Wednesday, July 30th 2003

Fun at my mother’s expense
posted @ 9:39 pm in [ ]
Now, my mother is a very organized person, skilled not only at planning, but at planning for contingency as well. She knows that I, too, am a very organized person with excellent contingency-planning and on-the-fly skills. She knows that ever since I lost my watch when I was eight years old, I’ve been practicing various kinds of scatterbrain management, rather successfully, that lend my very method of attacking life a rather seamless quality. It appears from the outside as if my whole life is unfolding exactly as I had planned it, that things are perfectly executed and that I have discovered how to cram 96 hours into a single circadian cycle. Now you know from reading this blog that that’s pretty much crap, but according to many outside sources, it is a convincing illusion nonetheless.

However, my mother is not fooled. She knows I really ought to be reminded to bring a sweater to New England in case I want to go outside at night, to bring a nice dress for my uncle’s wedding, that today is another uncle’s birthday, and that there is no way in hell I would ever have thought about those things or written them down in any way. Shit, I might not even own a calendar. This sort of thing really used to annoy me, because if anybody on earth would have made some sort of meticulous list about any of these things, it’s me. I mean, I don’t just know when close family members’ birthdays are, I know when Warren G. Harding’s birthday was. I’m not just planning on bringing a sweater, I know exactly which sweater it will be. My conference banquet outfit might double as a wedding outfit depending on space, but I don’t think I could stand anything less formal than that. I know, I don’t get out much.

Anyway, it doesn’t really annoy me anymore, because I understand that she just tells me these things because she’s going through her own organizational process related to seeing me. She doesn’t really think I’m some dribbling incompetent who can’t manage the details of her life well enough to pack a sweater, not show up for a wedding dressed in a checkered tablecloth and a batting helmet, call her flippin’ uncle, and use some sort of recordkeeping system. She’s just working through her own to-do list and wants everything to be seamless and perfect for me, which is really very thoughtful. So instead of getting annoyed, which didn’t accomplish anything, or reassuring her that I had already disposed of the all-important tasks, which was okay but ultimately neither necessary nor satisfying, I decided this situation was essentially comedy fodder. What follows are excerpts of my reply to a recent classic advisory-style email, complete with reminder dates. The parts about encouraging my acacemic process and thoughtfully putting my name on my uncle’s wedding gift have been omitted for maxium comic impact, as have any comments about my mom being knowledgeable about interesting astral phenomena.

> A leetle packing advisory–Maine can be chilly at night, and
> in case you want to observe Mars at its closest pass in maybe 60,000 years,
> you might need a cozy garment. Of course, you can always snag anything of
> mine.

Well, that’s all very well and good for you, but I’ve decided that New England really isn’t ever that cold, and I will be dressing only in enough duct tape to keep from getting arrested. I refuse to bring a sweater or warm garment of any kind, or, for that matter, more than two rolls of tape. I hope you like me sticky. And ripe. If I get really cold, I might borrow someone else’s earmuffs. And break them.

> Earon’s wedding on Friday, the 15th, will be somewhat dressy. It’s at
> a fancy restaurant on the beach. No need for organza, but maybe a long,
> easily packed dress of some kind would be good.

Screw that. I’m showing up wearing only duct tape, an assortment of offensive temporary tattoos, and a live weasel.

> Everyone is
> gathering at Kay’s former condo (redecorated in a very cool way by Moie) on
> Thursday night for a family fling. Dress is anything for that.

Nothing doing! I hope there’s plenty of room in the new floor plan, because I’ll be wearing a giant dress that was inspired by a cuckoo clock. It features elaborate woodwork, has multiple trains, and several loud and frequently chiming mechanical cuckoo birds. Also, I can’t fit in a car while wearing it, so I’ll need to be strapped to the roof of someone’s vehicle while they drive at a reserved processional speed. This also gives everyone, including the traffic behind us, the opportunity to get a really good look at me while I wave at them like the Queen. Furthermore, everyone else at the gathering will be required to match my outfit, so I’m afraid dress will NOT be just anything. Acceptable colors include chartreuse, tangerine, fuschia, and wood grain. No red.

