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Monday, July 31, 2006

Blogga

“Let's not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it.” ~Vincent Van Gogh, 1889*

There has been serious gushing people. That’s all it’s been all damn day long. The type of gushing that might involve sporks to eyes and cries through the tears of ‘My God! Why won’t she stop?!’ But the gushing, it prevails and because it never has before, I’ve allowed it to take hold until I’ve finished telling everyone that I had to resist the urge to place them in my pocket.

The fear and nervousness dissipated far quickly than I had originally suspected. I managed to prevent disconcerting circumstances and no one lashed out at me for my general social awkwardness. I sat and absorbed and looked around, hardly believing that I was able to be apart of such an event. How lucky I was that Elisa and Lisa let me join in. How brilliant I was to save my boy wonder watching money so that I could buy his mother drinks (OMG…did you know that Amy brings her babysitter with her to conferences and NOT her child? Isn’t that absurd?!) and have a giant ass king sized bed to myself. For now, we shall look past – very far past to Pluto or something – the bad parts of a hotel in Tech valley that had no internet access.

It’s something that I can’t put my finger on. Meeting people – women – whose lives I have read and digested and contemplated, though I hardly knew them as more than a cursor on a page. Then I thought how lovely some of these women might be in real life and that it might be fun to have a glass (or four of red with them). I especially love that there really is no perfectly common ground between us and yet Alice exclaimed how happy she was to have met me and Julia said that it felt like Déjà vu with me and I could only say ‘Why thank you. Come to DC. Now’ and that Beth cried and I felt terribly and wondered why (outloud!) even though we hadn’t ever met.

So, do you see? The reason for the gushing? Anyway, let me relish in it for a bit longer and laugh about Y doing the worm and that I got to spend my entire weekend with two of my favorite (I know. You are jealous) people in the entire world who only made fun of me twice for being a few years younger than they (Oh yes I did have a Michael Jackson record and record player). So I will continue with the gushing and the trite clichés about oh great it was to meet people. For at least it will keep me from being in despair about the awful thing that I said last week that almost left me homeless (and yet I keep picking at it and picking at it) and that my apartment looks like the aftermath of some horrid tornado. That is if tornados sucked up and spit out random clothing, a purple couch and an ironing board in the middle of the hallway.


*the original quote was to be “Like a fairy godmother mafia” but found that to be too obvious and predictable. No?

Welcome home

"
"Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to." ~John Ed Pearce

I have returned, though it surely doesn't feel like I was gone, but alas home nonetheless. Relatively unscathed and profoundly happy. There may even be speak of rainbows and puppies and no talk of why I had to go through four cities just to get here. Nope. No hate towards Southworst.

Nor how I'm on the verge of become an awful weepy mess because I want to put everyone from the weekend in my pocket. Just...well...smiley for now because I done made Lisa, Elisa and Jory proud and I aim to please.

Which is funny - that I aim to please - givne I almost became homeless and that on day negative one, my roommate already kinda wants to punch me in the baby making parts.

Rainbows, people. Rainbows.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Transforming your life

“Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.” ~Douglas Adams, Last Chance to See

Brought to you by:
Nina Smith
Deni Bonet
Cathy Kirkman

Preface: I’m laughing my ass off if you even remotely think that I will be transforming your life. Hell I can’t even transform my life. I’m clueless, in case you didn’t know that already. But these women have transformed their lives for the better (at least I think, but we shall learn about that) via their blogs.

With my blog I’ve transformed my typing skills, my use of dictionary.com and their word of the day, my drinking skills and well, we’re slowly working on my people skills. And my therapy bill is now non-existent huzzah! So I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that these women have done considerably more than I have in the transformation arena. And I will learn from them and absorb and wish that I were a better person. Natch.

Session:

Cathy is a lawyer and has a blog for lawyers, which has gotten her extra business.

Nina publishes a blog called QueerCents that is a personal finance blog for gays and lesbians. By creating a community (see with that word here…) she has been able to get published and become an expert on financial planning.

Deni is a musician who was dared into blogging by her husband who thought that her life was interesting therefore figured that others would like to read about it.

The important thing to understand about blogging is the way it changes your life (both good and bad) and how it changes your communication tactics; which are intangible results. The tangible being a new business or developing a brand.

Oh and once again with the audience participation…which is awesome. It’s especially interesting to hear how others have started their blogs and how their lives have changed because of it.

Carmen (an audience member) – who I now love – has six children which was the topic of discussion for her blog until Christmas day when she saw pictures of herself and decided to use her blog to motivate her weight loss. People! She even records what she eats! I am thoroughly impressed, not just because of her 42 pound weight loss but because of the sense of community and support that she found from other people via her blog.

Ok, now there is a woman who, via her blog, has taught podcasting and been on commercials In. China. CHINA. For newbies, just an FYI, people everywhere can read your blog and there is nothing better than getting an email from someone 50,000 miles away saying that they love you. Nothing.

Oh and another of my favorite things is hearing about how people have used blogging as their new (and free!) way of self therapy. Which some may or may not disagree with, but it does give people a new way of expressing their emotions.

Someone just expressed how much time blogging takes. It’s hard work and though very interesting it can be time consuming. There are also umm other bad things that can happen, such as one woman almost lost custody of her child. That is very bad. If there is one thing I’ve learned via this whole blogging network is that people will and easily read EVERYTHING that you write. NO matter how unpopular you think you are SOMEONE will read it. The end.

And I think that is a nice little way to end things. That they – blogs – can be transforming in powerful, good and bad things but if there is one thing that canot be stressed enough it’s being careful of content. Because the same content that will bring comments to your site in appreciation are the same posts that can screw you over.

And now? We drink.

(And now, no more liveblogging for a very, very, very long time, for I am tired)

Soooo...

