Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I have spent way too much time looking for this

Seriously - I have spent literally hours looking for this "episode" of Questionable Content (what does one call an individual comic in a series?) even though it's way no longer relevant. But, um, Erika, the other night when you and Aren and I were chatting until all hours and I wanted Pete to look up a comic on quantum fetish mechanics? Yeah, so here it is. For everyone who isn't Erika, if you haven't read this QC, you totally should, and not just because I reference it all the time. Huh? Oh, also because it's funny. In addition, it's totally true. And Erika (or possibly my Mom) posed an interesting question: did so many weird fetishes exist before the internet? I mean, if you really liked elbows and peanutbutter, did you have to just wait until you got a really tolerant girlfriend, or did you have to hire hookers? Was there a magazine for you, maybe just a quarterly, perhaps called "Peanutbogen?" (That's my attempt at combining "Peanutbutter" and "elbogen," which is German for "elbows," I think. Yes, all of my German is this useful.) And how would you find said periodical? I swear to God, deviancy before the internet just boggles the mind. And to think: the internet has come into existance within my lifetime. Crazypants.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Rose-Colored Memories of TriMet

In high school, I road Tri-Met buses twice a day, every week day for like three years. Mostly I road the 9 or the 8 (once or twice the 41 and walked home from Fremont, or the 33 and walked home from Grant High School), although when being too lazy to walk from the bus mall to school, I took the 57. And sometimes I took the 20 up over the hill to where Mom worked at the time, or the 15 to look at clothes I would never be able to afford (much less fit into) on 23rd. And once, as a Freshman, I road the 12 all the way to the airport and back just to see how long it took.

The 9 ran Powell in SE, to the bus mall, and then into NE (Weidler to 24th to 27th). I caught it on 24th and Brazee and it was mostly filled with adults heading downtown to their white collar jobs. They read, listened to music, or stared out the windows quietly, occationally two would chat softly about their kids or someone they knew from work. It was very laid back, the other riders were just trying to get from one place to another without having to pay $100+/month for parking.

The 8, on the other hand, ran from deep inner NE to the bus mall, and then up the hill to the VA hospital, next to OHSU. From NE to the bus mall it was usually filled with gang bangers at the back and crazies at the front. I never saw truly lunitic people on the 9, but the 8 was like a magnet for them. From the bus mall up the hill, it was filled with sick veterans. From the VA to the bus mall and back out to NE it was also filled with sick veterans. And gang bangers. My brother, who is pretty much as white and non-threatening as you get (being above average height, but not over 6'; fit and slender, but not very "Fight Club," as it were; and a natural dirty blonde, which just fails to threaten the way, say, Goth Black would), Aren always chooses to sit at the back of the bus with the gang bangers when he rides the 8 rather than at the front with the creepy pedophiles and crazy cat ladies. He said that the bangers don't really know what to make of him. He's not a threat to them, he doesn't want to chat with them for some kind of passing, insane person's "street cred," and they probably feel the same way about the people at the front of the bus, so they leave him alone.

Anyway, this is all to say that I road the bus a lot and had a lot of contact with people from varied, um, "walks of life." But when I look back on those three years of riding the bus, I always think, "Man, TriMet is really a good system. It's clean, it's friendly, it's on time, and there really is a pretty decent social contract in place: I leave you alone, you leave me alone. Sure, I once saw an abusive drunk (or drug addict) get denied access to the bus, but as abusive and dangerous as he seemed, the bus driver held her own and he backed the fuck down. And if anyone was a chatty nutter, they made a bee-line for Aren anyway, so everyone else's social contract was still intact.

After my allergist appointment last Monday, I decided to take the bus to work. It was kind of a neat route: take the 20 down Burnside to E Burnside & Grand Blvd and then get on the 19 at the same stop. The 19 drops me off literally across the street from my office, and not the busy street (Glisan) either: the little numbered avenue that no one ever uses but the people who live on it. It's not often that you can transfer from one bus to another that usually run parallel to one another at the same stop when you're not on the bus mall.

