Monday, March 31, 2008

Pregnant Man or TV Scam?

On Friday, Jan told me that she's been searching the internet endless, scanning the most baby news. One thing she came across? A pregnant man.

I'm skeptical, and I value good research, so I was a little wary, to say the least. So today, I did some research and came across several articles, but these were the best: Pregnant Man to Tell All on April Fools Day and 'Pregnant' Man Stuns Medical Profession.

When Jan told me about it, she led me to believe the man with both male and female equipment, but chose to become male and not remove his female equipment. Needless to say, that's not something I read in any of the articles I came across.

Instead, this man who was born a woman decided to become a man after falling in love with a woman. He's now married to someone else, who due to former complications, cannot conceive, so he decided to bear the child.

While a stunning decision, I can't decide how I actually feel about it. Is it immoral? I don't know that I'd go that far. Odd, certainly, and I personally don't commend the gay/lesbian/bi/transgender lifestyle, but does that make it immoral?

Legally, he's a man. Biologically, he's a woman. It's a curious situation. Part of me thinks we've crossed the line and are messing a bit too much with science and with technology. Part of me thinks we crossed that line ages ago.

Who'd have ever thought we'd come to this?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Friday Night Drinks

Friday night, Mike and I went out, as per usual, to Signature Lanes (Bowling Alley/Bar for Karaoke and games). We met up with a friend of his, Jan, who is currently 4ish months pregnant, really really cute and pretty much hilarious.

Needless to say, being pregnant, Jan wasn't doing any drinking, I nursed an amaretto sour for three hours and Mike had a pepsi and rum, after which he drank Pepsi. In other words, in a bar chock-full of people, we were the only ones who were sober.

And the bar was packed. Normally, Mike can sing five or more songs in the three hours we're there. This time, Mike sang four songs in the five hours we were there.

Before Jan got up to sing her last song (poor girl had to work Saturday morning), she took her third (maybe fourth) pee break of the hour and as she passed a table of (incredibly drunk) men, some dance songs were playing in the background before the final rotation, and one of them men felt it would be fitting to spank Jan.

Now, he did stop with his hand about an inch off her butt. But that's only because she turned on him and said...something. It was something about not touching her - ever, and not touching a pregnant woman - ever. To which the guy said, "You're pregnant?"

Mike and I were watching, and Mike's eyes about popped out, "Oh my gosh. He's... so lucky she didn't smack him."

About a minute later, one of the other guys at the table approached us, apologizing. Mike held his hands up, "You're not the one who needs to apologize. And we're not the ones he needs to apologize to."

While Mike was singing, Spanky came over to talk to Jan, accompanied by Apologizer, who we learned is Spanky's cousin. Wonderful. Anyway, Spanky, far from apologizing, came over to hit on her AGAIN, not realizing AGAIN that she's pregnant or that she's the same girl he tried to spank. Spanky walked away after being shot down. Spanky's Cousin came over and apologized - again. He also added he'd pay her five bucks to slap him.

Jan left soon after, and then it was my turn, of course. Mike had gone to use the restroom and Spanky comes and sits down by me, "Hi.I'm 'Spanky.'"
"Do you want to get married?"
He looked taken aback, and said, "What do you mean, no?"
"I mean no."
"I... I don't mean now. I mean like, ever. Isn't that, like, every girl's ultimate goal?"
"I guess."
At which point Mike walks in, squeezes my hand, and sits back across from me.
"Oh. Are you together?"
"Yes," said Mike, realizing that maybe I wasn't just talking to the guy after he'd apologized for the Jan incident, as he'd assumed.
"Oh..." Spanky's voice trailed off. "So... maybe another time, then." Then it was his turn to sing, thank goodness, and he spilled about half his beer on me as he stood. Wonderful.

He then proceeded to offend every single person in the bar. He talked about one woman's... body, and she just happened to be the sister-in-law and sister of a couple there, who happens to be the DJ's best friend - and she was dating someone there. Then, he started talking about his cousin's wife, and about how the bartenders must be mixing the beer with something because he "wasn't even tipsy."

