Thursday, November 24, 2011

The other yearly tradition.

A partial list of warm fuzzy cuddly platitudes, GO.
The fact that most of yesterday's list was composed of first-world problems.
Clean drinking water.
Abundant calories for me and my beasts.
Competent vets.
Gypsy hasn't done anything truly unpleasant in a long while.
The dog is better.
Those who protect and serve (most cops I know are good folks).
People who think shit through before deciding to procreate.
People who raise their kids properly.
Onions.
The Toaster, even if it's getting more expensive to drive.
Fusible interfacing and zigzag stitching.
Free dental care.
A Roommate who puts up with all sorts of bizarre things.
Family who will throw me a life ring.
Friends who understand that I'm never coming from a malicious place, I'm just socially incompetent.
I'm employed, and I do not have many unpleasant tasks to perform at that job.
My bicycle.
My safe neighborhood.
My short commute.
The military and their families who loan them to us.
A very select few politicians.
Squirrels.
Glorious internet foolery.
My dark, dark bedroom.
My roof, and all the termites holding it together.
Sudafed, Benadryl, and nasal spray.
Artists.
Musicians.
Mortuary professionals.
(insert profession here)
Bill in the Midwest who sells me purple carpet-cleaning bacteria.
Paydays.
The fact that I can say "XYZ Political Leader is an idiot and a crook" and not get shot in the face for it.
The fact that I can say "I don't believe in XYZ Religious Doctrine" and not be burned at the stake for it.
Sharpie markers.
Outlets for my ranting.
Kale.
Choices.
My proximity to various types of ecosystems.
Variety.
Routine.
The goblin that returned my earring.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This is a yearly tradition.

IIIIIII have been drinking whiskey with ginger grated into it, and I am a leetle bit drunk.  And it is the day before Thanksgiving, which means it's time to list up the things that can go right to hell.  TOmorrow will be the warm fuzzy list.

The fact that Blogger doesn't seem to remember who I am following, and constantly drops blogs from my feed, does this happen to anyone else?
Vet bills
Doggy lupus
Doggy pancreatitis
Cat diabetes
Cat shit
Cat arthritis
The sore throat I am brewing
Viruses
Not being able to sleep in
Firefly getting cancelled all those years ago
The smell coming off the panels I painted in the garage yesterday
The scar on my neck
Dry cuticles
socks with blown-out heels
overweight
no cake
clogged drains
lawn that needs mowing
entitled little bastarcd children
their entitled bastard parents
being destitute
stains on the carpet
overfishing
assholes in the parking lot
sinus problems
skin problems
hair that is falling out for no good reason
poor cell reception
bicyclists who seem unaware that they have to follow traffic rules too
exercise induced athsma (fuck it, how is that shit spelled?)
slow processors
Hollywood hasn't had an original idea in eons
my pants are falling apart
people who keep leaving fliers on my porch
people who don't understand that "NO SOLICITORS" applies to them
snoring
drudgery
the price of gasoline
folding laundry
doing dishes
leaf blowers
people who beat up fans of rival sports teams
people who beat up other people in general
hidden cilantro
my cherry allergy
my sheep/goat allergy
all my goddamn allergies
rat tumors
rat short lifespans
rat pee everywhere
the bank parking lot
most politicians
people being dicks to each other
trainwreck dates
lack of dates in general
insecurity
kiosks
the clogged drain
whatever is making that clanging sound outside, is that from an airplane?  Airplanes should not make that noise.
Okay, I think I'm done now.  I will write happy shit tomorrpow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Because it makes me happy.


I have a tattoo.  Two, actually, but only one is visible most of the time.  He's on the inside of my left wrist, and he's about the size of a nickel.  He's nothing fancy, just there to amuse me.
This is Doug.  He's a dung beetle.  I could say all sorts of pithy things about life being akin to a giant ball of crap that we have to roll around, and if you're happy with your crap then you win at life, or about how it's the ancient Egyptian ideogram for creation or beginning... but truth is, I just like dung beetles.  I think they're funny and charming.

I teach children.  I don't wear a watch.  The children see my tattoo.

At least twice a week, I am asked by a child (interrupted mid-sentence, usually) "WHY DO YOU HAVE A BUG TATTOO?"

I usually just reply "I like bugs."  It is true.

What amuses me about this little exchange is that they always look faintly disappointed in my answer, like they were expecting some elaborate story.  Part of me wants to supply that story.

"I was raised by beetles.  This is a portrait of my grandmother."

"I was living in the jungles of the Congo, and a beetle crawled under my skin and lived there for a while.  One day, he left.  I missed him, so I tattooed his image there to remember him."

"I am actually a superhero, and this is my identification mark so other superheroes can recognize me when I'm not in my uniform."

"What tattoo?  I don't have a tattoo.  I have no idea what you're talking about."

