Sunday, September 30, 2007

Poetry Sunday: 9 Days

Karincita and Tricky's elder son is going to be three years old in November. The Monchichi and I are best buds. I know he is almost three, but sometimes it still kinda surprises me when he speaks in complete sentences. Even more when he plays jokes. He once crawled under the bed to tickle my toes. I saw his little fingers dart out and grab for my toes and I said, "Eek! Was that a mouse?" He crawled out, giggling, and replied, "No, it was just me." Noun, verb, modifiers - all in the right order. Plus, he GOT the concept of the joke; he knew that it had worked.

I have really loved watching Monchichi grow up. He's a person I like being around and I have known him since he was itty-bitty. When we first met him, he looked like he was in a constant state of shock. His blond hair was standing on end, wild with static electricity. His ENORMOUS blue eyes were probably just trying to focus on the blurry objects around him, but it had the effect of making him look perpetually surprised. Thankfully, his hair has calmed down a lot. It could be genetic, though: his three-month-old brother, Snickerdoodle, is beginning to get the same kind of shockhawk.

I can't even imagine how I'm going to feel when Snickerdoodle starts talking and walking. Or going to kindergarten. Attending college. Getting his first job. My feelings will probably include some variation of, "Wow, I saw that kid come out of his mom's hooha. When did he become A PERSON?!"

It has been almost three years now since Dusty and I lost our first chance at parenthood. I still wonder what kind of person our little Bean might have grown into if Nature had not been so cruel. It's been incredibly humbling for me to realize that I may not have been ready to be a mom back then. Without a kid, I have been able to live a pretty sweet life: free to travel at the drop of a hat, take lots of classes during the week, and work long hours and weekends on the BEST. FRICKIN'. VIDEO GAME. EVER. It's just that I'm sometimes curious--wistful, even--about what might have been. Or who might have been.

I wrote this poem while I was waiting to get surgery to remove my ectopic pregnancy in February 2005. Mama still loves you, little Bean. Whoever you may have turned out to be.


9 Days

1 day of sheer joy
blue plus sign
phone calls to grandparents
a happy secret

5 days of cautious optimism
a gallon of milk
small healthy meals
glorious guilt-free naps

3 days of waking nightmare
pleading
crying
losing

9 days not months
all wrong
all done
no Bean

my womb
my heart

empty




Thursday, September 27, 2007

Beautiful

"You've got to get up every morning / With a smile in your face / And show the world all the love in your heart / You're gonna find, yes you will / That you're beautiful as you feel"

As I get older, I am becoming more comfortable with the fact that I am [gasp] A GIRL. And not just any girl, but a girly girl. I like wearing skirts. I like shiny jewelry. I like having sassy hair.
I like wearing makeup.

Granted, I'm also a lazy girly girl. I hate shopping. I mean, REALLY hate shopping. I hate extremely bling-y jewelry that might get me mugged. Or at least mistaken for someone who has more money than I do. I hate spending too much time on hair or makeup. My morning routine includes just five minutes for hair and makeup. Mascara and lip gloss, ladies. Don't leave home without them.

My mom and sister are much better at this girl thing than I am. They buy me trendy clothes and jewelry. They recommend lotions and balms that they find delicious on their skin. My mom has a full arsenal of fashion/beauty tips that she has dispensed to me over the years. I've found some of them quite useful, so I share them here with you. I'm also sharing some of my own tips that I will pass on to my baby.* They work great for me; I hope you find them useful, too.

Three Tips from My Mama

1. How to Have Lovely Skin
- Always wear sunscreen.
- Drink at least eight (8) glasses of water every day.
- Moisturize after your daily shower.
- Wash all your makeup off every night.
- Do a mud or clay mask and full exfoliation once a week.
- Also once a week, on a day when you know you will be home all day, eschew all moisturizer. Allow your skin to breathe.

