Thursday, January 27, 2011


I think I might have to ease back on the Facebook a bit. Namely because I like to think of MYSELF as the less-than-mentally-stable friend, but now I'm realizing that all my facebook "friends" are even more crocked than me after a solid week of Nyquil.

I'm not saying that I am the queen of the facebook status updates. Au contraire. I have definitely learned my lessons the hard way. In fact, I have created the following rules for myself regarding things I just refuse to post about (anymore).

1. Being hungover. Obviously, it is not good to post about being hungover on 9:30 Tuesday morning while you are holding your head in your office willing the world to stop spinning. Posting about that simply makes the situation worse. You're basically telling the world that your job matters so little to you that you get drunk on weeknights and then spend a good five minutes trying to figure out a clever way to tell about 300 people about it. "Hm. Should I put the 'agh' before or after the word 'hangover.'?" The answer is, if you really need to disclose your hangoveredness, text a friend. A real friend. That's what they're there for. At least my friends are.

2. Illness. This one is a matter of superstitious principle, as well as good hygiene. I strongly believe that posting facebook stati involving illness - be it yours, your child's, or your pet's - actually is causing a wider spread of the disease. I'm not exactly Ms. Algorhythms (Algorithims?) here, but I'm pretty sure from esoteric observation that discussions of illness are causing a second flu pandemic, and the CDC needs to move in and put an ix-nay on that. Particularly the sick kid part. Because that's part of the fertilization package, friends. Enjoy.

3. HALT. Ha, for those that have never been forced to undergo cognitive behavioral therapy, "HALT" is a grounding acronym used when you are about to go completely irrational and relapse into some nasty habit. First, you stop and take an inventory - "Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired?". If you answer any of the questions positively, you concentrate on resolving that issue before reaching for a substance. If not, you are allowed to consume. I guess that's how it works. I was a little "T" that day. Acronyms are stupid.

Anyway, usually if you've got one of the HALTs, no one really wants to hear about it, or read about it. Just go get yourself a drink. Thanks.

4. Politics. The problem with people who post about politics is that they always seem to think that they know more than they do and often cannot delineate between a particular pundit's twisted reasoning and their own. When questioned, it then becomes a dick-measuring contest as to who has the most brains, which is retarded because the answer is quite simply "libertarians." Please don't put down the fact that political science is not technically a "science," and thus only engineers can rationally make sense out of Beck's latest diatribe. It just makes you look insecure. I have a law degree, for god's sake, and I wouldn't be caught dead quoting anyone at this point.

Although, I think of all the stati I don't allow myself, this one is the hardest. Like when I read a long exchange as to why people on welfare should not be drug tested. Then I get confused, like "aren't government employees subject to random drug tests?" and then "aren't poor people getting paid by the same people as government employees?" and then I realize I really need to HALT and get some drugs because luckily that is not part of my job requirements. Whew.

5. My job. I mean, I have a hard time understanding what I do half the time. There's really no way to boil that down and make it fun. So, in general, reading about people's jobs is never fun. That's what you have co-workers for. Shoo!

6. The super awesome expensive restaurant/exclusive tickets/luxurious vacation you just enjoyed (or, in sadder cases, took a break from enjoying to post about on facebook). Is there any way in the world that advertising your luck is not objectively obnoxious?

Of course, by now you might've guessed I allow about 9 people on my live feed. This has become rather useful as I now spend approximately 1/8th the time on facebook. That is, only about 2 hours a day. Trying to come up with an awesome status that doesn't fall under my self-imposed no-nos, that people will still "like."

It's tough.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Book Report

White Teeth
by Zadie Smith

On my first visit to London, back in 2002, I remember standing in the middle of Piccadilly wandering almost out loud, "where are all the ENGLISH people?" Alas, years of late night BBC comedy grace of the local PBS station had left me thinking I would be entering merry old England among a sea of white faces as frank and gawky as my own, and afternoon tea with the Queen would just be a given. Of course, I did eventually find the "English" London - my friends yuppified in Chelsea and I visited again and again. New Year's on the top of a building watching the fireworks over Parliament and the Eye, clubs in Soho guessing businessmen's wives' nationalities for drinks, shopping in King's Cross and fending off eager suitors in Hyde Park. London's a place of odd coincidence, where you run into an old lover at the V&A, and another at Heathrow, and then a friend at Scruffy Murphy's.

