I went to a big-ass party and this is what happened. (PTSD post.)

We went to a party on Sunday. It was Callaghan’s company’s “holiday soiree.”

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-holidaysoiree2016

 

(I concealed the names of the company and the party’s hosts.)

If the colors on the invitation seem unusual for such an event, it’s because the party’s theme was “early Mardi Gras.” If you didn’t know, Mardi Gras colors are purple, green, and gold. I’m not sure why it was decided to celebrate the holidays as another holiday that takes place in February, but that’s irrelevant. Well… mostly irrelevant.

We donned the requested semi-formal “festive attire” (I wore a red dress because I was feeling the current season… I wasn’t alone in this), and we ordered an Uber.

The Uber took us to BFE (far away from us, in the middle of nowhere) with no discernible civilization around. We were dropped off in a big-ass parking lot. To enter a big-ass tent. Which led us into a big-ass warehouse. In which there was a big-ass party with roughly 800 people, pretty much in the dark, save for spot lighting here and there.

No part of which agreed with my big-ass case of PTSD.

Not only that, but when we walked into the warehouse, the first thing that happened was a few metallic strings suddenly dropped from the air, straight down, and landed with a clatter on the concrete floor, right in front of my feet. Because, you know, Mardi Gras. It was someone’s role to stand on a second-floor balcony and throw beads down in front of people walking in. This surprise INCOMING situation set me more on edge, though I didn’t show it. I smiled and laughed and talked to people, and I enjoyed the excellent band. I enjoyed meeting some of Callaghan’s co-workers and their wives. I did have a good time in some sense. I focused on that. We stayed for four hours, and I was fine.

Here’s the thing: Like everyone with PTSD, I have some known triggers, and I have some random triggers that can come out of nowhere. I went into the party thinking that my introversion would be the issue, but my panic disorder overrode that completely. It would’ve been great if being an introvert was my biggest challenge.

In response to all of this, I’ve decided to book myself an hour in a sensory deprivation tank.

Yes, you read that right. I’m going to strenuously push my limits in the tank – claustrophobia is one of my issues – and that is the point.

I may never be able to enter a room without immediately looking for the exits and other avenues of escape. I may never be able to sit in a room with my back to the door. But that’s okay. That’s my normal, and those behaviors are valuable, so I have no problems there. Meanwhile, though, I would like to work on lessening the impact of some of my known triggers. Coming out of the party with this realization was the gift of the whole thing. I will act on it! I’ll let you know how it goes.

An aside: I have no pics of us or of the party, I’m sorry to say. There were roaming photographers and co-workers who wanted to take pics, so there are some images floating around somewhere… if I get my hands on one and get the permission of the people in them, I’ll post them at that time.

Our Halloween Laundry Room

On Friday, I wrote about the heartwarming qualities of a well-maintained, staffed Laundromat. It’s entirely coincidental that this morning’s post is also about a laundry space. On Saturday, before I’d decided what to write about for today, Callaghan and I stood in our new laundry room at home talking about the most important feature of that room, which is, of course, that it makes me think of the laundry room in the horror film Halloween. Because we all know that no laundry room is complete without the mental image of a masked killer standing outside of it, watching as you blithely go about the business of doing your laundry.

That original Halloween from 1978? Stands out in my memory as being the movie that sparked my interest in the horror genre, which has long since been one of my favorite film genres. I find the laundry room scene in that movie to be a wonderful scene, especially because it arrives at that moment.

You know that moment. It’s the moment in a cheesy horror movie wherein the tension gathers itself into a jagged-edged ball with frayed, stripped wires poking out all over the place before it begins its bouncing, chaotic journey downhill, picking up speed and snagging everything along the way until it slams to a halt with everyone (except that one, token survivor) dead at the end. (Long aside: It’s fun if the survivor is the one person that you’d predicted would escape. Sometimes, a horror movie starts and some characters have DEAD written all over them from the very beginning, right? We like to make predictions within the first 15 minutes. “He’s dead.” “She’ll be the first to go.” “That person’s going to be the one who stays alive.” It’s actually the most satisfying when we’re wrong, though, because being wrong means that the movie wasn’t as predictable as we’d thought it would be.)

Taken out of context, this scene from Halloween isn’t particularly creepy, but it’s brilliant in its place (no gore here):

 

 

I honestly don’t know why this came to mind on Saturday. Our laundry room isn’t especially creepy. Maybe it’s because the start of the fall semester means that fall is near, which, in turn, signals the approach of Halloween, bringing to mind the movie Halloween. Whatever the case, Callaghan and I had the chance to discuss the matter gravely.

“This reminds me of the laundry room scene in Halloween,” I said as we stood in the laundry room. It was empty. The washer and dryer were to be delivered later that day.