2. How to Apply Makeup
Eyeliner/shadow: Pull the skin of your eyelid tight so your eye makeup can glide on easier. If you're applying eyeliner underneath your eye, look up a little bit so you don't feel like you are poking yourself in the eye.
Blush: Suck in your cheeks so the highest, roundest part of your cheekbones [the "apples"] are visible. Apply blush to the apples of your cheeks and sweep toward your ear.
Lipstick: Apply lipstick and blot the excess with a tissue pressed in between your lips. After blotting, open your mouth and clean the lipstick off your teeth.

3. How to Clean Jewelry
Put your jewelry in a shallow saucepan with a drop of dishwashing liquid and just enough water to cover all pieces. Bring the water to a boil. After 7-10 minutes, drain the soapy water. Put clean water over the jewelry and boil for another five minutes. Turn off the burner, rinse the jewelry carefully, and let dry on a clean cloth. If the pieces have gemstones, be sure to brush the gemstones with a toothbrush so they sparkle.

Make sure to separate your metals - gold and silver should not mix when cleaning. [Mom never told me why this has to happen, but I assume that mixing the metals encourages a Silver Sharks vs. Gold Jets rumble. And who wants that? Nobody.]

Three Tips for My Baby**

1. How to Get Perfectly-Curled Eyelashes
As soon as you pinch down on the eyelash curler, start singing the pinball counting song from Sesame Street. When you reach "12", release the curler grips, and your eyelashes will be SO pretty. If you want more of a curl, say, for nighttime, sing the "doo-doo-doodoo-doo-doo-doo-doodoo-doo-doo-wah!" end part before you release the curler grips. Apply mascara to your curled lashes to emphasize the pretty.

2. How to Shop
- Know what you need to buy before you go to the store. Make a list for yourself and stick to it. Get in, get what you need, get out.
- Do not buy leggings. Unless you are buying them to wear to Pilates class like Mommy.
- Do not buy tapered pants. They are the devil's handiwork. You don't want to look like an ice cream cone. Trust me.
- Do not buy pleated pants. They will give you front butt, baby. FRONT BUTT.

3. How to Clean Silver [Including Jewelry]
Wet a soft, clean cloth. Put a small amount of regular toothpaste [not gel] on the cloth. Rub the toothpaste all over the piece you are cleaning; if you are cleaning a flat surface, rub in circles. Rinse off the toothpaste, pat dry, and enjoy the shine.


*No, I am not pregnant. Yet.
**Seriously, when I get pregnant and it's time for me to tell you, I'll tell you. Dang.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Three Little Birds

"Don't worry 'bout a thing / 'Cause every little thing is gonna be all right"

My dear friend Betsy--who lives in California's Canada [or Idaho's Portugal]--and I have a weekly appointment on Yahoo! Instant Messenger. Every Monday [or Tuesday, now that Heroes is back on - yay!], we sit down at our computers and chat for a few minutes or an hour, catching up. Goddess bless technology. Tonight, as she signed off to snuggle with her hubby and watch Heroes, she said, "Post something so I know you're okay." I'm glad someone outside Edmonton is still reading my wee blog.

So I haven't posted in almost a week because, well, Mass Effect is superclose to shipping and we are in the final stages of polish. These days, even I am running into the office in my sweats on a Saturday to fix critical text-related bugs. The game is already SO FRICKIN' AWESOME! Seriously, playtesting this game has turned me into a little bit of a gamer. I'm customizing and upgrading my equipment, swapping my squad depending on the level, getting all anal about my strategery in combat - it's kinda scary. I was actually considering going in yesterday, under the radar, just to play the game. It's going to be the perfect American Thanksgiving present to me and Dusty that our baby, this baby that we made with 180+ other people, will be going global in November. W00T!

Now, because we are so close to ship, Sasquatch has been spotted more frequently near his nesting area. That's right! Dusty is home! SQUEE! He made it down to zero bugs again today. ZERO BUGS! Tonight, he actually came home at 6:30 PM i.e. Normal People Quitting Time. I made a quick dinner and we watched the excellent animated Hellboy: Blood and Iron. Sure, Dusty was called back into the office to fix a couple of emergency bugs, but he came back quickly, just in time for us to watch the Heroes season premiere together. He is now happily ensconced in his underground cave, WoWing.

