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September 28, 2008

Death to all (fruit fly) infidels!

I am a killing machine.

In the past week I have massacred an entire sect of annoying, tiny insects that somehow got the idea they had the right to munch on my hard-earned fruit without my permission.

When we first moved in there were one or two of them that we easily shooed away when they perched atop the highest peach in our fruit bowl, but they started multiplying relentlessly. It reached critical mass last week when a winged contingion rose up when I attempted to select an apple from the bowl for lunch. These weren't just any apples. These were my beloved Akane apples purchased from the not-inexpensive farmers market and lugged home on a train and a bus whilst uncomfortably balanced on my hip. This, my friends, was personal.

Thus began my surprisingly accurate killing campaign. Though I lack any semblance of hand-eye coordination in other endeavors, every fly I set my sights on ended its life between my two palms of justice.

Though I doubt fruit flies can fit a brain inside that meager corpus, I decided to start playing mind games with them. I moved the fruit bowl from the kitchen to the dining room. When they discovered my ruse I came up with a new, better one: I covered the bowl with an upside-down paper bag. Success! The methane gases could get out but they couldn't get in. Lacking a food source, several of them migrated to the bathroom where they began living off our toothpaste. Every morning I offed another two or three and was glad the boyf gets up later than I do so he wouldn't hear me and think I was applauding a recent feat of quite another sort.

I am proud to say that I have seen but a handful flitting through our apartment this entire weekend, and every single one met its maker in my hand...ful.

September 25, 2008

Dos Mas Pictoras

God I'm good at Spanish. I went to a play this weekend that was half in Spanish, half in English, and I understood pretty much everything. People were begging me for translations and I had to be all, "Dude. I'm enjoying art here. Learn how to be 100 percent bilingual on your own time."

On to my Dos Mas Pictoras (which are not to be confused with the original Dos Pictoras):

I went to Salem on Tuesday for a work event in one of the state government offices. My cohorts and I were stationed in the lobby, and the sculptures pictured above were in my direct line of sight. You can't tell from this picture because I cropped the living daylights out of it, but these pewter ladies and gents are suspended a few dozen feet in the air, closer to the multi-story ceiling than the floor.

My first thought upon seeing them was, "Omigawd Harry Potter." (Warning: Book 7 spoiler ahead.) Remember how in that epic battle in the Ministry of Magic the wizard figures in the fountain come to life to battle the forces of evil? I was terrified--TERRIFIED!-- that scene would replay itself during my work day. Granted, several of the figures are inexplicably missing their lower extremities, but I have no doubt they could inflict serious damage if someone brought them to life. And it wasn't too far from the realm of possibilities, either; I was in a DHS building. Who knows what kinds of creepy stuff they're experimenting on in the bowels of that structure.

And now, the dos-iest pictora:

Not nearly as epic as the first, but still a good example of Weird Portland (or, as I like to call it, Wortland). We came home from a watering hole last night to find this scene in the street behind our apartment, where a pack of feral cats likes to roam.

Kitty woke up when I took this snap. Sorry kitty.


September 23, 2008

Back to working out and having fun-- with just us gals!

I re-joined Curves last week in an effort to get all healthy-like. My new club is quite nice. It boasts a stretching machine, which my old club had tried in vain to win during a citywide food drive, and two stair stepper stations that measure your heart rate. Yesterday I got up to 166 beats per minute, which corresponds on our heart rate poster to 85 percent. Percent of what, I don't know; but that's a solid "B."

Though I appreciate being in fancy surroundings, I miss sweatin' with my favorite oldie*: my ma. I used to go nuts on the recovery stations (platforms interspersed between the machines where you're supposed to do cardio), flailing my limbs instead of jogging half-heartedly in place (like most of the ladies do) in an effort to get her to crack a smile. I'm left with doing my little hops and sporadic cheerleader arms.

I have yet to encounter a Curves-inspired diorama, but the music at my new athletic home has been a bit on the odd side. On Saturday it was cracked-out Broadway show tunes put to a techno beat. Yesterday it was Hits from the Late Nineties. "Smooth Criminal" from Alien Ant Farm was on there, as were a number of J.Lo hits. Then they played a song with the following lyrics:
"So come on, shorty
If you think you can roll
With an iced-out playa
Ballin' outta control"
I'm sure the sexa- and septuagenarians populating the place really enjoyed that one.

*Just kidding, Ma. You're not old. It was just a really great opportunity for a "jeu des mots," as they say.

