Tuesday, June 29, 2010

You never even call me by my name

When I bartended my way through my first degree, I had a boss who would get drunk every Wednesday night and sing that song.  He had more than a passing resemblance to David Allan Coe with a gravelly voice, thick beard, and big cowboy boots.  Years later when I was living in New York, I grew a bit nostalgic and bought the CD along with Pat Green and Robert Earl Keen.  I would recommend the latter as true Texas songwriters although Coe's redneck music still puts a smile on my face.  Green and Keen conjure memories of Chilifest, Aggieland, the Chicken, and tubing down the Guadalupe with a cooler of light beer and a jug of purple jebus #7.  Coe reminds me of life in that bar where I made a lot of money off people (men) who returned regularly to hear me tell them what I really thought.  My most frequent customers were the ones who received the most abuse and they loved it.  I didn't realize then that this was probably one of the only times in my life that I could always say what I thought and still keep my job- and even be rewarded for being me.

I still have moments that shine, when my contribution is requested, but I also spend a portion of my day being just one of a number of people who are all doing a variation of the same thing in the same style, which is safe and acceptable and expected of us.  Oh how I want to break free.

Monday, June 28, 2010

We have arrived

More Americans play football soccer growing up than any other sport and yet we are not seen as a contender to the scene.  Granted, you don't see American teenagers passing the ball around in schoolyards and parks like the South Americans (I was mesmerized by the skill displayed by the average Argentine when I was in Buenos Aires) and we certainly don't light things on fire when our team loses but we have love for the game. And our soccer moms are as fierce as any football hooligan.

I wondered if making it to the next round would bring us any more respect even though we lost to the same team that beat us last time.  At least we lost in overtime!

Then I read the stories of lousy refereeing and saw the American-Slovenian game was included in the roll call.  And then a woman in the UK is claiming to be carrying Landon Donovan's love child.  And I know what this means: we have arrived.

Friday, June 25, 2010

another ordinary day with a tweak

Early in the year two more people joined my studio.  I had lunch with them a few times but they eventually left our lunch group, as we all were female and they were not.  It had much less to do with gender than lunchtime conversation.  My lunch group usually discusses the recent marriage of H or the upcoming wedding of B.  H was entering her mid-30's at the time she was married and had always lived with her mother so it made for hilarious tales of horrifying discoveries of the way her husband really lives as well as struggles in trying not to want to move back in with her mother who cooks and cleans and likes to go shopping.  B got engaged before even going on a first date with a man who swept her off her feet and is now trying to do things in their "natural" order to please their parents while still continuing with the organic development of her unusual and exciting relationship.  So our lunch time is usually taken up with relationship talk.  Don't get me wrong- I enjoy these discussions immensely and laugh all the way through lunch most of the time but once in a while change is good.

Today I found myself going to lunch with the two guys.  We sat down and got caught up in sports and technology talk.  Eventually our conversation turned to a discussion over cameras.  I have been researching and comparing the Nikon D90 with the Cannon EOS 50D.  The benefits of the Canon are matched by the reasonable pricing of the Nikon.  We went back and forth on the merits of each and found ourselves in a camera store on the way back from the restaurant.  SB is not really into techie things so I was stoked to find two friends who could give informed opinions for me to consider.  After seven months of stalking the camera stores I feel like I will make my move and buy a camera.  It is a large investment for me but I have been ready to make that upgrade from my SLR to a DSLR.  Yes, that's right.  My good camera still uses film although it's not so good with the light leak it recently sprung.  And my point and shoot that I bought before moving to Italy in 2006 will still do its job but I want something more. 

My ordinary day became so much better as I had the end of the day to look forward to when we planned to check out a few camera stores and flesh out a good deal. 

Oh yes, and one of them also agrees with me that the Suburu WRX is one of the best cars to ever be released to the general public. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

m word

When SB told me that he wanted to marry me in September, it was all very exciting.  We told a few people, he contacted his family to determine if he would want to use his grandmother's diamond or his mother's, and we started thinking about dates.  And then it kind of trickled off.  The rest of our lives became far more interesting than this planning, which was stressful even in the beginning stages.  I didn't want to think about a ring, much less all the other logistics of planning a wedding.  Then my uncle died and that was the end of that.  We haven't spoken about marriage very much at all since.  I am happy just to be with my SB.  I guess I always felt like we should get married for the benefit of our families but now I realize that they also only care that we are happy.  Except my father who probably lights a candle for me at mass every week.  So maybe when we have time it will happen.  In the meantime I just like knowing that it is a possibility.

The girls on my rugby team ask us when we're getting married regularly.  I think that they are hoping for Lai See come the next new year.  The other day one of my teammates asked me and I turned the question back at her.  "When are you and R getting married," I responded.  She was surprised and looked in confusion at her girlfriend.  Well, why not?  They have been together for longer than SB and me.

