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30 May 2006 @ 10:36 pm
This marks my final post on livejournal. Alex talked me into making my own site:

www.squarebear.net

Now I can rant and be self-absorbed in a whole new location! See ya there.
 
 
27 May 2006 @ 09:31 am
Little ants came into our hallway after a storm a few weeks back, so while Alex went to get ant cups I freaked out and took the cinnamon from the spice cupboard and shook it all along the baseboard. Ants despise cinnamon, my grandmother told me. And she was right, as grandmothers invariably are. The ants immediately stopped coming in. Then Alex came back with ant cups, told me I was crazy and vacuumed up all the cinnamon. Now when we vacuum it smells like cinnamon, which is really quite pleasant.

Someone had a paintball fight in a cemetery somewhere up north and now there are paintball stains all over the gravestones. I saw it on the news yesterday. The newscaster said something about it being a defacement of the stones, which "belong to the dead." I thought, no. The stones belong to the living. And so does the cemetery. Everything that happens after a person dies, all the services and the flowers and the grieving, it's all for the living. I agree that shooting paintballs in a graveyard is disrespectful, but not to the dead. It's disrespectful to all the living people who go there to remember their loved ones in peace, without looking at an oily paintball stain on a gravestone.

I had a conversation about death this week, about how people grieve. It was very refreshing, as most people cannot really talk about death in a candid way. Which is why we say things like "he passed away" or he "passed on." No. He died.

I personally don't understand wakes, or "viewings" as they are now often called. I want to remember someone as they were when they were alive. I do not want the last time I see their body to be when it is dead and made to look like it is alive, like they are just "sleeping," when you know they're not because people don't sleep in coffins with clothes on and inch-thick makeup on their faces, and they don't smell like formaldehyde. I want to remember someone as they were when they were ALIVE, not "fake-alive." If I were called on to identify someone's body, or if I needed to see the body of someone for some emotional "closure" reason, I would want to see a dead body. No makeup, no embalming, just a body. That's death. Don't try to hide it with makeup.

When I die I want my body to be cremated (unless they want to do an autopsy on it first) and then the ashes to be buried, with a private ceremony at the gravesite. No embalming, no "viewing." I do think it's important to have a grave, though. Firstly because it's creepy for someone to keep your ashes in their house. Secondly, because I think that even though the idea of having your ashes scattered in the ocean or the forest or wherever is a very romantic one, it is also a selfish one. People, in general, like to have a place they can go to remember, to take care of a grave, to see the person's name, to know they have been memorialized, to plant flowers and to place stones. It makes the living feel better. And after I'm gone, that's all that really matters.
 
 
Current Music: Flaming Lips
 
 
25 May 2006 @ 03:46 pm
Jury duty is not exciting. I waited a lot. There was a court officer there who looked like she was probably cool but this was her job so she was doing it. She was a stereotypical female officer and people reacted to her in a stereotypical way. When she told us to form a check-in line but not to block any doorway, arch, or stairway, the strangers around me said things like, "I'm just going to do what she says," or "I'm not arguing with HER." She was someone you wanted to get a smile out of. A former student of mine was also serving - we passed each other in the cattle line and exchanged the normal information that people exchange at such moments - he just finished his college semester and is going to work this summer as a lifeguard and at a convenience store. He asked me about my classes and if my students were treating me right, and I said yes, which is true. He asked if I had any crazy classes, and I said, none as crazy as yours was. That is also true. And then we said it was nice to see each other. He was on a different panel than I.

We sat in the courtroom after checking in. It was a very old courtroom - small, with big dark wooden benches, bookcases behind the judges' bench filled with legal journals, large portraits of former judges on the walls, coffee where I imagine the attorneys sat and also some coffee on the judge's bench, with styrofoam cups. I sat in the front row. There were two small laptops on the attorneys' desk area, and someone, I am guessing he was the court stenographer, came in and typed something on a computer on the other side of the desk, and it appeared on the little laptops. I leaned forward to read it, and it was just a list of names.

