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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Other People's Words = Good

I just picked up a great anthology of incredible quotes, called Breathing On Your Own, Quotations For Independent Thinkers that was compiled by Richard Kehl. I knew I was going to take it home the moment I picked it up. Although I'm a champion reader, I must admit, I've discovered some amazing books (and authors) just rambling through a book store. This title will catch my eye or that cover will stop me in my tracks. I discovered one of my favorite books of all time, Unless by Carol Shields, this way. I remember I went in for a different reason (I think I was looking for a calender for my dad--WITH BIG PRINT) but of course I wandered around and something about the title or the cover called out to me and I read the first sentence and took it home and finished it within 48 hours.

Today when I was at a favorite haunt on Mission Street, in my old haunt: Pasadena, I wandered past Breathing On Your Own and it was so appealing to me. I picked it up and as I type it is sitting next to me, waiting to be devoured and soon I will be calling my sister or reading aloud to my husband from it. It's that kind of book.

What luck I have with little discoveries like this. It's an anthology of quotes divided into a Table of Contents:
No Problem
Save From A Fire
and about 150 more.

Doesn't that sound interesting and different and similar to how you think? Very satisfying. Here are three to eat:

I unlearned to draw. The point was to forget with my hand. ---Marcel Duchamp

I work from awkwardness. By that I mean I don't like to arrange things. If I stand in front of something, instead of arranging it, I arrange myself. ---Diane Arbus

Life must go on. I forget just why. ---Edna St. Vincent Millay

Did I say just THREE? Here's your bonus quote. Filed under "Loss":

Your absence has gone through me like thread through a needle. Everything I do is stiched with its color. ---W.S. Merwin

I think I'll be content for at least a week.

Ambassador of Unlimited Wonder

p.s. Be obscure clearly --- E.B. White

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Three Things = Good

Here are three things I used to completely hate but now totally love and I'm thrilled because they are things I've always wanted to love:

1. Vanilla Ice Cream --- Pure hate my entire life but about 3 years ago?---*poof* I love Vanilla. Can't get enough of it.
2. Cranberry Sauce --- Mild envy of everyone at Thanksgiving while they enjoyed a "complete" meal with the turkey and their cranberry sauce while I sat there getting the dry heaves. But about 6 years ago?---*poof* I'm like a crazed hyena grappling for the C-Sauce.
3. Lentils--- Greyish little pill-ish gas-inducing beans? NO THANK YOU. 2 years ago?---*poof* This is me: "GIMME THOSE LENTILS!" "I'M MAKING LENTIL SOUP!" Pulling into a gas station---"YES. CAN YOU GIVE ME DIRECTIONS TO WHERE THE LENTILS ARE?"

Sergeant Happy

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wisp Brain = Odd

I just realized what it is. When Sarah Palin talks it's like when you are talking on the phone WHILE you are sitting at your computer and reading your email.

Regional Anger Manager

Friday, October 17, 2008

Obituaries 101 = True

I read the obituaries every day. Such good information and informative details about people's lives---the ones that have "left us." BUT WHERE'D THEY GO? If you get the answer to this question, please let me know because I'd like to go visit. One of many reasons that I'm riveted by the obituaries is that I like picturing the person chosen to write the obituary. The person with the task of writing The Last Paragraph About The Person Never To Be Seen Again.

I wrote my father's obituary. I am 100% certain it thrilled him that it was in The Sunday Times and it was right after the guy who invented the Dodger Dog. My dad was/is (you see? confusing when the forever disappearance happens--was? is? crap, I don't know) dad was my favorite human. He was in that teensy group of people who I believe truly know me and still really like me and want me around all the time. He died (left? took the train to Everville? departed?) a bit over two years ago and since then my obituary reading has been more serious. Oh, I love it there---rolling around in the sentences of other confused, stunned, grieving people. Often times I admire what they've written. "Ohhhhh, that's goooooood...lover of life, believer in humanity...I should have included THAT." But there are always always always, in every group of obituaries, several standard reliables that people tend to use. Maybe it's because when you're writing an obituary the surreal ghastlyness is overwhelming.

Uh, hmmm, let's see. Uhhhhh...Right. You liked the color blue!! Maybe I'll write that. Or maybe I'll tell the world that you were KIND and you TRIED VERY HARD. Right, right. I know! I'll call you and ask you what you think I should write. Oh wait. You're dead.

