Monday, August 5, 2013

Welp, My Bad

I waited an extra week to update in hopes of allowing more time for getting through a bigger, denser post...but looks like there's no dialogue to start here, if the comments or my Pageviews function are any indicator.

I'm number one, I'm n...Where is everybody?

The second most important thing to good blogging is to know and write to your audience. The first step is not enough.

Monday, July 22, 2013

All Or Nothing, OR: Why Language Might Need More Math

So, full disclosure, I'm not a STEM. I'm a beautiful gorram FLOWER. Which means, I'm not much for the numbers.

Friggin' Lover Of Wondrous Esthetic Realities

I oppose linear progression in all forms -- the unidirectional flow of time, guesstimations of distance/weight/price/etc, making things fit "properly" in the dishwasher -- but not because I chose to fight the ordered human universe. I'm just no good at them.

Do not even get me started on doing math. Impossibru.

But I still think maybe our language, my beautiful fluid complex English, could stand to have some more quantitatively qualitative words. Not following? Yeah, that's to be expected. Let me try again.

Say you're identifying someone as having a quality -- rich, feminist, tall, angry, funny, racist, whatevs -- you pretty much do just that: Say "You're _[that thing I think you are]_!" No modifiers. Now, there's wiggle room on that; some people use modifying words. "Hey, you're pretty funny," or "That seemed a little angry, dude." But mostly, casual language does little more than point at an object and label it a quality.

Tee hee hee, I'm so meta

So when the person receives their label, they can either accept or reject it; and both reactions have their problems. Because no matter what label you just gave them, unless you just told them "You are so exactly you!" they are probably not 100% just that thing you called them. And thus begins the math.

You said they were something -- let's say tall. Except they are not made out of tall. Tall is not an accurate description of their fundamental essence. They are taller than you are/expected them to be/are used to, but this is a subjective quality, not an absolute. Another person might not -- let's face it, with all the disagreeable people we've got out there, probably won't -- agree that they are tall.

He will be behind you in the next long line
So say they agree, or bought into it, or hear it enough that they understand the general consensus -- "I'm tall." And then they run into that disgruntled 7'2'' runner-up from the Tall Man convention, who reacts to their self-description of being tall by screaming "You think you're tall? You think you know ANYTHING ABOUT being tall?? You don't have to duck through doorways! You can stand upright indoors! YOU KNOW NOTHING!" and spitting in their face a bunch. They were not 100% made out of tall, and so in his mind they defaulted to 0% -- i.e., "not tall".

Or conversely, they reject your assessment -- "I am not!" Translation: "I am 0% the thing you just said." This one comes up a lot for the feminist and racist examples included in the list above, and for different reasons (or ARE THEY?).

Fortunately, our fatuous population has come to a popular consensus that "racism = bad". UNfortunately, there's no guarantee that even well-intentioned people will be insightful, proactive, reflective or especially wise; so, it's a bit of a ham-fisted understanding at best, because most people don't want to think about it...and want to talk about it even less. (Myself included.)

So if "racism = bad", then "racist = bad person," right? And they try hard, usually, to keep from actually murdering their enemies or stealing all the cake in the world, and so like to think of themselves as a good person. Mostly. Like, on average. Y'know. So when you accuse them of essentially being a bad person, they reject it, naturally -- but you didn't actually say they were a bad person, did you? You said "racist." You ascribed them as possessing some undisclosed amount of racism, not being made of racism -- a difference that is important but one that I cannot go into further here, because this is already gonna be a looong post. The point is, the presence of some element of racism does not equal 100% racist. So they say "No I'm not, because remember how I _[totally didn't suck that one time about a racial issue]_," and it's totally legit; yet it doesn't undermine how they just totally blew the Racist Horn of Racism right where everyone could hear it.  

They're not an entirely bad person, so they can't be racist; only bad people are racists. So they're not racist. MATH.
Where is the part of a person that says they're bad?
Hint: There isn't one

There's no room in this kind of language for the idea of "some", and that's where casual speech lets us down; you're either all, or nothing at all. If we had more than 0% and 100% to work with, we could deduce more complex sums...and maybe actually SOLVE somethings. Crazy, I know.

This seems to happen a lot when talking about feminism, too -- unfortunately, the public consensus on feminism is "feminist = angry burly lesbian manhater fanatic." So there's an understandable difficulty in getting women and men to identify as feminist, because they don't feel fanatic or furious enough. (I think most people recognize the burliness & lesbianism as optional.)

And now, break it down: Personal Opinion Time. What adds dimension to this particular problem, and part of the reason women's rights weren't met satisfactorily over a generation ago, is that there are vocal minorities, outliers of the cause whose extreme opinions so do not mesh with one another that the main body of this movement's simple premise is now fringed by a corolla of goal-posts, as to when or how equality will be achieved.

The diversity puts the "Show Our Colors" Pride Parade to shame

And so there are feminists that would tell you that, simply as a person who thinks we're still living in a world geared towards men as the aftermath of a world that was made for and by men in the past, that you aren't feminist -- at least, not feminist enough -- because you are not the"flavor" of feminist that they are. ("WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT BEING TALL?") Which only aids the average person's knee-jerk mental image of feminist extremism...a nasty one-two combo for hindering the gender equality effort. If to even speak about continued gender inequity is going to be associated with extremism, then we are silenced -- not by some final-boss-battle called The Man -- but by everyday people around us, those who'd need to support change if it's ever to occur. And hoo boy has that been effective.

So now hopefully I've now hammered it home; the 0% vs. 100% of You Are or You Aren't is not serving us well.


I'm so glad you asked! Allow me to shift more comfortably upon my soap box; there, that's better. And off we go again.

Did you know English is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn? We keep inventing new words; it's like Sisyphus with the boulder to those poor saps with the Rosetta Stone tapes. We also use way more euphemisms than most of the other Westernized nations.

(I had a Japanese teacher who studied English as her major while in Japan. She became an expert before ever arriving in America. Her first day, she walked into a diner and proudly ordered breakfast in perfect conversational English. The waitress said there was a special on bearclaws, and asked if she wanted one. My teacher fled the place in horror, totally traumatized.)
"These people are monsters; I have made a terrible error"

But we haven't seemed to come up with many middling descriptors; we like hyperbole and superlatives. (Was it funny? Call it hysterical or hilarious. You found their argument unimpressive? Let's call it retarded, and force the parents of mentally disabled children find yet another thing that isn't being used as an insult to refer to their children. Then we'll take that one, too.) It's like we're supersizing not just our burgers and our trucks, but our language as well...and, therefore, our thoughts. No wonder we're politically polarized; we can only think in bright colors.

There's no Threat Level: Mauve. Think about it.

