Monday, February 16, 2015

Because Paulie Walnuts Wanted To Know About My Valentine's Day Bus Suitor

So last spring I was sitting on the bus reading a book (A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews--highly recommended, starts out hysterical but spirals into despair. Mennonites, man. Not quite the charming, loving, Old-World simple folk that Rhonda Janzen tried to pass her kin off as being). Anyway, this fellow strikes up a conversation and it really piques his interest that I'm a librarian. "Oh I have some old illustrated Bible pages, how can I display them? I love old books." And I tell him a bit about the dangers of direct sunlight and why you prop up books so not to bend the spine, show off my 1 credit hour of archives knowledge.

And then he asks me if I want to meet sometime and go to a movie and I say no. I mean whatever, but I am not attracted, his breath smells, and he seems a bit weird. Also, I reject the idea that just because I dare to be a woman in public doing things I should be macked on by men, especially men who interrupt my reading time. I mean I'll give him points for trying, but I have learned my lesson and I know I cannot be going places with someone after a 10 minute conversation. After 10 minutes my conversational skills are exhausted and I don't need to talk to anyone for at least 6 hours unless we are really on the same page. Like same references, listen to all the same podcasts, have extensive overlap in our reading materials. And I don't "go to the movies" anyway. Have you seen modern movies? I go to the movies with my mom and I don't even like to watch sex scenes with her, and she thankfully has barely acknowledged either of us has ever had sex since she did car sex ed when I was 6. And then of course, I must not want to go out with him because I'm married or have a guy or something and no, I just don't want to go out with you, dude.

So anyway, because my commute is LONG and the bus starts off crowded but thins out (I am usually one of the last 2-3 on the bus after an hour) I would occasionally see him but could avoid him for the next couple months. And then one day he sits next to me and I don't remember how exactly the this conversation gets started, but he makes the assertion that the United States is a ridiculously pro-abortion country. OH, REALLY? EXPLAIN TEXAS. And we are off to the races as I start calling him on his bullshit.

He is not an A+ arguer/discusser. Like maybe a B-. His argument is basically "abortion is bad because GOD" but he won't actually come out and say that. Instead he tries a lot of assertions based along the line that human beings are special, because they bury their dead (this is a big point with him), and you can't explain our evolution fully, and I poke holes in the argument all the way up Scottsdale Road. Which no, because animals mourn their dead. And humans are human because of a series of lucky environmental coincidences and anything could have evolved into humans based on enough time and luck. Maybe we could have been The Cat from Red Dwarf. Oh well there must be something other than evolution because of gaps in the fossil record. Oh you stupid intelligent designist. He tries the old "you must be pro-choice because you've had an abortion" angle. I say if or not, it's not relevant because I am a person with a brain and voting rights, you know. Because as a woman I can't have any opinions that don't stem from personal experience, apparently.

And his final summation, which he delivers with his supposed triumph clear in his voice is, "Well, if women don't want to get pregnant then they should be abstinent." And then I laugh because this fucker has no chance ever with me.

I don't even know what this guy's name is.

Then we abandon the Peak for the summer and then the bus schedule changes and I get on before 7am and I never see him again and that's fine with me.

So on Valentine's Day evening, I'm on the bus again on my side of town and holy hell he gets on. And he sits next to me and he's clearly feeling like "oh, I see that dumb liberal pro-choice girl and maybe I can win her over on Valentine's Day." And I say hello and he starts to talk and 15 seconds later I excuse myself as it's my stop anyway.

And I get off the bus.

Sheesh. My mom is right; I need a car.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Your House Is On Fire, Your Children All Gone--Stefan Kiesbye

If there's one thing I've learned as a librarian, it's that if you can display an item, someone will get interested in it.

This is how I wound up with this book, an impulse borrow as I was checking myself at the library*

It has a fantastic cover design, featuring a girl modeled after the original "Village of the Damned" look with some rustic dead animals hanging in the background. There's an additional nice touch if you turn the book about 30 degrees to the side--the message "IF YOU TELL ON ME YOU'RE DEAD" appears on the cover. Super scary. It promises a tale about a small, isolated town and four friends who grew up there and compares it to both the Brothers Grimm and Stephen King.

