Saturday, June 28, 2008

Say Hello to the Bunnyman!

It has come to my attention that some of my readers are not familiar with Daddy Bunny, who recently guest posted on this blog. This is a problem.

I met Daddy Bunny when I was 10 years old, our first Easter at the new house. Mommy had taken us to Jo-Ann Fabrics, probably for something to do with Easter dresses. And there he was, just sitting there in a metal rack, the cutest thing I'd ever seen. A green shirt and yellow overalls with a little green handkerchief poking out of the back pocket. Two of my favorite colors. And he was, after all, a bunny. I love bunnies. I picked him up and sat down hugging him tight. I wouldn't leave the store without him. This is the only time that ever worked.

He is named Daddy Bunny because he is a bunny, and he is the Daddy. Wendy and Katrina each got bunnies, too, but there's were much smaller, fit-in-the-palm-of-your-hand sized. Therefore, they were the baby bunnies and mine was the daddy. Wendy's bunny had a yellow shirt and light blue overalls. Katrina's bunny matched Daddy Bunny. I don't know if either of them had names. All three bunnies were made out of the same parachute-type material. The silky stuff you can rub like the edge of a blankey. My little cousin Katie had a bunny like mine as well. I think it was purple and pink or something.

Daddy Bunny and the baby bunnies came home with us that day, and Daddy Bunny's been an important part of the family ever since. He started accompanying us on all the vacations and all the holidays. I would make him outfits for Christmas and Easter, sometimes they would even match mine. He'd usually get a hat, often a tie, once he even got shoes. They were black with yellow, brown and black plaid on top, and little buttons on the sides. He had a plaid hat and tie to match. My aunties would pick on me for having Daddy Bunny at Grandma and Grandpa's house. I would point out that Katie had her bunny, too. To which they would respond, "yes, but she's two." As if that matters! Somewhere there's a great picture of Suse, Daddy Bunny and me from Christmas senior year. Mommy made Suse and me similar Christmas dresses and I made Daddy Bunny a hat to match my dress.

In the past decade and a half, I've done a lot of traveling around the world. Daddy Bunny's always been right there by my side. I hate flying; he helps make it better. In fact, I'm in an airplane right now, and he's on my lap. He's been to Canada, England, Scotland, Germany, France, South Africa, Italy, and, of course, Zambia. I think maybe Gibby's been more places, but then his mom is a real scuttle-bug. She goes everywhere! In a few months, Daddy Bunny will also be going to Nigeria.

All this travel and love have been a little rough on Daddy Bunny. He gets dirty, as all bunnies do, but it's hard to get him a bath. We put him in the bathing machine a few times. It was not pretty.

Daddy Bunny after a bath!

The parachute material he was made out of isn't the most durable stuff. Daddy Bunny's had lots of surgeries and several skin graphs, and he's been restuffed a few times. He's also lost an eye. But that's ok, then he matched Mazoka, my little brother in Zambia who also only had one eye. That's why Daddy Bunny's eye has never been replaced. He's ok without it. Other than his one eye, only three other things are original on his head: his pink nose, which now has a hole in the middle, his little pink tongue, and the pink insides of his ears, one of which is currently shredded. Most of his overalls have been replaced, a lot by cotton, some by satin, 3 different shades of yellow, with green and yellow stitching. His hands and feet are completely new, and some of that is even tearing now. His shirt is all still original, but it's starting to develop holes. But his little green handkerchief is still completely in tact. Poor Daddy Bunny is definitely due for a trip to the operating room. Don't worry, it doesn't scare him. He grew up there, back when it was my room, before Mommy turned it into hers.

Daddy Bunny is very very special. He has many purposes. He's a good pillow. He's a good companion for scary things like airplanes, buses, movies and the dark. He's wonderful to hug, always hugs back. He listens really well. And most of all, he's a great litmus test. For friends or guys, if they don't respect the bunny, out they go. Here is something that is obviously very loved, and very important to me. If a person is going to just toss him away as if it's nothing, or worse, maliciously try to hurt him, then that person does not deserve my friendship. Katie gets a pass for hanging him from the roof of the bus only because she's been my best friend for so long. Even when she did that, she'd been my best friend for nearly half my life. But everyone else, no freebies. How can someone respect you if they don't respect what matters to you?

Just to clarify, playing games with family doesn't count. When Auntie Katrina throws Daddy Bunny down the laundry chute because Auntie Aurelia hid Gibby in the shower. That's ok. We're all just playing. Or when Auntie Wendy takes Daddy Bunny and runs away because Timmy Bear missed the Arctic and was hanging out in the fridge, that's ok. We're all just playing. But when new potential friend picks up Daddy Bunny and throws him across the room. That's not ok, because that's a stranger.

Daddy Bunny is very loved. He is not going to go away to become real. He is real. When I leave, he plays with his brothers and sisters, or his cousins, or, as he mentions, sits at home bored. In fact, he's so loved, I can't decide if I want to put him in my will for someone to take care of him, or ask for him to go with me.

You can read more about Daddy Bunny at his guest post and Ode to Daddy Bunny.

(Original Post)



Katrina's Music

Friday, June 27, 2008

Oakland Expedition #7: Tripping Over Midgets

Let me start by explaining how things were growing up back in Wisconsin. (yes, yes, everybody say it with me now, Wis-Kon-sin, got it out of your system, yah der hey?)

Rule #2: (after "Daddy's always right" and "Parents don't have to be fair", which somehow are simultaneously Rule #1) Mommy's short. Daddy says so, and since he's always right, she's short. Mommy's 5'7". Daddy is 6'5".

