Monday, June 21, 2004

I was at the mall today with my son--a task that can either prove to be daunting or one that can be lots of fun depending on his mood. I've always had the biggest beef about improper use of apostrophes, but as we walked by various stores, my gripe turned from mild irritation to full-on exasperation.

Has our society become so lazy that we've recklessly abandoned one of the most basic tools in English?

I'll admit I was not thrilled of my grammar class in seventh grade--the year we dissected sentences and were immersed in punctuation. After all, I had Sister Elizabeth as my English teacher. She was pushing 85 at least and she was one hairy broad. She never shaved her legs and her hairs were so black and coarse up against her pantyhose they looked like morning glory vines without the pretty flowers.

I could remember struggling with present- and past-perfect tenses and dangling participles, but never considered apostrophes a challenge. I was no brainiac either--so I could never understand why apostrophe usage is so difficult to master.

When I began volunteer work as a "community moderator" for iVillage I noticed people posting on message boards were not always mindful of their errors. At first, I let is slide; but then it began to bother me to the point where I wondered if half of these people slept their way through college (if, in fact, they really did attend college). Little things like using "advise" when they meant "advice" or the ever-present misuse of the apostrophe, in cases like "CD's" or "son's" (as it related to the plural sense).

Having worked in advertising and PR for many years, I guess it's the proofreader in me. As an account person (read: shit rolls downhill) I was always responsible if there were any typos in any published material. But it's deplorable to see typos generated by major corportations such as retailers because they're perpetuating the sort of laziness, backasswardness that drives me utterly insane.

Some of the irksome typos I've encountered:

At the gym: Sport's Bars
At JC Penney (also Boy's Shoes

Hey and how apropos! Here's a sweet, little spam e-mail I received from the Reverend Morgan(
"A few year's ago I was in Liberia where I had established a little congregation where I preached regularly, but the civil war escalated and the church was converted to a hospital of sought. On one faithfull day three Liberian Soldiers,whom l later learnth were special aids to the Liberian former President (Late Samuel Doe) came to me and left one trunk box containing money with me and swore to come back for it. But you guessed it, they never did because,they were among those who were captured and killed by one of the Liberian Rebels then,Charles Taylor,who later became the president,but now in Political Asylum in Nigeria. After this incident,l was left with the box containing about $10 Million Dollars(TEN Million United States Dollars) Because of the risk of keeping the said box on my pocession due to the in-security in my temporary Church/Hospital,l decided to deposite the aid box with a security Finance Firm,which has it's branches in many parts of Europe,Asia,America and Africa. O ver years after this urgly incident,l had tried all l could to locate either the address of the slain Soldiers or any members of their immediate families,but all to no avail..."Morgan(

Gee, you think I oughta send him some money?

I also believe that with the advent of the Internet, many people have slacked off in terms of spelling and proper use of grammar. Do a Google Search of an inaccurate use of apostrophes (like boy's shoes) and you'll be surprised how many retailers come up. At least Google's team is smart enough to ask me if I meant "advice" when I type "I need advise"; but there still several entries with the incorrect word exists.

I have cousins in Germany who are my age and we used to visit them every couple of years. While in Germany, it never ceased to amaze me how perfect my cousins and their friends spoke English--in fact, their speaking my native tongue almost had a lyrical quality to it. It made English sound--pretty. Sad thing is, I know many people who use English as a second language, and have respect for our difficult grammar rules (albeit they are not nearly as difficult as other least in English one does not have to conjugate based on the subject's gender).

So where am I going with this? Can I single-handedly change the American Way of Life by writing some sort of a bill to stop Internet typographical errors? (Hey, if Tim Eyman can write pathetic bills and get them passed, why can't I?) No, sadly not. You can bet, though, that I'm going to be a hardass on my son when he hits seventh grade. By the time he does, however, I believe our entire grammar system will be torn to pieces and soon no one will know the difference between "loose" and "lose."

I've been feeling nostalgic lately. This happens whenever my life is in an upswing, though I can't figure out why--when my natural tendency is to glorify the past, which is anything but glorifiable (Yeah, I just made that up). But lately I've had this urge to get in touch with my Ex. I'm not going to--simply because I'm a believer in letting sleeping dogs lie; but I've been having dreams about him and they've left me wondering what he's been up to.

