Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!

December 26, 2008 at 3:29 pm | Posted in Life in the US, Self | 3 Comments

There’s nothing like celebrating the birth of Baby Jesus by going home and pretending you’re 16 again. 

This time I brought Homeboy to my oldest friend’s parents’ house for Christmas Eve.  I drank a lot of wine with her various family members and traipsed down memory lane talking about people from high school I haven’t seen or thought about for over ten years.  This time, we were helped along by Facebook.

The evening culminated as it always does, with her parents yelling at her and her siblings to shut up so they can go to sleep.  Then off to the driveway for the ritual smoking of the Christmas joint.

All the old questions from my adolescence resurfaced in my pot-addled brain: will my mom be awake still?  will she know I’m high? did she leave food for us to reheat and eat?

The answers were: no, no, and yes. Score!

Before chowing down on what we found in my mom’s doggie bags, we partook in yet another comforting ritual from my adolescence: the smoking of the bowl in mom’s driveway.  But this time Homeboy joined in.

Thank you, Baby Jesus, for letting me relive my youthful rituals.  And to all 3 of my regular readers, some of whom may be surprised by my posting about illegal activity: yes, I do have other, more wholesome memories from my teenage years.  But none quite so bittersweet as sneaking into mom’s house ripping high and digging into baked macaroni and cheese with lobster.

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Thoughts, Comments, and Snippets from Today

November 20, 2008 at 11:11 pm | Posted in Self | 2 Comments

Dude with a wonky eye I haven’t seen in months says: “I drive by your house often.”

Gabacha glances around the table nervously.

Wonky Eye Dude: “I’m not stalking you or anything.”

Patrick Swayze is not a very good actor.  And I’m embarrassed by how much I loved Dirty Dancing.

Kid stinking of weed pops up at my office window after my fourth time seeing him that day: “Hi, honey.  I’m home!”

I let him in and ask: “Do you guys spark a blunt and march directly over here?”

High kid: “No.  Well, yeah. Sometimes.”

It’s a delicious feeling to know that nobody has to be privy to the world inside your head unless you invite them.

Charming middle-aged job developer: “Honey, with those boots on, you could be down on X Street.” (area known for having a high concentration of ladies turning tricks for crack.)

Gabacha, deciding whether to be offended or not and going with the latter: “Uncle J, if I wanted to go whoring, I’d certainly be more high class than that.”

Line from a packet of Ramen Noodles: Not only do Ramen Noodles make all kinds of exciting soups, but are excellent when used in salads.

An Inquisitive Gabacha: “So your new project is making bongs and selling them.”

Slightly Tapped Unemployed Friend launches into an extremely detailed account of all the steps necessary to make bongs from looking for hardware at Lowe’s to lovingly placing the piece in his stoned friends’ hands.

Unemployed Friend’s Girlfriend: “Yep, he loves it.  He even brought one to a party as their housewarming gift.”

Piece of dialogue from The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, the book by Umberto Eco I’m reading: “I thought it was a real find.” “Do you know you’re the only man in the world, the only man on the face of the earth from Adam up to now, who when his wife sends him out to buy roses comes home with a pair of dog balls?”

This Shiny, Foreign Object

July 27, 2008 at 9:39 pm | Posted in Self | 2 Comments

I may very well be one of the last of my generation to get a digital camera.  At first, I took the moral high road.  I claimed I wasn’t going to give in to technology and that my 35mm worked just fine, thank you very much.  But then I realized that I had amassed only about 45 pictures since 2002.  I envied my friends, who had close ups of wild flowers on their blogs and kooky self portraits sprucing up their Facebook pages.  And I had been deeply remiss in documenting my dog’s antics and quiet moments on the couch.  There was only that one picture of him wearing a pink tank top that I had put on a disc and a couple from one of those disposable cardboard things back during his puppyhood. 

