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, December 03, 2007A Plainclotheshorse
Sometimes I want to tell y'all what I find at the thrift stores, and maybe post pictures of my finds, but then I don't, because I've realized that I like pretty boring clothes.
Today, for instance, I am wearing black pants, a white shirt, and a fuchsia silk cardigan ($1.91 with orange tag markdown). And black loafers. And no jewelry, because I forgot it. And that's pretty much about as exciting as my wardrobe gets, unless I bust out a dress or the knee-high boots or something.
The other day I found a brand new pair of brown, unembellished, Unlisted loafers at my second-favorite thrift store, for $6.97. I found one of them on the floor, and I searched the store until I found its mate. And I was so ecstatically happy. "I should take a picture of these and put them on my Flickr page!" I said to myself. Then I realized how underwhelming a picture of brown loafers would be.
Oh, well. I'm still happy about them.
But, if you'd like to see something semi-exciting, go on over to my Flickr page and see that paintings I did to go above my fireplace.
The YouTubes and the CSSes and the BloggerWriters and the InterWebs
I feel kind of sad about the fact that I haven't posted anything on YouTube yet. I feel un-Web-pioneer-y. I even have stuff to post -- two or three readings and lectures I did that people were kind enough to videotape for me and then make DVDs for my use, to post on YouTube as I'd promised I would. And I haven't yet done it. I even have the video editing software on my computer. I just haven't had time to get it done.
Other information highway merge lanes I haven't had time to drive on:
- podcasting with the MP3s I have of myself reading and yakking at radio show hosts
- putting something about my books on the domain GwendolynZepeda.com
- getting on any writer-y sites and telling people I'm a writer
- updating the design of this here blog
How do y'all web mavens have time to do all this stuff? Is it because you do it as a career? Is it because you don't have 28 kids, like I do? Are you doing it at your day jobs? Are you tricking high school students into being your web content interns? Help me, ObiWanKenobis. Tell me your secrets.
It just takes time, I guess. Maybe I can do something on the web, next time I feel like painting a bunch of birds and hanging them up above my fireplace.
Weekend Adventure: Farmers' Market
One of my kid's friends spent the weekend with us, which was all the excuse we needed to conduct weekend adventures. We dragged that little boy to the Asian grocery store to see the live frogs and purchase cha siu for the fried-rice feast my boyfriend later cooked. We dragged him to a park that we'd never seen before, and that park ended up having bison and pigs and emus, oh my! We sought out a new (to us) carniceria, next door to our second favorite panaderia and ate a fabulously traditional Mexican Sunday breakfast of tacos, pastry, and insanely spicy hot sauce.
After we dropped the boy off at his home, my boyfriend dropped me off at my favorite thrift store for a few hours, which is always a very exciting adventure, for me at least. (Three skirts in gray and taupe! A light blue button-down!) Then we reconvened at Empire, which is the best coffee house in Houston.
(Please don't write and tell me that Brazil or Dietrich's are the best. They aren't. Empire is. Sorry.) (Just kidding. Feel free to tell me which is your fave, and why. I always want to know y'all's fave restaurants in Houston, okay?)
Best of all, though: We went to the farmers' market on Airline, which neither Tad nor I had been to since we were children. The Airline farmers' market is, as my youngest son put it, a "fleamarket of food." Their restrooms are nastier than those of the nightclub #s. But still -- they have beautiful fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs for dirt cheap. We're going back again very soon. Every single week for the rest of our lives, maybe.
I've been meaning to tell y'all this for weeks now...
I no longer like Billy Joel's music.
You know why? Because, the other day, I heard a song of his I hadn't heard since I was a kid with snot running down my nose and no sense of what was happening in the world. That song was "Big Shot."
Here is the chorus and two verses of the song:
Because you had to be a big shot, didn't you
You had to open up your mouth
You had to be a big shot, didn't you
All your friends were so knocked out
You had to have the last word, last night
You know what everything's about
You and to have a white hot spotlight
You had to be a big shot last night
They were all impressed with your Halston dress
And the people you knew at Elaine's
And the story of your latest success
Kept 'em so entertained
But now you just can't remember
All the things you said
And you're not sure you want to know
I'll give you one hint, honey
You sure did put on a show
Well, it's no big sin to stick your two cents in
If you know when to leave it alone
But you went over the line
You couldn't see it was time to go home
What the hell is this guy's deal? The narrator of this song is mad at some chick because... why? Because she talked a lot? Because her friends were "knocked out" and "entertained" by her stories? Because she wore an expensive dress?
Maybe I'm just reading way too much into it (as I will sometimes do with lyrics when I'm in my van, listening to the radio during my 1.25 hour commute), but it sounds like the narrator just can't hang with women getting attention. Maybe attention that he feels is rightfully his?
Read those lyrics, then consider the lyrics to "Uptown Girl," which Mr. Joel presumably wrote later:
She's been living in her uptown world
I bet she's never had a backstreet guy
I bet her momma never told her why
You know I can't afford to buy her pearls
But maybe someday when my ship comes in
She'll understand what kind of guy I've been
And then I'll win
Watch out, uptown girl! Don't do it! Don't marry this backstreet guy, because every time you want to have a little fun with your friends or dress up a little or tell anyone about your accomplishments, he'll ridicule you and your white-bread world. Then, years later, after he's erroded your self esteem, the two of you will divorce and then he'll replace you with a younger woman too meek to hold her own on a cooking contest show!
