Tuesday, August 30, 2005

My Man Does Not Patronize Places Like Hooters

Autumn’s coming, but I can’t feel it in the air. Depressing. You know how it is when you can feel a change in the air, and it’s thrilling? Well, I’m not experiencing that. But I used to, always at this time of the year. School’s back in session, you’re settling in and learning new things. I really miss all that.

But even though Arizona doesn’t truly experience autumn, not in the traditional sense, anyway, I’m still doing my autumn mix. This will be the fourth year that I’ve done it. I might have told some people that it will be the fifth, but it’s not. The years just bleed together, you know and it seems like I’ve been doing it for five years already.

So that’s something to look forward to, the autumn mix.

Good news. I got a job. It’s only part time, but it’s something I really want. It doesn’t start until September 12th, but in the meantime I’ve been doing this lame band instrument rental crap. I hate to say it because it’s rude and judgmental and it will seem like I’m looking down on other people, but the thing is the people I go out with on these little elementary school jaunts are a bunch of deadbeats who don’t understand me.

Yesterday we drove past a Hooters and this stupid kid was like, “Woo hoo, let’s go to Hooters.”

I know I could have been jocular about it and had a good time and all, but I didn't feel like it because I don't know him, not really. So I said, “Whatever, we’ll drop you off and you can go to Hooters.”

“What? That’s fine with me. What about your husband, doesn’t he like to go to Hooters?” I said no. Then he said, “Well, what if he went, would you slap him or divorce him?”

To which I responded, “I’m not a violent person, but the question is stupid anyway, I wouldn’t marry a man who wanted to go to a place like Hooters.” Because I wouldn’t. Hello. Everyone knows this. I could have joked that I would have done both, slap him first then divorce him, but that would have been more of a misrepresentation of the truth.

This conversation was going on in a van, and I was in the front seat and he was in the very back seat. Instantly I wished I hadn’t said anything, had just ignored the asinine comment in the first place. The lady driving the van, a middle-aged, large woman, tried to smooth over the discussion with a “I’ve been to Hooters, it’s not that bad. The girls just wear tight tops and short skirts, and maybe get a little flirty.” And I felt very sorry for her. She was obviously justifying the perspective/actions of some man in her life because no good woman in her right mind, unless she’s a lesbian, would justify a messed up joint like Hooters. Probably her husband’s actions and she clearly has no confidence, which is understandable, being obese, but that shouldn’t matter because a woman’s will comes from within and from the unshakeable knowledge that she’s a Woman, dammit. Large black women are still full of attitude and confidence, it’s beautiful (is it wrong to say ‘black women?’ I don’t know what’s considered p.c. anymore). What’s the problem with white girls?

Anyway, after she said that, the guy in the back was all over it, saying stuff like, “Yeah, it’s not that bad…blah blah blah, I’m a jerk, a pigheaded guy who objectifies women and sex is a meaningless, carnal act between humans who have regressed into nothing more than a surging body of animalistic urges…love, what is love? Respect for women? My mother? I have a mother? And other women are sisters and mothers with feelings….what?” (He didn’t really say any of that, these are words I’m putting in his mouth because these are the attributes I perceive in a man who exhibits such careless attitudes.)

So I said, “Whatever, maybe it’s ‘not that bad,’ I simply disagree with the principle of the thing. That’s what offends me.” Then I didn’t say anything more because it wasn’t worth it, really. After that I shut everything else out, any conversation in the van, because these people have no concept of anything I consider important. I felt extremely misunderstood, like I was some kind of domineering woman and that bothers me. Because I’m not domineering.

I purposely chose a man with morals similar to mine, who values the same things, who loves his mother and his sisters, who chooses to see women as people and not a stack of boobs placed in his path to titillate his sexual desire. Is that so wrong? Why aren’t there more women in the world like myself? Why don’t good women demand more from men? I’m sick of the attitude that “Boys will be boys.” That’s b.s. It’s the same as “Let’s just all give up.”

