May 3, Houston: The big one -- the Inprint reading -- occurs at the Alley Theatre on Monday, May 3. Do not miss it or you'll be sorry. I'm not kidding -- I'm going to say the craziest, most intellectual yet hilarious stuff I can think of, and I'll be sharing the stage with the ultra sexy Oscar Casares, too.
June 24, Houston: I'm one of the peeps scheduled to read at Poison Pen, at Houston's famous Poison Girl bar. Besides me, everyone there will be ultra, *super* sexy. Come see me and drink!
June 26, Washington, DC: I'll be reading at the American Library Association conference. Come on down.
My other blog: Go read my the Houston Chronicle parenting blog (or my ChronMomBlog, as I like to call it) and make sure my kids won't resent me more than other kids resent their own parents.
Buy my new novel, Lone Star Legend. Already did? Well, buy a few more for your friends, then. :)
Monday, October 19, 2009Lately
Iíve been working like crazy, trying to write decent stuff and not hacky stuff. Like every other fall and every other time Iím under deadline to write a book, I have a lot of good ideas for other projects but NO TIME to do them.
Hereís my deal right nowÖ letís get it straight real quick, because it gets so confusing that not even my husband knows whatís going on:
1. You have seen, so far, in print in real life, my first short-story collection, my first novel, and two childrenís books.
2. You will see, in January, my second novel. Also, pretty soon youíll see my third childrenís book. Both of these books, I wrote almost a year ago.
3. Right now Iím working on my third novel and my fourth and fifth childrenís books. You will see those a little over a year from now.
See how it goes? Everything takes a year (at least) to get from me to you. So itís like Iím working in a time machine, here. Kind of. People ask what Iím working on and I say ďMy next novelĒ and they say, ďThe one coming out in January?Ē and I say, ďUm... what year is it right now?Ē
And Iím not high or drunk, either.
So itís come to pass that, also, that next month, on November 20, you can see me on PBS in an interview I did a year ago. I canít wait to see it, myself, because I remember enjoying the interview at the time, and itíll be interesting to see what parts the editors and producers thought yíall might like.
Stuff keeps coming up like that: Time-machine stuff I do now that pays off later, or stuff I did a long time ago thatís showing results right about now. And all that is good. Itís like planting seeds.
Right now, between bouts of writing the books that youíll see a year and a half from now, Iím trying to think up what I want to create for the year after that. Assuming, of course, that anyone wants to pay me to do anything by then. Because thatís always an assumption or a hope, but not a guarantee. Iím super glad, so far, that people are still paying me to do stuff for the future.
Do you like art? Do you like artists?
If you do... If you live in Houston and want to:
- See local artists and listen to them detail their artist processes in a laid-back setting
- Network with artists and arts community peeps in a decidedly non-network-y atmosphere
- Eat pizza and drink beer,
then you should come to the Spacetaker Speakeasy on Wednesday, October 21st, at around 6:30 PM.
Telling yíall this because Spacetaker is a local arts org thatís near/dear to my heart for the reasons described in the bulleted list above. Iím telling yíall this quietly, though, because the Speakeasy events are still kind of secret and cozy, and Iíd hate for them to get too big too fast. So only show up if you really like art and artists, and only invite people you consider special and awesome, okay?
Admission is free and I donít get paid to shill for Spacetaker. (I am a member of the Artist Advisory Board, though, so I want to see it achieve its mission, because thatís how I roll. There -- full disclosure made.)
Iím supposed to be the ďEvents CoordinatorĒ for our department at work, which means, basically, that Iím in charge of thinking up reasons for people to bring cake to the office.
So weíre having a floor-wide, multi-department ďtrick-or-treat potluckĒ on October 30. No, it is not related to Halloween and therefore it cannot be deemed insensitive to hardcore Christians. Itís treating ourselves in celebration of coping with all the tricks weíve been dealt during the last quarter. Get it? Trick, treat? See?
Anyway, so I made the invitation for this event, along with a sign-up sheet that contains a lot of cheesy industry-related puns. (ďItís a mutual food platform!Ē HA!!)
After I sent the invitation, this guy Tom from one of our neighboring departments told me, "Thanks for doing that. It's been so dreary here lately." And that made me happy, that I could help lift dreariness a little, for one person at least.
And itís kind of pathetic, maybe... kind of Office Space... that something like that could make me momentarily happy. But it did. I make fun of Corporate America a lot, y'all know, but Iíd rather work for Corporate America than, say, Privately Owned Firm America, or Retail America, or Food Service America, or Construction Work America...
So, life is good. Thatís what Iím trying to tell yíall. Hey, maybe I can just repost pertinent bits of this entry on Thanksgiving DayÖ
Later, taters. Talk to yíall again soon.
Saturday, August 01, 2009writing stuff
Right now I'm working on my third novel, which doesn't have a title yet. It's Saturday night and I'm writing the seventh or eight chapter, out of order, because I haven't written Chapters 2 through 6 yet. But I have a good feeling about this one, already. I'm excited, and I think y'all are gonna like it.
In January, y'all will be able to buy my second novel, Lone Star Legend. Actually, I have ARCs (Advance Reading Copies, for reviewers) right now, so email me if you're any sort of book reviewer and would like a copy to review sometime in December or January. Just know that the ARCs have some wonky formatting issues that affect my OCD, but will be fixed in the real books, in January. :)
Aside from the very temporary wonky formatting issues, I think y'all are gonna like that one, too. Especially y'all who are familiar with the Internets and the things that go on there.
Meanwhile, I'm waiting for someone to re-design my author site so I can update with the events I'll be doing later this year.
And, um... Also, I have another kids' book coming out, called I Kick the Ball, but I'm not sure when, exactly. They said 2011 but I think it's actually going to be 2010. I'm super-excited about that one, because it has a little boy for a protagonist, and as y'all can imagine, I have an affinity for little boys, seeing as how I gave birth to three of them. Also, they hired a really awesome illustrator for it, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it all comes out.
There are also a zillion other things going on, all good, that I'm not supposed to talk about yet. So I feel like I can't ever really update y'all in a real way.
But... there is a moral to the story. The moral = hard work pays off. Hard work snowballs and makes you glad you started it.
I've taken a few knitting classes over the past three or four weeks, so now I know how to knit, and I'm super-glad because I've wanted to knit all my adult life but never managed to teach myself....
and now I know how, and I'm making a scarf out of cheap acrylic, and next I'm going to make a more complex scarf out of expensive acrylic, and after that we'll see what happens, but I have dreams, y'all.
I'm on this knitting social networky thing called Ravelry.com, and my name there is Gwentown, in case you want to friend me so I can look through your projects and steal your ideas.
Other stuff is going really well, all considered. I have no complaints, y'all.
I started to type a big old status report on my three kids, but then I felt weird and deleted it. I always feel weird telling details of their lives, but especially so now that they're teenagers. I mean, I have the mom blog on the Houston Chronicle, now, too... So I'll angst about the privacy issues there, and tell y'all here that my kids are doing really well. :)
I keep saying "my husband this" and "my husband that," and people think I'm trying to remind everyone that I'm a newlywed, but really it's just that I'm used to saying "my boyfriend" and I'm trying to train myself out of it.
My husband is out at a concert with his friend right now. I'm at home working. Well, I'm supposed to be working, but instead I'm typing this blog entry. Shhhh....
this little girl
Today I was knitting in public (which I've heard people say is tacky, but I don't understand how it's tackier than, say, shopping for clothes in public, but I think it's mostly British people who say it's tacky, and I'm in America, so whatever). I was knitting in public -- at the hair salon, actually, while my husband got his hair trimmed -- and there was this little girl.
Not to be judgmental, but then again why not, so this little girl and her brother were getting simultaneously bitched at and ignored by their parents, if you can imagine that. You know how I mean? Their dad was feverishly typing on his phone, but keeping up a steady stream of "Chloe*, be good. Steven*, be quiet. Chloe, shut up. Steven, I'm gonna spank you if you don't behave." (*Not their real names.) He wasn't even making eye contact with them -- just telling them to shut up and behave. Then he'd haul them outside and buy them ice cream, then haul them back in and bitch at them, without looking at them, for eating the ice cream like children instead of like adults. All while reading his phone.
So I was thinking, "Wow, this dude really doesn't enjoy having kids." But I kept my eyes on my knitting.
At one point, the discontent dad hauled little Steven outside to spank him or buy him a candy, and little Chloe started circling me like a hawk, staring at my knitting. It cracked me up on the inside, the way she literally circled me to see the process from all angles, then walked up really, really close. She was maybe seven or eight years old.
"You ever seen anyone knit before?" I asked her, finally, when I could feel her breath on my hands.
She shook her head.
"That's what I'm doing. Knitting," I told her.
She ran around to my other side and sat next to me on the salon's sofa. She said, "Are you sewing a blanket?"
I told her I was knitting a scarf. I unrolled the scarf for her to see, and showed her the knitting needles.
Her dad came back in and bitched at her to sit on the other side of the room.
Later, little Steven won his dad's attention by emptying the water cooler onto the floor, and Chloe took the opportunity to squeeze onto the sofa between her dad and me.
"Knitting a scarf," she said slowly, to no one.
I smiled in her direction.
She sidled over and asked, "Does the yarn break?"
"Chloe," her dad said warningly. But I ignored him and answered her question. Tried to. It took a while to figure out that she thought the width of the scarf was due to me secretly cutting the yarn. So I showed her how the yarn folded into rows. While I did this, her dad took Steven and left again, apparently deciding I couldn't kidnap a kid with knitting needles in my hands.
Chloe asked more questions and I tried to answer. I wished, then, that I had one of those little knitting kits for children, because she was so fascinated and so clever, I felt like she'd be a natural at it. You know? But I didn't have one, and I stopped short of telling her to ask her father for one.
Then my husband's hair was done and we got up to go. I turned to say goodbye to Chloe, but she was busy getting nagged at by her dad.
Maybe it'll occur to him to buy her a knitting kit on his own. She can knit, then, while he plays with his phone.
