Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Harvest for the world.

One of my favorite co-ops is closing down this weekend, after 37 years. It's the funkiest, grungiest, hippie-est, commie-est of the local co-ops, most of which have become shiny supermarkets recently, with attendant price-hikes and everything. I blogged about one of its stinky cashiers awhile back (and bonus, the link takes you to an entry that is also about chin herpes).

This place, located in the heart of university-land, verily got me through graduate school, nutritionally speaking. I can't believe that the co-op is going to be finished before I'm done with my gotdamn terminal degree. Incidentally, I recently renewed all of my thesis-related books, again. I've had them for like two years and I would just like to say here, for the record, that I will not be renewing them ever again, no matter what happens.

Anyway, the co-op is selling off its inventory. I'd go over if you need bulk foods or supplements. I saw one hippie buy like 20 organic frozen pizzas today. The place is bonkers.

Speaking of bonkers, checkout Jumpsuit McGillicuddy over there. This is my favorite picture from today's etsy photoshoot. Will anyone buy it? Does it really matter? I do like to think of wearing it to the gym. It would make my jogging a lot more hilarious. What I should have done is wear it to see Ozzy Osbourne with the Brit this evening, but a) I didn't go and b) he would have been embarrassed to death. I'm hardly rock enough as it is, even without a terrycloth jumpsuit and character shoes. I look like a crazy retiree on her way to tap class.

NaBloPoMo, bitches! It's going to be like this every day!

Except maybe without the jumpsuit.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Take me to heart, I promise you a miracle.

One reason I love this time of year is because Value Village conglomerates all of the crazy clothes I would be interested in buying in their Halloween BOOOOOtique. BOOOOOOOOOOOOtique, get it? I passed such a splendid 45 minutes today rifling through the Halloween racks and I came out with 12 vintage dresses and a skirt and a blazer and the secretary blouse of life and death for $40. The blouse is for me. The rest is for you (probably). I actually had to leave some things there. And I found one of my thrifting holy grails, an Alfred Shaheen hostess dress. Huzzah!

I don't think I'm dressing up for Halloween, or maybe I am, I don't know. When I got a last-minute party invitation on Saturday I busted out this glamorous flapper dress I've been hauling around for years, and discovered that it had lost its fit on me. (This is a famous phrase in my family, coined by my brother in highschool: "these pants have lost their fit on me." A girl would never say that, but she should.) The fit of this dress was always marginal anyway, but I was in no mood to suck in my gut, so I bagged the flapper idea and put on a sequined sweater dress with shoulderpads and went as an extra on Dynasty. If you haven't lately looked at stills from Dynasty and need a googlesearch idea, I totally recommend it.

I also recommend youtubing Quarterflash. Nick (fka "El Presidente") emailed me recently to suggest that such strong-voiced 80s ladies reminded him of me. That was weird (funny, flattering maybe), but the weirder thing turned out to be that I'd had a Quarterflash song in my head for days (months even) already without knowing it. I was only 7 when "Harden My Heart" went to the top of the charts, so I didn't remember what the band was called. I most certainly did not remember the video, which is bonkers and well worth watching. The lead singer is a singer/saxophonist for corn's sake, and her name is Rindy Ross and she is still married to her Quarterflash bandmate Marv Ross, which warms my heart. And she runs around in a leotard in the video, which is also heartwarming. Just sayin.

And I signed up for NaBloPoMo. You should too. C'mon, we all need things to read every day.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I'm expecting a call from 1983.

A few more items:
-I've listed a buncha new stuff on etsy. I know etsy's primarily for handmade stuff and that's why I joined up, but the vast majority of my sales have been vintage gear. I'm probably going to quit listing stuff on ebay except for certain items that always make money: Danskos, Norwegian sweaters, Gunne Sax dresses, and some other stuff I find on a regular basis. I've been getting gouged on ebay and paypal fees for the crapshoot items such as vintage dresses that I think are crazy and amazing (craymazing?), so those are going to live on etsy, where they seem to be much appreciated.
-I saw my ass twin on the way to work yesterday. It was a little alarming and it meant that I couldn't stop looking at this chick's bum.
-On the way home from work yesterday, I saw a sketchy black 80s car whipping screaming donuts on the elementary-school playground lot. It was like being on a movie set: it was 6 pm and the sun was about to set; the sky was streaky pink and gray and the light was gold and the trees were flaming; the streets were desolate; the playground all cracked asphalt and burgeoning weeds and rusty chain-link; and on the school grounds this car was just going batshit crazy, screeching and burning rubber and wreathed in smoke. This went on for a minute and then they drove off, leaving smoke and silence in their wake. I'm telling you, the shit I see around here always looks portentous. It's bizarre.
-The other day a guy I know decided to buy his wife some voice lessons for her birthday and handed me a nice check for them. Unexpected money is my favorite kind of money, y'all.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm gonna go talk to some food about this.