I went back to reading my New Yorker, which I had started while standing in the check-in line. The court officer came in and put on a video for us to watch. The video appeared to be from the 1980s - it was about juror service in Massachusetts and explained to us the trial process and what would be expected of us if we were chosen. The people in it wore really bad suits. After the video was over, the lady sitting next to me told me she liked my shoes. Then the court officer came in and told us we could leave but that we had to come back at noon. It was 9:00 and I had been there exactly one hour. I walked outside and called Alex and he came and got me (if I had left I surely would have lost my space) and we went to the bookstore where I read a little bit of Temple Grandin's book about animal behavior. There was one particularly scandalous section in it about artificially inseminating pigs, and how each male pig has "something special" he likes done before he will give his semen to the human collector. Animals are really not all that different from people.

Alex and I had lunch at the burrito place and then he brought me back to the courthouse. I went into the jurors' section, where they had three rooms you could sit in. Each room had a big wooden table in the center of it, for deliberation purposes I imagine. There were no seats left in the first room so I went into the second and sat down at the far end of the table near the windows, next to a woman who proved to be extremely annoying. She kept talking just for the sake of talking, to fill up empty space, (why are some people so afraid of quiet?) and these other three women at our end of the table kept encouraging her, like they thought she was nice or something, when really she was kind of a bitch. That is why I don't feel too bad in saying that she was also not very smart. At one point she kept complaining about a "hot flash" she was having, quite loudly, and then commented on "the interesting phase of life" she was going through while fanning herself with a magazine she had stolen from one of the other ladies. I felt a bit embarassed for her, talking about her menopause in front of an entire room of strangers who buried themselves a little bit further in their books everytime she spoke. I wished I had sat at the other end of the table, with the men, who were all reading quietly and sensibly and with no forced social pleasantries. Women are so weird sometimes - I don't understand them. Eventually the woman started playing an electronic Yahtzee game she had pulled out of her bag. I found this hilarious, but mostly I was glad for some quiet. A little after 1:00 they called us all back into the courtroom. In the waiting area before entering the room there were people who had been there for a trial. They were huddled together in groups, with their attorneys, speaking in hushed voices. Some were crying.

I was seated in the front row again. This time the judge was on the bench and there were other people around in the courtroom, and you could tell something had just taken place there - the room just felt different than it had when we were watching the video. When we were all seated the judge stood up and spoke to us. He told us the reason so many of us had been called in today: the morning's case had been a sexual abuse case, involving a child. The defendant had ended up pleading guilty, but if he hadn't plead guilty they would have needed a large pool of jurors to choose from, as many people would find it difficult to be un-biased in such a case. He thanked us and then we were dismissed.

I know I would not have been chosen for the jury if that case had gone to trial, based solely on my profession, and thank goodness for that. I would do my best, but I know I would have trouble remaining unbiased in that situation.

What scares me is the thought of the menopause Yahtzee woman on a jury.
 
 
Current Music: Weezer - Simple Pages
 
 
18 May 2006 @ 06:41 pm
Everything appears to be a total crapshoot. Everything. I love it anyway.
 
 
Current Music: Spoon - I Summon You
 
 
12 April 2006 @ 06:43 pm
This giraffe looks much better after having had its antler glued back on. A student made a giraffe for a project she did (she makes resin animals as a hobby and is quite good at it), but one of its antlers broke off. I am going to look up why giraffes have antlers in a few minutes. Oh crap, WHERE ARE MY ZOOBOOKS? When I was a kid my brother and I would get these magazines called Zoobooks. Each Zoobook was about a different animal. They broke down the animal's anatomy (skeleton, muscles, etc.) and told all about their behavior and the area of the world where they live and what animals they descended from. I remember I had Zoobooks on giraffes, orangutans, whales, zebras, and elephants. The elephant one was my favorite for some reason. I just kept reading that thing over and over again, always hoping some new piece of information would magically appear in there for me to learn.

