Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ch-ch-ch-changes, Again

My life has changed radically and I owe it all to two very good friends, Ben and Molly. (Shockingly enough, both blondes.)

The first was Ben. I had been complaining to him for some time about how stagnant I felt in my position at the Lazy B. (Not the Lazy B's fault.) "Look for a new job," he suggested.

I laughed him off, and then I did so. And now, ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to announce that I have a new position at the Lazy B, starting in the middle of December. It's a promotion and I'm pretty excited. I owe Ben a huge drink.

The second was Molly. Around the same time, I was complaining that I didn't get to wait tables anymore, and reminisced a little about how much I enjoyed it. "Start doing it again," she said. "Just one shift a week. You'll earn a little extra money and I won't have to listen to you bitch." (She was way too polite to actually say that last part.)

I also laughed HER off, showing my inability to learn from my mistakes. And then I investigated some "Now Hiring" signs.

Which is why I'm running off, in half an hour, to my first restaurant shift in four years. Hopefully I still remember how to hold trays steady.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! If there's one thing I'm thankful for, it's my ability to get hired. Blog bless jobs in this tough economy.

Now playing: Duffy - Syrup & Honey
via FoxyTunes

Things Not To Say To Bachelors

There I was with a nice boy, having a nice time, and I wanted to compliment him. I took his arm; he properly held his arm at just the right angle so I could hang on gracefully.

"I like that you're domesticated," I said, giving his arm a little squeeze.

BANG went the arm. "DOMESTICATED?" he cried. "I object! I am NOT domesticated! I trash my apartment! I burp when I want to! I...I...have a line of hookers waiting outside my door every night! I....I..." he floundered.

"Buy condoms by the case?" I suggested.

"Yes! Every time I walk into the Walgreens, I just wink to the guy behind the counter. 'Put it on my tab,' I tell him."


"That's RIGHT," he said, feathers settling. "And don't forget it."

Monday, November 24, 2008

On Reading The Call of The Mall in the Heartland, After Obama's Election

It was 8:30 pm local time, only 5:30 my time, and I was nowhere near hungry--but I had to eat, and I thought I would get out and see what there was to see.

A nice waiter seated me in the only local restaurant for miles, and I asked for a glass of red wine and opened my book, the Call of the Mall. Paco Underhill, the author, is discussing the mall parking lot. "Out on the edges of nowhere, these stores" (Farm and Fleets, who sell everything a rural person might need, from jeans to harnesses for your donkey) "sit in the middle of endless parking lots. Rural land is still cheap."

Here I am, in the middle of all that rural land, staying in the middle of a strip mall exactly like thousands of others. My hotel is two parking lots away from the restaurant, a boon for me, since I don't like driving the automatic Pontiac sedan the rental car company has given me--I have about as much control over it as riding an elephant. (If the elephant goes where I want him to go, awesome. If not, how the hell am I going to stop him?)

Of course, I chose my hotel because the website said it was near "shopping", and the website was correct. I'm by a huge--and well-kept-up--mall that has completely empty parking lots, four weekends before Christmas, at 8:00 pm. It's possibly the economy, although I don't think so--Chattanooga is a relatively booming town full of new business prospects. Mainly it's the overwhelming SPACE of the area. Anyone who is going to shop at this mall, on this night, would have to drive 45 minutes away from their house--at least--and 45 minutes back. That's a late night after going to work all day. Of course, on weekends, I assume this mall will be packed.

Inside the restaurant I sat quietly with my book and made small talk with my waiter, who confirmed that on weekends this restaurant--right by the mall--is packed to the gills. Still, this restaurant is huge, enough to swallow five or six Seattle restaurants in terms of square footage alone, and it has at least three serving staff that I can see, plus two managers on duty. In Seattle, that would be a lot of labor cost to wait on six tables, but here, of course, the servers only make $2.13 an hour. It's amazing to me how so much land makes everything so cheap. The food is cheaper, the gas is cheaper, the labor is cheaper. I don't know why a surplus of land makes this so. Supply and demand, maybe?

