Thursday, March 29, 2007

Beauty In The Grotesque

There is a scab the size of my fingertip on the side of my head, above my ear. It sits where a large, bulbous mole used to be. The mole never really bothered me; I couldn’t see it, after all. But I knew it felt really gross and whenever people saw it for the first time I could sense them recoiling a little. It just looked very abnormal growth-ish. But thanks to the joys of insurance and modern medicine, it’s now at a lab being biopsied where it will then hopefully just become one more tiny piece of human waste. I was very surprised at how quick and painless the whole procedure was. The doctor barely had time to insult me (by wondering why anyone would want to travel through Arkansas) before it was all over and I was back at work.

It feels strange to rub my head and not feel that fatty little knob of flesh. Stella and my hairdresser were so happy and relieved to see it go, but I feel odd. I’ve always liked the parts of us that others probably consider ugly (scars, missing fingers, stutters, lazy eyes). Those parts make us memorable and give us that clich├ęd word, character. Anyone else agree? I particularly like red, shiny skin that grows back after a severe burn and large scars. There's always a story behind them.

That reminds me of one of my favorite jokes: What's the last thing a redneck says before he dies? "Hey y'all....watch this!"


P.S. The doctor’s office just called.
It was benign. I assumed it was, but it's good to hear for sure.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

And So It Begins...

Just look at that face. That's twelve years-old personified. Not a teenager but certainly not a little girl either. I'm gonna need a lot of help (of the pharmaceutical variety as well) these next six years.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Why Pay More?

In regards to this whole tainted pet foods ordeal, I must say I'm so glad I don't spoil Chicklet with canned food. She gets the leftover cans of tuna when I'm making tuna salad and once in a while I'll splurge for the $1-a-tiny-can organic cat food from the health food store but for the most part she only eats dry food. D. feeds Lucy canned dog food and thank god it wasn't a tainted brand. Canned pet food is gross anyway...it's just the leftovers from the slaughterhouses, isn't it? I wish I could be Super Pet Owner and make my own healthy, organic meat food for the pets but I don't. It's expensive enough just feeding that to my child. I can't be Super Everything. I can only once in a blue moon be Super Anybody.

Also, if anything this latest news plus the salmonella peanut butter scare from a few weeks ago should teach people that it's stupid to pay more for expensive name brands.....it all comes from the same (tainted, poison-infested) processing plant! I ain't too proud to buy generic. If it poisons me, at least I'll comfort myself knowing I saved a few extra dollars.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

First Real Food Made In The New Place

Devil's Food cupcakes with bittersweet chocolate buttercream frosting. How can people eat frosting out of a can when all you need is good quality chocolate (60% or higher only, yo), butter, some milk and powdered sugar to make the best frosting in the world?
Is this serendipitious or what, Marty?

Only In Arkansas

I really hope you can see this sticker. We saw it in Eureka Springs last weekend and I made D. tailgate the truck (which is a rather apropos term, as you'll soon see) in order to get this picture because I could hardly believe my eyes. It appears to be a Razorback jumping through a yellow ribbon. Oh yes. Can someone please tell me what, exactly, is going on here?! Fervent support for both the troops AND The Hogs? Are they mutually exclusive to the point that they need a combined sticker? Now that's some lazy-ass, patriotic multi-tasking.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More Thoughts on Organic Vs. Local, Etc.

There was a very interesting back-and-forth in the comments of my short and quickly-written post about the organic vs. local debate. I'd like to give those comments their due and have been thinking about the issues MooreHaven Gardens raised.

As with most issues facing concerned Americans today, I can only seem to know a little about a lot in order to stay sane and focused. MooreHaven seemed to raise more questions than answers (and that's good) and I feel more confused than ever. I want to join a CSA this year. Is it still a good idea, knowing the farmer has to drive a few hours to deliver the produce? It's true I don't can or preserve anything to last me through the winter...but I guess I could learn how and I'm open to it. I rather like the idea of devoting a weekend to a kitchen full of cans and bottles and being elbow-deep in tomatoes. What about the "big name" products that are now coming out labeled as organic? Are they REALLY organic? I mean, I know they have to pass through a USDA checklist, but how healthy can they be?