Just kidding. Heh. I'm sure Billy Joel is a very nice person, and his song narrators are no reflection of his own views on women. I just like to listen to music and make up funny little stories for myself when I'm alone in my van.
When I was a child, I memorized lyrics without thinking about them. I also liked Billy Joel and hated Bob Seeger.
But now that I'm older, I can't help but think about lyrics. Do I want to listen to songs that say "Ha, ha, you rich bitch, I did donuts on your lawn with my motorcycle," or lyrics that say "I had sex with a rich woman in Hollywood and it was awesome, and now I'm an old, worn-out cliche of a rock star and I only have myself to blame"?
Or do I want to go back to my old favorite, with lyrics that say "It seems like we really hate women, but then again, we did steal most of this music from black musicians nowhere near as famous as us"? Now that Led Zeppelin's having a little comeback, I mean.
Silverfish, silverfish! It's Christmas time in the city!
I decorated our Christmas tree (Douglas fir, $17 at Lowe's with $10-off coupon) last night.
I'm not even going to tell y'all about the all-new holiday trauma tradition we started, which involved the whole family and the meticulous slaughtering of the silverfish that have been breeding in our garage, in the boxes that came over from our apartment more than a year ago, which contained all our Christmas ornaments and decorations.
I'm not even going to tell you about it.
Suffice it to say that tree is up, the garage is clear, and my children will grow up with beautiful holiday memories -- the strains of "Deck the Halls" intertwined with the dulcet tones of their mommy's voice, screaming, "There's one! KILL IT!" and "Bang it on the floor until they all fall out!" and "Because I gave birth to you, that's why!"
Beautiful. Priceless. You're welcome, kids. I love you, too. 6:04 AM # (14) comments
Thursday, November 09, 2006Today
The pollution is making a shadow like smoke on my wall. It's kind of pretty, actually.
My boyfriend (Tad) got a new job somewhat near mine, so we'll be able to have lunch together again. I'm very excited about that. Sickeningly excited, some of my friends think. Oh, well. Don't be jealous of our love, haters. In fact - lick it. LICK IT UP!
Some of y'all might like this web site shopping/bookmarking thing called Stylehive. I like it well enough, but then I realize that I'm not that good at window shopping - not even online. So much stuff is not in my size, or out of my price range... I don't like to torture myself, sometimes. But go look. I think you'll like it.
I've been working like crazy, when all I really want to do is play World of Warcraft with my kids. (I'm a little bit better than Stan's dad on South Park, though.) I've been trying out new characters. My latest is a troll with hair like that chick from the Big Country video. They have good hairstyles on that game. I might print one out and take it to my stylist. Just kidding, ha ha.
Personally, I think Kirstie Alley is pretty attractive. But, apparently, some people don't. [Second link via.]
I don't know, man... I don't care if you don't find fat chicks attractive. Not everyone can find everyone else attractive, I know. But, seriously, when I see straight men rushing to verbally bash fat women, it sounds exactly the same as straight men accusing others of being gay. It's like a big race to prove that fat women don't turn you on, or that sex with other men doesn't turn you on. And my question becomes: What are these straight men afraid of? Who is going to force them to have sex with Kirstie Alley, or to get it on with another man?
At the same time, when I see women (especially fat ones) bashing other fat women? I just think they're sad, self-hating bitches whose mothers hate them. Because they think that the most powerful weapon in the world is catty comments, and they're rushing to use that weapon against others before it gets used against them (again).
I think the men and women who hate Kirstie Alley for weaing the bikini should all couple up and marry each other. Then, they should all jump off a cliff and die. Holding hands, if they want, so that they don't die alone.
I stole a copy of Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage from my friend Rose's house. Every time I pick up a book by Munro, I think, "Oh, man, this is gonna just be some flat stories about a chick who gets molested and then convinces herself she likes it, all set in the Canadian wilderness of 1933..." but then I start reading and get completely engrossed. The very first story of this one (same title as book) was so very good, and I can't wait to read the rest. Munro is the master. You can not deny.
I've been lending/giving out a lot of books lately, and that always makes me happy because if I don't give away a few more soon, I'm gonna have to buy another bookshelf.
Remind me to call the exterminator, y'all, by the way, because I saw ANOTHER EFFING SILVERFISH today. Day Two of the Silverfish Diet: Total freaking success, because I couldn't even eat breakfast after that. (This one was the color of dust. I won't tell you where I found it, because it'll make you cry.)
(It was at the foot of my bed.) (Sorry.)
Also, some wasps made a wasp house on my house. I think that's what it is. It looks like a mud battery pack with a hole in one end. I almost knocked it down with the broom, but then I was scared wasps would fly out of it and kill me.
Also, right after that, a stupid grasshopper was on the bricks near by. Normally I hate grasshoppers more than anything on earth, because they are minions of Satan, but this time I thought that maybe the grasshopper was there to eat the wasps. So I didn't do anything. I just went inside. And prayed.
