Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Today I coveted this bag

I went into DSW (after trying Ross and Marshall) looking for a replacement for the giant Nine West shopper tote that I bought in the Marshall's in Santa Rosa for ten dollars (original retail price: $110--I kept both the Nine West MSRP tag and the Marshall's tag as part of my bargain shopper trophy collection).

This giant tote (RIP) held my laptop, my notes, a book or two, my lunch, my dinner, my wallet, some makeup, a hairbrush, a water bottle, and a commuter coffee mug. All in one bag. It weighed like three million pounds when it was ready to go to school with me, but go to school it did, faithfully, for a full three months or so before the zipper broke and it got a little hole in it: evidently, "shopper tote" means it's not supposed to hold three million pounds day in and day out. Now it has to retire. Also, there are some pen marks on it. Also, I want to buy a new school bag.

(My giant tote [RIP] even magically had the same exact print as M's suitcase that she brought when she came to visit me. She also brought an awesome red bag for me as a thirtieth birthday present, filled with thirty pair of socks and thirty ponytail holders. This bag goes everywhere with me now but school, because even though it's an awesome big bag, it's not big enough for laptop plus lunch plus dinner plus all that other stuff. But on days when I just have clinic shifts, or when I don't have school, I get complimented up the wazoo on it.)

So today, I was out and about looking for a new bag, with high hopes of finding another perfect bag that was ten dollars with a hundred-dollar markdown. I couldn't find one I liked enough at all, let alone one in my price range. Finally I found this one, which is beautiful, and whose cavelike capacity might actually even exceed that of the giant tote. However, the price tag said that even though it was reduced because this was, after all, the Discount Shoe Warehouse (or whatever DSW stands for) it was still, oh, a few hundred dollars more than my ten-dollar retired tote. Definitely not a bargain, and I am a pretty committed bargain shopper, and also on a student budget, and those facts should have ruled out this bag. But I stuck around DSW and pretended to browse, petting the bag at intervals. The inside
is some fake suede stuff that feels like a new puppy. The outside is this buttery weathered-looking brown leather that kind of matches my totally awesome boots, which I wear all the time:

But! I was strong, and eventually I walked away. I am a proud finder of killer deals first and a lover of big, beautiful, puppy-soft, buttery bags second. I walked away, and then came home and combed ebay with the intensity of a jonesing crackhead looking for that bag for like twenty bucks. It may not have happened today, and it may not happen tomorrow--but it will happen.

Or maybe it won't. But what's more fun than bag shopping?

I just got a background check done

because it's required for my internship at the San Diego Hospice. Check it out: in the last 11 years, I've had 11 different mailing addresses. Whoa.

(I am also, according to the background check, free of any criminal record. While I already knew I didn't have a criminal record, I still feel relieved. Whenever anything remotely official about me gets looked into, or a police car passes me, or a professor looks in my direction during an exam, I immediately feel guilty, even though I'm not embezzling or speeding or cheating. It's weird.)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

i like dirt/i like dirt/i like dirt/i like dirt

That's the chorus to my favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers song.

Jam Guy and I spent most of the day Saturday and most of the day Sunday gardening. I love gardening. Every time I do it, I realize all over again how much I love it. We weeded, planted tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers and a tiny lemon tree and a tiny lime tree, carefully bore snails into safe hiding underneath the fat explosion of nasturtium vines grown from the seeds we scratched shallowly into the ground last year. Mostly I weeded while Jam Guy built the planters for the tomatoes. Later we swept and washed the front walk and the porch.

When I weed I weed with gusto. I squat like a peasant farmer and grab low to get the roots out. I grunt a little when the bigger weeds put up a fight. Hours roll by while I clear out patch after patch, systematically destroying small, delicate ecosystems one after another. I am heartless, brutal, Kali in nubby lavender gardening gloves.

As the afternoon got hotter, Jam Guy brought a nice cold bottle of homemade limoncello mixed with soda and ice and a little fresh mint, picked out of the big planter where it riots away pretty much year-round (Santa Rosa weather is good for growing mostly anything most of the time). By the time the light was fading and the front yard was cleared and cleaned, I was tired and kind of euphoric, and slightly tipsy. I leaned on my elbows over the side of the porch and watched a spider catching an insect about three times its size.

At first I was rooting for the spider. It was so much smaller and fighting so scrappily for its meal, and I was feeling more aligned with predator than prey after all that ferocious weeding. The big insect, though, was fighting back, too. He was twisted stickily in the web but kept getting this and that leg freed and using them to batter at the spider, who battered back and scrambled around circling him with more web.

After maybe 15 minutes the battle was just barely more decided, in favor of the spider, only because the insect didn't seem able to get any more free for all his fighting, and the spider seemed no more ready to let him go. Neither of them seemed tired. They both seemed desperate--the spider to eat, and the insect to live. The situation of the insect in particular seemed tragic; there was so much will to survive and so little likelihood. I started thinking about helping him out, even though my hunch was that I shouldn't interfere because it isn't for me to decide who eats, who lives, what it means for the larger good. I reflected on my own hypocrisy--I eat a heck of a lot of animals, all of whom certainly have their own instinctual will to live. I heard choruses of "Let It Be" and "Live and Let Die" in my head. I thought about what always happens in fables when the flawed human messes with the network of causality. I thought about the butterfly effect.

