Friday, November 22, 2013

Oh, the Mintiness

Photo credit: Anthony Cramp
I've been seeing a homeopath for my migraines and I just took the constitutional remedy, which is like a magic pill that's supposed to fix everything that's wrong with me by helping my body to restore it's own balance.

Or something. 

My understanding is not required for this process to work. And neither is my belief. I don't really understand how Advil works, but it does. I've believed that all the medications my neurologist has given me over the years are really going to prevent migraines, so their failure to do so isn't on me. So if this is going to work, it's going to without my belief, which is good because the whole concept of a constitutional remedy sounds incredibly farfetched. 

But I'm going with it because nothing else has worked, and I have every reason to believe that it will.

All I have to do is pay attention to how I'm feeling and not sabotage the effects of the two wee tiny pills I took. You'd think that would be easy, but I have to avoid mint, menthol, camphor, eucalyptus and tea tree oil for the next several weeks. 

Again - not fully understanding, but the homeopathic remedy is actually more like a trigger than a remedy. Kind of like how Ritalin is a stimulant, but helps people with ADD to calm down and focus. And mint and menthol are such powerful remedies that they can interfere with that. 

This is also why they're in fucking EVERYTHING. Mint Toothpaste. Menthol in cough drops. I sometimes drink mint tea for an upset stomach and put peppermint oil on my forehead when I have a headache - but not for the next few weeks.

To make the toothpaste switch, first I dove into our travel-size toothpaste collection. (Shut up, you have one too.) And that's how I discovered that toothpaste comes with an expiration date. I did find one tube that was only a few months past the date and wasn't minty, so I was covered until I had a chance to go to the drug store.

But still, yuck. Because it was conventional toothpaste and I'm used to the unsweetened Tom's of Maine stuff. And yes, Tom's of Maine tastes weird when you first try it, but after a couple of weeks, regular toothpaste tastes gross and artificial and ew.

I went out and bought some Tom's strawberry-flavored children's toothpaste because my only non-mint adult options were fennel (?) and cinnamon clove. And I'm a big baby. (They have an orange-mango, but either my local Duane Reade doesn't carry it, or they were out.)

And there do exist cough drops without menthol. Apparently those Luden's (music warning: apparently, there's a Luden's song and it will start playing automatically at that link) that everyone told you were just candy? They have pectin in them which coats the throat. And Pine Brothers does the same with glycerin. 

So I'm covered, but I'll just have to make sure not to forget myself in the throes of the holiday spirit and accept some peppermint bark or something equally reckless.

But if this works, then I'll be migraine-free and able to eat all the foods that give me migraines. I don't know what I'll have first - yogurt or lemonade. Or maybe I'll really go wild and have cold cuts.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Showtime on the Subway

T Dancer
Photo credit: Bart Everts
There are few things that will strike fear (or anger) in the heart of the New York City subway rider than the word, "Showtime."

Those of you who know what I'm talking about have just shuddered. For the rest of you, here's how it goes down.

Two to five young men get on the train together, and one announces, "Showtime, showtime. What time is it?" and the others respond, "Showtime!" One of them may ask people to move out of the way because, "we're going to do a show." Then one of them turns on the most obnoxiously loud boom box you've heard since the last time.

And then the dancing begins. And by dancing, I mean stunts with a little break dancing thrown in. Back when this nonsense first started, there was just one dance crew that did it - one older boy and his two younger brothers. The younger ones did the worm and a trick where they formed a human wheel and rolled down the filthy subway floor. I'm surprised I didn't catch hepatitis just from watching them.

Nowadays, there are plenty of dance crews, and it's all about the pole work. Hanging off the poles, right in someone's face as they try to ignore the dancers, usually. I keep waiting for one of them do this right in front of me, so I can flip them off.

When they're done, they go around passing the hat, often declaring how they're doing this to stay out of trouble and saying how at least they're not breaking the law. Which is total bullshit because dancing and panhandling on the subway is illegal and they could get arrested for it.

I don't know what's worse - the loud music that hurts the ears and head, the danger of getting kicked in the head or knee, or the people who are actually amused and impressed by this.

On our way home Friday night, HA had a team of three in the subway car with us, while there was a solo act in the very next car. We thought that maybe they were together, but no. The solo guy came into our car and started talking shop with the other guys, and it was clear that they they weren't together.

Solo guy may be the only subway dancer in the city who's "afraid" (his word) to do back flips on the subway because he might kick someone. Bless his heart.

We also learned that he made $2 in the next car, which he didn't seem to think was much. One of the guys from the group broke off and went into that car, and after the next stop, actually started a solo routine of his own. After most of the people in there had just seen a dancer. 

The fucking nerve.

For a moment, I thought solo guy was going to start his act in our car, but no. He packed up his things, stayed on a few stops and went home.

