24 June 2006

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday's post was too easy, like shooting fish in a barrel (except, according to some writing advice sites, "shooting fish in a barrel" is a cliche, and I am not supposed to use it if I want to be a good writer. What? I LOVE cliches. If I don't use overworked words and phrases, what am I left with? Do you want me to make new stuff up all the time? Yeesh, that is like actual work or something. No thank you. I didn't start sitting in front of the computer because of my high energy level.)

ANYWAY, what I started to say was that being pissed off is almost to easy. There is so much material to work with. Gratitude is harder because it is more subtle and quiet. But in spite of my terrible and cynical nature, I manage to be grateful every once in a while. So to make up for yesterday, here are 10 things I am grateful for:

1. My mom and dad and all my siblings are still alive and I'm almost 45. How lucky and rare is that? I see my parents every day and I do remember to give thanks for that each time.

2. I live in a place I love. I've got the beach, great weather, nice people, and big fat $4 chile relleno burritos within walking distance. It may not be heaven, but it might be as close as I will ever get.

3. Finishing my college education at 43. I was given a great opportunity halfway through my life and I took it, despite having to get up every morning and face 19 year old girls with no wrinkles and perfect thighs.

4. My blogfriends, who regularly make me spit coffee on my keyboard because they are so funny.

5. Summertime. And summertime fruits. Good white peaches can make me weep.

6. Dear, dear Goldie dog. She is almost 11 and I give thanks for every day with her. She enjoys herself every day as only a dog can:

7. My A Course In Miracles class. I love those people and spending 90 minutes with them every week does a lot for my sanity. It is a miracle indeed.

8. My laundry room. I did laundry at the washateria for over 20 years so I give thanks with every little load I do. No more hoarding quarters, no more freaks who decide to smoke while I am folding my clean laundry.

9. Freelance work that is fun to do. Interview interesting people, find out about their passions, and write about them. Did I mention that I get PAID for that? What a scam.

10. The public library. You walk in, pick out books, and they let you take them. Free. What kind of crazy deal is that?

Today on Linkateria A chance to participate in a tribute to 9/11 victims, amazing nature photos, racism FAQs and more.

22 June 2006

10 Things that piss me off

First - today on Linkateria:transgendered children, bad weddings, bad hair days and an experiment in Black Media Immersion.

Mrs. Fortune started this today and I am following along like a lemming.

10 things that piss me off

1. Tinted windows in cars. Pedestrians can't see what drivers are looking at and other drivers can't see what they are looking at, either. Its rude, dangerous and inconsiderate, not to mention illegal.

2. Being told I am against America because I don't support the president's policies or the war. Dissent is a founding principle of this country. That's why it is enshrined in the FIRST Amendment to the Constitution. Without dissent, we might as well be the Soviets under Stalin.

3. Prejudice against homosexuals on religious grounds. Christians were against civil rights for African-Americans on religious grounds, too. I remember our Christian neighbors telling us that blacks and whites shouldn't marry because it was God's will. They were wrong then and they are wrong now. I just wish they would admit to being bigots.

4. People that have to open bathroom door handles with a paper towel. What are you, Howard Hughes? If you can't survive germs from the bathroom door handle, you might as well kill yourself now and remove your weak self from the gene pool. And thanks for throwing the towels on the floor by the door. Klassy.

5. Companies that call to do satisfaction surveys after they have performed a service for me. You know what would satisfy me? It would satisfy me not to be bugged by these kinds of calls. Believe me, if there was something wrong, I would have let them know. And if there was something truly outstanding, I would have let them know that, too. Just call me Mouthy McCommentpants.

6. Morning newspapers. When I got an afternoon paper, I used to come home from work, wait for John, my 76-year-old paperboy to deliver my daily news, make a cup of coffee, toss in a splash of Kahlua and have a pleasant half-hour reading on the porch. With a morning paper, I stagger out of bed, make breakfast, try to eat with one hand and flip pages with the other, all the while keeping one eye on the clock, knowing that if I take the time to read the long feature story, I have to take a 2 minute shower to make up for it. Its just not any fun. I cancelled my subscription. Pretty funny considering I work for the newspaper as my second job.

7. Lawns. Only people with children under 10 should be allowed to have more than 100 square feet of lawn. I mean, really, what is the point of all this labor-intensive pesticide-soaked water-wasting greenery? We're gonna miss the water when it is all gone.