I used to read and re-read books, and then read them again when I was little. Repetition is very comforting to children - which is why shows like Teletubbies do so well. It's also why Alex and his brothers know the entire Disney movie Beauty and the Beast by heart - their little sister watched it twice a day for about a year.

Now it's hard to find time to read a book just once. And there are so many good books! And I'll never read them all because people keep writing more of them, dammit! So how do I decide which ones are worth my time? I used to feel guilty not finishing a book. Even if I really hated it, I would read it through til the end. I guess it's the "finish everything on your plate because there are starving children in Africa" syndrome, except instead of hunger victims, in my mind I could see all these book-deprived people, their brains slowly putrefying into rotten porridge-y sludge. And when I desperately wanted to stop reading some utterly vapid Sweet Valley High book a relative had gotten me for my birthday ("OH she likes to read - here's a book about twin high school girls who look like Barbie! All girls love Barbie!" Well guess what ... I fucking hated Barbie.), the illiterate masses would muster what limited cognitive function they still had left to call out, "We would be HAPPY to read about blonde, blue-eyed, Aryan-nation Elizabeth and Jessica's difficulties and triumphs navigating the high school social scene. We would TREASURE every last word, and read the book again and again until it was dog-eared and we could recite it from memory. You fucking snob - not every book can be a Newbury award winner." And then I would finish the book.

Anyway, elephants... I guess I have always had a soft spot for the pachyderms. Freaking Dumbo. Always made me cry.
 
 
 
The back of my package of San Francisco Bay Co. Sally's Frozen Brine Shrimp, which I use to feed my fish, says "not for human consumption." Damn. I was really looking forward to frying that shit up with some bacon fat and collard greens this weekend. With a can of Genny Light. Aw hell, who am I kidding? Six cans.

The candy shop up the street sells sesame candy, which I am in love with. I had only ever seen it in Chinatown in Boston, but there it is in this cool little candy shop. It's just sesame seeds and nuts held together with hard caramelized sugar - like sesame brittle, really. It makes me happy.
 
 
27 March 2006 @ 09:50 pm
Here is something: some bass-ackwards state somewhere is allowing license plates to be printed with a "Choose Life" slogan, like here they have the "Save the Whales" plate and the Bruins plate and the Red Sox plate and the Mass. DOE plate and the Cape Cod and the Islands plate and the "I'm a Masshole" plate... I hate bumper stickers (I don't care what college you went to or who you voted for and I don't care that your kid is on the Honor roll you elitist prick, nor do I care that you are a big hippie and want to save the rainforest and baby seals but can't actually do anything about it or even form an articulate sentence because you are too burned on peyote and shrooms, so you just post stuff about your causes on your big VW bus) and I despise vanity license plates (MYSTANG, BRNSTBLE, HERTOY... FAQ U), but I can't believe that the state (I believe it is Tennessee) is sanctioning this plate, because you damn well know they are not going to have one that says "Ladies' Choice." Sometimes I really don't know what country I live in anymore, and it is truly frightening.
 
 
05 February 2006 @ 10:05 pm
Ok the Rolling Stones looked like death warmed over. Here we go.

Motorola new PEBL phone: very cool gadget, rather esoteric commercial

Pirate Sharpie commercial: Made me smile. But I find people in theme park costumes to be frightening.

Bud Clydesdale colt pulls the wagon "all by himself": sweet in a pointless sort of way

commercial within a commercial: Fabio is in a gondola, in a fake commercial for shampoo. He goes under a bridge and ages in five seconds into something truly frightening, kind of like Saruman from Lord of the Rings. Same financial company as the kid on the swing from the first half. Very clever, and kudos to Fabio for lampooning himself.

Hummer: Something resembling Godzilla and a giant robot mate and give birth to a Hummer. Gross! But entertaining!

careerbuilder.com: "I work with monkeys" and "I work with jackasses" - not nearly as good as the first one, because there was no Quiet Riot involved, but still amusing.

Toyota Tacoma gets tossed around in the surf: Pshhh, whatever.

Guy with Russian accent's couch catches on fire and he has a song for it on his phone: Very very random.