Then there was High School. Whenever I went somewhere with my friends, I had to sit in the back of the car, because I was the shortest. I was about 5'8" back then. My best friend was (and still is) about 5'11". And my guy friends were mostly between 6'3" and 6'5". They were not even the tallest people in school. (That would be John Navarre.) And poor Mike! Daddy always referred to him as my "short friend" since he was only 6'. He didn't like that too much.

Maybe I need to go back to Wisconsin, because out here, I'm really tired of tripping over all these midgets. My sister Wendy wants to make children under a certain age illegal because they get under her feet. I think they should make anyone under a certain height wear stilts. Really, it's a hazard to have people walking around that close to the ground. You're walking along, and next thing you know, something's holding you back. Then you look down and see a head.

The worst is going through doors. It's always a little awkward when you try to enter a room as someone else is trying to leave, but it's worse when you don't see them. You step up to the door, pull back on the handle and suddenly there's someone eye level with your chest. And if you don't stop in time, their head will be right in it! Very uncomfortable.

And why don't I just see people down there? I'll explain. After years of ballet, twirling and modeling lessons, if there's one thing I can do, it's stand up straight and look straight ahead. (However, I cannot twirl; my baton nearly took out the judge.) Ladies do not look at the floor when they walk; they do not hunch over. They stand with their shoulders back and move with confidence. This creates the following situation: there is a blind spot, similar to in a car. It consists of everything outside of the lower peripheral vision. If I am looking ahead, I can only see the floor so many feet in front of me. The closer something is to my location, the higher it needs to be to fall in my line of sight. An Illustration:

See me walking all happy, looking straight ahead. I can see only objects in the yellow cone. Notice how the short person is below my line of sight and one step away from being tripped on.

It's also very uncomfortable having to talk to someone short when we are both standing. It feels like I'm being condescending. I'm not trying to be, but I am literally looking down on them. And what are they looking up at? It makes me quite self conscious about what's in my nose. Plus, I've taken pictures of people from down at that angle; it's very unflattering!

I've started counting people I can't see over. The other day, there were two, and one was a woman. And don't blame all this on the heels. I wore 5" heels through most of high school and college, too. This was not a problem then. At least at Vanderbilt my closest girl friend is taller than me, and there's Herman, my 6'6"ish friend from Jamaica. Plus my copyright/torts professor ,who's about 6'5". Of course, he's from Wisconsin too.

Ok, ok. People can't do anything about their genes, and unless they want to go through that leg lengthening process that seems so common overseas, they're out of luck. But still, couldn't they get hats, or big hair or something!

I'm going home to Wisconsin tomorrow. It will be nice to be able to stand when I talk to people, to look people in the eye instead of down their shirt.

(Original Post)


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Le Spirit Enfant

There's a magical place that I know. Like a fairy tale gingerbread house, but less assuming. No gumdrops to light the way, no candy canes lining the path, just some grass and a plain lamppost. But they say, "don't judge a book by it's cover," or the magic by the house in which it lives. Standing outside, you might think you're a sophisticated adult. But passing through the magical portal, you experience a transformation. No mushrooms needed.

"Knock knock" or "ding dong," whichever you choose, a smiling face will greet you and welcome you inside. One step, then the other. And as you move forward, the spirit enfant inside comes to life. Each passing moment melts away the hard exterior baked on by the outside world. Seriousness evaporates, fear drips off, self-consciousness wafts away. There is no evil here, no stern faces, no strangers. Warm smiles and hugs for everyone. You are engulfed by the love. And then.... the silliness ensues!

Every inner child is free here. Even the most determined scrooges can't help but succumb to the power of this Neverland. The house and the yard are both big enough to run around and games of tag or "give me back my (teeth, blankie. etc)" are frequent. More likely than not, someone is singing or dancing. Little green men watch from various posts, while Abominable snowmen and polar bears wait to be found. Loud laughter and the smell of popcorn might lead you to a room with flowing beverages, copious amounts of food and a stack of games as high as a munchkinhead. If Paul entices you upstairs with mention of the fire he's lit, you'll find a truly magical creature. A beautiful queen that never ages, using her special gifts to create beautiful wonderment. Her king is probably downstairs, reciting poetry and snapping little green men in half.

There's a room full of water, where the pink sunset surrounds you on every side. If you look closely at the sea green below you, you can see fish and birds by the waterside. The water laughs gayly as it rolls down the river, and you'd swear you can hear it breathing as it stops to smell the flowers. On very special nights, the soft November Rain beats against the walls, and winds up running down your cheeks. During Summer, shouts of "Mommy! Look!" fill the backyard as limbs go flying through the air. And in Winter, all the snowmen, elves and Santas traverse afar to see baby Jesus, his mother, and the old Shepard.

Deep in the dungeon of this castle, there's an amazing place. More powerful than a British telephone booth or Al. All you have to do is step inside, and *poof*, you are automatically transported to a tropical island. A cool breeze, palm trees in the distance, a drink in your hand. Your body relaxes almost instantly as you sink into the bubbling hot water, the sensual music easing your mind. Ahhhhh.

People travel from every corner of the world to come to this enchanting fairy tale world. Whatever ails they might face are healed. Terrified by goblins and mummies, sprained fingers, confusing themselves with telephones, it's ok. It all becomes part of the game. It's a news story, it's a lazer, it's just Daddy. It's all ok, because it's all magic.

And soon, I'll be there too, just 2 more days! I can't wait! I'm so excited! Milwaukee, cheese curds, frozen custard, warm weather, sunshine, lake air, and family! Home!