8. Hummers. Not the kind that guys like. The kind with four wheels. To people who drive these monstrous things - no one thinks you're cool, except for other idiots. But I guess that is the target market.

9. Excess packaging. Does everything need to be hermetically sealed in tough plastic so that you come close to slicing off a finger on the package when trying to open it? I can't even open this stuff with those big fat shears from the kitchen that can chop through a raw chicken.

10. People who think that their little designer outfit gives them the right to look up and down their noses at your clothing with a bitchy expression on their face. These people are all over Southern California. I work with one egregious example. Little Coach bag, $200 jeans...I want to tell her that no matter what she wears, with that look on her mug, she ain't never gonna be pretty.

I had 10 things to be grateful for, too, but I forgot to email them to myself, so that will be another day.

21 June 2006


The sound of Mexican accordian music coming in through the open window on a warm solstice night at sunset sends me on a mental vacation to a very happy place.

Today on Linkateria: Wisdom from The Wonderful World of Des, a test to see if you can tell the difference between quotes from Hitler and quotes from Ann Coulter, marauding elephants, and more.

20 June 2006

I'm so proud

I have a regular Tuesday night class and a new woman showed up tonight. She needed a ride home, and being the kind and generous soul that I am, I offered to take her.

(Are you sensing that this may not be as simple as it sounds? Because otherwise why would I bother blogging about it?)

I had forgotten that there were a few issues with my car. First, a pile of crap a foot high on the passenger seat and floor.

Books, magazines, files, reporters' notebooks, lunch tupperwares with mystery food scraps, empty water bottles, all piled up in true Suebobian pigsty fashion.

(If you are saying "Oh, it can't be that bad" go over to Bamboo Lemur Boys are Mean to Their Girls and ask Gandhi Rules. She lived with me. She will tell you).

Hey, give me a break. I've been busy.

But then there was more in the back seat. Doesn't every So. Cal. girl have a ski pole in her car on the day before Summer Solstice? Suebob does! (To whack marauding Pit Bulls, that's why).

A spare purse, some shoes, one sock and yes, of course right on top of the pile - underwear. Underwear? They were from the Vegas trip. I had left them in Mr. Stapler's luggage and had retrieved them at lunch and, well, there they were.

The poor woman had to be wondering what she had gotten herself into by now.

Then - the smell. Oh, God, the smell. One spilled cup of milky coffee plus three 80-plus degree days equals THE SMELL. It was enough to knock you back a bit.

Yes, nice woman, welcome to my car. Feel free to stick your head out the window. Everyone else does.

And in other news...

I have been meaning to share some of my city's lovely public art with you.

We start with something simple, a historical mural downtown. Nice, colorful, typical.

Along the river trail there are pieces of art about every kilometer or so. I like these brightly colored tile mosaics. This one represents the oilfields that enriched this area in the past and still do to a lesser extent today. My dad worked in the oilfields for decades.

Then things start to get a little weird. This one, titled "Orange Trail" is metal balls that look like real oranges, affixed firmly to the earth and set in a bed of gravel. I suppose this is some kind of tribute to the fact that this was a big citrus growing region.

Here's the part where we make the transition from public art to public "What the hell are you doing with my tax dollars?" Behold:

That is not the only one. There are a zillion of these. Ok, at least a dozen. They are all the same - a concrete base with some odd nonsensical quote using the word "mark" in it, topped by a large rusting piece of industrial metal. Every single time I see them I get pissed off by how ugly and stupid they are. I am GLAD people graffiti them, that's how much I hate them. And I hate graffiti.

Do you get this quote: "Land held in common by a community. Question mark." Huh? It seems like they are not speaking of the English.

Here's another, just to prove that there are more than one. Goldie is not impressed, either.
I forgot what this one says, and I don't care.

Next art tour, I will show you our multi-million dollar arty bus shelter that fails to protect anyone from the elements. On slow rainy news days, the newspaper can always have fun by sending a reporter out to talk to the sodden people beneath and remind the community how much that monstrosity cost.

What ever happened to statues of dudes on horses? Or just horses? Because if we are going to have public art, I would like it to be something you can sit the kiddos on to take a nice picture. Is that too much to ask?

19 June 2006

Don't scare me like that

If you asked whether my mom and I were close, that would be a tough question. I love my mom but I will never be one of those people who say "My mom is my best friend! I tell her everything."

