Act Locally

I read on Wandering Bella’s blog about two Great Pyrs who are in desperate need of medical attention. She said if you can give anything, not splurging on a latte this week, or dinner out, just donate that. One way to make a difference is to act locally, and in a time when we’re all focused on the economy and the nation, the election and Sarah Palin’s ridiculous interviews, there are a lot smaller things going on that can make a world of difference.

If you wander over to her blog and click through to the Indianapolis rescue site, prepare yourself for some horrifying photos. I tried, but I ended up bawling my eyes out as I was trying to send money.

I gave $50 because that’s what I afford to give. I’ll cut back on groceries, gas, cigarettes, whatever, this week. If I can, I’ll give more with my next paycheck because these animals aren’t going to need just a couple thousand dollars for their care.

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Purchasing Lipstick for Pitbulls

My last paycheck was one out of which only a couple of small bills were paid and, now that I’m full time, I did what any red-blooded American consumer would do with extra pocket money: I blew it. I bought a pair of silver, four-inch heels from BCBG that were on sale on Amazon.com.
I got two yellow rotary-dial telephones exactly like a couple I had a few years ago when we still had a landline. Since I and most everyone I know only have a cell phone at this point in life, I figured finding some would be as easy as it was ten years ago when I used to decorate my house with them; a powder blue one in the living room, an avacado one in the kitchen, a white one for my bedroom . . . But I went to about six different thrift stores in three days and didn’t come across a single one. I was somewhat shocked to find out how much people are selling them for, especially considering how useless most people thought they were for the past thirty or so years. On eBay, I saw some selling for $40, $80, and even over a hundred dollars.
After a weeklong, intense search for an elusive “orange bag,” I purchased a handmade one with sparrows from Etsy that I think I love more than anything Nine West, Kenneth Cole, or Target could come up with.
I bought a graphic novel for Charlie to thank him for just being Charlie, and some fun tights for myself.

But I also made a deal with myself: for every dollar I spent I had to donate to charitable or political organizations. I gave to MoveOn.org’s effort to register young voters, Obama’s campain (and I bought a hat for Charlie, a yard sign, and a pin from them, as well), Bitch Magazine, and the Humane Society. In fact, thanks to the wonders of credit cards, I think I gave more than I actually spent, especially when I found out Bitch was in a financial crisis and needed money to put out its next issue.

Last night we went to a preview of Chuck Palahniuk’s latest novel-turned-film, “Choke,” at the Keystone Arts theater. It was pretty funny, once you suspend your disbelief, and since it had been so long since I’d read the book that I forgot most of what happened. I know it strayed from the original story quite a bit, but I was at least entertained for free. Unfortunately, Palahniuk’s latest book, Snuff, is about a woman who’s apparently going to get intentionally screwed to death by 600 men on the set of a porno (in an effort to leave her porn-love-child enough money to live comfortably). Of course, the story isn’t told from her perspective, but from that of her assistant, and three of the men who intend to bang her. This is one of two novels being released this year with the same premise. Something tells me Chuck really hates women.

I was all set to sit at home this morning and have coffee, but we had none (oh, the irony), so I went to the store where Sarah gave me her copy of Rolling Stone to read an article on Sarah Palin. While I can’t seem to find it online (after only six seconds of searching), I did find a copy transcribed by a pothead here. It was really funny, witty, biting commentary that makes me hopeful. In essence, the author, Matt Taibbi, describes what a sad caricature Sarah Palin is and how easily Americans seem to lap up her ridiculous sound bites and lies.

I haven’t picked up an embroidery hoop in several days. My suspected (as in, undiagnosed by a doctor, but obviously that’s what it is) carpal tunnel syndrome has gotten bad enough that I can’t feel my right arm whenever I wake up in the mornings, and being on the espresso bar at work is sometimes excruciating. Taking notes in class makes my fingers numb, and I have to take breaks from typing every few minutes to relieve pressure. I know I’m probably going to end up having to wear one of those huge, hideous supports, but for now I have one someone at the pharmacy recommended.

I’m scheduled to put up my artwork at the store in December and I’m not happy with everything I have so far. I guess the insecure side of me is worried what people will think. I haven’t done exactly what I intend, because I know that will be “too much” for the coffeeshop. I don’t want to misrepresent myself by displaying things that are merely “cute” so as not to offend anyone, but I realize that isn’t the vehicle I should be using to really explore what I want to do and people’s reactions to it.

Essentially, I’d like to study how the crafts movement is and has been considered “women’s art” in the sense that it isn’t “high art” — and that the art women produce is considered merely functional (scarves, embroidered napkins, quilts) — along with the idea of women as sexual objects. Initially I was planning on embroidering some abstract, deconstructed images of pornography, until I found out upon a visit to the IMA yesterday that someone else does the exact same thing. I haven’t seen it and I don’t remember her name, nor do I want to. At first I was surprised, then I realized I’m not that original, but I’m still disappointed that I didn’t come up with someone all that creative. It won’t stop me from doing it, though. I like what I’ve been doing in terms of gifts for friends; some slightly cute-but-scary framed embroidery, but there’s more that I can and want to do with it.

