Saturday, January 21, 2006

subconscious creativity

I had a dream last night that there was an obnoxious racket emitting from my common room which woke me up. I got out of bed and went in there, still mostly asleep, and saw my housemates and a bunch of other little kids in there singing and clapping and having a good time. I asked them to be quiet or go somewhere else as i'd been asleep and it was five am, and this one, this tall male one, says "i'll make it better--i'll sing you a song. let me get my guitar." i said "thanks very much, but i'd really just appreciate it if you were quiet." and he looks to the kid next to him and says "man, what a brat!" I gave him an evil, evil look and he started convulsing violently, fell on the floor, and promptly turned into a hamster.

Ben, American funeral practices actually date back to old British ones predating any sophisticated means of checking for vital signs. The family of the one assumed dead would put the body on the kitchen table for a night and sit around and see if he'd wake up. hence a "wake." A lot of times this was practice after a night of heavy drinking, as i know i've read several reports of folks waking up with a crippling hangover and everyone in town staring at them. This practice was brought to the US for the most part by Irish settlers, who, by being typically poor, smelly, and unwelcome, were shoved out of every port city in the country and dispersed over the map like a cloud of horny locusts, filling the land with devoutly religious horse thieves. Once we figured out how to find a pulse the practice of the wake gradually became a tradition, even after the poor chap had been embalmed.

That's not to say that all Irish folk are horse thieves. I'm just referring to my family--we got kicked out of Ireland for stealing potatoes, moved to Scotland, where we got kicked out for stealing horses, moved to Texas, where we got kicked out for stealing even more horses, and at least my branch of the family landed in Arkansas, where there's nothing to steal. (somewhere along the line some of us moved to South Carolina and a huge chunk of the family magically became black.)

This same inability to discern living from dead led to "graveyard shifts" in which the cemetery caretaker was required to hover around freshly-buried graves with a shovel and listen out for any not-quite-dead folk. He would have tied a string around one of the corpse's fingers and strung it out to a bell mounted above ground, the idea being that if he moved the bell would ring and he'd be dug up. Though there are reports of this having saved lives (occasionally the same life multiple times), more often than not it just gave rise to stories of caretakers being eaten by zombies.

Interestingly, the Hurricane Katrina disaster shed a new light on our general belief that rotting bodies are dangerous. I'm sure everyone saw pictures the corpses floating around in the bayoux and there was this huge commotion on the part of germophobes everywhere that if we didn't get these bodies out the water would become so toxic that if you got wet you'd get leprosy and explode or something. It took a huge team of doctors and scientists to write a report detailing that no, rotting humans are just like rotting rats and dogs and fish and other creatures that wind up in the water--they'll always be there and they've never really been a problem. The real danger to the water is all the living people without plumbing.

The thing i don't get is that fish poop all the time. A lot of fish get poop confused with food and try to eat it a few times but the fact remains that all of our water sources are full of poop and poop-related contaminants. I've heard some people argue that "oh well people poop is different from animal poop because of what we eat and the e.coli and other bacteria that live in our colons to digest it" but do you seriously believe that an e.coli bacterium would be any less happy in a dog's digestive tract than a human's? and just think of where the meat that goes into dog food has Been. yergh.

We just bury our dead (or get rid of them somehow) because they smell. plain and simple.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

household pragmatism

*I'm just complaining--I've got nothing worth reading today.*

I have two new housemates. They are the collegiate equivalent of toddlers due to what i can only attribute to a clerical error (my house is classified as "upperclassman only", freshmen and sophomores need not apply) but they're here, so my roommate and i are doing our best to allow this brace of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed teenagers to feel welcome in the company of a couple of jaded and exhausted second semester seniors who's only objective at present is to graduate and have done with this.

My capacity to offer welcome, however, becomes severely strained when certain expectations are not met. I recognize fully that this--living away from mommy and daddy, having to handle your own finances and work through your own challenges and feuds, managing work versus play, managing boyfriends and doing your best not to starve or become an alcoholic--is a pretty scary and daunting task, especially when you're suddenly no longer in a housing situation that is prepared to accommodate for the new college student's issues. I appreciate the years of fast growth and maturing that correspond with the challenges that independent living presents, and can acknowledge, without condescension, that my new housemates have not yet learned how to comfortably live without assistance or moral support, but that they have the capacity to learn over time. With this in mind, the expectations i have for them are low and easily attainable.

I ask that they lock the door to the house whenever they come in or go out. At least one of them does not. I carefully explained that the door must be locked when they're not home so that their (and our) personal items are not stolen, and that the door ought to be locked when they are home so that they're not raped or murdered in their sleep or otherwise vulnerable. This is brainer. This is a house full of young, healthy, attractive women--a real gold mine for a creep if left unprotected. To leave our door unlocked is begging for tragedy. The obstinate refusal to lock the main door to the house must be punishable with a swift kicking. I'll be sure to bring this up at a household meeting.

I ask that they wash their dishes. By "their" i actually mean "my" because almost all of the dishes in the house belong to me, with the exception of four glasses and a couple of mugs. The plates, bowls, silverware, cooking utensils, pots and pans, and a couple of the appliances are mine. We didn't plan it like this--it just turned out i was the only one who brought them. Not out of moral or social obligation, but out of charity I let the children know they could use my dishes on the sole condition that they are washed and put away in a timely fashion. Any reader (or anyone who knows me) knows well that I am anal-retentively clean and fastidiously organized and i happen to like things that way. I included in my rules that by agreeing "i will wash my dishes" they would also include "i will throw away garbage and i will not leave food sitting out." But as it stands, my dishes are filthy and there are open cans of food and empty cereal boxes lying around helter-skelter. My house is dirty. This makes me angry. Rotting food attracts insects, and leaving my dishes dirty is offensive. They know the agreement--i do not clean messes that I have not made, and the house will be clean.