The turning point was when I silenced a group of about 20 co-workers and management folks at a conference table when I said, “I don’t know how to use a digital camera.”  The whole room went dead quiet, and every single head turned my way.  My boss, who was at the other end of the table started giggling nervously.  I said, “No, really.  I don’t.”  He briefly looked startled, then just looked down at his hands. 

But objects with lots of shiny buttons and multiple cords tend to intimidate me.  I finally said “fuck it” and dragged my husband to Best Buy and randomly picked ths sporty, slate blue number based on some vague details I remembered about pixels and modes. 

I didn’t touch it for about a week although Homeboy claimed to have mastered it after 15 minutes of fiddling around.  I always read instruction manuals, and this time was no different.  But this little document confused me.  It had simple instructions like “press menu” and “turn camera on” in three languages, stacked one on top of the other.  I’d read and understand the English instruction, then my eye would catch the Spanish.  Not realizing that I was reading two different languages (sometimes my brain doesn’t differentiate between the two), I did everything twice.  But only with the most basic mechanics of the camera.  Nowhere does it teach me about the million different flash options the camera provides nor does it tell me with any hint of specificity exactly what is so “easy” about the “easy mode.”

I could probably research these things on the Internet.  I feel confident that I too can master an object that even toddlers (well, perhaps only the most precocious) can use. 

But actually snapping the shutter and taking a photo that isn’t all blurry seems to be beyond me.  Just about 97% of my photos look like I’ve taken them while experiencing a rather fierce episode of the DTs.  What in God’s name am I doing wrong?

The other 3% of the photos that actually look like they were taken by a sober person are all of my dog.  Leo’s coat has never looked so glossy and his countenance has never looked so noble as they do in my close ups. 

I hope that one day the rest of my photos don’t look like I took them while hanging out the window of a car doing 35 mph.

Tips and Tricks for Repurposing Household Items

May 16, 2008 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Quirks, Self | 3 Comments

I don’t actually have any tips or tricks for repurposing household items.  I just absolutely hate the phrase “tips and tricks” and the word “repurpose.”  They seriously grate on my nerves. 

The word repurpose must have appeared 17 times in the last issue of Real Simple.  This magazine is ostensibly geared towards simplifying one’s life.  But the actual target demographic is women who have so much crap that they need more crap to help them streamline the crap they already have.

Example: one of their super duper tips concerned how to keep extension cords organized and untangled.  They suggested placing the coiled cords in plastic buckets.

There are a few assumptions made here:

a) that I have extra buckets that aren’t already in use or used for specific purposes like washing the floor.

b) that I have extension cords that aren’t already plugged into the wall.

c) that I have a place to store my buckets which hold all my extra extension cords.

None of these assumptions is correct.  I do believe that I am not their target demographic.  But the pictures in the magazine sure are pretty.  Perhaps I should repurpose the magazines and start a decoupage project.

Another Long Week Over

May 4, 2008 at 2:04 pm | Posted in Self, The Bucket, Working | 4 Comments

Pretty much every Friday night I feel like someone has beaten the crap after me, all week long.  Normally, I just snuggle up on the couch and turn in early.  But this Friday, I decided to tie one on.  I mean, really tie one on.  If I hadn’t been so hung over on Saturday, I would have been able to make my apology phone calls a little more convincing.  But as it was, I spent much of the day lying on the couch whimpering.  I know that I sent a few texts that I shouldn’t have and perhaps even dialed a few numbers.  First thing I did when I was fairly lucid the next morning was delete the evidence so I wouldn’t know who I harassed.  I’m sure they’ll be more than pleased to remind me of it when they see me next,

This past week was fairly miserable, what with the passing of Your Highness’s brother and the aftermath.  The area around my work was like occupied terrtitory, and at one point, I saw no fewer than seven marked and unmarked police cars circling the block.  The park is absolutely empty, and many of my clients have stopped coming to see me.  Everyone and their mother is wearing “Hell Boi, Rest in Peace” T-shirts and there are mini altars everywhere.  Rumors are flying around crazily, but the only thing everyone is sure of is that a)the shooting seal has been broken and the youth of the Bucket and Central Falls are officially engaged in turf wars and b) it’s going to be a very long summer.

