May 31, 2007

Fortune Teller

Disclaimer: This is weird and meloncholy. Don't read it if you don't dig it.

They come to me and ask me to read them their fortunes, these students of mine. They ask me to tell them the future of their GPA, though I insist it doesn't work that way. They ask me to fix them. They don't yet know that everyone has to fix themselves.

Like reading palms, I examine their papers, reading their fortunes between the lines of what they have written. I don't tell them the things I see: "You have had a very long life, which will probably seem longer still." "You will succeed in what you do." "You will be faced with many hardships, which you may or may not overcome." "You avoid situations that make you uncomfortable in hopes that this will make them go away." "You are afraid to try." "You have great potential."

Instead, I make suggestions regarding thesis statements and commas. I tell them they are afraid to use punctuation and that this is no way to write--afraid of the things that lend a sentence a rhythm, a soul, a beauty of its own. I do not point out that it is also no way to live. I do not point out that just like every sentence, every event of their lives needs an end. That every event must begin with a capital letter and end with a dot or a question mark or even an exclamation point. I do not tell them that they are afraid to punctuate their sentences because they are afraid to punctuate their lives--afraid that they might be *gasp* wrong! That their narratives lack soul because they have not yet examined the events of their lives for meaning. That they do not have a thesis because they do not like to assign meaning to anything, much less the stories of their lives. That they cannot do comparison and contrast because they have not yet learned how to define differences and similarities in anything but physical terms--cat vs. dog, spoon vs. fork, etc.

I have dwelt too long with people who already know what is wrong before they ask me.

I used to read people, back before I shut that part of me off. I could peg a person at a hundred paces. Give me fifteen minutes, and I could tell you stories about a person's essence--what made them tick. Maybe it was because I was an INFJ, and I could read their body language. Maybe it was because I knew myself so well in those days that I could read the hints on others. Maybe it was because I could hear them think. Maybe it was something more mystical that that, even. Maybe, as some suggest, I could never really do any such thing at all. I can't even begin to speculate anymore. I have had to let it go or let it drive me crazy.

I can still sum up the people I know in a single sentence. I can tell you their flaws and their defining characteristics--the things that make them unique and beautiful. I used to do this as a party trick with drinking buddies who laughed and agreed with every single one. "Do so and so," and they would laugh and nod. "Do such and such," and they would chuckle and agree. I would comply until they chanted, "Do mine, do mine!" I always refused. People know the truth; they just hope to hell you can't see it. They hope that you can't see through the walls they've built to keep everyone, even themselves, out.

I always could.

What I can't do anymore is know what a person is thinking before they know it. I can't feel people step into my space bubble. I once stood in the hall and looked at a person and knew with certainty what he was going to tell me and pleaded with him in my head not to tell me so much about himself. Begged him not to say what I knew he was about to say. He said it anyway. And no, he wasn't breaking up with me. He told me a story about his life that I had known as soon as he had begun speaking to me.

I had a few flashy, useless dreams that came true about a year ago, and since then, nothing. My compass is askew. Now, I have to think with my logic rather than my senses, which is awkward and slow. I used to just look at a piece of writing and know.... know what needed to happen to it. I would hold up the pages and stare at them after reading it, and the answer would come to me, the way dawn comes, slowly at first and then all in a flash. There it would be. "Ah hah!" I'd say to myself, and then off I'd go. Like clockwork. Like magic. Like fortune telling.

Some people don't believe in such things, and that's fine. To each his/her own, I say. I've had people tell me they don't believe that I can do anything special while they are fulfilling my predictions about them. Self-fulfilling? Perhaps. I can't say. I don't know.

These days, the pieces are like jigsaw puzzles, which I was never very good at. Rather than seeing the dawn, I see bits of the dawn and have to work out in my head how they fit together. It is slow. It is tedious. My brain feels stuffed with cotton. These days, I don't know what the story of my life is. These days, I don't know how it will go or where it will end. I used to know that I was living at a faster pace than others--that I was ten years ahead of everyone my own age. I used to know myself and how to be true to myself. Now, I don't feel that way. I don't know who I am or what I want anymore, but as everyone starts to get married and have kids, it starts to feel like I'm the one who's fallen behind. And for the most part, this doesn't even make me sad for me. It makes me sad like Peter Pan who could never grow up even though all those around him eventually did.

What can I say? All I've ever been good at is reading the fortunes--in flesh or on paper or written in the sky, searching the horizon for signs of rain, knowing in my bones when a storm was brewing and when the sun was going to shine.

Take that away and who am I then? A woman afloat in a bucket on the ocean without any idea of where to find a safe port.

And they ask me to tell them their fortunes.

Posted by LoWriter at 03:07 PM | Comments (2)

May 27, 2007

Doritos X-13D

Warning! If you do not want the mystery flavor of Doritos X-13D revealed, do not read this entry.

As part of a brilliant marketing campaign, Doritos has put out Doritos X13D Flavor Experiment. Your mission, should you choose to accept it (and perhaps after reading this you will choose not to, which would be wise), is to taste and name the chips.

Let me be the first to spoil the fun for you. They taste like grilled cheeseburger. And had I known that, I would not have invested 99 cents on a bag of them just to try them. Hence, the brilliant marketing campaign. I don't know what it is about a mysterious black bag with a code name on it that makes me want to tear it open and consume the contents, but this is precisely what happened to me upon viewing the Doritos X-13D. I was not even looking for Doritos. I was looking for dip. And if I hadn't happened to see the 99 cent grab bag size, I would have gone home with a giant bag of chips of unknown flavor. Brilliant marketing. Brilliant!