I say it's time for better middling words! Bring back some context and a sense of scope to our day-to-day lives. How about a word for something that you found disappointingly dull? Not shockingly dull, or appallingly dull, or a coma-inducingly dull...just more dull than you had reason to expect, and you felt let down. I would use the shit out of that word. Or a word for when, even though all the elements of a good event are there -- the good food, your favorite people, in your preferred venue -- for some reason, it's just not kicking off. Whether someone's mad at someone else and trying not to bring everyone else down but the group is picking up on the strain, or everyone had individually felt they were too tired to go but had sort of made themselves come anyhow for the good of the group, is immaterial. That feeling of everyone feeling slightly put-upon and aware they aren't having fun, and that isn't anybody in particular's fault, would be so much more useful to me than "It sucked." Then we're back to the ol' 0% -- no fun at all.

How about something that indicates 45% fun-potential? I mean, come on! NUANCE.

I'm fairly certain I'm not alone on this -- though tackling racism and feminism in one go might have lost me some readers about halfway through -- what words are you wishing for? What unexpressed concepts would you give voice, if you could? A living language changes through common usage -- "suspicious" used to mean "behaving in a suspect manner", not "suspecting someone of something", did you know? It changed because everyone misused it the same way! I think that's totally linguistically hot. If we want to use our own specialized vocabulary, and if we used it pithily enough and it caught on, it would be real linguistic change! So, tell us your words; let's change the world for the better reasonable.

Shout out to Jenna, whose post on being feminist was the catalyst that finally made me write about this all-or-nothing phenomenon.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Night-Owl's Views On Sunshine

I woke up today when my b.c. alarm went off at noon, but couldn't quite scrape myself off the mattress for another half an hour -- in which to put on a bikini and go lay on a towel in the yard, which you know is so very different. That's tanning. And since Alaska gets about 12 sunny days during our 2 months of summer, and those seem to mostly happen during business hours, you gotta carpe that diem. So I dragged my night-owl ass out into the sun while it was still around, to do something that I -- as a born and raised island girl -- never thought I'd ever do. SUNBATHE.

Thinking: "What have I become???"

I've been laying out on our lawn so often, the grass is starting to pale in my basking area because I'm intercepting so much of its sunlight. As I lounged out there today, I stared lazily up at the trees and watched the sunlight shine off the leaves in the height of the day's heat. I reflected on the way each leaf glinted, the sun bouncing so brilliantly off each tiny facet in the canopy. It's a harder kind of light, the full force of the sun's light at high noon -- my favorite is the later light when the afternoon ripens, but before it declines into dusk. The light has a syrupy golden quality, and saturates the leaves; a positive sponge of photosynthetic light.

I've already shared my little linguistic invention heliotransfolium; well, as the sun reclines closer to the horizon, every leaf becomes radiant with a heavier golden glow, the maximum of example of the term. But in the heat of the day, when the sun is high, what I saw would have to be called helioepifolium -- sun on leaves, as opposed to through.

Helioepi(c)folium - every tree a jewel with a thousand sparkling facets

Mornings are terribly unpleasant for me, and I find the cold light of the morning sun unwelcoming. I like to join the day after it's been well-broken in by earlier risers. (I'm not even people at work until it's almost noon. But I've got them pretty well fooled with the heels & earrings and whatnot.) The blazing hard light of high noon has its perks, including its tanning power -- but give me that ripe honeyed light of late afternoon every time. Maybe this night owl is becoming crepuscular?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Uh-Oh, Poetry: A Well-Respected Me

To the tune of  "A Well Respected Man" by the Kinks

I’ve found a boy to be good to
I love him very much
If you knew him, you would too
He’s bright and sweet and such
I’ve made a home with him
With each paycheck earned & spent
We filled all the rooms therein
And we pay the bills and rent

And I’m all grown up
And I’m just fine
And I’m responsible
With my money and my time
A child who grew too tall
Made to work
And act appropriately

I have a steady job downtown
Filing papers in the State’s employ
Because it’s fairly well-known
There’s no pay in work you enjoy
So I repay my debts with interest
Earning money with every turning page
Seeing what will last the longest
My self-identity or my wage

And I’m all grown up
And I’m just fine
And I’m responsible
With my money and my time
A child who grew too tall
Made to work
And act appropriately

It’s a little life, I’m first to admit
But it’s well and cheaply made
Fame goes to those who don’t submit
But comfort for those who stayed
With no need to soar, I fledge my nest
Trying to balance the means and ends
I live for the things that I love best
Good stories and food and friends

And I’m all grown up
And I’m just fine
And I’m responsible
With my money and my time
A child who grew too tall
Made to work
And act appropriately

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Tragic And Unlikely Tale Of Herbertina

It was a restless day, which never bodes well when you hang out with Fancy Phil...and then the boys got hungry, and it was all over. We were now about to have an adventure.

No run to the local supermarket for Fancy Phil. We found ourselves trolling around the warehouse district in midtown, looking for seafood wholesalers. At last we found one monolith with a faded silhouette of a crab painted on the side. Reluctantly leaving the safety of the car, we wandered in a side door and found ourselves in a cavernous dimness hung with pipes and thick hoses. The floor was strewn with hip-high vats/above-ground swimming pools full of bristling, dark, nightmarishly large live crabs. A disreputable Eastern European man helped us pick out a crab, make our purchase, and threw in a weird philosophical discussion to boot.

We escaped with our prize, and brought home our new bouncing baby sea monster. We had no idea how to turn it into food yet, so we deposited it in the bathtub with some ice water -- you know, to reinvent its natural environment. They googled ways to kill and cook giant crabs without an appropriately sized pot, and I named it Herbert. Because its mouth fringe looked like a mustache, duh! Then they found out how to sex a crab -- because somehow, part of killing your food is getting to know it better? -- and we amended that to Hebertina.

It was such a distinguished mustache
We couldn't boil her without killing her first, because she was big enough to take us on, so talk turned to how to kill her. It was decided that the most merciful way would be to stab her through the brain before dismantling her into the relevant bits. The only problem with this is that crabs don't have a centralized brain, a thing we learned only moments after my dear sweet darling ran the thing through with a giant kitchen knife.

My effort-intensive Paint skillz
Her time in the bathtub had not been good to Herbertina. Perhaps we'd sprinkled too much Morton's salt into her artificial sea, or perhaps the kitty's hate-stare-daggers were starting to take effect, but Herbertina's continually gesticulating giant jagged limbs had taken on a distinctly more languid motion. It's hard to tell with a giant crusty sea-spider monster, but she seemed to be flagging. So when she became a living kebab on a kitchen knife, she just couldn't seem to muster the energy to care. Her nervous system, such as it was, didn't seem to have communicated the urgency of the situation appropriately. She casually sort of waved it off, with leisurely gestures that lasted a disturbingly long time into the killing process.

Needless to say, I didn't join them for seafood that night; even though they assured me it was delicious. Alaskans are hardcore.

Monday, June 24, 2013


It's my 100th post. I have no idea what to do with that.

I wanted something great to celebrate this, as I'm unlikely to make it to 500, let alone a 1000 posts and I tried to think of a cool story, or a rant that would honor this one (and probably only) significant landmark post...and I've got nothing.

Which at least means this sort of blankness won't be an issue again. So, wooo.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Everyone's A Little OCD Sometimes...

