Monday, June 27, 2005

I'm starting to suspect that ABC 13 has pyromaniacal tendencies

I've gotten in the habit of watching Good Morning America as I get ready for work, which is fine. It's the romance novel of news programs, to be sure, but it's fairly decent background noise while I'm putting in my contacts and changing clothes three times. However, GMA is interrupted at 7:55 and 8:25 for local news.

I'm starting to ask myself what the point of this is, as the local news in Houston is ALWAYS THE SAME THING. There are about five items on a rotating schedule (one for every day of the week). They are:

1. A shoddily-maintained apartment complex burns, but no one is hurt.
2. Someone attempts to cross the freeway on foot and it killed.
3. An Enron muckety-muck or a human smuggler is sentenced at the courthouse.
4. There is an incident at a chemical plant (usually a fire).
5. A schoolchild is suspended for some ridiculous reason.

Seriously. These are apparently the only things that ever happen in Houston. Every once in a great while something different happens—the traffic incident is a flipped Hummer instead of a psychotic pedestrian, or it's the Legislature screwing up instead of the judiciary, but really, what's the point? It's getting to the point where I can recite along with Marisa Rivas, and I'm afraid that by the time I move to Iowa, I'll be able to do the sign-language interpreter's part, too. Last week alone there were five fires. Five! One two three four five! One for every day of the week. No other news happened. Amazing.

Frankly, the only reason I don't mute the local news is because I want to hear the weather, although I don't know why. It's just as monotonous as the news. Hot, hot, hot, rain tease, hot hot hot. Wind from the south, misery from all directions. No offense, Doug Brown, but I'm starting to hate you.

Maybe I should try another channel. I do have a new love of Matt Lauer lately, since he allowed Tom Cruise to make a more complete ass of himself the other morning. Or maybe I just need to move.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Some Lists

Words and Phrases I've Been Overusing Lately
True story/sad story
General malaise
Bad news bears
I'm going to stab [you, him, them, that guy if he does that one more time, I swear].
Interesting (Bonus: generally used when I'm not at all interested)
(C) Bite me
Oh, Lordy
Good grief
Slash, i.e. "I'm going to eat this...slash throw it at you.

Reasons My Sister and I Could Be Twins, According to My Brother
We like art and literature
We are loud
We do not enjoy science
We are irrational
We do not think he is as funny as he thinks he is
Nor as knowledgeable

Reasons My Sister and I Could Never Be Twins, According to Both of Us
She is tiny and I am not
I am a listener; she tunes out when people talk
She likes cucumbers and beer and a vast array of foods that disgust me
She enjoys the center of emotional tempests; I like to observe from a safe distance
I like Chagall and she does not
Control is important to me; she couldn't care less who's running the show as long as it's entertaining
We were born four years apart

Reasons My Sister and I Could Be Twins, Ignoring the Obvious Problem of Birthdates
We are smart as whips, however smart that is
We are clumsy
We are disorganized, except when it counts
We have green eyes and big hair and the same toes
We like baseball and travelling and lying to people for no good reason (why yes, my middle name is Edward after my grandfather and she was born in Spain while our parents were itinerantly living there*)
We do not think my brother is as funny as he thinks he is
Probably not as knowledgeable, either

Places I Have Eaten Since the Month Of No Eating Out Ended
Nit Noi
Jason's Deli
Auntie Chang's Dumpling House
Texadelphia (twice)
Jamba Juice (twice)
Dessert Gallery

*These are lies that I and my sister (respectively) have told and managed to make people believe. Hers is better than mine because she convinced her roommate that it was true, and then her roommate interviewed her about Spain during a project for Spanish class. Evidently E3 claimed that our parents had gone there on a whim, Dad was working as a waiter and we stayed there only until she was five, thus explaining her complete lack of ability to speak Spanish. The roommate got an A- on the paper. I don't know if E3 has ever 'fessed up, but it makes me laugh every time I think about it.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Dude, I really hope your technique's improved between then and now

Did you have that phase in elementary school where you faked being sick a lot so you didn't have to go? (I realize it's not so much a "phase" for some people, but I was an overachiever; I knew it couldn't last that long without going on the dreaded Permanent Record.) I had this phase when I was eight. It was not because I didn't like my teacher, Mrs. Schumacher; I liked her fine. No, it was because Justin wouldn't stop kicking me in the back during Library.

Justin was a little twerp who clearly was lacking in social skills, and when I was eight I thought he had been placed on earth and in my second-grade class solely for the purpose of making my life hell. Fifteen years of distance lets me see that he was in deep like but too socially maladjusted to show me, so he got my attention however he could.

I have a pretty clear memory of Justin's face, which is a relief since I can't remember his last name for the life of me. He was tall for his age, had medium-to-olive skin, brown eyes, and that weird color of hair that's lost somewhere between brown and grey. Besides being of indeterminate color, his hair looked like it had been cut by a Cuisinart, and random bits of it stuck up in odd directions. (He was only about 10 years ahead of his time with that cut; a classmate of mine in college had it all four years.) Justin wore a jean jacket every day, usually over some sort of ratty T-shirt. I suspect that his family wasn't particularly well-off.

