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May. 18th, 2007

The Best Wok

Earlier today, I was walking around feeling like an un-lucky person. Just when I had the thought, "Nothing ever goes right for me," I remembered that I am lucky. Sometimes. I'm not lucky in things like yahtzee or door prizes, but sometimes I happen to be in the right place at the right time.

The self-esteem restoring event happened this January. It was one of Great Falls's 228 frosty days and I decided to treat myself to The Best Wok for lunch. I had just a few minutes between rushing all across town to do a million things. I got my Kung Pao to go, and set the bag on top of my car to grab my keys out of my pocket. There were no keys in my pocket. And, of course, I wasn't wearing a coat. I walked around my car to make sure that, indeed, I was diligent in locking all of my doors. My cell phone gloated at my through the window, and there are no such things as pay phones these days. That's of course, even if I had any change. I racked my brain with solutions (quickly, so as not to draw attention to myself as the dope with to-go boxes, no coat, and locked out of her car). Finally, I decided I would walk the three blocks to Target, in the snow with my to-go boxes, buy a few things on my debit card, get cash back, ask for change, call my sister, make her leave work to pick me up, get my spare keys, then drop me off, so that I could get to work on time. But I hadn't made it two parking spaces from my car, when what do I see on the ground? (No, not my keys.) Lying there was an already stretched out wire hanger! It slipped down inside and *pop*, I was in.

That, my friends, is luck.

May. 17th, 2007

When Dinner is Holy

I had a weird cultural moment the other day.

At my house, we keep the bread on top of the microwave. A couple of days ago, I was surprised by two mysterious bread bags. For most appearances they looked just like regular plastic bread bags. Except one thing: their big bold letters reading POTTING SOIL. What? I suppose it is spring, and I guess my mother didn't have a better place to put her dirt. Whatever.

Then I overheard these potting soil bags were full of dinner rolls. I was downstairs by myself when I heard this, and I laughed out loud. "Who would put dinner rolls in a potting soil bag?"

Turns out my little sister bought these dinner rolls from a bunch of peddling Hutterites. Well, if anyone were to put dinner rolls in a potting soil bag, it would be a Hutterite.

Finally, I decided to have a dinner roll. They were freaking fantastic. But that's not the point. The bag was for Organic Potting Soil. The front had a big half-naked Indian chief with his arms raised out in a shamanistic blessing. Apparently, he wanted to share his fruitful and sacred land with the Hutterites.

I just hope the Hutterites paid a decent price for the Indian's land.

Apr. 18th, 2007

Alright, Fine

I'll update my journal. Gosh.

After some (very modest) scolding, I've decided to post on my LiveJournal. My friend said that perhaps my DNA was analog, and while that may be true, my blood is most definitely Lazy. That's all. Sometimes throughout the day I think, "Self, that would be a good thing to post on your LiveJournal." But it hasn't gotten to that point for quite sometime.

I spent most of my day singing "When you get married in June, you're a bride all your life" and wishing I were getting married in June. Maybe next June, or June 2015, it could happen.

A customer talked to me for over an hour today. About half it was welcomed, and the other half I spent hoping for a break in conversation so I could say, "well...." I found it interesting mostly, but I had other things to do. I should take a lesson in meanness or something. I think people just think that since the store appears to be "dead" that I don't have other things to do. But, ah, I do.

Well.... I'm going out of town this weekend for "the social event of the year", and I have to go pack.

Apr. 7th, 2007

To Ignore is a Choice

Montana's population is 7% native, and most live in or around my hometown. I work at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in the Portage Cache Store. We try really hard not to continue myths and historical inaccuracies, and, honestly, are a little snotty about what we stock. We don't sell shotglasses, magnets, or keychains.

The spring thaw is upon us, and the Canadians are making their flight away from the snow to our warmer climes. We were pretty busy this week, and a freakish amount of people asked me if we had "plastic kids headdresses". Why would we sell those? Those are, in my opinion, the most inappropriate, racial objects known to children's commerce. For example, let's think about the Village People: a police officer, a cowboy, a construction worker, a member of the military, a leatherman (biker), and an American Indian chief. All of those people (except the chief) are PROFESSIONS-- identities you can BECOME. It's inappropriate to support the idea that dressing as a chief (a sacred and regarded position) is a good costume or game. No doubt these children run around like savages with tomahawks killing somebody. Would you buy your child a hat like the Pope's and a rosary, so he could play communion and molest little boys? No, you wouldn't, because that's an out of control stereotype. Yet we support it in misunderstood cultures. And it vexes me.

We do, however, sell a lot of local native artwork. Today, a friendly cheapskate visited us. He asked me how much everything cost, and gave his opinion about it. Which is okay, I guess. However, upon seeing a buffalo drum, said to his wife, "Yes, Honey, it's real. They took the skin of an Indian and stretched out over the frame." What am I supposed to say about that? I wanted to punch his teeth out.

