Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Prosopagnosia

The perils of prosopagnosia:

Austin: Anna, look at this Dragon Con picture. Is that my boyfriend pretending to suck off that caped superhero? I can't tell.

Anna: Obviously.

Austin: It's him?

Anna: Duh.

Austin: Are you sure?

Anna: Absolutely.

Austin: Wow.

Anna: Yep.

Austin: I just never saw him in a hat before.

Anna: Totally him.

Austin: Say, let's post this on our blog!

Anna: Let's!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Nowhere Fast

gen3concepts:so u are a belly dancer huh?

gen3concepts:are you very tantric/

gen3concepts:?

Page_Three_Girl:Tantra is a Buddhist spiritual practice; Oriental dance is a Middle Eastern secular art form and social phenomenon. What do you mean by tantric?

gen3concepts:sexual

gen3concepts:like in general and in your dancing style

Page_Three_Girl:That's a very personal question. Well, in regard to Oriental dance, people often equate it with stripping or really sexual behavior, which it isn't.

Page_Three_Girl:In the Middle East, it's just a social dance. Men do it, women do it, children, grandparents...like if someone was holding a party, or getting married.

gen3concepts:thats awesome

gen3concepts:i love sex and love talking about it dont you?

Page_Three_Girl:Are we talking about sex?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Of Nice and Men

I've been running off and having assignations lately; if you can call staring at a coffee cup for an hour and having tense conversation with a stranger before you feel it's been long enough to make an excuse to leave, hoping he won't try to touch you, an "assignation." This casual dating thing is teaching me a lot about human misery.

One thing that's eating my patience is the myth that "nice guys finish last." This came up on one of my dates week before last, when I was studiously not updating this blog, as is our custom in these parts. I had seen this guy, we'll call him Lennie, once. He teased me about my crazy art car, called me a dirty hippie, and generally dipped my pigtails in the inkwell a bit. I got a bottle of chocolate milk at Publix, he got a sub sandwich, and we went back to the place where he was couch surfing until he found an apartment. We sat on the futon that served as his bed, I had my milk. He ate his sandwich. He and I made out a bit. Lennie was big and rough and simple, strong enough to pick me up and carry me back to the futon after I got up to leave. That was kind of fun, but after smacking him on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper, I left.

Date the second: Take-out from Mr. Roboto (there was no room at the restaurant.) We eat on the bed in his friend's bedroom. He watches television, I watch him watch television. He puts a frog down the back of my dress and carves my name into his desk. More making out. At this point it's like making out with a St. Bernard. I feel nothing inside. I pull away and try to talk. I want to know what he's like. He is confused.

"People are fathomless," I say. "There's always something new to know about them."
"I'm not. I'm very simple. I like to be affectionate," he says.
"But isn't it weird sharing this kind of physical stuff with someone you don't know?"
"No."
"It is to me."

This goes on for a while. I try to get him to tell me about himself. He gets frustrated.

"I guess we're not really romantically compatible," he says.
"No," I say. "We're not. Well, I guess that was fun while it lasted. I hope you find a nice girl."
"Yeah," he says bitterly. "Well, look where being a nice guy got me?"

That pissed me off. I gave him some shit about that and left. Forgot my sweater. Went back to get it. Went out and went on more shitty dates with "nice" guys. I think about every genuinely nice guy I know, and all of them, without exception, are swarming in offers of pussy and/or dick, depending (sometimes) on their preference. Honestly. The really sweet men--and women-- I know, almost without exception, have pretty successful love lives. They also never seem to describe themselves as "nice". Just like the smartest people I know don't seem to have the need to emphasize this all the time.

I think I've isolated this thing about "nice guys".

Even the most vicious bastard thinks he's "nice".

The worst man I ever met in my life thought he was "nice."

