Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dreaming of me

I had a dream last night that I was visiting Philadelphia for the day. It looked a lot like Madison -- particularly when one is facing south at the intersection of Washington and Doty -- but with narrower streets, and hybridized with Madrid and Bethlehem or Beit Sahour.

I called my friend Gina, but she had moved to Austin. I called Clare, and she picked up the phone. We decided to get together at a coffeehouse. Phil was at work. And Chris was moonlighting as a DJ at an easy-listening/standards station. I was really impressed by the enthusiasm he conveyed when intro-ing and outro-ing songs. Even I was convinced that he loves Judy Garland-Barbra Streisand duets.

Then I went to visit my sister in New Jersey. It is always amazing how her abode metamorphoses from an apartment to a house and back again in my dreams. She was working in New York once more and decided to show me around. It looked a lot like Philadelphia -- the real one -- maybe with some Chicago and Baltimore thrown in.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Juicy

I closed on the house this morning. The rest of the day was spent doing painting prep, painting (well, actually, Susan did all the actual painting), and ripping up carpet. For dinner, I went to the corner where there is a bagel shop, an ice cream store and a Mexican grocery. Since the bagel shop was closed and the grocery sold food that one would need to prepare -- in a kitchen, on a stove, in a pot that is not stowed away in a box -- I was forced to have a waffle cone with two scoops of Bear Claw for dinner. Chocolate ice cream with fudge and peanut butter cups. Pure torture, I tell you.

So, I would post some pictures of the new pad here, but I apparently put my camera in a box somewhere, and I don't remember which one. It's too bad, because I'm sure a shot of me pulling up carpet with no pants on would have been a treat for all.

I am still rooming at the chicken house on the west side. The male half of the heterosexual couple likes to surf YouTube. Yesterday, he introduced me to Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show, which he and his daughter discovered recently. The Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show music video "Juicy" was an excellent antidote for the sick-in-the-stomach feeling I got after watching Salad Fingers, which the young hipsters say is funny, but is in fact disturbing to such an extent that I will not provide a hyperlink to it here. If you want to get creeped out, you'll have to do the hard work of googling on your own.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Speaking of the war ...

I enjoyed this routine about support-our-troops politics by Yoram Bauman, the Stand-Up Economist. Five minutes well spent.

(If you want an added joke about George Bush and a couple more naughty words -- and don't mind poor video quality -- view this one instead.)

What makes the world run

You can learn some remarkable things reading food industry publications all day. Take this one: According to a survey commissioned by Green Giant, a third of parents think their children are more likely to become President of the United States than to eat enough fruits and vegetables. I find this sad, because it means that these parents think their child can become President without eating fruits and vegetables.

Of course, these parents aren't incorrect in making this assumption -- I'm pretty sure Reagan didn't eat enough of them, and I know that Bush H.W. and Clinton had their own issues with them. But my question is this: Should it be true? Does someone who refuses to eat enough fruits and vegetables really have what it takes to be President?

This is not to say that anyone who eats a varied diet would make a good national leader. But I have my doubts that someone who has not developed an intimate gastronomic relationship with leaves, shoots, fruits, roots and stalks understands what makes the world run -- much less has the ability to help the process along.

And if this seems too esoteric to you -- well, I guess I'll just have to explain more later.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Drills and mixers

Haven't written in the past few days because my brain's been a bit foggy. I've had a cold since Saturday. The cold also led to a decrease in my bicycling -- only 23 or 24 miles total since Saturday. But it should come as no surprise; I was running myself a bit ragged, don't you think?

On Sunday, I went to the Gandy Dancer Festival in Madison's Central Park with the female adult of the heterosexual-parent household where I'm staying, along with the kids -- M.R., 6; M.J., 3; and R., 7 months -- and DeKalb. The festival was apparently a fix for bluegrass junkies, but we were there for the double-decker passenger train that left Central Park on the hour for a ride up the tracks to Waunakee and back. (I am told that these double deckers are what they use in Chicagoland for the suburban commuter trains.) I couldn't find my camera, so I took pictures using the household camera. About 23 of them were of M.J. smearing chocolate ice cream all over his face as part of his attempt at eating it.

It is wonderful to hand out with other people's kids -- much better than having your own, I think. On Saturday, when I was attempting to take a desperately needed nap, M.R. and M.J. decided it would be a good idea to start knocking on my door. At first, ear plugs muffled the sound enough, but then they must have resorted to kicking. So I got out of bed, opened the door a crack and said, "Do you want a time out?" Their heads dropped back and they stared at me with their jaws agape. I am usually the fun adult, you see.

Later, after I completed my nap in peace -- and after making a mental note to definitely pursue getting my tubes tied -- I came upstairs to the kitchen, where M.R. and M.J. were making popsicles."You see," M.R. explained, "since you weren't going to play with us, we got bored of sitting outside your room, so we decided to find something fun to do ourselves." She said this in a definite tone of condescension, to drive home the point that my laziness was making me miss out on all the fun.

--------

So, the house closing is scheduled for Monday. If you are wondering what housewarming gift to present me with, might I suggest a Vita-Mix Super 5000 -- new or reconditioned, I'm not picky as long as it includes both wet and dry blades -- or a Dewalt cordless drill?

I know. Charming.
Haven't written in the past few days because my brain's been a bit foggy. I've had a cold since Saturday. The cold also led to a decrease in my bicycling -- only 23 or 24 miles total since Saturday. But it should come as no surprise; I was running myself a bit ragged, don't you think?

On Sunday, I went to the Gandy Dancer Festival in Madison's Central Park with the female adult of the heterosexual-parent household where I'm staying, along with the kids -- M.R., 6; M.J., 3; and R., 7 months -- and DeKalb. The festival was apparently a fix for bluegrass junkies, but we were there for the double-decker passenger train that left Central Park on the hour for a ride up the tracks to Waunakee and back. (I am told that these double deckers are what they use in Chicagoland for the suburban commuter trains.) I couldn't find my camera, so I took pictures using the household camera. About 23 of them were of M.J. smearing chocolate ice cream all over his face as part of his attempt at eating it.

It is wonderful to hang out with other people's kids -- much better than having your own, I think. On Saturday, when I was attempting to take a desperately needed nap, M.R. and M.J. decided it would be a good idea to start knocking on my door. At first, ear plugs muffled the sound enough, but then they must have resorted to kicking. So I got out of bed, opened the door a crack and said, "Do you want a time out?" Their heads dropped back and they stared at me with their jaws agape. I am usually the fun adult, you see.

Later, after I completed my nap in peace -- and after making a mental note to definitely pursue getting my tubes tied -- I came upstairs to the kitchen, where M.R. and M.J. were making popsicles."You see," M.R. explained, "since you weren't going to play with us, we got bored of sitting outside your room, so we decided to find something fun to do ourselves." She said this in a definite tone of condescension, to drive home the point that my laziness was making me miss out on all the fun.

--------

So, the house closing is scheduled for Monday. If you are wondering what housewarming gift to present me with, might I suggest a Vita-Mix Super 5000 or a Dewalt cordless drill?

Friday, August 10, 2007

27.16

Today I was going to take a break from biking, but I needed to go to the east side to move some final furniture out of the truck in which it spent the night and into an actual building -- so I didn't take a break. The furniture was in the truck as a result of a series of miscommunications that I will not describe here, because it's really a rather boring story. Suffice it to say that the whole incident reminded me that I should, perhaps, someday, learn to drive stick shift.

Friends Andrea and Brad became my new heroes by, on very short notice, offering to drive the truck for me this afternoon. So now the furniture is in its destination, and I don't have to move anything for a whole 10 days. What a relief.

My boss let me leave work early for this momentous occasion, which was good -- except that I only keep SPF 15 sunblock at my office, figuring that SPF 30 is overkill for 4:30 or 5 p.m., which is when I usually head out of the office. So my forearms are now slightly sunburnt -- not in the painful way, just in the continuously-itchy-no-matter-how-much-skin-lotion-you-rub-in way.

After all that, I drove (yes, drove!) to Mt. Vernon (not the George Washington one) to watch homeschoolers do Shakespeare. My friend Alison directed them, and they were pretty good. There was a MacBethian witch of whom I was especially fond. Alison used to be in the Young Shakespeare Players, whom I strongly recommend you go see sometime if you are in Madison's vicinity.

I still haven't seen the Harry Potter movie. Alison and I have sworn to see it together, but we've both been hectic lately. We talked about seeing it tonight after the play, but I thought after a week of 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night, I ought to go home and go to bed. Clearly, I am not a dedicated Harry Potter fan.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

29.08

20.5, 10

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Smells like brand spirit












It's been a while since I've posted any pictures to this blog. Here's one my friend Michelle took of me at a pick-up soccer game a few weeks ago. As you can see, I had knocked her to the ground and was laughing heartily at her misfortune.

(Um, do I have to explain here that I am kidding and that she was just lying on the ground in a moment of repose after the game?)

Yesterday I received the most curious bicycling-related injury. I was biking about 20 mph under a canopy of trees and -- whack! -- something tiny got caught in the draft snapped me right between the eyebrows, in just about the only space not covered by my glasses or helmet. At first I thought it was a small beetle, maybe a lightning bug, since I often encounter such creatures on that particular route. But that thought only lasted about a nanosecond, because my skin started to feel aflame. As you might imagine, I yelled some expletive and pulled off. I decided it must have been an acorn and that my forehead was probably turning dark purple, if not bleeding profusely, but when I looked in my mirror, I saw no sign of injury. It was rather disappointing.

Being that I am rather thick, it wasn't until about an hour later -- when I touched the spot and felt a searing sting -- that I figured out a bee had embedded a little hot poker right at the place my eyebrows would join, if I had a monobrow. Poor thing died because I created an updraft. I would not make a very good Jain.

Went to PF Chang's for an office birthday celebration today. I hadn't known before that point that what America has been waiting for all this time was a chain Chinese-ish restaurant where all the dishes cost twice as much as in an actual Chinese restaurant.

But the need for branded Chinese food should not surprise me, especially given this recent study that shows we succumb to brand brainwashing when we are barely off the breast.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Boring bike log

Friday: 15, I think
Saturday: 8.5
Sunday:19
Monday: 28.75

So, I want to know why the Weather Underground says there's 100% chance of rain right now, but it's not raining. Maybe it should claim 99%. Otherwise, it gives the impression of being infested with hubris.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Daily reprieve

Today was extraordinarily difficult.

I had originally intended to say "inexplicably difficult." But then I realized that I've totally been skimming over my morning prayers and meditation has gong completely out the window, so the difficulty is, perhaps, explicable. And perhaps the fact that I only got six hours of sleep last night, and am trying to close on a condo in two weeks, and biked 28-point-something miles just to get to work and a meeting, and ran out of prepared foods and had to cook both breakfast and dinner from scratch even though I really had no time to do so -- perhaps those things had something to do with it.

The good thing is that it started raining tonight on my way home -- or, rather, to the place where I'm housesitting, which is actually 10 miles from the place I was living up until last Wednesday, and 10 miles from the meeting I went to tonight.

There is something reassuring about bicycling in the rain, once you get over the grit that coats your legs and the weird slick feeling your skin gets as sweat mixes with water. (Oh, and the frequent blinking to keep water out of your eyes and/or the incessant wiping down of your glasses.) I think it's the sound of the wheels skimming past puddles, and that drumming of rain against the leaves and the asphalt and my helmet, and the fact that my legs can just keep moving even when I have no real desire to move them -- the rhythm of these things reassures me that God is right alongside me, humming Her little tune.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

My gaydar totally broke when I moved to Wisconsin

Last year, while in Rehoboth Beach (Delaware) for the weekend, I found myself chatting with some women from New Jersey during my afternoon coffee. (This was back in the days before my stomach rebelled against me, and I could enjoy such things.)

When I mentioned I was from Wisconsin, one of the women got very excited. "Wisconsin! I've been to Wisconsin! I used to date a woman from there." I asked her where in Wisconsin she'd been, and I want to say it was Watertown or Delafield or Green Bay, but I really have no recollection at all of her answer, except that it wasn't Madison.

"And let me tell you," she said, "the first time I went-- When I got onto the plane, I thought I had entered lesbian paradise. I whispered to my girlfriend, 'Oh my God, this plane is full of dykes! You never told me there were so many in Wisconsin.' And she said to me, 'What are you talking about?' So I pointed out to her about a dozen different women with, you know, the look. Flannel shirts, hiking boots, no make-up, baseball caps, short hair -- you know, stuff like that."

