How I Alone: Halloween safety precaution edition.

Callaghan’s been back for 11 days. I’d been alone in the house for 12 days, which isn’t an unusual situation, as he does have away-business of one kind or another every once in a while. I’m not here to gloat about the awesome time I had with the whole house to myself for almost two weeks. (Of course he was missed, but not terribly; thanks to Skype, I “saw” him several times a day.) I’m here to gloat about how I totally outdid myself on the aloning this time.

Yes, there’s a difference between “aloneness” (neutral/positive) and “loneliness” (negative). And yes, it’s “doing alone,” rather than “being alone.” I’m declaring “alone” to be a verb, because this is my blog, so I can. “To alone” refers to how you behave in the absence of human company, of course. You aren’t alone alone when you share your abode with cats or dogs or fish or iguanas or horses or an ant farm or whatever-you-have. (We have two furbabies of the feline persuasion, in case you weren’t aware.)

Aloning is an art, but this time, it occurred over Halloween, so there were special safety precautions to be taken, and that put a different slant on things. It was a learn-as-you-go sort of situation since I’d never aloned over Halloween before. As you can imagine, I came away with a wealth of knowledge. Such as, at dusk, you should close all the window coverings on the south side of your dwelling (in case of a siege such as zombie apocalypse).

You should fill up all of your five-gallon water bottles and hoard them in a closet (in case of zombie apocalypse).

If you don’t already have loyal animal children who will guard you with their lives, you can get a guard dog of some kind. If you’re more of a cat person, you can get an ocelot. If you’re allergic to dander and alligators aren’t your thing, you can get a carnivorous plant or a saguaro. (In case of zombie apocalypse.)

 

With saguaro and a bunch of sun and wind.

With saguaro and a bunch of sun and wind.

 

(The saguaro cactus in the picture isn’t at my house. It’s just near my house.)

You can keep a stash of delicious pickled turnips (in case of zombie apocalypse).

You can play the ukulele (in case of zombie apocalypse).

You can keep the gas tank in your car topped off in case the zombie apocalypse happens and you need to drive to Mexico, where zombies don’t go.

There are many things you can do that you’ll never realize until you’re alone over Halloween, and this is invaluable, especially since zombies are much worse than other things that can happen, such as three consecutive earthquakes (in the desert) one night and a threat of a mass shooting at your workplace the following day.

Each time is a learning experience. Maybe next year Callaghan will be away in early October and I’ll be able to write “How I Alone: Columbus Day edition.” The siege threat in that case would be even more formidable than zombies!

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Lost in Translation: L’Etat des Restos de Montréal.

Have you ever experienced an amusing “lost in translation” moment?

Let me preface mine with the assertion that I’m NOT making fun of Callaghan’s French accent. Honestly, I don’t even notice his accent most of the time, especially since some of our French friends’ accents are so thick that Callaghan’s is comparatively nonexistent (to my ears, at least). But there are times, usually when we’re with other people, when I realize that, yes, he does have an accent. Someone might ask him to repeat something, for instance, or something he says might be misinterpreted. This was the case when we went to my friend’s wedding last month.

We were sitting at a table with a few of my co-workers, as the bride was a friend from work. Callaghan wasn’t the only one with a foreign accent… we also had accents from Australia, Germany, and Ethiopia at our table. Such is the beauty of the States, right? So anyway, as conversation flowed lightly along, Callaghan mentioned that he’d heard about a new law up in Montréal. (It’s not uncommon for Montréal to come up in conversations with work friends, since our department maintains a strong historical, collaborative relationship with our Director’s former unit up there. It’s like our sister unit.)

“Apparently, in Montréal, they passed a law,” Callaghan told us. “Now it is illegal for a terrace to be across the street from a restaurant.”

Maybe it was the abruptness of his announcement that threw us off, along with the strangeness of the news and the quirkiness of his English as a Second Language syntax thrown into the mix… or maybe it was his pronunciation. Probably, it was a combination of all of the above that resulted in momentary confusion. On my part, while I thought I understood what he’d said, I was hesitant to believe it. Others at the table either didn’t hear him, didn’t understand him, or couldn’t grasp what he’d said. What ensued was a bombardment of demands for a repeat of the statement. We all needed clarification.