Or maybe she'll take a knitting class when she grows up.
fish in hot bean sauce
When I first met my husband, I didn't think that people ate fish fins.
Now I know that it's the best part of the fish to eat.
We went looking for this restaurant that my coworker Jennifer Y recommended. It didn't have an English name, she'd told me. The Mandarin name was, phonetically in my mind, "Lao Di Fun." She wrote down the characters for me and I put the piece of paper in my purse.
But today, after the haircut, I realized that I was carrying a different purse and had neglected to transfer the Mandarin-inscribed paper to it.
We decided to look for the restaurant, anyway. We went to the shopping center where we knew it to be. It was full of restaurants with Chinese characters all over the windows and glass doors. We found parking near the most likely looking one and went in. My husband, who is Chinese but doesn't speak Mandarin, made me do the talking. (I'm not Chinese, and I don't speak Mandarin, either, but I was the one who'd gotten the name first-hand from Jennifer Y.)
"What's the name of y'all's restaurant?" I asked the hostesses.
"Spicy Szechwuan," they said, in heavily accented English.
"Um... What's the real name, though? Does it have a Mandarin name?" I asked.
They told me. It wasn't Lao Di Fun. A waiter joined them. He asked what I was looking for. I said, "Lao Di Fun?"
They said, "What?"
I said, more carefully, "Lao... Di... Fun."
They couldn't understand me. Then, after like fifteen minutes, one of them goes, "Wait -- do you mean Lao Di Fun?"
I said yes. They said, "Oh, it's next door."
Next door, the same basic thing happened.
What's the name of this place?
The real name?
[Something in Chinese.]
Do you know where Lao Di Fun is?
What? What'd you call my mama?
Lao... Di... Fun?
Oh! Lao Di Fun! It's over there.
Next restaurant over, same thing happened.
Hello. Bamboo Dumpling House.
Lao Di Fun?
What in God's name did you just say, Caucasian Woman?
Lao... Di... Fun?
Oh! Lao Di Fun is over there.
And again, and again, and by now y'all are realizing that Jennifer Y must have given this place a very strong recommendation, and that we must trust her opinion. Well, yes. That, plus my husband believed that a place without an American name on the door must be very authentic and therefore worth trying.
We went in a big circle, with the last waitress pointing back across the parking lot to the first restaurant we'd entered, before giving up and deciding to eat at Alias Spicy Szechwuan.
(I suspect that Alias Classic Kitchen was the real Lao Di Fun, but that they literally could not recognize their own restaurant's name coming from my mouth.)
We got menus with several pages, but my husband suggested we focus on the House Specialties section. In that way, we ordered "Fish in hot bean sauce," (but one-star mild, please), plus fried string beans with ground pork. The waitress directed us to the "appetizer bar," where we selected marinated cucumber, marinated seaweed, and pan-fried pork rind for our three-appetizer plate.
While we waited, I ate all the seaweed and most of the cucumber. We each tried a piece of pork rind but didn't try more than that. I looked around at the restaurant's decor. It was nicer than the average hole-in-the-wall in that neighborhood, with a semi-typical red and black color scheme. They also had the requisite aquarium full of fish, all of them flat and pinkish and happy-looking. A group of Chinese women came in with one white guy, who talked very loudly about the girl among them who was his girlfriend and the fact that she spoke Chinese and Vietnamese and therefore "spied" for him at Vietnamese restaurants, and then said loud Cantonese words to the waitress, who smiled very politely as she walked away. Behind us, a baby ate rice from a yellow baby bowl her parents had presumably brought from home. When she was done, she proudly flung the bowl on the floor.
Then, finally, they brought our fish to us. Whole, on a giant plate, in a pool of spicy, oily red sauce. Damn, y'all, it looked good.
"Look at his little head," I said. "It's so round." His face was all covered with sauce, and they'd been good enough to remove his eye, so I didn't feel as bad as I otherwise might have.
My husband, who is very gentlemanly, filled my rice bowl with rice and put a piece of fish on top. I tasted it. "This is really freaking good," I said.
"Yeah. It's fresh," my husband said.
"Yeah, it tastes fresh," I said. "It's all like, soft and stuff. Like it was never frozen."
"It's one of the ones from that tank, baby," he told me.
I looked over at the tank full of pinkish fish. "Aw."
I felt bad for, like, three seconds. Then I remembered that all those fish were going to die, anyway, so they could at least die making people happy. Right?
First we ate the flesh that didn't have bones. Then we ate the flesh that did have bones, putting it in our mouths whole, eating around the bones and removing them with chopsticks. Then, we sucked the fins. Then, we spooned the fish-speckled sauce onto rice and ate that.
This is gonna sound crass, maybe, but one of the things I like about eating at Asian places is that I can relax my table manners a little and no one minds.
At one point, I was sucking on my fish fin and staring into space, experiencing the chili flakes and oil and vinegar and something mysteriously sweet, and the waitress walked by and caught my eye. "Good?" she asked.
I nodded. "It's very good."
We'll find Lao Di Fun next time, maybe. I was glad we found this place this time, though, whatever its real name is. 11:06 PM # (5) comments
Friday, May 01, 2009real quick - Adriana H
Adriana H: I do remember you, because I always remember that day we were on the parking-garage shuttle bus together. You pointed out the window at a woman walking down the sidewalk and said something like "I like that woman's bag."
She immediately stumbled over nothing and almost fell.
You gasped and said, "Oh, no! I always give people the ojo!"
I thought that was so funny and sad at the same time, because it was obvious that you had given her the ojo.
But, at the same time, I knew you were a nice person and therefore would never use your power for evil, if you could help it.
I'm glad you commented, so I could tell you that.
real quick - Robert S
Robert S: I didn't get to talk to you long after the lunch thing on Thursday. But I wanted to tell you that I listened to your story and thought you were very brave to tell it - braver than I ever get. 5:49 PM # (1) comments
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Since my fiance and I started carpooling to work, I pushed my 8-hour work day back an hour, so that it now coincides with the busiest part of the morning commute, and also with our HOV laneís 3 Rider Rule. For a certain portion of the morning, you have to have 3 people in the vehicle in order to get into the High Occupancy Vehicle lane. Therefore, even though weíre carpooling, we still have to pick up a stranger from the Slug Line each morning in order to make it to work in less than 90 minutes.
The Slug Line forms at the park Ďní ride bus stop. The bus at that stop goes into downtown on Smith Street. It goes all the way down Smith, then turns around and comes back to the park Ďní ride. The Slug Line is formed by people who donít want to ride the bus Ė who stand in line and wait for drivers who need extra riders to meet the HOV requirements. See how it works? See the mutually beneficial symbiotic parasite relationship thatís sprung up?
We donít work downtown. We work near downtown. So we pick up a stranger, haul them downtown, then turn around and hurry back out west, to our workplace in Houstonís beautiful Montrose.
If we drop off our passenger on Smith Street, we can easily make it to our workplace in time to enjoy breakfast at its cafeteria. If, however, we drop off our passenger anywhere past Smith, we fall into a time warp whereby each red light adds an exponential amount of minutes to our drive, and then we get to work late and canít eat breakfast, and then weíre hungry, cranky, and sad. You see? Every minute counts on this morning commute, for us.
Some slug line drivers will take riders wherever they want to go downtown. I used to do that, before I started carpooling with my fiance. But some drivers donít. Some drivers say ďBus route only.Ē Smith Street only, they mean. So we decided to start doing that, too. Before a rider gets into our car, we roll down the window and say, ďWeíre only going down Smith.Ē
Before I say anything else, let me say that this is America, and I was born here, and I believe that we all have the unalienable right to pursue happiness. If it makes you happy to wait in line at the bus stop for a free ride thatís going to take you directly to your place of work, like a hired chaffeur, thatís totally cool with me. I support your right to do that. Rock on.
You should, in turn, support my right to offer strangers rides to Smith Street only. Or to Milam only. Or to the Sam Houston Tollway, or to the moon, or to whatever point I choose. If you donít want to accept a free ride from me, thatís fine. But donít argue with me about it. When I say, ďWeíre going down Smith only,Ē donít stand there and say, ďIím just going a few blocks away, to Fannin and Dallas. Why canít you go to Fannin? Itís only going to take you a few minutes longer. Where are you trying to go?Ē
Itís none of your business where Iím ďtrying to go,Ē or why I might need the few minutes that dropping you off on Smith would save me. Step away from my car so that the next person in line can get into it. Wait for the next driver to come along, and see if she wants to play chaffeur.
When I very politely tell you, before you get into my car, ďWeíre doing the bus route only,Ē donít stand there in the way and tell me, ďWhat? Why? I donít see what difference it makes.Ē
Yes, thatís right. You donít see what difference it makes. And I donít have to explain it to you. Just like I donít see what difference it makes if I drop you off on Smith and you have to walk a block or two, the way youíd be obligated to do if you were riding the bus. I donít think walking a block or two is going to kill you. And I wonder, if you canít walk a block or two, why you donít drive yourself to work, instead of putting yourself at the mercy of strangers on a daily basis. But I wouldnít block traffic to tell you that, and I wouldnít ask you to explain it to me. Especially when thereís a whole line of people behind you who understand the social contract of the slug line and who exhibit manners and common decency.
Most people in the slug line are perfectly polite. But some of them are so bizarrely entitled and rude. It would be funny to me, if it werenít so early in the morning.
I donít want to go on and on about bad behavior on the carpool. (Well, I do, but I wonít.) Iíll just say that, if you get into my car and I turn the air conditioning too high, itís probably in a vain attempt to blow your cologne cloud out of my face.
Also: If youíre a blonde woman who lost a pair of glasses two months ago, or if youíre someone else who lost a pink mitten three months ago, email me. You might have left them in our car.
Weddings are like tumors.
Because they grow, you see. No matter how small you think you can keep it, it grows. But this oneís a benign tumor, so far, and I believe weíre strong enough to keep it that way.