I read and hear about women who are upset because they caught their husbands looking at porn on the internet, or their boyfriends want to go to strip clubs with their buddies. Hey, here’s a clue, “It’s me or the highway.” (I know it’s really “It’s my way or the highway…” But in this case, my misquote “It’s me or the highway” really works.) There shouldn’t even be a choice. A good woman, flesh and blood, who will also provide an emotional connection, is better than the pixilated, fake images of sex happening on the screen of a cold, unresponsive computer. Or maybe that’s what some people want. Fake. Cold. Unemotional. If they do, they’re already dead inside.

To end on a good note, I came home last night and told Stoker about the conversation and asked him if I have him all wrong, if I’m domineering. He said no. And I believe him. I’m right about him and I’m damn lucky to have found a man who rises above it, a man who wants an emotional connection with me as much as he wants all the other aspects of me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Images of Bastet: A Photographic Journey

Bastet Goes to the Vet

We took Bastet to the vet yesterday. Did I tell you we named her Bastet? I know it's sort of a strange name, but it really fits her. She's mysterious looking . . . not that Bastet was a mysterious goddess or anything, as far as I know. I took the name from the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. In them, Bastet is a stray cat who randomly visits Amelia's home, which Amelia names after the goddess.

I liked the idea of naming a cat after the Egyptian goddess who was also a cat. Or something. I'm not really sure of the roots of the goddess myth because there seem to be accounts that contradict each other. On the web anyway. But here's a
link to a page that talks about Bastet, the goddess.

And for your information, we pronounce the /et/ in the name because /bast/ sounds like the shortened version of my favorite insult 'bastard.' I don't actually know anyone who calls people 'a bast' instead of 'a bastard,' but I wouldn't put it past some individual out there. Anyway, saying /bast-et/ makes it sound cute, like in French when they just add an '-ette' to the end of a name to make it feminine. Like 'Antoin-ette' or 'Paul-ette' and 'David-ette.' I made the last one up, I don't think there is a Davidette.

So we took Bastet to the vet yesterday because last week she went into heat. It was madness. I've never been around a cat in heat but I knew that something must be done to relieve the poor girl's surging hormones. Since she was a stray when I took her in, I didn't expect to her to have been spayed. But it only reaffirmed my irritation at the world. If she had actually belonged to someone before I found her, they were indeed an irresponsible bastard and didn't deserve to have such a beautiful, trusting cat.

Taking her to the vet was a very difficult thing to do. Her little meows appealed to my strongest resolve. I almost changed my mind. Okay, okay, no I didn't, but to illustrate how tough taking your cat to vet is . . . I'm using it as a literary device, you see. All my life my mom has been the steward -- she's taken the cats to the vet and everything. I mean, I was sometimes there, but I didn't feel the same sense of obligation and love that I feel for Bastet. My mom's cats were also my cats, but I knew the cats didn't look to me as their provider.

Anyone who's had a pet knows that animals are smart. They know who brings home the bacon. And they're thankful for it. You know they are, but not because they say thank-you or anything. It's how they love you and follow you around the house. Taking Bastet to the vet made me feel like I was breaking her trust because she didn't understand that the visit was important for her. Those are the moments when the language barrier really sucks. Other times you're thankful for it because not being able to converse in English with your pet makes them more adorable. But not being able to explain the pain they're going to feel and why, is a horrible thing. She didn't know what was happening, she didn't know why she was in a cage, and now, as she lays on the floor, miserable, not eating, I feel like I've betrayed her trust.

I know that some of you might be saying, "You're being a baby. It's just a cat, for heaven's sake." But if you're saying that, you're a jerk. No, seriously, I know you're truly wonderful, but you obviously have no heart. And you've never had an animal that you love because if you had then you'd understand me.

Anyway, she's more animated today and I know she'll be okay. She purred a little when I was petting her and talked to me a little. Meowed, that is. As soon as she starts eating, I'll feel better about everything.

N.B. As many of you know, Stoker and I are rather poor right now. To assist us in paying for Bastet to be spayed, we went through an organization called Cat Nip and Tuck. I think they might only be in Phoenix, but I'm sure there are other groups out there like them. This organization is similar to TNR, a program designed to reduce the population of feral cats without euthanizing them. But Cat Nip and Tuck is for pet owners, I think, and Stoker and I are extremely grateful for them.

ps. Blogger sucks! I had so many problems getting this to post right it took me TWO HOURS to do it. It should have only taken an hour or less. Stupid morons.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Renaissance Woman: About My Little Sister

I told my younger sister Cassi that I would have a new post up yesterday. It seems like I might have promised her, but then I didn't do it. I don't usually break promises and I don't know what happened, really, I just didn't get to it. I was reading or something. Anyway, apparently she depends on them to get through her long, grueling hours waiting for the zebrafish embryos to do something in their little petrie dishes. Fertilize themselves or something. I have no idea really. Something glamorous like that.