Even guys who are "nice" if "nice" means "not, technically speaking, a rapist," or even when "nice" means "a genuinely nice guy,"-- even they occasionally strike out. What seems to be the trouble here is that guys who are "nice" or even guys who are "nice" will ascribe the failure of the relationship or attempt at a relationship to their "niceness". So, if a guy is:

-Boring
-Passive aggressive
-Needy as hell
-Horrendously stupid.
-None of the above but just not your type

and he is also, or considers himself to be:

-"nice"

...and things do not work out, then:

Clearly the "niceness" is what turned you off. It couldn't be his poor hygiene or the dogged manner in which he shoehorns the same six anecdotes into every conversation. It can't be that he's benignly self-centered or that he's casually arrogant. He doesn't yell and he doesn't hit. He's not a rapist and he doesn't actively practice psychological torture. He probably even takes out the trash. If you don't like him, it has to be because you are a masochist who would rather subject yourself to abuse than bring yourself to recognize how "nice" he is.

To these men, I say, fuck you and have a "nice" day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Nonogenarian Depravity

Now, I have always known that my grandfather is a world class liar. This isn't news to anybody who's ever met him. I don't mean that he's a convincing liar when I say "world class." Rather, I'm talking about the frequency here. His lies are varied, from lies constructed to cover his ass to lies that serve no immediate purpose other than giving him the strange thrill he experiences from just making shit up. It's usually pretty obvious when he's fucking with you just for the sake of it, which is pretty much every time he says anything. It's incredibly frustrating, but to him, it's a hobby. He uses fabrication and deceit as ways to pass the time. Now that he is 92 years old, I figured he had run the gamut of falsehood and that the lies I would hear about would be mere repeats. Not so!

You see, he's quite a spry old gentleman, and he still runs his own business that involves lots of lifting, working outside, and physical activity. It's laughable, then, to anybody who knows what astounding shape he's in, when he pretends to be senile in order to get away with, oh, let's say, stealing. That one sticks out in my mind as a prime example. He shuffles, lets his eyes unfocus, drools a little, and then pockets "samples" from the candy bins in grocery stores. You know, that kind of candy you'd typically have to be paid to ingest. He actually breaks the law to get those little morsels of antique caramel or whatever they seem to be trying to accomplish in those little squares. I swear, I am not making this up. There are witnesses. This has happened more than once. As soon as he rounds the corner, his eyes clear, the drool is wiped away, and the spring is back in his stride, his pocket full of ill-gotten, rustling treasures.

He uses the senility trick all the time. It's his "get out of jail free" card, so to speak, but it's also a performance art he's been working on since his hair went grey. When he yells at his customers and calls them stupid assholes, among other things, they often threaten him with violence (again, I am not making this up), and he, in turn, threatens to appear in court with his damning "feeble" act. So far, nobody's kicked his ass yet. The few times it threatened to fall through, he was (luckily for him) near his car and was able to speed off into the distance before he had to accept consequences for his actions. Like the time he pretended to be deaf so that he could dump trash in the Goodwill donation box and ignore the pleading cries of the poor worker who had to sift through those piles of decay. I'm not exactly sure why Grandpa drove out to the donation center to drop these things off. I think it was because the items were too big (broken chairs, etc.) to be taken away by the city, so he decided to unload it on the hapless rehabilitated workers at the donation center. I'm trying not to think that he went out of his way to do it because he thought it was hilarious, but I don't know. Could be.

I'm wondering, though, if he's going to use the geriatric excuse when someone finds out that the lemonade he serves his customers as they pick up their merchandise has absolutely no trace of lemon in it, despite his claim that they squeeze it fresh on site from their home-grown fruit. It turns out, it's some vile, packaged lemonade mix that comes in sludge form and is probably closer in composition to moistened bone marrow than lemons. He carefully mixes this with that rancid-tasting fake sugar that comes in economy-sized cartons that look suspiciously similar to ones housing dish soap and rat poison. I'm imagining all this gets thrown in a bubbling vat that gives off harmful vapors. He then, in a final touch of unnecessary malice, pours artificial dyes into it to give it a slightly darker color.