We realized that Harris County doesnít do real courthouse weddings. You pay for the judgeís or JPís time, and it costs the same whether yíall meet at the courthouse or he drives to the location of your choosing. So weíre having Judge Yeoman come out to the house in the evening, right before our
The cake-and-champagne has become a dinner. Dat looked it up in his list of Cultural Heritage Statutes and realized that heíd been contractually obligated, at birth, to serve catered fried rice at any wedding in which he might eventually become entangled. So weíre doing that. (I love Asian parties because, along with the fried rice and egg rolls, they always have goi, which is vinegar-y salad with shrimp and peanuts. So weíre having that, too, of course.)
Iím relieved, because I felt a little uncomfortable about having a party and not serving a meal (Chicano Cultural Statute, Clause 57.03), and I was already planning to sneak in a brisket (Clause 57.92) next to the wedding cakeÖ and now I can put the brisket on a nice plate, right next to the fried rice, and itíll be beautiful.
You canít have a dinner without extra seating, and you canít have extra seating without building a gazebo in the back yard, and you canít build back yard structures with remodeling the bathroom, first, and you canít go through the trouble of remodeling if you arenít going to wear a nicer dress than youíd initially planned. So you may as well have a photographer or three, and printed invitations.
And you canít have relatives without opinions, and they canít show up empty handed. So someoneís bringing flowers, and someoneís bringing lights to string through the trees, and someoneís bringing special crunk champagne flutes with our initials engraved in emeralds or something. And (more than one) someone has volunteered to do our family planning for us and tell us when we should have babies, and how many babies we should have, and what they should look like, and what we should name them. But that comes laterÖ we told them to wait to the day after the wedding for that, if possible.
AndÖ let me say right here, right now that Iím sorry that we canít invite everyone we know. We wish we could, but we canít. This was supposed to be a quick courthouse wedding because we couldnít justify the expense of a lavish 300-guest fantasy wedding. But weddings are like tumors, so itís gone from a practical elopement to a tiny version Ė a 1/10 scale model Ė of a real wedding. But our house is pretty small, as is our budgetÖ so please understand that, and donít be upset if you havenít been invited. It wasnít because we didnít wish we could see you there. We wanted to invite you, but we had to invite our immediate family, first. We wanted to invite everyone we know, but there was literally no room.
Now, between books (assuming I write another book soon), Iím going through a mid-life assessment. Trying to assess where I am and decide where I want to go.
Every time Iím between books, I think up a lot of crazy ideas. But now that Iím in my mid-40s (i.e., 37), the crazy ideas seem not only more plausible, but almost obligatory. Like: ďDo I want to spend the rest of my life [x thing]? No.Ē Like, ďIf I have to spend the rest of my life [x thing], shouldnít I at least [y and z things]? Yes.Ē
Iím sure yíall know what I mean. Donít you go through the same phases? Arenít we all getting older, but also smarter and more efficient and better at making ourselves happy?
Hope so. 6:07 AM # (8) comments
Thursday, December 18, 2008After typing the section below, I see that weíre a bunch of ďironicĒ people.
We went to Hobby Slobby last night and, man, were there a lot of shoppers in a bad mood. I felt bad for them Ė why in goshís name do people do things that make them unhappy for Christmas?
We went to get packing for the baked goods we will make in our Seasonal Elf Bakery Sweatshop. My kids wanted to look at ornaments. They pretended they wanted to h8 on them (ďBlack ornaments? Whatís this for, an emo tree?Ē) but then I realized that they secretly wanted a Christmas tree. (ďMom, if we donít get this for our tree, then Iím gonna buy it and put it on the end of a stick and use it for a weapon.Ē)
We have a yearly tradition at my house. Everyone says they donít want/need a tree. Then, I have a burst of nostalgia and/or plant fetish, and I buy a tree, anyway. Then, I force everyone to get off the video games and help decorate the tree. Then, I totally OCD out and yell at everyone for decorating it wrong. Then, I end up decorating it, myself, while everyone else watches TV. Then, I turn on the tree lights and demand that everyone bow down and pay homage to the pagan shrine I have erected. Then, the kids go back to their video games.
So, see me sniping, three paragraphs up, about people doing stuff that makes them miserable?
Every year, I force myself to admit that Iím not a very pleasant tree-decorating-mate, and I tell everyone itís okay if we donít get a tree.
But, every year, the kids subtly hint that they want or expect a tree.
I can only conclude that they like having me yell at them, and like watching me get all perfectionist/insane, and like seeing the lights and the eventual presents.
My boyfriend is the one who doesnít want a tree this year. But weíre overriding his vote. He just doesnít understand the mysteries of our rituals. Neither do we, apparently. But itís okay.
Donít laugh at my weakness, Cold Hardy Types.
It got cold for a couple of days and everyone who grew up in Houston was sad, and everyone who grew up elsewhere rolled their eyes at us. But itís okay. I found a new way to mini-bond with strangers Ė just walk up to sad, shivering people and say, ďYou were born here, werenít you?Ē And they were, and so was I. And weíre all cold and sad together, and we can take comfort in the weather-related misery that loves company. And we can draw a line in the sand Ė not a Mason-Dixon line, not a Tree Line, but a Parka Line. Sand Truck Line. Snow Tire Line. Iím on the side of the line where we donít like to have that stuff. We like it warm.
Two days later, itís warm again. Of course. Our gods only give us as much burden as we can carry, right? The return of the warmth feels, to me, like the first hour your nose is unstuffed after weeks of sinus issues. You know that feeling? The extreme relief, accompanied by promises that youíll never again take the default state for granted? And youíre just talking out your butt, because youíll go right back to taking it for granted within a day? Yes.
I donít have anything not-cloying to say.
Iím all like ďYay, I love the birds! Ooh, itís warm! Yay, a restaurant! Ooh, the parts of Christmas that I donít dislike!Ē Sorry. Iíll go back to complaining and ranting soon.
I have to censor myself very firmly right now, because Iím really bad at keeping secrets, okay? You know how, when you have vertigo, you avoid standing on a cliffís edge because youíre scared youíll be unable to keep from accidentally jumping off, despite your self-preserving instincts? Thatís me right now, with the secrets. Iím like ďOh man, I better not type anything, because I might type what I got everybody for Christmas and then put it into my blog editor and hit Publish and then hit Yes, Iím Sure I Want to Publish and then I wonít delete it, and then everyone will know and the surprise will be ruined! Yikes!Ē
Iíve already almost-ruined it two or three times, now. In fact, Iím pretty sure everyone knows what Iím getting them and is just pretending not to, to be nice. *Le sigh.*
Let me go ahead and hang up with yíall, then. Let me go ahead and talk at yíall later. Happy December 25 if I donít talk to you before then. Happy other days that you consider special. 6:12 AM # (1) comments
Tuesday, December 09, 2008this weekend
Iím going to be at the Edward James Olmos 6th Annual Houston Latino Book and Family Festival on Sunday, at noon, on their childrenís stage in the George R. Brown Convention Center, reading my first book for kids, Growing Up with Tamales. Last chance to get a signed copy before Christmas. Itís a free event. Not only will I be there, but theyíll most likely have lowriders, food samples, and people dressed as Clifford, the Poky Puppy, or other characters. You should check it out. Itís Saturday and Sunday, and itís fun. Oh, and sometimes Edward James Olmos, AKA Commander Adama, shows up, too. Iíve met him three times now, at various points in my life, but he never remembers me. However, I like that, every time I meet him, Iím more successful than I was the time before. Hopefully Iíll see him Sunday, then, and Iíll be like, ďHi, Commander Adama! I have five books now! Last time you met me I only had one! The time before that, I had zero but I was playing Anita in West Side Story! I loved you in Blade Runner!Ē and heíll be like ďHello, nice to see you,Ē and heíll smile while my boyfriend snaps a photo of us, and the photo will come out with me in mid-blink, so that I look high or developmentally delayed, and I wonít be able to post the photo on my Flickr and no one will believe that I ever met Edward James Olmos at all, much less three times.
So you should come to the festival and see me. This Sunday.
Welcome to the (Publicity) Machine.
I had a meeting with my publishing peeps the other day and we wrote a bunch of dates on a bunch of pieces of paper, and now I have to do a lot of work to make the dates come true. I have to research stuff and email people and ask my publisher to mail books to people and write press releases and coordinate schedules. It doesnít sound like hard work, and itís not, but it is a lot of little details to manage.
Doing publicity for yourself is like a whole other job, in addition to your writing and to your day job, if you have one. And in addition to your parenting and your household-running and your girlfriend-being.
Most writers donít like that part of the job very much. (I think itís because most writers are introverts. Do you agree?) Iím not complaining, because Iíd rather have something to publicize than not. But the publicizing isnít my fave part, either.
Things I like about publicizing my work:
- Doing readings, making people laugh during the readings
- Meeting readers
- Exercising my creativity by thinking up new ways to describe my own work
- When they have free cheese and wine
Things I donít like about publicizing my work:
- Needing to remind people about my work constantly, which makes me feel gauche
- Feeling like Iím bragging about myself
- Feeling frustrated that I could do more/better if I had more time
- Receptions where I feel pressured to ďmingle,Ē instead of just eating free cheese and drinking free wine and chilling
- Putting my work and myself out there (like, say, on a Web application for sharing and rating books), inviting random strangers to criticize my stuff at will, as opposed to simply writing my stuff (like, say, on a blog) and letting interested people read or ignore it as they choose
But Iím getting over those petty peeves, with the help of self-directed cognitive therapy and the daily horoscopes of Mr. Rick Levine. Like I said, Iím not complaining. Iím just telling yíall how I feel so that you authors can empathize, and you aspiring authors can know what youíre in for. Some of you are reading my list of publicity dislikes and saying ďWhat? That sounds like fun!Ē And to yíall I say, boogie on, reggae extroverts.
(Thatís a take on a song by Stevie Wonder. ďBoogie on, reggae woman.Ē Sorry Ė Iím kind of obsessed with that song ever since I saw a drunk guy try and fail to sing it at karaoke three or four years ago. So he danced, instead. Drunkenly and heartfelt. It was one of the most beautiful things Iíve ever seen. I wrote about it, here on this blog, back when it happened, but I think that entryís been deleted. But I still think about that guy and that song all the time, especially when I think about people doing what they want to do, despite the laughter of friends and strangers.)