This book made me miss London, and although my last visit there - where I got chased out of the City of London Museum because the startstruck guards were dying to escort some minor TV celebrity through - convinced me perhaps it was not the City for Me, I'll always fondly think back to my point of readjusting and learning to relove what London is today, rather than what it was in all the books I pored over in high school.

Case in point. White Teeth's London is anything but white. Told with an ominiscient voice that goes in, out and around the characters like some hyped-up surveillance tool, White Teeth tells the story of two "immigrant" families and their intertwining lives as they try to live the Great English Dream, while longing for the old ways, home, the new ways, a second home, and just some general peace and quiet from what seems to be a neverending hubbub of enigmas coming from the mystery word "culture." Does one ever get to just leave it behind? Well, wouldn't that be nice - although Smith's answer is unambiguously, "nah."

Smith has written some of the best dialogue I've read in years - my one regret having been reading this with a bad cough that was provoked by the slightest chuckle. One hundred pages in, as Alsana is scolding her "Niece of Shame" for the twentieth time, I gave in to consumption. The book and its voices - especially as they center on and are dealt with by Irie Jones (by far my favorite character) displays the full tirade of human thought, emotion, prejudice, and well, whinery. If such is a word. All's mayhem no matter who you are. Settle while you can. ForeverMouse, anyone?

Taking place over the span of 25 years, Smith studies the family's children as they grow and turn their colorblind eyes on a London that isn't quite colorblind back. The book begins with the meeting of Archie Jones - a middle class white paper folding worker - and Clara - the daughter of a Jamaican Jehovah's witness. We also meet Archie's best mate, Samad Iqbal, a Bangladeshi who served with Archie in WWII, and his new, much younger wife, Alsana. The novel mainly follows the lives of the Jones' daughter Irie and the Iqbals' twin sons, Magid and Millat as they begin to follow the paths they feel are mapped out for them, but Smith is deft in loading on the fringe characters (some with just one fitting cameo), who provide everything from laughs to glimpses at the darker side of the human nature slithering under the rattle of the chaos and man smells above.

I haven't enjoyed or been haunted by a book so much in awhile. So much so, that it's impossible to simply sum up. Instead, pick it up. And if you can, do so while eating a samosa with some tea on the District Line at 8:30 am. No chance? There's too much to see and hear? That's exactly what Smith caught, just for the enjoyment in your own home. Lucky you.

Five stars.


"I took the stars from our eyes, and then I made a map
And knew that somehow I could find my way back
Then I heard your heart beating, you were in the darkness too
So I stayed in the darkness with you"


"I never said 'I want to be alone.' I only said 'I want to be let alone.' There is all the difference."

-Greta Garbo

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rip Van Winkle

I am still emerging from what has been an soul-searching week. In other words, I got knocked on my ass by the flu and began an intensive rite of passage involving a couple of bottles of Nyquil my hapless and beautiful friend picked up for me after I finally cracked down and begged - my normal H-to-the-third cure-all of hot tea, hot sauce and hot baths having been abandoned for the more sordid side of the currently available public health care system.

It is really surprising how much has happened in the five days that I have not emerged from my cave. I just garnered the following in a text message exchange with a mate from an hour ago:

Him: Here's to Duke.

Me: What?

Here is what has happened to the world as we know it since your hibernation began .... Duke won. They beat up on NC state pretty bad last night. Oprah ran for president. A healthcare bill has been passed, repealed, passed again, repealed again, passed again, and then shot down by Oprah, our new president. I became the next CEO of Chase only to lose my job and 5 billion of Chase's dollars when I did a now famous "fee reversal" day. I currently run a goat farm and play sitar. Let's get married now, because your eggs are definitely getting stale.

I'm totally gonna call that sucker back one of these days. He's funny, and totally knows how this new world order that has occurred in my absence works. Hopefully he can bring me more of the green stuff, so I can get back to writing. And what should I write about?

1. Asthma

I find out I had asthma this morning. That's right, I have been officially asthmatic for 8 whole hours now. I even have an inhaler. The whole thing is really blowing my mind, but places on the x-ray in my doc's office were "indicated" and reluctantly I had to accept that maybe New Orleans has affected my lungs like every other white girl I know. Every other annoying white girl talking about mold, allergies, dust who I secretly think gave me asthma. Sure, I've been having a hard time breathing for a long time, even during stupid light activities like "downward dog." But I just assumed that was because I smoke a lot. In fact, I think this is just my doctor's way to try to get me to quit. She wishes.

