Sunday, March 15, 2009

$1.00, 99% Accurate.

I went to the Dollar Tree today to pick up some cheap St. Patrick's Day hats, streamers, buttons, etc.

It was in Rochester Hills, not the ghetto.

As the nice lady scanned my purchases, I noticed the following displayed at the POS: Juicy fruit gum, batteries, disposable plastic fork-floss things, and a pregnancy test.

I looked at the box, glanced up at the lady and said, "Really", and then I glanced over at the pregnancy test again.

"Since when does the Dollar Store sell pregnancy tests?", I asked (pretty upset about the whole situation)

"Since we have been selling condoms", she laughed out.

I took my receipt and my 2 cents (literally) in change.

She WAS kidding. I mean, right?

Friday, March 13, 2009

"LIFE". Take 4. Action.

Before you go to bed you experience the "movie reel" from your day. A string of images or scenarios from the day-you can stop, rewind, replay, pause, fast forward...everything but erase or record. For many of us, our movie reels focus on "should haves". We replay that 2:00pm job interview, what would we have said different? Or, we revisit dinner with the cute guy from the gym...except we add a different ending. We fantasize about hypotheticals, while we analyze what really happened. At least the way we remember it happened. But what happens when you struggle to separate what really happened from the way you wanted it to happen. Naturally we ought to be able to direct our own movie reel. I mean, right? Is this what it truly means to "be a dreamer"? Technically, you are not dreaming when you are viewing your "movie reel". But here lies the problem. For many of us, we drift into a dream before our movie reel rolls the credits. Then what?

Maybe my movie reel is the cause of most of my anxiety. If it were at Blockbuster, it would surely be in the "suspense" or "drama" section. I will rewind more than I fast forward, because I tend to live in the past. Or, I will change around a current situation with elements I know do not exist. For the most part, I think that movie reels are our therapy. You are essentially having a conversation with yourself- your doubts, goals, insecurities, and hopes. You may not always have control over what really happened, but you always have the ability to reinvent what could have been. The way you would want it, anyway.

The baby behind me was inconsolable. Whaling- this was no ordinary cry. As I fumbled to get out my Visa, the woman behind the counter looked at me, practically rolling her eyes. She asked "is it 4 o'clock yet?", without saying a word. While I make it a point to not stare at crying babies or their parents (including but not limited to: on planes and doctors offices). I will make a point to stare at restaurants. If you are able to excuse yourself, please do. Go outside, or to the lounge, SOMEPLACE where you can tell your baby to shut the hell up. Shopping is no exception. Half the mothers at Somerset Mall, I mean "The Collection", couldn't care less if their child disrupts shoppers at Bebe, or terrorizes the elevator at Nordstrom. I don't know what it is about Mothers and shopping. Like all responsibilities of parenting are called off. I mean, right? I will delve into that another time, though.

While the woman began to remove the security tags from my purchases, I turned around to see exactly what thing could produce such noise. The baby was around...I have no idea. I can guess the age of puppies, no problem. Humans are a different story. The mother felt HORRIBLE, I could tell. As soon as I turned around to just glance at the scene, she immediately said, "Ear infection. I'm so sorry."

"awwww, poor girl!", I said with sad eyes. I mean, I didn't see my eyes, but I imagined they looked "sad".
"Yeah, HE has been uncomfortable for a few days now. Thought taking HIM out of the house would help distract HIM".

The kid had a full head of golden locks. Curly, of course. Jeans and a salmon colored shirt (it had to have been Baby J Crew, or something). I'm telling you it was salmon, MAYBE terracotta. Rosy little cheeks, gorgeous eye lashes, which were emphasised by the tears, and a cute little stuffed frog graced HIS lap.

"Oh gosh, well I hope HE feels better soon!", I uttered under my blushing ears.

I swiped my credit card, signed, took my receipt and ran out. How embarrassing. During the short walk from Banana Republic to the mall entrance, I made a point to check out every single stroller that I crossed paths with. I played the, "Boy or girl" game. It was so easy to determine the sex of the baby. Most had clear indications like, ribbons or barrettes in hair, a train on the t-shirt, or little size -7 Puma's. I felt a little better, and blamed me not knowing the sex of the baby at B. Republic the fault of the mother.