(The subtitle of these paragraphs is my take on a Pink Floyd song. Yes, half my blog entries are actually just classic rock song lyrics, altered slightly.)
There are these birds migrating through Houston right now.
Andrew told me that the grackles are very smart, for birds, which I already knew. I know this because they steal sugar packets from local restaurant patios, forcing restaurants to think harder. They take the Sweet n Low first, a waitress told me. The pink packets are their faves, basically. Even if theyíre generic, I imagine.
Andrew told me that grackles go under parked cars and climb into the radiators to eat the bugs that gather there. Can you imagine?
People here have been commenting on how awesome the birds are for lining up on the electric lines, all spaced two bird-widths apart. I agree that itís beautiful, and not just because I wish humans would keep two people-widths from me at all times, either.
Male grackles are iridescent black, kind of like black Infiniti G35s in the sun. Female grackles are dark dove-brown and always defer to the male grackles when it comes to food. No matter how many times you throw ciabatta pieces at female crackles, theyíll have to let the male grackle have them, if he shows up and wants them. Even if you yell at the male grackle, ďHey, you get out of here! Those are for her!Ē They have entrenched patriarchal inequality. But, besides that, theyíre awesome.
One of my winning-the-lottery fantasies is that Iíll throw a masquerade ball on New Yearís Eve. For my costume, Iíll fly to Venice and have them custom sew me a (male) grackle costume. It sounds weird, but I have it all planned out, and itíll be better than youíre thinking.
Donít tell anyone I told yíall that, though. Itís kind of private, my grackle masquerade fantasy.
I wish PBS would do a show about city birds and their behavior. Maybe thereís one already? I wish someone would do a whole documentary about city birds in Houston. No, I wish someone would fund me and a team of ornithologists to do a documentary about the birds at three or four Houston establishments. Probably Empire, La Madeleine on Shepherd and West Gray, the zoo, and any random Jack in the Box. I wish it was my job, to make that documentary.
Iíve never understood elderly bird-watching hobbyists, but now Iím obsessed with grackles. I still donít understand them, though, because they travel around, seeking out various species in the wild. I wouldnít do that. When Iím too old to do anything else, Iíll totally go to different restaurants and name the grackles, pigeons and wrens. Iíll be like, ďHere, Julio and Veronica, I bought you an almond croissant. But you have to share it.Ē And people will be like, ďOh, thatís so sad. Look at that old lady with Ď90s hair. She thinks those animals are people.Ē
I wonder if Iíd even like grackles so much if they werenít named grackles. If they were just crows or ravens or blackbirds.
Yes. I would.
Okay, donít tell anybody anything I said about birds today. Iím starting to think itís a little crazier than I knew. 6:13 AM # (14) comments
Thursday, December 04, 2008Now I have time to be stressed out.
I havenít written here lately because Iíve been under some stress, and I never feel like talking on the blog (or to anyone) when Iím under stress. But now itís all over, thank goshfully.
If I were in an airplane crash (God forbid; knock on wood), I already know exactly how Iíd react. Cool and alert as hell, Iíd put the oxygen mask on my face then put masks on everyone else. Iíd pull out the floatation device seats, hand them out, calculate the distance, count it off ď3, 2, 1, inhale!Ē and then swim everybody to safety. Then Iíd go back for the more valuable plane cargo. Then Iíd help with the rescue/recovery. Then Iíd clearly and cogently debrief to the authorities.
Then, Iíd go home, where Iím safe. Then, Iíd go to the bathroom and throw up. Iíd climb into bed, trembling, and cry. Iíd cry for two hours, probably. Then Iíd fall asleep and have a nightmare or two. Then Iíd wake up and be ready to start a new day.
Iím guessing Iíd do all this because thatís how I usually react in less major catastrophes. Except that I rarely throw up afterwards Ė itís more like momentary nausea and retching.
Last week I finished my second novel and turned it in the night before deadline. (Extended deadline, actually, but thatís okay.) Also, last week, I had extreme Family Court drama that magically resolved itself on the same day that I turned in my novel.
And now I feelÖ relieved, right?
No! I feel stressed! I feel all knotted up and uptight and downtrodden. I feel crazy and unsafe. I feel scared.
Iíll probably try to cry a little bit tonight, before I go to sleep. But thereís hardly any time. I have a lot of stuff to move on to. I think Iíll just move on, instead, then. Sometimes I find that stress is the best distraction from my stress recovery. :)
(This is what you call Type A personality. This is what it takes for me to succeed. Don't feel sorry for me. Be happy for me that I'm this crazy, because the sickness is what makes the dreams come true.)
shout out to Carl Jung
Do you ever have a recurring bad situation that makes you question your existence and your karma and all that? And you think ďWhy does this keep happening to me?Ē because you believe everything happens for a reason, but you canít think of one single reason for this crappy stuff to keep happening to you over and over again?
And then, finally, you find the one silver lining in the crappy thing, or you realize the one lesson itís taught you?
And then, the moment you have that realization, the crappy thing stops happening?
Yeah. Thatís happened to me a few times. It happened just the other day, in fact. And Iím very, very relieved that the crappy stuff seems to be over.
Thanks, Carl Jung!
Iím excited about this weekend. Hereís what I plan to do:
- Go see that movie Milk
- Go to the Turkish restaurant with the super fabulous dolmas that are not called dolmas in Turkish
- Start shopping for xmas presents for my brats, since theyíll be at their dadís house and therefore unable to see what Iím buying them
- Go to an Indian restaurant in my neighborhood that a real live Indian person from my neighborhood said was good. (I totally, gauchely but desperately, hit up an Indian stranger during a carpool ride. I was like, ďIím sorry to be rude, but are you Indian?Ē He was like, ďUmÖ yes.Ē I was like, ďCan you please tell me if there are any good Indian restaurants in our neighborhood, because the only one Iíve found isnít very good.Ē And he was like, ďOh! Yeah, sure.Ē And then he told me where two of them are. Thank gosh, because I was starting to have the Butter Chicken DTs and I canít be driving all the way instead 610 for treatment all the time.)
Despite my irrational feelings of discomfort, which are probably only Seasonal Affective Dysfunction, anyway, things are pretty awesome.
Even the carpooling has been awesome, lately. Iíve been talking with a lot of nice/cool/smart people, and that restores my faith in humanity and makes me happy to be alive. The other day I met a geologist who seemed like a really decent person. Another day I met a guy whoís sort of obsessed with ballroom dancing and he told me a lot of fascinating stuff about that scene. I met a Republican precinct judgeís wife and a former Democrat activist precinct judge on the same ride, and that was a good chat.
I continually meet legal secretaries who have hilarious or shocking stories to tell. I often talk with older peeps who have insightful viewpoints on local issues. Sometimes the people are witty and we laugh, and thatís good, to laugh with strangers.
Today a transplanted Floridian and I gave a woman advice on what to buy her grandkids for Christmas, and I felt like we did some serious good. Usually, if Iím driving, I just drive in silence. Especially with men, who donít care if you talk or not. Also, I like to concentrate super hard on my driving, so that everyone is comfortable. Iím currently obsessed with learning to brake my van as smoothly as possible, because my van has annoyingly tough brakes. Sometimes, though, Iíll get yakky with people and talk away the miles. Either way, itís good. I donít mind my commute anymore, now that Iím doing the HOV all the time. Even when Iím not talking to people, thereís always a lot to see out the window. I love my city, despite its flaws, so itís good.
Some of you might consider this big news.
My boyfriend (fiancť) is moving in with us. I feel like I already told yíall that, or like most people reading this assume he lives with me, anyway. But...
(saying this next part knowing, and knowing that you know, and knowing that you know that I know, that plans like this are likely to change and shift and grow)
weíre thinking about eloping now. Or just going to the courthouse or whatever.
See, weíve never been as worried about the wedding as we were about the marriage, and particularly about the physical love nest. So we set a long engagement, and kind of set the timeline around the housing market. Because we didnít feel we could be married until weíd secured a house in a certain area. And thatís not feasible until at least two years from now. So, while we were in deep talks about that, people around us were asking about the wedding. And weíd be like, ďUmÖ two years from nowÖ string quartet, samba band, and DJ.Ē
But now, the stars have aligned such that it makes more sense for us to live together in my house. And, now that thatís happening, weíre like, ďWait, why do we need a wedding, again?Ē
Itís kind of like: living together was the final step, so why do we need an expensive middle step? You know?
Itís kind of like: why spend on a wedding, money that would be better spent on, say, a trip to Europe? Where we could hire an Italian homeless person to pose as a priest for a few photos to send back home? You know?
So, thatís where itís at right now. In case anyoneís interested in that aspect of this eleven-year-long narrative. Plans subject to change, of course. Subject to Pricing, Funds, and Comp. Everything on Earth is subject to change, right? Even rocks, albeit very slowly.
(Every time I write ďsoonĒ for a subtitle, I think of the My Bloody Valentine song of the same name. Do you?)
Pretty soon, Iím going to announce dates/times/locations for readings for my novel, Houston, We Have a Problema, which is coming out January 9th.
Iíll go ahead and tell yíall right now that there arenít going to be many physical readings. I feel guilty about this, because every time someoneís asked me in the past, Iíve been all glib, ďEast Chickenfoot, Arkansas? Yeah, sure, Iíll do a reading there in January or February.Ē But itís not actually like that. My publicist peeps have done the math, and they think online and media efforts sell more books than physical readings around the country.
SoÖ if youíre a book blogger or media peep who wants to review my book or interview me or otherwise be involved in some way when this book comes out, now is the time to tell me, so I can put you on the list or put you on the calendar. Actually, tell me also if youíre hosting any literary events or own a bookstore and would like to have me visit. Iím not supposed to invest a lot of time/energy/$ in readings out of state, but I am going to do a few, even if itís only for the excuse to travel around a little and write it off on my taxes. :)
So, yeah. Contact me now. Our operators are waiting to take your call. Buy my product. Get a giant one for her pleasure and doesnít leave you. All systems go. See you soon. And thanks.
