Monday, November 09, 2009

crack is wack yo

so i was at work today, innocently sterilizing bloody instruments in the lab, when our product rep came by for his weekly visit. this middle aged gentlemen has known me on a very impersonal level for about a year at both dental offices in which i have worked. after scrutinizing me for a moment he suddenly asked apropos of nothing "how much do you weigh?" which caught me off guard to such an extent that i actually answered him truthfully instead of sidestepping such a question as i normally would. (i weigh around 110 pounds, everybody, just so we are all on the same damn page, okay?) he replied that i was "very thin" and had i ever considered trying to gain more weight. at this point, two other members of the office staff joined in and agreed that i was "much too thin" and i would look "so much better with an extra 10 or even 20 pounds" of weight.

my point in relating this little incident is this - why do people seem to feel it is perfectly acceptable to tell you are not fat enough, but these same people would bristle in righteous indignation if they were told they are too fat? are these not opposite sides of the same personal coin? if it is "wrong" or "rude" to talk about someone's weight, doesn't this extend to their lack of weight just as much as to their excess of it? it is not that i was particularly offended by the preceding conversation, it is just that it seemed so outside the realm of polite office interaction. i truthfully only care for one person's opinion on my appearance outside my own, and he told me only yesterday how good my slender frame is looking these days.

i am thin, my mother is thin, it has a great deal to do with genetics and something to do with lifestyle. i avoid processed foods, never drink soda, and eat mostly lean meats, pasta, or vegetables - because they taste good to me, not because i am trying to stay skinny. that is just a side benefit. i cannot even tell you how many times i have had the word "skinny" hurled at me as a personal insult. what? i though people want to be skinny - isn't that the selling point of every fashion rag, movie poster, men's magazine, and television commercial trying to sell you anything from juice to dog food? i have even been called a "crack whore" as a derogatory slur on my appearance quite a few times as well. dude, i have never even seen crack! how wild an accusation is that? makes me almost wish i had cancer or something so i could feebly shake my fist at the insulter and say "it's the chemo you fat bitch!"

Saturday, November 07, 2009

coffee AND spanking?? yes please!

sociological experimentation, or how to confound the general public

for my current sociology course i was required to perform an experimental "day of deviance" and write about the results and my conclusions. deviance is defined in a sociological sense as "any violation of norms", norms being further defined as "expectations or rules of behaviour, that reflect and enforce values". i figured since i haven't had time to blog lately and this essay is at least mildly entertaining i would throw it out there for my followers to peruse...


Being “deviant” for one day, or as I prefer to phrase it “being an individual”, was hardly a stretch for me. As a matter of fact I didn’t really need to defer much from my standard daily behavior to provide the necessary research for this project. In addition to the fact that I am covered in Asian inspired tattoos from my arms to my back which despite my obvious intelligence and carriage have gotten me negatively stereotyped for years, I also routinely give non-expected answers to innocent questions from store clerks or friendly strangers. I am simply the sort of person who inadvertently befuddles people both with my behavior, my appearance, and my conversation.

For this project I consciously increased my unusual responses to questions in order to try to provide some fodder to write about. When asked by convenience store clerks “How are you today?” I replied with “Do you really want to know how I am, or are you just following a mental script that you feel fits your role as ‘friendly store clerk’?” I then proceeded to lean on the counter at Go Mart and launch into a monologue explaining Sartre’s concept of “bad faith” from his book Being and Nothingness as exemplified by his classic take on the waiter, in which people routinely define themselves by playing the part of whatever role they identify themselves as.

The clerk at Go Mart was completely dumbstruck after my longwinded answer to her thoughtless standardized question, and merely handed me my receipt and my coffee while avoiding eye contact (a classic nonverbal defensive posturing) and said “Have a nice day”, to which I cheerfully replied “Please don’t tell me what to do ma’am” and then smiled at the customers in line behind me who were openly staring at me as I left the store. I suspect that my conversation did not actually offend anyone, since I perceived no ill will from anyone. It is my best guess, since I was unable to draw any real reactions from people other than wide-eyed uncomfortable stares, that I was probably simply not understood. Not many people are even familiar with the name Jean Paul Sartre, let alone avid readers of his existential philosophical writings. I may even have been perceived as slightly unbalanced and best left alone as opposed to conversed with.

My feelings during this “day of deviance” were twofold: I was amused to basically be experimenting on the unsuspecting public, and I was filled with pity that simply carrying on unusual conversations could fill people with so much uneasiness. Humans find comfort in routines, safety in standardization, and a sense of belonging by not deviating from the herd. I, however, am the exact opposite. When I censor myself to fit in with the masses or behave in ways that are untrue to who I really am to not rock the proverbial social boat, I am left feeling like a prop or a paper doll, a shell of my true self, who I actually think is a pretty cool chick. Even if I do purposefully confuse minimum wage slaves who are simply trying to be polite and sell me a cup of coffee….