It's not like we count everything 10 tiii-iii-iimes...
Much love for Avenue Q.

So, we've all got our little neuroticisms...I bet every lady in the 'sphere could name at least 3 things that, if observed by an outsider, would leave her looking ready for the loony bin. Little lines in your psychological sand, personal preferences that have gotten just a little too big for their britches. They're totally optional -- you're not compelled, per se, you'd just really rather it was done a certain way, amirite??? Feel free to share your little isms in the Comments -- we're all human, and thirsty for mutual validation.

Soooo I have a bit of a thing for the concept of stuff "coming out even." This is a single preference/mini-neurosis that I get a lot of crazy-lady mileage out of, because it can come up in so many parts of life; currently, in my gummi vitamins. 

I freakin' love gummi vitamins, yo. No, I'm not gonna marry them, nyurrr, but I would definitely be down for a passionate summer affair and occasional brief but intense liaisons for a couple of years afterwards.

So the fact that the recommended dosage/serving size is two but there's three flavors sent me into the ol' pseudo-OCD perplexity; but how will I make the flavors come out even? So I did the only sensible crazy lady thing I could do, and have been taking three gummis -- one of each flavor -- every time.

And now, as I reach the bottom of the jar -- as yet not poisoned by non-regulation amounts of Vitamin A, C, and D3 -- I have scandalous findings to report: THEY DID NOT PUT IN AN EVEN AMOUNT OF GUMMIS. It's true, friends -- I know, I could scarcely believe it myself. The berry flavor had been seriously underrepresented, understandably so as it is the most medicine-y of the flavors. But the sheer margin of the inequity blew my coming-out-even oriented mind; look at this madness.

And this is where the crazy-looking behavior really kicks in
The fact that I'm blogging this -- even photographing this -- may smack of the need for group coloring sessions in the sun room, no sharp objects and a jacket that buttons up the back, but the fact that I'm calmly and rationally now simply taking the recommended dose means I'm not quite in need of an assisted-living home just yet...and I must admit, if I'd been in charge of a slipshod gummi factory, I think I'd have favored the peach flavor too. Only with acceptance of the flawed nature of reality can one transcend the rigid self-imposed strictures of counting your vitamin flavors; the fact that there's more of "the good kind" only aids that transcendence. We all err; and so, it is best to err on the side of peach.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Eventiversary: Ren Faire

So as you may have read recently, me and my person had a rocky start, but eventually got together at our local Ren Faire. This last weekend was our 6th attendance was rather glorious. Since I'm rubbish at times and dates, we don't really do anniversaries so much as enjoy recreating the early events of our relationship as and when they come up around this time of year. It's a lot of fun, and there seems to be a lot less I-dunno-where-do-you-want-to-eat than usual scheduled anniversary dates. I highly recommend it! It's led me to find great emotional meaning for Cake concerts, storage facility rooftops, and the parking lot of the local Ren Faire.

It's like "our parking lot," or something

 We weren't alone, though; our whole tribe of roommates turned out to see our friend Miss Pants in her first year as an official Pirate Tavern Wench at the Faire! Take a look at these crazy characters.

We make a lot of great first impressions

 So, no real post today; more of a follow-up to the get-together story. But we had a blast, and Alaska's summer is so short, you just haveta carpe that diem when you can! I don't even feel guilty. I'll have something less scrapbooky by next week, I'm sure!

Lively lads

Monday, June 3, 2013

One Of Those Ecard Daze: Procrastinating

Could have sworn I'd goofed off more than that...well, now how am I going to waste my time? This work won't accrete around my desk in impossible densities by itself...OH WAIT. YES IT WILL.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Tale Of Crazy Boots & Hot Tub McGee

Soooo, Tiffany wanted to know my terrible get-together story, which was only slightly less terrible than her own. It turned into quite the odyssey, so I thought I'd make a post out of it!

I really, really didn't care for my guy AT ALL when I first met him.

I had two buds that lived together, and they decided to take a summer road trip to the Lower 48, so they asked me to pet/plant/house-sit. All good so far. But then suddenly this chick, whom I barely knew as a friend-of-a-friend that I sometimes saw in the Arts building between classes, suddenly upgraded me to Bestest Friend EVARZ to try and swing a spare free bed for the summer. I resisted, but she got one of the road-tripping buds to say yes in the ask-the-other-parent style of getting the answer you like, and in she went.

Cute as a button, but mad as a mittenful of monkeys
It was intense. She decided to promote me from her outermost to innermost circle of intimacy, and did that by telling me terrible, unforgettable things she claimed had happened to her. She had either a whole HOST of issues, or a bad case of psychological-malady hypochondria, because she told me hideous things I could only hope were lies -- for her sake. She loved talking about it, which seemed like a sign, and she LOOOOOVVVED sympathy. Big buckets of it. The more, the better.
But, there's other things to do, other people to hang out with -- things to talk about other than Miss Crazy Boots, and that was pretty rough on her. Things would escalate. She'd sigh, and mope around. If that didn't get the sympathy ball rollin', she'd go fetal upright on a chair or couch, refusing to watch/engage in whatever me and my friends were doing. That was usually nervously ignored, in which the rocking began. But that could hold her for only so long before she'd jump up, tear out the front door and INTO THE NIGHT -- in Anchorage, after dark, in a seedy neighborhood that boasts its own corner liquor store. Without shoes or a coat. Argh. Just remembering makes me cringe. Someone would have to retrieve her and assuage her neurosis, and quickly before she could take it to the point where our evening became a cautionary tale.

There wasn't really a hobo.

I know I haven't even mentioned a guy yet -- here's the guy. Crazy Boots had just been broken up with, and she was SO NOT over him. I half suspect that her escalations were a way to get him back into her life, even if it was just to pick her up and take her to the ER. He felt partially responsible for her emotional distress and therefore her crazy behavior, and so as soon as she called he'd come straight over, apologize to the rest of us and cart her off. I loathed the whole thing: Her repetitive self-centered antics, his feeding into it, his weakness perpetuating the situation...the fact that I had to share a bathroom with this hot mess. Finally one time when he came over, I told him that I was not at all impressed with how he was dealing with the situation. Apparently this flipped his "Wow, she's sooooo sensible, I love that," switch. Not what I meant, but hey.

Also, I had not dressed for a responsibility lecture...
That may have clouded the issue somewhat

He started coming over BEFORE she could flip out. Next time she did flip out, he took her to STAR, a program for abused women that keeps you for a greater period of time and does a full work-up of your mental/emotional situation. So she was gone, but he was still coming over. Turns out we had a mutual friend, and the three of us started hanging out more. Oh, Anchorage -- everybody knows everybody, it's crazy, right? LOLZ!  Cough cough.

He was sort of obliquely courting me, complete with a chaperone like in the Good Ol' Days. He took us out to eat at fancy places, and to windswept sightseeing spots...yeah, it was kind of apparent what was going on. I was still unimpressed, because I was seeing someone else; and who tries to make moves on someone who's already taken? Not someone I could ever like. But he was falling hard, and just went right ahead and did it anyway. He confessed to me later that he actually made his first and last (so far!) psychiatric appointment, just to get a second opinion on this crazy situation. Was he nuts for doing this? Apparently she said no.