“What scene?”

“Remember that scene? The girl is babysitting, she goes out to the laundry room – it’s night – and the killer is there, creeping around outside. This is like that laundry room.”

We were having this conversation because our laundry room is only accessible from the backyard. It’s connected to the main house, but you can’t walk through. The only other time I’d seen a laundry room like that was in Halloween.

 

Our laundry room at night, not creepy at all under the patio's two bright lights.

Our laundry room at night, not creepy at all under the patio’s two bright lights.

 

“In this laundry room,” Callaghan said as he looked around, “the only place for the killer to hide is behind the door. So you enter it by kicking the door in really hard… and then there’s no more killer!” With his French accent, he pronounced it “keeler.”

But the killer would be wilier than that, I thought. I could picture how it would happen. The killer would crouch around the corner, or, if the patio lights were out, in the inside corner of the patio.

 

The laundry room in the dark.

The laundry room in the dark.

 

I’m not really concerned, though. The laundry room is spacious, but it’s narrow, and other than the one on the door, there are no windows. That means that I would have the advantage.

All of this makes me think of American Horror Story: Freak Show with increasing anticipation. We can’t wait for the return of Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulsen, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Even Peters, Emma Roberts, et al! October 8… only a month away!

 

 

STEP RIGHT UP to the new season of American Horror Story!

Heading into summer, I can feel my impatience gathering like sand in a dust devil as the new season of American Horror Story comes into focus. The near-future horizon of television is looking sharper, but not less dark… we can’t wait to see the latest iteration of creator Ryan Murphy and crew’s twisted anthology series. There have been three seasons thus far, each interpreting “dark and perverse” in its own unique, brilliant way.

First, we had Murder House.

Then, we had Asylum.

After that, it was Coven.

Now, this fall, we’re in for a….

 

american-horror-story-season-4-title-revealed

 

…which will take place at a spooky carnival in the 1950’s. You know that it’s going to set a new standard in the realm of terrifying clowns.

 

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This is going to be Jessica Lange’s last season, and rumor has it that she’s been practicing her German accent for it. Who’s excited? I AM.

Since we’re on the subject of evil clowns, here’s some Insane Clown Posse for your morning:

 

 

“The Great Milenko.” Yes.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if Ryan Murphy were to use some of ICP’s music in his new season? The underrated band could finally get the wider audience they deserve with exposure in AHS: Freak Show. You don’t have to be a juggalo to enjoy ICP.

Happy Friday the 13th, All!

Pieces of Elvis, and other… packages.

In the last year, Callaghan’s drawings have taken a turn for the dimensional. Using ink on a particular type of plastic sheeting as his medium, he’ll do a drawing in parts, cutting everything out, applying color, and then positioning the parts like puzzle pieces, overlapping them in some places and gluing it all together. He gives the resulting “assemblage drawing” a kind of 3-D effect by stacking layers of small pieces of the plastic and strategically placing them beneath various components of the picture, creating differing heights throughout.

He did a brilliant portrait of my parents using this method, as well as my Valentine’s Day red roses and a stunning tribute to French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, among others.

 

My Valentine's Day roses

My Valentine’s Day roses

 

But allow me to arrive at the point, lest you think this post is nothing more than a shameless plug for my husband’s art!

Callaghan recently completed and submitted his designs for the 2015 Carnaval of Nice float competition, an annual project of considerable effort and magnitude that takes place in the spring of each year. As I’ve mentioned here before, the Carnaval team creates its parade floats based on the themed designs of the winning drawings. This year, Callaghan employed his new assemblage-drawing method, which meant that when he called me into his studio to check out his progress, I often only saw parts of the completed pictures.

He started with the King (there’s always a King and Queen of Carnaval leading the float parade). He dressed the King as Elvis, since the theme of Carnaval 2015 is “La Musique.”

He drew a few pieces of the King, cut them out, and then called me in to show me his work.

“Oh, cool… Elvis is coming along nicely!” I commented. Then my vision focused on the pieces of the unfinished Elvis and my brain made a connection (as it does sometimes, eventually). “Wait… is that his package?” I asked.

“Hell yeah it’s his package!” Callaghan declared. “Tight white pants.”

 

Pieces of Elvis.

Pieces of Elvis.

 

Of course it’s normal. It’s just that, for one thing, I was surprised because Callaghan doesn’t usually draw male genitalia. Also, when you see a floating leg sans torso, an exaggerated crotch bulge acquires an identity of its own. “Elvis the Pelvis,” I guess, right?

A few weeks later, Callaghan started to work on the L’aigle Niçois (“Eagle of Nice”), another important standing character in the parade, since the Eagle is the symbol/mascot of the city of Nice. Again, he called me in to view his progress.

