Monday, January 31, 2011

Korean Content



by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I didn’t get much sleep last night
thinking about underwear
Have you ever stopped to consider
underwear in the abstract
When you really dig into it
some shocking problems are raised
Underwear is something
we all have to deal with
Everyone wears
some kind of underwear
The Pope wears underwear I hope
The Governor of Louisiana
wears underwear
I saw him on TV
He must have had tight underwear
He squirmed a lot
Underwear can really get you in a bind
You have seen the underwear ads
for men and women
so alike but so different
Women’s underwear holds things up
Men’s underwear holds things down
Underwear is one thing
men and women have in common
Underwear is all we have between us
You have seen the three-color pictures
with crotches encircled
to show the areas of extra strength
and three-way stretch
promising full freedom of action
Don’t be deceived
It’s all based on the two-party system
which doesn’t allow much freedom of choice
the way things are set up
America in its Underwear
struggles thru the night
Underwear controls everything in the end
Take foundation garments for instance
They are really fascist forms
of underground government
making people believe
something but the truth
telling you what you can or can’t do
Did you ever try to get around a girdle
Perhaps Non-Violent Action
is the only answer
Did Gandhi wear a girdle?
Did Lady Macbeth wear a girdle?
Was that why Macbeth murdered sleep?
And that spot she was always rubbing—
Was it really in her underwear?
Modern anglosaxon ladies
must have huge guilt complexes
always washing and washing and washing
Out damned spot
Underwear with spots very suspicious
Underwear with bulges very shocking
Underwear on clothesline a great flag of freedom
Someone has escaped his Underwear
May be naked somewhere
But don’t worry
Everybody’s still hung up in it
There won’t be no real revolution
And poetry still the underwear of the soul
And underwear still covering
a multitude of faults
in the geological sense—
strange sedimentary stones, inscrutable cracks!
If I were you I’d keep aside
an oversize pair of winter underwear
Do not go naked into that good night
And in the meantime
keep calm and warm and dry
No use stirring ourselves up prematurely
‘over Nothing’
Move forward with dignity
hand in vest
Don’t get emotional
And death shall have no dominion
There’s plenty of time my darling
Are we not still young and easy
Don’t shout

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shingles Hippo --> Gay Unicorn

I Have Folded My Sorrows
by Bob Kaufman

I have folded my sorrows into the mantle of summer night,
Assigning each brief storm its alloted space in time,
Quietly pursuing catastrophic histories buried in my eyes.
And yes, the world is not some unplayed Cosmic Game,
And the sun is still ninety-three million miles from me,
And in the imaginary forest, the shingles hippo becomes the gay unicorn.
No, my traffic is not addled keepers of yesterday's disasters,
Seekers of manifest disewbowelment on shafts of yesterday's pains.
Blues come dressed like introspective echoes of a journey.
And yes, I have searched the rooms of the moon on cold summer nights.
And yes, I have refought those unfinished encounters. Still, they remain unfinished.
And yes, I have at times wished myself something different.
The tragedies are sung nightly at the funerals of the poet;
The revisited soul is wrapped in the aura of familiarity.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Auspicious Books are the Best Kind

"...yet, somehow, the books that prove most agreeable, grateful, and companionable, are those we pick up by chance here and there; those which seem put into our hands by Providence; those which pretend to little, but abound in much." -Herman Meville

Thursday, January 20, 2011

unfinished, but whatevs

1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?

Completed the Couch to 5K program and ran my first ever 10K race. It was amazing.

2009 -I went to Africa! And started hashing back in February. I also bought purple underwear.

2008 - got divorced for real, barehanded ice fishing, thought I flushed my own keys down the toilet, went paint balling, ate beondegi (yuck!), flew a plane.

2007 - Hahahaha. I've already been asked this one. The Hong Kong incident. Got divorced (I think, anyway!) Taught kindergarten.

2006 - went on holiday with my sister, bought a red bra

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I've kept a few, but not most. I will make more. Soon. Really. Plus, I'll need to make a new 101 in 1001 list at some point this year...

2009 -I'm still working on the 101 in 1001 List and I've rejigged a couple of them. I'd like to finish off those goals before I start any more. The biggest fail was the book ban (reinstated, let's hope I prove to have more willpower now.)

