Colorless Green Ideas Unintentionally Amusing In Person
Thursday, November 14, 2002
Really Really Want a Pet…
For the last week or more I’ve been desperately wanting a pet. And I do mean desperately. Desperately as in physical-side-effects-desperately—you know, vague hollow stomach pains. I think that this could be a bad thing.
For one thing, what I really want is a dog. Especially a big dog. Especially, in fact, a greyhound. You see, we live in Portland, OR, and there is an (evil evil) dog racing track here, and they have racing greyhounds. So, if you’re a good person, you can adopt a lovely former racing greyhound for not very much more than you can get a dog from the Humane Society. And greyhounds are beautiful, intelligent, wonderful animals. They don’t shed much, they don’t bark often, they’re loving and affectionate but not terribly demanding, and they don’t have that “doggy” smell. These are all important things, particularly because my boyfriend (who would rather have a dog than a cat, but doesn’t really want a pet) is picky about dog drool and dog hair and dog smells, and would prefer a nice clean affectionate-but-dignified dog rather than a hairy drooly mass of boundless affection that would want constant attention and distract him from the computer. (I am enough in that department, apparently. Not that I’m hairy and drooly, but…) So, obviously, a greyhound would be perfect!
But wait. We live in a 2-bedroom apartment without a fenced yard. Not good for a dog that needs to run. And big dogs are expensive. And, technically, pets aren’t allowed in our building. Dammit.
Soooo, how about a small dog? A small dog wouldn’t be as expensive, probably wouldn’t mind slightly smaller living quarters (and there’s a park up the street, anyway), and I bet we could get the landlord to allow a small dog (he had one when he lived here). Great!
But wait. I work in an office, Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5pm. My boyfriend works free-lance from home. So the person who would, by necessity, end up providing the large majority of the attention required for a healthy, happy dog would be him. And, as previously noted, he’d “rather have a dog than a cat, but doesn’t really want a pet”. Which means that my boyfriend's life would be disrupted on a daily basis because of something that I decided we should do. This is a problem.
The reason that this is a problem is because my boyfriend and I have gone to a lot of trouble to establish that this is a partnership as well as a relationship. Therefore, it would be unfair for me to make a decision without his approval and support that will have a direct and significant effect on him. And a dog would. In fact, it would be almost as bad (almost, I said, not as bad) as me deciding that we were going to have a baby. Which would also be a problem. Because I can’t (and shouldn’t) make commitments for him, any more than he should make them for me.
So I can’t get a dog.
I might be able to get away with a cat, though. Muuuch less disruptive.
So, we’ve been making a relatively steady effort to make our living space more interesting. Since we have (finally!) graduated from college, (only a combined total of $50,000 in debt! Woo-hoo!) and entered the “adult” stage of life, we’ve both been making an effort to get past the eternal “college student” lifestyle, which includes too much cheap décor and hand-me-down 70s furniture that no one else would be caught dead with. I suspect that our urge to make our living space cool and interesting as rapidly as possible is accentuated by the fact that a lot of other couples our age either
a) already have a bunch of cool stuff
b) are boring people who don’t want cool stuff, but just bought their first house
This is because all other late-20s/early 30s couples graduated from college 5 years ago and are making 3 times the money we are, since we graduated right smack into the middle of a recession. This is totally unfair, as we are much cooler than all of these people, and would have purchased much cooler stuff than their cool stuff, except we couldn’t, because when they were out buying their cool stuff we were in college, paying $1,000 per minute to master skills that we were authoritatively assured would get us “good jobs” when we got out of college.
Anyway, we’ve been trying to turn our loose collection of décor and furniture into a cohesively themed hipster-pad. The living room is sort of 50s/60s Tiki/Polynesian/African exotica (or will be once we get a better couch), the kitchen is similar (helped significantly by the terrific original 1950s cabinetry! Woo!), and our bedroom is orientalist/erotic Indonesian/Indian exotica (erotic bedrooms are important for the long-term health of one’s relationship). But the bathroom stymied us. For one thing, bathrooms are hard to decorate in an interesting fashion. If you want something hipper than cute fishies on the shower curtain, you have to get creative. For another thing, our bathroom still has the 50s original tiles—pink and maroon. Potentially cool but possibly limiting. So, after a great deal of thought, I had an amazing brainstorm. We’re culturally-appropriating everywhere else in the house, why not the bathroom too? And since neither of us are religious, how about appropriating Catholicism? Then we’d have a terrific over-the-top theme that would go with the tiles (red and gold—yeah, man, totally Catholic!), and the fact that it would be in the bathroom would lend additional irony to the whole effect! Great! And most of our friends are frustrated artists or designers or creative people, they should all get the wonderful intellectual irony of the whole thing! Yeah!
