Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It finally happened!!!

Friends! I've gone to the Jersey Shore to be with my man, Pauly D! You see, what happened is, he read my blog, and turns out he feels the same way about me, so he totally Facebooked me to follow him on Twitter and I did. He tweeted that he's done falling on grenades for the Situation. He's ready for a real woman. This one!

And don't we look happy? On my part, I've purchased several bump-its and tried my best to start fights that Pauly D has to finish.

But we're very busy being in love, and also getting tattoos on the boardwalk, so I won't be able to blog again until next week, when I'll be back with a vengeance, and a frighteningly awesome tan (I hope some of you are still here when I get back!!).

Much love and hair gel,


(PS: Lib made this. She's pure magic.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Kendall Makes a Surprising (Not Too Surprising) Discovery

Last year, to announce my thesis defense, I printed up a bunch of clown poster that I thought were really funny and cool and weird, and posted them all over the English department. Most everybody else found the posters not so funny, not so cool, but definitely weird. And creepy. I was accused of causing nightmares. I heard more than one person announce how delighted they would be when my thesis defense was over and the awful posters came down.

I was so confused, because I didn't feel frightened by the clowns. If anything, I felt a degree of identification. And yesterday, looking through old photos on my computer, I figured out why:

Me, surprised, at my twenty-fifth birthday party (surprised by not only the birthday party, but also by James Joyce's erotic love-letters to his wife, which were a unique gift from a dear friend who went to the trouble of printing them off the internet):

Chucko the Clown, surprised for reasons unknown:

Apparently, we're related.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"Is this going to end up in your blog?"

(I just love this drawing, and felt like the entry needed a graphic)

Sometimes, I think I should change the name of the blog.

It has proven a little bit hard to remember:
Thoughtful friend: "I can't find your blog online. What is it called? There's lots that I can do? I do lots of things? I can do a lot?" Wait. Let me write that down. It's so many letters!"

It exposes me for the sham that I am:
Everyone: "Your blog is called, I can do lots of things? Like what? What can you do?"
Me: "I don't know. I just thought it sounded catchy. I can't actually do all that much."
(Ciara springs loyally to my defense: "She can make coffee. She can tie her shoes. She can breathe in. And she can breathe out.")

In group settings, my witty friends have a field day:
"Kendall, can you grab me a soda?"
"Of course, she can. She can do lots of things."
"Kendall, can you drop me off at my house?"
"Of course, she can. She can do lots of things."
"Kendall, can you..." Aaah. You get the gist.

It goads me unwillingly into healthfulness. While weight-lifting with Ollie (technically, at this point, Ollie was lifting weights and I was more, like, "supervising"):
"Come on, Kendall! Come on, Miss 'I can do lots of things.'"

But the thing is, I've already picked this name. For better of worse, I picked it. And I'm kind of attached to it. It has grown on me. It is very open ended, which is super convenient for me, and probably really frustrating for my friends. Because my blog is about anything, and also about nothing, they NEVER KNOW WHAT I'M GOING TO BLOG ABOUT.

Which leads me to one of my very favorite things about this blog. It leads me to my favorite question from my dear friends who agree to read it:

"Is this going to end up in your blog?"

In December, Katie got yelled at by a crazy, crazy woman at the train station. "Is this going to end up in your blog?" she asked, after it was clear that the woman wasn't going to kill us, that I would live to blog another day. "I don't know," I said. And now, a month later, here it is. (We were parked, at a very great distance, from the woman who jumped out of her car, pointed at Katie, and screamed, "I wouldn't hit my car if I was you!!! Scary. Portland.)

Last week, Ollie watched as I bent shakily into the ninth and possibly final squat of my life forever. "Is this going to end up in your blog?" she asked. "I don't know," I said. Of course, now it is in the blog. So I should just start saying, "Eventually."

We're all kind of confused, because the major events of my life unfold in 3D--like everyone, I enjoy satisfying time spent with friends (usually while eating), have problems at work, see my loved ones through difficulties and triumphs, make important decisions about my future (also usually while eating), etc.,--but then, at the end of the day when it comes time to blog, I end up writing about the impossibly slow drain in my shower.

(The drain is impossibly slow. To make matters worse, if anyone in one of the other apartments takes a shower at the same time, my water pressure slows to the saddest little trickle. I end up with buckets of water hanging out by my feet and slow thimblefuls of water coming out of the shower head, and I sing to myself, "You can't always get what you want. But if you stand for a very, very, very, very, very long time, you get what you need. Eventually. But you will have prune feet.")

My mother says short posts are key, and she is very wise. So, my point, at last: This blog has an inaccurate name, and weird content, and I would apologize for it, except that I enjoy writing it so, so much.

Shampoo residue forever,

Friday, January 22, 2010

Vinny and Pauly D are my trip to Nepal.

This morning, I got a text message from a friend that said something like, "Quick! Tell me something funny!"

I knew I had to rise to the challenge. Her text could not go unanswered. So I took a deep breath, and I texted her the deepest, darkest secret that I have never told anyone:

"I have crushes on two of the guys from Jersey Shore," I wrote.