Jesus. All I can say is...really, Grandpa? Come on. Come ON. If I weren't laughing so hard over how horrible this is, I'm sure I'd pick up the phone and give him a piece of my mind. Of course, I'm not sure where this information came from. My dad told me. Did he witness the dank, alchemical transmutation himself, or did Grandpa just tell him? Because, you know. He might be lying. He does that sometimes.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tailor Made

I've always wanted to learn how to be a tailor. Not a seamstress or a dressmaker, although I'd dearly love to have those abilities, too. But tailoring a man's suit or coat is one of the biggest sewing challenges there is, requiring a completely different skill set than dressmaking. Women's clothing, even the kind with boned bodices and other rigging, isn't as structured as a man's suit. Pick up a man's suit jacket and it will hold its shape. A dress is a filmy puddle when nobody is wearing it, but a man's suit-- that's an exoskeleton. It disguises a man's shape more subtly but just as profoundly as a padded bra, corset, or a crinoline distorts a woman's figure.

This effect is achieved with stiff interlinings and paddings, with steam and careful pressing that distorts the original lay of the fabric and shapes it into something else. A man in a suit, or so I've heard, feels as though he's wearing a suit of armor. A suit is a symbol of a certain type of masculinity and status.

I really want to learn tailoring not just because it's in my blood (my great grandfather was a tailor; I inherited his tools) and not just because I'd like to learn to make my own tailored jackets and coats. I think that part of the motivation must be akin to men who become celebrated hairdressers or couturiers. They're powerful because they're privy to the artifice, the material construction of a particular type of feminine icon. A tailor physically constructs the instrumental symbol of sophisticated, civilized, powerful masculinity out of wool and thread, horsehair and steam. And just as there's intimacy between a woman and her hairdresser, so is there intimacy between a man and his tailor. A tailor knows his or her client's body as well as a wife, knows all the measurements, discreetly asks if he "dresses to the right or the left," in order to add that extra sliver of room for his testicles to lie on either side of the seam. A tailor gets to create the symbol. To shape one from scratch, mold it to someone's body, is shaping masculinity voodoo-style. Clothes make the man, I make the clothes. Pay no attention to the woman behind the stitching.

I was recently lying in a man's bed, watching him put on his suit jacket and tie his tie, button the cuffs of his sea-island cotton shirt and dab cologne on his neck. I was naked, of course, and admiring him as he admired himself in his mirror. I like watching men get dressed, and have a particular weakness for the intensely masculine gesture of fastening or unfastening his cuffs.

"You know, "I said. "If I gave a man a pair of cufflinks, it'd be the equivalent of if he gave me the trashiest piece of lingerie imaginable."

"Really?" he said, not believing me.

"It's true. You ever see those cufflinks made out of old Israeli pay phone tokens? They're silver plated. If I ever really love a man, I mean deeply love him, that's what I'll give him. I've promised myself I'd wait until I found that to give them to someone."

There are probably other things I shouldn't have given without loving a man that much, but I like the idea of the cufflinks, and made the promise to myself. The man without the cufflinks smiled at me.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Shoah" means "catastrophe" in Hebrew.

Austin: OH MY GOD. SHOAH. SHOAH. SHAVE YOUR EYEBROWS.

Me: What?

Austin: JERRY LEWIS IS A JEW. I FEEL SO UNCLEAN.

Me: Dude, you didn't know that? Why do you think I flunked out of college the first time?

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Parking Lot Tango

I always feel a little creepy trying to get a parking space at school in the morning. Maybe it's because I'm far, far too obsessed with not offending people and putting others at ease, but the entire ordeal makes me feel slightly ashamed of myself. For starters, my natural instinct is to affect the, "No, after YOU" courtesy that dominates my entire life, but it doesn't really come across in cars. I can gesture and smile all I want, but my charm is contained within my vehicle. I am a faceless threat.

