Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Thought Everybody Was Interested

Today I was reading an article from Yahoo! Entertainment news on twins and I said to Peter, 

"Hey, you've GOT to see this!"

He took my laptop and then handed it back to me and said, 

"Why did you want me to look at this?"

"Oh. Isn't everybody fascinated by twins?"

Monday, March 30, 2009

Atkins Farm Donuts

Peter and I went to visit Northampton this weekend, which we always start off by getting a yummy curry rich dish at the Haymarket Cafe, which is delllllicious! 

This is a place that makes me want to move right next door, so that I can go there every single day, morning, noon, and night. 

The great thing about Northampton is that there are a ton of vegetarian restaurants, which means that Peter can eat everything on the menu. Plus, the prices are really good, compared to NYC. 

What I love about Northampton is that it's a great place to go to look for environmentally conscious shower curtains (or anything else, for that matter). I've been looking to replace my yucky shower curtain for a while now, but my supermarket only sells the vinyl kind, which is bad because of the phthalates. 

This is a place that doesn't make me feel silly for being "over the top organic."

My sister took us to Paul and Elizabeth's, which she calls the "expensive" restaurant in town. When the bill came for our (extremely scrumptious) dinner, we were surprised to see that the bill was about $60--that's with three appetizers, two entrees, and a beer. Plus there was more than enough to take home. 

Our one downfall is that we always go to Atkins Farms to pick up the sinfully yummy and probably totally bad for you cider donuts. This time we overdid it and got a whole dozen. It's a bit too much cidery sugary cinnamonny goodness in one fell swoop. Please people, be careful with those donuts. It's easy to overdo it. 

They sell the donuts online too, which means that we can get donuts without having to shlep all the way to Amherst, MASS.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Time-Sucking Has Begun

For the past few years, my friends have been urging me to join Facebook and I've never thought anything about it. Then at the AWP conference in Chicago, it seems that EVERYBODY and their grandmas are on Facebook and it seemed like the ideal way to stay in touch with all the people I only get to see once a year. 

I was warned that it would be a total Time-Suck, but I thought that I would be able to keep my distance. 

The thing about Facebook is that it's perfect for people like me who like to snoop. It's totally intoxicating because I can look up when people have gotten married and what they registered for on Amazon. Even though I haven't seen someone in twenty years, I know what sheets they're sleeping on. And they are very expensive. 

I am a master internet sleuth, except when it comes to finding out an old cast member of Sex and the City. 

The strangest thing was looking up the kids I went to elementary school with. There was this one girl who was really nice to me and I found out that she was a cancer survivor. That made me sad, but happy that she beat cancer. The ones I wanted to see old and fat were the mean kids who were so racist and made my life miserable. 

When I was in middle school, there was a kid named Jason who was just about the most awful person ever created. There was one year when he sat in front of me in class and I don't know how on earth that happened because we were always arranged in alphabetical order. In gym class, he would always try to get on the opposite team so that he could slam that big red bouncy ball off my head during dodge ball. In this day and age, that school would have been fending off lawsuits for letting boys play dodgeball against the girls. 

Every time I'd walk into class and take my seat, Jason would wave his hands over his nose and say, "Wheew! Something SMELLS in here!" He would then proceed to announce this again and again in class until our teacher, Miss Battaglia stepped in. 

If you thought that she stepped in to help me out, you are SO wrong, Internet. The teachers were often just as, if not meaner, than the students, so she would roll her eyes and say, "If she stinks so much, then move to the other side of the room!" 

Sometimes she would forcibly take him and move him to a seat closer to her, which was what she wanted all along because she liked him. 

Miss Battaglia was never nice to me, but I used to excuse her because she used to tell us all the time that her mother had died that year and that she lived alone with her father. I actually felt bad for her and tried to feel magnanimous. I pictured her sitting home alone with her father, knowing that she may always be a spinster. Because, let's face it, men usually want ladies who are decent and kind people.  

Jason used to cut the bottom of this gym T-shirts so that you could see his abs. I mean, this was in the seventh grade, so you can imagine how ridiculous that looked. 

When the show Everybody Hates Chris came on  the air, I could commiserate. My life in elementary school was kind of like that, but more verbal abuse than physical (except for Dorian, who used to kick me in the girl's bathroom) and without any comedic bits. I bet if you talked to Chris Rock's old schoolmates, they would be completely shocked that anyone thought that they were racist at all.  

The thing is, I understand where all those kids came from. They were raised in a very homogenous town and they felt that they were being pushed out of their slice of the American pie. These kids didn't grow up like I did--going down to Greenwich Village on weekends and hanging out with my parents' transvestite friends. If anything, cross-dressers teach you to be a more open-minded person.  

Once, I saw a Dennis Miller interview where he talked about how an old bully of his approached him after a show. He ended up telling the guy's wife what an asshole he used to be. 