Let me say right now that I absolutely love the Heartland, and I can't seem to shake it. Maybe it's the surplus of land? The flatness that implies that there's enough space for me to do whatever I want? Whatever reason, I'm happier when I'm here, and no more so than tonight, three weeks to the day, practically, after our historic election. The racism that I was so concerned would ruin Obama's chance at the presidency doesn't seem to exist here in Tennessee. Out of six or seven tables, at least three contain African Americans, and two of those three are mixed. Ahead of me, a pair of married ladies--one white, one black--giggles over wine, obviously having a girls night out. To their right, a black couple eats dinner, and to my immediate right is the most interesting table: a good looking blond guy is eating with three very good-looking mixed-race girls, and enjoying himself immensely. With his tan and his long-limbed biceps, I at first think he's whiter than Joe America, but then hearing his speech pattern, I begin to guess that he's part Hispanic, a guess that's confirmed when he breaks into Spanish a few times. His audience appears to follow along just fine. It's then that I notice that's he's pretty darn tan, for a Northern American blond. Everyone at his table has similar combinations of sharply North American faces with dark skin, or naturally blond hair with classic African American texture.

They're all stunning, of course. If I sound a little obsessive about how different races combine to create beauty, it's partly because I'm a little jealous--I'll always look classically Scandanavian. No exotic mixes for me. Huge blue eyes, yes, but that's about all I got. I wonder what these girls would want to be called. All of them are obviously black, in some fraction, but they may prefer not to be called any label at all. Informal readings among my black friends has been inconclusive. My friend Charles and I were talking about Obama's race the other day, and I referred to our President-Elect as black. Charles--a black man--snorted.

"He's half and half," he said, rather witheringly. I pointed out that Aaron McGruder, the arguably crazy cartoonist behind the Boondocks--would consider Obama to be black, no ifs, ands, or buts. Charles knew who I was talking about, rolled his eyes, drew in a little on himself, and then he said the most provocative thing I've heard recently:

"That's slave mentality," he said, and then he moved on to something else.

I was officially speechless. I couldn't think of anything worthwhile to say. I was blown-away-impressed that he'd refer to such an evil mark on America's past so casually, especially one that was built on race--HIS race--and then move on with the conversation. He didn't take that lead to become Angry Black Man--he just said his piece and moved on to the Seahawks. At the same time, of course, he was factually correct. The practice of counting anyone who had as little as a sixteenth or more African heritage as "black" DO come from slave times, and if Charles disagreed with the practice, I'd make a note of it. While a woman's struggle for equality is much more subtle and much less violent--we may have gotten the vote later but we were never treated as group property--I'm still sensitive to a minority group's struggle for equal rights. Let me not stand in the way.

Back to a more superficial level, the blond guy enjoying himself while he entertained the table full of hot mixed-race girls cheers me no end. He was putting on a show for them, and they enjoyed it, and he did, too. Good, old-fashioned flirting still has its place in this day and age. As I paid my tab, it reminded me of a recent conversation I had with a boy.

We were talking about Michele Obama. "Have you ever dated a black girl?" I said.

"No," he answered.

I thought for a second. "Do you find black girls attractive?"

"Yes," he said, without hesitation. "I don't like the ghetto stereotype--the girl with the huge ass and the hair-did and the gold nails an inch long, much like how I don't like, say, Emo girls. But I do find black girls hot. Naomi Campbell I especially like."


I mulled this over while paying my check. It was 10:40 local time, and it was time for me to be in bed.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On Twilight

Short answer: Painful to read, but I'm surprisingly meh over the social aspects. (For Baby-Boomers: "Meh" means "Apathetic", or possibly "Indifferent.")

Longer answer: I couldn't even finish the first one, it was so bad. I actually enjoyed Bella until she met Edward, so don't assume I'm hating on Bella. But the two of them together are insufferable. Not only is the writing bad, but the anti-feminist applications are appalling. Bella is a very normal girl with divorced parents who suddenly, for no reason at all, attracts the eye of Edward, one of the most beautiful men in the world, who just happens to go to her high school. The problem: Edward is a vampire. Why does she attract his attention? Certainly not by being special—the only thing special about Bella is her overwhelming talent for clumsiness and her ability to attract trouble. (I'm not being catty—both concepts are explored constantly in the book.) In spite of this, for some reason the scent of her blood is intoxicating to him. He can't get enough, he'll never leave her side, he tells her, and Bella responds by listing all the reasons she'll never be good enough for him, and he reassures her again he'll never leave her, and she protests he'll get bored, and…you get the picture. For five-hundred PAGES.  

