Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Words I Never Thought I'd Hear My Sister Say:

"Dude, Erik's friends are throwing him some bachelor thing tomorrow night. Do you want to go to a male strip club with me and his sister?"

That Phantom Planet Song...

The one that's the theme from The OC. It's really catchy. I like it.

Off to wing the Spanish.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Friday, May 26, 2006

Anything but the California roll

I think the craving I had all day for miso soup was one of my inner selves reminding the other selves not to have Mexican food in the next few days, and to eat as much good Asian food as possible. Cuz there weren't very many easily accessible good Asian restaurants in East L.A.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

You too?

Just the other day, I was thinking about the topic that showed up in today's Pearls Before Swine strip:

What makes it worse is when you try to correct yourself. Because then it just prolongs the chit-chat awkwardness. Somehow seeing it in a comic strip is funnier.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The red or the blue pill?

My sister and her fiance wanted to find a Karl Marx quote to put on their wedding programmes (ironically paired with a gender-neutral excerpt from the Song of Solomon), but they couldn't find anything that could be interpreted as vaguely lovey-dovey. I would've gone with this one, but it's not my wedding.

In trying to hurriedly find something else this afternoon, we came across this quote by the Buddha:

Unity can only be manifested by the Binary. Unity itself and the idea of Unity are already two.
I thought that would be cool, maybe spark some interesting conversations at the reception about identity, individuality, and compromise. But the quotes are the only things not being translated into Spanish on the programmes, and the bilingual peeps attending might be unfairly called upon to explain them.

Similarly, they choose some random happy song for their first dance, because "Suga Suga" would get weird looks from some relatives on both sides.

So it's almost all over, and I have to say my kid sister has taught me a lot about patience and compromise during this whole wedding planning process. Cuz in her shoes, I probably would've ditched it all long ago and gone to Vegas.

Friday, May 19, 2006


After a sunny spell, the rain is back, and I thought of this poem from Nikki Giovanni:

Winter poem

once a snowflake fell
on my brow and i loved
it so much and i kissed
it and it was happy and called its cousins
and brothers and a web
of snow engulfed me then
i reached to love them all
and i squeezed them and they became
a spring rain and i stood perfectly
still and was a flower

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Swiss Fencing, Fence at Mexico

A classic quote from the head of the Swiss AIDS awareness campaign: "We want to tell people that, just like ice hockey or fencing, you don't have sex naked." I swear, having the BBC News as my homepage has provided more entertainment that I thought possible....

And in a completely, utterly unrelated train of thought (although now I'm thinking of some great metaphors), I finally watched A Day Without a Mexican. A++ for effort. It was so cheesy I had to love it. Fog envelopes the state of California, and anyone with any Mexican heritage mysteriously disappears! California falls into near anarchy -- gasp! There were even two little "mysteries" throughout the movie -- why don't the half-Mexican girl and the Mexican TV reporter disappear?

The only slightly annoying things were the condescending statistics and comments displayed inconsistently throughout the film. Little things like the number of Latino teachers, percentages of agricultural workers, American history anecdotes about Mexican territory, etc. I think the viewers get the point. Two other minor things made me uncomfortable: using the term "the disappeared" (too close to real-life human rights abuses), and the vague implication that La Raza is a genetically proven "race."

Obviously, the filmmakers were trying to emphasize a point about labor. There, they succeeded. But they tried, rather flimsily, to incorporate a commentary about culture and identity. That's where the movie failed, I think. It sort of assumed that everyone with Mexican heritage either identifies as Mexican or is proud of that background; it came dangerously close to perpetuating the notion of a "One-Drop Rule."

My favorite cultural tie-in, though, was the Rapture sub-plot: all the Mexicans disappearing triggers fears among fundamentalist Christians that the Rapture has happened, and they are left behind to try and survive the biblical tribulations. Kirk Cameron should've had a cameo. It was hilarious! As was the inclusion of alien conspiracy theorists.

