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Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Still researching the cockroach article:
Monday, June 27, 2005
Just as I think about hiatus, everyone else threatens to disappear entirely: Jen, Litblitz and MaikoPunk. Never mind that one of the greats, Baboon Ass, packed up and left town forever.
Meanwhile, Tina and Eeksy-Peeksy just returned after a few low-lying months.
It's Blogger. That's the web thingie that hosts our blogs, or whatever the correct techie terminology is. Blogger supplies us with the spamalicious blogspot address, the Hotmail of the blogging world, now turned away from leaving comments on at least one other blogging competitor.
Blogger has a transient sort of feel to it. That must be why no one stays here for long. Either they really get into blogging and redesign the template before they scoot over to an address free of blogspot or they just plain quit.
I thought about quitting before. After all, this is a complete waste of time. And this chair is really uncomfortable.*
I've been writing since I was eight or so, whether it's been 'zines, comic strips, newsletters, press releases, ripped-off Tolkien poetry, diaries, handwritten letters in the Victorian style, this blog or epic short stories that have gotten me booed off stage. I'm finally getting a bit of adulation (thank you!) but most nights I'm bingeing on Oreo cookies to Abba songs.
I'm sticking around because this is slightly more productive in a long line of literary procrastination that delves, at times, into diaries of unrequited crushes - eight notebooks once! - and snarky letters to the ex.
One solution I see fit is to follow Paul's advice:
Cut down on the number of posts. Quality, not quantity. If you write 3 posts, consider publishing them over 2-3 weeks to give yourself some breathing room. Get your life back.Paul is a good authority. Not only is he a blogspot squatter too, he gets double-digit comments to every post. He's popular online. He knows what he's talking about.
I was going to conclude with the plea About-to-quit bloggers, please reconsider? On second thought, I won't. Who am I to know what your reasons are?
*Raspberry will recognize this chair from the lightbulb company. When I left, I didn't steal just the pens like everyone else.
Monday, June 27, 2005
"I need to keep my strength up so I can live my pointless life among the rocks on this mountain!"
(From the Pika Headquarters)
"In reality a director always makes the same film, at least for a long period of his life, just as a poet always writes the same poem."
Pier Paolo Pasolini
One Medea grew bored with the sacrifice-grow-sacrifice-grow routine.
It gets tedious after a while to always strangle young men with a log, chop them up into bits, and smear leaves with their blood.
Enough already! thought Medea.
Colchis was no fun. Yeah, they had a golden fleece, but so what? At night there was nowhere to go but to pray in the temple.
Medea was as blue as her wardrobe.
Then a chance at fun. She had to chop up her brother, Absyrtis, along the way - you know how it goes.
(Her brother's demise was quite different from those other fertility rites. Medea's mom freaked out.)
Medea experienced pangs of conscience. Jason, though, knew how to soothe that out.
That's when Medea ditched her dark dress in favour of clean white lines.
It didn't last long. Soon a new bride rode into town.
Medea could no longer gaze over the landscape of Jason's body. He even accused her of only liking him for his body.
She went back to wearing darks. Things were more boring now than before. At least in Colchis everyone liked her. Corinth didn't want her within its gates.
How could Medea know that she'd have more fun yet? There was Aegeus of Athens and maybe Achilles in the afterlife. How can anyone know what the future may bring? Medea, archaeologists now guess, was a shaman back home, not a sorceress as the Greeks made her out to be. No wonder she was all gloom and doom when Jason dumped her.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
It's old news now:
Recent pictures showed that William (20 [he's 23 now]) had an incipient bald patch at the back of his head, the Mail said, adding the young prince had beaten his uncle Edward in the race to be the youngest bald royal by around 12 months.I learned only today.
Instead of the "restorative ointments, nettle soup, liquid manure and a diet of potatoes" recommended to his grandfather, I recommend my latest crush's chest hairs. He's got plenty and I am sure he wouldn't miss a few. I know that might stop me from staring in puzzlement - do I feel horror? do I accept it as natural? - at his open collars.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
If I were living in Taiwan or Romania, I would be writing a version of Bangkok Street Dogs.