For your consideration:
-The spork that comes with the Mr Bento lunch jar is called a "forked spoon" in Mr. Bento documentation. This tickles me no end. I'm not sure I can explain why.
-You all know about this already but I'm going to tell you anyway because I'm cutting-edge like that. When Radiohead's "In Rainbows" came out a few weeks ago, it was all over Minnesota Public Radio, and not just on The Current, and I got intrigued and downloaded it. I do like Radiohead, but I really extra-liked that they decided to make the digital version available much earlier than the "discbox" version. You pre-order the discbox, you get a download anyway; you go download only, you decide whether and how much you will pay for it. Totally worth the 3 or 4 pounds I paid for it. I'm mentioning this now, well after the fact, because I just started listening to it today and I really dig it.
-I had a routine eye exam yesterday and mentioned the delicious occupational health hazard I am currently facing with my new and expanded job: eyestrain. The recommendation from my doc? Buy some drugstore reading glasses, the lowest power, for working at the computer. On the one hand I like this low-tech solution; on the other hand I'm not ready to start shopping at Chico's and scrapbooking and wearing a funky chain around my neck. No offense, of course. Just sayin.
-This brings me neatly to my next thing. For some reason I was thinking (as I often do) about Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and about the whole belted-maxi phenomenon and I remembered a really splendid adjective cluster that my friend Nynorskmann told me about a few years ago. It is to be used to describe attractive women of a certain age, in place of, say, MILF. The adjective is "belted-maxi hot." As in "Helen Mirren is belted-maxi hot." Why had I forgotten about this? We may never know.
-Here is a recipe for ass problems. I mean it's delicious and nutritious and cold-weather-delightful, but forewarned is forearmed. Perhaps drop some Beano before you start cooking.
Lentil Barley Stew
2 medium onions, diced
6 cloves of garlic, bashed and minced
4 stalks of celery, minced
big pinch of red pepper flakes
basil and rosemary to taste (a teaspoon each?)
Sautee these in your soup pot in olive oil for 5 minutes.
Add 12 cups of water and 1.5 cups of rinsed and picked lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add a big can of diced or crushed tomatoes and 1.5 cups of barley. Simmer for 40 minutes or so, til everything is tender.
Add 2 cups of grated carrots (3 or 4 medium) and a few handfuls of spinach and cook for another 5 minutes. Other delicious additions would be green beans, zucchini, kale or chard. Go nuts. Salt to taste.
Serve with delicious bread and maybe some crumbled feta on top and then await the storm.
-I have such a big crush on Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin right now.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The manatee has become the mento.

I locked myself out of the house today for the second time in recent memory. Because it was the second time, the emergency key that usually lives at the neighbors' house was sitting on the end table right inside the door I had just swung shut like a big idiot. My first coherent thought as I stared at the locked door, now totally unable to go teach the lessons I had to teach in 15 minutes, was "why doesn't the cat know how to unlock the door?"

Earlier, I'd thought about doing a blog post on The Most Ridiculous Trains of Thought You've Entertained Today, and that cat thing is the tip of the iceberg.

Anyway, so there I was, laden with packages for the post office and a big ass purse and a bunch of music books. I called in to cancel my lessons, begged the Brit to come home early and let my sorry ass in, and decided to walk to the nearest post office, about 1.5 miles away. I felt fortunate, to be honest. It was a gorgeous day, all bright sky and crisping orange leaves, warm sun and high wind.

You know how things shake loose when you start walking? Another item for the post about Ridiculous Thoughts came up while I was kicking leaves. I started mentally singing this call-and-response song I remembered from some backstage down time with my 7th grade choir, a kind of joke of a class. The song went like this, if it were (for example) about me, today:

Leader: Booty, booty, bootayyyyy!
All: Maven's in the house!