Yesterday, Dusty and I went for a lovely leisurely brunch at Flavours before he went to work for a few hours. I did laundry, read, napped, and then he came home while it was still daylight. A cold, overcast daylight, but daylight just the same. We got bundled up and went for a long walk in Snow Valley, collecting leaves and pine cones. He went back to work for a couple more hours, then we made dinner together and watched the best episode of Family Guy ever. It wasn't the perfect lazy Sunday, but we are almost... there...

See, Betsy? I'm okay. Hugs!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Evil Night Together

"Who's gonna make you a hero? / Hold it right there / Let's wile away the hours / Let's spend an evil night together"

Scene from Justice League Season 2, Episode 1, "Twilight":
The Justice League receives a visitor named Darkseid. Superman gets superpouty and mauls Darkseid. I guess Darkseid and Supes have quite a troubled history. The JL break it up and get Darkseid's story.

Brainiac is attacking Darkseid's planet and Darkseid asks the JL for help. Supes tells Darkseid to bugger off. Darkseid leaves, but warns the JL that if they don't stop Brainiac, then more planets, more lives will be in danger. The JL then tries to talk some sense into the oh-so-very-emo Supes.

Hawkgirl: So what are you saying? You'd sacrifice millions of lives just because you don't like this guy?

Superman: You don't know Darkseid like I do.

Batman: We know he used you. Humiliated you. Brainwashed you. Wound you up like a tin soldier and turned you loose against Earth. Cry me a river! On the outside chance that this isn't another one of his schemes, we have to take action. So I suggest you GET OVER IT!

- End Scene -

Holy Sexy Jerk, Batman! You were a giant douche, but only because there's a world to save and this is no time for whining. You actually called Superman out for his angsty bullshit.

I want you stripped, washed, and brought to my tent. NOW.

These Apples

"Enthusiastic, a little bit drastic / I shaved her name in my head / And as she beheld it, she said I misspelled it / Need more be said?"

Shortly after I was hired at BioWare as a technical editor, my fellow tekneditrika Karincita and I came upon a bathroom sign rife with misspellings, mispunctuations, and errant spaces. We couldn't enter the bathroom and blithely pee! There was bad grammar afoot! We busted out our red pens and corrected the sign with an almost insane zeal, full of piss and vinegar. Karincita took a copy of that corrected sign and displayed it beside her desk, perhaps as a warning.

Editors suffer neither fools nor typos.

My big boss, Papa Love, refers to my brand of zealous editing as the Grammar Rodeo (TM). Well, giddy-up, cowpokes! Following is a list of the nine most rampant sins against the English language that I have seen in my daily travels.

  • "Myself" is not a synonym for "me". It's perfectly acceptable--and grammatically correct--to use the word "me" in a professional setting. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me. Myself will just give you the finger.

  • The word is definitely, not definately.

  • The word is apparently, not apparantly. You hear me, KPAX?!

  • The word is weird, not wierd. Yeah, yeah, "'I' before 'E' except after 'C'". It's a stupid rule. Stop following it.

  • "Its" is the possessive form of "it". "It's" is a contraction of "it is". This is correct: "It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!" This is also correct: "Justice League inexplicably continues to make episodes featuring its boring, angst-ridden Superman."

  • "They're" means "they are". "There" means "not here". "Their" means "not our". Try: They're over there by their lair.

  • "Your" is the possessive form of "you". "You're" is a contraction of "you are". This is correct: "Cookie, I believe the show Frisky Dingo just won your heart with grammar-related jokes." This is not correct: "Welcome to you're 'doom'!"

  • Don't put quotation marks around words unless you mean it. It is neither "nice" nor correct. And, as in the example above, it makes people think that "doom" is an ironic kind of doom. Is the wink implied there? We don't know!

