Archive for January, 2011

bumper 2 bumper.

31 January 2011

it’s always exciting when, after over twenty years of living in the southern united states, i discover a new manifestation of that area’s culture. this past weekend i learned that adults race matchbox cars for cash prizes. i was not able to find anything about this league, even though it was founded some ten years ago, on the internet. this fact boggles my mind, though maybe it’s due to another aspect of southern culture: for example, no room for cable modems inside the trailer park. anyway, i’m again charged with the duty of explaining our entertainment choices to the rest of the world.

the event begins with participants throwing dice in order to get their car’s position in qualifying. then the cars are moved to a track painted on plywood and take turns throwing the dice again, one when they are in pit row (you were forced to make a pit stop once a race) and two at other times. after four laps, they write down the top five finishers because points are awarded throughout the season. there are races at least four times a week: fridays and mondays at bars, wednesdays and sundays at people’s houses. cars can blow up if their driver rolls snake eyes and then rolls a six or an eight (i saw it happen twice).

you may be inclined to think that the game is all luck but there is strategy involved as sometimes people have to decide if they want to simply follow another’s lead and draft behind them or roll the dice themselves and hope for a better result. at other times, you have to choose in which of the three lanes to place your car. this seemed like a really important decision to the veteran drivers, much less for us rookies, who nodded our heads saying, yeah, there, there, okay, there then, that’s fine, whatever, whenever the choice was ours.

still, it was really amusing when a woman straight out of winter’s bone pushed by me, looked for her husband, then stopped, muttering, i’m not going to bother him when he’s racing, as if the man with tattooed script across his neck was behind the wheel of a vehicle nearing two hundred miles per hour while jimmie johnson tailgated.


two years.

26 January 2011

sometimes i wonder if there was anything that could have been done to extend her life, or to save her completely. you see those commercials about an advanced cancer treatment center or a new scientific discovery, and you can’t help thinking about the possibility of a different outcome if only you had the right resources, if only you had followed a different path, if only you had located a researcher that was willing to take the chance.

in the advertisements, a woman — it’s always a woman — talks about how she was on her deathbed, given two months to live, but now, five years later, thanks to the diligent people at so-and-so clinic, not only is she still alive, she is thriving, with absolutely no signs of the cancer that previously ravaged her body.

you can’t help not blaming yourself, in some small way at least.

the state of my mental health.

21 January 2011

i grew up in a room with red curtains, the window overlooking a shed where we planned to jump in the event of a fire. my wallpaper featured futuristic space stations. i pretended the sliding doors of my closet led into an elevator where every visitor was asked to enter for a few minutes. my bed was covered in a thick olive blanket. as i grew i started sleeping diagonally or curled in a ball so that my feet didn’t hang over the edge or my toes didn’t become uncovered.

from that bed, beginning at an early age, i wondered what happened when we died, crying when i thought about going from looking at something to everything becoming black, no longer sensing anything. i didn’t know how that made sense, how you could go from being awake and alive, to being nothing at all. for a minute, i imagined the grave (this was before i learned about cremation), the dirt, the darkness; no conversations, no friends, no self. slowly i came to terms with death, i suppose, because i stopped tearing up every night, thinking about where i was going to go. i accepted the idea that i would one day disappear, though hopefully not while i was sleeping so i could challenge death to a game of chess. it was as simple as that: i would be gone and everything i was doing and everything i could do would cease.

i stopped taking my medication in early december because my frustrations about its lack of efficacy were exacerbating my depression. also, i didn’t want to listen to my psychiatrist talk about sleep patterns anymore, but she can’t be blamed for thinking every single person is the same, so, for the record, my only true battle is with pristiq. i realized that all the things wrong with me are not merely symptoms of depression. i can handle being sad. it’s not as if i’m thinking about suicide all the time. i mean, some days i don’t even mind being alive.

i avoid using anti-bacterial soap so convincing me to take a daily pill that is altering my brain is not going to be appealing for long. i guess i kind of see medicine and god in the same way: i understand their value for some people, but i’m okay on my own. obviously, though, i’m not going to turn down a life-saving medical procedure, whereas, conversely, it’ll take a pretty large miracle for me to start believing in the existence of a higher being.

so, anyway, i wanted to let you know that i’m fine and moderately happy. and all the things wrong with me are less of a concern than they were right before i started taking the medication and during, though there are extenuating factors involved in my current and previous happinesses that i don’t wish to discuss at this time.

how grown women conduct themselves.

