Friday, August 31, 2007

Here With Me

"I'll do what I want / But I can't hide / I won't go / I won't sleep / I can't breathe / Until you're resting here with me"

When my niece was three years old, she fell down and scraped up her knee pretty bad. My sister carried her into the bathroom and proceeded to do The Worst Thing That Has Ever Been Done to Any Child Ever in the History of Humankind i.e. clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide and dress it with a bandage.

To calm the Munchkinface, I held her hand and scratched her back. I said, in the most soothing voice I could muster, "Almost done, brave girl. Almost done."

She looked down at her knee, on which was a bandage her mother was gently taping down. Then, she looked up at me, tears shining in her eyes, and said, "Almost done, Tita. Almost done."

Tita's heart went KA-SPLOOIE. "Almost done. Almost done." became our new family mantra, to be chanted every time we needed reassurance that something icky is nearly over.

Now that we are in the home stretch of our game, Dusty is working like a mad dog [and several Englishmen!] on the final polish. To those of you [HSUAN] who think that working at a video game company is a barrel of space monkeys, let me say: if you ever want to suck the fun out of video games, get a job designing them. Making stuff fun is hard work.

Every day, I see Dusty working his well-formed ass off. I watch him do the game design equivalent of pushing a bus full of jumpy one-eyed orphans and portly one-legged nuns through the snow, uphill BOTH WAYS. His "short days" last 11 hours. This weekend, he is doing some "long days". This means that after tonight, I will likely not see him again until Sunday evening, when we have dinner with friends. After that, the next time I see him will likely be on Tuesday morning, when we get up to go to work together.

On the long days, it's like I'm married to Sasquatch: No, no, seriously. I totally have a husband... Look! In the clearing! There he is! Quick! Where's my camera?! Thank Goddess we work in the same place so I can at least make sure he is eating right. I mean, SOMEBODY has to make sure he is getting his daily allowance of chocolate-covered cranberries.

What keeps us going, what keeps Dusty pushing that bus, is that a lot of people out there can't wait to play Mass Effect. We are going to be so proud when it comes out and we see that Dusty's hard work helped those orphans turn into fantastic space creatures [that you can shoot for XP!] and those nuns become HAWT space aliens [whom you can also shoot for XP!]. And I made sure all a dem orfuns and nones talked gooder!

Now that we have announced an official release date for this baby, the end really is near.

Tonight, I will enjoy a lovely Italian dinner with the love of my life. We will watch The Power of Ignorance, a play held over from Fringe because it got such rave reviews and sold out quickly. It no longer matters that we've mostly missed out on a glorious Edmonton summer together. It no longer matters that we're going to mostly miss out on the last long summer weekend together. We have tonight.

Almost done, Tita. Almost done.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Show Must Go On - Part 2

"Inside my heart is breaking / My make-up may be flaking / But my smile still stays on"

One of the best parts of volunteering as a Friendraiser for the Fringe is getting free tickets to see shows, like comic Nile Seguin's one-man show Fear of a Brown Planet. His hilarious and pointed insights on race issues in North America merit an entire post, but let's talk about some of his rules for being an entertainer.

Nile said that you need thick skin to be in the entertainment business. You have to let the rejection and dejection roll off your back. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. You will bomb. People will heckle you. It will suck.

Come to think of it, you should have thick skin to be a writer, too. No wonder I haven't made it big yet. My writer's skin is only as thick as the paper in my printer. And just as recyclable! Badum-TISH! Thank you! Please tip your waitress.

It occurred to me that being a Friend/fundraiser also requires thick skin and a certain amount of gumption. Sass. Moxie. You need to be bold when you ask people for money, especially if it's to support the arts. It's a good thing I have what Karincita calls Dedication to Excellent Costumage because I've discovered that I become braver and bolder "in character". It's not Cookie Everman out there asking people to keep the Fringe alive by donating their precious loonies and toonies. It's Pussy Galore!

Actually, it was OctoPussy Galore. Among the hundreds who streamed past the west gate on Bond Girl Day, only one person got close enough to count that there were indeed eight kitties dangling from my belt. That was the manchild calling himself Trentastic.

He had dark emo hair, gorgeous olive skin, and razor-sharp cheekbones. He wore sparkling navy blue eyeliner that matched the streak in his hair. He was tall, willowy, beautiful, and oh-so-very-young. Trentastic didn't walk through the west gate; he sauntered. And then:

Me: Welcome to Fringe! Would you care to make a small donation and help keep Fringe alive?

Him: [whips open his sweatshirt to reveal three "Fringe Friendly" stickers] I already have.

