My new friend Jack Howl

Posted in Uncategorized on August 31, 2012 by Cristina

I’d consider myself a shy person, but somehow, I became fast friends with a 60-70-year-old man as I caught up with an old friend tending bar in Williamsburg. This scene illustrates how special our hangout was: we filled a bowl with water, peppered it, built a paper boat and watched it all swirl around with a stoner-like curiosity. We were sober, but just crazy enough to have a blast. Here are some excerpts of my conversations with Jack.

Convo 1 (made us friends)
Me: So, I’m kinda crazy. I howl sometimes.
Jack: Oh, have I got a howling story for you! I’m crazy with a capital C. Got arrested for being naked out in the middle of the street and knew that the only way I’d get out of that jail cell was to howl all night. So that’s what I did. I howled until they institutionalized me. I was in the looney bin for a few years.

Convo 2 (made me cry)
Jack: …so that was one of the two most generous things anyone’s ever said to me.
Me: What was the other one?
Jack: Well, back in the 70s, I was becoming friends with a guy who’d just gotten back from Nam. He’d done a lot of terrible things to stay alive. I started telling him the story of how I dodged the draft, and he interrupts me and says, ‘Hey Jack, you don’t need to explain to me how you got out of the draft.’ Yeah, that was the most generous thing anyone’s said to me.

Convo 3 (made me laugh)
Jack: Do people ever call you Tina?
Me: Nah, they call me C more.
Jack: Why do they call you Seymour?

So that’s how Jack and I became friends. I gave him the book of 20 stamps I had in my purse for him to mail me his poetry. The next day, Jack called to ask if he could drive me to the airport so we could spend a bit more time together. I thought, what the hell… we both howl, he’s made me cry with happiness, and 5:30am is a perfectly good time to hear glory stories. My sister and friends were concerned with my decision to take a ride in the dark with a stranger who’d spent years in a mental institution. But Jack arrived from Long Island early; we chatted about my caring sister, his crazy sister, Herman Melville, and he told me that we’re all made up of the head, the heart, the groin and the soul (and that yeah, I for sure had a soul). After hugging at the airport, we made plans to stare into a peppery bowl of water the next time I’m in Brooklyn.

Seeing stars

Posted in Uncategorized on August 13, 2012 by Cristina

Backpacking last weekend was almost all sunshine, rainbows and glitter.

That is, until I realized that sunshine & rainbows & glitter breed mosquitoes. No amount of bug repellent goo or swatting at the air could deter the little shits from stealing my HIV-negative blood (though, in a moment of utter frustration, I  yelled “I hope you get AIDS, motherfucker!” I know, I wish I could take it back). At one point, I gave into my childhood curiosity and did something that sadistic 10-year-old Cristina would do:
let one land, watch it fill with blood, SMASHITTT!

For the sake of the photo, what’s one more? The total bites on my body are ≈1,900 less than the number of visible stars. This means three things:
1. I’m in a constant state of mild torture
2. I awaken the fear of smallpox-slash-bedbugs-slash-AIDS in people
3. It’s a good time to spot new constellations like Prickus Major:

Adulthood means that I try to ignore these bites and realize that they’re a small price to pay for being in a place where 2,000 stars glitter. Nevertheless, I can’t forget the joy of standing on the bed to throw pillows at the ceiling, killing mosquitoes en masse, then inspecting the red pillowcase constellations. It seems the American buggers got revenge for their fallen Romanian comrades. Touché.

Learn about America in 5 minutes!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 28, 2012 by Cristina

If you only have 5 minutes to cure yourself of the blues. Or if you only have 5 minutes to prove to yourself that [us] internet people have too much free time on their [our] hands. Take 5 minutes to see why aliens will certainly decide to obliterate us all in lieu of living among us when they arrive. Or if you’re a new or soon-to-be immigrant to this country and want to know about your neighbors, watch video 1 first… then video 2.

Impressive, right?
Now, a slightly different version:

America! Land of the talented and foolish.

Fire things

Posted in Uncategorized on July 12, 2012 by Cristina

I’ve been thinking a lot about dying (this is not new) and more specifically, dying in a house fire (this is new). Not long ago, a house around the corner burned and someone died, so that made me randomly cry for a few days. That tragedy made me notice that my own home is a cozy crucible.