2008 - the 101 in 1001 List, maybe a couple more

2007- No and Yes. It's not the keeping of the resolutions that is necessarily important, I think, but the making of them. The taking stock.

2006 - I didn't make any last year. I will be making some this year, though. I like thinking about my goals and where I am and where I want to be. I was too depressed to want to think about my life last January.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

While there are lots of baby pics floating around my FB feed, no.

2009 - My high school friend Vanessa and Andrea & David. Congratulations!
2008 - If they did, it's escaping me, but it's also very late at night.
2006 - My childhood friend, Shannon. My brother's girlfriend. A couple of other people I don't know as well.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, unfortunately.

2009 - No.
2008 - No.
2006 - No.

4. What countries did you visit?

Korea, Toronto, Korea. Not very exciting at all.

2000 - Kojedo, Jeonju, Rome, Ghana, Togo, Toronto, Vancouver
2008 - Boracay, Taiwan, Bamboo/Tea Plantation trip, Canada, Japan, Dokdo, North Korea
2007 - Thailand, Hong Kong, Canada, North Korea, The Philippines.
2006 - Scotland, Canada, Korea, Thailand. Only Thailand was for the first time.

5. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

The same as last year, I guess.

2009 - A zero balance credit card, the ability to run hashes, a plan to leave Korea.
2008 - This one is going to remain secret, but there is something I'd like.
2007 - More of all the good things, less of all the bad, I guess.
2006 - I don't think there was much that I lacked entirely over the course of the whole year. There were lots of things I lacked during different parts of the year though. I guess I just want more of the good things, more often.

6. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

March 2nd - first day of my new job
September 23 - 38PH3 - for the hashing, and for something else, which we will leave off the internet.

2009 - Fourth Saturday in February - My first hash, the PMS MENstrual Run
August 22 - I started vacation!
October 5 - The day I started back at work.

2008 - January 3rd - finally divorced!
Friday, August 8th - the Ferraro Rocher countdown ended on my last day of work at Poly

2007 - April 10th - I left Heritage, thank fuck!
May 18th - Surprise arrival back in Canada.
August 10th - Back in Korea once more.
December 14th - All my loose ends were finally tied up!

2006 - February 14th, when I finally, really knew that I had to leave Alan. April 10th, when I flew into Seoul.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

My 10K medal, for sure.

2009 - Going on vacation? I didn't really have any big achievements this year.
2008 - Well, I collected the entire set of Hello Kitty magnets. And found my own place in HBC.
2007 - Tying up those loose ends, perhaps.
2006 - Getting over the embarrassment of leaving someone only 5 months into marriage and doing it anyway because I needed to do it. Rebuilding my entire life all over again, in Korea.

8. What was your biggest failure?

This year, my failures seem to have been legion. I failed as a friend, I suppose. I trusted the wrong person. It's been a rough year.

2009 - Financial.
2008 - Also will remain a secret. But it's related to the other one.
2007 - Perhaps being so stressed by the Korea/Hong Kong decision.
2006 - Not listening to my instincts and the warnings of other people

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?

The rib. The suspected shin splints and other assorted aches that came with learning to run.

2009 - The mystery illness in Ghana & Togo - but Immodium cured that. Very nasty Yellow Dust cold. My toenail slowly growing back.

2008 - possibly I discovered I have a malformed eardrum, hairline fracture in my foot after dancing drunk in my apartment, Broken Toe Part I - The Sink, Broken Toe Part II - Martha's Dancing, recent sickness which is no fun, so we won't bother talking about it.

2007 - Nothing terrible. Did a transatlantic flight with a messed up ankle, did some North Korean hiking with pneumonia.

2006 - Yep. Some of the most notable - my first ever hickie and my now completely fucked up ankle. I'm a klutz, though, so there have been a few.

10. What was the best thing you bought?

A lot of books. Running shoes and winter running clothes.

2009 - Hair cut and straightening. New computer. Monitor which is also a TV. My students would claim it's my Transformers t-shirt.
2008 - new iPod, G-Whiz, North Korean honey
2007 - It wasn't what Oprah recommended ;) I'm not sure I've bought anything all that fabulous this year.
2006 - my laptop. my plane ticket out of Scotland.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration? Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Samantha and April have become my rocks. Shar and Tim were a tough combo of fucked up to deal with, though Tim was also one of my mainstays.

