Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Puppeh Log

Sometimes my mother gets angry whilst driving. She'll be complacently steering her Prius and a '95 toyota will do something naughty. And maybe she'll throw out the s word, or the f word if she's really frustrated.

Me, as being the oldest and deeply emotionally indulged child, will usually pick sarcastically and continually at her ourbursts until she reaches a completely reasonable conclusion after a good half an hour of back and forth. "JUST LET ME BE MAD"

I feel like this will be a theme in the close relationships I have throughout my life. I have often participated in that chicken dance of remaining calm when all I want to do is rip my own molar out. Today, a biker (NOTONTHEBIKEPATH) brushed very closely by me. I got scared and almost made myself fall down. For a moment, I was completely powerless to my indignant rage. I had to consciously restrain myself from the physical manifestation of my mother's f word. Which would have been shoving his road biking ass over.

I have had this Mexican stand off with my mother, friends, once or twice my sister, boyfriend (although I am sure he didn't notice or care as long as I wasn't physically beating him.) It is never healthy, it's sadistic, backwards, it incapacitates you, it doesn't accomplish much unless your relationship revovles around frivolity, one-upping, and vodka (I'm not knocking that, it actually sounds really fun) but still, i indulge. The emotional constipation of refusing to be angry, refusing to lose, refusing to admit you were wrong, that it doesn't matter, or yes, maybe those jeans do make you look fat.

So thus far in my third decade of life, I have learned one (amoung others, i swearz) very important thing. Although it has been said paitence is a virture, I have to stress that modesty, true honest, respectful blushing modesty is one of the most attractive attributes in the world. in the whole, wide world.

My junior year of high school I was in pre-calculas. Let it be known, my expiriences with "numbers" and "figures" have never been positive (haha). To me math is limitless headaches, chills, sweats, bruises, weakened immune systems, nausea and constipation. The academic aids virus. Herpes. Dysentary. Bad things. I always thought Isosceles was a wizard until geometry. I think people who speak math are absolutely glorious, clean people who posess a magical brain power that is both inspiring and frightening. And they can read. Aliens.

Anyway, somehow I had dragged my way through geometry and algebra 2. But pre-cal was starting to unravel my AP child fascade. I wasn't good at math, I was just motivated and terrified. Our teacher was a brilliant and eccentric man, who it was rumored, owned a yacht, Jaguar, and many degrees and accolades. Ray Chayo. It was like saying Mufassa; it had that kind of reverberation. I have to grin looking back at the nervous dread I felt just walking upstairs to his classroom.

Ray Chayo was a creative man, and his alter ego manifested itself in various extra credit assignments. However these assignments weren't simply tedious worksheets designed to put off those with poor work ethics, shoe-in college applications, or, er, lives, they were contests. My teetering, delicate, on-life-support B threatened to flat line at any moment, and holding an extra credit contest was like throwing a steak to the starving. My equally enthused, but far more talanted classmate and dear friend Peter (he graduated from Cal in 3) agreed. We were definetly going to win, nobody wanted this like us. Nobody.

There were two contests, one centered around the class and the other was an individual competition centered around the mathematical concept of logarithims. My Chayo explained that participants were to find a small, carry-able log and make it into something clever and innovative. ART. WORDS. PUNS. I was ecstatic, here was a place where I could finally shine, instead of avoiding eye contact. The right side of my brain trembled in anticipation. We can do this.

This was one of the only times in my life in which i was diabolical. I often try to be diabolical, but my harebrained revenge or conspiracy schemes usually lose their potencey after an hour or platter of bbq chicken wings. How can you be angry when there are chicken wings? Once I pounded a confession out of my boyfriend over a past escapade he had. His forced and trembling anecdote was excatly what I didn't want to hear, and I almost wept I was so turned off. But then I opened my mini fridge and furiously knawed on the left over chicken wings we brought home after an early dinner. Unsurprisingly, I felt better.

But anyway, junior year, with my mini log in hand, I was diabolical as shit. I turned the wooden cylinder over in my hands, sweating over how to make it so hilarious and adorable that Chayo would be hard pressed NOT to love and prize me.

I finally decided on "puppy log," and in an homage to my own personal canine friends, this puppeh log was going to be a poodle. Armed with felt, mini boas, socks, pillow stuffing, red ribbon (for tiny bows above the ears) and about five hours of my night when i should have been doing, ohh I don't know, PRE CALCUAUS, I transformed nature's phallic joke into the cutest fucking poodle ever. Puppy log. Bam. No One could resist.

