Archive for September, 2007

Sometimes he identifies The Funny in a situation before I can…

…which is one of the many reasons I date him. Case in point:

Lulu: …yeah, so one of the gentlemen in our church had a nervous breakdown of sorts.

Me: A nervous breakdown?

Lulu: Well, in a way.

Me: Really? What kinds of symptoms did he have?

Lulu: Well. It was a bit strange, actually. Sometimes he’d throw up. And sometimes he’d have diarrhea. And he’d sleep a lot.

The Brit: That’s not a nervous breakdown. That’s infancy!

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The best head fake ever

You know how they say that everyone in the world is only 5 to 7 degrees of separation away? Well, my former roommate, Mr. Wonderful, was one of Randy Pausch’s ETC Masters students almost a decade ago…which, on a spectrum of degrees of separation, is essentially as good as Randy being the long lost half brother (presumably fathered by the milkman…or…Kevin Bacon?? Jeez! We really ARE all related to him!) that I never knew I had. And never before have I been more simultaneously heartwarmed and heartbroken to be metaphorically half-related to a complete stranger than I am today.

Randy, a 47 year old father of 3 kids (all under the age of 5) and a beloved computer science professor, has terminal pancreatic cancer. And with an estimated “few months left to live”, he gave his very last lecture at CMU a few days ago. Mr. Wonderful was wonderful enough to send me the link. It’s a bittersweet gift to receive a lecture from a dying man who feels compelled to use his last lecture ever to tell you how to achieve your childhood dreams…but it’s a gift well worth the 90 minutes he takes to give it to you.

Fast forward through the introductory stuff at the beginning, skip the honorary stuff at the end if you want, but watch Randy’s lecture. All the way to the end. It’s funny. It’s nerdy. And it gets you in the balls (testes or ovaries, your choice!) at all the right moments. (If there ever ARE right moments for that sort of thing.) And the twist at the very end is worth the whole thing. Promise.

The embedding thingamajiggy stuff doesn’t seem to want to work at the moment, so click here for the link: Dying 47 year old Professor gives exuberant “last lecture.”

Cuz if it is, we need to get some Febreeze up in here. Like PRONTO.

I was standing at the kitchen counter this morning consuming my usual breakfast of yogurt and fruit while flipping through one of the many periodicals we, as a household of five, regularly accumulate on our countertop. As an aside, this is not my choice location for periodical storage as chopping onions or eating my morning yogurt can be a bit challenging when the September Playboy centerfold is taking up most of the counter space with one of her impossibly non-cellulitic thighs. But, alas, I’ve resolved myself to living with four guys and if Miss September doesn’t mind a stray bit of minced onion on her bulbous, pneumatic breasts or a drop of vanilla yogurt on one of her waxed labia, then I’m cool with it too. We’re on the level like that, Miss Sept and I.

So anyway, there I was, having breakfast under the watchful boob eye of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado (who’s half Cuban by the way! REPRESENT!!) when I reached across the counter to grab my green tea and knocked over was brutally accosted by my yogurt. In a dramatic flourish, the yogurt container tipped over on its side just at the edge of the counter, spilling its insides out over every drawer on its way down to the floor. Whatever didn’t get caught up in every single nook and cranny in the drawers landed on the hard wood with a wet splat. I’d reacted instinctually (must be all that Kung Fu I used to watch as a kid) and had, thus, backed up sufficiently so as not to get creamed. But nothing prepared me for what was about to happen. I watched in horror as the yogurt container, which had momentarily balanced on the edge of the counter, got pulled over the edge by the weight of the spoon still inside and flipped a few times before landing on the floor right side up. This sudden impact provided for a fantastic volcanic eruption of whatever residual yogurt was left in the container such that when all was said and done, there was vanilla yogurt all the way up to the ceiling and just about everywhere else within a 5 foot radius around the now empty container. Including in my hair and all over my work clothes. For all intensive purposes, it looked like the Ghostbusters had just annihilated the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in my kitchen. Dude. Where was the gatekeeper when I needed him most?

I was rushed to get to work but, honestly, the scene deserved a few moments of silence and a couple sips of green tea. (Note: While I probably wouldn’t do it intentionally, green tea doesn’t taste all that bad with a dollop of vanilla yogurt in it.)