This really has to stop. There has got to be someplace in the city where young men can dance and get paid for it by easily impressed white people without harassing people who don't want to be bothered. It's almost enough to make me miss that fascist Rudy Giuliani. Almost.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Short-Term Marriage

Photo credit: pholl000
His Awesomeness and I celebrated out ten-year anniversary as a couple by checking out the Magritte exhibit at MoMA and going out to dinner. I love surrealism, but I do reach a point when I'm all, "Come on, René. Now you're just being weird for the sake of being weird." Especially when the painter known for a painting a pipe labelled, "This is not a pipe" also has a painting of a pipe labelled "pipe." This is really unfair to one of the pipes (one of them gets to be pipe, and the other gets to be famous), and also unfair to everyone on the planet because clearly, Magritte is just messing with us.

HA can take all the surrealism you can dish out, because he's a surrealist at heart. The marmoset story was just the tip of a very strange iceberg. 

At dinner (French restaurant because we honeymooned in Paris - they brought me an entire jug of cornichons to go with my pâté, which is the most civilized thing EVER), we started talking about those short-term marriage contracts that you sometimes read about in science fiction, and that Mexico City actually talked about trying a couple of years ago.

The idea is that if you only get married for two years at a time, you won't take your spouse for granted. You'll stay on your best behavior, won't let yourself go, all the hopes of renewing the contract. And if you do split up, it'll be easier legally than a divorce. 

When I first read about this in some science fiction book in my twenties, I thought it was quite practical. Now, I see it as ridiculously impractical. For starters, it's just one more thing for couples to argue about. "What do you mean you only want the five year marriage? Why not the ten year?" and so on.

Then, how are you supposed to get a fifteen or thirty mortgage together if your marriage contract isn't for that long? Are banks going to get on board with that?

What about adoption? No one's giving a child to a couple who isn't sure they'll be together in five years - not when there are still theoretically permanent marriages around.

Marriage requires a great deal of optimism. Screw that self-sacrificing "marriage is not for you" crap. Marriage is an agreement to put up with someone else because you get something out of the relationship. I requires a leap of faith that they won't suck the life out of you, and that they'll make you happy more than they'll annoy the Hell out of you.

Marriages end for loads of reasons, but I'm not sure that they can ever start with the feeling that you'll only be able to put up with each other for five years.

A quick note: I've started a food writing blog - The Famished Freelancer. I'm planning to keep posting here Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while posting there Tuesday and Thursday.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Women in Film (or Not)

Alone in a Movie Theater
Photo credit: Sarah_Ackerman
So some movie theaters in Sweden are going to start rating movies based on whether or not they pass the Bechdel test. What's the Bechdel test, you ask? 

To pass the Bechdel test, a movie has to have two (2) female characters, who talk to each other, about something besides a man. These characters do not even have to be named.

You know what movie fails the Bechdel test?

Almost all of them.

Even though it's not that hard. This past weekend, HA and I watched Iron Sky, a Finnish satire about Moon Nazis, for fuck's sake, and it passed the Bechdel test. 

Only one of the eight Harry Potter films passes the test. The books pass, but when things get cut between book and film, women get cut first. 

I was discussing this with His Awesomeness, a filmmaker himself, and he pointed out that the Bechdel test is problematic. 

HA: Look at Gravity. Sandra Bullock is on screen the whole movie, playing an astronaut, but it fails the test.

Me: Movies with two characters aren't the issue. We don't get pissed off that Waiting for Godot has no women in it. It's the ones with a cast of thousands, but none with boobs.

HA: What about Star Wars? Princess Leia goes around kicking ass.

Me: And they couldn't cast a single woman to run around in the background to climb into an x-wing. Or be support crew. Are X-wings piloted with penises? The rebellion is so inclusive (as opposed to the all white Empire) that they even include clumsy, annoying Jar Jar Binks in the party. But still no girls?

It isn't the only thing that we should be measuring films by, but representation matters. I just read in Entertainment Weekly that they deliberately decided to make the new elf character they created for the latest Hobbit movie a woman because otherwise, it's a complete a total sausage-fest.

Back when we were dating, HA subjected me to Lawrence of Arabia. All four hours of it. It's a beautiful movie, don't get me wrong. But it wasn't long before I was wondering where the hell the women were. Not a single one. Not in the background. Nowhere. When the Arabs rode  off into battle, I finally yelled at the TV, "Where the hell are the ululating women?! You cannot ride into battle without ululating women!" And then they appeared, way off in the distance, completely covered so they could've been the male extras from other scenes dressed differently.

Lawrence of Arabia is a boy movie.

Not because it's about war and battle and stuff like that. But because there are no women in it.

Now, I love Star Wars. I even found a way to love Attack of the Clones. (I decided that it was a short film about Yoda and Christopher Lee having a fight and blocked out the rest.) But come on, guys. Girls can fly space ships too. Having a teenaged girl running a planet is more plausible than having no women in your air force.

If a movie with fucking Moon Nazis can remember that women exist, then it shouldn't be that hard for everyone else. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Look - Baby Animals!