Her: "Are you serious?"

Me: "Totally serious. Vinny and Pauly D."

The thing is, Vinny and Pauly D are not exactly my "type." The men I am drawn to usually look something like this:

Oooh, dreamy Dr. Reid. However, Vinny and Pauly D look like this:

Can you see the difference? Can you? (And do you remember those old HiLite magazines where there would be two pictures, and you were supposed to circle all the differences you could find between them? I am tempted to do that here. Helpful hint: there are one billion differences).

In my defense (because on this issue I know I need a strong defense. Some of you will still say my crushes are indefensible, but...) I know Jersey Shore is bad television. I know! They're terrible to women! They're soooo vain! Pauly D has his you-know-what pierced and a huge Cadillac tattoo, and Vinny still lives at home with his mother and likes it. In the words of Liz Lemon, those facts alone should be deal-breakers. Should be.

But as I texted to my disbelieving friend: "They're really funny, and uber-masculine, and also, I'm CRAZY."

Vinny and Pauly D are really funny, and they seem like they're laughing just as hard as, if not harder than, everyone watching the show, and they've got huge muscles and they're always saying things like, "Don't let the spiked hair fool you. I'm not a bitch."

Had I not been confined, via text, to 140 characters, I would've said something like this in my defense:

Why do I go nuts at the chance to travel to distant countries? Why does a twenty-seven year old woman still totally love dressing up for Halloween? Because traveling, or wearing costumes, provides a brief vacation from my all too ordinary self and my ordinary life! Well, Vinny and Pauly D are my trip to Nepal! They're my slightly off-color Halloween costume that I'd never wear 364 other days of the year! I watch them and I think, "What would it be like? If we went to the club, and we beat the beat, and they got in fights defending my honor, and then we all admired their huge muscles while we ate pickles in the Jacuzzi on our roof? Wouldn't that be something different!" And different is always enticing. For a while. In my defense.

The truth is, I wrote this entire entry about Jersey Shore just so I would have a "reason" to show you this CLIP THAT I LOVE.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Who is in charge, here?

Hey, El Nino! Who is in charge, here? What kind of messed-up, NON-winter is this? Why am I taking walks, in naught but a zip-up, feeling the sun on my back and catching glimpses of my shadow in the non-frosty grass!

I can hear people saying, Shhhh, you numskull! Don't remind the weather system that he forgot about winter. It's so nice, and makes for such easy driving. Pipe down!

But those people probably aren't teaching for two and a half hours in Fine Arts 305: the hottest classroom in America. When your students are already sweating and squirming, and you keep fluffing your bangs because you can feel them sticking to your forehead, and it's January--that is Not Good. In fact, it is quite dangerous. Because something like this could happen (okay, did happen. Yesterday.) :

"Kendall," they said, "It's so hot in here. Can't we open a window?" I'm reasonable, so I opened one-half of the window, but to do so required moving the curtain that was keeping the super-bright sunlight out of their eyes.

"Kendall," they said, "can you open the other half of the window so the sun won't be in our eyes?" Hmmm. Trickier. There was a bolt at the top of the window, well out of arm's reach, and I would need to get to that first. Uncertain of how to climb up, I balanced a foot on the very hot, very narrow radiator and was about to hoist, when--

"Kendall! Use a chair!" said three students, in unison, and one brought the chair to me. A good, life-preserving suggestion, probably. I balanced on the chair, turned the bolt, tugged. Tugged again. Yanked...

"It won't open, Kendall, because it's nailed shut," one student pointed to the nails at the bottom of the window. "Can we open the door to the fire escape?" I opened the door. It swung right back shut.

"Use the chair from before," someone suggested. I attempted to prop the chair half in the doorway and half on the fire escape six inches below (it's a weird building).

Then, we watched together, a hard-working, heat-beating team, as the chair fell from the doorway, crashed down onto the fire escape, slid across it, and stopped just at the edge, right before it would've fallen three stories onto the walkway below. And potentially maimed someone.

I stood very still, looking at the door, the chair, and the fire escape--door, chair, fire escape--like they were one of those story problems from the SAT that I could never do, when a student came up behind me and said, helpfully, "Last semester, we would do this." He opened the door all the way, stood the chair upright against the door, on the fire escape, and came back inside.

Which brings me back to my original question, El Nino:

is in charge, here? Because I'm pretty sure it's not me.

Dangerously bad at problem solving,

Sweet Things.

1. Remember about ten years ago, when Oprah had to live in Texas for, like, six months, while she was the defendant in a massive trial because on her TV show she said, "Beef is gross"? and then the cattle industry was like, "Oh no, she is going to cost us millions of dollars! LAWSUIT!" Remember that?

Well, listen, I don't want that to happen with me and honey. I love honey, and I want the world to know it. Now that I have thirty-two followers (THIRTY TWO??? That's the power of the Rat!), I need to be responsible about the fact that this blog is becoming very influential. ;)

To wit: I love honey. Look at my cute little honey bear! I use it all the time on my peanut butter toast. So what if it's puke--bad with the good, and all that. I'll keep using honey. So we're clear, I've got mad respect for honey bees.