I thought I was over it, until it popped up in my movie reel later that night. What would I have said differently? Oh, that was easy! I would have just said, "awwwww, poor thing". Even though a baby is not a "thing", at least...I don't know, no...I didn't feel right about calling him a "thing" either. I could have said, "awwww. Why are YOU crying, sweetie?" Yeah, I felt good about saying that. But, would I only have said that if the Mother spoke to me first? Are babies like dogs? Should you ask permission from the owner before you pet or interact with them? Some parents are weird about that. I mean, right? As I hit rewind, recalling the features of the baby, I most likely made his features more feminine than they actually were. Anything to justify my mistake. Yeah, HE did look more like a girl. It's not MY fault that I called him a her. Then I started to blame the mother, like, "what the heck lady, put your kid in a Pistons jersey or something". After I replayed that scene, all elements fully controlled by me, I was able to move on. At least for that night.

There are many frames in my movie reel that continuously come up. Literally, for years I have hit rewind to try to recreate how things could have been. What I would have said differently, what I wish he would have said. Then I hit "fast forward", and create these fantastical scenes with him and I. What would I say if I saw him again? What would he say. How would I say it? Details down to word selection and hand movements are addressed in my movie reel-I direct the whole thing. I am the key grip, stylist, producer, director, actor, stand in, extra, writer. Everything. It can be the most liberating experience, until you hit pause. Then you realize that this scene is holding you back from rolling the credits. Credits are closure. I mean, right?

We should find comfort in knowing that we have control over something that no one else can possibly begin to understand. It is one thing to share with a friend over coffee what your dreams and amibitions are. It is a completely different thing to control those dreams and amibitions. At least, the way you would want them to play out. Every detail. Every word. I just need to hit fast forward more than rewind. I mean, right?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T, does ANYONE know what that mean, man?

While I should have been cleaning out my closet (cliche' but, it really needs work), my basement, trunk of my car, and garage. I decided my ipod was more important. While I have some solid classics, there were definitely some songs that needed to go. You know, the mistakes of 2008 like, "Love Lock down", "I kissed a Girl", and that super annoying Pink song, "Rockstar".

I put my ipod into the docking station, like a semi-truck or something, and put it on random. As I did the dishes, "Miss Independent", by Ne-yo came on. Damnit!, I thought. I forgot to delete another one. I hate that song, I really do. Ne-yo has a way of sucking you in with his catchy and interesting first few beats. "Sexy Love", "Because of you" (personal favorite), and of course, "Closer". "Miss Independent" is no different...actually, it is.

The whole song bothers me, from start to finish. Even the title gets under my skin. "Miss Independent". Not only did Kelly Clarkson already go there, but the title suggests that being independent is a unique or song-worthy thing. Let's examine the lyrics.

....yes, I will give you time to go get the song, I know you have it.......

"Cuz she walk like a boss
Talk like a boss
Manicured nails
to set the pedicure off
She's fly effortlessly"

Okay Ne-yo, CLEARLY you don't have a clue. Setting an appointment, picking out a color, and setting up to (2) hours of out your "bossy day" to get a manicure AND pedicure takes effort. There is nothing effortless about it. I pity the poor girl that tackles my feet. They always bring out the heavy weaponry. But fine, ladies we will let Ne-yo think it's effortless. Moving forward...

"Cuz she work
Like the boss
Play like the boss
Car and a crib
She about to pay em both off
And her bills
Are paid on time"

WOW! She pays her bills on time?! DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANG, Homie. That's great. Does she have a credit score over 700? She must, she must. Ne-yo is suggesting, to me anyway, that paying bills on time is a unique thing. Like, a conversation in the men's locker room.

"Hey Ne-yo, how is your new girlfriend?"

"OH! She's great! She didn't get her phone shut off like my last one"

Come on. Is that what makes you "Miss Independent"? Bills paid on time?

I took pleasure in deleting that song. Then I realized I have several songs. The following is pretty embarrassing...yes, I have Webbie's "I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T" (do you know what that means, man?)

Yes, I understand. Are we in a spelling bee? Can you use that word in a sentence, please? Webbie? Lil' Boosie? Anyone?

