Sunday, October 17, 2010


Scene: Having lunch with a good friend

Me: Okay, so you know how I brought up the sperm thing earlier?
[Note: the "sperm thing" is where I asked a nurse (said friend at lunch) whether sperm are independently living animals & then she said they're alive but don't have brains or eyes & I said "how do you know?" & she said "because we have microscopes." I also posted the same question on my medical school sister's facebook wall But anyway]
Her: Yeah
Me: Okay, so like if sperm are living and everything in our bodies is alive like sperm are alive, then what if like we are sperm?

Her: pushes piece of lettuce around on plate What?
Me: I'm not high. I'm saying like, what if we are cells or microscopic in the scope of something bigger? What if we're sperm and like our whole life and existence is brief and meaningless to something much bigger? What if we're bacteria or something and the whole world--the whole universe--is just a different person but it's like so big we can't even fathom...
Her: What?
Me: Okay, like, did you see Men In Black? Because I really feel like that would help. You know how the cat had a whole planet on his collar?
Her: Oh yeah, I saw that.
Me: So you know what I'm talking about then, right? Like what if we're on a cat's collar right now?
Her: I thought we were bacteria?
Me: No, we're sperm. But I'm saying like...what if we're just a small part of something huge?
Her: I really have to pee.
Me: Okay, let's get out of here.
We get up and walk to the car.
Inside car:
Me: obviously not able to let go Okay but like you get it right? Like you know how bacteria eat and reproduce and stuff and their lives are so short but we don't know what's going on among them. We don't know that they don't talk or fall in love or go shopping. They're so small that we might not be able to understand their lives. What if that's us?
Her: I really have to pee or like poop.
Me: We're close to your place. Okay like I saw this thing on the Discovery Channel or the History Channel or some shit, I dunno, but like scientists found these rocks in the desert with bacteria living in them--they were living off of the sodium in the rock. What if that's all we are? Bacteria living off of salt deposits in rocks in the desert? But like there's other rocks that have other bacteria that we don't even know about & there's the whole desert & the whole planet that the desert's on. You know, like, what if bacteria can't even comprehend that we exist? That could fucking be us, dude. That could be us.
Her: Poop.
Me: It's funny how I feel like I'm communicating this really deep and profound concept & all you think about it is "poop."
Her: I just really have to poop. I think it was all the sperm talk.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

For the Love of Money

I know I will come under a lot of fire for saying this but after careful consideration, I've come to the conclusion that I'd much rather be rich and single than poor and in love.

This point of view is NOT to be confused with the concept that money is greater than love.
I could NEVER believe in that: I strongly feel that love between ALL people is what's missing in this world.
Love alone could solve mankind's mistakes. A quote I hold dear to my heart is one by Helen Keller, "It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui."

But I think there is more to life than getting married and having babies, I think there's more to life than having a soulmate. (& I'm not saying that both of those aren't goals of mine for someday in the VERY distant future).

What I'm saying is simply: I would rather be rich and single than poor and in love. Before you get your panties in a twist, don't assign more to that statement than what's there.

I absolutely hate when people say, "My life didn't have meaning until I met you."
That's just terrible--how could all of your life, ever, not have meant anything? You have to have other things you love about your life, other people you love, & you have to love YOURSELF as an independent person--your whole value shouldn't be contingent upon one person (unless it's your child).

Anyway, let me get off my soap box & fully explain my rationale.

I think life can still be wonderful without ever having a romantic love.

The key to understanding this is not thinking of money in terms of things but rather experiences and opportunities.-->What Love & Money have in common is the power to change things, money is often looked upon unfavorably (afterall, Love has no adverse consequences & can't fall into the wrong hands & cause catastrophe) but money is the beginning of many wonderful things also.

When I say rich, don't think of a mansion or the fashion & partying.
Don't think of celebrity.

Think of money as the power to set up charities and back research.
& if you're selfish (even the Best of are, sometimes), think of money as the opportunity to travel around the world & see things you might not otherwise see.