In case you're wondering about Cassi, she's the genius of the family. I rarely talk about my family because they're very important to me and I don't want to encourage potential stalkers. Cassi is stalk-able, if there is such a thing. In fact she had a stalker in high school. For the sake of ease, we'll call him Jeremy. Jeremy wouldn't stop emailing Cassi and instant messaging her (they do that, these days, kids), oh and also calling her and probably doing an occasional drive-by . . . you know the kind, everyone's done them. Dim the lights, drive stealthily by in the dark just to see if they're home, just to gaze upon the house that shelters their beautiful bones. . . . I've never done that kind of thing.

When she went away to college (an Ivy League school on the East Coast. . . . Are they all on the East Coast? Shows you how 'in the know' I am . . .) he made her this cd with a cover that said something like, "Cassi and Jeremy, together forever . . ." Or something ridiculous like that. Cassi, in the typical manner of white personality types, did nothing and hoped the problem would go away. For the most part, it did.

When I say genius, I mean she's everything. Renaissance woman. Observe:

Cassi is:

1) An athlete. In high school she was the star soccer player, as well as lettering in track and flying to such diverse places as Florida to race. Also she went to Moscow, Russia for some race thing. Racing. She loves to race, in spite of that white personality (I'm making that up, I don't know if she has a white personality).

2) A scholar. In addition to getting a 35 on the ACT (high is 36), she got excellent SAT scores (I don't know what they were, the SAT crap is a mystery to me since I never concerned myself with them). Maybe she just tests well, you're thinking, but she also took the toughest AP courses during high school and passed them all. AP calculus, AP biology, AP history etc. I might be making some of those classes up. I'm not 100% sure which ones she took. But I know they were hard. Now she's studying pre-med at the University of Penn.

3) A comedian. Or maybe she's only hilarious to me. You decide. I've included a link to her new blog on my sidebar. Cassi, that's her name and the link (for those who are not geniuses among you. What am I saying? I know you're all geniuses). Also, she started another web page for this elite club she started back in high school. Here's the link. I find that her type of humor is the most entertaining and that the kind of people who utilize it are few and far between, to quote an oft used phrase (and thus illustrating my superior intelligence). But honestly, she cracks me up like no other. Maybe I'm just biased because I've watched her grow from this adorable, happy little girl into a full grown woman riddled with complexities, not to mention a rich trove of sarcasm at her disposal. And as we all know, sarcasm is the highest, most developed form of humor.

4) A gamer. Here's the part that kills the computer geeks of the world. She's brilliant, she's funny, she's attractive AND she loves to play computer games. Any games for that matter. Xbox, PS2, etc. PLUS she's rules at them. I'm serious. She's so versed in the rules and space of game worlds that she finds her way around them with ease. Then she conquers them. It's amazing. Any man with a brain who enjoys losing himself in an Xbox game is DYING for a girl like Cassi who will understand the drive, no, the need to conquer game worlds.

5) A reader. She's a voracious reader. Thus, smarter. As we all know, people who read are the most intelligent. Somehow they just know more. Their brains are more developed. Their imaginations more colorful and active. Their ability to retain information stronger. I think Cassi has read more books than me. And I studied English literature as both an undergrad and a grad student.

6) A red-headed beauty. Yes, she's a red-head. And therefore beautiful. I don't know, maybe I'm biased in favor of the red-heads. My mother and two of my sisters, including Cassi, are red-headed. I'm hard pressed to say there's a red-head I've met that I didn't like. In other words, I've never met a red-head I didn't like. Crazy? I don't know. It makes me wish I had red hair. Honestly. Since wishing isn't helping me, I simply hope to have an adorable little girl with red-hair. If Stoker doesn't deliver . . . well, you know Henry VII? I'm joking, I'm joking. I absolutely ADORE Stoker as you all know.