"I N D E P E N D E N T
Do You Know What That Mean Man?
I N D E P E N D E N T Do You Know What That Mean?
She Got Her Own House
She Got Her Own Car
Two Jobs
Work Hard
YOU A Bad Broad"

WOW! She has her own house?! DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANG, Homie. That's CRAZY. A woman has her OWN house? Her boyfriend didn't help her? Her parents did not help her, either? The house wasn't on sale at Club Monaco? That IS impressive. Don't even get me started on how awesome it is that she "got her own car". I mean, right? But, are her bills paid on time, like Ne-yo's boss girl?

Now that we know how much the guys appreciate "independent women", I wonder how the ladies feel about all of this.
" Lucy Lu, with my girl Drew, Cam-ron' D and Destiny

I remember that song was on every single mix cd that I made. Charlie's Angels was not even released but I was already obsessed with the song. It was called the "women's anthem". How flattering, let's look at some of the key points this song explored,

"The shoes on my feet
I bought it
The clothes I'm wearing
I bought it
The rock I'm rockin'
I bought it
cuz I depend on me

If I want it
the watch I'm wearing
I bought it
the house I live in
I bought it
the car I'm driving
I bought it

I depend on me"

That was really inspiring, girls. Thank you for that. You bought your own car? Nice! AND your shoes? WOW! My turn, "QUESTION!" If you are so independent, then WHY are you following some guy named, Charlie? Is he like your pimp or something? (50 Cent will spell that out AND use it in a sentence if you don't know what "P-I-M-P" is) Come on, buy your way out of this situation, ladies! I mean, right? You are buying everything else in your song.

In college, I always felt the need to say, "I'm not a Feminist, but..." before saying anything in a lot of my philosophy classes. Well, maybe I am a "Feminist". I'm a "Manist", too. I'm all for people. I'm a "people-ist". But recently, all this talk of "independent women" has been getting on my nerves. I know a lot of guys that are pretty "independent", too. What does independence even mean, really? Does it mean that you bought your own car? Your own house? The shoes on your feet? Really, what?

I have my own house, my own car (2 of them actually, and I really regret the second one I bought), LOTS of shoes, a puppy, etc etc. My bills are paid on time. I have a great credit score. It's stressful, actually. I'm not running around MY house singing, "I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T". I'm usually yelling at my puppy, calling my parents asking about the different documents I receive in the mail, what kind of house insurance I need, how my bonds are doing, etc. When a boy makes me cry, I call my Dad. When I have NO clue why I'm writing yet another check to AAA of Michigan, I call my Mom. Sometimes, I realize that eating out 8 days a week, isn't the most cost-efficient thing. I can't cook. I'm dependent on Lean Cuisines and Progresso soup.

Despite my faults and interesting learning curve, I would consider myself to be fairly "independent". I don't think I could survive a nuclear fallout, but...I have survived heartbreak, unemployment, workplace harassment, elective surgery, and growing pains of all sorts. There may not be a song out there about people like me, but it's okay to march to the beat of your own drum. I mean, right?

I really think people in general, men AND women, are amazing creatures. It really bothers me when a woman says, "I'm a strong black woman". To me that suggests that most women (black or otherwise, but especially black since they took the time to say, "black"), are not strong by default. "My mother was a strong woman". I'm sure she was. What made her "strong?" Her willingness to schlep you around for 9 months? The fact that she sacrificed her size 4 body to bring you into this world? The fact that she kicked ass in her spinning class? What exactly made her "strong?". Why do some people feel the need to say that? If you tell yourself and others a certain thing, can you bring it to life? Can it be realized?

If "our" Independence Day is when we declared freedom from England. Then, is "independence" defined as separation from something else? Was your independence day when you moved into your Freshmen dorm in college? You know, into a room that was completely paid for and furnished by your parents? Is THAT independence? Or, maybe it was when you rented your own place in Midtown after you got your first, "real job". Is that independence? When you broke up with your clingy girlfriend? Free at last! I'm free at last!? I mean, right?