My last customer of the day was an old, unassuming Blackfoot (Siksika) from Southern Alberta. We had some language barriers at first, but he turned out to be the most pleasant customer all day. We talked a little about Sacagawea, a couple of the native artists we exhibit, and about the snow in Canada. He was one of those people I wish could be my friend, if circumstances allowed. The brief moments we talked brightened my entire day. Thinking about the earlier reactions to natives in relation to this kind man broke my heart.

Why do people insist on promulgating ideas that are (and always were) so deeply wrong? Why do we make rash judgments about entire groups of people we don't even know? Let's remember that most prejudice stems from Ignorance, and the root word of Ignorance is Ignore. To Ignore is a choice.

Apr. 3rd, 2007

Let Freedom Sizzle

I've recently discovered that the key to my being a "highly effective reader" is strictly environmental. Ie: either I need to be in bed, or not in my house at all. So, I've taken up residency at the bookstore's coffee shop. I convince myself it's almost like being social, but better. However, today I didn't get much reading done. My lovely sister bumped into me and decided to join my corner, but I couldn't stop talking. Then (5 pages later) I ran into my cool DJ friend, and we talked. When he walked away, a nearby thirty-something said, "Would you like to hear a piece of trivia?" (Which, in retrospect, may be the coolest pick-up line ever.) Then he and I talked for a good hour... about nothing in particular.

He turned out to be way more intelligent than his bad jeans and sneakers would imply, and we had a great conversation. We talked about comic book superheros, American politics, warfare, Russian thriftiness, food storage (really), debt and economic servitude, and intelligence. I think his quote of the night was "Americans sell their freedom for a cheeseburger."

The conversation lasted much longer than I thought it would, and, egotistically, I started to plan what I would say if he asked for my phone number. Those of you who know me, may know that I have extreme difficulty starting and ending conversations. I kept thinking, "how will this end? how will this end?" I started to imagine him slowly standing up, and then walking over to shake my hand. "Nice talking with you," I figured he'd say, and we'd exchange names and smiles. But that's not what happened at all. He was telling me about his thrifty Russian neighbors who spend the weekends fishing, and eat the fish with their families all week. One by one, he began picking up his books, and then, still talking, stood up. Then, still talking, he walked away.

I kind of feel like I had an intelligent conversation with the cosmos. Who was this man? And what is the world telling me?

Dude, Check It

Holy Schmoly, I just ran into the funniest stinkin' stuff on the entire internet. These are GI Joe PSAs from after-school specials in the 1980s that somebody dubbed over. It's totally random and stupid, but hillarious. Check it.









Apr. 2nd, 2007

The Lasso of Truth



Yesterday was April Fools and I JUST realized. That really bums me out. I probably wouldn't have done anything about it, but maybe make some terribly cheesy puns all day. But seriously, how sad.

While I was at the church yesterday, I ran into this super fun girlfriend. I went up to her and I said, "You better be visiting from out of town, because if you're living here, and you didn't tell me, I'm gonna kick your butt." She's been in my dreadfully live sucking town since December, and we could have been friends the entire time. I didn't kick her butt, because it was conference. (Had I known it was April Fools, things would have been different.) So we went on a hike along the Mighty Mo, from Rainbow Falls, past Crooked Falls, and then to Cochrane Dam, and back. I'd never been on this part of the river (because I have no friends, and I don't really want to be assaulted), and it turned out to be longer than we expected: seven miles. But we talked non-stop. WE, not just ME.

Then we went to her house and ate French Toast, and talked non-stop for another 7 hours. Like a full work day. Mostly I learned the ins and outs of DC Comics. It's not really "my thing", but it turns out its just an allegory for bigger things (like everything always is). But in my tutorial about Wonder Woman, we talked about everything. The most interesting is the unnecessary sexuality in the comic book industry (which lead me to explore other media), and how disgusting and degrading it really is. Only some of the artists portray the leading women characters as objectified sex slaves and ignorant ditzes (cough, Frank Miller). Others treat them like the SuperWomen they are. We talked about the Male Privilege, and how women are taught to think differently than men. It's not that all men "take advantage" of privileges, or "demand subservience", or whatever. It's just the way our society functions, and we continue to teach these ways: partially through comic books, but even more subtly at home and school. I was skeptical of all-things-feminist, until I read this checklist: http://www.unbeknownst.org/privilege.htm

So, I got home at 3:30 dead tired, and feeling like jello. But The King and I was on (and i've been wanting to watch it) so I stayed up until 4:15. The problem with staying up is I am strictly an eight-hour a night girl, unless you want me to go Wonder Woman on your butt. So, I slept until noon. Bad, very bad. But I have all these new enlightened thoughts and rampages running through my head, so it will be a very good (and very short) day.

