Archive for January, 2009

Pop! Quiz

Perhaps, like me, you are still struggling with reacclimating yourself to your full-time work and/or school schedule after the minor procedure (e.g. Lifestyle Lift, LASIK, mini-lobotomy) and major relaxation (minus the hassle of family and friends) you experienced over the holidays.

So, the last thing you want is a pop quiz from the teach or a surprise test on the new Mission and Vision statement of your church or organization.

It can certainly be a daunting and challenging task to regulate alertness and clarity during the day, especially after a holiday hiatus. One effective yet unhealthy way to adjust would be through the measured use of uppers and downers; pop some caffeine or Benzedrine to get you going and keep you alert during the day, and use alcohol or Xanax to help numb and quiet your mind at night. I personally like to read books (hence, my handle) in the early morn’ and late in the eve (while cuddled up in my Snuggie) to help regulate my brain waves.

Alternatively, and as practice for potential surprises at school or work, I’ve devised a pop quiz to help warm your noodle and help you get adjusted back to reality. Should you answer incorrectly, you will be immediately disgusted and appalled by the appearance of a popular yet nerdy television character portrayed in the form of a doll with an oversized, wobbly head. If you answer correctly, you will be rewarded not just with the good feeling that you got the answer right, but with a visual affirmation that you are correct.

One important value you will learn in school is giving credit where credit is due. Plagiarism can lead to expulsion and ridicule. Hence, I thank my fellow blogger, Classic Culture, for the quizzical idea.

1. Coldplay’s popular song title, “Yellow,” released in 2000, was inspired by

a. The dry, dusty coating pollen phenomenon that occurs every April in Georgia, lasting about three weeks, that turns the air, cars, and eyeballs yellow

b. The color of the stars in the night sky

c. A metaphor for joy and happiness

d. The Yellow Pages phone directory

2. The little red cooler that I tote around with me and that sits affectionately on the extra chair in my office contains (at least, as I’ve convinced Randy “the Communications Guy” Renbarger)

a. Fiber supplements that support a healthy digestive system

b. A severed head

c. Tofurkey and Nayonnaise

d. A spare kidney in case I need a transplant on short notice

3. During staff prayer on Tuesday mornings at the large southeastern Presbyterian Church where I am employed, it is socially acceptable to

a. Check and reply to emails on your mobile device of choice (e.g. iPhone, Blackberry, etc.)

b. Confess to God that you are experiencing spiritual warfare

c. Slouch in your seat and begin to nod off if you are sitting near the back of the room

d. Laugh at Bob Carter’s jokes

4. The behaviors that most annoy me at the fitness center where I work out are

a. Lecherous men who incorrectly assume that because they wear tank tops and walk around with their chests puffed out that they are playas and mack on all the young attractive ladies

b. People who use the ergometer incorrectly by letting their legs bend before releasing their arms on the return stroke

c. New Years’ Resolutioners who clog up the equipment and lose an average of 3.2 pounds in January before promptly returning to a state of Oprah-watching and bon-bon-eating whereby they gain 10 pounds in the first week of February

d. Would-be bodybuilders who swing the equipment with poor form so as to impress the passersby with their “strength” but who actually look ridiculous because they don’t know what they are doing

5. My Myers-Briggs personality is (the best one to be)

a. INTJ

b. ENFJ

c. ISFP

d. Personality theory is bunk

6. According to a prior post on my blog, I celebrate Christmas by

a. Crying exactly one tear into a bottle of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, preferably the cranberry (for the promotion of a healthy urinary tract, of course) flavored variety

b. Decking my humble abode with twinkly lights and a life-sized Santa

c. Slaving in the kitchen all day to prepare a delicious Tofu turkey with vegan dressing for all my friends and relatives

d. Protesting consumerism by purchasing absolutely nothing for anyone in my life

Scars

I want to know who I am. The real me. I am obsessed with finding out.

This story is partially about a man who partly killed me and would have continued to do so.

I dyed my hair red today. Well, not really. It is a wig. My thinking cap. And I’ve got it on. How I look changes who I am. How I think I look changes who I think I am.

What I thought I wanted was not in actuality what I actually wanted.

The scar on my chin is the result of his fist. As I start to tell the story I can see that it is about the surface of things. Who I am is different with the scar. The chin scar is different than the very deliberate scar in my nostril in which I sport a tiny shiny gemstone.

The year I went to university we met. He did not go to the university but I met him in my home town. How strange that he came over to talk to me at the corner table.

He never wanted to know me. He never wanted to know me but he wanted to own me. I let him.

The more I became what he acted like he wanted me to be, the more he despised me. He loathed a me he never knew nor cared to know.

Every woman I know wears concealer. To prevent disclosure or recognition of.

He began to call me daily. He inserted himself into my life and then he made himself my earth.

I am alien.

I am just as much me with my hair and my scars as I was before but I am different. The scars he left in me grew tissue that is tougher. The issue is not the scar so much as the healing.

He drove me everywhere in his unpainted jeep. He was old enough to have known better. He tried so hard to be better than me. Like in a story he took me to the beach. He took me to the lake. He took me to the movies. He took me to hell.

He often told me I was ugly. I believed his promises without questioning the definition of beauty. He saw through me. He never looked at me.

It was constructive criticism he explained.

Years later he told me he had been an asshole but he never said he was sorry.

I do not know what I thought. He made it known what he thought. His vitriolic lips and the cruel fist.

Lipstick comes in femme and goddess. The tube tells me who I am which today is lovely. They do not make shades called confused or anonymous.

He told me he was better than me but not out loud.

I am writing this story on scraps of paper that I paste together to form a piece of my life which I will then rip into bits.

I always wanted to be someone else. Little did I know that I was indeed someone else or that I could be whoever I wanted to be. If I act as if I am someone else then I am.

I thought I had to be the me that he told me to be.

Psychological health is measured by the correspondence between who you think you are and who you think others think you are.

One of his favorite pastimes was to be real nice to me for a time. Until I would start to believe his lies and his mask would start to appear sincere. I wanted to believe is what I am saying. Then he would take me somewhere I could not escape. The not nice version was also a pretense. That is who he was.

He did it all in the name of love yet he did not like me much. The me he did not know.

I knew that feeling from before him so it was nothing new. Who I was and who I am. Who did he think he was.

The lies he told me I already knew were true.

One time, long after the scar had become invisible from habituation, a girl I worked with stopped me in the hall. I had never spoken to her before. She exclaimed that I should marry so-and-so with whom we worked. Then she told me that so-and-so was looking for the Reese Witherspoon type and my looks did not measure up. At the time I wondered what it said about me. Now I wonder what it said about her. And how did she know my precise insecurity.

A year later I had almost recovered from the girl and I told so-and-so what she had said to me. He and I laughed about it.

Foundation is a basis upon which something else stands. Foundation is what is used to hide the lines and marks on a face. It does not stick to the scar tissue which has no pores. The basis is the mask. Do you see the irony.

Three classes from finishing university and what had I learned. I wish I could say that enough was enough but it probably was not. He would have continued to kill me. One day he came after me and police ensued and that was the end. He did not want a permanent record of what he was.

Life does not always deliver closure. Or happy endings. I am closer to me. I am not who he thought.

The scar on my face will be there until my end.

How to Be a Hipster


1. Act like you don’t care what others think of you. After all, you don’t. Who are they to define your self worth? No matter what you do or don’t do, there will always be people who do not like you. Why sweat it?

2. Eschew material possessions and protest consumerism. Act like you live in abject poverty and buy all of your clothes from the thrift store. For an extra twist, aim to look disheveled and wear mismatched colors. Never buy gifts for others. If you must give a gift, give used books.

3. Make up random jargon and throw it around. For instance, “Dude, that fixed-gear bike is sinister broccoli,” or “That guy is a total flag; he thinks he’s beautiful, but he’s not.” Even better, convert your slang phrases into acronyms and casually drop them into convo: “ETA and you risk getting worms.” (ETA = eat the apple). Of course it doesn’t make sense. That’s the whole point.

4. Everyone has a few friends who consider themselves musicians, whether that self-perception is realistic or not. Rip some of their tunes and play them loudly. When friends or bystanders ask what band you are listening to, say, “I can’t believe you’ve never heard of Orphean Sculptures. They are downright treacherous, man!”

5. Think of all the dorky things people do that attract negative attention and ridicule. Now do those things intentionally. Some examples include the following: wear a pocket protector, put tape around the frame of your glasses, button all the buttons on your shirt, or walk around with a Calculus textbook. Some of my personal favorites include walking around the grocery store with one pant leg rolled up or facing the wrong direction while riding an elevator.

6. Never purchase overpriced beverages from large multinational chains based in the Pacific Northwest. Instead, design your own logo and paste it onto Styrofoam cups. For the more creative and adventurous, design and paint your own chalice or grail. Drink your plain coffee (gasp!) while sporting these one-of-a-kind containers.

New Year’s Resolutions

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? You are probably doomed to fail anyway, but if you need help setting one, you can let the internet randomly generate one for you.

To all of you who aspire to the number one New Years’ Resolution, I wish you success and good fortune. However, chances are slim to none that you will follow through on losing weight this year.

Your resolution will fail for a number of reasons. “I want to lose weight this year” is a poor goal. It is too nebulous and long range to be effective, and you probably will not accomplish it.

Firstly, you probably did not write down your aspiration, so there is no concrete commitment to keep you accountable. If you did write it down, I bet you did not list a detailed and specific list of mini-goals with time frames for each item. How often are you going to exercise? Where? When? What will you eat? Where? When?

Secondly, are your goals realistic or are you trying some newfangled fad diet that is doomed to fail? Do you really think you can overhaul your diet and exercise regime all at once and make it enjoyable? Can you really maintain 1,200 calories per day for the entire year? I think not. Let’s be realistic.

Third, are your goals measurable? Can you track your progress?

Fourth, what are your priorities? When conflicts arise (e.g. your best gf wants to grab some fast food and then go see a chick flick, but it interferes with your diet and time to exercise), are you going to justify your way out of sticking to your goals? I know you; you’ll cave and think it’s just this one time, this one exception. You need contingency plans and priorities. It’s really not that hard to say to your friends, “No, I don’t want to binge on fast food and then sit on my butt for 2 hours. How about we go for a walk instead?” My personal favorites responses are, “I hate group activities and small talk, so I’ll decline the lunch invite,” or “No, that interferes with my workout, so I’d rather not go.” Be armed with your responses in advance.

Listen to the recovering addicts. One day at a time. Keep it simple. First things first. Easy does it. Stick to your goals when you want to and stick to them when you don’t. No pain no gain.