Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Compulsive Gambling

(Pre-Script: This poem becomes a compulsive read when read as the song, "Going the Distance," #38 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

the cruestest thing,
to be stuck in a moment
with only my feelings
with just my thoughts
my thoughts are insane, my feelings are a labyrinth
but everyone is insane,
everyone is avoiding his own labyrinth
this is why people turn to legal and illegal drugs,
prescription drugs too,
and compulsive drinking
and compulsive gambling-
We are compulsively gambling our lives;
the pot is gorgeous and there in the middle of the table-
but someone has to have the winning hand,
why can't it be me or me or me
Oh! The thought of this is so deliciously mind dizzying
we forget,
it means that everyone else
becomes the losers.


Friday, April 23, 2010

A funny Thing Happened on the Road to the Moon

(Pre-Script: This post is out of this world when read as the song, "No Air," by Jordan Sparks plays in the background...but since I don't have that song on my playlist, you'll just have to settle for singing this line to yourself over and over: "Tell me how I'm supposed to breathe with no air." Then go down to the playlist, click on any song you are in the mood for, and come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

On the road to the moon, I slashed my own tires, then looked around to see who had done it. You were sitting on the side of the road, saw me looking at my tires and said "Do you need some help?"
I looked over and saw that your tires had also been slashed, so I asked you about it. You said "My tires have been slashed, and I am looking around to see who did it."
Then you noticed my own slashed tires and skeptically said "Maybe it was you."
I said "That's absurd, I don't even know you yet. I have never seen your tires before just this second."
You just blinked at me, eyes full of oblivion and mounting suspicion, pointed to my tires and said "it appears you have a reputation. It appears you are not new at this. It appears the odds are stacked against you."
I blinked and looked back at my tires and said, "Well, since it appears that we are both here with slashed tires and no way of fixing anything, except by our own devices, maybe we should just enjoy the view. I think it's quite exquisite. Plus I have some really good dark chocolate, enough to last us both a really long time."
You looked down, puzzled and a bit amused now, and said, "I have been so busy wondering about my tires that I never noticed the view, but it's lovely. And look, I have a large batch of peanut butter, enough to sustain at least the two of us for quite some time."
So we ate the chocolate with the peanut butter and found the combination to be better than each had been alone. We were quite content and pleasantly full.
"Besides," I said as cars sped past, "The moon looks like it's probably crowded. look at all the people whizzing by, with tunnel vision for the moon. Not one of them even stops to see this view behind us."
"Yes," you said, "Yes, I agree. It's as if we can gather our thoughts here without all those mindless people. It's as if we can have an uninterrupted conversation."
"Yes" I said, "And I have an idea. Let's relax and enjoy it. Even if you are suspicious of me, who cares how or why our tires are slashed, let them be. In the meantime, at least we can think. In the meantime, at least we can breathe."
"Oh," you said, "Oh, I didn't even think of that. You are quite right, there is no oxygen on the moon."
"No oxygen," I said, "and all those people rushing towards it."


Thursday, April 22, 2010

To Have and To Hold (a story of Red Cake)

(Pre-Script: This post will fill you with all sorts of beautiful deliciousness when read as the song, "Fall Apart Today," #61 on the playlist," OR as the song, "The Power of Love," #41 on the playlist, plays in the background, as long as you change lyrics in your head to "The Power of Cake." So Go down to the playlist, click on those songs, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