I guess what I need to know is....how can I most effectively use my purchasing power? I know that instinctively it just feels better at the farmers' market, handing over cash for fresh produce and eliminating all sorts of middlemen. What do I do during the Winter when we have no market? If I only have room for a very small garden, what are the best things for me to plant? Meaning...what foods that I might buy at the health food store have traveled the farthest?

I need a guide through this murky, confusing world of food politics. MooreHaven Gardens, whoever and whereever you are....care to be my Virgil?

Movin' On Up

I've been very busy moving, saying goodbye to my first group of international scholars and readying for the next group to arrive this weekend. That first group was very special. I had six scholars from five countries and we really got to know each other well. We took road trips, had long conversations about the state of the world, sipped tequila, ate many memorable meals, and just plain bonded. Several of them told me that they had been discouraged to come to America, that people in their countries tried to talk them out of it, that they had come here with preconceived notions of what it would be like here. I'm sure some of those notions were reinforced (the size of our vehicles, meal portions and waistbands, for example), but I also think some were proven wrong. I have friends, now, in Brazil, Mexico, China, and Russia and I can't wait to visit them. It's a great feeling.

The move is nearly completed. I haven't lived with a boyfriend since Stella's father - when I was twenty! Oh the things I didn't know back then....jeez. I'm sure there's a lot I still don't know about cohabiting. It's certainly an adjustment, but an adjustment I'm ready for and want to make. Nothing can really beat curling up in bed to watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report together, or listening to This American Life on Sunday mornings, or when D. makes me omelets. It's just easy and comfortable and good. Not to mention the fact that he's being very tolerant of my newest addiction - Zookeeper on Stella's Nintendo DS. It's this ridiculous little game where you have to match up animals, like Connect Four but on a screen with simplistic animal graphics. It's like Tetris for pre-schoolers. I LOVE IT. I turn 32 in eleven days. What is WRONG with me?

I have pictures and other assorted things I've been saving up for the ol' blog but those will have to wait.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bare Feet On A Clean Wood Floor

I've been beyond stressed and busy and insane lately. Yesterday I worked a very full day full of foul-ups and problems in need of solving and even though all I wanted to do was come home and collapse, instead I scrubbed all the floors on my hands and knees.* Does anyone else do this? Or am I even more insane than I like to think? I feel like everything is falling apart and I need to CLEAN to recharge. I can't tell you how relieved and better I felt afterwards. Walking barefoot through the house without picking up dog hair, food particles, and dust is one of those small pleasures in life.

In other news, my state is embarrassing me yet again. We're halfway to banning gays from being foster or adoptive parents. Because THAT'LL really help children in need, take away more options for being in a loving home. The Arkansas Family Council sure does have a skewed idea of "family values."

I wrote my letter to my representative and the governor. So back to the grindstone for me.

*I did this in my work clothes - skirt and heels. Take THAT Joan Cleaver!

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Lazy Diplomat

I imagine I'll have time to catch my breath one day. In the meantime, I'll keep rushing from one thing to the next. We took our Japanese student to the airport early Saturday morning. We had a wonderful, exhausting three weeks with her. Stella finally got her wish of having a big sister! Then I took a group of students for a day trip. The weather was perfect and we spent the day soaking up the sun and discussing global politics and comparing America to their cultures. It'd be very difficult to pick a favorite aspect of my job but I think I'd have to say these sorts of conversations are right up there. These students are advanced scholars of social justice in their home countries. They come here to learn English and of course they all have their preconceived notions of what America will be like. Then they're plopped down in Arkansas, of all places. I like to think I can play a small part in showing them that not all Americans are narrow-minded oafs. See...there goes that American ego.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Better

I'm feeling better today. I still have a hellacious weekend ahead and am not EVEN ready to start packing, much less moving, but I think it's safe to say the breakdown is just about over.

The worst part was yesterday evening when I had to sit down at the table and cry real tears over burnt pine nuts. Thank god I had D. there to say things like, "Um, sweetie, maybe you shouldn't try to wash dishes, make pasta, toast pine nuts and sweep the floor all at the same time." He's right. Something was bound to give.

But, you see, pine nuts are the key ingredient in my pasta salad. Toasted almonds are a poor substitution, but they're all I had left.