And oh, if you think I was cocky as a fifth grader (c. previous blog) the day I brought my puppy log to school took the cake. I was brimming with artistic genius. I carried the thing in a small shopping back, as to preserve its structure. People would ask me "Hey, Sonia, what's your log," and if felt I couldn't trust them, I would say I didn't make one. I felt this was an appropriate time to use discretion, so much was at stake.

When I got to Chayo's class, I gingerly took the puppy log out of its bag, and placed it on the counter with the rest of the logs. I looked over them derrisively, a clown, a clarinet, a man log...pah! Nice try, fouth period. I went back to my seat to gaze at puppy log from a different vantage point. Unfortunately, from where I sat, puppy log kind of looked like a misshapen cotton ball. I should have heeded this omen but I dismissed it, knowing Chayo would recognize my craftmanship and delightful play on words.

I joined my friend Peter at our usual spot of freak outs and shit talking to rehash our logs. He had run out of time, forgetting that the logs were due today. To salvage his situation, he quickly constructed a black top hat out of contruction paper, glued it on top of a long skinny log, and christened it "Lincoln log." While I appreciated his quick thinking, I didn't honestly assess Peter's lincoln log as a threat to my prize, I was more concerned with the clown one which had a big red nose and colorful outfit.

The bell rang, and Chayo accumulated our attention in his quiet way. He went through all of the logs, asking each student to call out their creation's name. Then we had class. I was put off, I wanted validation and confirmation NOW. Chayo explained he would evaluate them and let us know who won later that week. Then he went to the board and began mumbling brilliantly. I was irreversibly dissapointed, and spent the rest of the period signing my name in cursive and drawing poodles.

When Chayo did eventually announce the winner, it wasn't me. Grinning softly, he held up Peter's top hatted log and murmured"Lincoln log," shaking his head with pleasure.

...This was an interesting feeling. I wasn't just dissapointed, I felt hugely humiliated. It's not as if I sat at the head of the classroom, dunce cap on puppy log's and my head with the entire class chucking crumpled up homeworks at us, the humilitaion was inside. I couldn't believe I had waltzed around school, carrying a fucking dog log in a Nordstrom shopping bag like Paris Hilton. The icing on the cake came sixth period. I was a staffer for Yearbook, and the 30 odd kids all had our sixth period to complete the gigantic book. One of the few male editors, P.j. James, found my poor puppy log, for he (the puppy stick) hath no longer a carrying case.

"Ha, look at this," decreid P.j, clad in his faded Ambercrombie jeans and zip sweatshirt. "It's a little doggy." He then lowered poor puppy log to his croch, and humped it.

I remember coming out of the computer room to see stupid P.j. raping my loser puppy log. My first thought was WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, but since he was a senior, handsome, and my dumb editor I didn't want to be the girl who overreacted. The same emotional standoff I do nowadays with my mother or sister, I had with P.j. I could feel myself getting angry and tears beginning to form behind my eyeballs, but I couldn't let go. I couldn't tell the retard to put the damn thing down, that he was a jerk, and had just commited bestiality. Black marabu feathers flew from P.j.'s crotch as his faux orgasm completed. Amid fake or hesitant laughted from my classmates and ironically enough, myself, he shucked the devirginized log onto the table. It landed with a clunk; it was after all, wood.

I still regret not standing up for puppy log that day, but the lesson came twofold. I went into the log contest like a bull fighter, I dismissed the creativity of my friend, I laughed inwardly at the efforts of my classmates, I shuttled my project around like it was some gift to humanity. I built up this nutty platform of achivement and brilliance, because, what, I thought I did good?

Well I did do good, the thing was damn adorable. But I lost any credit when the only validation I would allow is that of another person: that seductive other, the cafeteria applause, going to a cool party. Any Hilary Duff film pre 2006 will tell you alll that doesn't matter. What bumms me out is I only created something because I thought it would win, not because it was something I actually wanted to do. And I try, desperatley, to do things I want to do, reguardless of if it will get me Mr Chayo's or Hilary Duff's or anyone else's approval.

I guess that is how I think of modesty, doing things because you think they are awesome, with as much lack of a reguard as you can muster in a world of heavy influence. People will most likely tell you the things you do are stupid, or they might think you're the coolest person ever. But if, innately, you know what you do day-to-day is mostly awesome, then nobody know's nothin!... and nobody gets butt raped.

(Puppy log survived his trauma, and now resides on top of my sisters dresser in a nice little basket. She swooped him up after I told her what he'd been through. He is very content.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

War HUH What is it good for?

When I was in fourth grade I entered my first poetry contest. The competition, Reflections, was nation wide and it included categories such as art, video, and musical score. Each year Reflections had a theme that the responding entries should capture. The year of my first poetic entry was "What if..."