Mike stood to talk to someone, and said, "Tell me if he comes back over."
He did, of course. "Hi. I'm 'Spanky.' What's your name?"
"I already told you my name."
"You did? Oh, you probably did. I forgot. I think you're gorgeous, though."
"Aren't I lucky."
"So, do you want to get married?"
My mouth about dropped to the floor. "No."
"Not ever?"
I was trying not to laugh - or slap him. I felt a hand on my shoulders. His cousins'. "Money's still on the table if you want it."
Spanky interrupted, "I just think... I think..."
Mike stepped over and Spanky's voice trailed off, "You're together. And you're bigger than I am. Sorry." He spilled MORE beer on me as he moved a chair down..
I looked at Mike and the two of us let. As we left, Mike told me Spanky'd be lucky if none of the men still there beat him up. He added, "Normally that kind of thing doesn't happen here. That's why I like it."

I nodded, there wasn't much to say.

I still feel like I can smell stale beer. Ick.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Taxes Come But Once a Year

My sister is in the Dominican Republic. My brother's in Italy. Where am I? In Illinois, working on my taxes.

It's funny how something that is only a big deal once a year is so stressful.

I hate taxes.

Not only did I spend seven hours on Wednesday and five hours on Friday working on them, but my mom and I spent another two hours redoing it. ALL of it.

The goods news about the two hours is it saved me $180 dollars that I don't have to pay. The bad news is I still owe a lot.

I hate taxes.

I don't think it would be so bad if I didn't think numbers were evil. Or if I didn't hate them. Or if... I don't think it would be so bad if I agreed with what the government was doing with the money. Sure, I think some things are good. But "No Child Left Behind?"

Yes! Let's pay the government to make American children less intelligent. As if they're not already stupid and behind, let's make the situation even worse.

I understand the government needs money, and I don't actually disagree with paying them. That doesn't mean I have to like it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

La Deuxieme Jour de Printemps... And there's Four Inches of Snow Outside

Dear Spring,

I understand that sometimes giving in to a stronger opponent seems worthwhile, like the fight isn't worth it; and I realize winter is a mighty foe.

But he musn't win! His reign must come to an end. And soon.

It's your territory now. Three days in. What's with letting winter back in? Melt the snow! Bring on the flowers!

Your faithful but cabin-sick admirer,


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Don't Blare Your Music Or You'll Be Fined

Last night, while my Mom and I were talking and watching the news following American Idol, an interesting report came on about Elgin, Illiniois a town about fifteen minutes from where I grew up. It turns out that Elgin police are issuing tickets to vehicles for playing music too loudly.

If the music can be heard from 75 feet away, the vehicle is towed and searched, and it's a $250 bond, plus the towing fee to get it back.

Evidently, Elgin has been having problems with noise violations.

In a way, I can understand the frustration of having loud noise played at night from cars - especially if the passing cars music and bass is so loud it shakes your windows and what not. On the other hand, I think it's a little bit ridiculous.

At night, I understand. People are trying to sleep or have a relaxing evening. During the day, I don't actually see why it matters, honestly.

I can also understand keeping your music to respectful limits while driving through neighborhoods. But when driving in the rest of the city, I don't see anything wrong with blasting your music as loud as you like. Who are you disturbing? Other drivers whose music is also loud, rivaling you to see who can turn it up the loudest? People who will be by you in a few minutes and won't hear you anymore?

I don't often blare my music. When I'm mad, I do. When I'm tired and trying to stay awake, I do. Other than that, I like my ears and want to make sure they work for some time. But all in all, I think this kind of an ordinance is ridiculous. I think the police have MUCH more important things to be doing - especially in Elgin.

Monday, March 17, 2008

You Know You're (A Student) In Paris When...

As promised...

You know you're a student in Paris when...

1- White out is your best friend; and you bought a bottle of it for every purse you own, and one to keep in the room - just in case.

2- You have a French-English and/or a French-French dictionary with you at all times.

3- Everyone can hear that you're mispronouncing the sound of "u" and "ou" and sees fit to try to correct you.

4- Your roommate can't understand you because you can't pronounce the difference between "u" and "ou"

5- Your professor has very specific instruction about the size, width, length, type. etc of paper your homework must be turned in on if you want it graded.

6- You're not sure you want it graded.