It's my grandpa's 80th birthday (or 39 a couple times and then some). We're throwing him a BIG party, but shhhhhhh! don't tell; it's a secret. I'm looking forward to the taco salad; my auntie Gail makes the best taco salad.

I don't think my sisters and I have been together since January, when Wendy finally came home sans Nathan. This time Nathan's coming along, too. We knew he was keeper when he didn't run off after his first visit to our house. Mommy and Daddy and all us kids, plus Grandma and Grandpa and all the aunties and uncles, most of the cousins, plenty extended family. This will be such a wonderful 36 hours.

(Original Post)



Traffic on Telegraph

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This New Place Isn't as Much Fun as Zambia

Maybe I'm not supposed to want my mom around a lot, since I'm 17, but I do. She's fun and she likes to play with me. But, she's getting older and has to spend more time away now. When I was younger, we got to spend lots of time together.

For holidays, she would make me a new hat, maybe even a tie and shoes, and we would all go to great-grandma's house: me, Mom, Auntie Wendy, Auntie Katrina, Grandma and Grandpa, sometimes even my cousins, too. But now, Mom lives far away from everyone else, and we don't get to go to all the holidays. We still home for Christmas though, and I help Mom open her presents! We also take pictures of everyone else opening their presents. And sometimes, when Auntie Katrina finds two in a row for Mom, I hold one until she wants to open it. I'm a good helper. Mom says we're going home again soon, I can't wait. And, she says were staying with Auntie Katrina and my cousins! (Auntie Wendy already has a guest. I heard Mom say something about Rob and Laura, but that's two people, so I'm confused.) I think Mom misses her mommy, just like I miss her. Her mommy is super fun and likes to play with her, too.

My favorite times with Mom were when we were in Africa. Mom made me a passport like hers so I could go, too. In Zambia, I got to go everywhere with her. And, I got to ride on her back! All the neighbors would ask about me whenever they saw us. Mom's friends would come over and give me a bath. Their baths were really nice because I finished them in one piece. (In Africa, they don't take baths inside those scary dark machines that spin you clean, and into pieces.) And the cold water felt nice. It was hot there sometimes, and I always wear my yellow overalls and long-sleeved green shirt. The other children would come to ask if I could play. They really liked me, and I liked them, too. I saw a whole lot of really cool places traveling with Mom. I liked riding on her bicycle into town. I'd be sitting on her back, tucked in snug to the pretty citenge cloth, bouncing around as we'd go flying down the rocky hill. Sometimes we'd fall off, but don't worry, Mom always broke my fall. I miss Zambia a lot. Not only did I get to do things with Mom all the time, when I was home alone, I had friends. Ba Alfred, and Cheerbear and Ducky and I would sit safely inside the mosquito net, talking and playing. Now, it's just me.

I also liked it the the first time Mom went to school, before we went to Zambia. There were always lots of visitors. Now, there's only one person that ever comes to visit, and he doesn't like me. I heard him tell Mom once, after he knocked me off the bed, that he was jealous. Good, she's my mom! He tried to blame my "falling" off the bed on her, but I know better than that. She only throws me off the bed when she's asleep. Well, at least he's not super mean to me.

When I was younger, Mom's friends would sometimes be really mean to me. She always tried to protect me, but sometimes they bunnynapped me when I was alone. One time, somebody threw me into a window. Mom kicked that guy out. Another time, someone hung me from the top of a bus. Mom was really mad, but she couldn't kick her best friend out of the bus into the middle of Scotland. Mom made sure I was ok and held me tight the rest of the day. And Mom's really good at surgery, so even if I get hurt, she can make it better. Just like all moms. She told me her mommy could make things all better with just a kiss, no needle and thread needed! I need some surgery again now, but Mom is super busy, and she says she doesn't have any extra skin right now. I'm sad, but I'm trying to be a good son and not complain.

There's some nice times now. Like today, Mom is spending some extra time with me and helping me write this. It's hard to type with only thumbs and paws. But, it can be pretty awful here. I'm alone most of the day. Mom gets up early, and by the time she leaves, I'm buried under a pile of pillows, blankets and clothes. She can never seem to decide what to wear. It's still light out when she gets home, but I think it stays light here until really late. I hear her moving around. I hear the keyboard and the sewing machine, and her heels in the hall. But, I don't usually get to see her until after dark. It's my favorite time of day. That's when she moves all the clothes from on top of me to some other piece of furniture in the room. She makes the bed, crawls under the big fluffy comforter, and looks for me. I hear her calling, but I don't answer, I like to play hide and seek. When she finds me, she hugs me tight and turns out the light. Then we snuggle down together under the big fluffy comforter. She tells me she loves me, kisses me on the head, and says, "goodnight Daddy Bunny."

(Original Post)

On Mom's Lap


People on the other side of the door being loud, as usual

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Oakland Expedition #6: Going to Church

I am so excited, I can hardly type! The greeter at church today introduced herself to me, "I'm Roseline Onu." "Onu?" I asked. "Is that Nigerian?" "Yes," she seemed a tad bit surprised. We chatted both before and after the service. She and her husband have some friends in Abuja. She's going to contact them to ask them to pick me up from the airport in Abuja, to help me find a place to stay and to show me around when I get there! That's so wonderful!

I got to talk to Mr. Onu a bit, too. One of their daughters is starting college in the fall. She was almost going to go to Vanderbilt, but then Cal gave her a really good offer, so she's staying here. I also had a chance to speak to the interim pastor during coffee hour. He just returned from visiting his family back in Durban (South Africa). And one of the ladies I met last week, Cathie, went to fashion design school. She gave me some tips for cutting pinstripes so the stripes line-up. Yay! Everyone I've met there is really nice and very interesting.