Just for kicks, here's my other tattoo.  His name is Ogdred.  He's on my heel.
Five points if you can identify his source art.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Naked November

I finished my assignment early, because my weekend is being eaten by a scheduled appearance on our local morning news.  I am presenting a furoshiki workshop, and they wanted to do a 3 minute bit about it on Sunday morning, so I have to drive up to LA and teach the anchors how to wrap a gift in fabric in about a minute and a half.  Local news glory, here I come.  GOOD THING I'M AWESOME.

I do not have a problem showing my naked face to the world.  I prefer to put on eyebrows, but that is because they do not exist past the arch.  They fell out recently.  So did many of my eyelashes, and a good amount of the hair along my hairline.  The doctors say I'm fine.  Probably just stress.

I generally don't wear makeup (except eyebrows) to work.  I always look very tired, because I have allergies beyond compare, but I don't care.  

Here is me, today, on my couch, after work.  I am not even wearing eyebrows, because I cut bangs again and now you can't see that they aren't there.
That's an impressive dark circle.  That, my friends, is the work of acacia pollen.

I think I look like a Muppet a lot of the time.  I also have very little visible eyelid. 

I act like a Muppet a lot of the time, too.  Also visible in this photo are my wonky tooth, my rather attractive nose, and the aforementioned Impressive Dark Circle.

I am of the firm belief that lighting is more important than makeup.  Exhibit A:  wearing only eyebrows, eyeliner, and a smile.  I don't even have any concealer on.  Still no eyelids. 
I have big teeth.  All the better to eat you with, my dear!  >chomp<

I do have a story to share about my face, however.  It is not entirely natural.  Not only are my teeth the product of years of orthodontic work and some cosmetic bonding, but my chin is not the one I was born with.  

I have had elective cosmetic surgery.  I am not shy about it in the least.

My father's side of the family has no jawline to speak of.  Our chins just slowly drip into our necks.  It's easy enough to disguise in pictures from the front, but from the side it's really noticeable.  Now, I am not alone in having this trait.  Many people have this same look, and I do not loathe it on them.  I loathed it on myself.  I can handle my dark circles, and my lidless eyes, and my intensely furrowed brow, and my farmer tan, and my beer gut, and any of a dozen other "flaws."  I just hated my chin.  I have hated it since I became aware of it, somewhere around the age of 11.  

Here is the picture that I refer to as the "Before" shot.  It was taken by the photographer at my dear friend's wedding reception.  I have no idea why he thought it was a good idea to get on the floor and look up at everyone- it's just not a flattering angle, ever. 
Ten years younger, twenty pounds lighter.  Ahh, genetics.  I think my head looks like a potato in this picture.

When I was 31, I had it sucked right the hell out.  I also had a chin implant.  The plastic surgeon suggested that I also have a lower facelift (I have a LOT of extra skin- "laxity" they call it- and it's also genetic), but that would have added a few grand to the total cost.  Someday, perhaps, if they can't tighten it up with non-invasive techniques.

Two days before my 32nd birthday, I went in for the facial vacuuming.
Lookit that poor fool, she has no idea what's about to go down.  

What went down was brutal.  A man with a metal cannula repeatedly jabbed me in the flesh for two hours, and then crammed a blue silicone crescent under my skin.  I am told that the stuff they removed was approximately the volume of a hamburger patty.  So that's an awesome visual.

Apparently, anesthesia turns me into the Fonz.  Like what's happening near my eye?  That felt great.  The tape over my chin is to keep the implant from drifting up.  I am Admiral Edema.  The swelling will get worse.  The crap on my chest is Betadine, not blood.  It was a pretty bloodless procedure, really.  The whole thing required an incision less than an inch long, under my chin where everyone has that scar from the time they ran into the coffee table as a child.

Upon arriving home, my nurse/mother strapped an icepack to my face.  It remained there for several days.  It did not help.  I swelled up like crazy, and since the pressure dressings kept my neck and chin under control, it went everywhere else.  Like my eyelids and cheeks.  I could barely see out of one eye. I wore this dressing for about ten days, growing ever greasier, ever itchier.  I clawed at my skull like a woman possessed.  My hair began to form angry little horizontal dreadlocks.  My mother helped me comb it out.  I could not open my mouth to eat anything more than pudding.  Brushing my teeth was also a no-go.  Listerine sufficed.  I was terribly sore and intensely cranky.  My only goal in life was to get the dressing off my head.

When it finally came off, I looked like hell.  All the swelling sloshed into the newly freed neck.  My father was horrified.  I had to keep reminding him that it wouldn't be settled for another few months.  Didn't put him at ease.  He resigned himself to having a daughter with a Mister Incredible jaw.

Did I mention the bruising?  I didn't care, all I wanted was a shower.  It was easily one of the three best showers of my entire life.