We hear alot about the Very Selfish Person who wants to Have his cake and Eat it too, as if this is a bad, greedy thing. But everyone wants to have his or her cake and eat it, too. Why wouldn't he or she? Cake is good. Cake is pretty. Red Velvet Cake is especially pretty, though a mess and a hassle goes into it if you ever make one from scratch.
Three years ago, I embarked on a cake baking journey. I wanted to find and bake the best Red Velvet Cake that I could. I didn't know that Red Velvet Cake existed until I saw the movie Steel Magnolias when I was 16 and really into watching movies that I knew would have me balling like mid life crisis at the end.* Some people like to ride roller coasters. A good weep inducing movie was the same amount of a thrill for me, especially since roller coasters have always had a tendency to terrify me (hello, crazy heights, and you are barely strapped in, rolling over a rickety thin track you can barely see, high, high up in the sky. Is this even sane? Think about it.) Also Roller Coasters make my stomach want to part ways with it's cake. (and in this instance, the word "cake" is a metaphor for "any food I have eaten that day.")
So there I was, niave that such luxuries as Red Velvet Cake existed, and now I knew. This was one of the few hazards of growing up in California (aside from the constant threat that the entire state will break off and fall into the ocean, or get carried away by a huge tsunami, or get all cracked up by an earthquake, but most likely all of those things will happen at once) I did not "KNOW" Red Velvet Cake in an experiential way until years later, when I was visiting someone who lived in the southern state of Georgia. I ordered a piece from right off the counter at a coffeeshop. It was like taking a bite out of the fruit off of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I was suddenly very wise to the fact that I had been missing out, and simultaneously feeling like I had been jipped, but would no longer be missing out or jipped for the rest of my life. At the age of 21, I knew I had 21 years of cake eating to make up for, and roughly 80 more years to do it in, probably. Assuming that the Pacific Ocean's comsumption of the state of California does not take place in that time period. Or if it does, then assuming I am on vacation somewhere else at the time. (And, Most Ironically, Assuming that I don't eat too much cake.)
So I went online and tried several promising sounding recipes. Some recipes have more ingredients or more steps than others. All require generous portions of the very naturally occuring ingredient, "Red Food Coloring." I know this is a natural ingredient, 'cause I picked the bottles of it off of the tree in my backyard.** There is either a cream cheese frosting that goes on the Red Velvet Cake, or there is a white, lighter in flavor frosting. I tried and perfected varieties of both.
It would have been good for you to be my friend at that time in history, particularly if you are one of the "have your cake and eat it too" types. My friend Francesca can vouch for this, because guess who showed up at her doorstep with several home made variations of this mysterious Red Velvet Cake? Me, that's who. Unfortunately, she was not a huge fan. She said something horrendous, like, "I think Red Velvet Cake is pretty to look at, not so good to eat." Clearly, this makes her a "have your cake" type of personality, more than an "...and eat it too..." or maybe she just doesn't like my baking and was putting me down gently. Wow, now I feel mildly insulted, and I did not catch that before. This is why it is best not to go back and reflect on things people have told you in your lifetime. You might suddenly realize that you now know what they meant, when at the time the statement was made, it had flown right over your head, like a bird, back up to it's perch in that very giant Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
In the end, I came away with what I decided was the best recipe for Red Velvet Cake. It was the one that involved the most steps, including having to purchase a certain kind of flour, then to sift it onto parchment paper. I mean, really, who does that stuff anymore. Myself, some really prissy people, and the Waldorph Astoria Hotel, that's who. Let that be a clue for you as to my recipe, people. (He who has an eye for the semi obvious clue, let him see.)
Should you decide to embark on a mission of this type for yourself, let me warn you: If you never particularly wanted red splatters on your kitchen walls, don't bake this cake. There are other ways to keep red splatters off of your walls, but I will not mention them here and now, as there may be young, naive children reading. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil does not need to extend it's branches quite that low if I can help it.


*Let the record show that this particular thrill was a phase that lasted roughly just during my dramatic-only-to-myself teenage years, then promptly ended.
**I am assuming this is not the same Red Food Coloring that causes cancer in lab mice.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


(Pre-Script: This post will refresh you from the inside out when read as the song, "Sweet Pea," #20 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

Oh how I love it when I cut into an avocado, past the tough skin into the soft edible portion, and find that it is, yes indeed! A perfect avocado! Cut open at the peak of it's lovely perfection!! But Cutting into any fruit is a gamble; you never can know for sure what condition a fruit is going to be in until you cut it open and see for yourself, in the privacy of your own home, usually your own kitchen. You pick your fruit based on an educated guess. There are signs that your fruit will be good or bad, based on firmness to softness ratio, and the color of the outside skin. There are varieties that tend to be better than others, and have a higher rate of perfect fruit goodness. you can't cut a fruit open in the store, before you buy it; then it would be completely unsellable, and shop owners look down on having their sellable items being made unsellable before they have even been sold. Avocados are not cheap. So it is important to pick well. Apples are easier to choose, I think. But even apples can deceive you. I once cut into what looked like a perfectly perfect crisp, firm apple (just say "no" to powdery apples. As far as I know, no naturally occurring apples should ever contain powder.) to find brown rot in the middle. I was bewildered and instantly turned off and threw the apple away. I was 8. This is how I learned the concept of a rotten apple. My mother was the unsuspecting consumer who wasted precious grocery money on that bit of rottenness. She had no clue, and how could she, there were no outward evidences of such rottenness based on what she could see. And her innocent (to such apple atrocities) daughter was the victim who paid the real price. The price of having the memory of her first rotten apple etched in her mind for time immemorial. Or at least for the rest of her life. Why am I now talking about myself in the third person.
Be careful of the things you bring home that look alright on the surface. You never really know what it actually contains until you get inside of it. This usually happens in the kitchen.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pretty Little Scar