Is independence the ability to survive completely on your own? Or is that self-sufficient? If that's the case, I don't know anyone that is completely independent OR self-sufficient. Maybe a houseplant. Who else can turn sunlight into food? Then again, that plant needs YOUR house. I mean, right?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pardon my French

I decided to make a salad for dinner, which is a rare occurrence. Not the salad, but the "me making it". Ran up to the local market, hit up aisle 7, and...then...I was really confused. Bottles and bottles of dressing stared at me, like I was in line at customs and forgot my passport. Italian, Greek, Russian, Caesar, Ranch, Bacon Ranch, Light Ranch, Fat-Free Ranch, Catalina, Balsamic, Balsamic with Garlic, Blue Cheese, Citrus Vinaigrette (which can also be used as a marinade), and of course, French. I threw a few bottles in my basket, and decided bread would be a great addition to this "me making a salad" thing I was trying out.

The bakery rack had loaves of bread, some sliced and some not. Italian, whole grain, wheat, white, Rye, 10-grain (don't know how that is different from whole grain), and of course, French. I picked up the long, hard (get your mind outta the gutter), French loaf and just as I was about to check out I remembered the cheese! I rushed to the dairy section, Supermarket Sweep style, and again I was confused, as my eyes scanned all the Kraft and Sargento. Mexican Blend, Cheddar, Sharp Cheddar, Mild Cheddar, crumbled blue cheese, Swiss, Provolone, American, and Italian Blend. I grabbed a can of Parmesan. Parmesan tastes good on everything.

Dinner was great, my salad was...great. I couldn't stop thinking about all the French food I had encountered that night, even though I ate Italian. And then it happened. I thought I was choking, but...I was hyperventilating, so I knew I was not choking. But, my heart was beating really fast. Really really fast. And...I was confused, and freaking out, and confused, and freaking out. I was thinking about all of the foods that are French. I mean, "French". French fries, French onion soup, French toast, French bread, French dressing, French silk pie, French vanilla ice cream, French crullers, OH MY!

I remembered Paris, summer of 2000. The hot sun, the smelly streets, and the cats. God, that city has cats. Cats in the Metro, cats in the alleys, cats on old statues, cats on park benches, cats in hats. If Paris had a Broadway, I'm sure it would have...yes, cats. Paris also offers "world class cuisine". But, I didn't get that part. The culture, the men, Notre Dame, even that tall metal thing, I got all that. Great. Mag-nee-feek! But the food, I did NOT get. I have t-shirts from Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Cafe to remind of how much I enjoyed Parisian food. Chicken fingers and FRENCH fries, always a sure bet.

So I thought long and hard (like the French bread), about where the French get off on claiming all these VERY different kinds of food, are their own. Let's start with French Toast. This delicious American favorite, graces breakfasts tables and coney island drunk-grubbing every day.

Did I mention it is an American favorite? Not sure if you have to properly site resources in blogs, this if my first one, so for the sake of lawsuits, hate mail, and Dante's 3rd ring, let's see what Wikipedia has to say about all of this.

"French toast (often known as Eggy Bread in parts of the United Kingdom, pain perdu in French, pain doré in French-speaking parts of Canada) is a popular breakfast food in North America, Europe and Brazil. In the United Kingdom it is often savory and known as either "eggy bread" or "Gypsy toast" or just "bread dipped in egg" in South East Wales. In Italy a variation is served known as mozzarella in carrozza (literally "mozzarella in carriage"). In Portugal, it is called fatias douradas or rabanadas and is typically made during Christmas. In Spain, it is called torrijas and is typically made during Lent. In hong Kong French toast, called 西多士 (Cantonese IPA: [sɐ́i tɔ́ sǐ]; Jyutping: sai1 do1 si2; Mandarin Pinyin: xīduōshì; literally "western toast", but actually an abbreviation of "法蘭西多士", "French toast"), is available all day round but is particularly popular for breakfast. In Brazil it is called "rabanadas" and follows the Portuguese recipe. It is quite often used to celebrate a birth, as well as at Christmas and New Year celebrations. In Germany, the Arme Ritter (literally poor knights) are made from bread leftovers as a fast and simple meal."

