Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Matcha Latte Challenges

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I had just been handed my chai matcha latte at the matcha latte shop on the corner. The problem with matcha lattes is the green foam. I mean really green foam. When the foam spurts out the top of your to-go cup, it looks as if a leprechaun projectile vomited on your sleeve. 

And so it happened. Ick.

I needed to sponge off my sleeve before the damp green blobs became permanent. I headed toward the door of the matcha latte shop intent on getting back to my apartment fast. Only one block — my chances of success seemed good.

I encountered an obstacle.

A short young woman putting on her gigantic Canadian Goose puffy jacket blocked the doorway. I mean fully blocked the doorway. Her hood was up, so I figured she had the no-peripheral-vision hood problem and muffled hearing and did not notice my aggressive approach.

“Excuse me,” I said. No response. Goose girl continued to fumble with her gloves.

“Excuse me,” I said again, loud this time. 

No acknowledgment. Just a chick standing squarely in the middle of the doorway twirling a scarf and trying to pull up her coat zipper and not getting too far because of the scarf and gloves and her giant hood with all the fur clearly obstructing all motor coordination.

It was frustrating to witness. I would have helped her but that might not be socially acceptable. If she simply stepped one foot forward or one foot back, she would no longer be completely blocking the exit of the establishment. Normal people could accomplish this, even while completely preoccupied with their outerwear.

I cooled my heels for I’m going to say another 60 seconds.

Finally she spins her entire torso toward me (as you do when sporting a hood) and flashes a smile. She exits the door and holds it open for me.

Thanks, honey. 

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Piles of Pillows

We visited some old friends the other day and their daughter, maybe she's 12, started talking about the time she and her brother came over to our house. My niece and nephew and a few other kids were there too. We took all the pillows off the couch and the beds and the chairs. We made a huge pile of pillows. It was epic. And then Tom and I ran around and captured all the kids one by one and tossed them into the pile.

This went down I'm going to say 8 or 9 years ago. Meaning 80% of our friends' daughter's life ago.

At the time, I regretted the whole thing fairly instantly. It was a big ruckus and although no one was permanently injured, we caused certain children to go airborne for longer than they had clearly ever been airborne before.

It occurred to me that not all children are used to being flung into a huge pile of pillows.

Our sense of normal had been warped by my niece and nephew, who we had actively been tossing about since they were just bundles in diapers. I still recall my nephew's huge booming baby laugh when we played a little game called "hammock in a hurricane" or all the giggles when we flipped my niece around or rolled them both up in blankets like burritos and then unrolled them so fast they would go spinning across the living room.

It was, "More! More! More!" for literally hours on end.  I had some powerful biceps during those years.
Exhausted after hours of pillow tossing

But that one time with the pile of pillows 8 or 9 years ago, that was the last time our friends brought their kids over to our house, Which kind of sealed my understanding our fun activity judgement error.

So it took me by surprise to hear our friends' kid talk about how, almost a decade later, she still remembered that particular day and how much fun it was and how the next day, she and her brother made their own pile of pillows at home.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

In the Merch booth at Harry Potter on Broadway with Ella

I promised my 11-yo niece Ella I would buy her one thing from the Harry Potter merch shop. It's mid-December and we've just spent half an hour talking about all the Pusheens Ella hopes to get from Santa. Ella believes in Santa, by the way. There are many reasons to clutch the jolly old man close to your heart. To let go of him is:

  • to let go of childhood
  • to disappoint her dad, who loves how much his kids love Santa
  • a definite gamble. What if you say you don't believe and you turn out to be wrong and then you don't get any presents? There's a lot on the line here. It's like Pascal's wager but with much more immediate stakes.
So we go into the Merch booth and Ella beelines to a sales lady in the magic wand section. 
"How much are the wands," she asks.
"$45," says the lady.
"45 dollars?!!!," squawks Ella. "I don't think so!!!" She whirls around and stalks off. I scramble to follow in her indignant wake.

"Do you think $45 is a lot for a magic wand?" I ask.
"Yes," says Ella. "They have wands at Barnes & Noble for $20. I'm just going to ask Santa for one and he can buy it at Barnes & Noble."

It was on the tip of my tongue to ask what the elves might think about Santa outsourcing to Barnes & Noble ... but I controlled myself and did not. 

I don't want to be the one to end a childhood.

In the Lobby on Broadway

We took the niece and nephews to Harry Potter on Broadway for an epic 8 hour day of back-to-back theater.

