June 2007


I know I just posted a blog, so I’m sorry if this is overload.

What is going on with the Supreme Court? They are basically undoing, piece by piece, every bit of progress that has been made in the past 30 years. First they put constraints on abortion. Then last week they ruled that freedom of speech does not extend to schools when they ruled that students in Alaska were wrong for holding up a sign that said “Bong hits for Jesus.” Now, today I read that they’re basically turning back the clock on Brown v. Board of Education. No, they didn’t actually reverse the decision, but they have made a decision that says school districts cannot enforce integration by focusing on race. Um, isn’t that the whole point of integration?

The majority ruled that school districts will still be able to allow for integration by drawing boundaries in such a way that there isn’t segregation. Sure, I bet that will happen in the south. Like those people haven’t just been waiting for this opportunity to resegregate their schools. As though the black/white boundaries aren’t still found in their communities. What are they going to do, draw a squiggly line so they can get some minorities in there? Ugh again today.

And a quote from the New York Times story:

“In his written opinion, Justice Breyer said the decision was a “radical” step away from settled law and would strip local communities of the tools they need, and have used for many years, to prevent resegregation of their public schools. Predicting that the ruling would “substitute for present calm a disruptive round of race-related litigation,” he said, “This is a decision that the court and the nation will come to regret.”

Read the whole story here. Sorry, but the link will only work for today if you don’t have a login with the NYT.

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For years I have wondered what people mean when they say government workers are lazy and incompetent. Donald, my ex-husband and a government worker, once tried to explain this to me. He said the reason government workers are lazy and incompetent is because they pretty much can’t get fired, no matter how bad they are at their jobs. I thought it was a bit weird that job security would make people be bad at their jobs, but whatever. I decided to go along with it.

So when most people say, “Augh, Government workers,” and roll their eyes then nod knowingly, I nod knowingly with them. But I never really had the heart. I never really, REALLY believed them until now.

After sending in my birth certificate, my marriage license, my divorce ruling, a six-page-long form, $67, and a promise to provide my first-born child, I finally recieved my passport in the mail yesterday. Note: I sent in my application back in February. I was overjoyed to finally have my new passport, which looks super cool with it’s new electronic swiping abilities, but wait. What’s this? WTF? Hold on a second here. How the hell did they get my birthplace wrong? I sent them my original passport. Yep, here it is right here in the same envelope. And, wait, yep, it has the correct birthplace on it. Couldn’t they have just copied my information right off this old one?

Nope, apparently not. Apparently wherever you LIVE is the place you were born. Duh! Everyone knows that, right? Wrong. No, I was not born in Sacramento, California. Yes, I live here, but I was BORN in Papillion, Nebraska. I’m sorry folks but Nebraska and California may have nearly the same number of letters, but for all intents and purposes they are DIFFERENT. Very, very different.

Now I have to send my beautiful new passport back and hope they don’t screw it up. And this time they don’t have four months to get it back to me. Augh!

I cannot even begin to explain how angry I am about this.

Why is it that I wait all year for summer to come, only to complain about the heat once summer finally arrives?

Seriously, nobody should live in the central valley without at least having a friend who owns a swimming pool. It’s the only thing that can keep my sanity during these smoldering days.

Anywho, I have a new blog up on TNB with one quick and easy tip to help you look thin and feel great. I’m not going to give it away here, so you’ll have to go check it out. Oh, and you can leave me a comment there too (PRETTY PLEASE!).

Also, I finished another book (surprise, surprise).

Book 23 (I’m almost halfway to my goal!): Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living on the island of Nollop, where Nollop is worshipped for having come up with the sentence “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” One day the “Z” falls from the Nollop monument and it is interpreted as a posthumus request by Nollop that the people remove all words containing the letter “Z” from their vocabulary.

As more letters begin to fall, the citizens begin to become distraught as they must be careful with every word they say or face severe punishment including lashings or banishment from the island.

This book is cool because as the letters drop, the author ceases to use them in the book as well. It gives us a sense of how difficult it really would be to take a letter out of the alphabet, even the seldom used letters like “Z” and “Q.”

The only trouble I had with the book is that the story is told through letters written among family members. I often got the characters mixed up and didn’t know who was who. I felt like I needed to create a family tree to keep them all straight. But if you just ignore who the characters are and pay attention to the story instead, it’s pretty good.

When did I become so lazy? When I first quit my job I was really ambitious. I was ready to go out there and prove to everyone that I could do this freelance thing. I’ve got some writing gigs and still manage to pay my rent. But really, I only work about one week out of the month. The rest of my time is spent sleeping, rolling around in my own filth, lazing around in my pajamas for the entire day, or schlepping books back and forth to the library.

At first this laziness was liberating, but lately I feel like such a loser. Really, who sits around the house everyday in their pajamas? I worry that one day Tony’s going to come home and tell me he’s sick of seeing me in the same outfit. I don’t think he’d ever really say that, especially because on some days I actually get dressed just before he comes home so that I look like I was out doing stuff. Or at least like I didn’t lie in bed the entire day.