Gwen 6:08 PM # (13) comments
Thursday, November 06, 2008I live in a Red State
and therefore envy those of you who donít. I wanted, on Election Night, to be somewhere full of people. But I couldnít think of where that place might be, in my part of town. My own little neighborhood is very lackadaisical and quiet, and no one on my street had signs of any kind in their yards. (Shoot, they barely had Halloween decorations.) But our neighboring Ďhoods were peppered with McCain/Palin signs and I couldnít think of a nearby restaurant or bar where those people wouldnít be standing around looking sad/mad.
My boyfriend came over to watch the news with us, but I was falling asleep on the sofa by 9:30. Itís the freaking time change, plus the sun. The sun keeps taking off faster, and it makes me fall asleep. The other night I went to bed at 7:45 PM because I thought it was 8:45 and was too tired to be ashamed. Iím not nocturnal. Iím a rabbit or a day-time lizard, even though my boyfriend (fiancť) is a bat or a marmoset or whatever stays up at night with red eyes Ė you know those ones in that special red room at the zoo. Thatís what he is, and thatís what Iím not. So I conked out, planning to celebrate in the morning.
I woke up early in the morning and did my normal commute routine (commutine!). Everyone around me was silent, like usual. I donít know what I was expecting, but everyone stayed quiet. Downtown, a man passed me carrying several newspapers in one arm. He was holding them in such a way that Barack Obama looked out from the front page. I saw that and smiled a little, then looked up at the man carrying the papersÖ and he had such a look on his face. Not happy, but kind of defensive. Like daring someone to say something against Obama, the day after Obama had won. I dropped my smile and minded my own business.
All day long, I read Twitter and Gawker talking about people celebrating. Here in Houston, it was silent. There are a lot of people at my work who voted for Obama Ė I know there are, because they told me they were going to Ė but now that he had won, everyone was silent. Only one person (a person I love but who is immune to social mood) said anything about it above a whisper. She was immediately engaged in conversation by an unhappy McCain voter, who told us unhappily and earnestly that Obama was working very hard to make abortions ďeasyĒ to get.
Day 2, this morning, I didnít feel like going to work at all (Seasonal Affective Dis-Wanting-to-go-to-Work) but marched myself to the park-n-ride, where I was picked up by a married couple in an SUV.
I donít like to say ugly things about the strangers who give me rides, because theyíre giving me rides for free, but I have to say that the woman drove very poorly and that their SUV smelled bad. They talked amongst themselves, like married people, while I sat in the sour-smelling back seat. I had to wait for a break in their personal married-people conversation to tell them where I was going, and make sure they could drop me off there.
They talked and talked, and I had the impression that they were aware of me as their captive audience. You know Ė they said some cutesy things in a louder voice for my entertainment. You know what I mean? Me and my boyfriend (fiancť) do that to, sometimes, with the captives we pick up from the park-n-ride. I think itís a natural human compulsion.
But mostly they talked quietly about all the many, many things they were planning to buy, and how stupid people were for not driving or buying SUVs, now that gas was magically cheap again. I pulled out my brand new, special-ordered Math Puzzle Book and worked on math puzzles (trigons, for those who know). During yesterdayís ride home, I completed a whole trigon (6 digits, for those who know) on the bus ride home, and I was very proud of myself afterwards. But this morning, I couldnít make any progress at all. Thatís how I am on the trigons. Either my brain is working in such a way that I can do them, or else it isnít.
I put the book away and meditated throughout the rest of the half-hour ride, then. I told myself not to get upset about the smell of the SUV, its horrible suspension system, or the womanís sloppy driving. Because I had chosen to get into their car, and they were doing me a service, and I should just be silently gracious. Graciously silent. Either. I tried really, really hard not to listen to the coupleís conversation, because it was none of my business, and because Iím trying not to be so judgmental, now that Iím older and more mature and etc. But I couldnít help but hear them list all the things they were going to buy for Christmas and other occasions. The manís very important business phone call. His suggestion to his wife that she try a personal trainer that so-and-so had sworn by. ďI get it,Ē I thought. ďYou guys are rich. Youíre completely awesome. Rideís almost over, rideís almost overÖ.Ē
And then, right at the end, the woman switched the radio from Houstonís annoying Top 40 station (Roula and Ryan, for those who know and can commiserate) to a conservative talk station. And the talker said ďblah blah blah Barack Obama.Ē And there was a pause in the coupleís conversation. And I said nothing, but I felt weird, all of a sudden, like there was tension in the air. Like maybe they wanted to lament his winning, but censored themselves because of me. And for the purposes of this story, I now have to tell you now that both of them were Caucasian.
The pause un-paused, and the woman launched into a story about making fun of some young man. She recounts that the young man retaliated by telling her, ďOh, yeah, well I heard youíre pregnant.Ē
Sheís telling this story loud enough for me to hear it, mind you.
And she says, ďI told him, ĎRight, Iím pregnant, and the babyís due in 2015.íĒ Pause for audience laughter. Her husband obliges with a chuckle. I keep pretending I canít hear her, even though I canít avoid hearing her, because Iím polite like that. She continues: ďI told him, ĎIím having sextuplets, and one [is] Obama.íĒ
Her husband chuckles again. Iím puzzled. One of the sextuplets is Obama, or Obamaís? Or theyíre named Obama? Iím not sure what she said, exactly.
She goes on to the final punchline: ďAnd two are Michael Jordan's!Ē
Long, long pause for audience reaction. Her husband chuckled, but more faintly. I maintain my pretense that I canít hear them, even though itís obvious that I can and that she meant for me to hear. I donít even know why. Was I supposed to laugh? Maybe. They wanted me to prove my solidarity by laughing at the joke, so that they could feel ďsafeĒ with me and go on to disparage the president-elect, maybe?
The thing is, her joke was so effing stupid that, even if I were a bigot, I wouldnít have laughed at it. You know? I like to imagine that, even if I had been born in Vidor, Texas, to the Grand Daddy Dragon of the local KKK, Iíd still have a decent sense of humor. OrÖ well, forget that. I havenít really considered that scenario, ever. Iím just saying Ė her joke was racist and lame.
I thought about piping up and saying, ďOh, yeah? My husbandís black, too.Ē That way I would not only deflate their racism, but emasculate her husband by pretending I'd assumed he wasnít her husband.
But I didnít say that. I didnít say anything. I was scared to. I admit it. I was in their car, and I was relying on their kindness to get me where I needed to go. I said nothing.
They stayed kind of quiet until we got to my stop. I steadily pretended to be interested in what was out the window, but it was obvious that Iíd failed their test, and they knew that I knew that they knew that I knew it, and she was emanating the stink of the bully now, who has a victim cornered, and he was radiating the smallest bit of shame, because he seemed to know that her joke was lame and because there was now a specter in the air of his wife being impregnated by at least two men who were not him and not even of his own race.
(Instinct tells me that weíve reached the climax and I should wind down now for maximum story flow, but Iíve been writing this blog for so long that I can break rules and ignore instinct and go off on a tangent here, and be even MORE candid, because Iím never going to run for office, so I just donít care, so check this out nowÖ.)
There were so many long, long seconds between the end of her joke and the few blocks to my stop. And Iím so observant or intuitive or hypersensitive or overly imaginative that I was able to draw long threads of story out of each of those seconds. Iíd already noted, upon entering their car, that while he looked and sounded like a run-of-the-mill son of a bootstrap Republican, she was lower class whoíd married up. God forgive me for saying this Ė some of you are going to comment or email me and tell me Iím just as racist/hateful as them Ė but I could tell by her eyeliner that sheíd grown up poorer than him (black inside the lower lid with sparkly color underneath) and I could tell by her voice that she was so, so proud of that fact. So there was that. But then, when she made the joke about her multiracial sextuplets, while he might have enjoyed her crude racism, just as he enjoyed her looking up to him as her financial savior, I could tell that the Michael Jordan reference had gone too far for her husband.
ďWhy Michael Jordan?Ē he was probably thinking. ďI get the Obama part, but Michael Jordan hasnít been in the news for years. Why didnít she say Tiger Woods or T-Mac or Tracy Morgan? Does my wife have a secret crush on Michael Jordan? Does my wife wish Michael Jordan would get her pregnant?Ē
There was just starting to be that level of silent awkwardness when we got to the corner where theyíd agreed to let me off.
ďThis is the end of the ride,Ē I told myself. ďNow you can safely say something against them. Do it right before you get out of the car.Ē I thought up what I would say. I would look at her and say, ďThanks. Congratulations on your pregnancy!Ē
ďBut,Ē I told myself, ďisnít that kind of chickenshit, to say something right at the end like that? Isnít that every bit as chickenshit as making racist remarks in front of a stranger while sheís trapped in your car and youíre not alone?Ē
I was going, with 70% certainty, to say it. But right before I got off the car, the woman turned to me and, in a voice as sweet as small-town-Texas honey, her best Southern hospitality voice, she said, ďHave a good day, okay? Be safe!Ē
I muttered thanks and got out of the car and walked away without looking at them. Iím sure that, after I was gone, they told each other that I was rude.
I swear to GodÖ
Some of you want to think Iím making that up, but Iím not.
Some of you think, ďWell, Gwen lives in Texas, and the South is full of racists, so Iím sure that happens every day.Ē But it doesnít.
Usually, I have to know racists for at least a few days before theyíll make those kind of jokes to me. And then Iíll say, ďYeah, my dadís Mexican.Ē And theyíll say, ďOh, well, I didnít mean you,Ē and then theyíll get quiet and hate me, but at least theyíll have learned not to assume everyone around them wants to hear racist shit.
But itís very rare that complete strangers say those things around me. I was kind of shocked.
That makes me think that the racists in Houston are very uncomfortable and are seeking comfort from the herd, just like I was when I wanted to be in public on Election Night. No succor for anyone, then.
After I got off the racist SUV, I plugged my ipod securely into my ears, to soothe myself. After that, I got on the bus, which had riders of many ethnicities. Everyone looked uncomfortable. I wondered why but didnít wonder hard enough to unplug my ipod. I was tired of uncomfortable people.
