Tuesday, January 30, 2007

disinfection disaffection

So I'm in a public restroom. I exit the stall and walk to the sink. Next to me is a woman who has just begun to wash her hands. And she is taking this whole hand washing thing to a prepping-for-surgery level. I try not to stare but she is lathering so...vigorously that I can't help myself. It's all I can do to hold back the burning question, "What the hell did you do in there to warrant such a scrubbing?" Here are some hypothetical explanations:

  • Perhaps she was introduced to Mexican food last night for the very first time and the amount of toilet paper was inversely proportional to her digestive dilemma.
  • Maybe her mother had told her that her "womanly fluids" would stain her skin and everyone would know that she had, in fact, had contact with her "secret place."
  • Perhaps she's one of those fastidious little women who douche so much they smell like a Glade Plug-In.
Whatever it was, it made me want to run out and buy a vulva puppet to celebrate the Formula 409-free vaginas of the world and then go eat a big ol' plate of enchiladas with refried beans. That reminds me of a slang expression for a woman's happy place: taco. See, now we've come full-circle.

Monday, January 29, 2007

quotes to start the week off right

From the delightful A-Word-A-Day:

It is better to have loafed and lost than never to have loafed at all.
– James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)

He who dares not offend cannot be honest.
– Thomas Paine, philosopher and writer (1737-1809)
Thanks to the Writer's Almanac:
Any idiot can face a crisis; it is this day-to-day living that wears you out.
– Anton Chekhov

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
– Thomas Paine

Thursday, January 25, 2007

redneck philosophy 101 cliffsnotes

Drove past a stationwagon plastered with fabulous, oxymoronic bumper stickers:

But I have to give Bubba/Bubbette credit where it's due because they had the one of the best bumper stickers I've seen in a while:Kinda makes a girl mist up.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

venomous waters

I am reminded of a vengeful fish who was so bitter at the world that he poisoned the water to kill his pond mates. The moral of the story is, of course, that he ends up dying, too. But the truth is, for some malignant souls among us, the knowledge that they had inflicted pain and suffering on those they hated would be comfort enough in their final moments.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

waits there's dancing

Okay, I'm a Tom Waits devotee most of the time but lately I feel like a Waitsaholic on a bender. Here is the latest in my effusive praise for Orphans.

"Little Drop of Poison" (on the Bawlers CD) has this bit of brilliance:

I'm all alone
I smoked my friends
Down to the filter
Jesus that is good.

"Home I'll Never Be" and "On the Road" are two different songs with the same lyrics on the Bastards CD. Taken from
Jack Kerouac's writings, the refrain begins, "Cross the Mississippi..." The "On the Road" version* makes me want to do some CRAZY revival tent dancing. Honest to god, I can't remember the last time a song...or anything made me want to jump up and dance like that. Hands shaking in the air all tambourine-like. I just wish there were more verses so I could hear the chorus over and over without having to press replay so often.

(And no, I will not document my hallelujah dance for you.)

*This link opens up with Real One Player. If you want to listen with Windows Media, go here.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

think of me as a foul-mouthed miss manners

It's about inconvenience. All those people who are willing to trade their inconvenience for yours without consulting you.

You're driving to work down a busy street with dozens of other auto-clad worker bees. The person in front of you decides to stop and pick up a friend. But pulling off the road into a parking lot right next to him would be a bother. So you and 8 of your fellow travelers get to queue up behind Mr. Spontaneity while his erstwhile passenger figures out how the door latch works. All the while Dick the Driver is holding up his hand to say, "Just a minute, hope you don't mind, my schedule is so much more important than yours. Oops, there goes the green light!"

You're doing your weekly shopping. It's not the highlight of your week so you've set your list up to snake through the gleaming barely-maneuverable-mega-grocery store as efficiently as possible. Every third row, however, some self-absorbed shopper with a cell phone growing out of their ear stops mid-aisle to gaze stupidly at the dazzling product array. No one can pass in either direction.

All I'm saying is just open your eyes and the
get the fuck out of my way. Move over. Pull over. You are not the goddamn center of the universe. Get the fuck out of the way.

Monday, January 08, 2007

starbucking good

It's become popular sport to rag on the ubiquitous Starbucks. For some good reasons. They are wildly successful and most of us find that as tempting as a line of tin cans on a low brick wall...you just want to find a couple of perfect stones. Their success spans a population from boomers to yuppies to whatever we're labeling the young and caffeinated these days. Their success is somewhat formulaic. Muted tones, honey-colored wood, restrained design with the thinnest glaze of funkiness and Carly Simon Garfunkel lite-rocking you in the background. The coffee drink array, while quite good, is fucking expensive.

