Friday, November 28, 2003

Blogger will not let me edit this latest post for some reason. Sorry for the mistakes.
Be Better

Yesterdya's family function was a little disappointing. Aaron's Crazy-Ass Grandmother told us that she wasn't drinking too much becuase she had to be the 'crucifier' at church on Sunday. I wanted to tell her that's usually her job at these familt get-togethers, but I kept my mouth shut for a change. We didn't wask what being a 'crucifier' at her church entailed, but she proceeded to tell us anyway, even though we were all carrying on a conversation about something else entirely. What does it say about her drinking that she has to watch how much she drinks on Thursday in order to be in good shape on Sunday? Hmmm.

Aaron's Aunt Cindy saved the day, though. I knew she was drunk when she kept staring at me, eyes crossed and glazed over, and told me that I should be a model. Not that I'm unattractive or anything, but I am definitely not model material. I knew just by looking at her eyes that she wasn't seeing things as they truly were, i.e., my big-ass thighs and my honkingly big nose. She had her beer/vodka/wine goggles fully in place, and she was happy about it.

She really fell for me when I told her that her homemade carrot cake, the only non-raw item I indulged in yesterday, was the best I'd ever tasted. She opened up and shared many things with me, such as: how her husband has finally loosened up enough to cook the turkey on the grill instead of the way his grandmother taught him years ago; how she couldn't care less that her sister ruined a piece of their mother's good silver when they were teens; how her son has a new girlfriend she calls 'Luscious Leslie' becuase "She's got the biggest set of ... the hugest (insert drunkingly appropriate hand gestures here) ... well, she's got the hugest TITS I've ever seen," which she blames on her breastfeeding her son; and how, even though she did a lot more drugs than he ever did, her brother and some friends stole the remaining silver, the pieces that weren't ruined by her aforementioned sister, to sell for drugs. Whew.

Then we came upon my least favorite thing -- the family photo op. I managed to get out of a few claiming that I wasn't a real member of the family (God, I hope this is true), and just the family should be in photos. Then there was a request for photos of just Aaron and me to be taken, especially by Aunt Cindy, so I stood next to Aaron in front of the fireplace, put my arm around him and smiled. "No! No! That's not right," Cindy screamed. She wanted us to sit on the hearth and kiss, something I wasn't about to do in front of all these people, most of whom weren't even invited to witness the kiss at our wedding. Cindy sensed this and said, "Well, just Be Better." I've been given a lot of ambiguous commands in my day, but none can top that one, and I told her so. I don't know if it was the word 'ambiguous' or that another stream of liquor had entered her bloodstream, but Cindy looked at me, eyes crossed even more, and mubbled that it was "Umm ... okay, then." It turns out the best picture was the one with me laughing at Cindy's request for us to Be Better. So, in essence,m she helped me to Be Better.

I started thinking what a terrific motto or slogan Be Better would be if people everywhere started using it: Perturbed drivers could yell it at offensive drivers; victims could tell it to their muggers; wives could yell it into the living room when their husbands start screaming about how the Panthers have f*ed up yet again; people could say it to uncaring customer service reps throughout the system. The recipient would be just as startled as I, and it would definitely give them food for thought.

Just Be Better, y'all. That's all I'm asking.

*** Always wanted to draw like Picasso but lack the talent? Go here and have fun, fun, fun.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

I Have Been Sharkified

I have always loved sharks. Ever since I was very small, I have read every book I could about them and watched all of the shows about them on the TV. I remember back in the good old days when there were perhaps three shows a year about sharks on PBS, and they were truly an event. Now, there are shark shows on almost every single day of the year since the advent of the Discovery Channel, home of the cleverly titled 'Shark Week,' and its sister channel Animal Planet. Those channels have caused my enthusiasm to wane over the years.

I remember the very first Shark Week ever. Even though I was quite a club-hopping, party girl at the time, I remember telling everyone they needed to find someone else to take her shirt off, dance on the bar in a lewd manner, and then proceed to vomit on their shoes that week 'cause I was staying home to watch everyone of the shows. I think my brain went into sharkified overload that week. I definitely learned that, yes, one can have too much of a good thing.

Shortly after my first Shark Week, I took scuba lessons and became a certified PADI diver. Now I could travel the world, dive and, after dinner, proceed to take my top off, grind atop a hopefully sturdy bar, and vomit all over strange, fellow-diver's feet. One of the many shows about sharks I had seen during my 22 years informed me that members of certain tribes of the South Pacific believed if a person has a likeness of a shark tattooed on them they will never be molested (read 'eaten') by one whilst fishing or swimming in the water, or on land for that matter. So, I got a tattoo of a little hammerhead on my hip as insurance, and everything's been fine so far.

My relationship with sharks started long before that, though. When I was in second grade, my parents took me on a cruise to Bermuda. Before we left, we had to attend a seminar on the trip at our local AAA office. The only thing I remember about that meeting was a person asking how safe the waters were to swim in around the beaches of Bermuda and someone answering that there were some things to cause concern, like the man-o-war jellyfish, barracuda that could snap unwary fingers and toes off in a flash and, well, maybe a shark or two, but it was nothing to be too concerned about. I was a very nervous, uptight, frightened and worrisome child who never should have heard those words. I did manage to allay my own fears, since my parents weren't any good at doing so, and rationalized that the woman who was leading the talk had been in those waters many, many times and although I couldn't see her feet, I she still appeared whole.

It turned out that Richard Dreyfuss was on our cruise, which was exciting, to promote his new film Jaws and get a little R & R. I remember begging my parents to let me see the film over and over until they finally allowed me to see it with my dad, probably because my mother was spending time with an actor and wanted to get rid of my dad for a while and enjoy the attention. Bad move on their part. I only went in ankle deep the entire trip and gave myself an ulcer worrying about my other family members who actually went all the way into the sea.

Two years later, I came across a copy of the book Jaws by Peter Benchley. I read the book through three times back to back. I loved that book. During that school year we were supposed to write a letter to our favorite author, and while other fourth graders were writing to Judy Blume and Richard Scarey and Donald Sobol, I wrote to Mr. Benchley. I explained to him that while he would probably be surprised that I could understand the overtly sexual parts of the story, I could understand them and that the book was scary, but it didn't scare me too much. I lied on both accounts.