There were several black gentlemen sitting in the back of the very small bus. One of them was talking very loudly, throughout the short ride to the complex where most of us work. Despite my earplugs, I heard him say the words Texas, McCain, and racist. I saw the other riders, of all colors, glance at him and look even more uncomfortable. I left my ipod in, as did the woman sitting next to me. Iím not a Texas McCain racist, so he wasnít talking to me. He was only talking loud enough that I was his captive audience. But he wasnít driving, and I had my ipod.
I thought he was a rude and hateful person. But, at the same time, I tried to imagine him undergoing what Iíd undergone in the strangersí SUV, times 5000, for his whole life, and especially since the election. And I couldnít imagine it.
So I said nothing.
Sometimes I wish I lived in a blue state. Usually, I wish it around election time. But in general, I do still love Houston. Because, ironically, itís diverse. And itís warm, and we have good food, and the people are usually friendly.
I never lie. Sometimes I exaggerate for a better story, but I never lie.
I told a friend that story, this morning Ė about the racist white people and then the angry black man. And I donít think she (a liberal white woman married to a black/Mexican man) believed me. She said, ďGod, why does stuff like that happen to you?Ē I think she wanted to believe Iíd somehow caused it, that it wouldnít have happened on its own.
But I said, ďBecause Iím out among people. You live nearby, and you get in your car and drive straight to work. Iím out with strangers every day.Ē
She had to admit that it made sense. She was sad. Yeah, so was I, because that shit is sad. Hopefully itíll stop happening soon. Some day in the future, before my children grow old and die. 7:35 AM # (23) comments
Monday, October 06, 2008Life in the Stranger Danger Lane
Someone finally let me in on the secret -- you can put your life in the hands of strangers, in the mornings as well as the afternoons, by getting picked up at your local park-n-ride and hitching a ride into the HOV lane.
Someone on Twitter tried to explain this to me -- said it was called "the slug line" in their city. But I'm such a car-town noobie, I didn't understand what exactly it meant.
You can ride with strangers downtown, for free. You can listen to strangers talk about their lives, and no one makes eye contact.
If you're me, you can try picking up your own hitchers one day. You can pick up two men at 6 AM in your mini van. After they're in your car, you can notice for the first time that your mini van contains, in order of nearness to your passengers:
- one torn cover of a Victoria's secret catalog
- one girdle, with all price tags, that someone other than you bought last Halloween
- no fewer than three pairs of shoes that smell very, very bad
- the contents of a busted box of emergency OB tampons, rolling all over the very back seat
You know I'm freaking awesome, because I turned around and saw all that, and then I just shrugged. And flowed down the road with my NPR on. Driving like a champ, even though my two male passengers were watching like a hawk, waiting for me to drive poorly. Sticking out my hand when I had to stop short, saving the life of the stranger on the passenger side, as if I'd given birth to him, myself.
The guys were good sports about it. I told them I'd pick them up at the same time next day. But I was lying. Next day, I caught a ride with someone else I'd never seen before. Another silent social contract. Another new face that never looked directly into mine.
The Sad Cowboy
I've been trying forever to tell y'all the story about the sad cowboy singer who works (worked?) at Larry's BBQ Buffet on 290. But I never remember.
Or else, like now, I remember but I can't tell you because I'm too tired. I'm so effing tired right now, I don't even know how I've typed this much so far.
I have a lot of stuff on my Master To-Do List. A lot of work I don't have time to get done.
So the cowboy has to wait. That's all he ever does, anyway. Wait and sing, wait for tips. Wait for someone to cut him a break.
I'm not supposed to tell you this, but
Shh -- one of my children went to his first dance on Friday night. First dance, first date. Shhh! Don't tell him I told you.
We were so happy to see it all go down. It was incredibly normal. Not like my first dance and not like my boyfriend's. But the two of us knew how a first dance was supposed to go, so we worked hard to make it happen for my son.
The girl he went with turned out to be a dud in the most cliched sense. ("I'm mad at you now." "Why?" "Figure it out.") But I'm even kind of glad for that. I pegged her from the start and was hoping they wouldn't start dating for real. I have the feeling I'm gonna be one of those picky-bitchy moms, for whose sons no girl is ever good enough. But oh, well. Everyone has faults, right? Even cliched ones, sometimes. 8:58 PM # (6) comments
Monday, September 22, 2008post hurricane
I only got Internet access back, full-fledged, last night. Hence, I haven't updated. We were out of power for a few days, lost a couple of bits of the back yard fence... found a cracked window yesterday, but that's about it. Nothing worth complaining about.
A lot of people still don't have electricity. HOV lanes all over town are closed, effing up the traffic. Fallen trees everywhere. Grocery stores still not fully stocked. Some fave restaurants still not open.
But no one here's complaining (much) because they actually have it bad in Galveston.
Someone on the radio said Galveston's like Houstonians' summer home. But really, they're our sister city. We love them and wish for them to get better soon. We love you, Galveston. My fingers are crossed for you, and for everyone else on the coast, to be well soon.
I got home so, so late today because of the closed HOV and crowded buses. And I'm supposed to go in super early tomorrow to get some important work done. Basically, I'll be home nine hours before heading back. Blehhhhhhhh.
You know what would suck?
If your mom married some new guy, making him your stepfather, and he insisted that you change your name to his surname. So you did.
And then, shortly after that, he would do something very embarrassing. So embarrassing that it'd be on the front page of the paper. And everyone would read about it, and then they'd point at you and make fun of you, because you have the same name as your stepdad. Even though he's not your real dad and you never really even liked him that much.
What if that happened, and then none of the kids in your neighborhood would play with you anymore, and none of your teachers would treat you politely, and no one would give you a job, even?
And you're a nice person, but they don't care. Years and years of you being a nice person no longer matter, because you have the same last name as this guy who did something embarrassing and got it in the paper.
Wouldn't that suck?
Yes, it would. And it would also suck if what I just described was actually a metaphor for your company and the company it had to merge with and the fact that your company is losing business now because of something that isn't its fault. Because, only, of its new name.
I'm just saying. I'm sure you can imagine.
Good news, though.
See my first novel -- the one that's coming out in January? The one over there, linked on the right, that says Houston, We Have a Problema?
Today, my editor forwarded me the first review of my new novel. It was a very good review.
I read it and was like, "Oh, my gosh. That's so nice. That makes me feel so SQUEEEEEEEEE!!!!! OMG OMG OMFG!!!!!!! JEEEEEEEEZZZZZUSSSSS!!!! HURRAY! HURRAY! YAY! HURRAY! HELL EFFING YES! HELL EFFING YES!"
And then I was like, "Sob...! sob...! sob...! sniff"
And then I was like "squee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee...." sort of like a happy dolphin, but with hands instead of flippers, and jumping in my seat instead of in the water, and wearing quilted patent leather peep-toe pumps from Target, which dolphins don't wear.
And then I felt silly, so I put away the review and went back to work.
(But I'm still happy. Hurray! Yay! Sob!!!) 8:51 PM # (10) comments
Friday, September 12, 2008Hurricane Ahoy
Thanks to everyone who's sending us good wishes to weather the storm. Yes, we're staying home. I think it'll be okay. Worst-case scenario, in my mind, is my neighbor's palm tree falling onto the roof of my garage. Or something flying into our patio doors and breaking them, but we cleared all debris from yard, so it should be okay.
I've been posting on Twitter, if anyone's interested. But, basically, all my Twitter posts summed up would say "Nothing's happening yet, and we're chilling and eating a bunch of food while we wait."
I would tell y'all the story of what happened at my dad's house during Hurricane Alicia, in 1983, but I'm too sugared up to type it legibly right now...
I will give y'all a link that Glark posted, though:
Prankster in a costume provides levity during a Hurricane Ike news report.
I'll report back here after the storm. Y'all have a good weekend, okay? 4:48 PM # (5) comments
Thursday, August 28, 2008And also, you kids get off my lawn.
Today I did one of those things that Houston park'n'ride bus riders sometimes do: I hitched a ride with a strangers so we could take the HOV lane. Hurray!
(Don't worry. There's a complex social structure in place. I follow the structure and refrain from getting killed.)
I like to do the Spontaneous Stranger Carpool because I have the most interesting conversations that way. Today, it turned out that none of the three of us strangers had our degrees. And, I'm not saying this because I want to encourage you youngsters not to get your degrees, but...
...but, um, why the hell am I worried about encouraging kids to get their degrees? That's what we talked about today. Why are kids, lately, made to feel like getting a degree is the only was on Earth they'll ever get jobs? It's just not true.
I feel almost hypocritical for saying this, because many people have heard me say in real life that inner city schools sucked for not exposing poor students to the idea of college.
I do still believe that all school counselors should talk to all students about college. But I don't believe that's the only thing they should talk about.
The facts are that not everyone is cut out to go to college, not everyone wants a white collar job, and even if everyone did, there wouldn't be enough white collar jobs to go around. There are gazillions of jobs that don't require degrees, but you wouldn't know that to hear the way Generation Y (or whatever they're called) is getting indoctrinated.
One of my fellow 'poolers said she thinks that not only are kids brainwashed into college at any cost these days, but they're also made to believe that if they don't get promoted every two years, they should quit their jobs. She cited the college-or-loser mentality as the reason behind increases in high turnover and low morale in Corporate America.
I don't know if I'd go that far, but it was interesting to hear her opinion.
I have to say that it took a while before each of us in the car admitted that we didn't have degrees. But once one of us did, the others quickly followed suit. It was funny that we didn't feel comfortable saying it -- that we were all obviously used to keeping that fact on the down low.
And yet we each had good, long-time careers in profitable industries.
We talked about the Air Force and the Navy. We talked about vocational and trade schools and how you just don't hear as much about them anymore.
And... that's all. That's all I wanted to tell y'all about that. That, and I like talking to strangers in the HOV lane -- connecting with them without learning their names. It's fun.
Workplace Magazine Centerfold
I hate it when you work at a big company and other people who work there think they're celebrities because they work on a certain floor or in a certain department.