A friend adopted her Socrates off a Taiwanese street and even imported him to Canada. When strangers wonder what this huge bone-thin breed of a white dog is, she tells them he's an Ethiopian terrier.
My parents adopt Romanian street dogs. They usually have from three to six dogs at any one time. Sometimes they find new homes for the excess dogs.
Cora was one of those dogs. She came in a bundle, with her two brothers, Eddie and shy little Căprioară.
I vowed to adopt Eddie and bring him to Canada. A car ran him over. I turned my attentions to Căprioară and enticed him out of his shyness. Then a car ran him over.
Cora should have been next but she had a troubling habit of hanging out in the bar bathroom. She liked the garbage cans there. One day she came out with a used menstrual pad taped to her head.
A barmaid eventually offered to adopt Cora. Cora now lives happily with a dalmatian and a yappy shih-tzu. Cora also kills her owner's pet cats. She literally tears apart any cat foolish enough to exist in her vicinity.
Some of you may remember my sweet pup, Lăurică. A car hit him last September 17.
Now our other sweet pup, the scruffy-looking Flocea - or Pubic Hair in English - is sick. The medicine isn't happening. The illness has attacked his brain.
My father learned how to wield a syringe and how to administer vaccines to his dogs. He goes out of his way, for a Romanian, to help his dogs.
He is not a sentimentalist however. He warned me that soon Flocea will be put to sleep.
I am a little consternated. If Flocea must die, what death is better?
Monday, June 20, 2005
For an article, I needed to interview a Chinese pharmacist about cockroach medicine.
At the first pharmacy the lady behind the counter said she didn't speak English. Judging by her clothes - the half-uniform that passes in Mainland China for anything outside of casual Friday - I could probably have switched to Mandarin and harass her with my cockroach questions. She looked terrified of me so I had pity on her.
In the second shop, I snatched away a business card. I'll phone them later and quiz from where they can't see me.
At the third shop, Mr. Pho Bich Nga and I tried a different approach. We began waving around the Chinese medicine Viagra-knock-offs with their ancient Chinese porn packaging.
That got their attention.
"Can I help you?" said one of the pharmacists.
"Yes, I am a freelance writer and I am researching the medicinal uses of cockroaches in fighting constipation. Can you answer some of my questions?"
His face blanched and he told me he doesn't speak much English. He handed me over to a coworker, one not wearing a white lab coat.
The new guy protested that the pharmacist knew more than he did. I looked over my shoulder to see the pharmacist run out the back door.
"Besides, I don't speak much English," said the new guy.
"That's ok. I can speak some Mandarin."
Cornered, he answered that yes, cockroaches can cure constipation but they are far too expensive to be worthwhile.
He opened a low drawer and pulled out a square tin box without a lid. It was filled to the middle with roaches. He explained the difference between these roaches, wingless, southern ones, that cure fractures, and the roaches that cure constipation.
He took out another box from the same drawer that held the roaches. He plonked this box on the counter.
Then he stuck his hands in to let the scorpions trickle through his fingers. A scorpion and a scorpion fragment catapulted onto my notepad.
He picked up the whole scorpion but left the fragment on my notepad.
"Are you sure you don't want to know about scorpions?" he asked. "They're even better for constipation."
Saturday, June 18, 2005
The ex is acting all Tom Cruise on me. Lucky for me, Spirit Fingers points out why I would rather not be the Ex's Katie Holmes:
Joy turned to tragedy in the early hours of the morning when Tom Cruise accidentally snapped his Katie Holme's neck while in the throes of passion. The pair of lovebirds had just announced their engagement at a packed press conference when Tom manfully grabbed Katie's hair. He then pulled her head into a clinch to prepare for a macho show of affection. However the brute force of his loving left arm against Katie's throat was too much pressure for her neck vertebrae to bear.More evidence here.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Here I am. Irrevocably in my thirties. There's no turning back now. I'm stuck here for a good nine years.
It's not quite like prison because, unlike prison, where you get out early for good behaviour, after these nine years I graduate to more hard time. My mother tells me it's all flatulence from there on. I'd better enjoy my thirties.