Like a swain

Eventually he got into a long debate with me in the mutual friend's parent's hot tub (I know, I know) about the current fellow I was with. It was not going well, the lad had some problems -- and this is me saying it, not Mr. Hot Tub McGee. But I'm not into bailing on people because they need help, so I was still feeling positive and committed to my relationship. It was a bit of a one-way-street arrangement, though, which was presented to me that night in the hot tub, Debate Team style.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he won me with words. His emotional awareness, earnest yet easy manner, great vocabulary and intuitive communication skills got me all a-twitter. I swear it wasn't just the hot tub.

Okay, maybe the hot tub helped

There was a climactic scene the next day at the Ren Faire (spot-on, after all that wooing and swaining) with the Crazy Boots, becorseted bosom heaving, screaming at us about betrayal while fairgoers looked on with legs of mutton. It may have been mistaken for a show. Finally there was a long talk between my new guy and Boots, ending with a very literal demonstration of how he was walking away from the cycle, and wouldn't be running to the aid of her self-inflicted dramas anymore. By leaving her ass at the ass-end of the parking lot.

Then we went home so I could make The Call; my first time ever being the Break-Up-er  instead of the Break-Up-ee. He took it like he'd been expecting it, which threw me, and all the while my new flame of passion took a nap on the couch. Boys. Where do they GET this level of chillness?? It's baffling.

And that was the bizarre and terrible start of our relationship, which has turned out to be the best one I've ever been a part of. A relationship coming up on its 6th year anniversary, might I add, this June -- at the Ren Faire.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Totally Toasted OR: Smoke Em' If Ya Got 'Em

When I was a kid, I had this dark HBO-esque fantasy where I would take two pieces of bread, and they were like two biddies going to a spa day together. I'd put them into the toaster oven/tanning bed, imagining some invisible & insincere attendant promising them beautiful, golden tans. Then they'd come out, all stiff and brown, and I'd imagine his mock horror; "Oh dear, ladies, let's get something soothing on that right away," as I smoothed the margarine on. Then I imagined the complimentary "natural preserves treatment" he added as an apology -- usually my Mom's homemade peach-nectarine jam -- and coddled them in fluffy fresh white paper towels. Then, just when the affronted duo were just beginning to settle down, I'D EAT THEM OM NOM NOM NOM NOM. And the attendant, who'd been in on it, laughed and laughed. I know -- creepy.

But that was when we got the new toaster oven, sleek and spiffy and white; that was after the Incident With The Last Toaster.

Ahhh, memories - crazy, terrifying memories

The last toaster was my first toaster, in that it had already been a well-established resident of our household before I was born. It had served us well, or at least I assume it did, through my infancy and toddlerhood -- it's hard to be definite about anything before I was tall enough to see over the counter, of course. Unfortunately, as I was almost through kidhood and just about to cast my eye upon the pree-teen era, it started to show Signs. You know; getting tired easily, its jointings stiffer, all the hallmarks of advancing age. We were worried about it, of course -- started keeping a closer eye on it, seeing how it was doing, etc. But sometimes you need to make some toast AND do something else, gods forbid, and as riveting as the toasting process is through that little window, you walk away. This model had a spring-action linked to its timer function, which would cause the little door to burst open and the tray to pop out, presenting you with your toast with a flourish and a rather celebratory-sounding ding! And I'd had a few years to be trained to that sound, my Pavlovian promise of the first meal of the day.

So I go, preparing for my day in the way children do -- not caring about my hair, or my clothes, only techincally brushing my teeth, blah -- waiting to hear the ding. But on this, the secret final day, our toaster was Godot. I eventually came back to the kitchen, wondering why it hadn't dinged yet, and looked over to find our kitchen counter the stage for some dark and tortured hellscape now being enacted. The toaster's hatch was still shut tight, but through its little window I could see rolling smoke and tongues of open flame. I was appalled, and uncertain of how to proceed. Our friendly, once-familiar toaster was posessed. I advanced one tenative step towards the monster, and the hatch sprung open -- probably at the vibration through the floor and not, as it appeared to me at the time, to gobble me up -- and twin pillars of flame stabbed upwards as the tray popped out. At the base of each fiery column was the charred remains of a piece of toast.

I do not remember if it dinged. I know -- its last words. Haunts me still.

 I do remember yelling for Mom, in the way that any sensible person under the age of twenty thirty forty might do if they know there's someone more capable around. I remember her bustling with terrified efficiency to tame the fire demon, and a looooonnng lecture afterwards about fire safety in which I was like, Tell it to the toaster. And I still had to go to school, which seemed like a terrible waste of an emergency -- this was like the death of a family pet, it should have at least been a half day with a note.

RIP, First Toaster -- you will always be remembered. Because trauma will do that to you.

Monday, May 13, 2013

These Are The Days Of Our Lives

Ohhh, music videos back then were SO not what they are now.

Have fun with that being stuck in your head all day, for it is the theme song of today's post, in which I viciously mock the week. No, not like that -- not this week, per se, but the very idea of the Week itself.

Despite the myriad difference of our day-to-day lives --  whether you're a paper-mover, bean-counter, retail-drone, student, stay-at-home, whatever -- we all get the same seven days. Monday to Sunday, in the same order, forever. Depending on your personal schedule, different days may have different connotations for you; for instance, my roommate who only gets Mondays and Thursdays off has a very different idea of "on the weekend" than I do. But there seem to be what I'm gonna go ahead and call general characterisations of each day; a cast of characters that make up the average workweek.

This is the big one; what you've been dreading. You grit your teeth, squinch your eyes, and just try to make it through. Those who are impervious to its evil will hoot, "Someone's got a case of the Mondays!" These people should be hogtied to the printer-copier and sacrificed to Garfield, but all they get is a pained grimace because who has the energy to spare? Not me.

Bad things tend to happen, because society as a whole is not at its best. Parking tickets, surprise deadlines, someone else eating your lunch -- it's all about getting home, dragging yourself to your favorite horizontal soft surface, and putting comfort foods in your face. Unless you're my roommate, in which you feel chipper, well-rested and spunky, and attempt to violate the personal space of as many grumpy Garfield roommates as possible. Personal space and horizontal surfaces are of the utmost importance on Mondays.


This is the week's equivalent of Second Day Soreness -- that wincing and mincing you do at the gym on Day 2, when you're all sore from yesterday and are now being asked to do it all over again. Everything is harder to do on Day 2s and Tuesday is no different. My inner child always registers disbelief at my absurd behavior as I rise and return every Tuesday morning; "What, you're doing that again? What're you, stupid?"

Yes. Because everything is stupid on a Tuesday. So I must be too.

 I even coined an initialism to capture the zeitgeist of the phenomenon; DCIOT, or Dear Christ, It's Only Tuesday. Feel free to use it jovially around the office, the karmic balance to the well-known and similarly sacrilegious TGIF.