September 20, 2008

Keep your hands down if you're not Sure

I'm just going to say it. I spent a majority of Thursday with neither antiperspirant nor deodorant to shield others from my pheromones.

This happens to me way more often than it should. I just have so many things to remember to do in the morning that slathering on that one essential product often slips my mind until it is too late. Once, when I was in high school, I decided to take drastic action to correct my underarm situation. I had my newspaper class first hour, which left me free to roam the halls as I pleased under the auspices of reporting. I went down to the girl's locker room (wow, this is embarrassing but I'm going to soldier through) and tried several lockers until I found one that had a stick of Sure prominently displayed and wasn't locked. I quickly coated myself and ran away, ashamed of the lengths I had gone to but relieved I wouldn't be The Stinky Girl.

On Thursday I realized my gaffe when I was about halfway to my office, and didn't want to ask the boyf (who was kind enough to give me a ride) to turn around since we were already running late.

When a gas station a few blocks from my destination proved empty of what I so needed, I resolved to spend the day calm and cool as a cucumber so as to not tax my sweat glands. The plan worked until the very end of my day, when a social interaction made me so nervous that I blushed several times and started "glowing," as my ballet teacher used to call it.

As soon as I was out of the office I hightailed it to a convenience store I remembered seeing whilst on past bus rides. I soon secured my desired product, but when I left the establishment wondered where a good place to put it on would be. I'm still 98 percent anonymous in this city, so I briefly considered slapping some on in the middle of the street. Thinking that too uncouth even for me, I hesitantly veered toward large trees and parking garages only to decide that'd just be too creepy. I ended up in the bathroom of a venue at which I was about to volunteer, and everything was well and good.

September 17, 2008

Attack of the clipboards

Portland is absolutely glutted with be-clipboarded do-gooders who sometimes stand three to a corner. They desperately want you to register to vote/ donate money to Obama/ save a dying child/ end petlessness.

In the block-and-a-half between the library and my train stop I side-stepped one man who wanted to register me vote (did it on Saturday), did a swoosh and dip to avoid a lady who wanted me to join Greepeace and ignored another woman whose heart's greatest wish was to register me to vote (I did it on Saturday! Sheesh!).

I was distracted by a street musician and totally fell into another clipboarder's trap. I didn't notice her clipboard at first, and removed my earbud because I couldn't hear what she was trying to say to me.

"Thanks for unplugging! I'm Jacquelyn. What's your name?"

Zounds! She asked me if I've ever thought of sponsoring a child. I told her I was actually sponsoring one. I don't know why I lied. Maybe it was because I've been approached by the folks at Children's International so many times I feel like the time I've spent listening to them is worth about the same as a sponsorship. Mabye it's because I have a friend who spent a day working for them and she told me what she thought about the people who said they couldn't afford to sponsor a kid. In any event, I regretted it as soon as the words slipped out. I suck at lying.

"That's great!" Jacquelyn said. "What country?"

Busted. She's a tricksy one. "Oh... uh... The Gambia? I think?"

"We actually don't serve children there," Jacquelyn said cheerfully. She went on to give me her pitch about how I can be a penpal with the child I sponsor, and actually go to the country to meet him or her. "Doesn't that sound great?"

"Yeah, that's why I'm sponsoring one," I said.

"So who are you sponsoring them through?" she asked.

"Um... I forget the name. A Christian agency."

"Really," she said, raising her eyebrow at my no-good, very bad, horrible lying self.

"Yep! Bye!" I said as I ran away.

Jacquelyn, if you're out there, I'm sorry for lying to you. You didn't deserve it. About a month ago I told one of your coworkers who managed to run into me thrice in the same day that I'd sponsor a kid as soon as I get another job or go full time, and I intend to keep that promise. Now if you could please get your ilk to leave me alone I'd be much obliged.

Eye of newt have I none

So a few weeks ago I decided to spend a random mid-week day off concocting Thai chicken curry as a surprise for the gentleman caller, and to do so I needed a mortar and pestle to grind the spices to a fine pulp.

After a fruitless multi-establishment search for the tools (shame on you, Martha!) I finally came across a 10-pound green marble model at Marshall's. I proudly lugged it home and mortar-d and pestle-d my little heart out and the curry turned out great, thankyouverymuch.

Since then it has perched atop the second shelf of the cupboard, silently telling me it's lonely every time I reach in for a cup or bowl. I just don't know what other use I have for it. The curry recipe was from my fancy cookbook, which insists that I go beyond the call of regular cookery; the rest rarely require me to do anything more strenuous than smashing a clove of garlic or de-juicing a lemon.