You see? It just gets confusing. So I think people lean toward the familiar Obitspeak. Here are the most familiar:

1. Surrounded by her loved ones...
I understand this overused and sturdy standby cliche. There's something about proclaiming, "LISTEN UP ALL ASSHOLES: HE WAS NOT ALONE AND WE WERE WITH HIM SO IF YOU DIDN'T THINK HE WAS GREAT THEN GO SCREW YOURSELF!" Maybe I'm the only defensive one but isn't it safe to say that, when someone dies, there's a good chance that there are naysayers lurking out there and you just have to send a message in the departed one's honor.
2. His family by his side...
Pretty much the same thing as #1 but a little different. This is what I went with. We were by his side. Holding his hand. Crying. Telling him how much we loved him. You know the story, right? Is there anyone that does not know or has not heard about those last gut wrenching moments of whispering into someone's ear "It's ok to go." In an obituary, when you read "His family was by his side" chances are the family was telling the person "It's ok, you can go now." Even though they didn't mean it. Because, in reality, when that moment of permanent departure is pending---it REALLY doesn't feel like it's ok and what you want to say is, "It is NOT ok, so please DON'T go." The subtle difference between "surrounded by" and "by his side" is the amount of suffering taking place. "Surrounded by" means: WE KNOW YOU ARE GOING AND SO DO YOU AND WE ARE HERE TO WITNESS YOUR LEAVING AND SEND YOU OUT WITH LOVE and "By his side" is more: OH MY GOD, I KNEW YOU WERE SO SICK BUT THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING AND IF I'M NOT MISTAKEN YOU CAN HANDLE MORE SUFFERING, RIGHT?
3. Private Joke...
This is something that the Reeling Grievers write, TOTALLY BELIEVING that the dead loved one is LAUGHING HIS ASS OFF after reading the clever one liner. I used this one too. Worked like a charm.
This can be eerily short like, "Irv is survived by his poodle Sue" and you're thinking: well who the hell wrote the obituary?! SPEAK UP MAN! Or it can be nauseatingly long, listing thousands of nieces and cousins and nephews and mailmen and children and colleagues and foundations and dry cleaners and students. I know it's my blackheart but when I read one of these I think "This person was not truly liked."
This is where things go awry and people start to seem scary, sad or emotionally unavailable. If the list of achievements is too long you think, "When did Dr. PhD, MBA Successful Man get to hug?" And if it's too short or cryptic you think, "Uh-oh I'm sensing a vague bag lady-ish thing going on."

If I had to do it over again it's safe to say I'd probably write the same thing about my father. Or not. If I could have I would have asked the lady at the obituary desk who I spoke to briefly, "Can I use the entire California section?" But I didn't. I just wrote what I thought encapsulated him. And that was impossible and will forever feel unfinished.

So, in the spirit of The Obituary Fan Club, here are some excerpts from my recent favorite obituaries:

1. "Three years into their marriage, Cantrell died afer being thrown from a mule that had been frightened by a hog."
2. "He is survived by his wife Joanne, his daughter Joanne Jr.,..."
3. "We will miss his great intellect, wisdom and love of smoked delicacies."

These are all REAL. It's hard not to melt when I read them. It's hard not to want to use the obituaries as a kind of message board to the great beyond. IN MEMORIAM. Little notes to that Beloved Person, Gone. "We still miss you." I wish I could write my dad's obituary every day. On certain days, every hour. But I had my moment. My one email to write to that nice lady at the Times. FOR GOD SAKE DON'T MAKE A TYPO!!, I thought NINE MILLION times,when I was writing about my dear father.

And all the others---their sentences are INTRIGUING, funny, SAD, alarming, mysterious, profound, just right. It's all there in the obituaries. The next to the last page of the California Section on the flip side of the weather. I'd live there if I could.

Dutifully Yours,
Mrs. Don't Hate Me Because I Think Too Much

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Baby Got Jowl = True

Is it wrong that it makes me nauseous that three quarters of the Who Will Be Next To Run The Free World Contest was spent talking about someone called "Joe The Plumber"?

Not only did I have to deal with those moronic little pie charts framing the T.V. screen showing the emotional whimsy of various commentators, I had to unsuccessfully tolerate the lonely and apparently confused Ohio voters who just CANNOT decide who they should vote for. But for some reason they get to track the debate, live, much like concert goers at a Springsteen concert screaming "BORN TO RUN". We all know we're freaking sick of Born To Run. Nothing against The Boss. WE JUST WANT SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

Here. I'll help you decide. I know it's not about jobs for you. Who cares about jobs, right? And it certainly is not about healthcare or climate change or dependance on oil or corporate rape of every day workers---who cares about that drivel? Forget about all that crap and LOOK AT JOHN McCAIN'S JOWLS. They are pasty and paper mache-ish and they don't belong in The White House.