... And Beyond

It took all of 20 minutes on Saturday night, including paperwork. I probably would've chickened out if I'd had to schedule something the next day, but it all happened so fast I didn't have time to think. It hurt. It's now sore. I can't see it. And part of me thinks I should've gotten it lower, like the "tramp stamp" several people talked me out of. But mid-back is fine too.

Note to self: when in California at the end of the month, always face mother and sister#1 when wearing a swimsuit. Attention should be on sister#2-the-good-daughter bride, not the wacko-political-look-what-I-did-on-a-whim daughter, who will be causing a scandal for the in-laws anyway because she doesn't quite fit into the top half of the bridesmaid's dress.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

"O, land of soft, fresh breezes ..."

So I've gotten Canadian quarters in change before, but this is a first: a Cayman Islands 25-cent piece fell out of the coin purse I took to Utah.

I wonder, did its previous user come from the Caribbean to the ski resort, or did s/he go from the ski resort to the Caribbean? Either way, a travel path I will likely never take ...

Green Thumbs Up

Am determined not to kill my remaining two plants. One of my landlords is a serious gardener. (So it must have been painful for him to see my two dead Asiastic lilies in the hallway window for the month that I forgot them. I gave them a good burial today at Chez Garbage, though, so the dried little leaves won't peek out at the neighbors anymore.) Anyway, he swears that green tea works wonders for plants, along with lots of conversation.

But I don't think "Whoa, dude, you're still alive" is the kind of plant-pillow talk they need. . . .

Friday, May 12, 2006

Hot pot!

New restaurant recommendation, since I still don't know how to cook: Szechuan Chef. Never eaten hot pot before (Mongolian grill doesn't count, this was boiled), but it's pretty cool. And $13.99 per person wasn't bad! All about the good, cheap eats.

Vive la Change

... And the replacement card ("Congratulations! We'll miss you!") just landed on my desk.

Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum

(So I don't like to post about work. But this ties in to other themes I usually write about and rant about in person, so I think it's okay. Names and organizations omitted for maximum Fourth Amendment privacy.)

It's always a lovely surprise to get called into your Executive Director's office and asked why you think this image is inappropriate on a goodbye card for a Muslim, Saudi/Indian co-worker who is leaving to attend graduate school in an Arabic language program:

I have a feeling I was asked my opinion because
1) the outgoing coworker is a very good friend of mine;
2) I wrote "No comment" instead of a goodbye message in the card;
3) my job description theoretically includes being a liaison to Arab and Muslim communities (although that's technically irrelevant);
and 4) I was pretty blunt about almost refusing to sign the card.

Supposedly it's an appropriate card because the employee is leaving for an Arabic language program. But the dozen other employees that left for grad school didn't get specialized goodbye cards for the programs. And I know in my gut if I left to start the same language program, I wouldn't get that card --I'd get the same card everybody gets when they leave: a group of cartoon figures waving, and "We'll miss you" on the inside. Or some other generic Hallmark creation.

Cuz if I were in charge of getting the card for this particular employee, the cover would've had Orlando Bloom half-naked, biting a rose stem. Based of course, on many conversations with the individual.

But I guess it's just easier to pigeonhole people and not see past the headscarf.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Last impressions trump the first one

Four years in Maine, never saw a moose. Four days in Utah, saw three. Maybe it was the altitude affecting me, but at first I thought they were just horses (the 2 males had shed their antlers). But then bus drivers don't stop driving, grab their own (randomly hidden) cameras, and take pictures of horses. Plus when they turned to look at the bus, their large noses gave them away as moose. City mouse that I am, it was very exciting.

Can recommend a good pub, which serves environmentally-friendly, organic, non-GMO, hormone-free meals. It's too bad I discovered them in the airport terminal, after realizing I wouldn't be fed on the flight home. But, if I'm ever in the Beehive State again, I'll be sure to go the one in town, not the airport.

It's a fascinating state that seems caught between its history as Mormonland and its huge tourism industry. If I have time between cramming for Spanish conversations and brainstorming for anti-I-946 activities, I might read up on Utah.