Months and months later, after school had let out for the summer, I received a letter from him. The letter was on stationary that felt like old parchment paper and was handwritten. He'd taken the time to actually thank me personally for my kind words and he hoped I'd also enjoy The Island, which I did when it came out. Because of his kindness to me, I have read everyone of his books since then, no matter how terrible, like White Shark, or how great, like Shark Trouble.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003


Because my brain is lingering at a standstill, I thought I'd provide some updates or more info on some previously posted bits.

Romance -- I got into some serious trouble, y'all, when I admitted publicly that I had no idea when/where my first kiss with Aaron took place. I was reminded by the aforementioned husband that it took place in my bedroom right before he left on a trip to Boulder, where he was supposed to actually move. He said that it was insurance that he would come back. He's right. I remember thinking that I'd secretly been in love with this man for years, and now that I actually had him, if he did come back from Boulder, what the hell was I going to do with him? I was panicked because he was 7 years younger than me at that time. Well .. actually he still is.

Sister -- My sister and her husband have purchased the ultimate thing for people who have way more money than they could possibly spend -- a racehorse. They don't even like horse racing. The horse came in 4th at Belmont last week. I am spending my day today trying to scrape enough cash together to by a pack of tampons. Just kidding, kind of.

Send Annie To Cornwall Fund -- Although I am still planning a trip to England in the spring, it looks like I may have to wiggle my nose and say binkle-binkle-bink to get there. I know you all love me. So, show me the love. Send in some spare change to the cause my brothers.

Boots -- The boots that I linked to a couple of weeks ago didn't truly reflect the boots I own. They are KC but, first off, I was wrong -- the heels are only 3-inch. Secondly, mine are a little less S&M, as they are regular leather, rather than patent leather. Thirdly, I did not pay $300 for my boots. I paid ... wait for it ... $16.97. Yes, it's true. I know of secret places to shop in Charlotte for all the bargains. If you donate to The Fund, I may tell you where they are. No, the items aren't hot.

Bowie, My Twin -- Okay, okay, I'm going to let my hair grow back again. My husband, who thought my hair was "so cute" when I first got it cut off, now wants me to grow it back, as does some other guy, who when I informed him of my decision to grow it back stated, "Thank God." Well, I never.

Job -- I have so far applied for a job at the library, at CMC as an autopsy assistant (God, I want this job!), at my local video store, at the offices of the Charlotte Bobcats, at the Humane Society, and at a realtor's office. So far, absolutely no word on anything.

Crazy-Ass Grandmother -- Unfortunately, I will be having Thanksgiving dinner at her place. Fortunately, I will be able to regale you with lots of CAG stories.

Smoking -- What was that? I didn't quite understand the last title. Choking? No, I'm not choking. Well, I gotta run. Sorry I didn't hear that last one.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Just Another Day At Starbucks

A few days ago while in the parking lot of my local Starbucks, I saw one of those trucks. You know what type I mean -- the ones with a "Proud to be an American" bumper sticker on the rear along with various American flag manifestations, including the type that stick on the antenna, and it's front plate was of a lithe woman's silver silhouette in a position closest to yoga's popular 'semi-reclining cobra whore' position. "That kind of convenient, pseudo-patriotism just galls me," I said to a man desperately trying to lunge into his Honda to avoid the lady talking to herself in the parking lot. "You see, I wasn't always an unemployed loser who can't even get a job at her local video store -- I used to be a patriot." "A New England Patriot?" he asked with utter disbelief while staring at my breasts. "No, silly," I answered, "a real and true patriot, as in 'one who loves or defends her country'(The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary, copyright 1995)." I sighed a true ex-patriot's sigh at the truck and at my fellow Americans' willingness to jump on the nearest national-ego-enforcing bandwagon.

Although the man with the Honda was long gone, I continued with my story: "I even had a patriot suit. That's right, a getup I would wear that consisted of clean, well-pressed Levis, a t-shirt emblazoned with our Constitution's Preamble -- you know, 'We the people' and all that -- a red, white and blue wind breaker with a Statue of Liberty pinned on its lapel, and a felt tri-corne hat. I held a copy of the Constitution in my right hand and the Bill of Rights in my left. I would read aloud from both documents of our nation's history on various street corners with a 'will-patriotize-for-food' cardboard sign resting against my legs, which also eventually turned red, white and blue due to various varicose veins, what with standing so long everyday. But I didn't care. I had a duty, a service to uphold to our county and its citizens.

"I would attract various reactions from passersby -- I have been cheered by Boy Scout troops and members of the local Lion's Club. The local, drunken chapter of the VFW often brought me beer and porn. I was sometimes pelted with tomatoes, small bricks and copies of the Communist Manifesto -- known simply as "The Manny" to in-the-know circles -- by the members of the SSA or Senior Socialists of America. Yes, that did hurt quite a lot, actually . It hurt my democratic patriot's pride more than my eye socket, abdomen and nose, but I understood that those groups had just as much right to demonstrate as I and, actually, it would have been easier, simpler and cheaper to get my much-needed medical attention if we did indeed have some form of socialised medicine. See, my job had no medical benefits. It had plenty of other benefits -- like preserving a feeling of pride in this country, street-corner recognition and fame without the whole 'john' factor, a glorious tan from being outside all day, every day, and maybe even another one that I can't think of right now -- just not medical benefits. Actually, my job seemed to have the opposite of medical benefits when those ruffian SSA members were around."

If the Honda guy wouldn't have sped off like a bat out of hell, I'm sure he would of asked me what made me stop performing my national duty, so I answered that query in his honor: "I got to a point, after the Patriot Act was established, that I realized my reading of the Constitution and Bill of Rights was just like the pouring of salt into a gaping, pus-filled wound -- it would hurt our already severely mangled national sense of freedom and pride. It was useless to read those documents that outlined rights we no longer had at our disposal. It would hurt like the Dickens. There's a phrase I never really understood; I mean, sure, Little Dorrit stings a little, but Dickens isn't all that pain-producing, really. But I digress. I just lost the love for the job, and it lost its entire meaning. A sad chapter in American history, I can tell you. So, I quit. My little patriot getup is in mothballs up in the attic. I never even get the urge to take it down and look at it anymore, and not just because it stinks so much. It's a chapter of my life that's over.

