added bonus, you can follow the game with a monster naming ceremony.

Lamenta was borne unto me one rainy Portland night at My Father's Place, a dive where the air is thick with smoke and the waitstaff serves up cheap, greasy spoon breakfasts to be washed down with whiskey in the wee hours of the morning. Sure, playing monsters seems like a childish barroom activity. I have to admit there is a great amount of overlap in the venn diagram of life comparing drunken friends and kids I used to babysit. Indeed, playing monsters was a favorite babysitting activity.

I don't remember exactly what Lamenta looks like, but I remember her to be a bit stodgy. I think she wore a bowler hat with a flower and wellington boots. Her face was contorted with misery and her jaw slack. She looked every bit like a wretched, self-loathing sourpuss. We added a caption of "Lamenta says..." and a speech bubble of an epically proportioned, "WHY?" Now, my friend Ben and I prompt each other:

"Lamenta says..."


Lamenta's voice sounds much akin to Marguerite Perrin, in case you have not heard this exchange. If Marguerite is a God Warrior, Lamenta is a Soldier of Misfortune. She's coincidentally a great scapegoat. Forget Aunt Flo coming to town... when Lamenta comes to visit, you can be certain the apocalypse is nigh.

Today I've oft been reminded of the plight of Lamenta. Sure, I'm not crying out with threats of doomsday, but I'm on the verge of a major crank-a-thon.

The day started out with a 5:15 am phone call. It was a wrong number. Which is particularly annoying when you are awakened with blaring thoughts of bad things happening to important people. Nothing like a good flash of panic to start your day! I spent most of the morning feeling jumpy and wound up. Needless to say, I didn't need any coffee this morning.

As an added challenge, the overnight overnight showers exacerbated my fall allergies. Being relatively new to the hay fever phenom, I refuse to do smart things like taking an anti-histamine before I leave for work or avoiding the urge to itch your eyes. Now I've busted up my left eyeball. It hurts, and it looks as if there is a big air bubble between the white eye bits and the film that rests on top of it. It's gross and uncomfortable.

While I'm nowhere near as miserable as Miss Lamenta, I'm still reserving the right to bitch and moan as I please.

24 September 2007


Perhaps you were not aware, but Crows and Badgers are good companions. True, the two are probably not convening for an inter-species tea party. I don't even think these two animals keep the same hours (though that doesn't prevent me from keeping up with certain company). Nonetheless, once every couple of blue moons/fortnights/ten minute intervals I need a badger to get this Crow back on track.

I believe my Crow-Badger connection was forged in my mind while I was quite young. I can hear the masses now, "Uh oh, Crow! I smell dangerous Freudian-fodder!" Unfortunately for you drama mongers, I am one of those bastards with an idyllic childhood in the suburbs. In fact, I substantiate my claims of Corvidae-Mustelidae companionship with folklore. Or, more specifically, with a coffee table book gifted to my parents some time in the 1980s. The book, Crows by Heidi Holder, took the old rhyme "One for sorrow, two for mirth..." and illustrated it with crows, weasels and badgers. It was one of those picture books that makes young eyes cross as one considers the somewhat hazy difference between artist and illustrator.

To be completely honest, the connection stems from the fact that in my younger days my mother routinely had to badger me to do just about anything that wasn't on my personal agenda so help me, Freud. Now I'm somewhat convinced that some sort of nagging, prodding, and beleaguering is necessary encouragement for my most fruitful endeavors. Now I'm not lazy (refutable), but I am needy. Thanks, Mama Crow!

Anyway, a thoughtful badger (we'll call him Mead Hunter because that's his name) stumbled upon this blog did what figurative badgers do best (i.e. figurative badgering). I had every intention of picking up the blog again, but I was stuck like a sheep on the edge of the cliff. A sheep just waiting for a the slightest nudge before taking the plunge.

I've decided not to abandon the old format of 250 word prose/plays, but rather expand to include my daily adventures. Though my life has fewer groped-by-Listerine-guzzling-man-on-bus adventures than it used to, I find my vanilla flavored existence to be delectable. Luckily for you readers, I've missed writing as means to procrastinate and, I'm relatively self-obsessed, which provides good fodder for bloggery. So sign up for my RSS feed already because as of today, you officially have my permission to badger me about any and all of the following:
  • writing this blog
  • applying to grad school
  • flossing
  • watching less PBS
That is all.