Me: Yes, I see. Three times. Thank you! [turns away to greet other patrons]

Him: [looks at my nametag] So you're Cookie, eh? I'm Trentastic. Now that we know each other, could I pet your ears?

Me: Erm... sure... [leans over cautiously]

Him: Meowr! So, what's the costume about?

Me: Well, today is Bond Girl Day. Can you guess which one I'm supposed to be?

Him: Hmmm... [looks me up and down] It's SO obvious. You're the HOT ONE.

[15-year-old Cookie giggles internally, but 32-year-old Cookie is all, "Please, child. This is very flattering, but I would BREAK you."]

Me: Wow, that was pretty smooth. Anyway, thanks for donating. Have a good evening! [read: Run along now.]

Nile Seguin also talked about playing to your audience. As an entertainer, you should pick up on the cues that your audience gives you. Play with them, let them into your act, connect with them. Although not necessarily in the way Trentastic wanted to "connect" with me, am I right? You're a fantastic crowd! I'll be here all week. Try the duck!

When you're a Friendraiser, that connection to your audience translates to looking people in the eye when you welcome them to Fringe. More often than not, people stopped to donate when I made eye contact with and smiled at them or complimented their dresses or shirts. If I've learned nothing else from my years in fundraising and PR, I've learned that the most effective--and hardest, most consuming--kind of PR is personal, one-on-one.

I left fundraising and PR because I found it difficult and draining to spend my days practically begging people for money to support The Cause. Yet I enjoy Friendraising for Fringe. Isn't it ironic? Don't you think? Even when I was sniffly and tired and the knee-high boots I wore for my Sheena Easton costume pinched my toesies, my smile still stayed on. If I had known then what I know now, I would've worn a red boa and tiara to all the fundraising events I organized.

Happy Together

"Imagine how the world could be, so very fine"

The weather in Edmonton is getting nippier as the days progress. The cold I had been fighting during Fringe finally opened up a rather large can of whoop-ass on me yesterday. Autumn is unofficially here and I've been a bit of a Gloom Cookie this week.

This is making it awfully hard for me to stay gloomy:

"People that happy do not stay long anywhere. They spread themselves thin and leave a piece of themselves in each one of us. This is my (our) piece."

Warm... fuzzy... sunshine... bunnies... 3-2-1... HEE!

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Show Must Go On - Part 1

"My soul is painted like the wings of butterflies / Fairy tales of yesterday will grow but never die"

Fringe Festival--and therefore summer in Edmonton--is over for another year. I am going to spend the next week trying to wean myself off sparkly eyeshadow and cleaning up our house. It looks like the Party Faerie had a little too much drinky and horked up a bunch of gold glitter and red feathers all over the floor.

Then, Part 2 of this post will likely come when I've gotten a bit more sleep. For now, here are some photos of my infamously kooky costumes. This year's theme was (2)007: Live and Let Fringe! Every day also had Bond-related mini-themes.

08/17: Goldfinger Day - I'm #1! And wearing my fabulous emergency boa. (Thanks, Ling!)

08/20: Bond Music Day - I was supposed to be Sheena Easton. (Not Sheila E, Armando.) Sheena sang "For Your Eyes Only." I should've just worn the name tag by itself. That blouse is set to Stun. And my makeup slider accidentally clicked all the way to Whore. It's only one click away from 1980s Pop Star; easy mistake.

08/22: Bond Girls Day - Handcuffs for bondage (heh) and a belt o' kitties. Can you guess which Bond Girl I'm supposed to be?

08/24: Diamonds are Forever Day - Donations increased at our gate on this day. Dunno why...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Poetry Sunday: turning LOVE into HATE

Breaking up is hard to do. Some people drink to cope; I write poems. I wrote this one when I was a young, dramatically angsty lass, but I can't say exactly when. I don't want to get into a Carly Simon situation where every one of her exes thought "You're So Vain" was written about him. (Dude, seriously, it's not about you, 'kay?)

I can say, however, that I wrote this at a time when boys still wrote me letters. On paper. Like Luddites. Sweet, lovely, romantic Luddites... who then became distant memories.

turning LOVE into HATE

it begins with
the uncertain attempt
to fill a void
while keeping a boundary line

that line is redrawn
almost inconspicuously
somewhere in the middle
of the first letter of LOVE

the struggle to keep
mine mine and yours yours
breaks the circle
the bond made after the first letter

one side becomes rigid
moves to hold up the boundary
drawn behind it
the other side reaches within

it brings up what had been pushed down
when the circle was made
that which once yielded becomes unbending
another line is drawn

two halves converging on common ground
split apart after the circle is broken
one half moves to uphold
the unyielding line behind it

the other half steels itself
to stand straight on its own
plays the role of survivor
to a tee

the only thing that remains
when LOVE turns to HATE
is a single letter
the final letter of goodbye

Every Day I Write the Book

"Don't tell me you don't know the difference / Between a lover and a fighter"

You're The Guns of August!

by Barbara Tuchman

Though you're interested in war, what you really want to know is what causes war. You're out to expose imperialism, militarism, and nationalism for what they really are. Nevertheless, you're always living in the past and have a hard time dealing with what's going on today. You're also far more focused on Europe than anywhere else in the world. A fitting motto for you might be "Guns do kill, but so can diplomats."

