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Archive for January, 2008

365-92: let’s get together in the bathroom stall

let's get together in a bathroom stall

Day 92 of 365: a year in songs and photos
Song: Dead Milkmen, I Hate Myself

There are rules of etiquette for using the bathroom at work. Rule #1, in my book, is

DO NOT SPEAK TO ME WHILE I AM IN THE STALL.

Seriously. What makes you think I want to hear about your daughter’s dance recital while I’m trying to pee? And I certainly don’t want to listen to your conspiracy theories about Hilary Clinton while I’m changing my tampon. And for the love of god, I really don’t want to have to hear you shout over the sound of your own pee stream while you are reciting a recipe for blueberry muffins.

The bathroom stall is a place of sanctity. It is not a living room parlor. It is not a coffeehouse. It is not a party room. It is a place where I perform the bodily function of elimination. It’s not a chat room. If you want to talk to me while I’m washing my hands, that’s all well and good. I’ll just go ahead and nod and mhhmm you as if this wasn’t the fourteenth time you were telling me the story about how your adorable little snowflake once saved the life of a cat who fell down a sewer. But I swear on my Star Wars figures that if you EVER again try to tell me that story while I am locked in the stall, I will wait until you get to the part where your kid gets a medal of honor from the town councilman and just as you start the phrase “standing ovation” I will let out the loudest fart you’ve ever heard in your life. It will leave you breathless and unable to finish your damn story.

I just want to pee in peace. Is that too much to ask?

Also: I don’t know if you try to shake off like a dog when you’re done or if you just have some weird aim thing going on with your hoo-ha, but if you get pee all over the seat, have the decency to wipe it off before the next person goes in there. Your new nickname around the office is Annie Sprinkles.

That said, I can’t believe I took a photo of a toilet bowl.

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365-91: got my one good eye on you

got my one good eye on you (365-91)

Day 91 of 365: a year in songs and photos
Song: Go National, Indyanna

This is my sister, looking through an cardboard wrapping paper tube. I blew out the background and played with the colors because the background was messy and distracting, but I really like the way the eye came out.

Life lesson: If you ask a 7 year old kid to look through a cardboard tube while you take a photo of his eye, throwing an ice cube down there as a joke is probably not a good idea. Thanks to my sister for stepping in when David went down with a “really bad injury” due to the ice “going 100 miles an hour” and “stabbing [him] straight in the eyeball like a fork”.

Please note, I’m not the one who put the ice cube in the tube. I’ll give you one guess who did.

Sister (holding a crying David): You told me you were going to put water in the tube!
Todd: But…ice is water!

Anyhow, I’m too exhausted tonight to write my usual lengthy, meandering thing to go with my picture. I just want to say that Go National (starring Kevin Seconds of 7 Seconds fame) is/was a good, fun band and everyone should get their album called Got My One Good Eye On You.

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365-90: happy birthday, happy birthday, we love you

Happy birthday, happy birthday we love you (365-90)

Day 90 of 365: a year in songs and photos
Song: Tom Chapin, Happy Birthday

Tomorrow is my son’s 15th birthday.

When my kids were very young, I started using this Tom Chapin song for their birthdays instead of the traditional birthday song:

Happy birthday, happy birthday we love you
Happy birthday and may all your dreams come true
When you blow out the candles one light stays aglow
That’s the love light in your eyes wherever you go

Excuse me. I think I have something in my eye. Oh, yea, it’s my overactive emotions.

Fifteen. Where the hell did fifteen years go? It feels like just moments ago that he was toddling around the backyard. I look at all the pictures of him and it all passes before me like a movie; the ear infections, the way he memorized a map of the United States when he was just two, his obsession with the Power Rangers, making the Little League all-star team, playing that damn recorder in the school concert, mesmerizing the staff at Guitar Center when he played Comfortably Numb for them, his idolization of Eddie Van Halen and his obsession with anything from the 80’s….it all plays out in full color in my head, still life memories and film clips of everything from when he fell asleep in his high chair, face down in a bowl of oatmeal, to his brooding teenager phase that he’s just coming out of.

You have so much hope for your kids when they are young. Sometimes that hope and your dreams of success for your child make you want more from them than they want to give. The phrase “so much potential” comes to mind, because we’ve heard it about him a million times. “He could get a baseball scholarship some day.” But he stopped playing baseball. “He’s an amazing guitar player.” But he has no desire to join a band or play in any school bands. “His good grades seem effortless.” But 8th grade was kind of a rude awakening to the fact that it couldn’t always be effortless. So you kind of back off from cajoling them into doing what you want them to do and try to find out what they want to do. Besides play Xbox and watch hockey games, that is.