I can kind of imagine that if Jason's kids ever approached me at a book signing in the future (after I win my Pulitzer, of course)--I would have to say:

"I don't know what kind of man this guy turned out to be, but when I knew him in grade school, he was a real jerk." 

I just hope he's nicer now. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

I Guess Her Name Is Now Mari

My sister set up a new email account for my mother last week and she told me to keep an eye out for a message. So a few days ago, I went into my inbox and found a message from "Mari" whose subject line looked like a message from my mom. 

I asked my sister, "Why is Mommy's email account listed as Mari?" 

"Oh," she said. "I told her not to do that, but she's decided to change her name to Mari. She said that her Chinese name is too confusing for people. This way, it's less confusing."

"But it's MORE confusing for people who didn't know you changed your name!"

"Yeah. I tried to explain that to her." 

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Jonas Brothers!

When Peter and I were driving back from Florida, we stopped at a rest stop in the Carolinas. You may remember the STUFT incident. 

While we were at that rest stop, three hipster boys were lounging around in front of the quick stop at the gas station and Peter said:

"Hey look! The Jonas Brothers!"

I was so excited, "Oh my goodness!" I said. "Let's sit here and wait to see everybody FREAK OUT."

So we sit and one person after another walks by the Jonas brothers and have no reaction whatsoever. They were mostly older people and no one young is roaming around a North Carolina rest stop in the middle of the night. 

After a while with no reaction, I said, "I can't believe no one has recognized them by now."

Peter said, "Yeah, well...They wouldn't...because those aren't the Jonas brothers."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

But I Don't Even LIKE Filet-O-Fish!

Whenever Peter hears a snippet of a catchy song, he will start to hum it...All. Day. Long. Until another more catchy song bites the head off the other catchy song and takes over. 

This is completely frustrating because once he starts to do it, it creates this domino effect in our house where we're both singing that song against our wills. 

Right now there's a television commercial that features a singing fish mounted to a wall--and if you know what I'm talking about, I feel sorry for you, because that song is probably bursting through your brain and will be with you until the day that you die. 

Because there is no other song that is catchy enough to vanquish this song!! 

Please help us!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

He's Just a Regular Dude

Today I saw a HUGE blow-up leprechaun on somebody's lawn and I said:

Isn't the whole point of a leprechaun is that he is a small fellow? I mean, at that size, he's just a regular dude. A regular dude who wears bright green outfits and smokes a pipe. 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Note From My Teacher

I've been cleaning out my STUFF lately, trying to make a cleaner household, and I've been finding all sorts of things--such as an old note from my teacher, Mrs. Lalji, in 3rd grade on which I forged my mother's signature.

In my memory of the event, I had gotten a low score on a spelling test and the teacher got angry at several of the students and called us to the front of the class where she gave us all mimeographed notes for our parents to sign. Her anger scared me so much that I was too frightened to show the note to my parents.

When I was in the 3rd grade, my parents had first opened up their restaurant. I hardly saw them. I woke up and got myself ready for school and waited for the school bus downstairs alone. I returned to school to either go back to an empty apartment or to a neighbor's house. I was told to go to bed when my parents called me from work and they wouldn't return until well after midnight. Basically, stuff that people would call Child Protective Services for today. In those days, we were just called "latch-key kids." 

To put this in perspective, I was an extremely conscientious student. I hardly missed any homework assignments and mostly did well on exams. I wasn't a problem student. On top of that, we had just moved to this country about three years before, so I had learned the English language in about a year and by that time, was performing at the top of my class at school (which just goes to show you the brainiacs who attended THAT particular Catholic school in Queens...).

There were times when I would only see my parents on weekends, and even then, for a very short time before they had to go into Manhattan unless I went with them to the restaurant.

So, in my 3rd-grade brain, I thought it would be an easy enough thing to do to FORGE my mother's signature. She had a pretty easy handwriting to copy, unlike all the swirls and whorls in my father's signature. So I studied an old signature of my mother's--she had to sign every exam we got home and every homework assignment. I know, Catholic school is strange.

After a few tries, I felt that I had NAILED IT. So the next morning, I handed the note to my teacher, who, in her FURY, snatched the note out of my hand and marched me to the principal's office to call my parents. As I looked at the note trembling in her hand, I realized my rookie mistake. 

The note was about 5 inches by 4 inches and I had used a LARGE area and signed my mother's name in HUGE three-inch letters. This is why a 3rd grader should never be President of the United States. We're not very smart at that age.

I had an internal meltdown. My parents hardly got enough sleep and they were working so hard to make their restaurant a success. I was ashamed of myself and horrified that my parents were going to discover what I did. I was SUCH a disappointment and all their hard work was wasted, having a daughter like ME. 

