cygnoir.net

shaky perspective

Tsunami death toll could top 60,000

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (CNN) – The “putrid stench of the dead” hung heavily Tuesday over Banda Aceh as officials slowly came to grips with the devastation caused by a massive underwater earthquake and the equally massive tsunami that followed it.

More than two days after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the westernmost portion of Indonesia’s northern Sumatra Island, the official death toll stands at over 33,000.

But that number could be deceiving. Officials could not reach some remote areas, like Indonesia’s Aceh province, India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Maldives, until Tuesday, and once there, they found scenes much worse than they imagined.

“The center of Banda Aceh has been absolutely devastated,” said CNN’s Mike Chinoy from the capital of Aceh province. “There are still bodies lying in the street.” [keep reading]

For comparison’s sake, the largest recorded earthquake was in Chile in 1960: 9.5.

For those of us who have made casual comments about “the next big one” bursting the real-estate bubble, the great San Francisco quake of 1906 was an 8.3. The Loma Prieta quake of 1989 was a 7.1.

Puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

successful recipes

Christmas dinner was splendid. Since Thursday evening, the MSG and I have been cleaning, decorating, cooking and baking for Saturday. At the farmer’s market, we found a gorgeous holiday bough of pine, eucalyptus and mistletoe that I fastened to the central pole of the MSG’s spiral staircase so it would greet our guests with its fresh scent as soon as they entered. Also around the pole, I wove a few strands of tiny white icicle lights, which draped around the bough and lit up the foyer cheerily.

We made two batches of cornbread for the stuffing, which also contained andouille and chipotles. I baked my pumpkin cheesecake with maple-bourbon sauce, the one I’ve been tetchily describing for the past few weeks, and it turned out very well. (I’m listening to the MSG and his mom rave over it on the phone right now. Hee.)

The MSG cooked the twenty-pound turkey to perfection; its carcass is providing us with homemade soup as I write this, the pungent scent of bird and mirepoix wafting through the space. We also made smashed Papa Amarilla potatoes with toasted garlic. One of the MSG’s aunts made a sweet potato casserole, and his mom made a wonderful salad with frisee, endive, pomegranate seeds, slices of persimmon, walnut oil and sherry.

I was thrilled that my cheesecake was paired with an ‘88 Château le Barradis Monbazillac, which made the pumpkin stand out even more, and brightened the maple notes in the sauce. The MSG’s family sure knows (and loves) their wines. For that, and for much more, I adore them all, and had so much fun. Part of me is a bit surprised that we pulled it off, but mostly I’m just enjoying a quiet moment with a cup of Graffeo coffee before I start making my special fried-egg sandwiches for brunch. First, I promised you all a recipe, and so here it is. For the pumpkin puree, I highly recommend pre-ordering from Boulette’s Larder in the ferry building.

Pumpkin Cheesecake 1 ½ cup fine gingersnap crumbs (about ½ lb. gingersnaps) ¾ cup chopped pecans or walnuts 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted ½ lb cream cheese, at room temperature ½ cup sugar ½ cup lightly packed brown sugar 1 tsp cinnamon ¾ tsp ginger ½ tsp ground cloves ½ tsp freshly-grated nutmeg 1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree, fresh or canned (not pumpkin pie filling) 5 large eggs ½ cup heavy cream

Crust: Lightly butter a 10x2 inch round cake pan. Combine gingersnap crumbs, nut, and butter in a bowl, and mix well. Press mixture firmly into prepared pan, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Filling: In a bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugars and spices, beat until light in texture, 3-4 min. Add pumpkin puree and mix until just blended. Stir in eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl after each addition. Stir in cream.

Pour batter into crust, and put cake pan in a roasting pan. Add hot water to roasting pan halfway up sides of cake pan. Bake in center of oven until cheesecake is firm to touch and slightly puffed, about 65 minutes.

Let cheesecake cool on a wire rack for about 45 minutes. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. When cheesecake is completely chilled, lower pan into a hot water bath for 2-3 min. to loosen the crust. Invert a large, flat plate on top of cheesecake; invert pan, and remove. Put a second plate on bottom of cheesecake, and turn it right side up. Cut with a hot knife, and serve with maple/bourbon sauce.