"My love is a hundred pitchers of honey." --Jack Gilbert, Phenomenal Poet

"That sounds very sticky." --Kendall

2. Sweet Poems by Japanese School Children (as pinned to my office door):
(to clarify: the poems are pinned to the office door. Not the children.):

If I Were an Ant
Suppose I were an ant.
I'd be lazy
for sure.
I wouldn't save my food--
I'd eat lots.

--Hitomi Takesi, Third Grade

Sunset Sky
the sunset sky is pretty, isn't it?
The crows are eating it.
Mmmm, they say.
But just
a little

--Igarashi Yuko, Kindergarten

A crow is pitch black.
You can't see where its eyes are.
A big one look likes
a flying sushi roll.
A very big one looks like
a flying garbage bag.

--Aoki Suguru, Third Grade

I had a dream
that a ghost appeared
and ate me up.
But then
my sister
ate the ghost.
My sister
is incredible.

--Shimaoka Kotaro, First Grade

Beautiful, right?


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Honey is what??

Sometimes, I see something and I find it so thought-provoking and surprising, that I get all fidgety and anxious about who I can tell. Then, I remember. The blog! I can tell the blog.

Blog, listen to this: "Honey is bee vomit too."

I know this not only because someone scrawled the message across a sign outside of the arboretum, but because, after seeing the sign above, I did some serious, hard-nosed research. I pulled up my Google task bar and entered, "honey bee vomit."

Turns out, honey is regurgitated by bees after they consume nectar. If you really want to know (and you do, don't you?), bees consume nectar, and then the nectar hangs out in their "honey stomach," which is different from their other stomach. We're supposed to be comforted by that. Also, once the nectar is turned into honey by the enzymes in the honey-stomach, the bee voluntarily regurgitates it. And we're supposed to take comfort in that too--that the regurgitating is voluntary, which somehow distances it from the involuntary vomit that is totally gross.

Why did someone go to the trouble of writing this message on the "Pets Prohibited" sign? To point out how often something lovely (honey) is linked to something profane (puke!)? To remind us that, in life, the lovely and the ugly are interconnected and mixed together, and you can't have one without the other? Want beautiful flowers or big, tasty vegetables? You'll need some crap to make them grow. Want honey for your tea? Well, some bee is going to have to put its finger down its throat to pull some back up for you. Want love? Well, you're going to have to put up with some crap, too. (And this is supposed to be comforting: the crap we encounter and work through is part of the nature of the thing, and it might--if you follow the metaphor far enough--actually prove nourishing.)

Nourishing like bee vomit. Or manure.

Basely yours,

PS: Obviously, the person who tagged the sign was protesting the park's apparent objection to dog poop. I'm pretty sure the arboretum was more concerned with maintaining its trails and keeping animals from wrecking their exotic, delicate plants. Still, I'm happy that person took sharpie to sign. I can't tell you how often in the past few days I've thought to myself, "Honey is bee vomit, too." Try it. See if you don't feel comforted.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Golden Globes Acceptance Speech

Interior: the Beverly Hilton. Kendall's name is announced. She has just won for best TV show, or best screenplay, or simply "most beautiful all around person, inside and out, who ever entered show business," the latter being a category made up just to honor her myriad contributions.

She covers her face with her hands, tastefully overcome with emotion. Her date, Matt Damon (appropriately, amicably divorced from Luciana Barrosa, they both realized they're better off as friends, no harm done), thinks she is brilliant and the admiration positively shines in his eyes as he watches her leave the table, then wind her way to the front of the room. Oops, she gets held up by Leonardo DiCaprio, who insists on hugging her, then steps on the train of her dress. She smiles demurely and swipes the dress free from his foot. She does
not trip up the stairs. She collects her statue.

Pause, for dramatic effect. Maybe holding back a few tears. She smiles bravely.

"Wow. I don't know what to say. I am shocked. I have nothing prepared. (I do have something prepared.) I want to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press (or the Academy, whatever). I also want to thank my agent and manager, that PR bulldog, JLG. I also want to thank KW for watching and critiquing so much bad TV with me, and KP for reminding me that I don't have to watch TV all the time, because people need exercise and socialization. LA, thank you for giving up your cool job in NYC to come design beautiful sets for my TV show. CS and DB, thank you for feeding me. I would have starved without your belk burgers. I am so lucky to have friends who did not tell me I was crazy when I decided to do something totally crazy.

And to my dear family who have seen me through so much, thank you. You did not squash my neuroses out of me, but actually
encouraged them in your own, supportive way. Without you, I'd have been too normal to amount to anything. (crowd laughs.) I love you. (I mean it.)