It's been five years since we last saw each other. He surprised me one day by calling my office to tell me he was in town. We had dinner the following evening and swapped stories: we were both getting married within the year; we had both come to the conclusion that we should never have gotten married to each other; we were both doing very well in our careers; and we both considered one another very dear, lifelong "friends," though we'd used that term loosely since we both decided that our friendship would never be one where we'd invite eachother's families over for a barbeque.
And that was that. The very last time I "talked" to him was in e-mail on September 11. Since he lived in D.C. and commuted to Los Angeles frequently, I was worried about him, but thankfully, all was well. Since then, I have not been back to D.C. and, as far as I know, he has not been back to Seattle.

It's strange for me to think of our lives in segments...especially when there are certain people who remain close to us in every stage. But when my dog (our dog) died last year, he was the last "link" to my former spouse and so in essence, his death sort of ended that chapter of my life. And not to be overly dramatic or anything, but I had to put my dog to sleep on February 27--which would have been our tenth wedding anniversary.

I just can't help but think about how life would have been had we stayed together. Would we have stayed together? It's highly doubtful. We grew apart--and thankfully it was pretty early in life, when we were both still in our twenties. I have no regrets of having met him, or falling in love with him, or even marrying the guy. In fact, I truly believe the crap we went through has helped make me the person I am today, which is both good and bad.

It's good because I met him at a time in my life where I could have just continued down the same, fucked-up path as the rest of my family. I was well on the way to suckville--by junior year of high school I had cut so many classes that I had a 1.8 GPA and had to retake American History in summer school. I had no plans for college--and when we broke up and I had wallowed in my self-pity long enough, I began to turn my life around. I didn't do it for me, though; in fact, I had very low self-esteem and I figured if I could get serious with school and my future, I'd have a better chance at winning his heart again. Pretty pathetic, huh? Well it worked. And we were "together" again by my senior year in high school--although we lived on separate coasts since he was in college in D.C. We got married right after I finished college and I never really took the opportunity to congratulate myself for a job well done, including the 6 out of 8 semesters on the Dean's List.

It took me a long time to realize I had achieved many things in my life to impress other people--rather than doing them for myself. And that's why it never would have worked out for us. There was no "us". There was only him and me for him. But that's the beauty of hindsight.

Anyway, thinking about all of this helps me keep the past in perspective. I won't be getting drunk anytime too soon and start dialing his home--or work.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Only 200 more days left of the Bush Administration.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

He's been parking in front of my house every day now for two years. The Ford Explorer is this ugly beigy/yellow and his driver's side door is rumpled--like it was hit by a dozen shopping carts or he smacked a pole when he opened a door. I guess he doesn't care too much about it, though. Either that or the repair will cost as much as the car and it's just not worth it. Strike one.

I'll call him "Mark" since I know absolutely nothing about this guy, except that he teaches at the middle school; and yet I've been creating this whole world around him for quite some time.

Mark looks like like a pear-shaped Starsky. He's got the same mediterranean-looking features: hawkish nose, football-shaped brown eyes, and tight curly hair that he keeps short. Most of it's brown--except for this patch of yellowy/white that matches the color of his car, which looms just above his dark, furry eyebrows. He wears khakis every single day. Strike two.

He arrives in front of my house at approximately 7:09 every morning. I know this because I'm in the kitchen at that time--patiently waiting for him to get out of his car and walk to school so I can let my dog out to pee. Otherwise, if I let her out while he's still at his car, she comes up to greet him. She did once before and it garnered a rather cold response from Mark. Not a dog lover. Strike three.

Mark is always on his cell phone and I often wonder who in the world he's talking to at 7:09 a.m. Could it be he's waking up his teenage daughter so she's not late for school? Perhaps it's his mistress--someone he ought not be talking to during "regular" hours. I've been going back and forth between these two choices and today I'm going with the mistress. It just seems so much more intriguing, don't you think?