"Perhaps we'll get a new regime in the White House, repeal the Patriot Act, and end the war in Iraq, but that's about as likely as me pulling an American eagle out of my nostril. So, for the time being I'll pretend I don't know what America stood for at its inception, like most other citizens, and I'll get a job at Wal-Mart, wearing a yellow smiley face just like the one I used to have on my real face. Except that 'yellow' part. And my face isn't quite so round. Oh, and I have a nose."

Sorry. It's 3:30 in the morning, I can't sleep and I must have Partly Cloudy Patriot running around in my mind.

Friday, November 21, 2003

A Veritable Mish-Mash Of Nothingness

Had a wonderful time last night at the Sarah Vowell shindig with James and Tom and a bunch of other fellow bloggers. Tom was gracious enough to let James and I stay at his apartment last night, instead of forcing us to drive back in the dead of night. We stayed up really late talking about everything from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre to politics. Great company, great time.

Quote of the Day:

"So married were Grandpa and Grandma that they offended each other by existing and he must have hated the prospect of gratifying her by going first."

Bad Blood
Lorna Sage

Unfortunately, I have seen more than one marriage that could be described in exactly this fashion.

Pennsylvania Ad of the Day

This ad was taken from the local newspaper of Hamburg, PA, called Destinations. This ad is a particularly fine example of gold ole Pennsylvania Dutch thriftiness. I mean, why just have a furniture shop or a funeral home when you could have both in the same space, perhaps even selling a sofa or two to those in mourning?

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Isuzus Are Romantic, I'm Tellin' Ya'

I am not a romantic. I sometimes think this is odd because I usually tear up at movies or books that I enjoy that have romantic scenes in them, i.e., the English Patient (Look, I don't want any EP hate mail. I've taken enough flak for liking this movie and book already, trust me). I am also a sucker for any and all Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movies, which are the epitome of romanticism. I actually think life would be great ... I mean, 'swell' if it were just like it is in those movies. Think about it -- you could sing and dance all of your problems away and there's always some strangely effeminate character around to provide comic relief. No, I'm not talking about Michael Jackson's life -- remember, I'm talking about those wonderful musicals from the 1930s.

Men with whom I've had relationships have either loved the fact that I'm not very romantic or hated it. The men that hated it usually did so either because they teared up at movies before or more often than I did, or they couldn't use the same tactics to solve a problem with me like they could in previous relationships, i.e., bringing me a gift or chocolates or flowers, because those kinds of acts don't solve any problems in my book. I had a boyfriend who, one time to celebrate an anniversary, lit candles all over my bedroom and covered my bed in rose petals. After saying, "Oh ... um, it's very nice," and patting him on the back a few times, I thought to myself, "Who's going to clean this mess up? Those little petals will end up everywhere, and I'll be finding them for weeks afterward." I am definitely not a romantic.

One day years later, Aaron decided to teach me how to drive a stick shift. I had tried numerous times with many significant others, and it usually ended with me becoming extremely frustrated and one or both of us swearing never to attempt it again. This time was different, though -- it was a car that I really, really wanted to learn how to drive, and it was Aaron. We tried and we tried, and finally I got it. I was driving around the parking lot of that school, managing not to stall as long as Aaron kept talking to me about something totally unrelated to driving that vehicle. I told Aaron that we needed to keep talking, as it kept my mind off of the task at hand. Aaron kept talking and talking. Finally, there was silence. I said, "No! Don't stop talking. I need you to talk if I'm going to be able to do this." Aaron informed me that he was running out of things to talk about. Then he said it. I was driving east through the parking lot, trying to get the car into at least third gear, a grin of accomplishment plastered across my face ,when he actually said it. Aaron said, "Annie, will you marry me?"

Needless to say, I stalled the car. I made him repeat what I'd just thought I just heard. A large number of women I know would have been upset. They would have said that he went about it in totally the wrong way -- he should have been on his knees; he should have had a ring, etc. Not me. I would have been embarrassed if he'd been on his knees or had asked me in some fancy restaurant in front of 50 people; I probably wouldn't have liked any ring he might have picked out on his own. So, he did it perfectly. The complete and utter lack of romance made it utterly the most romantic thing I have ever been witness to.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

My Spunky Little Elmo

I always tell Aaron that if ever he should doubt whether or not I was head-over-heels in love with him when we got together, all he need do is look at our Tickle Me Elmo doll. See, I had been in love before and had quite a number of serious relationships, including one marriage, before we met, but I had never felt anything for anyone like I felt for Aaron. I think I was so enamored of him that it bled into all other aspects of my life -- I thought things were adorably cute and sweet that I would never, ever in my right frame of mind think were special. In fact, I had always thought that an Elmo doll that giggled hysterically for the first three presses of his belly and then started to vibrate deeply and uncontrollably on the fourth, like something from the 'massage' section of the women's health and beauty department, was creepy, sickening, and even perverted. And except for a brief few-month period right after we got together, I have continued to think so. But during our first shared Christmas, I had expressed how adorable I thought a Tickle Me Elmo was, and although Aaron thought it to be really creepy, he purchased one for me that year.

He went went to one of those more-evil-than-the-devil-himself places that the public likes to call 'Wal Mart' and got the last one on the shelf. The box was in poor shape and the plastic covering had been torn off but as, like I said, this was the last one, he decided to purchase it for me. On Christmas day it was unwrapped along with all of my other presents, and as I was still under the love-spell that made everything just too damn cute, I started to play with it. That's when I noticed that it looked and felt slightly used. Not only that, on the maker's tag on Elmo's adorable, little, red ass there was writing. It said 'Chasity' on both sides. Not 'Chastity,' but 'Chasity,' so it wasn't some kind of warning from above for Aaron and I to keep our paws off each other until we were married. Thank God.