The other night (last bug thing, I swear), my kids were freaking out a little over a big-ass spider that showed up in their room. I'm not scared of spiders at all. They can walk on my hands and I wouldn't care. I felt bad, then, that I had to kill this one. But it was scaring my kids, so you know. I had to use my son's toy sword to knock it off the ceiling. I apologized, then smashed it fast as possible into the ground. Poor thing. My son was upset that I'd used his shoe. The things parents go through...
So. Calling the exterminator, ASAP. 4:39 PM # (11) comments
Tuesday, October 24, 2006My nerves are shot.
Normally I'm a person who thrives on deadlines and slight amount of pressure. But...
Over the past few weeks, I've spent a lot of time explaining to people that I have this big writing deadline, and therefore I can't hang out as much. Even though I really, really love the people I'm explaining it to, and I do very much wish that I could hang out with them. And I don't know if anyone believes me, because the writing thing is so ephemeral. Does anyone ever see me write? No - no one except my kids, and they could easily be trained to lie about it. And yet, I have several books written, don't I? Therefore, writing books must be something that takes care of itself, or that I can easily put off until next weekend, or until Monday, or Tuesday at midnight, surely. Sometimes even I believe that.
Meanwhile, I have this jacked-up period thing going on. (Warning: talking about my period.) As y'all know, blah blah jacked-up periods blah, and this last one lasted twelve days, and (update) it doesn't look like I'm ovulating, after all, if my temperature-taking skills are any kind of trusty barometer, and so I guess when I go back to the endocrinologist on Halloween Day, he'll tell me that, yes, it is early menopause. And I don't even know what the treatment is for that, because the techniques are constantly being improved (I think, hope) and I haven't wanted to research it yet without knowing for sure. And, yet, maybe I should go ahead and do that, if only to keep the word hysterectomy from randomly floating through my mind.
Another thing I don't yet want to think about is the fact that, if it's menopause, then, logically, I can no longer produce children.
Because, what a cliched thing to think about, right? And, as several people have pointed out to me recently, I already have three kids. And I say, "Well, it's not that I wanted another one. It's more about the abstract loss of choice, you know."
But, you know what? I'll confide in you, now, and say that, hey, maybe I did want another kid. Whether everyone else in the world thought I needed one, or not. Maybe I had some half-formed idea to make a certain amount of money, and get to a certain point in my career, and then hurry up and cough up one last kid before I got too old. You know? Maybe I wanted to have a million kids, dammit. And, as long as no one else's tax money is supporting them, I figure that's my freaking business.
(I wasn't even going to say any of that on this blog, but now I've gained the courage to say it because of Laura Bennett. Thank you, Laura, for getting pregnant with your sixth kid and being unapologetic about it, and for showing on national TV that you like having kids.)
(Yes, I know I could always adopt. But now that Madonna's copied Angelina Jolie, I'm sorry but it's just not cool anymore.)
But, you know, like I said, there's no use freaking out about any of that yet, because I don't yet know for sure what's up with my eggs. So pretend I didn't say any of that.
So, anyway... then, speaking of having too many kids, I temporarily lost my youngest one last night. He and two neighbor kids were supposed to be launching mini careers in landscaping, offering their pinecone-gathering service for money door-to-door. I'd been worried enough about that, but decided to go ahead and let him do that, lest I be branded the meanest mommy on the block. But when I drove around to find the little brats, it turned out that they'd walked their earnings to the local burger place. Which is on a busy street. And by the time I got there, they'd walked back home. When I finally caught up with him, I lectured the hell out of my child, telling him I didn't want him going to the burger place without adults, much less without telling anyone where he'd gone. His eyes said, "Whatever, meanest mommy on the block."
So then we ran to the grocery store and the gas station. And, upsettingly, when we got home, I saw that my lawn had failed to magically edge itself, despite all my fervent wishing. (My oldest son can mow the lawn, but he can't yet edge it.) As we carried the groceries into the house, I saw my neighbors pointing through drawn blinds. "Messy-edged-lawn-having bitch," they said.
But I couldn't worry about that. I had work to do. I put a chicken carcass on the counter and commanded the children to pick it clean. I sat down at my computer and worked until bed time. "Can we watch South Park: The Passion of the Jew?" one of the children begged. "No," I said on autopilot. "Mommy has to work. Go read classic British children's literature before I spank you with a stick."
This morning I got an early start and fantasized about treating myself to a lovely breakfast before work. Then I bent down to put on my shoes and realized my top was showing too much cleavage again. So I pulled another camisole out of my closet and saw something so shockingly disgusting...
It was a tiny albino lizard running on my camisole!
No, wait... It was tiny, bleached troglobite!
No, wait... GROSS. It was huge freaking silverfish!!!
After screaming and killing it and gingerly putting on the camisole and the rest of my clothes and getting in my car and starting my 1.25 hour commute, I noticed that I had completely lost my appetite.
In the past, the old Gwen, with her external locus of of control, would have freaked out and seen the silverfish as some kind of bad omen indicating futility in all endeavors. Instead, in the present, I made a mental note to call the exterminator.
So then, finally, as if all that crap wasn't enough, I got to work and went to ladies' room and looked in the full-length mirror, and realized that, in my hurry to escape the silverfish, I had accidentally dressed myself like Molly Ringwald in the '80s.
