Dec 19, 2008

12/19/2008 - She Shoots! She...

...Scores a B+ in College Algebra! 

Dec 15, 2008

12/15/2008 - The Camel's Back

Winter is the only time of year when my Santa Clause Lobster ("Santa Claws") pajama pants are in season. The seasonality takes away some of their charm, though, so I almost prefer to wear them in May.

For all that I complain about being so deliriously happy with love-and-stuff that my writing seems be suffering (angst = artistic brilliance), I have failed to take advantage of my pent-up emotions despite several weeks of Life really laying it on me. 

My neighbor backed into my car and I hardly batted an eye. Next came the self-made accidental descent into debt (albeit fixable), the ensuing tight-like-my-skinny-jeans budget (at Christmas time, no less),  and the crashing of my computer/printer system, but I figured I could deal with all that. I had no choice but to accept the thirty (plus) hours of unpaid work time during the week before finals and I cranked out a 30-page project, 12-page research paper and 5-page assignment with minimal fuss. I had a few breakdowns, one night spent screaming maniacally in the car, and many blubbers upon my ever-loving boyfriend's shoulder and I came out of it all in tact; yet here I am, feeling undone by my college algebra final. 

Side note: I tried to think up a really nasty and pungent curse word to apply to this final, but there isn't one strong enough. 

Yes, the college algebra class of which I speak is the one that most people knock out when they are freshman, not when they are super-seniors. And to say that I am "undone" isn't to say that I'm crying about it - shockingly, I have only sort of choked up, with no real outbursts (still to come? we can only hope). The whole mess isn't the fault of the quirky Turkish math teacher, and I hardly want to point the finger at myself - I did, after all, do admirably on all other components of the class, sparing this final. My fault it must be, however, and so I am angsty.

This has happened before - I come out of finals thinking I've really done it this time and bracing myself to re-enroll in the class only to receive a magical 'A' on my final grade. You never know when your teacher will grant a handsome curve or just say ah, well, she seems like a good kid and add a little something extra to your grade. Then again, the teacher could just be decent and fair and assign grades the way the syllabus says they'll be assigned, and that's when you're in for it.  

So stay tuned; I'll be sure to update you on whether I squeak on by or have to get excited for another shot at the basics of mathematics. 

I feel better just writing smarmily (that's the action very for smarmy, right?) about this. Now I can finally position it acceptably in my mind. Abe Lincoln failed at stuff, too, right? He probably sucked at math. I'll be just like him!

Luckily, the pain of defeat is numbed by the frigid air of my apartment, which turns out to be little more than a red brick igloo come the winter time. My many layers do not seem to warming me, but my cat might do the trick if I am able to lure him into my lap.

When all of this (finals) is over, all I want to do is to lay on my back in my warm bed and have somebody rub my belly while I listen to the NPR radio show of my choice. I will be like a happy, happy lap dog, and all will be well with the world. 

Nov 22, 2008

11/22/2008 - Tonight I Am

Tonight I am home alone. Though presented with the option of going out and joining the masses in socially acceptable Saturday night activities, I declined in favor of being a bump on a stay-at-home log. I've got some cookies in the oven and my cat faithfully bothering me in - at any given moment - one of his many reliably bothersome ways.

The cookies are of the snicker doodle persuasion. These cookies, more than any other kind, hold supremely fond holiday memories for me, and for reasons that I cannot place. Traditionally I scoff at such things as "Warm Holiday Memories" or "Pleasant Christmas Traditions", but snicker doodles somehow melt my heart and make me a gentle, holiday-loving person. I suppose that there is something magical about having the opportunity to roll balls of sweet dough in cinnamon and sugar, even now that I am a crotchety adult. 

I found out recently that, for many, many years, I've been playing the part of the fool. I have been duped. Duped - yes! - by this shady character:

Ugh. I feel angry just looking at it.

When I began work in The Video Library (a.k.a. The Center for Interpersonal Studies Through Film and Literature, home to zillions of obscure and fascinating documentaries and award-winning films) my boss presented to me the object you see above, describing it as "something that works great for opening DVD packaging." I, naive freshman that I was, assumed - per this description - that the object actually was a DVD Package Opener.

Four years later, I find out I'm wrong.

It was only a month ago that, while searching for a standard pointy-jaw staple remover in the front office, I was introduced to the new, hardly-lethal kind that allows you to slip the little metal tab under the staple and pull the bugger right out without running the risk of puncture wounds and a lawsuit. I was fascinated by this technological advance and pledged to get the new-fangled gadget for my own home.

