Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bulletin Boarder Patrol

Portland isn't like other places I've lived.

For example, when I say, I was at the NAACP meeting — here in Portland, that refers to the Neighborly African Americanesque Cupcake Party.

Since I live in Southeast Portland, the only thing brown was the baked goods.

Since I live in Southeast Portland, the cupcakes were not the only things baked.

Yes, we had so much fun watching the Obama speech on Thursday, we almost forgot we were supposed to be having a neighborhood meeting, until Neighbor "Chops" called us to order.

We need a neighborhood bulletin board, she said.

What for?
Asked Neighbor Señor Reverbo.

, Chops said.

You mean something like they have at campsites? Neighbor The Breeder asked, deftly juggling her nursing baby and her ninth cupcake.

Can we post campground rules? the lovely Señora Reverba wondered.

And maybe a map of all my dog's unpicked up poop the Breeder added.

Presumably she meant so she could get around to picking up said poop, not because she thinks the rest of us really want to know where to find the little treasures.

Can we build it out of bamboo? asked Señor Reverbo, explaining that his yard is still plagued by intruding offshoots of a bamboo plant that belonged to a neighbor who moved away four years ago.

Get yourself a panda bear I suggested.

We thought we'd put it on wheels Chops said. So everybody could share it.

The panda bear? I asked.

No, the neighborhood bulletin board she said.

If it's on wheels, won't it be unstable? Neighbor Dawg asked.

Name one person or thing on this block that isn't unstable I challenged.

We'll need to have something dimensional for the roof Chops said.

I'm already dementional her dear Dawg observed.

Can we put solar-powered LED lights on it? Chops wondered.

Won't that attract the wrong element? asked the Wanderer (a visitor to our dear city).

We are the wrong element his hostess explained.

Unstable we may be, but that doesn't mean we aren't Eager Beaver-Staters. Before you know it, we had a rough sketch of the bulletin board, with Chops volunteering some corrugated tin from her old woodstove for the roof, and me volunteering to cannibalize copper pipe from an old hat rack for the frame. Best of all, as with the PTA, we were all quick to volunteer anyone foolish enough to miss the meeting. In this case, that means neighbor Texans Can Be Democrats Too was put down for carpentry duty.

If you were a carpenter, and I were a lady, I sang, we'd be on top of the world, looking down on creation.

No one was exactly sure how we'd con our Texan carpenter into building the bulletin board. I suggested we all pretend he was at the meeting and had agreed to it, in the hopes we could induce false memory syndrome.

Bamboo + booze = bamboozled said Señor Reverbo.

There better be some good shit on this bulletin board, if we're going to all this trouble Señora Reverba said.

That reminds me, said the Breeder, can we put poop bags on the board?

You do mean EMPTY poop bags, right? I asked. Which it turns out she did.

We then debated which was more likely to pee/pooh on a neighbor's lawn, the Breeder's free-range dog or the Breeder's free-range two-and-a-half year old.

Let's get back to business Chops said.

Which caused the entire group to offer up a rousing rendition of Business Time.

Chops persisted. What are our action statements?

Where'd you get another Rolling Rock? Dawg asked.

I haven't seen any action in a while the Wanderer said.

Can I sing MacArthur Park now? the Breeder asked, then immediately belted out Someone left the cake out in the rain.

Actually, it was more like No Cupcake Left Behind, since by then she had downed two more.

Luckily, about that time someone moved to adjourn the meeting. Someone else seconded. The vote was unanimous.

I was charged with writing up the minutes and posting the action items.

If only we had a nice bulletin board to put them on.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

First the Veep, then the Weep

I'm as sappy as a mugful of Canadia's maple finest.

It's true.

I've been moved to tears by a tender McDonald's commercial.

And I've been a vegetarian since the Carter Administration.

So you can imagine how misty I got over the whole I-Have-a-Dream-that-one-day-little-black-delegates-and-little-white-
has-a-chance-in-hell-of-beating-the-Republican thing.

Maybe I wasn't exactly bawling for Barack. Not waving the Sobama for President sign.

But still, I was as choked up as joked up as I watched the speech tonight.

Pardon my getting so emotional. It's just been a rather historically significant week.

I frolicked in a field of bison.

Lounged in lovely Lake Tahoe.

Redeemed more than just my Frequent Flyer miles.

And proved that a Democrat could actually cry tears of JOY about a presidential election.

Once the nominee finished his speech, I composed myself long enough to scarf down a couple of the Obama cupcakes neighbor Charity served up for the occasion.

How exactly are they Obama cupcakes?
I asked.

Well, they're black
Charity answered.

Apparently negro is actually just an antiquated way to say chocolate.

I'm not sure what that means about German Chocolate Cake.