Cheesecake will keep for 4-5 days in refrigerator and 2 weeks in the freezer.

Maple-Bourbon Sauce

¼ cup maple syrup 3 Tbsp bourbon 1 cup light cream ¼ vanilla bean, split lengthwise 3 large egg yolks ¼ cup sugar ¾ tsp cornstarch 1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped

Combine maple syrup and bourbon in a saucepan. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by 1/3, about 10 minutes; set aside to cool.

Put light cream and vanilla bean in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil.

Immediately remove from heat, and let bean infuse cream for about 10 minutes. Remove bean, and scrape pulp into cream.

Whisk together egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Stir in ½ cup cream and return mixture to saucepan with rest of cream. Stirring continuously, cook over low heat until thickened enough to coat back of a wooden spoon, 5-8 minutes.

Add reduced maple syrup and bourbon, and strain through a fine sieve into a bowl set in ice. Stir until completely chilled, then fold in whipped cream.

numa numa

It begins with a simple LOL in the subject line, and turns into an all-day meme fiesta.

My employee Robbie sent me this link, a video of a cute boy lip-synching to what sounded like an Eastern European pop song involving lots of “numa numa”. I am all about the numa numa, so of course I loved it.

But that was not enough for me! NOT ENOUGH! I need INFORMATION!

The song is “Dragostea din Tei” by a Romanian-Moldovan boy-band named O-Zone. Indisputable evidence of their boy-band-edness can be found in their music video. Whether O-Zone refers to environmental concerns or le petit mort, I have yet to find out.

This review speaks volumes: “With their clean-cut appearances, melodious songs, and warm singing voices – spiced with a hint of their native Moldovan accents – O-Zone became an overnight sensation in Romania with a number called ‘You Didn’t Answer My SMS.’”

What kind of person doesn’t answer O-Zone’s SMSes? Bitches, man.

[Edited to add: Not enough lip-synching for you? Chris Glass has more!]

mistletoe

You think I didn’t notice that after we walked through the market and paused to ask about eucalyptus wreaths next Friday — tomorrow, there will be a few waiting for us — we found ourselves under and among several bunches of mistletoe.

You think I didn’t notice that you noticed, and that you put your plan (efficient, direct, as always) on hold and lips to startled lips left me a smile.

— Halsted M. Bernard

louie the sun conure

louie the sun conure

One of my favorite patrons brought in his Sun Conure, Louie, to visit today. Louie is extremely well-behaved and gorgeous too. I heart Louie!

damaged laptop

damaged laptop

It’s no longer working, and I still have not found the culprit.

Update: The MSG’s theory is that the battery exploded, which would support the fact that it worked almost all day yesterday, then went into an endless cycle of standby/on/standby/on. This also explains the burning sensation on my hands. What in the world would cause a laptop’s battery to explode, though?

unidentified substance

This morning, I arrived at work to find something – emphasis on something, since I have no idea what – splashed all over my desk, including my laptop and connected keyboard, my photos, my calendar … you name it. Tiny gross droplets of grossness. I’m trying to mop them up with a soft rag and just a touch of Windex.

The experiment in pumpkin cheesecake with maple-bourbon sauce was … an experiment, to be sure. I don’t think the cake baked long enough, the crust ingredients need to be crumbled finer, and I whipped the cream for the sauce too early. However, after some conferring with the MSG, I have tweaks in mind for its betterment on Friday. I will post the recipe once it has been successful.

I also baked cornbread, replete with corn kernels, for the cornbread stuffing on Saturday. That recipe was lots of fun, and the end result was gorgeous, not by any effort on my part, but because Cook’s Illustrated is wonderful.

We saw two movies this weekend: “The Terminal”, a saccharine and ultimately uninspiring Spielberg-directed Hanks vehicle, and “Control Room”, its polar opposite, one of the finest documentaries I’ve ever seen. The rest of the non-movie-watching, non-baking time was dominated by EverQuest2. Cygnoir is now a twelfth-level druid! Not bad for a n00b who only gets to play on the weekends. I’m just now getting the hang of quests and how to ask for help from ass-kickers to complete them. Sometimes I get pretty frustrated, because I am so behind on the whole paradigm that what is blatantly obvious and simple to other people is just not for me. Yet. I’m catching up fast! Plus, the MSG offers patient instruction and help. And armor.