Maybe that's the key to recovery, though - relying on poor substitutions and apologizing to everyone who tries to compliment you on what is CLEARLY a sub-par pasta salad.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Oh Yeah..

Happy International Women's Day, y'all!

I just love a good officially-designated day for the marginalized.

Is She Weird?

You know, I really feel for the Britney Spears of this world. Who can't say they've never felt like they're going to lose it, just implode? The drastic and visceral things like shaving your head, or ditching the kids to hang out at hotel pools borrowing strangers' bikinis (yeah, I read US Weekly...so?), and passing out in nightclubs are merely attempts at cutting through the numbness. Luckily (I guess), I'm too self-conscious and have far too powerful of a maternal guilt complex to have a public meltdown like Britney's.

Instead I'll forgo showers for a few days, stay in bed watching E!'s 50 Greatest Celebrity Break-ups, and My Life On the D-List, eating orange sorbet at 11am for breakfast . Then I'll take a long, hot shower, cry to my boyfriend, put on my best attempt at a cute outfit and makeup and drive around in the sun listening to The Pixies as loud as I can stand. If that doesn't work then I know I'm fucked. 'Cause I can't afford the luxury of rehab.

Today I chose Bossanova, which I hadn't listened to in forever. The surf-y guitars and the warm, sunny day seemed like a good fit.

Let's see how it goes.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Out Of The Mouths...

When Stella was a toddler she used to spin around and around in circles and then stop, still swaying from side to side and exclaim, "I'm so busy! I'm so busy!"

It was a terribly cute example of childish catachresis but oh, how apropos it now seems. My schedule is so overburdened that I really am dizzy and disoriented most of the time.

I crave the sun, a beach, a cool drink and a good book.

Who's with me?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Recent Readings

In the latest issue of Bust, both Gwen Stefani and Lily Allen refuse to come out and describe themselves as feminists. Gwen says she needs a definition first. I hate that cop-out answer. I guess women say that because they're afraid people will think they're man-hating, militant bra-burners. That misconception is about as tired and destructive as you can get. I've had to convince so many women that if they believe that a.) there should be equal pay and treatment between the sexes, and b.) organized effort to work towards those goals is necessary..then SURPRISE, they're feminists! It's just that simple! So to hear two women who are very much in the public eye shy away from that label depresses and frustrates me.

This is another interesting article about Arkansas's former governor, Mike Huckabee, who is now running for president. He seems to be gaining popularity and although he sure can talk a good talk, I don't want him in that seat of power. I don't think he would make the entire world hate us like George W. Bush has done, but I'd be worried about the increase of morality-based legislation. I think he's done some sketchy things as governor and I don't trust him. That said, I have personally benefitted from his ARKids First child health-insurance program and think he's done some good things in terms of promoting health in our public schools.

Speaking of health, I was very interested in this article in Time about the local vs. organic debate. I have been wrestling with this for some time myself. Is it better to eat a local product or an organic product from far away? I guess it depends on what one might mean by "better." We're very lucky in Fayetteville to have a large, successful farmers' market that sells many local AND organic products, but the market is closed during the winter. Our health food store always mentions when a product is local, which helps, but unless I wanted to survive on herbs and potatoes during the winter, at some point I'll have to resolve this issue. Maybe I should just feel grateful that my biggest food concern is whether or not to buy local or organic, instead of worrying about when and how I'll get my next meal.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Domesticity, Y'all

Holy crap! We found a place! Huge vaulted ceilings, enormous bedrooms, screened in upper deck, lower patio space. D. and I will have a fireplace in our bedroom.

bow chika bow bow.

A Good Reason To Hate American Culture Just A Little Bit

Heard last night on E!:

"And we'll be coming to you live tomorrow from Anna Nicole's funeral."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Testament To The Wide Variety Of Topics Covered Herein

A sampling of the latest Google searches that brought (brung..this is Arkansas) people to this here site:

  • Working for a Japanese boss
  • Dolly Parton in spandex pictures
  • Dulwich ukulele club (still trying to figure this one out. I don't believe I've ever even used the words "Dulwich" or "ukulele")
  • Brazilian food
I'm feeling just a little bit proud of the diversity of topics discussed at little ol' Sufferin' Succotash.