Justin made me cry pretty frequently for a period of about two months, during which I blew my chances at a perfect attendance award. One time I was actually sick, seeing as I threw up on the front steps of the school (I don't remember if my mom, who had just come to get me and was escorting me to the car, went back inside and told them to clean it up. If not, gross.), but the other three or four times I had a mild malaise that was mostly a nervous knot in my stomach from not knowing what new torment was going to be visited on me next. The library lumbar kicking happened on at least two occasions I can think of, and I know he landed a hard punch on my upper arm in the coat room once, besides the usual verbal set-downs and so forth. I wasn't as tough then as I am now. I wish I'd hauled off and socked him across the kisser instead of pretending to be nauseated and calling my mom.

I don't remember telling my parents anything about this problem, although I know I had a couple of girlfriends who were aware and would sit beside me in library to keep an eye on it. I just didn't really have anything concrete to tell my paretns. Other than the fact that he hated me, I didn't know anything about Justin. And come Valentine's Day, I found out I didn't even know as much as I thought I did, as he sent me a black Transformers Valentine signed "Love, Justin" in crooked print. I puzzled over it for days. Then I put it in a box and didn't think about it again until I was 24.

Eventually Justin stopped trying to puncture my kidneys through my skin and actually started being nice to me, and we became decent friends. I never went over to his house, but we did play tag and four-square during recess, and I stopped thinking that his hair looked quite so frightening. On reflection, I find this whole relationship extremely hilarious, since it's an inverse of a pattern that happens to me ALL THE TIME. Like a guy, torment him, eventually become friends with him by some weird twist of fate that's entirely out of my control.

Okay, I'm probably not tormenting them. Intentionally.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Poll: How can I be more punk rock? Or at least less 80-year-old woman with too many cats?

So, given that I have been thinking about doing one or all of these things at least since high school, which of these do you endorse, or if you can't be positive, hate the least?

A. Blue or green streaks in my hair
B. New piercing: ears
C. New piercing: eyebrow
D. New piercing: somewhere slightly more scandalous
E. Tattoo in a place that is not readily visible 99 days out of 100
F. Other: ________________________

Friday, June 10, 2005

May 10, 1933. Ring a bell, gentlemen?

So evidently some mental midgets in the right wing (do I repeat myself? Probably) have compiled a list of the Ten Most Dangerous Books of the 19th and 20th Century.

By and large, I'm not really shocked by any of the titles on the list; they're about what you'd expect from the Far Right: The Communist Manifesto, The Feminine Mystique,, and, amusingly, The Kinsey Report.* Might I suggest, esteemed producers of Human Events Magazine, that if you were getting more of what's in The Kinsey Report, you wouldn't feel the need to make so many hate-mongering lists? Just a thought.

I'm also not particularly shocked that the list exists at all; people have banned books since books were invented. That's probably why books came about in the first place: so we could write down dangerous information, hide it, and then kill the people who knew the information in the first place. Reading is power, and don't you forget it. We're not banning books here, but if they could, oh, you better believe that they would. Human Events and its book judges have named these titles "dangerous." Now, where else have we heard that certain books not in line with a certain [usually reactionary] strain of political thought are "dangerous," hm? Where, where, where? Oh, it's a thinker.

Anyway, no, what shocks me is the list of judges. And not so much their names, but their professions. Of the 15 judges, fully eight of them are professors. Professors. These are men (yes, all the professors were men) who make their living by studying ideas, the very things that they're so roundly condemning. I don't get it. However, contradiction seems to fly right over these men's heads: in condemning Nietzsche because he was a great favorite of Hitler's, they blithely ignore that Hitler hated and burned books by Freud and Marx, who are both prominent on the list.

I shouldn't be surprised to find that kind of flawed thinking in a group that would label books dangerous. The only dangerous books are the ones that are flung at your head by an enraged librarian. Dangerous people, however, come in all shapes. Even close-minded college professors.

* I was upset by all the books on this list, of course, but some of them seem so harmless, particularly the honorable mentions. Silent Spring? Yes, it's clearly dangerous to think that maybe our actions have consequences for the environment. That Rachel Carson. Coming of Age in Samoa? Oh my God! It's the radical idea that other people are not the same as we are! The horror! (Oh, and by the way, for those of you too lazy to look it up. On May 10 in 1933, the Nazis burned 20,000 "un-German" books in a Opernplatz at the center of the University of Berlin.)

Monday, June 06, 2005

The only drug dealer I've ever had a problem with wears a white lab coat

So CVS is taking over the world. For those of you that live in an area that hasn't been invaded (like, say...France. Oh, wait, France = invasion, always. Okay, Pola—...Russ—...Antarctica), CVS is a ubiquitous pharmacy that bought out Eckerd last year and now you can't turn around without smacking into one. In the past year they've torn down an excellent gas station to put up a CVS, as well as a marginal gas station over by the freeway, and we suspect my mechanic's garage died to bring us still another CVS. There are three CVSes within walking distance of my house, which, in Houston, is saying something.

