"When you are engulfed in flames"

I finally finished the newest David Sedaris book, When You are Engulfed in Flames. His twisted sense of humor and snarky asides are what originally got me hooked on his writing. But what makes it “kick ass” vs. “just funny” is his ability to meander while talking about a subject and ending with a single sentence that somehow ties every tangent into the main point in a natural way.

My single favorite sentence from the book will most likely stick out in this passage from his Japanese class while he and his bf were staying in Tokyo:

“In New York or Paris, these machines would be trashed,” I told him.
The Indonesian raised his eyebrows.
“He means destroyed,” Christophe said. “Persons would break the glass and cover
everything with graffiti.”
The Indonesian student asked why, and we were hard put to explain.
“It’s something to do?” I offered.
“But you can read a newspaper,” the Indonesian said.
“Yes,” I explained, “but that wouldn’t satisfy your basic need to tear something apart.”

(quote is on page 281 of the book)


The Bronx Zoo

Posing for a cereal bag.

Nature walk through The Bronx.

I can keep them away with a two foot fence.

Broken rules.

A little girl asked me about taking the tram. I told her she had to get tickets someplace. Then I realized that she must’ve thought I worked at the zoo because of my brown dress. But I thought the “Bug Carousel” was going to be the insect zoo, and not a carousel with insects instead of horses. I was still excited.

The zebras had no animal shaped cookies. Nor did any other place in the zoo.

Tigers actively hunt humans.
In the butterfly garden, I told some little kids what Eric Carle had been lying to them about: butterflies come out of a chrysalis and moths come out of cocoons.

I got inducted into the pollination hall of fame, no big deal.

The National Zoo

I went to the National Zoo in DC on one of the hottest days of the year. I didn’t even want to be outside, so I didn’t blame the animals for hiding.

Lion impression

So that’s a panda. It looked animatronic.

Real animals=too hot to see. Statue animals = too hot to touch.

Panda pose.

Abstinence Only and Chaperoned Dates, part 3

Last night, the fine people of TLC brought their normal Tuesday night line up of two (!!) episodes of 17 Kids and Counting and Toddlers and Tiaras…that’s two full hours of watching life decisions I’d never make for myself or anyone else! The Learning Channel, indeed.

Toddlers and Tiaras, “Miss Georgia Spirit”

Little Marleigh is two years old, and her mother Amy said she called her a pageant girl right after she was born. “She just loves it,” Amy assures us, as Marleigh kicks and screams and refuses to stand while Amy tries to get her to stand on Xs in the backyard to practice. Amy said she’d keep entering Marleigh in pageants until Marleigh said she didn’t want to do it anymore.

Six year old Kayleigh was my favorite. Her mom, Natalie, refused to put make up on her. Kayleigh had no coach, no hair dresser, no custom made clothes. She just walked onto the stage on competition day with an attitude like she she was going to the zoo. She actually looked like a kid playing dress up, versus a kid trying to be a creepy, stylized version of an adult. When Kayleigh had on her shiny blue dress for the evening wear competition, she said the crinoline was uncomfortable. She refused to smile again until her mom helped her take off the stiff petticoat. Guess who won in her division…

Meanwhile, on competition day, Marleigh squirmed and tried to run away every time Amy changed her clothes or brought her out on stage. After the casual wear portion, Amy tried to put lip gloss on Marleigh, and Marleigh screamed and smacked Amy in the face. If those tiny fists of fury don’t translate to “I don’t want to be in pageants anymore,” then nothing short of a heroin addiction is going to get through to Amy.

Abstinence Only and Chaperoned Dates, part 2

Last night, the fine people of TLC brought their normal Tuesday night line up of two (!!) episodes of 17 Kids and Counting and Toddlers and Tiaras…that’s two full hours of watching life decisions I’d never make for myself or anyone else! The Learning Channel, indeed.

17 Kids and Counting, “O Come, All ye Duggars”

It’s a very Duggar Christmas in February! The Duggar family enters a local parade and and creates a living nativity scene as their float entry. Not to give away the end of the episode, but they win first place for the religious category. But how can you beat a float that had twice the number of characters as any fake nativity scene, plus a monkey, a donkey and several camels.

While Michelle took a van load of offspring to sign up for the parade, little Johannah sprinted down the driveway after the van, screaming that she wanted to go. I know you do, Johannah. I know you’re going to run away by age twelve because you’re already over this at age three, like when you screamed inappropriately in Central Park, hoping that someone would hear you and take you to a family where your father doesn’t go through two cans of Aqua Net a month and where you won’t meet your future spouse at a home schooling conference.

The oldest Duggar child, Josh, and his new wife Anna played Mary and Joseph on the float. As they curled up next to the donkey, holding the plastic baby Jesus during the parade, Josh gave Anna a kiss. Anna had the same look of “What have I done” on her face as she did on their wedding day, when they shared their first kiss at the alter. It’s the look of a woman who went from holding hands to losing the V-card in the span of a night, and still has no idea how to process the feelings, sensations or thoughts about the physical aspects of her marriage.

Abstinence Only and Chaperoned Dates, part 1

Last night, the fine people of TLC brought their normal Tuesday night line up of two (!!) episodes of 17 kids and counting and toddlers and tiaras…that’s two full hours of watching life decisions I’d never make for myself or anyone else! The Learning Channel, indeed.

17 Kids and Counting, “A Duggar in the Rough”

The Duggars loaded up the bus and traveled to Murfreesboro, Arkansas to the aptly named Crater of Diamonds State Park to…dig for diamonds in a crater. All eight girls were properly dressed to walk through the muddy crater, meaning they were decked out in their ankle-length skirts. Joy Anna frowned when she saw all of the mud, telling the camera crew that playing in the mud was “more of a boy thing.” I’m so sorry JoyAnna, that you were expecting a big pile of diamonds like it was star sprinkle mountian, not that you’ve seen Rainbow Brite because your parents limit your access to TV. Finding diamonds requires sifting and digging, and it beats being lowered into a tiny cave like Penny had to do in The Rescuers, not that you’ve seen that either.

Instead of blaming JoyAnna for her automatic disgust of getting dirty, I’ll blame the science lessons she gets during home school from Michelle. In the episode “Trading Places, Duggar Style*,” Michelle talks about the family’s gender stratificaion in the division of labor, and how the biological differences between boys and girls which dictates what kind of chores and activities a person enjoys doing. This means that girls love to clean bathrooms, while boys are better suited for working on cars. So you’re right JoyAnna, you’re a girl, you have the “harp playing” gene instead of the “searching for buried treasure” gene.

Jim Bob and Michelle talked about what a great educational opportunity learning about how diamonds are made was for their children, until the park rangers told them that the Crater of Diamonds was several million years old. Jim Bob and Michelle both laughed and told the cameras that sometimes they encounter information that goes against their beliefs, like the one about the world being seven thousand years old. After all, the bible is a far more accurate system of measurement than the fossil record or carbon dating.

*Duggar-style is also the term for when a man has to please himself manually during intercourse because the woman’s vagina is so stretched from popping out children.