Saturday, August 25, 2007

Cosmic Holes, PMS and Perspective

It’s that time of the month again.

It’s that time when blood flows from me, and I stick spongy cotton up my entrance way in an attempt to thwart threats of panty paint scribbles and menstrual malodors. It’s that time when the haphazard viewing of a wailing baby and the sing-song intonation of a bee zzzz-ing around a flower fill me with purposeful understanding of an interconnected world- cyclical, alive and fertile.

But, more importantly: it’s that time when I have a socially-acceptable excuse for being unpredictable, socially intolerant and seemingly uncaring of the petty, personal plights of others.

This month, the timing couldn’t be better.

It just so happens that over the last few days I have been feeling abnormally unsympathetic towards the woes and tiny traumas of my fellow humans (…or, hu-people, as we feministically-correct like to call us).

I pity every emotion-exposing soul-bearer who has shared their problems with me recently only to get a slow shrug and a “so what?” eyebrow flick in response. Each and every one of the confiders deserves better…

But what can I do? I have been busy. I have been busy braiding my thoughts into rastafarian dreads, trying to contemplate the vastness of the universe and the immensity of potential nothingness.

Yeah..., it sounds like philosophical hopscotch on a bed of psychedelically-altered, eastern-religious rice, I know, but it’s pretty sane stuff. Really. Especially, considering what we are learning these days…

Astronomers just recently released their findings of an enormous expanse of universe devoid of anything…er… everything… (See this and do some googling). Basically they just found a huge patch in the universe’s quilt that has NOTHING on it. This means that grandma didn’t embroider any holiday prints there, didn’t glitter-glue any decorative sparkly stars, ringed planets or any visible, shiny sequins. She didn’t even spill any tea or release any scented, dyspeptic gases there. It’s a big, empty patch in our universal quilt with NOTHING on it.

And by big, I don’t mean like the size of your rich neighbor’s pimpin’ new Sports Utility Vehicle with GPS and automated pubic hair-drying capacity. It’s not big like the size of your ex-lover’s thighs, your continent, this planet or even the Milky Way galaxy. It’s more like 1 billion light years in diameter big…

Well, let’s try this. Have you ever spent a romantic night under the stars and wished that you could take your sexy companion to the brightest star in sight for an evening of nefarious debauchery? If you had the right travel agent who could book you a flight traveling at the speed of light, you could get to your destination of passion and unbridled euphoria in no less than 2 years. Yes, that’s 2 light years, minimum.

However, to cross this patch of recently found, grandma flatulence-absent cosmic nothingness would take you I BILLION years, traveling the speed of light. Business class.

Yeah, it’s pretty damn big. And pretty astoundingly vacant. And pretty thought-masturbatory.

So, this week, when people told me about their malfunctioning iPods, bedbug infestations, childhood traumas, psycho boyfriends, and parking dilemmas, I had to giggle at the insignificance of their perceived catastrophes.

Luckily, I could reference the socially-accepted ‘woman’s bloody time of the month’ excuse for my lack of sympathetic decency.

And then, I could go back to worrying about my apartment deposit and Lindsay Lohan’s cocaine-anaesthetized rhinoplasty…

Monday, August 20, 2007

Beard Confessions

I’ve never understood why criminal confessions were so hard to get.

I mean, why does getting the truth out of someone always involve some torturous combination of physical brutality, psychological attack, inhumane intimidation, threats on family, sleep deprivation and ridiculous good cop/ bad cop routines (at least, in the Hollywood films and in U.S. off-shore detainment facilities)?

I just don’t get it.

Getting someone to confess their most hidden, unspeakable inner secrets is easy.

I do it every day.

All you need is a broth of new culture, a pinch of mild alienation, one heaping fingernail full of introspection, and a foreign language to translate the flavor. That’s it.

I mean, if I can do it, anyone can. I was never trained in the art of interrogation. I’m just a high-poverty-line ESL teacher. And, yet, just this week, I learned about a Taiwanese man’s forbidden liaisons with a Chinese woman of royalty, a Korean gal’s botched reconstructive facial surgery, and a Saudi Arabian’s story of claiming his wife upon first sight at age five and ‘re-having’ her at age 14.

And, it’s true. Speaking a second language allows you to say (and even think) things you would never feel comfortable or permitted to express in your own language.

That’s why I wasn’t at all surprised today by any of my students’ summaries of their respective childhoods. (We were practicing the form: “I used to…”)

“He used to jog, but now he watches 'American Idol'.”

(Aww… that’s cute.)

“When she was young, she used to collect stamps, but now she doesn’t. And she used to love 8-Man. He was a power magic cartoon hero. But now she doesn’t like.”