So...day two eh? Yeah. I'm trying to think of exciting things that have happened in the past 24 hours despite being overwhelmingly happy to be here and the fact that I almost didn't come because I was afraid, is ridiculous. I mean, had I not come, there would have been no talk of Orrin Hatch with Dooce. Because that's just not possible in Washington.

And there is more, obviously, so much more but let's hear a fun story about how one really shouldn't write about their housing authority in such a public place. It leads to very bad things and let us all be thankful that I am not homelss right now. Amen.

Wanna see a picture(s)?




Get Deeply Geeky

“We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.” ~Lloyd Alexander

Brought to you by:
Laura Scott
Miriam Verburg
Nancy White
Melanie Swan

Preface: I don’t do complicated. I don’t do extensive. It makes me nervous and I break out in hives in that little crook where my arm bends and just…no. That said, I’ve been told – ok, warned – that this will be a complicated session. I’m itchy already.

(Deep breaths)

But! It’s about Gender. I feel very strongly about gender and gender identity and I’ve researched it learned about it and I think all will be well. And when I groveled to be let into Blogher because it was life or death the first thing I did was to exclaim my genuine excitement for women doing things for other women. Flippin’ fantastic.
I wish I could say more but, it’s too much, and I am weak. Or, maybe I just have no idea.

Session:

Once again I’m graced by the presence of Miriam Verburg who is also once again, doing the Make the Audience do work thing and asking how many of the women in the room use open sourcing. Also, how many women in the room are ‘geeks’. The conversation is speckled with points of how to get women involved within tech communities.

The hardest part for me right now is once again I am at a loss. I am not a geek (as we all so sadly saw yesterday) nor am I tech savvy in any sense of the word. So again, for me, it’s all about the absorption and then trying to put it here in a way for all to understand.

It is once again apparent that there is a lack of female representation in the tech community. The women that are apart of that community are ridiculously smart and do know what they are talking about. It’s developing a sense of community and bringing these much sought after women so that they see that they are not alone. As cliché as it sounds, it’s the absolute truth.

One of the panelists just gave a possible reason for why there are so few women in the tech world, which is because of those doing the hiring. Instead women are met with various stereotypes that hinder their progress in the tech field. The remedy? Besides getting angry and bitchy is to stick to your guns and start your own company.

(can I just say that even though all of the sessions are panelist driven they all end up being audience driven, which is perhaps one of the most important and best things to see at this conference)

So, what are the solutions?

If you are a woman in a position and you feel that there is a glass ceiling. Get out. In my personal opinion that seems easier than it actually may be. But also to network, network, network. As it isn't just a tech question, but it's a general women in the workforce question.

Some say that there is no actual glass ceiling but instead being in a situation where women need to ask for money while still keeping their feminine personality. It shouldn't be seen as uncharacteristic of a woman to ask for money nor should they be worried about doing so.

(Ok, the conversation has just turned to something Utopia which is a tech thing and something about 'meta verse' (sp?) and...I am scared. I repeat: I AM NOT A GEEK. Not that that's a bad thing, but I'm just sayin')

Nancy has identified two teenagers who are members of a Summer math and science academy. They are into science and technology and are adorable. But who cares that they are adorable, they're smart (a hell of a lot smarter than I at least) and guess what! In high school they still experience gender discrimination from their male classmates who question whether or not they get help with their homework because they are in the advanced science and math classes. Oh, they're also really fucking articulate. Suddenly I feel inadequate. Durrrr.

Thankfully though there are males of the same age and in their summer program who support them. Ok, a 16 year old boy just said that women deserve respect in the lab and the other says that he encourages the girls in his biology class to do better. My ice cold heart just melted a bit, because that? Is very adorable.

Moving on...

There will be a list! A list of women in the tech field! Lists are good!

Now more mention of this open source thing, which I don't get. So if say you read this and you start thinking "OMG WTF were they thinking letting this girl write"? Just know that I am apologizing to you from miles away...I also suggest the podcasts. That way you can hear what has been said instead of just reading what happened.

Anyway despite the list of women, there are also goals, which are also very good. Goals that include getting women involved in a singular open source project and finding men to support women.

Action:

Organize, support tech learning, coordinate 'estro-swarms', notification.

And for myself? Learn to use the internet. Joy.

And now? We eat.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Things I don't know a thing about: #457

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” ~Albert Einstein

Brought to you by:
Miriam Verburg
Tiffany Brown

Or: Design/Style/Customization/I seriously think I just deleted my template. HELP!

Preface: BabyJewels designed my blog. It’s purty and so very me. Contrary to popular belief it was her idea for the picture of Pam, the tagline, the colors. All I said was “Please don’t make this shit Pepto Bismol pink. Thanks” She did the rest and she did quite the fantastic job. Again, with the emails that end in ‘Sucka!’ I love it and now it’s just my thing. The picture of Pam is my thing and if you steal my tagline or Pam I will come after you sucka! And there is some customization for ya.

Other than that I know nothing about designing anything. I just figured out what CSS stands for. I fear that one day Pam will get a little old and I’ll probably cry then beg for help. So, guess what! I’m going to learn to help myself! Amazing!

Session:
Before I start this I should admit something, I know I just said that I knew what CSS stands for, but I don't. I am a liar.

Moving on...

I'm laughing because Mir just asked who in the room knows about HTML coding is...I'm the only one in the room who answered that I don't know anything about HTML. What does HTML mean? I'm already confused.

To be covered: Whether or not to do it yourself? Ummmmmm...yeah. I guess it should be OK if I'm severely inept. Mir just suggested a Pow Wow during cocktail hour. Yes! CSS coding over a vodka tonic! Of course!

If one decides to not DIY who should you go with? Someone advanced? Which will be more money but they have the benefits of experience they are also professional. With a less experienced designer there is the risk of that person learning as they are going along and suddenly your 'salmon pink' background looks like someone puked up pepto bismol on your blog. But I guess some may enjoy that.