Really, though, what bothers me is the stalking. Like vultures, people in cars circle the parking lot, drawing upon a victim as they stagger from the building, dazed and obviously dehydrated. Yes, this one is weak. It will surely die soon, and the feasting may commence.

Unlike carrion birds, though, we're not inclined to share our rotting corpses. Yes, rotting corpses here refers to parking spaces. Deal with it. Does that actually make us even worse than scavengers who gleefully wait for others to die so that they might feed, heartlessly watching the last breaths cease before screeching, "ALRIGHT, A FAT ONE! LUNCH!!!"? Probably. Or not. I don't care, I'm having too much fun with this simile.

Every day is like a recreation of that Kevin Carter photo. Okay, maybe that's a bit much, but the kid stays in the picture.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Me, Jane


Charlotte Allen, author of the Weekly Standard’s cover story The New Dating Game is writing a doctoral thesis on medieval and Byzantine studies. This explains a lot about her latest article, since she seems to be unaware of a lot of things that have happened since then, like the Jazz Age. She also appears to have never watched movies, television, or the arc of her friends’ failed relationships. Let’s walk through it.

The premise of her article is that, with civilization and our pants crumpling around our ankles, contemporary sexual mores have reverted to those of the Stone Age, driven entirely by our animal lusts. She bases this on a few generalizations drawn from the field of evolutionary psychology (a field whose entire purpose seems to be in providing kindling for popular articles) and a few references to sex in popular culture, which as we all know is a fairly recent development and not anything you’d come across in with any frequency in Allen’s area of expertise.

Women, women, loue of women,

Make bare purs with some men,

Some be nyse as a nonne hene,

Yit al thei be nat soo.

some be lewde,

some all be schrewde;

Go schrewes wher thei goo.

Sum be nyse, and some be fonde,

And some be tame, y vndirstonde,

And some can take brede of a manes hande,

Yit all thei be nat soo.

some be lewde,

some all be schrewde;

Go schrewes wher thei goo[1]

The article contains a lot of fallacies, not the least of which is referring to Tucker Max as “extrovertedly good looking,” when in reality he looks more like Charles Laughton’s bottom lip, except not as extroverted, presuming physical appearances can be gregarious and outgoing.

Describing a somewhat publicized one-night stand between Max and a college girl, she essentially calls them both assholes (no argument there) and seems to regard this incident as representative of typical sexual encounters in our time. Then, (surprise!) she blames feminism:

It helps, of course, that there’s currently a buyer’s market in women who are up for just about anything with the right kind of cad, what with delayed marriage (the average age for a woman’s first wedding is now 26, compared with 20 in 1960, according to the University of Virginia-based National Marriage Project’s latest report); reliable contraception; and advances in antibiotics (no more worries about what used to be called venereal disease). No-fault divorce, moreover, has pushed the marriage-dissolutio

n rate up to between 40 and 50 percent and swelled the single-female population with “cougars” in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond

I have to agree somewhat. It does help that we have reliable contraception—although if it were covered by health insurance, that would be even better. I’m also pleased about advances in medicine, although, again, there’s the insurance issue, and that’s assuming you even have insurance in the first place. (I’ll note that anyone who thinks that nobody’s worried about venereal disease is a damn fool.) No-fault divorce is a blessing—it didn’t always turn out like the end of The Gay Divorcee back when you needed pro

of of infidelity to get a divorce—and I have always liked cougars, although the idea that A) You can be a cougar in your 30’s and B) older single women are all cougars is problematic. I also don’t see the connection between waiting until adulthood to marry (particularly as life expectancy increases and adult phases of life seem to be expanding proportionally) and being delighted to fuck just about anybody.

A group calling itself the Women’s Direct Action Collective issued a manifesto in 2007 titled Sluts Against Rape insisting that “a woman should have t

he right to be sexual in any way she chooses” and that easy availability was “a positive assertion of sexual identity.” In other words, if people call you a whore because you, say, fall into bed with someone whose name you can’t quite remember, that’s their problem. Of course, if a man mistakes a woman being “sexual in any way she chooses” for consent to have sex, it’s still rape.