The problem with this book is that Kiesbye had one great vignette that exposes the depravity of the town, a village cooking contest that puts various people on edge and ends with the murder of one contestant and her family by the whole town once the social order of who wins the contest is disrupted. Plus they have possibly just eaten human flesh and the murdered were newcomers anyway. After that, it's just going through the motions of murder, witchcraft, incest, rape and maiming until he caps it off with a mention that, hey, there was a concentration camp down the road. When the Nazis show up, they are not even frozen Nazi zombies And like in all horror films, the characters are thinly drawn and second to the shock factor.

There's a reason "The Lottery" is a classic. It's a short story, the horror builds, and once revealed it ends.

At just under 200 pages, this book was great for commute reading--I finished it on one day. But overall, it was just an irritating waste of time.

*Yes, in Arizona you check out your own books at a machine. We did not have that back in Ohio--has it finally become a thing there?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

So Cleveland. So Very Cleveland.

Apparently, Clevelanders are into boasting about how hardcore Cleveland they are because the Republicans are coming in 2016 and LeBron is rejoining the Cavs.

I'm so Cleveland, I still have the exact same job I got when I got out of college 20 years ago.*

I'm so Cleveland, I once punched an Oberlin student in the face at the airport for being annoying. No, they didn't arrest me. It was an Oberlin student.

I'm so Cleveland, I go to Lakewood and I name every bar that was there 25 years ago and who drank there.

I'm so Cleveland, you name a closed parish I can tell you where it is and what ethnicity the original congregation was.

I'm so Cleveland, I can tell you what Central European country your baba came from based on the curve of your nose and your last name.

I'm so Cleveland, I actual have ethnic stereotypes about the difference between Slovaks and Czechs.

I'm so Cleveland, I know how to get to Shaker Square. And when I'm there, I'm mourning the businesses that were there before they got evicted and they put in the Gap that closed 2 years later. (That was in '99-2000.)

I'm so Cleveland, I'm always surprised when an art museum want to charge me money to see the collection.

I'm so Cleveland, Case Western was my reach school.

I'm so Cleveland, I'm indignent when it's suggested I should change or evolve in any way.

*Seriously, my ex.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Watch The Bridge With Me This Summer. Please.

Season 2 of The Bridge started on Wednesday. I watched Season 1 last summer, and it was a delight. Well, okay not a delight--it is a dark and unforgiving show, just like the desert it's set in. Numerous people get killed in gruesome ways furthering the plot, but those deaths aren't titillating. Real events and news form the backbone of this story, and well if there's a weirdo serial killer hanging around, at least he's got a serious socio-political message.

And Lyle Lovett appears in several episodes, at one point carrying a three bean salad that's not a three bean salad, if you know what I mean. So while the first episode maybe didn't hook me, my 25 year crush on Lyle Lovett* kept me watching that second episode and after that I was devoted. I'm devoted because I like character driven dramas with incredibly twisty plots, sly touches of humor and excellent acting, and dialogue that dips in and out of English and Spanish appropriately.

To slightly recap season 1 (no spoilers, just the basics)--one night the lights go out on the bridge that separates El Paso, TX and Juarez, Mexico. When the lights come back on, there's a woman's body left in the middle of the bridge, half in each country. It turns out there's two half bodies switched, which brings police detectives Sonya Cross** and Marco Ruiz together to work the case. Also on that bridge was the car of local journalist Daniel Frye, local socialite Charlotte Millwright with her husband in an ambulance, and local weirdo/social worker Steven Linder, who has a woman in his trunk.

And from them it picks up strands of the drug trade, the prostitution trade, the missing women of Juarez, corruption in the Mexican police, smuggled migrants, and tells the story of what's going on with these characters and the symbiotic American relationship between America and Mexico. It's streaming on Hulu and Netflix at the moment, and the DVDs were released last month.

I was disappointed Matthew Lilliard (formerly best know as Shaggy from the Scooby-Do remake 10+ years ago)as reporter Daniel Frye didn't get an Emmy nod as he is fantastic in the role of a hardcore, functional addict whose journalistic brilliance is just managing to save everyone from giving up on him, kicking him in the ribs and leaving him in the gutter beside the taco stand. You understand why Adriana Mendez (another good performance by Emily Rios) sticks with him, and their actual friendship is refreshing.

Let me tell you, I would watch the spinoff where Daniel Frye and Adriana Mendez hangout and investigate and report on anything, a la State of Play (aka the fantastic British series that is the best thing about smart people thinking, writing and modern journalism that I have ever seen). Considering season 1 ends with them involved in the most local heartwarming story of a local 100 year old woman's birthday gone bad, I think we can look forward to this. Or maybe if we get Season 3, Adriana will do something on Mexican DIY abortion pill usage in Texas, considering what's gone on there in the last year.