Alas, I believe a drinking binge in which I acted entirely inappropriately was totaly in order.

I do know that I need a little light in my life, and not the pinpricks of joy and silliness that are borne from the sadness and anger I see everyday.  But I need a riot of color and crazy waves of positivity without the backdrop of struggle.  Not sure if I can ever entirely get away from the “dark side” though, which makes me nervous.

Part of me thinks I should get out of this line of work, and become a travel agent or a paralegal.  But just the thought of doing something so unfulfilling makes me want to cry.  I know that we’re supposed to work to live, not live to work, but what about when that work you do truly means something?  My heart is so crowded with the people I’m surrounded by (from others who work in the Bucket to the kids) that I can’t imagine doing a job in which I’m not motivated by love. 

I mean, just when I’m about to run off to join the gypsies when the stress gets to be too much, in saunters the CV Prince who subjects me to a medley of Ace of Base songs.  Where the hell else could I find a twenty two year old macho, arrogant kid who thinks that Ace of Base has “some tight shit?”  Or two fourteen year old kids who will sit in my office silently as we try to remove the wrappers from Starburst using only our mouths?

Little things like these make ambivalence the usual state of affairs for me.

Who’s the Dumbass Now?

April 15, 2008 at 11:17 am | Posted in Self | 7 Comments

I was just teasing Homeboy the other day about how I’m surprised he’s held on to his wedding ring for so long.  He promised that he wouldn’t lose it as the only place he takes it off is in the bathroom. 

Guess who’s got a naked left ring finger now? 

Crap, crap, crap.

I realized it when I went to give a smoke to Home Confinement Boy across the street.  No way I would find it if I lost it crossing Payne Park.  Not if I accidentally flushed it down the toilet.

Crap, crap, crap.

Past Lives and Past Friends

March 30, 2008 at 12:49 pm | Posted in Life in the US, Self | 3 Comments

It makes me sad to think about all of the people that I’ve cared for in the past that are no longer in my life.  I’ve got an address book full of people who have meant a lot to me, but who I haven’t spoken to in years.  People from my time at Wesleyan, summer camp while in high school, my summer in Utah, and from Mexico.  All of these people I was extremely close to for at least a while, but now I wouldn’t know how to find them even if I tried. 

I wonder what it takes for a relationship to transcend a particular set of circumstances and become one that exists no matter where we find ourselves.  I think that those friendships that have petered out mainly did so because they existed at a time in our lives where we were mobile and in the process of defining ourselves. 

What has triggered these thoughts for me?  Well, I brought my life history in pictures to our apartment from my mom’s house and spent some time looking at photos taken over the course of ten years or so.  I had a bunch from my first (and only) year at Wesleyan…pictures of people with whom I shared intense times, conversations, laughs, and drinking binges.  There were dozens of pictures of one friend in particular, the guy who lived across the hall from me.  We were extremely close for that year, then when I left Wesleyan, we stayed in touch and saw each other occasionally.  Of course, communication died shortly thereafter. 

What was so strange was that the very next day, I checked my email and found that he had invited me to be his “friend” on Facebook.  What an odd coincidence…the very day after I had been reminiscing about our friendship, he has located me on Facebook.  So I shoot him a message, sharing this oddity of synchronicity with him.  His response?

Nothing.  Absolute silence.  What I take from this is that some, if not most, of my friendships from my late teens and early twenties are meant to stay in the past. 

And I also wonder what it takes to make a friendship endure.  I really believe that had I stayed in Cancun, I would have felt like I was a part of a circle of people with whom I’d continue to share experiences and love.  But here in the US, we’re all so damn busy.  This, coupled with the fact that most people from Rhode Island still have the same circle of friends and family that they grew up with, can make life fairly isolating and lonely.  And those who have relocated here may very well not stay for long. 

There’s something to be said for a small, tight social circle, but how do you make that circle expand? 