"Always living in the past and have a hard time dealing with what's going on today", am I? Shut it, Interweb Quiz! You don't know me!

Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.
(Thanks, Tricky, for pointing out this quiz!)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Beautiful Stranger

"I looked into your face / My heart was dancing all over the place"

A recent article in National Geographic states, "Redheads are becoming rarer and could be extinct in 100 years." It would be a sad day if so-called gingers ever disappeared from this world.

During the summer when I was 17, I was obsessed with redheads, for no reason other than my summer obsessions generally have themes. The summer when I was 20, for example, was themed "Lifeguards from Central New Jersey". Not that I dated any redheads during Ginger Summer, but I did watch a bunch of Eric Stoltz movies. Too bad he tended to make movies like Mask. Eric was not so much with the yummy in that one.

I also had a GIANT crush on Mr. Busman, a redheaded cutieboy who was a fellow passenger on the #3 bus to downtown Baltimore. Sure, I was riding the bus to get to my terminally boring data-entry job, but every morning was a good one if Mr. Busman was on the #3. I never did find out his name, nor did I ever get the courage to actually talk to him, but oh was I smitten. I was in deep smit.

Mr. Busman could easily get lost in a Glasgow crowd. He had an honest face with a freckled puggish nose, hands that looked like they were made for farming potatoes, broad shoulders that defined a strong back. He must have been just about 6 feet tall, but nearly everyone is 6 feet tall from where I stand in Lilliput. And then there was his thick, wavy hair. It was the color of wildfire.

Every morning at 7:23, Mr. Busman boarded the #3 at the intersection of Loch Raven Blvd. and Cold Spring Lane. He must have had some sort of desk job, because he was always dressed in a crisp white shirt and smart tie, dark slacks, and sensible black shoes that looked like they had kicked a lot of shit. I was tickled that he always wore multicolored argyle socks.

One morning, the bus was packed and Mr. Busman and I ended up standing in the center aisle. He was standing right in front of me and the smell of Ivory soap and sunshine wafting from his direction was intoxicating. (Yikes! What a creepy little bugger I was, inhaling some stranger's shower-fresh scent.) The bus lurched forward suddenly and I crashed into Mr. Busman's yummily-scented personal space.

He turned around just in time to catch me before I fell to the floor. I came face-to-face with him as he held me by the shoulders and made sure I was standing upright. My knees did feel a bit weak... His eyes were a dark jade green, flecked with gold at the edges. He had full lips. And they were moving.

"Are you all right?" he apparently asked, brow furrowed with concern. I nodded mutely, meekly, so-not-Cookie-ly. Yes, I am all right, except for the part where I DIED A LITTLE BIT BECAUSE YOU WERE TOUCHING ME. Best. Monday. Ever.

For the rest of the summer, he would nod and smile in my direction whenever he got on the bus. I don't know where he is now, but I hope he and his Nobel-peace-prize-winning rocket scientist supermodel girlfriend are ecstatically happy.

The last bit of that National Geographic article begins, "If the gingers really want to save themselves they should move to Scotland." Brilliant idea! I will be in the U-Haul right behind them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

You've Got A Friend

"You just call out my name /And you know wherever I am / I'll come running"

What The Old School Super Friends Cartoon Taught Me

  • Wonder Woman's invisible jet makes her look stupid flying through the air sitting down. You are Wonder Woman! You don't need no stinkin' jet! You can totally jump hella high!

  • Superman is the heroic paragon leader. Yaaawn.

  • Batman is Robin's babysitter.

  • Aquaman can telepathically communicate with fish. LAME.

  • Green Lantern's magic ring is probably from a box of Froot Loops. It can create shields and airtight bubbles for when he has to swim underwater with Aquaman.

  • Anyone can be a superhero, even Wonder Twins' Zan, who can turn into a bucket of water. Or ice cubes for your mojito.

What The Justice League "Animated Series" is Teaching Me

  • Wonder Woman's bustier and tiara are holy relics. And she can fly! On her own! Sweet!

  • Superman is angst-ridden; it's hard to be a paladin. Yaaawn.

  • Batman is a giant douche.

