Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Voice Says to Burn Things


I know it's been a long day when my insane other half is reprimanding me in a patronizing, second grade teacher-voice. I'm not sure if it's healthy to have an insane other half who likes to burn things, but it's a moot point. It's been a long day of tolerating irritating people and not lighting them on fire.

A few people who I want to light on fire today destroyed any hope I may have had for the male race. My female friends and I have always wondered, "What do boys talk about when they're not around girls?" We imagined it might have actually been girls, or at least some interesting gossip.


They talked about their balls.

In other news, I learned way more about the male reproductive system today than I did in three years of Sex Ed.

Also, I think I'll be needing therapy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Remember This

The sunny suburban street becomes silent and mysterious as night falls. Trees stand tall against the sky, their black silhouette stark against the deep navy of the night. The roses fade into the bushes, and the cars are motionless and dead. The streetlamp come to life, casting a golden glow on the yellow leaves surrounding them, a halo of rippling color. We pause at the base of one concrete giant, turning our faces upward to the illuminated scene.

"It's like something out of a children's book."


A sliver of moon peeks out from behind a cloud, a hint at the rain that is sure to come. We bask in the light for a little longer, saying nothing. A wave of urgency rolls through us, and something we've only ever alluded to but never dared to voice is voiced in the midst of our silent awe.

We're running out of time.

We part ways at our corner, and I walk a few steps, then stop. Breathe it all in. Remember this. The sound of my heels thudding softly against the sidewalk echoes, the only noise in a sleeping town. Commit this to memory. I slow my gait, drinking in the darkness, the light, and the shadows that hover in between. Don't forget this.

I open the front door, and the light penetrates me in an instant, the darkness and beauty abandoned in favor of warmth and safety. I turn, giving one last longing glance to the night, and then pull the door shut, retreating to a prison built of expectations and algebra homework.

Remember this.

It's An Italian Thing

I approach the Smart n Final, messenger bag on my hip, the automatic door sliding open with a swoosh that I take a moment to admire. I walk in purposefully, walking briskly past the cookery and condiment aisles, and take a sharp right through the cereal aisle, narrowly avoiding a man on a motorized scooter. I stop in front of the snacks aisle, more accurately referred to as the junk food aisle.

"Hmm..." I think. "What to get...?" I don't linger, and start rifling through the chips. I am a girl on a mission. Operation: Feed Hungry Teenagers. The phrase is enough to make any parent wince and clutch their wallets for dear life, but I've got a stomach of steel, the brains of a mother and eighteen bucks in my pocket. I emerge victorious with a bag of salt and vinegar chips, and make my way down to the candy shelves. I scan the price tags, grimacing inwardly at the overpriced sweets, but I put on a brave face and reach for a bag of Reeses Pieces that isn't too offensive.

I pay for my purchases, a small flush of pleasure going through me as I hand over my hard-earned babysitting money, the sheer maturity of it bringing me no small joy. I tote the foodstuffs down the road, holding my breath as I pass the middle school and hoping that they don't notice what I'm carrying. I breathe a sigh of relief as I make it past unharmed, and chuckle to myself as I imagine what a confrontation that would have been. "I mean," I think, "one middle schooler, I could have taken, two middle schoolers, probably, but four... that would have been slaughter!"

People often ask me why I bring food to school so often, and I just shrug and say, "I like to feed people. Want a cookie?" In reality, I think it's a genetic; my mom likes to feed people, as does my grandmother; it's an Italian thing. So is talking with our hands; as my friend said, "If an Italian is missing an arm, he has a speech impediment."

And a-no, we don't all-a talk-a like a-this.

... but I wish we did.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Credit Where Credit Is Due

In a competitive society where excellence is not enough to excel, it is driven into students' heads that they will not get into a good college, get a good job, or be financially secure unless they are the very best. Students are constantly searching for new "hooks" that will make them stand out to potential colleges and employers, and attempt to sharpen a single skill in hopes of getting a scholarship, though it was once more recommendable to try and be well-rounded.