But goddammit, it's pleasant to sit in a kinda retro lime-green/pumpkin upholstered living room chair sipping your Double Vente Caramel Macchiata while Paul Simon is strumming through Graceland. It is. Dammit.

Anyway, on the way over to the comfy chair with toasty drink in hand (thanks to a gift card from our daughter, I might add), I saw a large basket with what looked like oversized coffee bean bags in it. Looking closely, I saw that they were used coffee grounds that had been dried and bagged up. They were being touted as a good organic soil additive. I quickly assumed that this was some vapid money-first marketer's brainchild and readied a jaded sneer. But not exactly. On the large bags (recycled wholesale coffee bean bags, no less) was the word FREE. Free. I wish it hadn't been chilly that morning so my Birkenstocks could have shared the crunchy moment with me. I guess it could still be a marketer's brainchild but instead of slapping an even token price tag on the dead coffee remains, they just said, "here, use this, it's good for the earth." (Okay, it gets us to tote some of their garbage home at no cost to them, I concede, and it makes them all seem all green and fuzzy to the organic among us. But still.) Damn, damn, damn. The sarcasm was just leeched out of me.

Good form, Starbuckians. [I still would have sneered when the little marketeer said "win-win." But that's just me.]

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I hate saying goodbye to my children. It's always an inner struggle to balance the desire to tell them that they are two of the brightest lights in my life and avoid making them feel like I am clinging. They know I have my own happy life. They know I adore them. But still, I feel the tension. And deep sorrow at their leaving.

This was my daughter's first visit as a full-fledged vegetarian. I teased her about being Organic Girl and she retorted with mock annoyance, that's
Organica, Mom. Her sense of humor is delightful and, in my always-ready opinion, revived. We ate relatively healthy, beautiful food. (Not overwhelmed by my traditional need to make dazzling side dishes and desserts in dazzling quantities. I worshipped at the feet of the culinary gods with some moderation.)

My son was his witty, warm self. Happy to be visiting friends and drinking at Rudz with his people. Ours has morphed over the years into a warm, comfortable mutual appreciation. He is a complex whirl of literature, commentary, riotous humor and remarkable self-love.

So, forgive a mother's effusiveness. I am so lucky to have two buzz-headed, richly-layered, quick-to-laugh human beings to call my offspring. And I miss them dearly.

Monday, January 01, 2007

words to start the year off right

From my friend Barry, a blog entry called Savior as Decoration:

I actually saw this today on a sign in front of a Baptist church in Missouri City: "The best ornament ever hung was Jesus Christ."
I like to think of this as adages run amok. There is so much wrong with this charlie-horse-inducing-stretch of quippish evangelizing.

From William Kennedy's Ironweed, a wonderful novel I just finished reading, hobo-gritty and penned in shades of gray:
When Francis opened the trunk lid the odor of lost time filled the attic air, a cloying reek of imprisoned flowers that unsettled the dust and fluttered the window shades. Francis felt drugged by the scent of the reconstituted past...
From Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson, a book I've just begun to read that promises a breathtaking color palette and, most enchanting, recipes of exotic sensuality that are delightfully tongue-in-cheek: (It's a long excerpt, but stay with me as it's extremely satisfying.)
Mussels in Chocolate
You flinch? But that's only because you are gastronomically unadventurous. (Your Saturday evening visits to the Koh-i-Noor Balti House do not count. These days conveyor-belt curry is as safe a taste as Mozart.)
2 dozen fresh mussels, shelled and cleaned
Good quantity olive oil
Soy sauce
100 gm fined grated Valrhona dark chocolate
You will need quite a lot of olive oil because you are going to deep-fry the mussels and no, that bright green stuff claiming to be Extra Special First Pressing Verginissimo olive oil with a handwritten parchment label isn't necessary. Anyway, how can there possibly be degrees of virginity?...Heat [the oil] until the small bubbles appear (before it begins to seethe). Toss in a good handful of fresh rosemary. Meanwhile, dunk each mussel in soy sauce and roll it in the bitter chocolate. (Unlike the oil, the chocolate must be of the best possible quality. If it even crosses your mind to use Cadbury's Dairy Milk you should stop reading this book at once and give it to a charity shop. You will learn nothing from it.)...

And some recently discovered words for good measure:

Cruciverbalist: an aficionado of crossword puzzles (courtesy of A Word A Day)

Milt: fish sperm (courtesy of my word-loving, dictionary-delighted daughter)

And now that I am done, I find myself all at sixes and sevens as to what I should do next...