Saturday, August 08, 2009

a bedtime story

once upon a time, there was a little girl whose devout mother was a janitor at a lonely desert church. every saturday night the little girl would accompany her mother to the church to prepare it for the next day's services. as her mother ran the vacuum and washed the windows, the child would dust the pews and the alters. she took particular care over the letters "this do in remembrance of me", and sometimes she would arrange the hymnals with just the right amount of space between them, but otherwise the little girl would simply wait in whatever place she was put, as there was some inexplicable need to keep all the individual doors and rooms locked as they were entered and exited.

this little girl did not mind being left alone in the dark house of the lord, since for all she knew this was something that all little girls did on saturday nights. only one thing troubled her in the dusky church - the moths. apparently these moths were quite the religious zealots, since they congregated by the hundreds on the walls and passageways of the church.

one room above all others filled the little girl with horror and anticipatory dread - the nursery. the windows there were broken just enough to allow the holy insects to flock inside, and they alternately fluttered in thick clouds through the room and covered the nursery walls like so much breathing wallpaper. inevitably the little girl would be escorted inside to wait for her mother to clean that particular wing of the church, and although she attempted to protest (but quietly, since her mother was very adamant about the constant need for locked doors), she would end up sitting perfectly still in a rocking chair in the furthest corner from the windows, praying that god would keep the moths from brushing against her in their frenzy to get at the overhead lights. apparently god was busy killing puppies and hearing the prayers of more important people, since the moths always tormented the little girl unmercifully, to the point that one desperate night she turned off the lights in a misguided attempt to calm the creatures. unfortunately for the child, this only caused the moths to brush against her hair and cheeks and naked arms in the darkness, the sound of their furry wings whirring in her ears until she crumpled to the floor in a heap of defeated tears, trying vainly to cover her head with her little hands to keep the insects away. her mother discovered her still lying on the floor in the darkened nursery some time later, and turning on the lights, she chastised her daughter for being afraid "of a few bugs."

no matter how the little girl tried to explain to her mother how the multitudes of repellently furry little creatures made her skin crawl and her mind lose all reason, every week she was sent back to the nursery to wait...sitting in the rocking chair, her eyes closed and her little hands clenched, listening to the sound of a million tiny wings drown out the hum of a far away vacuum cleaner...


this is a repost of something i wrote some time ago and published on the internet elsewhere. i was recently asked again why i have a debilitating fear of moths, and i thought it would be easier to put the story up than to tell it properly aloud. despite the fanciful language of the piece, it is all quite true, and the memories of that moth-filled nursery haunt me to this day. we all have our little hang-ups, i suppose, and mine happens to be this...

Saturday, July 11, 2009


when i was a child, i firmly believed that grown-ups had the answers. answers to, well, to just about everything, really. i thought doctors always knew what was wrong with a sick person, just by a quick examination. i thought ministers and sunday school teachers had a special conduit to god, some extra way of knowing what the bible meant or what god wanted humans to do. i thought parents must have reached a higher level of universal responsibility, to be entrusted with the care of all those tiny humans my own size, who so clearly did not have all the answers.

i always imagined that somewhere around, oh say, your twenty-first birthday, you just "got" the answers somehow. like an all-encompassing light bulb moment, or an epiphany of epic proportions, and then you were no longer a child - you were "one of them."

in retrospect, i think this innocent belief is one of the essential psychological components of childhood. a kind of a trust factor that must exist for little people to allow themselves and their fully formed wills to be subjugated to the big people, the people with the power, the people who "must" have the answers. of course, i now realize that all the adults in my memory were undoubtedly making it all up as they went along, hoping to god they didn't slip up and reveal the terrifying truth to the wee ones, that none of them had any real idea what they were doing, they merely had suspicions. "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." indeed, dorothy, indeed...

as a medical professional, i now know that yes, we have some idea what is wrong with our patients through our education and training, but it's certainly not with the conviction i as a child believed there must be. as a parent, i now understand that conceiving and birthing a child is a biological function, not related in any way to the mental capacities of the adults involved. and as far as religion is concerned, i have most definitely experienced first hand the utter failure of those in authority to be in possession of anything like real answers.

perhaps this failure of a trust exchange between caregiver and child is what ultimately causes the formation of a "bad" person - a person who knew much too soon that there is no universal answer sheet, a person who saw shortly after entering this life that no one is really in charge at all. this early mindset might be the factor that allows certain children to develop into adults who disregard rules, laws, and even the feelings of others, in favor of following their own laws, which to them must be just as valid as those of the impostor "adults" who attempted to foist their made up truth on an already suspicious child. certainly a common denominator in the backgrounds of violent offenders is the rote "bad childhood" we have all come to know the formula for.

sometimes i wonder if i do my own daughter a minor disservice by refusing to bow to that unspoken law of adulthood - that kind of "never let them see you sweat" mentality, a pretense of certainty and authority. i often tell my daughter quite simply "i don't know why...(fill in the blank)" - does this fail her in some way? is she not being given that psychic safety net that children should have? i don't know. i don't have answers, and i don't pretend to.

i must fail the "grown-up" test utterly, huh...somehow, it doesn't feel like much of a loss...

