March 2006 Archives

The Ultimate Gateway Drug


According to Chinese medicine, you shouldn't drink icy cold things pretty much ever, but they're especially bad for you in winter. I am enough of a Westerner that I quite enjoy a nice cola with lots of ice and a wedge of lime, and one reason I am anxious for it to warm up is because I am tired of not indulging in said beverage. I am a big ol' cheapskate and I can't stand paying a lot of money to burn up fossil fuels to heat my house to 70 F, so I keep the thermostat at around 65 F during the day and just wear lots of clothes. This saves on heating bills but means the only way I can drink an icy cola without darn near freezing to death is if I drink it in while I'm lying in a very warm bath, which I do from time to time, but only if I take a bath early in the day, because I don't like drinking caffeine after, say, 5 p.m.

Actually I try to avoid caffeine as much as possible. I only drink decaffeinated tea and coffee. Many people find this odd but I just don't like stimulants. Revving up is not what my personality generally needs.

My cola is preference is Coke, the real thing, but I find Diet Coke with Splenda a thoroughly acceptable substitute for the real thing. I remember when Diet Coke was invented: it was 1982 and I was a sophomore in college, and I thought dc was the best thing EVER! I drank a lot of it, for years, and then I quit for even more years because I didn't want to drink artificial sweeteners anymore. I do that with beverages; I give them up for a while. I didn't drink hot Dr Pepper at all in the 1980s, and then I started again around 1993; I didn't drink tea for a while but now I drink it a lot; currently, I'm trying to drink less coffee. That would be easier to do if I could drink Diet Coke instead, which I started drinking again last fall after I heard about this Splenda stuff, which supposedly isn't so bad for you and tastes more like real sugar. I don't know about how healthy it is, but I do know it tastes better, and that somehow helps me believe it's not as deadly as that aspartame stuff.

Broken Window Coda


Some of you may remember my account of finding a storm window broken back in January, and of the fact that after the storm window was replaced, smudges remained on the window it had protected, in a way that I couldn't clean it--plus there were all these shards of glass trapped on the sill between the inside and storm window.

The good news now is that a friend has been visiting me, and yesterday he helped me take down the new storm window and do some final cleanup. We managed to get all the bits of glass vacuumed up, but the bad news is that the marks I thought were smudges on the inside window are actually scratches--when the storm window broke, its glass struck the inside window hard enough to gouge some fairly deep scratches.

The window faces southeast, and the scratches on it are right at my eye level and especially visible on a bright clear morning like today. They ain't going away unless I have the entire window replaced.

Of Friends and Furniture


A friend recently mentioned to me that certain problems he's facing in a relationship are due in part to the fact that he too quickly arrives at the point "where you see the other person as a comfortable old piece of furniture you can take for granted and don't really have to think about."

I contemplated this notion a moment before speaking. "I don't think I've ever gotten to that point," I said.

The friend settled back in his chair, which was not particularly comfortable. "Really," he said archly. It was a skeptical challenge more than a curious request for information.

"Really," I said. "It has to do both with how I see people and how I see furniture. It's not at all that I'm a nicer person than you or anything, because the point I arrive at is the point where I think, ‘You are an ugly piece of junk and I can't bear looking at you any more and my life would be so much better if I could get you out of my house and replace you with something that isn't hideous and uncomfortable,' which is how I feel about the couch I have right now. I hate my couch. I just hate it. It was old to begin with and now my cat has shredded most of the upholstery. I really want to throw it out and replace it."

I have thought about the conversation in the days since it happened. It has helped me understand something about what I want from the people I rely on and the objects I recline on, and how I need to respect both.

What I Drink for Breakfast


My family drank boiling hot Dr Pepper every morning for breakfast the whole time I was growing up, and as a matter of fact, we drink it still.

The rest of this post has been deleted, because I revised it substantially and included it in an essay.

The White Trash Goddess

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I just checked Saviour Onassis's blog While You're On Your Knees and saw that he had posted something about his alter-ego, Helena Bubbles.

Helena was a truly fascinating creature and although I understand the reasons why she had to retire, I was still sorry to see her go. One of the few things that gave me any comfort in the matter was that I got some of her old clothes.

As the page featuring SO's story of Helena loaded, there was a picture of Helena, and then when the page was completely loaded, the photo was gone--kind of like Helena herself. I hope you get to see her.

A Body That Expands


Another Thursday, another mild hangover. Yesterday was a friend's birthday and we went out to celebrate. I only had two beers but they were Belgian beers brewed by Trappist Monks, and we all know how completely loaded those guys like to get. Plus, as sometimes (but not always) happens when I drink, I then couldn't sleep, and took some sort of pill to help the process. All of which made for a crappy next morning.