So there you have it. Cassi. The amazing Cassi.

She's going to kill me for writing this. But I'm in Arizona, she's in Utah. You do the math.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Plastic Surgery: You Can't Put a Price on Aging with Dignity

There’s something to be said about real. I’ve been a huge advocate of Real all my life and sometimes might go too far with the “realness” factor. But whatever. This is about plastic surgery and a malaise in American culture. And I don’t know, it may go further than just America. What I do know is that I’m in love with people who are real.

This morning, while eating my Cap’n Crunch, I was watching the Discover channel. They don’t mix really, especially when the program is on plastic surgery and after every commercial break they flash a viewer discretion warning that the program shows actual surgeries. Of course I watched it anyway.

What’s more disgusting than flesh being sliced open and slabs of skin, literal pounds of flesh (their joke, not mine*), being tossed into a garbage can or slapped onto a counter? What’s more horrifying than bubbles of cellulite popping out of incisions, or slippery, clear balloons of saline solution bursting from a small hole beneath a breast, landing in the sterile, gloved hand of Dr. Frankenstein . . . . I mean, the doctor, only to be replaced by a larger implant (because that’s what the operation really is, a breast-implant replacement or enlargement)?

I’ll tell you what’s more offensive than these images: the plastic surgery addict telling the camera that they know it seems shallow, but these surgeries make them happy. They just want to look good. They don’t do it that much, you know. They’ve only had a few surgeries, uh, lip enlargement, tummy tuck, liposuction of the buttocks, thighs . . . and . . . neck and that’s all . . . oh, and they had their nose done . . . and jaw-line . . . but that’s all . . . and breasts, breasts were enlarged, that’s right. Forgot about that. But that’s all. No more . . . Botox. Does that count, Botox? Because they had that done on their eyes, just the crows feet. And the smile lines, above the nose. Botox is great, because you know, even when you get mad you can yell and get angry without looking mean. [*Smile*, but you can’t tell because of the Botox.]

That’s really how the program went. It followed several individuals and every one of them had an interview similar to the above paragraph where they talked about the few things they’d had done. And they’d actually forget what they’d had done, like when someone’s retracing their steps from yesterday and they leave something out and then remember. But that’s normal because that’s just the day’s events, you know, minor things like going to the gas station for the paper or calling your sister. These people are forgetting how many major surgeries they’ve had done to remake themselves.

I know the allusion wasn’t lost on you. I know when I accidentally called the doctor, Dr. Frankenstein, you put it all together and saw the appropriateness of the reference. A few months ago I wrote a blog entry about Michael Jackson's life story being a modern day Frankenstein story (funny, because the actual title of Mary Shelley’s novel is Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus). And it seemed to work, because Michael Jackson while being a product of his parents, has been influenced by the whim of the masses and that has turned him into something ugly, not only on the outside, but judging from his actions, on the inside too.

People always mistake Frankenstein for the monster he created in the book. They think Frankenstein is the monster, the man created from the body parts of dead people**. But he’s not. Frankenstein, you’ll know—if you know anything and have read the book or been an alert person all your life—is the doctor. Victor obsessively pursues the secret of life and creates a human being pieced together from dead things. Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve read it and you might have never read it, but it’s usually quite different than the films based on it. The real question Shelley proposes is: who’s the monster?

These doctors who’ve gone to medical school and taken oaths to heal people and do everything in their power to save lives and all, have been seduced by lucre (I like the sound of that, “seduced by lucre” it’s so evil sounding. And it is. Evil). In Shelley’s book the real monster was Dr. Frankenstein with his greedy thirst for power shaping his cruel actions. When he succeeded in creating life, the weak man turned cold and frightened, sending the veritable child out into an unforgiving world to fend for itself. Dr. Frankenstein’s monstrosity was his thin, unloving heart.