Like, the other day, Jane Doe's assistant called me and told me to come pick up something Jane Doe had for me. I said, "Okay. Where do you sit?"
She made an audible throat emission of scorn and said, "In front of Jane Doe's office."
And I had to laugh, and I said, "Okay. Would you mind telling me where Jane Doe sits?"
And she acted like I had just fallen off a turnip truck full of lobotomized people or something. Because I didn't know where Jane Doe's office was. Because.... Why? I don't know. Who the hell is Jane Doe? Do you know where she sits? No, why would you? Why would anyone? I'm sure Jane's a really nice person, but she's not famous, as far as I know. Or else, as I said later to a coworker, "Is there some celebrity magazine about the celebrities who work here that I forgot to subscribe to?"
I think, if you get all your life's importance from the belief that you sit in front of an office that everyone in your company should know the location of, then maybe you should look at a globe or something and remind yourself how big the effing world is.
Same day, some person got angry to the point of rudeness because I didn't know she was the boss of some other person. And she made reference to her department's org chart and the copy of it she was certain I must have (but that I didn't). And I thought, "That org chart must be in every issue of the magazine that I'm not getting that is specially designed for people who have nothing in their lives other than this job and their perceived positions on the hierarchies that exist in the lower echelons here from 8 to 5." Because, otherwise, I can't imagine why I would have another department's org chart, or why anyone would expect me to know her place on it, unless she was really insecure and solipsistic. (Or just stupid.) (Or all three.)
If I found out there was such a magazine about my workplace, I'd read a few issues, but only in my dentist's office, for free, and only to laugh at it.
Except that it probably wouldn't even be funny.
Part of me wants to pity these people. But most of me hates them because they're rude. I hate rudeness. It's hard for me to care about people who don't have manners. Especially when they're also miserable people who spend their time trying to make others miserable, too. You know?
But it won't work on me, because I don't want to be miserable. And my happiness isn't based on who I'm allowed to boss around from 8 to 5.
Thank God for that.
(Some day a real rain will come, and I won't have to work a day job anymore.)
1. It's hard to feel it in Houston -- you have to wake up early in the morning to feel it, or else you have to pay attention to the refraction of the sun's rays -- but fall is in the air.
I'm happy just for that, because fall ("Autumn") is my absolute favorite season.
2. I had the flu on Monday and Tuesday. I might still have it now, but only Monday and Tuesday were bad enough to stay home. And they were pretty bad. I only get sick once a year, and it's always the flu. And I always get very, very sick for two days, and then I'm good enough to go back to work after that.
I like to do things quickly like that. I like to get sick quick and get well quick. Get drunk quick and get sober quick. Get emotional quick and get over it quick. I like that kind of efficiency. That's what fits into my schedule best.
3. I had to rent a marimba today. This weekend, I have to shell out a gazillion dollars for percussion instruments and percussion instrument accessories for one of my brats. I hope he enjoys learning percussion and that he sticks with it for life. He might. It's worth the cost, that possibility.
4. My brother-in-law and I pledged to start a cover band. (He's actually my future brother-in-law, but it's easier just to say it like it's already happening. It may as well be, for all intents and purposes.) (Not the dentist brother-in-law -- the other one. Let's call the other one... the wise-ass, drunken-ass, half-breed-ass, cold-blooded-ass, funny one. No.... Let's just call him the other one.)
So, okay, we were drinking when we made our plan. But we were also singing karaoke (my in-laws are Asian, so they have a karaoke system in every room of all their houses), so that makes it much more serious.
And.... What was I talking about? Oh, yeah -- we share an appreciation of Everclear in which my fiance does not indulge. That right there is practically an obligation to start a band, as far as I'm concerned.
5. I keep telling people I'll give them copies of my kids' book, or sell them copies, or sign their copies, but then I never get around to it. Okay, you know how we can fix that, people? If everyone comes to my Official Book Party for Growing Up with Tamales, in October, at MECA, which is in Houston's neartown west-end inner loop whatever-o region. More details on that when I look them up in my gmail and then post them in that section at the top of this page.
Oh, and also, I'll be at Houston's Latino Book Fair in September, of course. On Sunday, not Saturday. September 21, I think. So there you go.
6. I'm not very good at promoting my art. :|
7. That's all. I hope y'all are doing well. I miss y'all and wish I had more time to post more meaningful, insightful, whateverful things. Maybe some day soon, when the real rain comes, if you wish real hard and light those candles.
Thanks, if you do. Thanks if you're reading. Thanks, especially, if you're buying my books. Hate to be crass, but I have to say that sometimes. Otherwise, this site can't be a write-off. I think y'all understand that. I mean, I don't want you to feel guilty if you read this site for free and never buy any of my books... but, then again, I'm actually okay with you feeling guilty under those circumstances.
:) 7:53 PM # (6) comments
Wednesday, August 13, 2008An Open Letter [Feedback Form] to Whole Foods
Hi. I went to the Kirby location for lunch on Monday. While there, I asked [the hot deli] team when they'd have Moroccan Chicken again, because I really like it. They told me to come back Wednesday (today). So I drove over after work in order to pick it up for dinner. They didn't have the chicken. A female clerk on staff apologized, then suggested that I speak to the manager. I said I didn't want to wait. But she said he'd find a way to make it up to me -- that maybe he would have the staff prepare the chicken the next day and then give it to me on the house, for my trouble. I thanked her and started to leave, but then the manager, Andre, walked up. The female clerk explained the situation to him.
He said, "Oh, I don't think we make that salad anymore."
The clerk explained again that it was chicken, and that the staff had told me to come back for it today.
Andre suggested that I come back the next day or Saturday. I said I didn't want to do that. He suggested that next time, I call ahead. I asked why I should call ahead if showing up in person hadn't worked. He had no response, other than "Sorry!" with an insincere smile. He was very glib about it, and didn't seem to fully comprehend what had happened.
I wasn't *too* upset, because I figured that the staff had misunderstood me on Monday, and there was nothing Andre could really do about it, anyway. But his uncaring attitude had annoyed me a little.
I went to put back my other purchases, not wanting to stand in line for just a few things. As I did this, I overheard Andre complaining about me to clerk at the cold deli. He was shrugging his shoulders and saying, "Well, what was I supposed to do?"
Maybe you guys can give Andre some tips on what to do when customers drive to his location after work in order to buy an item that his staff has incorrectly said would be available.
Maybe you can at least instruct Andre to carefully look around his department and make sure the unsatisfied customer is gone, before he starts talking about said customer to his coworker friends.
Or, hey -- maybe you can demote Andre and promote the female clerk in his place, since she actually had some ideas about providing customer service?
An Open Email to Central Market
To Whom It May Concern:
Hi. I am a frequent Central Market shopper and prefer you guys to Whole Foods.
The only thing Whole Foods has that you guys are missing is Moroccan Chicken. Their deli sometimes has chicken that's been marinated with olives and preserved lemons.
Unfortunately, they aren't very reliable about providing that chicken, or even about telling customers the correct day to show up and purchase said chicken.
Do you think you guys could make a similar, Moroccan sort of chicken? I'm sure it isn't copyrighted or anything -- Whole Foods' tastes a lot like the chicken tagine you can get at Saffron and other Moroccan restaurants.
I hope that you'll consider it.
Gwen 7:34 PM # (9) comments
Tuesday, July 29, 2008bus story 1
Itís always cold on the bus. For that reason, I kind of hate riding it in the mornings, especially when Iím wearing a skirt without hose or tights or leg warmers, as is sometimes mandated by fashion in the summer time. But everyone has their crosses to bear, right?
This morning I got on the bus without hose or tights or legwarmers, and it was very cold. I put my iPod (my Sony Walkman iPod) into my ears and hugged myself into as compact a shape as possible.
The bus starts filling up, and this guy gets on. Heís a small guy, ethnic origin somewhere on the Eastern Hemisphere. He sits by me, and I take care not to sigh or jut out my elbow or even look at him, because I hate it when Iím forced to sit by someone else on the bus, and that someone else makes it clear that theyíre annoyed and that theyíd been wishing that their $3 fare would have somehow paid for two seats. I mean, I get annoyed when strangers sit next to me, too, and I wish my $3 bought me a force shield from strangers, too. But thatís not the way Metro works, is it?
So Iím sitting there, trying to be polite and only feeling a little bit sorry for myself, when I realize that the guy sitting next to me is hot. Not attractive-hot, but temperature hot. Heís radiating heat like a furnace. I peeked at him as much as manners would allow, but he didnít seem to be feverish or on fire. He was just radiating heat, somehow. Like, from the inside.
I decided, then, that he must have been a demon. Either that or an elemental, but most likely a demon, because I donít imagine elementals looking like people or wanting to ride the bus. I glanced again and saw that he was reading a text full of arcane-sounding words. (Cold fusion? HP 3200?) That seemed to confirm his supernatural nature.
I turned my face away from the demon man and, for a split second, felt uncomfortable. Then, I felt good. I felt warm. Iíd been cold before, but this demon dude was literally generating enough heat to make up for the fact that I had no pantyhose on under my sandals and knee-length skirt. It felt nice, like a cozy fire.
I wondered, then, what it meant to take comfort from a demon. Was it safe? Was I unintentionally giving away my soul?
Really, there was nothing to fear. In every story Iíve ever heard on the subject, demons canít possess your soul unless you give them verbal permission. And you have to invite them onto your premises, in the first place. Right? Iíd invited this demon nowhere, as we were sitting in a public place. I hadnít said anything to him at all. As long as I kept my Sony Walkman iPod in my ears and minded my own business, I could warm myself with the demon fire and keep my soul and its first serial rights. He wasnít even a big demon, anyway. I didnít think he could carry me if he wanted to.
The warmth made me sleepy and I drifted through dreams as pawn shops and Adult Video Stores sped by. ďIs this,Ē I wondered, ďhow it starts? Can people get possessed in their sleep? Is demon heat a roofie?Ē
But we made it downtown okay. Someone rang the bell and, like zombies awoken, several of the passengers stood up and stumbled out into the sunlight as filtered by skyscrapers. The demon got up to let me pass and didnít even spare me a glance.