So in case you also live in a place where it's too damn hot to leave the house (110 today!)give The Bridge a shot and come leave comments and let's talk and dissect.

*My other 25 year crush is on Henry Rollins. Make of this what you will.
**I promise, before season 2 is over I will deliver my epic Sonya Cross/Asperger's/superpower rant. Maybe multiple times.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

There's Always A Cost To Someone

I sneered a little when I heard about Starbucks' new educations benefits. In general, I am a big believer that a benefit that doesn't fit the individual isn't really a benefit. I can't manage online courses, that's not how I learn. I also don't learn well in 5 week cram sessions. What if you just want an Associate's degree in accounting form the local community college, and not a degree from Arizona State University? ASU is no Harvard. Others came up with other drawbacks of this new program.

Then I thought about it a little more--I live near ASU. They've cut staff and faculty positions at a ferocious rate since 2008 when the economy crashed and the state had its budget crunch (remember how Arizona sold their state office buildings for quick cash and then rented back the office space? Fun times!)during which they cut funding to the three state universities. So...who is going to be teaching all these new online students?

Adjunct professors, working on contract without benefits.

So Starbucks, which prides itself on being good for workers by paying higher-than minimum wages and offering benefits to part-time workers, is actually exploiting another pool of workers. Kind of makes those $5 Create Jobs wristbands seem ironic.

I wonder how Howard Schulz explains all this? Because it seems like fairness for all workers is what we should be striving for, not exploiting one batch to help another.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Best Thing I Bought Recently: Cat Edition

Cain is a big fatty. And as the owner of a pudge pudge, it's been hard to find a good carrier to take him to the vet and other places. He's too big for the Made In America plastic carriers with the side clips--the last one I bought came apart as I was carrying him downstairs. A wire cage is awkward to take on the bus. I had a padded mesh shoulder carrier that was intended for small dogs, but after several years he had torn holes in the mesh and it was only a matter of time before he escaped.

With a semi-annual trip to the vet coming up, I needed a solution. A browse around the internet lead me to dog carriers, and the Snoozer 4 in 1 Roll Around. The large size holds a 30lb dog, so I can put both Cain and Willa in it if needed. I intend to use it as a rolling suitcase carrier, but it also can be worn as a backpack, fastened into the back seat of a car, and folds out into a bed. The small and medium sizes can be taken on a plane and stowed under the seat.

The mesh is a thick rubber, but Cain hasn't even tried to claw at it. It's padded inside, and an easy to clean vinyl-ish material. The attachable pad for the bottom is harder to keep attached--it fell off twice--but I seem to have the trick of attaching it now.

I used it on today's trip to the vet. It got a lot of attention, because hey, crazy cat lady on the bus with a handsome cat in a super posh carrier. Cain still cried on the way up to the bus stop and meowed on the bus, but he seemed to like the rolling after a while and how he could see more of the world but still feel safe. No clawing, and since it has plenty of room it was easy to put him in and hold him while I zipped it up. I hope this is something that I can use to give the cats adventure in the fall.

By the way, I bought this with my own money and that link isn't an affiliate link.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

2 Toddlers, 2 Cats, 1 Adult And A 600 Square Foot Apartment

Tomorrow Peaches and the Plum are coming over for the whole day to hang out. It will be 103 degrees, so our outside time will be limited. I made a list of things for us to do.

Let's brush Cain

Let's give Cain a waterless bath

Let's be very quiet and hope Willa comes out from under the bed

Help Aunt Scar do her laundry

Aunt Scar's bed is a boat. Where are we sailing?

Hiding Monsters--Yes, it's an app, but the Plum likes to play his own version of hide and seek where he is the monster and someone has to find him.

Make a fort out of all Scar's books--I have a lot of books. I don't mind if the kids stack them like blocks.

Make a blanket cave

Watch the newborn kitten cam

Dance party

Take a bath

Take the bus somewhere--Maybe Essence Bakery? The kids like to take the bus.

Pit and eat all the cherries--It's May, therefore the start of the time when I spend half my takehome pay on cherries. I bought Raniers and regular sweet cherries today. So many cherries.

Go to the library--However, the library doesn't open until 1pm. Will we have enough to keep us busy until then?