The 20 was late and a little smelly. The other people on the bus were just people, I didn't mind them and they didn't mind me. Admittedly, the guy who sat down in front of me may have been the King of Hobo BO, but he took his odor with him when he got off just before the bridge. But when I got off at Burnside and Grand, there were these, well, assholes waiting at the stop for another bus. I got off the back of the 20 to the sounds of this dickwad yelling at the bus driver at the front. What was he pissed about? That it wasn't the 12. Like this was the driver's fault. "Oh, I'm so sorry sir, let me just dump these other passengers and change my reader board and we'll be on our way! Fuck the other people waiting for this bus!" The bus pulls away and he yells after it, "Fucking BUSES!!!" He had two or three buddies with him. And here is where I expose myself for the classest jackhole you always knew I was: they had that look of uneducated, alcoholic, NASCAR ghetto, white trash losers who can't hold down a menial job and think that the world owes them something for being loud mouth, anti-intellectual bastards all the time. The three or four of them stood there and the first guy shouted about how TriMet employees are all assholes and it's all a conspiracy against him and the other guys nodded and laughed and smoked and jeered whenever the first guy said, "Fucking buses!" or "Fucking TriMet!" Then the 12 came and they got on and were probably assholes all the way to wherever they were going. I went and checked the bus schedule. The 19 was probably about five minutes away. So I waited. And after five minutes or so had gone by, I checked the schedule again. And then I saw a bus coming over the bridge. It was another 12. I was like, "Seriously? Two in a row??" So I checked the 12's schedule: identical to the 19 at that time of day. Another couple minutes, and another bus on the bridge. The 20. Finally the 19 showed up, but it was like it had just flat out skipped a scheduled bus.

Then 19 reeked. Like full-on Bum Stink all throughout the bus. And no bums, to speak of. But the 19 did aquire a couple of moms and their kids at Providence Portland (47th & Glisan, or thereabouts). They were sweet, the mom and daughter who sat at the front were smiling and talking together. The mom removed lint from the knees of her daughter's tights (the girl was maybe 8 or so), and ran her hand over the girls head and down her braids, hugging her to pull her back up into her seat, which she was falling out of as she squirmed around to tell her Mom something else about someone at her school. It was just so sweet and intimate and thoughtless (as in, "natural," not as in, "uncaring").

I don't think I'll be signing up to take the bus to work any time soon. My memory of TriMet was that it was clean and safe and friendly. But in reality, it has always been like this: cleanish, kind of smelly at times, safe enough (if you're aware of your surroundings) and friendly in small doses. And that's how all mass transit is, everywhere I've ever lived or even just visited: Portland, Moscow, Paris, Lyon, DC... I never road the train or bus in NY or LA, but I'm sure it's the same. It's really a question of necessity. When I had to ride the bus because I didn't have a license or a car, it was great. But now that it's a choice, it's just so much less enjoyable. And I feel bad for complaining, because I know that I should ride the bus more to be a better citizen. But that is a concern for another post on another day because this one is already ridiculously long.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Note On Gender Perceptions, Or How I Am A Big Closet Sexist

So we're at the Fred Meyer the other day.... and as the checker bags our last items, those of the person behind us in line roll to the front: two tubs of Hagen Daas (Cookies and Cream and something else) and a Twix. Earlier a woman had been standing behind us in line. I thought to myself, "Man, that is one sad and lonely evening she has planned." I looked back to see if she was weeping. or bleeding. or, um, okay, okay, you got me: I looked to see if she was hot. Yes, I'm just as shallow as you feared. ANYWAY, as I was SAYING... I turned around and it was in fact a dude behind us. For whatever reason, I immediately revised my "that is so sad" assessment and thought, "ooh, nevermind: romantic evening plans!"

I think it's because I think of eating a whole pint of ice cream by oneself as a female thing. If their team loses The Big Game or they get fired, TV doesn't represent men as eating a whole tub of ice cream, but that's like SOP for TV ladies in any kind of distress. What's weird to me is that when I thought there was a girl behind us, I didn't think she was planning a romantic evening. Why am I predjudiced against girls bringing home the sexy pints of creamy goodness? (Let's just pretend that it was decent ice cream, and not that bland Hagen Daas stuff, for arguement's sake, okay?) Why is the primary image "Girl eats entire pint by self, a la Bridget Jones"? But for dudes, it's "Dude impresses girl with romantic gesture, gains entry to pants."

Bad News For Wayne & Misha

I had an allergist appointment on Monday to do the first half of the fabled "scratch test." They don't do it on your back anymore (or maybe just this place has given up the whole "topless and rashy" thing), but on your forearm. The test is split into two parts to keep your system from overloading, so they logically start witih the gross categories of allergens to see what if you react topically to anything. If you don't, it doesn't mean you're not allergic to it, it just means that you're not that allergic to it. I, predictably, reacted to some of the pollens, dust and cat, but the shocker to me was how much my arm reacted to the tree pollens. The little 1-2 mm dots of allergen mostly just turned red and itchy, and some of them swelled up into little 1-2 mm white welts surrounded by a red rash. The "sugargum tree" dot swelled into a welt the size of a dime, and the "tree mix" dot was only slightly smaller. They were right next to each other and the rash spread out over my arm until you couldn't tell where one dot's rash ended and another's began. Gross!