Anyone who has parented a teenage son will tell you that 14 is a tough year. I’m not going to lie, there were times in the last year when I wanted to tell him to go live with his father. When his uncle (my brother in law) died last April, it was like the last flickering light of the child I knew went out. I was told to give him time. I did. We’ve been patient and demanding at the same time; a healthy combination of both, I think. We waited out his penchant for locking himself in his room but tried to curtail his surliness. We just waited and hoped that light in his eyes would reappear. It did. We made it to 15.

Like magic, there’s been a considerable change in his attitude and outlook the past two months. His teachers have noticed a marked effort on his part to catch up on work he blew off. He’s taking interest once again in his schoolwork. He’s more sociable. Less awkward. He wants to play baseball again. I hear the beginning notes of the solo from Comfortably Numb coming from his room and it makes me think that flickering light is coming back to full flame again. I’m actually enjoying his company once more.

Being a parent gets tougher every year. The older they get, the bigger the problems get. They will drive absolutely batshit crazy sometimes. But when you can look at your kid and, even though he’s not a star athlete or honor student or anything like that and say “He’s a good kid. I’m proud he’s mine,” that’s what keeps you sane.

It’s definitely a cliche, but childhood does go so fast. It really feels like yesterday that I was teaching him how to ride a bike. I look at this lanky kid – who looks more like a man than a kid – and wonder when he got to be as tall as me. When did he grow up? I know there were a lot of times when I thought to myself “How much longer til he goes away to college, because it can’t be soon enough.” But now I find myself saying “I only have three more years before I lose him to the real world.” I’m just going to enjoy these three years and hope he fulfills his own dreams for himself, whatever they may be.

God, I hope he isn’t thinking serial killer or pimp.

Oh, and if you think I’m maudlin now, wait two weeks for my daughter’s 18th birthday.

Happy birthday, happy birthday, we love you…

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i ate this so you don’t have to

i ate them so you don't have to

If you ever thought to yourself “Gee, how good could a tamale bought in the frozen food section at Target be?”, wonder no more.

The answer is: not very.

Now, I’ve only had tamales twice before, both times at authentic Mexican restaurants, one of them where the owner/chef who learned how to make tamales from her great grandmother back in Mexico. They were so awesome, we got six more to go and ate them the rest of the weekend. You know what happens when you eat about five tamales over the course of two days? Just hope you have enough toilet paper and crossword puzzle books in the bathroom to get you through the aftermath. But they were worth it, man. I did learn my lesson and only ate one tamale in California.

About the Target tamales. I know what you’re thinking. Who the hell buys tamales at Target? And since when does Target have food? Well, our Target has this giant supermarket section. I don’t know if they all do. And I saw these tamales and I missed that cute little Mexican restaurant in Sacramento and I certainly wasn’t going to drive 40 minutes to here so I figured, what the hell. How bad can they be?

You know the answer. Pretty bad. The only thing about them resembling a real tamale was the corn husk, and I’m even questioning if that was real. The filling was a mess of melted cheese and chilies that tasted like three day old vanilla pudding licked off a leather couch where an old, sweaty drunk man laid down his back sweat.

Don’t ask how I know this.

Anyhow, if we didn’t already have sushi plans for tonight, I’d take the 40 minute drive to Fonda Coyoacan just to get some real tamales and wash the taste of drunk man sweat leather pudding out of my mouth.

I’m sure the wasabi will take care of that tonight, though.

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365-89: three is a magic number

three is a magic number

Day 89 of 365: a year in songs and photos
Song: Schoolhouse Rock (or Blind Melon, if you will), Three Is A Magic Number

I belong to a small photography google group with some friends. We have a bi-monthly theme that forces us all to go out and shoot something new. The current theme is “Three” and the deadline is today. We can submit three photos each; I used one I took in San Francisco (I specifically shot that scene with the theme in mind) and this one that I had the inspiration for today. Well, at least the inspiration for the song.

I was talking with my sister during lunch (we work together and often spend too much money on lunch together) and we got to talking about Todd and she said “Third time’s the charm.” Yes, I’ve been married twice already. I replied “Three is the magic number.” And then we both started singing. So I had the song, I just needed the photo idea, which I got while having a monthly chocolate fit in the candy aisle of the supermarket.

