Monday, February 28, 2011

Por Que, Glamazon Dot Com?

Why indeed, Glamazon Dot Com.
Glamazon (name altered so that their copyright lawyers don't crush this blog like a bitty baby bug) and I have had a rocky relationship - it's so good to me sometimes, and so cruel at others. And it knows how much I love it, being in a remote city far from the stores that civilized people can just drive to, and it uses that love to hurt me. Why, Glamazon Dot Com?  WHY???

I know I live so far away, having made the unimaginable choice to move from one of the two non-continental U.S. states to the other, and that shipping will be slow and costly, but COME ON. What did I do to deserve this?

And thank you for finally giving us a confirmation of purchases total plus shipping page before confirming payment. I cannot tell you how much I wanted to kick every single one of your employee's puppies/children for doing that in reverse for awhile. "Congratulations! This how much money we decided to take from you!" What a marketing strategy. I'm surprised you weren't on the nine o'clock news as flames consumed your headquarters.

I'm not the only one who has had these experiences; Mike Birbiglia knows what I'm talking about. Listen to this audio file of his adventures with Glamazon and a few other organizations that do not want to be called by name in the public sphere, such as two sports teams referred to here as the Horsies and the Orange Asian Tigers. Too bad my blog is more secret than public, or I too could tell Glamazon what's up.

In case you're inexperienced with this mp3 sampler, here's a picture worth approximately 40-60 words:

Click to enlarge, Grandpa.

Look for that little gray arrow on the far left. Click it and choose #8. And if you didn't know about Mike Birbiglia before now, you're welcome.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Room With A View

Outside, looking in...and up...and UP...
It is always cold at work. I thought last year that, surely, come summer I could finally stop trying to come up with new layering combinations. But no; summer has come and gone, and  The building is one of those made-entirely-out-of-mirrored-windows deals, and that does have trouble with insulation. Just crank up the heat courtesy of Big Government, right? The State building should not be cold! Hah. We are trapped in the lee of our own parking garage, and the other side of the floor – the bastards who get a view – are fine, just fine with the heat. While us Shadow People have to wear ski vests at work.


Inside looking out -- at THE VIEW
...Although, we do have the added benefit of knowing the leaving schedule of every other worker on our floor. They give away their precious secrets by coming over to the Shadow Side, walking to the mouths of one of our cubicles, and instead of speaking to the denizen within who looks up so expectantly, the visitor gazes blankly past the poor fool's right ear to auto-start their cars through our windows. We’ll use this to our advantage someday -- you just wait, Light Side People!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Hungering Cold

Sweetie and I have decided that the cold you suffer getting into the car at the end of the day, when it’s so cold you don’t talk because talking allows heat to escape the mouth, is actually indistinguishable from being hungry.  We sat in the frozen motionless air of our mobile frost cave, waiting for the engine to get warm enough to turn the heater on, and could not decide if we were hungry or not. We were getting off early from work by the simple expedient of leaving after the boss has gone home but before you’re scheduled to, and were trying to decide whether or not we should make dinner early as well, but could not honestly tell whether or not this dying sensation was separate or different from being cold. Profound bodily distress is apparently like bright light, where after a certain point of intensity you can’t tell what color it is. So we went home and cooked hot food to cover all our bases. 
I believe the Alaskan wisdom on this phenomenon is thus: When in doubt, eat hot food to solve both possible problems. Then you are fat enough to be insulated from the cold to a greater degree, and therefore better suited to address the problem. The rest of America should move here so that there’d be a reason for their overall shape.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Friend Criteria

Friend prototype; although
shown singly, comes in pairs.
As 1/2 of a mature, awesome couple that's in the success lane, fast-tracking to...something good, we're fairly sure...I have begun to notice some premature maturity (yes, it's a thing) budding here and there in our lives. Like we're much, MUCH more defensive of our bedtimes than we ever have been before. We fight for it, and clutch it close like it's precious, suspiciously eyeing all social invitations for possible sleep-robbery. (Also a thing.) I personally have started to clean. Those who do not know me will not understand what a bizarro alternate universe statement that was, but it is. It seems to be a combination of being ready for when parents visit with little warning, being criticized by friends who can't ignore kitty litter smell quite as well as we can, and...for myself. Because I care. It bothers me. No words for how weird that is.