What bugs me most about Mark is that he parks in front of my house every day like it's his own reserved spot. Doesn't matter if our car is next to it or if he's over the 30 foot rule (you can't park 30 feet in front of a stop sign in Seattle). Sometimes if someone leaves either spaces in front of the house in the morning, Mark will move his car to "his spot" at lunchtime--while he's talking on his cell phone.

Mark teaches biology--no wait--it has to be junior high school stuff--ok, he teaches some sort of science. like earth science...yeah, that's it...because he had a "Think Locally, Act Globally" bumper sticker on the back of his Explorer. It's gone now. His wife must've gotten it for him as a gag gift one year for Father's Day...and in order to impress Cyndi (his mistress), he had to peel it off because...well, it's just not cool anymore.

Cyndi is 22. She's a geology major at UW. They met at the Wallingford Tully's--Mark's lunch spot, where he'd eat a packaged tuna salad sandwich on ciabatta bread from "Mostly Muffins" everyday. Cyndi was instantly drawn to Mark's little white patch of hair on his head and soon, she would hide the last tuna salad sandwich for Mark so that no one else would snap it up first. Mark didn't notice Cyndi at first--but when she pulled the hidden sandwich out of the small fridge behind the counter, he smiled and said "thanks" and put an extra quarter in the tip jar. He sat down to eat it with the Naked Juice he bought every day and watched as Cyndi helped customers. She was perpetually tan from the salon down the street and she wore a tiny stud in her nose. He baby blue shirt was short enough so he could see her brown, lean waist peeking out from umnderneath the brown standard-issue apron. After she took change from the last cutomer in line, she looked over and caught Mark staring at her. She smiled and wiping her hands on her apron, came around the counter.

"How's the sandwich?" she asked.

"Fine, thanks," Mark replied. He was a little caught off guard by the way she came over and sat down across from him.

"I'm Cyndi," she said, extending her right hand.

"Mark," he said, hoping he didn't have slivers of red onions stuck between his teeth.

They chit-chatted about the weather and when she asked what he did for a living she exclaimed, "Oh no way! I'm a geology major!"

That was how their relationship started. They've been meeting secretly at the Bridge Way Motel for a little over a month now. She brings the tuna sandwiches with her.

Today's the last day of school. Mark is wearing his khakis as usual, but something seems a little different about him. His hair is a little tousled on top; and instead of wearing a button-down shirt, he's wearing a black and blue-striped henley. I can see a black necklace hugging his collar. He's walking with a spring in his step and I was even tempted to let the dog out this morning to see if he'd pet her.

Who knows--maybe Mark will trade in the Explorer for something sportier. Cyndi wants him to get an Acura TSX, but Mark thinks that's a little too young for him. He'd love to get a Solara convertible, but could never afford one on his teacher's salary. Maybe a Bug.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Notes to interior dialogue while running...

Warm-up: 10 min/mile, first minute
Oh God this is killing me...I haven't run in a few weeks. Ugh. Oh, I'm such a slow poke.

Just keep going. Look outside the window at the canal below. Keep breathing...

(Listening to Dee-lite's "Power of Love" on MP3 player)
Hey, this is a great song. Always reminds me of my last spring break in school when I went to Havasu with Janey. God I hated Janey. What a bitch. I only liked her because she had access to a condo in Havasu.

You're so incredibly two-faced!

I am not. She was such a bitch...and I only fully realized it in Havasu.

I wonder what she's up to now?

Last I heard she was some sort of manager at Sunset Studios...

Why is it the first mile is always the hardest?

Cos you haven't run in over a week, lazy-ass!

Don't call me lazy-ass! I have a toddler to chase down every day.

Yeah and you could be using the baby jogger, too, ya know.

I didn't come here to have a guilt-ridden conversation with myself, I came here to have a good run.

It's nice outside. Why didn't you run outside instead?

I dunno. Creature of habit I guess.

Oh come on and admit it. You're hoping to run into Dave Matthews again.

Yeah but that's not why I'm running on the treadmill.

Uh-huh. Last time he got on the treadmill next to you you ran a perfect 8 minute mile. So what do you call that?

Motivation. Besides, it's a moot point. He's probably gone off on tour by now. I haven't seen him here in awhile.

There goes your motivation

(increases speed to 9:13/mile)
There. That feels great.

You still run like a slow poke