When I needed a new template, I gave no specifications, and I got ridiculously lucky and I love it. But don't do that. Like, ever. Be specific, define what you are looking for which will help both you and the developer also include a budget. I got mine for free, but that probably won't happen on the next go round.

It is the designer/developers responsibility to install and produce design and technology elements as well as keep work up to standards and communicate (!!) with their client...and of course finish on time. The client is responsible to provide required content and to give feedback when requested.

Ok, now to the technical stuff that I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. And Tiffany is talking at a normal person speed whereas I cannot keep up because I am trying to absorb and type and seriously, what does CSS mean?

Cascading style sheets. I feel better already.

But there will be a hands on section, which I do far better with, which I am going to safely assume that others work considerably better with as well.

Apparently most web designers begin with the same basic two column layout, by defining the margins and setting the body. It also means setting and defining the width of the page, so that no matter what browser is being used, the page will always have the same height/width.

Making the header involves H1 tags, the higher the tag number, the smaller the font becomes.

After a header is to set a navigating tool bar at the top of the page, for example in typepad, you can have an about page, links, etc.

Then the sidebar, which is the part that I always screw up and it's very sad. And after the sidebar is the footer which isn't all that exciting...oh, but copyright is very important and that is usually at the end of a page. Heed the copyright.

Apparently this is all very basic and Mir said that if there were a session on CSS Ninja, then she wouldn't be doing it. Sadly for me, this feels like CSS Ninja, so I will become a slave to Mir and desperate for help.

Wait, did you know that you can use pictures instead of bullets for sidebar links?? Well, you can. (Learning and teaching the severely moronic is what BlogHer is all about kids)

If you go to photoshop and get a picture 16x 16 pixels you can replace the bullets to become stars or puppies or rainbows or a bottle of grey goose if you so please.

This entire session was done on slides which are to be available at the links below. I strongly suggest going there because I was too busy absorbing and wondering how I got a blog when I know nothing, to write half of the things that were said. I will be visiting their sites. You should too:
www.flinknet.com/blogher06
www.tiffanybbrown.com/blogher06

And now, we drink. A lot.

SheBlog: Uno

Overwhelmed would be the best word for right now.
Monumentally overwhelmed. Yesterday in the airport I lamented to Peg as to why I thought this would be a good idea and despite the reservations I'm having fun and I'm good and hungover right now, but alas fucking overwhelmed and ridiculously hungry.

Funny story, I texted Peg about my present state last night and she texted back whether or not there were any "interesting black males". I had to resist the urge to laugh outloud because oh my hell, I think there are more males than black females, which is both disheartening and interesting. So, there that is.

(notice how I'm trying to make up good coherent stories and yet nothing is coming because...just...jesus)

Also! I'm the reason that I'm able to even be here is because I'm live blogging sessions for the fine folks of BlogHer. Live blogging is hard. Very, very hard and I am very very tired and well, yeah. The end.

So! Who wants to pick out a quote for me?? Something that says "Why is she still writing, make her go away". Capture the essence of my lameness right now. Whee.

P.S. Alice said that I'm adorable. And then I died.

So you have this crazy idea

(I'm liveblogging for BlogHer...durrr...we'll see how this goes)

“Every idea I get I have to deny, that's my way of testing it.” ~Alain, Histoire de mes pensées

Brought to you by:
Melanie Morgan
Nancy White
Susannah Gardner
Lauren Gelman


Preface: Starting a Blog was a crazy idea and I’m still not sure whether or not it has worked out in the end. Regardless this is a crazy idea pertaining to Community blogging.

I love the so called “Mommy Bloggers”. Wonderful and amazing women that they are and you know why it works for them? Because they have each other. These women have not only had children – which is a monumental step in itself – but with their new found roles they are also in the midst of becoming acclimated to their new position as a Mama. Which is a truly fantastic thing and thus leading to community, after community, after community of moms trying to connect with other moms. I use them as an example because they are all vocal about the sense of companionship they have been able to find via their blogs.

When I began my blog as a recent college graduate I did it to find some sort of community and help with the ohmyholyhell feelings that I had..fuck, that I still have. And yet there was nothing. Thankfully through over the past 11 ½ months (!!!) I have met other women and men in the same age bracket going through the same difficult shit. Maybe not as difficult as becoming a parent but difficult nonetheless. I receive emails constantly from readers and other bloggers who searched for a 20’s blog and got to me (and I’ve apologized). Every time I write about something like my new found position in life I get a chorus of “OMG the same thing happened to me” which in turn makes me feel like I’ve done something to help.

Now that I think about it all it feels like a crazy and radical act to start a community based blog. Will it work? Will people care? How the hell would I even go about doing it? Which has led me to here at an ungodly hour learning about the ‘crazy idea’ of Community based blogging.

Session:

I am not a community blogger and to be honest I don't feel as if I'm apart of anyone blogging community. Right now we are going around the room expressing what communities different women are apart of. And once again I am at a loss.

There are the ever popular mommy bloggers but obviously there is more out there. Right now women are going around the room giving ideas as to what they want to get from this session:

How do you move people to action and get them to work together on a project?
How to define the community? What is the purpose/scope/domain? What are the boundries?
How do you set up a community based blog with people who are offline?
What tools and technology to set up?
What are the legal questions?

Now that we've established what people want to learn about while in attendence our lovely and talented speakers are sharing their stories:

Lauren Gelman is a lawyer. Lawyers are scary, but she is not. Anyway her very demure nature is probably what helped her begin a community blog with women in law school who were feeling the unfortunate sting of being a woman in a male dominated environment. She is currently developing a community based blog which will be called 'Ms. JD' with a focus of what women will inevitably go through not only during law school but also in the interview process before and after.

Melanie Morgan started the New Media Collective at the end of Black History Month last February. She started it to 'Close the digital divide'. She also started it because while perusing the blogosphere she saw very few people who looked like her (she's black, FYI). Which is so ridiculously and sadly true - but that's a whole different topic for another day. Anyway, that's what her community blog is about, finding others who look like her and to get them involved.