“No way,” I said, cracking up. He’d drawn the Eagle’s lower half like this:

 

Pieces of Eagle.

Pieces of Eagle.

 

“That eagle… it has an actual camel hump! Hahaha!”

I could see the point where Elvis was concerned, but the eagle? Quite a package, indeed. I guess that’s one way to wrap up a big project!

On Cameras, Instagram and Mardi Gras

Late last week, my camera departed for the great camera boneyard in the sky. Alas, my humble little Canon powershot is no more. (Cue the violins.)

It wasn’t old so much as pointed-and-clicked to death… I think it was sheer overuse that did it, and maybe the fact that I didn’t exactly keep it swaddled in bubble wrap every second of its life. I got it in 2011 right before we left the States; it did the rounds with me all over France and Berlin, Germany and Casablanca, Morocco. Then it photo-documented our five-month adventure in Texas before we came back to Arizona. I always had it with me.

Its demise on Friday morning happened quickly and without warning, and I had to do something fast, right? Because being without a camera is just weird in a not-good way. I was going to spend the weekend taking pictures of things for my February Favorites post, which obviously didn’t happen!

In the end, instead of getting a new camera, I decided to get a phone featuring a decent camera. This means three things:

–I no longer have to carry around a camera and a phone.

–I finally have instagram.

–Because of instagram, I predict that I’ll be taking more pictures than ever.

But before all that insanity begins – before I can start inundating my instagram with gratuitous selfies and pictures of what I’m wearing and the food I’m eating and the interesting people in Walmart and Arizona sunset after Arizona sunset and whatever other clichéd subjects you can think of – I need some time to acquaint myself with both my new camera and instagram, itself.

All of this to say that while my February Favorites post is going to be late, I do have an image to share with you today! I first saw this when it jumped out and tried to kill me as I scrolled through my blogroll last week (I’m looking at you, Junk Food Guy).

 

BECAUSE TODAY IS MARDI GRAS.

BECAUSE TODAY IS MARDI GRAS.

 

Yes, that would be a gigantic plastic baby whose bib reads I HEART KING CAKE.

This is nightmare fuel. Pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel on a basketball court.

You might recall that during Mardi Gras season last year, I wrote about the Mardi Gras king cakes here in the States and the French version (the Galette des Rois), and I mentioned the little plastic baby tucked inside that bestows royal status upon the person who finds it in their slice? Well, what you see in the image above is the New Orleans Pelicans basketball team’s nod to Mardi Gras, bringing that little plastic baby to life on their basketball court as a seasonal mascot to honor the occasion. I, for one, find this horrifying life-size plastic baby (Jesus?) to be one of the most awesome mascots to ever grace a basketball court. Good job, Pelicans!

On that note, I must run off now. Here’s a link to my fledgling instagram page for those who wish to follow: www.instagram.com/thatasianlookingchick

Happy Mardi Gras!

The Plot Thickens.

Last spring, I wrote about how the City of Nice chose a Frenchman’s drawing featuring a practically naked, obese woman to represent the United States in a parade float for their annual world-famous Carnaval celebration. The drawing was, shall we say, handily fleshed out with stereotypes of cavalier gluttony and general tackiness in a rather simple and tasteless mockery. This is an image that matches a popular French conception of Americans. Just to make sure there was no mistaking the float’s nationality, the artist put a Statue of Liberty crown on the woman’s head, a bottle of Coke in the hand of her upraised torch-bearing arm, and stood her atop a gigantic cheeseburger.

Here’s the winning illustration:

 

The fat woman on a cheeseburger pedestal towers over the first astronaut to land on the moon.

The fat woman on a cheeseburger pedestal towers over the first astronaut to land on the moon.

 

Here’s the whole drawing:

 

"C'est L'Amerique!" - all kinds of America.

“C’est L’Amerique!” – all kinds of America.

 

Callaghan, who was raised in Nice and carries dual (French-American) citizenship, was also taken aback by the selection of that drawing.

Now, a year later, the City of Nice seems to be having some sort of identity crisis, the main symptom being its 2014 “Greetings to Nice” poster campaign featuring a variety of images of its inhabitants… a self-promotional campaign that blew up in the faces of its creators when an article came out busting them for using… wait for it… photos of Americans.

So much for municipal pride.

What makes this especially ridiculous is that the City of Nice made sure to announce that the folks in the images were “All Nice!” because last year it generated controversy when it used “different” (i.e. non-French) faces to represent itself in a similar campaign.

Feel free to check out the article here. (You can probably gather the general gist of it even if you can’t read French.)

Understandably, the phony campaign has outraged many people of Nice. When the ad copy claims that the creators specifically and exclusively “sought out people of Nice” for their poster images, it must be disheartening to realize that the images were actually harvested from the French version (copied and pasted from the original with a French search engine) of an American photo image bank (Thinkstock), and that none of the models used are even French, much less inhabitants of Nice.