Somehow, as this mindset took over, students began to minimize their accomplishments to the point where even their greatest achievements were lost to the statement, "Well, someone else did better." However, while successes lost their meaning, failures became more shameful than ever, and every less-than-perfect grade was met with fruitless attempts to make up those last few points with extra credit. And then, students began to lose sight of their greatest talents, once again because "someone else can do it better", and began putting themselves down because the overwhelming opinion of society was that they weren't good enough, or so they thought.

When did it become acceptable to tell yourself that your talent is meaningless? Take pride in yourself; we are students in a changing world, yet we have adapted to the rise of technology and competition flawlessly, while still honoring artists and authors and athletes. Stop putting yourself down, and give yourself a little bit of credit- you deserve it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Viva Las Vegas?

Today, I walked down the Strip in Las Vegas, a huge area with all of the main tourist traps concentrated, along with gems such as Excalibur, MGM, GameWorks, etc. My family took an after-dinner excursion to M&M World, a tradition for us, and left with out bright yellow bags full of chocolate. My parents wanted to go see the new City Center, and I agreed out of curiosity. It was, to put it bluntly, the most marvelous monstrosity I've ever seen. It was like a small city, with multiple skyscraper-esque buildings towering 50 floors in the air, with glimmering glass and shiny metal. A sleek tram zoomed by on an elevated rail, and a gigantic waterfall cascaded down an outside wall. The inside was beautiful, an architect's fantasy: untainted mosaic tile floors and simple, classy carpeting, antiquated slot machines, arches and treehouse-plant sculptures dotted throughout, high-end stores littered amongst five-star restaurants, and a faint, sweet perfume smell wafting throughout.

Yet all I could think of was, "And there are children in Africa starving, and budget cuts back home for my education, and hell, there's plenty of homeless people just outside the parkway." Impressed as I was by the sheer beauty of it, I couldn't help but be disgusted at the billions of dollars laid to waste so the people with money to burn have yet another place to immolate.

And that's when I realized: I'm tired of Vegas. Viva Las Vegas! to me is just another cliched, ignorant phrase used by those who haven't seen it as well as I have. Maybe I can rediscover it when I'm 21, when there'll be gambling and strippers and alcohol and going to see shows, but right now, I'm 14 and tired. Maybe I'm tired of life, as the saying goes; maybe I'm just hormonal. As someone who lives so close to Vegas, with the opportunity to visit at a moment's notice, I'm no longer entranced by the glittering lights of Sin City. I walk around with a dry throat from inhaling all of the cigarette smoke; I involuntarily shift behind my dad when we pass the pimps and their clients; I look past the sharply dressed men and gorgeous women to their tired faces, hidden behind a facade of foolhardiness; I see the pictures of topless women scatter on the ground (which, I admit, my observing did not help my parents' opinion that I am a lesbian), and all I can think is that I want to go home and lie down and drown my sorrows in Glee.

Maybe this makes me a depressing person, stealing the poetry out of something beautiful because it has a scum-studded underbelly which most others choose to ignore. Maybe I should ignore the sirens, and the flashing-lights police cars I see every day. Maybe I should ignore the homeless men begging for change while scantily-clad women beckon to earn their keep. Or maybe I need to go back down to the pool, put in my iPod headphones, and tan while all hell breaks loose. It's called Sin City for a reason. It's not because you have the opportunity to go out and be sinful; it's because sin throws itself at you and shoves itself down your throat, leaving you wondering where the lost naivete went.

So you know what? Forget Las Vegas. Viva Los Angeles! Viva New York! Viva San Francisco and Memphis and Seattle! Viva la Vida! Anything but another day of watching humanity's inevitable descent in a nutshell, please.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

We Be Road Trippin'

A couple of times a year, my brother, parents and I pile into my mom's PathFinder, and we set off on an 8 hour journey from our home in the Bay Area to my grandparent's home in Henderson, just shy of Sin City. In previous years, it's been the bane of my existence, being crammed in the backseat with my hyper younger brother, with my parents singing along to the Mamma Mia! soundtrack (yes, it is genetic) and taking pit stops in run-down little rest areas in the middle of the desert.

But over the years, I've come to appreciate it more. Even though the sounds of I-5 make it too loud to have a decent conversation, I've found that if I lean forward a tad I can hear my parents talking to each other as they do to other adults, with topics that are more interesting than what they normally bring up to me and my brother. I've found that if I lean my head just right, the bumps from the road vibrate my head from the window, and I can make my teeth chatter.

