Archive | March, 2007

Slackmaster 3000

22 Mar

Imported from MySpace blog

Dear God, someone save me from myself. Instead of tackling the giant pile of work-related crap I have to do, I am obsessively transferring all CDs in the house onto iTunes. A worthwhile pursuit, yes, but it’s not really bringing in any income. It has, however, brought up a number of interesting questions, such as:

  • Where did I get a factory copy of a U2 CD? The Oasis CD’s origins are even more mysterious.
  • How did said U2 CD become stuck (literally) inside its plastic sleeve? And what is the substance that stuck it there?
  • Who’s going to stop me from eating all of Avery’s birthday cake before she gets home tonight?
  • Why do I have so much Tower of Power? What’s the deal with my embarrassingly comprehensive Information Society collection?
  • Who put a Barenaked Ladies in my CD collection? And why would anyone do such a thing??
  • What’s up with that evil-looking potato in the fridge?
  • How is it that I seem to have amassed every single Nine Inch Nails album ever made, but I don’t own a single Prince CD, and my Ani Difranco collection is incomplete at best?
  • Why don’t I have more Leonard Cohen? Massive Attack? Liz Phair? Why don’t I have any Johnny Cash?

Of course, it also confirms my suspicion that I may have every Tori Amos song ever made. Or at least every Tori song available to dedicated Tori fans who haven’t yet crossed the threshold of “willing to kill/maim for Tori tracks.”

Easily distracted

16 Mar

Imported from MySpace blog

On my way to the closet to see if my boots match my skirt, I have to pass through the bathroom, where we keep our tiny little stereo. I look at it and think, “Gee, some music would be nice,” and proceed to dig through the small pile of CDs that end up there after many shower-music sessions. I pick one out and skip through the first few songs. While I’m doing this, I look down and see my makeup bag in all its shiny glory and think, “Today is a glitter day.”

I reach for the glitter, but before I get there I decide I need to check the time to see if I have to start walking to meet my lady for lunch. I see I’ve got plenty of time but decide I need to check the accurate time on my phone, since our clock radio is set a few minutes ahead.

I begin walking around, looking for my purse, which is where my phone should be. I pad about the house a few times, and the purse cannot be located. Meanwhile, I remember my intention to check the boot/skirt issue and head for the closet again. While I’m there, I remember the last time I used my phone was near the full-length mirror, to send a text which may or may not have been about that day’s outfit. As I try to remember what I last did with my phone, I remember the search for my purse and begin wandering aimlessly, keeping an eye out for either the purse or the phone.

I eventually find the purse, but it’s got no phone in it. I have an internal dialogue about how neat it would be if I could just call my phone to find out where it is. Meanwhile, I decide it’s time to start assembling the various stuff I need to bring with me to work — dinner foodstuffs, paperwork and work shoes to change into once I get there.

Somehow, all the work stuff I’ve gathered ends up in three different places in the house — the food on the kitchen counter next to the fridge, the shoes on the dining room chair, the paperwork on the couch. After I run into the bathroom to skip a song I hate and realize I’ve forgotten to brush my hair, I begin rounding up the wayward supplies and discover my phone on top of the refrigerator.

By now I’ve forgotten why I needed it in the first place, but decide I might as well reunite it with my purse, but I can’t find it. I begin wandering around the house aimlessly again, run into one of the cats lazing in the sun and give him/her a pet. The CD I was ripping onto the computer makes a satisfying “ding,” so I break away from Adorable Kitty #1.5 and head for the computer, where I find my purse, and not one but two phones. After determining which is mine and depositing it in its proper location, rounding up everything I need to take with me, strapping walking shoes to my feet and stepping out the door, I realize I’ve forgotten to retrieve the boots I wanted in the first place.

And that’s why I don’t match today.

Word of the day

14 Mar

Imported from MySpace

Learning new words, especially slang, is always fun, so I subscribe to Urban Dictionary’s word of the day e-mail. Yep, I’m a nerd.

Anyway, the entries for NAACP are appalling. Unlike Wikipedia, Urban Dictionary seems to let anyone write and edit entries. I should know, since I’m responsible for the gayploitation entry, and Avery is wholly responsible for this awesome, made-up phrase.

Go ahead, check out the 22 definitions for NAACP I’ll wait. Really.