The good thing about drinking during the week is that it frees my weekend up for extended sobriety. The bad thing about drinking during the week is, well, all the stuff I mentioned above, plus the fact that it means I don't really feel like blogging. And I even have a couple of things I want to write about! I may just have to write the entry today and post it tomorrow.

Ultra Easy Artichoke Dip


Sometimes at a restaurant someone will order artichoke dip as an appetizer, and say something when it arrives like, "You gotta try this! It's really good!"

The dip is often not bad, but it's not anything like this recipe, which I got a decade ago or so, in grad school, from a friend. She got it from her mother, who found it in a cookbook called something like One-Step Delicious Dishes Using Processed Foods, with most of the ingredients being, well, pre-processed in some way or another. In this case, the ingredients were:

one large can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
one half cup mayonnaise
one half cup grated parmesan cheese
one teaspoon pre-minced garlic
coarse ground pepper to taste

Un-Funny Bones


Recently a friend, aware that I have an interest in all things Buffy, asked me if I'd ever watched some show called Bones. He asked this because it stars David Boreanaz, whose major claim to fame is his role as Angel, Buffy's (first) vampire boyfriend. I had to reply that I had not, and could have added that I had no particular interest in ever watching it.

I wasn't even that into David B. when he got his own spin-off; anyone with any sense knows that Angel was infinitely inferior to Buffy. There are so many reasons for this, the first being that Angel lacked both the sparkling repartee and the psychological complexity of BtVS; it was pretty much just a crime show with a vampire doing the detective work. Secondly, Sarah Michelle Gellar might not be the best actress in the world, but she's still more talented than David B, and thus better suited to carry the weight of an entire series. (If you don't believe me, just watch "I Only Have Eyes for You" from Season II of BtVS--I could hardly bear the way DB overacted when he was possessed by the spirit of the school teacher murdered by her teenage lover.) He also didn't age that well; I admit I thought he was very hot when he first showed up as Angel in the very first episode of BtVS, but it wasn't long before he got all thick and jowly, which was odd and unfortunate, given that his character was supposed to be eternally young.

Springtime Is Not Come In


Today, I see by looking at my calendar, is the vernal equinox, also known as the first day of spring.

This is one of the days when I wish most desperately that I lived somewhere with A) a sizeable Druid population and B) warmer weather. I would really love to join a bunch of nature worshipers and frolic through the woods right about now, but I don't know many pagans here aside from myself, and it's still too stinkin' cold out.

Spring doesn't exactly suck in southern Arizona--sometimes, if it's been a wet winter, the desert will erupt in California poppies or other lovely wildflowers--but it's not something you long for, something you almost can't help but worship when it arrives, the way it is when you see this gradual but nonetheless dramatic victory of warmth and fertility over the bleak and barren cold, and you think, my god, looks like I'll probably survive a few more months after all.

I admit I never really got spring--in the sense of either understanding or receiving it--until I lived in Iowa. I remember walking along on a snowy day and noticing these strange bits of purple, like a few bright scraps of fabric strewn carelessly across a neighbor's yard. I remember the shock when I realized the scraps were flowers--crocuses, the first flower of spring. There is something deeply magical about crocuses, their petals so fragile and delicate while the plant itself is robust and bold enough to burst through ground that hasn't entirely thawed. I certainly delighted in strolling along sidewalks lined with orange trees on the University of Arizona campus, breathing in the heady, gorgeous scent of orange blossoms on a bright April morning. But that experience, although lovely and memorable, is still not as miraculous as welcoming the triumphal appearance of crocuses, tulips, hyacinths and some of the other early-blooming bulbs after a long, cold, dark, miserable, sucky winter.

Blood and Guts in Mutual*

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I know, I know: I said I was going to quit hanging out at blogs written by devout Mormon feminists, because they annoy me so. And I haven't gone back on my word, because I haven't been hanging out, exactly: I've just visited a time or two. You see, Jana posted something really interesting about Mormons and menarche, and she began this interesting post with a quote from me. When she emailed me about it, I couldn't resist checking it out; and when I saw that it was, like many things Jana posts, insightful and provocative, I couldn't resist commenting. And then I couldn't resist going back later and seeing what other women had to say, and those comments were interesting too; so I commented again.

And then I thought, "Wow, maybe I over-reacted; maybe these devout Mormon feminist bloggers aren't so bad." So I followed some links and looked at some blogs and I can admit that I sort of over-reacted, but I can also see that I sort of didn't. I found sites that really upset me, but instead of freaking out, I took a deep breath, clicked on something else, and simply resolved never to go back to the sites that bother me.

But I encourage you to check out Jana's post and leave a comment on what you think we can and should do to make menarche a positive (if private and personal) milestone for young women.

*Mutual is one of the old names for the Mormon youth organization. I'm not sure what it's called now.


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