Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

1. Eat healthier.

2. Sign up for salsa dancing classes.

3. Don't call ex-husband.

4. Spend more time with the cat.

5. If you do call ex-husband, don't beg. Don't beg.

6. Spend more time outdoors.

7. Volunteer.

8. Accept that ex-husband has moved on. Don't embezzle from the cash box to buy him a $800 Tissot watch with your face emblazoned on it.

9. Smile more.

10. Take more photos.

11. If you do embezzle from the cash box, make sure you adjust the books in some way, to prevent it being obvious that somebody embezzled. Don't borrow the company card.

12. Treat the cat to wet food twice a month.

13. If you do borrow the company card, don't buy the BMW convertible your ex-husband briefly admired the time you walked past the dealership. Don't park it in his driveway. Don't emblazon your face on it.

14. Be more confident. Have better self-esteem. Therapy?

15. Write a list of things you want that are not your ex-husband. Try to acquire some of those things.

16. Try to learn a new fact every day.

17. If you do buy the BMW, adjust the books in some way afterward. Don't just leave the books.

18. Don't just leave the books.

19. Travel to a place you've never been before.

20. Re-connect with an old friend.

21. Don't get fired. Don't get charged with grand larceny.

22. Take a cooking course.

23. If you have no money after paying off your company to get them to drop charges, make sure you secure a loan so your house is not in danger of being repossessed.

24. Find joy in the little things.

25. Try Indian food.

26. If your house is repossessed, don't break into your ex-husband's new house. Don't rationalize that you have nowhere left to go. Countless friends and relatives have offered their homes to you. Breaking into your ex-husband's house is and always will be unnecessary.

27. Join a book club.

28. If you do break into your ex-husband's house, don't emblazon your face on your ex-husband's rec room wall. Don't emblazon it again on his bedroom ceiling. Don't emblazon it on his new girlfriend, even if it's just with a Sharpie.

29. Don't emblazon your face on things.

30. Don't get charged with breaking and entering or assault. Don't get charged with resisting police officers. Don't get multiple restraining orders filed against you.

32. Learn Spanish.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Revelatory Sunday Morning Trip to Family Dollar

1. Obviously, Family Dollar is packed with toys this month. They are toys of the true dollar store variety, and thus far more bizarre. Why is it that a more generic toy almost always ends up being a weirder toy? I'm not freaked out by dolls that resemble celebrities - which theoretically should be much more unnerving - but I am freaked out by a doll that just looks like a normal kid and says, when I squeeze its hand, "Let's go to the park" because that's a normal-kid-doll thing to say. But it makes me feel weird. I don't know why this kid wants me to go to the park with her. What's her angle?

Likewise, I'm not freaked out by the fake instruments that go with Garage Band - again, theoretically this should be entire elaborate fake band, marketed heavily to adults? - but I am freaked out by those little toy guitars with big, plastic buttons instead of frets and that's it, that's their thing; that's their stand-alone promise of fun. Press these buttons, notes will come out, and it'll be fun. You'll be having fun when you do it. Also, this toy guitar is shiny, and the kind of silvery blue that could make it an acceptable toy for a girl or a boy. And it's just like, what's this guitar's angle?

I guess in general it's the lack of angles that unsettles me. You can't make a shape without angles. OMFG, THAT IS SO DEEP.

2. Also, the "Try Me" labels on the toy boxes seemed a little more aggressive today. I've always read them in the way I believe they are intended to be read, as an invitation: "Try Me!", as in "Give this a shot!" as in "Discover what I have to offer you!". Acceptance, inclusion, security.

Today I read them as a challenge, as a call to battle, as in, "Oh yeah? Try me", as in "I can take you", as in "Motherfuckin' TRY me". Conflict, disruption, violence.

3. Men modeling underwear never seem to be having as much fun as women modeling underwear. The potential for a pillow fight is just much lower, and you have to admit, it seems like men have a harder time really selling that they're genuinely jazzed about hanging around in only boxer/briefs. I'm not saying REAL men aren't as jazzed to hang out in their underwear as REAL women: there is abundant evidence to support that both genders are equally inclined to sincerely enjoy it. But men have a tougher time pulling it off in pictures, of truly expressing the rare pleasure of being only in your underwear. Sometimes, though, you do come across a male model who genuinely looks like, "oh hey, you just caught me hanging around in my underwear, having all kinds of fun, all of which derives from this underwear I have on". I didn't see any today, but I've seen it. For some reason, I feel like it's something that's likely to happen at the Gap.