(this would be a big and important award, so even though the speech gets long, they would never dare to cut me off with orchestral music)

Finally, Matt. (camera scans to Matt Damon, catches the reflection from the tears in his eyes.) Ever since I was fourteen, and reading magazine articles about you on the bus ride home from Whitford Middle School, I've known that someday, someday, you'd fall madly in love with me. And I was right. I win! (victorious fist-pump) (crowd is amused) (Matt smiles his million-watt smile) (I leave the podium and exit the stage in the correct fashion, without Miss Golden Globe needing to cattle-herd me back to the press area where I continue to charm the pants off people).

Sounds good, right? I mean, I've still got a few years to hammer out the kinks.

Graciously yours,

"With all their scintillating beauty..."

Well, I don't have to go to work today. Thank God. Instead of two days of work this week, I've only got the one. I mean, after that month-long Christmas holiday, too, I'm just really in need of some time off.

(Except I'm not. At all. I should be at work. I need something to keep me honest. I need a job! Oh--I know! I'll blog.)

So, the reason for my time off: Martin Luther King, Jr.

When I was in high school, I was obsessed with the Civil Rights Movement. I wrote several essays about school desegregation and Brown v. Board of Education. I watched grainy footage of the protests outside of southern schools, and I cried. I dreamed of naming a child of mine Thurgood, after the first black Supreme Court Justice. In 1999, I interviewed a really smart, honest Professor of Black Studies about race and segregation in Portland, Oregon. It went like this:

KS (excitable, nervous, smiley): Professor M, how has Portland changed since school desegregation?
PM (dashing, professional, less-smiley): Actually, I think Portland is as segregated a city as it was in the 1950s.
KS (fidgets. Significance dawns slowly): ......................
PM (waits. watches) : ......................
KS: Okay. I'll just need to change some of my questions around.

See? A learning experience.

So, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., and dear Thurgood Marshall, and the gutsy students in the case of Brown vs. Board of Education, and to the men and women in the US who, in 2010, do not feel full and direct access to the civil rights owed to them by their states, I am reproducing two pieces from King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail." Like me, King had a lot of time on his hands when he wrote this letter in 1963--he was stuck in jail for "parading without a permit" during his march in Birmingham. Unlike me, King used his time to pen a beautiful open letter in favor of "peace and brotherhood," while I am choosing to blog, and to watch Young Frankenstein.

He's really, a really good writer.

"Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial, "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds..."

"...Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood [and sisterhood] will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of
Peace and Brotherhood,

Martin Luther King Jr."
(and Kendall)

Friday, January 15, 2010

No discernible theme or purpose. Honestly.

For reasons I can't fully explain, this scene from "Burn After Reading" was in my mind this morning, before I'd even opened my eyes or lifted my sweet head off the pillow. The movie is not one of my favorites, which is why I am still surprised at how--whenever I'm confronting a daunting prospect: blow drying my hair; talking to boys; thinking about the future; blogging--this particular moment from the movie plays itself on repeat in my brain space.

I hope you'll watch, and embrace the message as you enter your weekend, your future, your life.

I, for one, am back. And I'm better. Than ever. You f*ers. I'm back.

Also back, by less-than-popular request: Mr. Justin Bieber!!! Buckle your seatbelts. Anonymous: you'll want to skip this one, if the first one made you want to scoop your own eyeballs out. You'll probably be sitting in a puddle of your own vomit by video's end.

(Tweens at the laundromat?? In the words of KW: "Where are the grown-ups?" Which applies not only to this video, but kind of just life in general.)

Much love,

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Alien Face.

Ehhhhhhh. Tonight, I'm feeling just a little bit like life is fragile. So, I posted this up-close, out-of-focus (because I can't figure out how to focus my camera when the flash is off, but the flash has to be off for the colors to be normal, etc.) picture of an orchid. Or, an orchid flower. Is the whole plant an orchid? Or is each individual bloom an orchid? Regardless, I've got SEVEN blooms on this plant and one more on its way. Which is hopeful. Which is good. But, yikes, they seem fragile. If I sneezed, the whole damn plant might just disappear.

But also, if I could get a little ruminitive (and rheumatic--it's so rainy here!), this particular bloom is frowny, and it even looks a little bitey. It looks like I feel. And up close, the inside of the flower--which is poetically called the "the column"--has an alien face. I keep moping about my apartment, then coming up close to inspect the alien face in the orchid. Spooky. I like it.

I'm a little bit confused about how to blog about the utter minutiae of my life (I found a vending machine at LCSC that distributes Diet Coke, in a can!), when the earthquake in Haiti sucks so, so bad. Plus, some other stuff is happening to very important people around me, and that makes my heart hurt, "which I hate." (yes! I do have to be this cryptic. Sorry if it's annoying. This is a BLOG.) And I know no one needs another reason to feel down, but I try to blog honestly, and I'm honestly down. So...

I'm going to go stare into the orchid's alien face. Hang on a sec--

(It totally helps!) So, I'm a bit mopey, and needing to find some more snacks. Luckily, I've got these new glasses, that make glowering even easier. (Also, very sorry for the proverbial "blog self-portrait" (read: photo of myself I took in the mirror). It made the glasses look the best. Vanity persists, even through bad moods).