My answer would have to be that a carefully edited version of me is close to my mom. My three sisters and I all feel the same. I can't count the number of things my sisters have told me that begin with the caveat "Don't tell this to mom."

Here's the problem: my mother has such a carefully cultivated and stubborn naivete that she seems fragile and easily shocked, even after 80 years of life. She truly has the cultural sensibilities of a fundamentalist church lady, except without the dogmatic religious part.

Here's a perfect example: she doesn't like many movies. There is always too much sex, too much violence, too much of something. When "On Golden Pond" came out, I recommended it to her. Old people. Boats. Family drama. What could be wrong with that?

Too much swearing. My mother didn't like On Golden Pond because of Henry Fonda's salty use of language.


Another example: back when humorous bumperstickers were very popular, we were sitting around at a family event and tossing out our favorites. Mom piped up "I like that one that says 'Save a tree - eat a beaver.'"

Everyone sat there in stunned silence. No one dared meet each other's eyes because we knew we wouldn't be able to stop laughing if we started.

"What?" she said. "I think it's cute."

She did not get it then, and probably never will, because we ain't gonna explain it to her. Not our job.

So while I think I have had a fairly standard life, there are things I hide from Mom, even as I perch here in middle age. It just isn't worth it to turn over all those rocks and show her what wiggles beneath. It's not that I have a lot to hide. But because of mom's determined disapproval of popular culture, I would have a lot of explaining to do and I just don't have the energy.

The other day mom said "So your sister P. said she saw your naked picture on the Internet."

"GAH????" I thought. "P. knows about Red Stapler???" I knew that my sis Janet visits my blog, but she is under strict instructions not to spread the word about my blog to the rest of the fam.

"She said she saw it at that other place you have besides your food blog," mom said.

I was in full panic mode. Then I remembered. Flickr.

I breathed. Then got mad.

"It's not naked! Why is she telling you there are naked pictures of me on the internet? It's just my head and shoulders."

"Oh, she said you must have a towel on or something but you couldn't see it."

I didn't have the heart to tell her that nope, I was walking around naked taking pictures of myself. No towel in sight. That's the kind of weirdo I am.

18 June 2006

Weekend update

All previous posts aside, Mr. Stapler and I managed to patch it up and go to Vegas this weekend and have a good time, despite all my dire pessimism. We handled it in a way that would make our repressed WASP ancestors proud: we didn't talk about it until we got home.

"Avoid conflict at all costs," that's my motto.

Las Vegas. Is there any place MORE ill-suited to the Highly Sensitive Person? It is almost like it is purposely designed to appeal to the sensorily challenged. Everything is huge! and loud! and bright! and smoky! I'm thinking - "Yes! I noticed!"

I get overwhelmed in Vegas quickly and I always want to find a nice corner to relax with a drink and people-watch, but that isn't what casinos are designed for. Don't relax! Don't sit! We will put 5 different kinds of music on at once and plant smokers next to you so you won't be able to stand it for long - you MUST get up and gamble!

I'm always wondering "Is there a bookstore-cafe about? A nice botanic garden perhaps?"

I know, by now you are thinking "Hey, dumbass, what did you expect? You didn't go to London or Paris! You went to LAS VEGAS NEVADA." But Norm MacDonald was playing at the House of Blues and Mr Stapler loves him some Norm, so we simply had to go back to Vegas, a place we had visited in December and had left, brushing its dust off our shoes and swearing never to return.

It was a good show, worth the trip. The Hosue of Blues is a great venue and there was a fun, playful crowd of Norm-lovers.

We spotted a confused-looking late-middle-aged couple come in and Mr. S said "Oh, man, they are going to be offended. They don't know what they have gotten themselves in for." They sat in front of us.

Mr. Stapler had a young 20-ish hipster girl with a tartan mini skirt and zillions of tats and piercings sitting next to him.

When Norm got going, he was pretty raunchy. Hilarious, but filthy ("When I think of all the times I have f***ed, the person I have f***ed most is my own hand. Why? Because my hand is a filthy whore!"). The middle aged couple was weeping with laughter. Meanwhile, the hipster girl sat with mouth agape, looking like a stunned mullet. To me, that was almost as funny as Norm.

We missed our flight home and had to be on standby for a couple hours. What is it about sitting on my big butt in an airport that makes me so dang tired? I am wiped out this afternoon. Some scientist oughta look into that.
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