Friday, August 31, 2007

Evidently Casual Friday Is Now Kind-of-Freak-Me-Out Friday

Our Vice President of Business Services is wearing a Marilyn Manson t-shirt.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Yay Boobies!

The best thing about getting kind of chubby is the bonus boobies. When I was skinny, I was skinny all over, but now I can actually put those bras I've been buying all my life to good use.

Unfortunately, I've had a conflicted relationship with cleavage. As a feminist, I want to reject everything that sets women apart as sexual objects, especially in the workplace. After all, it would be considered weird and absurd for a man working in an office setting to show his bare legs or arms or chest. So why is it normal for women's professional clothing to reveal so much of our bodies?

But, my breasts are nice. I like them. I want to enjoy the way they look, and everyone else can just stuff it. Why should this feel like a violation of my principals, dammit?

However, I don't want anyone feeling entitled to objectify me or judge me sexually because some percentage of my breasts are visible.

On the other hand, women's bodies shouldn't be shameful or strange. We're half the population for goodness gracious. It hardly seems like a feminist position to hide my femaleness for the very sake of it being female.

Is this what the saying, "The personal is the political," means? Does my choice of shirt really have wide societal implications?

However, here's where I get to relax and get over it. I work in an office of all women. The vast majority of our clients are women. My breasts don't solidify my station as a decorative object in the workplace or make me seem more frivolous than my professional male counterparts. I don't have any professional male counterparts. Everybody here has boobs. In this space I can stop considering the ramifications of my mammary tissue. They can just be body parts, like my nose or my hands.

Please understand how privileged I feel that I am worrying about the neckline of my shirt and not being beaten by my husband behind closed doors or having sexual favors extorted from me by my boss or being raped and mutilated by government forces while collecting firewood outside of my village. But, I also feel privileged that I can go to work every day in a place where my body parts are nothing more than that, and it's sad for that to seem like a privilege. Why can't I feel confident that we all can expect that without any second thought?

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Mysteries of Brain Chemistry

I've been having these amazing, complicated, vivid dreams lately. Last night, I dreamed about infiltrating a mafia family by going undercover as a dance hall girl. Of course, all the mobsters had mobster names, like Fat Tony and Louie the Mouth. But my subconscious managed to come up with the very best, most bizarre gangster name ever: No-good Schadenfreude.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Random Photo Friday: Junior High Edition

Meet 1st period girls' P.E. on the last day of 7th grade, May 1990.*

The next picture was not randomly selected, but I dug it up so you could see exactly what I'm wearing in the photo above. How AWESOME are those pants?

7th grade was a really hard time for me. My family had moved the summer before, and the new school district wouldn't accept my test results to place me into honor's classes. I was stuck in (gasp!) ~regular~ classes with ~regular~ kids.

My social skills among the un-dorky were rather lacking, so I ended up way overcompensating. I argued with my teachers, purposely flunked tests, snuck out in the middle of the night, and stole cigarettes and booze from my parents. I wasn't very smart about it, however. One day after school my friend and I got passing out, puking on ourselves drunk after school before our parents came home. I'm not sure how I thought we were going to get away with that one. Of course there were a lot of other shenanigans I did get away with, most of which involved getting drunk and wandering around the neighborhood at night.

By the time 8th grade rolled around, I'd straightened myself out. I think I just got it out of my system. My whole life I had been a pretty uptight, type-A kid who never, ever got in trouble. It turned out that being bad got boring and wasn't worth the hassle. I credit my parents for not making too big a deal out of my sudden rebellion. If they stirred up a bunch of drama about my behavior, it probably would only have made things worse. Luckily, deep down, I was just a normal, boring, straight A student.

It wasn't until college that I discovered I could be a goofy, drunk-ass, straight A student.

Ah, good times...

*I planned to anonymize any people who showed up in my random photo selections, but in this case it seems like a little much. So, if you recognize yourself in this picture and want me to take it down, feel free to email me. I doubt that's going to happen considering approximately 10 people read this blog and I probably know them all personally.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I Nearly Had My Big Break

My fifteen minutes of fame will have to wait. All week a local television news reporter has been scheduling and rescheduling an interview with me about one of the programs at the nonprofit where I work. It was finally set for this afternoon, but about twenty minutes before our meeting, she canceled. The story will still be on the news, which will be good publicity for our agency, but they decided to just interview one of our clients and not me.

I'm mostly relieved, but a little disappointed, too. The idea of being on TV gave me a stomach ache and sweaty palms, but I thought it also might be a fun experience.