Three is a pretty good number. It’s all rounded and has no sharp edges. It’s small enough to hold in your hand, but big enough to keep you from feeling alone. It’s the kind of amount I notice; three flowers, three people, three of anything together stands out. Wishes come in threes, as do blind mice, bill goats gruff, house-building pigs and porridge eating bears. In tarot, three stands for creativity and intuition. Three is the tri-force of wisdom, power and courage (Did I just cite a video game? I did). There’s the Rule of Three, which states “whatever energy a person puts out into the world, be it positive or negative, will be returned to that person three times.” Three is karma.

Third time’s the charm.

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i want to be emperor of something

i want to be an emperor

I started reading You Suck, A Love Story on the way to California and just got around to finishing it yesterday. It was a good book and I probably would have read it quicker if I had the time. But it wasn’t a great book, so I didn’t make the time to get through it right away. Know what I mean?

The first Moore book I read was Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. I thought it was one of the funniest, most original books I ever read and couldn’t wait to sink into the rest of Moore’s catalog. I picked up The Stupidest Angel and got miffed about 1/4 through that it was nowhere as well written or funny as Lamb. So I gave up on him.

I saw this book in Target right before the trip, remembered that a friend who has similar reading taste as mine recommended and decided to give Moore another whirl. Had I known then what I know now, I would have picked up Bloodsucking Fiends first, but oh well. Not the first time I’ve done things backwards.

When I bought the book, I had no idea that it took place in San Francisco, so it was nice that after we went to SF, I was able to visualize a lot of places in the story, and also recognize.

Anyhow, my quick (because I want to move on to something else) review goes like this: It’s an engaging story with engaging characters who, at times, become annoying and/or predictable. The plot is good, the development is good, the chapters written by psuedo-goth Abby make me want to stab my brain with a shard from a broken Bauhaus record, the writing is nowhere as good as it was in Lamb, the story was meandering at times but hey, I enjoyed the hell out of it and I’ll now read Bloodsucking Fiends and Dirty Job because not everything you read should have to be profound or meaningful. Although these books really could be meaningful in a “I know, let’s make a jacket out of UV light rays!” kind of way, should vampires (sorry, vampyres) ever try to take over your town.

Now, let’s talk about my favorite character in the book, the emperor. Being from the opposite coast, I had no idea that the emperor was based on a real person. I had never before heard of Joshua A. Norton, Emperor of these United States and Protector of Mexico. According to wiki, Though he was considered insane or at least highly eccentric, the citizens of San Francisco celebrated his regal presence and his proclamations….

After being schooled by Todd on the legend of Emperor Norton, I did some research and discovered that not only was Norton (and the two dogs the character had had in You Suck) real, but he’s been regaled by people like Mark Twain and Neil Gaiman, who both included characters based on Norton in stories. Long story short, Norton was a crazy bastard with some crazy ideas who managed, in the days long before public access tv and You Tube, to get those ideas not only heard, but celebrated. He became a much loved figure in the city and was given food and clothing befitting of a regal celebrity, and his proclamations were taken seriously by the citizens of San Francisco.

Now, I’ve known some crazy people in my life. People who roamed the streets calling themselves Jesus or lived in houses filled with magazine clippings and soda cans and claimed that they spent their evenings watching themselves on Phil Donahue, on a tv that hadn’t worked since 1972. I always figured I’d end up one of these people. I’d probably end up wearing fuzzy bunny slippers and a housecoat, running up and down the streets of my hometown talking about how everyone’s out to get me and often forgetting to feed my 78 stray cats that all live in my bathroom. Trust me, I was headed there for a while. I might still end up in the bunny slippers, but there’s no way I’m ending up a cat lady.

Anyhow, of all the crazy people I’ve come across they all had one thing in common: nobody took them seriously. Certainly they were never given uniforms by the US Army or had money made in their name that they could spend around town. But Emperor Norton had that. What made his brand of crazy so much better than anyone else’s? Whatever his secret was, I want to know.

Because I want to be an Emperor. Or Empress. I really don’t care which one you called me, as long as you took my proclamations seriously. Semi seriously, even. I think it would be pretty call to walk around town like you own it, to have people bow to you (well, figuratively), to have stories and operas written about you, even though you haven’t been sane since the turn of the century. It’s like being in a position of power, without all the responsibility. No one expects anything to come of your demands. No one expects you to pay for dinner or shower regularly or become a productive member of society. Yet, they still love you and pay homage to you. It’s a lazy megalomaniac’s dream job!