Did you have fun? Is your mouth agape? Are you just shocked at the number of complete idiots who are using computers these days? And here we were, hoping that user-generated Web content was going to be this untameable beast of accuracy and intelligence, not just free speech. It’s not until page four of definitions that we get even a remotely accurate definition of what the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is. The preceding pages are filled with racist slurs and general drek.

Another interesting facet of Urban Dictionary is its users ability to rate definitions. Supposedly, this might help people to distinguish useful definitions from the rest. Each entry gets either a thumbs up or down from each reader. If you check out the NAACP definitions, you’ll notice something even more appalling: the ones filled with vitriol received the most thumbs up. The lone accurate entry received a disproportionate number of thumbs down.

Where, oh where, are our nation’s word nerds heading? Dictionaries, user-edited or not, urban or not, should be bastions of intelligent discourse, not cyber-soapboxes for crazies.

It’s not just that the views of the people who posted definitions are racist and politically incorrect. They have a right to their opinions, and first amendment protection and all that. It doesn’t surprise me that the world is full of assholes. But what bothers me is that the overwhelming proportion of entries were racist. What happened to all the normal people? Where were they when all this was going on? Or is the anonymity provided by posting with a pseudonym with little to no accountability simply letting out the worst in everyone?

Self-indulgent naval gazing

8 Mar

Imported from MySpace blog

Growing up, I was always heaped with praise about my intellect — from my teachers, from my peers, from my parents (of course, few parents don’t think the world of their children, but still…) and in particular, encouraged to write. Writing, they always said, was my strongest subject, and something from which I could easily extract a richly rewarding if not financially comfortable career.

“Why don’t you enter this short story in this contest, Sarah?” they’d ask, hoping their star student could win some sort of prize that might eventually bring much-needed funding to a rural school so poor that its students sometimes attended history classes sans books.

I was in Brain Bowl*, and our coach always put me in when our team was lagging, because he knew that I would usually be able to bring up the score significantly. I was in Mathletes, despite the fact that math was, and still very much is, my weakest subject. Other kids in class tried to cheat off my papers. One of my teachers signed my yearbook: “I expect much from you, Sarah.”

A telling statement that I felt had double meaning: he hoped to see me go far in life, putting my brain to good use; but there was a veiled threat, there, too, conveyed in that looming underline — he meant if I didn’t go far, he would be sorely disappointed.

Fast forward about seven years, and suddenly I find myself miles away from where I started#. The first thing people notice about me isn’t my smarts, it’s my perky personality, my quirkiness, or my boobs. Sad, but very much true — and it’s not that, in the past, people first “noticed” my smarts, since it usually takes at least a cursory amount of conversation before you can determine whether or not someone is an intellectual match for you — they assumed I was smart because I was extremely shy, mousy, and wore big glasses. Then, as now, people make snap judgements based on appearance and first impressions, and I find it hard to blame them since I’m just as guilty, if not more so, of judging at first sight.

I blame the collegiate experience for my transformation. The classes in college were no harder than those during high school, the people no less daunting. But at one point I made a decision: either remain entombed in my mousy shell, letting only parts of myself out for people who worked extra-hard to get through to me, gradually building up a friend base over several years; or compensate by becoming the exuberant, outgoing, shamelessly bubbly Sarah that we all know and love today.

She was in there all along, she just had been beaten down over the years by a number of mistimed moves and unfortunate experiences. And she accomplished her task splendidly: I had a stupid amount of fun in college, cavorting around and meeting so many people I couldn’t remember all their names. All the same, she changed the way people viewed me. I was no longer the quiet genius (debatable, you might say, but perception seems to be more than half of reality), and somehow became alternately the ditzy brunette, the giggling stoner, the bitchy pretty girl, the fashionista, the girlfriend, the Mary Tyler Moore of wherever. The most cutting judgement I ever got, probably because I knew it was at least partly true, was “fake” from a girl down the hall I had thought was a friend, if not at least an ally.

The trouble now arises when this perception gets in the way of my ambition. No one thinks of me as “management material” anymore, or capable of anything more than what I force them to think I’m capable of. Maybe it comes with the territory of adulthood that encouragement is eked out only in begrudged teaspoonfuls and not heaped like so many quarts… but all the same, I crave it. I want that “good job, Sarah, you sure are one smart cookie” crap. I want it from my superiors at work, from my peers at work, from the people who should know me best in the world, and from the people who don’t.