P.S. If anyone has a time machine, I need to borrow it. I sort of “forgot” to finish my holiday cards and, um, gift shopping and stuff like that. !whee.

how zen feels about going to the vet

how zen feels about going to the vet

Her actual reaction was ten times more horrifying. Seriously. I didn’t know a cat could make half those sounds. She was terrified, poor girl, but she is going to be just fine.

mirrored zen

mirrored zen

I am taking Zen to the vet today, because she is sick, but apparently not too sick to pose for this little photo. That’s my girl.

holiday sushi

I stirred my miso with my chopsticks, knowing it was too hot to lift to my lips and sip. One of the four people at the table to my left plopped down in her seat – a seat on the opposite side of the table, on the comfortable bench, where I wanted to be sitting – and sighed, exasperated.

“Do you want another beer? It’s taking forever.”

Carefully I used my chopsticks to stir in a dab of bright green into the dark brown liquid in my saucer. I watched it melt, turn into coffee-color.

“I can’t even get her attention. Why won’t she look over here?”

The students filming two actors at a table in the middle of the restaurant took notice. I tried to give them a look that conveyed I’m sorry and I’m not with them all at once.

“I’m falling asleep. I don’t think I can have another beer. The food isn’t even that great.”

I dunked the rectangular pink slab of tuna into my saucer, dipped it in midair twice to let it drip, and then tucked it into my mouth. Salt and heat and cold, raw fish meshed with my tongue.

“Well, while we’re waiting, didn’t you write a short story about a woman on a train? I remember reading a story about a woman on a train.”

Sliding my chopsticks into the thick cloud of rice, I finished my bite with clean starch. Outside the restaurant, people skated on the makeshift ice rink to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”. It was the week before Christmas and fifty degrees, and I tried to avoid having dinner with five student filmmakers and four cranky strangers.

three for one dollar

You bright and shiny beings of shininess! Your randomness has made me smile all day long. That and the Excedrine Migraine, which, according to a work email sent to all of us today, “may affect a staff member’s job performance and seriously impair the staff member’s value to the University.” Fear not, gentle policy writer: the only impairment I suffer during the headaches of biblical proportions is the fact that, o, say, I CAN’T SEE, which is why I take the HEADACHE MEDICINE in the FIRST PLACE.

Ah, bureaucracy. Ah, your myriad forms in triplicate, your gentle, burgeoning bosom of diversity training and online sexual harassment workshops. How I love to be treated like a three year-old.

The library is luxuriously quiet. No mobile ringers going off every thirty seconds, despite prolific signage asking patrons to turn the fucking ringers OFF, it being a LIBRARY and all. No patrons to glare at me condescendingly when asking where our copiers are located. No faculty members to require things three days ago. It’s merely a building full of books, which means it’s heaven.

There is a little liveliness, of course. My co-workers and I listen to SomaFM’s Xmas in Frisco streaming radio station and giggle at the weirder tracks. Yesterday a few Air Force officers were hanging out in the lobby, waiting to recruit something, anything, maybe a squirrel if it wandered too close, I don’t know. But all the students have already gone home, so instead they just stood about in their fancy-schmancy uniforms and made us cringe.

Last night I dined with one of my favorite co-workers of all, who is no longer my co-worker; I am jealous of her new co-workers because they get to hang out with her all the time. She looks great, feels great, and is willing to talk and listen at length about anything. These three things push her over the fabulous line in my book.

That line, just so you know, is dotted with purple rhinestones and smells like rosemary.

I am thinking of my maternal grandmother today because I found a paperback of mine in my office from a long time ago. The frontispiece is stamped with 3 FOR $1.00 and the name of her favorite used bookstore outside of Detroit. The title is Alfred Hitchcock Presents: More Stories Not For The Nervous, and I can assure you, it is true to its name, plus it contains the entirety of “Sorry, Wrong Number”. I have owned this book for sixteen years; it was published almost forty years ago. It cost seventy-five cents. It smells like fiberglass insulation.