It's every girl's dream, really, to think yourself ordinary your whole life and be resigned to a crushingly normal existence when all of a sudden Mr. Rochester—sorry, Edward—comes swooping down out of heaven to lift you up above all others, to proclaim your specialness before the world, to throw himself in harm's way for your precious skin at every opportunity. In fact, while writing this post about Twilight I kept humming the theme song to Cinderella, so intertwined in my head are these two stories. Although this fantasy is obviously terrible, insidious, and likely to make children out of grown women, it's certainly unfair to place the blame for the creation of this fantasy solely on Twilight. I mean, sure, it's a terrible example, but so what—Bella does have a few good qualities and there certainly could be worse role models. What scares me is the obsession that fully-grown women with husbands and children have apparently fallen prey to a kind of obsession with Edward and the rapture that Bella feels being loved by him. "I have no desires to be part of the real world right now," posted one woman in a fan forum. "Nothing I was doing before holds any interest to me. I do what I have to do, what I need to do to get by and that's it. Someone please tell me it will ease up, even if just a little? My entire world is consumed and in a tailspin." 

Uh, really? Wow.

However, other series and fictional universes have definitely created a similar kind of creepy obsession—Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings are great examples. So I find myself relatively compassionate toward Stephanie Meyer. She's a bad writer who's written a very bad, very anti-feminist series, but the obsession of grown women with the Cinderella fantasy is certainly not her fault. She's certainly accomplished more, writing-wise, than I have, and is probably a better writer after all that, anyway. 

A good write up on is here. Be sure and read all the comments.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Have You Seen This?


Polaroid PoGo Instant Photograph Printer.

I have wanted something exactly like this for, oh, say, forever. I like to take pictures of stuff around the house that I want to remember, or of stuff outside that I want to remember. And although possibly in the future I will be able to display those pictures because I'll have a computer screen that takes up one wall--and wouldn't that be awesome?--in this lifetime I have no way to look at them except to stare at my tiny, small computer screen, and let me tell you, my computer monitor went with me to college in 1999 and it is OLD, friends.

I want to PRINT PICTURES OUT SO I CAN SEE THEM. Is that so much to ask? This PoGo sounds ideal. It sounds like someone entered my brain while I was sleeping and wrote down everything I wanted and put it into a product, although that would be a little creepy.

Why is this so cool? Four words:

Refrigerator Photos Are Back.

I miss refrigerator photos. A lot. (My current refrigerator is about big enough to hold four photos, but that's another story.) I miss wandering out to the refrigerator early in the morning and looking at friends of mine, or snapshots of chairs that I liked, or a sleepy picture of Titan, or whatever. I miss looking at the pictures on other people's fridges. I miss photos hanging up in lockers, photos taped to binders, photos stuck in books. I miss photos. A lot.

Now if only this printer also printed with a few effects, like, say, a polaroid border, I'd be set for life.

Readers? Just because this is the first instant photo printer I've seen, doesn't mean it's the first or best in class. Thoughts?

Monday, November 17, 2008

In Which I Demonstrate My Inability to Learn. At All.

So there I was, hanging at a club with my friend Jennie. Let me say right now that Jennie is an effing KNOCK-OUT, and the only reason I can put up with hanging with her at ALL is because we've been friends since we were ten and I suppose I have to. Otherwise I would thnk up a lot of reasons to avoid hanging out with a girl who's 5'11" in bare feet and could easily grace the cover of Vogue.

I'm so altruistic, aren't I?

Anyway. As I was saying. There I was. She had had the audacity to show up at my house wearing a dress, forcing me to put on something cute, but it gets worse: she was wearing HIGH HEELS. And I had woken up Saturday morning with a SOFTBALL-sized lump of swell on my right ankle, necessitating immediate ibuprofen, at which point I realized I was ghetto enough to have EXPIRED ibuprofen.