I hate it when people I first meet make inaccurate assumptions about my depth based on how I look or dress, or how much I smile. It seems that, to them, friendliness and enthusiasm must be in inverse proportion to intelligence and worth as a human being. The nicer I am, the less people like me. Or, they may like me, but subtly put me down in front of me, or wave away my ideas and insights like gnats.

So the question becomes, how much do I want to revert back to my Brain Bowl self in order to garner the respect I think I deserve? That time in my life was an unqualified unhappy one; being shy may gain you a far-off admirer or two, but few actual friends, and leads to an awfully lonely existence. Additionally, being perceived as smart, for me at least, came with a number of trade-offs. My more frivolous dreams, like becoming a ballet dancer or joining the cheerleading team, were laughed off like my ideas sometimes are now. But I’m pretty sick of people hating me on sight, or underestimating me, or turning me into some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

* Brain Bowl is, for those of you who were fortunate enough to do something much cooler in middle and high school, a trivia-type game involving opposing teams of bespectacled social outcasts and buzzer boxes answering questions about Greek mythology, math, literature and other dorky stuff. Cool? Definitely not. But there was free pizza at the practices sometimes.

# Figuratively, okay? Sheesh.

In search of a potato

1 Mar

Imported from MySpace blog

A visit to one of my city’s discount grocers is like a social experiment for me.

I went there the other month to acquire a potato, some sour cream and various other foodstuffs. I grabbed my cart and began wielding it, maneuvering through the clumps of young mothers with newly expanded hips on which to balance wailing whelps; teenagers clad in hand-me-down Wal-Mart fashions loudly snapping their gum and trying to look bored; crack heads twitching and picking through the bargain bin bulk section; strutting grown-up high school dropouts wearing low-slung pants showing off their practiced swaggers, perfected over a lifetime of afternoons spent swigging 40s on tattered couches on sagging front porches; morbidly obese grandparents wheezing their way toward the frozen food aisles, tattered t-shirts hanging off their fat rolls proclaiming their allegiance to the Chicago Cubs or emblazoned with outdated slogans from the ’80s.

An acne-scarred woman in her late 30s screamed into her cell phone in the produce section, berating the person on the other end for not warning her about the crowd that Winco always produces around the first of the month, when welfare checks arrive, and food stamp funds are replenished. And, she hollered, on Super Bowl weekend, too! Ah, the Super Bowl, when God-fearing Americans everywhere get together to celebrate the athleticism and physical prowess that is so prized in our culture by drinking in excess, eating salty, greasy animal byproducts and screaming incoherently at large-screen televisions in smoky bars.

It took me a solid three minutes to get my greedy little fingers around a potato. After patiently waiting for a mullet-sporting family with shiny black Raiders jackets in front of me to finally stop yanking their children about and move on to another aisle, I had been parked in front of the potato section for what seemed like an eternity. Likening the crowd to a herd of obstinate sheep unaware of their surroundings, I decided to change my tactic: instead of waiting for them to notice me and let me pass, I barreled ahead, letting them know by my steely gaze and purposeful stride that it was get out of the way or get sliced open with my cart-shaped cage of knotted steel. It worked momentarily, until a middle-aged ex-meth user / gas station attendant announced loudly that if you’re in a hurry, Winco is not the place to be.

I stopped. I thought about what he’d said. I then shrugged, abandoned my cart, and carefully but quickly fled the scene of my social discomfort. I got back in the car and drove all the way across town to the decidedly more bourgeoisie Albertson’s, where I could shop without having to rub elbows with the rabble.

So what does it mean that the poverty-stricken residents of Medford made me so uncomfortable that I had to leave? It can’t be that I hate poor people: I stood in the poor kid’s line at the cafeteria in my middle school; I wore the same three pairs of pants with holes in the knees for most of my early adolescence; survived without shiny new CD players (or any CD player at all). My family’s class status has swung wildly during my lifetime, which means a number of things, one of which is I’m pretty comfortable in a wide range of social situations. Maybe I was just cranky. Maybe I just really hate football. But maybe it’s just a cultural thing.




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