You're starting to get back into your stride by now, which is just as well, because it's time for the next of the week's empty slogans to get brayed at you -- "Over the Hump!" they cry, whilst anyone with any sense of dignity cringes with involuntary sympathy-embarrassment. This is a hideous phrase that should be given physical form only so that it can be burned. Okay, that's a little strong -- but still, my least favorite of the empty office nothingisms. I picture Wednesday as some homely, bulge-eyed mutt straddling the week, staring blankly as it helplessly struggles to dismount. Hump Day -- a phrase that cries out for a bucket of cold water. Ugh.

Now we've reached a strangely anticipatory phase in our week, where the hopefulness of Friday bleeds backwards in time to the desperate Thursday workforce. This is the Friday Eve phenomenon; almost to Almost There. It is not much of a day in and of itself, so much as an awkward barrier to Friday; and it is, as Douglas Adams so famously wrote, rather hard to get the hang of them.

This is a day devoted to the sunny confidence we all seem to hold that this weekend is going to be, in fact, The Best Weekend Evarz. The merriment generated by this secret knowledge sustains us throughout, despite the overwhelming likelihood that it will turn out to involve little more than laundry, television, and maybe some takeout you will come to regret. This never seems to occur to us on that beautiful, optimistic Friday; we are all of us joyfully awaiting that moment when the walls of our individual professional rat mazes will fall away, and the boundless relative freedoms of the wider rat maze of traffic-clogged streets, social contracts, familial obligations and household chores appear with an overarching high blue sky where puffy white clouds spell out Well At Least You're Not At Work. TGIFs abound.

My favorite Saturday-regression cartoon
regresses a bit himself. Meta.
This rarely lives up to the Friday hype. Sunshine, actual plans, and someone wonderful to do them with are all necessary precursors to this expected wonderfulness; unless you have somehow arranged for all three (especially since you can't really control the first one) you will probably have a laundry day. But, you can rebel a little by staying in pajama pants all day, subsisting off bowls of sugary cereal and watching cartoons. Regressing is the new rebelling.

This is the day when all the chickens you didn't realize you owned come home to roost; what you shoulda done, what's about to come. The feathers positively fly (as do the fowl meatphors, apparently), each one settling with a thud on your guilty conscience. Strangely enough, this doesn't send you into the productive frenzy that's called for; the feathers usually coalesce into a down comforter that's to be lurked in while you sulkily watch your favorite TV shows and pretend you're still having fun BECAUSE IT'S STILL THE WEEKEND, DAMMIT. This has primed you perfectly for Monday grumpiness, a little Monday Eve spirit that Garfield would be proud of.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Uh-Oh, Poetry: A REAL Love Song

A little more vocabulary, a little less hyberbole. If anyone's musically inclined, I'd love a tune to put this to; alas, I am not musically-minded.
~ * ~

For you I would work all my adult life
In a job that’s not really “me”
Alarm clocks, traffic jams, office policy
For the wages to support one husband and wife

They talk about mountains and oceans
To try and express their love
How they’d go beyond and above
Fuelled by superlative emotions
But I’d do real things for you
The kind of things you actually need to do
To build real love

For you I would admit I was wrong
Even if I was still angry at you
I’d learn how to talk it through
So much harder than singing a song

For you I would truly change
Not superficially, but slowly and over time
Your interests would become mine
In loving you, my priorities would rearrange

They talk about mountains and oceans
To try and express their love
How they’d go beyond and above
Fuelled by superlative emotions
But I’d do real things for you
The kind of things you actually need to do
To build real love

For you I would grow up and grow old
Face all of life’s challenge and tragedy
At your side ‘til we’re wrinkled and crotchety
And I know every story you’ve ever told

They talk about mountains and oceans
To try and express their love
How they’d go beyond and above
Fuelled by superlative emotions
But I’d do real things for you
The kind of things you actually need to do
To build real love

Monday, April 29, 2013

Roughing It, OR: I'm Trying, Subway, I'm Trying

"Goody gumdrops, I was up all night fantasizing about fucking fiber. You know that feeling when you get a belly full of fiber and you can skip round the room taunting everybody who didn’t get theirs? Remember all those times in your life when you stopped strangers in the street and screamed at them, I NEED SOME FIBER!"
-- Dylan Moran
Lies, and corruption -- sums it up nicely, I feel.

All these health nuts (I always think of someone in workout clothes painfully trying to masticate whole walnuts when I hear that phrase) who warble on about the marvels of kelp or a new 45-ingredient salad they've discovered, I go to my happy place. There's mountains of mashed potatoes there, erupting melty butter that flows into lakes of real gravy, amid rough breaded foothills of fried chicken. It is glorious. I frolic there until the unwanted nut has begun to witter about something else, essential oils* or yoga or whatever else they talk about.
I lost my weight by not exercising, and eating empty/low-calorie foodstuffs -- no, not actual foods, just foodstuffs -- like Kraft cheese singles. I hate vegetables. If I try to force them down it is quite literally, factually, nauseating. I had to throw away a perfectly good dose of Caesar dressing and fancy Gorgonzola crumbles last week because they were on a salad I could not bring myself to take more than two bites of. Just "making" myself eat them is not working; so now a mystical journey to the heart of all things, like how to make me enjoy roughage. Just a little bit. Because SUBWAY COMMANDS YOU.
So far my greatest ally has been my passionate, unending love of cheese. I know, the great blocker of all that roughage is supposed help hustle through your digestive tract. They are karmic opposites in this, but it is through balance that one achieves enlightenment. At least that's what I think as I load up my wrap with cheddar cheese and a begrudging fistful of Baby Greens Spring Mix. What? At least I'm eating some of the damn stuff.

It's mine, my own; I made it. Hiss. [Gollum copyright]
Lunchtime Solution #1 is the Roughage Wrap -- lunchmeat, salad dressing, (as little) cheese (as possible) and greenery in a tortilla. Bonus points for the more virtuous diet wheat wraps. They don't taste bad, per se; it's just that the way they tear under your teeth leaves you fighting the instinctual reaction not to swallow, because that it is not a food texture.
Lunchtime Solution #2 is the Sans-Meat Sammich -- because cheese is even more important than meat in my sandwich. It's got garlic aioli and garlic Monterey cheese on a Kaiser bun with the usual essential greenery. The key to this one is very expensive high-quality cheese. It is muy delicioso, but the after-lunch breath will kill at forty paces if you don't keep mouthwash at your desk. Not, however, always a bad thing. Plus, it tastes as fancy as all get-out, and not like you're being punished at all. HUGE step towards that whole Enlightenment and Oneness with the Green Stuff thing.
They're all pretty good calorically, too, around the equal-to/less-than 400 baseline that I shoot for in my small meal of the day.