The only other folks I've seen make use of the tool are scientists and witches. I haven't needed to grind up pig liver to smear on a slide since 10th grade biology. Now that I've been there and done that, I don't really need to do it again. And not being a chemist, I have better things to do with my time than mixing up powders to pour into capsules.

I haven't been here long enough to develop enemies for whom I'd want to learn how to concoct the draught of the living dead, or any potion, really. So sorcery's out. Plus I'm fresh out of toe of frog.

[Sorry if you've already read this; it didn't post correctly]

September 5, 2008

Passive-aggressive Midwestern woman nearly resorts to full-blown aggression

A young Minnesotan very nearly lost her cool whilst aboard a Portland bus coming home from work Friday afternoon. Though normally a textbook example of passive-aggressivity, Neenuh insisted a combination of exterior factors caused the incident-that-almost-was.

She arrived at her bus stop at approximately 3:20 p.m., expecting the bus to come at any second. Nevertheless, she took a seat on the vacant bench and returned a call to her older brother. Soon afterward, a leathery older woman made it known that she wanted Neenuh to remove her lunchbox from the adjacent seat so she could join her on the bench. Neenuh obliged more than willingly.

Soon the woman, who was emitting copious amounts of vodka from her pores, began babbling incoherently while Neenuh attempted to converse with her brother. When the bus finally arrived a full 20 minutes later, the woman insisted Neenuh let her borrow her sunglasses for the next month and a half. Neenuh declined.

Once aboard the crowded bus, Neenuh made her way to the back and spotted a seat next to a pimply but otherwise harmless young gentleman. She contentedly switched on her iPod to listen to the latest installment of This American Life and cracked open a local magazine.

The gentleman began bobbing his head ever so gently, entering a slumber so blissful he lost all sense of propriety and personal space and began encroaching on Neenuh's. On a normal day, she would have ignored it, but this same gentleman was emitting gaseous odors of beef jerky, and she was in no mood to handle that.

She had passed a sleepless night and consumed iced tea at lunch (the caffeine of which disrupted her delicate countenance and gave her the shakes). A full bladder completed the trifecta known to cause Neenuh to lash out at unsuspecting boyfriends, family members and the occasional civil servant.

When heavy sighs and eye rolls directed in his general direction proved fruitless, she considered more drastic measures. She imagined slapping him across the face for allowing his gaping mouth to come dangerously close to her bosom. She considered shoving him squarely into the window. She mused about elbowing him in the gut.

Taking a deep breath, she refrained from any of these actions, instead deciding she could come up with a much more amusing culmination of events on her blog.

The offensive young man suddenly bashed his head into the seat in front of them of his own accord, immediately woke up and apologized to Neenuh for being such a neanderthal. He then revealed that to make up for his transgressions he would pay off her student loans, making her completely debt-free.

September 1, 2008

The only thing on a stick at the Oregon State Fair were corndogs...

... and they're supposed to be on sticks.

I went to what was supposed to be the Great Oregon Get-Together on Friday expecting to see all manner of local culinary delicacy and sights particular to this particular state fair. In my head I was preparing to be amazed by local girls' heads carved out of marionberries or Walla Walla sweet onions.

I have never been more disappointed in my life.

This was no state fair! This was a glorified carnival with an over-abundance of hot tub displays! This was an alternate universe where the only fried objects are things that are always fried like elephant ears and onion rings! Where is your creativity, Oregon?? Where is your soul??

What inspires you to create limp bread baby birds instead of seed art?

What compels you to dream up a menu for an event that doesn't exist and then set the table for it?

(The judges' comments for this entry were as follows: "You need a dessert fork. The large spoon above the plate needs to be repositioned so that the bottom of it is pointing toward the knife. Do you even need the second spoon?")

The fair seemed to draw that other breed of Oregonian you don't run into much in Portland. They are tattoo- and piercing-free, wear cowboy hats and boots and voted Gordon Smith into office. Exhibit A: the gentleman caller and I got roped into watching a 1.5 hour cookware demonstration where the chef warmed up the crowd by telling cow jokes.

"What do you call a cow with only two legs? Eileen!" she proclaimed triumphantly.

"What does a Japanese person call that same cow? Irene!" guffawed an obese, red-faced man wearing an American flag t-shirt.

Give me Sweet Martha's Cookies, hot dish on a stick, pickle on a stick, Princess Kay of the Milky Way and a hobnobbing politician over this sorry excuse for statehood any day...