“Terraces can’t be across the street from restaurants in Montréal anymore,” Callaghan said.

There was a pause, and then, at the same time someone exclaimed, “I thought he said ‘terrorist’!” another person blurted, “WHAT? Montréal passed a law making it illegal for TERRORISTS to be across the street from a restaurant?”

Cue hilarity.

“No more terrorists across the street from restaurants in Montréal!!” exclaimed Callaghan. The rest of us were cracking up along with him.

“Calling all terrorists! You can no longer be across the street from a restaurant!” One guy boomed to an imaginary crowd of terrorists clamoring to get across the street from a restaurant in Montréal.

We couldn’t stop laughing, none of us, including me, and that was a blessing.

Because the date was May 16, and my beloved Wrah-Wrah hadn’t even been gone for 48 hours. When Callaghan and I walked into that wedding an hour earlier, I was in the worst possible place mentally and emotionally, utterly devastated and absolutely not in the mood to go anywhere or see anyone… but I wasn’t about to miss my friend’s wedding. She and I had been talking excitedly about her big day for a year, and there was no way I was going to fail to show up!

To complicate things further, Wrah-Wrah’s ashes had been brought to our door as we were getting ready for the wedding, so minutes before leaving, I was standing in the middle of the living room with his little urn held close to my heart, thinking, How am I going to get through a social event right now?

The answer was in the question. It was the social event that got me through the rest of the day, and that absurd and perversely funny “lost in translation” episode was a big part of it. I found myself reflecting on the keen truth of the cliché that laughter is the best medicine. A few moments of bubbling mirth that evening had granted me a much-needed respite from emotional pain, if only fleetingly.

It was also a blessing to be able to sideline my grief while focusing on the celebration of someone else’s pivotal life event, and sharing the experience with a fun group of people helped tremendously. I mean, it’s impossible to not smile and laugh while holding hands with others and running through the room during the Mexican wedding dance, let me tell you! Mexican weddings are good fun, and it was just a joy to see my friend looking so radiant and happy.

And what of that strange new law in Montréal? It turns out that Callaghan wasn’t remembering it correctly, anyway… the crux of the law is actually the space on the sidewalk between the terrace and the street, which Montréal says should be a meter and a half to allow for wheelchair passage. We had a case of a telephone game mix-up merging with linguistic misinterpretations! And that’s how you get from wheelchair sidewalk access to “no terrorists allowed in front of restaurants in Montréal.” Human communications can be a riot when there’s a glitch in the lines.

Speaking of terraces, Callaghan (being French) refers to our back patio as a terrace (la terrasse); the other day, we rearranged our small signage collection out there and hung our handy zombie warning sign prominently in the center of the main wall (with a nod to my zombie experience last week):

 

It should say, "TERRASSE INTERDITE AUX ZOMBIES" (NO ZOMBIES ALLOWED ON THE TERRACE)

It should say, “TERRASSE INTERDITE AUX ZOMBIES” (NO ZOMBIES ALLOWED ON THE TERRACE)

 

Like this:

 

To match the "NO DOGS ALLOWED ON THE GRASS" sign beneath it.

To match the “NO DOGS ALLOWED ON THE GRASS” sign beneath it.

 

I’ve always enjoyed this sign, but I have a whole new appreciation for it now.

People in the Wild, Downtown Tempe edition: Five types I see on my walk to work.

As I’d recently mentioned, I’m in the habit of walking to work these days. It’s just over a mile and a half, and it’s straight down the street, so my thoughts wander while I walk. I observe, and my mind does that thing human minds do and it classifies people.

Today, I thought I’d present my scientifically precise classification of the types of people I observe on my walk to work every day (and home from work 3x/week). The following is brought to you by my notes:

Group one: Exercisers.

There’s always an assortment of people doing healthy-human things, such as cycling, running, or power-walking (with and without hand-weights). I see them alone, often in pairs, and sometimes in small groups. The sight of them makes me happy.

Then, at the opposite end of the health spectrum, we have:

Group two: Altered-state people/zombies – (???)

In this group, I run into “regulars” and random people, alike. Some of them are homeless, some are not, but they all display the under-the-influence characteristics of the shuffling walk and the glazed-over eyes.