My church-going was sporadic in Nashville, to say the least. I just couldn't find a place I really liked. This place is wonderful, and it was the first place I tried! It's a Presbyterian church, 128 years old. You can see it in the windows where the glass has dripped. It looks like those old house we tour on vacation. The congregation's small (yes Mommy, smaller than Tippie), but so is the sanctuary, so it works nicely. After all, this is the Bay Area, church isn't exactly the "cool" thing to do. The pews are set up in a circle around the pulpit. That's kind of neat. And it's beautiful inside. Dark, hard wood, wrought iron light fixtures, beautiful pipe organ, high ceiling.

The service has a nice mix of things. Traditional hymns from the 1976 hymnal (no Lord of the Dance, though, sadness), and a short time where we sing three "praise" songs. Normally, I don't like churches where they do "praise" songs, but here it's ok. There's only 3; we only sing each one through twice; they're all sung together; and most importantly, it's only a piano playing, no guitars or drums. Sometimes, I even know the songs from The Little Green Tape! No choir, but it's summer so that's common. The lead singing person has this beautiful deep voice. I think as deep as Nelson's. (Her voice is described on a website as "mellow bass.") And she's really good. Lot's of different people participate in the service, for the readings and stuff. And for Communion, they pass around silver trays with little cubes of bread or tiny thimble glasses of grape juice. Just like Tippie :) I'm so happy I found a nice church home here.

(Original Post)



Near the Cross - Nathan Nyirenda

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Oakland Expedition #5: Buying Gas

I don't know about where you are, but the cheap gas here is $4.55 a gallon. I filled up my tank today and was pleased it was only $50. But here's the thing, my cost of gas comes out to about $20 a week. Before I left Nashville, when gas was $3.50 a gallon, I spent about $20 a week on gas. When I was in college and gas was a buck something, I spent about $20 a week on gas. Maybe this is why the rising costs of fuel at the pump don't really bother me. (The rising cost of everything else, a direct result of fuel increases, does bother me.)

I think it's kind of neat that my gas costs have stayed the same, that as prices go up, my use just goes down. I suppose this is part of the general idea. And I can't really credit the cost of gas with the change in my usage. Rather, it's my change in location. In the Bay Area, I drive to see my friends and maybe to the store or BART if I know I'll need to carry a lot or don't want to walk after dark. In Nashville, once I finally got a car, I drove to some stores, to bowling once or twice a week, and to school when I felt like it. But in college, I pretty much had to drive everywhere except to class. I drove to work everyday. I drove to go shopping. I drove to see my family. I drove for frozen custard. I drove with my friends. I drove just to drive.

Realizing how important location is to how much I drive, I have one real hope from the fuel price increases: That cities will improve their public transportation so that it's feasible to actually rely on and use it. That's an area where the Bay Area has things on lock. Milwaukee's pretty good, too. But Waukesha and Nashville, ugh.

One of the best parts of the Bay Area is that the cities and counties realize that people commute from outside. Someone may live in Contra Costa county and work in SF. The transport is built to help accommodate this. While there may be only one or two BART stations in some of the far out places, the trains still run frequently and on time. That makes a huge difference. And one BART train takes you right to the city. Two trains to get most other places. Other neighboring counties and cities are not as together. That makes things harder. These are the types of improvements the transport systems need to make, working with each other. Except Nashville, they just need to get more busses and get them to be on time! Zambia has better public transport.

It's a little strange to think that I need to consider public transport options when figuring out where I'm going to live a year from now. But at least I've realized that at the beginning of the process.

(Original Post)



(Straight to Your Heart) Like a Cannonball - Van Morrison

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Anniversary: June 17th

I don't know what the old most common anniversary date was, but I bet it's now June 17th, at least in California. I see at least a few weddings nearly every day at City Hall, but nothing like what I saw yesterday. The festivities Monday were nothing compared the the zoo at city hall on Tuesday. As I neared the Civic Center area yesterday morning, I could hear a choir singing. The closer I got to work, aka City Hall, the louder it got. Soon, I could see the choir standing on the front stairs of City Hall. This was not your average choir in long matching robes. No, this was an all male rainbow colored choir! I have no idea what they were singing, but the tv crews were gobbling it up.

Across the street from City Hall, a Universalist Church had set up a white party tent. "Weddings performed here: license, ceremony and picture." Nobody was getting married at the tent, but plenty of people were getting married in City Hall. I waited patiently in line for the metal detector, behind all sorts of brides and grooms in white dresses and tuxedos (not necessarily respectively) and a variety of people carrying bouquets. Once through security, I attempted to proceed to my office. But, I couldn't go up the big grand staircase. It was reserved for people getting married. I got a little lost trying to find the other staircase, but I eventually got to my desk.

Throughout the day, whenever anyone opened the doors to come in or out of our office, it sounded like a sporting event was going on. Loud cheers echoed along the marble hallways. The City had set up little areas all around the second floor balcony for weddings. Judges, couples and witnesses stood in every nook and cranny for ceremonies. After being pronounced "spouses for life," the happy couple would descend down the big grand staircase. Everyone at the bottom would start cheering and the news cameras would flash. Camera men and reporters would run up to interview the newlyweds. Since, as I mentioned, there were a lot of couples getting married, there was a lot of cheering. The orchestra played constantly all day.