Mar. 31st, 2007

A List

Reading: "The Zanzibar Chest" by Aidan Hartley (will finish tonight)
Watching: "Grey's Anatomy" I'm addicted.
Driving: Hit 137,000 miles on my Neon this week
Visiting: My visiting teachers are so great.
Eating: I gave up restaurants for Lent. But I accidentally went to *gulp* Golden Corral tonight with some visiting relatives. Not only did I break my Lent commitment, but I went to an establishment that openly supports gluttony. It's a good thing I'm not Catholic.
Drinking: Strangely, that fizzy water stuff.
Listening To: AfroPop Worldwide
Working On: My Last Semester of school before Student Teaching
Needing to Finish: About 40 books piled between my bookshelves
Wearing: Earth Shoes
Sad About: Having no tangible friends
Excited About: A Reunion Concert for my all-time favorite retiring Professor from my music school days
Waiting For: Getting a job that pays well, with weekends off
Wishing I Could: Travel the World

Mar. 29th, 2007

The Humor Tumor

Today, I am pondering humor. Let's first explore a few examples:

1) Hamlet. So, we're in the middle of this twisted affair between a crazy bloke, his instestuous family, adulterous girlfriend, and we're basically on the heels a massacre. Okay. If Shakespeare really is the dramatic genius with insight into the human psyche that everyone says he is, then he must be right when he throws in that silly scene about Yorick. Right? I guess the audience just needs to diffuse for a few minutes before the bloodbath sets in.

2) Elizabeth Bennett. Right there at the beginning when she's stuck with the Bingleys, she hits humor's purpose on the nose. She says to Caroline that the only way to truly get Mr Darcy's attention is "to laugh at him, tease him". While Mr Darcy will have to win her heart through a more serious circumstances, I think it is this innate intuition that makes Fitzwilliam fall for Elizabeth. Here, he sees that she understands life (love) is more than a game and yet less than a tragedy, and, most importantly, Caroline doesn't.

3) Mel Books. Perhaps one of the funniest men alive. He's made his living out of proding fun at inappropriate topics. I heard him in an interview say that he believes the only way to diminish fear is to laugh at it. Like Hitler. Let's make him a hippie, and have his Gaestopo dance around in hot pants with sausages on their heads.

So basically: humor serves a purpose in our appreciating, understanding, and coping with the natural tragedy of life. Artists use humor in a highly functional capacity, and we use it instinctively.

My question is: at what point does humor become inappropriate in our personal lives? I believe there are Sacred things that shouldn't be taken lightly, but who decides what is Sacred? I believe people should be respected despite their idiosyncrocies, and I'll never be a supporter of put-downs, but people are funny.

Is it always inapporpriate to make Halocaust jokes about Easy Bake Ovens? Or just sometimes? Should I live my life that I have to make judgements about someone before I tell my favorite joke? Or should my true personality be accessible and appropriate for everyone?

Mar. 28th, 2007

Let's Get Started

This LiveJournal is dedicated to my eccentric best friend Anneke. For years now she's been bugging me to join the ranks of netters, and only since she's moved home from Japan has she insisted that I LiveJournal. The stars have aligned in its favor, and here I begin my LiveJournal.

I'm reading a brilliant memoir of a Reuters stringer in Central Africa during the massive ethnic conflicts of the 1990s. So last night I'm eating cookies in bed, reading about Aidan Hartley's "room" at the Meridien Hotel in Rwanda and mothers with children strapped to their backs hacking other young mothers with machetes and road blocks made out of human bodies and log jams of floating bloated bleached Tutsis and the enormous sound of flies buzzing above a stack of still oozing corpses, when I decide I've read enough for tonight and it's time to go to sleep.

A normal person, I think to myself, couldn't treat this so casually, so heartlessly, so detached from the human experience. How can I even consider putting it down? How I am not shouting from the rooftops? I shouldn't even take the time to brush away the cookie crumbs. I should be devouring this book and fighting to save the world. But I drift off to fairy land to dream about my future pre-fab house and SUV and cookies for breakfast.

Right now, my little sister is bobbing around the house in her robe talking to me about parties, make-up, and new shoes. I want to tell her, "Silence! I am writing about Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing!" But I don't, she'd only think I was weird if I brought it up.

The worst part is I am normal. We feed our guts Indifference and Apathy through endless sitcoms, podcasts, magazines, and cinema. Why, when we as Westerners have it so sweet and cozy, do we insist on crowding our thoughts with fluff? Even when we know better. Do we really feel like we need to block out our stresses? Or do we feel others' problems don't matter?

Whatever the diagnosis, I think I need a cookie.