Monday, July 28, 2008

Pilfered and Poached

edit: phone was not stolen, rather it was drunkenly and mistakenly taken and returned this afternoon. all other items remain at large.

Things I have had stolen:

- nice stereo: from my bedroom, by a carny who was living there, while I was in Argentina.
- mp3 player and speakers: from shady hotel room, through the window bars, in Buenos Aires.
- bag of toiletries, including toothbrush: from my shady hotel room, while I was sleeping, in Buenos Aires.
- digital camera: from my bag, in a discoteque, I think by someone named Shark?, in Cusco.
- 2 thermoses: from the kitchen, probably by the next door restaurant's employees, in Cusco.
- some years off my life: ongoing, by eclectic forces all around me, which refuse to cease.
- my phone: from my living room, by a mean man, while I was jogging, after he crashed on the couch.
- 100 nuevos soles: in Iquitos.

Things I have stolen:

- poofy sticker of a lion: from my cousin, who realized I was the culprit when I wore the sticker in front of her, when I was 6.
- various books, CDs, clothes, etc.: in my youth, mostly for excitement, or boredom while cutting classes.
- blueberries: not sure if this counts, because was guilted into paying up for the blueberries in the end, in the Pine Barrens.
- various entrances to beaches, museums, movies, etc.

Do these two lists even out? Am I doing something wrong? Should I start stealing everything I can carry, and quick?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Growth

It used to look like this:

Some time too late in the season I decided it was time to plant things and, with some help, dug around, picking out tons of glass, a few bricks, and a dense forest of undesirables. I remember the neighbors were barbecuing and I could smell their burgers and beer through the iron curtain of weeds that separates our small yards. One of them came over, beer in hand. "Girl can hoe," he said to my roommate, and went back without offering cold beers.

I had fresh, illicitly acquired seeds and a bag of expired-back-in-'03 seeds. I decided to plant the new stuff, but was still so impatient and so paranoid that nothing would come up that I planted as if I were a little, seed vomiting smurf. Instead of sensibly spacing everything out and dropping one seed, maybe even two, into each carefully hollowed soil pocket, I walked along the rows and dropped air raids of seedlings here and there. I planted squash, zucchini, cucumbers, sweet peas, carrots, brussel sprouts. I was shocked when things started growing; keeping things alive is not my forte. I was a little embarrassed at how patchy said things were growing; instead of rows of plants, I have clumps.

This is what it looks like now:

I'm thinking I should thin the plants out and make it a little more livable for them, so that they are not sitting on top of each other and competing for nutrients and room when there's so much to go around. But I am a little afraid to spend too much time out there, because every time I do I get attacked by mosquitoes.

This is what that looks like:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Catharsis and Cooties, plus Eats

This evening, in an effort to make our house more habitable, physically and hygienically, we embarked on a multifaceted attack on the exploding mess that is our kitchen. While I killed the creatures with napalm-esque warfare in the closet with the stairs to nowhere, Nicole cleaned the fridge (found: a kombucha baby, rice wrapped in foil, condiments enough for the world’s largest hotdog, smelly unmentionables), Tim “scrubbed crevices” and Melina washed off the goods to be kept. When the compost was dumped, its inner, immobile, anaerobic depths stirred like the rising dead to punish us for the delayed cleaning and produced an odiferous tsunami that wafted in and out with the breeze, each time like a wave of diarrhea doom.

The positive result of Operation Getting Rank Old Stuff Sequestered (GROSS) is that it is, in fact, slightly cleaner.

Negative aspects of Operation GROSS include, but are not limited to, a disgusting evening, a waste of food, a general disgruntlement, and an unusually copious covering of my form with ants.

We have an ant problem. The problem is that ants crawl in neat lines along our walls, counters, floors, straying sometimes to our bedrooms, living rooms, and eventually, climbing onto us. They tread lightly and I often find my Formicidae foes only hours after I’ve left the house. It is rather uncomfortable to pick off insects from one’s body while, for example, out to dinner with friends or, perhaps, while gettin’ it on with someone unfamiliar with “the problem.” While producing understandable social stigmatization (is the ant the new cootie?), ants crawling all over me is also a physiological fuck. Sometimes it tickles. Sometimes I feel like I am being bitten. Recently, I have grown paranoid and have begun to imagine ants on me when there aren’t any. I swap at myself like a fly-tortured cow every time a breeze blows or a hair falls out of place onto my neck. This does not make me look sound of mind.