But I thought about it. And while I was thinking I realized that this gadget wasn't so new to me. In fact, I felt that I had been seeing gadgets just like it. On a daily basis. Indeed, I had been ignoring the presence of such a gadget in The Video Library desk drawer for years (having long ago abandoned the DVD Package Opener for a pair of scissors and some brute force).  

Boy, is my face red.

The nice lady in the front office gave me the fancy new staple remover free of charge, but now I feel like a dummy every time I use it. DVD Package Opener my foot!

Well folks, while I was writing this post I was also giving oven-enabled birth to these snicker doodles:

I think we all can agree that if my ability to create Adonis-quality cookies says anything for my ability to create genetically-superior human beings, I can expect some pretty handsome progeny in my future. 

You've probably been wondering what became of that pumpkin that the squirrel was gnawing on a while back. See for yourself:

Ouch. At least you know your week has been better than his.

Nov 11, 2008

11/11/2008 - Pumpkin Pi

For a while there I was going to collect pictures of pretty fall foliage to share with the world; however the camera batteries died, then it rained for 40 days, and in the end I pooped out and did nothing of the sort. I could take said pictures now, but already the state has nearly completed its swift descent into the funky/drab 1970s color scheme that is The Oklahoman Winter Wonderland.

I know other ways to celebrate the season, though - like carving a pumpkin...

And lightin' it up...

And carving a frowney face on the back side, just to cover all the bases:

Scott and I proudly displayed our work on the front porch, not realizing that our pumpkin could never be safe from...


In broad daylight, no less.

(Pumpkin says "Noooooo!")

And so the woodland creatures gnaw away at my artwork.

In the meantime I have perfected the loftier task of straining steamed spinach. Now I can enjoy this delicious side dish without the murky green juice tainting the rest of my meal. 

So beware the squirrels. Let me know if you have any questions about spinach. And a happy fall to ya. 

Nov 5, 2008

11/6/2008 - Lend Me Your Tunes

Since I began listening to my local NPR station several months ago I have noticed some changes:
  • On Tuesday night America elected a new president and I knew what was going on the entire time.
  • When I participate in political conversations I know what I'm talking about (no more of that lousy guesswork!)
  • I am able to enter existing conversations with phrases that begin with "On NPR the other day I heard..."
Based on this evidence, I have concluded that since becoming a listener of National Public Radio I have begun to sound extremely intelligent. Nobody ever says it but I'm pretty sure that way deep down in their most secret places they are very, very impressed.

Newer and smarter though I may be, I have had to make some sacrifices. Before I continue, you must know one thing about me: I am very poor at surfing radio stations. Once I get a radio station set on my alarm clock I do not change it come hell or high water because once I do I know that I will never find - and never hear - that station again. 

So. I've got this NPR station that I love, and that I will never change, and I listen to it religiously since all I have to do is poke the "ON" button on my alarm clock and I have instant entertainment while I wash the dishes or trim my toenails. And though bickering pundits could easily entertain me from dawn until dusk, my ears are missing something softer...something gentler...

Oh, but for the days of music. For my oldies station and my iTunes (also growing cobwebs since my Internet connection rarely works and there's no other reason to turn on my rickety computer). The songs I used to know and love have, one by one, packed their bags and left. Now, when I hum or whistle to myself (a favorite pastime) I have on hand only the tunes that have been in my head so long they're probably part of the lining. So instead of Purple Rain it's Row Row Row Your Boat; You Are My Sunshine has taken the place of Thriller.

Furthermore, when I get tired of the lyrics I learned when I was four, I begin making up my own. Since I lack creativity I generally reach for inspiration from the first moving object to cross my path. And since I own a cat that insists on always being in my face I generally sing songs - made-up nursery rhyme songs - about my cat. 

A prime example: (To be sung to the tune of My Little Playmate)

My little striped cat,
You are so furry, yes.
I like your small white toes,
I like them very best.
They are so fuzzy,
So black and so pink, too,
And I will like you, cat,
Because you're you!

Courtesy pause for raised eyebrows.

It's things like this that make me worry about becoming a Cat Lady. I suspect that you don't reach this status unless you have at least four cats, but since I make up songs for the lone audience of my one, I figure things can't be too bright on my horizon. 

For everything you will ever need to know about my cat (I call him Moxie, but frankly I don't think he has the foggiest idea what his name is; you can call him whatever you like), see below:

Being a bum.      Aerial view.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I need your music. Bad. Just tell me the names of some good albums with some singable songs. Because people don't just talk about politics; sometimes I have to sound smart about music, too...and Twinkle Twinkle will not make the cut. 