LoseIt pretty much tells me how much shame/pride to feel on a given day, and these midday greenery mini-meals have really helped the ratio tip in my favor. All you healthy blog ladies are probably all over this stuff anyway, so here ya go. The blind leading the sighted -- nonsensical, yes, but it should be hilarious.
*Fun Hypocrisy Fact: I use essential oils all the time, instead of perfume, because the smell lasts longer. But not because they're helping my memory or curing my Doodler's Early-Onset Arthritis.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Loop-Free Is The Way To Be

In my work for Big Oil, I bestride the technical-administrative line that delineates creatures like geologists and engineers from the army of receptionists, administrative assistants and so on. I'm like an office chimera of compositeness (not a word); not versed in the arcane secrets of the earth, but my position is classified as a technician...not considered part of the administrative staff, and yet that is exactly who I have to report to. I like to think of it as being equally wrong-footed in both sectors. I report to a small permed, tanned, bleached, highlighted AND lowlighted poodle-creature that barks ferociously and leaves me hovering on the brink of a full-on panic attack; I constantly worry that if I panic-faint I may crush her, and be jailed for manslaughter.

Fortunately, there is a small bevy of bosomy admin ladies who interact with her way more than I have to, and occasionally bring me news in my far library wing; tales of great cattiness and double-talk that I can only feebly grimace at. They think it's an awkward smile, as well they might; but it is even less than that, my friends, for in reality it is my helpless  fear-rictus. These are precisely the kind of girls that made grades 1-12 an endless waking nightmare for me, whose laughter is a scourge upon the soul and whose thresholds for interpersonal conflict seem unlimited.

What's great is I'm terrified and therefore somewhat (understandably) emotionally distant towards them, and that's turned me into some sort of benign confessor they all come to in order to secretly bitch about their so-called office friends: Mindy doesn't like Stacie because she's a total power-hungry bitch, and Jennifer is on Mindy's side but is closer in age to Stacie, so Mindy thinks Jennifer is probably talking behind her back to Stacie, even though she still totally hangs out with Jennifer like all the time to go on little unauthorized breaks to the Nordstrom's around the corner...etc, etc, etc. 

Now, at this point I'm totally stroking out on the inside from the sheer level of conflict-avoidance panic my brain is pumping through my body, but still I courageously manage some pathetic little "Well at least it's Hump Day*, ha ha ha" office nothingism. It checks them immediately, and the look of bizarre recognition crosses each of their wodgy little faces respectively as they recover from their gossip-gasm to recall that No, I'm not cool and bitchy, that I am in fact the weird girl that none of them has ever invited to lunch. And then they hustle straight outta my library and back into the fray.

I've never been good at that cool, flippant, callous sort of vindictiveness that seems to be so very part of female popularity. I'm definitely capable of isolated incidents of vindictiveness, you betcha; and I mean them, too, from the bottom of my temporarily belligerent heart. But that sustained cruelty for the sake of honing it to an even finer edge that popular girls seem to live for, I just don't have the heart for it. Even if I could dish it out, I certainly couldn't take it. This gave me a lonely and awkward adolescence, but now as an adult I wear it like a shield; I am awkward, you don't want to chat with me! Don't involve me in your shit! Hear me inaudibly roar!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Calloo Callay, I Made A Purse Yesterday

Creativity went a bit more of a tactile route last weekend, and instead of a thought-provoking or entertaining blog post, a cute purse was were many needle pokes, a few tears, and many swear words. In fact, that would be my advertisement if I ever went all craft-fair-y (if honesty were ever the best policy in business, that is): A Swear Word In Every Stitch! Lovingly hand-crafted personal receptacles with matching expletives. But don't let that fool you; I am sooo happy with how the little thing turned out. It's mah bebbeh.

Almost laughable, now, looking back on it
It started out really simple; I tell ya, denial is the most important step in beginning a project like this. I came up with a basic design and executed it -- and that was about the first eighth of the actual journey. I ended up buying a stiff material to put in to help it keep its squared shape, and these crazy wooden handles to help distribute the lifting force off a single point on either side of the bag. I did my first-ever inner liner to hide the stiff material, which ended up being awesome as far as improving the professionality of the bag's appearance; I even got to put in 2 inside patch pockets whose stitches didn't have to mar the exterior of the bag, sewn onto the liner layer before it was stitched into the rest of the bag! Plus, all the unfinished edges were hidden, and it added tensile strength to the handle-attachment points. So much better than my last effort.

The Anchorage Costco's fabulous transvestite greeter complimented my bag, asked me where I got it; it was the highlight of my weekend, proudly saying that I'd made it. Hir reaction made my day, and I was still suffering from spontaneous puppy-wiggles of delight an hour after hir booming praise. Totally worth all the needle-pokes.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Game Of Seasons

I have strong feels on this one, guys. Alaska is NOT cooperating.

Lord Stark strikes me as the kind of guy that's got little bandy chicken legs under all those robes, what do you guys say?

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I don't know why Blogger's choosing to April-Fools me by posting next week's post now...Roll with it, I guess, and check out the post below; the actual April 1st post.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Conspiracy: Feline Monitoring System

I'm pretty convinced that cats are actually kibble-munching, fuzzy-faced spy drones, gathering data on humans foolish enough to pay to take one (or two, or three) into their homes.

At first I thought they were a kind of good/evil thresher was the only way I could account for how a thing of such ineffable fluffy cuteness could generate such pure evil hatred as has been seen in her litter tray. It takes in resources, keeps all the adorable for itself, then sieves out the wretched remainder to deposit in the box. Makes sense, right? But I have recently been forced to reconsider my hypothesis.

It's the way she watches me through the clear part of the shower curtain, sitting nervously on the toilet seat lid -- she obviously doesn't want to be there, but bigods, it's her mission. She must see it through. She's probably programmed to self-destruct if she should fail.

She looks a little concerned for me, I think

And the way she always seems to materialize in my immediate vicinity whenever I have to do something dignity-compromising, like the pantyhose-hoisting dance. She just precipitates out of the ether to stare unblinking at my lady-gyrations, enormous yellow eyes giving me the absolute focus she cannot seem to muster when I'm doing something like, y'know, calling for her. Those perfectly round yellow lenses must be recording it all, sending transmissions out of that flat little kitty skull to the mothership.

Crazy, you say? But I know it's true. I can feel it; locked in a staring contest with this unblinking feline monitoring system, frozen in a deep knee-bend with elbows akimbo, rib-deep in infinitely expandable hosiery. She's recording the whole damn thing, I'm sure of it.

This is her judgy face; point-blank scrutiny from right inside my Bubble

Monday, March 25, 2013

One Of Those Ecard Daze: Smartphone God

It's been one of those days; one of those dazes. There's many ways to measure the success of your endless day before the keyboard, many of them with the dry wit of someecards.  Here's mine:

Hear ye, hear ye.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Weighing The Issues 2: The Revenge Of The Resentful

WARNING: It's not a funny post - do not be taken in by the picture of the clown. As in the picture, it is a trap. This is a ranty lady post.
 I know, it's okay; I'll see you next week.

So, I've been trying to lose weight for a few years...I finally made it to target weight back in December of 2011. I know, breaking news right?