As we were walking in the super crowded lobby during the first intermission, I turned to my niece and said, loudly to cut through all the background noise, I said "Are you able to see?"

I asked her this question because she's 11 and therefore short and a tall guy was in the row in front of us.

Suddenly, a woman whirls around and gives me a brutal stink-eye.

I notice she has a blind-person cane.
It was awkward.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Thank you loyal readers! (No)NaBloPoMo Day 30

Success! 30 days of NaBloPoMo in the can. I would like to thank my entire fan base, which basically means Tom, Sean and Wanda, for their support throughout this journey.

I also would like to thank the many readers who arrive at this blog by searching for "Is Cher an Indian?" I love these readers, who have no idea who I am or how they got here on their quest for answers. They don't stay long and leave confused, but I cherish their tiny digital footprints during their one and only visit.

I especially love the reader named Julie Bless who became incredibly irritated with me for insinuating that:
  • Cher may not be a true Native American considering it looks like she can barely ride a horse in the half breed video; and
  • Cher may not be entirely trustworthy about her ancestry given that she also claimed she was a gypsy, tramp and/or thief and that turned out to be a lie.
I leave you with Julie's comment, the longest and most heartfelt comment I ever received on this blog. Bless you, Julie Bless. But one tip: you know that site called the Onion? It's fake news.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Bullseye of Friends - (No)NaBloPoMo Day 29

When I was studying in Stockholm, I recall a lesson about the difference between friendships in the United States and in Scandinavia.

Imagine different levels of friendship on a target with a bullseye. Picture your best most cherished friends smack inside the bullseye. These would be friends you talk to all the time and share your deepest secrets with. The ones who would sit with you in the Emergency Room all night.

Then as you move outward, the first ring are good friends, but not as good as in the bullseye, continuing outward until you get to the outermost ring which is basically for acquaintances.

In Scandinavia, there will be a few friends in the bullseye and then like, nobody else.

In the US, basically nobody is in the bullseye but then dozens of people are in the middle rings and hundreds in the outer ones.

I've discussed this concept with Swedes and Americans over the years and everyone agrees that it's largely accurate.

I just thought of something tonight. You could call it a determining factor maybe. A way to understand which ring someone is in for you.

Inner rings: Sometimes the person calls you up or texts with suggested dates to get together. The friend makes actual arrangements. They pick a restaurant and make reservations. They figure out an itinerary. They make an effort.

Outer rings: The person texts and says they hope to see you sometime. But you know you won't see them unless you take it upon yourself to make the plans and all the arrangements. Basically, they'll show up if you do all the work.

Outermost ring: You only interact with the person if you do all the reaching out as well as the arranging.

Sometimes I wonder if people realize that if they want to be someone's friend, they have to actually share the leg work. I think this is true in any country.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Deep Thoughts by Me - (No)NaBloPoMo Day 28

Am reading the Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky. I've been reading it for days and hours and weeks and am still only 45% done. If I were reading the hard copy and not the Kindle I'd probably have major guns hoisting that fat ass book around.

In Brothers Karamazov, the Father Zosima died. Spoiler alert there but the book is 150 years old. If I've now ruined it for you, I'm not overly sympathetic.

This Father Zosima was a really respected Elder and everyone loved him when he was alive. Because of this, the town had the expectation there might be a miracle and his body might not stink in his coffin. I guess this is the mark of a saint, that your coffin doesn't stink up the place.

Sadly, Father Zosima stunk. No miracle. And everyone started to question his greatness. Whereas the day before the town defiantly and wholeheartedly loved him, suddenly people began to doubt the worth of what he'd done for them.

It reminded me of an article in the Onion about how someone found a lost Beatles album that sucked and so concluded that "New evidence reveals Beatles actually a terrible band."

This probably has to do with this phenomenon I read about in the Daniel Kahneman book. Kahneman says that whether we ultimately enjoy something or not has to do with what happens at the end.

Say we listen to glorious amazing music for 20 minutes that we are in awe over, but then there's an earsplitting screech right at the end. Most will say that the music was not enjoyable and the whole experience was ruined. Even though the vast majority of the whole experience was hugely enjoyable.

More deep thoughts:

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

100,000 Words - (No)NaBloPoMo Day 27

Historic moment, my treasured blog readers. I just wrote 100,000 words of my second young adult novel and put them in some semblance of a format. I may have even spellchecked.

Here's a snippet:

From where I lay, I could see the bottom of one soft black leather boot. My eyes peered up. And up. The boot went thigh high. Above the boot were dark green leggings, a skirt made of raw leather skins, and a glimmer of sharp metal and white gold hair.