I'm going to write a book called The Silverfish Diet Plan. (It'll be about using silverfish as appetite suppressants, not about eating them.) I'll get started on that as soon as I finish what I'm currently working on. Which will be... one week and one announcement of discontinued fertility from now.
Okay. Back to work. 8:51 AM # (10) comments
Tuesday, August 15, 2006Yay! (Plus Bugs)
I found my tile today! I decided to flake on work and go to a new tile place, and I found the tile I wanted, for cheap, deliverable this week. Woo hoo!
There was a weird, pregnant-looking, translucent spider walking on the tiles near our hands as I talked to the tile-store owner. He didn't brush it away, and neither did I.
When I got home, there was a half-dead stink bug trembling on its back in our walkway. I screamed very quickly and quietly, then carried my bags inside. I sent my son out to retrieve the trash can from the curb, warning him about the stinkbug. When he came back, he said the bug hadn't been there. But the air stank. It stank like dead stinkbug.
I am so, so glad I decided to take the day off today. I had only planned to take the afternoon, but after waking up at 5:45 AM with a huge task list already on my mind, and after getting caught in an unexplained, un-broadcast-by-radio traffic jam, I decided to just U-turn and go back home. I called Florence to tell her I wouldn't be in. She didn't answer. Gloria answered and said Florence had taken two days off to get her one child ready for school tomorrow. I thought of my three children going to school tomorrow and decided to quit feeling so damned guilty about taking one day off.
New couch shows up some time this afternoon. Woo hoo! Although I'm afraid to get too excited about that, since my kids will almost certainly stain the couch as quickly as they can. They've already put two scratches on laminate floor. :
There are some bad kids - no, bad parenting in this subdivision. Twice this morning I witnessed children saying things to their mothers that would certainly earn them a slap across the mouth in my family.
1. A woman led her brat to their car. "Open the door and get in," she said. "Shut up!" he said. "Don't talk to me like that," she replied. What the hell??? I thought maybe he was disabled, though. Maybe he had Turrets or something.
2. In a craft store, a little 8- or 9-year-old brat ran around and almost knocked over some glass things. His mother said, "What in the world is wrong with you?"
He replied, "What in the world is wrong with you?"
See, right at that point, I felt a slap across my cheek as if I said the words myself. At the same time, I felt a slap within my own hand at the mere thought of a kid saying that to me. So what did his mother say?
First, she sort of raised her voice and said, "You are acting like a nut! You are acting like a nut!" Then she said it a few more times for good measure. I kind of thought she might be about to have a nervous breakdown, from the way she kept repeating it in a weird, high-pitched, sing-song tone.
The boy said something in a rude tone and kept running around. Then, I don't know if she grabbed him by the arm or what, but he sort of squealed. Not as if he'd been hit, but as if he'd been inconvenienced in some way.
Then, the mom said, "Honey, I just want you to be safe. There's a lot of glass around here. I just care about you and want you to be safe, okay?"
The boy grimaced at her and walked with his arms crossed. I went away at that point, before the compulsion to discipline her kid became more than I could bear.
I'm not saying people need to hit their kids, necessarily. I'm actually kind of hyperbolizing when I say that. But, seriously as hell, what is wrong with telling your kids, "You'd better quit running around or I'm gonna take your ass home." I swear to you - the first time you actually drag a kid home for acting bratty in public, that'll be the last time you have to do it. After that, the mere threat will suffice.
Okay - for some kids, you have to drag them home twice. I admit that. But still. It's worth it. You drag them home once or twice when they're young, and you never have to put up with insane public behavior again.
It's not hard, people. They're kids, not teacup chihuahuas wearing little pink jumpsuits. If you present the consequences of their actions in a clear, stern voice, they will usually come around to your point of view.
Maybe I should write a child-rearing manual. I could self-publish it, carry it around with me, and sell it to people whose kids are being brats in public. Hmm. 12:50 PM # (17) comments
Monday, August 14, 2006Bizarre
Today I was sitting at my desk at work, trying not to fall into an allergy-medicine-induced coma, when something loudly hit the window to my left. I looked over and saw a huge flying thing. When it landed and got still on one of the stone columns on our 20th floor, I still had no idea what it was.
Obviously, it was some kind of insect, but not one I had ever seen. It looked like the head of an alligator gar, shrunk down to an inch and a half and tapered at the end. Then, attach translucent fairy wings to the fish head, and that would be the bug I saw. It was scary.
I made my coworkers come look. Gloria got the bright idea of looking at it with the binoculars Eric gave me. "Ew!" she cried. I tried to look but couldn't. It was just too scary.
Eventually the thing flew away. I guess. Maybe it evaporated. I didn't actually see what happened to it. Maybe it fell down a stairway into the hell from whence it came.
If I had known then what I know now about buying tile, I wouldn't be as stressed out as I am about my kitchen counter tile right at this moment. Because we have none. And I wanted it installed by the weekend's end. But I didn't preorder tile, and no one stocks the tile, so I'm still looking for tile so the tile will be done in time for the big party.
If it isn't, it's okay. My friends and family will understand, I'm sure. But still. I wanted my tile to be in place, in time. I wish now that I had known to order it weeks and weeks ago.
Flexible. Flexible Mode. Let's all stay in Flexible Mode shh...
(Go to my Flickr page to see the absence of the tile. If you're into that sort of thing.)
Tired Enough to Cry
I'm very tired, tired enough to cry, but it's good because I'm getting stuff done.
I really, really, really, REALLY want to open my bead boxes and make some things with beads, but I won't allow myself until more of the unpacking (and tile!) is done. So... Delayed Bead Gratification is the name of my game for now.
I'm glad my kids are back because I missed those brats. School starts very soon. I'm hoping for the best for their school years. Right, when school starts, it makes you think Christmas is right around the corner, even though it's still a third of a year away? 9:07 PM # (5) comments
Monday, October 31, 2005100 Things Meme
Reading the 100 Things written by Marigoldie and Tina, in which they wrote one hundred things about themselves, inspired me to write my own. I think this is a superior meme - much better than one plumbing the depths of your favorite colors - because the author's choice of revelation topics becomes a revelation in itself. As always, feel free to steal and/or ignore this meme.
Although a lot of sad things have happened in my life, but I still think my life has been worth living.
I was born in a hospital in downtown Houston, and I imagine that's why I prefer cities to suburbs and small towns.
My day job is at an insurance brokerage. At night, I write and take care of my three kids.
I wore a rented dress to my wedding. It came in three pieces - top, skirt, and belt - but all together, it looked like a single dress. I was glad it was adjustable, because I was five months pregnant at the time.
I have three children who I love more than anyone in the world. I am twenty years older than my oldest child, and all my children look older than they are. Sometimes people don't believe that they're my kids.
I went to the University of Texas on scholarship, but dropped out in my fourth year. Once, I totally flaked on showing up for a final because I had morning sickness. I ended up getting a B on it, presumably because the professor assumed that he'd misplaced my test and decided to give me the average of my other test scores.
I used to be a housewife for six or eight years, living in a mobile home on a rural chunk of dust.
Now I am a single mom. I'm not supposed to admit this, but it's not as horridly difficult as they tell you it is on TV. But that's most likely because I have a good day job, and my kids are all in school.
My father is Mexican American, and my mother is a Welsh/German/Scottish blend of white. When I was a kid in the '70s, that was a big freaking deal. Now, everyone is mixed and people care a lot less about it, and I'm glad, for my kids' sake.
I technically make enough money to be considered middle class, but I can't afford a house and, when we don't get our child support checks in the mail, we have to live paycheck-to-paycheck. This annoys the living hell out of me, even though I grew up way poorer than I am now.
I was born middle class. I imagine that's why I feel entitled to that state - it's a return to the womb. A series of unfortunate events out of my control led to my poverty-stricken youth. Sometimes, I have to admit, I resent the rich.
Although we were poor, I've never been on welfare. I almost got on it, when I first became a single mom. I got as far as th end of the welfare line. But then my extreme snottiness kicked in and I turned around and went home and searched for jobs harder, instead.
Before I went to Kindergarten, my mother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. I have very few memories of her being sane.
My mom used to let me play her guitar. I'd strum atonally and improvise songs. The songs were always about horses. My mom would clap enthusiastically after each one.
My brothers and I used to pretend we were on the Price Is Right. We'd call out pseudonymous names, followed by "Come on down! You're the next contestant on the Price Is Right!" My pseudonym was Wendy Reynolds.
When I was four or five, I hated going to daycare because, among many other reasons, the other kids called me Wendy's Hamboogers, and the other little girls always declared themselves to be Wonder Woman before I could, and my turn to be Wonder Woman never came. Not to mention that the daycare workers were racist against my dad, assuming he was Iranian when the US was upset with Iran. They probably would've hated him if they knew he was Mexican American, anyway, but they were happy enough to take his money and smile to his face, then treat me and my brothers like crap all day. I decided that I would never put my own children in daycare and, as it turned out, I never did.
I remember the bad things people say to me for far, far longer than I remember the good things. For instance, I can't call to mind any of the good quotes that were written about my first published book, but I can remember clear as crystal a radio interviewer telling me that my essays and short stories were nothing but a chronicle of my "golpes de la vida." ("Hard knocks," roughly.) So, right now, as I'm trying to think of a hundred things to say about myself, I'm very conscious of the possibility that this will end up being nothing but whining. I wish bad things didn't weigh more in my mind that good things. I'm working on changing that.
I grew up with a lot of males and only one other female. Therefore, it's usually easier for me to talk to men than to other women. At the same time, I hate it when chicks say, "I'm only friends with men because women are so catty!" I hate the lack of loyalty that's required to hate one's own entire sex.
I've had a lot of mother figures in my life. I used to imagine that women could sense that I lacked a mother. Now I know that being a mother sometimes just spills over onto people who aren't your kids.
I like raw sushi and raw oysters.
I hate grasshoppers and roaches.
There are certain songs that I love so much, I get goosebumps and/or tear up when I hear them.
I don't feel comfortable on the dance floor unless I'm drunk.
I was never really good at sports, and that used to bother me in high school, but now I couldn't care less.