Nov 4, 2008

11/4/2008 - I'm No Princess

Crinkle-eyed and pouty-lipped, I stared at the television for several dour seconds before I made my announcement:

"I don't want to watch this any more."

My boyfriend leaped for the remote, asking what I would better like to see. He pressed a button and Josh-Meyers-romancing-Laura-Prepon-via-candle-lit-dinner-in-a-crappy-record-store blipped off the screen to be replaced by Fox Nightly News. Or maybe it was My Own Worst Enemy. This is not the point.

The point: That 70's Show finally did me in. For 22 years I've watched Disney princesses get whisked away by their princes and Meg Ryan find her soul mate so many times it's stupid; but you can only watch movie stars meet their perfect endings for so long before you realize that nothing of the sort has ever happened to you.

It's ruining me. In my moodier hours (beginning at approximately 10 o'clock in the evening and lasting until I have been satiated with at least seven hours of sleep) I find myself getting angry at my boyfriend - my very kind, sweet, accommodating boyfriend - for not decorating his record store with rose petals and ambient candle light. This is ridiculous. My boyfriend does not own a record store.

Pop culture took it upon itself to give us all fantastically unrealistic expectations for our love lives. Chuck Klosterman writes about this in his "low culture manifesto," Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs:

"Whenever I meet dynamic, non-retarded Americans, I notice that they all seem to share a single unifying characteristic: the inability to experience the kind of mind-blowing, transcendent romantic relationship they perceive to be a normal part of living."

So here we all go marching around thinking something's wrong with us because - dammit! - no straight man has baked me a pie or kissed me in a sea of billowing parachutes for at least twenty years. What's wrong with me?!?

Somehow pop culture guilts us into thinking that our relationships are inferior because they don't look like the movies. I think about this every day as I scrunch my nose up at fairy tale endings. I call it the stuff "stupid"; good old Chuck calls it "Fake Love," which Coldplay, for example...

" frenetically as the Ford fucking Motor Company manufactures Mustangs...'For you I bleed myself dry,' sang their blockhead vocalist, brilliantly informing us that stars in the sky are, in fact, yellow. How am I going to compete with that shit? That sleepy-eyed bozo isn't even making sense. He's just pouring fabricated emotions over four gloomy guitar chords, and it ends up sounding like love."

My condolences to the Coldplay fans.

In short, mass culture makes us want for things we never would have desired had that red devil not whispered in our ears while four gloomy guitar chord coated in fabricated emotions played in the background. When I finally turn away from the gooey mess, I realize that not only am I OK with my love life, I'm pretty damn happy.

I, for one, have chosen to take me cue from Paul Joannides' sex tome: The Guide to Getting it On:

"When it comes to frequency of intercourse, people who ask 'What's normal?' usually aren't asking the right question. If you are in a relationship, good questions to be asking are 'Do we have intercourse as often as each of us likes?' 'Do we have intercourse more often than one or both of us likes?' The reason these questions are more important that 'What's normal?' is because the only thing that matters about sex is what feels best for you - whether it's three times a day or three times a decade."

Just replace "intercourse" with "supernaturally romantic scenarios" and you'll see that - grace and glory be! - somebody is finally telling us that it's OK to just want what we happen to want and not what everybody else has got their grubby hands grappling after. So maybe I don't want to find out that the guy I hate online is the one I've been flirting with in the coffee shop; maybe I don't want to have to haul the dirty dishes home from the record store so I can wash them in my sink!

This morning I woke up (7 a.m.) to the sound of the upstairs neighbors (not mine; my beau's) fighting. From above I could hear stomping and the woman shouting that she was going to leave. The man went mumblemumblemumble, to which the woman replied that if she couldn't go out that door, she would go out the other one.

Some minutes passed, marked only by muffled yells and stomping. Then I heard a rumbling on the porch above, the tinkling of the wind chimes on our downstairs porch and a thump on the ground. Through the slats of the window blinds I could just barely see the woman hurry off toward the parking lot.

I turned my attention to my boyfriend, who slept beside me. Ten feet below the commotion upstairs, he was stretched out with his arms bent behind his head in repose, as if sunbathing. His elbow poked into my side. I dressed quietly and went to wake him up before leaving. He bear-hugged me onto the bed in a primal act of farewell.

Satiated with a minimum of seven hours of sleep, realizing that this is indeed my real life (no parachutes, no record stores) I am able to say that I am want for nothing at all.