It's hard to enjoy this time, though, when my biological clock ticking. It's like the Doomsday Clock and it's always 1953 for me. At midnight, the fairy godmother's spell will break. I will suddenly transform into the bearded lady and mammograms will begin pancaking my breasts.
My relatives want to save me before the spell breaks. Already they have dangled me and the offer of a Canadian passport before an obese construction worker with a penchant for blondes, a foul-mouthed gas salesman, a swarthy "professor" twice my age, a coal miner, and a "bodyguard" (Romanian for "security guard with a neck the width of a treetrunk").
I'm not entirely sure if I am in such a rush. I would hate to marry someone in a hurry to beat the clock and then meet Mr. Right at the table next to ours at the honeymoon hotel.
MaikoPunk tried to help by offering me different scenarios of happiness. Unlike my relatives' attempts, I do appreciate that MaikoPunk cared enough to lay out the blueprint of my eventual happiness. There was one right fit.*
I know exactly what I am looking for and I certainly have not met him yet. I'm pretty sure he is thousands of kilometres away from here. I am also certain that he's neither Canadian nor Romanian. He better damn well speak English.
Oh, and future Mr. Maktaaq, it would also really help me to recognize you if you at least look like Johnny Depp.
Karen of Rurality put it into perspective: "I used to go around moping that even the mule-faced woman (from a documentary about circus "freak shows") was married."
Here we go. The mule-faced woman. She must have had some charms. Now that we know sex with Angelina Jolie** isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Karen goes further: "I had 5 cats at one time too!"
That's pretty deadly. Five cats. It's like asking for eternal loneliness.
Yet Karen made it through this debilitating condition: "...it all worked out in the end."
In Garden State, that Natalie Portman character had a hamster farm. And she ended up with someone at the end of the movie.
Maybe a hamster wall unit of tangled plastic tubes with another half dozen hamsters is what I need.
*Your gift is very, very much appreciated. It's a good thing someone once told me I look like Kate Winslet, so now I can easily fantasize myself into the deleted Paris Hilton-inspired scenes from Finding Neverland. Heck, I am going to erase Keira Knightley and really have some fun marooned on that rum island.
**Billy Bob is just jealous. If you follow that link, you can vote for sex with Angelina or sex with Billy Bob's couch.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Birthday Week is just about over. I had last year's statistics floating around.
Congratulatory Messages from Teddy Bears
2005: 14 (I brought a roomful of strangers two boxes of doughnuts in an effort to up the numbers)
Number of Phonecalls Involving Songs
Number of Times I Had to Shut My Eyes
2005: Most of the time, due to my first-ever migraine (tomorrow is our one-month anniversary - my doctor wants me to go for a CT scan or whatever it's called)
Song Stuck in My Head as a Result
2004: Mr. Roboto
Plus I fell down the stairs, I have to find a new job, my ex is getting married & is acting like Tom Cruise, I haven't heard from my best friend in three months, all my photos turn out like those in Ring (Japanese version), and I have no family. I hate life so much.
Monday, June 13, 2005
Crenguţă finally screamed.
I tripped over her hamster ball; the ball spun around in a tight circle.
Her screams were terrifying. I thought I'd killed her. Of course, she peed her pants. The hamster ball oozed with hamster urine. I apologized to her while she had free run of the lamp table.
A pearl drop of hamster musk poked out of her butt.
Crenguţă also has a new habit. Whenever she has not had enough of a walkie in the hamster ball, she attacks her water dispenser. The only problem is that now the floor of her cage is soaked.
Since she turned her house into a latrine, I keep having to wash it (usually an overnight soak) and the lack of a house means that she must make her nest directly on the floor.
Now that the floor is wet, she keeps relocating her nest around the cage.
In conclusion, all this detail lavished on my hamster means I am a certified spinster. The only solution is that my collection of pharmaceuticals is vast, I have vodka and plastic bags are everywhere. Get it over and done with already!
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Recently I crashed a Filipino party. Ate all the food, tried to impress the person next to me with my scant knowledge of her country, threw out a few choice words - lechon, halo-halo - that made me look like an expert.
When I left I made sure to hug my erstwhile hosts, leaving them to wonder exactly who the hell I was.
Then I realized something.
The lights were on. All of them. They were having a party in a bright room.