I also, until this point, WORSHIPPED the ground Mrs. Lalji walked around on, my one true desire in the 3rd grade was to become a teacher just like her and she was my ultimate role model.

My parents were struggling financially and paying money they didn't really have to send me to this school, something they constantly made sure I understood. My father, who became a better parent later in life, was not someone who would shirk away from punishing me, so in my mind, I thought that this would surely enrage him to a point where my life would come to an early and abrupt end.

Mrs. Lalji got on the phone and told my mother what happened and to IMMEDIATELY get to the school.

My poor mother, my sleep-deprived immigrant mother who didn't have much of a grasp of the English language, rushed to the school and when I saw her enter the room, I had expected her to look angry.

Instead of anger, she seemed worried, as if I had been hurt and not a signature forging excuse of a human being. 

Mrs. Lalji explained what had happened and, at this point, steam was literally coming out of her ears. She was so furious that she was shaking.

My mother immediately took me in her arms and held me. She turned to Mrs. Lalji, and in her limited English, told her that she would sign the note. She kept telling my teacher that it was okay. She kept saying, "It's okay. It's okay." 

And then she turned to me to say that I shouldn't have worried so much. That if I had trouble in school, I should tell her and not keep it inside. 

It was one of the times in my life that my parents have surprised me, have shown me that they understood the situation and understood me in a way that I didn't think they ever did.

Mrs. Lalji was quaking, she was so mad. And I realized that this teacher, who I looked up to unlike anyone I had ever encountered in my life, had wanted my mother to be angry with me, to punish me, and she was disappointed and furious when that didn't happen.

Anyway, I found this note while I was cleaning up and this goes to prove to Peter that I save EVERYTHING. And what I discovered was that this note was for a missed social studies homework assignment. 

It wasn't even for a low grade on an exam! The note was for a missed homework assignment in the THIRD GRADE.  

But I guess when you're eight years old and your home life is turned upside down and you're balancing a lot of things in your head and figuring out the world and you are new at dealing with Americans, much less mean Catholic school teachers who don't take the time to be their better selves, you do stupid stuff because you're just trying to HANG ON.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Hoping For No Sitting

Over the past few months, our coop building has had an issue with bedbugs. This, of course, scares the *bleep* out of me because the thought of our home infested with blood-sucking vampire bugs who live in beds and clothing is something that makes me want to move out of this home and into a ranch in the middle of nowhere with no visible neighbors and no visitors...ever.

Last Friday, a bed-bug-smeller dog was sent around the units to detect the presence of these suckers. I wanted to be there, but had a job interview so Peter was in charge of this. We were told that the dog would come into our home and if he found a bed bug, he would sit in that spot.

So of course, throughout my interview, all I kept thinking was, "I hope that dog doesn't sit. I hope that dog doesn't sit."

I was more nervous about what Peter was going to tell me than the job interview. I started making bargains with God like, "Please God, I would rather have NO BEDBUGS than this job...Although this job would be great too...but I'm not greedy....Thanks, God."

When I got home, Peter looked sort of unhappy and I started screaming, "Oh NO!!!! Did he sit? DID HE SIT?"

"No," Peter said. "He didn't sit. Which is a good thing...but...."


"Well, I'm not sure if I trust that dog."

"Why not?"

"Well, picture two guys who look like Steve Buscemi and Phillip Seymour Hoffman come by with this friendly black lab, who by the way, doesn't look any different from our dogs, and says to him, 'Seek! Seek!' And the dog kind of wanders around looking all distracted and unfocused. And we're pinning all of our bed bug hopes on this dog? I mean, he looks like a nice enough dog, but he didn't seem that professional."

And then later on, Peter said that the bed bug dog trainer people were flipped out over the fact that we were toilet-training our cat.

"They kept saying, 'NO WAY!'" Peter said.

"But aren't they dog trainers? Wouldn't they be more knowledgeable about animal training than the next person?"

"Yeah. That's why I don't TRUST THEM."

Monday, March 02, 2009

Books We Have Read

The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.

1) Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read.
2) Tally your total at the bottom.
3) Tag others and pass it on.

Here's the list:
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (x)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (x)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (x)

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (does one book count? x)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (x)
6 The Bible (Don't think I've read this cover to cover, though-- x)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (x)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (x)
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (One of the books--x)

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (x)
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier (x)
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (x)
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (x)

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (x)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (x)

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck (x)
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (x)
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (x)

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (x)
34 Emma - Jane Austen (x)
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen (x)
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (x)

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden (X)
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (x)
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (x)
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (x)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (x)

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood (x)
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (x)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan (x)

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen (x)
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon (x)
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (x)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (x)
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt (x)
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (x)

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding (x)
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker (x)
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (x)

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath (x)
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt (x)
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker (x)
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro (x)

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White (x)
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (x)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (x)
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (x)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (x)

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo