Monday, August 30, 2010

Looking it up

I am reading DFW's collection, "Another Supposedly Fun Thing That I Will Never Do Again." It's been tough going. I phase in and out of love with it. Some days I pick it up and swear that is it written in the hieroglyphics of alien species with vastly higher intelligence. And then after a long break, I pick it up and am knocked flat by how funny and brilliant and deep it is. (and he is)

As a kid I never used the dictionary. If I couldn't figure out what a word meant through context, I figured it was not important to the task at hand and glossed over it. They usually weren't nouns or verbs. I was a very basic and plot driven reader as a child. All those window dressing words were just that. I just wanted to follow the action and inhabit that space.

To this day, sometimes I will mirror the facial expressions or make the gestures of characters in a book that I am reading, while I am reading it, reacting to the action on the page.

As a result, the following words have always tripped me up: Balmy, Nonplussed, and Intrepid. I tend to think that they mean the opposite of what they actually do. Trying to remember what they mean in this way tends to make me double back one time too many and come up with the wrong definition.

DFW's writing is chock full of words that I don't know. But I can't figure them out from context. Not even to the degree where I am at an either/or juncture. In the context, they could mean anything. But knowing their meaning directs a sentence in a very particular direction.

Among the words I have been stumbling over of late are: lapidary, assuasive, apposite, zygomatic, sybaritic, sedulous, preterite, piacular, recompense, diaphanous, epicanthically, accretive, anoretic, appurtenance, vestibule.

Looking them up, I see that a couple of them, I should have been able to reason out (recompense, anoretic, epicanthically), the rest - totally not. The best is sedulous which is in many instances defined as being the same as assiduous. Which I also had to look up the definition of, hoping that the entry does not say - "Sedulous." Or my other favorite kind of definition: "Of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a sybarite." Uh ... not remotely helpful, here.

If you search under Google images for Vestibule, most of the pictures are of buildings interiors but additionally you will see pictures of lady plumbing. (Gracious!) It is apparently a building and anatomical term. Interestingly, vestibules are also found in the mouth, the heart and the ear, those pictures must show up a few pages further into the search.

Reading through this vamped up vocab is like spending time with people who are much smarter, more virtuous and or more talented than you are. You could learn so much, you want to learn more just to keep up, in their company you know that you are improving. But you also end up feeling like a doofus and wondering if there's a more relaxing and enjoyable way that you could pass the hours.

To riff off a phrase from the Jack Nicholson movie, "As Good As It Gets," DFW makes me want to be a better reader. He makes me want to catch all the passing remarks and small asides, to get a firm grasp in the main stuff of exactly what's going on. And not just the gist of the big picture. I want more. And so to the dictionary I must go. Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho *whistles*

It's not always about fresh

Some dishes are not good right after they are cooked. They are not bad, just merely okay. They need time to settle into themselves. The spices come to consensus. A sauce needs to absorb. The ingredients intermingle in a slow growing crescendo, coming into harmony and balance until they sing out in a glorious chorus.

The pulled pork sandwich from South Houston was nothing to remark on when served but a day later transformed into sweet, succulent, flavorful, gorgeous porkness. You feel a loneliness having cleared your plate and a longing for more. More pork. (The shoestring onion rings on the other hand, do not hold up well overnight. They are light, delicious and charming skating on the tempura side of battered vegetable, a flirt of fried onions.)

So, too, was a recent meal at Szechuan Delight. The Twice Cooked Pork and the Eggplant in Peking Sauce were fine. But the next day and the day after that, each dish really came into its own. The Twice Cooked Pork having arranged the hierarchy of its flavors and the Eggplant surrendering itself to everything that Peking sauce could offer. So good. So good.

It's not always about fresh. Sometimes it's about the magic of time and the process of becoming.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


What I want is love. What I bought is underwear.

City Exchanges

The guy behind the counter handed him the bagel sandwich and said, "Don't go hungry, My Friend."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way"

Despite being on the verge of 40, having two degrees of higher learning, and a job with dental insurance (I am finally a bonafide taxpayer) - I continue to try to figure out what to do with my life.

I am wondering what I should do with the next 40 years of my life.

It's a question I devoted a lot of cycles to in my first 40 years and probably my longest running hobby. It's not the pressing and central pastime that it once was. These days I devote more cycles to my love life, beauty tips (that I don't follow), observing the aging process first hand, and lunch. It's become more of a background process.

The current methods by which I wonder are primarily daydreaming and seeing what the front page of Yahoo has to say.

Among the options recently under consideration are:

Folk musician
Captain of industry
Yoga instructor
Public intellectual
Account manager
Recycling and waste management specialist
Project manager
Rollerderby queen
Marketing manager
Bag lady
Art student
Bike mechanic
FBI agent
Middle management
Behavioral economist
Computational ecologist
Malcolm Gladwell
Urban farmer
Charlie Rose
Avon lady
Sound engineer
Multimedia sensation
Founder of an empire
Genetic counselor
Grassroots organizer
Business development executive
Fact checker
Lab rat
Grant writer
Leech on the ass of society
Ghost writer
Venture capitalist
Small business owner
Academic administrator
Outdoors woman
Curriculum writer
Medicinal Chemist
Internet start up founder
Jingle writer
Bassist for a punk band
Pet rescuer
Go-Go Dancer

I am qualified to do none (well maybe one) of the above. The rest would require a good amount of effort on my part and perhaps further education. Is it too late? It might be too late. It's probably too late. Dang it.