We wondered what the story behind this was and why Wal Mart had taken it back when it was so obviously marked by the first purchaser. Were the parents short on cash this Christmas so they had to return their poorly-named daughter's favorite toy? Was returning it a punishment for some toddler's outrageous transgressions against humanity? Did she get old enough to realize the horribly misspelled name her redneck or ghetto-residing family gave her and run away to change it? Did Chasity, of all the horrible choices, die? In my over imaginative mind, the crust I felt on Elmo's soft but synthetic Muppet fur was made up of dried, salty tears. But were they the tears of a little girl who was experiencing a horribly cruel punishment or the tears of a broken-hearted, grieving family packing Elmo back into the box because they couldn't bear to have to look at their child's favorite toy one more time? I won't even let my mind wander on what the crust may actually be. I was given this long before I knew what a 'furrie' was, so don't even go there.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Don't Read This If You're Hungry

I am currently reading Return To Paris by Colette Rossant, a wonderful little memoir of a woman's youth spent in Paris and Cairo, as she is half French and half Egyptian. Like many of my favorite memoirs, she many not always remember specifics about her youth, such as who was with her or what season it was or the time of day, but she always remembers extraordinary meals. Here is the list of the best things I have ever eaten, bar none:

Salmon roe and California roll sushi from the Tokyo Restaurant on South Blvd, when they used to be exceptionally good. The roe was always so fresh -- not a hint of a fishy taste and they always burst with an audible pop upon mastication. The California roll used only real crab meat (No other sushi bar in this city of mediocre restaurants does. They all use that fake stuff.), with just a hint of mayonnaise thrown in for that creamy texture. I also have to give props to the unagi (roasted eel)sushi at Cuisine Malaya near CPCC. It's the best I've ever tatsed.

Fried corn from my mother's kitchen in PA. Fried corn is a Pennsylvania Dutch treat. It is quick and simple with no frills, just like the Amish. She would scrape the kernels off leftover corn on the cob and pan fry with some butter, tons of black pepper, salt and a little sugar to carmelize the corn even more than its natural sugars will. The completed side dish is made up of salty, spicy, brown, chewy kernels of corn.

A tarte tatin from a restaurant right around the corner from the Comedie Francaise in Paris. The meal at this place was horribly bland and uninspired, so I didn't hold out much hope for a decent dessert. I was so pleasantly surprised upon my first taste of this fancy French apple pie, I decided to eat it as slowly as possible to savor each and every bite. The crust was buttery, flaky and chewy -- not overdone and not underdone. The apples were dressed in the most delicious, warm and cinnamony sauce, and they maintained just a touch of their original crispness. This was my first night in Paris, and I just knew that more wonderful treats awaited me every day.

At Angelina's, a restaurant and tearoom on the Rue De Rivoli in Paris, a seedy, touristy-type of street right off the Place De La Concorde, famous mostly for it's hot chocolate and pastries, it surprised me very much to have the most incredible salad of my life. On a bed of delicate, frisee lettuce, there were little 'packages' made from extremely thin pastry stuffed with a generous hunk of mild, soft goat's cheese, deep fried for literally seconds just until crispy and golden brown. When opened, some of the cheese had melted onto the pastry shell and some remained soft and buttery. The whole salad was drizzled with a very garlickyamd tangy French vinaigrette. Of course the hot chocolate was incredible. It blew my expectations of what hot chocolate should be right out of the water.

At the Chateau restaurant, which used to be where Frankie's is now in Dilworth, I used to get a rare filet mignon smothered in a chunky blue cheese dressing. I like my steaks what's called 'blue rare' in the restaurant trade -- grilled on an extremely hot grill for just a couple of minutes on each side. They knew me there and would make steaks the way I liked them. Most other restaurants will not do them the way I like them because I am one of the few women in the world who actively seek out blue rare steaks, and they are afraid I will send them back and tell them it's underdone. They also used to do a Chateau burger with mushrooms and shredded cheddar cheese on a kaiser roll that was one of the best burgers I've ever had, especially because it was legal then to order rare ground beef.

My own Portuguese salt cod cakes are crispy, spicy and loaded with lots of olive oil and herbs. It was served with a rich, homemade aoli (garlic mayonnaise) with some fresh, chopped dill and cayenne added. Even if I hadn't become a raw foodist, this is a dish I could only make very rarely, as no place in Charlotte carries salt cod anymore. I used to buy it when I went home to PA and bring it back.

A sweet, cool watermelon when I've been mowing the lawn or running on a very hot summer's day. That's one of the best flavors and sensations in the world.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

I am Not a True Slave To Fashion

As much as I can be a true slave to fashion now and again -- i.e., the sexy-ass, Kenneth Cole, over-the-calf, black leather boots with the 4-inch heels I wore Friday night, which prompted my oh-so-observant husband to query, "Oh, you're walking like your feet hurt. Do your feet hurt or something?" -- there are certain tortures I am not willing to put my body through, like Botox. There are also some items of the fashionistas -- like those little, velour Daisy Dukes that were popular this summer -- that I won't wear because I don't want to torture you. I know what looks good on me and what doesn't. In order to be a true slave to fashion in this day and age, one must weigh less than Marilyn Monroe's right ass cheek, and that doesn't look good on anyone, not even Lara Flynn "My Ribs Jut Out Farther Than My Tits" Boyle.