This, incidentally, is pretty much what I look like from the side now, minus the yellow and purple.  I like it better than it was before.

I had to wear an elastic pressure thingy at night for about six months.  It was difficult, because it holds your jaw shut.  I have allergies, so my nose rarely functions properly.  Breathing and sleeping were not compatible.  That was a fun six months.  The first elastic thingy developed a crease that was very painful, so I tried everything I could think of to pad it out.  The solution turned out to be "buy another elastic thingy that isn't defective."  

After a few weeks, the swelling and bruising had gone from "Jeez, what happened to you?" levels to "She has a very manly jawline" levels, and within six months my jaw is what it is today.  

The liposuctioned areas have one little ripple where things adhered a little too vehemently (oddly enough, it's the place where the crease fell on the elastic thingy), and it's visible in certain circumstances.  The implant sits on top of a nerve that controls my lower lip, so I can't make some of the goofy faces that I used to be able to ("llamaface" is less llama-y now).  Sucking out the neck fat made my jowls more noticeable, and I really should have had the lower facelift to get rid of some of this extra skin.  I am usually aware of the implant.  It doesn't hurt, unless I've been sleeping on my face or something, but it's definitely THERE.  It makes me wonder what people with breast implants feel.  Their implants are squishy, and mine is firm and sitting on a bone, but are they as aware of it as I am?  Can they sleep on their stomachs?

I'm generally happy with what I did.  I don't think about it at all anymore, which was the goal.  I do not live in fear of the candid photo.  I stand up straighter.  I used to stick my head forward like a turtle to try to create a tighter profile.  Now I just stand there and make whatever strange face I feel is appropriate.  Most people can't tell I had anything done until I show them the "Before" picture.  Most people asked me if I had lost weight.  

Yes, I did lose weight.  A few ounces, from a very particular spot.

I tell my tale not to be shocking, but because I do not like the culture of shaming we've developed around plastic surgery.  We do not shame people who dye their hair, or wear heels, or wear colored contact lenses.  All these things carry risks.  Sure, it seems extreme to cut your face to change your appearance, but consider orthodontic work- you're using wires and clamps to rearrange your skull.  Rearrange.  Your.  Skull.  Over the course of months and years.  Beauty is a gruesome thing, it just depends on degree.  Compared to the 4 years of braces I endured, this was cake. 

I do advise people who are considering liposuction that it is far more painful than they can imagine, and the results will not look like whatever Photoshopped bikini model they've envisioned.  A very thin person who has liposuction will have visible rippling.  Ironically, you need the fat under the skin to disguise the liposuction.  It's not a clean surgery- it's widescale damage, and it takes a long time to heal up correctly.  Pressure bandages suck.  And it will damage nerves.  

It WILL NOT change your life in any sort of significant way.  It will just change a very particular part of your appearance, which is not, in the long run, terribly important.  It is not a magic wand.  It's more like having a really reliable eyebrow pencil.

I disliked my chin.  I had it changed.  I don't dislike my chin anymore.  Simple as that.





Tuesday, November 8, 2011

THAT'S what that lyric said!

I, like most people, mishear lyrics all the time.  Part of my problem is that I can't really understand people unless I'm watching their mouths when they speak.  I don't have a hearing problem, people just don't speak very clearly (myself included).  

I have been a fan of "Labyrinth" since forever.

I even understood what the little goblins under the brick on the path said.  "Your mother was a fraggety aardvark" is one of my favorite insults.

Today, it suddenly occurred to me what Jareth sings in the Escher maze.

20+ years, people.  20+ years, all I heard was "youstarreneeressussmee."  Never thought to look it up.   Sang along with it a few times.

You. Starve. And. Near. Exhaust. Me.

Jeez, that makes so much more sense.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Cranberry Praline Pumpkin Upside Down Cake


I don't recall where I lifted this recipe from.  Probably Sunset magazine.  It's kind of amazing.

Preheat oven to 350.

¼ cup butter or margarine
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 ½ cups whole cranberries
2/3 cup chopped pecans
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt

toast the pecans in a 350 oven for 7 to 10 minutes.  (I don't actually do this part)

Butter a 9 inch square pan and line bottom with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk in brown sugar until combined.  Pour mixture into prepared pan, evenly covering bottom.

Spread pecans over the sugar butter mixture, and cranberries over that.

In a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed, beat eggs, pumpkin, sugar, and oil until smooth.  In a smaller bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Stir flour mixture into pumpkin mixture until combined.  Pour batter evenly over cranberries and pecans.

Bake in a 350 oven for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.  Run the point of a thin knife around edge of cake to loosen it from the pan, and invert cake onto a serving platter.  Remove pan and parchment, and let cool 10 more minutes before serving with whipped cream.

It’s best on the same day it’s made.