Then, quietly and calmly, and with only a few hundred dirty words, I quickly cleaned up and changed clothes. And in an attempt to salvage my hair, I took a damp cloth to the clump of locks that got yogurtified. This proved to be difficult. And that scene deserved a few moments of silence and a new mug of green tea. (Note: Next time you deliberately want your hair to stand straight on end, forgo all those expensive hair products out on the market and get yourself a 99 cent container of vanilla yogurt. Just take my word for it.)

As I sit at my desk today, I sincerely hope that the current state of my hair, oddly sour-smelling and stubbornly noncompliant, is not in any way indicative of what the rest of my week will be like.

Probably not the pick-up line he was hoping for

This morning as I was waiting for the elevator, I felt the heat of someone’s stare and glanced over. A good looking gentleman, likely in his early 50’s, confidently cocked back his chin, threw me a coy look and then winked at me.

At that moment a nurse came out into the hall, “Mr. Smith? You’re here for a colonoscopy, is that right?”

As if perfectly timed, the elevator arrived with a ding! I winked back at Mr. Smith and stepped on.

Note: Bowel situation very much improved since arriving back home

My body is so deeply confused. It’s all “Dude, let’s go to sleep,” and I’m like “No, it’s only 3 PM,” and then it looks out the window with me at the bright sunlight and then goes “That is SO weird, cuz I could have TOTALLY sworn it was, like, 11 PM.” (Apparently, my body, when it talks, sounds like Keanu Reeve’s character in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.1)

I was sitting in my office this afternoon, back in SF, having this riveting conversation with myself. I tried shoveling some more coffee into the system, caffeine in the bloodstream seemed like a good idea at the time, but it was about as futile as an evangelical preacher spreading the news of the coming of the Lord on any given street corner in the Castro.2

It’s always like this when I come home from a trip to a faraway land. Jetlag. Internal clock all screwy and off-kilter and such. The Brit never has a hard time with these things…he just presses on like some sort of unstoppable robot, going to bed when he chooses to turn off the power button, and then waking up at the appropriate time in the appropriate time zone the next morning with freshly charged batteries. It’s annoying. Cuz there I am all wide-eyed and ready for my morning cup of coffee at 2 AM…drooling and twitching on my computer keyboard at 3:15 PM. With a word document full of klmnj;kmnjlkn,.mknlnnnnnnnnn’s and other equally unfounded scientific facts that have yet to be investigated in a Phase II clinical trial.

Which leads me to the other thing that The Brit manages better in his travels than I do. Bowel regularity. He poops on command. It’s like some sort of Jedi-like supremacy he has over his innards. It’s not fair. I get to a place, and my colon, almost as if it has its own olfactory sensors to sniff the atmospheric air and come to the conclusion that we’re in a land where a totally different language is spoken3 (which, obviously, means there MUST be totally different toilets!), senses the geographic switcharoo that’s been pulled and decides to hunker down and close up shop. For days at a time. And no amount of coffee, coaxing, or rubbing against The Brit4 makes a difference. (Which makes things unpleasant. Except for rubbing against The Brit, that can be quite pleasant.)

I’d apologize for the off-color subject matter, except that this is the kind of blog that unsuspecting Google searchers arrive at by searching things like “pushing sex toys into the sigmoid colon,” “abraded nipples,” and “gay bondage” so, clearly, we’re not treading on new territory here.

Aaaaaaand subject change!

So, yeah, my trip to the UK and beyond (as you’ve already heard) was fantastic. I got to hang out with The Brit in his homeland…drinkin’ tea and eatin’ biscuits like it was my full time job ‘n shit. The wedding we went to, as previously mentioned, was properly British (lots of Pims and really bad 80’s pop music) and a load of fun. I went shopping on Oxford Street the week after the wedding and got myself a Fascinator to wear to the upcoming California wedding of a friend of mine. (Once all the Americans stop mistaking me for an ostrich, they might like it! Who knows! Maybe I will too! Provided I stop mistaking myself for an ostrich.) I also got to meet lots of The Brit’s extended family, including his Godparents who, thankfully, have solid political ideologies…which is more than I can say for some of the people in my extended family who still think Hitler was onto something with his torture methods. I also had the chance to meet up with my bloggy friend, Little Sausage, who was quite lovely indeed. Tragically, her dog just recently underwent spine surgery for a rather unexpected acute paralysis…so head on over to her place and offer her some comfort and maybe a little bit of money. (Apparently there is no such thing as an NHS for doggies. Though, if there were, her dog probably wouldn’t have even had the operation yet.) I didn’t get to meet up with my college friend who’s in London for work for the next few months…she had to cancel last minute on account of her getting free tickets to go see Prince in concert. Or the Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. Whatever his name is now. On the one hand I can understand her choosing Mr. Purple Rain over me…but on the other hand, I take serious objection to anyone who manicures his facial hair better than I manage my pubic hair.

