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In Defense of My Existence

27 June 2005

the pooh conspiracy

Is Winnie the Pooh killing off the Hundred Acre Wood?

It appears two of his companions, Tigger and Piglet, have died within a day of each other.

Could Christopher Robin and Eeyore be next?

26 June 2005

peanut butter pie will be my downfall

I love peanut butter. It is my chocolate and my ice cream and my potato chips all in one. The Easter Bunny and Santa Clause are always dipped in a jar of Jif. A Hershey's Kiss's kiss is sweetened ever more by a dab of Skippy. A Reese's Peanut Butter Cup makes up for what it lacks by a dive into white-labeled government handouts (if you've only tried the cheese you haven't lived).

But it will be the death of me... or, at the very least, my waistline.

This evening, after dinner, Boyfriend and I will dig into our third peanut butter pie in two weeks. We love peanut butter pie. It has gone from obsession to full-blown compulsion. In case my kidneys fail or arteries explode or liver freezes, carry forth this recipe and spread the word of the Peanut Butter...

Coat the bottom and sides of 1 graham cracker pie crust (I actually used a 'Nila Wafer crust) with 2-3 tablespoons of chocolate syrup. Throw it in the 'fridge to chill.
Mix together an 8-ounce container of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and 1 cup of sugar (my enamel is quivering). Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 cup of peanut butter (less if preferred but that would just be silly). Fold (it is very important to fold! not mix or stir or beat. Fold!) a 12-ounce tub of Cool Whip into the peanut butter mixture. Take your time with this step; it's well worth it. Pour the filling mixture into the crust and drizzle another tablespoon or two of chocolate syrup on top. Chill until firm (about 3-4 hours); freeze if desired.

The result is extremely rich! This can be lessened by replacing the cream cheese with silken tofu and adjusting the other ingredients proportionately. Also, this recipe is easily veganized (through crust and syrup selection) or dairyfied. Regardless, if you like peanut butter and Cool Whip prepare to die happy. If you're counting calories, on the other hand, brace yourself. Here's a rough estimate per serving:

Ten servings: 505 Calories, 30g Fat, 52g Carbs, 8g Protein.
Eight servings: 632 Calories, 38g Fat, 64g Carbs, 10g Protein.


(I'll see
you at the gym!)

25 June 2005

a grandma story

It seems my recently departed grandmother has left me with a slew of loose ends.

She was born in Philadelphia--to a former stage actress and a suit type--35 days after that behemoth of history, the Titanic, sank in the cold waters of the North Atlantic. A dramatic analogy foreshadowing her 93 year existence? No, but her father did die in 1918, a victim of that great flu epidemic that those in the know have recently reminded us could happen again at any time.

"What sort of wonder woman could have possibly experienced all this history first-hand and lived to drop hints about it," you ask? My gran, I tell you! And you don't know the half of it. (Neither do I as it just so happens.)

After her father's death, her mother bundled up her six-year old self and her brother and headed west to be near family in Chicago. There, my gran and great uncle sat at an orphanage in Des Plaines (Maryville Academy??), visited by their mother everyday until she succumbed to illness in 1920.

I never quite figured out what happened to Peter, my great uncle. I know he ended up in California but don't know where he was during the remainder of his youth. Gran, on the other hand, was passed around from aunt to aunt, lived in the Gold Coast here and some working-class Irish neighborhood there, and was treated like royalty and dirt and everything in between.

She made it through childhood, met my grandfather while working at the 1933 World's Fair, married at Our Lady of Sorrows three years later, and settled with her husband in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio where she lived for the remaining 69 years of her life.

I've enjoyed my grandma's stories for as long as I can remember: slurping malts underneath the el; teasing the laundresses in Chinatown; lounging at Oak Street Beach; dancing on Navy Pier (back before it turned into an urban DisneyWorld); sneaking out to the carnival, only to be puked on while riding the ferris wheel (I particularly loved that story). Her family--whether through blood or through marriage they were all family--were ever so colorful: The sisters Aunt Nora and Aunt Marie came from Ireland and somehow or another had money (one of the two traded in her Buick every year for the new model); Aunt Helen used to beat her, I think. One of her uncles had to work for the first time in his life when the Depression hit; they all felt sorry for him. Another uncle was supposedly married to Kate Buckingham who so graciously donated a certain world-famous fountain to the city of Chicago in 1927. The faceless names go on and on.