At one point during the day, I took a short break to observe the happenings. Most of the couples getting married were what you'd expect, older couples who had been waiting a long time for this, androgynous in their loose clothing and short hair. But there were two couples that really caught my attention. The first was a heterosexual couple, the bride in a long white wedding dress with a red bouquet, the groom in a black tux with matching red corsage. They looked lost in all the gay pride hullabaloo.

The other couple was very different. Two girls, that looked to be about my age. My first thought was, "what on earth are they doing!?" All the couples you hear about in the news have been together for years. These two couldn't possibly have been together that long. Then I remembered I'm old, and plenty of people my age are married, with kids. Anyway, these two were not like all the other couples. These were the lesbians guys dream about. Cute, young, girly. They looked like the type my guy friends would hit on in a club (if one of them would get up the nerve to hit on a girl.) Both had on stylish, form flattering white dresses. The brunette's beautiful long hair hung down her back in soft curls. The blondes short do was styled sort of fun and funky. Every camera crew just had to interview them. They stood together, arms around each other's waists, one's hand caressing her wife's lower hip, the other's hand rubbing her wife's back. Other, more mundane couples, like the flamboyantly gay guys, were ignored as these two took everyone's attention.

The cutest weddings to see were the ones where the couples brought their children too. At the end of the ceremony, they would take a nice big happy family photo. All sorts of permutations of families, and somehow all adorable. That was really beautiful to see. One of my favorites was where one of the sons held up the wedding license for the picture.

By the time I left work at 6:30, the place was still bumping. I took the back stairs downstairs, paused to avoid walking into a family portrait being taken on the front steps, headed out the front door, and walked into the back of a dj booth! Even as I finally neared the BART station, I could still hear people cheering. It was a very exciting day for many.

(Original Post)



Traffic and loud roomates

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I'm Melting

But why?
When I first started losing weight after returning from Africa, it was a good thing. After all, none of my clothes fit. I averaged around a size 12, 16 in some sewing patterns. Mommy was wearing all my old clothes and I was either stretching things out in my stubborn determination to wear them, or using skirts for tops.
The funny thing is, I don't think I ever felt as beautiful as I did in Zambia. Maybe it's the whole fat is good culture-thing, or maybe it's my adoration of 40's pin-up models, who happened to have a lot more curves than modern models. I certainly had curves. Now, I'm sort of pointy.
Last week, I was fixing my outfit. Something was sticking out on my skirt, so I went to smooth it down, thinking my shirt was tucked in funny. Boy was I surprised; it was my hip bone. The other day I wore a really cute pair of pants that Mommy helped me hem during the school year. When I got them, I could barely button them. This week, I spent much of my time pulling them up because they kept slipping down. Getting ready for Harmony Fest on Saturday, I pulled out my favorite pair of dress shorts from last summer. Grey wool with red and yellow speckles. I wore them often last summer in Venice, out to the club, because they made my ass look so nice. They didn't go to Harmony Fest. They were far too big; I had no ass. My Apple Bottoms look like potato sacks and my wife beaters like I've beaten them up. Even some of my clothes from high school look too big!
Yes, I'll admit it, I was super excited to discover I fit in a size 5. My 5'4", 19 yr old sister wears a 5. I think I might have worn one once before, when I was about 14. I was definitely bigger than that when I started modeling. I wonder what the agency that told me I was too big when I was 17 yrs old would say to me now? I'd probably still be too big for them. After all, I still have that extra chin.
Society says I should be grateful - look how many people are always trying to lose weight. I'll bet I get plenty of comments (written or thought) along the lines of "I wish I had your problem" or "lucky". But it sucks when your favorite clothes don't fit. And I don't want an excuse to buy more. I'm 27, where's my Schlaikowski-family heirloom Daddy promised me?
Back to my original question: why? I can't figure this one out. I eat so much one of my good friends has taken to calling me "cow". I have a diet in the sense there are things I'll eat or won't eat, but I'm not on a diet. I just only eat things that make me happy. Soda, chips, fried stuff - doesn't make me happy. Cheese, milk, salads - make me happy. I started making a conscious effort to eat more protein in order to avoid the weak spells that make me cranky and lethargic. I thought that would equal gaining weight, not losing more. I was wrong. Protein fills me up; I eat less carbs. I drink those meal shakes, but not as a meal, as a snack between my 3 or 4 meals to hold me over. And I don't try to exercise. I just do my regular stuff - walking a little under 2 miles a day as part of my work commute, dancing around my room, etc.
The question becomes, when do I need to be concerned? If I'm eating balanced meals and not getting sick, is it enough? Maybe I should go on an ice cream diet. Or just only eat Leon's when I'm home this month.
(Original Post)


Roommate in the Fridge

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

5:01 PM

June 16, 5:01 pm. It's history now, in every sense of the word. As of 5:01 today, same-sex marriages are legal in California. Where was I at 5:01 pm? San Francisco City Hall. Where was everyone else? San Francisco City Hall.

Well, ok, not everyone, but a lot of people. They were there to celebrate, to watch, to shout at those celebrating. I was trying to leave. I ran into one of the attorneys from our office attempting to get off the 3rd floor. "Trying to get the best view?" "Nope, I'm trying to leave." A security guard pointed me down the little stairs. I heard a loud cheer from somewhere, "must be 5:01," I thought. As Mayor Newsom started the only ceremony of the night, I snuck down the side stairs. I was surprised by how empty the front security area was. One or two people were going through the metal detectors. I thought there'd be lines of people wanting to get inside. Then I looked at the doors.