I also got to have dinner with a whole lot of The Brit’s friends from his days at boarding school…which meant I got to hear lots of stories about all of them denying that they masturbated back then, and about each of them catching one another masturbating at one time or another, and about finding evidence of the results of someone’s masturbation roasting away in a sock that was haphazardly thrown onto a lampshade, creating a distinct cod-like aroma in the offender’s room. And that was all covered before we were even done with appetizers. So you can imagine what was unearthed by the time dinner was thru. (Consider yourself spared.) I also got to spend a lot of downtime with Lulu, which is more than I can say for the previous two times I’ve gotten to see her…both were hurried weekends that had some purpose other than just hanging out. We had lunch along the south bank of the Thames one afternoon. Went and saw a matinee showing of Les Miserables another. She showed me old baby pictures of The Brit and even gave me the one of him that made my heart melt. (In it, at 7 months, he looks more delicious than the very best Hungarian apple strudel ever baked.5) All in all, it was fun to hang out with the mother of the guy who’s dessicated toothpaste spittle I constantly have to chisel out of the sink. She’s pretty groovy. (Maybe I can have her talk to him about the toothpaste thing. Judging by her sink’s hygiene, I think she’d be on my side on this one.) The mini-trip we all took to Hungary was the icing on the cake of the whole trip…the apple in my strudel….the paprika, if you will, in my goulash.  Zing!


1. Which is weird because I’m generally not a fan of Keanu’s…though I think his role in B&T’S E.A. was probably the only role he’s ever really been even remotely good in.
2. The Castro being the gayest district in any given city on this here side of the Mississippi.
3. Apparently, it considers English spoken with a different accent A Different Language as well.
4. In the hopes that his clearly superior electrolyte balance will transfer to me osmotically.
5. I’ve tried once to get the scanner to work so I can show y’all but the scanner is having a bit of a tantrum at the moment and I don’t have the energy to spank it into obedience…on account of my body thinking it’s 4 AM and all. Will try later.

Otherwise my dining room might have been a frilly, embroidered nightmare!

I’ve just arrived back in London from a mini-holiday in Budapest with The Brit, Lulu and The Stepfather. And despite the uncharacteristically wonderful weather in the UK the week prior, I’d been battling a cold all week long, staving it off with dosages of vitamin C and zinc that could likely kill a small hippo. But the flight to Hungary just pushed me and my virally ravaged mucous membranes over the edge. And suddenly, there I was, in Hungary, stuffed up and half def…surrounded by paprika’d salami and paprika’d goulash and paprika’d paprika and with only half my taste buds firing! Oh, the injustice!

Furthermore, there were two unfortunate realizations I came to when we arrived at our four-star hotel on the Buda side of the city in the Castle District. One of them being that the room The Brit and I were to share had two single twin beds rather than the requested double bed (apparently the Hungarians are a lot more like the Cleavers than I initially thought1) and the other being that I’d forgotten the small bag with my comfortable, sensible, sporty red Puma sneakers in the guest bedroom in Walton (which is, decidedly, NOT in Budapest). Instead, I had brought with me the bag with the slightly less than sensible high heels, which, I quickly discovered, were perfect for getting stuck in between the cobbles and the stones of the cobblestoned streets. Repeatedly.

In an effort to make the most of the day, we all went for a walk about the Castle District. Me in my highly impractical shoes and everyone else in their sensible “trainers.” And, just as we’d arrived at the Fisherman’s Bastion (after climbing many many steps) and were standing, overlooking the Danube, the first of many more raindrops began to fall. It seemed that things, as the Brits are keen to saying in situations like these, were beginning to go pear shaped. (Or, alternatively, and more up my alley, things were beginning to go tits up.) We ducked into a small café for some cover, a round of salami sandwiches, and warm apple strudel. And over some post-strudel coffee it was decided that we’d take advantage of the bad weather and go to a Hungarian bath house.

This proved to be a great decision.