I was a big Shel Silverstein fan back then. I read his poetry like it was kid crack, which is what Silversteins poetry is I think. Child cocaine. It always made me feel giddy and crazy, I wanted to play outside and "feel the world." And it wasn't a normal desire, like the day -to-day terrozing of a cult-de-sac with the rest of the neighborhood kids. It was a blatant, I-read-about-a-girl-who-ate-a-whale-and-now-I-want-to-frolick-in-the-overgrown-grass-of-my-front-yard sort of yearning. And i hate the word frolick. Whitman is great, but Silverstein knew how to put the desire of natural imagination in children as well as adults.

So thus inspired by A Light in the Attic's spindly drawings and kooky phrases, I came up with the piece "Robotic Tot," which i thought fit the What if theme quite nicely (what if...there was a robotic thought. nice linear transition) I wrote about this fanatastic baby girl machine who never cried, never messed, and was a cheerful sparkling child. The only downside was when you picked her up she was hollow, there was no cherub flesh to kiss, no flimsy little hand to grip. A whimsical, adorable poem with a nice little backdrop of social commentary about the current and future dependence on technology and what that is doing to our "humanity." ...Well the first part anyway.

I remember painstakingly writing the poem out on lined paper for my final product. Next to it I drew a terrifying conceptual drawing of my mind's image of the robotic tot. What I envisioned as a sweet, baby robot thing came out like Linda Blair and the plastic baby head spider from Toy Story had a love child. I am not one for follow through or editing, I thought, eh, good enough.

The entries were collected and posted in my elementary school's tiled hallway. It took me about an eon to find my little white half sheet. I remember passing it often to re-read and brush my fingers across my brilliance. Oooh, that's good, I would secretly complement myself. I waited with great expectation for the winners to be announced.

I guess Reflections was kind of a big deal. The whole school assembled and the first place winner of the poetry contest would get to read his or her poem to the entire school. From a podium. with a microphone. I waited expectantly in the audience, next to my classmates and teachers, my stomach twisting with nerves as I went though various surprised reactions. Finally, after droning on about the fourth and third place holders, second place went to some third grader. Didn't care. Then the first place winner was announced. And it...was not me. It was Molly Mcgonagle.

Molly Mcgonagle was a tomboy. She had short brown hair, three brothers and freckels across her nose. We were friends, and she'd always vouch for me in sports, which was very nice of her. I liked Molly very much, but at the "What if..." winner's ceremony, I hated her. I continued to hate her through the applause, through her sheepish walk to the stage. I seethed through our principal's congratulatory and laudable minispeech, through Molly's slow and smiling acceptance of her trophy award. I continue to stew until some minion ran accross the stage and handed Molly her poem. It was a beautifully caligraphed piece, monted on a giant piece of azure constriction paper. A hand-drawn globe accompanied her scribings, completed with faintly etched continents and the longitude latitude lines. Damn. The paper was so huge, that Molly had to keep turing it to her to read. It presented a slight dilemma for her as she wanted to face the poem/art out to the audience but could't read it at the same time. She ended up flattening the thing against the small podium face, dragging it across the microphone as she did. Inwardly, I snickered.

The poem was about the world, and peace. What if...the world had peace. Something like that. Half of me was outraged, and half of me felt like a dunce, idiot, stupid, naive, soft, sissy kid. Her poem kind of sucked. Molly wasn't a writer, she was really good at tether ball. I was the weird, frizzy haird creative type. I wrote about infinite possibilties, rainbows, youth, man v.s. machines and she wrote about fucking world peace. Boy were you wrong Shel Silverstein. The same old same old pageant girl answer had won a contest based around creating something that is totally imaginative and impossible. Yet as she fumbled through her trite and cliched prose, I knew it wasn't her fault. I later looked at the other winner's pieces: What if... nobody got extinct. What if...the indians were our friends.What mother loved me. and I got it. The judges of this "contest" weren't looking for innovation or originality, they were there for the sob story! the policial statement! the historical reference!

I was dissillusioned but felt wildly dangerous over my findings. I plotted, which is unusual for a fourth grader, to write the grandest, most ridiculous historically accurate sob story with a political undercurrent that had ever been written. A year later, the theme for Reflections was announced: Suddenly I turn around.

For about two weeks I was flummoxed. I thought about writing on the dependence of women on cosemetics and over priced fashion, but nixed it due its limited audience. What is most affecting? What's the worst thing that has ever happened to the human race? Then my fifth grade, American history influenced mind answered. It said: War.