> You probably have this already, but just in case, here’s Michael Sean’s
> (today’s birthday guy) cell phone: xxx-xxx-xxxx, for getting in touch to
> pick you up on Monday, the 11th.

No, I’ve decided that for my convenience, he needs to have a birthday in October like your other siblings, so I won’t be calling him until then. For arranging transport, I will be using telepathy.

What a good sport.

Saturday, July 26th 2003

Protected: And still MORE liquor and sexual fantasies!
posted @ 12:29 pm in [ ]

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Wednesday, July 23rd 2003

Protected: More liquor and sexual fantasies
posted @ 9:49 pm in [ ]

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Saturday, July 19th 2003

Protected: Sexual fantasies and liquor
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Wednesday, July 16th 2003

Reclaiming content
posted @ 3:44 pm in [ ]
I haven’t written much in the last week or so here because my internal editor is feeling hyper-vigilant in response to a heightened awareness of expanding readership. I promised myself that I wouldn’t be self-censoring here, but dammitt, I’m having a hard time sticking to it. A large part of this is that my “Disclaimer” entry of July 5th was largely prompted by the Freudian comedy that is my relationship with my mother. She found my blog, read it, and was pretty hurt that I had barely metioned her while my old man wanders across my blog plotlines from time to time in size 11 hobnail boots.

Now, my relationship with my mother has never been easy, but it has always been close. I think the initial tensions began shortly after conception, when my mother had a very difficult pregnancy and threw up for 10 months, after which I was born, in a 24-hour-long extravaganza of excruciating labor, a month late and apparently incensed at having to be on the karmic wheel for another lifetime turn, and promptly refused to sleep for the first several years of my life. During this time, I was also colicky, fussy, and difficult and willful in all things from what I would eat to how much sunlight I wanted on me to which socks I would wear. Kinda like now, except now that I dress, position, and feed myself, my preferences and demands are usually no skin off anyone else’s nose. We had a particularly difficult period during my early adolescence when my parents divorced, but that was really the lowest point in our relationship: it has gotten progressively easier and better since then, and I do enjoy my mother quite a lot. Still, nobody can push each other’s buttons like mothers and daughters.

The way in which I think I push my mother’s buttons the most (although she denies it) is that I behave under pressure very much like my father does. Under any sort of social pressure, I will clam up and wait for tension to subside rather than talk about it or possibly say something hurtful in the heat of the moment, especially to my mother (unless I think it’s really, really funny). This particular brand of silence drives her crazy. Ironically, I haven’t written much about our relationship here because it’s too complex to be put easily into blog bites, and because I didn’t want to say something potentially hurtful in my accounts of all that complexity. I think it was that same silence that really got to her. She felt she was absent from accounts of my life, as if the story of my creation were not one of the hard pregnancy, labor and rearing she rose to and the relationship we both work at and usually succeed at, but as if I were saying I had sprung, fully grown, from my father’s forehead during one of his Sunday morning migraines.

In so many places in the process of this blog, my internal editor has been passed out somewhere on Wild Turkey with his little green eyeshade all askew, or given a quarter and sent to the movies, or just glowering in the corner after being told to shut up while I’m writing. I’m about as uninhibited as a person can be and still stay out of jail on a regular basis, so the things I decide not to say are almost always for the benefit of others. I would gladly tell Bobby, for example, that I think his ass belongs on a dessert cart (really, it’s like one of those magnificent petits-fours or French pastries that are delectable and perfect, but you can’t bear to bite into it for fear of marring the culmination of hours, nay, centuries, of artistry, and the sensual viewing is almost as good an experience), but I think it would fluster him to know I think so. It certainly wouldn’t upset me to say it. I think it’s clever. And quite apt. Then last week when he was wearing these blue shorts, I just had to say SOMETHING. I mean, he’d lean over and I’d want to smack myself in the head with my own shoes. So I went with, “flattering fashion choice,” which was well enough received. Now, that’s an internal editor being put to good use.

For the last week and a half, though, that internal editor has just been a big ol’ pain in the ass every time I’ve sat down to write here. He’s trying been to get me to stick to subjects for the whole family, and I am just not writing for the f*cking Disney Channel. I think my next few entries are going to have to be about sexual fantasies and liquor. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 6th 2003

posted @ 12:17 pm in [ - ]
Now, some of you know that I’ll pet just about anything that will stand for it: your dog, random ferrets, spiders, sea creatures at the aquarium, strangers, weird plants, the list goes on. Part of that is because I’m very tactile and I like to touch everything, but part of it is because I like animals, and animals who will stay still long enough to be petted generally like it, or at least don’t mind it.

I petted an ancient giant tortise at the San Diego Zoo once. He dug it. He extended his head as far as it would stretch in my direction and closed his eyes. He was either smiling or tortise faces are just naturally pleasant. I also petted a wild squirrel once. It took several days of morning granola feeding and being small and still nearby, but it was totally worth it. Its tail felt like a bottle brush, and its fur was nowhere near as soft as I’d expected. I’ve petted dolphins, too, and they definitely dig it anytime (just not on the head–too much sensitive equipment).

So aren’t I worried about getting punctured by things that don’t care for a pet? No, not really. The few times I’ve been bitten or scratched have been for things like breaking up fights between critters, never for an attempted pet. Animals will generally let you know whether or not they care for one.

I’ve also discovered that my interest in petting things is not, well, normal. Most people, when they list things they hope to accomplish, their life goals to do not include, say, scratching tiger ears. Me, I’m waiting for just the right tiger in just the right mood to come along with those fuzzy leathery ears. If I had ears like that, I’m sure I’d want someone to scratch them.

In reflecting about why I’m like this, I think the fact that my first direct interaction with free-range wild animals was so positive has a lot to do with my interest in petting things. I was about two, and my mother had made us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We were eating outside on the back porch when a particularly bold squirrel swooped down and made off with my sandwich. It was one of those moments in a toddler’s life where there are no points of reference at all. I looked to my mother to figure out how I was supposed to react. Had she freaked out at this pivotal moment, it’s highly likely I would have gotten the message that animals were upsetting, and I might never have attempted to pet much of anything that wasn’t a vertebrate member of my household. Instead, though, she was laughing. Really hard. She has a terrific free, musical laugh. Aha, so that’s entertainment.

We went inside and made more sandwiches. Some for us, some for the squirrels. News of that one squirrel’s big score had apparently spread far and wide, because there were a number of them in the yard hoping for similar luck. We fed them. I remember being really amazed by how round their tails were, and how they moved. They were delighted, we were delighted, it has always been one of my favorite memories of my mom.

From right around that time, there are also pictures of me reading to a friend’s dog. I am showing him a picture and he is looking at it with what appears to be great interest and focus, head cocked, ears forward. We are side-by-side and he is at least twice my size. Not all my friends are people, and Harry was probably my first friend who wasn’t. We became friends because my parents let him knock me down and lick my face and laughed about it instead of being all freaked out that the initial barking on the other side of the door was worrying the baby. Having friends who aren’t people has really enriched my life. You can’t really say the wrong thing to an animal, and once you like each other, you pretty much always like each other and not much gets in the way of that. Animals make very loyal and reliable friends. They’re always happy to see you, often with total abandon, like your mere presence just lifts their spirits. And then, of course, there’s the part where they’re fun to pet.

So for this great life enrichment and interest in petting things, I blame my parents. Especially my mom.

Saturday, July 5th 2003

posted @ 2:54 pm in [ - - ]
Since a link to this blog has been posted on our travel blog, it has come to my attention that a lot more people are beginning to read this one, where previously it was sort of hidden and invitation-only. This has resulted in some feedback I’ve had no idea how to respond to. I’ve grappled a little bit with how to deal with this. I entertained hiding or re-editing a number of my postings that I wouldn’t want certain people to see, as well as taking the link off the travel site and keeping this blog on the QT, and rating various postings so people would know what was “okay” to read. Ultimately, though, those solutions are just too candy-assed for me. I’ve decided to be okay with random people I know discovering this site and finding stuff out about my inner life, but I do feel the need to let my increasing readership in on a few things.

1. This blog is really quite a vain enterprise. I use it to practice my writing because I hope to use it again someday in a non-academic context and I don’t want to forget how it works. I also use it as my own personal therapist from time to time, so sometimes it can get self-indulgent, but mostly I use it to entertain myself. I’m really not thinking about an audience, I’m thinking about ME. I don’t have any rules about it, but I also don’t want any.

2. If you’re a family member, there are some aspects of my personality represented here that you are not going to want to know about. I’m sorry about that, and it’s really okay to skip anything that makes you uncomfortable, like my weird sex tips, or that you find upsetting, like my experiences of sexism in the workplace or my various recent struggles. This isn’t really a coherent body of work and it can be read as a pick-and-choose sort of thing.

3. If you don’t like what I’ve said about you, I’m a little sorry, but basically: tough. This is my freewriting space and if I start censoring it based on how I think other people will react to what I write (or don’t write), I won’t be able to write at all and this whole thing will become useless to me. You can get back at me by starting your own blog, though, and I encourage you to do that.

4. Exception to #3. Bobby: after getting to know you better, I want you to know that I do like you and I do think you’re doing a good job. I’m afraid that isn’t sufficient cause, however, not to poke fun at you.

5. I do take requests. (Just not dictation.)

That’s everything I can think of offhand. I hope you enjoy my writing.

Wednesday, July 2nd 2003

Biscotti All’anaci
posted @ 3:10 pm in [ ]
Today I’m trying a new recipe. Well, new to me. Biscotti has been around for a damn long time, some biscotti more than others. So I have a delightful loaf baking away in my oven right now, which I’ve sprinkled with cinnamon. Those of you not familiar with such ethnic foodstuffs may recognize biscotti as being those horrible dessicated cookielike items at your local coffee shop. But they don’t have to be that way. Unlike scones which are a black hole of moisture and could drain Loch Ness if anyone decided they really wanted to solve that mystery once and for all, biscotti are intentionally dunkable coffee cookies. You even bake them twice to get that “dunk me!” imperative feel.

Trying this recipe is inspired by a few things. One, my old man had a fabulous Italian baking phase several years ago that I miss fiercely. He’s a kickass cook, my old man, and I got this recipe from him. Two, I’ve started driving my boss at the bike shop to work, and he’s a Paisan’, so I’m taking pity on him from an ethnic wasteland point of view and planning to occasionally feed him treats from the homeland while he’s a guest in my car. I know what you’re thinking: the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I assure you, gentle reader, that if I were to list the organs of his I was most interested in, neither of those two would top it. But today’s entry is not about lust, it’s about another fine Italian tradition: biscotti. Third, biscotti is a flour-heavy number that doesn’t require a lot of rising, so I figured it’d make the jump to a delightful high-altitude recipe without much adaptation at all.

So here’s the old-a fam’ly ray-cipi:

2 eggs
5/8 c sugar
1 1/4 c pastry or cake flour (not all-purpose flour!)
1 tsp. anise seeds or flavoring

Put eggs and sugar in a bowl, beat 10 minutes. Add flour slowly, blending gently. Add anise flavoring. Butter and flour a loaf pan 4″ wide. Put batter in. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Remove from pan, leaving oven on. Cut loaf into 1″ slices. Put slices on buttered baking dish. Brown slices on one side, then the other, about 5 minutes each side. Makes about 20.

Finish with powdered sugar or lemon rind if desired. These can also be made as drop cookies, omitting the second baking.

This is interesting stuff. The first phase yields a sort of fluffy sugar-egg deal which expands seemingly beyond its own mass, but the flour brings it back down while making the batter much heavier. The first baking yields a poundcakey sort of deal that seems pretty appealing just the way it is. Maybe I’ll omit the second baking sometime.

Rather than anise, this time I’m using a vanilla nut extract and a little cinnamon. We’ll see how it goes. I do love to bake, I just rarely have the time these days, and Phillip is not into sweets, leaving me to either find people to feed or eat it all myself. Well, I must dash–time to flip the slices!