This compels me to share an anecdote:

Walking to work mid-last-week, I passed four random people as I was heading east and they were heading west. They seemed to be inebriated to varying degrees, but it was all pretty normal until the last guy shuffled my way and did something totally random and unexpected: he literally (emphasized because I never use the word “literally” unless it absolutely is) lifted his arms straight out in front of him, turned his sightless gaze to my face, adjusted the position of his feet so as to steer the vehicle of his body in my direction, and moaned a long, gutteral “Uunnnhhhuunnngg” as he approached.

Okay, I never make things up, but just so you know, I am SO not making this up. Neither was he playing around. There was nothing behind this person’s eyes, no hint of cognition whatsoever.

A chill skittered down the back of my neck like an insect with icy feet as I quickly side-stepped him to rush past, because in that instant, the word ZOMBIE flashed through my brain while my neurons fired in all directions with the realization that should a zombie apocalypse occur, I AM NOT PREPARED. NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST.

 

THIS WAS HIM.

THIS WAS HIM.

 

I mean, what could I have done? I didn’t recognize the guy’s zombieness until he was directly in front of me, and that, my friends, won’t cut it. My brain generated questions I couldn’t answer, and I mentally floundered for the next five or ten minutes as I pondered. How do you handle zombies masquerading as normal drunk people? Even if you recognize a zombie from further away, how could you know whether he’s a fast-moving zombie, or a slow-moving one? WHAT IS MY LIFE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY I AM SO NOT READY FOR THIS MAYBE I SHOULD START WATCHING THE WALKING DEAD SO I CAN GET SOME PRO TIPS.

These were my thoughts until I came across the first of two specimens I’d see that morning from the next group:

Group three: Leaf-blowers.

They’re so polite, the leaf-blowers. They cease their activity as soon as they note your approach, and they smile and nod at you as you walk by. Leaf-blowers are our friends!

Next, that same day, I spotted some people representing the fourth group:

Group four: Circle K regulars.

As with Group two, some folks in this category are homeless and some aren’t, but the characteristic that bonds them – the one, critical thing they all have in common – is that they know a good cup of coffee when they have one in their hands. That’s why they’re Circle K regulars. They hang out in the shade at the front of the building, or off to the side, usually in pairs or in small groups.

Basically, anyone with any kind of java savvy at all knows that the best-kept coffee secret in Arizona is that humble little pot o’joe at the Circle K.

Anecdote two: When I worked as a barista briefly while I was in college, I used to open the shop on the weekends, so I’d get there very early in the morning to grind the beans and prepare for opening. I started giving free cups of fresh coffee to the homeless couple who lived in their car on the periphery of the premises. We became friendly fast. We learned each other’s stories, and sometimes, in addition to coffee, I’d give them “old” pastries or muffins that were being replaced by fresh ones. After a few months, one of them landed a job, and they were able to rent a place to live. I missed them after they left… they were the nicest people, and the smiles on their faces when I’d give them coffee made my day.

Group five: Skateboarders.

Skateboarders are plentiful around town, and they embody an awesome sort of freedom in movement and spirit. They’re also the most diverse of the groups listed here. I see younger and older people on skateboards, and people of varying gender. There are skateboarders of all shapes, sizes and colors. There are girls in hijab on skateboards, and people dressed as students, professionals, professional students and professional couch-surfers. I see them getting from Point A to Point B on their skateboards, and I see them just hanging out, practicing their kickflips and heelflips and what have you.

This leads me to anecdote three: Walking around to the entrance of my building at work recently, I ran into two young guys on skateboards. They were practicing tricks flying off a ramp. The guy poised with his board at the top of the ramp looked over at me and said to the guy on the ground, “Okay, this one’s for her.” And he shot off down the ramp… and missed his landing. His friend cracked up, but the guy nonchalantly got up and called to me, “Well, I tried!” With a big grin on his face. And I couldn’t help but smile back as I walked away.

Halloween Festivities!

HELLo! This image-centric post is brought to you by one of America’s favorite holidays, Halloween, which is TODAY. Yay!!

This is just to say Happy Halloween, and here are a couple of pictures I took of creepy sights around town, and here’s another one of Zombie Callaghan, and here’s one of our jack o-lantern (not in that order), and hey, here are a couple of pics of the cake I made last night – the cake that I’m bringing to our Halloween potluck at work today, because I love my co-workers so much!