23 April 2007

No Title.

We sit at opposite ends of an old storefront—in its current incarnation as a neighborhood bistro. He is an elderly man who looks like he will never be accustomed to the blue jeans he wears. He makes me think about a book I read with an old man with an imaginary best friend. The book is one of my favorites and my face relaxes into a gentle smile at the recollection.

His own companion is quite real, but to me he exists as a gold-threaded voice reflecting off the opposite wall. The old man cocks his head to listen and together they drink hibiscus tea, red and steaming. They talk, as friends. They talk as allies when words do not come as quickly as they should.

“Rita Bullock is a remarkable woman,” he says. He is resolute in his statement, and the words stay perched for a moment before he continues. She is a music professor from Florida. She is woman who made it on her own working in Germany. The man’s friend makes a comment about money.

I busy myself rustling through old receipts with half-illustrated alphabets, not wanting to seem like I am paying too much attention. But my focus is constant— I want to be called a remarkable woman.

Soon, I realize these words are familiar. Someone already has spoken these words to me: An old man, an architect. A good friend.

Quickly, silently, I feel the heat on my face, the saltwater stains on paper.

20 April 2007

procrastinating on procrastination

March and April where hast thou gone?

15 February 2007


“What am I going to do for the next 26 minutes?” she unintentionally thought aloud. Stevie and his little friend had just settled down for another installment of Dora the Explorer, and Joan needed nothing more than a few minutes of solitude as far away from that animated little bilingual cunt as possible.

Four years away from the corporate sphere and Joan was still regretting her decision to leave behind the two martini lunch for the three martini play date. She speared another pimento-filled olive and haphazardly dropped it into her glass. Swapping Post-Poller reports for Pull-Ups would be a godsend. Data analysis and micromanaging would sure beat picking up scattered toys and microwaving another bowl of Spaghetti O’s for Stevie’s lunch.

Joan knew it was time to go back to work. She was ready. She was over-prepared. Of course there would be challenges along the way; obstacles set her four years out of the race. Her husband would be a hard sell. He had invested wholeheartedly in the idolatry of Republican Family Values. She could hear his laments now—it was his plan to have her out of work until Stevie started school. Even then, he would only afford her the luxury of a part-time gig. Please! What sort of marketing exec ever works part time? But, if anyone knew how to plead a case and close a deal—it was Joan.

She could not fail.

14 February 2007

Miss Valentine

Her candy apple ass lay exposed on the bed. Ray let out a sad sigh. He could recognize her from this angle, even though their relationship was strictly professional. No one could mistake those Valentine hips.

Still, seeing her lifeless body—naked and discarded—was a shock to Ray. He knew she had had a rough life, and from the looks of the abrasions and bruises that marked her dead body, she had struggled in the end, too. Elise was a call girl. It could’ve been a John who got too rough. But her ties to the Holman case were too strong. There was no way this could possibly be an accident.

Ray picked up her purse and took out her little black book. He recognized the bag. It the same one she had carried years ago when they first met. At the time, he was a lowlife PI—snapping photos of secret rendezvous, exposing countless marital affairs for mere peanuts. Later he’d call a few of her clients to see if he could find any leads. He’d call a few of her better customers to let them know she was gone.

She was gone. That was the harsh reality of it all. Ray took another solemn exhale. Today, he had lost one of his best informants. Today he lost his best friend.

12 February 2007

The Migration

Chuck considered the migration pattern of birds. He looked up toward the empty sky, perched between the months that had past since the autumnal departure and the weeks that remained before spring’s return. After careful deliberation, Chuck concluded that birds, on the whole, must accomplish a great deal more than he on any given day.

He looked up through the brown brick facades and steely twists of winter branches, anticipating the day when his winged friends made their return. “Will I see the terns this year?” Chuck wondered as he waited at the bus stop. “If not the terns, at least let me notice the geese.”

Lulled to his standard tempo of complacency by the din of the morning traffic, Chuck reviewed his list of accomplishments for the day, meanwhile dismissing the lint from his pocket. The list mostly consisted of his oral hygiene routine, but he was happy to concede that he did in fact let the dog out before leaving for work. It was a short list, so he included “de-linted pockets” as an addendum.

He looked up the road, catching sight of the bus that was due to arrive three minutes prior. Stepping on the bus, he began his own daily migration, amid his own flock of stationary birds.