  • Aquaman is the king of Atlantis. He will cut off his own hand to save his infant son. BADASS!

  • Green Lantern's magic ring is from a race of Yoda-like galactic peacekeepers. It can do ANYTHING. Suck on that, Superman!

  • Anyone can be a superhero, even Hawkgirl, who apparently turned into a tank when nobody was paying attention.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Walking After Midnight

"I walk for miles / along the highway / Well, that's just my way / of saying I love you"

My Lunkhed Phu is moving to Vietnam in two weeks. I'm so happy and excited for him! He plans to do a lot of traveling around Vietnam, Thailand, and India. Hell, I'm excited for me. I have a place to stay in Vietnam and a free tour guide! Woohoo!

Ling, Glenna, JJ, Priya, Body: Phu wants me to tell you:
(a) He is moving to Vietnam in two weeks.
(b) Why? Here's why. (edited since first post)
(c) Hsuan is a lying rumormonger. Phu did not get anyone pregnant.

The news that one of my boys will be living even farther away has got me feeling a little nostalgic. Since enough time has passed, I think I can safely recount one of my favorite Phu memories. He might get mad, but what's he gonna do? Can't catch me from Vietnam! HAHAHA!

Anyway, one of my favorite Phu memories: We had been dating for a couple of months when I got an internship at Catholic Charities in Alexandria, Va. Phu rode the Metro down one random Thursday--an hour down and an hour back--just to bring me lunch. We sat at a stone table in the park and ate popcorn shrimp and cold egg sandwiches with Tabasco sauce, a picnic lunch that he had made himself. HEE! Nerd!

Pooh: I'll miss you! I can't wait to visit. Love & hugs & all that crap.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Poetry Sunday: Where I'm Really From

As you know, I was gettin' my dance on at the Folkfest last Sunday, so all my poetry was in motion instead of on this blog. The music I love best is the kind that makes me want to move, on the dance floor and beyond. Ozomatli and Michael Franti and Spearhead had a revolutionary spirit that lit me on fire! I'm always inspired whenever I hear musicians and public figures channel their anger or frustration into thoughtful discourse.

Unfortunately, I think every activist starts out with some anger that isn't always channeled well. When I was a young upstart at University of Maryland, a conversation with a total stranger at Kinko's lit me on fire in a different way. Dude actually thought he was going to get my phone number, even though he spoke to me as if we lived on different planets. I think he realized his mistake when I started turning purple with rage. I got yelly and it got ugly.

Once I calmed down, I wrote the first version of this poem in November 1997. That version was published in dis*orient literary magazine in 1998. I revised this poem in June 2005, to make it just a touch more universal, and perhaps more thoughtfully angry.

Where I’m Really From

“I’m from Rockville,” you introduced.
“I’m from Baltimore,” I replied.
“No, where are you really from?” you insisted.

Where am I really from?

I am from a time
when exotic is an orchid
not a synonym for beauty
when Oriental is a rug
not a person from Asia
when butterfly is an insect
not a promise of sex.

I am from a place
where it is enough
that I am from Baltimore
where you do not demand
that I must be from Other
where we can just talk
like fellow human beings.

I am from my father’s loins.
I am from my mother’s womb.

Where are you really from?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Who Do You Want to Be?

"Do you like to live just like a rock / in the middle of the sea? / Do you want to suffer by yourself / in a pool of blissful misery? / Do you feel like a saint in artists’ clothes / with a rosary in your hand?"

Sometimes I like to have imaginary conversations with my Self from Ten Years Ago. Our sense of direction is notoriously bad, so we occasionally like to take a look at our Life Map together and see how far we've strayed from the path we thought we were taking. Our latest talk: "You get paid for doing WHAT?!"

Me 2007: Hey, Cooks! How you doin'?

Me 1997: A little tired, but excited! I'm supercrazybusy with the Asian American Studies campaign. If we can get BSU, LSU, and LGBA to march with us down Campus Drive, Kirwan and his administration cronies will have to pay attention. Wow, I would love a soy latte right now! What have you been up to lately? I haven't seen you in a while.

07: Yeah. You know I moved up to Canada, right?

97: Canada? But you hate winter!

07: I know. Edmonton gets colder than this witch's tit by October, but my husband got his dream job up here, so we moved. Then I got a great job at the same place.

97: Sweet! So you guys are working for a non-profit foundation that provides financial aid for low-income students who want to go to college?

07: Erm... not exactly...

97: Oh, then you got that job writing for TIME or National Geogra--

07: We make video games.

97: Like educational, multicultural, environmentally conscious, interactive video games that teach nonviolent conflict resolution?