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Highway to the Danger Zone; or, Cleaning Out My Closet

Do you know why blogging is So Dangerous?

I'll tell you. It's dangerous because as a blogger, you tell yourself "no big deal," you're just writing a public diary. But that is an oxymoron. Already, your brain is confused. Then, it gets more complicated because as a blogger, you've decided that your blog is NOT going to be a blog that reads like "My life is so perfect and stylish, here is a sweater I knitted out of hair from the mane of unicorns--look at these cute buttons I fashioned out of bullets! Well, off to do more yoga." So, you make a point of emphasizing moments of awkwardness and failure. You put up excerpts of your old diary entries, and pictures from the ugliest phase of your life, and stories about how you're a little messed up in the head.

All of that sharing may very well be therapeutic. But what must be remembered is that you've got friends who read your blog, and also some kind-hearted "future-friends" (strangers), and every once in awhile they're going to comment. They're going to tell you that you're not as uncool as you think you are, or that you weren't as ugly as you thought you were, or, worst of all, that you're a funny blogger. And this, to a blogger, is crack cocaine. It is deadly.

Because now I just want to push even harder for more positive reinforcement, like a dog who wants just one more Beggin' Strip (it's baaacon!). I want to tell even grosser secrets about myself (I like Justin Beiber--see below; I've decided leggings ARE pants (sorry Fuggirls); I was on the futon watching movies until 3pm today, in pajamas I've had since I was twenty-one, lying on two days worth of pretzel crumbs); and be told that it's okay! It's funny! I'm still a good person! A great person.

And I'm thinking that this phenomenon--getting some sort of good pay-off for sharing the various ways that you are bad news--is exactly what gets lots of bloggers blogging badly in order to feel good.


Also dangerous: blogging under the influence. It is one of the legs of my platform: no blogging when you've been drinking like you have a hollow leg. That's a weird expression, but you know, several glasses of wine have been swishing around in my hollow leg since Monday evening (at the beginning of a semester, students and educators drink like fish--fish with hollow legs? I've bungled this one terribly--) so for the past few days, I've had to forego blogging on account of fuzzy-mindedness. This blog may be inane, and it is probably boring, but the very least I can promise you who read it is that you aren't reading the inarticulate ramblings of a drunk person. Just the inarticulate ramblings of a sober one.

I can also promise you that you will smile when you watch the music video below. Unless you don't have a soul. Also: yes, he's fifteen. So, watch it, then go ahead and tell me it is totally acceptable for me to be obsessed with this little bugger.

Peace out,

Sunday, January 10, 2010


You know how when something sort of awkward and embarrassing happens, and you're humiliated, then you mentally rewrite the embarrassing event as a touching, poignant moment in a charming movie of which you're the star?

Really? You don't?

Last night for instance. I attempted to make my big, Saturday night debut back in Moscow. I was hoping to see people who hadn't seen me for several weeks, and surprise them with how good I looked after my time in the big city. I made my shaggy hair extra large. I put on my legging-jeans, my jeggings, and my cool black boots.

Then, I ran into one individual who I actually, really want to see me looking good and acting normal. (If you know me at all, and especially if you spoke to me even one time in the months of May-June last year, you can guess to whom I refer, and you understand why "acting normal" is imperative).

I came around the corner, all ready to order a nice tall water, because after one hundred glasses of wine I always order a water (I'm responsible like that), and blammo! There he was, at the bar, ordering with his very pretty girlfriend.

Me (desperately cheerful): Oh hi! How are you?
Them (polite): Good, how are you?
Me (idiot!) : I'm good! How are you?
Them (confused. slowly.): Um. We're good.
Me (manic): Good. Good. (to the bartender): Can I please have a glass of water?

Do you see what I did? I totally blew it! I did the "how are you" twice. Like a schmuck. I did not seem cool or especially normal. It might not seem so bad to you, but it feels so bad to me. Because it is added to a mountain, a truly mountainous pile, of other embarrassing events with this person. Like the time I made a lame joke about cheese; or the time I physically ran away while he was talking to me; or that time I flipped him the bird.

So what I've elected to do is rewrite the whole (brief) event, so that it makes me seem all the more endearing and irresistible. I mean, just look at how hard you fall for Annie Hall in this monument to awkward social interactions:

World! I'm not going to let my repetitive, parroty way of greeting people (how are you? how are you? seriously, how are you? squack!), or my lame cheese jokes, or my tendency to flip people the bird, get me down, because I've got this pretty stellar movie going in my mind. And in my movie, I'm a hard to resist, vest wearing, lah-di-dah saying, Annie Hall.

Conveniently, I already have her entire outfit.

Friday, January 8, 2010

I'm stumped.

First, I'm sorry. I'm sorry to all of you who couldn't focus on your work today, those of you who couldn't eat or drive well, because you were so overwhelmingly anxious to hear more about my whole soap-mouth scenario.

I've got double bad news. The taste hasn't gone away, and I haven't figured out why it's happening. Here's a list of potential explanations for this mildly (but increasingly) irritating affliction.