Saturday, May 02, 2009


have i mentioned how much i love andy warhol? no, not lately? it's on my mind today for some reason...on days when i feel particularly disconnected and the whole world slides by me like pictures on a screen, my uninvolved and wondering mind wanders to him.

when i dragged a reluctant bob to the warhol museum last year (at the time, bob had no appreciation for pop art) he made a singular observation after several hours - "warhol is not an artist, he's a philosopher." exactly. not to say that warhol had no artistic talent, of course he did, but his gift lay more in directing us towards a point of view, making us reconsider basic definitions of what "art" is and who we are by the definitions we choose to accept. pointing out the parody of itself that life in america in particular has slid into in the past hundred years. bob and i have regular conversations about simulacra, which defined most simply, means a simulation or a copy of something. putting a group of brillo pad boxes on display and declaring it to be art, the art of advertising and everyday life and consumerism, was just one of warhol's tricks to make us think about who we really are, what we value, and why.

one of the most shattering things ever said to me was something to the effect of "you do realize we made this all up, don't you?" and i immediately swallowed this statement like a pill, felt it disseminating throughout my whole body, seeping into my cells like a drug, changing me from the inside out. it was the simplest most obvious truth i had ever heard, and i still wonder that people don't see it. we invented everything, words have no real meaning in themselves, they are just sounds we all decided upon to represent objects. the rules of society have no intrinsic meaning or foundation, they were simply decided upon by people who assumed they were all meaning the same things when they defined them. if i can't see inside your head, how do i know what "red" looks like to you? we both point to something and say it's "red", but how do i know you see the shade i see? when you say you "love" me , how do i know what that means to you? agreed upon definitions are worthless if we cannot even know that our most basic concepts are similar. it is all a wild guess and compare game, from birth to death.

following this thought path to its end is dangerous to some, liberating to others. just because nothing has meaning doesn't mean there is no joy or hope or beauty to be experienced. on the contrary, emancipating your mind from the constraints of accepted definitions opens you up to appreciate things as they really are - to you and to no one else. love someone or something simply because you do, not because they are or it is acceptably "lovely" or "special"... isn't it enough that you think so? should you ever ever be self-conscious or apologetic for what you like, who you love, what fabric you cover your skin with, how many times you say the word "fuck"? these words and rules were made up long before you arrived here, did you sign a contract at conception that you would accept and abide by them?

warhol loved photo booths...the ultimate simalcrum of ourselves. "look, it's me." but it is not me, it is a representation of me. and furthermore, it is me pretending to be me - "this is me, posing as the me i believe myself to be. look at me."

look at us -now look at you. are you the same person you were before you read this? does it matter?

yes, it does matter. just not in the way you think it does.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

you want me to what?!?

this may be old hat to some of you gainfully employed big corporation type sons of bitches, but i just had to submit to my first ever drug test and frankly i'd like to know how in the world this qualifies as acceptable and legal behaviour? i know, i know, nobody wants a drug-addled freak making their cheeseburger and whatnot, but since when is my urine a thing that can be traded for a job? i'm confused. shouldn't things like, oh say, marketable skills, literacy, and a record of reliability and intelligence be prerequisites for employment as opposed to what i may or may not do in my spare time? actually, upon greater reflection, i should know from my experiences as a consumer that intelligence is clearly NOT a factor for holding down a job in this country...

don't get me wrong, my outrage is not related to any personal drug habit i have that i fear may keep me from passing...unless there is such a thing as an illegal amount of caffeine in your urine (in which case i'm totally fucked) there is no way i didn't pass the thing. i just have never been asked to pee into a plastic cup under tight security and then hand the open container of urine to a waiting attendant. frankly, it was humiliating (without being overly specific, it was the only time i have ever wished for a penis...well, and this time) and i felt extraordinarily bad offering my piss to another human being, whether or not that person was being paid to take it from my hand. and who gets into that line of work anyway? pee fetishists? germans, perhaps?

my issue with this process has more to do with privacy than anything else. when i'm at work my ass belongs to whoever is paying me to be there, and i take it very seriously and earn my paycheck like a good little worker bee. but as soon as i clock out, i belong to myself again, and what i do in those few hours of freedom should not be subject to scrutiny...right?

in my particular case, i am in the process of being hired as a pharmacy technician, so i DO understand that having a drug user in that area would be a big no-no. i'll be handling narcotics and opioids all day long and for someone with an addiction problem that would be the wrong (or right, if you look at it from another angle) line of work to get into. but i have an interesting observation to point out - i have been applying for many positions as a dental assistant in the past month (after all, that IS what my degree is in) and not one dental office has expected me to drug test. pardon? you mean medical professionals who can easily kill you with one tiny error aren't subject to drug screens, but a 7-11 employee isn't allowed to sell me cheetos unless he's a teetotaler? how does THAT make sense?

this whole little experience was very orwellian for me, and i am still sorting out exactly how i feel about it. on one hand, i have to have a job so taking some noble stance about not submitting to tyranny and privacy invasion would most likely do nothing except leave me sans job and starving in the street somewhere. and besides, getting all rosa parks and trying to change the system is probably an exercise in futility. but doing something i disagree with on a very intrinsic level for what amounts to money has left me with the distasteful feeling of being a prostitute. a creepy pee fetish serving prostitute. which actually probably pays a hell of a lot better than a pharm tech job. hmmmm.........