I must admit, though, I thought all of this fashion-torture was relatively new. I mean, I knew about the literally gut-wrenching corsets of yesteryear and the Chinese art of foot binding, but I had no idea that any woman (or man for that matter) considered herself beautiful if she looked starved and bony. I thought it was a byproduct only of our extremely self-absorbed, decadent times, but I was wrong. I've been reading Catharine Smith's and Cynthia Greig's brilliant work entitled Women In Pants, a text about women's fight for equal rights that could really only be accomplished after women were allowed to don britches. That's where I learned about the American fashion trend dubbed 'consumptive chic' or 'invalid chic' that was all the rage in the 1870s. You see, it wasn't enough during this period to have a tightly-corseted, 15-inch waist which caused numerous physical problems like anemia, breathing disorders, prolapsed uteri, fainting, deformities of the spinal column and rib cage, numerous digestive disorders and the like. A woman also had to " ... fashion themselves as invalids. Intentionally eating poorly, staying indoors, and avoiding exercise, they sought to achieve the desired affect of the lily-white pallor and thinness of the consumptive, greatly romanticized by the Victorian culture." Of course, only the very wealthy were able to leisurely lounge in bed all day complaining of bodily aches and pains and refusing food. It seems that history truly does repeat itself.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I recently saw Real Women Have Curves during one of HBO's 500+ viewings, and I have a bone to pick with that movie, also. I am sure that I will probably upset a number of readers with this opinion, but here it goes, regardless. Yes, real women do have curves. We are supposed to have curves. We need large hips to birth our babies; we need breasts to feed our babies, and we need an extra layer of fat to nourish and protect our babies while they are in our wombs. We do not, however, need an extra 50 pounds of non-pregnancy weight to carry around. Obesity, gluttony and lack of exercise is just as unhealthy as refusing most all food and exercising 8 hours a day. It may be a hell of a lot more fun, but it is just as unhealthy. I felt like this movie wasn't only trying to say that real women have curves, but that it was saying real woman have curves and are grossly obese. Real women are not naturally obese. Real women are not naturally anorexic-looking. I realize there are exceptions to these rules, but they are few and far between. The fact that I am supposed to have curves on my frame I accept. I do not accept that I am supposed to weigh 80 pounds or 200 pounds. Enough said.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Look Out, Kay Beck. Here I come!

Here's an interesting article that makes me want to do something I thought I'd never, ever want to do -- move to Canada. He just seems so down to earth and sane. I must be missing something. He can't be half as good as he looks.

Here's a fun site that I've been playing with for about a week. It's a camera inside a huge aquarium. You can sign up for time to move the camera yourself or you can just watch others do it. Be warned it's only open Monday through Friday 9-5, but it's definitely worth a bookmark until then. It's very relaxing and interesting, unless someone spazoid caffeine addict takes the helm. Then it makes me kinda nauseous.

I've just been looking for a damn job all week. I guess I didn't get the job at Visart. I can't even think about that too much or I'll be wanting to put a gun to my head, or at least someone else's. I have applied at the library and at a small consulting firm in Dilworth. Anyone in else have any other ideas? I have worked as an accounting clerk, a scopist, the head of a data entry department(accounts receivable), managed dental and chiropractic offices, taught grammar at a business school, nutritional counselor, dietetic technician, EMT, 911 operator, assistant-managed a jewelry store and a natural foods store, waited tables, proofread, filed insurance and killed myself as a sous-chef. I should be able to get at least one decent job with this flighty-as-hell background, dammit!

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Color Me Intellectually Inferior

We here at Way Down In The Hole ('we' meaning me) have decided to have a monthly post called The Slice Of Life Series. In the series I will post a small biography about a person I know or have met who has been through something interesting or incredible, or just has a basic slice-of-life story to tell. I love biographies and SOL stories and movies. I have never tried to write them before, so this should be interesting.

In order to get the ball rolling, I interviewed a man I know through some mutual friends. He and I have spent many hours together and have had some friendly one-on-one conversation, but I have never sat down and talked to him about his life. He is an Indian-Muslim who was raised in America. He is now a well-respected psychiatrist whose specialty is helping people recover from depressive catatonia. He has renounced his religious upbringing, perhaps losing his entire family by doing so. I will be posting his story sometime next week.

I consider myself relatively intelligent -- I am fairly well-read; I had a decent score on every IQ test I've ever taken; I am well-spoken (usually, depends with whom I'm speaking) and I have a good vocabulary; I have a mind for facts and trivia; I took a lot of AP courses in school, except math. In other words, I am someone you'd like to have on your team while playing Trivial Pursuit. Trust me. But this man -- who's only 32, by the way, and has traveled the whole world -- is supremely intelligent. At certain points during our hour-and-a-half conversation, I felt like Leo's character in What's Eating Gilbert Grape? trying to speak to Einstein. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but not by much. I have rarely been around someone whose mind would be considered comparable to this man's.

I had a dear friend in school, Danny, who had intelligence of this magnitude. I could always tell he sort of had to 'dumb down' in order to be able to communicate on our level. He didn't make it obvious, and he had no ego involved in doing so. Quite the contrary, I think it bothered him that he couldn't share his true thoughts with us without being met by a collective, blank stare. He was the type who wrote a paper on existentialism in 6th grade. I personally think he unnerved our teacher. He also scored a 1400 on the PSAT in 7th grade. The man I interviewed today is the type that at the tender age of 8, long before the internet, called his local, Baltimore-area library's telephone reference department and asked them to tell him three words that ended in '-gry'. When I wondered if this was a project for school, he told me that he'd done it because he was bored. It took the library a week to come up with three words, and all the while they were calling this 8-year-old with updates on the progress they were making.

He has come up with a chart for happiness. He has learned through his own and his patients' experience that when each blank in the grid below is filled with some sort of activity or thought, a person can be truly happy. In essence, he's stating that we actually have 20 basic needs, not the three that we're taught humans have. As a person who really and truly dislikes psychiatry, I was reluctant to look at the chart, but I did and I have seen the wisdom in it. I have also come to the conclusion that some of the blanks are difficult to fill and will definitely take some serious pondering on my part. I have included the chart below for all of you to ponder for yourself. Let's get happy, people!

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

20 Things I Learned This Weekend On My Trip

1) Beachcombing is fun even whilst being bundled up in winter clothing.

2) Tom rarely ever gets up to pee at night.

3) Owls can be roadkill, too. (I saw 2!)

4) Not everyone in North Carolina drives like people do in Charlotte.

5) Lee doesn't live in Charlotte.

6) Michael deserves credit for the paraphrased quote that Tom has told me a few times: Men are easy to please. Just keep us fed and throw sex our way once in a while and we'll be happy.

7) I miss my husband more than I've ever missed anyone in my whole life.

8) I don't mind if people know that I love well-written, erotic, lesbian poetry. (As most of my readers are male, I'm sure they can understand my appreciation.)

9) Captain Kidd started pirating for England. Only after he realized he wasn't making as much money as he wanted to did he go solo.

10) There is a reason that some motels have showers built only for those guests who are 5'2" and under. (I don't actually know the reason, but I'm sure there is one.)

11) There are warnings about bears crossing the highway on Route 70.