Susannah kept it short and sweet (just how I like it). She is a tech blogger answering questions about...umm...technology (I'm awful at this, I know) answering questions about using computers in the pool and was once even asked a tech question by her doctor. During that very special exam that all women love. The end.

Nancy started her community forum called 'Share your story' for parents who have premature children in the NICU sort of as a support group type thing. Within her first days there were 150 subscribers.

So, now we are moving into breakout sessions which I cannot bring my laptop to because my wireless sucks ass and so this will be continued....(I'm sure you are all are waiting with baited breath)

I think the underlying aspect of community based blogging is the architecture of the site one wishes to create. Blogging in general is a form of information sharing and some would say therapeutic (present company included). Whether or not you do it anonymously, it forces you to own up to your feelings and your words.
That said, the 'Best Ideas' of this session of crazy ideas...:
  • Ask people/potential members what they want out of a community
  • What is the defining purpose for both the individual and the community as a whole
  • What is the commitment to the community
  • Using memes as a call to action
  • Use of multiple media i.e Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo
  • Once a community is established, how do you humanize interaction?
  • Engage all senses
  • Identify or creat heartbeat moments in time for focus, scheduled things
  • competitive analysis what is already out there and not replicate
  • different ways to keep people motivated
  • Setting expectations low for people
  • creat community by making it fun, email groups, offline meetups
  • sending rewards for going through process, teach someone to be involved when they are afraid of the word blog.
  • how to recruit community members
  • decentralizing control
  • choosing platforms, migrating to new platforms
  • integrating third party tools

So! Friends, romans...there you have it. An almost coherent (me being the incoherent one) little summary of starting community based blogging.

Now, we dine.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

San ho*

“I have accepted fear as a part of life - specifically the fear of change.... I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back.” ~Erica Jong

My leasing office has officially and successfully taken away my will to live. They’ve been at this for some time, but it has finally happened. And I bet they’re sitting over in their shabby office toiling away with other ways to make me absolutely miserable. It’s hard to go on and get happy when you’re seriously on the verge of tears.

I suppose I should cherish my upcoming time in San Jose as opposed to contemplating where the best bench in McPherson Square is. Ya know, in the event of becoming homeless. Most everything is done. I’m prepared to live blog (CSS is fun! Wheeee!) and have also offered my free babysitting services to Amy in return for her at least pretending that I am a nice and cool person. I’ve already notified Kris and Stacy that I will be bringing Velcro so that I can stick myself too them without too much hassle. And I have my favorite Miss Sixty sandals packed…you know, that one item that everyone asks about, but I get to say ‘Too bad Sucka! You can only get these babies in Puerta del Sol’. But I might be nicer about it given that the whole point of this event is to be nice to people and get to know my common (wo) man.

The part that is irking me right now and forcing me to question my judgment is that in preparation of my nerves and the amount of alcohol I plan to drink, I turned to my old friend nicotine. I know, it’s awful and horrible and I deserve to die. I don’t know why I did it, but I did and though it’s sad it will help and give me something to do with my hands while everyone else is laughing and smiling like normal fully functional people.

So now, come on, get happy and I will pretend to do the same: For it is the story of my life to be fearful of the unknown and to announce my intentions to latch on to others; when in all honesty I doubt that there will be very little of that and these feelings will abate themselves in 24 hours time. It only makes me immensely thankful that I have friends who I can confess my unfounded and irrational nerves to and they in turn are more than willing to give support and resist the urge to kick me in the face.

*A term stolen from Lena

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Mason Dixon

“No matter where you go or what you do, you live your entire life within the confines of your head.” ~Terry Josephson

El Padre is from Birmingham. A child of 1950’s and 60’s Birmingham. It shocks me that he came out of it both alive and relatively unscathed. Though he does have a completely rational fear of Emmett Till, hell I won’t even Google that name unless I have my eyes closed. Hands covering the screen. In 8th grade I attended a NAACP dinner with Peg that Emmett’s mother spoke at. Outside of the grand concourse at the Egg was a full display of pictures from his untimely and horrific death. I didn’t sleep for a week. But yes, Birmingham: The home of Bull Connor and not so friendly firemen who used hoses on small children as opposed to bombed black Churches.

Peg is from West Virginia. The daughter of a former coal miner. She didn’t live there for as long as El Padre lived in terror of Birmingham, but still from the south just the same. When she was five, her house was run over by a mixing truck. I made her tell me that story every night before bed.

They both still say such gems like “Mama and them” and El Padre uses “Y’all” on an almost daily basis. Sadly, the raised children who are not the least bit Southern. Children who are proficient skiers and actually can appreciate a good old fashioned snow day. When it snows here, I lament on how lame the Federal Government can be. I mean, it’s only seven inches. Plow that shit, put some salt down and be on your merry way.

Because of them, when I am inebriated – as I will most assuredly be this coming weekend – I too can revert to this Southern accent I didn’t know I had. Everything becomes slow and deliberate and there’s a twang. My God, a twang.

*****

A few months ago, I was driving through South Eastern Pennsylvania. Rural, real rural. Children of the Corn type shit that would scare that forced me to hold my breath through the woods and past the abandoned sheds and farm machinery. Every tall and sturdy tree I passed, I envisioned my eventual lynching.

As I kept driving, I finally saw a familiar sign. I let out a sigh of relief and my heart slowly started to beat at a normal pace again. It was a pillar of hope: “Mason-Dixon Line” is what the sign read. And when I crossed it headed south back into Maryland, I had never been so elated to not end up chopped up in the middle of a Wheat field in east bumble fuck PA.