Oh, No! Nature!

Last night I was enthralled by this praying mantis with a camouflauged, stick-like body that was clearly watching me, too. Whenever I walked around, the head tilted and I could see its eyes focus in on me.

Tonight I stepped outside and saw the same mantis caught in the web of a tiny spider on the front window. The mantis must be ten times the size of the spider. Still, her sticky web caught the poor little dude and his long legs were kicking to get free.

I couldn’t help myself from trying to pry him out of there. That’s just gluttony on the spider’s part, I said to myself. She doesn’t need something that big. I spent a good 30 minutes with a flashlight trained on him, trying to very carefully perform elective surgery on a bug.

Now the spider doesn’t have any dinner and I can’t get the mantis freed from all the web. What if she poisoned him and he’s going to die anyway? I got most of it off, but there’s still a ton stuck to the front part of his raptorial legs and he looks really uncomfortable.

I felt like he was being kind of a jerk, sticking his funny back body segment at me, when here I was just trying to save his life. Then I found out his closest relative is the cockroach, the feces of which I am highly allergic to.

I finally gave up, leaving him back to nature, although I didn’t go so far as to kill the spider or put the mantis back in her web. I probably just made it all worse.

And don’t worry. Writing about stuff like this doesn’t mean I’m not fully aware of the Palin/McCain horror, or the current crumbling of our economy. I just spend more time thinking about it every day that I’d like to.

Membrane

I can be so competitive and determined when it comes to school that the slightest question of my intellect (a low score on a test or in a class, a student who does better than me or pulls up the curve, an instructor who corrects me) sometimes sends me into a downward spiral of self-doubt.

Overall, I am not a competitive person. Maybe a little bit with board games. And maybe sometimes at work. And, yes, when Charlie and I are watching Jeopardy! Oh, and with Wii games. I guess when I think of “competition,” I usually think of sports. And I could care less about that.

I’m used to getting really good grades, which sometimes is really easy and sometimes takes a lot of work on my part. And, although I can usually accept a lower grade in a subject I’m not interested in (math, some science courses, or one that was super-duper hard), it still takes some time for me to get over it. When I registered for this semester, I knew I wanted to take a couple of challenging courses, and a couple of gen-ed requirements that I could sort of skate through, giving me more time to focus on the stuff I was interested in.

That plan has come back to bite me in the ass. What I thought was going to be my “easiest” class, a 100-level anthropology requirement, is really an exercise in patience and my comittment to my GPA. Our first test was today and covered only three chapters out of the textbook, plus 6 PowerPoint presentations, one hour-long video, a guide on genetics the instructor created herself, about 30 pages of notes, and an additional 20 pages of study guides.

I only received 40% of the possible points from our homework and, even though I felt “pretty good” leaving the test this morning, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover I got a C. I know if you sat down with me and walked through all the material, you’d be like “Well, this does appear to be pretty complicated, so you should just be happy to pass the class.” Charlie was trying to help me study last night and kept asking why the hell this woman expects us to know so much for just one test. But it took me a while to get my GPA up to where it is, after a few of those aforementioned hard courses. I don’t want to screw it up now!

But I know that I’ll have to eventually accept some kind of failure. I just can’t seem to reconcile the part of me that goes, “An education is important, grades shouldn’t be!” And the one that goes, “If you ever want to go to grad school, it’s going to be a helluva lot harder than this!”

My anthropology instructor came up to me in the bathroom before our test on Wednesday and told me how cute she thinks my hair is. I wanted to ask her, if I tell her where to go to get it and how to take care of it, would she at least promise me a B?

The Local Flavor: I Bite Back

I finally went off on someone at work. It only took three years, two months, and about 6 days, but I had enough of the Toothless Angry Hungarian (TAH). (To be fair, she does have one tooth left.) I’ve never really discussed her here, the way I have our multitude of other regular weirdos, because there is no “easy” way to describe her. You have to hear all of it to really appreciate how truly obnoxious she is . . . she’s the sort of person who has absolutely no reason to do so, but who complains all the time. About everything.
I realize that might make me sound like a hypocrite. If you don’t know me in real life, you might think it’s how I make a living. But, in person, I’m really pretty positive, upbeat, and friendly. Complaining in a blog is sort of a cathartic hobby.