The smoke alarm had been serving only as a dinner bell, so I dismantled that shit. Also, I have an unreasonable number of full oil lamps (which I attribute to communist-era nostalgia), just in case the power goes out and I need spotlight-strength lighting. With these things heavy on my mind, I decided to participate in a project called The Burning House, in which people decide what they’d rescue if they had to flee from a house fire. Here’s the precious list:

  • Maxx: one-eyed oversized cat (would make it extremely difficult to carry anything else)
  • Scrooge: one-eyed dirty stuffed koala I got when I arrived in the US
  • External hard drive: my memory fails me, so I need those photos
  • Peeing boy figurine: only thing I have from my grandpa’s house
  • Childhood photos: they look like they’re from the 1800s (AKA the 80s in Romania)
  • Passport: pain in the ass to replace
  • Car keys: I’d probably wanna go on a wee road trip after
  • Silver spoon: made by a dear friend
  • Gold ring: too many ladies have worn this for too many years for it to burn

This list was surprisingly short and easy to compile. I realized that I’d actually be ok leaving it all behind, save for the cat, who would undoubtedly be trying to gouge my eyes out with his 26ish nails. I know, I’ll fix the smoke alarm.

No more anchors

Posted in Uncategorized on June 23, 2012 by Cristina

I once dated a guy who was covered in tattoos: a caveman riding a log rocket, a Porta-Potty and ummm… other human successes. When I asked about them, he said they were just supposed to be silly. He aspired to be a comedian and our first date was an open-mic comedy show which was as funny as I was serious about our relationship (not because of the ink).  I like frivolity & I like tattoos, so I’m curious about the combination of these two things.
Pen & Ink has very interesting explorations of individual tattoos and their origins. This one says so much about the zeitgeist:

Only time will tell what effect that T-Rex will have on future sex and breastfeeding interactions. There’s something about our modern existence that’s making people my age say ‘fuck it’ and permanently ink a dinosaur below their breasts. Perhaps it’s because we have so much idle time that it’s impossible to sort out rational thoughts. We may be so bombarded with images and ideas, that the only appropriate response is BLEAAAGHHHFEOWAIOCA;EIJ (you know, in the form of a tattoo)!!! These ridiculous tattoos might be how our generation is confronting existentialism. I’ve obviously thought (too much) about this and also about getting a tattoo, which I probably won’t do because I’m an overly-critical coward… another trait of my generation. But IF I decided to get a below-the-breast motif, it’d be something along these lines:

Fuck it.

Book love

Posted in Uncategorized on April 7, 2012 by Cristina

If you have a list of books that people recommend to you, put The History of Love on there. My copy was a gift from someone whose taste I trust, so I ignored the title which sounds like some Eat Pray Love bullshit. I read most of it while in the company of other people: friends on the couch, strangers on airplanes, strangers in the park, friends in bed. All these people saw me cry the most gushing kinda tears I’ve ever cried (while reading) and probably thought I was manic. But I’m not, it’s just that good. Behold, a most excellent description of a balding man:

“The soft down of your white hair lightly playing about your scalp like a half-blown dandelion.”

And this bit perfectly sums up my general mood (and maybe yours, too):

Right?!?! Almost everything makes me well up with infinite happiness and sadness. Books, you, even bar cats that sip milk out of shot glasses:

I hope you read it, cry happysad tears and tell me what you think.

Adrenaline & Abita in the afternoon

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2012 by Cristina

This was almost the last photo I took with my camera:

Mid-town New Orleans at dusk, my friend pumping gas, I thought she looked foxy, so I snapped a photo from the passenger seat. When she was getting back in the car, the dude at the pump in front of us says, “HEY, why’s your friend takin’ your picture?!” She just smiled, got in the car, and I (like the giggly idiot that I am) decide to point my camera at him and jokingly pretend to take his picture. Mistake.
“I WILL FUCKIN’ BREAK YOUR CAMERA! DON’T TAKE MY PICTURE!” screams the wild-eyed stranger as he gets in his truck.
Holy shit. Eee, DRIVE! We peel out backwards, he’s behind us for a few blocks but not for too long. We chilled with a strawberry beer at home to calm the nerves. Blessed with sunshine and cursed with disaster, this city breeds a special kind of crazy. Raw magic. Off to sneak into rooftop pool.