After my confrontation with serious anxiety, this is how I know I'm back to my normal self. Even if something makes me half sick with nerves, I still feel like I'm up to the challenge. There's a misconception out there that anti-depressant/anxiety medication dulls people's real emotions, turning them into mindless, grinning zombies. But, I'm finding that I feel like myself again. The prospect of a news interview still made me nervous enough to be nauseous, but I could overcome it.

Several months ago, I would have called in sick everyday until the news reporter quit calling me because I would have been literally incapable of facing the physically gripping terror that kind of stress would cause. Sometimes I think it's worth it to feel really bad for a while, so I can remember to appreciate it when I feel good again.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


After my doctor appointment earlier this week, I'm pretty sure "HYPOCHONDRIAC" is scrawled all over my medical records because of this one physician's assistant who thinks I'm crazy. Let's call her Physician's Assistant Who Thinks I'm Crazy, or PAWTIC for short.

I've been seeing this doctor for several years now, mostly for my yearly check-up, but from time to time I get sick and she fixes me up. I've had bronchitis and a bladder infection and a few other minor things over the years. Generally I go to the office, the doctor tells me what's wrong, and she writes a prescription for whatever will solve my problem.

Except, when I'm unfortunate enough to get an appointment with PAWTIC. No matter how bad I feel and how many tests she runs, there's never anything wrong with me according to her.

The first time, I didn't think too much about it. I was complaining of a sharp stomach pain that would come and go. I had already been diagnosed with irritable bowel, but this hurt worse than usual, so I didn't want to ignore it and end up dying of an aneurysm even though I was pretty sure they would tell me it was nothing to worry about and send me on my way. However, after poking my guts and asking me some questions, PAWTIC decided to send me for a CT scan. Of course the results were fine, but that just verified what I had assumed all along.

Maybe a year or so later, I started having shortness of breath. My childhood asthma flairs up sometimes when my allergies get bad, so I made an appointment for a breathing treatment. But, after the treatment I still had trouble breathing, and I started freaking out a little bit. PAWTIC measured my oxygen levels and air flow and told me I was breathing plenty, so there was nothing she could do for me. This is when I started to notice a skeptical look passing over her face, and I thought it looked familiar from the time she told me my CT scan was clear.

Looking back, maybe I was a little crazy and suffering from not-yet-diagnosed anxiety which was causing my chest to feel tight. However, instead of telling me I wasn't having trouble breathing despite my insistence otherwise, PAWTIC could have - I don't know - tried to figure out what my problem was. But I'm not bitter.

I didn't see her again for a few years since I was staying basically healthy and she went away to have a baby - that is until earlier this week. I made an appointment because I was feeling a little "feminine discomfort" (and yes, that is as specific as I'll get). The doctor wasn't available on short notice, so I got stuck with PAWTIC. She prodded and jabbed my nether regions and proclaimed I was perfectly fine with an unspoken "except that you're a pathetic attention seeker" in her voice. Of course I didn't want something to be wrong with me, but just once I'd like her to have to admit I have a legitimate medical complaint.

I'm thinking about giving myself food poisoning just so I can show up and puke on her.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Anger Management Problem

I'm really mad at a friend of mine right now because of an imaginary conversation we had in my head.

I'm also angry with the realtor who sold us our house on account of a dream I had.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I [Heart] The Internet

Sometimes at work when I'm really bored or stressed, I'll take a little break by doing a Google image search for "puppies" or "kittens" and spend a few minutes blissed out on fuzzy, cute baby animals. (You'll probably want to turn SafeSearch on or your first hit will be a lady with her big ol' boobs painted to look like puppies, which is fine if you're into that kind of thing, but I don't find it very cute.)

Anyway, one of these searches led me to this excellent website, and the answer is, "No, I did not know that Jesus had a puppy. I also didn't know that thing about the rabbit. Thanks for spreading the word, Internet."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Random Photo Friday - Gardening Edition

It came as quite a surprise to me that I have an entire folder on my computer devoted to pictures of tomatoes from November 2005 - mostly courtesy of The Husband, I suspect. He has instilled in me an appreciation for botanical photography that was previously lacking.

We were 2/3 successful in 2005 in our tomato-growing efforts. Of two of our three bushes produced prodigiously, and yummily may I add. Sometimes I would stand in the yard, picking tomatoes right off the vine and popping them in my mouth because there's nothing better than a perfectly ripe tomato still warm from the sun.

The singular spicy green earthy scent of the tomato plants would transport me back twenty years to when my grandmother was still strong and blessed with the greenest thumb I've ever seen. Because of her efforts I've known the pleasure of eating tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, green beans, and even peanuts fresh from the garden.