For her, it isn’t just a hobby; it’s a way of life. She’s just a natural born bitch. A short, pudgy, annoying, loud, and rude woman (again, I know I’m a hypocrite, but here’s where the similarities end) who feels Entitled. Capital E. Like, by law. To whatever she wants, when she wants it. Regardless of whether or not it is an inconvenience to you, a ridiculous request, or something for which she should be paying but refuses to do so. You, the innocent bystander, the customer at a coffee shop trying to mind your own business, or the sorry employee at the coffee shop who has to wait on her, are also entitled to her opinions, stories, beliefs, arguments, and statements of fact.

She goes out of her way to find sale items at other stores, then “tests” the cashiers to see if they give her the deal. Say oranges are three for the price of two at the grocery store. She takes two oranges to the register. If the employee doesn’t point out to her that she can get another one for the same price, they don’t past the test, she goes to their manager and complains about them.

She’s what I’m going to call a “red consumer” because I can’t find and am not familiar with a better business term to describe her. I say “red” because she costs us more than she actually puts in to the store. She gets the cheapest thing on the menu and uses her own cup, so she gets an additional discount. But she also wastes many more of our plastic cups that are for filtered water. She spends hours upon hours at the store, multiple times per day, using the bathroom to wash her cup (when she’s not using the filtered water to do it and then dumping this into the trash can, which we have to take out later, leaking all the way to the Dumpster), to wash her hands, and using the hand dryer on the wall to dry both her hands and her cup. Before we had the hand dryer, she used paper towels by the grubby fistful, and even put them in the toilet, which meant we had to plunge the toilet multiple times in a week.

She uses our phone to call people who she’s managed to finagle a phone number out of for rides. She complains about us to anyone who will listen that we don’t smile enough, say hi often enough, ask her how she’s doing, or say “good morning” to her the way we do other people.

We used to.

When she’s inside the store, she’s eating oranges and leaving the peel all over the table, bitching that the table is dirty and telling us to clean it off, filing her nails, putting on nail polish or taking it off, and clipping her toenails. I’m not kidding. Her English is really bad, which isn’t helped by the fact that she has no teeth. She also has a habit of chain-smoking extra long menthol cigarettes, which puts off regular customers, people who spend maybe five or more bucks per visit, and have stopped coming in as much because they don’t want to try to push their strollers through the front door and her cloud of smoke.

When we have asked her to stop smoking by the door, she gets pissed off and whines. Where is she supposed to go when it’s raaaaaining? How about over to the other side of the building, where there’s an awning?  Why is she supposed to go all the way over theeeere?

For about a week, we got her to smoke on the other side of the building, but she kept putting her cigarettes out all over the sidewalk and parking lot. So we asked her to use the ashcan we got; a tall, plastic device that’s supposed to hold cigarettes that have already been put out. Let me repeat that. It’s a plastic canister that has a small hole at the top where you put no-longer-lit cigarettes. Not burning ones. So, what does she do? Puts her cigarettes directly into it, without so much as knocking off the cherry. She set the butt canister on fire three, maybe, four times, before I yelled at her to stop doing that. Now she puts them out all over the front sidewalk again.

TAH also likes to tell everyone how much she hates their hair. If one of us gets a cut, color, or new style, she’ll point it out, then tell us how we shouldn’t have changed it. This is especially amusing given what she looks like. I would saying something between a Hobbit, the albino from The Princess Bride, and those trolls little old ladies take for good luck to bingo parlors. She doesn’t like any of the other crazy regulars, which is funny. Crazy Pink Haired Lady hates her, she hates Crazy Pink Haired Lady and Creepy Old Pervert. He doesn’t hate anyone, though. There’s a lot of bug-eyed glaring going around the store some mornings.

So TAH is somewhat of an entrepreneur. I have no idea whether or not she’s a legal resident of the U.S., but I do know that she’s more than willing to cook, clean, watch your kids, or do odd jobs for you for a price. I know this because she’s been photocopying the same hand-written note for about two years and taping it to our bookshelf, then getting pissed when it goes missing. Once we remodeled, we got a community bulletin board so people would stop taping things all over our doors and windows and shelves. She’s apparently convinced that I’ve been tearing down her advertisement for quite some time, because she complained directly to the owner that I’d been doing it.

Yesterday morning she came in and stood by the board for a while. I noticed her out of the corner of my eye and, right as Audrey said something that made me laugh, I glanced over at TAH, who was giving me the sort of look clearly intended to make me keel over and die. I laughed even harder, out of reflex, because the scathing, evil glare on her face was really funny. It took me a minute to realize she was intending to bore a hole into my forehead because her ad was missing. And, before I knew it, I was shouting in the middle of the store “You know what, lady? If you have such a huge problem with me, maybe you just shouldn’t come in here anymore!”

Then I saw her ad, which was covered up by someone else’s notice on the board and I got even angrier. I shouted something else about how petty she was to think I would do something so petty and Katie was telling me to just let it go and not let TAH get to me, but I was fuming. I threw down the portafilter and stormed in to the backroom.