But the point of this, the bad news for Wayne and Misha, has to do with my new medication. You see, over the last few months my allergies had gotten so bad that not only was I sick all the time but my asthma was actually becoming a noticable problem. My old allergy medication (Zyrtec) is super for my actual allergies, but it does nothing for my asthma, so the doctor is having me try out Singulair to see if that helps. "It doesn't really have any major side effects. It won't make you sleepy and it won't keep you up," she (the allergist) said. "But... Well, some people have reported having more vivid dreams while they're on it and it does increase the percentage of the night you spend in REM sleep. Some people don't care, for some it's a good thing, for some it's maybe a bad thing, I don't know. But if it bothers you, we'll find something else." When the CMA brought the samples for me to take with me she said that she never used to remember her dreams before she was on Singulair, but then every night she was having these crazy adventures. "I could be a novelist now, I swear!" she averred.

And all I could think about was what I have come to think of as "Wayne's Law," namely, "Sydney is not allowed to tell me about her dreams. Ever." Adherents of Wayne's Law react to the statement, "I had the weirdest dream last night," when uttered by yours truly, by throwing up their hands in defense and saying, "No NO no no no no no - I am not listening to this, you are not allowed to tell me your dreams, seriously, we discussed this already, just, just, no, just shut up, just no, I'm going to walk away now!" The only person as devoted to the consistant application of Wayne's Law as Wayne himself, is Misha. Although he usually stops after "you are not allowed to tell me your dreams" and gives me a look that says, "Remember that one time you told me about your crazy dream and you the other person in the dream and I saw them that day and it was totally weird and uncomfortable?" So now, being the person whose dreams are so vivid and so involved naturally, I am on a medication that frees stony sleepers from their nightly low-level comas to frolic in the garden of imagined delights.

So far - two nights - everything seems pretty normal. I've dreamed all night, both nights, like usual. The dreams are vivid, have plots (often carrying over from previous dreams), and are usually fairly lucid. All systems normal. But there's a ramp up, so maybe I'll start hallucinating during the day here over the next week or two. And I'm sure Wayne and Misha will be the first people I'll want to tell about it. Of course, I'll probably think that I am telling them all about it, as I'm hauled off to the psych ward somewhere... So, I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I may be consumptive

So I haven't written anything in forever because I've been sick. I can't shake a stupid common cold because my allergies have left me completely immune system-less. I have a new allergy to add to the list: Christmas tree. Well, invisible Christmas tree mold. So that, plus the cats, the dust inherent in unpacking decorations left dormant 11 months out of the year, and the mildew inherent in storing them in a damp basement, and I have pretty much been taken out by a cold an 86-year old diabetic on chemo who recently had open heart surgery could have faught off. And to make matters worse, my TV choices are "Cobra," in which Sly Stallone wears some awesome glasses and no one manages to figure out the "inside man" is the weird female officer who's always calling someone everytime they hide the witness they're protecting somewhere new, and "The Chamber" in which Chris O'Donnell defends his grandfather (who is a klansman and baby killer), Gene Hackman, because the times, they were a' evil and made him do it. Or whatever. At least Stallone looks cool. But maybe that's the DayQuil talking...

But while I'm laid up here, wasting my Saturday away in pajamas, sitting in a sea of tissues, I thought I'd provide at least a bullet point update of what's been going on since Christmas.

- Pete and I went to a Blazer game (vs. the Seventy-sixers). It had several super awesome moments, including Rodriguez's half-court basket at the first quarter buzzer after he'd only been on the court for like thirty seconds, and a crazy second quarter allyoop and dunk, but the ultimately lost.

- My cousin, Koelby, announced that he and his girlfriend, Jessica, are getting married in March. Congratulations to them!

- Mom's dishwasher finally completely broke and we got a new one. It's really amazing, though: that machine is somewhere between 15 and 25 years old, the spinning part that sprays water was bent, the rubber was peeling off the baskets, and then the hose that fed the bend plastic spinner tore so water was just spraying directly out of the connection in the back of the machine. And it still cleaned the dishes. So if you're in the market for a dishwasher, you can't go wrong with a KitchenAid. Mom bought a new one to replace the old one - it's almost identical except brand new and with added super cool bonus features.

- I have become obsessed with "Elebits" on the Wii. I beat it last night - although there are still tons of things I have yet to unlock - but it's the only console video game I've ever a) enjoyed playing, and b) (probably more importantly) been good at. Serously: I am the Queen of Elebits. Except for that All the Purple Ones Shoot You and You Die Challenge. But that one's impossible.

And that about sums things up. Also, in the two and a half hours it's taken me to write this (lots of nose blowing breaks), I have watched most of "Cobra." That movie is great! Like, "Red Dawn" style great. It's filled with campy non-sense and bizarre one-liners. I mean, I don't think anyone drinks pee or eats a beating deer heart or anything, but the Bridgette Nielson fashion shoot scene is surreal and irrelevant enough for any lover of unintentional absurdist humor.