As for this evening? After celebrating Halloween pretty much all month, Callaghan and I are going to enjoy a low-key night at home. We’re going to watch this week’s episode of American Horror Story and hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. THAT IS THE PLAN, STAN, and we’re sticking with it. =)

Let’s start with home…

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-halloween2014jackolantern

We decided to go with a fake jack o’lantern this year.

 

Then to the Melonhead Foundation’s Drag Bingo charity bash!

 

Remember when I was escorted to Drag Bingo by a jovial French zombie?

Remember when I was escorted to Drag Bingo by a jovial French zombie?

 

I don’t exactly have coulrophobia (a pathological fear of clowns), but still…

 

Earlier in the month, I spotted a random clown tucked into a hallway near the entrance of a Wal-Mart.

Earlier in the month, I spotted a random clown tucked into a hallway near the entrance of a Wal-Mart.

 

And in our neighborhood, this house always catches my every-horror-tuned eye…

 

The sequel to the sequel to the sequel of "The Amityville Horror" is going to be called "The Tempe Horror." It's the windows under the peaked roof that do it.

The sequel to the sequel to the sequel of “The Amityville Horror” is going to be called “The Tempe Horror.” It’s the windows under the peaked roof that do it.

 

And for work today, I made this cake, a tradition I’ve done for Halloween potlucks for years:

 

The return of the litter box cake, just for my co-workers!

The return of the litter box cake, just for my co-workers!

 

 

Ronnie James approves.

Ronnie James approves.

 

Happy FRIDAY Halloween, Everyone!

Online Advertising FAIL Leads to World War (A)Z

You know how it is when you search for something online, and within days, that very thing pops up in your Facebook news feed while you’re scrolling through it? I found it disconcerting when it first started happening, but now, I’m accustomed to it. I’ve gotten used to the internet spying on my web-browsing habits and keeping track of my site visits, though I’m not less annoyed by it.

But I have some reassuring news to share: the internet is not as all-knowing as it appears to be, and it’s nowhere near as adept at learning about you as you might think! There are grave flaws in its insidious little system, bugs in the mechanism behind the personal-habit espionage that goes on every time we enter the ether that is the internet. I know this because I visit at least one Arizona State University web page per day, yet earlier this week, an ad for Alabama State University gifts inserted itself into my news feed and passed before my eyeballs as I scrolled through. Why? Because ASU.

 

Not my ASU! My alma mater is Arizona State, not Alabama State.

Not my ASU! My alma mater is Arizona State, not Alabama State.

 

YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG, robotic internet spies. I have never searched for Alabama State anything! Ha!

So, if you feel that you’re being overly-surveilled online, take heart. The robotic internet spies can’t tell the difference between one “ASU” and another – they don’t know if the “A” is for “Arizona” or “Alabama.” They don’t know that we’re the Sun Devils, not the Hornets, and they actually don’t know anything at all. This is not a complex epistemological matter. Arizona and Alabama are two very different states, and the robotic internet spies don’t know that.

This is not to diss Alabama, mind you. I’m just saying that there are big differences. For instance, in Arizona, if you accidentally dump a full container of water on yourself in the car during the summer, it’s no big deal because after you exit your car and walk across the parking lot to the store, your shirt will be completely dry. The hot, dry air works like a gigantic clothes dryer when you cut through it. In Alabama, on the other hand, it’s humid… so if you dump water on yourself in the car, you’re likely to be even wetter by the time you get to the store.

Somehow, I’m reminded of Sheriff Joe, our sheriff who decided against running for governor. I think his decision was a sound one, and not just because “Governor Joe” doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Sheriff Joe” AT ALL. I have suspected for a while now that Sheriff Joe, aka “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” has been secretly working out a zombie apocalypse plan for Arizona. How else would you explain the mysterious statement he made when he announced that he wasn’t running for governor:

“I cannot in good conscience leave the sheriff’s office now, since that would be necessary if I declare a candidacy for governor,” Arpaio said in a press release. “Currently, I have several sensitive investigations in progress and am facing many challenges in my office. Because of this, I will not desert the people of Maricopa County who have elected me six times. Further, I cannot desert my dedicated employees.” (source: The Entire Internet)

Obviously he’s talking about the zombie apocalypse! There are zombies all over his statement, and it’s true… if there’s no Sheriff Joe, who will lead us when it hits?