The photo, taken during Operation GROSS, made me think of Peter Menzel’s What the World Eats . While I try to mostly consume fresh vegetables and fruit, home cooked grains, and home cooked everything else, I know I’ve been slacking extra hard lately. But I didn’t realize just what a sea of cans and jars was present in the house (although mostly they aren’t mine anyway). But more on this later.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Shakin'-It till the end

A couple of weeks ago, I once again managed to get some last minute tickets to KSP, a Russian gathering extraordinaire of boozing and singing in a little campground naïve enough to host us, to the amusement and horror of its American, summer-long trailer campers. For years, each KSP gathering was a fantastic orgy, where ye ol' youth came armed to the gills with cases of vodka and left panties scattered under the trees of unsuspecting campgrounds. But of late, after the organizing committee devised a new system that restricted who could get tickets, the event not only toned down, but became veritably family friendly. This year, KSP was so impressively well-behaved that it resembled more a picnic of singing Christians than godless alcoholics on the prowl.

Luckily, some stalwart ghosts of KSP past made appearances. For example, there were the people who loudly sang the Russian National Anthem at 5am, to the beat of a tin drum. There were the bathing beauties that were drunk by early afternoon and yelling at me for leaving camp (to go pee). There was a very drunk organizer who, while whispering sweet nothings in my ear, prompted an older lady to whisper back mysteriously, "Young man, I know all your secrets…" My favorite, however, was Shakin'-It Girl.

The youth of KSP had been strategically banished to the far end of the campground (and named the corner The Strayer), where they are allowed to have their night concerts without disturbing their equally inebriated parents at their own concerts. We sat/stood around on a circle of logs and people would come by, hook up their guitars, sing loud, and we would sing along ecstatically. In very Russian style, The Strayer was littered with bottles, couples danced learned tangos and salsas, in the mud, to seemingly inappropriate songs, and there was a sprinkling of ironic communist T-shirts. And, of course, there was Shakin'-It Girl.

She was wearing a long, flowing skirt, a belly halter top, and a scarf sewed with jingly coins wrapped around her hips. At first, she parked herself in front of her friend and stood shaking her hips like a Turkish Energizer Bunny, mostly rhythm-less but not completely unsexy belly dance moves, accented with bird like flapping of her long skirt way up high on both sides. Her friend encouraged her with her own intermittent shaking from the safety of a man's lap, and with swigs from their bottle. The bottle led to Shakin'-It's slow and ostentatious demise. Imagine seeing an egregiously flamboyant bird get shot with slow acting poison and then spending the next 2 hours watching the bird flail its wings and twist its dense little body in poorly cadenced spasms, until finally, it falls on its side, and unable to get up any longer, continues to twitch in its floored position, slower and slower, but never quite stopping it's own or the onlookers' pain. Shakin'-It just kept getting more and more wasted and straying from the safety of her friends out into the middle of The Strayer circle, where the reaction of smirkers was already heavily outweighing that of her mostly male admirers. She backed it up at musicians as they sang, at onlookers, at inanimate objects, at darkness herself. She latched on to bystanders, both for the support they provided in staying vertical and as targets for the unhindered smooches she handed out, and, amazingly, she kept shaking it.. The shake, by then, had deteriorated into a sloppy, boggy sway punched periodically back to life by spasmodic gyrations. It was incredible. No amount of disapproving hissing, cajoling by friends, microphone amplified announcements by singers and mediators, or falls into the mud, or alternatively, the fire, could convince Shakin'-It to stop. When I left The Strayer and made my way back to my camp through the dark woods, I could still hear her tinny, coined scarf ringing with the aria of an untrued bike wheel bouncing on an unpaved road.