Yes, it is.

The same feminist academics pooh-pooh concerns about the long-term effects of the hookup culture, arguing that it’s essentially just a harmless college folly, akin to swallowing goldfish

My mistake! She HAS heard of the Jazz Age!

All this takes place to a basso profundo of feminist cheerleading.

I just get a kick out of the idea of cheerleading in basso profundo.

And of course, no article of this sort is complete without referring to:

Sex and the City. A survey reported in the New York Daily Ne

ws around the time of the film’s release revealed that the typical female resident of Manhattan, who marries later on average than almost every other woman in the country, has 20 sex partners during her lifetime. By way of contrast, the median number of lifetime sex partners for all U.S. women ages 15 to 44 is just 3.3, according to the Census Bureau’s latest statistical abstract.

I’m sure every woman in Manhattan went out and fucked 16.7 people as soon as they saw the previews. And that people don’t lie about their sexual lives to the U.S. Census. And that in, say, 1980, or 1920, for that matter, women in Manhattan had the same number of sex partners as women in Boise, Idaho or Havana, Florida.

As might be expected, many males would like to help themselves at this overladen buffet. But there’s a problem: While it’s a truism that the main beneficiaries of the sexual revolution are men, it is only some men: the Tucker Maxes, with the good looks, self-confidence, and swagger that enable them to sidle up successfully to a gaggle of well turned-out females in a crowded and anonymous club where the short-statured, the homely, the paunchy, the balding, and the sweater-clad are, if not turned away outside by the bouncer, ignominiously ignored by the busy, beautiful people within.

In my day, women slept with men because they were wea

lthy, not because they were charming or handsome, dag nabbit!

Then she goes on to look at “seduction gurus,” and the expensive training they give would-be Casanovas, presenting this as evidence that women are sexually out of control.

This must also be new, because I’ve never heard

of anyone capitalizing on men’s desires to get laid. Making a profit by selling guys things to help them get laid? Revolutionary! Someone ought to tell the floundering automotive industry about this.

In June 2005, Craig Malisow, a reporter for the Houston Press, trailed 24-year-old Bashev, a Bulgarian-born graduate student in engineering at Rice University and self-styled pickup expert, to a series of bars and clubs in Houston. Bashev had no intention of telling the 20-something Hbs [Hot Babe] he met that his day job

consisted of working with multivariable calculus. Instead he pointed to his shoes and informed them that he was a “foot model.”

Do you know a single woman who would rather do a foot model than someone whose job involves calculus? Another student of seduction told women he “repaired disposable razors” rather than reveal his desk job. I have no idea why anyone would say that.

After that, she goes into a spiel about evolutionary psychology, which to her credit she admits is slightly shaky. She still manages to equate contemp

orary hunter-gatherer societies to prehistoric humans, implicating anthropologists as the origin of this idea (hey!) but then goes on to say:

Evolutionary psychology also provides support for a truth universally denied: Women crave dominant men. And it seems that where men are forbidden to dominate in a socially beneficial way—as husbands and fathers, for example—women will seek out assertive, self-confident men whose displays of power aren’t so socially beneficial

Hm. Allen appears to be against readily available divorce and pro-male domination of the home and family. I guess the reason girls go to college and

sleep with boys is because battered women have the right to leave their marriages. For shame.

This game of sexual Whack-a-Mole is played regularly these days in a culture that, starting with children’s schoolbooks and moving up through films and television, targets as oppressors and mocks as bumblers the entire male sex.

I have an article I wrote about that, using training and expertise I gained studying anthropology, not Byzantium. Sneak preview: humor is subversive, and frequently relies on the inversion of societal structures to create a sense of incongruity and provoke a laugh. That is why I am making fun of this article; she gets paid to be a

n idiot, and I’m a college student on a fixed income. It’s funny because she’s more powerful than I am.