I took ballet, jazz, modern, salsa, and African dance classes from the ages of 14 to 18, thanks to a local non-profit arts organization for poverty-stricken youth. I suffered the humiliation of dancing on stage in order to sing in second-banana roles in the little productions we put on. I played Anita in West Side Story, and Bombalurina in Cats. Our two ballet teachers cured me of being knock-kneed and graceless.
My aunt told me once that the reason I was ashamed of my own dancing was that my mom never let me dance. I don't remember that.
My aunt pretty much served as my mom until she died a few years ago. I miss her a lot sometimes. I cried like a maniac at her rosary, partially because I'd been angry with her right before she died. After she died, I had a series of dreams in which she clarified and apologized for the past. I know that most people would say that was a product of my own subconscious, but I believe it was really her, communicating with me after death.
When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time trying to prove to my Latino friends and neighbors that I was Latina, not white. Now I've accepted that I'm also white, and I try not to worry about what people assume about me. Screw them if they don't like it.
Still, it bothers me when non-white people hate on me for being white. Last month, a crazy homeless black guy sneered at me in the post office. "That's just like a white woman," he said. "Turn away from the n***er when he passes you by." I told my black coworkers what happened and one asked me if I corrected his assumptions. I said no, because he was crazy. But it does bother me, when people assume that I'm racist because of the color of my skin.
I'll be glad when all the human ethnicities on Earth are so well blended that race no longer exists.
My boyfriend is Chinese. Sometimes people gawk at us, just like they must have gawked at my dad and mom back in the day. I can't help that interracial lovin' is in my blood.
When I was a teenager, I secretly thought Asian men were the sexiest men on Earth. This was probably fueled by a steady diet of kung fu movies. But I never hit on Asian guys, because I assumed they would only want to date Asian women. Now I know that everybody in the world wants different things, and you never know until you ask.
I think about race issues a lot. Especially today, since I saw Crash last night.
Another touchy subject I think about a lot is sexual abuse. I was molested, harassed, and/or abused many times in my youth, by different people, to varying degrees. For a long time, I thought it was only happening to me, and I thought that it was something I was supposed to keep to myself. Then, I started reading about it happening to others, and I started talking to my friends, and then I came to believe that it happened to every single woman on Earth. Now, I realize that that's probably not the case. I'm not some crusader who feels the need to trumpet "I was molested!!!" at every social gathering, but I am thankful to the people who had the guts to talk about it when I was young, because they kept me from feeling alone.
Back when I was still breeding, I wanted very badly to have a daughter. So, while trying, I had three boys in a row. The night before the third sonogram, I dreamed that my third baby was a boy and that there was a very good reason for it. So I decided to believe that I was specially designed to be a good mother to boys. Other women who have lots of boys and no daughters tell me they feel the same way.
Five years ago a palm reader told me that I was destined to have three boys and one girl. She also said that I would make a lot of money in my lifetime, but it would always slip through my fingers. That fortune upset me. I think about it to this day whenever I overdraft my bank account. I wish I'd never heard that fortune, sometimes.
If I keep writing whole paragraphs for each of my hundred things, I'll never get this done.
I got accepted by Vassar. They offered to pay half my tuition. But I couldn't even afford half, so I didn't go.
The day I graduated from high school, my plan was to move into my friend Dorothy's apartment in small-town Mont Belview, and get a job at the Dairy Queen behind her complex.
A rich woman who volunteered as a mentor at our local non-profit forced me to apply to colleges, instead.
I went to New York City when I was eighteen and thought it was the most fabulous city I'd ever seen.
I've never been west of Austin, Texas, though.
The farthest I've been from home is Toronto.
The farthest south I've been is Monterrey.
I fantasize about traveling when I'm rich. I especially want to go to Tokyo.
When I was young, I was tall and thin and yet hourglass-shaped. The minute I went off to college, I got fat as hell. I stayed very fat for about ten years, until right around my divorce, when I did the Atkins diet and lost a hundred pounds.
Since I lost a hundred pounds five years ago, I've gained back about 20 to 25. It goes up and down. I can't seem to get below size 14, and I won't let myself get above size 20.
I never thought of myself as pretty until October of 2003. Prior to that, whenever people told me I was pretty, I assumed they wanted something from me.
Being very slender and then very fat and then all points in between has taught me a lot of stuff about human nature that I didn't want to know.
I used to think it was possible for a woman to be friends with a man without there being any hope for sex on his part, but now I'm starting to think that I was wrong.
Sometimes I feel less than girly because I don't care about celebrities' personal lives.
Sometimes I feel less than girly because I have to tweeze little hairs from my chin.
I used to watch Days of Our Lives and the other soaps on NBC with my aunt. I stopped watching when I was pregnant with my first kid and the plotlines turned supernatural. They literally made me throw up.
I hardly watch prime-time TV at all. Not because I'm a pop-cult snob, but because it's too hard to commit to all the serial-type shows that are on now.
I do, however, watch America's Next Top Model religiously.
I love lots of kinds of clothing, but my own wardrobe is pretty "classic," i.e. conservative and boring.
The fatter I am, the less I like to shop.
Ric Ocasek was the only rock star who ever came out looking like I'd imagined he would.