We went to the Gellert baths and the place was absolutely stunning. The cathedral ceilings and the ornate, colorful tiling, the fountains and statues and gargoyles spewing water, the disorienting maze of steam rooms and massage rooms and rooms with successively hotter thermal pools (the hottest of which was 38˚ C)…it was all so unlike anything I’d ever seen before. The four of us tried out all the different temperature pools (well, truthfully, only The Brit was lunatic enough to dip into the 8˚ C pool to cool off after the steam room) and we all settled into the 36˚ C pool in the end. And let me tell you, nothing clears the sinuses like a hot bath with a bunch of near-naked Hungarians! Nagyszerű!2

Things thereafter began to look less like a pear and more like a pear strudel. (They make strudel out of everything over there.3) The weather improved and a twin bed turned out to be good for cuddling.

We all thoroughly enjoyed our three day weekend in Hungary. There was much quality time spent with Lulu and The Stepdad…over meals dominated by portion sizes of meat that seemed excessive and yet so very delicious…over long walks throughout the city and its monuments…over local beers at points overlooking the Danube river at sunset or at points along the bank of the Danube at Tea Time (which, for the purposes of this trip, were converted to Beer Time)…over the ferry ride to the nearby town of Szentendre…over shopping amongst the many stores chock-full of paprika and locally-made marzipan and local Hungarian wine and let’s not forget all of the embroidered niceties!

This segues nicely into the point I want to make about embroidered things. There’s something strangely enticing about them…almost like milkshakes that have a trace of crack in them to keep you coming back for more. Hungarians embroider absolutely everything…tops, jackets, purses, pillow covers, hankies, napkins, table cloths, doilies, underwear (presumably). Now. I’m not normally an embroidered, frilly hanky kinda gal. I’m more a take-this- ripped-off-end-of-this-here-partially-used-paper-towel-to-weep-your-eyes-out-with type. But something came over me as I stepped into shop after shop of folky, brightly colored embroidered items of a largely decorative and therefore, largely unnecessary, nature: I became obsessed with purchasing embroidered things. And I didn’t just want one thing. I wanted lots of them. Somehow one thing just wouldn’t look right if not surrounded by other things that were equally embellished. It was obscene, my insatiable hunger for Hungarian needlework. And luckily for me, my ability to purchase anything that I would have regretted was crippled only by the paralyzing indecision I experienced when trying to decide between the yellow embroidered doily or the red…the blue embroidered tablecloth or the white…the red embroidered pillowcase or the other red embroidered pillowcase. Seriously, I’m convinced those Hungarians put CRACK in their embroidery. I got out of there alive and only having purchased a couple of embroidered cloth bread baskets in the end but it was a close call!

And aside from a small incident involving the aforementioned highly impractical footwear, the aforementioned cobblestone streets, and a twisting of the ankle resulting in a rather dramatic and public fall, I’d say the weekend was a grand success! I knew, in fact, that things had gone well enough, when, as I lay there in the moments following my graceless union with the pavement, wincing and gasping in pain, it wasn’t my life that flashed before me but the thought that I hadn’t yet purchased all of the folky embroidered doilies that I absolutely needed. MUST! HAVE! DOILIES! STAT!!

Thank goodness the shops were closed and we had an early flight out the next morning!

1. Thusly, they lost a bit of my respect and about two of their stars in one fell swoop.
2. This means “Great!” in Hungarian but don’t ask me how to pronounce it properly!
3. Mind you, not once did I complain about this.

A British Brand of Politeness

A political conversation over dinner with The Brit’s godparents the other evening…

“…his presidency has been utterly catastrophic. He’s an absolute idiot!” Godparent #1 said passionately.

“Oh, do be gentle,” Godparent #2 said signaling toward me with a discrete nudge of the head, “this may be a sensitive subject for our guest, seeing as she is American!”

“Dear,” Godparent #1 said, “that’s as gentle as it gets when discussing Bush!”

Needless to say, Godparent #1 and I got along quite well indeed!


Hark!

The madness featured here is mine and mine alone. It does not, in any way, reflect the madness of my employers, colleagues, patients, nutty family, or my colorful friends. The privacy of my employers, colleagues, patients, nutty family and colorful friends is sacred & deeply respected, so no names. All words Copyright © la cubana gringa, no method, just madness 2006-2010. All comments © their authors. Don't steal; it's not nice. (And my Grandfather knows people.)

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