I hate to say it, but I'd rather have a scholarship named after me, or have the cure for AIDS found after I donate funding to a determined scientist, & I'd rather see the world than live hand-to-mouth with the love of my life.

& I'm sorry if that makes me superficial.

But I think that lifestyle can ONLY be viewed as sad IF the rich person in question does not love at all.

There are more people to love than a romantic partner, for example family & friends.
There are people more deserving, or people who need it more--the homeless, those living with famine, those who are ill and lack the means to get treated.

As evidence, finally, I offer up the following example of a fulfilled life carried out without romantic love:

Willy Wonka. I think we can all agree that even without ever knowing a woman's warmth, his life was still pretty fantastic and even magical.

But if Willy Wonka is too whimsical for you, I offer up an even more magical & more beautiful life:

Mother Teresa did not focus her love on person but spread it broadly and touched the lives of many.

For all of the above reasons, I stand by my position & openly welcome debate.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Alfred Hisscock <--That's what she said.

A kid I barely knew except through mutual acquaintances was getting ready to start his first semester at Stanford. He was moving into the dorms and more than a little concerned that his pet hissing cockroach would preclude any efforts on his part of securing a mate or making new friends at school.

And thus, I inherited Alfred Hisscock--the hissing cockroach named after the famed filmmaker and producer. & I was in luck; I was taking entomology & we could gain extra credit by keeping a pet insect for a month and keeping a journal of its daily activities.

Alfred was pretty low key. He ate dog biscuits and didn't do much else.

And then one day he started to stink.

I noticed this fact one afternoon as I poured myself a bowl of cereal.
The small reptile cage Alfred lived in was giving off a very light fart odor.
I cleaned out his cage but realized the next afternoon that the smell was getting worse.
I finally caved in one afternoon when I pulled into the driveway and my front yard smelled like I'd left a bowl of brown gravy out on the lawn in the heat.

So Alfred came with me to school where I asked my entomology professor why Alfred smelled so bad.

As it turns out, Alfred was really a girl and in the prime of her life; she was giving off the scent of sex pheromones--a distinctive smell that was meant to draw other cockroaches to her--you know, for reproduction purposes.

"She's horny," is what Dr. Gold told me.
[More or less. I might be paraphrasing.]

Dr. Gold didn't really seem to want a horny hissing cockroach hanging around his office for longer than need be so Alfred came back home with me.

I tried passing her off to whoever would take her;
the kid I got her from didn't want her back,
the pet shops wouldn't take her because she was in heat,
the other entomology students would gladly take her but only because they wanted to kill her and use her carcass as part of their bug display (which was our final grade).
So, what I'm trying to say is, I was stuck with her.

I moved Alfred to the back yard until it started getting too cold.
& then she moved into the garage.
I would have let her continue living in the kitchen, but she still stunk.

To make an already long story shorter, I moved her into the garage.
Which was a bad choice.
Because she still made my house smell like boiled eggs and fish.
But moreover, because apparently the garage was not much warmer than just being outside and she died anyway.

I'd like to pretend she died of loneliness.

But anyway, afterwards, I didn't really know what to do with the body.
I didn't want to bury her because part of me thought it was disrespectful...
So I put her in my freezer.

And she stayed there for two years until I donated her body to science.

This is a true story.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Right Kind of Slutty

I was in the seventh grade and super excited about wearing my new orange tank top to school.
The armpits on my tank top were really long so I wore a pink bandeau underneath (because it totally matched the gigantic pink flower on the front of my tank).
& I was having a great day.

Until recess.

Because at recess, Nina Taimangung, a swarthy Guamanian with a chip on her shoulder, decided to call me a slut.

Nina was upset because she thought my bandeau was a bra and therefore wrongly accused me of choosing my orange tank top because it showed my bra. I had never in my life been called a slut. I'd never even heard anyone use that word in real life. I knew what it meant and I was taken aback.