I didn't get called out during 7th grade because for most of the year I had zero reputation of any kind, except maybe for singing really high in choir. But I have such a clear memory of sitting there before a show, with all these rowdy kids clapping and hollering:

Leader: Titties, titties, tittaayyyyys!
All: Aneesha's in the house!

Leader: Party, party, partayyyy!
All: We all in the house!

Leader: Honky honky honkayyyyyyy!
All: Amy's in the house!

I remember how Amy waved and shook her hips, cutely. I admired this girl from afar, for no good reason other than that kind of projected coolness and mystique that some people have. She was an 8th grader, in my algebra class, and was dating a dude named Doug, who was 21, which is obviously disgusting. The ick factor was not clear to me when I was 12. Every morning Amy would waltz into algebra and write "Amy loves Doug" in swirly cursive on the blackboard before the bell rang. If you sat in a desk she'd sat in previously, you'd see "Amy loves Doug" pencilled onto the desk.

Amy walked with an alluring pigeon-toed shuffle. I made my mother insane by adopting this walk, briefly. I remember doing it while shopping for jeans, an arduous task at any age, but particularly at porky age 12. "What is that walk?" my mom asked, exasperated. I stood staring into the full length mirror, checking out my stance in the gray Lee button-fly jeans we ended up buying. Cool I was not.

I had this entire flashback, jeans and all, in the span of about one city block. Shortly after that, a feisty miniature dachshund herded me up the sidewalk, running circles around me til I finally squatted down to pet it. A dude driving a school bus tried to holla at me, to which I thought SERIOUSLY? out a school bus? I don't want no scrubs. I walked back to the house along the lake, where I spotted a skinny middle-aged man, shirtless, hairy, facing into the sun and windmilling his arms. It was probably an exercise warmup, but it looked mystical: as his arms circled, a flock of honking geese struggled up from the ground against the wind, as though he were levitating them.

Geese.

I suddenly remembered that I had my ipod and spent the rest of my lockout listening to a This American Life rerun I hadn't heard before, the one about prisoners doing Hamlet in prison. I was freezing by the end of it, but totally entranced, emotionally involved. Sometimes I do think art can save the world. It can at least make you feel human.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My sister Em took me (and the Brit, to his chagrin, as it turned out) to see Final Fantasy at 7th St Entry last weekend, as a belated birthday present. Final Fantasy is the awesome one-man project of Owen Pallett, who has his own Wikipedia entry (that's the link). The short version: super-talented, co-wrote string arrangements for Arcade Fire albums, won the inaugural Polaris Music Prize (which is for best full-length Canadian album). I'm a fan. He does that violin + tape-looping thing that I love so well, and that requires incredible rhythmic control and systematic sound layering. It's really cool to see live. Also he tours with a projectionist who uses an old-school overhead projector to execute little hand-drawn "movies" during the performance. Look him up on youtube. I'm sure there are a million videos--he even accused the audience of watching too much youtube at one point during the show, probably when people were requesting that he perform a Mariah Carey cover.

Anyhoodle, this post isn't about Final Fantasy, although now I suppose it kind of is. What I was going to tell you is that Em has a grownup job downtown in a place that is legit but appears to be fake (no signage, lots of card tables inside to accommodate new hires), and she has many hilarious stories about crazy people on the bus. I am convinced that she needs to be blogging about these people or maybe podcasting because her delivery is so entertaining, but in the absence of either, here is an excerpt from an email she sent me about hanging out with the nephews:
The Jimmy Lemon lady wasn’t on the bus this morning so instead I will tell you about a few things that the boys said to me (and people around me) last night.

Mol: "Hey Henry do you know what Elizabeth [Em's roommate] does for a job?"
H: "No."
Mol: "She’s a scientist."
H: "Oh."
Mol (to us): "Henry told me when he grows up he wants to be a scientist and when I asked him why he decided on that career path he told me 'because they don’t work they just make discoveries.'"

Jude: "Hey Emmy, you need to go to jail."
Me: "What?! What for?"
Jude: "Prison."

[N.B. Em does not have a car, which is a constant source of fascination/consternation to the kids, because is she a real grownup? What does it mean?]
Henry: "Do you want to know what I think you should do?"
Me: "Yes, please. I am awaiting your infinite wisdom."
Henry: "Learn to drive."

Convenience is the enemy.