I told someone about it the next day and quipped that while it has been customary for blacks to be happy about getting North of the famed line, I had apparently chosen that moment to mark one of the few times that a black person has been monumentally relieved to be headed South of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Labels:

Monday, July 24, 2006

The game

"Parenthood is a lot easier to get into than out of." ~Bruce Lansky

Peg and I like to play a game where I visit Albany or Martha’s Vineyard and in the mere hours that I am there, it is my player’s job to seek and her job to eventually retrieve. Whereas I seek out things that I want and/or am too cheap to purchase myself and she then spends weeks wondering where she put her new Burberry shirt.

During the most recent 72 hour jaunt to Albany, I sought after a Swiffer, a thing of Comet, Swiffer wet and dry cloths, nine dollars – which I used to purchase BK breakfast for myself and El Padre, latex gloves, a package of toilet paper, an orange adidas shirt, a button down shirt from BR, some hair product of some sort, her hooker shoes, and my personal favorite, a strand of pearls. My best showing yet I would say.

Her assessment of her bedroom when she returned home led to immediate retrieval via threat of the BR shirt. That shit was totally not worth the $309 check that she would have cashed. I wormed my way back into her good graces by sending her back the shirt and a can of Glory collard greens. Nothing says “Thanks for birthing me and allowing me to continuously mooch off of you”, like a two dollar can of greens. She figured out the adidas shirt when she called demanding its whereabouts and the whereabouts of her hooker shoes. “Covering up my boobies and my sweaty back and the shoes, those ugly shoes?? They’re for hookers!” The shoes are currently collecting dust underneath my desk at work.
I read about this once in the New York Times. That young recent college grads go on a rampage when they visit their parents. They know no bounds and feel that if it’s in their parent’s possession then it is communal property. To be honest, I’ve only recently began saying things like “My mother’s house in Albany”. And even then it is as if someone else is saying those words for me; though I did learn very early on that my mother’s money is not my money and that maybe I should make my own or risk being homeless. Or maybe make my own and buy my own damn cleaning supplies instead of pilfering off of the hardworking. In my defense G had just taken all of the dishes so I am at least entitled to a fucking swiffer.

Remember this now because at some point she will realize that she’s missing a strand of pearls. When this time comes, think of me fondly as I’m sure that the punishment will be swift and severe: Possibly death by evil Peg stare that can easily turn the warm blooded ice cold. Either way I am quite sure it will not be remedied by the simple act of a can of collards. I might even have to man up to the $12 Whole Foods variety, she’ll be that pissed.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hey baby

“The more I see of men, the more I like dogs.” ~Madame de Staël

I was “Hey baby”-ed on my way into Home Depot. While wearing my man catching outfit of a pink old navy tank top, jeans, flip flops and a look of ‘How the fuck am I suppose do find an Alan wrench in this behemoth?’ In a word; hot.

Oh wait, while I’m at it, I should tally up the number of 'Hey baby's and once overs from the day:

The 40+ year old man who hollered “Hey girl” as I was merging onto a parkway. Then decided to yell at me again while sitting at a stop light, to remind me that I just saw him less than a tenth of a mile back. Just in case I would forget about all the men yelling at me from their car windows while I’m trying to merge. Hey buddy, you look as old as my dad but thanks for the reminder!

The aforementioned man outside Home Depot.

The two gentlemen at the cash register staring at me while I looked for batteries.

The wholly unhelpful sales associate who first stared and 450 minutes later said “Hey girl what you looking for” while I stared with furrowed brow at the display of wrenches.

The man who yelled ‘hey baby’ at me while I was driving out of the Home Depot parking lot.

And finally the gentlemen who deemed it appropriate to give me my final Hey baby of the day, while stopped under an underpass and shoving Cajun fries into my pie hole. Apparently some men find grease and spicy seasoning covering one's lips attractive.

I was afraid to leave my house for the remainder of the day. Because my God, all of that? In less than two hours? On a Sunday? The Lord’s Day? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

Add that to the various truck driving men who feel it completely acceptable to yell at me at 5:45 in the AM while I’m walking to the gym. Also included are the lovely gentlemen who drive the Budweiser truck and the man who does parking enforcement. Note to you two self wanking fuckheads, unless you are giving me free beer and allowing me to park on my street without fear of getting booted respectively. If and only then, are you permitted to 'Hey baby' me all you damn well please.

My face is contorted in a look of dismay, embarrassment (for both myself and these men) and sheer confusion. Nothing about me gives off a vibe of “Oh please, do me. I want you” and yet there are these men who seem to think it is their God given right to yell at me while I’m going about my business. The same men who then have the audacity to get angry when I don't respond. Especially while driving! Merging nonetheless. My apologies, next time I will perk up and drop everything that I am doing to respond to your ever clever summons. It’s not flattering, it’s horrifying and only makes me question exactly how many times you were dropped on your head as a child. Note to self: Invest in a canine post-haste.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The bane of my existence

“The young always have the same problem - how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another.” ~Quentin Crisp

I was a hard ass. Or at least I thought I was one. I wore brown wet & wild lip liner with cherry flavored gloss. I slicked back my hair with ungodly amounts of gel. It was an in after years of out. The only way for me to be ‘in’ was to swear and get detention, said ‘triflin’ and the “n word” and apparently use gel that wasn’t made from all natural Aveda products. Obviously, times were hard.

At some point, via my new found friendship with the rest of the black kids at my middle school, I became friends with a girl named Amanda – whose last name escapes me now. For years she had been friends with a girl named Teresa. Teresa’s father owned a landscaping company and happened to be our landscaper. There’s nothing particularly interesting about Teresa or Amanda except that they had the proper connections to the people that I wanted to be friends with. I had gone with wistfully thinking of camaraderie with the kids who wore Abercrombie every mother fucking day, to the kids who drank Smirnoff ice in Altamont and taught me how to inhale my first cigarette.

A moment to pause; because What the fuck was I thinking?