  • Dear Building on a Side Road off Whyte Avenue: Make a new sign that reads "Condos for Rent". There's no apostrophe before the "s" in "Condos", unless Condo has something for rent. If so, then Condo's what is for rent? Mm-hm. Dirty buggers. Get cracking on that new sign, 'kay? Thanks.
Now, because I still have your attention, let me remind you that "hippy" means "generously endowed in the hip area". "Hippie" means "flower child of Mother Earth". If you found this blog by searching for "hippy", then your search engine clearly needs a blow to the back of the head, preferably with the Unabridged Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
This concludes our lesson for today. Go forth and use your native language wisely, English-speakers. Know that my fellow editors and I are ever vigilant with our red pens and snarky commentary.
*UPDATE Sept 21: Since the first publication of this post, I have edited it three times to add more grammar sins or expand on existing sins. I will keep it at these nine sins for now, but I may have to do a Part 2 in this series. Jeebus Hallucinogenic Cripes, people. Turn off the damn TV once in a while and read a book. You might learn something.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Poetry Sunday: Memories of Green




Forty-one years ago today, the love of my life was born. I wrote this poem especially for my one and only Zuzu. Happy Birthday, Binky!

Memories of Green

If I remember nothing else
from my life with you
I will remember
green

Your eyes
on our first night
the way they caught fire
when I asked you
if you had any passions

Your eyes
during our darkest days
the way they declare
that you will fight
for this, for us

Your eyes
during our brightest times
the way they dance
when you laugh with me
as if nobody else can hear

If I remember nothing else
on the day that you were born
I will celebrate
green

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I Write the Songs

"Music fills your heart / Well, that’s a real fine place to start"

A new--or perhaps just irregular, on SO many levels--reader [Hi, Drew!] asked me the other day if the words quoted at the beginning of a post were my own. I'm flattered that he might have thought so, but the words in quotation marks are song lyrics.

My loyal readers [All seven of you: Hi! Kisses! And happy birthday, Betsy!] may have noted that I am fairly music-obsessed. So my blog should reflect that, right? Why have a boring title like "Archives" for my archives when I can reference a song by t.A.T.u. that suggests "stuff from before" AND has faux lesbian overtones? Now you're thinking about faux lesbians, aren't you? You're welcome.

I purposely chose the lyrics above from I Write the Songs [Yes, it is made famous by Barry Manilow. Shut up.] to illustrate my blogging process. Once I know what I want to write about, I pick a song with lyrics that serve as a kind of writing prompt for a new post. I got the idea to blog in this manner when Day One, a Sarah Slean song that gave me new perspective on my recent housing debacle, inspired my first blog post.

Mystery? Solved.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

No One Lives Forever

"Let's have a party there's a full moon in the sky / It's the hour of the wolf and I don't want to die / I'm so happy dancing while the grim reaper cuts, cuts, cuts / But he can't get me"

The Powers That Be have made the lowest difficulty setting just a wee bit more friendly for true casual gamers like me. So this morning I made it through the first bit of Mass Effect with minimal cursing and, more importantly, NO DYING. My boss did, however, admonish me to use my inside voice when I exclaimed, "Woohoo! I didn't die!" [sheepish grin] These headphones are really good.

Now that I've gotten past the first combat, and I can safely look around without getting mauled by anything I have to kill, I've gotta say that our 'verse is SO pretty! By the Goddess! I am awed by the tremendous artistry, hardcore dedication, and just plain blood-sweat-and-tears work that has gone into this game. Our game.

One hour down, 24 to go. Bring it, flying space pigs! GAME ON.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Poetry Sunday: Brown Beauty

Great beauties in songs and poems do not look like me. They sometimes have raven or auburn tresses, but never brown hair. Great beauties have skin that is alabaster or porcelain, but never terra cotta. They have jade green or crystal blue eyes, but never big brown eyes.

Ever notice that brown eyes are always BIG? Not much else, just... BIG. I've always been dismayed that most lyricists and poets haven't found words to make brown eyes blue. Or green. Or anything but BIG.