Her: So, you're just going to hold the medication in your lungs. Not too long, but until you feel it working. Think you can do it?

Me: Sure. It's like a bong hit, right?

Her: ...

2. Coyotes

I do not miss living in North Carolina even the smallest bit. I've left behind the disgust I used to feel for my hometown and the peeps in it, which I've come to recognize as just my inability to get my head around how suffocated I felt by the clash of all of my big crazy silly impossible ideas with a culture that mainly revolves around light reality television and lethal amounts of carbs. They're good people in Concord / Mt. Pleasant, they really are. I love my old high school friends. But every once in awhile something flashes up on the facebook feed that is so absolutely panicky insane that I start reaching for SOMETHING to inhale.

Recent example:

Okay Mt. Pleasant, the coyotes are running in packs. Giving everyone a heads up....WATCH YOUR CHILDREN AND HAVE GUNS READY!!!!!!

Okay, fair enough. To give you some context, my friend's dog got attacked by coyotes, and yes, I would've been upset as well. I'm sure it was the way I felt when a friend of mine down here told me he will never hunt with his dogs until a frost is close since he lost one to a gator during a duck hunt. But still, the mounting hysteria freakout kind of reminded me of why I never really fit into North Carolina rural life.

It started with a bloody picture of her dog, with this text:

He's been good at keeping the coyotes away for years, but like I said....they're in packs!

Then accelerated into:

Innocent third party: what coyotes?

Less innocent third party: Yes, They have visited us a few times. After my chickens and turkeys. They are coming out in the daylight. Most wait till night fall. So they are searching for food. Its wise for anyone in Mt Pleasant to watch their babies. They have been known to attack children. Thanks for telling everyone. Keep safe. If you need help. Let me know. Love ya

My friend: He has a drain on the left leg and a good many stitches. He will be remaining inside for the next two weeks...even though he would love to be outside. He has bites over all extremities...there was more than one. I just hope at least one is as he is or worse!

Innocent third party: That is scary!!!!

My friend:
It is!!!! I did not enjoy having to take him out last night! We're hunting this weekend....there's just too many of them now!!! We gave to get them!

And then, up to the eerily Palin-like styling of the "keep your children indoors and your guns cocked" message.

Alright, I love my friend. And I honestly have nothing against her hunting coyotes, be they lone or in packs. I just think what got my goose was the absolute anger and indignation that THESE CREATURES - the same that now have to pick their living off of us because we've driven them from every place where they could do it as they were intended - DARED to hurt or take take something of hers. Friend, it's not really that they're trying to be impolite. They're just trying to survive the same way as you, me, the dog, the chickens, your tasty kids. Let's leave it at that and try not to add to yet another reason for the country to get up and to arms.

Which leads me to a tired attempt at political thought in general:


Calm the Fuck Down. Seriously, take a chill pill. This whole country churns on artificial hype and hysteria from all directions, and I for one am goddamn sick of it. And trust me, when the drama vortex of the universe is telling you that you might be overreacting a little bit, you might want to sit down and chew on that one before stirring people toward their weapons for any reason.

3. Romance

So, I let a boy sleep over last weekend - incidentally the night before I was to become flued and five days later tragically diagnosed as asthmatic. And really, I know I am suffering because we were smoking his cigarettes, which are "safety-stopped" (I infer, laced with asbestos) to go out if you don't take a drag in 20 seconds because he is a tugboat captain who spends a week on / week off his boat. Which is how he ended up sleeping over, because he started falling asleep at the bar that was 3 blocks from my house and I was afraid he'd never make it back to Mid-City.

It was a very odd thing having an unrelated male in the place again. In fact, I couldn't get used to it at all, and ended up falling asleep on my sofa because the bed just didn't seem quite big enough yet. About a couple of hours later I was awoken by someone calling out my name. That someone being my hapless sailor whose sock feet had marooned themselves in an island of shit that my dogs had apparently been saving to plant outside my bedroom door in a rare gesture of pontification. The pontifying being, of course: "we like her better single, buddy."

I still don't know if I'm over that one.