I’m not a megalomaniac by any stretch of the imagination. I’m just saying it would be nice to know that in my later years, when I’m running down that street in my housecoat ranting about the Great Cereal Conspiracy, no one will dare to make fun of my fuzzy bunny slippers. Because I am the Emperor of…something. Haven’t figured that out yet.

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i want to be an emperor

I started reading You Suck, A Love Story on the way to California and just got around to finishing it yesterday. It was a good book and I probably would have read it quicker if I had the time. But it wasn’t a great book, so I didn’t make the time to get through it right away. Know what I mean?

The first Moore book I read was Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. I thought it was one of the funniest, most original books I ever read and couldn’t wait to sink into the rest of Moore’s catalog. I picked up The Stupidest Angel and got miffed about 1/4 through that it was nowhere as well written or funny as Lamb. So I gave up on him.

I saw this book in Target right before the trip, remembered that a friend who has similar reading taste as mine recommended and decided to give Moore another whirl. Had I known then what I know now, I would have picked up Bloodsucking Fiends first, but oh well. Not the first time I’ve done things backwards.

When I bought the book, I had no idea that it took place in San Francisco, so it was nice that after we went to SF, I was able to visualize a lot of places in the story, and also recognize.

Anyhow, my quick (because I want to move on to something else) review goes like this: It’s an engaging story with engaging characters who, at times, become annoying and/or predictable. The plot is good, the development is good, the chapters written by psuedo-goth Abby make me want to stab my brain with a shard from a broken Bauhaus record, the writing is nowhere as good as it was in Lamb, the story was meandering at times but hey, I enjoyed the hell out of it and I’ll now read Bloodsucking Fiends and Dirty Job because not everything you read should have to be profound or meaningful. Although these books really could be meaningful in a “I know, let’s make a jacket out of UV light rays!” kind of way, should vampires (sorry, vampyres) ever try to take over your town.

Now, let’s talk about my favorite character in the book, the emperor. Being from the opposite coast, I had no idea that the emperor was based on a real person. I had never before heard of Joshua A. Norton, Emperor of these United States and Protector of Mexico. According to wiki, Though he was considered insane or at least highly eccentric, the citizens of San Francisco celebrated his regal presence and his proclamations….

After being schooled by Todd on the legend of Emperor Norton, I did some research and discovered that not only was Norton (and the two dogs the character had had in You Suck) real, but he’s been regaled by people like Mark Twain and Neil Gaiman, who both included characters based on Norton in stories. Long story short, Norton was a crazy bastard with some crazy ideas who managed, in the days long before public access tv and You Tube, to get those ideas not only heard, but celebrated. He became a much loved figure in the city and was given food and clothing befitting of a regal celebrity, and his proclamations were taken seriously by the citizens of San Francisco.

Now, I’ve known some crazy people in my life. People who roamed the streets calling themselves Jesus or lived in houses filled with magazine clippings and soda cans and claimed that they spent their evenings watching themselves on Phil Donahue, on a tv that hadn’t worked since 1972. I always figured I’d end up one of these people. I’d probably end up wearing fuzzy bunny slippers and a housecoat, running up and down the streets of my hometown talking about how everyone’s out to get me and often forgetting to feed my 78 stray cats that all live in my bathroom. Trust me, I was headed there for a while. I might still end up in the bunny slippers, but there’s no way I’m ending up a cat lady.

Anyhow, of all the crazy people I’ve come across they all had one thing in common: nobody took them seriously. Certainly they were never given uniforms by the US Army or had money made in their name that they could spend around town. But Emperor Norton had that. What made his brand of crazy so much better than anyone else’s? Whatever his secret was, I want to know.

Because I want to be an Emperor. Or Empress. I really don’t care which one you called me, as long as you took my proclamations seriously. Semi seriously, even. I think it would be pretty call to walk around town like you own it, to have people bow to you (well, figuratively), to have stories and operas written about you, even though you haven’t been sane since the turn of the century. It’s like being in a position of power, without all the responsibility. No one expects anything to come of your demands. No one expects you to pay for dinner or shower regularly or become a productive member of society. Yet, they still love you and pay homage to you. It’s a lazy megalomaniac’s dream job!

I’m not a megalomaniac by any stretch of the imagination. I’m just saying it would be nice to know that in my later years, when I’m running down that street in my housecoat ranting about the Great Cereal Conspiracy, no one will dare to make fun of my fuzzy bunny slippers. Because I am the Emperor of…something. Haven’t figured that out yet.

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