Anyway one day while doing the landscaping duties, Amanda happened to join them on the duty of mowing our crap ass lawn which I took as a sign to become BFFE with her and we were going to braid each other’s hair in cornrows and hang out at Crossgates until 10 PM(!) After becoming better acquainted with her, we began passing notes in Social Studies.

Our Social Studies teacher was Mr. Zahurak. Mr. Zahurak, like every other one of my teachers, happened to know my mother. Mr. Zahurak also knew of my penchant for skipping class, getting detention and not doing my work via the other teachers in my 8th grade team. He was a tall fat man. OK, he was ‘rotund’. With a giant stomach, that reminded me of an upside down tympani. So one day, Amanda and I were passing notes – because that was the cool thing to do – and for some reason I thought it brilliant to write out:

“Mr. Zahurak is such a jerk and has a really fat stomach”

Amanda thought it was funny. I thought it was funny. Mr. Zahurak didn’t think it was funny. Especially when he came up to us demanding to have the note and I ripped it in half. Thinking Aha! That’ll keep him from reading my super secret message! Alas it did not. And instead it landed me in my dean’s office for roughly the 15th time that year. Now, given past experience as a bona fide ass kisser whose first detention came by way of a mix up, I figured that I would get off scot-free. Oh. Oh no. I did not. Instead I received super extended detention until 5:30 PM (this to make up for the note, my general lack of school work, and my underdeveloped vocabulary. Because really ‘fat stomach’? Surely I can think of something far better than that).

As was customary for things that arrived from Farnsworth Middle School, things that landed in the mailbox, were quickly retrieved and destroyed. If only I had an incinerator. But this time, despite my stealthy recovery and subsequent burial in the backyard where the tomatoes used to grow, Peg found out about my transgression. Mr. Zahurak actually called my mother. He called her! To tell her that she had raised a heathen who used the phrase ‘fat stomach’ as an actual insult. And my god! Why couldn’t she have raised a child with a more expansive cache of insults? Peg had the same sense of humor as Mr. Zahurak and her quick response was to ground me and force me to sit at home during the 8th Grade Moving Up Day Dance. I was heart broken, because my chances at popularity had been squashed. My mother even questioned why and how I had become friends with this Amanda girl.

Years later the letter resurfaced again. No, it did not spring forth fruit from the ground, but Peg called and asked whether or not I could remember exactly what I had written. Which, yes I recalled. She asked if I could write it down for her. Because the details of my note would be used during a Roast for Mr. Zahurak to end his 129 years of abuse at the hands of pretentious teenagers i.e. retirement. What I recall most about that conversation is how thoroughly entertaining my mother found the entire situation to be. She thought it was funny. Mr. Zahurak and all of his teacher buddies thought it was funny. I was only mildly amused given the fact that I had to miss out on the 8th grade dance and the fact that that could have been the greatest night of my life. Because in 8th grade, everything is imperative and everything that happens in the 8th grade will predetermine one’s entire life. Duh.

Don’t write shit that you wouldn’t want your mother/teachers to read. Don’t think that you can bury shit in the back yard. Don’t think that just because the popular kids are popular that you have to be exactly like them. Don’t think that your teachers are unable to use the phone. And for the love of God, do develop an insult repository beyond ‘fat stomach’. Lesson learned.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Participant's Choice

“There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes.” ~William Makepeace Thackeray

So, boys and girls, what would you like to hear about today? Errrr, tomorrow? (ish)

How about the gay man that I was hopelessly in love with? So much so that I even started writing my name with his last name on my notebook and drawing hearts around it.

Or! How about the time I went test driving and got the crazy gawky test driver man who hit on my friend and the woe and phone banking that followed?

Maybe the time I called my 8th grade Social Studies teacher a fat ass – or something very close and equally as naughty – and then wasn’t allowed to attend the 8th Grade moving up day dance?

Hell, pick a topic and I will write you a lengthy discourse on why exactly the sky is blue and how Angels get their wings.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hate. Ed.: An ode to random thought

“Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.” ~Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun

You know what I strongly despise? People who call me ma’am. Or people who assume that I have actual real life children that live with me and that I take care of on a day to day basis. Because trust me, I am not old enough to have a child.

I also hate my eagerness to participate in a jury reading type thing for Elle*, based solely on the fact that I like to read and write so A ha! Of course I’d love to read 150 books by August 19th. Why thank you!

While we’re at it, I dislike, puppies, rainbows, kittens, hyperbolic whiny little bitches and how shitty my hair as been lately.

Anything else?


*as in the publication.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Seeing red but technically green

“If there is any larceny in a man, golf will bring it out.” ~Paul Gallico


I went golfing. Like in the heat, with the sweat and slippery hands because I forgot my glove and now I have twin blisters. And without a calm demeanor to focus on a short game – Oh no, this was I’m going to hit the shit out of this motherfucking ball. That’s how ornery I am feeling.


My apartment looks like 15 people live there. Thwack.

One of whom happens to be very pretty and every damn person I’ve ever met in my entire live is telling me so. Thwack.

I have to get ready for the thing with the people and I’m nervous. Thwack.

I have to read like 47 galleys for Elle. And yet I’m only on page 15 of Pride and Prejudice, which I started in roughly 1985. Thwack.

I have a penchant for hyperbole. Thwack.
I’ve managed to lose all of my posts that had been written in word.
The man in the stall next to me is talking loudly about his disgusting golf shoes.
I’ve lost a friend (which is more complicated than I would like to get into).
My mother keeps starting conversations with how fantastic
Martha’s Vineyard is.
I have a headache.
Some asshole almost rear ended me.
I’m pretty much convinced everyone on the planet hates me – which would imply that I mattered to everyone on the planet.
And oh my holy hell, it’s hot.

Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.