And therefore--and I'm not proud to admit this--my ankle was so badly swollen (it increased to cover the entire right side of my foot by about six pm) that I had to wear flats to the club.

I know. My entire closet of hot shoes yelled as me as I walked out the door. Also, the ibuprofen may have been causing me to hallucinate.

How did I happen to hurt my ankle, you ask?

I'm so glad you did. I can't believe this, but apparently I'm taking a break from being an attention whore and am making something of a habit of hanging out with beautiful girls half a foot taller than me. Because the very previous night I was out celebrating my friend Leslie's birthday--who is knock-out 5'10" redhead with cheekbones to set a drink on--and we were walking out of the club and she was complaining that her feet hurt, and of course I laughed at her, as I was strutting along in my patent leather boots.

"Ha-HA," I said, chortling. "Whereas my feet are AWESOME. Because as I am not goddess-sized, missy, I actually have to get used to heels, and therefore I'm so good at heels I can jump around in them!"

I attempted to demonstrate. I'll let you guess what happened next.

My landing was so bad that I think I actually hit the ground with my ankle bone. Leslie was laughing so hard she could barely support me to the car, and this would be a lot less interesting if I hadn't done exactly the same thing a week ago.

Election Night, 2008: Memorable because we voted in a black president and I decided to frolic--wearing a very nice pair of patent leather boots. I frolicked down some steps, and I landed so wrongly--so very wrongly--that I shoved the heels of both boots up into the boot, breaking the shanks. And of course, I rolled my ankle.

This made the boots famous when I limped into my cobbler the next day with my broken soles (sorry. He looked them over and then looked at me.

"It's going to cost you, honey," he said, "and by the way, Aarwenn, how the hell did you manage to actually BREAK these boots?"

"I was frolicking down some steps on Election Night," I mumbled. He burst out into laughter. I snarled. (Yes, we're on a first name basis. Besides frolicking, I slam down on my heels when I walk--it's part of my famous strut--and I wear out shoes and heels very, very quickly. I recommended him once to a table full of girls and Sarah asked me where he was located. I just pulled one of his cards out of my wallet and handed it to her.)

Moving on. I've come to the conclusion that I should never actually WEAR these boots, because on the very day I picked them up from the cobbler, I put them on to go dancing with Leslie...and you know what happened there. The difference was, the boots survived this time, thanks to the cobbler. My ankle--the same one--took the brunt...again. Which is possibly why the second swelling took over my entire FOOT, this time.

Maybe I should take my ankle to the cobbler. Also, I bought a new bottle of ibuprofen.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Light Funny

Everyone needs one of these on a Friday:

There's a whole series on YouTube--I didn't know that Apple Japan made their own, but several of them are very amusing.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Salivating Over Shoes

Start Drooling Now.

Aren't they gorgeous? I own them, and they are WAY cuter ON. So. Cute.

And these:

Rawr. And these look just as good on. Kind of amazing, actually.

And I'm REALLY into this style right now:

I love the huge business in the front--I think it's so sexy.

So, I've done a little shopping recently, possibly you noticed? I went to L.A. and got to see the excellent Ali and did a little shopping with her sister Sabrina on Rodeo Drive, and it was really, really fun, in spite of the Smythson store being closed. (I'm a pen-and-paper nerd. So sue me.) A few classic examples of Smythson:

Some other things I'm really looking forward to this season:

1. Armwarmers. I just bought these from Etsy, and I love them.

2. Great Big Hoodies. I don't actually have a good picture for this, because I haven't found the item I want. I want a hooded blazer-type item, both with sleeves and without, to wear over my button downs. I'm tired of sweaters.

And, one disappointment:

1. Victoria's Secret blouses. I used to love them. I bought them in bulk. And then they got a "new shape" and they no longer fit. I'm so annoyed. Hence the need for the freakin' cover-up hoodies. I might have to just go up a size, but of course, that's depressing all on its own.

But it's hard to be depressed with cute shoes! Yay, shoes!