If I could have a conversation with my 14-year-old Self, I would tell her that brown--the color of her hair, skin, and eyes--is as beautiful as any other color in nature. I would reassure her that there will be songs like "Brown-Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison and "Brown Skin Lady" by Bobby Banduria. These songs don't really extol the virtues of her brownness, but they don't call her brown eyes BIG, either. Baby steps.

I wrote this poem today for my 14-year-old Self.

Brown Beauty

Her hair is the color of
Pine bark
Bear fur
Wild truffles

It flies
atop ship masts
above castles
over lovers

Her skin is the color of
Clay
Mud
Dirt

It gets
under your fingernails
on your body
in your mouth

Her eyes are the color of
warm chocolate fondue in October
a macchiato from that Venetian café
a bonbon just before it melts

They burn
into your heart
through your soul
out of your mind

Friday, September 7, 2007

When You Come

"She came out of the water / into my horizon / like a cumulonimbus / coming in from the distance / Burning and exploding / like a slow volcano... "

"And when you come / to cover me with your kisses... / I'll know you by the thunderclap / pouring like a rain of blood to my emotions"

Every time I hear this song, my insides go all wobbly. Crowded House played it last night during their spectacular show at the Jubilee. My insides went predictably wobbly. I had given fair warning to KPAX a few songs into the show that if the band played MY song, I would lose it. And I did. [Sorry for any inadvertent bruising on your arm there, Paddington. Good thing you're a quick healer.] They also played KPAX's favorite Crowded House song, but he didn't lose it. Psh. Boys.

I first heard MY song 20 years ago when my "cousins" Allan and Alex took me and my brother to the Crowded House concert at the historic Warner Theatre in Washington, DC. We sat in one of the boxes in the upper terrace balcony. It was my very first grown-up concert. My cousins grew up in Winnipeg, so unlike the average American teenager, they were more aware of things happening outside North America. They always had their fingers on the pulse of new music and they had a profound influence on my early musical taste. On my 13th birthday, for example, they gave me my very first record: a-ha's Hunting High and Low. Hip older cousins rule!

The song didn't really make an impact on me until a few years later, when I fell in love for the first time. Then I was thunderstruck. I wanted a man, my man, to say things like the words above about me. I imagined that Neil Finn wrote this song after seeing his love emerge from the roiling ocean, her hair dripping wet and her body glistening with salty water. I imagined that lucky woman striding toward her man, her face half-shadowed by approaching clouds, like Amphitrite Incarnate. He must have been so awed by her ferocious beauty that he had to write this song. Sigh... Huh? Oh, yes. Hi! You're still here!

When I first saw them in concert 20 years ago, Crowded House only had two albums out, but even then it was clear they are consummate musicians. Their songs are multilayered, complex compositions and they ROCK as performers. Their stage show last night was really quite fantastic. They used lighting and stage design in clever ways, with stage props that mimicked the cover of their new album Time on Earth. Audience interaction was rife with impromptu songs about the prairie [and buses and Kitchener, ON] and some fun, naughty bits. During the encore, KPAX and I moved to the front of the auditorium, just in time to witness a crew member's full moon from the camper van stage prop. Crowded House: all class, all the time.

In the vein of Laurel's "Today's Treasure", I had an Unexpected Delight at the concert. Before the show, KPAX and I were enjoying our very expensive Bailey's-and-coffees [the best effin' Bailey's-and-coffees ever, dammit!] and I spotted a familiar jolly Scotsman near the merch booth. I whispered, "Is that Andy Donnelly?" KPAX discreetly turned around to look. "Not every jolly man with long hair is Andy Donnelly," he said, in his "Silly Cookie" tone.