Degree deoderant "Stunt City:" In an entire city, why is it only the boys who are doing all the stunts? I mean, I know the deoderant is being marketed to men, but you've got to let the girls have some fun too. I was going to say this commercial was cool, but fuck that.

Emerald Nuts: Instead of just the E and the N, they went all the way this time. Nicely done.

Budweiser crowd sign commercial: The middle part of this looks just like a stream of pee.

MacGuyver Mastercard commercial: Awesome.

herestobeer.com: people toasting in different languages + beer = multicultural bonding over common ground.

Ok I'm done.
 
 
05 February 2006 @ 07:55 pm
It is only 6:35 and John Madden has already mentioned the fact that "this crowd is definitely a Steeler crowd" three times. Tom Brady was looking rather dashing in his black velvet jacket, although of course we would prefer to see him in uniform today.

ok, on to the commercials:

hidden Bud Light in the office and "magic revolving fridge:" First of all, I would rather drink llama piss. Secondly, I would rather drink llama piss. I will not mention any other Bud Light commercials tonight unless they do one that is remotely clever, like that old one with the falcon that stole beer from restaurants.

whopper musical number: Attractive women dressed as food pig piling on top of each other to form a Whopper, with that creepy king running around. Every fat American heterosexual male's fantasy? Eating women? Eating... wait... this is a GREAT commercial...

Fed-Ex cavemen: Dinosaurs and cavemen never lived at the same time. And if you are not going to be historically accurate, you should at least be funny. Sorry Fed-Ex, GEICO wins the caveman battle.

V for Vendetta: I want to see this movie very badly

Diet Pepsi and Diddy music video: "Brown and Bubbly?" So appropriate that the title also describes diarrhea.

Leonard Nimoy needs Aleve to make the Star Trek sign: Trekkies ... (shudder)

Diet Pepsi and Jackie Chan: a Diet Coke can serves as Diet Pepsi's stunt double. Wait, what?

Kid on a swing grows up fast and knocks dad on his ass: Ok, I kind of laughed at this one.

streaking Budweiser sheep: How many dancing/talking/football-playing computer animated animals can commercials feature? My GRANDMA finds stuff like this funny. Next.

Mobile ESPN commercial: "Sports heaven" - very, very cool - my favorite so far.

Careerbuilder.com: Chimps in an office, dressed in shirts and ties and dancing/creating general mayhem to "C'mon Feel the Noize?" Now THIS is a great animal commercial, and with NO computer animation.

Dove campaign for making girls feel pretty: this is that commercial that you can't really make fun of because you feel bad about it.

Kermit the Frog hybrid Ford SUV: I love Kermit the Frog. But why is he in a car commercial? He can't drive. He doesn't have thumbs.

Michelob Amber: co-ed tackle football: Ok, I don't get the whole "light beer just got darker" thing, and I would no more drink Michelob than I would Bud Light, but this commercial was way funnier than the Bud ones. Which is to say, it was MILDLY amusing. I chuckled.

godaddy.com: old guy needs more oxygen because of giant fake boobs. yawn.

Gillette Fusion: I really doubt that Gillette labs look like that. With attractive people in lab coats using colored radioactive glowing gel to magically produce a razor with FIVE BLADES?! And who says women always want the guy with the smooth face? I mean, stubble can be awfully attractive, and it feels amazing during sex. And men who shave/wax their chest hair = gross. I like me a man with some testosterone. As James Bond says, "Birds never nest in bare trees." But if you have the hairy back, ok, that shit's got to go.

End of first half. To be continued...
 
 
31 January 2006 @ 09:33 pm
Blue orange bottle
With only twelve percent juice -
Like Tang, with bubbles.


Your label cries out,
"Shake it!" I obey, with care.
Your bottle is glass.


I have lost the cap.
This means I will have to drink
both of your servings.


I thought you were French,
but you read "Rye Brook, New York."
Tell me more sweet lies.


When we are finished,
your two percent pulp is gone,
and I am lonely.