Anyhow, before that I had a bit to say about my goals, my lack of progress, and my methods...since then, I found an online calorie-keep-track-of-er (I don't like the term "calorie-counter", and I never look at the numbers anyhow; it has a colorful little bar that tells you whether you're in the red or not, but "calorie-color-er" is a prohibitively confusing term) called LoseIt, and I charged through the rest of my weight loss like a herd of...well, not turtles perhaps, but not racehorses either. Like a herd of conservatively-paced pack animals, let's say. Maybe Shetland ponies.

I reached my goals, eventually -- surpassed them even, and I was soooo happy.  My friends congratulated me, complimented me. Clothes looked nicer on, I wanted to wear less and bare more as per my Hawaiian social mores, the self-esteem was being fed and the face was too, although to a lesser extent -- the roses, they were a-coming up. American Dream style.

Then, as someone other than me might've expected, Phase 2 of having lost weight happened -- and the compliments and congratulations stopped. What more is there to say, seemed to be the sentiment -- you're thin now, you don't need encouragement like the rest of us. Just be happy, you made it.

It felt strange -- to be given so much love and support while failing, and then dismissed once there was success. I told myself I couldn't expect an eternal yay-me parade, and tried to let it go. 

Can't last forever

But maintaining weight is a struggle, too -- not as huge of a struggle, of course -- but a non-stop, for-the-rest-of-your-days long-haul slogfest that people really do NOT support.

Because now you're lumped in with skinny people, most of whom are -- aarrgh -- naturally skinny. They don't worry about what they eat because it's never been an issue, and they'll treat you like you have an eating disorder if you decline food or talk about calories. And your heavy buds don't want to hear you complain, either -- Oh, cry me a river, Miss Size Four. Striking the balance between foods that won't make you feel like you're on a diet for all eternity and stuff that won't make you backslide is a guessing game now played in the solitude of your own head, without being able to chat about strategies or good-calorie-value "finds" with others -- neither camp wanna hear it. I find that I keep myself a few pounds under target weight just so I can be spontaneously taken out to eat -- nobody, regardless of weight or health habits, wants to hear "No, thank you anyway - I can't afford it calorically." It's a guaranteed rage-and-resentment-fest every time, so I just try to stay under that line in my head/on the scale so I'm not seen as "being difficult". Yeah, I'm such an asshole for making a goal, doing what it takes to accomplish that goal and sticking with it. Forget eternal yay-parade, could I get an "It's okay, I understand" up in here?

There's a place in all weight loss plans that's like "The Wall" long-distance runners talk about -- where you feel like you've slammed to a halt, and can't go on any longer. When you start to get really close to the weight you ought to be, your body clings to every pound because it's convinced you're on the road to starvation and self-destruction. Every quarter-pound must be squeezed mercilessly out of the week, and you feel like you've lost all momentum, are failing right before the finish line, etc. It's a tough hurdle, especially that last pound, but you do get there. But that incredible toughness, where it takes ages to make downward progress? I live there now. Every time I go up, I have to take the tough line for two weeks to see my way home. It makes me seem obstinate, and unreasonably harsh to today's low-effort humans -- but it's important to me, and I tried so hard to get where I am that no, I don't feel like compromising. Coz that's how you backslide -- especially if you like carbs and dairy as much as I do! It's even harder to lose weight when you are too childish to eat your veggies.

My inner child is very opinionated

So when Phase 3 kicked, I wasn't ready. I thought the other shoe had already dropped on me -- no more talking turkey, I now keep up the balancing act alone. There's gotta be some cloud in all the silver lining, and the realist in me had accepted that. But a year had passed, and I started meeting people who'd never known me when I was heavy. The one's who'd say, "Oh, well, it's easy for you," or "You don't know what it's like" when weight management comes up.

I work in an office environment, next to the administrative staff. All ladies. It comes up a lot.

And Phase 3 has gotten a little dark -- in offering words of support or giving input, such a familiar activity from back in the pre-LoseIt days, I now get active rejection. Sometimes even anger. Assuming I was never "that heavy," (We aren't competing, are we?? I thought we were collaborating) or that it must have been somehow been easier for my bodytype or what have you, undermines the shit out of the girl who marched at the head of an imaginary parade a year and a half ago. I've lost some sort of connection or cred to that whole heavy-girl identity, and am now resented for trying to impinge upon that group. Hey, anyone who knows about the Venn Thigh-agram should have lifetime, if honorary, membership.

My inner chunky chick is also pretty sassy

So I guess target weight ≠ dharma moksha. Weight issues still exist even from the other side of the looking-glass, and create class-like boundaries that confuse and isolate women even as we reinforce them. But although this was a real good-old-fashioned rant, full of opinions and no real funnies, I'm puttin' it up here for the sake of acknowledging both the struggle and the accomplishment, and most of all the boundary that marks the two. Hopefully if we see it's really there, we can build a bridge over it and not let it keep us isolated or unhappy in our separate bodies -- regardless of that body's weight.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Things That Go Together: The Sesame Street Martians and the Warner Brothers' Gophers

In this wide random world full of stuff and stimuli, there's some things that just go together in your mind. Oh, you know it to be true -- is it that rubber-rainboot yellow that goes with the sound of rain? How about the smell of your grandma's house, which is the smell of peace of mind? Or the sound of seagulls, forever linked to that one special memory, the day when you -- ? No, no need to tell me. I can tell you know what I mean now.

They're not always quite so profound -- but like a good double feature, your brain will sometimes draw a line between two things in life and say to you, Here, look. Like the Sesame Street Martians and the Warner Brothers' Gophers. Both are pairs of tiny, unworldly little creatures in an us-against-the-world pairing -- one never without the other. This double duo exemplifies a common theme that has no name but now, thanks to one conscientious blogger, has a fan pic.

What "goes together" for you?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Trying Snowboarding OR: In Which Our Hero Valiantly Decides To Stay Home From Now On

People from back home always ask me the same few questions about Alaska* -- have you seen a polar bear, have you gone skiing yet, blah-I'm so original-blah. And, no. No I have not. Because Alaska is a howling wasteland of killer cold and giant monsters who can survive in that cold, which means all of the outdoors -- whether its a bear, or black ice, or just the dry freezing air itself -- wants you DEAD.


So I stay the hell indoors, like a smart person. Except for this one time...

I'd only just come up for college, so that may explain the dumb. I was seeing this guy, and he and one of my other dorm buds were into snowboarding. So they decided I must also like snowboarding, and must now go experience it to begin the lifetime love affair immediately. (They said none of these things, but I'm eloquent in my bitterness -- over what transpired next, dun dun dun.)

They put me in her car, one of those new-model VW bugs. He has long legs and she was driving, so I was in the back seat with the gear; just try to imagine my fun at the drive out to Alyeska** Ski Resort. Thankfully it was merely an hour's drive, so I didn't even have anything to complain about...from their perspective, maybe. (I'm from Hawaii, people. If it takes more than twenty minutes to get there, there's usually a boat or a plane involved.) It could've been worse, they assure me. Most resorts are way more remote. I try to think of how that should make me like their sport.