12) I'm quite adept at flipping over a dead stingray on the beach with just the toe of my sneaker.

13) There is more and more trash being thrown out of car windows onto our highways. (If you are one of the guilty ones, Knock It Off!)

14) 'Karma' is actually 'Kamma,' according to a commentor.

15) You can buy rice crispy treats as big as bricks from Cup A Joe in Raleigh.

16) Even when you've been on a your rawfood diet since April, it is still possible to eat a rice crispy treat that is as big as a brick in just one evening.

17) I laugh at 25% of the jokes on the Simpsons. Tom also laughs at about 25%. They just happen to be totally different 25%'s.

18) People don't do much blog reading on Sundays.

19) There are idiots who will buy Blue Willow stoneware for $12 a plate, even though it's the same set I got for a couple of bucks a few years a go from friggin' Harris Teeter. (I should sell mine to those people, I guess.)

20) If you leave your wallet at Cup A Joe with all of your cash, credit cards and checks in it, it will be returned to you unmolested by the employees.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

As I am out of town with this yahoo, I have asked a guest blogger to step in. His name is Aaron, and he just happens to be my husband. I'll see you all on Tuesday.

Unintelligible Redneck Mocks Immigrant's Accent

Local redneck Harold Spivey was overheard mocking the accent of cashier Hector Gonzalez at an area Wal-Mart yesterday. Witnesses report that when Gonzalez asked Spivey to repeat a question while ringing up his purchases of jerky and nasal spray, Spivey responded by rolling his eyes and, with an exaggerated accent, repeating Gonzalez’s request to no one in particular.

According to bystander Jen Williams, 19, Spivey was much easier to understand while he was attempting to make fun of Gonzalez’s speech. “He was all like, ‘I ham sahry, sehr, I no hunnerstan.’ That’s the only thing I heard him say that made any sense, and I was behind him in line for ten minutes,” said Williams. “What a dick.”

Mr. Gonzalez, who has struggled to learn English while working three full-time jobs in the two years he has lived in the United States, later said that he is used to criticism from Americans like Spivey, who has had thirty seven years to master his own native language. Gonzalez stated that he holds no ill will toward Spivey, whose knowledge of foreign languages is limited to the names of several Taco Bell menu items, many of which he mispronounces.

Linguist and sociologist Dr. Martin Davenport expressed interest in Spivey, whose own speech patterns are a constant source of befuddlement and amusement to both acquaintances and strangers. “In cases such as that of Mr. Spivey, what you have is a fascinating blend of ignorance and intolerance, combined with a complete lack of any sense of irony. Here is a man whose grasp of the English language is so tenuous that his own family struggles to understand him, yet he feels justified in mocking the speech of a total stranger,” said Davenport. “Were it not so pathetic, it would be hilarious.”

When reached for comment, Spivey angrily defended his actions, saying "H-ew eeyuz thee-yus … whut tha heel yew tawkin bayout?" When we pointed out that he had mispronounced every single word in that sentence, Spivey responded, apparently with a straight face, "Awrat, yew dun it nayow, acehowol. Ahma trake yew dayon in keyk yer ace." A complete translation of our conversation with Mr. Spivey was not available by deadline.

Sometimes The World Does Sing In Perfect Harmony

I had a neighbor named Mark while growing up. He lived right around the corner, and the lucky bastard had an in-ground pool. Unfortunately, his mother didn't care for me all that much. Probably had something to do with a song I wrote called 'Fat Linda' that was about her; although I didn't think she'd figure that out from the few times I sang it in front of her. Mark also went to the local, private Catholic school when the rest of us went to the regular public school. But somehow Mark would make a few appearances in my life now and again, anyway.

Those incidences really increased when he and I got a job at the same hospital right after we turned 16, and his overbearing mother told him he had to carpool with Eric and me to save money and mileage on the car. Mark was never comfortable around girls. On one particular day Eric was sick, so Mark and I would have to carpool it alone, and I knew he'd be uncomfortable. So, as soon as he got into the car, I greeted him, made some small talk, and turned on the radio. I didn't even know if Mark liked any popular music -- for I all I knew, his Mother may only have allowed him to listen to Ave Maria and Catholic funeral dirges -- but I figured the loud music would make up for any awkward silences in my Oldsmobile.

We were listening to 94 WYSP, a classic rock station in Philadelphia, when the Eagles' 'Hotel California' came on. One doesn't have to like this ode to 70s decadence to appreciate the fact that it's one of the world's best car sing-along songs or that it has one of the world's best guitar solos in it. I had learned the entire 8-track riding with my sister years before, but I didn't want to start singing and frighten Mark. All of a sudden, I heard him begin to sing along. I was shocked that he would actually sing in front of me, but I joined in with him. We both sang it at the top of our lungs and knew each and every word, even every nuance of Don Henley's voice. We expressed ourselves openly, even though neither he or I could really carry a tune.

When the song finished, I knew things had definitely changed between us. As a matter of fact, we both just looked at each other, slightly moony-eyed, for a few seconds at the completion of the song. I think we fell in love for 60 seconds, I really do. And from then on, he and I were a lot more open with one another. We laughed together and chatted together much more than Mark did with anyone else. We became friends. We had shared a 'moment,' and from that day forward we were joined together by a melody and our minute of being in love. I learned to respect the power of a single song to change the whole world.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Another Conversation, Another Movie

A: You drive me crazy sometimes because you always feel the need to reiterate every thought over and over and over ...

AA: That's because I want to make sure you get my point. Well, it's not as bad as you telling me the same stories over and over again.

A: Look who's talking ... Jesus Christ!

AA: Wasn't that the fifth movie in the series?

Speaking of movies, we seem to be on a Cassevetes kick thanks to your friend and mine, James. We watched Shadows last night. It is a film that Cassavetes made with the support of radio listeners. He was on a radio program, and was talking about the horrid roles he'd been given as an actor in insipid films, when he decided to ask the listeners for pledges if they wanted to see a really good film. Cassavetes succeeded with Shadows. At first we weren't quite sure what to make of the film, as it's definitely not an easy film to get into, but the remainder of the film made up for that. Shadows is a totally improvisational film about a bi-racial family living in the beatnik era. That is all I will say. I don't like to know too much about a film before seeing it. A very unique film, not just because of the improvisation, it's a movie that I have a hard time believing was released in 1959. It was way ahead of it's time.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Separated At Birth?