Likewise modern day doctors slap fake parts onto people, give them a quick fix because the price is right, while ignoring the real problem (click here for more quick-fix plagues). In the original Hippocratic Oath, and even in the revised Oath, the sentiment is to protect and cure people. Plastic surgery as I understand it, developed as a way to hide burn scars or fix irreparable damage in accident victims. Even breast implants developed as a way to restore breast cancer survivors to a normal existence (again, this is what I understand of it. I haven’t bothered to look these things up). But these modern day Victor-Frankensteins base their practices mainly on the economy of it, ignoring the ethical question. Give them enough cash and they’ll scramble your body to look like a porn star or the Hollywood idea of beauty (which as we all know, is surface only).

What bothers me is that vanity surgeries are fast becoming the norm. I see it on the horizon now and I suppose there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I’m not an activist anyway and think it’s ridiculous to, say, camp out in Crawford, Texas to make a statement. I’m not like that. My cause is within my sphere of influence—loving, giving and perhaps a little healing here and there through massage, teas and aromatherapy (btw, that’s mainly a joke).

Maybe I’ll start the Real Club for individuals like me who want to make an oath to not succumb to the allure of looking perfect even as we age and witness the inevitable decay of our flesh. There is no chance for a state of physical perfection in this life anyway. Life on earth is fluid and changing, constantly giving way to the forces of time and gravity. However, our hearts can become perfect, I think. And that’s what I want to have: a perfect heart.

*And by “their” I mean the Discover channel’s narrator, not the surgeons.

**This deserves further clarification. People will say “Oh, he looked like Frankenstein.” And what they mean is he was an ugly man like the dad in the Munsters. He had bolts coming out of his neck and stuff. For accuracy’s sake they should say “Oh, he looked like Frankenstein’s monster.” However, someone could say, “Oh, he was like Frankenstein.” And by that mean he was selfish and heartless, on the surface seemingly good and nice and inquisitive. But beneath it all, he wouldn’t give you the shirt off his back.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

How Not to Use a Pumice Stone

The other night Stoker scrubbed the inside of his elbow too vigorously with the pumice stone. He was taking a bath, reading his book on recording engineering, and he got this itch on his inner elbow. You know, the soft, pale part of your arm just below the bulge of round joint. I don’t know what he was thinking using a pumice stone there. But he did. He’s new to pumice stones, I suppose and didn’t realize that you should only use them on tough, calloused skin like the bottom of your feet and elbows.

The itch flared up and the light blue, foot shaped pumice stone was resting on the edge of the bathtub, innocently minding its own business. Stoker’s eyes fell on its white flecked beauty and the idea struck him. He grabbed the light stone and scraped it lightly across the tender skin. It felt good. Deceivingly good. With a sigh, he brushed the skin with the pumice stone, effectively eliminating the itch.

Later, the skin turned red. Raw. That’s when the whole story came spilling out: itch… pumice stone…I scrubbed it and it was great, at the time. But now it hurt. Like a burn. Poor kid. I truly felt bad for him, felt a little guilty for not warning him about the potency of a pumice stone. Though, when you think about it, I’m sure he knew. How could you not? I mean, it’s like sandpaper. No one rubs their skin with sandpaper, right?

Unfortunately (but rather adorably), sometimes Stoker attacks an idea vigorously, like he attacked that itch, without thinking about the outcome. I do it all the time. Who doesn’t? It’s the eagerness of youth, a quality you rarely see in people over 50—they just don’t pummel headlong into foreign territory without considering the results.

For example, when Stoker was in high school, he painted the horns of his family’s goats. Red or blue or something. Maybe yellow, I don’t know. But the point is, you’d be hard pressed to see a 55 year-old man out in the yard painting his goat’s horns. If you did, you’d check him into the nursing home, citing dementia as your reason. Seeing a 17 year-old boy doing it, you just laugh and shake your head. Kids.

That’s the beauty of it, I think. When Stoker related the pumice stone debacle, I fell more in love with him. How could I not? And maybe in ten years, these sorts of incidents will bother me. I like to doubt it. I like to feel certain that the confidence he has about living and the little mistakes he makes because of that youthful eagerness will always make me laugh. Like a few weeks ago, when he made waffles from scratch and said, “It’s no problem, it’s really easy. Flour, water, oil, sugar, eggs. Like pancakes. Easy.” Later, after he put three eggs in and we were trying to cut through the spongy things, we joked about having waffles that tasted more like meringue. Though it was bit of an inconvenience at the time, it was actually quite great. It really was.