4. Cops came into the store while I was in line. They were wearing Cop Face, that expression of pure non-expression that must be pretty essential to master for their job. It's an expression of "nothing can faze me; I have never been fazed; the mere idea of being fazed right now is totally ludicrous". And yet it makes them look so extraordinarily vulnerable because it's an obviously fabricated expression. Nobody naturally wears Cop Face; I've never seen anybody slip into an expression that's based on being aggressively unsurprised by the world, and so you know they're acting. And whenever somebody's obviously acting, it's just an explosion of implied vulnerabilities because there's no reason for you to act if you are comfortable. The point is: Cop Face. It fazes me.

5. I was in the line for a long time. This was because the girls ahead of me were paying with rolls of pennies, and the clerk was counting every penny, and the girls owed Family Dollar $4.37 which means counting 437 pennies and also, there ended up being some kind of dispute because the girls apparently owed $2.50 after they added some wrapping paper in the middle of the transaction, but they argued that they had given the requisite 250 pennies to cover all of this.

THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT THIS, THOUGH, is that I definitely read the word "pennies" as "penises". Even though it was a roll of small, flat, round pieces of copper, with Lincoln's profile on one side and his memorial on the other, my brain said "THAT WORD IS PENISES". PENISES, enclosed. And I admit that this is somewhat telling, and that I do spend a lot of time thinking about penises, that they are fascinating for a wide variety of reasons from the most obviously sexual to how truly crazy-looking yet simultaneously functional-looking they are, to the complicated feelings myself and many women have regarding this whole issue of not, well, having one. Basically, there's bound to be real world consequences for all of the momentous psychic energy I have invested in penis-thinking. And while seeing "penises" instead of "pennies" barely registers as weird - I acknowledge that it could be much, much worse; that Freud based an entire system of thought around the fact that is often much, much worse - it's always a little weird to see your penis-thoughts externalized in Family Dollar.

I just really hope I don't start reading the words "nickels", "dimes", or "quarters" as "penises".

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reflections on a Dragon Slain

As a result of my ongoing love affair with the Life Magazine digital photo archive, I bring you: Reflections on a Dragon Slain: French Child Edition.

These reflections are inspired by my favourite photo in the archive (so far). Behold:

This photo was taken in 1963 at the Parc de Montsouris in Paris, at the moment when a puppet-dragon was slain by a puppet-warrior in (cognitive leap!) a puppet show. It was obviously an awe-inspiring and emotionally weighty time in these childrens' lives. This is their story.

Part 1: Kid in Beret on Far Left

"No. No, no, no. No, I can't believe it. No, I mean I CAN'T believe it! I can NOT; I reject this information; this is IMPOSSIBLE information. THIS. DID. NOT. JUST. HAPPEN.

Oh, no, no, no, I do not even want to hear anything any more. I REFUSE TO HEAR ANY MORE THINGS! I have a message for all audible things in the world: just try to get through my hands to my ears. You will fail! I HAVE STOPPED HEARING ANY MORE THINGS BECAUSE I HEARD A THING JUST NOW THAT WAS COMPLETELY INCONCEIVABLE!

Listen now. That was a DRAGON. A DRAGON. A giant monster made of scales and wings and teeth and hot, hot, hot fire-breath. WHAT WE CALL A DRAGON. And it created MAYHEM. And CHAOS. And total HAVOC and MANIA. And that was a human. Brave, but human. With SOFT FLESH and BREAKABLE BONES and nothing but a SHARP METAL STICK and a HEAVY METAL SHIELD to protect him from an UNSTOPPABLE FORCE OF EVIL!


Stay tuned for more Reflections on a Dragon Slain: French Child Edition...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bowler Hat Madness!

I have been trolling through the new digital library of Life Magazine photographs a lot. A lot, a lot. A lot, all over the place. There are so many Life Magazine photographs! And so many of them have an awesome quotient that is almost obscenely high. This is one of my favourites so far:

That's not what you usually see a man in a bowler hat doing!