07: Like "Flying space pigs are trying to take over your planet, so shoot 1000 of them before your timer runs out, then collect space credits to spend at the space bar, where space hookers do their space dance" role-playing video games with violent--or sometimes sexy--conflict resolution.

97: WHAT?! I AM RAGE PERSONIFIED!!! What the fuck is your malfunction?! Have you really sold out? Have you abandoned all your principles? Have you forgotten who you are?

07: Don't you talk to me like that, sista! I know who I am. I was you! In about three years, you're going to start doing communications and PR for various non-profits that all work nebulously for social justice. Some of them will pay you shit wages. Some of them won't pay you those shit wages for a couple of months. One of them will give you your starting month's shit wages as part of a severance package because it didn't get a grant for the following fiscal year.

97: But it will all be worth it! We'll be serving The People! We'll be working for The Cause!

07: We'll be starving and living month-to-month! We'll be wondering why it seems like every non-profit organization we work for doesn't know how to balance compassion and progressive thought with basic business planning. Maybe you just pick the wrong organizations to join, but living like that will take its toll. You will get really burned out and bitter.

97: You just don't understand! I'm supposed to help save the world. At the very least, I'm supposed to be the next Jessica Hagedorn.

07: Oh, sweetie. Don't try to be the next anyone. It's hard enough trying to be the next you... or me. I still try to write poetry with a purpose. It's just a bitch to get published and a grrl has got to eat. By the way, the world doesn't need us to help save it; it needs us to help make it better.

97: All right, then. Tell me: what are you doing at your video game editing job that is helping to make the world better?

07: Well... erm... Oh! I convinced them to change the spelling on a town with a Chinese-sounding name so it would match the Taiwanese Mandarin pronunciation. It was a small change, but I'd like to think that calling attention to it made the writers and designers just a wee bit more aware about the cultures and languages they might be appropriating.

97: What was that about working nebulously for social justice?

07: Don't you sass me, young lady! At least my paychecks don't bounce anymore. Look, when I was you, I thought I had to do really big things to make a difference, but small things matter too. A tiny stone dropped into a pond makes as many ripples as a large rock.

97: Dude, you are such a hippie.

07: I know. Let's go get a soy latte. And keep at it with the AAS campaign. Trust me, it'll pay off. So did I tell you? I made saskatoon berry jam last summer.

97: Sweet Mother of God! Who are you?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Everybody Ona Move

"Spearhead sound for the people everyone / Thunder comes from the bass and the drum / Rain or shine never stop anyone / I like my bass loudy, loudy, louder!"

Daaayaaamn, Folkfest folks! You hippies shonuf know how to THROW DOWN! This post is brought to you by capital letters and by the punctuation Exclamation Point!

Dusty and I got to Gallagher Park around 4:30 pm yesterday for the last evening of Folkfest. I love Edmonton's summer festivals for their multikulti hippie activities; Dusty loves them for their extensive beer gardens. There's something for everyone! After a wee nip of courage and a Fat Frank's hot dog, we met up with KPAX and his friend Jamie on the hill for Buck 65's short set. We all enjoyed his quirky electronica/spoken word jams. I think my October iTunes download will include bits of his new album. If only to hear him say again, in his 1970s Mustachioed Cop Voice: "Spread 'em, Sweetcheeks! Widerrr!"

Then it was back to the beer garden to get our drink on before Ozomatli. There is lots to do under the booze tents besides drink up, Johnny. It's a fantastic venue for people-watching. (Oh Brown-Shirted Cutiegirl, why did you mar your pretty face with that labret? You look like you have a metallic zit on your chin.) It's the perfect place to meet up with friends old and new. (Thanks again for the tricks, Magic Dave!) Best of all, it's where you find beautiful boys.

Awww yeahhh! Ladies, you may commence fighting over the cutielicious bachelor in the green shirt. His name is Keith and he is that yummy in real life. Rowr! Trust me, girls, once you get to know this man, you're gonna want to hug him and squeeze him and kiss him and love him and call him honeykins. He is seriously that adorable. What? Oh no, no, no. Hunny in the blue shirt is mine. Back off, bitches.

As soon as we finished our drinks, we headed up the hill to drop our stuff off at our hard-won tarp. Ozomatli was about to take the stage, so it was time to grab my girl Laurel and GET OUR DANCE ON!

When Ozomatli first started playing, there were still some folks sitting on their lawn chairs, old-school hippies who weren't quite sure what to make of this Latin reggae world beat hip-hop business. One of the band members told the crowd that Ozomatli is the Aztec god of DANCE and they are, in fact, playing his music. "So get up and DANCE!" Heh. Soon enough, the spirit of the beat took hold and everyone was on their feet, movin', groovin'.