The red burn-like sore on his arm has scabbed over; little red pinpricks. In case you doubted the veracity of how much damage the misapplied pumice stone had done. In the future I would advise all to be careful with pumice stones. And in 30 years, if you see a grown man painting the horns of his goats, don’t worry, he’s not crazy, it’s just Stoker.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Arizona: Still a Bitch

I miss home. Wow, what a baby, you’re thinking. But no, hear me out. Really, what I miss is Utah. Weird, I know. Most people in Utah are saying stuff like, “Man, I hate this place. I can’t wait to get out of here.” I heard that from nearly everyone in Logan (northern Utah, where I went to college … for 8 years. Lots of people go to college for 8 years. I know, they’re called doctors) and everyone in Salt Lake too. Well, except for all the people who have moved there from New York and whatnot. They love it there and from them you only hear stuff about how oppressed they are because of the Mormons running the state and blah blah blah.

Secretly, I usually think they can just go to hell for all that complaining, because it's annoying and rude to whine to me about it. They moved to Salt Lake from crappy, high crime places like New York City and Detroit and whatever because Utah has wide open spaces and less crime and in general, a great feeling to it because of all those oppressive Mormons who are into, more than anything, being with their families and being honest. Sure some of them are weirdos, I’ll admit it. But there are fewer weirdos there than in somewhere like Detroit or NYC (mainly due to population differences).

But for all their complaining about Mormons, they rarely say they hate the place. They actually say, usually, that they love it and they moved there because it’s a beautiful, clean city, and they moved there so they could ski all winter, or rock climb or have a ranch and a horse named Ms. Kitty, all just a short drive from the city.

I moved here to be with Stoker. When we first started dating and he said he’d be going to school down here, I thought to myself, “Holy crap, this boy is amazing. I’d go to Arizona to be with him in a heartbeat. Yeah, no problem.” And I envisioned the sacrifices I’d make to be down here with Stoker. One of the sacrifices I envisioned was what an acquaintance of mine’s girlfriend/wife did when he showed up in Logan to get his master’s. And that was ending up working at Wendy’s. But I don’t want to work at Wendy’s. Back when Stoker and I began dating, the idea was just a romantic thought, a sort of, hell-yes-I’d-walk-across-the-desert-
to-find-you, kind of thought and I imagined myself handing a to-go-sack of $.99 bacon cheeseburgers out the window with my little drive-thru headset on, saying, “Thanks for coming to Wendy’s. Come again.” Now that it’s really here, I’m saying, hell no. I’m not working at Wendy’s. Unless of course, they pay me $15/hr, because you can’t beat that.

Anyway, what I’m saying is, I miss Utah. My friends call and talk to me and ask me how I like Arizona and I say I feel out of place, I hate it here, I can’t get a job, I feel like a foreigner because they are so many Mexicans and all. Not that I have a problem with Mexicans. I love Mexicans. All of them. No seriously, I don’t have a problem with Mexicans. But I do feel like I’m in Mexico here. Everything is in Spanish and English. I wish I spoke Spanish, I really do. Because part of the problem with having so many Mexican people is that I don’t understand Spanish and that creates, in me, a feeling of alienation when there’s a group of people speaking Spanish. And a little fear, to be quite honest. Anyway, the good thing about all the Mexican people is obviously the Mexican food. I absolutely love carne asada tacos. Authentic Mexican food is, as we all know, the best. Veronica, my cousin’s wife (who is Mexican), taught me how to make authentic enchiladas. They melt in your mouth. If only I could make them like she makes them.

So, aside from the phenomenal Mexican food, I just don’t love Arizona. It’s still being quite bitchy to me. No job yet. Nothing. I mean, I’ve had a few interviews and I just don’t have the endurance to be out of work this long. I feel like I’m emailing my résumé’s to the void. Bastard void. Everything is SO hard. How can it be so difficult? I’m trying to get on with substitute teaching, but even that’s murder. I have to get my fingerprints done, I have to get my rubella shot, I have to jump through this hoop, jump through that hoop, jump through this flaming hoop, oh, now jump through the flaming hoop WITH the pool of crocodiles underneath it. Aww, the crocodiles got her. Too bad. Next substitute victim!