Another cool brewery: Wasatch. They make an Evolution Amber Ale , a Polygamy Porter, and a 1st Amendment Lager (which was apparently named to protest a tax, not in celebration of religious freedom or freedom of assembly...)

And Salt Lake City has a really, really cool mayor.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Inside the Beehive

Utah is beautiful, with all the mountains, even if the altitude is taking me by surprise and I'm fatigued and huffing and puffing around.

First interaction with a local was the shuttle van driver, who didn't know how deep Salt Lake City was, or what the population was, but decided to share this extremely inaccurate and wrong-on-so-many-levels tidbit: "You know, the Mormons aren't the majority here any more. It's the Orientals."

That comment was followed by extremely awkward silence for a very long time. I might not have Census statistics for Salt Lake City memorized, but I think it's safe to say that Asians are not at least 51% of the city, and that race and ethnicity don't necessarily determine the religious makeup of a community.

Not a good first impression! So I'll admit when I ventured out to the mall today, I was anticipating any stares I'd encounter or comments I'd get. I saw no Asians, btw. But if strolling around a public space is any indication, there is a sizeable Latino population. (And I'm sure some of them are Mormon.)

Back to huffing and puffing around.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Where's the Cat, Where's the Cradle?

I rarely read novels, but I've figured out that I like novels of disillusionment (particularly post-Great War and post-World War II), where the individual is pitted against increasingly hollow social structures and must find a separate peace or meaning for existence. Sarcasm and sardonic humor along the way get extra points.

I finished Cat's Cradle last night. (I vaguely remember reading it in high school, but I don't think it was for a class.) Its wacky plot includes a midget, the A-bomb, a dictator on a Caribbean island, a forbidden religion, a beautiful woman, and a secret scientific weapon that can destroy humankind. I loved it! The chapters were short little 1-to-3 page vignettes, too, so it was perfect for my little attention span.

Vonnegut's portrayal of the intersections of religion, nationalism, and capitalism were both brilliant and hilarious. I don't think Cat's Cradle is so much an existential statement (though existentialism certainly grew out of post-nuclear cynicism) as a critique of power and language: religions (through the metaphor of the made-up Bokonism) are founded upon lies, figures that are supposed to command authority and respect lack empathy, conversations between characters present false images. Science, in the form of a made-up compound that can end the world, is presented as undeniable truth and reality, but only when and because it is stripped of human notions like faith, hope, and love. Everything is an illusion. There are no answers to the questions that conflicting messages raise.

Then again, I'm seeing everything as a critique of power, icons, and semantics these days.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Interesting law enforcement preparations are ongoing for the upcoming Day of the Beast.

Signs and Wonders

Okay, so the waking-up-early gym plan didn't work. But my excuse is that last night I was helping a friend in the labor movement make signs for today's rally, accidentally sniffing Magic Markers for at least an hour. Since we have signs printed at the printer's for work, I haven't physically made protest signs in a while! It was fun. Fumes aside, I just couldn't crawl out of bed early this morning.

And today my camera battery died right when I found one someone carrying one of my signs! (But the P-I had a pic of one!)

There's nothing like a march to re-charge me. I love being in crowds. Not concert crowds; I feel anonymous in those. (And also because after the music ends, what is there? Once fans have raved about the band and the lyrics, what is there left to do? Buy a T-shirt?) But march/rally crowds are always reassuring and heartening. Everyone's automatically like family. There's still work to be done afterwards, and legislation to get through the sausage-making machine. And it's always refreshing to re-find the people with whom I have instant and lasting connections.

I've also been wondering why I've felt so cynical lately. There are some overly obvious answers, but I think overall it's because I somehow lost my sense of direction. I don't think I ever really defined it post-college, but I do know it had something to do with justice and community-building and empathy and philosophy, and that my internal compass point can tell when I'm taking a detour from what I know makes me happiest in life. I think I've internalized the yuppie stereotype of the quarterlife crisis, while organizing with political disdain for it. The sad thing is, I can live both convincingly but not necessarily harmoniously.

Which makes for something of a bipolar calendar!