"And if the time and the day is right / The revolution will begin / Dip, dive, socialize." We dipped, we dived, we socialized. We were in constant motion for the entire set. The band exited the stage like Pied Pipers, beating on the drum and jamming on the trumpet, leading a parade of little kids straight down the center of the crowd. How awesome is that?! If you said SO FUCKIN' AWESOME, you are correct!

We had but a moment's rest before Michael Franti and Spearhead jumped onstage. Michael Franti is from San Francisco, but he lived here for a year in his teens. He pulled the "Rock on, Springfield!" move, calling out Edmonton every chance he got. The crowd went nuts when he dropped the name of his high school. But Dusty and I got HELLA loud when he called out San Francisco. NoCal in the hizz!

By the time Spearhead played the song that lends its name to this post, the entire hillside was one body -- pulsing, dancing, jumping! The energy was AMAZING! I didn't take any photos during the set; I wanted to be completely lost in the moment, just another wave in the undulating sea of humanity. Can't stop to hold a camera when everybody's ona move! Lalala!

One last call for alcohol...

Salut! To Ozomatli for ROCKIN' OUT! Cheers! To Michael Franti and Spearhead for getting the entire hillside to jump! Ganbei! To KPAX for insisting that we check out Buck 65's show! Yamas! To Laurel for doing the 6 a.m. tarp run every year! Prost! To next year's Folkfest! Let's see you top this one!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

200 More Miles

"But I heard there is a light / drawing me to reach an end / And when I reach there / I'll turn back / and you and I can begin again"

There was one particular scene in March of the Penguins that crushed me. A mother is passing her newly-laid egg to her partner so he can take over caring for the young penguin inside. Their movements are clumsy and hesitant. Because the pair is young and inexperienced, they have not yet perfected the dance that keeps the egg safely off the ice and unexposed to the air, which is a frigid 80 degrees below zero.

The egg rolls onto the ice and within milliseconds, a crack forms on the shell. The freezing Antarctic air swiftly seeps in and ice crystals expand the crack. The young mother lets out a long, plaintive squawk, helpless and unable to stop nature's cruelty. Her partner waddles closer to her and she places her beak on his neck. They bow their heads together and watch as their egg breaks in half.

Good job, Documentary about Flightless South Pole Birds' Mating Rituals. You just made me cry.

Dusty and I have also had a long, arduous journey toward parenthood. Our march seems like it began the moment we got married in May 2003, when our parents could legally urge us to start producing grandchildren. As the months progressed and we still weren't squirting out any grandbabies, my mother stepped up her campaign. She and my father (Et tu, Daddy?) began talking to us about their methods of successful conception, most notably the "7-11" method, in which you are supposed to abstain from sex for seven days after the last day of your period and then have at it for 11 days straight.

Interwebs, let me tell you that "have at it" sounds even dirtier in Tagalog, and SO wrong when uttered by my very Catholic mother. Watching my husband squirm in his seat while my parents advised him on how best to impregnate their daughter was delightful. If, by "delightful", you mean I was silently invoking Kali Ma to swallow me whole before my mother could ask for the 45th time whether or not we've tried out the 7-11 method.

We did try out the 7-11, along with tracking my basal body temperature (BBT), and using ovulation predictor kits. These kits are fast becoming the most advanced nanotechnology available, with microprocessors that test pH levels and report results on tiny LCD screens. And I pee on them!

The BBT tracking actually worked in January 2005. Then in February 2005, I had to have surgery to remove the ectopic pregnancy. Our baby Bean had grown inside one of my tubes and it had to be taken out before the tube burst. That winter was the darkest we have ever known, and not just because it was our first winter in this arctic tundra, where we had no family and no close friends just yet. We both felt helpless and unable to stop nature's cruelty.

Good job, Memories. You just made me cry.

After all Dusty and I have been through, some of you might be wondering, "Do you really want to do this?" Do I really want to journey across a frozen landscape to try to have a child with this man, the Paragon of Goodness and Light? Do I want to go through more heartache and pain, endless tests and trials, just to have a baby that might inherit this man's gorgeous green eyes, brilliant mind, and enormously generous heart? Gentle readers, I say: HELLZ YEAH!

I will happily pee on advanced nanotechnology. I will breathe through painful diagnostic tests. I will be patient when well-meaning, misguided people say awkward, intrusive things like "Do you want to have a baby or do you want to give birth to a baby? You can adopt one, you know." Wow, thank you for pointing that out because I totally did not know that. Hey, maybe I can get them to wrap my new baby in paper, not plastic! I'm trying to be environmentally responsible. And for the love of Brahma, stop telling us to "just relax and it will happen." When we are most relaxed, we are humping like bunnies, so why hasn't it happened yet, o wise one?