2009 - Hashers are often pretty awesome and Ortencia was an awesome host. However, the two hashers running CHILD and their ridiculousness were fairly appalling.
2008 - Martha has been a rock star in the last couple of months! The pricks at Phillies being homophobic assholes and everyone who voted for Prop. 8 and like-minded resolutions appall me.
2007 - Many people's merited celebration. I find that sometimes the most surprising people will do fantastic things. Based on some info I recently found out, my ex is on the appalled list.
2006 - my friends and family, who have been very supportive of me. appalled: alan's. my own

14. Where did most of your money go?

The trip to Canada and running clothes.

2009 - New computer, six week vacation, books.
2008 - You got me! I guess the trip to Canada was the biggie, plus the shopping trip that resulted. The iPod.
2007 - Vacations!!! Clothes. Having fun in general.
2006 - into leaving Scotland.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Running, hashing, reading.

2009 - Rome with Jen, Ghana and Togo with Ortencia, home!, and then Vancouver, with the chance to see Andrea & David, Orin, and Martha.
2008 - Seeing my nieces. Going to a city in North Korea. Moving to Haebangchon. Teaching teenagers. Leaving Poly.
2007 - Hiking in North Korea. Seeing my nieces.
2006 - being single again, meeting new people, teaching again, knowing that I made the decision to live my life the way I want to, full of travel and adventure.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?

I'm on A Boat by The Lonely Island.

2009 - Slung Low, Erin McKeown; I Got a Feeling, Black Eyed Peas (listened to it constantly in Vancouver); and Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back), Eamon and Barbie Girl, Aqua because they played in Togo while I was travelling.
2008 - Whatever You Like, T.I. but in particular, that one the kids made about voting however you like. Made me cry.
2006 - The Mercy of the Fallen, Dar Williams

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?

The same?

2009 - Happier.
2008- happier
2007 - happier or perhaps about the same
2006 - happier

b) thinner or fatter?


2009 - Maybe a bit fatter.
2008 - same same
2007 - maybe about the same - I'm not sure, to be honest.
2006 - fatter, a bit

c) richer or poorer?

Same same, but different.

2009 - Moderately less poor.
2008 - moderately less poor.
2007 - Hmmmm. Again, perhaps about the same.
2006 - maybe about the same

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Travelling, for sure.

2009 - Saving money. Reading books. Travelling. Hashing. Time with the nieces.
2008 - beach holidays, time at home with the family, coffee with Jenn
2007 - Exercise. Travelling. Decisive getting-stuff-done.
2006 - laughed

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Wandering about on the internet.

2009 - Lazing around. Staying up too late. Social smoking. Negative self-talk.
2008 - overreacting, stress with friends over silly things, dealing with Korean immigration, teaching at Poly.
2007 - I'm not sure I regret too much from the past year. Maybe the odd drunken moment, but nothing in particular.
2006 - beating myself up for things I couldn't change and things that weren't exactly my fault

20. How did you spend Christmas?

I slept over at April's on Christmas Eve, popped back home on Christmas morning and then went back to April's for a fantastic Xmas brunch with her, Jeff, Samantha and Moniqa. Then I went over to Laura's for a turkey dinner around 3ish and finally, I went down to Songtan for a hash turkey dinner, a beer pong tournament (and no, I did not play), and stayed over in a hotel. Drove back to Seoul on Boxing Day for a Southside hash.

2009 - After dinner at Brian's on the eve, I ended up in HBC. When the bar closed, the random people still left, two people I knew, and I tried to go norae bang. When everywhere turned out to be closed, I invited everyone back to my place for a random party at about 6 a.m. Christmas dinner at Laura's was fabulous and we played pictionary, hilarious. I walked home with Christie and Lorraine, singing "White Christmas" as it flurried. Then I napped before calling home at 2 a.m. and chatting with the family. After, because of the nap, I stayed up to watch some episodes of The Big Bang Theory. On Boxing Day, the hashers had the "Santa's Sloppy Seconds" dinner and sat around singing to things WHAM DJed for us.

2008 - Eggs Benedict with Liz and Martha, Geckos with Brian, Cleo, Martha, Melissa, Rebekah, then Seoul Pub, then a taxi with a TV on the ride home!