It’s increasingly common for women to air their husbands’ perceived faults to both their friends and the general public.

News flash: it is increasingly common for everyone to air everything to both their friends and the general public. That’s why I’m writing this when I should be studying for my Aramaic exam instead of reading it in the paper, giving a dismissive snort, and perhaps discussing it with my friends over coffee.

Not surprisingly, given that “head of the household” is a phrase that cannot be uttered in today’s egalitarian homes, many women satisfy their yearning for dominance by throwing themselves at bad boys or even worse.

Women were never attracted to the dangerous types in the fifties, consarn it!


Here’s the very next sentence:

The very day, March 17, 2005, that Scott Peterson—sentenced to death in California for killing his wife and unborn son and throwing their remains into San Francisco Bay—took up residence on San Quentin’s death row, he received three-dozen phone calls from smitten women, including an 18-year-old who wanted to become his second wife. According to an April story in People, Peterson is still being flooded with letters from female admirers almost five years later, many of the mash notes containing checks to pay for his commissary charges. That’s par for the course on death row, where the rule is: The more notorious the killer, the more fan mail and marriage proposals.

There are also entire webrings based on infant furry porn[2]. My point is, no matter what you’re talking about, somebody’s going to be into it in a sexual way. The clue you’re looking for to discover the reason the more notorious criminals get the most fan mail might have something to do with the word “notorious”. That is, more people will have heard of him. You can’t have a crush on someone you’ve never heard of.

Here’s where we get to the main point of the article:

But it’s a fair signal of impending social chaos when the prevailing female attitude is dissatisfaction, either mild or intense, with the workaday Joes—the good-provider beta males—whom one has already married or, in the era before the sexual and feminist revolutions, would be planning to marry because chasing alphas in bars was not a respectable option for the female middle class… Some argue, though, that it is actually beta men who are the greatest victims of the current mating chaos: the ones who work hard, act nice, and find themselves searching in vain for potential wives and girlfriends among the hordes of young women besotted by alphas.

Ah. The myth of the “Nice Guy”. Sorry, that one would take an entire article to itself. Let me just say that A) There are authentically nice guys, (currently all of the ones I know are very happy in stable monogamous, or in a few cases, polyamorous, relationships,) and B) guys who

seem “nice” but are really passive aggressive shitheads. A guy isn’t “nice” just because he doesn’t yell or hit. or because he isn’t Max Tucker, or Tucker Max, or whoever that guy is. Apples and oranges.

That’s the rest of the article; she quotes a sociopathic contributor to a journal she describes as “the Occidental Quarterly, a paleoconservative publication whose other contributors tend to focus obsessively on the question of which ethnic groups belong to which race.” She then blithely brushes away this alarming news and quotes him for the remainder of her essay, essentially bleating that women should be celibate until marriage and learn to bake apple pies to please hubby, because otherwise we’re all going to hell in a hand basket.

The ironic thing about this is that I do agree with Allen when it comes to one thing: if women want the respect of men, they need to respect themselves and treat men with respect in return. Well, no shit! It’s too bad she never got around to actually discussing the idea with any coherence in her essay.


[1] Source: http://www.luminarium.org/medlit/medlyric/women.php

[2] Source: Encyclopedia Dramatica

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Family History (In literal Arabic translation)

This week we had to write an essay in Arabic. This is a selectively literal translation of what I wrote:

There is to me a small family. There is to me a maternal uncle, and a maternal aunt, however there is not to them children. Also, my paternal uncle, there is not to him children. There are to me a pair of paternal aunts, * there are to them a pair of daughters and a single son. There is to me a single sister. Her name is Anna. Anna and I** are from the city of Washington because our dad used to be in the army. My dad and my mom used to be from the city of Jacksonville in the state of Florida, and their extended family is in Florida, however my dad joined the army because he specializes in music of the saxophone, and he was in "band" of the army.