Now that my grandmother is frail and forgetful, she can't grow her vegetables any more. My parents have moved into the small cottage next to the garden plot to watch after her, and they've cleared out the dead stalks and vines to plant a butterfly garden - a peaceful place to sit and be still rather than to stoop and bend and weed and harvest.

If my grandmother showed me the rewards of coaxing and cultivating nature, my parents were instrumental in teaching me the pleasures of watching and understanding. We spent most of the vacations of my childhood camping. (We were too poor to afford much of anything else.) We would walk in the woods talking about different kinds of birds and flowers and berries and paddle canoes finding alligators and trees felled by beavers.

Little by little, however, I've let myself spend way too many hours in front of the television and the computer screen. The longer I let it go on, the less energy or motivation I have to tear myself away. At this point I'm tempted to make a dramatic gesture to reacquaint myself with the outside world, like quitting my job and setting up a yurt on the steppes of Mongolia or something, but that'll have to wait until it stops being so damn hot outside.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Another Thing That is Awesome

I feel silly for being this enthusiastic about a cleaning product, but the Scrubbing Bubbles® Automatic Shower Cleaner* is totally awesome!

We have been in our house for almost three months now and have never cleaned the shower, but it is still as fresh and sparkling as the day we moved in. All we have to do is push a button when we're done in the shower, and so far it looks like we'll never have to scrub it again. I tried the product in a spray bottle, but I am too lazy to squirt it by hand every day, so it never worked, and the shower got grody. That's how lazy I am, and I can still manage to keep my shower clean with the Scrubbing Bubbles® Automatic Shower Cleaner.

However, what is not awesome is the website for this product. When it loads up all these cheerful looking women in maids' uniforms pop out of the box and start scrubbing their cheerful little hearts out. What was wrong with the non-gendered Scrubbing Bubbles - after whom the product is named? Why does the product have to be compared to women on their knees?

Scrubbing Bubbles® Automatic Shower Cleaner: it's like domestic servitude in a box!

*I pledge that I have received no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for the product review I make in this post, and will not receive any such compensation within one year after this post, and that this pledge is a contract between myself and all readers, such that any reader(s) who can prove in a US court that I am in breach of the pledge is entitled to $10,000 US in damages from me, at which point the contract is void and no other parties have standing, which limits my liability to $10,000 total. (Non-Endorsement Contract lifted from Brainhell.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Simpsons Movie: Zombie-free!

My risky decision to take my life into my own hands and go to the movies didn't result in any zombifications or other negative effects. In fact, I enjoyed The Simpsons Movie quite thoroughly.

Right about here I realized I have no idea how to write a movie review.

Anyway, I thought it was a good movie, which was more expansive than a TV episode with more impressive animation. It included some moments that were so much cruder than what they could get away with on television they made my jaw drop before I burst out laughing. The plot is much more linear than a TV episode, with foreshadowing in the very beginning about what actually ends up happening, which was OK because the foreshadowing involved an old guy totally losing his shit.

Also, there were Sour Patch Kids and Diet Coke, so, you know, it was great.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What I Learned Today

These barrel-looking things that I saw at some of the Japanese shrines actually are barrels full of sake left as an offering to the gods. Thanks, Google!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

No Wonder I'm on Medication

As a financially secure, well-fed member of the middle class, my brain expends a lot of energy trying to come up with things to worry about. One of the more original problems it has invented, is the inability to go watch a movie without much stress and hand-wringing. After all, something might go horribly, horribly wrong!

1. The movie might be sold out when I get there, and I might (gasp!) have to change my plans at the last minute.

2. I might get there too early and be bored.

3. I might get there too late and have to find a seat in the dark.

4. The only available seats might be too close to the screen.

5. I might have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the movie and miss something important.

6. Fear of missing something important will keep me from going to the bathroom when I need to and I'll be miserable the whole time.

7. Upon leaving the movie theater, I might go out the wrong door and find myself in a scary dark alley. And, just as I realize my mistake and turn to go back in, the door, "click," locks behind me. Then gangs of hoodlums and vampires attack me and turn me into a zombie.

I know I really shouldn't minimize these extremely important movie-going concerns (well, maybe I should try to minimize that last part), but SERIOUSLY, BRAIN, IT WOULD BE NICE TO JUST GO TO THE DAMN MOVIES LIKE A DAMN NORMAL PERSON FOR ONCE.


However, I am sucking it up and going to see The Simpsons Movie with the lovely and talented FictionFiend in about 15 minutes. This is the first movie I have gone to see in months, and I'm really looking forward to it. In fact, I don't even remember the last time I went to the theater, and neither does The Husband. I'll let you know how it goes - that is unless zombies don't know how to use the internet.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Introducing Random Photo Friday

Don't ask me where this goofy idea came from, but I've decided that I will post a photo from my albums chosen by a complicated system involving a random number generator each Friday and reminisce a little bit.