I realize I could have handled it differently. I could have walked her ass over to the board and shoved her nose into it, pointing at the ad that had been there all along. I could have knocked that last effing tooth out of her mouth. I could have told her to get the eff out of the store and never come back. I could have told her that all her complaints to our owner have done nothing. I haven’t been chastised, written up, gotten in trouble, or even suggested that I change my “attitude.” The owner said she could care less if TAH ever came back, especially after her dog bit the mail carrier and she ran off instead of giving the carrier her contact information. I could have told her that, but I didn’t.

Maybe next time.

The Name’s Out of the Bag

My neighbor down the street, who also happens to be an employee across the street from where I work, just walked by with her 3-year-old son. Whose name is Elliott. Which just so happens to be the name I’d chosen if I got pregnant and we had a boy. Now I can’t bring myself to even reconsider using it. Elliot Estlin, to be precise, was my choice. As in e.e. cummings. Who never actually lowercased his name; someone else did that for him. And his first name was Edward. But I digress.

Pissy Phase

I’m going through one of those phases (and by “phases,” I probably mean “hormonal changes”) where I’m really irritable about little things. This girl in my Buddhist philosophy class was texting nonstop for an hour today, right next to me. Her acrylic nails were going clickety-clickety-click, tappity-tappity-tap the whole time and it drove me right out of my skin. Ironically, we were discussing the Eightfold Path and I was trying desperately not to violate any of those rules. I couldn’t think of a single nice way to ask her to stop (right speech) and by even allowing myself to be irritated, I was not practicing right thought, understanding, or mindfulness. And, what I really wanted was to rip the damn phone away from her, toss it on the floor, and tear out her fake French manicure. Clearly I’m nowhere near Enlightenment.

Driving home I got cut off twice trying to merge onto 65. The other drivers were in the wrong lane, but apparently couldn’t stand to be behind two cars, so they waited until the last possible minute to veer over, sans turn signal, of course, which sent me into a screaming fit.

I just let the dogs out and Trinity walked in circles for five full minutes before coming to a complete stop right on the sidewalk and absolutely refusing to move. It took her another five minutes just to squat and pee.

I’m pissed at the mosquitoes for biting me so much.

I’m mad that I worked from 8:30 until almost 4 yesterday and I have to go back in tomorrow at noon and close.

I’m irritated that my anthropology professor is making us do so much math and my homework is really hard for that class.

I’m ticked off that Hot Box Pizza charged our card $85 for an order we didn’t make, and the pizza we did order never got delivered and the account hasn’t been refunded yet.

I’m also annoyed with myself for focusing on all the negatives when I have so many things I could be positive about. Mel came by the coffeeshop on her way home from work today and spent an hour and a half just talking to me when she was probably starving and just wanted to get home and relax. I was invited to a Dharma discussion at the Indianapolis Zen Center on Thursday, the Indianapolis Meatout on Saturday, a fundraiser on Wednesday, and lunch on Sunday. Due to work, at least two of those things are going to have to be cut out of my schedule . . . another reason I’m feeling pissy.

Tomorrow’s a new day, though, right? I’ll take my assignment and make my co-worker Rebecca, the one who just got a degree in anthropology, help me with my homework. for now I’m going to veg on the couch, make myself do some bedtime yoga, and get a good night’s sleep.

Babies, Babies Everywhere

Sunday I met a 12-hour-hold newborn named Kaya. She was sort of mauve and her head was a little pointy. She stared directly at me and I tried not to stare at her mother’s breast when she was torn away for me to gaze upon. I kept saying “Holy crap! You had a baby!” And Maureen was like, “I know! It’s crazy!”

Sarah’s starting to show and Mel seems to be doing quite nicely. An old friend from high school is due this week, and my tattoo artist is expected to pop next week.

I had a pap this morning and had to decide whether or not I wanted to get a new birth control prescription. My nice doctor was slightly concerned that I’m not pregnant, but I didn’t tell her that I have no idea how any of that stuff works. Conception and ovulation, body temperatures and thermometers. I’m clearly not quite dedicated to the idea of it, or, as Charlie says, I’d have completely quit smoking by now. But the doctor said everything “looks good down there,” and if I’m not knocked up in the next couple of months, she’ll make sure stuff is operating properly by sending me to an OB/GYN.

I don’t know that I want to take it that far. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I don’t want to find myself being poked, prodded, injected, and inseminated all for the sake of my personal procreation. Not to mention the fact that I can barely afford to make the truck payment this month. Nothing against anyone who has done this, but I don’t think my heart is in it enough to go to those lengths. But my periods are nasty enough being off the pill that I would like to either avoid them for 9 months, or go back on the pill. It would also be nice to time things in such a way that I could take the summer off, although I’ve already discovered that I have to take a math class next summer in order to graduate as planned.

But I guess that’s one thing about babies; you can’t really completely plan for that kind of thing.