It may be time to let my once very long hair to grow back again. See, I have a t-shirt with this image of David Bowie on it, and I have been asked by no less than three idio -- I mean, people if that's a picture of me on my shirt. I can't believe it. I mean, outside of the lipstick and the mascara, Bowie and I look nothing alike. Okay, maybe the short hair with long bangs and blue eyes and an impeccable fashion sense. But in no other way do we look alike. People either need to bone up on pop culture or have an eye exam. Really, I mean it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Yes, I Am A Murderer

It was so warm last night. I had to keep telling myself that the cold weather is soon on it's way again to stop my brain from gradually slipping back into the summer mode. It's always painful when my brain is in the summer mode and the weather turns cold. It's like going to a spa to relax, maybe have a massage, and your massage therapist ends up being named 'Olga' and her forearm is as big around as your thigh. It hurts.

While I was sitting on my porch, trying in vain not to let my brain slip, I was noticing how many spiders there are in various stages of life. There are some very small, almost gnat-sized, spider-children with little webs numbering in the hundreds. There are the typical striped, brown house spiders and some rather large, beige spiders with hugely swollen abdomens. There are tiny jumping spiders and huge, crawling wolf spiders that seem to lunge at my bare feet every time I take a step on the cool concrete of the porch. There are little egg sacs spun in sagging webs just waiting to burst open and distribute their eight-legged cache. There are shells of mature egg sacs, little silken purses with a gaping hole where hundreds of baby spiders started their life journey. There are webs filled with the spider-babies, just waiting for the right moment or the right wind to make their first jump, starting the cycle once again wherever they may happen to fall.

And then, there she is. She's midway up the corner of the porch between house and laundry room. I see her and marvel at her beauty. She's rather large and black with a swollen-cyst-type abdomen, and she's hungrily sucking the juices from her latest snack -- the leg of a daddy long legs, or harvester spider, a cripple I had seen just seconds prior to my noticing her. She is blacker than black -- she is a dewy, polished ebony as she glistens under the harsh porch light. It is then that I notice the red dot on her back, a red dot almost as if a drop of paint had fallen haphazardly onto her rear. She turns over to pierce another section of the leg, and I swear I've seen a glimpse of a red dot on her belly. I climb upon a chair to obtain a better perspective of this frightening beauty. It is as plain as day, the hourglass of crimson which stands out markedly from the whole of her midnight body.

"Oh, my," I say quietly to myself. "Holy shit, Aaron! Holy fucking shit! Aaron, come here!" I say quite aloud. Aaron flies through the house as speedily as possible to the back porch wondering what the problem could be. "It's a black widow, "I say, having never seen one in person before, "I'm sure of it." Aaron has his doubts, though and expresses that the specimen in front of us is too large and that they are usually found hiding under things such as rocks or logs, not half way up a wall. He does agree, however, that the mark on it's belly is a perfect red hourglass. He and I both wonder about the extra red dot on the spider's back.

We return to the house, he to his work on the computer and I to the television. I am flipping through my favorite channels I have programmed into my remote, when I stop on a local South Carolina Public Television station. It's playing one of my favorite shows, albeit an extremely low-budget one, Naturescene, which discusses all of the flora and fauna in the Southeast. Tonight's show deals with poisonous creatures in the Piedmont and surrounding areas. In no time the host is talking about the black widow spider. I call Aaron into the room. The host tells us there are two types of black widows found in our area: the regular black widow, whose nests are typically low to the ground and usually hidden under a log or in a dark corner near to the floor, and the northern black widow, who tends to build nest higher up, are larger and often have red spots on them other than just the red hourglass. What luck. Here is our answer -- she's definitely a northern black widow, and she's extremely poisonous.

I love spiders. I love to observe them, and I like having them around to possibly help make a dent in the out-of-control insect population in our area. My dogs and cats like them, too. They like to chase them and eat them, the cats sometimes having eight wiggling legs dangling out of the corners of their mouths. Our house and yard are full of many types of spiders. I have awoken on numerous occasions to a spider crawling across my body or my face and having to pick it off and fling it across the room. This new spider presents a problem, as I never kill a spider on purpose, but I can't risk a bite to me, my husband or our pets. I certainly cannot allow her to reproduce, spilling hundreds of babies six inches from my kitchen.

I feel like I have no choice; so, I get a can of hairspray, which I've been told will do the trick by suffocation, as I don't own any type of insecticide. I spray and spray and spray and the beautiful creature dies a slow, agonizing death, her spindly legs stuck to one another from the Pantene. Aaron picks her up with needle-nose pliers, and we put her into a Mother Murphy's peppercorn jar, into which I cannot stop peering. I feel awful about it, but I needed to protect my family -- basic instinct at it's finest. All night, I dream about web and fang-laden spider revenge.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

They Still Haven't Found What They're Looking For

Here's a list of some of the searches that brought people to my blog:

How to cure a lisp speech impediment

Souped-up Berlinetta
Souped-up 1979 Camaro Berlinetta

The Scooter Store_ AP

How to make a bead necklace_Jim Morrison

Raw foodists_breasts

Guy Raz_NPR
Neda Ulaby Smith
Ms. Ulaby admits that the name

Lauren Hutton talk show

Tennessee Williams_burn to death_life story

Take it all the way down her

Pine scented car freshener (2)

Fart noices (sic) (2)

Daughter playing with butthole -- by far the most disturbing. Was this a concerned parent? A pervert looking for a photo? I don't think I want to know.

As difficult as it is for me to openly admit, I am a big fan of Jackass. The movie made me laugh until I cried, and the show never fails to keep me entertained. MTV has two new shows based on the series: Wild Boyz and Viva La Bam, neither of which live up to Jackass' level of amusing stupidity and fun.