And then my lame, pithy, flawed human-ness asserted itself and I reached to pull a little stem off the nasturtium vine climbing prettily up the porch wall. I was planning to use it to just scoot the spider off away from the insect, just far enough that the insect could have the time to free himself and hustle on home. But when I plucked the stem, the entire vine fell right off the side of the porch and into a heap on the ground. Somehow, out of the million little stems on that giant monster net of a vine, I'd picked off the one that was holding up its whole structure.

Well. Even I am not so blind that I did not see the nudge the universe was giving me here. I let go the stem and let go my hastily assumed role as would-be arbiter, while the bugs on the wall kept struggling for life and for death.

Friday, April 25, 2008


One anagram for "Sidewalk Monkey" is "Seamed Kinky Owl." I like this game.

where the heart is

Last night I had a total, pretty unseemly, freak-out. I think it has to do with all the transitioning happening lately--I'm getting ready to graduate after four years of madness, I've left New York, I'm pretty sure I'm getting engaged, which also prompts thoughts of weddings, babies, real estate, not necessarily in that, or any, order. Moving towards a life of some stability and happiness on a day-to-day basis means, hopefully, leaving behind a life of frequent crisis, change, and struggle. Transition has been more of a constant in my life than most other constants; transitioning away from transition might turn out to be a bit of a struggle in itself.

What I need to remember, I think, is that leaving behind the expectation of crisis and hustle does not mean I am leaving behind adventure and excitement. Happiness does not have to bring complacency. I want to be ready to be this happy; I am working on it.

Anyways. I freaked out on a bewildered Jam Guy and just ditched out without any discussion or notice. I didn't exactly know what was wrong; what I did know was that I needed to figure it out on my own and in motion. I didn't bring my pocketbook or phone, just stuck my sockless feet into my sneakers and put on my coat and stalked his neighborhood like a crazy lady for a while. What I figured out is that I am deeply, gut-level afraid that my whole life has been leading up to this point where everything is working beautifully and about to blossom into this magnificent rightness just so that I can topple it all and go around being a head case with overlong toenails.

When I came back to explain this to Jam Guy, I found him wandering a bit in front of his house, peering into the small-town dark. I expected to be reproached for making him worry. He folded me in his arms, told me he loved me so much, brought me inside and put a steaming bowl of jasmine rice and hot pork adobo in front of me.

Rice and adobo should make anyone feel better pretty much right away, and I'm absolutely no exception. Maybe I should quit wondering how I got so lucky and just feel lucky.

Yay, Surfrunner!

My very darling calabash little sister started her very own blog! (She's a total grownup, but sometimes I have a hard time remembering that.) She is an absolutely amazing friend--since she didn't list her real name on her blog, I don't know how much identifying info I'm allowed to put here.

On her blog she says that "Jog in Ocean" is an anagram of her name. This took me a while to figure out. She is brilliant. I immediately starting procrastinating on studying by trying to find a cool anagram of my own real name, but I am much too lazy. Happily, Google turned up for me the Internet Anagram Server, which unhappily produced nothing so cool as "Jog in Ocean." It turned up, instead, decidedly uncool terms that include "Loser," "Snore," "Nasal," "Eel," and "Renal." Some needed me to take the liberty of adding punctuation, such as "Lo! Anal Sex Reel."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

no regrets

Last night I went out and got rip-roaringly drunk with some friends of mine from school. There was pool (which I am bad at), some kind of punching-bag game (which I got alarmingly engaged with) and a jukebox that grew more and more fantastic as I got progressively drunker. At one point I was on a stage doing goofy dance routines with two other women--one a stranger, and the other the designated driver, who was doing all this stone-cold sober, so she gets major props.

When I woke up this morning, my dancing clothes were on the floor, the top and shorts and high heels all lined up and kind of rolled onto themselves, as though I'd lain on the floor and then sort of wiggled out of them, like a snake shedding old skin. It was a good night.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

potential band names, part one:

i keep a collection of these in my head, but have for some reason forgotten all but three. if you can think of any of the many i've left out, please fill me in.

1) underground squirrel circus
2) what eats the rooster
3) critical mass and the monkeys

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How to get an erection

For some reason, our OM10 (Oriental Medicine 10--the final theory class ever in our four-year program) thought we needed this diagram in our packet tonight, while we were studying etiology and treatment for the complaint of low libido:

So again: last theory class ever, last night of class of the semester, last year of a four-year healthcare program--and we FINALLY get to learn how male erection works! Because we never understood it before! Finally, we are enabled to have sexual relations, understand where babies come from, benefit corporeally from all the talk about vasodilation we've endured for the past four years! Can you imagine how thrilled all two men in the class were?

D helpfully drew arrows and fireworks all over his erection diagram, I guess to indicate his general excitement about this newfound knowledge (that they hoarded from us till the last day of school--so that we'd stick around, I bet). I forwarded my cell phone image of it to Jam Guy, because I figure anyone dating someone through all the throes of acupuncture school deserves to get the best of the insider information.