Afraid to move from my spot on the floor, I cowered at the feet of the slender woman occupying the middle of my bedroom. 

She rose up on her toes and then settled back upon her heels. She cocked her head to the side, lifted one eyebrow and her violet eyes stared down into mine. Her movements rolled with sinuous grace and raw power. I knew right away she was not of the Earthen. 

“By what name are you called?” the woman asked. Her voice sounded like chocolate milk. It took me a heartbeat to realize her mouth had not moved. She spoke to me inside my head in that language, the one that I didn’t understand except I did. The one Alsaece had used. The language of the Lost.

“I am,” I gulped, “Danielle. I am called Danielle.” I squirmed backwards and shoved myself up to a sitting position, my back leaning against my bed frame. I spoke aloud. I barely had gotten used to Dylan hearing my thoughts, let alone whomever this woman was. I saw no need to throw a party for strangers inside my brain.

“I seriously doubt,” the woman purred, “that I would choose to attend any party of yours, even if you begged me to come.”

So much for privacy. And my party-hosting self-esteem. 

The air quivered on either side of the woman and separated like curtains. In the dark empty space that remained, two enormous lionesses appeared. They looked like Alsaece, the SiniCat, except different. They were white as snow, for one. And for two, red runes etched into the sides of their necks and ran down their forelegs. They stared at me with deep violet eyes. Their tongues flicked like lizards before the hunt. For the first time I’d been face to face with Sydcats, live and in person.

I hunched as far back as the side of my boxspring would allow. In the past six months, I’d survived a lot of dangerous encounters, the one with the Drakken most notably, but this was in a league of its own. 

I knew instinctively that this woman before me was one of the most powerful beings I had ever met. Maybe even as strong as Qilin, the Unicorn, and that was saying something. One drop of Qilin’s blood could unlock any door, and one hair from his shining mane could empower a creature from the Earthen to see Fyire. When I had met him last year, I’d been completely overwhelmed by his immense presence. 

But I knew Qilin was completely and utterly good. I knew as surely as I knew myself that he would never harm me. So although I was overwhelmed, it was with joy, and pride at standing by his side. 
That was not true now. 

Now, all I felt was a towering and pure danger. I could feel its heavy touch prodding me, testing me from all angles. The level of potent force in my bedroom was so gigantic, I couldn’t even be afraid. 

If the being before me wanted to do me in, I knew I was a goner with one wag of her little finger. Or claw. Now that I looked more closely, her graceful hands might actually be tipped with claws, judging by her dagger-pointed fingernails.

“Do you know me from your dreams?” the woman interrupted my mental tornado. “Have you seen Tekel and Ursch in your wanderings?”

I grunted a sort of unintelligible mumble. Because truth be told, I did know her. I had been her. Tekel and Ursch had been my loyal SydCat guard. 

I had worn the soft leathers the woman before currently had on, and I had felt what it felt to kill an enemy in cold blood. I had felt her power course through my veins and the pulse of the serpents twined around my arm like minions glowing with the excess of my power quivering beneath my skin. Seeing and hearing and reporting back to me like the loyal servants they are. 

I knew what it was like to breathe in and out knowing that nothing could stop me. That no creature could withstand the brutal force of my will. I relished and coveted that strength. I could taste how much I wanted it on my tongue and my skin twitched with my desire to possess it. I felt like an addict circling around my own special kind of poison.

The woman smiled at me, that kind of smile that sends chills up through your shoulder blades. “What do you call me, when I fill your thoughts?” asked the woman. The dragons twisting around her forearms spiraled, looping to face me, not quite in unison. Their color shifted from blue to an iridescent green. Four glowing reptilian eyes blinked to stare into mine. I shivered.

“I’m sorry,” I said, the sound of my voice coming as a complete surprise. My mind was so far behind processing the scene I think my mouth just decided to strike out alone. 

“I’m not sure what to call you that is the most polite.” I spoke with wide open eyes and what I hoped was a sufficiently humble expression. There was zero way I wanted to upset the woman or her two sharp-toothed and gigantic Sydcats.

“You may call me Cornelia,” said the woman after a pause. “Most call me Queen and grovel at my feet. But you. You are, of course a friend of the family.” 

I tried not to act surprised.  “A friend of the family?” I repeated, hoping for some clarification. 

Tekel licked his teeth with a blood-red tongue and Ursch cocked his head to the side.