So, correct me if I'm wrong, MANY different cultures and nations prepare and cherish French Toast, including but not limited to, France. Actually, it seems that most cultures enjoy it around Christmas or Lent. Therefore, would it NOT make more sense to call it Jesus Toast? Just a thought...I mean, right?

So, French Toast isn't so "French" after all. Certainly, French Vanilla is, "French". It's a cooking element, and the French claim they are amazing at that. This is what Wikipedia has to say,

"The term French vanilla is not a type of vanilla, but is often used to designate preparations that have a strong vanilla aroma, and contain vanilla grains. The name originates from the French style of making ice cream custard base with vanilla pods, cream, and eff yolks. Inclusion of vanilla varietals from any of the former or current French dependencies noted for their exports may in fact be a part of the flavoring, though it may often be coincidental. Alternatively, French vanilla is taken to refer to a vanilla-custard flavor. Syrup labeled as French vanilla may include hazelnut, custard, caramel or butterscotch flavors in addition to vanilla."

That's great! But in all actuality, vanilla originated in Mexico. So TECHNICALLY, we ought to be saying, "Mexican Vanilla". I'm assuming people would think it was spicy or included guac on the side. Or, maybe it's because the French think they are awesome, and so does everyone else in the world, that FRENCH VANILLA is more marketable. I love you Mexico, and thank you for your vanilla and Corona...and hot body contests. Moving forward...

Do you understand what I'm trying to explain here? I will glady explain in further detail, how many "French" things are not French at all.

French Silk? French Silk is a novel written by Sandra Brown. It was published in 1993 and in 1994 it was made into a TV movie starring Susan Lucci and R.Lee Emrey. I know for a fact that this is not served at Baker's Square. WTF.

French Crullers? "Crullers are most commonly found in Canada, New England and the Mid-Atlantic and North Central States of the USA, but it is also common in California. According to Wikipedia, of course. Tim Horton's, and Krispy Kreme still sell the Cruller, while Dunkin' Donuts only carries the French Cruller. In place of the traditional cruller, Dunkin' Donuts now sells several variations of a substitute product it calls a "cake stick" which is a simplified, machine-made version of the more elaborately twisted hand-made variety." NOW are you seeing a trend? Or shall I continue about how the French are not-so-secretly trying to take over the world. I mean, right?

What is it with our obsession with French-ness. Clearly, if we are romantisizing things like fried stale bread but calling it French Toast, then there must be something about Frenchness that we respect. It's not just in the wide world of food, it's everywhere. French maids (thanks Alischer). In the United States, correct me if I'm wrong, most housekeepers are NOT French. South American, Mexican, Ukranaian, Romanian, maybe...French-no. The only time you will see French maids is: 1. Halloween 2. role play in the bedroom 3. strip club. Find me a TRUE French housekeeper and I will buy you a Coke. Because, I don't believe they exist, atleast, not in the United States. The whole idea of a "French Maid" more than likely did NOT originate in France.

I bite my fingernails compulsively, so I don't have any. But I do have toenails. I prefer to get a FRENCH PEDICURE. French being, a natural nail (high gloss) with white tips. I did some research, French manicures originated in Paris. Okay France, you actually created something uniquely French. The French manicure. That's great. India has eye brow threading, France has the manicure, Brazil has the waxing thing, and Harlem has hair braiding. Awesome.

Enter stage left, the "kiss". Prince sang about it, a band was named after it, and we all love to do it. But what separates the peck your grandma gives you at Christmas from the wet sloppy one you get after last call? France. France does. Why wouldn't they? They have their little French hands in everything else, it's only natural to claim one of the most sensual acts of showing affection. In sex ed we learned about everything from putting a condom on a banana to STD's, never once going over the history of French Kissing. I don't recall learning about it in world history, either. Again, I turn to Wikipedia for guidance:

"French kissing does not necessarily stem from France, it is more likely due to a stereotypical view of the French being deeply sensual".