Anywho, I have some real actual work I should be doing. I have two stories due next week that I haven’t even begun researching, much less begun scheduling interviews for it. I was assigned both stories more than a month ago. This is how lazy I’ve become. I can’t help myself. Really, I can’t.

In my only unlazy venture, reading, I have been quite successful. I read two books just this weekend and am halfway through another. So here goes books 21 and 22 for you all.

Book 21: Nature Girl by Carl Hiassen

Everything I’ve read about this book, including the cover, touts it as a mystery novel. But from the contents of the book I found no mystery. From page one we know the truth about the person who died. We know all the players. Every character in the book is there in plain site so I’m not really sure what the mystery is all about.

Aside from that though the book is really entertaining and still suspenseful. Basically the plot is about a South Florida woman, Honey Santana, who has stopped taking her meds. Without her meds she’s a little intense. She is insulted by a telemarketer and takes it personally. So she sets out to find this guy and teach him some manners by setting him up on a vacation from where else but a telemarketing scheme. There are a few other storylines going on at the same time, but I like Honey’s best. The book wasn’t great, but it was entertaining and an easy read.

Book 22: Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres

Jesus Land is a memoir about Scheeres’ experience growing up in a mixed race family. Her family being all white except for two adopted black brothers. Her youngest brother, David, is only about four months younger than her and they think of themselves as twins. One of my favorite lines from the book is right after she and David are attacked by a bunch of hicks in their new hometown in Indiana. When they get home Julia says “It’s just because we’re black.” Although she’s white, Julia was always confronted with the same racism as her brother because they were always together. Instead of being a “nigger” she was a “nigger lover,” which was just as bad in Indiana in the late 60’s.

The Scheeres family is devout Calvinists and the parents are constantly telling the children to turn the other cheek instead of reacting to the racism of the time. But even in their own home racism is seen. Julia sees it in the way her brothers are beaten for minor trespasses while she is merely grounded or sent to her room. For such beatings her older adopted brother begins punishing her, but she never tells because she doesn’t want to be responsible for another of his beatings. The parts about her being molested by her brother and later set up by him to be gang raped was really hard for me to read, but the rest of the book was exactly what I’d hoped for when I picked up the book. Especially the second half of the book, which is spent at Christian reform school in the Dominican Republic.

The second half of the book shows how religion can be contorted to mean anything the puveyors of said religion want it to mean. The children at the reform school are beaten and humiliated because they haven’t found Jesus, yet those who have see nothing wrong with their actions. The saddest thing about this book is that it has done nothing to get this school closed down. The school is still running, more than twenty years after Julia Scheeres and her brother attended. The whole time I was reading this all I could think was that the people running that school were never going to turn these children toward religion, rather they were teaching them to hate everything about it. I really recommend this book. It’s an amazing story.

I’ve talked about my weird phobias before, but I don’t think I’ve ever gone into too much detail. In my new Nervous Breakdown post there are some interesting ones there, and you can list your own weird ones on the comment board there. I want to know who has the weirdest childhood phobia.

Also, after I finished writing it I realized I have more than those listed. For instance, when I was younger I hated the sound of the toilet flushing. It was always too loud and it scared me stiff, so I’d always stand as far away as possible while still being able to reach the handle. Then I’d flush it real fast and cover my ears as tight as I could. I was also afraid snakes would come out of the toilet. I also have a fear of using those outhouses at national parks. I always worry that some wild animal has found their way in there and will bite my butt. Weird, right?

For more weird beliefs/phobia from my childhood go here. And click on the first link in there. I think you’ll laugh. Or maybe you’ll just be really creeped out.

And for those of you still reading my book reviews, I’ve just finished another one: JPod by Douglas Coupland.

JPod is a novel about a cubicle pod where all six people in the group have last names starting with the letter “J.” It’s a glitch in the system that could be easily fixed, but instead the company keeps it. Anybody who gets thrown into JPod can’t escape. The last person who left the group only got out because they died.

Anyway, the book is about a typical office environment, with all the jokes, games and e-mails you’d find from our generation. It’s set at a gaming company where the members of the pod are designing a skateboarding game that eventually gets ruined by corporate executives. Ethan, the main character, also has a really weird home life that feels a little strange in the beginning of the book, but it kind of grows on you.

I specifically liked all the techy jokes in this book. Some of them I didn’t get because I’m not that big of a geek, but I googled them and then they were funny. One such example comes from the last line of the first chapter: “And so the order was issued to make our new turtle character ‘accessible’ and ‘fun’ and the buzzword is so horrible I have to spell it out in ASCII: ‘{101,100, 103, 121}.'”

Seriously, if you’re from the tech generation you should read this book. It looks daunting at first because it’s pretty thick, but many of the pages are taken up with short blogs, letters to Ronald McDonald and interesting words to google.

Last week I sort of went on vay-cay for a minute because my little sister, the fab Jess, showed up out of nowhere to visit me. She drove down here with my older brother and his wife (also fab). It’s not often when I get to visit with family and actually enjoy it. They were here for the whole week though and we sort of co-opted Tony’s parent’s house since they’re in Germany right now. Me and Jess pretty much sat out by the pool and read all day. And it was amazing.