(Considering that my interlocutor was wearing stretch jeans, a leotard-like black top, lipstick, eyeliner and tastefully selected jewelry, I found her comment ironic, but I digress.)

"And my girlfriend just looked at me and said, 'Oh, honey, they're not dykes. That's just how straight women dress in Wisconsin.'"

--------

When I was in college, I thought I had perfect gaydar. But after I moved to Wisconsin, my gaydar sounded false alarms so often that I decided it had never really worked at all. It was just that, when I was in college, I guessed correctly a lot because there were certain signals that women would give to say, "Hey, I like women," without having to say it. A lot of those signals involved clothing and posture, and I began to assume that any woman who wore certain clothes or held herself a certain way was gay.

But then I moved to Wisconsin and discovered that the straight women here had never received the fashion memo. Many of them looked and acted and dressed like dykes -- some were even downright butch -- and yet they were straight. So I gave up. There's just no way of knowing who's gay or who's straight unless they tell you -- or start making out with you. (And even then ...)

----------

Two years ago, right before I left Madison for Pennsylvania, I shocked my straight friend Tanya in an unwitting display of my pathetic, gaydarless state. Tanya and I had both been working out at the same gym for about a year and we were both obsessed with it. I worked out there four or five times a week. We were a bit intimidated and perhaps fascinated by the people we considered seriously buff, and so we knew the names and amazing athletic accomplishments of dozens of people to whom we had never actually spoken.

I was at a point in my life where I tended to stay away from bars but, that August, a series of events led me to Club 5, a Madison gay bar, one weekend evening. And there, I ran into one of those athletic women from the gym.

I mentioned it later to Tanya. "You know who I ran into at Club 5?" I said. "It kind of surprised me. I saw So-and-So there with a bunch of her friends. You think she might be gay?"

Tanya gasped and giggled simultaneously (an amazing feat, really) -- not at my news, but the fact it was news to me. "Um, you don't really have to run into her at Club 5 to figure that out."

"Really?" I said.

Tanya stared at me and shook her head in a pitying way.

I tried to build a preemptive defense for my ignorance. "Well," I said, "she's got short hair and she looks kind of butch in her gym clothes, but everybody looks kind of butch in their gym clothes."

"It's not that," Tanya said. "She's just gay. It's obvious." Pause. "Don't you have gaydar? Even I have gaydar."

"No," I said. "I used to think I had gaydar, but then I realized it was just wishful thinking."

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If one of my editors were reading this, they would ask me what "the hook" for this story is. Why am I telling you this, and why now?

Well, I was at a party last Saturday, and the aforementioned So-and-So showed up with an "I Love Pro-Choice Boys" pin fastened to her hat. "I stopped to sign a petition at the Planned Parenthood table at the farmer's market today, and they'd run out of 'I Love Pro-Choice Girls' buttons. But I still wanted to give them my money and wear pro-choice paraphenelia, so I took this." She removed her hat and spun it around in her hands. "I kind of like it. Totally dykey woman who loves pro-choice boys -- maybe it'll throw people for a loop."

So even So-and-So thinks everyone in the world knows she's a lesbian. Sigh. My gaydar never got the memo.

Friday, August 3, 2007

I am so tired I can hardly believe it

But I'm also really hungry, so I can't go to sleep yet. Thought I'd type while I chow.

So many interesting stories from this week but, being tired, I will just give you a mundane listing of highlights. Moved out of the place I was staying this summer. Was going to put my dresser and bed in a friend's garage, but after three days of calling her, I realized we had failed to communicate about the timing and she was in California. Oops. Nice landlady has let me keep the bed in the house for a few days more.

Now I'm housesitting for some friends, which involves watering their garden every few days and collecting eggs from the chickens. It's Madison. You're allowed to keep chickens as long as they don't bother the neighbors. They passed an ordinance a few years ago explicitly permitting it, after a lot of urban chicken-raising scofflaws and law-abiding would-be urban chicken farmers lobbied the city council for the change. It was a big deal. As soon as the ordinance passed, my then-landlady kept asking me, "When are you going to get your chickens? You seem like the chicken-raising type." But she had a part-pitbull, and I thought better of it.

Oh, I got sidetracked off the list, but that's probably just as well. Must sleep now.

Friday: 16 miles
Sunday: 20 miles
Monday: 20, I think
Tuesday: 20
Thursday: 40
Today: 15