Which War? I asked myself. Why choose when there were so many? I didn't want to overload the judges with stanzas, so I picked four: Revolutionary, Civil, WWII, and Vietnam (I felt it had been long enough) There was one more stanza, with which I brought my message home. I can't remember the poem excatly but I do remember a few lines:

Suddenly I turn around,
the Third Reich is drawing near
We fight and die to liberate Europe
The Germans are our fear


Suddenly I turn around
Bullets fly in between the trees
Horrible napalm is floating down
ever, ever so slowly

And the last stanza:

Suddenly I turn around
The earth is bare and lonely
We've got to love and care for each other...
Don't you see?

My mother thought that was bold, ending my poem with a slightly admonishing, hypothetical question, but I knew it was gold. I was wild from last years rejection, cocky as a bull, with a take no prisoners attitude. Taking a cue from Molly, I mounted my handwritten-in-cursive poem on a red piece of construction paper, thinking red was a good stand-in for blood. Then I drew small black cartoon bombs, with their wick things emminating red and orange marker sparks. My mom said they looked cute. Cute!?! I was mildly infuriated and slightly set back. What if cute cost me the seriousness of first place? I thought about it, and decided I would have to depend on my words and not so much their presentation. Plus I was exhausted. Like I said, I am not so big on editing.

Im going to just fast track you, darling reader, to the winner's assmebly. I was on pins and needles walking to the auditorium. I hadn't thought about my poem in the same way I fawned over Robotic Tot. My desire to win was vengeful and hard this time. I went in there prepared, and like the soldiers in my poem, I would come out victorious. Just like America....Minus 'nam.

I walked in, and saw my parents beaming on folding chairs in the front row. This meant I had placed. But it didn't matter, I was after first. My normal, non crazy, unstinted self was surprised at my lack of excitment. But deep down I knew it was first or nothing. I had been exploited, now it was time to exploit.

And then I won. I think the crazed look left my eyes. I smiled graciously all the way up to the podium, and read without messing up too badly. I didn't really look out at the audience, my mother later told me, but I was nervous. Even though I had accomplished what I wanted, my knees shook as I stood in front of the school. Once my plotter's buzz wore off, I wasn't so tough. And the quiet, Shel Silvertein reading fifth grader liked it.

My poem won at the city and district level. When it failed to win the state, I wasn't as pissed as I thought I would be. I think deep down I knew the cartoon bombs were going to come back to haunt me. If only the state judges would've grasped my irony.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Pursuit of unHappiness

Hallo Welt!

It's been a short while since I've indulged my scribing self on this minature soapbox. Last night my dearest and only younger sister put together my ikea desk chair like a doting boyfriend. I always tell her she is the favored daughter beacuse she knows how to do everything. So now I have a wonderful little desk ANd chair from which to type away on my shitty laptop.

Unfortunatley I have been at a slight loss about what to blog aboot. It's not like I have a shortage of thought process, like the other day I saw a girl i moderately dislike longboarding to class on campus. I wanted to text my sister something like blah blah blah is longboarding to class and looks fat. And then I was going to make a hilairous joke immediately after, saying something like "[blah blah blah looks fat]...says the gal who just finished a bag of harvest cheddar sunchips in three minutes!"

It was probably more like ten minutes, but...anyway since I had made a self deprecating quip, it negated (to me, in my mind at least) the harshness of my bitchy ass text message. I felt better, more clever. And then I thought, hm, is self deprecation the get-out-of-guilt-free-card for shit talking? Hey, that'd make a cute and silly blog.

However, I never sent the text message because I was too lazy to get my phone out of my book bag, so that whole scenario never happened. But, see! STUFF COMES TO ME ALL THE TIME.

The problem ala mode is: I usually try to write about the things that make me unhappy. Everything unhappy, at least in my poor and under-developed voice, is infinetly more interesting and usually funnier. So what does one crazy-haired, pseudo blogger do when I can no longer conjure up something that pisses me off or humiliates me enough to put it out there for my large (cough) group of dedicated and sexy readers to adore or sneer at?


But honestly, I can't imagine detailing the way my boyfriend gently loosens the grip of our hand hold so that our palms don't become clammy...and it being interesting or relevant. I also think it's redundant to explain why I get excited when I bound up the stairs in my huge college-y cliffside house, hearing the chatter, laughter, and bong rip from upstairs. Or the things my mother begins to divulge at our truly passionate dinner in a deliciously cheesy restaurant.

Im terrified happiness makes one complacent. The one thing that is comforting is that happiness always seems to be relatively unstable. The way the world seems to work is you get built up, only to take a vaudville fall. I am anticipating mine.

So until I do something embarassing, my word document entitled "the grievances of long distance" starts to overflow, or i finally eat my words, I guess I will just drone on about blogger's bloc.

Upstairs my roommates are playing shewolf. haha.