This weekend I went to the Prospect Park Zoo with a friend to check out the five-month old baby red pandas. But those weren't the only zoo babies. The Himalayan Baboons have a little addition - Momma keeps leading him/her around by the tail, which is as effective as it is hilariously adorable.

Total bonus - the marmoset had given birth the day before. 

Dudez - day-old baby marmosets. Mucho cuteness. All three of them were hanging onto Momma Marmoset, positioned so that they were almost perfectly camouflaged. 

Here they are with arrows so you can see them better:

They're so wee tiny, I could probably hold all three mini-marmosets in my hand at once. 

I was so blown away by the cuteness, that I forgot which animals they were almost immediately. I'm pretty sure they're marmosets - and there's nothing online about any zoo babies at the Prospect Park Zoo besides the red pandas. If I'm wrong, please tell me in the comments - after a while, all the adorably fluffy primates start to blend together.

It was kept such a secret that the volunteers didn't even know - the one who was stationed by their habitat had heard about it from a patron. She said that the keepers must've known since they examine all the animals, but didn't tell anyone else for some reason.

I imagine they didn't want to freak out the poor critters by having a baby watch going on. I mean, no wonder there are so few pandas being born - no privacy, lots of pressure. 

I was pretty beat after all the walking around and zoo-ing, so when I got home, I took a little nap. But first, I asked His Awesomeness to tell me a story about marmosets. 

So he told me about Trevor the marmoset who has no wisdom teeth (because none of them do - he was sneaking peeks at the WIkipedia). The other zoo animals give him a hard time about it, but he doesn't mind. Who needs wisdom teeth anyway? Trevor watches Seinfeld reruns along with the zookeeper, who doesn't realize that Trevor is watching along through the glass between his habitat and the zoo office. Trevor's favorite character is Newman and he claps whenever Newman comes on. 

Trevor is also friends with Paul McCartney. They correspond by letter - Trevor dictates his letters to the zookeeper using sing language. And when Sir Paul is in town, they jam together, usually on rock n roll oldies. 

Trevor is a very implausible marmoset.

I mean, come on. How can the zoo keeper not notice that he's watching Seinfeld with him?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I decided a while ago that the anniversary of The Kid leaving us was going to be significant. That once it was past, I would feel better, less angry, less hurt. 

The feelings were in my head, so deciding that they were going to change on a certain date seemed perfectly reasonable. So now that the anniversary of that ridiculously crappy week is past, have I experienced all sorts of healing?

Eh. I dunno. 

I've started seeing a homeopath who started me on some drops for my PTSD. That's helped quite a bit, and I'm not obsessing over the events of that week, or other lousy, horrible, why is everything so fucking hard events that occurred in the weeks leading up to that week. We tried so hard to be a family, and then we weren't. 

And as we were packing up the pieces, we also had to sift through the sodden rubble at my parents' house, and help my relatives figure out if organizations handing out money were legit, or trying to steal Sandy victims' personal info (they were legit), and bringing whatever material comforts we could (we made grilled cheese sandwiches for my parents, as we were heroes). 

So a year later, what's left? Physical scars, of course. Emotional scars? Well, I may smack the next person who spouts platitudes at me, but I'm feeling a certain absence of anger. Because I decided it would be gone by now. Because there's no point anymore. Because a horrible thing happened - a series of horrible things happened - and there's no changing that.  Because it was inevitable, given The Kid's background and the complete cluelessness of the social workers who were supposed to be supporting us. 

But there are kids who do want to be part of a family without fighting every second of the day. There are excellent social workers out there who don't undermine and sabotage placements. I'm ready to believe that things will work out next time. 

So I guess, yeah. I'm feeling better because I decided to be. Thanks to everyone for being so supportive and thoughtful. 

We also had our wedding anniversary this week. That's right - the shit hit the fan with The Kid the day after our fifth wedding anniversary. Maybe that's why I gave this first traumaversary so much weight - we had to move the hell past it so that it didn't color every wedding anniversary afterwards. 

We went shopping at Target, which is a rare treat for us, but is totally normal for most of you. On the way there (on the subway), it was like we were riding the covered wagon into town, discussing the random items that we were going to get. A wall mirror. Slippers. A skillet. 

I remember back before the big box stores when you couldn't buy slippers and a mirror at the same place. It still seems unnatural to me. His Awesomeness also scored a pair of Batman boxers with detachable cape. He has already run around the bedroom wearing them so I could see the cape trail behind him.

We were so tired after shopping that I turned to him on the way home, and said, "Do you know the sexiest thing you could say to me right now? 'Let's stay in and order Indian food.'" So we postponed our traditional French dinner (we honeymooned in Paris) and ate in. We did do the traditional watching of the wedding video.

In a couple of weeks, we'll have another anniversary - the tenth anniversary of when we became a couple. This blows my mind and also makes perfect sense because life before HA is kinda vague. I know there was a time when I wasn't surrounded by Doctor Who, but I can't quite remember it. 

There is great comfort in how long this guy has been in my life, making me laugh and letting me sing him spontaneously composed songs about him. Even without a kid, we've been a family for quite some time.