But if Obama can bring us a hot cocoa in every pot, I'm pretty sure he's got the women's vote locked down.

Monday, August 25, 2008

In Tune with the Electorate

It's a short hop between democracy in action and democracy inaction.

I had to work late tonight. But I wanted to see how the head donkeys would package Michelle Obama. So I begged my client to watch the Democratic National Convention with me while we toiled away.

Didn't we just watch the Olympics? he complained.

I actually hadn't watched the Olympics, which means I was running dangerously low on Exposure to Inspirational Personal Stories. Happily, night one of the convention delivered like a pimply-faced seventeen year-old with a light-up Domino's sign stuck on the roof of his rusting 1992 Ford Escort.

I am not going to knock Michelle Obama. Honestly, her occasional verbal flubs as she read off the teleprompter made her seem more genuine. More average American.

Although actually the average American doesn't read much at all.

But I was a little perturbed when her speech ended and the band struck up Isn't She Lovely.

Lovely? Is that the best they could say about a graduate of Princeton and Harvard?

Couldn't they have found something a little more offensive? Maybe Brown Sugar or Got a Black Magic Woman?

One can only imagine what they have planned for Hilary Clinton.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

From the Touching to the Tasteless

I know, you have been up all night. Night after night. Wondering. Worrying.

Where is Macaronimaniac? Why has the frequency of posting dropped off to a such a tragical trickle?

Sorry. I was out doing all sorts of things worth blogging about. So many I've had no chance to blog about them.

So without further ado, here is some eco-friendly, earth-saving, environmentally-sensitive material.

That means recycled.

First Recyclable:
Holly and Justin have been our neighbors for 3 years. About 2 months into those 3 years, they had kid #1. Which means said kid is deep into the Terrible Two's.

We are doing everything we can to help. Which mostly consists of reminding them that their baby monitor signal reaches to our house, and they are welcome to bring it over any time and have a martini with us.

The martini-with-static-purr lure was quite strong for a while there. But it hadn't worked of late, because Holly had been preggers with kid #2. Now he's finally arrived, and in addition to running the Feeders and Breeders program here in Portland RFD, I thought we should celebrate the blessed event with a nice hand-crafted baby gift.

Something the new parents and the sometimes delightful and charming, sometimes babymeltdown-goes-nuclear older sister can all enjoy.

As for the baby, we didn't really bother trying to please him. Being as all he really enjoys is the boob, and he's already got two of those to choose from.

But we do hope one day he will enjoy this. If his sister hasn't chewed it to bits by the time he's cognizant.

Isn't that so sweet you just need a damn insulin shot?

We got it done at Walgreen's, of course. Not actually the Walgreen's across the street. I wrote the poem. Cheez and I screwed around in photoshop. We uploaded the results. I arranged them. We hit done. And they processed it who knows where.

The shipping cost more than the book itself. But hey, if you want a copy, lemme know, because Walgreen's will be happy to ship you one, too. Why should baby Wyatt be the only one to enjoy Holly's boob?

Second Recyclable:
Having Seussified ourselves with that enterprise, we turned to preparing a piece for this year's Richard Foreman Festival.

For those of you too lazy to click on the link in that last sentence, let me sum up what you missed (albeit shorter and without the funny):
Step 1: artists in a variety of media are given 14 pages of disembodied dialogue written by avant-garde playwright Richard Foreman.

Avant-garde for those of you who do not have a liberal arts degree means no one knows what the hell he is talking about.

Not even him.

Maybe especially not him.

Step 2: Said artists have 10 days to create an original work based on the dialogue.

Some artists choreograph and perform original dances.

Some artists compose and perform original music.

Some artists stage and perform original one-act plays.

And then there is Macaroni and her squeeze the Cheez.

We took random lines from the already seemingly random dialogue and hand-crafted beautiful illustrations, with all the talent of . . . well, let's just say we're a little advanced over Wrigley, but not much.

But don't take my word for it. See it for yourself. I think you'll find this one is touching in only the most literal sense.

In the live performance arty version, we started with a quick thumb wrestle onstage, then I read the passages and showed the images while Cheez played "Under My Thumb" on guitar.

Not exactly Karen Finley shoving a yam up her butt, but cut us some slack. It was 100 degrees the night of the performance. No one wants orificial art when it's that hot.

And really, we have a whole Yamhill of art up our butts, most days.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

O Henry

Going on a lousy first date can be hard.

Especially if you're in a long-term monogamous relationship.

But my squeeze the Cheez and I managed it.

Though we couldn't have done it without Doc Henry, as we like to call him. Since Doc Henry was really the one whose first date it was.

We were just the collateral damage at the next table, watching Doc Henry set off a series of incendiaries that pretty much decimated any chance of him getting any.