And, of course, as with all trips, there are traditions. Stopping at Wasco, in the same exact store, and eating cheap deli food while beating away the flies. My parents turning on the classic rock station and asking me who the artist is, in a somewhat successful attempt to make me more knowledgable about music. Counting the windmills as we drive by. Inhaling deeply as we pass Gilroy and its abundance of garlic.

But, this year, I made a few new traditions. About three hours in, after our early lunch, I pulled out my laptop and DJed for the next hour or so, merging from rock and pop to showtunes and Glee as time went on, eventually stowing it away for lack of battery power. I made friendship bracelets, practicing my technique. I found a comfortable position to doze off in, with my sweatshirt balled up behind my back, my head resting against the window and the seatbelt strap, one leg curled up on the seat and the other stretched on the floor as far as it will go.

Of course, even my new traditions can't change what makes these trips, well, traditional. As soon as we get in the door, we're attacked by a rabid Shi Tzu, then greeted with hugs from our grandparents. Gramma offers us strawberries and crackers and cheese, then we all sit down for spaghetti and salad and chicken and brisket and all sorts of good things. We all sit contentedly for a while after dinner, chatting, and then we go watch TV, or go on the computer, and relax. In the morning, there are fresh bagels with cream cheese and lox, and Gramma's french toast casserole, and then we all get ready to go swimming.

This is my Las Vegas.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Dihydrogen Monoxide is Going to Kill Us All

Ah, Easter. The holiday on which Jesus' supposed ascension becomes a day about eating chocolate and giant, pedophilic bunnies. The day on which I must get up at 8:50 on a weekend, wear a monkey suit, and go to church, where all of the people too busy to be "Good Christians" every other day of the year show up in hopes of redeeming themselves somewhat. But, despite my somewhat dry view of it, it's not all that bad. My family went out to a brunch buffet, where I had delicious Eggs Benedict and Cheese Blintzes, among other things, and then returned home, where I discarded my dress and heels in favor of pajamas.

But then, after laying in bed near-comatose for a few hours on my laptop, I realized only after seeing it on Facebook(ignore the large window four feet from my back) that it was raining outside. So, I did what any normal teenager would do: I threw on a sweatshirt and jeans, and went for a walk. Yes, I walk barefoot in the rain. No, I'm not trying to get pneumonia and die.

I don't see why people dislike the rain. The sky may become a somewhat dismal white, and dull the other colors, but they're not dulled, you just have to look a little closer. Everything looks fresher, cleaner, and it's quieter out. If one had seen me walking, I might have looked rather sad, trudging in the rain barefoot, but in reality, I was content and lost in thought. Just watching the cars go by brought to mind multiple questions: Who are they? Why are they driving alone, in the rain, on Easter? Do they not celebrate? Do they have nobody to celebrate with? Are they going somewhere? What's their story? People tend to disregard so easily the fact that other cars are not, in fact, mindless entities intent on making their own driving experience worse, but are people with lives and pets and dreams in a vehicle.

Besides my rambling musings, however, I also discovered an interesting new pasttime. If you have not yet observed a snail actually moving, you should. They just inch along, slowly, but they're moving, and it's strange to see such a small creature attempting to cross a gap that would take a human but one stride to traverse. In addition, I managed to rescue three big snails, a baby snail, and a teeny tiny infant snail (or so it appeared) and put them under some leaves, so as not to get pelted with the rain.

I also realized today, as I was walking out the door to church, that in many ways, I have changed since I was a child, some for the better, some for the worse. I still am not fond of going to church, but now instead of throwing tantrums, I go and sit quietly, replaying stories in my head and zoning out for an hour. On Easters past, I would not have hesitated to throw on a parka over my dress if it was windy and cold. Today, I pulled my little sweater tighter around my shoulders and told my mom that it was making the choice between looking nice and being comfortable, a choice she'd told me to choose the former for many, many times.

Now, in not-quite-so-eloquent news, Club n Grub is this week! For you poor, sad souls who don't know what Club n Grub is, it is only the biggest assortment of delicious, inexpensive food that our school gets all year, and I will enjoy it greatly. Porque comida es bien.