Unjustifiably Yours,
Director of Resentment

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Where's MLK When I Need Him? = True

My husband has this annoyingly broad minded practice of watching shows (that, quite frankly, give me diarrhea) that he feels will help us "Know Thy Enemy" and we are putting this into practice this evening by watching Freak Show Bill O'Reilly and he's saying "if Obama is an unrepentant terrorist..." blah blah blah and I'm thinking BILL O'REILLY HAS AN UNREPENTANT BUTT HOLE.

I would not have been a good civil disobedient person.

Asst. Furious Ombudsman

Monday, October 13, 2008

I Am Blackheart = True

When people say "natch" instead of "natural" I instantly hate that person. That makes me a judgemental ass, right? Natch? Es natuuurawl that I am un assa for thinking morons that say "natch" are revolting.

Me, Trying To Not Be Negative

When Winter Comes = True

It's fall now and the Santa Ana's are blowing. When this happens I feel a cozy, fireplacey, The Way We Were kind of melancholy. I'm a native Los Angeles-ian and as much as I love the mountains twenty feet to the left and the ocean thirty feet to the right and an unusually wealthy person every 36 yards or so, I must say I miss the change of seasons---as I imagine them in my mind. So when the Santa Ana winds kick up around this time every year I feel like they are the closest thing to The Leaves Turning I will ever have. The way the light has a sparkle diamond shine. Like clean niceness.

I walk out of my house in the morning and I see the manhandled palm fronds strewn all over the street and I think "this is the equivalent of the first frost" and I get all happy inside when I realize: Good God---Yams or Mashed? MUST START PLANNING CHRISTMAS DINNER.

Yours In Wonder,
Un Scrooge-ish

Saturday, October 11, 2008

3 Things = Odd

1. When I walk past a poodle---I can feel it judging me
2. If I glance at a clock and the time is 2:22 or 1:23 or 4:44 or 5:55 I think "Clocks can be quite interesting, I hope they never go by way of the 8 track."
3. Trees look like people, doing handstands

Analytically Yours,
Mrs. I Hope You Like Me

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lovey, Can You Mapquest Canada Now? = True

It would not be an understatement to say that I want to either run through the streets naked, brandishing a sharp, scary weapon OR I will drive straight to Canada should McCan't and Palin win. I swear to god I'll barf barbed wire if they win and, more than feeling angry and nauseous, I'll be confused and bewildered.

But I have to stay positive! MUST REMEMBER THE SECRET. THE POWER OF MY TWERPY MIDDLE MANAGEMENT THOUGHT. I Attract Honest, Nice Politicians Into My Life Who Do Not Remotely Resemble Any Kind Of Oppressive Regime Like Regimes That Destroy Innocent Citizens Of Well Meaning Countries.

Actually, you know what The Secret is? I'll tell you. This is what you do. You get a bunch of Q-Tips and you stick several hundred in your ears and up your nose. Then you gather up all your stuffed animals and you embrace them close to your chest and you nuzzle their little stuffed animal noses with your nose and you find a colorful, beaded hat and you secure it to your buttocks (reminding yourself how WONDERFUL it feels to Think Outside Of The BOX!) and you strut to your nearest grocery store and stand in the entrance and proclaim "THE BEST IS YET TO COME! MAY I HAVE SOME CORN FOR FREE NOW?"

Because that is what a Maverick would do.

Best Regards,
Hate Liason

Friday, October 3, 2008

Divide and Conquer = True

I realized last night, that the furor I feel toward Sarah Palin, far outshines the anger I have toward McCain...or Bush...or Cheney...or Satan.

As I was SCREAMING "ASSHOLE!!!" at the television last night I turned inward for a moment, then admitted to my husband---"I hate her so much more than I hate all of them." Them with their saggy, old man white butts.

And then I thought---isn't that sad. Isn't it odd that there have been so many more of Them who have been so much worse and controlled so many more aspects of my body and mind and actions. But HER. I Hate Her.

I even called her a bitch. Of course I called her that.

And when I did, I took it in that I feel way more hideous toward her than Them. And I noticed that this is...just... the way it is. It actually IS the way it is. If you admit it. If you are honest you realize that the girls never really like the other girls. Because the girls you're supposed to like are the ones that are least like you and more like Them. So, when a NIMROD like Sarah Palin comes along, you think the planets just implode and your brain is, like, HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM. HOUSTON THAT BITCH IS ACTING LIKE SHE'S MY REPRESENTATIVE. HOUSTON TELL THEM SHE IS NOT MY REPRESENTATIVE.

But you don't say that. You just think "what a stupid bitch."

Luv Ya,
Dean of Why Is It This Way?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Yoda Within = Odd

Several weeks ago I woke up with a sentence repeating over and over in my head. I have no idea where it came from and I still think of it several times a day:


I guess this is my new mantra. I'm not sure if I should be happy or sad.

Yours In Unpredictable Self-Esteem,
President & CEO
National Doubters Association