Thursday, June 28, 2007

Late appreciation

Driving home tonight, I heard "Here Comes The Rain Again." What a great song this is! I didn't appreciate it as a kid, when it came out. But the lyrics are just so sexy.

I want to breathe in the open wind
I want to kiss like lovers do
I want to dive into your ocean
Is it raining with you?

Fuck, that is good. And Annie Lennox is just so f'ing cool.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Just walk away

Ever since the toilets at our workplace went infrared, I've had to break my habit of flushing them right after I get up, because they'll just automagically flush again as I walk away. And nothing pisses me off more than water wasted for silly reasons. So what I've found out is a) it was a really easy habit to break, and b) my home toilet doesn't flush automatically. Bummer.

Speaking of property operations, the air conditioning was off when I got to work today. It strained social relations to say the least. A few pals brought up the story of my first day of college. I'd two-strapped my backpack full of shiny new school supplies to class about 20 minutes early. OK, like 35. I shared Psychology A10, a distribution requirement, with hundreds. As I was preparing to bust out my prettiest handwriting (and maybe color-coded pens?), two women came in late and shouted, "It is hot AS ASS in here!" I think they were seniors. I could feel my face fall.

And four years later, I barely graduated. It was hot as ass in there.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Oh gnome

So I figured that I could get through my entire piano career (such as it is, non-paying and primarily private) without having to use a metronome. They make me incredibly nervous, and my fingers actively seek out the wrong notes when I hear that tap ... tap ... tapping. And you know, it's not like I'm ever going to play for anyone or with anyone who needs to keep time. But now my teacher says I have to play with the metronome. She even said it was going to be fun! She's out of her mind. Plus, she wants me to go slow. Like 66 per quarter note or something. DOESN'T SHE KNOW I'M IMPATIENT???

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A couple things

1. Limes are way better than lemons. In fact, growing up, we never, ever had lemons. Just limes. And in Vietnamese, as far as I can tell, there's just one word for both of them, and it's the word for limes: chanh. That's how we did it in my household, anyway. So sometimes, now, I get the two confused in English. But that's embarrassing, so this is how I shall remedy the situation: Lemons, you are dead to me. I have no use for you anymore in my life.

2. I'm in the market for some new non-swearish expletives. I figured that since I became a minor boss character in the video game, I shouldn't swear as much, particularly the religiously offensive ones? If you catch my drift? Right now I've got in my arsenal "Golly Jeez, Beave!" a la Wally Cleaver. I'm considering such phrases as "Jeez O Pete!" and maybe "Cheese and Crackers!" but frankly the last one is a tiny bit close to the real thing, which in my experience, can take the air out of the room. I had been saying "Jeepers Cats!" but someone else here says it, and I'm afraid people will think I'm making fun of her, which I fucking swear to you that I am not. I also say "Ai Chewbacca!" Any suggestions will be appreciated.

OK, that's what I got. I'm getting over a major headache, the second in 3 days. The first one came at work after I'd gotten my eyes dilated. I had to go home from work. This one came after helping two friends move today. It was really fun, not tense like the previous two moves we've done. JJ called it The Feel-Good Move of the Summer. And it was. But it was also hot and now my head feels like it's in a vise. I'm hopeful that's all it is.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

But the great news is ...

I made a major breakthrough with 6/8 time this week. I was playing this piece by Robert Vandall (elementary to LATE ELEMENTARY!) and it just didn't sound right. I was counting under my breath, 123456! breath! 123456! with every measure. I said to Jeffrey, does this sound right? It doesn't quite sound like music. I'm playing it right, but it doesn't sound right.

Then I remembered what my teacher told me last time I swore off 6/8 -- to try counting it "one lolly two lolly" instead. She said it was absolutely natural. I was incredulous. How could I translate 123456 to one lolly two lolly? It was going to take more brainpower than I could devote!

But I tried it with Mr. Vandall. And I'm telling you, it worked! It was crazy. The very first time through with the new counting, I could tell what it was meant to sound like.

I can not WAIT to get to early intermediate.

I swear, I was in a good mood for a LONG TIME

I had a really great day today. First lunch with Lauren at a great sushi place, then very productive bulk shopping. Then I come home to find that Jeffrey had filled the watering can! Without me asking! So nice.

And then I got home from work in a ridiculously good mood. We had some problems at work and I solved them. And a few people commented on how cool I was about it. I really came home feeling like a leader tonight. I felt like I had fulfilled my potential to not only fix problems, but to remain calm about it.

So I was actually singing as I grabbed my Maglite to see how my plants were doing. And in the dark, lit by the low beam, I saw it: a dead bird, face-down in my brand-new basil/arugula/chervil window box, which I had JUST mounted this weekend. I yelped and ran back into the house. Jeffrey took care of it. I don't know what killed it, and I'm wondering if I should get rid of those plants now, and if they're tainted in some way. I just can't stop myself from holding my head with both hands.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mary, Mary, why you buggin?

It's been incredibly buggy lately. Because our landlords have the initiative of plant life, we haven't had a screen on our window in months. But it's incredibly hot, so we leave the window open a crack so as not to be steamed to death in our sleep. It's invited a ton of exos into our lives.

Today one was intolerably in my face. You know, like, a teeny tiny one that just flits about your eyes and nose and mouth but it's too close to see? Well, I was practicing the piano and this was going on. Every measure or so it would flit around my eyes, inside the glasses, and I would swear and swat.

And then I felt it hit the back of my throat. And I just thought, finally. Thank God that's over.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

O no, not I, I will survive

Every night when I come home, I take a Maglite out and check on my plants. I check their soil moisture, I check their growth, I talk to them. And then I sometimes sit out there and just enjoy them. I flash the light on them, and think about how far they've come.

In the morning, same routine, sans flashlight. I go out, I water if necessary (too much love kills!), I read my container gardening book about the best ways to harvest them, I feel their leaves to see if they feel limp or strong. I enjoy their sun. It focuses me. It relaxes me. It's the manner in which I roll.

This little guy amazes me so much. We clipped a lot of cilantro last week for turkey sandwiches (SO GOOD) and fish. I honestly believed that would be it for it, you know, that I'd gotten my money's worth from this plant I got for $2.48 at Lowe's. But just a couple days later, leaves started sprouting out of where we cut it. Just right out of the stems like that! Like they were in there all along. A couple years ago my cilantro unceremoniously died a couple days after I brought it home from the store like a carnival prize goldfish. I truly cannot believe how it's regenerating itself like that. It looks so frail, so ready to be killed by the slightest wind. Nature is freaking magical.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ain't it good to be aliiiiiive?

I ran into a couple co-workers in the parking lot late last night, and they invited me out to karaoke. Many people are already there! they said. Come join! I am an off/on lover of the mic, so I called my favorite emo bud and we went. When we got to this tiny little dive bar (which, as far as I can tell, is the only place that sells pork hocks in town), there were many very friendly people there. A'course we didn't recognize any of them. No matter. We stuck around and were coerced into sitting near their group by a gregarious man who called himself Jeff.

After hemming and hawing, I did sing one song: Angie, by the Rolling Stones. It's well within my range and I'd have to say it was at least a partial success! Got a lot of bridges, though. Sort of unnecessary in that format, I think. Anyway, now I have that in my pocket for the next time.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The good life

After a steady diet of crappy fast food on our Sunday drive home, Jeffrey made good on his promise to cook with whatever I grow. Here's what we came home to (Thanks, Lauren!) -- bushy growth! So yesterday I made my first Caprese orzo salad of the year, which is a hallmark of summer in our house. It's orzo, olive oil, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and LOTS of fresh basil. I ate about half of it while I was making it. It was good. Then Jeffrey made a Giada De Laurentiis' Roman-style chicken, which includes chicken, prosciutto, peppers, capers, and best of all, fresh thyme and oregano from our garden! It was really, really good. Then I spent all night researching recipes for the rest of our herbs. I have to use the cilantro soon before it goes to seed. Looks like salsa's in our future!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Stormy weather

It is storming like the apocalypse right now. (I mean, I don't know much about the apocalypse, and whether rain is even involved, but it FEELS extremely end-timey) Jeffrey and I were out on the porch, where the air was still, looking at our plants and drinking wine when very suddenly, it got so windy. Within a minute of the wind starting, things were flying around the porch and I had to bring my arugula inside. It's just a baby!

Jeffrey went back to his den right away, but my first instinct was to cuddle. I was like, "Let's curl up somewhere NOW!" It's crazy what kind of person I've become. Last week I came home to find a roach on our railing and I screamed. Like really screamed, a la bloody murder. Jeffrey was unimpressed. Then yesterday I saw a little baby mouse (I'm not going to hurt you, baby mouse. But please go away!) and I screamed again. Like, out of my skin. Please don't yelp, Jeffrey said.

Anyway, how did this happen? Who am I? (other than a person who lives with pests, suddenly) I was never like this when I lived alone all those years. I've killed the likes of Gregor Samsa with nothing but an old shoe and common household chemicals. I was a tough b. And now I'm screeching. How annoying.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sometimes craziness just sneaks up on you

I've been feeling a little anxious lately. I figured it was because we have a big trip coming up (we're going to our annual memorial for my mom on Thursday) and because there's a lot of change afoot at work. I mean, a lot of crazy-go-nuts change, all starting today. But I was wrong about that. I found out today in a card store why I'm feeling crazy right now:

Man next to me in line: Can I get a balloon that says "Happy Birthday Pearl"?
Cashier: Sure, we can put her name on the B10 balloon. But you know, you can buy a whole bouquet for just $5.49.
Man next to me in line: No thanks. (pause) My wife died several years ago. (pause) Never forget.

I passed him on my way out the door. I looked him in the eyes and tried to smile, but I had already started crying.

My mom's birthday is in 2 days. For some reason, Mother's Day wasn't that hard for me this year, but this is going to be. After my mom died, I said, sort of cavalierly, that I wasn't going to have a wedding because she won't be there. But now there's a wedding. We signed the contract on the hotel last week. We got the contract on the boat yesterday. And still, she won't be there.

That's all there is to say about that.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Toxic shocker

Blue crabs were always a joy in our house. My parents would get a bunch of live ones home from the Asian market and leave them in the sink long enough for us to spy on them. Sometimes we would put chopsticks near them, jumping when they would snap at them. Giggles escaped. It was as much fun as eating them, mastering ways to pick them to get the most meat out of them. We always had little dipping bowls of fresh lime juice mixed with salt and pepper. Just catching a whiff of those scents now brings me back to those young summer days.

My favorite part is the innards -- what we call gat. The last time I got crabs there was so much gat that I marked it on the lunar calendar so I know when I should get crabs again. I love it so. So it was very sad when my sister called yesterday to tell me that she can't eat crabs while she's pregnant. She read that the gat can be toxic and can be dangerous to pregnant women and their oven-buns. And the gat can be so pervasive that she can't eat any at all. So sad!

It made me a little bit nervous about eating the gat that I do. Last summer I got crabs, enough to last all weekend, maybe 20-30 times. Moderation has always been just past my grasp. But I think I'm going to have to learn some. Damn!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Blood from a stone

The Red Cross came to our work today for a blood drive. I love these. I love the idea of these, I love seeing people I know doing such a good thing, I love the miniature cookie packets that come after. I love them.

So Bethany said to me last night, are you giving blood? And I'd forgotten about it, but then I got very excited. I was already coming in early for a meeting so I had a perfect little window to, you know, save some lives. I went through the whole deal, are you a gay man having unprotected sex, have you been in jail for 72 consecutive hours, can we check the iron in your blood? Everything was going great.

Then it happened again: They couldn't find my veins. I have subpar veins. They've always been bad, but in the past I've been able to slide by with them digging around in there with a needle. But I do it because I LOVE TO GIVE BLOOD (see paragraph 1). I even used to do apheresis, which requires upwards of 2 hours in a room, leaking blood out one arm and getting some of it back in the other, being subjected to such VHS classics as "Patch Adams." But finally they asked me to stop coming back. There's actually a note in my file. DO NOT TRY TO STICK THIS WOMAN.

So they turned me away. Didn't even stick me. Something about too many valves and "freaky tendons." And I got to keep the shirt, which is GINORMOUS because it's a men's XL, like they always are. If Jeffrey liked white tees with any type on them, I could give it to him. Oh well. I guess I have a shirt in case a person my exact size comes along and wants to share a shirt with me. Although, seriously, I'm guessing that would be "need" to share a shirt, because I can't quite envision a "want" scenario.


The other excitement for the day was going to BJ's for bulk shopping. I put a LOT of things back and still ended up buying a large sum's worth of chocolates, peanuts and fiber bars. Yum!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Something weird that I do

Driving home tonight, I saw what I believe to be the body of a dog splayed in the middle of the road. It was upsetting, and I did what I always do in those circumstances: I crossed myself.

It's a resilient vestige from my semi-Catholic childhood. In our family, you'd cross yourself at least three times a day -- before you ate, every time. It was part of a family tradition that before every meal, you would invite everyone at the table to eat, with extra respect to your elders. So there was the crossing and inviting, at least three times a day, and also before snacks. It's a nice thing that I do sometimes with friends now. But the crossing has pretty much gone by the wayside, except in these instances.

I couldn't really tell you why I do it. I mean, I think I've been clear that I can't quite grasp/buy its underlying tenets. Maybe I'm hedging my bets, like Pascal and his wager -- that believing delivers a better likelihood of a good outcome than not believing.

Or maybe it's an easy part of my vocabulary now, and I just don't know any other language with which to pray. I'm really sad for those animals, and I'm not even sure what I'm praying. It's undefined. Maybe the crossing lets me get by without actually having to articulate my feelings or attack what I'm thinking with logic.