All of these beautiful stories but I'm so uncertain of how they all connect. All of these interesting people and I don't really know who's who ("Aunt" Nora, it turns out, was her grandfather's second wife and her sister, "Aunt" Marie, was married to "Uncle" Mon who was loaded and may have been married to Ms. Buckingham). This fascinating life lived in this exciting American city and I can't even begin to tell the story. I need to know how it all fits together. It's my history, too!

So today I started my research. The Chicago Historical Society was so kind as to let me know there is no record of Kate Buckingham ever being married.

Well, shit!

But I always tell people that's my fountain. And Oak Street Beach is my grandma's beach. And...

... A few years ago, while living in Chicago, I managed to visit Mount Olivet Cemetery on the Southside. My great grandmother is buried there... the actress... gran's mom. It turns out she resides in an unmarked grave. (But I thought the family, at least part of it, had money.) My grandmother wasn't aware of this, not having seen the grave since sometime near 1920. (But why? You've been back many times since then.) I stuck a crucifix in her plot, gently placed a long stem rose, and snapped a few pictures. This was to accompany a picture of my great grandfather's grave I had taken in Philadelphia years before. He has a headstone...

That is how I feel right now. That uncertain feeling that accompanied my discovery of the unmarked grave.

I wish I had found out more from Gran before she died. Unfortunately, in the last decade of her life, she was a befuddling, albeit witty, interview. Before that, even. I have recordings I made 15 years ago while interviewing her for a history project. She never connected the dots. I've talked to my mom and my uncles and they have the same spotted history I do. Not only that, but I seem to be the only one who feels compelled to complete this puzzle.

So, damn it! I'm going to. I'm going to find out what, if any, my family's connection to the Buckinghams was. I'm going to figure out who the hell Uncle Mon is. I'm going to determine if we really are related to Robert Fulton (just because my grandma's grandfather was a Fulton doesn't mean we are). And just who was this man my gran dated who owned a speakeasy during Prohibition?? I'm going to separate the Noras from the Maries, the bitches from the benevolents, and the blue collars from the white ones. And I'm going to figure out how the hell my grandmother's mother was related to any of these people in the first place!

Gran! I love ya but you sure as hell left me with a lot of blanks here!

(I feel much better now... let the adventure commence...)

19 June 2005

portland pride 2005

Never will you hear such hateful bile and lack of Christian love than when listening to the diatribes emitting from the mouth of a fundamentalist Evangelical confronting a carefree, joyous celebration of gay pride.

What would Jesus do?

My guess is He'd be flinging Mardi Gras beads.

13 June 2005

don't mess with the tress

Boyfriend is a hair stylist.

This fact comes in handy when confronted with legions of banal hipsters. In a showdown between their modish brand of metrosexuality and my own punk-informed take on queer fabulous, Boyfriend is my secret weapon:

"So, what does your boyfriend do?" they ask smug and cocksure (cock-confused?).

"He does..."

(My eyes diminish into a sultry squint. My mouth turns into a sneer as my cheek spasms. I am so good, bad, and ugly!)


Unable to handle the intense power of such grand marveliciousness, vapid eyes spontaneously combust igniting shaggy cuts and faux-hawks saturated in
Bed Head and Bumble and Bumble. Flames envelop the once mindless, now lifeless bodies as the desolate street soon takes on an odor best described as the burning contents of a Diesel store...