Cheez and I were in Seattle for a nice romantic getaway. Bear in mind, for us that means two nights at the Travelodge.
Dig that Groovy Water Feature

Well, the Travelodge wasn't our first choice.

Or our second. Or third.

But last Friday was the eighth of August. As in 8/8/08. And 8 being a lucky number, everyone of Chinese ancestry from here to Hong Kong was attending a wedding. So most hotels were booked full by the time we got around to planning our semi-spontaneous getaway.

Okay, it's an exaggeration to say every Chinese-American was at a wedding. One was just on a bad first date.

Oh, it looked promising at first. At first being when Cheez and I turned up at a sweet little French bistro in downtown Seattle. We were starving. I surveyed the occupied tables like a . . . well, like a blogger so famished she can't come up with a witty metaphor.

That couple should be leaving soon I observed to the Cheez. They've got dessert and they're pawing each other.

It's true that for a Jewish woman, dessert IS foreplay. But apparently not for Doc Henry. Because he and his date stayed at that table for another whole hour after dessert, providing a veritable Dinner Theater of Dating Don'ts for me and the Cheez to observe, seated as we finally were 8 not-so-lucky inches away.

Maybe I am narrow minded, but any conversation that includes the query So how do you usually meet people, besides Speed Dating? seems about as awkward as the Science Fair blue ribbon winner at the 9th grade dance.

Or really as awkward as that same geek some thirty-plus years later, when he is on his first date since his divorce became final six months ago.

How did we know this was his first ate since his divorce became final six months ago? Because he told the lucky lady, This is my first date since my divorce became final six months ago. Loudly.

Just as loudly as he told her I am the best eye doctor for your daughter to see. (Er, is juvenile optometry code for some sort of consenting adult sex game no one told me about? Do you prefer position 1 or 2? 1 or 2?)

Also as loudly as he told her My income has taken a real hit this year, since I opened the second office.

And I don't date Chinese women, they're too flat-chested.

And I wouldn't use an online dating service. You just get stuck with some divorcee with a couple of kids.

That was the moment when the date finally broke in to remind him that she was divorced and had a kid. Luckily, he reassured her that a divorcee with one kid was okay for him to date. Because he is only going to date someone he can be serious about, and when he gets married again, he'll want to have two or three kids, until he has a son, so the new wife having one kid of her own was okay (presumably this would be some proof of her fertile ability to produce said son of a Henry), but more than that would be a problem, crowding out all his future progeny and all.

I don't know why this line of reasoning didn't have the date running screaming from the restaurant.

I'm not even sure why it didn't have those of us at the next table running screaming from the restaurant.

In contrast to the first date from hell, there sat Cheez and I, who have been together so long that even you, dear reader, know our cutsey-wootsie, doofy-oofy pet names for each other.

We have also been together so long we can communicate long, complicated thoughts with just a few coded words.

Thank god. Because Doc Henry was showing no signs of leaving, and we were about to freakin' explode if we couldn't start mocking him immediately.

Do you remember in grad school? I asked. Yes Cheez answered.

In normal speak, this means:
Do you remember in grad school how Rosemary always had a million crazy jobs to supplement her grad school stipend, including volunteering for medical experiments, driving restaurant meals to celebrities too lazy to leave their homes, and working for that service in which a loser guy pays some astute woman to go on a date with him and then critique everything he does wrong on the date because his lovelife sucks so bad there is no way that he is ever going to have a real relationship without some woman like Rosemary comporting herself like a bizarre cross between Henry Higgins and Chuck Woolery to give him personal instruction on how to make a Love Connection?

To his credit, the eye doctor had at least picked a nice white-tablecloth restaurant. Which was good, because by the time he got around to asking his date So, are you into Asians? we were pretty much waving our white tablecloth as a flag of surrender.

Needless to say, we won't be asking him out on a second date.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Portland RFD

What makes this city different from all others?For starters, there was the story in today's paper about the quintessential Portland crime: Two twenty-somethings scaled the Morrison Bridge to protest climate change by unfurling a spray painted bed sheet.

How was it the quintessential Portland crime?

Was it the fact that they had full mountain-climbing gear? That they gave themselves up without any resistance, as the crowd of passersby literally applauded their gesture? That they will be sentenced to community service?

No, non, and nyet. It was that the photo in the Oregonian accompanying the story was of the firefighter who climbed up after the protesters, untied the sheet, then folded it and gave it back to them.

As if it isn't nauseatingly sweet enough that a fellow Portlander will stop you if you've dropped your wallet, left your iPod, or otherwise accidentally offloaded something of value. Now the uniformed guardians of public safety will hand you back the instrument with which you have committed a crime.