1. I've developed multiple personalities and, while Kendall is in a fugue state, a weird alternate personality (Clean Lizzy) takes over and gets to licking on bars of soap.

2. My body is protesting the amount of garbage it's been forced to deal with for oh, about a month: wine, potato chips, beer, chocolate, salty nuts, beer, wine, Mexican food, pretzels, pizza, chocolate, wine--and then it was lunchtime. I am being told, in no uncertain terms, to clean up my act.

3. God is protesting the swear words that I sprinkle throughout this blog, and absolutely abuse in actual conversations. He is telling me, in no uncertain terms, to clean up my act. (He's not going to win, though. Soap-mouth is easier to accept than a life devoid of profanity, and that's a platform I can stand on. Stand for. Stand with? Whatever.)

4. I'm being poisoned by sodium fluoride. What's weird is that this is actually the most reasonable explanation. Apparently, according to, tap water can have unhealthy levels of sodium fluoride. Now, my water has always smelled like sulfur, and tasted like shit (sorry God), but it never made a soapy taste in my mouth. But, I also just came back from three weeks at home, so maybe my tolerance for sodium fluoride is low. Or the water--determined to kill me--has murderously upped the quantity of sodium fluoride. Regardless, we're off the tap water here at the spider house.

Addendum 1: If sodium fluoride sounds familiar to you, that's because it is in your toothpaste, and in water, and in fluoride (duh). And yes, it's a deadly poison, but only in high doses.

Addendum 2: Apparently, sodium fluoride poisoning causes not only soap-mouth, but also collapse, shock, numbness of mouth, dilated pupils, and pallor. So, friends, if I start presenting these symptoms, go ahead and get me to the ER, please. I'm talking to you, Moscovites, you're closest.

So, either I've got multiple personalities and one is a soap-eater; or I'm being punished by my body for being a garbage-gut; or by God for having a potty mouth; or tap water wants me dead.

On the bright side, I put flannel sheets on my bed today! So, if soap-mouth kills me in my sleep, I'll die very, very cozy.

Soapily, cozily yours,

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Well, really, this is a whole lotta nada.

Yesterday, I got so caught up in my anti-platform platform, that I forgot to say, "Greetings from the Spider House!"

This is a picture of the outside of it, and as I write this, I am inside it, sitting at the little window in the upper right hand corner. Can you see it? That's my window--my desk is right inside.

Maybe it is not fair to call it the Spider House, because I have only seen two Hobo spiders (but both in my shower, just about to gun for my vulnerable toes), and only a few other spiders besides that, but one of those was behind one of my pillows, so I think it counts for several spiders.

But, really, Spider House feels right, because it is a little bit webby, a little bit broken-down, a lot bit old, creaky, lean-y, and there are several dark corners where I fear to tread. Crooks and crannies for days, really.

It feels good to be back! When I first pushed open the front door after three weeks away, I imagined finding 1.) hundreds of spiders, making dinner, lounging on my futon, watching my cable, and looking up sort of surprised to see me, like, "Excuse us, but who are you?," 2.) a terrible smell made by whatever is hanging out with the tortillas behind the fridge, or 3.) that my bedroom had finally fallen off the leaning house, and was waiting for me in the backyard.

What I actually found was: just a pile of mail. Catalogues full of stuff I can't afford, Christmas cards from friends who had their shit together this holiday season, and overdue bills. Bor-ing. In fact, life has gotten a little bit less eventful now that I'm back. I spend all morning in my pajamas, paying bills and organizing for the upcoming semester (and yes, okay, YES, checking Facebook) (and, yes, today I watched some Jersey Shore, but just to make sure Snooki was okay after she got snooki-punched). Then, I go to the gym (last updated 1987), which is such a ridiculous, smelly, shaky place that I wish I could take pictures of it, but I think gym-people would not really love that. Then, I get hungry, and today, that meant that I had to do what I hate to do. What I really hate to do.

(this may be one of the most American photos I've ever taken.)

WINCO. Winco is cheap. It is also huge. It is also designed to make people who grocery shop alone feel really, really bad. It does this by: a.) staging the store with actors who pretend to be part of really sweet-faced, young, coed couples, or young parents with cute babies that smile at you while you're picking out soup; or, old, slow-moving couples that make you think, 'oh sweet J, please let me have a grocery partner when I'm that old,' and b.) having you bag your own groceries.

The panic--the pure panic!--when I'm trying to bag my groceries, not over-loading any one bag, or crushing the bread, or cracking the eggs, etc., when the cashier, who is so fast, has already filled up the conveyor across from yours with the next customer's groceries, so he begins sending the third customers down onto your belt, and everything is backing up, and it's all your fault, and it's so hot in here, plus you've banged your funny bone on the edge of your cart, and you can't get the orange juice to fit in any of the bags so you'll just have to carry it separately...

I'm still not over it.