So we got a ceramic Jesus planter, some lenticular-motion Jesus-and-Mary pictures, a huge old crucifix, and a 3-D Jesus picture, spray-painted it gold, added Mardi-Gras beads, and ta-dah! Catholic cultural appropriation in the bathroom! It’s cheesy, it’s trashy, it’s so ridiculously Catholic that no reasonable Catholic would ever be offended. The Pope’s bathroom does not have this much cheap glitz.
And then we sat back and waited for the flood of amused appreciation from our admiring friends and acquaintances.
It was a great plan. It was.
The problem is that no one seems to get that we’re being ironic. We have consistently had to explain the concept behind our bathroom décor to every new person who’s come into our house. Folks come out of the bathroom looking kind of surprised and don’t say anything about it. Half an hour later we explain, and the person will breathe a sign of relief and say “Oh, good, I was afraid that I might need to watch my language” or something. This is not the desired effect.
Therefore, for those of you who are not up to speed, here is my handy-dandy guide to cultural appropriation. Feel free to print it out and carry it around as a handy reference tool. Just be sure to bring it along when you come over to our house.
Cultural appropriation (k l ch r- l -pr pr - sh n) verb.
1. The act of appropriating a cultural heritage that one is not legitimately entitled to (via birth, belief, etc.), often in the form of a display.
2. Common method of “demystifying” unfamiliar cultures and/or beliefs.
3. Frequently utilized in the United States during the earl part of the 20th Century to bring “exotic” foreign culture into the American mainstream.
4. Occasionally viewed as a form of trivialization.
5. Can be used deliberately as a form of irony.
6. Any applicable ironic value is diminished when one is required to explain the irony to others.
Me—New and Improved!
Otherwise know as: I Feel Like An Impostor
So, today is the first day in literally years that I have put on makeup for no occasion. I mean, major events, like weddings, have generally gotten only a thin veneer of power in addition to the ever-present Chapstick, and that's it. The change was prompted by this year’s Halloween experience.
This year, for the first time ever, we volunteered at a local haunted house. So I was dressed up (and in makeup) for almost a week running, including Halloween proper. I got so many compliments on my general appearance while in costume that I’ve:
a) decided to at least attempt to let my extremely short haircut grow out into something more akin to the shoulder-length wig I had on
b) decided to see if I can handle putting on a small amount of makeup as a regular thing.
Don’t get me wrong —I used to wear makeup every day, in high school and early college. I just started phasing it out, mostly because I didn’t want to bother, about five years ago. Then, around three years ago, I got the super-short haircut I’m currently sporting, and became so totally enamored of my “no-maintenance” look that I swore I’d never go back. I mean, previously, I was spending something like twenty minutes doing hair and makeup every day. Who has that kind of time? So I quit.
But this year, when I was decked out and made up, I got a whole lot of compliments, which was really nice. And, my boyfriend, whose opinion I value greatly, was totally floored. He said that part of it was the look—but most of it was the confidence inspired by the look. And I’ve been making a deliberate effort to build my confidence and improve my self-image (for entirely personal reasons) for a couple of months. So this whole makeup thing seemed like the next logical step. What’s interesting is that even though I feel kind of silly, no one at work has even noticed. But I feel like I look better, which is the point.
So here I am, wearing eyeliner and everything. We’ll see if greater personal confidence improves my quality of life.
To Whom It May Concern:
This is a brand-spanking-new experiment on my part, which serves several purposes. One is the oh-so-original-goal of encouraging myself to write on a regular basis. Another is the (possible, eventual) motivator to get off my ass and learn some basic programming so that I can create my very own web page (like all the cool kids).
And, of course, all of my fans have been just begging me to make my blinding wit available to them. What fans, I hear you ask? Well, it's so hard to narrow them down...I mean, I promised not to name names, and it really has nothing to do with the fact that they're all imaginary.
Was that out loud? Shit.
And, because I am an extremely nosy person, I've been reading other people's weblogs, and a bunch of them are awfully funny. Lots funnier than me. So, of course, I'm going to copy the idea and pretend that I'm cool too.
Just wait, you'll check back in a year, and I'll be swearing that I started this at the same moment that the Internet come online, and have a scathing contempt for all the poseurs who jumped on the bandwagon. It'll be the Sensitive Poets Society on the Web, and I'll be the queen.