Every year, my family and I used to travel to Florida for to visit our extended family.

The mom of my mom was from the region of "Kent" in the Britain that is Great. Her dad was from the city of "Aberdeen" in the Scotland. The dad of my mom is from Florida and the mom of my dad was from Georgia, in the city of Cairo (not from Egypt!)

My pair of grandmothers died before a pair of years. My grandfather lives in Jacksonville with my maternal uncle. They work with the oranges, and the lemons, and the "satsumas" and "the tangerines". My maternal aunt works with the tea. (My family loves the tea because of my grandmother).

My sister and I want to travel to the Britain that is Great.


*Every time I use this construction, it's because I put a noun in the dual form. So instead of saying "two aunts" you'd say "aunt-teyn" meaning "two aunts."

**This turns out to be a pun since "I" sounds similar to "Anna" in Arabic.



Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Math Lessons.

Last semester, I had the bright idea to take an online math course. As bad as I am at math, this actually seemed (at first) to be an ideal setup for me, due to the fact that it was no longer an automatic grade-diminishing catastrophe every time I failed to pay attention. This is key to my success, as when it comes to not paying attention in a math class, I have always excelled fantastically.

Needless to say, I barely scraped my way through it, and vowed that for my next (and, thank god, final) math course, I would not even consider the notion of trying it online.

Now, quite a bit of my near failure stems from the unavoidable fact that the best thing I can say about math is that I despise it. My inability to absorb any of the presented materials for my online class was not entirely due to my total dismissal of the subject, though. In a cruel twist, the woman in the tutorial videos had the most soothing voice, making it impossible to maintain the level of alertness required to really grasp new concepts. (I say "new" despite the fact that I have been taught these simple algebraic methods dozens of times, and they still manage to slip away from me just before an exam) It was soft and mid-pitched, a little timid, and sounded the way a mother speaks upon entering the room of a gravely ill child. She wrote formulas on her sheet and said, kindly, "Now, for this problem, we'll have to use the method known as Completing the Square," and yet all I ever heard was, "How's your head, honey? Would you like some more soup?"

She also had this incredible face, full of creases and folds, with the most expressive reservation I've ever seen. Her expression never drastically changed, but now and again she would look up and to her left, suddenly communicating a depth of uncomfortable hesitation that was deeply fascinating. What made her suddenly so nervous? How was she able to restrict that look to only her eyes, and yet say so much? Before I knew it, I had missed the entire video while concentrating on how best to render the shadows above her eyelids with a ball point pen.

At least with this new setup, I could, theoretically, restart the video if I missed something. That I have never once actually done this is probably a valid point to be made, but the option was there. I could always go back and try again, but I didn't. No, if I failed to grasp something, or failed to hear it at all, my method was to attempt the homework problems blindly, throwing numbers at the screen until I reached a point where the possibility of my moving on to the next equation was gone. At this point, I would emit mewing sounds for help to Dan, who is patient and good at math, and then he would fix my mistakes, explain what I failed to comprehend before, and the cycle began anew.

Fast forward to the second week of my Statistics class. I am riddled with unseemly desires to goof off and tell the subject of Statistics what it can do to itself.

It turns out that in person, the only way to keep my attention on the task at hand is to approach the entire class like an acting course. I furrow my brow and nod, acting as if I were paying attention. It helps. Pretending I'm being watched and scanned for signs of comprehension by a faceless audience makes my nods and head tilts more forced, but it keeps me from actively doing anything else, like drawing pictures or writing a story. The whole thing is a grotesque vaudevillian display of academic life, but what can I say? Fake it 'till you make it, or something equally overused like that.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

How I Got My Gig Writing A Humor Column

Back before the rag tanked. Shamefully, this was my little literary audition. Lolita it ain't, but it got me my first writing job.

I have a horrible confession.

I love Chips Ahoy! There, I said it. It is my shame. It is my passion.