My First Meme

March 28, 2008 at 9:22 pm | Posted in Blogging, Self | 3 Comments

So my meme cherry is officially getting popped!  My deepest apologies to La Canucka for ignoring her children meme, but I just couldn’t come up with anything that wouldn’t be trite and totally coming out of my ass.  I don’t fully understand this meme thing, but I like to talk about myself as much as the next girl. 

What are your top 3 favorite foods?

  • frijol colado, scrambled eggs, and homemade tortillas
  • nachos or anything with cheese, really
  • chocolate cake

What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?

Breathe, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat.  Yep, I’d recommend it.  I’d pretty much recommend that people read anything unless it’s total crap.

What are your top 3 favorite places?

  • Tucson, Arizona
  • the mountains in Utah
  • my couch

What was the last lie you told?

I honestly can’t remember.

What are your favorite 3 sports (to watch or participate in)?

I’m generally not very competitive and I feel no drive to kick major butt so I’m not very good at team sports.  I’d have to say: hiking, canoeing, and lawn games like badminton and croquet. 

What was the last movie you watched and would you recommend it?

I am Legend. I think that was it.  I remember watching a comedy after that, but I can’t remember what it was.  Sure, I’d recommend I am Legend.  I have the same philosophy about movies as I do books.

List 3 things you can see outside of the nearest window.

My car, a church that’s been renovated into apartments, and a half-assed cityscape.

Where was the last place you went?

Out to dinner with Homeboy in a Mexican restaurant in Providence.

What are your top 3 favorite “good causes” or charities?

The one I work for, of course: the Woodlawn CDC.  The International Institute and the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence.  Keep it local!

What was the last thing you did for someone else?

What was the last thing I didn’t do for someone else?  I wish I could remember the last thing someone did for me (other than mommy of course)…but waaah, waaah, waaah, no?  The last thing I did for someone else…brought a client to the School Department for his working papers.

Name 3 places you have never been that you want to visit.

Cape Verde, Central America, and India.  Although I’d pretty much go anywhere.  Except for Indiana.  I don’t care much about Indiana.

What was the last thing you threw in the garbage/recycling?
A bazillion Staburst wrappers from our Friday afternoon candy eating orgy.

Name 3 things on your bedside table.
My journal, the book I’m currently reading, and condoms.  Was the last one too much info?  If so, then the third is my alarm clock.
Describe or name the last piece of art you looked at.

Um, a T-shirt design for Pawtucket Peace Week.  Does that count?

What are the top 3 things that your job requires you to think about?
Only three?  It’d have to be: paperwork and numbers, where the hell my clients are going to find jobs in this shitty economy, and how to balance the needs of my clients with the mountain of documentation I have to provide to comply with the funders.

What was the last musical or theatrical event that you attended?

The Peace Rally today where I saw: Love Peace, a group of teenagers who does skits to educate people about interpersonal violence, Project Peace, and various kids who performed just because they wanted to.

What are the first 3 things you would do if you won the lottery?
Are we talking a thousand dollars on a scratch card or the big bucks?  If it’s the latter, I’d pay off my debts, help Homeboy’s family, and buy a house in Mexico.
 

Describe or name the last serious injury or illness you had?

Thankfully, I’ve never been truly ill thus far, but I did suffer from gastritis from eating too much chile.

What are the top 3 things that you wish you could do?
I wish I could: do a big-girl pull up, stop living from paycheck to paycheck, and be a little more Zen in my daily life.

What was the last thing that someone said to you that you will remember forever?
This is a hard one for some reason.  I have a hard time remembering what people say to me.  That’s why I carry a little notebook to write down things that people say that I want to remember.  The last entry was from yesterday (which I also blogged about) when Your Highness told me that so-and-so was “as cool as the other side of the pillow.” 

I know that you’re supposed to tag your blogging buds when you finish a meme, but really all of the people whose blogs I read and I actually know have been tagged.  So I figure I’ll tag some folks whose blogs I read although they don’t know I exist.  Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t think they’d be particularly thrilled about being tagged by a stranger…so this strand of the meme trail will be left unattached. 