I Is A Writer, Yes I Is

My blog post at Capitol Hill Seattle was mentioned in the P-I's Big Blog today!!

I can't get over it! I'm amazed they took notice! Not only is the post excerpted, but they mentioned the full post in "Recommended Reading" for today! Holy crap!

Drop by Capitol Hill Seattle to read the post in full.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Thank you, veterans.

I wrote about this last year, and it said a lot of what I wanted to say.

This year I'm a little less optimistic about our country, in spite of the presence of President-Elect Barack Obama (I could write it four-million times, and that phrase still won't get old) and the fabulous celebrating that went on in the streets after the announcement. It's not so much the state of the country, although that worries me too, but the state of the CITIZENS of the country that makes me pessimistic.

I'm happy about the record voter turnout, but unhappy that it's still barely above 50%. I'm unhappy about the bailout idea, which I think is ridiculous--let the companies die under their own debt. I'm annoyed that the middle-to-low economic classes who dared to reach for a piece of the American Dream are getting slapped back down, and of course there's no bailout for them, and I'm angered that the poor always ALWAYS bear the brunt of economic depression. At the same time, I think that people who bought houses they couldn't afford, planning to "flip" them to make a fast buck, deserve all their bankruptcy.

I wish there was a way to discern motives as well as results.

I'm annoyed at people who were basically born on third base, in the baseball game of life, and therefore assume that they hit a triple, and have no compassion on those who were born reaching for first. I'm equally annoyed at people who were born on first and expect the government to carry them to all the way to home plate. I'm annoyed at entitlement, I'm annoyed at people who cheat the system.

I'm generally annoyed at people, I guess, and the state of the people affect the state of the country. And so I'm pessimistic about the state of the country, too.

Which, of course, is no way to live life. I want to believe. I want to believe our public school system can change, that teachers will start to get paid living wages and that the whole profession will be revolutionized, that systems like welfare and healthcare will be revamped and shrunk. That farm subsidies will only be paid to people who need them, not to people like Ted Turner--although he is generally awesome, he's not in need of handouts from the federal government. I want easily-obtainable, locally produced, HEALTHY food for our schools and for our poor. I want empty lots to be turned into community gardens and locally-produced, artificial gasoline to fuel cars. I want a military with less bureacracy and more awesome toys, like whole fleets of unmanned, remote-controlled planes with cameras that see everything and breathable nanofiber uniforms that protect against bullets and poison gas.

Good food, good education, and security--and a kick-ass military--that's what I want for this nation. It's an odd mix, I guess. I'd be interested to hear from all two of my readers. (I might be up to four.) What do YOU want for the nation?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Two-Thousand Vertical Feet of Foolishness

Yesterday I dragged someone along on a fool's errand that no one in their right mind would have agreed to accompany me on, unless they had given birth to me or perhaps really, really, really wanted to date me. I made someone take a day off of work to drive with me to Crystal Mountain to hike up two-THOUSAND vertical feet in order to help me look for a lost ski. The errand was a complete bust, and it's a wonder my mother is still speaking to me.

However, we DID get a really amazing hike in, the kind of hike that preps you to climb things like Mount Rainier, and of course we got a chance to talk, also fun. My mother is an inveterate people pleaser, another reason why she'd agree to hike up a mountain with no path and slide down same mountain on her rear on the way back down, and we talked about this and how I've inherited it.

"But I don't mind if people don't notice me," she said. "I just can't stand it when people DON'T like me."

"I'm not quite the same," I said. "I need to be noticed more than liked. I'm okay with people liking me or despising me. I can't stand it when people don't see the POINT of me, like I could suddenly stop existing and the world wouldn't change for them at all."

Which brings me to my story of the weekend. After said two-thousand vertical feet I went to my gorgeous new friend A's house for some wine and chatting with several other ladies (and a few gentlemen) and during said chatting, the audience got the story of That Time I Brought Two Dates To The Same Party.

"How did you, logistically, HANDLE it?" queried an male acquaintance.

"I told the second one," I said. "I was dating one guy, and then I started dating a second guy, and I told the second one that I was dating the first one, but I was throwing this party and the first guy was going but I also wanted Guy #2 there, if he wouldn't mind the slight awkwardness."

