Sunday, May 29, 2011

Middle-aged Adults Really Take Aim

I have made it through my first week of work! Cubicle life is cubicle life. I have a wicker cornucopia (damn hard word to spell) that was left by the previous occupant and I have decided to fill it with odds and ends. Right now I have a stress ball shaped like Freud's head and a tiny plush monkey wearing a tiny College of Charleston t-shirt. Other than a picture of Randolph Hall, this is my only decoration.

To travel to and from my downtown office (don't I sound grown-up?) I either ride with my dad or take MARTA.  Something about riding the train reminds me of Universal Studios. or Disney World. So even though it is a 40 minute commute, there is some majesty to it (to me). This makes me wonder if people who ride trains to work everyday go to Disney World and think "Oh no, this crap again," when they board the monorail. Or "It smells like trains. This can't be Amity Island" and the Jaws ride illusion is ruined. I, on the other hand, think "Oh, it smells like fun rides!" when I descend into the Peachtree Center Station.

Maybe the majesty is not lost on all.  I was standing around waiting for my train the other day when I saw an older man staring inquisitively at the train tracks.  He stared, took a few steps, and looked down.
I thought about how wonderful it is that we never really lose our sense of childlike wonder. This grey haired man still took the time to stop and wonder at mechanics and how things work, like every over-alled Thomas the Tank Engine kid.
And just as I made a mental note to tell someone this wonderful story, he leaned over the tracks.... and spit a foot long stream of tobacco spit into the crevasse.

So much for child-like wonder.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

bad music

I was driving around town yesterday and listening to music on the radio when I realized that music on the radio is crap.

I know, duh. But not just the Top 40 stuff. I reached some sort of perfect storm yesterday when everything playing on the radio was just...bad. And that is when I stumbled across a certain song.

 Before I reveal this song, let me first define the term "guilty pleasure." According to wikipedia, the end-all-be-all knowledge source of the web, "A guilty pleasure is something one enjoys and considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it. The "guilt" involved is sometimes simply fear of others discovering one's lowbrow or otherwise embarrassing tastes."

Nowadays, in the age of hipster, liking something of "lowbrow taste" can be seen as ironic, and thus not embarrassing at all but rather a nugget of hipster street cred. However, a hipster could like something mainstream and feel guilty about it, like secretly enjoying Budweiser more than PBR.
In fact owning up to enjoying a certain song or movie despite it's lowbrow qualities may render it no longer a guilty pleasure. I'm not sure, I only just began exploring the intricacies of this term.

The song that came on the radio made me instantly stop surfing channels and start turning up the volume and singing at the top of my lungs. And that song, embarrassingly enough, was Evanescence's Bring Me to Life. I remembered all the words and couldn't stop my self from singing out loud.  I checked the windows to make sure they were securely closed, and tried not to be obvious about my singing enthusiasm when I stopped at a traffic light. It reminded me of middle school. It reminded me how everyone has a dark period in their life. We all experience our own musical dark ages.  Mine, like many of my compadres, involved Evanescence and Good Charlotte.

I also began singing along to other songs on the radio. I had opened a flood gate. It was a little like this:

So here I am, sharing my guilty pleasure. What's yours?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

girls rule and dogs drool ( a lot)

I took Einstein to the dog park today!
notice the drool that is about to plummet from his mouth to the floor below. number one downside to an exhausted dog.
 This probably wasn't the best idea considering I was freshly showered and would inescapably be flecked with mud within minutes, OR because it is pretty freaking hot outside and Eistein and I have too much hair to really be comfortable (except when in the shade). Yet still we ventured to the park and enjoyed the adventure.

At first, it was just poor Einstein. No friends, no Frisbee skills, incapable of fetching a ball (he doesn't even run after it- how is this possible?).  Then some other dogs showed up and he revealed himself to be That Dog. That jerk dog who play-fights with everything and humps everyone. Bros, bitches, soccer moms. He's not picky, just overly enthusiastic. But he's fixed. Go figure.

Oh, I forgot to mention that these other dogs are attached to people. Presumably their owners, but who can tell? And as I sat at my loner table, reading Tina Fey's Bossypants and periodically intervening to keep Einstein from trying to "dominate" a German Shepherd puppy, I realized that this is about socializing dog owners as much as it is about socializing the dogs. I know what you're thinking: Duh, Claire. Where have you been? And I knew this, but it was illustrated brilliantly to me today.