Okay, but really my problem is my driving pessimism. Just joking. I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist.

So, what I’m really longing for, I guess, is comfort. I’m out of my comfort zone here and flailing like a fool. I miss the familiar things about life back in Utah. I miss the linear aspect of the Wasatch Front. How the mountains are always on the east and I-15 runs north and south and if you want to get to Logan, you just get off I-15 in Brigham City and follow the road through Sardine Canyon, past Mantua (pronounced, for who knows what reason, “Man-a-way.” Indian word, I guess), and drive out of the canyon onto the foothills of the Wellsvilles (steepest slope, from base to peak of any range in the U.S., I think) and there, Cache Valley unfolds all pastoral and beautiful in the summer dusk. In the spring everything is green and lush, in the fall everything is red and yellow, dusty golden in the autumn twilight. Magical.

All glum things aside, the best thing that’s happened so far is that the little gray cat decided to move in. She showed up the other day at the door with her suitcase full of a cat litter box and a feather-mouse-bell toy. We let her in because how could we resist? She’s fluffy and adorable and completely house-trained. Deciding on a name has been tough. We’re leaning towards Bastet because of the beloved (by me, anyway) Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Reading William Sleator

Remember Choose Your Own Adventure books? When I was in elementary school my library had a few of them. I was very into them for a while. But when I read them, I cheated. I’d pick an option and look ahead to see what happened, while I left my pinky marking the spot (who didn’t do this). Because if I fell from a cliff and died or walked right into a trap, I obviously didn’t want to go that way. The goal was to stay alive and finish the adventure. There was a proper ending to all these adventures. There was only one way to go, but hundreds of different ways to go. I think all but the right one turned into a bad thing like slavery or being eaten alive by a giant praying mantis or something.

Last night I finished this book called Parasite Pig by William Sleator. If any of you have read Interstellar Pig, then you will definitely want to know about Parasite Pig, because it’s the sequel. I read Interstellar Pig when I was in junior high. Yes, it’s young adult science fiction. So is the sequel. But that doesn’t matter. William Sleator is an excellent author and if you have kids or are a kid, you want to get his books. They turned me onto theoretical physics and science in a way nothing else had. My honest opinion is that Parasite Pig isn’t as great as its prequel. Probably because of the rather gruesome way he depicts the scene of two girls being grilled alive by human-eating crabs from the planet J’koot.

But don’t let that turn you off. It’s still good.

So the human characters are trapped on this planet with few options for escape. The aliens who could help the humans escape also want to use them for diabolical purposes and then kill them. I’ll give it away and tell you that the humans get off the planet without being eaten by the crabs. They return to earth and life goes on as normal. But the feeling I had when I finished it was . . . desolate. The way I felt after seeing the movie 12 Monkeys when I was 17 (I might have missed something, I don’t know. I haven’t seen it since). I hate that feeling. I think I’ll do anything to avoid it and if I have the hunch that something’s going to make me feel that way, I’ll say to hell with it and walk away. That desolate feeling is also how I felt after choosing the wrong route in Choose Your Own Adventure books. I think it’s why I gave them up.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I guess I’m just annoyed that even though the humans made it home, I didn’t feel resolved and okay with life when I put the book down. I think Sleator dropped the ball and tried to sum up the human narrative side of things too quickly. It reminded me of a Choose Your Own Adventure. You should only feel that way when reading one of those. Not when you’re reading a real book. As we all know, Choose Your Own Adventures aren’t real books. They’re dumb. It’s a poor excuse for a book.

But at this point, I guess I’m reading just about anything. The weird thing is, I still miss Harry, Ron and Hermione. It’s like Rowling puts an addictive chemical in her books that make you crave them fortnightly….

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Best Experience in Phoenix Yet

I went searching for the local rock climbing gym, and after several wrong turns and slow-driving-in-manner-of-stalker, I found it. Actually, I had to call their number and get directions. Because honestly, like everything in the Phoenix area (from what I’ve seen of it, anyway), everything is a strip mall and no façade should be taken for granted. I mean, the rock climbing gym is hidden by the Quality Inn and completely lacks road-side signage (you like that eh? Yeah, it’s a term I learned from working in the advertising industry).