If you take out a dish, pragmatically speaking, and put food in it, you have fully occupied the function of that dish. The dish's function is occupied until it is cleaned, when its usefulness returns to the "potential" state. Now, if you use a dish but fail to clean it, the dish is still technically in its "in use" state, though no one is actually using it. A bowl that is not being used but cannot be used is defined as "useless" until made useful by cleaning. A useless bowl has no value. If i have four bowls but one of them is left dirty, according to this philosophy, i actually only have three. If you take away the functionality of my bowl and leave it defunct, you have taken away my bowl without asking, which means you've stolen it. Added to the other messes left around, the only fair punishment I can come up with is I should steal their stuff and leave olive pits in their beds.

As a personal favor, I ask that they not use room fresheners, scented candles, or stinky incense in the common areas of the house. Powerful odors are one of my triggers for migraines which generally leave me blind and in overwhelming pain for several hours. I also become hypersensitive to light and sound and am incapable of work or play during this time. Even if they didn't give me migraines, these smelly things also turn my eyes red and make me congested and sneezy. I believe what i have is known as an "allergy" to stinky melting plastic. I politely requested that this stuff not be used, and the new housemates smilingly agreed...and then went ahead and sprayed even more of this horrible garbage into the air. If i'd requested they refrain simply because i didn't like the smell, it would be merely inconsiderate and rude. As it is, I requested they refrain for my health, so their insistence upon continuing to use this shit is considered Cruelty. In full knowledge of the pain these odors put me through at least one of these kids has deliberately and repeatedly stunk up the common room. Fucking sadistic bitch. If this occurs one time further i will request punitive action against them by university authority figures. If they do nothing (which is often the case) i will have no choice but to punish them myself by spraying their air-odorizer directly into their eyes, then putting a match to it. (who here's ever thrown an aerosol can into a bonfire?) I'm not psychotic, but it is unwise to cross me.

So there you have it. I made three simple, easy requests of my new roommates. Only three. They agreed to them fully. And they have failed to uphold any of them. This outright refusal to do what one says they will is typical of the rebellious teenage stage of life, in which one proves she is not yet ready for the responsibilities of adulthood through ostensible egocentrism, deliberate incitement of conflicts, and a marked refusal to acknowledge the potential consequences of your actions and choices.

If these kids are smart enough to have gotten into college, they're smart enough to remember to lock the fucking door. I even made a sign to remind them. I can't figure out why the hell they fail to. And am i really going to have to stoop so low as to put all of my dishes in my bedroom so they can't leave them dirty? Should I really have to beg and plead that they not fumigate the house with foeces-scented airborne plastic so my head will stop hurting?

USC HOUSING--either start paying me to babysit your freshmen or get them out of my house. This is unacceptable.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

i swear i'm not on drugs

I'm not entirely sure why this occurred to me, but i wonder how Muppets' human companions could ever eat without offending somebody. I mean not only are there talking chickens, cows, pigs, ducks, deer, rabbits, and frogs, but they also hang out with choirs of apples, broccoli, corn, cheese, bread, grapes, breakfast cereals, and probably even a smart-mouthed hunk of tofu. You'd think they'd starve.

"No no no, my mother always told me--never eat singing food."--Rizzo the Rat (A Muppet Christmas Carol)

Saturday, January 07, 2006


you know what phrase i really distrust seeing on food labels? "and/or." whether its referring to "xanthan and/or guar gums" or "cottonseed and/or sunflower seed oils" i just really wish they would pick one and stick with it. If you run out of sunflower seed oil, buy more. yeesh.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

it smells hazard

oh christmas trees. oh christmas trees. they're really not fun after the holidays. i've been glaring at the christmas tree all morning and now into the afternoon, just willing it to undress itself and throw itself outside onto the burn pile. just so many ornaments. we didn't even use half of the ones we have in the house and its completely covered. what is it with moms and their bizarre habits of buying, finding, or making ornaments to give to their friends? don't we have enough?

The hosts of the new years' party I attended this changeover had an adorable starter tree--that is, a small, artificial christmas tree with one string of lights and a smattering of glass baubles that came as a set. Two or three hallmark ornaments, probably received as gifts from parents, etched with "our first christmas together" were mixed in, as well as a couple from workplaces and friends. I've seen photos from 1980 and my parents' starter tree--almost identical, except the polyester of their clothes was a little less breathable. And now look at this thing--eight feet tall, five feet across, with dozens of miniature teapots and airplanes from friends who define my folks by those specific interests, ornaments from different countries, innumerable kid-made paper and clay stars, and i guarantee an ornament from every historic place my parents have ever visited. I can find two of the original baubles from 1980--most of them have been broken, lost, thrown away, or simply ignored in favor of more interesting ones. Even the christmas tree stand has been replaced, thanks to our lovely feline arborist.

Who needs a scrapbook when you have ornaments? This household's holiday d├ęcor has matured far beyond the starter tree and a wreath on the door stage. Uff-da its going to be a pain in the ass to take it all down.