Please do not purchase the game Cluster Buster for your Sidekick 2. If you aren’t dreaming of EverQuest2, you’re dreaming of shooting tiny colorful spheres at one another in attempts to match them up and consequently obliterate them. You miss the days of dreaming about that handsome auburn-haired, bluegreen-eyed man cooking you hanger steak and then kissing your neck. You will have to settle for this only in waking life. You think that will be okay.

running out of random

I am in an extremely random mood right now. My iChat statuses in the past hour have been:

I EAT FOOD IM SUCKS - BURMA SHAVE if you are reading this, you are chatting TOO CLOSE i’m going to see if i run out of things to say here nope, not yet you got your wifi in my peanut butter! tyra banks talks to armadillos you just can’t beat these prices i saw mommy kissing santa claus, or usher, one of the two my problem is the accessibility of technology when i am bored dogs barking can’t fly without umbrellas no one likes blinking 48-point verdana the pixies look as old as i feel if you can’t beat the system, beat an egg i never promised you a rose garden. wtf kind of promise is that? red rover, red rover, let mimi la rue come over! i have measured out my life with sporks
Time for you to play, too. Post something, anything, in a comment to this entry.

metapaean

My favorite blogger, Meredith, nominated this site for Best Overall Blog in the Best of Blog Awards. I’m gobsmacked.

I don’t normally consider what I write here to be much of anything. There have been exceptional moments, of course, but those occur when something I write resonates with another human being. That’s what keeps me going on and on in this manner. That’s what keeps me writing, period.

My Moleskine notebooks get all of my down-and-dirty diary details. Over the past six years, this place has become a halfway house for sentiment, not scathing enough to be a tell-all memoir, not innocuous enough to be a ballad. In a hundred different ways, I could improve this site and what I post to it, but that’s focusing on what it could be, not what it is: my quiet paean to connection in this brave new world.

Thank you for reading. You don’t have to, but you do, and that makes me indescribably happy.

market dates

I walk alongside this incredible woman, the differences between us as varied as the market produce we pause to scrutinize. She speaks five languages, English her worst, and of course all of my non-English skills are dust-covered and crumbly. Despite this, she is describing plum cookies she loves to bake. My mouth is watering. Her strong fingers pause over a long box of dates as she gives me the German word for them. It gets lost in the bustle of bagging and paying; I imagine it slips off, catlike, to hunch behind the folding table and leap out at some unsuspecting English speaker next week.

She extends the plastic bag, open-mouthed, to me. I giggle; I am embarrassed to eat something she’s just bought. We’ve just met. She shakes the bag at me and a hint of a smile graces her regal mouth. I pluck out a date and begin to nibble its sticky-sweet flesh, watching how she does it because I am unfamiliar with the protocol here. Hers disappears behind her lips, and a moment later the clean pit resurfaces. I mimic, feeling the toothlike prong waddle around on my tongue. When I slip the pit into my fingers, I look back at her, and she is grinning.

Later on, as the MSG squints into the sunshine while we drive down Market Street, I tell him, “She should be a spy.”

“What if she doesn’t want to be a spy?”

I consider this for a moment. Really she should be just who she is, but it’s killing me that she knows five languages, that she slipped into gorgeous French with the French yogurt guy, that she gave me German words for fruits and I’ve forgotten them all already, that she looks so innocuous and that is one of the best disguises of all.

My fingers are still sticky. “Doesn’t matter,” I finally reply. And it doesn’t.

change

“I’ve never been robbed before,” she sighed, leaning on the counter of my corner store. She set the black plastic handset of the store’s phone on the glass with a loud rap.

I was amazed at her stability, her casual face unstained by tears. Her loud pink t-shirt, so bright against her dark skin, was stretched over an impressive bosom. I had no idea how she got those jeans on in the morning, or at any other time of day, for that matter.

“I’m not even from around here. I’m from Sacramento.” She curled her chin into her palm and looked at me through long eyelashes.

I had to ask. “What happened?”

“Some guy asked me for change and then ran off with my purse. I don’t even know where my car is. Thank god he didn’t get my keys.” Shaking them at me, she glanced at my purse.