The benefits of a hair stylist boyfriend go far beyond battling a mob of Jude Law wannabes. As one who often went months between haircuts--home-trimming unruly sideburns, slicing off tendrils of lengthening back hair that threaten one's reputation with a mullet--I appreciate the relative regularity with which my 'do now stays properly coifed (I think about product in ways I never thought to before). Better yet, my hair looks GOOD! This is not only due to Boyfriend's training, natural skill, and impeccable taste, but is ultimately a result of mutual understanding, intimacy, and our romantic bond. I know that regardless of how inane or experimental I decide my hair should be, Boyfriend will pull it off briliantly. (All this after weeks of being reminded of how badly I need a cut. [see the first sentence of this paragraph])

And of course there's color. I love playing with color but, unfortunately, the whole process had become tiresome. Black, Brown, and Blond are so last century. I did the rainbow spectrum last decade; green was once my signature look, but after awhile it started to feel like the mold that shares its hue. What to do? Stay with my natural color? But that gets so boring! A change of perspective was sorely needed.

Saturday night we did a cut and color: aubergine with wisps of blond. My hair was previously silver with blue highlights. Consequently the purples were lighter and textured, almost red in some spots, deep eggplant in others. The bits of blond added a delicate trim to the tops and sides. The effect was beautiful. A friend commented: "It looks like a dried rose petal!" That's it! Why color your hair when you can concept it?? Never again do I want red hair or blue hair or canary yellow hair. I want rose petals and twilight skies and canary feathers. Screw silver! I want chrome!!

So the next time you come into contact with a horde of Trendkillers, not to worry! Just flash those pearly whites and kill them with those cooler-than-you locks... or is that a California roll on your head?

(Disclaimer: The writer of this blog has been known to put far too much Bed Head on his hair, loves the pair of Diesel shoes he and Boyfriend found at Nordstrom Rack, and was brought to tears by the movie Cold Mountain.)

03 June 2005

3 minutes

I will never cease to be amazed by revelatory moments. Not because of their abrupt nature, but because of when they occur.

My boyfriend and I had free passes to the Rose Festival last night. During this nearly month-long celebration of the City of Roses, "Pepsi Waterfront Village" sprawls along the west bank of the Willamette River in all its carnivalic glory, highlighted by the midway. This was our destination.

I haven't been to any sort of civic engagement such as this since that piddling fair at St. Helen's parish in Chicago back in 2001 (where I managed to spend the entire time in the beer garden). And I hate to admit it but I had a blast! We went on all the "scary" rides, all the while laughing about the inevitable fall to our deaths. We flew like the supermen we are, got turned on our heads more than is advisable, and coined a new phrase of giddy conquest: "Super-Looper!!" Not to mention the requisite gorging on elephant ears and fresh-squeezed lemonade. My usual in-a-big-crowd self--staid, too cool--let loose for once... I was a kid again.

It was nearing the end of our evening among the hoi polloi--after riding the ferris wheel--when we happened across a collection of photo booths beneath the Morrison Bridge. We shelled out four bucks and piled in. (obnoxious smiles) Flash... (tongues out) Flash... (look cute) Flash... (kissy kissy) Flash. Then you have to wait three minutes for the pictures to develop. And that's when it happened.

We stood there tapping our feet. Looking around, humming to myself. There's a happy gay couple with their two kids and a giant stuffed animal from a game booth. Warms my heart, it does. Gotta love Portland. Maybe that'll be us someday. Noise behind me: music, laughter, screaming children... screaming in a good way. The setting sun is giving off this eerie, beautiful light that casts a yellow glow on everything the angels deem it touches. It creates around us an artificially 3-D world of striking contrasts and shadows. I'm surrounded by smiles and happiness and innocence. I gaze upon Boyfriend's strong, Eastern European features. Features that are softened by two of the most brilliant eyes you ever did see. This is my world. This is my life. Us and our kids (two cats, maybe real ones someday) and our world of smiles and laughter and yellow light. And I'm content and happy and the future is open and limitless. And I realize that life is really, truly good...

"Yay! The pictures are ready!"

And there we are with our obnoxious smiles, our tongues hanging out, looking cute, and kissing. Us together forever... open... limitless...

"Shall we be off?" "Yes, we shall." Walking toward home, hand in hand, with the yellow light glowing upon our backs. Walking into the good life.

And all of that in just three minutes. Beneath the Morrison Bridge.