That said, I have a lot of books I’ve finished recently so I thought I’d just put them all in one post. I hope you don’t mind. I’ll try to make them short, especially because some were real duds.

Book 15: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

Normally I adore Bill Bryson, but I wasn’t a huge fan of this book (a memoir). It had his same sense of humor, but it was all about growing up in the fifties so I really didn’t get some of it. I think this book would have been way better for my mom or dad, who also grew up in that time period. I don’t know, I just didn’t have any nostalgia to match that of Bill Bryson’s.

Book 16: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Okay, I know I’m a little late for the train on this one. This is Sedaris’ most famous book and I’ve never read it mostly because I thought it was a book about a disabled kid for some reason. It’s actually a bunch of memoir-y essays including a whole section about when Sedaris lived in France. His France essays were my favorite and were what made me really love this book, even though the rest were really funny as well. What I liked about it was that he made the same observations about France as I did, and that is that Americans are ridiculous, loud and obnoxious when they are visiting a foreign country. I loved that he wasn’t all nostalgic and in love with France, but that he talked about what it’s really like to live there.

Book 17: A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke

The title says it all: This book is a piece of merde. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve read a worse book about France in my life. This was in the travel essays section, but it turns out that it’s actually a work of fiction – something I didn’t realize until I’d already finished reading it. Had I known maybe I wouldn’t have been so incedulous about it.

See, the book is about this guy who’s working in France. At least that’s the premise of the book. In fact, the book is about this stupid frat guy trying to get laid all the time. The whole book is about trying to find a French woman to have sex with or it’s about how great the sex is with the French woman he’s found to sleep with him. Throughout the book I kept turning to look at the author’s picture and kept asking, “Seriously? This guy?” It was horrible. Anyway this book is great if you want to believe you’re going to get laid in France by actual French women, but don’t blame me when you’re sorrily disappointed. For the rest of you, I don’t recommend wasting your time on this book.

Book 18: Dreams of my Father by Barack Obama

This book was really well written and had great descriptions of people and place, but I felt like Obama went off in weird directions sometimes, always circling back to the race issue. Maybe I only felt awkward about it because I’m on the other side of the race issues that he’s so upset about. Also, he was born at the beginning of the civil rights movement so his memories of race are quite different than those of someone who was born twenty years later. All in all it was a good book, but it got boring in parts and it took me WEEKS to read. I’d still recommend it though if you’re interested in learning more about our political representatives.

Book 19: Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston

After reading this book I remembered why I never read Winston’s first book, Good Grief. It’s because I knew it would leave me totally emotionally distraut. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that until I was so far into this book that I couldn’t turn back.

I both loved and hated this book. I loved it because the story was well written and it was one of those books that just can’t be put down until it’s finished. I hated this book because it messed with my emotions and it doesn’t have a real ending (no closure).

In Happiness Sold Separately, Elinor finds out her husband is having an affair. This is after two years of doing invitro fertilization, which puts tons of stress on a marriage. Elinor and her husband, Ted, never got pregnant and Elinor sunk into a depression leaving her husbnad with nobody to comfort him. Elinor decides, even after finding out about the affair, that she wants to try to work things out with her husband. From this point the book takes many twists and sends you on an emotional roller coaster. There wasn’t a chapter that didn’t make me cry. And the worst part is the book ends without telling you how Elinor and Ted end up so you’re stuck thinking about all the possible outcomes. It kills me when books end like that.

The book is told from each person’s point of view. The first chapter is told by Elinor. The second by Ted. The third by Gina, Ted’s mistress. Reading a book that shows you what everyone is thinking is the worst because you can’t just hate the mistress like you want to and you can’t hate the husband because you see what he’s going through too. It’s just a mindfuck. But if that’s what you’re looking for then I recommend reading this book. But be sure you have something lined up to read afterward otherwise you won’t be able to get it out of your head (at least that’s what happened with me).

This weekend I went to Las Vegas with Tony and his coworkers. It was part of a “Team Building Exercise” for his work, which really is just a tax write-off for his boss and a free trip to Las Vegas for us!

We got there Friday and proceeded to drink as much as possible before heading to the True Colors concert, which featured Erasure, The Indigo Girls, Rosie O’Donnell, Margaret Cho and Cyndi Lauper. The concert is being put on by Cyndi Lauper, who was the main performer, as a fundraiser for HRC.

First off, the concert was AMAZING. I think my favorite part was when Erasure came on. I seriously felt like I was in a gay club because I was surrounded by dancing gay couples and the songs were so typical of gay clubs.  Cyndi Lauper had the cutest voice I think I’ve ever heard and she had tons of energy (you can listen to her here). I also quite enjoyed Rosie O’Donnell even though it seems there are a lot of people out there are not big fans of her. Personally though, I really, really like Rosie.

Oh, and speaking of gay benefits, The Kings of Drag are going to be performing this weekend in Sacramento. If you want to see a great show and have a good time, I highly recommend it. Plus, I’ll be there. It can’t get much better than that can  it?

P.S. If you don’t know who The Kings of Drag are you can read my blog about them here.

P.P.S. I have a new garbage blog at The Nervous Breakdown. You might like it, but you’ll never know til you go read it.