Luckily, I invested in twelve cans of diet coke, and I've cracked the first cold one, and I've got it sitting next to me in my creaky, droopy, Spider House, and a 30 Rock re-run is about to begin, and it's pretty nice, overall. Even if everything I've eaten today tasted a little bit like soap. Which has been weird, but manageable. I'll solve that mystery tomorrow.

Disjointedly yours,


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Platforms Can Kiss My Keester.

Like millions of Americans, I got an iPod for Christmas. Like millions of Americans, I got DVDs and a few gift cards. (I also got this, which I am pretty sure most Americans did NOT get--but most Americans don't have my mom for a mother.) (Aforementioned device has since been returned for cash money, so don't ask to borrow it).

The other gifts I received for Christmas? Self-doubt and confusion.
(Insert joke about how it is unfortunate that someone gave me a gift I already have. Ha.)

These gifts came packaged in two print magazines: Writer's Digest, and Writer's Digest WRITER'S YEARBOOK.

The Writer's Yearbook featured an article titled:

I have a feeling that I am not meant for "building platforms"--I have a hard time building a sandwich--but, I read on, because I am hoping, on some level, to make it as a writer. Plus, this blog is called "I can do lots of things," so it seems like I should at least try to make a platform. Maybe, building a platform is something I can do. Here's how the article starts:

"If you're wondering what the difference is between a completely unknown writer and a well-known writer, I can tell you. The well-known writer has influence. In order for you to build influence, you need to create and launch a platform that communicates your expertise, credibility and integrity..."

To me, this is...terrifying. But not to worry, the article has a numbered list of how to make your platform. It's so easy! Three easy steps!

1. Have a clearly identified body of expertise.

"The first thing you need to know and communicate is what defines you and your expertise. If you don't know who you are and what you uniquely offer, how will anyone else?"

So, just know who you are? I'm twenty-seven and I struggle with that question all day, every day, except when I'm watching TV. Which is why I watch so much TV.

Who I am: I'm Kendall. I'm tallish. I have bangs, three demanding plants, and a gift for finding myself in awkward situations.

Expertise: 1. Finding Hobo Spiders in Showers; 2. Memorizing Celebrity Baby Names; 3. Big-Talking (this term defines someone who staunchly refuses to put her money where her mouth is).

2. Have a Distinct Niche, so you can stand out.

"With your identity in hand, how are you different from all of the other writers out there?...Attention spans are getting shorter, so being able to summarize your strengths concisely is critical."

Hello, and welcome to my distinct niche! I'd like to shake your hand, but as you can see, I've already got my identity in hand. Pay attention! I'm distinct. There is not a single other twenty-seven year old woman, let alone a would-be writer trying to write a blog, anywhere out there. I am the ONLY ONE of my kind.

My distinct blog is called, "I Can Do Lots of Things," because I think, probably, I can do lots of things (although, last night under duress, I admitted that "I can do lots of things. I just don't"). Now, does that set me apart? What did you say? Did you ask what can I do, precisely? Hmm...well...Oh, I don't know. I just needed a title for a blog. Probably, it would be more accurately titled,

This is not going well.

3. An Ongoing Relationship with a Targeted Audience.

"Clarifying who your readers are will bring your platform into perspective...This applies to books, blogs, and everything else you write, no matter the form or genre. Once you identify your audience, and start speaking to it directly, the ongoing dialogue will spark all kinds of ideas, connections and opportunities..."

Audience, Hello. I am addressing you directly. You know, I have a very specific audience-type, and if you are reading this right now, guess what? You're in. You fit the bill. That's right: my targeted audience is anyone who will read what I write.

So, here is my platform: I have an identity (bangs; plants; awkwardness). I have expertise (spiders; celebrity babies; big-talking). I have a distinct niche (vaguely "doing things,"and then only in theory, not in practice). I'm targeting a specific audience (you, you big lug! it's you!).

Is this the sort of platform a person (or a blog) can stand on?

I think it is more like a platform a person (or a blog) falls off of, like a silly grandma-at-the-wedding-reception blooper from America's Funniest Home Videos.

I think my platform, maybe, is just that I'm not one for platforms? Ehhhh?

At least there are people out there trying to help us platform-less people get the notice we desire. (Thanks, CK, for the awesome link.)

Do you have a platform? Do you think you need one? Way more importantly, do I?

Abs. Crunches.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Why our eyes are in the front.

Exposure therapy is therapy in which a patient is exposed to that which frightens them most. I'm no licensed therapist, but it certainly makes sense to me. Once you confront your greatest fear head-on, and walk away unharmed, it no longer has any power over you.

In this spirit, I present:

Eighth Grade Kendall. Here I am, about to catch the bus to lead me into the lion's den that was Whitford Middle School. It was the first day of eighth grade, and I had picked this outfit carefully.

It consists of:
  • Carefully curled bangs.
  • Braces with colored bands that were some tastefully subtle combination of green and pink; purple and blue; or teal and black.
  • Over-sized sweater from the Gap. Tucked in (against all reason) and belted with a braided leather belt--also Gap.
  • Worst. Jeans. Ever. From the Limited Too. Worst. Ever.
  • Brand-new white shoes (more than just a little orthopedic).
  • Exceedingly fragile self-esteem.
I have tried to explain to people why I am sometimes the victim of doubt, shyness, or extreme sensitivity. The secret lies with those terrible pants, that tucked sweater, the awkward pose.