I flipped through the rolodex of past parties attended. Other parties, with all the lights on, in Taiwan, in Hong Kong, in Romania, in Italy. But all parties in Canada and all foreign parties abroad hosted by Canadians, dark, dim lights. All young peoples' parties but with a clearcut dichotomy.
Which leaves me to wonder how I ended up at so many well-lit parties while I travelled. Are foreigners less afraid of their zits? Do Canadians look better when you squint at them? There must be something I'm not entirely getting.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
David of Upside-Down Hippopotamus got pooped on by a bird and took it for a trip to the abyss.
David, worry not. Birds pooping on you is good luck. Think back to babyhood, did you eat poop? Because that is the luckiest thing you could have done in early childhood to ensure a life of happiness.
I ate my own poop as a baby. My parents never let me forget this and, in my darkest mmoments, remind me of this.
"See? You are meant to have a lucky life - you ate your own poop when you were a wee thing. Now stop moping." That's what they always say.
My friend Cosmin, after asking around who ate their poop and who didn't, lamented that he never did.
Once, when my car parked itself under some bird poop, my sister stopped me from washing it off.
"Leave it on for a few days at least," she said. "It's lucky."
So you see, David, poop doesn't have to be ugly. It can be downright pretty.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Mr. Despres changed his trousers, which were spattered in blood, behind a shop in St. Stephen, N.B, and then walked up to the U.S. Customs booth on foot, with the bloodied chainsaw strapped to his backpack.All I could think was, this Mr. Despres looks an awful lot like Milton Hackett in Cry-Baby. (For lack of available Cry-Baby stills, this picture comes close.)
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
My alcoholic uncle said he would give me all his books.
Foolishly, I fell for that.
When I got to his house, my uncle sat me down.
"Have you written anything lately?"
"It's all crap. I've read your website. It makes no sense. Your father and I read it and we asked each other, 'do you get it?' We didn't get it."
I began eating the grapes in front of me. They were unwashed. I hoped the grit on them might contain enough pesticides to kill me on the spot.
My uncle once said that I should be locked up. My parents, he said, should not let me out until I complete a novel.
On this day, he gave me the exact specifications for the novel I should write during my incarceration.
"Do you read Grisham?"
"No, I'm afraid not."
"What?! No wonder you don't make any money with your writing. You should be aiming for the $90,000-range. I've included most of the Grishams among the books I'm giving you. Read them and that should help you."
"But I don't want to write like Grisham."
"The stuff you are writing right now appeals to no one. You are just writing for yourself. You need to inject a bit of universal appeal in your writing if you're going to have readers."
I told him how, even a bore can be fascinating with the correct amount of detail. I also said that I prefer the offbeat, almost fantasy if you will.
"You are too old to come up with anything fantastical. J.K. Rowling wrote her books in adulthood but she formulated her ideas in childhood. Same with Stephen King. You've already passed your prime for that sort of thing. And you're never going to have enough experience so you'd just better start hanging out in courts. You need to study humanity more."
He asked me a few questions meant to test my intelligence. My answers were all wrong.
He slapped his forehead when I said I read slowly. "You mean you don't read photographically? What, do you read out loud? What takes you so long?"
When I answered his question about the first great civilization ("I think it was Mesopotamia"), he pointed out that it was Sumeria. He asked me how the earth formed and shook his head at my answer.
His prescription: I should read more on religion and philosophy, I should stop wasting words, and I should write less and earn more.
Since I started with a negative adjective, alcoholic, to describe my uncle, I want to conclude with his last statement to me before I left. This is also a negative statement and nullifies all the intelligent things he did say to me that day. My quoting of his statement also proves that I am snarky and petty.
He said, "Did you know that there are people who live in the centre of the earth?"
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
A. lives in Nevada. Besides being a poet, A. seems to like animals. Animal lovers get an A+ in my book.
I've already told everyone about A's popcorn parties for the crows and pigeons.
A. also holds French fry parties for seagulls. One special beauty sheds a bit of pooh-pooh on the blah-blah idea of seagull as mangled in Jonathan Livingstone Seagull.
Sometimes A. is plain old prosaic with a bird feeder like everyone else. At least she has the sense to take gorgeous photos of her wards. (Reportage on the photo here.)