Then they strip me of some of my possessions, start shoving me into more layers, and strapping me into things. They inform me with benign magnanimity that it's fortunate for me they have enough stuff between the two of them to almost fully outfit me, otherwise it'd be crazy-expensive.

Tried again to see how to connect that dot to the "this is an awesome pastime" dot -- no luck.

So they bundle my Stay-Puft form over to the snowboard rental kiosk, and in the transaction there perfectly good money is turned into this big heavy piece of plexi-plastic bristling with angry-looking black plastic foot-traps. They pick up one of my moonbooted feet and plug it into this contraption, telling me to move it along by pushing off the ground with my other foot, "Like a skateboard." They were unmoved when I told them I'd never been on a skateboard. That should have been my first sign.

Oh, yeah -- I was immediately helpless. The big heavy boots were unbending, and I had to keep my foot at a rock-hard 90-degree angle at all times -- more like a stone sculpture of a foot than any actual pedal extremity I was accustomed to performing physical feats with. Even if push-off foot hadn't been a weird scary statue, the one strapped to the board was now a giant artificial flipper of fail I couldn't even begin to work with. I proceeded in a series of slides and falls to the end of the line for the ski lift.

Guess which one *I* am
The line should have been my second sign that these people were not my friends. It went up a twenty foot high subslope to the foot of the mountain, where the ski lift actually began. Apparently this benighted activity is so popular the lines are as long as a Disney ride's; and so to conserve space, and to mitigate the steep grade of the slope, the line zigzagged up the side of the hill with little landings at each direction change for people maneuver their gear around. This is a great idea, which is only ruined by the physical reality in which I CAN'T FREAKING STAND ON A HILL WITH A GIANT HEAVY BOARD STRAPPED TO MY FOOT. Other people can, apparently. But they're obviously wizards.

It was cute, the first time the line shuffled forward and I slid down that first bit of incline into the people behind us. We laughed, they helped me up; I apologized with rosy cheeks that were only partly due to the cold.

They weren't speaking to us at all by the time I struggled onto the first landing, gasping with effort and recovering from my seventh slide down the line on that treacherous incline, or what I like to think of as the (ha!) inc-line***...or vicious Sisyphian hellscape, whatever's easier to remember. From there it was a sort of grim effort of the tight-lipped strangers behind me to prop me up, and sort of push against me whenever the line moved -- you know, so as to keep me from knocking over the entire line like a row of bowling pins and rocketing off the edge of the last landing, back down to earth. The usual. My so-called friends offered no support or sympathy whatsoever; honestly, I think they were probably busy trying to hide how mortified they must have been. I was the quintessential total n00b, making all the wrong moves and appeared to be nothing less than a danger to myself and others. No wonder they were pretending I wasn't there nothing was wrong.

We finally got to the top of the line, and blessedly flat ground. Here was the ski lift, a giant rearing apparatus that splayed its awesome length all the way up the mountain. I looked up at it, and then learned in my usual pass/fail way that I'd found yet another thing you shouldn't do with a snowboard strapped to your foot. I picked myself up not from snow this time, but freezing water; the fricative heat of the lift, it seems, melts the snow underneath the machine. So now I was trying to sort of float/hydroplane this hateful hobble over alternating water and slush. Wooo. Dripping, exhausted, bruised, I looked up at the start of our stated objective -- a whole gorram mountain of this chicanery.

The other two looked at me, and said since the lift took two at a time, they'd go first -- so I'd have time to get ready and see how to do it. Sounds nice, doesn't it? That's why they said it. It's hard to be mean to someone who has just fallen in a puddle and is dripping pathetically at you. They made good their escape onto the chair, and vanished up into the sky. I thrashed incompetently towards the space their chair had just vanished from, and fell with a magnificent sploosh into the even deeper slush lake under the actual chair area -- which was for the best, actually, because just then a high-speed chair-shaped missile rocketed inches over my head and blasted right through My Bubble. I grinned feebly at the lift attendant as I tried to get clear of the puddle before another death chair could decapitate me. He glared stonily at me, and in no way indicated any intention of helping me to my feet.

"Whew," I said, sheepishly. "This is harder than it looks, ha ha."

"If you can't even stand up," he asked icily, "Why are you in line for the advanced slope?"


Yeah. That's right. Think about that for a minute. THE ADVANCED SLOPE.

I had nothing to say to him, because the people who had tricked me into this horrorfest had admittedly given no outward sign that they were my friends for the last twenty minutes -- I couldn't very well expect him to believe I had just gotten in line with my friends (BECAUSE THEY WEREN'T) and hadn't even known about there being different classes of slope. (Because it's a mountain -- I didn't know that came in finely-delineated grades of complexity. I thought you just survived getting down a mountain, and called it "fun".) What a putz, right?

So basically I had been seen as being deliberately obtuse this whole time, a know-nothing wannabe @$$hole posing in the advanced line. I staggered in the vague direction of the bunny slope the attendant indicated, totally crushed by this knowledge. Unfortunately, I had ascended the subslope ziggurat but had not gone up in the intended lift, so this was not actually an area designed to be flailed ineptly across.

Won't someone crash this pity-party??
I eventually just lay down and allowed myself to slide cautiously, if gracelessly, to the flat area below. I was so tired and disheartened, though, I couldn't get up; I just lay there in the snow for a while. I was looking into the resort chalet, where hundreds of happy outdoorsy types were getting burgers or cocoa. I wished with all my heart that, even if I had been tricked into coming all the way out here, I could've had the good sense to immediately dive into that warm happy place -- and refuse point-blank to allow this money-wasting demon plank to be strapped to my body. Cold, sore, tired and full of self-pity, I stared through the window until I saw someone I recognized from the college.

I am to this day profoundly grateful that it was the guy it was -- the most unselfish, cheerful and giving human I have ever taken pitiless advantage of. He's the good kind of fraternity brother, I'm talkin' seriously good, like a golden retriever had a baby with sunshine and lollipops****. I latched onto him in an exhausted sub-hysteria, and demanded that he take me home.

You know, to hour's drive away.

Away from whoever he came with and presumably wanted to spend the day with. As bad as this sounds, I honestly didn't care if he minded. I didn't even care about all my stuff in my friend's car -- I left it all behind like a fleeing refugee, even my street shoes.

An exchange was made later -- stupid expensive snowboarding gear for my precious belongings -- and the whole bailing issue was carefully avoided. And now I may go sledding, or ice skating, even though I'm still terrible at it...but the serious winter sports can just stay outside in the cold as far as I'm concerned. I will be at home, or maybe -- maybe -- at a chalet. Pitying those poor misguided people wizards on the death-planks.

*People from Alaska just ask "WHY did you MOVE???"

**Gosh, you might think, That sound an awful lot like Alaska, what a coincidence. No co-inky-dink -- this place has a magnificent history of naming bloopers that would (and does) make a linguistic anthropologist gibber.

***A line on an incline? Get it?? GET IT???

**** FB Relationship Status: "It's complicated".