9 January 2011

i don’t often receive comments on this blog, so it’s a very exciting moment when i do. recently someone who identified herself as grown woman sent me a message, voicing concerns about previous entries, especially in regards to tone and my inability to understand the values of true feminists.

i find it ironic that in your november 23rd posting, you comment on eve ensler turning over in her grave in response to oprah’s using slang terms for genitalia, yet in your very next post, you recap your interaction with the girl who gave you directions in costa rica. unless she was seventeen years old or younger, you didn’t get directions from a girl; you got directions from a woman. in all of your righteous feminist indignation, you can’t even get the most basic of sex-oriented terminology right. you can talk about my va-jay-jay all you want, if you’re also referring to your penis as a cock, dick, etc. the reality is slang terms for genitalia are equally represented regardless of sex: very few people actually articulate penis or vagina. as opposed to the open-minded progressive stance you were attempting to achieve, you instead made a pretentious observation that is more related to america’s reserved standing on sexuality and its expression than to feminism and the oppression of women. if you want to keep eve ensler from turning over in her grave, stop calling grown women girls and start addressing them properly as women. note, you didn’t talk about the boy on the bicycle.

i support feminist ideals and a more open-minded viewpoint on sexuality, but don’t confuse a feminist (i.e. gender-related) issue with a cultural one (i.e. america’s uptight attitude towards sex). there are certainly areas in which they intertwine but saying va-jay-jay in the same breath as cock isn’t one of them.

you wanted to make an in-depth observation of how slang terms marginalize women, then try to evolve it into a saccharine reflection of i hope my daughters don’t grow up in this kind of society. yet all you accomplished was reinforcing the problematic mindset of males growing up to be men, whereas females are destined to be girls — indicative of a lack of maturity, knowledge and experience — forever.

there was so much i wanted to say to her, but figured most of my words would be lost on someone who read a tongue-in-cheek entry about hoping my future daughters didn’t grow up to use the word va-jay-jay and took it as righteous feminist indignation, so my response was considerably pared down.

grown woman,

first, i appreciate you reading two of my posts. there are too few people that are driven to write a vitriolic response. i applaud your passion, regardless of its being misguided and misdirected.

the girl that i mentioned in the above post was between the ages of 15 and 19, but, due to the imprecision of carbon dating, i was not able to correctly judge if she was indeed still a girl or if she were a woman. the man on the bicycle was most definitely a man, unless he was suffering from the same disease as benjamin button. if that were the case, i would judge he was around twelve, and i will update my post accordingly.

a few days after reading your reply, i was talking to a bartender in alajuela about laura chinchilla. he was extolling her virtues, telling me she was cleaning up san jose and the corruption of the police department; that she was making the country better, emphasizing education and bringing forth improvements throughout the country. at some point he said proudly, she is our first president who is a girl.

i would have missed a lot if i had allowed my righteous feminist indignation to take over, concentrating on that one word, pretentiously ignoring everything else that was said. i would have missed the fact that he was depicting someone who did not lack maturity, knowledge, and experience.

in the same way, you’ve missed the point. it’s too bad in a post where i’m celebrating people and writing about how communication exists beyond mere words because we’re all intertwined by being human, you’ve only noticed that i may or may not have used the word girl incorrectly.

the girl i’ve described, as you would have noticed if you had bothered to read the entire paragraph, was wonderfully helpful and knowledgeable. she just happened to be young.

i hope my daughters don’t grow up in the kind of society you inhabit. it seems like a pretty miserable place, where one is so focused on criticizing everything that they miss the beauty.

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