For one thing, you can eat so many of them. Homemade chocolate chip cookies are divine, but you can only pack in a few wads of dough and about three baked cookies before you want to die. But the fun never ends with Chips Ahoy! Two, even three sleeves go down the hatch easy. It’s a great way to get your calcium if it takes you a half a gallon or more of milk to wash down your sweet, sweet little sirens. I can insist on organic, hormone-free milk from free-range cows, and use it to wash down a hockey puck of refined wheat, sugar, and preservatives without a trace of irony.

I love Chips Ahoy! Their sweet crumbly goodness makes me so happy it’s obscene. I used to sniff that we’d be having naught but Oreos in our house, God-fearing Oreos and God-fearing bakery or homemade deserts. I was totally anti-snax.

All of that ended with my introduction to these crisp, sugary little morsels. Why had I never encountered these little miracles in my sugar-soaked childhood romps through the desert aisle? So many wasted years! My God, you can devour them in one bite! No crumbs! The other day my boyfriend went out of town for a weekend, and God help me, I downed a whole box of them in just two sittings while the saints wept.

These things are a gateway drug that have my eyes combing the grocery aisles for fresh (stale) sugary snack foods. What other childhood treasures passed me by? What other secrets lurk behind those colorful wrappers?

Yes to all of it! Yes to the root beer barrels and the chocolate! Yes to the peanut butter cups, the bags of miniature candy bars and the taffy, the butter cookies, and everything else! Yes to everything processed, refined, pumped with sugars and preservatives whose names I couldn’t pronounce even if I could sit still long enough to try to read the label through my sucrose-induced delirium tremens! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I really should have company around more often. Of course, there are the obvious social benefits, but really I'm referring to the fact that it makes me aware of, and more horrified by, my own filth. It isn't until the final two hour countdown that I really begin to wallow in disgust and start making frantic adjustments in order to present an unrealistic picture to my guest. I wouldn't want anybody to be startled by the mayhem that ensues as soon as I'm left alone to flourish in my natural habitat.

I tend not to be too bothered by my detritus when it's just me, but mostly because my offal reflects fabulous taste. That's not a month-old water bottle you see, it's a month-old Perrier bottle. My foul mugs just reflect that I'm the kind of crackling intellectual who drinks tons of tea and coffee, which supposedly means something if you're a complete asshole who judges people on things like that. My sour laundry is at least comprised of stylish black clothing.

At least my filth isn't in poor taste. Still, I'm deeply ashamed of it when I have someone in my home, picking over piles of clothes and attempting to make a spot for themselves on the couch. Really, though, how well do my closest friends know me if I won't let them see the withered, half-empty teacups, the smattering of useless papers with unfinished naked people drawn on them, the unmade bed with the untraceable stains on the sheets? I'd like to think that those who come around often know me fairly well, as in they are keenly aware of my likes and dislikes, are familiar with my life story, and can read me without effort. Still, now and again I wonder if I wouldn't be more comfortable if I dropped the charade and just once flung open the door, allowing my unfortunate guest to see my offal and debris in its entirety.

“Come in, come in! Move that pile of laundry aside, you'll find a food-encrusted chair underneath it. Oh, come now. You signed up for this. You decided to be my friend, remember? Now pick your way through the paper trail and come into the kitchen. Let's get something to eat, shall we? And let's not bother to put the dishes in the sink, while we're at it. Hey, I'm just being honest with you.”

Still, I hate people who use honesty as a blanket philosophy to excuse cruelty, so I suppose citing truthfulness to excuse filth is just as bad. It would be a lot less stressful, though.

It's probably silly to think that the “real” me lurks in closets and is frantically stuffed into trashcans before an inspection by a friend. Maybe my garbage and rubble is no more unique to me or indicative of my personality than any hidden body function or suppressed catty remark.

They say that through friendships, one becomes a better person. Maybe for me, that just means that the more friends I have, the higher the chances are that I'll get my ass off the couch and take the garbage out once in a while.