I have started to notice that there are a few ladies on my team who are my age and with long term partners but there is no discussion of marriage.  We have celebrated four weddings this year but I have never heard of any talk of the lesbians exchanging vows.  Many of my lesbian teammates are married in the States; they are embracing the same ideas of commitment, security and generativity that the straight teammates are celebrating.  But here in HK it is still a far out concept.

One of the stateside couples recently had a baby.  As I was writing in a card for them, I started wondering about how they would refer to themselves with their child.  Mommy and Mother?  Mom and Mama?  What if they both wanted the same title?  They couldn't both go by Mom, could they?  I wonder how you even arrive at the title.  Does one name just sound right and you go with it?  In my family it is Maman and Papa.  My mother refers to her parents as má and ba.  My mother and father called his parents Mother and Father (it sounded so formal to me).  SB calls his Mom and Dad.  How does one determine what to be called for the rest of her life?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Seen on the MTR

Tonight as I was exiting the MTR I saw a couple pushing their baby boy in a stroller.  And by baby boy, I mean a child no younger than three and most likely close to five years old, so fat that he appeared to be swollen, and wearing a u-shaped travel pillow around his neck, I imagine to keep his head from banging into the metal frame of the stroller because he was waaaaay too big to be in that thing.  The outline of his head was straining against the fabric top of the stroller and his meaty knees were sticking up into his chest because of how he was sitting to keep his legs from dragging on the floor.

I was tempted to take a photo but then I would have lost what was left of my humanity.

Your meat mountain of a boy can walk.  That is what his legs are for.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My man of the match

I didn't have a favorite going into the Argentina-Korea match.  I wanted them both to win, as opposed to SB wanting both the Stormers and the Bulls to lose in their rugby final.

While watching the match, I noticed one player who particularly stood out to me not quite because of his brilliant play (although he was almost flawless) but because of his antics.  Gabriel Heinze is crazy.  In under five minutes I watched him cry, scream, throw a tantrum, and burst into rapturous joy.  Aside from the periods of solid play by the Koreans, I most enjoyed watching him.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The purge

I don't know when gmail became capable of forwarding hotmail e-mails but I am thrilled.  I have a hotmail account that I barely use anymore but I still get an occasional e-mail among all the spam which prevents me from deleting it.  I tried to forward my emails a year ago but had no luck.  This time I checked my gmail settings and found that it has resolved that problem and now I can send my hotmail e-mails to my gmail account.  Even better, it won't forward junk mail so it's like having a double filter.  I am seriously considering creating another gmail account to forward mail from my original account so that I weed out all spam (I still get viagra and rolex offers that are forwarded from my Cornell account straight to the gmail spam folder).

The consolidated e-mails have made me aware of one thing however.  I receive a ton of mail from subscriptions to sites that I no longer read, if I ever did.  This week I have been logging onto the sites and deleting my accounts or changing my settings.  My credit card will no longer send me offers.  Gone is the myspace account.  Goodbye classmates.com.  And see you only once in a while linkedin.  By the way, these websites don't make deleting the account easy.  I couldn't figure out how to call time on classmates.com so I ended up having to google "delete classmates.com account." 

Now if I could only figure out how to filter all that chain mail that my mother keeps sending because she thinks it is cute.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me

Tonight I have been dragged kicking and screaming to a new age.

My Cornell webmail account has shut me out.  Actually, it has not quite shut me out but was building up the pressure toward the inevitable so I decided to take the leap rather than suffer slowly.  SB was patted on the back, locked out, and sent away with well wishes when he finished his MBA in 2006 but I somehow slipped through the cracks, perhaps because I began to work there after graduation and my profile changed.  I have been happily using my NetID for years.

Cornell's webmail was a bulky and painful system when I first was given an account.  It had some interesting quirks such as the fact that if you did not save your e-mail every 30 minutes, it would fail to reload when you hit the "send" button and you would lose everything that you forgot to save.  Now I know some of you are wondering why this would be a problem.  Who writes 30 minute long e-mails?  Well let me tell you who: a lot of Cornell graduate students.  Perhaps the automatic 30 minute e-mail dump is a good for those of us who were sending long rants or drunken confessions (I was once on the receiving end of a long winded sexual confession from an undergraduate who am fairly certain I have never spoken to, who awkwardly was also the daughter of my thesis advisor).  Much like the Gmail application to put an automatic hold on e-mails sent at certain hours of the night, the 30 minute dump may have saved a lot of people from a lot of embarrassment.  But for me it was horrifying, infuriating, and depressing.  Lost e-mails include a message describing my arrival in Ithaca, with its deep gorges and lush forests.  I didn't have it in me to rewrite the letter so my family and friends got instead, "I arrived.  It's nice."  I also lost various academic tidbits and citations that I had pasted into e-mails for filing and forgot to send immediately.  By the way, e-mail is one of my favorite ways to file things.  I just send receipts, documents, etc to myself and put them into tidy, little electronic folders.