I just keyed “sheriff joe zombie apocalypse” into my search engine. I can’t wait to see what ads will show up on my FB feed now.

Happy Friday, All!

Thrashing around in the Throes

“Mr. Hammond, after careful consideration, I’ve decided not to endorse your park.” (Jurassic Park)

What a great conclusion! What valleys of chaos traversed to reach it! (Hmm, if we were to return to our wilderness home in France, would we find T-Rex and Velociraptor tracks in our wake?) Humans seem to thrive on mayhem. What is it about disaster – especially violent disaster – that mesmerizes us?

“I wonder if robots will ever watch Terminator and figure out that they’re supposed to kill the humans,” Callaghan mused as we were eating our salad the other night. “Maybe it’s the movie that’s going to trigger everything!”

Indeed. When it comes to entertaining ourselves with disaster, it’s not enough for people to kill other people. Nature killing people isn’t enough, either. We need robots to kill us, too.

For me, it’s clowns… call me a traditionalist, or maybe just a person with a weak imagination. For those of you who were wondering, the incessant buzz over World War Z extinguished my preoccupation with zombies. Main-streaming the topic to that over-budgeted extent in a “summer action blockbuster” production finally killed it for me. (I enjoyed Zombieland, but even that was borderline. We did try to watch Warm Bodies recently, but we lost interest not even halfway through, and couldn’t finish it. When it comes to zombie movies, nothing does it for me like Shaun of the Dead.) World War Z might be a great movie, and I might really like it, but its making dethroned zombies from the top of my list of dark, fantastical obsessions. My horror sensibilities are stimulated most effectively in the more obscure tunnels of pop culture. Reading the hundredth little article on the production troubles of WWZ, I turned back to clowns with a perverse nod of respect and restored to them their hold on the freak-out center of my brain.

Clowns scare me because those colorfully diabolical characters embody the insane. Insanity means complexity, and the more complex something is, the more there is to fear. Clowns also tend to be smart, and that makes them terrifyingly unpredictable. Zombies are brainless and therefore completely predictable, engendering fear in the opposite way. (If we use this comparison as a political analogy, which would be the scarier party, then, the Clowns or the Zombies?)

Plus, clowns’ origins can be found in nature. This explains everything:

 

Am I right?

Dear Fellow Airplane Passengers:

We wish we weren’t THOSE PEOPLE on your flight, but we are. We’re sick. Not only that, but we’re the worst kind of sick for flying – we’re coughing. Yes! Surprise! We are your in-flight airborne virus carriers… and we’re so sorry. It’s been cold and rainy here, and we caught this bug (of the sore/scratchy throat, coughing, losing our voice variety) from a neighbor just this last week. The timing couldn’t be worse, we know.

We’re uncomfortable, but we’re more concerned about you than about ourselves, really. It’s just unfair to have to sit on an airplane with sick people. Believe me when I say that we’ve been trying to speed up the healing process for your benefit. We’ve been to the doctor, who put us on a variety of medications. We gargle with hydrogen peroxide twice a day, trying to kill germs in our throats, and we’re taking lots of vitamin C. We’ve been eating fresh oranges. We’ve been drinking lots of water. We’ve been huddling up to the kerosene heater, keeping as warm as possible. We’ve also been resting a lot… even while having to get so much done in our last days here.

Laughter heals. We tried to watch the new Arrested Development, but so far, it’s failed to make us LOL (we gave it a good three-episode shot), so we’ve put that on hold and settled back into Hart of Dixie, which had started to drag a little toward the end of season one, but has blossomed into a fluffy delight in season two. It’s coming through with exactly the simple, cute lightness we need right now! And we love Rachel Bilson, who we think possesses good comedic timing and resembles a young and even prettier Brigitte Bardot. (Our opinion!)

 

Rachel Bilson

Rachel Bilson

 

So we’ve been trying. But we’re still coughing. You will give us dirty looks, and we will understand. We’ll try not to cough in your direction; we’ll keep our heads down. We loaded up our tablet with a zombie movie: Warm Bodies. Nothing like a zombie movie for traveling! That, and Kit-Kats.