That's it? There wasn't a French Queen that opened her mouth while kissing the King of Batavia? Or, during the French Revolution, people didn't resort to opening their mouths while kissing in hopes of capturing reminants of food particles? You mean to tell me, there is absolutely NO French origin in FRENCH kissing? So that means, all of us "commoners" around the world have decided that something as hot and sensual as sucking on someone else's tounge, lip, or whatever else you have in your mouth, should be related to FRANCE? Why? Have you been to France? Based on experience, I would rather refer to "French kissing" as Brooklyn kissing or Miami makeout. There was nothing sexy, to me anyway, when I paid $15 US dollars for a hotdog in Paris. No, I am NOT a stupid American, I was just royally ripped off. Or, the time I had a middle-aged woman YELL at me in the Metro claiming she was a police officer...that didn't exactly turn me on. The only kissing I would equate to Paris is, "kiss my ass".

Go to Neiman Marcus. I don't have money either, just do it. The fragrance department is filled with imported scents; Creed, John Varvatos(which I love. Men, if you read this..GO BUY IT. Prrrrrrr), Valentino, Gucci, etc, etc. Listen to sales associates when they say, "this one is my favorite. Imported from France". As if, it was manufactured outside of Boulder, Colorado, it would not be as desirable. Since when are the French known for smelling so amazing?...seriously. At Mcdonald's, which is as American as you can really get, there are (4) options: Small, Medium, Large, and SUPER SIZED. Perfume, which is ANCIENT in origin, the categorization is....drumroll please..................................FRENCH! Eau de Parfum, Parfum de Toilette (will SOMEONE please explain how adding "toilet" to a product helps it sell? Anyone?) These are both French terms, separating the more concentrated version (parfum) from the less (toilette).

So I ask you this-what is wrong with American? The last time I went to Western Europe, I didn't really experience anything I saw on television or read in books. The high fashion in Paris, I did not see. The whole advante garde' approach to beauty and fashion, to me, was non existant. If anything, I saw more of America in Germany when it came to clothing than anything else. I distinctly remember a teenage boy wearing a shirt that said, "Don't Mess with Texas". I took a picture with him...hold on, I'm going to go look for it. (20 minutes later). Couldn't find it, I will post when I do.

My point is this, I have never seen so many North Face, Tommy Hillfiger, POLO, Nautica, and Abercrombie knock-offs since Canal Street. How is that "high fashion". Oh, those French, such a GREAT sense of style! Really? I didn't see it. Oh, those French! SO cultured! Really? Again, didn't see it. The French are SO educated! REALLY? I've been to the ghetto of NYC and was treated with more respect than in the heart of Paris. Do I hate the French? No, not at all. I'm French Canadian. I figure whatever stuck up genes I have inherited from the French, my Canadian genes balance out, I mean, right?

Here is my point. What is wrong with calling an apple an apple. Why must we take chocolate cake, one of the staples of everyday life (if you are me), and change around it's name. German chocolate cake did NOT help me pass my A.P. exam in high school, just as French Silk did not eleviate my razor burn. Swissmiss, that powdered stuff, was onsale at Kroger for $1.00 a box. Clearly, it was not imported from Swizterland. Why can't chocolate cake just be what it is, chocolate cake. If it is made by some old lady in a small town in Indiana, what would be German about it? Nothing. It's Indiana chocolate cake, technically. And what makes monterey, mozzerlla, and cheddar, thinly shredded, a Mexi-blend? The ONLY cheese I consumed in Mexico was at American chains. Ironically, I have yet to see a Sargento bag labeled, "Wisconsin blend", which would make more sense since that is a cheese kind of place. I mean, right?

There is no such thing as "American Bread". I guess the closest thing to it would be Wonder Bread. Which is like, the shittiest bread ever, carrying absolutely no nutritional value and it's dyed super white. American cheese? Wasn't that the first kind that Kraft decided to wrap as individual singles? Is that all we are? Individual singles. Is that how the world views us? I think most fast food chains use American cheese PRODUCT for their hamburgers. That stuff doesn't even really melt. But, it's not really even cheese. It's cheese product. It tastes, looks, maybe even smells like cheese- but it struggles to do one of cheese's most glorifying functions, MELT. Is this upsetting to anyone else? That we, as Americans, cannot melt. That we are just individually wrapped singles that have a shelflife of like, forever, but struggle to melt.

I think I'm just going to make a sandwich, and forget about this rant...I have sliced turkey, whole wheat bread, lettuce, SWISS cheese....and fancy mustard. What kind? French's of course.