I paid for my bottle of wine, careful with my own wallet, in case this was a scam. I caught her looking at the change I put back, maybe looking for cards or bills, or maybe not.

Her earrings were droplets of swinging crystal, pink snowflakes right before the avalanche.

hospitality

there is a saying in europe about american hospitality

“come visit me anytime” means “when it is convenient for me”

i thought you were different but now that i am inconvenient

one side of your mouth smiles the other rescinds all offers

i will make a deal with you i will pretend not to notice

your end of the bargain is to someday shut up and walk away

charlie and the a splode factory

Watch the “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” teaser trailer right now. Your head will a splode.

Tim Burton. splode Johnny Depp. splode

spyglass

I no longer care about the rain, the sound it makes, like giants pissing on the side of my building after pints and pints of lager. I no longer care about the way my boots lose traction only on the grates surrounding Market Street saplings. I no longer dodge the commuters going the opposite direction; I could close my eyes and it would be a trust exercise, because if I think too much about it, we end up in that side-to-side waltz for minutes.

On days like this, when the rain hisses like an old cassette, I could be anyone walking home from anywhere. Or maybe I wouldn't be walking home at all. There's an unspoken, unwritten rule on the subway: don't look. If you look, you need something. You want something. Lack of eyes to eyes muddles connection and we are all stranded in the same direction, hunched forward against momentum, waiting and pretending not to see.

In the mornings, I take spy notes on a ferry passenger. I am not a very good spy, because I am easily distracted and infamously impatient. But I have quite a wealth of knowledge about this passenger now, and I'm proud of it. When I die, I'll have spied on someone I didn't even know, which is more than some people can say. I mean, it's easy to spy on people you know. They show you everything just by being around you long enough. Try spying on a stranger in thirty-minute segments while half-asleep.

On days like today, I picture the ocean lifting up her curls and tossing droplets on all of us, children, scuttling underneath awnings and leaping crookedly over puddles. She just doesn't understand why we don't look, and look up.

contrary library

Somehow this semester I have managed to alienate most of my student assistants. This wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t really care about them, but I do, and so I’m left to wonder the following important question: How does one become a good manager of people in the 18-22 age bracket without either becoming (a) a mom or (b) a dictator?

It’s true that I can be a tough manager. That’s only because I expect people to take some level of responsibility for their tasks. I believe in explaining, reiterating, and then letting someone do it. I watch over new students’ shoulders for their first few weeks on the desk, and then I let them be, reminding them to ask me or one of my employees if they have a problem or get confused or just need help.

The way I see it, nine bucks an hour is a pretty nice wage in exchange for shelving books and answering the telephone for a few hours at a time. But I can’t seem to motivate these kids to do much other than the bare minimum, thus reinforcing my stereotype that college kids just don’t care anymore, not just about schoolwork, but about anything aside from instant messaging and beer bongs. (That felt so crotchety to type.)

The truth is that I’m burning out, and fast. My first job – at the level of the students I’m managing – was almost nine years ago. I no longer have any interest in earning a library science degree, and I’m at the top of the paraprofessional food chain here. Customer service in an academic setting is really wearing me down. Maybe it’s time for me to leave libraries altogether.

I do love this old place. It’s my second home. I want to do right by it. I want it to flourish. I feel like it’s an old friend with whom I no longer have anything in common; to leave would be disloyal, and to stay would be a lie.

chits of chat

I am wearing my Möbius strip pendant again. It reminds me of ants and of the universe.

While I was driving to the ferry terminal in Larkspur, I caught a glimpse of a frenetic raccoon dancing by the side of the highway. It turned out to be just a plastic bag caught on a bit of brush.

Sometimes when I wake up from a nightmare, gasping for breath, the MSG hugs me close and taps his fingers lightly on my mouth, saying, “Shh.” I am a big alarm clock to him, and he is tapping the snooze button. I always fall right back to sleep. Shh.

My bedroom is the cleanest it’s been since I moved in last May. I still own too many things, but at least they’re not thrown all over the place.

I want popcorn but I don’t want the microwave popping noises to disturb Inkbot, who is talking on the phone in the living room.

My favorite song this very second is Beck’s “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometimes”. Three people have mentioned “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind” to me within the past two days, and so I want to watch it again. I remember after seeing it with the MSG we chatted about it over dinner, and a weird surge of jealousy flared up in me when he said Kate Winslet was hot. Don’t agree! You’re not helping.

All I want for Christmas is a great meal with family. And also a nice and chunky black cotton sweater. But mostly a great meal with family. O, and Nutella. And peace on earth, good will towards peeps. Maybe some crackers for the Nutella.

running on a pro-crastination platform

If you enjoyed “Before Sunrise”, as I did, please do not see “Before Sunset”. It was extremely disappointing; Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have lost all of the spontaneity and gentleness that youth bestowed upon them. They have been replaced with ridiculously forced, stilted performances that do not speak at all to the wonder and excitement of the first movie. I was quite concerned to hear in the “behind the scenes” footage the possibility of several more movies with the same characters mentioned. There’s no need; we’re already bored to tears with them now.

After seeing a few DVD trailers, I’ve added “Trixie” and “Criminal” to my Netflix queue. The former hasn’t received favorable reviews, but it stars Emily Watson, whom I came to appreciate after “Punch-Drunk Love”. The latter stars John C. Reilly, who has yet to give a bad performance. He’s just marvelous: utterly watchable and completely captivating. He was by far the best thing to happen to “Magnolia”, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who, unsurprisingly, also wrote and directed “Punch-Drunk Love”.

By the way, I’m using ecto 2.1 to post this, putting the new Amazon support through its paces. I am happy to report that it’s doing just fine. Gregory recommended that I check out another of Adriaan Tijsseling’s programs called 1001, which is a desktop client for Flickr. It’s neat, but not interesting enough to me to run regularly.

Meredith alerted me to the fact that my web host, DreamHost, now offers one-click WordPress installation. Although I’m not unhappy with Movable Type, that offer is so tempting. If I didn’t have to move 6 years of entries, I might just do it.

That’s enough movie and web geekery for me. I’ve procrastinated my actual writing projects long enough. I am so easily distracted by shiny things … smelly things, too. It smells incredible in the MSG’s place right now, and I’m looking forward to cooking osso bucco with him later tonight. My baking project this week is pumpkin cheesecake with maple-bourbon sauce, to see if it’s good enough to make for our Christmas dinner this year. Hmm, maybe I should set up a WordPress blog for cooking projects. Hey, wait, I’ve managed to procrastinate even more. Nice!

the best medicine

Okay, so I am the last person on earth to hear about Ali G. I cannot even tell you how hard I laughed watching “Ali G Indahouse” last night with the MSG. At one point, I was pretty sure that I was going to vomit from laughing so hard. But I didn’t. No matter how much I appreciate word play and puns, I am such a sucker for physical comedy and low-brow jokes. While googling for Ali G today, I discovered his 2004 Harvard commencement address. More laughter. Ow.

I just had a vivid memory of my friend M. We would sit in the courtyard by the dorms on campus before our workshop, and we’d talk about anything and everything. It took no time at all to fall into comfortable conversation with him. I miss him a lot. This particular memory involved us pretending that the statue of the Virgin Mary with her arms outstretched downwards and her foot crushing the head of the serpent was her gesturing, “What the fuck?” That was the same evening that M kept saying “fo’ sheezy” so loudly that the echo of his voice bounced off every stone wall around us and made me laugh until I cried.

I love to laugh. It might very well be one of my favorite things to do, right up there with eating Nutella from the jar, reading science-fiction stories, mincing garlic, being kissed on the hand, and writing the first words in a Moleskine. There are all kinds of laughs, but I seem to have lost one of them: the polite laugh. I don’t think anyone could call my laugh “polite”, and I’ve forgotten how to force laughter. My mom compares my laugh to my nonna’s keening wail. I loved that I never knew right away if she was screaming or laughing. Her whole body took part in her laugh. If something was in her hand when she started laughing, it would end up in the air or on the floor. If that something was a cup of coffee, things could get awesome.

Last night, the MSG and I were standing in line at his corner store and he was biting the back of my skull. This is not an uncommon occurrence; as always, it was making me laugh, which in turn was making the proprietor laugh. He said, “You should get him a chew toy,” pointing at the MSG. That just made me laugh harder: I am his chew toy.

My mom used to try so hard to make me laugh when I was a somber, sullen child. She’d try anything: silly faces, weird voices, bad jokes. I would just watch her, impassive. Then one night when she was putting me to sleep, she said goodnight, then turned and accidentally smacked her face on the door jamb. Thinking this was a ploy to get me to laugh, and a right funny one, I immediately dissolved into giggles. My mom then had a new weapon, and she wielded it expertly. She would even pretend to fall down the stairs for me. Every night thereafter, I would beg, “Trip and fall, Mommy! Trip and fall!”

I haven’t begged my mom to trip and fall for a while now. At least three or four months.

maybe next week

“Bill, it’s a gorgeous day, barely forty degrees in this foggy old city of San Francisco. I am psyching up for what will surely prove to be the morning to end all mornings.”

“Dick, I thought afternoon was the morning to end to all mornings.”

“Ha ha, Bill. You’re a card. No, really, today, right here, history will be made. We’re going to watch Halsted turn her track record around and make good on all those early-season promises to get to the ferry on time.”

“Dick, that’s just not possible. First of all, I’m looking at flannel sheets, a velvet-covered down comforter, and polarfleece pajamas. The conditions are against her. Second, you saw the pre-game insomnia. She’s working with about four hours of sleep. Third, it’s Friday. It’s Friday, Dick. Three strikes, you’re out.”

“Bill, don’t be so cynical! She can do it. I know she can. She just needs a little… and there’s the alarm!”

“Nothing, no movement yet, this is not good. This is not good, Dick.”

“Give it time! She never moves before the third bell! Okay, there we go, we’ve got movement. WE’VE GOT MOVEMENT!”

“Dick, she just hit the snooze.”

“NO! I don’t believe it! There’s a nine-minute penalty right there. Nine minutes. We can’t afford nine minutes, Bill!”

“I know, Dick. I know. All we can hope for is the cat.”

“That’s right. The cat! Where’s the cat? Wait… wait… I SEE IT! THE CAT IS IN PLAY, BILL, I REPEAT: THE CAT IS IN PLAY!”

“The cat is in play and approaching the toes. I repeat, toes are being approached. It looks like the cat is setting up a combination toe-bite, bladder-poke. Yes, Dick, that’s just what it looks like. First the bite– and it’s denied with a leg jerk. Cat down. Cat down and actually somewhere on the other side of the room. That’s gotta hurt. But wait, the cat’s up and… wait, what’s going on? It’s a mess down there. I think… yes, I think it’s leaping, the cat is leaping– it’s a clean pounce to Bladderville, Dick.”

“She’s up! Halsted is UP AND MOVING! Great combination play by the cat, Bill. Truly impressive. That cat is 57-0 this season and you can really see why, with ingenuity like that. Halsted is now up and moving towards the bathroom and I’m exhausted. I think I need a little nap, Bill.”

“We’re about ready to take our first break, Dick. Knock yourself out. I’m going to pour myself another margarita and pray for death.”

“What was that, Bill?”

“Nothing, Dick. Just nap.”

“Okay, Bill, don’t mind if I… wait… wait… what’s going on down there? Halsted is coming back to the bedroom; I repeat: BACK TO THE BEDROOM. No, this is all wrong!”

“That’s right, Dick. She’s back, the cat has wandered off, and it’s anyone’s game again. And … o no, god no, she’s staring at one of her bookcases. Please don’t let this be another October Reorganization.”

“No, no, I don’t think that’s what she’s staring at, Bill… I can’t see for sure, but I think she’s shuffling slowly towards the… no, I can’t look! I just can’t! Is it what I think it is?”

“I think it is, Dick. It’s the jewelry box. She’s going to polish sterling silver jewelry she doesn’t wear for twelve minutes, twelve minutes we don’t have. Twelve minutes SHE NEEDS to get showered, dressed, and out the door so she can make the 7:15 ferry. This is painful, Dick. I can’t watch.”

“Bill?”

“Yes, Dick?”

“Maybe next week?”

“Sure, Dick. Sure.”

bathroom play

bathroom organization All day, cygnoir’s quill has been undergoing a TrackBack spam attack. Ever since I logged in this evening I have been de-spamming TrackBack pings. I can’t tell you how much I hate the intarweb right this very second.

Instead of a real entry with real information, you get a photo of my day-off home project: the organization of my bathroom shelf. Thrilling, I know! If you are utterly curious about its inner workings, click on the thumbnail and read the notes over at Flickr.

How’s that for “bathroom play”, TrackBack Spammers? Hmm?

on the gin and juice tip

On Wednesday, I:

  1. Woke up at six sharp, leapt out of bed, and then sat there for a few minutes. Just sat. Do not remember thinking, “Hey, I’m really tired,” or, “Why are nightmares always longer and more memorable than sex dreams?” or even, “I like snacks.” Then went to shower. Odd, that little brain-pause. Thought I’d mention it.
  2. Walked briskly, briskly I say, to the subway, which I will continue to call the Muni light rail or whatever you freakass San Franciscans call it, because Muni is not the subway, it is the entire public transportation system in the City, and no one knows what I am saying anyway so blah.
  3. Remembered that I had an extensive conversation the night before with a self-professed “cat from Berkeley” named A.J. on my stoop. He was “on the gin and juice tip” (how I adore how those words slipped from his mouth like nothing at all) and bummed a cigarette from me, then proceeded to ask me about the demise of America. I loved it. Also, v. curious about this gin and juice tip. He mixes his in a glass bottle that had such a generic label, it might as well have been labeled GIN AND JUICE TIP in 24-point Georgia.
  4. (Why has it taken me three minutes to ponder 24-point Georgia? Why?)
  5. Wrote angry prose into my journal on the ferry. Well, not really angry, more like vaguely disgruntled. But that doesn’t sound right at all.
  6. Got to work before opening on the one day – the one day – I have a student assistant competent enough to open by herself.
  7. Smiled as soon as I walked in my office and saw the bouquets of flowers left over from my reading.
  8. Did not smite any students. Notable because several of them really asked for a good smiting, especially the one who told me he didn’t have time to read books and could I just summarize a few journal abstracts for him. V. glad I left flaming sword at home, in umbrella rack.
  9. Pondered my own gin and juice tip, and when this might occur.
  10. Failed to find gin or juice at my deli during my lunch break.
  11. Ate my lunch in my car in a remote parking lot while reading Dream Park.
  12. Made plans with a former co-worker to have tapas, and therefore experience a Spanish wine tip instead, immediately after work. Score.
  13. Avoided any form of smiting. Even managed a few half-hearted smiles amidst stamped-down rage.
  14. Considered a career change. For the 3423068640932582345th time.
  15. Escaped work for tapas and wine tip.
  16. Had a fabulous girly-talk time with former co-worker. Had two glasses of Spanish wine. Had gambas al ajillo, y una empanadita. (No idea what I just said, there. If I insulted your mother, lo siento.) Was ogled at by really unsubtle middle-aged men at the bar. Made sure to say unsexy things like “personal integrity” and “fiscal reparations” while really talking about boys.
  17. Texted the MSG with something so cheesy and wine-induced I will never look at that horrible thing sitting in my “sent” folder. A dirty joke would have been less humiliating than what I sent. Really. Will pay someone else to delete it without reading it. (He didn’t respond; hopeful he didn’t receive it at all.)
  18. Crumpled into a seat on the ferry and fell immediately asleep listening to extremely loud iPod.
  19. Woke up as the ferry solidly thumped into San Francisco. Drool on chin: check. Ears bleeding from Black Flag: check. Tipsy confusion as to where the hell I am and how did I get here: check.
  20. Stumbled back to the subway, listening to William Shatner’s new album. Smiled to myself the whole way home. Got v. strange looks from crazy people. As a consequence, had entire sidewalk to myself again. This plan works, people.
  21. Got into polarfleece pajamas and flannel-sheeted bed at 20:30. Mmmmmmrrmrmmrrm. Then woke up at midnight-thirty. Surprised that my sleep schedule is so screwed! Really! How! Could! This! Happen!

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.