I read that men golf not for the enjoyment but because it’s an easy way to get away from their wives and responsibilities for a few hours. Women golf, because smacking the hell out of a golf ball won’t leave them in an orange jumpsuit and/or some heinous denim outfit while manufacturing license plates.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Feng Shui

“An element of abstention, of restraint, must enter into all finer joys.” ~Vida D. Scudder


Welcome to my humble abode. Actually, my living room.


Won’t you please pull up a chair or a couch…or some random stools or perhaps a set of drawers and a random box o’ crap.

A morning of babysitting would normally leave me stressed and using the phrase “dumb bitch” repeatedly also a good story or two. But alas the only story of the weekend was an incident in which I got purple paint on my REM Vote For Change t-shirt that “normally washes out of the kid’s clothes”. Well I’m sure the kids don’t have a once in a lifetime REM t-shirt. Anyway, I returned home to the above. Whereas normally, I’d drop my cumbersome bags on the ground and stare wide eyed in horror and then probably convulsed and finally a catatonic state, because HOLY HELL, I cannot live in such a disaster. (Yes, yes I can actually, my bedroom looks like Hiroshima) But alas, I did not. I surveyed the scene and gave an inquisitive ‘Hmmm’. As in ‘Hmmm, how are those obtrusive (and really fucking ugly) leather love seats going to get over this random purple couch here?’ Then I went about my business without the full on medical emergency described above.

And that’s how it went and how it’s been going: A calming effect of sorts in which I can do things without threats to throw myself off of a balcony. Without arrant proclamations or tears; just a ‘Hmmm’.




Of course very little cannot be solved with glorious and beautiful people to make me Watermelon Gin and Tonics and feed my every whim and belly with smoked salmon, pasta salad, and then margaritas. Note to self: When you start falling asleep over your Amstel, it is time to stop drinking. I can this for sure; I surely am not what I used to be. Seven hours of drinking now actually causes extreme exhaustion as opposed to late night trips to Fuddruckers.


Special thanks to some very special people who know that handing me a bottle of red, will make me the happiest girl alive.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Potential

“If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time.” ~Author Unknown

It had to have been eighth grade when things began to fall apart. Actually I distinctly remember Freshman year of high school, being told to read the novel of the same name, getting 10 pages into it and casting it aside. I’d rather fail than be bored to death. But only now have I realized that’s just how bored I was.

I had been a stellar student, I suppose. But then the advent of my new “fuck you, motherfucker” attitude at the end of my middle school years, also put an end to my stellar work ethic. Now it was “fuck you, fat ass” to my social studies teacher, and my God, I wish I were only kidding about that.

Through ninth grade, I found myself in an Honors Social studies and English hybrid course. During which I actually failed a quarter semester. Not because of some tragic family accident or Mono – The Excuse of all Excuses – but because I was lazy. Plain and simple. I didn’t feel like doing the work, I thought it was pointless, everything was trite, banal bullshit and so I did nothing. At the end of the school year, when it came time for recommendations for courses to take the next year, my Social Studies teacher, who had previously once failed me and reprimanded me, recommended me for an AP European History course which he would be teaching. To this day I remember the disclaimer “If Heather applies herself and works to her full potential then she will do very well in this class”.

Well, Heather applied herself and worked to a full potential of something over lame half assed work, and got a four on the AP test. I then went onto complete 28 college credits prior to the start of my Freshman year of University and received a four on every AP test. This isn’t to gloat, not in the least, because shit that happens in High School has absolutely no bearing on what happens today. Or at least it shouldn’t.

The thing is that I’m good at a lot of things, I guess. But holy hell, if doing those things well, requires work and effort, then I’m royally fucked, because giving my 110% to anything makes my head spin. Knowing that I’m good at something does nothing for me and really I could care less, because I know I won’t apply myself. That’s hard to admit but the honest to God truth that sometimes, I just don’t care. Because I don’t care, I’d rather do it at a bare minimum…no one will notice. Yet people always notice and then I just shrug.

When these things – the truths – rear their ugly little heads or give me a sucker punch to the gut, I’m finding it easier to go with it and do better, rather than run away. My half ass nature: at times putting things off until the last possible second until I’m pulling out my hair and grinding my teeth do not exactly help things. Now I’m stuck in this “what to do now” type place; a purgatory of sorts, whereby I can actually change these things and do well or I can be distracted by bright shiny things. For now, I shall sit on my ass and contemplate and roll my eyes at my ridiculous nature. If only I could do better. You know?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bleh

Holy hell! Where have I been?! I can tell you exactly where: on a one way flight to Obsession, USA. With a brief layover in holy motherfucker I’m going to flip my shit. That’s near Oklahoma if you’re wondering.

Speaking of the Sooner state, my brand spanking new, beautiful roommate is from there and when she outs herself then I will as well.

Tell me something exciting…or good…or anything beyond a certain someone didn’t do his part so now I’m paying for it, because there’s been enough of that today. Say anything.

And while we’re at it, I don’t even have time to find a quote, so if you find something, let me have it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Android

“Be careful of your thoughts, they may become words at any moment.” ~Iara Gassen

My father is a Star Trek buff: The type who goes to conventions and rocks an outfit from the Starship Enterprise. For Christmas he gave us an ornament sized replica of the famed ship that says “Live Long and Prosper.” He also gets angry when you don’t know that Quark is a Ferengi. And that is something that I so totally wish I was just kidding about.

There really is no smooth segue between that and what is to come next. Except that androids, got me thinking about Lt. Commander Data, this got me thinking about the aforementioned conversation with my father about Ferengis (Ferengies?).

But no matter, because right now I’m feeling rather robot like. Not in the Deep Space Nine sense, but in the sense that everything that has been done over the past week has been eerily methodical. It’s like putting one foot in front of the other, but apply it to everything else, and you’ll find me. You’ll find me saying wholly rational things about my future as if I’m 100% sure about everything. You’ll find me giving lucid advice to others and doing it in a way that makes me look as if what comes from my mouth is the unequivocal truth and sum of all things. And my God, do I sound intelligent doing it. I’m frightened.