Outside, covering the entire sidewalk span out front and stretching back through the park across the street there was a huge crowd. Directly in front of City Hall's steps, front and center, stood a group of people come for reasons other than celebrating. Their jeers and large signs proclaimed that clearly Jesus only meant to love some of your neighbors. To either side of them, a few supporters of the day yelled back. But the majority of the people outside were just celebrating. "This is the way out?" I asked another security guard. "Yup. You can try to squeeze down on the side there." And so, I headed out the big glass doors.

People were generally obliging and tried to let me through. It probably helped that they could see I wasn't trying to get closer. But I still had to navigate narrow paths while carrying my bag, purse and puff coat (it had been very cold in the morning). I saw what I thought was an opening and stepped into it. Whoops! That wasn't an opening. That was the spot for the trombone player's slide from the band that had just started playing The Wedding March. Video cameras, digital cameras and tv cameras every-which-way. Bouquets, couples holding hands, and rainbow flags hanging from all the light-posts filled the city and announced to everyone the historic moment.

Finally, I made my way to the curb and saw as my only outlet, the bike lane in the street. As I stepped off I heard a voice "stay on the sidewalk, sir." I found this a bit odd since I clearly wasn't a sir. (Although at a celebration of gay marriages, it's possible a sir would be there in a pink sweater, skirt, seamed stockings and 5" stilettos.) I stepped back onto the curb, assuming the voice meant me anyway, and turned back. There was a police man working to keep the crowds out of the main street in front of City Hall. But I had no way out without going into the street. I stepped off the curb once more, and again, "sir stay on the sidewalk." I looked back and saw that a man had stepped into the street. I kept going. After passing 3 or 4 news vans, I could see the sidewalk was clear and got out of the bike lane. As I reached the end of the block, the crowd erupted into a rousing rendition of "Going to the Chapel." Oddly, it reminded me of my little sister when she was 5.

To the octagerians in the Mayor's office, this was a momentous occasion, a day that many thought would never come. To me, it was just a zoo at city hall. Maybe it's my optimistic outlook, maybe it's the things my generation has seen, but I don't think this is a big deal. I expect things to happen eventually. The Cold War ended, the Berlin Wall came down! Yeah, and? We've eradicated small pox. Yeah, and? Same sex couples can marry! Yeah, and? I always think, "it's going to happen; it's just a matter of time."

(Original Post)



Extravaganza - Jamie Foxx and Kanye West

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mommy and Daddy

This is my mommy and daddy at Christmas. Aren't they cute! I put this picture here because I was checking to see if I could post pictures in this blog service, unlike my old one. :(

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Oakland Expedition #4: Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Dressing for the East Bay

This area has one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the country. I didn't even notice; someone had to point it out to me. Why? Because everyone dresses the same; they all look the same. I will now teach you to dress for the East Bay.

To begin: Get a pair of black pants, a bit too short for you. If you don't have black, another earthy color will suffice, but black is really best.

Put on some sort of drab looking, plain shirt. No patterns. Color is okay, but the color has to be very muted and dull.

Add a scarf, tied around your neck in some fashion. This can be bold and colorful, but it's the only part of the outfit that can be.

Glasses are fine, but the rims must be plastic.

If you're in your mid-30s or older, your hair should be fairly short. An even cut, about 3" long should do. Kinda like this. No matter what length your hair, it should be down. Just shower and go. No styling allowed; it must be absolutely limp and boring. And by no means can you put any cute little barrettes or anything in it.

Avoid make-up.

Socks should be thick and fuzzy. Preferably grey, but some color is ok.

And now, for the shoes. Your shoes must meet three (3) requirements:

1. They must be extremely ergonomically correct, fix every foot problem you've ever had, and protect each bone, muscle and skin cell from the effects of walking.

2. You must swear they are the most comfortable thing you've ever worn.

3. They must be absolutely hideous. (these too)

That pretty much sums up women. Guys, same sorts of color schemes. Obviously no scarves. And for the below 25 crowd, sag your pants. Really, it's mostly so boring, I hardly even need mention the guys. One of my friends promised me that everyone out here had a little bit of thug in them. While I find it to certainly be true in his circle of friends, I am waiting to see it elsewhere.

I'd trade very nice looking for thug, but there isn't much of that either. I think I see maybe 6 guys in suits a day. That may sound like a lot, but I ride a very full Bart train through 2 downtown areas to get to work. I'm telling you, it's enough to make me miss the South. People there were always dressed nicely, even if they did have on those Uggly boots with their pretty dresses. And guys in suits are so sexy. This khaki and blah button down thing just doesn't cut it. Oh well, I at least refuse to lower my fashion integrity to this level. Long live heels!

(Original Post)



Comfortable - Lil' Wayne

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Little Green Men and the Big World

Once upon a time, in the faraway Kingdom of Wisconsin, there lived two little troublemakers named Caitlin and, um... Susy, yeah, Susy. Caitlin and Susy lived in a special town where they could do everything together. They lived in the same building in this special town, and had rooms right across from each other. Both Susy and Caitlin traveled to other parts of the town and to a castle outside the town. At the castle outside of the town, Susy and Caitlin slaved away for an evil step-mother. They had to do the laundry, sweep the floors, prepare the morning meal, and all kinds of other chores. Back in the town, they listened to the town elders teach them about other far away places. Susy spent a lot of time with the elders, and Caitlin spent a lot of time at the castle, but they still had plenty of time to make trouble together.

When Caitlin and Susy did their chores at the castle, the evil step-mother gave them some paper. This was not any old paper, but a magical paper. It was so special that they could trade this magical paper for other things. Usually, the more magical papers they traded, the nicer the things they could get. But sometimes, they could make people think the paper was extra super special magical and they could get nice things for just a few sheets.

