Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Tulip by any Other Name

I've been playing a game recently that is quite fun. One of the things that you have to do in it is collect flowers for a receptionist at a mental institute.'s a long story. Anyway, in several different areas of the game's world there are flowers scattered throughout. I saw a rose and picked it up, knowing that it was the answer. When I offered the flower to the receptionist, she rejected it, instead glancing to a picture of three pink tulips on her desk. It was a blatant clue and I was embarrassed not to have noticed it before. While I marched my little men across the screen I thought of what other implications this could mean. Men sometimes compare women to flowers, the most common being a rose. Why is that the automatic association? What makes a rose so romantic?

Here's something I came up with:

Men think of flowers like they think of women. They want one that screams femininity. They want one that is always perfect, one that is what you would picture, one that you would imagine. But a rose is always the same, they look the same even though they may have different colors or shapes. A woman who wants to be a rose is a thin, styled, immaculate being, but they have thorns. They want to be perfect because they believe they are. If you aren't perfect, you don't deserve them. THIS is a rose girl:

Do you want that? Maybe if you're shallow. Look at her. The peace sign, the giant sunglasses (indoors), the twisted lips. The hair that looks both frosted and frozen. This is what a rose is; trite, boring, and somehow still associated with romance.

Back in the game, I gave the receptionist three tulips and she set them up in a basket next to her desk. Do you know what a tulip looks like? This is one I found:

A tulip is the kind of girl I'd like. Tulips can be a lot of different colors. But sometimes they can end of like this:

look at that! Why would you think a rose is better than that? A Tulip Girl isn't afraid of hard work, and doesn't make herself up to be more than she is. A Tulip Girl could walk by you on the street and you wouldn't notice. There are thousands of Tulip Girls and they are pushed back because rose girls must have your attention. People might not even realize that Tulip Girls exist, but when they do they stop and go "that's a girl worth something." Tulip Girls are the ones in movies that have glasses and wear their hair up until the end, when they glasses fall off and the hair comes down. They become something else, they are in control of themselves.

Somebody once told me that giving a single rose to a girl means you will love her forever. Forget that, I'm going to give girls tulips from now on. Roses are boring, roses are cliche. Roses will forever be the standby option for men who forget or for men who are uncreative. I am neither of those, and a Tulip is the kind of girl I want.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I have Seen the Enemy and He is Mustard

I'd like you to know that there are no exaggerations in the following paragraphs.

I went to a restaurant with my Dad a few nights ago. It was an Asian bistro and it seemed very nice. We were seated and served, and we ordered our entrees. We also decided to get a few big egg rolls as appetizers. They arrived, along with two small ceramic bowls. One was filled with sweet and sour sauce, and the other had mustard.

The sweet and sour sauce was nothing special. A little bland, even. But it was not distasteful and it went well with the hot egg roll. I ate a half of it with the S and S sauce, and because it was a bigger egg roll (about four inches long, about 1.5 inches in diameter) I had the other half with mustard. I don't like mustard in normal circumstances, but I believed this would be better than your average from-the-bottle mustard, so I tried it.

I took my half and swirled it in the little mustard dish. I got a good covering on the end, and took a bite. All of the mustard I had on it was in that single bite.

My next thought was this: "I'm going to die." The mustard cleated my tongue and charged up my sinuses, boiling the blood in my face. My throat closed and I gasped for air, which only spread the evil around. After chugging my water I moped my face. I was sweating, my nose was running like a faucet, and I was crying shamelessly.

During the terrible pain, I -- and this is the truth -- thought that I had died, and I would soon meet God and the devil.

Now I know the truth. Mustard is evil. Pure and perfect evil. I believe I know how the world will end and it will be with fire and mustard.

Repent, for the end is yellow.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Of Skivvies and Feminists

You have heard of the cookie-cutter dream where you stand in front of people in your underwear, or forget your lines for a play or speech, always in front of a large group of people, possibly friends and loved ones. You are hamlet or Romeo, or Ophelia or Juliet, and you flub. You are at a total loss, and everyone knows.