(Pre-Script: This poem will grafitti your insides when read as the song, "Closer To Love," #57 on the playlist, plays in the background, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)
If you fall asleep in the middle of this dream,
don't forget to let me out of your pocket.
I will crawl inside your nostril,
wander around your mind,
I will write the words to our favorite lullaby
on scrolls that I place
just behind your ears and all
around your heart
and I will seal them with blood.
You will trip over them
as you wander your own corridors
(you will remember the sweetness,
you will recall the tune,
even if you never can remember the exact words)
Then just as you are barely blinking awake,
I will kiss the pretty little scar
beneath your skin
so hidden yet familiar
to me
and you will think it was all just part of a dream
as I
nestle back deep down into your pocket.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Falling On My Head Like a Memory*

(Pre-Script: This post will drive you crazy when read as the song, "Keep Breathing," #60 on the play list, plays in the background. Go down to the play list, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

I am driving on a up a windy hill between two cities. On either side of me are dense trees and traffic. In front of me is a winding road which is sketchy even in the calmest weather. It is more so on a day like today, with rain slamming down on my windshield like a reality check from Tulsa, Oklahoma:"You are not in your head, you are on a windy road, HWY 17, among dense trees, climbing a hill between two cities. Pay attention."
When I walked out of the house this morning, It was just sprinkling. I remember feeling smug as I closed the door behind me. The smug feeling was probably because of something I had said. My inner psychoanalyst was concerned about it. "Michelle, You are Arrogant" She chided. I listened without argument

I have been told that my driving is scary, that I drive "like a girl." I have been told that I handle a minivan "Like a Nascar driver. You are totally in control." I am totally in control.

I am in control of this car, and today, I look cute in this car.

I am just not in control of the weather, the windy road, and all the other cars around me. At the summit, there sits a police car with his lights blinking. He is sitting there like that to warn us. Pay Attention. Take it serious. Take it seriously ENOUGH. All of the cars around me slow down. We are paying attention. We are heeding your warning. We always only drive 55, yes sir, Mr Officer, Protector Of The Peace. We respect your long arm of The Law.

More Rain hits the windshield. The problem is i can really only control so little. the problem is i am not in control at all. the whole dang hill could collapse on me right now, and no one would care how diligently I kept my hands on the 10 and 2 spots on the steering wheel, how perfect was my day vision, how sharp were my reflexes. The hill could slide down in an incredible mud slide, and no one will ever see how cute my hair is this morning.

I ease up on the breaks and watch my speed. I watch the cars in front of and next to me. Sometimes I glance at the trees. If I were stuck in those trees alone with no way out, I would have no idea which ones to burn for firewood, which to eat the berries off of, which to not eat the berries off of or they would give me a rash or kill me. I sing along to the song on the radio.

My Inner psychoanalyst made that one statement in my head before I had driven anywhere today, and has let it sit there, ringing back and forth across my skull as I navigate this wetness. I do not try to fight her. She is right; I am arrogant.
Sometimes I do say the aggressive thing in a not Passive Aggressive, "oops, I didn't really mean it like that," way, but in an Aggressive Aggressive, "yes, what you heard is what I said" way. But the thing is, I think that the most arrogant people are the ones who swear they never are.

I put myself in this car and started driving with the assumption that my breaks won't give out. What kind of a crazy person gets into a car having made that sort of assumption?? A crazy kind of crazy person, that's who. The road winds on and on, the reality checks keep pummeling me, and this road winds precariously left and right, but always forward.

I am driving in the rain with limited visibility. I am driving over a hill between two cities.


*Annie Lennox said it first.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Road Kill (Who knew THAT was in THERE)

(Pre-Script: This post will reveal to you your inner depths when read as the song, "Everybody's Changing," #51 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

Today while driving down the mean streets of San Jose, I saw at least 3 dead Opossums which had been smashed by cars. In each case there were visible entrails.
("Did she just say entrails?")
("Yes, yes she really just did.")