A few days a week, Caitlin and Susy went exploring into the neighboring city. It was much bigger than their special town. There was a special place they both liked to go, where they could get yummy fairy cream. They would travel into the city, go to the fairy queen's house, and tell her elves what kind of fairy cream they wanted. The elves would take one or two of those magical pieces of paper and poof! they would turn it into delicious fairy cream. Caitlin and Susy liked this fairy cream very much.

One day, on their way back to town from the fairy queen's house, they decided to stop at the market. Inside the market, they found the most wonderous thing, a little bag full of little green men. And they could get the little bag for just one piece of magical paper. How fun! Caitlin and Susy gave the market man a magical piece of paper and took the little green men back to town with them.

Once they returned home, Susy and Caitlin looked at their little green men and saw that they were not moving. But Susy and Caitlin were smart little girls. They knew that special little men like these don't move until the bigger people aren't watching. They wanted to help the little green men, and give them something to do. So, Caitlin and Susy took the bag of little green and men and gave them little homes all over the building. Some men moved into the bathrooms. Some men set up camp on top of the red teleporters in the hallways. Other men perched on top of doorways. A few men hid inside of little cabinets and crannies. When all the little green men had homes, Caitlin and Susy went off to find more trouble, confident they had made the little green men happy.

The other people in the building liked the little green men a lot. They helped the little green men move often. They wrote notes about the little green men on signs. They even told stories and laughed about the little green men watching them. Soon, many people were very fond of the little green men.

Caitlin and Susy wanted more people to share in the joy that the little green men brought, so they went looking for more. This time they found blue ones and green ones. They hid the little green and blue men all over the town. It was great fun!

As the years went by, other people started to find homes for little green men, and little blue men, and little grey men, and even little yellow men. More and more people found homes for more and more men. The little men could be seen in the town and in the city. People even heard stories of little men in very far off places like the Kingdom of Nebraska or the Kingdom of Tennessee. The little green men were so loved that even to this day, they still find homes in strange places. Why, just last week the postman brought this letter to Susy from her mother:

So - I put on my red gingham dress today - you know the one - the "tablecloth" dress - and I put my hands in my pockets...and guess what I found?!?!?


Those little green men really like to get places. Susy even found one in her shoe. So next time you're feeling sad and blue, remember the little troublemakers whose story I told you. Trade a paper for a pile of the green and the blue, make someone smile, like I've made you.

(Original Post)



That new Weezy!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Living Legend, Just 5 Feet Away

I've been in the Bay Area for about 3 weeks now. That's it, and already this has been an amazing summer!

Evening was just beginning according to the clock, but the sun still shone brightly as I stood at the metal railing, two feet from the main stage. The show was scheduled to start at 6:30pm, but that didn't happen. The Harmony Festival closing ceremonies had gone on far longer than anyone not on stage desired. After the crowd finished exhaling to the east and "traveling down the planetary birth canal" (yes, that's a direct quote), the band could finally start setting up for the headlining act.

Check 1, 2. Boom, bang, bah boom. Check, check. A, A, Africa, A. Be dee dee dee, cha boom. The guitarist from Brazil rambled into the mike. The Ghanaian drummer pounded out beats on the bongos and congas. He pounded his fist on this big wooden ball attached to an amp, and the ground shook. Next to him a rock band style drum set waited for its Cameroonian percussionist.

Turning around, I discovered I could no longer see my friend relaxing on the grass a few yards behind me. People had returned to the area in front of the stage now that the festival founder (who bears a strange resemblance to one of my law school deans) and her cohorts had stopped entreating us to save the world through meditation.

Here I was, somewhere in California I hadn't heard of two weeks ago. Waiting in a field full of hippies, 5 and 65 alike dressed like fairies and lost in ecstasies of interpretive dance - the men and the women. I turned back to the stage, partly in excited anticipation, not wanting to miss the entrance, partly intrigued by the musicians and sound techs, and mostly to ignore the lunatics on every other side of me.

The clock on my phone now showed nearly half-past seven. The shadows had grown long, but dusk had not come yet. The scent of earthy herb wafted through the hot air. The announcer came back on stage in all her tree-hugging glory, clothing made of birch tree, feathers on her headband sticking straight up. But this time, I was glad to see her. She was there to introduce her, the one I came to see! A few blurbs about Grammy Awards, some gibberish about organic and then . . . .

There she was! One of the most amazing female singers out there, Angelique Kidjo! Older than I expected her to look, but still absolutely stunning. A burnt orange suit, multi-colored patterned shirt, and black boots with her dyed blonde hair setting it all off. Then, she opened her mouth and her looks, the outfit, everything, paled into comparison with her voice. If I had to rank, I'd put her only behind Maureen Lilanda in terms of vocal beauty. So talented, so gorgeous, and boy can she dance!

I have no idea how many songs she did. I didn't count, but I did recognize every one of them. I hadn't realized before that one of the songs was a Rolling Stones cover. She pointed that out. (I was wondering how the entire crowd knew the song.) Every person on that stage had a ton of energy. The conga drummer swung his dreads in circles; the guitar players seemed to put their soul into their playing; Angelique jumped around in circles. And then there was her dancer. In case anything else hadn't really reminded me of Africa yet. Shirt off, muscles gleaming in sweat. The towel tucked into the front of his jeans flapped as he snapped his hips forward. It reminded me of the dancing in Mr. Nice's First Lady video, or the dozens of men I'd seen in Zambia dancing with themselves in the mirror after too much chibuku, imitating the Congolese rumba dancers. It got quite a reaction out of the Americans who had never seen something like that (or at least acted like they hadn't.)