You can tell when they're putting in a CVS, too, as Mary pointed out when my mechanic's garage was sacrificed. It's something about the lot size and layout, I don't know, but it's very clear when one is going in. And you can kind of calculate based on how far the lot is from the nearest CVS. If the distance is greater than three blocks, it increases the chances like, 400% that it's going to be a CVS.

This is not to say that I have a particular problem with CVS; I don't. The last prescription I ordered was filled competently, although the chick didn't call me like she said she was going to. Every CVS I've ever been in is clean, well-lit, and at least passably organized. About the only complaint I have is that their greeting card selection is for crap, but since I buy a card approximately once in never, it's not really a problem. I just think it's odd that they're springing up everywhere.* Like, is there some sort of Faustian deal in effect? Perhaps the same one that Sam Walton signed?

I mean, really, the CVS thing is just symptomatic of Americans' extreme laziness. "I can't be expected to drive THREE BLOCKS for a tube of lipstick! I'd rather use this red crayon! Mmm, waxy!" Either that or it's a sign that Americans have very strange and very dire medical issues. "My face is sliding off my skull! I need medication NOW!" If this latter is, in fact, the case, can someone let me know? I'll stake out the CVS pharmacy counter with a camera for that sort of entertainment.

*As an aside, I called Krispy Kreme "the CVS of the doughnut world" last week. I thought it was an apt comparison, because when was the last time you saw a Dunkin' Donuts (Boston excepted)? I think Krispy Kreme bought them. Eckard's is to CVS as Dunkin' Donuts is to Krispy Kreme. I could write the SAT.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I also feel hot, and not in that good "these are cute new pants" way

Long time no update, hm? This is what happens when you go out of town and then come back to a desk full of actual work and two trainees. As I said yesterday, it's like having the work equivalent of a toddler and a newborn, plus my own job.

Anyway, yes. Last weekend was my brother's wedding, which was less of a catastrophe than I expected. My sister-in-law looked beautiful in her dress, my brother only pissed us off a couple of times, and I got to see lots of relatives and friends I hadn't seen in a loooong time. I also got an invite to visit relatives in New Jersey, Washington, and Omaha, and an invite to have margaritas sometime from my pseudo-aunt Lois, who is wholly unaware of just how good my memory is and how much I like margaritas. I probably won't tell SB, though, because he got mildly annoyed when Lois's husband bought me a G&T at the reception.

Random amusing link: Reasons Why the Female Characters in Certain Male-Written Fiction Are Not Like Actual Women at All

I discovered a new thing this weekend which is actually very helpful. It's called Announcing Your Feelings. I've decided to stop expressing my mood solely through facial expressions and tone of voice, and just tell everybody how I'm feeling. On the way to my brother's wedding rehearsal, I announced to my parents, very firmly, "I feel crabby," because I did. I had no desire to attend a wedding rehearsal and pretend to be nice. My parents sort of laughed and SB asked, "Well, that's fine. It's just a matter of how you deal with it." I replied, "I plan to be sullen and withdrawn." Nods all around, and then I was sullen and withdrawn for about five minutes until my sisters started teasing M4 for crying at rehearsal. Then later I felt like I needed a drink, which I announced to my parents, my sisters, and the waitress at the rehearsal dinner, and still later I felt drunk, although I did not announce it because I was too busy shushing people and giggling uncontrollably.

So from now on I will be announcing my feelings willy-nilly, and people can just deal with them. Right now I feel like peeing. So...yeah.

I realize this entire post sounds like I spent the weekend in a drunken haze or contemplating a drunken haze, but I promise, I was sober for at least 95% of the five days I was in Nebraska. I didn't even drink the bottle of monkey wine I brought my parents. (Yes, I buy wine based entirely on which bottle is the coolest. I have a bottle at home right now that I bought because it was shaped like a cat. No joke.)

In other news, I went to the doctor on Wednesday, which was a whole new experience in competence. I know that sounds sarcastic, but it's really, really not. I haven't had a competent doctor since I was ten, and even then it was the same guy who'd managed to incorrectly predict the genders and birthdates of all four of my mother's children. But my new doctor is a woman who actually let me have an opinion about my own treatment. Amazing. So anyway, I found out I'm not dying, none of my moles are cancerous, and I need to have a glucose tolerance test, which is happening tomorrow. Evidently they make you swallow a lot of sugar and then try to extract it again by sucking it out your veins, or something. I'm not really clear on that. What I am clear on is that I'll get to spend the morning in the lab reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell while not doing work, so, you know, at the very worst it's a push. Also, my doctor put me on medicine to help me metabolize sugar better, which is good in the long run, but bad because it means that a margarita could send me into hypoglycemic shock. So that's a sad story.

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