Okay, maybe I need more patience. I'm just a little tired of dealing with people who have good intentions but clumsy tongues. Longtime couples of a certain age are always asked whether they are trying for kids; I used to ask that question myself. Sometimes it was just an icebreaker, the sort of question you ask after "How long have you two been together?" I generally do not ask "Are you trying for kids?" anymore. If I do ask, "Yes" or "No" are good enough answers. Beyond that, it is none of my business. And none of yours.

Dusty and I have a long way to go before we can have a wee beastie. Every time I get discouraged, I just have to remember the Emperor penguins and their quest to reproduce. At least we don't have to waddle on slippery ice for a week, in 80 below zero temperatures, with 100 mph winds whipping around our heads, just to fight for the chance to have a baby. Thank Goddess for small mercies.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


"She doesn't see the coming fall/She doesn't show no fear at all/Bring on autumn moon or driving rain/I only hope I see her face again"

Summer is winding down here in Edmonton. It got cold enough tonight that I needed jeans, a rain jacket, and two beers to ward off the chill at my very first Folkfest. What really kept me warm, though, was the company.

KPAX and I got there right around 6:00 pm, just as African Guitar Summit took the stage. We ate (must go back for more bul go gi, but the veggie curry and naan left something to be desired), had a couple of beers, and wandered around a bit. At the beer tents, we ran into Laurel and her friends Mike and Su, who kindly allowed us to crash their tarp. Thanks again! It was so nice to finally meet you two!

What a lovely late summer evening it turned out to be! The music was meh for the most part. We headed back to the beer gardens during Ralph Stanley's set. City & Colour was okay, but he misspelled his own band name. (Silly Canadian with your extraneous 'u'.) Nanci Griffith cleared the hill with her old-school hippie yawnfest. The people, though, were just adorable. See?

On Sunday, I'm bringing Dusty out to Folkfest with me to see Ozomatli (YAY!) and Michael Franti and Spearhead. I am SO excited!

Andy Donnelly, you'd better not stay too long backstage again. I'll be looking for ya right outside the CKUA booth, sir. I am determined to get a Wee Celtic Cuddle (TM).

Good Morning, Baltimore!

"I love you Baltimore / Every day's like an open door / Every night is a fantasy / Every sound's like a symphony"

Karincita and I went to see Hairspray on Tuesday evening and loved it. The movie was silly, campy musical fun! Nikki Blonsky was charming as Tracy Turnblad and James Marsden earned nine Cutieboy Points as Corny Collins. John Travolta actually added sweetness to Edna and there is no denying the man can dance, even in a fat suit. Christopher Walken was endearingly creepy as Wilbur and Queen Latifah (as always) rocks it out as Motormouth Maybelle. Karincita thought Elijah Kelley was a total heartthrob as Seaweed; we'll both be watching his career trajectory closely.

I've always had a soft spot for John Waters' original Hairspray, that cult paean to big hair, dancing, the 1960s civil rights era, and "Bawlmer, hon". It's darker and more subversive than the musical; it is, after all, from the twisted mind of John Waters. I think I've seen that movie three times and with each viewing, the Baltimore-shaped space in my heart grows bigger, softer. I even find myself correcting the movie: "That's SO not Mervo! That's over by Morgan State!"

The movie musical was actually filmed in Toronto due to its budget and scope. I suppose crane shots would be nearly impossible in the real Hampden, but I have to admit that I was initially disappointed about the location change. I wanted to get the same giddy thrill I got when I saw Meg Ryan's character walking around Franklin Square in Sleepless in Seattle or when I recognized bits of downtown in Live Free or Die Hard. I had to settle for an internal "HEE!" when Seaweed invites Tracy and her friends to Motormouth's record party and the oh-so-very-white kids get all squirrelly about going to North Avenue. Mm-hm.

Any time I see Baltimore onscreen, I turn into one of those people who freak out at a show when the band's lead singer says, "Rock on, uh, (looks at hand) Springfield!" No matter that when I go back to Baltimore to visit, I almost always think, "I grew up here? What a dump!" Hollywood magic makes my hometown shine in the movies.

I am suddenly craving a slice of pecan pie and a large coffee from the now-closed Louie's Café. I suppose it is true that you can never truly go home again, eh? Sigh...

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Poetry Sunday: The Women

I wrote this in May 2005. Following my lovely Luddite friend's example, 50 points if you can call out the play on words.

The Women

Three days after Mama died
the women came
to my father’s house.

They said
they had come
to pray.

Rosary in one hand,
microwaved casserole
in the other.

Funny weapons
for predators.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Where The Streets Have No Name

"And when I go there / I go there with you / It's all I can do"

The Edge's guitar riff starts off slow and soft... Were those opening notes from an organ?