(Aww… that’s cute.)

“He used to use scissors cut worms. He used to pretend like he famous cooking chef… But, now he doesn’t cut worms. However, he is good at cooking.”

(Aww…that’s cute… in an I-used-to-fantasize-about-sea-urchins kind of way)

“She used to have a beard. She used to feel embarrassed because of beard.”

(Aww…that’s what? A beard? Why, that’s just trauma with fewer calories.)

“Yes, uh, she used to have a beard. This beard it was very dirty and it make.. uh.. made many problems. It is- was very noisy and it sometimes make-made messy. But now, she doesn’t have a beard.”

As a compassionate teacher aware of the unintentionally-revealed secrets exposed when conversing in a foreign language, I nodded and smiled, thinking to myself what an adept extractor of buried confessions I was. Yes, I had uncovered a poor Turkish woman’s young struggle with facial hair. So there, Guantanamo Bay questioners! Eat my graceful, torture-less tact!

Of course, now as I’m beginning to get my resume together for the secret service interrogation job I have always dreamed of having, I’m beginning to doubt my super-extraordinary, clandestine intelligence-unveiling abilities.

After all, when a Mexican from Guadalajara says “beard,” he probably just means “bird”….

And… unfortunately, I can’t think of a single Intelligence Agency that would be impressed by an interrogator with unmatched ability to expose past pet information.

(“Yeah, he might be planning to simultaneously detonate bombs in every Starbucks around the globe, but I’m not sure. What I do know, though, is that he had a guinea pig named Poinky when he was eight.”)

I’m ready to admit that I might not meet the qualifications to become a successful interrogator.

My aspirations of becoming an animal psychiatrist, however, are not yet squashed.

(“As a young parakeet, he was once called a mustache. That’s when all of the psychological abuse began…”)

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I just turned 29 years old.

And I’m pretty damn happy about that… though not overly zealous. I mean, to me, a birthday is just another day; or more precisely, another day I am alive and in awe of the universe, and a day I can ‘cry if I want to’ and contort my face in otherwise unacceptable positions while blowing out flaming wax sticks. It’s pretty special, yes, but no more special than any other magnificent day when I scrunch up my facial muscles and purse my lips in the privacy of my own bathroom.

That’s why I was surprised at how many birthday-wishers plummeted into well-intentioned, graceless verbal acrobatics around the apparently dismal and scary fact that I had almost spent 30 years alive and healthy:

“Happy Birthday, -c! Don’t worry, though: you have one more year before you’re Old!”

“Happy B-day! It’s amazing you’ve led such a full life! Soon you’ll be shaving your nipples and chin!”

Call me a liar. Call me a fake. But, I swear, I have never been afraid of growing old. I have never suffered from gerascophobia, as it is medically called. If anything, I think getting old is an evolutionary sign of strength and virility.

In my opinion, getting old is sexy. I think gray hair, wrinkles and experience are the hottest attributes anyone could have. I think an intelligently expressed opinion over a racing, over-heating heart is more vagina-moistening than any unexamined proclamation from a physically-fit, wrinkle-less youngster on a treadmill any day.

That’s right: I’ll take man-tits and nose hairs over ignorance or stupidity, hairy hands down.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Just because I’m not a sufferer of gerascophobia (fear of getting old) or rhytiphobia (fear of getting wrinkles), doesn’t mean I don’t have other irrational fears.

I’ll admit I am slightly ergophobic (fearful of work and responsibility), plutophobic (fearful of wealth), emetophobic (fearful of vomiting), and apiphobic (fearful of bees). (*Honestly, if I were a character in Orwell’s 1984 and were trapped in a cage with work responsibility, a bunch of bees, a stack of Hamiltons reading ‘In God we Trust’ and the threat of lunch regurgitation, I would not only admit that 2 and 2 were 5, but also that the Earth was flat and that George W. deserved to be elected supreme Dictator of Positive Progress for eternity.)

I’d say I got off pretty easy with my fears, really. To think, I could have been one of the unfortunate souls who has a paralyzing fear of ticking clocks (chronophobia), a debilitating and antidisestablishmentarianistic fear of long words (Sesquipedalophobia), or even worse a fear of opinions (Allodoxaphobia), a fear of erect penises (Medorthophobia) or -most horrific of all- of thinking (Phronemophobia).

Yup, I'd say I'm pretty lucky. Not only am I excited by the fact that I am growing older, but I do not have an irrational fear of chickens at dusk or of toothpaste tubes taking over the world.

And, those, I'm sorry to say are not claims everyone can make.

*Edit/Update 1: I sometimes feel angst about dinner conversations. Could I be