Wild Boyz didn't start off on a good foot for me. See every time I think of, hear or see the damn title to the show, the lyrics from Duran Duran's extremely lame Wild Boyscome floating into my brain, and they are so, so hard to get rid of. Aside from that unfortunate side effect, the show is hosted by Jackasses Chris Pontius and Steve-O. The show is supposed to be Animal Planet on acid, but it just doesn't work. It has no flow, no continuity and a forced sense of humor, especially from Pontius, who's great on the original show.

While Viva La Bam is the more entertaining of the two shows, it still suffers a little from the lack of collective Jackass energy being present. 'Bam' is Bam Magera from Jackass. He's long been one of my favorites, although I pity his poor parents. On the other hand, here's a case in point against lenient childrearing. This kid rules his household. His parents are at his mercy, which is great because I cannot get enough of Bam slapping his father around, his father who resembles a hirsute Buddha. I enjoy this show a little more because the Mageras live near my home town, right outside on Philadelphia. They actually give some family members on this show subtitles, so that they may be more easily understood. This is the accent I was born and raised with people. If you need help translating, I'm the person to call.

Two last things:

1) I have trusted you people with this information. Please, keep it to yourselves that not only do I watch these shows, but I actually enjoy them. Way too much.

2) I am hereby officially changing My List. Off comes Robert Downey, Jr. and on comes Johnny Knoxville.

Monday, November 03, 2003

NPR U Serious?

I was just checking my stats on Nedstat to see how many hits I've gotten today, and I noticed that the count was way up for this time of the day. I looked to see where the hits were coming from and, lo and behold, many of them were coming from NPR's office. I went to the parody post about NPR (Friday, October 17, 2003) and there was a comment on the post. Here it is:

I'll have you know that your story is making the rounds within NPR, and we all think it's hysterical!

Andrea Seabrook
Congressional Reporter,
National Public Radio

That certainly made my day. I'm glad the people at NPR have a sense of humor. Maybe it's just the people with normal names, like Andrea Seabrook. Just kidding.

What I'm Currently ... And THE List

I have often thought of adding a section of what I'm currently listening to or reading or watching, but all of the blog verbiage for such things seems to have already been used. So, I guess, once in a while I'll just do a special post on it.

What I'm Currently Listening to:

Perfect Circle -- Thirteenth Step

Compilation CD of female opera singers, such as Cecilia Bartoli, Joan Sutherland and Renee Fleming
Compilation CD of male opera singers, such as Andrea Bocelli, Joan Diego Florez, Ramon Vargas and Andreas Scholl. (These represent my 1st foray into opera. Any more suggestions? Make a comment.)

Radiohead -- Kid A

Hank Williams, all of his greatest hits

What I'm Currently Viewing:

The Office, on BBC America. One of the most brilliant shows to ever grace my idiot box.

Minnie & Moskowitz, by John Cassevettes. For a description of the plot, look at the comments made two posts ago.

Live Flesh (again) and Dark Habits, both by Pedro Almodovar, one of my favorites.

Frankenstein, the original directed by James Whale. I have a hard time watching this movie because I sympathize with the monster so much, but I still manage to watch it about once a year.

What I'm Currently Reading:

Sahara -- Michael Palin

Bad Blood, A Memoir -- Lorna Sage

Ernest Hemingway, Selected Letters -- edited by Carlos Baker

Dooce's archives. Since I was a late-comer to her blog, I've gone back and read her archives. I am convinced that she is the '-er' version of me -- Taller, prettier, wittier, smarter, cooler. But I still love her. We have so much in common, it scares me.

And it was from one of Dooce's archived entries that my husband and I started talking about our List. You know the one -- it's the list of celebrities that you and your mate are allowed to sleep with, guilt- and consequence-free, should the opportunity ever arise (yeah, right).

Ann's Top 5
1) Benicio del Toro
2) Jake Gyllenhall (Am I a cradle robber?)
3) Billy Crudup (yeah, I know 'Billy's' usually aren't my type but ...)
4) Beck (yeah, I know I don't usually like blonds but ...)
5) Robert Downey, Jr. (sans crack)

Bonus in case Robert's smoking up -- Madonna (don't ask)

Past Top 5

1) Marlon Brando (1950's)
2) Paul Newman (1950's) Yeah, he's a blond too but ...
3) Cary Grant (1930's)
4) Michael Palin (late 60's, 1970's)
5) Hedy Lamarr (1940's)

Aaron's Top 5

1) Audrey Tatou
2) Selma Hayek (Desperado)
3) Zooey Deschanel
4) Halle Berry
5) Amanda Peet

Aaron's bonus in case Audrey's a typical, snooty Frenchwoman -- Kid Rock.
Just kidding, Honey.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Taking The Easy Way, Once Again

What's a weird fear you have that no one else probably does?:drooping nostrils, but if you've seen the size of them, you'll understand
Is not Jon Stewart great?:short, but great
What song are you listening to?:Personal Jesus, Johnny Cash
Best face wash/acne fighting product?:potato chips dipped in chocolate syrup
How loud do you sneeze?:LOUD. scare the be-jesus out of ya', I will
Do you like your handwriting?:why, yes, thank you
Ugliest color you've ever seen?:toe jam taupe
Does having matching socks matter to you?:matching socks, but not matching shoes
If you were in band, what would you call it?:EmOshun Sikniss
Last time you were on a plane?:June
Have a digital camera?:no, dammit
How big is your TV?:big enuff
Have you ever heard of Mystery Science Theater 3000?:MST:3000, the one where they watch movies and stuff? never heard of it.
How many pillows do you sleep with?:5. seriously.
sXe.. good or bad?:well, spelling's a good thing
Most annoying commercail ever?:well, misspelling is annoying
Lamest pick-up line ever?:smoking or non-smoking?
Dumbest song ever?:anything by Tiny Tim
Worst way to die?:being burned alive with knitting needles in ears whilst wolverines gnaw on toes
Who's the funniest comedian?:my husband, then Eddie Izzard
Ever been in a car accident?:several, only one while drving, though
Ever had braces?:yeah
Do you know HTML?:H.T. Emell, who's that?
What's the most useless class in school?:politics of democracy
Best Jones Soda flavor?:Davey
Something you collect?:blue willow china, which replaced ex-boyfriends
Something you're allergic to?:onions
Something you wish would die?:most peoples' cell phones

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