This picture certainly isn't the most exciting, but it brings up great memories. It's some Indian ruins in the Painted Desert of Arizona taken in May 1997.

At the end of my sophomore year in college, I broke up with my "fiance." I put that in quotes because I never intended to marry him, but that's a different story. To clear my head of the weirdness of our relationship and the stress of leaving, I decided to take a road trip and get far away from the whole situation.

Except for some periods of adolescent difficulty on my part, I've always had a good relationship with my parents. I was telling them about my plans to skip town for a while, and my mom mentioned how much she'd like to run off, too, so I invited her along. We had such a blast. That was 10 years ago, and we still talk about how great that trip was.

We set out to the west of Dallas, and spent some time with my uncle in Cuidad Juarez. Then we moseyed through southern New Mexico and Arizona, ending up in San Diego. After that, we headed up the Pacific coast to see my aunt in San Francisco, and then made our way back south, stopping at the Sequoia forest, the Grand Canyon, and other random sights along the way.

By the time we made it to the Painted Desert in Arizona, we were both tired and starting to wear on each other a little bit. We would have these pissy little arguments and then end up giggling about how annoying we both were.

That trip with my mom was the perfect way to reconnect with myself and what was real in my life after leaving a relationship based on so many misunderstandings and disappointments.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tidbits of Tokyo

Here are some of the random little things I snapped pictures of because I thought they were interesting or funny, but didn't really fit into posts about sightseeing.

1. Most restaurants have extraordinarily realistic plastics replicas of the food they serve displayed out front. It comes in very handy when trying to decide where to eat and the menus, and even the names of the restaurants, are indecipherable to an ignorant monolingual such as myself.

2. These scary-ass ravens are all over the city in all the parks screaming their scary-ass heads off.

3. One can purchase some very specific divine assistance at some of the temples.

4. The subway station near our hotel occasionally turned on a bunch of black lights to reveal constellations painted on the ceiling. Trippy.

5. These funny little frogs were perched on top of a police station in Ginza. I have no idea why.

6. For some reason one of the super-mega-tron T.V. screens was broadcasting a giant squirrel on a crowded intersection.

7. These toys were left on a grave site at one of the temples I visited. Not so much funny or interesting as really depressing.

8. Dogs are not allowed to shit in cemeteries.

9. Yes, love is warm and friendly, but clean and handy?

10. My favorite Japanese snack.

11. Oh, please do tell me how to sex.

12. Many various toileting options are available. This is just the lame-ass model from our hotel room. At one restaurant the toilet offered a special lady-parts washing feature and a button that mimicked the sound of flushing, as well as many other buttons that only had Japanese written on them and no handy pictures.

13. I had no idea that "zen" is a verb, but I'm not about to argue with the Japanese about it.

Chasing Chimichangas

I have been on a quest for several years now to eat Tex-Mex food in as many places around the world as possible. So far, I've found it in Prague, Finland, Rome, Paris, Oxford, and on a cruise ship sailing Alaska's inside passage. The chance to eat Tex-Mex in Tokyo was positively titillating. One of my guidebooks actually featured "Rosita," a great place to grab a taco in Tokyo.

Another fact my guidebooks featured is that Tokyo does not have a system of addresses anything like the U.S. Most of the streets do not have names at all. Buildings are numbered in the order they were built, not in order down the street. What addresses are provided merely narrow the location down to a few blocks in a certain neighborhood. Even taxi drivers generally can't locate your destination unless you can show it to them clearly marked on a map.

This is all to say that despite an hour or more of searching with three of The Husband's coworkers, we could not find Rosita and ended up eating Indian food instead.

However, I was not daunted, and The Husband and I returned a few nights later armed with additional information such as the name of the building where Rosita was situated. Notice I said "was." After a quick and efficient search of the correct neighborhood, we spotted a sign for "Rosita - Mexican Food." Success! Optimistically we headed down the stairs, but were soon informed in halting English that Rosita is closed. I hid it well, but I was crushed.

I did have some information on another Mexican restaurant, but it was in a completely different part of town, and we didn't have hours to spend scouting out a new neighborhood to decipher the totally inadequate "address" I had. In defeat, we decided to eat at Shakey's Pizza.

It appeared that all was not lost because Shakey's featured "Mexican Nacho Chips" on the menu. "Good enough!" I declared. Behold, the "Mexican Nacho Chips:"

Those are actually Cool Ranch Doritos. Seriously. Cool Ranch Doritos.