Later, Angelique invited the audience on stage. A young girl, maybe seven years old, joined the crowd and quickly took center stage, dancing like a miniature cross between Angelique's dancer and Shakira. Angelique at least feigned shock while the bongo drummer gave the girl a beat. After her, every feather and fairy-wing wearing weirdo had to have their chance to dance with the drummer. "Well, that's it, white people can't dance," I thought to myself. Then I corrected myself. "No, aging hippies can't dance." It got old real fast. At least the music was still great.

Angelique came back and did one last rousing song after clearing the stage. By the time she ended, the sun had set and the temperature had dropped sharply. An incredibly good show. Well worth the hour drive, the day in the sun, the ticket price, and yes, even worth spending an afternoon with the looney farm. I'm glad I went, because, as the feather lady reminded us, my being there meant one less person out on the streets with a gun that day. Yes, that's exactly what I would have done if I hadn't gone to Harmony Fest, shot people. More likely I'd want to do that after going to Harmony Fest. Oh well. Hooray for Angelique Kidjo! Mi Kwabo!

(Original Post)



Someone playing guitar upstairs

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Oakland Expedition #3: Leaving for the City

As I finish my bowl of mushed graham crackers and milk, grab my plastic Popples lunchbox and head out the door, I could be headed to kindergarten. But, I'm not. I'm headed to work, for big people. I get to wear a suit, and heels and stockings. It's ok to wear nice clothes because there's no paste or paint to get all over myself.

I walk, but I don't walk all the way. I only walk a little bit. I have to cross busy streets by myself, but I hold my own hands so I'll be safe. Then I get on this big special train called Bart. Bart's really nice. He takes a lot of big people to their works. Sometimes, there are more big people than Bart has chairs for. Then the big people have to stand. Today, I had to stand for a long time. It was not fun. Bart is kinda like a groundhog. He can go above ground or through his special tunnels under ground. My work is on the other side of the water so Bart takes us under the water. He doesn't get wet because he's in one of his special tunnels. Bart likes to stay in his tunnels in the city because it is very crowded with buildings and more big people. That means I have to leave Bart way underground and go up very long stairs. Some days I take the escalator. When I get to the top, I walk some more. Don't worry Mommy, I still hold my hands at the busy streets.

My building is very big and very pretty. At the top is a big gold dome. It must be a special building. The whole building is made out of marble! The floors are marble, the walls are marble, the statues of people in the hallway are marble. Even the bathroom stalls are marble! The marble is shiny and white with gray lines. It is very beautiful. I feel bad walking on the pretty marble in my pointy heels. Inside there is a grand staircase even better than the one in Gone With the Wind. I like to pretend I'm a princess when I walk up and down it. Even though I have to go to the third floor, I don't like to take the elevator. Then I wouldn't get to be a pincess!

Work is strange. There are all these big people. Some of them get to wear suits, too. Some of them don't. The big boss people don't get to wear suits. I don't know why. Today, the biggest boss man only got to wear shorts with a white t-shirt and black socks like my grandpa wears pulled up high on the bottom of his legs. I know the guys, they don't get to wear high heels like me, but he didn't even get to wear shoes! I am glad I am not a big boss person so I can dress pretty.

The big people give me things to do. They must think I'm smart cuz they ask me to do hard things. It's ok. I like to pretend I'm smart. And, I like the books in the library. They are very big and some are old. They smell like my other grandpa's old house from when I used to play there. The books are kinda like puzzles, like the game my sister and I used to play where we hid little scraps of paper all over the house and each scrap had a hint on it to find the next scrap. Sometimes we messed up and Mommy found the scraps later. Mommy didn't enjoy the game as much as we did, I don't think...

Anyway, one of the big people gives me a paper. The paper usually tells me where to start. So I go to the library - it's on the other end of the building. I get to walk down the big marble hallway. It's so long! Like a whole block! When I get to the library, I find the page I need in the first book. It tells me to go to another page or another book. And then that one tells me to go to another, and then another. Sometimes I wind up with a whole stack of books and I don't remember which one says what. The library has this really nice woman in it who helps me when I'm stuck. Like my sister used to give me hints. But she is not as pretty as my sister.

The big people's game is a little different than my sister's and mine. There isn't a last paper in the gingerbread house. I just kinda have to decide when the game's over. Then, they have this extra part of the game that is really hard. I have to tell them what all the different pages and books said. Even though that part's hard, it's fun. That's when I get to play on the computer. I get to type, and play with the typing program. I get to move things around and make the words fat, like this, or crooked, like this, sometimes I get to underline them too, like this. Maybe some day I'll do them all at once!

Today I finished one of the games. I was very proud because the big person who gave me the first paper said the paper I gave her looked good. She used big words too. She said it looked "very thorough," and she said I did it fast. I was scared before because she had a time limit. I thought maybe I would have to go home before I finished. But the big people are nice. They let me cheat by starting before "go" and they don't make me stop to eat. I have a nice big gray cubby that's all mine. That's where I sit. Last time I had a cubby, it was littler and it didn't have pretty wood trim. And they wouldn't let me eat in it. Or color. These big people are much nicer.

So far, I have been at my new work 3 days. That's 3 peanut butter sandwiches, 3 pretty suits, 6 rides on Mr. Bart, and a lot of big books. My new work is fun. Maybe someday I'll be a big person too.

(Original Post)



Cookie Monster - "C" is for Cookie