A Semi-Ode to Testosterone

February 7, 2008 at 12:39 pm | Posted in Quirks, Self | 5 Comments

When I was teaching ESL in Woonsocket, I was constantly surrounded by women.  I definitely felt a lack of testosterone-infused presence, so much so that I was hungry for a little masculinity.

See, I absolutely adore men.  I love how the air gets warmer when they’re around and the atmosphere changes.  It must be the pheremones, but if a particularly fine specimen is in my orbit, my ears start buzzing.  And if he smells good, I get dizzy.

I adore how they walk, especially when they saunter like a cat.  The phrase “a long cool drink of water” springs to mind when I watch the ones who move slowly.  I love when it seems they’ve got a bass beat throbbing in their ear and it’s mirrored in the rhythm of their walk.  I love to watch them in their element, be it a baggy-pants swagger down a city sidewalk or a shirtless, shoeless fisherman’s spring over the edge of his boat into the water. 

And I could go on and on about their voices, the deeper the better.  Get me on the phone with a deep-voiced slow talker, and I feel like I’m swimming in mercury.  I hear the way they maneuver the language they feel most at home with, and it’s like pouring warm water from a gourd down my back. 

I fall in love in little ways countless times a day, even if it’s only for an instant. 

But they’ve always got one fatal flaw that uncovers itself after a while.  Not the little quirks that every person has that may be irritating but forgivable.  But the giant, yawning flaws that make me wonder what in God’s name is going through their brain.  Case in point: an old, old friend who is smart, articulate, and funny as hell.  All good, until upon further examination you realize that he has no impulse control.  If you piss him off, he will pounce on you like a hyena or verbally abuse you until you cry.

It’s this kind of weirdness that seems ingrained in each and every man I know.  It’s just a matter of time before the exact nature of a man’s profoundly strange psyche becomes apparent.

There But for the Grace…

December 18, 2007 at 9:08 pm | Posted in Life in the US, Righteous Indignation, Self, Working | 2 Comments

I have to admit, I’m a bit of a forum whore.  I’ve lost entire hours of my life giving the same advice over and over again on forums such as those found at Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree.  Every now and again, I see posters make comments about visiting Isla Mujeres (invariably spelled Isla Majeres or Isle Mujars or some such massacring of the place name) or downtown Cancun so that their children can see how poor Mexicans live and realize how lucky they are.

No manches, this gets my panties in a wad.  Such condescension cloaked in the guise of searching for “authentic teaching experiences.”  It reminds me of those tours of favelas in Rio, where tourists ride around in buses to gawk at Brazilians living in abject poverty.  And they take pictures! 

How dehumanizing! How flipping arrogant can people be, that they take their tots to the “other side” in the hopes that their children stop sniveling about the inhumanity of not getting an iPhone the moment they are potty-trained. 

This gawking, this objectifying of the poor that makes me all twitchy with discomfort.  But I think it makes me so because I have some of it in me.  I was reminded of my nauseau at reading comments from forum posters that there’s nothing like seeing a small, shoeless brown Mexican child playing in a charco to teach their kids what it means to be grateful because of thoughts I had at work today. 

I had been doing intake for a Cape Verdean youth who lives in a group home and reflecting on how I’d be able to work with him on getting a job when he obviously has difficulty completing simple paperwork himself.  And I thought, “Man, I think I have it tough.”  And then I thought, “No mames, Gabacha, you’re just as bad as the rest. No wonder you recoil when you see comments from the privileged revelling in their privilege at the expense of the poor, overlaid by sympathy.”  Well, actually it didn’t come out quite so wordily in my head, but you get the idea.

How dare I use my interactions with people to pat myself on the back for not having a scary, dangerous, and difficult life. 

I’m lucky, damn lucky.  But the day that I compare myself to someone and consider that I’m superior in any way and think that it’s okay is the day that I hope someone smacks me upside the head for being the worst kind of colonizer. 

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