Too bad A. finds the cooing of pigeons annoying.
I am a pigeon lover. In all the bird squares in the world (Piazza San Marco, Asakusa, etc.) I have been seen feeding the pigeons. The cooing is what gets me. I blame Prince. I even moved into an apartment with a known infestation of pigeons to relieve the former tenant; because of his allergy to pigeons, Shinichi squatted on top of the bathtub, aimed his water gun through the bathroom window to shoot off the nest of pigeons. Though they never slept, I rather enjoyed the constant baby coos of the pigeonlings in the ceiling.
In the last three months, my parents have evolved into pigeon lovers too.
First, it was bread crumbs on their tenth floor window ledge. Now they buy sacks of grains.
They phone me from Romania to tell me their pigeon anecdotes. On Sunday morning, my mother lured a pigeon into her hand. She grabbed it and shut the window. Then she cradled the bird and studied it. Then she released it.
My father made an interesting observation.
Pigeons, when feeding on the narrow window ledge, will stand atop each other and stretch their necks down to eat the grains. No pigeon fights with another pigeon. They share.
"No wonder pigeons are the birds of peace," said my dad - in Romanian, one word stands for pigeon and dove.
I am already a hamster spinster; am I ready to be a pigeon lady?
The Blue Wyvern tried to convince me that being a pigeon lady is where it's at:
There are indeed many benefits to pigeons as opposed to cats. The pigeon lady gets to keep her dwelling-place free of animal by-products, as she consorts with her chosen creatures outdoors.
(There is one other example of the pigeon lady in "literature." She exists in a trashy novel a friend recommended, about an old blind Parisian virgin who convinces a painter to show her the ways of the world.)
Monday, June 06, 2005
Ms. Rurality of Alabama's blog is one of the brilliant children of the *gasp* blogosphere*.
Not only do her photos make farming cool now that the rest of us are stuck in urban centres like sitting ducks awaiting the downward slope after Peak Oil, she also writes with imagination.
The roosters are magnificent. Please, Rurality, please do not have eaten the strutting rooster at the top. Look what you made me do, the grammar in that last sentence makes no sense! Madame, I will forgive you if you make us a calendar for 2006 with the strutter.
But it's not all chicken chronicles with Rurality.
She gets terribly poetic sometimes. You end up wanting to run away and live in the mountains.
Butterfly wrangling - it can't get more romantic than this.
*At least I didn't capitalize it.
Monday, June 06, 2005
It turns out that not only am I in the wrong country, I am the wrong species.
The toads were picked up from separate ponds, dressed in bright red clothes and brought to the marriage venue in a decorated palanquin in Khochakandar village in West Bengal state late Sunday.I knew there had to be some reason why I wasn't married already.
Update: The wonderful Julie of the Human Flower Project also wrote about this and even has a photo of the lucky couple. They are certainly a beautiful pair.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Nine years ago, Karen and I chased sheep, picked flowers, read Washington Square and fought off attacking chickens. The sorts of things one usually does if one visits a Transylvanian village on a hilltop. The maternal grandmother made us chiftele; Karen was too polite to let her know they were raw.
The night ended with us clamouring to see old photos. There were a few photos of my immediate family soon after we immigrated to Canada. None of my murdered cousin or my living cousin. One of my tragic uncle. Three or four of my mother as a young girl. Most of the photos were of my other uncle, the darling one.
It seems like everyone else fancied him too. In every photo, with the exception of the one posted here, a different woman had her arms around him.
"How many girlfriends did Unchiu Tanu have?" I asked.
My grandmother couldn't answer.
After my grandmother's death, I cleaned out all the photos and letters. Everything is in a suitcase in a closet in Alba Iulia. I one day will extract all the photos of Unchiu Tanu and count all the different women. I might even ask him who each woman is.
He kept all his old photos at his parents' house, far out of town, in that hilltop village where Karen and I found ourselves. They were very safe there until I collected them and now they are very safe in that old suitcase.