Yesterday I had that day where you wake up and suddenly realize you are fatter. To celebrate, I went to the gym and listened to a Russell Brand podcast. You know what's funny? Listening to a comedy show while you try to lift weights in the very very serious weight room. Everyone is grimly exhaling and looking at their muscles in the mirror and meanwhile I'm trying to curl 12 pound dumbbells with noodle arm due to audibly laughing at something that no one else can hear. I was truly entertained, but it was probably not my most efficient session with the freeweights.

This brings me to my next point. Getting exercise 6 days a week is easy when your schedule is pretty much your own AND the weather is beautiful. When it is cold crappy soup-and-baking weather and you can't find time to go the post office, you're lucky if you can get gymified twice a week. In other words, my 30 day experiment to see whether I could manage to exercise everyday was successful but not, apparently, sustainable, unless I want to give up other things such as lounging around watching sitcoms or picking outfits for other wardrobe remixers.

So I have a new 30 day experiment about cutting out sugar and stuff. I've done this before, so it shouldn't be too difficult, and perhaps it'll help me control the inevitable winter logeyness that I usually address with baked goods and naps. Also I think my mind easily becomes a dark and scary place when I am not eating well. Would someone please just come over and chop vegetables for me? Thanks.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I am a stabbing robot.

Sorry I've been so silent, you cats. Two weeks from now it'll be November, and then I'll join NaBloPoMo again, and you'll have access to a month-long crap stream, courtesy of me. And speaking of being a joiner: as you no doubt have realized if you read any other blogs, today is Blog Action Day. The environment's on my mind anyway and it's probably on yours, but I am nothing if not an armchair activist and bandwagoneer, so to raise your consciousness, here are some extremely basic and uninventive things I do to reduce my impact.

1. Any plastic bag that enters my jurisdiction is going to get reused. If you order something from me on ebay, it will likely be wrapped in a target bag or (clean) vegetable bag. I also wash plastic bags, and if that isn't a labor of guilt and love I don't know what is. It's an irritating job.
2. I'm trying to bus commute. You'd be surprised at how ridiculous this has been for me. While learning the ropes of the local routes, I have stood on a corner while the bus I'm supposed to board drives on by me TWICE. They were different corners and different bus routes and totally not my fault but STILL. I have also done a park and ride thing that works okay, and is a necessary evil for those days when I need to go somewhere else across town right after work.
3. I got a Mr. Bento, which I hope will eliminate plastic bags from my lunch and prevent me from buying prefab salads and sushi in plastic containers. Also I hope it will encourage me to make very cute lunches.

This has nothing to do with the environment, but I've been watching a lot of 30 Rock. I recommend you do the same.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I got your golden age right here.

Just in case you were all pumped about Elizabeth: The Golden Age, I'm going to forewarn you that it's pretty flimsy. The movie takes on too much, and the audience is left with too little. We saw a free preview last night and while I totally appreciate a free movie, I was first confused by the vignette-y plot, then moderately enchanted by the astounding costumes and wigs, then irritated by the relentless epic musical cues, then hilarified by all of the artistically framed shots of Cate Blanchett with streaming wigs or flapping garments in some stunning scenic backdrop. Mary Queen of Scots is in the movie for about 2 minutes total, which is a waste of Samantha Morton; the dialogue is ludic overall, especially the fervent lunatic monologues of Philip of Spain; and the Spanish Armada battle scene is pretty much a montage, complete with heavy-handed underwater shots.

When we left the theater I actually ranted about the movie for awhile, albeit mostly in a comic manner. Maybe I would have liked the movie more if I had not recently watched the Schama, because the Schama makes characters come alive while also being historically informative. I know, a BBC history docudrama isn't the same as epic historical fiction from Universal, but I'm thinking that anyone with any knowledge of this era or these people will come away from the movie with a kind of cotton-candy feeling.

Since I already knew that Cate Blanchett has a thrilling voice, the main thing I gleaned from the movie is that I would like to have a giant world map painted on my floor. It would be very educational, lovely, and also handy when plotting world domination or vacations.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Odds, ends.

I saw these shoes in person yesterday:

THESE:

They are ludicrous and they are (for me) expensive. They are wood-heeled Fryes, t-strap pumps in a shiny, distressed pewter color. There was a solitary pair at Urban Outfitters on clearance for $80, but they were a size too big, so that I didn't even have to think about trying them on.

So the shoes have awakened a bit of covetousness in my heart. The other thing that has made me feel sort of acquisitive lately: cruising through Anthropologie twice in the last two weeks, on a break between some lessons I teach nearby. Here's the thing about that store: there is just no other place that sells the pants I want. I am craving ludicrously wide-legged pants. I think I want to dress like a hippie samurai. (Not exactly the Anthro aesthetic, but they could totally supply me with the components.)