"See, at that point I would just say to myself, 'This isn't worth the trouble,'" said the male acquaintance, and unspoken was the implicit follow-up, "and I can't see anything so special about you that would make me change my mind."

Oh, well. Some people just don't see the point of me. And those people are probably more sane than the people who do. But who needs sanity in this day and age?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Did Something Important Happen?

So, all of you may have heard that we had some election or other. I have no idea. I just voted, and went home after work, puttered around the house, and got to sleep early and blissfully.

HA! HA! Boy, sometimes I crack myself up.

Who am I kidding? I was definitely out. Watching the election results roll in at McCormick and Schmick's, sitting next to a Republican. When Obama won, everything in the bar stopped; all servers and bartenders dropped what they were doing and rushed to the TV screens. I became emotional, as did the waitress next to me. We hugged each other.

I teared up again, along with the Republican next to me, at McCain's concession speech, one of the classiest and most gracious concession speeches ever, and at seeing Governor Palin up there, blinking back her own emotions. I pointed this out to the Republican. "She's never lost anything before," he reminded me.

And then on to Obama's speech, which I found inspiring and blessedly realistic, and then out into the streets, where there were crowds unseen even at the millenium New Year's Eve. Hordes of people blocked the streets, dancing and singing, marching and hugging. It was a huge party. People banged on car windows and on bus windows, shouting and cheering; every bar was packed. Up in Cap Hill it was only a little quieter. People set off fireworks. It was wonderful, to see so many people so excited about politics, and humbling, that I could be a part of this great nation.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Scarily Optimistic

All right, people. It’s Election Day. I’ve voted. I’m sure you all have voted. In fact, today was the first time ever I prayed in a polling booth. Fortunately, this being America, I don't have to tell you who I prayed to, and I hope that continues forever.

And I’m here to announce that although I’m obviously pro-Obama, to tell you the truth, if McCain wins, I’m not going to fall into a pit of depression. He’s a good man, a war hero, and a sensible politician.

And if he dies—Blog Forbid—then Palin will be President, and the best part about that is that we’ll have a FEMALE PRESIDENT! That would be pretty awesome, regardless of what party she represents or how she got there. We as a nation would finally join the rest of the world.

No matter what happens today, I have a scary feeling of patriotism and hope for our country. Whoever wins, there’s not enough love and compassion in this world and I’m going to try my best not to subtract from the little there is. If McCain wins, I’m going to find someone who voted for him and hug that person. What’s most important is that we, as neighbors and citizens of the United States, can talk to each other, understand each other, and have compassion on one another.

May the best man win. And Go America.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sunday Night Transparency

I was sitting at my computer, minding my own business, not really watching the clock. Sure, I had a dinner to go to, but I wasn't planning to eat and I hadn't really settled on a time to leave, which meant I might leave ANY time, really.

And then a Gchat window from Tri-Tip pops up.

"We know you're just blogging," he says.

I was confused. I was just blogging? Was there something else I was supposed to be doing? Had I promoted false advertising about my computer activities? Had I told someone I was actually writing?

"What?" I typed back.

"Get over here," he commanded.

And then it hit me. Tri-Tip was at the dinner that I was supposed to be at. Due to his fancy phone, he was on Gchat, and he noticed that I was also on Gchat, realized I was at home when I was supposed to be at dinner, and taken the opportunity to virtually hound me. I had never felt so naked in my life. Tri-Tip may as well have had a camera over my desk--his ability to pinpoint me was that good. He couldn't see me, but he knew where I had to be.

Of course, if I had a fancy phone with Gchat on it, like his, or if I had set my computer to never show me as inactive, his surety that I was physically at my computer would not have been as strong. But those who know me know that I only have that Gchat program on my home computer--I won't put it on my work one and my phone doesn't support it. So! Combine personal details with computer knowledge, and...virtual sight.

It doesn't upset me; I think it's neat, of course, because I am a techno-geek like that. And you better believe I jumped out of my chair, slapped on some makeup, and rushed to dinner.

"Man," I said, pulling up a chair. "You can't get away with anything in this town."