When I was in junior high, I was in love with Sting. I'm ashamed that I would go to the library and cut pictures of Sting and the Police out of magazines.
Now I can't write on books or deface them at all. And I hate to buy used books that have been written in.
Sometimes I end sentences in prepositions even though I know it's wrong.
When I was studying art as a teenager, I often drew pictures of shirtless men. Then I realized that that upset my dad, so I started drawing shirtless women, instead.
I like to correspond with people I've met online, but I'm still wary of meeting those people in real life.
The more successful I get, the more I censor myself on this blog. Sometimes I miss writing for strangers only.
When I got my first book published, I thought it would change my life. It didn't, but I do feel better about myself. It increased my self-esteem.
If I can't get my second book published, I'm not sure what I'll do.
I am well aware that books don't sell as well as they used to. And yet, I retain my book-related goals.
I fantasize about having a garden. That's the only thing I miss about living in the mobile home.
For the longest time, my bad experiences with houseplants made me think that I had a black thumb. Then I tried real gardening and realized that it's pretty much foolproof. More importantly, though, it's magic. I think gardening changes lives.
I have this book that I've been working on for two or three years. I'm not sure anyone will ever want to buy it, so I work on other books in the mean time. But this one I've been working on for so long means a lot to me. I think about it often.
I wish I had time to do projects - books, art, film, elaborate pranks, whatever - all the time.
I'm very good at karaoke, but I hardly ever go.
I'm also good at Dance Dance Revolution, probably because of all the ballet.
I used to have severe secret crushes on the most random men, ever since I was a teenager. I was the Queen of Unrequited Infatuation and only dated men to whom I was almost ambivalent. But that's stopped since I met my current boyfriend, two and half years ago. He was my last serious crush, and the only one that ever materialized into a relationship.
I dressed up for Halloween on Saturday, after all. I'd planned for my costume to be sexy yet scary. When I got the pictures back, I realized that I was way more scary than sexy. At first that bothered me, but now I'm okay. The only real Halloween costume for girls? Doesn't have to be "slut."
I don't consider myself slutty, but I don't think there's anything wrong with women who want to sleep around.
People assume, because I'm a feminist and I don't hate homosexuals, that I must be a flaming liberal. I consider myself moderate, though. A moderate who's slightly more annoyed by hardcore conservatives than she is by hardcore liberals.
Every time I turn on the TV and that movie Bird Cage is on, I end up having to watch the whole thing. One time I even watched the Spanish version, which was horribly dubbed, on Univision.
I like to get pedicures.
I like back rubs in theory, but then, when people try to give me one, it sort of bothers me.
After my divorce, I gave myself permission to cut my hair very short. It was liberating.
When my hair was short, I often dreamed about it being long again. So I grew it out. It's very long now, and I'm glad to have put a stop to those annoying dreams.
I would never get a tattoo.
I have a gold tooth. A molar. I begged them not to make it gold, but they said they had to.
I had another molar removed last year. It was traumatizing at the time - the process as well as the stigma of missing a tooth. But then I talked to my friend Yvonne about it and was cured.
My dentist is my boyfriend's brother. During my appointments, he and I talk more about his family than he and his brother do. Sometimes it seems like my teeth cleanings are the way they stay connected.
I often dream about having to live in my dad's house. I end up having to clean my old room or else remodel the whole freaking house.
I used to dream that I was back in high school, unable to find my classroom. Then, I graduated to dreaming that I was in college, but wasting too much time at the coffee house to make it to class.
Because of my various assistant day jobs and my lack of interest in celebrities' personal lives, I'm certain that I'd make an excellent personal assistant for a celebrity. I would do it if it paid well. And, you know, if I lived in Hollywood.
Even though Texas is total red state, I love it very much. People say Texas is like a cult that creepily indoctrinates its youth with state love. It's true, I guess.
I hate it when people are rude. I like it when people are polite. I think this comes from reading too much British children's literature.
I'm secretly a geeky 12 year old boy. I play geeky video games and love all that Dungeons and Dragons type crap.
I'm glad I've been losing weight lately, but I'm sad that I'll have to re-buy size 16 work clothes soon, because I gave all the ones I had to a Hurricane Katrina evacuee, because I thought I'd never lose the weight.
There's this lady who makes breakfast tacos in our building's corporate cafeteria. She seems really decent. Sometimes I wish she was my mom.
I've stopped telling most people about the books, songs, and movies that I love, because when they don't love those things as much as I do, it sort of bugs me.
Even though hardly anyone listens to trance anymore, I can't stop liking it yet.
Even though it's cliched, I fantasize about being rich. Often.
At this point, I'm just typing anything that comes to mind in order to finish these hundred things.
When I get rich, I will totally get a tummy tuck.
I think something's wrong with my right eye, because I keep having trouble with my right contact lens, even if I'm wearing a brand new one. My optometrist is my boyfriend's sister-in-law. That and the dentistry are the reasons I can never break up with him. Unless I get rich or get better insurance, I mean.
Yay, I did it. THE END!