But mostly our nascent fogey-ness can be seen in our friends. Sure, we have friends who don't fit the profile below, but they are satellite friends, orbiting in and out of one's social circle on their own social trajectories. The people who we see every week and/or day, and who mainly see us in return, fit a very specific profile of premature maturity. (See, saying it twice makes it a thing.)

My sweetie hoards 3 of the 4 Fancy cats - its effin' exciting!
They are cat people. Fancy and Button (friend's names are obviously and deliberately fabricated for their privacy, just in case anyone managed to care enough to Google them) have gone critical, plateauing after the initial outbreak at 4 cats, while Pants and McDuck only occasionally pet-sit McDuck's mother's cat - nonetheless, they are cat people. It counts, believe me - imagine the personality of Scrooge McDuck (hence the moniker) in a man who is mostly sideburns, likes to weight-lift while roaring silently at his own reflection and blasting heavy metal, and who has been known to make people cross the street to walk on the other side when he comes bearing down on them on a dark night - this terrifying dude loves holding our fat Lola kitty like a baby and crooning at her about her "diddah kitty pawsy-wawsies," etc.

They are couples. Fancy and Button were recently married, as were a more distant satellite couple that consists of my Sweetie's cousin Wiggles and her man Teach...let me just say, going to two weddings in one summer where you are friends with the couple instead of the children of the attendees makes one feel positively ADULT. Brr.
Add Pants and McDuck, Lit and Linux, Shrinky and her Bill (his name is boring enough to be real), & a few other unmarried-yet-paired types, and we are condemned to social gatherings that will always have an even number of people. What is it about being in a long-term couple that makes single people evaporate like dew in the sunshine? It's not like we play 'No-I-love-you-more' and then start measuring whose relationship is longest. We wait until everyone else goes home before we do that.

They are nerds. We had a non-nerdy couple, but it broke. Probably not from the combined power of all the nerdy couples they were in keeping with, but it does set a clear precedent; nerdiness reigns supreme. If you don't know how to spoof an IP to stream past caps, stream music and movies for free, love both western cartoons and anime, and at least know what WoW or D&D stand for, we don't love you. We pity you. If, however, you own at least one set of polyhedral die, or have at least one character on our WoW server, we're fine, just fine. Attending the Ren Faire or Forest Fair with us in the summer is bonus points.

This is apparently the trifecta for Responsible Adulthood, and we have all fallen prey. Fancy AND McDuck both OWN THEIR HOMES. At the ages of  23 and 25, respectively. At least Bunny and I rent. With a roommate, even. Ahh, wild youth.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Beyond the Pale...Palin, That Is

As a life-form daring to attempt life within the state of Alaska, I must of course address the Palin topic, if only to forestall any questions. She has become a proud part of the Alaskan Stereotypes Pantheon, alongside things like the Smiling Eskimo and the ol' odds-are-good-but-the-goods-are-odd chestnut. Just like the rest of the Pantheon, the Palin Mama Bear, Queen of the North thing is inaccurate, outdated, and sort of insulting. Remember that days when the media ignored ignorance, instead of putting it on every hour, on the hour? ...Actually, yeah, me neither. I dunno, I'm only in my twenties. Maybe that golden age existed, or maybe I'm just remembering how happy I was before I could vote, and didn't have to sort of keep up with current politics.

Woman is a hot hick mess, but really shouldn't be given anymore attention in any forum, even in a one-time blog post; she's just not news anymore. She tried to be the Vice-President, couldn't even deal with being a governor after that, and scored a sweet stay-at-home newscaster position. Other than congratulating her on getting what is possibly the easiest job in the country, there's nothing to say. I don't know if she'd know what sinecure would mean anyway.

I'm not clear on why she needs to be on everyone else's news programs as well as her own, but as far as the people I know here in Anchorage - Republicans and Democrats alike - nobody talks about her. The entire concept has been sealed into an embarrassed silence that is all she really deserves at this point. It's like an embarrassing relative who's making a scene out in the yard; we know she's making us look bad, but some of us still care about her, and nobody's interested in getting into a fight about something that is far easier ignored. I just wish the rest of the nation could do the same. She really has gone beyond the pale, and all we can ask our neighbors in the Lower 48 is...we're so sorry, please ignore her.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to (SUCCESSFULLY) Build a Blog Social Circle

So I have been on Blogger for about a month, and my only follower is my friend and neighbor, Pants. Because she's also thinking of starting a blog. And that is the only reason.

I'd been sort of Rouletting myself at the Blogosphere, by hitting the "Next Blog" link in the top bar. I saw hundreds if not thousands of blogs, and noticed a bit of a theme...there seem to be only 5 types of blogs around in this post-fad blog-community; career politicos, new parents/newlyweds and homemakers, crafty/fashionistas, Malaysians, and promotional event blogs.

Parodies of actual header art; and yet still technically mine, all mine. No suing or flaming!
The politicos and promoters go without saying; there's no real content there.

The homemaker/stay-at-home-parents are sickeningly saccharine, with unremarkable pictures of unremarkable babies, or beautifully custom-designed shrines to them and their significant others.

The only thing wrong with the Malaysian blogs is I don't know Malay. Everything else about their blogs looks cool and groovy, but unfortunately I have no idea what they're saying.

And the fashionistas: just no. I have my own very individualized sense of fashion -- in that I like very tacky, kitschy stuff and am too stubborn to be persuaded out of it -- and therefore do not get much out of their efforts. My idea of crafts is to cut apart a t-shirt and then thread it back together with ribbon. Anything that involves crochet or scrapbook paper is above my paygrade/attention span.

Kana in her aspect as a looming mouthbreather. Ph34r...

I look up to my idols, the rockstars of the Blogosphere; Allie, other AliDavid, Mike. They are all viral superstars and not potential blogpeers in any way. I am the dirt in between their keyboard keys. They are so popular there's no room to even follow their feeds, and I still haven't managed to have followers that don't hang out in my living room.

And then. Inspiration. The turn of the tide: I will blogstalk the people cool enough to be allowed to follow my idols. Because they are just folk. Ah-HA! But they are folk who were cool enough to find the awesome blogs before they became viral. And maybe...someday...I will be their peers.

As of 3/17/11 I have a follower who isn't a personal friend. This is almost like having a blog!

As of 4/4/11 I have been blogrolled 3 times. And yet only have the same amount of "followers". And only one non-friend follower.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dream Radio, Or: That’s Effed Up Yo.

When I wake up in the mornings, I invariably ALREADY have a song stuck in my head. It’s kind of like having morning radio as your snooze alarm; the rest of the morning you’re wondering why some random song you haven’t thought about in months now has to be a part of your day. Because it’s never a song I’ve listened to recently – you know, by choice – it’s always some song from the depths of my unsorted subconscious, where genre, artist, chronology and personal preference have no place. I like to imagine that the miasmic Pandora of my sleeping mind suggests new songs all night, and I only ever really hear the one that I wake up with, dragging it along with me to consciousness. So it’s often old songs I heard maybe twice EVER, and wasn’t aware I even remembered the lyrics to. But oh yeah, they’re there, triumphantly squatting in the space where an actual short-term memory should go. Obviously the lyrics to every song I’ve ever heard are way more important than whatever it was I promised my friend I’d do with her this Wednesday.

I had nightmares last night, and while the opposite of awesome by any definition, it was an interesting chance to ambush my Dream Pandora playlist and drag the unsuspecting songs into my consciousness while in context with my dream. So as  I lurched to gasping wakefulness, escaping from bloodied undead, I found that the songs are even inappropriate to the dreams themselves, voiding the last possible good reason for their randomness. You’d think; Surely, Rob Zombie, or at least metal of some description? No. Thrash-rock, or even the panicked strings of the higher-caliber sort of scary movie’s soundtrack? Ha. Try “Ann” by the Kinston Trio.

For those who aren’t familiar with that…um…era…the Kingston Trio are an adult male harmonizing folk group that specialize in traveling, finding and playing the folk music of rural America, places still strongly connected to their immigrant ancestor’s culture;, Irish, Germanic, etc. I think they had their big years in the 60s. Very clean, very cultural. And “Ann” is about a man’s admiration for his lovely wife. So. Yeah.
I think that one guy just burped up a stomach - his, or no?

I have successfully blocked out the initial nightmare that woke me at 5 a.m., super-terrified of tomorrow’s clothes; they get hung over my closet door, a big dark ominous humanoid shape only two feet away. Ha, yeah. Good choice, huh? No, it’s the dream I that I slipped into later that continued the same nightmare that I recall with vivid nausea, song and all. Wheeeeeeee.

Well, here goes:

So my dream’s main character is one of those spry, trim little women over a certain age, who’ve kept themselves up well, but definitely arthritic and careful about how much she tries to lift when cleaning house. She’s escaping from her home city, which is being overrun with panic and the Scourge of the Undead. She waits in line at the airport with her husband Bill, loudspeakers blaring warning signs of earliest infection’s symptoms while people rush by, some with actual blood on them.

On the plane, she begins to notice those symptoms in her beloved Bill, as he fidgets in his seat across the aisle. The rubs his eyes repeatedly, reddening the skin around them, as his irises begin to cloud over. She sits in fear, watching him, at once praying she can get off this plane before she’s trapped with a monster, and at the same time unwilling to alert anyone else to her beloved’s behavior. Slowly the realization creeps over her that if Bill has been infected, she probably has been too.
They land without incident in Alaska (Every godsdamned person says ‘head to Alaska’ in zombie-apocalypse movies; it’s practically ingrained in our national consciousness. Don’t. Everyone will head there, which means it will spread there. That’s just the odds. And if global travel is your idea of how to spend Z-Day, at least go somewhere sunny.) and Dan gets a rental, driving them to some cheap housing rentals. It’s there that our main character tries to give him the slip, sliding out of the passenger-side door while the car is moving slowly in the neighborhood. He rolls down the window, calling her by name – Ann – begging her to get back in the car. He lets the car roll slowly to keep up with her at a walking pace, being the sweet reasonable man that’s been her partner for the last thirty years. He’s sane, and calm, but his face has begun to look like a nightmare and she can’t face him. Finally, she turns towards the huge line of apartments she’s been paralleling, and, wriggling in the gravel that serves as both roadway and yardspace for these crappy apartments, gets under the boards that enclose a crawl space under the building. I don’t know why it had a raised foundation; maybe these were the world’s biggest Portables. They sure were bleak enough. Anyhow, under there she could move around in a hunched posture, and while Bill called for her, she retreated further under the building. He was kind, told her to be careful, that she was being too rough with herself, that it wasn’t safe. It tore at her, and it tore at me. Then, the sound of some kind of disturbance; Bill was in some kind of a fight. Ann ran, angling crosswise under the building to put as much building and distance between her and her turning husband.
A difficult concept to describe, for some reason

Bad move. Only the first row of the housing had been quiet; further in, the rows had chicken wire haphazardly tied to the foundations, barricading the living in their crappy homes, holding off mobs of howling undead. She stumbles in the unpaved gravel streets of this housing project, staring around at a total loss and wiping at her eyes. None of the creatures pay her any mind, and as the soft wrinkled skin around her eyes begins to ache and crack, she realizes that is because she’s turning too. Right in the thick of things she sees some sort of crude bunker dug into the gravel, with more of the wire fencing forming a bottleneck so that people have to approach it in a line. There are people posted around the place, looking brisk and all wearing black t-shirts and baseball caps. It all looked pretty haphazard, but that seemed close enough to a uniform that Ann hurried towards them.

At the mouth of the chicken-wired queue was a stocky woman with a bushy ponytail jutting through the back of her black baseball cap. She was brisk and practical-looking, like a kids’ soccer coach. She took one look at Ann and ushered her through the line to the bunker. Inside it was small and dark, but the screaming, raging sounds of the mobs assaulting the houses was more muffled and hidden from sight. Ann approached the big desk that was straight across the small space.  An attendant told her baldly that she ought to be aware of her condition, and that as soon as she started to feel any unreasonable urges, fixations or cravings, to take these; the attendant was holding out a tablet and a water bottle. The last stage of infection where the mind is still rational, they informed her, involves a sudden longing for something or someone – your lipstick, a childhood friend, anything really – and wanting it with you, needing to be with it, so much that you begin to descend into a kind of delirium. They assured her that even if you had the object of your craving on you, it didn't stop the process. Ann remembered that what she could see of actual individual bodies in the press outside had been carrying things – blankets, toys, a coffee pot. She’d thought that these were the things they’d been holding when they turned, and hadn’t known to let go. But these were people who’d been able to find their desired object. It hadn’t helped. There was no help, no running, no being saved.
She sat, with her pill and her water bottle, on one of the few chairs in the place, while others like her milled, waiting to die. She sat against a wall, at right angles to both the attendant’s desk and the door she’d walked in. New people staggered in from the right, walked to the left, and received their pill. She stared straight ahead; there was a closed door, which she was supposed to head for after she took her pill. She couldn’t keep her eyes off it. It was dark and dusty in the bunker, but she could see the outline of that door, her final destination in life; and she could still hear the sound of the mobs outside. These senses filled my dream, along with, Gods help me, the lambent harmonizing of the Kingston Trio.

I know I’ll never meet a hunka woman like my Ann
She makes me feel like a great big man
If the good Lord worked hundred years a-making me female plan
I’d say no thanks Lord, I’ll just keep Ann

What. The. Heck.

I’m not clear if the song running through my head named the woman Ann, or if her being Ann started the song, or if I just remember her now as Ann because of the damned song, but it definitely left me unprepared for the alarm clock to go off and my Sweetie rolling over to give me my morning-breath kiss. 


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Graduation, OR: I Deserve A Parade

Welp, there's another notch on the ol' degree belt, eeyup, and yes there is such a thing bureaucracies are 0 for 2 with Kana-wanas.


But what are my plans now? Where am I going to get/what is my Master's degree? Well, as an over-educated pampered middle-class American graduate success story might well be expected to answer,

 Um...I dunno...stuff?

Because that's what we call a 'life choice,' and there is no human way to be quote-unquote "ready" for that malarky. Committing to another huge segment of unknowable trials over several years, and spending thousands of dollars, only to become totally specialized at...I dunno, SOMETHING that I'm not clear on...that will render me unfit for anything outside my specialty? What happened to "potential"? When we were kids we were so nascent, so unformed, that we could be anything; and the teachers, the counselors, the aunties and the parents were so pleased to say it. We could be anything we wanted to be.



We can choose to specialize and become "important," or try to stay undefined and label-free, which gets redirected to "failed," or get lost in the unremarkable middle ground of half-assed attempts to fall into the first category, where it was found to be hard.

I am certainly not obsessed by any one thing enough to want to be in it forevers and evers...but mediocrity tastes like McDonald's milkshakes, and I can't be having with that.

My mom won't rest 'til I have a Master's, but she doesn't seem to know who she's dealing with here. She's lucky my school didn't offer Dutch as a language option, I'd be so far into the Darkest Netherlands that capitalism would never find me. Living off bland cheese and bread, doing nothing in particular and doodling on lined paper, succeeding by my own lights, not my country's or my family's.

Can you get a Master's in Dutch? Nah, nevermind -- I don't care that much about it.