Women come in with their dog(s), and you exchange pleasantries.  
  • What's his/her name?  
  • ...What is it? (this means "what breed?" but I take it slightly offensively because my dog isn't clearly identifiable and the supposition is that he must be some sort of mixie. which he is, but whatever.)
who doesn't love a panting pooch and a refreshing beverage?
These people very rarely learn anything about you, however.  The very least they will come to knowing about you is why you named your dog Vermouth or where you can get the best vegan dog food. I overheard one woman today say that she had a live-in dog trainer for four months. A LIVE-IN DOG TRAINER. I think live-in nannies and maids are lush, but a dog-trainer? I quickly realized I was out of my element.
I didn't have any cute stories to share about Einstein ("the little rascal ate poop this morning! It was adorable- like, we give you food, silly thing! Oh, parenting can be tough, right?? Hahaha. Oh, you!") so I decided to let the two women entertain themselves and I cracked open Bossypants and slurped my iced coffee.

That's when I realized: if this is people socialization too, I am failing. Big time. I am that kid in middle school who sits by herself at lunch so she can eat her food and read at the same time. I am the kid who pretends her backpack is taking up too much room so no one will sit next to her on the bus. Oh, who am I kidding? I was that kid in middle school. Why should that change now? I may have thought years of proper socialization and a strong friend group over the last ten years would change that, but again, who am I kidding?

I understand now that just because I didn't jump in to their "my dog is so silly" conversation doesn't mean I am some sort of loner deviant or a taller better-dressed version of Claire in middle school. I might just not be a dog person (the term "dog person" always makes me think "dog-person" like the Egyptian god Anubis) or at least not a coo-over-my-dog person. Which is fine with me. Just as long as I'm not reverting back to this person:

Actually, I look pretty happy to have gotten that i-zone camera, so it might not be so bad. But if I have to be in 6th grade again, I am straight up skipping health class this time.

EDIT: I totally forgot to explicitly say this: Read Bossypants. It is fantastic. Fantabulous. Wowza Hilarious. Read it. You can borrow my copy, because I won't be able to restrain myself from finishing it in the next six minutes. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

a drop in the family bucket

First of all, when did Neville get kinda hot? Things are changing so much!
Now to business.

So of course Mother's Day was a family adventure. Brothers and cousins full-on beating each other in the front yard, babies on the driveway, and 30 pounds of crawfish. We spent the day celebrating mothers and my cousin Laura's graduation with a crawfish boil.

Here are some soundbites from the day:

Dad (trying to share the art of crawfish boiling): You see, I am executing perfect technique: everything one-handed.
Because I need the other hand for.... what do I need the other hand for?
Me: Beer.
Dad: That's right. A beer. You are learning so fast!

My grandfather recently read a book about a grand prix racer told from the point of view of his dog. Yes, his dog. And the facts he shared with us sounded like the kinds of "did you knows" that he typically brings up at family functions.
Poppy: But really, dogs hate crows!  They like sparrows because they're close to God, but they hate crows. Hate 'em. 
(there were several more minutes of this, but I can not begin to commit to written word the intensity with which he conveyed this information. Like it was personally handed down to him by the Czar of Information and Facts.)

(My cousin Susan (24) left the conversation to smoke a cigarette as she talked to her aunt on the phone. After a few minutes or so, she comes back and sits down.)
Susan: :cough: 
Ryan: (pretending to cough) :cigarettes!:
Susan: Shut up! :cough: :cough:
Ryan: (pretending to cough) :two: :cigarettes!:
As you can imagine, this did not endear him to her and may have led to a bit of a tiff between two strong-willed argumentative family members. And it also may have begun the winding down that led us to finally pack up and leave. But who can tell? So many little things build up to get us to realize we can't spend any more time with each other. This was probably just one drop in the bucket.

Another fun family day with a fun fun family. My cousin Aidan spent a few hours stirring the crawfish and trying to make them bite his fingers. My brothers punched each other in the front yard. And we all spent hours in the sun, sweating, drinking and eating. Could not have been a better day.

Well. Maybe it could have.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

my, what big plastic tubes you have grandma

The world is a scary place.

San Diego KGTV reports:
A 91-year-old East County grandmother is getting national attention for making suicide kits. The woman started making the kits after watching her husband die a slow, painful death from colon cancer.