But, by showing this to the world (or, to my twelve followers, which, by the way, 12!! Now we're cooking with gas!), I am taking the sting out of such an awkward, uncomfortable past.

It used to hurt, a little, to come to Portland. I used to hit the city-limits, and morph into the anxious, uncertain, brace-face above. It seemed like a past I wanted to ignore, and couldn't avoid when I was home. Now, I think I've been looking at it all wrong.

First, she's pretty endearing, right? Isn't she someone you want to put your arm around, and explain to her about the value of plain-colored braces, the optional nature of tucking and belting, and the importance, with jeans especially, of a well-suited rise? I hope she's endearing, because in a lot of important ways, I am totally still her.

Second, Portland is home to some people who knew this thirteen year old, and still want to hang out with her: my parents, obviously, who probably ought to have stepped in with some fashion advice, but I forgive them; good friends from the old days, who also could've stepped in, but no matter; and my brothers--though, I admit it has taken a while to convince them I can, in fleeting but dazzling instances, be cool.

Third, our eyes are conveniently located in the front of our heads, which I take to mean that probably, more of my energy needs to be spent on looking forward, and not worrying overly much about the past. Even though coming home usually requires you to consider your past (ie, I've had to drive past my old high school maybe twenty-five times since I got here), loosening up on such retrospection has allowed me to have a brilliantly good time while I've been home.

Tomorrow, I'll be back in Moscow, writing from my little spider-house on the Palouse. I'm packing up my plants, my blog, and all my clean laundry, and I'm headed home. But I'll be leaving home tomorrow too.

Profoundly yours,

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Outsiders.

2010 is not going well. I mean, it is going well from a fun standpoint: I've had a really good time since the ball dropped. But it is not going well from the "fix everything wrong in your life overnight because a new year means a new you" standpoint.

I have already broken the sort of half-assed resolutions I set for myself. I said I would eat healthier, but for breakfast I had M&Ms. I said I was not going to start watching college sports in 2010, but yesterday I watched the Rose Bowl. I said I would try a yoga class, and even though I'm only two days into the new year, I can already feel myself trying to squirm out of that one.

When you wake up on January 2, already feeling let down about how the first day of 2010 sets the standard for all of 2010--which now looks like it will be a year of failure--it's time to get real. And the truth about my life today is: my plant, my poor plant, the Bromeliad, is not well.

Here is what a bromeliad ought to look like.

Here is what my bromeliad looks like.

My bromeliad looks...scrappy. Like if it was a person, he would be a character from The Outsiders. Maybe Pony Boy, because that is the only name I can remember off-hand. (It's in the sink because I just watered it and it was a little leaky.) And, so what if it doesn't have any flowers? Not all plants are meant to have flowers.

I've been in denial, thinking that since Pony Boy was still green, he was healthy. He was, after all, alive. Plus, I thought his stripey leaves gave him personality. But then, this morning, feeling the January 2 impulse to stop denying and start actualizing, I brought him out to my mom. Her face, when she saw the plant, was not optimistic.

"I'd be surprised if it's still alive," she said.
"WHAT?" I said. "It's alive. It's still green."
"Maybe," she said. "But it could be ever so much happier."

(Then, I did a lame little dance where I stomped my feet and wrung my hands to try and shake off the guilt I had for failing my plant. It made me feel a little better.)

"What do I need to do?" I asked my mom. Then, she did something brilliant. She pulled out the little plastic tag in the pot that gives instructions about how to care for a bromeliad. She read.

"It says to fertilize it twice a month. Do you do that?"

"Have you ever fertilized it?"

"It says to keep it away from drafts."
Have you been to my apartment? It's all drafts.

"Have you even read these instructions?" she asked.
I hadn't read the instructions. Or I did, once, but they seemed a little high-maintenance for a plant, so I conveniently forgot them. I watered the plant when I remembered, talked to it every once in awhile, and considered it: good.

Wrong. Turns out, you are also supposed to feed plants. There is such a thing as plant food. They need some fertilizer. And when they get all dried up and their little ball of roots just sits on top of all the dirt in the pot, you aren't supposed to keep standing the plant back up when it falls over, you're supposed to re-pot it. So, on the second day of 2010, I went to the garden center of Fred Meyer's, and bought some fertilizer. I got some new potting soil. I made a sincere apology to Pony Boy, and said I was going to start loving him better.

Now, this is not a blog about plants or about gardening. But it is a blog--if you read the "About Me" gadget to the left of this post--about "learning how to live right." And it seems to me, on this momentous day 2 of 2010, that living right is mostly about loving people (pets and plants included) well. Taking better care of who is around me. That, more than yoga or no-more-candy-for-breakfast, is my resolution for 2010. Starting with Pony Boy.