Kool-Aid vs. Mexican water

Posted in Uncategorized on March 18, 2012 by Cristina

Frantic phone calls from my mom at 7:25, 7:37 and 9:10am until I finally pick up. She’s panicking about my sister being in Mexico. “I got 3 text messages, they’re all BLANK! I’m afraid she’s in danger and trying to talk to us!” With sleepy voice, I promise that she’s fine and that we’ve chatted.
Mom: “On the Skype? Did you talk to her on the Skype?”
Me: “No, mom, not on THE Skype, but a different interwebbs thing that I can’t explain right now… and she’s alive.”
Mom’s imagining my sister bound and gagged in the back of a van, barely reaching her Blackberry to send blank SOS messages. I shouldn’t have let her watch that movie Cellular:

I guess she was looking through our photos, freaking out that this will be the last picture of Anca taken down there.

Even though they own a house in Mexico that they visit often, my parents still have a crippling fear of drug lords, kidnappers, tamale ladies, piñatas, jalapeños, etc. I’ve tried to reason with them about the relative safety of Mexico, but they insist on speeding 70mph in their Jetta straight to the beach without venturing into neighboring villages. sigh. Minus the cursing and sex talk, this is not unlike conversations we’ve had:

If only they realized that my sister is simply too hung over from partying with her moreno-ponytailed-hotness of a boyfriend ’cause she was probably doing this late last night:

If she actually IS in the back of a van, she’s making out and miss-texting.

Wardrobe malfunction

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17, 2012 by Cristina

Since I started commuting to work by bike in the fall, I have yet to buy rain gear or change my outfits. Heels, dresses, no gloves, etc. A couple of recent incidents tell me I should reconsider this attitude.
This week, I wore a purple dress I’ve worn often (like, on Halloween)… but not much on my bicycle. Standing in front of the projector, explaining the stem-changing verb mostrar: Yo… muestro, tú muestras, ella muestra… Waaait a second, some students’ eyes are fixated on ummm, not my face. Then the horrible moment when I realize my dress is see-through. The slip  had shimmied all the way up to my waist and the projector’s glow was turning class into a peep show. ¡Uuuuuuf! Luckily, there was a podium I could get behind to fix the skank-fest.
The second, and even more embarrassing incident, was an unfortunate pencil skirt malfunction. I thought I’d hiked it up enough to ride safely, but realized AFTER teaching for 2 hours that the slit had split all the way up to my butt. The horror! So, for my second class, I was getting creative with not turning my back to them… “why don’t YOU come up and write it on the board?” Paralyzing.

Fashion ads should have captions like this ’cause there’s no way this lass rode her pencil-skirt-ass on that yellow bike.
Thankfully, neither of these episodes happened during my no-underwear laundry week. Lesson learned. Time to adjust my wardrobe, dress more sensibly and stop pretending I’m her:

This bitch probably didn’t have a job and I wanna keep mine.

Chore snore

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5, 2012 by Cristina

I never took Home Ec (because I was in ESL) and I’m pretty sure I would’ve failed if I had. This weekend, I was trying to make vegan chilaquiles that required toasted pumpkin seeds. I burned not one, not two, but THREE batches of seeds. I can’t believe I didn’t give up.
This morning, when collecting chicken eggs from the ladies that I’m watching for a friend, I dropped one and broke it. In Home Ec. that would’ve been my pretend baby and I’d get an F-.
My biggest homemaker flaw is laundry. Not sure what’s wrong with me, but I’m fucking terrible at it. I’m the asshole who leaves it in the dryer for days only to find that my neighbors are the kind souls who fold it for me. Dirty loads are epic and when clean, they form a lavender-smelling mountain in my room that I don’t fold for weeks!

I invent lame excuses like a lack of change. One kind friend texted me, “You want $33 in quarters? They’re yours!” She knew that I’d been wearing bikini bottoms and then no underwear all week. Unacceptable behavior for a so-called adult.
Not sure if all this can be remedied, but I’m hoping that I get extra credit for being able to open up a bottle of wine with a shoe and for sealing all my correspondence with red wax. A++ for awesomeness at impractical skills! Aaaaand, I guess it’s better that I learned English instead of egg-baby care.