Of course, we do have violent crimes here, just like any big city. A couple years ago, my squeeze the Cheez was visiting a friend in Los Angeles, from whence he reported to me, courtesy of the cellular telephone machine, on their evening activities:

John and I were in his backyard, enjoying a drink. It was a beautiful evening, warm weather, garden abloom, a full moon ... against which I noticed the silhouette of the LAPD chopper.

Turns out, one of John's neighbors was dealing drugs. Another neighbor called the police. The drug dealing neighbors responded by throwing a Molatov cocktail through the house of the diligent 911 dialers.

I couldn't have felt a greater synergy if I were Tina Brown spewing buzzwords circa 1998. Because it turns out that same day, we had a shaker full of Molotov cocktail here, too.

Of course, in Portland the Molotov cocktail was thrown through the window of an about-to-open Starbucks, by someone concerned about how locally-owned business would suffer upon the arrival of the mean, green, mega-mocha machine.

It's amazing we don't all have eczema, we're so sensitive here.

All this small town sweetness still feels a little weird to me. I grew up in what you might call a tony neighborhood. If by tony neighborhood you mean a neighborhood where there were a lot of guys named Tony. And no shortage of pepperoni, Camaros, and that ever-present miasma of Paco Rabanne.

My young friend Mary lives in that other kind of tony neighborhood, the kind where you don't usually see your neighbors, just their gardeners. So I wondered what she would think when she came to visit Portland this past week.

On her previous visit here, Mary was three years old and referred to her parents' bright red rental car as Elmo. Now Mary is ten years old, and referred to the teens hanging on Hawthorne as Emo.

But her most Portland experience happened downtown, as far as I can tell somewhere around Pizza Shmizza.

Even I am susceptible to performing acts of aggressive thoughtfulness. Last Thursday, I found myself standing at the Walgreen's picking up a photo order, and the clerk noticed I was holding a stack of paper.
Passing out flyers? she asked.

Yes I said, showing her the Breeders and Feeders headline as I explained that our neighbors just had a baby, and I was organizing the bring-a-casserole patrol.

When did I become this wholesome? I wondered aloud.

That's how it is now the Walgreen's clerk commiserated cheerfully. It's a return to old-fashioned ways.

She smiled with delight at this Mayberry-worthy behavior, the bright Walgreen's floresence bouncing off her Goth-black hair and making her in-one-nostril-and-out-the-other nose ring gleam.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Talking Sh-t

My father was an engineer. He was an adherent of rigid methodologies and a quoter of pithy maxims. Consider, for example, one of his premier policies on childrearing: Don't say shit in front of the K-I-D-S.

In fact, he did say shit, and a whole lot of other curse words, in front of me and my s-i-b-l-i-n-g-s. My younger brother and I whiled away several (of the many) bored hours of our suburban teen years by compiling The List of Dad's Top Ten Phrases Using Shit or Ass. Given our father's outstanding vocabulary, we deemed any phrases using synonyms of shit or ass to also be fair game for inclusion.

We were, of course, being raised in New York, were cursing is kind of like drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day. Not everyone does it, but still it seems like it's physically necessary. New Yorkers use the word fuck as every conceivable (no pun intend) part of speech.

Fuck you, you fucking fuck, a New Yorker might say, in the midst of choking an adversary to death with the bare hands.

Or, alternately, the same phrase can be delivered with a warm handshake and loving pat on the back, to mean something like Congratulations on the promotion, to think you made partner at your age!

My mother, though she cursed as often as my father, drew the line on using the f-word in front of us k-i-d-s. Or, to be more accurate, she drew the line on finishing the f-word in front of us, typically catching herself partway into uttering the obscenity.

At which point she would pretend she was really just using some Yiddish word. That's the most f-arshimlt thing I've ever heard! or What kind of a f-achadeh idea is that?

Which is why about 80% of the Yiddish words I know start with F, and, in my mind at least, are all synonyms for fuck, no matter how innocuous their real definitions.

Yiddish was actually my mother's first language, and my parents used to speak it whenever they wanted to say something in front of us kids without us understanding what they were saying. Every so often, my mother would let us know what a key phrase meant, when it was to her advantage. When she wanted one of us to get lost, she'd say gay kackin afinyam, which we all knew meant go shit in the lake.

Never mind that the closest any of us came to a lake was our backyard swimming pool, where we were definitely NOT supposed to be shitting.

But mostly my Yiddish knowledge is fairly spotty, thanks to it being the equivalent of Navajo code-talking in my childhood home.

Neighbor Holly's father is also a big curser, one of his favorite exclamations when things are going well being Now we're sucking some cock.

A rather astounding choice for a sixty-four year-old straight man.

We have bowdlerized that one to Now we're sealing with caulk, which seems a little more appropriate to say in front of his not quite three-year-old granddaughter.