Did you ever notice that the insides of a thing, the part no one ever sees, is the most colorful? You would if you had witnessed the entrails on the road today. Under that indistinguishable-just blend in grayish brownish color of the the Opossum's outside fur, who knew there were shapes and shockingly bright colors? You don't think of that until the creature is splayed all over the road. And by then, the Opossum is dead. So it lived a life of hidden internal brightness. That inner brightness tucked neatly inside a thing is what kept Mr Opossum alive all of those days and weeks of foraging just on the side of the road, before he got so brave, used to the sound of traffic, that he dared venture out for the adventure of a lifetime. Possibly to get the delicious smelling such and such a thing that wafted across the street at him, teasingly. Maybe an older, wise Opossum told him to "walk toward the light," and he saw the light, and started walking towards it, only it was the wrong light, in a twist of cruel irony, that light, probably connected to a truck, was the dress rehearsal for the real light they were telling him to walk towards "when his time came." He forgot to remember that his time was not necessarily up yet. But now it necessarily was.
There was a brief interlude in my preteen life when I was fascinated by the idea of seeing the guts of small creatures. I thought about small creature guts a lot when I was 11 and 12. I knew that the skin covering the lizard or frog that scurried in front of my path was hiding something. I wanted to see what lies beneath. I wanted to know firsthand what color and shapes it took. I wanted to see the unseen inner workings of living things. It is possible, but unlikely, that a knowing grownup could have gotten a sense of this passion of mine and began the process of grooming me into a surgeon. You could be right now hearing from a certified Doogie Howser, MD, if that grown up had groomed me properly at that time in my life.
That narrow window of opportunity was shut when I became an actual 13 year old teenager. As such, I had more pressing 13 year old issues on my mind. Like how to become cool overnight.
How to properly layer two different colors of socks over my pegged pant legs. How to deal with the the fact that 7th and 8th grade boys are the meanest human beings on the planet. How to deal with the fact that 7th and 8th grade girls are the meanest human beings on the planet, too. I had to think about making sure my whitish legs were covered; my not tan legs in the 80's, when nothing less than tan was acceptable, were not above teasing. No one cared about the inside colors and shapes of what was going on inside of this 13 year old. If I had been emotionally splayed all over the road in front of them, my psychological entrails smashed and sticking out all wonky, they would have turned their heads in disgust, hoping the view did not reach past their periphery. They may have become sick to their stomachs. It takes a tough stomach to endure the inner brilliance of another being. It takes a strength of character seldom found in Jr High. I was no exception.
Now when I see a dead Opossum complete with entrails I try to let it only enter my peripheral vision. I have become too squeamish to look. It's okay, I am sure I would have been a horrible teenage surgeon. Although I do think the green Doctor scrubs would have complimented my eyes. Also I would love to be able to write or say "MD" after my name. Hey, if I had earned it, like Doogie, you had better believe I would not be above introducing myself to people in such a fashion: "Hello, my name is Michelle, MD." Beyond that, I get light headed about bleeding things, and no one wants to deal with a fainting Surgeon; it would be bad for the lawsuits.
The desire to dissect may have died at the age of 12, But I have never given up the desire to understand the deeper colors, shapes, and depths of the inner workings of a creature. I have never given up the desire to understand what it actually means to be seen.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Play Structure

(Pre-Script: This post makes as much sense as a fish with a bicycle when read as the song, "This Used To Be My Playground," #66 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

So many things just don't seem to add up.
Like just about every time I try to help my 3rd grade son with his math, ah, fogedaboutit.
There are times I could swear my children were adopted, except that I remember being there to experience the live birth.
All 4 times.
count them with me.
GOSH, I get my own point already!!
Have you seen the new fangled play structures that are popping up all over the more progressive parks in cities these days? You stand in front of them, and they look like the parts in someone's Physic's lab threw up and reassembled themselves. Sort of like the Big Bang Theory. And the summation of parts does not necessarily make much sense outside of the brains of the engineers who designed them. They are not nearly as user friendly as the old standby of swing-slide-some type of climbing monkey bar structurethingy-teeter totter. Someone got a little overzealous reconceptualizing "playground." But certain concepts never needed to be reconceptualized...Playground, for example.
Especially when they are being conceptualized by someone who is not thinking in terms of the user, but in terms of their own prowess in design. Form and function and function and form must all flow and jive and work together. Otherwise you have a bunch of nonsense. And for a bunch of Very Intelligent Engineers (V.I.E.) to create nonsense is JUST PLAIN NONSENSE! So instead of reconstructing playgrounds and the way the children of the world interact with them, let's just let you go back to your offices, Engineers and Physicists of the world. The WORLD needs the use of your brain for very vast and different things, as vast as the universe, and as small as an invisible particle. Go back to your laboratories, get back to slicing atoms. And just chop those atoms as small as you can. Smaller than that, even. Smaller than ever before. In the area of Nonsense, the children will always have the Engineers beat.