Instead of huffing and puffing and spewing yesterday when asked to do something, I just did and didn’t give it another thought until today. I was unable to find my ID in the massive Kate Spade, because there was no wallet to be accounted for, but lo and behold in my little zipper pocket, where one would keep essentials, were my ID, check card, and insurance cards. People! I don’t even recall doing this; because I would keep everything in my wallet and then be fucked when it came time to cough up identification.

I don’t know what’s going on. There’s so much and all of it compounded has led me to just do it, instead of dicking around for years and being distracted by shiny things.

Wait, I’ll bring it back around. My father is methodical. He’s a scientist; they do that sort of shit. He also just does things without trepidation – or if there is trepidation, he doesn’t let on.

I suppose that for now, I’ll just bask in my super effectiveness until blows up in my face. I mean, even I remember the episode where Data actually broke. And it was sad.

Monday, July 10, 2006

We do not speak of that

“An inability to stay quiet is one of the most conspicuous failings of mankind.” ~Walter Bagehot

It’s probably none too polite to speak of a woman who went into histrionics on Saturday or the very serious and exasperated way in which she told a four year old to get his ‘fucking’ shoes on. Or my horror in witnessing such a thing. Because what does one privy to that sort of thing do? Mind your own business and keep it moving and then quietly wonder to yourself why it feels like this woman may shoot lasers out of her eyes, straight to your cerebellum if you so much as smile or speak of joy, rainbows and puppies.

I’m always the one twiddling my thumbs and looking in the opposite direction. Whilst my mind wanders and I try to put all that I see into provocative and coherent sentences. But I do not. Because there are just some things that you cannot possibly divulge. Or because one person’s provocative and coherent is another’s vapid and ambiguous.

But between you and me, what I really think is that somebody needs to get laid.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Girls gone wild

“Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile... initially scared me to death.” ~Betty Bender

I attended Girl Scout camp Little Notch, every year for 12 years, both as a camper and then a counselor. That would be 12 years straight of a thin mint induced estrogen fest, where I learned how to cook over an open fire without singing my eye lashes, how to canoe, kayak and sail, how to save a drowning child and that sexual harassment is a very bad thing. That last part is a long and excruciating tale of injustice and why 16 year olds are evil whores.

I was sent away for a reason that I cannot pin point now. Possibly because Peg wanted me to be surrounded by tree hugging girls, which only went to turn me into an organic granola eating, uber liberal vegetarian; or maybe because she appreciated a solid seven to 12 week period without me incessantly whining. Whatever the case, I’ve always valued the time that I spent there, because of that whole estrogen love fest thing. It sounds cliché, but women helping other younger women become better women. It was quite the supportive atmosphere and 2003 was the last time I went seven consecutive days without feeling the need to shave because some boy might see my legs. No one cared. It was a beautiful thing.

And since then, I’ve always been devout in empowerment, once again, cliché but the honest truth. I mean only a woman who wanted to make her self a better woman would subject herself to 9 Saturdays to hear other woman speak about the fabulous life of politicos (or Politicas) in Washington. So you can imagine my sheer excitement and the amount that I peed myself in such a state when I discovered BlogHer (or SheBlog if you’re Savage). An entire weekend of women helping other women bloggers become, well…better bloggers. Obviously in my case this will require a one on one tutorial for eight hours a day for two weeks straight, but still, it will at least hopefully maybe scrape the surface.

That said there is a little conundrum. Only minor, nothing all that catastrophic or mind blowing, it’s just that…there are new people. Many new people. So many new people who will inevitably hate me and find me trite and boring and then will roll their eyes and wonder how the hell I’ve managed to survive through the past 22 years without being committed. This is how it goes with me. Every year prior to Girl Scout camp, I would get the same freaked out, I’m going to die because they’re going to throw pig blood on me, type feeling. It doesn’t matter that I would attend and come home cheerful and so black that I looked blue and ready to purchase a Sunfish. Nope. Didn’t matter. Because it still happened every year. It also didn’t matter that I attended with people that I knew who could vouch for my being an OK person to know. Because the fear is real and ever present.

Right now I have a round trip ticket to San Jose. Kris, Stacy and Amy will be there. They’re excited about me going, while I feign a smile and feel like vomiting every time I have to think about it. It’s traumatizing. It’s also sad and pathetic and my rational mind can process it all and knows that all will be well and that the aforementioned ladies, will most likely not want to toss me off a balcony by Sunday. But like I said, the fear is very real and women can be fun but can also be scary.

Now, I’m closing me eyes and taking deep breaths. Because if I keep writing about all of the extremes and the ‘what ifs’, my eyes are going to bug out of my head…All will be well…

Post Script: Remind me to tell you about my irrational fear of going across the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Not because it’s high or the deep cold water or because my car could fall off and I could die an untimely death. But because once you cross that bridge, I cannot just turn around and go back to Albany. It’s too far from home, yet so close to DC and I can’t turn back. Which means that I have to go to DC and endure whatever happens to be awaiting me there. Fear sucks man.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bad News

“Humor is perhaps a sense of intellectual perspective: an awareness that some things are really important, others not; and that the two kinds are most oddly jumbled in everyday affairs.” ~Christopher Morley

I wish I could be more prolific. I wish I had the smarts and wit of being an ok writer who can get past personal problems and not dwell on the hardships of life. This only leads to writing that shows my true colors and dismay in my life. But alas I cannot: Especially when the personal problem involves returning home to a broken refrigerator and several things of frozen salmon which is now lukewarm with a whitish tint to it. The package inflated due to lord knows whatever bacteria come in Salmon. Also bad $9 blueberries and an unfrozen, frozen burrito.

But I can’t be too upset; at least the fruit flies were there to greet me with a great big ‘Welcome Home’.

No Pasa Nada; celebrating the Independence of Little Kim and a love of sarcasm since 2006.

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