2007 - Brian, Samarra and I went to see the Golden Compass, wandered around iPark, went to dinner at Geckos and then had drinks with people at Queen. Oh, and I got to talk to my adorable nieces :)

2006 - A turkey buffet at Geckos with friends and coworkers and later on some phone calls home.

21. Did you fall in love in 2010?


2009 -No.
2008 - Yes.
2007 - Hahahahaha. No!
2006 - i thought i did, I'm as subject to rebound relationships as anyone, i guess. didn't last long, which was for the best!

22. How many one-night stands?

I had another one-night stand (or so I thought) that resulted in a lot more.

2009 - More than zero.
2008 - A few. They can be one hell of a lot of fun.
2006 - I don't kiss and tell.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

Grey's, Private Practice, The Good Wife, Criminal Minds, The West Wing

2009 - Battlestar Galactica, 30 Rock, Big Bang Theory, NCIS (Don't ask. It's an obssession.), Six Feet Under
2008 - Big Love, My So-Called Life, Grey's and Private Practice, Ugly Betty, Brothers and Sisters
2007 - Grey's Anatomy, I think, though I am now equally into Private Practice. I've been watching the first season of Lost recently and been impressed since about halfway through. Flight of the Conchords is hysterical. Oh, and I finally got around to watching Buffy - it was really good.
2006 - America's Next Top Model in Korea, before that Alias/The L Word/Desperate Housewives

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

No. But I'm hugely disappointed.

2009 - Nope.
2008 - This year homophobia has upset me more than usual - but I hate the game, not the players. No point in hating the haters.
2007 - No. I don't hate anyone at all right now, though there are certainly those I don't care for.
2006 - perhaps my boss, though hate is far too strong a word. i can't bring myself to hate my ex, though sometimes I think that might actually be kinda a step forward.

25. What was the best book you read?

2009 - Kathy Reichs and Lynsays Sands books, obsessively
1984 & Lord of the Flies (at work)
Bridge to Teribithia
The Great Influenza
Subject to Debate, Katha Pollit
Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich
Payback, Margaret Atwood
The Pollysyllabic Spree, Nick Hornby
Plainsong, Kent Haruf
Fox Girl, Nora Okia Keller
Life of Pi, Yann Martel
The Great Fortune, Olivia Manning
Pyongyang & Persepolis
The Omnivore's Dilemna, Michael Pollan
The Truth About Stories, Thomas King

2008 - S: A Novel About the Balkans, by Slavenka Drakulic
The Little Friend, Donna Tartt
This is Paradise! My North Korean Childhood by Hyok Kang
Dreams of My Father, Barrak Obama
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Life of Pi, Yann Martel
Maus, Art Spiegleman
Kafka on the Shore, Murakami

2007 - "The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank" by Ellen Feldman. It was maybe the best power read - one of those I-can't-put-it-down novels.
"Eva" by Peter Dickinson was the best children's book and it was a reread from the Poly library.
"Oscar and Lucinda" by Peter Carey for the best I-should-have-known-but-didn't ending.
“The Friar and the Cipher” by Lawrence & Nancy Goldstone for best historical non-fiction.
“Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal” by Christopher Moore was the funniest.
“The Brooklyn Follies” by Paul Auster for introducing me to my newest fav author.
"Lucky" by Alice Sebold for the best sad book.
"A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of A Boy Soldier" by Ishmael Beah for the most gut-wrenching emotional response.
"Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert for personal resonance.

2006 - picking just one is so evil. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Everything is Illuminated, The History of Love and those are just the ones that come to mind...

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Florence and the Machine. Mumford and Sons.

2009 - Since I spent most of my year with no functional computer or internet, I've listened mostly to the same 200 songs that were on my iPod before Chester died. I've been downloading like crazy since, though, so I hope to discover new stuff that I love sooner rather than later.
2008 - The Genius button on iTunes.
2007 - Not sure. I love "Smile" by Lily Allen, and the new Alicia Keys album is pretty damn cool. Tons of stuff, really.
2006 - Jack Johnson. I had heard of him before, but never got around to listening until this year when I discovered downloading...

27. What did you want and get? What did you want and not get?

A new job - got it. A completed 10K - done. The last thing is still playing itself out.