Too bad that I don't have any more OM classes. I'd like a diagram of the female erection. No one ever seems to discuss that. What gives?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Some thoughts, after going out clubbing


Here is a list of techniques that will not help you to attract women while out dancing:

1. Saying "Are you having a good time? Well, I'm not."

2. When the woman tells you she is in a relationship, picking up her left hand, pointing out that there is no ring on it and thereupon deeming her relationship pointless, and then leaning soddenly on her and telling her that if her boyfriend leaves her, you'll be there if she wants to call you. "I have a boyfriend," should not be interpreted as a challenge. Seriously. Invalidating someone's relationship also makes you remarkably unlikable remarkably quickly.

3. Literally wearing sunglasses at night.

4. If you ask a woman's name, and she tells you, and then she starts to introduce her nearby friends to you, interrupting her with "I didn't ask for your friends' names. I asked for your name." Nope, not cute. (Think about it: maybe she is not single or interested, but the several lovely women dancing with her are, or could be. You just shot yourself down, kid.)

5. Touching her butt, especially with your groin, in lieu of speech-oriented introduction. Even if she is already dancing, this is not a good way to ask her to dance with you. The fact that women do not like this type of greeting does not mean we are sexually repressed; it simply means we are not bonobo chimpanzees.

6. Tugging on her hair to get her attention. That's just weird.

And another thing: has anyone else noticed that for some reason, a nightclub is the only environment in our society where it is acceptable for a man to place his hands on a woman's hips in order to indicate that he needs to pass by her or is passing her? Or her waist? Instead of just saying "excuse me," or tapping her in a non-erogenous zone. In any other locale, the shoulder is where the "excuse me" contact is made. It's like women suddenly don't have shoulders because we've stepped into a club.

There are a lot of nice men out there who are totally respectful and polite--I often say things like "Thank you--I just really want to dance with my friends tonight," and that mostly gets across without any hard feelings in either direction. And I'm totally, and very happily, off the market anyways. I just feel the need to make the points, not so much for me (although if a stranger never pulls my hair in a club again, that will be a-ok) but for, I don't know, gender relations in general.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Three poems


my mother used to spread her hands, just so,

and frown at me. and back then, i didn't know

that love is knit from doubt, but tangible as cloth,

but cloth so thin you could feel a collarbone through it

taking the shape of the girl beneath it

and the girl beneath it taking the texture of love.

but i didn't know

frowned down on under draping doubt

that it was why i wasn't cold.

i know it now that i'm without.


it's only nights like this, i think

when my head pounds and your head stares

back at me from the bathroom sink--

it's not like me to even care.

i threw up all the whiskey sours.

i never liked those girly drinks.

it's not like me to long for our

long long-lost longshot dreams of girls

in butterfly gowns at baby showers--

oh, mama, here we are again.

i still don't know when this part ends.


i saw you smiling at your mirror

months after you'd left for good.

that radiance you'd always had

not lost, not even slightly dimmed.

i saw you turn and see me there;

you were so real i think i shook.

you didn't have to say a word.

you smiled, i gaped. you always were

so much more poised than i could be.

i was a teenaged tangled thing

i dreamed i'd steal your diamond ring

to make you cry.

i only think i might know why.

i faked my way through rooms while you

would light them from the doorway;

i learned by watching you for clues.

i tried to do things your way.

you broke my heart a thousand times.

i bet i broke yours more.

i wrote long, vapid, pithy rhymes

and tacked them to your door.

and--i didn't see you off quite right,

as though these were not wrongs enough.

but as i looked to you that night

you smiled at me with so much love.

you smiled with only joy and love.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My boyfriend.

This Jam Guy. He sends me presents in the mail: home-made cookies, and walnuts he's picked himself. He buys me tickets to fly to his house and then he rubs my feet, serves me elaborate home-cooked meals, feeds me figs and gorgonzola and makes me feel beautiful for three-and-a-half days straight. Then when I get home I call him and cry about how hard my life is, and he still loves me.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Yet another way to get your rice and beans

I made these cupcakes for my CHIM (Chinese Herbs and Internal Medicine) class last Thursday night. (Azuki beans, or chi xiao dou, are used medicinally in Chinese herbal formulas.) The only thing I changed was sprinkling the tops with black sesame seeds (hei zhi ma, also a medicinal herb!) instead of poppy seeds. They were super-easy, and so delicious--got lots of requests for the recipe following our presentation.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I have some damn good friends.

So I decided to play an April Fool's joke on the unsuspecting Jenjen, who has what sounds like a nasty virus. (I tried to play this joke on D first, but I chickened out because I'm usually a really bad liar.) I called her and told her that Jam Guy and I were going to get married this weekend in Vegas, and I would like her to come, but I would understand if she couldn't. (In the background, from Raquel: "Her dad is going to kill her!")

I stopped the joke right before Jenjen actually booked a flight to come to my made-up wedding in Vegas. Point is, she was going to come! Even though I knew she wouldn't necessarily agree with my eloping, even though it would have been less than a week away, even though she heard all this news through the flu, she was ready to come stand up with me. How awesome is that?