Death Bag and tubes
“I’m doing what I can to improve the world,” she told 10News. “There’s a lot of heartache and difficulty here.” Charlotte makes the kits — which cost buyers $60 — by taking large plastic bags and sewing soft elastic bands around the opening. There is a slot in the bag for a plastic tube carrying helium gas to be inserted. Helium — when inhaled in its pure form — is deadly. Kit users are responsible for securing their own helium gas.
“If heaven is so wonderful, you know you’d naturally want to go there, wouldn’t you?” said Charlotte. Charlotte said her sales were nearly $100,000 last year. That’s more than 1,600 suicide kits.
 This scares me for several reasons.
  1. My StumbleUpon apparently thinks this is the kind of story I would be interested in. And it was right. Damn.
  2. This woman is 91 years old and not retired. Stop working.
  3. Her name is Charlotte, so she reminds me of a spider luring people into her suicide web.
  4. This is a really scary way to go! Putting a bag over your head? Filling it with helium? Taking your last breaths as you look at the world through the distortion of the hand sewn plastic death bag? Geez.
  5.  Also, THE WORLD IS RUNNING OUT OF HELIUM. AND it's non-renewable! So even if you don't disagree with her on ethical grounds, know that she is ruining birthday parties for the rest of us FOREVER.
  6. She is not supplying the helium, so people are forced to interrupt their planned suicide night with a trip to Party City. Also, what's to stop people from getting the helium and making their own Death Bags? besides crippling depression.
  7. How does she advertise this? We know it's not word of mouth. It's probably through news reports like this: people see the story on the news and call the station asking for her phone number, claiming to be enraged but secretly wondering if they can get same-day delivery. But why would the news station give out her number? This doesn't add up.         
I just can not understand how this woman is so successful. I did hear recently that there have been more suicides than homicides in the United States in recent years, so I suppose there is a demand, but I never thought there would be such high demand for suicide kits. Or that a kindly 91-year-old would decide to fill that need. Although now I am picturing her more like the "old lady" with the demon head from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
All the better to eat you see you with
Also, I don't believe that killing yourself will be rewarded by admittance past the pearly gates. So she's selling a crock.

The world is a scary place.

Friday, May 6, 2011

back home again

I am back in the ATL for the summer. I already miss Charleston and the people who belong there, but I am also excited for the summer and anxious to have a few months without paper writing.

Right now, I am waiting to go to an interview for my summer internship, and in the meantime playing host to a cable guy drilling holes in the basement. But here are a few gems from my time spent at home so far:

Daniel is overall excited for me to be home and keeps bringing up memories he has of things we have done together that I can not recall as clearly as he can, like
"hey Claire, hey Claire, Claire. Hey. Remember, remember how we used to watch X-men 2 and eat Bagel Bites? Remember that?"
and this also includes
"Remember how I used to have most of my teeth? well look" 
and he pulls back his mouth to show me missing molars.

Ryan may be more entertaining. He and my mom should put on a show.

Scene: My dad and I are deciding what to eat for dinner, and Ryan decides he wants to eat too. Boys.  Ryan comes back from the freezer in the garage with a box of Mozzarella Stix. 
Me: Ryan, those things are like 6 years old.
Mom: No, we bought more. They eat them all the time. Ryan, tell her how many you ate that one time.
Ryan: Claire. I ate 25 Mozzarella Stix. I didn't poop for like four days.

(Mom sizes up the two of us as Ryan helps me move stuff inside)
Mom: Is he taller than you? I think he is. Ryan-show Claire your muscles.
(Ryan flexes his arm)
Me: What is that? That protrude-y thing? Is that even supposed to be there?
Ryan: Whatever it is, girls like it.

And Sean was doing calculus.
But now I am back home with my dog and my cat and the rest of the crew. This should be a good summer. But you never can tell at this point...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

uber tuber

I don't have much time to say anything. I have too much to pack and I have been uber busy studying for finals and saying goodbye "see ya later" to all my friends at school. Once I get settled back home, I will do a real post. I am sure ten minutes at my house will be enough for a two-parter.

But I saw this again, and it made me smile. Share with me!

courtesy xkcd

Also, if Celtic Woman is my go-to perfect study music, the Space Jam soundtrack is the perfect packing music. And Disney songs. And 80s/90s pop.