2009 - I wanted a vacation to a new place and I certainly got that. I also wanted willpower (gym, financial, etc) and that didn't happen.
2008 - I'm not sure, but they are both wrapped up in the same thing.
2007 - I didn't get a job I wanted, though I suspect that worked out for the best, particularly from a financial point of view. I wanted a new wardrobe and I got that.
2006- What did you want and get? a computer, a job in Korea, out of a relationship, a trip to Thailand (I even got two!) What did you want and not get? an easy breakup

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

2009 - Amazing Grace, Hallam Foe, Milk, Frost/Nixon, Transformers (1&2)
2008 - Juno, Children of Men, Kung Fu Panda were the best, but nothing really moved me.
2007 - The Golden Compass, I think. I don't actually see many films, in the cinema or out of it.
2006 - Everything is Illuminated, Tsotsi, The Constant Gardener, Hotel Rwanda

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

No Shar thing. No Tim thing. And a beach vacation at Christmas.

2009 - No debt.
2008 - A longer trip home.
2007 - A year long trip around Asia, with the magic ability to pop back in on the family for a couple of days at will.
2006 - if Alan had stayed in Scotland. if i had left him earlier.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I spent my 32nd birthday at a galbi restaurant and then at the Phillies Quiz with a great group of people - Nami, Gus and Gabby, Shar, Samantha, Tim, Ben. Ben got into an argument with Gus about those fish in the Amazon that swim up your penis.

2009 - 31. On the day of, nothing special. But I went out for dinner and dancing with friends the weekend before.
2008 - 30! I drank shots out of a porcelain penis. Then I skipped out on the big Saturday night extravaganza.
2007 - 29 in Hong Kong, went drinking and dancing.
2006 - I was 28. I went to TinPans and drank too much tequila, I went to Stompers and don't even remember being there, I met a cute boy.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

A lot of pants that ended up being too big, a lot of hash shirts and hoodies, lots of new fancy running clothes.

2009 - Before vacation, I usually maintained a big divide between work clothes and home clothes. Since I've returned, I've been a jeans girl at work as well as at play. I have some cool panya purses and a skirt from my trip.
2008 - Many t-shirts, but I will have to wear something Martha hasn't stolen!
2006 - a concept implies I was thinking about this in some sort of orderly way. The same 7 or so outfits to work (with flip flops in summer and black shoes in winter), the same 7 or so low cut tops to bars, and my fave comfy socks whenever I'm home

33. What kept you sane?

Samantha and April. Chocolate ice cream.

2009 - Blogging.
2008 - Martha and other friends. Pure stubbornness.
2007 - Who says I managed to stay sane? My coworkers, perhaps, when I was back in my old job. My friends. Lots of navel gazing.
2006 - a combination of good friends and too much booze.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

2009 - Katee Sackhoff (Captain Kara 'Starbuck' Thrace, Battlestar Galactica)
Sasha Alexander (Agent Caitlin Todd in NCIS)
2008 - Hillary Clinton. Jennifer Beals.
2006 - i don't really fancy celebrities.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

The Democratic primaries in the States and gay marriage. You know, back when I was saying that Obama wasn't very lefty and I prefered Clinton, everyone told me that he was progressive. But I'd read his books and I knew he wasn't as progressive as people thought and now it turns out that indeed, he isn't.

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

2008 - Prop. 8, the Democratic Leadership Race, proroguement
2006 - i have been too busy navel gazing to really pay too much attention. Perhaps the possible nuclear weapons test by North Korea.

36. Who did you miss?

Once again, everybody not here in Seoul, but especially the nieces. Oddly, lately also my dog.

2008 - everybody, but especially Sarah, Emily and Chloe.
2006 - Most people. I live overseas!

37. Who was the best new person you met?

All the hashers!

2008 - Martha
2006 - All the new people I've met have mostly been amazing, though in totally different ways.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009?

Just keep following the trail marks and you'll make it to the goal.