The whole play ground was looking at me, waiting for my response.
"oh yeah? oh yeah? well...well, I don't like your earrings! so yeah!" was the best I could do.

"Bitch, you wanna' get your ass beat?"

And I swear, I almost pissed myself, right there on the foursquare court.
Fortunately, I was saved by the bell. Recess was over and I managed to camouflage myself in the swarm of kids rushing to their lockers.

At my locker, I tried my best to get my books together in a hurry but to no avail. When I closed my locker door, Nina was standing there. "I said, 'Bitch, do you wanna' get your ass beat?'" And I noticed Nina's click of ne'er-do-wells standing behind her. I took a moment to absorb the image of Nina's corn rows and gigantic hoop earrings. "Did you hear me, trick?"
"Y-y-yes, I heard you. Naw, no thanks. I'd rather not get beat up today."
"So then try not to dress like such a slut when you're at school, ho," and looking over her shoulder, Nina nodded her head forward before addressing her posse, "Let's bounce."

I sighed a deep breath of relief. Nina didn't know me too well.
I was a rebel. From that moment on, I decided to dress like a slut just to spite Nina.
Well, as slutty as my parents and the Killeen ISD dress code would allow.

& for the rest of my life, I dealt with the consequences.
Nina took notice, from seventh grade until sophomore year of high school, everytime she passed me in the hall, she'd shout "SLUT!" at the top of her lungs. Sometimes, she'd just walk behind me repeating it. And then in the summer before Junior year, Nina got knocked up after bumping uglies with her guy behind the local butcher's shop which was across the street from our high school. So I didn't see her for a long time. But other bullies were more than willing to take her place.

I was all too familiar with the girls who'd call me names when their boyfriends said I was pretty--I even stole one girl's boyfriend because she threatened to beat me up. I was shameless.

But I'd like to say this; being bullied and being labeled taught me a lot.

-It taught me to be proud of my body. No matter what, it's mine & it's the only one I'll ever have. My motto was "if you got it, flaunt it." And boy, did I. At 23, my motto has evolved, "If you got it, flaunt it--in moderation." :)
-It taught me that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. You think I liked being called a slut? Or worse, the fact that people believed it and it left room for other rumors to spread. Hell naw! Those were hard times (no pun intended...well, maybe) but I definitely developed a thicker skin.
-It taught me that the best kinds of rumors are the ones you start yourself. I was easy prey for guys who liked to lie and spread stories about me in high school. One poor sucker learned the hard way when I decided that since I couldn't beat his rumor, I'd start my own & I passed out flyers about his lack of bedroom skills. What did I say, no shame.
-It taught me that there is power in embracing your inner slut. Hey, strippers and call girls wouldn't make money if it weren't true. You can get far with a pretty smile and a short skirt. (It sucks, but it's the truth.)
-& Finally, it taught me that what people say about you doesn't matter as much as what you do. My parents were STRICT and while I was no angel, I didn't do half the dirt people pretended I did. I have strong morals and when people got to know me (and still to this day) they realized I was nothing like the rumors.

On my way to synagogue with my mother one morning a couple of years ago, we stopped off at a small gas station in Lampasas. (See, my mother's synagogue is in Austin and we have to drive through the very small town of Lampasas on the way from Killeen.) While my mom pumped fuel into the car, I went inside to pay and grab some coffee. I was filling my coffee cup and someone called my name from behind. I turned to see Nina Taimangung--all grown up and mopping the gas station floor.

"Wow, Nina. Hey."
"Whatsup? I'm surprised you remember me. You still in Killeen?"
"No, I'm in my second year of undergrad now. What about you?"
"I'm living here in Lampasas with my kids. Working here."
"Oh, that's cool, man."
"So what school you go to?"
"I go to A&M up in College Station."
"Eww, you're an Aggie. UT all day."
"Yeah I'm an Aggie & I guess we'll just have to disagree about that whole UT nonsense. But I'll tell you one thing, being an Aggie sure as Hell beats being a gas station janitor."

What did I say? No shame.