We can’t decide if the people of Nice are more upset by the fact that they’ve been lied to, or by the fact that they’ve been represented by (gasp!) Americans.

On my part, the deception is disturbing not as a misled person of Nice, but as an American who witnessed the City of Nice’ selection of that questionable drawing for last year’s parade. My French isn’t perfect, but hypocrisy does not easily get lost in translation. In this case, it’s coming through loud and clear.

It was an irate Callaghan who brought the article to my attention.

“The City of Nice,” he grumbled as he hung up the phone with one of his friends on the French Rivera, “created a ‘Happy New Year’ greeting card for Nice using images of people from Nice, except they’re not, because the pictures were taken off an American photo bank website! It’s bullshit.”

Callaghan has often said to me that the French regard Americans with disdain and mock them because they secretly want to be them. I never knew what to think of that theory, but now the actions of the City of Nice are giving credence to it.

Americans. Make fun of them in public. Pretend to be them in private.

I’ll tell you what… if I was working on a promotional campaign for the City of Nice, I’d cover the posters with photos of pan bagnat (the traditional Niçoise tuna sandwich) and call it a day. It’s the best tuna sandwich in the world. That’s something to be proud of.

 

Happy New Year from the City of Nice!

Happy New Year from the City of Nice!

 

(The City of Nice Wishes You a Happy New Year 2014 original drawing by Callaghan. Text taken from the article.)

CAKE! (Now That I Have Your Attention)…

Happy February! Let us eat cake.

“It’s funny how much bigger Bruce Willis is than Ronnie James,” said Callaghan as he watched our cats play together. “They remind me of the Galette des Rois.”

Galette des Rois. Cats. I’m always intrigued by Callaghan’s mental leaps.

“Galette des Rois” translates to English literally as “Kings’ Cake.” In the States, we usually just call them “King Cakes.” They hit Louisiana bakery shelves on 6 January (the beginning of Epiphany) and roar on up to the Mardi Gras carnival celebration in the middle of February (the culmination of Epiphany, the last three days of which are known as the big Mardi Gras street bash after which hardly any of the carnival-goers remembers what happened because of the epic scale of the debauchery that took place). King Cakes are as heavily associated with the New Orleans Mardi Gras as beer, boobs and beads. They are not, as far as I know, associated with cats. Nor do they resemble cats, even remotely.

For one thing, cats are not ring-shaped twists of yeasty dough, and they are not sweetened with icing and dyed purple, green and yellow.

I guess some of the French patisseries in New Orleans also offer the solid round puff-pastry French version of the King Cake, but the traditional New Orleans garish rings are what come to mind when I think of King Cakes… so much so that when Callaghan first pointed out the Galette des Rois to me here in France, I didn’t even realize I was looking at the same thing.

“Like the ones we saw at Lili Croustille the other day?” Callaghan continued as he spoke of the cats. “I was looking at the Galette des Rois, you know, at the 8- and 6-part ones. Bruce Willis is the 8-part one.” I figured that by “part” he meant “serving.”

We’d actually bought one those cakes, an event I won’t likely forget because I’m human, and humans have a tendency to remember embarrassing moments for all eternity. Because when we got home from Lili Croustille and I went to cut that cake, I couldn’t do it.

I inserted a sharp knife blade into the buttery, flaky crust and hit resistance right away. I pressed harder, but the knife didn’t progress. I started sawing the knife back and forth, quickly checking over my shoulder first to make sure Callaghan didn’t see me struggling to slice the delicate dessert. No luck. Finally, feeling completely ridiculous, I added downward pressure to my sawing action. And then I gave up.

I’m sure Callaghan thought I was hopeless, but he gamely came over and looked down at the cake where it rested all innocent-like on its little round cardboard thing. The cake looked smug. It was grinning up at me. Yes, it was.

“What’s wrong?” Callaghan asked as he studied the cake.

“It doesn’t cut,” I said, accusingly.

I took hold of the knife again and made another attempt with Callaghan standing there, watching. Once again, the knife stopped half-way through. I kept the blade where it was and moved it slightly to the side and saw a small, hard figurine. A figurine! I made the connection. I guess King Cakes all over the world have a figurine or something equally menacing inside, poised to choke a person or foil her slicing attempts.

Callaghan never did elaborate on his thought process.

King Cake, French style (Galette des Rois)

King Cake, French style (Galette des Rois)

King Cake, New Orleans (Mardi Gras) style

King Cake, New Orleans (Mardi Gras) style

Bruce Willis (right) and Ronnie James (left)

Bruce Willis (right) and Ronnie James (left)

See a resemblance?