It's not that cheeseburger flavored chips taste bad (and they do taste like grilled cheeseburger, complete with a hint on grill, ketchup, and pickle), it's that I'm not neccessarily sure that I want my chips to taste like my main course, especially when it's a main course I usually eat with chips. Think about it. If you're having a picnic and you are eating a grilled cheeseburger, do you really want your chips to taste like cheeseburger, too? Especially when Doritos have a high enough calorie count that you could pretty much argue that you might as well just eat a cheeseburger? (Psss. If you're stuck, the answer here is NO.)

On the whole, this was disappointing, but like I said, it was a well-thought-out marketing ploy, which I can appreciate even on my busiest days. Do yourself a favor and stick to the Cool Ranch flavor. At least that's made to taste like salad dressing, which is something you really can't sit down and make a meal of anyway.

Posted by LoWriter at 01:08 PM | Comments (2)

May 24, 2007

No, Sorry, Kids. Lo Cannot Come Out and Play

I am insanely busy...again.

I cannot come out and play for awhile.

Posted by LoWriter at 05:18 PM | Comments (5)

May 10, 2007

April Books (Delayed)

Well, all, here are the belated April books. There are only two. I blame NetFlix.

Daisy Kutter: The Last Train by Kazu Kibuishi: ***** (Five Stars.) This was a phenomenal graphic novel. The artwork is amazing. I could actually see the motion in some of the drawings, and some of the sketches are just hilarious. The storyline is all about this ex-outlaw who doesn't like the ex part of her new status. She has a complicated relationship with the sheriff in town, and when offered a chance to test a security system by robbing a train, she jumps at it. What happens next, you'll just have to read to see. Set in an old west/futuresque world with robots and cowboy boots, this graphic novel is my favorite read so far this year.

The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett: **** (Four Stars) This is one of my favorite Pratchett books of all time. When the wizards end up on XXXX (Four Ecks) (code for Australia) at the dawn of time, their housekeeper is instrumental in teaching the god in charge (who is an atheist, by the way) about sex. Meanwhile, somewhere in the future, Rincewind the Disc's worst wizard, has to figure out how to save the last continent from drying up completely. Mostly, I read about the wizards when I'm feeling particularly stressed out by work. Sometimes it's good to see academia from the outside in instead of the other way around. Especially when it's being satirized by someone as funny as Pratchett.

On the whole, two great reads. I'm not getting the volume that I used to, but I am enjoying the books. Feel free to share your own reads in the comments!

Posted by LoWriter at 06:24 PM | Comments (2)

May 04, 2007

Never, Always, and Other Frequently Used Phrases of the Weak Minded

I hate the words always and never, as in "You always do thus and such" or "You never do this and that." These phrases are the argumentative equivalent of Jello: Jiggly, transparent, and easy to poke holes through. They are a clear indication that, much like Jello, your arguement cannot stand up under pressure. Your arguement is weak.

Are you losing your latest fight? Just pull out an always or a never, and you won't have to comment on the issue at hand at all. Maybe you can even use both in one sentence. "Oh yeah, well you never put gas in the car, and you always expect me to take care of it." You can easily wiggle out of any sticky situation by placing blame back on the opposite party by expressing exactly how often they do or do not do something that irritaties you, i.e., all the time.

We all do it. I had to edit a few out of here, even. But it mostly bothers me when someone does it while arguing with me. I bring this up because my sister and I had a fight, and she peppered every point with these words. One portion of this fight went down like this.

"Well, people always do nice stuff for you!" she said.

"Always, huh. When was the last time you did something nice for me?" I aksed.

"I always do nice stuff for you. There was that one time when you were stressed about cooking and I got you groceries [which actually means she picked me up a jar of olive oil]."

"Oh, would that have been the time in February? So two and a half months ago you did something nice for me?"

"Well, you never return my phone calls because you're always with Ben," and so forth.

And it wouldn't bother me so much except it's completely false. Ben and I are on completely different schedules. He works nights, and I work days. The one day we get unlimited time together is Saturday night. Otherwise, I am rushing home from work, and he is rushing off to work. Saturday is date night. Then we see each other one or two nights during the rest of the week, and that's it. And it isn't like when you go to someone's house at 5 in the evening and leave at 2 in the morning. Usually, it's 5 or 6 before I can see him at night (which will get worse in the summer when I start working ten, four hour days), and he has to leave my house by 9 or 9:30. Call me a whiner, but it feels like we don't see nearly enough of each other.

And that is the one thing that is completely my fault. I took on a lot of proofreading, so my freetime is again extremely limited. Call me crazy, but I want to be debt free in two years. The original goal, last year, was three years. Maybe I should plan for three from today's date, but I'm aiming for two, and we'll see how it goes.

Then there's my recent Battlestar Galactica addiction, which basically means I am not working very hard, either. I will need to stop playing around in the afternoon and get serious.

Sometimes, I'd like it if my family would cut me some slack. They think I should take care of myu youngest sister because she's younger, but I can't be her mom. Frankly, she needs to grow up, or she will always be living on my couch eating corn pops and never paying any rent. Sometimes, I feel like I'm doing the best I can, and everybody should just chill.

So if you're going to use always and never, say something like "You always take on too much and you never think about the consequences." Or "You're always worried about that debt, so you can never just relax." That, at least, has more evidence to support it.

Posted by LoWriter at 10:19 AM | Comments (2)