I didnít realize why until now, after typing all this. Iíve already been marked by someone else. My soul is the property of Corporate America.
intro to bus stories 2, 3, and 4
So I recently bought myself an MP3 player as a reward for a job well done. (What job is that, you ask? The job that is being myself.) And, now that I have one, I see that there's a secret world I've been missing out on but am now a part of.
Before I had an MP3 player, I didn't want to know anything about them, because I hate window shopping. You know? I don't want to hear about stuff I can't afford, in general. But then they got cheap, so I decided to get one, so I did my research and picked the one with the most battery life.
(Also, I waited to get one because I just had no use for one before. But now that I have a job where we're allowed to listen to them (and where our laptops have no soundcards), and now that I ride the bus instead of driving my van and listening to my own CDs...)
Before I had an MP3 player, I ignored people who had them. I purposely spaced out when people talked about them. But not anymore.
Now, when I ride the bus, I notice who's listening to music and who's not. And I notice that other people notice it, too.
bus story 2
The other day, I was on the bus and I busted out my [Sony Walkman] iPod (which I will call an ipod from now on, because screw Corporate America and their branding. kleenexes! xeroxing!! orange and lemon cokes!!!).
I turned on my music and went to the place where I go to when my music's on. It's a place in my mind, and it's a combination night club, costume party, trip abroad, and Houston's Galleria mall.
So I was there, and I don't know if it showed on my face or what, but the guy sitting across from me smiled at me.
Not in a creepy way, but in a sort of empathetic yet wistful way. Like he could tell that I was happy, and he was glad for me, and yet he maybe wished he had an ipod, too.
He seemed like a nice guy, actually. But I didn't smile back. I just blinked at him and then looked away.
I don't smile at strange men. Especially not on the bus.
bus story 3
Right after that, the angry-looking man next to the nice-looking man gave us both a glare. Really, he just gave a long, long glare that encompassed us, all the other passengers, and everything else on earth.
Then, the angry-looking man looked at my ear buds. Then, he took some earbuds out of his pocket and attached them to his phone.
I don't know if y'all know this, but a lot of newer phones are also ipods now. Seriously. They are.
The angry-looking guy turned on his phone ipod, and then he closed his eyes and pretended to sleep. I hoped that his music made him feel better. I wondered what song he was listening to, but there was no way I could ask.
bus story 4
Today I rode the bus home and I listened to my ipod. Of course. Across from me, an older woman sat there with white ear buds in her own ears. And she kept glancing at me.
"What is this woman looking at?" I thought. But that question didn't make me as angry as it used to, because I had my ipod on and it's hard to get angry when I'm in my music place.
The woman glanced and glanced, and then, when I had to adjust my volume, I pulled my ipod out of my bra, out of the neck of my shirt, and did so. And then the woman kept looking, but her look became very thoughtful. I thought that maybe she was noting my clever idea of going hands-free with the use of my bra. She was maybe thinking, "Wow. It fits in there so well. I wouldn't have even guessed she had an ipod in her bra."
Then, the woman lifted her own ipod from her lap. It was a real iPod, and it had a leather case with an apple on it and everything. When she lifted it and opened the case, she glanced at me again.
I couldn't help but suspect that she wanted me to notice her. I suspected that she'd just gotten that new ipod, maybe for a gift or maybe she went right into the apple store and bought it for herself, for a job well done.
She flicked at the buttons and I wondered how many songs she had. I wondered which ones were her favorites.
She glanced at me again. I smiled at her and then I closed my eyes.
moral of the story
If we were in Japan, our ipods would send out signals to each other, and we'd know when we were near another person who likes the same songs that we do.
But we're not in Japan. So all we can do is imagine, and then empathize.
Right? 7:22 PM # (11) comments
Tuesday, July 22, 2008Don't be mad.
Sorry I've been the worst blog updater in the world lately. But you know how it goes. Blah blah excuses go here.
I got some awesome sandals on sale at TJ Maxx today. I ate some awesome Indian food. The cats are doing good, but won't stop date-raping each other.
I read The Yoko-something Officers' Club, by Sarah Bird, and enjoyed it.
I read The Bostonians, by Henry James, and it totally upset and traumatized me, until finally it led to understanding of my own young life.
I read Maurice, by E. M. Forster, and it made me feel sorry for Victorian gays and for Victorian peeps in general, because they never had sex, and it messed with their minds.
I read a bunch of cookbooks, even though I don't like to cook.
I accidentally burned up all the grass on my front lawn, with fertilizer, and finally ended up replacing it with sod. It took a long time, because St. Augustine sod is hard to find in Houston this time of year. Apparently.
So I bought all this new grass, which looked half dead, and now I have to water the living hell out of it every single day. Just like my neighbors, who don't even have new grass. I bought a new kind of sprinkler, too. It hasn't rained at all lately.
So then, yesterday, they started warning us that there might be a hurricane or, as British people pronounce it on NPR, hurrakin.
And my first thought was, "Oh, hell yes. Please let there be a hurracane."
And the news was like, "Jesus Christ! Fill up your gas tanks now! Governor Perry is readying the school bus fleet in San Antonio!"
Then I talked to some neighbors and coworkers, and they were like, "I kind of hope we have a hurricane so I can quit watering my lawn."
And I was like, "Me, too!"
Before the Lousiana/Mississippi tragedy, we were never afraid of hurracanes in Houston. They happen in the waters near here pretty often, and as long as the ground isn't saturated beforehand, nothing really happens.
But I'm glad we have disaster plans in place now. Better safe than sorry.
But I hope we get a few thunderstorms, at least. We really need some rain right now. I hope it's not a sin to say so.
We saw The Dark Knight and it scared me, to imagine people being so evil and crazy.
I hate crazy people, lately. If you're crazy and you're reading this, don't mess with me. Don't talk to me. Stop leaving me comments. Got it?
We saw Wall-E, and it was beautiful. I saw it twice, actually. Tears ran down my face the whole time, both times.
You either saw that one already, and you believe me, or else you haven't seen it and you don't. It's okay. I understand that some people categorically hate Disney, or hate animated movies, or hate leftist conspiracies to make conservatives feel guilty. (Or whatever.) But if you saw Wall-E and liked it, then I'm glad for you. Write to me privately and tell me what your favorite part was. If you want.
That's all for now.
I need to get off the computer and go work out. I'm in the mood to work out! Y'all wish me luck setting up Dance Dance Revolution, without my kids here to help me. My kids are all with their dad for the moment. That means I can't play console games or even watch TV, pretty much, because I don't know all the wires and controllers like they do. Feel sorry for me, y'all. Wish me luck figuring it out.
But mostly, send my grass vibes, okay? Send it "grow well soon" vibes. And wish for us to get a lot of rain, but not enough to hurt anyone.
Gwen 8:06 PM # (13) comments
Sunday, July 06, 2008I love to spend money, because I am American.
Not even going to lie or feel ashamed: I am a straight-up consumerist. It makes me happy to spend money on random stuff that I probably don't need. It makes me feel secure. Rich, even. Even if some of the people working at Neiman Marcus don't agree. Today we went to the Galleria (frou frou Houston mall) and I bought a bunch of cheap jewelry and a cheap purse. Yesterday we went to Harwin (Houston wholesale district) and I bought... well, a bunch of cheap jewelry and a purse. Yes. Actually, Harwin was extra awesome because I ventured past the usual stores (Trendy Jewelry, called simply Trendy by those in the know, and the purse store with the drawings of purses all over it, and the Korean grocery store), and found a tiny store in the corner of a shopping center that had real Indian stuff. And I got an Indian beaded purse, plus several fabulous cheap Indian bracelets. Even a gold bangle with red beads, even though I never wear gold and hardly wear red. I love Indian stuff. But then, after that, we went to an Indian restaurant and I took my bracelet off, because I didn't want people to think that I was some kind of Caucasian person with an Indian culture fetish. (Because everyone knows that I have an Asian culture fetish, instead. Hello.)
I'll still pass judgement on other consumerists, though.
My boyfriend's sister got him a Coach belt for his birthday, but it was too big. So he drove us to the nearest outlet mall so we could switch the belt for something else.
When the newest local outlet mall first opened, there was a line outside the Coach store. Why? I don't know. I mean, I'm guessing it's because Coach is the newest expensive thing that poor people can almost kind of afford, right?
We went to the Coach store to return the belt, and there wasn't a line to get in, but the store was super crowded and had a snaky, cordonned line for the registers. I stood in line while my boyfriend searched for something to switch the belt for. All around me, poor girls stood in line to spend their week's paycheck on a monogrammed Coach bag.
Remember back in the '80s, when Coach didn't make monogrammed bags? When they only made bags in solid neutral leather, and their catalogs proclaimed how well made they were? And gold diggers asked for Gucci and ridiculed old women who carried Coach?
Remember when poor people were obsessed with Dooney and Burke, and everything with a D&B on it was valuable as gold, no matter how freaking ugly it was?
Remember when poor people were obsessed with Polo? With Tommy Hilfiger? With a bunch of brands that don't even exist anymore, but which were always emblazoned with logos or names?
I wished I could interview the poor people shopping at Coach and ask them what they were trying to buy. Do they literally believe that owning a Coach bag makes them look un-poor? Or maybe even negates their poorness?
I'm the same kind of snob my dad is. When we were children and we asked for clothing with branding or logos on it -- like, say, a Pepsi cap or a California Raisins t-shirt, my dad would say, "I'm not going to buy you a shirt that advertises someone else's product. Why should you pay to advertise for someone else? They should pay you, if they want you to wear that."
I absorbed that lesson and others, and now I'd rather go nude than wear something with a big, giant logo, or monograms splattered all over.
Also, I'd rather be poor again than be desperate to pretend I'm someone else.
I wish everyone was stronger and less concerned with bullshit. I mean, buy yourself crap -- I always do -- but buy it because you like it and not because you think someone else will respect you more if you shell out a certain amount of money. You know?
I don't know who I'm talking to, here. Those little kids at the Coach store don't read my blog, I'm pretty sure. :) 7:35 PM # (18) comments