I saw maybe-Andy again at intermission and this time, I had the courage to approach him and ask if he is who I think he is. And he was. I was starstruck. I gushed about his Celtic show and then gave him A Wee Celtic Cuddle (TM). SQUEE! I confessed that I wanted to say hello to him at Folkfest, but lost my nerve. He told me that the next time I see him, I shouldn't be afraid to say hello. HEE! [Yes, I do know he is a LOCAL EDMONTON RADIO personality. Shut up.]

Crowded House [now with Lil' Liam!] + my most favoritest Paddington Bear + a wee Celtic cuddle = Best. Early September Thursday. Ever.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

I'm Just A Girl

"The moment that I step outside / So many reasons / For me to run and hide"

I have been playtesting Mass Effect for the last hour and a half. I have died seven times and Difficulty is on THE LOWEST SETTING. People in surrounding offices are stopping work to come in here and watch [read: point and laugh] as I shoot aliens and robots in the face. Apparently, I shoot--and scream--like a girl. I have not gotten past the first 25 MINUTES of game play and critical path on this game takes 25 HOURS to complete. I am going to need a fuckload of dark chocolate right quick.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDGE!!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Breathe

"Another day / Just breathe / I’m used to it by now"

Things I Say to Myself When I Ride My Bike to Work

  • don'tdiedon'tdiedon'tdie... Whew! That speed bump was frickin' HUGE!

  • I crashed there in the beginning of summer '06, and there at the end of that summer. They're only 20 feet apart. Either I suck or this is The Sidewalk of Death. And I don't suck.

  • You cannot outpedal that light. Trust me. Just wait on the corner and stay alive.

  • Curious Cookie: I wonder what would happen if my wheel ever caught on one of these potholes.

  • Wise Cookie: Shut up and keep pedaling over the goram potholes! Speed = balance!

  • I used to dread going up this hill, but now I totally own it. Thanks, Pilates class!

  • [upon reaching work] I made it! And I didn't die! Yay!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Poetry Sunday: Buddha in Xiamen

During the summer of 1992, when I was 16 years old, I spent six weeks in Xiamen, China. The trip was the culmination of a pilot program run by the Abell Foundation that was meant to encourage high school students to study "non-traditional" languages. Freshmen who applied for the program elected to study Chinese, Japanese, or Russian for three years. If they maintained "A" averages until junior year, then they would join the top students from all four participating Baltimore magnet schools for a six-week immersion study trip to Baltimore's sister cities in China, Japan, or Russia.

I was one of nine students who went on the Xiamen trip, which was fully sponsored by Abell. It was an unforgettable experience and a wonderful program, especially for a bunch of kids from East Baltimore. For all but two of us, it was the first opportunity to see what's outside of Baltimore, much less the United States. For most of us, it was probably the last opportunity. Sadly, it seems the program was scrapped; it's no longer listed under Abell's program areas.

My journal from that trip reveals my age ["Hong Kong is so cool, I could just scream!"], but it also chronicles my first real awakening, the first time I had any thoughtful insights about a culture and society that was so different from what I knew as an American. Reading this journal is like watching myself grow up just a little bit over the course of six weeks.

I wrote this poem in September 1994, two years after the Xiamen trip. I think I needed those two years for the ideas to germinate and mature. The poem was first published in The Eclipse, a University of Maryland student paper, in 1997. It was published again in dis*orient literary magazine in 1999.

Buddha in Xiamen

If the Buddha of Prosperity
walked down Zhong Shan Lu,
would he be proud of its squalid splendor?

Would his countenance permit a smile
at the sight of a family of six living
in a room that is the size
of most American bathrooms?

Would his full stomach ache with satisfaction
after sharing a dinner of doufu and mifan
cooked over a wok propped up by cinder blocks
in the middle of the sidewalk?

Would he hold his head high, surveying this life –
a life of blessings that he has given to
the people who worship him with rich offerings
they can’t afford for themselves?

Would his gaze remain noble and dignified
when he looks at the human waste in the street,
at the young mother with empty eyes cradling
a child with thin arms and a swollen belly?

If the Buddha of Prosperity
walked down Zhong Shan Lu,
would the people know his name?