In non-consumer news, if you are into opera and into podcasts (this, I realize, is probably a tiny sliver of my readership), you should subscribe to OperaNow!, the brainchild of a friend of mine. It's been truckin along for awhile now, but because I never have an hour in which to tool out to podcasts, I only started listening to all the episodes I've downloaded when I became a bus commuter last week. It's basically a news-of-the-opera-world kind of show, and it manages to be informative and hilarious--to me, anyway--at the same time. I'm sure this is at least in part because the moderator is someone I know, but I feel confident in saying that even if you've never met any of the panelists, you'll probably dig it.

While you're subscribing to that, you might also want to subscribe to Russell Brand's crazy-ass radio show from BBC radio 2. Dude is manically funny. You could also just subscribe to this and not the opera one, in case you happen to be a British comedy fan who is not also into news of the opera world.

If you hate podcasts, don't bother with any of it. Except the shoes. You should subscribe me to them.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Shut yo mouth.

One of the blogs I check in with occasionally is by a Christian environmentalist whose life choices provide the best answer to any self-described religious person who refuses to see the point of low-impact living. Basically, if you believe in a creator who has given you stewardship over the earth, you should be the most radical environmentalist out there, and if you try to justify any other way of living, you really don't have a leg to stand on. I know, tell that to all the right-wing Christians with oil interests (or whatever).

Anyway, the point is that I admire this woman's environmental choices and that's why I read her blog--to see examples of low-impact living in action. I tend to skim or skip the churchy stuff, for many reasons I probably don't need to detail here, since you know me (sort of. I can get into this more another time, maybe). Today's churchy stuff was, however, timely, as I have been thinking more and more about the ways in which my words and/or actions fall short and/or hurt people. Welcome, therefore, to the only blog entry in which I will ever quote the Bible (probably), from James 3:
For we all stumble in many ways. If someone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect individual, able to control the entire body as well. And if we put bits into the mouths of horses to get them to obey us, then we guide their entire bodies. Look at ships too: Though they are so large and driven by harsh winds, they are steered by a tiny rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination directs. So too the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze. And the tongue is a fire! The tongue represents the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies.
There are a few personality issues I have struggled with my whole life. Big number one is seeming cold or aloof, which has a lot more to do with not being immediately at ease in new situations than with any basic deficit in my affections. With some people I am able to skip over the aloof stage because they bring out my more extroverted side, and with other people, getting past that is a process that usually involves some moment in which they realize I am actually a softie and not scary at all. But I can be intimidating and in some cases, I will admit, I kind of relish that, which isn't cool. It's one thing to be strong and self-possessed and quite another to maintain a lofty distance between yourself and the people around you. It's something I don't think I do at all in my teaching life, and I don't know if that's because the roles are more clear-cut there, or because teaching is what I really feel comfortable doing. It allows me to go ahead and be an expert, to have the upper hand by definition, while also being encouraging and supportive and friendly and getting to know people on their own terms. Hm. Something else to think about.

And the whole idea of choosing words carefully, or mastering your own mouth, is something that I've carried with me for many years. I used to be exponentially more sarcastic and cutting than I am now, and as I have gotten older I've mellowed out (at least in that respect). The words and the wit are still there; I just try not to use them to make people feel stupid, knowing as I do that self-aggrandizement via verbal superiority basically just makes me an asshole. If I have to talk about something difficult with someone, I think very hard, in advance, about what I'm going to say in order to be clear and honest. But who is good at this in the heat of the moment? Not many people, I would wager, and not I.

Damn, you know who else can't govern his mouth? This cat. If he's not biting my legs to get attention, he's meowing his head off because he's too lazy to jump his own furry ass into my lap. He wants me to pick him up. Again.

Anyway. I may never be a natural about putting people at ease, or radiating goodwill (though I am a genius about shopping there), or just letting things drop when my hackles are up, or not getting my stupid hackles up in the first place. But I do think it's important to try. I have lots of big personality and life stuff on my mind these days, like for example about how long it has taken me to grow up, but that's for another post.

In other news, I have parlayed my sometime office job into an actual job, so 30 hours of my work week is now far more structured, as is 75% of my income. Trust me, this can only be a good thing.