I have been hiding this list from my parents because every time I bring up the possibility of making a career change, their extreme enthusiasm at the thought that I might find a job that makes me really happy freaks me out.

They get concerned every time they hear me breathe a negative word about the job. Periodically they ask me what I am going to do with the rest of my life. On this visit, I mentioned the genetic counselor option, roughly describing what I thought it would be like. After my Dad had a day to ponder it he came back and said, "I think you should get started on that immediately." He spent the rest of my visit home asking me logistical questions that one would need to work out if one was going to get started immediately. How big of a student loan I would need to take, what program I should apply to, how long the degree program would take, what the average income for that job was, how many years of education and experience would it take to reach that income level, and on and on and on.

I should have gone with Avon lady.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hijacked by Hyperbole

I am completely obsessed with the illustrated blog: Hyperbole and a Half.

It started with this post JY sent me. "Internet Forever!"

I read a few posts, almost died laughing. I, then, sent this post about a brick to a few co-workers.

After this I kinda wandered off to chew on my hands.

But recently KvS posted a link about cats on the facebook. It broke my brain.

I emailed it to a bunch of people and just sat by my computer refreshing my inbox waiting for laughter and praise to be sent back to me in reply. I am still sitting by my computer and waiting like a jittery, excitable dog. It's been two days and I've only received two very curt email replies. This can only mean one thing. Everyone else died of laughter.

The other two must have recently had extensive and very painful dental work.

If I was forced to write an essay called "What I did on my summer vacation," four days into mine, the key elements would be:

1. visited the parents
2. set up Dad's new e-reader
3. went to Walmart
4. had dinner
5. played pinball with L
6. ate a lot of cheese
7. obsessively read Hyperbole and a Half until my eyeballs fell out and got the worst internet hangover of my life.

I am still reading. I have four months of 2009 left to devour in the archive. I am beyond the point of laughing. It's starting to irreparably damage my brain. I will never try to be funny again. My efforts are futile. This blog is dead serious. It always has been. I am not kidding.

Hyperbole is my favorite thing in the world (to the consternation and disapproval of most of the men I have dated and the boss of my current boss). It is a primary mode of interaction in my family. Allie Brosh may not have won the internet yet, but she is definitely the boss of Hyperbole.

My parents are prying my fingers off the laptop right now to come interact with them. I forgive them only because they gave me life.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Should we stay on Target?

There is some broohaha going down with regard to Target Corp.

According the link above, Target has donated $150,000 to a group that supports a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota. This candidate is against gay marriage. He has it listed at a part of his campaign platform.

It's been commonly said that Walmart is evil. I know people who shop at Target because they have the notion that Target is not as evil as Walmart is.


Target is not the only company that was caught here, apparently Best Buy has also donated a large sum of money in support of the same candidate.

At last, corporations are free to make large campaign donations that let us all know what their political positions are. Apparently, Target and Best Buy are against Gay Marriage. They don't want Gay couples to register for wedding gifts at their stores. They don't want to carry congratulatory cards that depict happy same sex couples declaring their love and commitment to the world.

Good to know.

Now we can find out the political positions of all the corporations that we do business with. We can see whether their political contributions match up with their advertising and PR campaigns.

I can't help but wonder who at Target is specifically against Gay Marriage. Was there a vote at a board meeting? Was this decision made by the CEO? Was there a poll taken amongst all employees and or stakeholders/stockholders at Target to see what candidates they want to support, to see what political positions they wish to espouse publicly and substantively?

Is there a budget line item marked "Political Campaign Contributions" in the ledger? What category does that fall under? How much money will be allocated each year towards furthering Target's political interests and social values?

It is NOT enough for them to apologize and promise not to do it again. The anti-gay marriage candidate now has that money to spend on his anti-gay marriage campaign and to buy anti-gay marriage television and radio ads to promote his anti-gay marriage platform and mobilize anti-gay marriage voters to elect him. I can only hope that television air time in Minnesota is expensive.

An apology is insufficient. I want them do more and do it in the most public way possible.

Personally, if I owned stock in Target Corp. - given the choice between seeing that money go towards any political candidate and getting a discount on underwear or seeing that money go into ethical, sustainable and greener business practices - I'd like to see a discount in the price of underwear or that other hippy stuff.

As a liberal, myself, I am wondering whether in response to their $150,000 donation, I need to stop using my Target credit card and pledge to spend $150,000 at other stores before going back to Target. If that is the case, I might be 55 before I next step into a Target or use their credit card.

Does anyone know if is against Gay Marriage?

The stink in some ways adds to the publicity received by the Emmer campaign. Less press has been directed towards the other candidates in the race: Mark Dayton and Tom Horner.

If you know of any others, let me know.

I love mashed taters

It's clear the fridge day.

I made mashed potatoes with yukon gold taters, heavy cream, butter, a dash of salt and a dollop of creme fraiche.

It's one of those days where I feel like I could eat mashed potatoes nonstop for the rest of my life.

Like I want to settle down with a big, big bowl of them so that we can start our beautiful life together.