I had a dream similar, yet different. It was at school, and many people were on stage. There was a clamor for each student as he or she went to the front to say a piece. The words they spoke had no sound and no meaning to me. I was in the audience, in the rightmost grouping of seats, but near the edge of the group, so my position was middle-right of the stage. I realized the next person that was stepping to the microphone on stage was me. I didn't see me, not any physical aspects, but I knew it was me. I began to speak and the audience listened without a peep.

Four sentences into my stage-self's speech, it stopped. It's mouth continued to move but no words came out. I knew and everybody else knew that there was no way any more would come out. I could feel the rush of blood to the face and the contraction of organs that come with this scope of public embarrassment. It was me, and I was it.

Worse yet, everybody knew that I, the person in the audience, was also the person on the stage. There was no laughing, but people shifted in their seats and coughed and looked around, trying not to meet my stage-self's eyes. At the same time, the audience and my friends avoided looking at me, the audience me.

Then I awoke and turned my alarm off. I didn't think about it anymore, but I still remember it. Who knows what it means, perhaps nothing, perhaps a release of emotion that I don't get while awake. We face this kind of thing on a minuscule scale daily, but why is such a dream so very common? Is it a fear of public humiliation, or being the center of attention?

Changing gears.

Just yesterday I submitted a story for review to a Literary Magazine. I'll keep the name to myself, but before submitting I read about the magazine, as I do. There were a couple of things that surprised or scared me.

First, instead of "Our goals" or "Mission Statement" they had "Manifesto." It talked about them as a magazine. Second, in the obligatory dos and don'ts of submitting a piece, a don't was "Address us as 'Dear Sirs' -- we know you don't mean to cause offense, but we are not male, and also we are feminists. We prefer 'Dear Fiction/Nonfiction/ Poetry/ Etc Editor.'" Hmmmmmmmmm.

Third, and this was the most off-putting, was another don't: "Tell us who your literary influences are. This can be a turn-off, which makes it harder to give your piece the fair reading it deserves. Remember, it may happen that your most venerated literary fore bearers typify all we loathe about the hetero patriarchal canon. Also, Burroughs and Hemingway influenced everyone."

Did you see that phrase? Hetero patriarchal canon. Talk about a turn-off, ladies. I don't know who Burroughs is and Hemingway is boring, by the way.

The entire article on cover letters didn't make a lot of sense, but I submitted my short story for publication review. I'm okay with it being published in the magazine, even if I won't be paid. But I guess dos and don'ts of writing are better when you can actually write.

And just because I think it's cool, I know how to play the first 16 notes of "Bridge Across Forever" on piano.

Friday, July 9, 2010

But I Digress.

I’ve found that one of the most useful things you could say while working at a help desk is: “What do you want me to do about it?” It is also something you are never supposed to say. There are a lot of weird things that happen at a help desk, especially when dealing with computers, as I am. There are calls where (Thing) doesn’t work. I have the caller try something rudimentary and now (Thing) is working perfectly. Never breaks again.

There was one just a little bit ago. It was a slow day, and only got one call the entire time. It was a technical call, but at the end I told the user to call Human Resources to get some things changed. She called back about thirty minutes later, saying she had tried to call Network Services, but had instead called the Nursing Department here in St. Paul. She works in San Diego.

It is Friday, and there are thirty minutes left in the week. I just finished a helping of graham crackers and guacamole, and have started on peanut butter and Pepsi. My shoes are off under the desk and nobody cares. I’m going to bike home, which can take me 45 minutes, 25 or 30 if the lights are good. It’s sunny, and I never get enough sun. I just finished reading Spoiled, Rotten America by Larry Miller and am now reading Cujo by Stephen King. Cujo is a dog.

The old SK has a lot of good books, and a lot of big books. His big books are normally very good. For example IT, or the Dark Tower series. His smaller books are good to, with some exceptions. Christine was duller than it should have been; The Talisman rambled. Christine is a car. The Talisman is Patrick Dempsey.

Handsome man. Naw, it’s a normal talisman.

There are 18 minutes left until I leave, and let’s hope Cujo can last me that long.