Labels: insects4:07 PM # (13) comments
Friday, September 17, 2004A Scary Thing
I called Julio about a work-related system. While I was pointing out the inefficiency of a certain aspect of said system (read: the secretary who wanted to use Liquid Paper in place of technology), he said, "You don't want to come over here right now. There's a really big cricket outside my window. I know you hate stuff like that. I've never seen such a big cricket..."
I said, "Let me go over there right now."
It wasn't a cricket. It was a locust. And just a normal-sized one, too. What was striking about it was that this stupid, ugly, normal-sized locust was on the window ledge of the twentieth freaking floor.
[I just spent half my lunch hour googling "locust grasshopper difference" so that, when I told y'all it was locust and not a cricket or a grasshopper, I could link to an illustration pointing out the distinguishing features. According to all the sites I found, locusts are what you call grasshoppers when they're in the mood to swarm. But all those sites were hosted from places outside of Central Texas. After recovering from ten years of life in Central Texas with its annual insect plagues, I've come up with my own personal entomology. For the purposes of this entry and everything I write in the future: Grasshoppers are green, like grass. They range from zero to four inches and can have ugly, blind-looking eyes. They only hop. Locusts are shaped like grasshoppers, but they're bigger - up to eight inches long, in my experience - and come in brown, olive green, or distressed khaki. You see them parked on shrubs or upside-down on older houses. Crickets are squat, black creatures, always an inch long in adulthood. Cicadas and katydids are words you find in books about people who don't live in Central Texas. Okay. Now you can continue reading my anecdote.]
I walked up to the window, which made up one whole wall of the office, and stared at the locust from behind the safety of the very thick glass.
"Ew," I said.
"Look at his legs," said Julio.
In a violent flash of purposeful fury, the locust flew at the window. One loud thud and then a second one issued like explosions as he thrust his body at the glass nearest to my face. I screamed and ran to the opposite corner of the office. I turned back and peered through my trembling fingers just in time to see the monster fly, with nasty legs extended, through the sky to the twenty-first floor. Or to the top of our building, maybe. Or maybe up to Heaven to attack the angels.
Julio laughed uncomfortably, like someone who'd just avoided getting hit by a train. "I knew I shouldn't have told you about it," he said. "That really scared you, huh?"
"It tried to fly in my hair," I whispered.
We spent a minute musing on how the locust had gotten so high and what its intentions could possibly be. Then we spent a minute or two being scared to go outside.
As you may know, I sometimes see insects as omens. If that experience was an omen, I think its message was, "People may get pissed off and threaten you after you serve them with child-support-enforcement-hearing papers, and you might be scared, but those people really can't hurt you, so go ahead and live your life."
My friend Letty just called see if I minded postponing our lunch plans. I didn't mind at all. I'm staying inside until it's time to go home.
Labels: insects1:09 PM # (17) comments
Tuesday, June 22, 2004I could write about bugs all day.
Today in the parking garage, Brie and I saw a huge, huge moth. Six or seven inches wide. The kinds you find in Texas and on the islands where such hellish things are bred. (But it didn't chase us or anything, so I was okay.)
At Ming's Cafe, right after that, I saw a tiny moth in the ladies' room.
I'm very superstitious about bugs. When I see them, I think it means something. But I don't always know what it means.
Here's the Bug Superstition Lexicon I've developed so far, from my own experience and intuition:
- Big Roaches: Big roaches - especially flying ones, are bad. If they fly into your hair, it means you're in a bad situation. If they appear on the ceiling above your head, it also means that you're in a bad situation.
- Small or Medium Sized Roaches: These mean that people need to quit leaving crumbs all over the place.
- Earthworms: Earthworms in your soil mean that you're doing good. Earthworms dead or dying on the sidewalk mean that you need to take time to remember how good you have it.
- Snails: Seeing snails hauling their little houses around all slow means that right now, you can't see the future you're working towards. But you should keep working, anyway. Snails sitting still on a wall or a tree mean nothing.
- Slugs: Slugs mean watch your freaking step. Goddamn, I hate slugs.
- Ants: If you see the ants working hard, it means you should follow their example. If the ants are just standing there looking at you, it means you're working hard and should be proud. If they're in your laundry, it means you're sexually attractive on a primal level.
- Big Black Fuzzy Caterpillars Totally Hauling Ass Across the Street Under the Overpass Near My Apartment Complex: These are rare, but it's good if you can see them. It means that you're going to kick ass and take names, whether the idiots around you realize it or not.
- Bees, Wasps and Other Stinging Insects (Except for Mosquitos): When they don't sting you, it means your life's in order. When they do sting you, it means you need to calm the hell down.
- Flies: If there are flies around, why don't you clean your place, you freaking slob?
- Grasshoppers and/or Locusts: These are the spawn of Satan. They don't mean anything - they just show up to bother you, random and evil. (I have this friend who keeps telling me that, in Puerto Rico, they're considered good luck. This is why you should never believe Puerto Ricans, no matter how good-looking they may be.)
- Praying Mantises, Especially Those That Are Waiting for You on Your Car and Won't Fly Away No Matter How Hard You Hit Them with a Rolled-Up Newspaper: These mean "Watch your back."
Okay. That's all I have right now. If anyone knows or can come up with the meanings for moths, beetles, or June bugs, please let me know.
Labels: insects4:09 PM # (16) comments