2008 - Be stubborn. Love.
2007 - When travelling, follow the noise.
2006 - No one will judge me as much as I will judge myself. Trust your gut. People you don't expect to will do little things that will make you believe in goodness again.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Slung Lo, Erin MCKeown

I was slung-lo and
So gung-ho
For anything to get me to start
I had my rock
I had my roll
But I couldn't find my spark

A flip of the hi-fi
A glimpse of the good life
And the clouds began to fade
I'm turning this B-side
Around to a de-light
Blue skies are here to stay

"She was so down, look at her now
She's never been so high!
Everyone knows, give it some time
The clouds'll clear the sky!"

Light the radio
Til it explodes
I'm dancin' til I drop
One small step
First right then left
I'm never gonna stop

"She was so down, look at her now
She's dancin' til she drops!
Everyone knows, give it some time
You'll find what you have lost!"

It is my style to take awhile
To put the feeling down to page
I get around to making sound
When the fancy meets the phrase!

"She was so down, look at her now
She's never been so high!
Everyone knows, give it some time
The clouds'll clear the sky!"

I'm gonna burst
Right out of this world
And I won't do it alone
A kick to the heart
A lift for the charts
One listen and we'll be gone
And then who cares?
We're debonair
And we're dancin' our way back home

"She was so down, look at her now
She's never been so high!
Everyone knows, give it some time
The clouds'll clear the sky!"

2008 - 9 to 5, Lady Sovereign
Ok yo....
I wake up late every morning
managers calling I'm still yawning
Get up wake up hair and makeups
Waiting for you don't be sawing
This performance is important
I don't think I can put my all in
Hold on I was drunk last night
Now its all kicking in and I don't feel right
Gave my number to a breh who wasn't my type
Now my phones on silent I'm being polite
Now private callers get no love from me
Just let me be...

Oh my gosh my days are getting longer
There's no turning back cuz I'm working da 9 to 5
To keep my contract did I say 9 was getting of 1:30
I'm no early birdy I'm lazy dats all dat I can say
So make sure you heard me
And deres no turning back cuz I'm working a 9 to 5

2006 - The Mercy Of The Fallen
Dar Williams

"Oh my fair North Star
I have held to you dearly
I had asked you to steer me
'Til one cloud-scattered night

I got lost in my travels
I met Leo the lion
Met a king and met a giant
With their errant light

There's the wind and the rain
And the mercy of the fallen
Who say they have no claim to know what's right

There's the weak and the strong
And the bets that have no answer
And that's where I may rest my head tonight"


I've found a new way to hibernate this year. Unlike last winter, when I would regularly get home on a Friday night and not leave the apartment until Monday at noon for work, this year I'm taking more of a mental hibernation.

I go to the hashes, I've been spending most of my weekends on extended sleepovers at April's house, and I go out a few times during the week for dinner or whatever, but my mind has been hibernating.

I normally am all about the New Years resolutions - not because I think that they are effective in terms of follow through, but because I like the way it makes you take stock of where you are and what you might want to have come next. For me, they've always gone hand in hand with a mental review of the past year.

But a lot happened last year, particularly towards the end, and it hasn't been stuff I've felt ready to blog about. I think I might be getting there though, and I know I need to get around to making some plans, because things need to change.

Hopefully, my mental spring comes soon. Hibernating may be an important part of the process for me, but I'm ready for it to end soon.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wanna be REALLY awake?

Upon my first return to Canada after a year living in South Korea, I was a bit flustered when it came time to order a coffee. In Korea, even in Starbucks, back in those days, I would have said largee. So, I asked for their biggest size, not recalling the correct Starbucks terminology. They handed me a Venti and I must have looked so comically startled that the guy asked me if everything was okay. My response? "When did you guys start selling coffee in buckets?"

And now this. I can't wait to get home and order it, just for the sheer hilarity. Can I feed one to my nieces and then bugger off and use a nanny cam to watch what ensues? Please?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

All Families Are Psychotic

"You don't know," said William. "Life is boring. People are vengeful. Good things always end. We do so many things and we don't know why, and if we do find out why, ti's decades later and knowing why doesn't matter any more."

I do, in fact, totally agree with Douglas Adams. Classic title.

"Tell me something - how do you deal with so many responsibilites? How? I really mean it. We've sort of talked about htis before - when you visited me in Kansas. I can barely arrange dinner reservations at Jessie's Catfush Grill, and I can't even order Disney World tickets over the phone. I've never had to actually do things before. I never had any reason to. And I finally want to accomplish things, but don't have a clue how. Meanwhile, you're orchestrating DNA strands in outer space, fosteerding wolrd peace and landing the single most complex artifact ever made by the human species out in the desert."