Monday, April 5, 2010


(Pre-Script: This post will hit it out of the park when read as the song, "All The Right Moves," #65 on the playlist, plays in the background. So go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait..) (...still waiting...)

I admire people who are so devoted to the sport they love that they can spout off statistics involving years, batting averages, world records, and all sorts of names that go with each particular year, average, and record. I wonder how it all fits inside their brains. I think must be stored in organized compartments. The inside of my brain is not so well organized for fact removal at will. I have a lot of facts in my brain too, but they are not so neatly categorized, and I just tend to trip over them at the most unexpected times. It would be so great to have a vast knowledge of any one thing at my fingertips anytime I thought of it.
"...but Michelle,"
My Imaginary Reader interrupts,
"Michelle, I am sure you can spout off in such vast detail about any number of things you are just as passionate about."
Um, yeah, while it was kind of you to assume such goodness upon me, Dear Reader, ...I'll just have to get back to you on that and let you know when I can think of one.
I believe that Ice Hockey belongs to Canada, that Baseball belongs to the United States.
(Cricket belongs on another continent.)
(Soccer Belongs in Columbia.)
(Okay, Soccer belongs all over the world.)
(Football belongs in the United States.)
Oh, the Russians and Alaskans can have Ice Hockey, too. This is because there is naturally occurring ice in such places as Canada, Russia, and Alaska. Alaska does not have it's own hockey team; will someone tell me why the state which is basically between Canada and Russia has no such ice sports representation? The Alaskan team could be the Moose or the Polar Bears. They could dress in all white, and really shock the opponents. OR they could dress in all black, and call themselves "Black Ice." They could enter the Rink as the song "Ice Ice Baby," by Vanilla Ice plays in the background. This could be their theme. People would fork over a lot of cash to see that.
My rule of thumb is that if a young hopeful impressionable child cannot go out in his backyard and practice the sport in question, then that sport is too precious to be played in that city on the professional level. I suppose this means that states like Maine and Minnesota also should get rights to the Hockey franchise. Not full ownership, but at least a portion of it. But I live in San Jose, California, where there is no naturally occurring ice. Why do we need an Ice Hockey Team? Why does Los Angeles need an Ice Hockey team?
("Because Los Angeles has everything.")
("Oh. You're right.")
("Move Along.")
I Believe that Apple Pie should be served at baseball games; cherry pie, too, deep dish with delicious crumbly stuff on top. Because Baseball and Apple Pie sum up the United States, don't they? Except it should not be served a la mode at a baseball game, because if you are in the stands, it would be extremely obnoxious to be sitting next to the guy ordering "An apple pie a la mode." A la mode? This is way too precious of a (FRENCH, mind you!) phrase to be saying in the middle of a baseball game. I mean, come on, wouldn't you want to smack the guy sitting next to you, if you heard him order an Apple Pie A La Mode??? Like, who does he think he is and all that? Why does he think he is in France all of a sudden? Did he forget that he, too, is wearing a foam finger?
Instead of A LA MODE, I would like to propose that it become customary for the baseball fans to carry their own cans of Reddi Whip in their back pockets when they come to the games from now on. So when you are served your deep dish pie, you can just whip that can out and spray some cream on, as much or as little as you like. Bad @$$. No one is going to mess with the dude who brings his own can of Reddi Whip to the stadium.
If you are going to plan to see a lot of live games of any sport, it is convenient to support your local teams; that way you might actually get to see your team play live. It also puts you in cahoots with the people who live in your neighborhood, and you do indeed have to live in your own neighborhood. So you might as well lie down peacefully, and get-along-ish-ly, as much as possible. I mean, if you care about that kind of thing at all. It's not how I pick my teams, though. I don't support my local teams because, quite frankly, they have let me down in the player, uniform, team name, and team colors departments. Also in the "lamest team name on earth" department. I will not name names.
My baseball teams are: The New York Yankees. Simply put, they represent classic baseball greatness to me. I love their uniforms and logo. Classic!! They had me at those tiny blue stripes.
My other teams are: The Los Angeles Dodgers. 'nuf said.
and finally,
The Angels.
...Once upon a time, I was on a nostalgic road trip that involved driving past Angel's stadium. So forever, I am a fan.
I will leave you to wonder what the story I am not telling behind that is. Wonder all you like, I am not telling, but in my mind, it is delicious as the deep dish pie that should be served there. And look, here is my can of Reddi Whip...