I turn up the car stereo. I am driving. The love of my life is sitting in the passenger seat. Our heads are starting to bob. We are driving through plains, or maybe mountains. If we are very lucky, we are driving next to the ocean. In Alberta, we are almost always driving through endless fields of canola.

Guitar riff is getting faster, louder, more intense. Cymbals come in, then drums.

The sun is streaming through the window. I start tapping the steering wheel with my fingertips, keeping time with the drumbeat. Dusty looks over at me and smiles. I am lost in the rhythm of driving, tapping, bobbing. I am leaning into the steering wheel, ready to run, ready to fly.

The Edge's fingers must be on fire. Larry Mullen drops a beat. Adam Clayton lays down a net of bass to catch it.

As the music gets faster, my foot on the gas pedal gets heavier. I eagerly approach a hill in the distance. The car and I are one. This song is our heartbeat. I am over the hill before the next chord progression. Sisyphus should have picked this song for his eternal work soundtrack. It might have driven him to push that rock right over the slope, right over to freedom.

My heart is going to burst out of my chest with the next guitar riff/drum and bass combo. I know what is coming next. I take a deep breath and Bono wails for me.

"I want to run!"

Early tomorrow morning, Dusty and I are leaving town for a relaxing weekend with some friends up at a lake cabin. This song will be cued up for the drive.

"I want to feel sunlight on my face... "

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Living A Boy's Adventure Tale

"I've been lost in so many places / Seeking love in so many faces / A change of weather, the rain pours down / My head in hands, pressed to the ground"

Dear Ewan,

Hi, Smoochums. We need to talk. Dusty and I rented your movie Young Adam last Friday and we don't get it. We are both fairly intelligent and well-read. We enjoy artsy flicks with beautiful cinematography and cryptic allegory. Yet as the credits rolled, we looked at each other and went," 'The hell?" That pretty much sums up our review.

After Dusty gave up precious Friday evening crunch time to watch this with me, he rightfully asked that it be counted as a Husbandzie (wife-pampering coupons he made for me as an anniversary gift). You see, he had asked me to pick up a movie that's "not too artsy" and I brought home soft core art house porn. Not that soft core art house porn is a bad thing, but this film worked too hard to get an NC-17 rating. Its net effect was the same as a naughty little boy who yells "BOOOOOOOBIES!" in the middle of Sunday Mass. 'The hell?

There was no coupon for "watch a foreign film", but I traded in "Dusty cooks AND does dishes" for it. Thanks to Young Adam, I get no dinner pampering. Damn. If I had known a foreign film would cost me a Husbandzie, I might have rented Muriel's Wedding instead. I hear that's at least filled with groovy ABBA tunes.

Even though you were all speaking English, Young Adam had some stereotypical hallmarks of a "foreign" film:

1) charming rogue drifter with a possible shady past

2) strong blue-collar dame forced to live the life dictated by society

3) beautiful, troubled ingenue who may as well be wearing a red shirt

4) noble, misunderstood chap who seems to do all the right things but can't catch a break

5) too many shots of characters looking pensively off in the distance, smoking unfiltered cigarettes, drinking heavily, or all of the above at the same time

6) LOTS of brown and gray tones, either to depict the dreariness of a laborer's life, or because the director of photography found smoky lens filters on sale

7) LOTS of nudity and graphic sex (It's art, you preverts!)

I hate to say it, but after the fifth time you bared your pale ass and went at it with yet another woman, I started to think perhaps "young Adam" is what you call your bonny star. There were no young characters named Adam in the film, after all, and you whipped out your young Adam a lot. Maybe this movie is why you were mistaken for "an erotic film star" when you were traveling through Eastern Russia during Long Way 'Round.

Like I said before, I/we do appreciate artsy foreign films. We absolutely loved Pan's Labyrinth, for example. It was dark and broody, but it also had a discernible story arc. It had a POV character the audience identified with and wanted to follow. When the film jumped around in time, you were pretty clear they were jumping around in time.

Your film, my darling, was a stark contrast. It was dreary and broody, seemingly for the sake of being dreary and broody, and the story didn't seem to go anywhere. The POV character (you, sadly) was the most uninteresting character in the whole ensemble and a jackhole to boot. The time jumps weren't clear because everything happens within a span of a few months. There weren't even simple indications like, "Okay, her hair is longer, so this must be four months later." It was a beautifully-shot period piece of Scotland just after World War II, but it wasn't much else.

Listen, I don't want us to fight over this. Just, you know, keep this in mind next time. Make an artful movie with ass, not an assy movie called art. Okay, honeykins? I love you!