So yes, webmail was not always good to me and was painfully limited in options but I was used to it.  Then Cornell went and upgraded to a different system.  I was sent an invitation to move along last month which was duly noted and ignored.  Then I got a friendly reminder to do it because they were ending webmail soon.  Last week I got an e-mail telling me that I could still log in to webmail but could not yse any of the send/reply functions.  I saw the writing on the wall.

I sucked it up and logged onto the upgrade page expecting a long process but I was transferred somewhat painlessly, with the only difficulty being that I had to log onto two different sites to verify my status.

Today I logged into the new site and it was a noticeable improvement.  I was even able to forward my account to Gmail, which I previously could not do.  Upon doing so I wondered if after all these years I would finally be able to send on my hotmail account also.  The answer was yes.  Yes!  So here I am, like a brand new person basking in my good fortune.  Tomorrow I am going to buy my first touch-screen phone.  I have been inspired by my new e-mail option...and the fact that the old phone died on Friday and I may want to check my messages sometime soon.

Cute/Gross Animal Picture of the Day

Baby Sloths!!!  Like SB, their activities include eating, sleeping, and scratching themselves.

Meet the sloths from Amphibian Avenger on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

anonymous accusation

Here's a great reason for why I have the blog: to post musings that I want to get out there but can't get out there with people who know who I'm talking about.

A friend of mine recently graduated from university and posted a cute slideshow of his life.  As I was looking through the slides I was amazed by how similar he looked to his father.  And his mother.  And...wait, it was eerie how similar his parents looked to each other.  I was tempted to re-post the slides here but for the aforementioned anonymity that I need so as not to risk ruining a friendship with these musings.

But I looked over the pictures again and I am more than a little bit concerned about the similarities in his parents.  SB and I probably experience a fair share of narcissism in our choices of each other as we have identified identical eye color and other similarities.  But we have noticed that our attraction to each other is also based in part with features that we wish to have.  I am choosing to make up for my short stature with his height and he is a wee bit obsessed with my bountiful head of very dark hair. He has straight up told me that he wishes to have darker, less course hair.  I don't want children but if I did, we certainly are trying to even out our perceived faults and highlight our attributes with our choices of each other.

Perhaps my friend's parents thought of themselves to be perfect and were lucky enough to find their reflections in each other.  But the similar thin, wide lips, pointy chins, curly brown hair and identical shaped heads are a bit too uncanny.  This is more than just a little bit weird.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Say hello to the girls

My cousin has had a rough year.  After her mother died of cancer she took a genetic test and found that she carried the BRCA gene.  She was undecided on what do do, having already battled cancer once before but then my uncle became sick and her doctor found some abnormal cells in a biopsy and that did it for her.  She has two little boys and she was not planning on leaving them if she had any say in the matter.

She had a hysterectomy and double mastectomy the next month.  My Aunt Jane had gone through having a hysterectomy in her late 20's and was able to provide advice for whatever my cousin was going through.  Of course hormone therapy has come a long way since poor Jane's days and there was no need for my cousin to grow a mustache while waiting for someone to invent electrolysis.

I have to thank my cousin's doctor from the bottom of my heart.  He was helpful every step of the way through the difficult process.  I am grateful for his kindness and compassion.  But I am especially grateful for the rack he gave her during the reconstructive surgery.

We are all very pleased with them, except perhaps her husband who keeps worrying that her cleavage is being exposed to their impressionable middle school students.  He isn't used to that.  But I suspect those young delinquents have seen boobs before.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Louise Bourgeois.  The Times has a worthy piece about her here.

Familiar, yet disembodied, her art evoked nostalgia, recognition, fear, awe, comfort, discomfort...Unheimliche.

The postcard of her exhibit that I bought in the bookstore of Dia Beacon lies pressed between my underwater photographs and essays on fragmentation and mirrors in my 2006 sketchbook.  It is one of my prized possessions because of the wonderful memories that I can instantly conjure when I open the pages.  That day I also stared at my reflection in Gerhard Richter's Six Gray Mirrors No. 884/1-6 until I dematerialized and watched a rather well known photographer fall into a frenzied rapture in Richard Serra's Torqued Ellipses that resulted in him banging against them while security ran around trying to find the cause of the clamor.  But for the Maman I had the whole room to myself, just her and me.