Sarah took a second. "I never think about it like that, Wade. There are simply these things that need to be done, and it's simpler to do them than to not do them."

For the first 200 or so pages of this book, I was a bit bored. I kept thinking that I would have liked it so much more back in my teenage/early 20s years, just as I loved Hey, Nostradamus! so much that after reading it on New Year's Day at a friend's apartment I went out and bought my own copy immediately.

Our lives are geared mainly to deflect the darts thrown at us by the laws of probability. The moment we're able, we insulate ourselves from random acts of hate and destruction. It's always been there - in the neighborhoods we build, the walls between our houses, the wariness with which we treat the unknown. One person in six million will be struck by lightning. Fifteen people in a hundred will experience clinical depression. One woman in sixteen will experience breast cancer. One child in 30,000 will experience a serious limb deformity. One American in five will be victim of a violent crime. A day in which nothing bad happens is a miracle, a day in which all the things that could have gone wrong didn't. The dull day is a triumph of the human spirit, and boredom is a luxury unprecedented in the history of our species.

However, the last 75 pages had the plot line get so completely and utterly absurd that I was drawn into the excitement. This book is about family relationships, about what it means to live with a terminal illness, about loss and hope and what it means to make a success of your life.

re. Disney "It could be 2001, it could be 1986, and it could be 2008. And all these young parents - so much younger than me - no old people save for Dad. A few bored and embarrassed teenagers. This is supposed to be life-affirming? This place is like some cosmic dream crusher. All you can get out of a place like this is a creepy little tingle that lets you know your kid is never going to be anything more than a customer - that the whole world is being turned into a casino."

And, my god, does it make the entire state of Florida sound like an absolute wasteland!

"Lately I've started to think that blame is just a lazy person's way of making sense of chaos."

"People are pretty forgiving when it comes to other people's family. The only family that ever horrifies you is your own."

"She drove west towards the sunset; the news had said that a forest fire on Vancouver Island was going to transform the sky into spectacular colors, and it was right. There in her car, Janet felt that she was for the first time driving away from the people in her life, their needs, their lovers, their flaws, their lists of unmendable wounds, their never-spoken-of unslakeable thirsts, their catalogues of wrongs."

"As far as I can see, Janet, life is just an endless banquet of loss, and each time a new loss is doled out, you have to move your mental furniture around, throw things out, and by then there's more loss, and the cycle goes on and on."

"Wade, say you didn't have AIDS. Say you weren't sick, that you learned you had a false positive the way Beth did..."

..."Wade considered this at some length. "I wouldn't have any excuses, would I?"

...Janet herself thoughta bout this question. She's had no time to herself since Cissy had transoformed her life at the restaurant. What would be the difference between death at sixty-five and death eat seventy-five? - those ten extra years... what oculd they possibly mean? Or eighty-five - twenty extra years. She'd wanted those years so badly, had mourned for their loss, yet now she had them again, and she couldn't decode their implication. Well, for that matter, what was the purpose of my first sixty-five years? Maybe the act of wanting to live and being given life is the only thing that matters. Forget the mountain of haikus I can write now. Forget learning to play the cello or slaving away for charity. But then what?

She thought about her life and how lost she'd felt for most of it. She thought about the way that all the truths she'd been taught to consider valuable invariably conflicted with the world as it was actually lived. How could a person be so utterly lost, yet remain living? Her time with the disease had, to her surprise, made her feel less lost. That was one thing she knew was true. Sickness had forced her to look for knowledge and solace in places she might otherwise not have dreamed of. Sickness has forced her to meet and connect with citizens who otherwise would have remained shadows inside cars that idled beside her at red lights. But maybe now she'd continue looking for ideas she' never dreamed of in places once forbidden - not because she had to but because she chose to - because that had proven to be the only true path out of her brittle, unlivable life-before death.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Fakest Looking Word Ever

Word of the Day for Saturday, January 8, 2011
sockdolager \sok-DOL-uh-jer\, noun:

1. A decisive reply, argument.
2. Something unusually large, heavy, etc.
3. A heavy, finishing blow.