First I found a boxing gym and then I found the rock climbing gym. Turns out, I was actually looking for a boxing gym because I’d considered taking up boxing to get back in shape. That stint at the aforementioned advertising job gave me some stupid love-handles. Embarrassing. I mean it. When you finally graduate college and get a desk job, take my advice and change your eating habits. Otherwise, that 32 oz Coke you enjoy every morning (where some drink coffee, I drink Coke) will go straight to your hips and thighs. Sick. It’s just sick, that’s what it is.

I mention the rock climbing gym because it’s the most positive experience I’ve had since moving here. So far, the Phoenix area has been nothing but a bitch to me. I’m completely serious. I mean, some things have been good. The girl at Target yesterday was really sweet, and I was able (through the generosity of my mother), to buy the adorable bowls I wanted. But you can’t drive anywhere without it taking hours* because every block has a billion traffic lights and there’s absolutely no way to fortuitously hit every green light like I want to, sometimes you accidentally turn into the stupid mall parking lot because it has its own traffic lights, Barnes and Noble didn’t hire me (bastards. I suggest a boycott. Who’s with me?), and yesterday some jerk grunted at me as I was crossing the street and when I didn’t acknowledge him (I regretted not flipping him the bird, later. But maybe ignoring him was smart after all. Who knows.) laughed all evilly and I felt like the victim of a drive-by shooting.

But the rock climbing gym visit was a very positive experience. The people who worked there were all very nice and this chick named Jamie gave me four passes for $5 off climbing, just because we exchanged info about climbing stuff and chatted for a few minutes (and I bought a climbing magazine. But then she also gave me a bunch of copies of the past months for free, so it wasn’t just because I bought something, although I’m sure that helped). It was great. And the woman at the desk was also very nice. Seriously.

My best experience here so far. Hopefully Stoker and I can go back tomorrow to try out the facilities, tonight was just a visit to check it out. If we dig the gym, maybe we’ll get some long-term passes and I can skip the boxing stuff—that boxing gym was a little intimidating. Honestly. Big guys everywhere. AND big girls. Jumping rope with big biceps and stuff. And to be perfectly truthful, this isn’t Million Dollar Baby. My life, that is. If anything, it’s half-dollar baby. Stupid joke.

p.s. The cat came back. If you read Stoker’s blog, you know what I’m talking about. I think she likes me.

*Gross exaggeration.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Bacon is Sexy, Like White-trash is Sexy

Tonight Stoker made bacon and so now I smell like bacon. Everything smells like bacon. I had to soap up the entire kitchen to get rid of the grease splatters. We’re burning a pumpkin spice candle to mask the bacon, but now it smells like a diner during October. We’re just missing the waitress with blue eye-shadow and big hair, chewing her gum obnoxiously. Yeah, that’s funny.

Honestly. We had to run to Target to get Stoker some binders for school (before we moved, I had several left over from school, but Stoker made me throw everything away except my books, cds and clothes—and at first he was uncertain about the clothes. We could have saved $5!) with all the fresh air, the bacon was very noticeable. It tailed us through the aisles and whenever I turned I ran into the smell and felt trashy and embarrassed. I was just waiting for someone to say, “Hey, you guys smell like bacon.” But is that so bad? Smelling like bacon? Stoker told me it’s better than smelling like garlic, which is correct, I loathe the smell of garlic. Allergic, you see.

New rule: no more bacon. At least, not cooked in our apartment. It’s impossible to open the door and windows here, to help air everything out, you know. With the doors open our apartment is like a vacuum for hot air. It only takes a few minutes for the entire place to be a sauna. You think I’m joking, but I’m not.

Yesterday I finished the new Harry Potter and so now I can get on with my life. I’m very upset about the ending, by the way. Rowling is treading on thin ice with me. I can’t believe the audacity of that woman. Why I oughta … But tonight, after I was done degreasing the kitchen, I realized I miss Harry, Ron and Hermione. I might have to start the series over just to feel like I have friends again. As you might have guessed, I left all mine behind in Utah.

This whole no friends thing is good for my relationship with Stoker. If we can weather the stress of a major move, a jobless two weeks (for me, anyway), and no family and friends to lend immediate support (in the way of physically being here), then we can weather anything. Right?