My old photos are a blink among the rest. Many, in youthful disgust, met their fate at the blades of scissors or at the pinnacle atop a match. Of the remaining photos, good friends get the thorough explanations: "That is the German guy, can't remember his name, but I met him in Italy" and "This is Walter, unfortunately the photo is not so good." You would miss them if I didn't tell you.
My old photos had the protection of my parents' house and, if a someone new was around, I slapped on the disguise. "Oh, those are some people from school" or "He was my French tutor in high school" or "My father's coworker's cousin's son - I think."
Now, however, a whole six years can't be reduced to a blip. I can't cull the offending photos or the entire narrative of one-fifth of my life is gone. I can't segregate them either - imagine: two albums telling the same story, one sanitized and the other forbidden.
I will keep my photos in my parents' basement, like a sort of Bluebeard's secret. (Mind you, even though I reassured her that the photos are in a box in a part of the basement I rarely visit, my mother keeps threatening to burn them when I am not looking.)
A friend in the same position entrusted her memories to another friend. Then, on second thought, made two backup copies of the everything and gave a copy each to two more friends.
MaikoPunk pointed out that our parents never had the chance to collect mementoes. They probably married their firsts. Even if they had other chances, in those days affairs were illicit and would hardly be commemmorated.
Carrie Bradshaw probably asked this question already: "When do you get rid of everything?"
I don't intend to get rid of anything. I liked my six years. Who cares if it all ended tragically and the Capulets and Montagues shot each other to pieces and the world cracked in two?
My excuse is better than the other girl's excuse for keeping everything and its backup. She thinks she'll never marry and she'll browse her photos in her spinsterly state.
My best friend gave me the best excuse; "Awww, it's so romantic. When you're old, you'll sift through your photos and remember all the affairs you've had."
Friday, June 03, 2005
Abishag came forward. A squirrel monkey. A common squirrel monkey.
"I am page 29," said Abishag.
"Good monkey," I said, not looking up from my papers.
I was in my "war" room, where I met with the monkeys, monitored their progress with The Pearl, and counselled them if they succumbed to paralysis from the daunting task. "It's not East of Eden, it's The Pearl," I would tell them over and over again.
"What can I do for you, Abishag?"
"The gods do not love men's plans, and the gods do not love success unless it comes by accident," quoted the monkey.
"Ah yes, page 29."
"The gods will take their revenge on us, sir! If we are successful through our own efforts! The Pearl says it is so! We must stop!"
I slapped the hysterical monkey.
"Calm down! Look at you - are you a man or a monkey?"
I interrupted Abishag: "Then you've got nothing to fear."
"But, sir, the gods, via the author, meant the protagonist - that's us, we the monkeys. We are in grave danger - this taking control of the situation - we are not meant to do it; we are meant to type up East of Eden by accident!"
"No, little Abishag, take the bulls by the horns, time and tide wait for no man, you miss 100% of the shots you never take."
"All good things come to he who waits," replied Abishag quietly.
"What do propose, that everyone stops memorizing The Pearl and tries to type up East of Eden? Don't forget that Hamlet already took an infinite number of you an infinite number of time to type."
"Yes," said Abishag. "I have a very bad feeling about this. Something bad will happen if we continue."
Monkeys always fear the unknown. Even sheep are braver and have more imagination. That's why you can lead a sheep willingly to the slaughter: up until the last moment, it refuses to believe in anything less than that you are taking it to the world's biggest salad.
We place monkeys at the top of the intelligence pyramid, just under humans. Crows and dolphins patiently bear this insult, knowing full well that a monkey knows to use a blade of grass to pluck termites from a termite hill only because the extraterrestials told them it can be done. Without the guidance of superior beings, a monkey is pretty useless. Besides, the crows claim they were the ones who taught the monkeys the termite trick in the first place.
"Abishag, don't do anything rash."
"I must put a stop to this. Before anything terrible happens."
Before I could say any more, the squirrel monkey walked out with a defiant air.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
There was a sign on the doorknob:
Moss removal and restoration of soil ph to prevent further moss build-up = $241.
Then came the phone call:
"Hello, a salesman was in your area a few days ago and left an estimate for your moss problem. I'm calling to see if you'd like to take up our offer for moss removal."
"No, thank you. I lived in Japan and I love my moss!!!"
The telemarketer hung up on me.