Regardless of my nacho-related disappointment, I enjoyed my "Fisherman" pizza topped with shrimp, smoked salmon, tuna, and squid. The Husband thought he was playing it safe ordering a tomato and basil pizza, but they sneaked some anchovies on there, too. Those darn Japanese - so weird.

Monday, August 06, 2007

More! Photos!

On Friday the Husband was off work and got to go sight-seeing with me. In the morning, we went to the Shinguku Gyoen National Garden.

In the afternoon we went to the Meiji Jingu Temple. (Temples and shrines on a trip to Japan seem to be the equivalent to castles and cathedrals in Europe.)

I saw these decorated barrel-looking things at a couple of temples. The explanatory sign was only in Japanese. Anybody know what they are, or at least what they're called?

I Gotta be at Work in Less Than Eight Hours

The Husband and I got home late Saturday evening and spent a couple of hours watching Reno 911 and eating take-out from Picasso's. I would like to offer in the first of a series of "Things That Are Awesome" Picasso's Pizza & Grill. If you live in Addison or East Dallas and you like good food, but hate to cook, call Picasso's. They have delicious salads, pasta, pizza, burgers, seafood, steak - all sorts of yummy stuff - and they bring it to your house. Check it out.

Anyway - I had a terrible problem caused by the plane trip each way to Tokyo. My ankles swelled up to at least twice their normal size. On the way there, I think I got up once during the whole 10-hour flight, so I figured that my ankle deformity was caused by inactivity. But, on the way back, I did everything I could think of to avoid the disgustingness. Actually, it looked gross, but it also really hurt. My skin felt like it would split, and my whole legs were swollen and stiff.

On the trip back I got up several times and did exercises and stretches in the aisle. I would even go into the bathroom and sit on the toilet lid and prop my feet up against the wall to elevate them above my head for a couple of minutes at a time. But when I got home my ankles were as big around as my knees. I've flown non-stop to Europe before and never had this issue, but just an hour or two into the flight home from Tokyo I could feel my ankles getting stiff and swollen. Very gross.

Anyway - I didn't get up until 4 p.m. on Sunday. I was just so comfortable that I couldn't drag myself out of bed. Second in my series of "Things That Are Awesome" is the Memory Foam 2-inch Mattress Topper. They also make a 4-inch version, but I don't think I'd ever - and I mean ever - make it out of bed if we had the 4-inch version. Seriously, if you like lying in bed at all, run out and buy this thing. Total heaven!

Anyway - I've been reading blogs and watching TV all evening, and I'm not the least bit sleepy even though I have to be up in five hours. In an effort to sedate myself I've had an entire bottle of Pinot Grigio by Zenato (also awesome, by the way - $11.99 at Central Market). 6 a.m. is going to come awfully early.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Thursday in Tokyo

On Thursday, I tried heading off the beaten tourism path to visit Yanaka. Many of Tokyo's shrines and temples were relocated to this area a few centuries ago because of the fire hazard the thatched roofs of the temples posed. Back then Yanaka was on the outskirts of the city, but now it's a residential area of Tokyo.

I was following a walking tour in one of my guidebooks that pointed out the different sights and provided some historical and cultural background. As I walked from one point of interest to the next, I would pass two or three other shrines, temples, or pagodas that weren't even mentioned. The whole neighborhood is chock full of small religious sites.

There aren't any major tourist attractions or businesses in Yanaka. It mostly consists of small homes and stores on tiny alleyways giving it a much different feel from other areas of Tokyo I visited. There aren't any neon signs or high-rises or expressways, so despite the fact the heat and humidity were hellish, the morning I spent in Yanaka was really relaxing and pleasant. Here are some of the highlights.

Daienji Temple

These picket-fence looking things with writing all over them are in all the graveyards. Does anyone know what they are?

Choanji Temple

Kannoji Temple

Also in the Yanaka neighborhood is the home and studio of the sculptor Fumio Asakura, which has been opened as a museum. It was the only place in Tokyo where I was required to take off my shoes to enter. Kindly, they provided green rubber slippers with the price of admission. Photography wasn't allowed, but this is one of his sculptures in front of the museum.

I lifted this photo of the interior off the internet.

Also stolen from the internet, this is a picture of one of his many cat sculptures. There was a whole room full of kitty statues.

Tennoji Temple

In the afternoon, I had planned to go to some other temple or park or something, but the humidity was killing my will to live. But, suddenly, I had the bright idea to go to the Tokyo National Museum. Indoors! Air conditioning! Sheer, unmitigated genius that brainstorm was. It was everything I hoped it would be - cool, shady, full of beautiful cultural artifacts. And! Photography was allowed.