7- Grades are based on a scale of 20. 20 is NOT attainable. Only God can earn a 20. No one can earn a 19. 19 is the space in-between God and the professor. The professor (and only the professor) can earn an 18. 17 is the space between the professor and the student. Thus, 16 is the highest a student
can attain. Ever.

8- You avoid words with the letter "r." A problem when that's the first letter of your first name.

9- Class exposés are frequently given over alcoholic drinks. So much so, that your professor accuses the class of being alcoholic.

10- The sandwich man (the only French man in Paris who hasn't hit on you at least once) tells you the best way to learn Fr
ench is to date a French man and offers to go get one for you, adding, "Les hommes français sont très bon, mais pas très fidèle." (French men are very good, but not very faithful.)

11- You go to the cinema and understand everything except the jokes; which you only know are jokes because everyone else laughed.

12- You learn swears by watching TV. You learn that they're swears by asking someone what they mean.

- English is Weird.

Friday, March 14, 2008

You Know You're In Paris When...

Yesterday,I found a list made while in France of all the crazy things that happened in Paris. Some of them are more along the lines of "You know you're a student in Paris when..." so I have two separate sections.

You Know You're In Paris When...

1) A policeman glances at you, standing sopping wet in the pouring rain, looks you over, nods his head, then proceeds to stop traffic for you that you might finally cross the road.

2) A really scary guy tells you you're beautiful, and then proceeds to ask why you're not married, if you have a boyfriend, and where exactly you live in the U.S.

3) You don't look at a guy unless you're interested. In other words, you don't look at a guy, because if you do, he'll think you're interested.

4) People driving on the sidewalk honk at you to get out of the way

5) An old lady hits the car in front of hers, get out of her car, checks for damage, gets back in and does exactly the same thing.

6) It takes 20 minutes to leave because you have to kiss everybody goodbye.

7) You don't worry about being late because it's more than likely the other person will also be late, and they're thinking exactly the same thing about you.

8) It starts to rain and everyone promptly a-pulls out an umbrella, b-runs for the nearest store or c - backs against a wall - all at the same time.

9) It makes sense to list the price of everything in both Euros and Francs - even though Francs are not accepted. Anywhere.

10) When you enter the Metro expecting it to smell like someone just peed, but are surprised when it does, but not at all surprised to see someone peeing in front of you.

11) You see a man painted in green wearing a blue thong.

12) You see another man painted in green wearing a blue thong. This one is drinking a Heineken.

13) The first man painted green wearing a blue song notices you looking at him and thinks you're interested.

14) You find yourself eating peanuts, nutella and a clementine for breakfast and are not surprised.

15) You're surprised when there is meat and bread at a picnic, but not surprised by the champagne.

16) All around you, people are talking to themselves - constantly

17) You find yourself joining in...

18) You have addresses from people you've only met one time.

19) When a man asks you for help what he really wants to know is if you have a boyfriend

20) You tell yourself never to go somewhere, say something, or do something again, and within one week...

Tomorrow, look for "You Know You're a Student In Paris When..."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thinking in French

All day long, I've been thinking in French. I blame Michael Brown (not in a bad way) for his facebook note to me (which was, of course, en français). Earlier, while writing in French, I noticed something: my handwriting was neat and even. Flipping back a few pages, I realized that while writing in English, my language was erratic, large letters, small letters, loooong words squished up and short words made to take up more space than needed. Back to the French: even, pretty and neat.

There's only one explanation: in France, when my handwriting wasn't neat and perfectly legible, I had a professor who would mark a point off - for each word that was spelled incorrectly or which he felt was not legible. I remember one day where I rewrote a seven-page paper four times to get it looking nice (you wouldn't believe how many times I rewrote that). Using computers in France isn't allowed, as the French (typically) believe that by looking at one's handwriting, one can determine what sort of person the writer is: neat and organized, sporadic and unpredictible, sloppy and unkempt or whatever else.

It never mattered what my handwriting actually looked like in the states - except to me - as long as it was legible. Interesting.

La France me manque, Paris en particulier.

Speaking Louder Than We Have To

While studying abroad, I noticed something interesting: something that Americans did especially well - when trying to find someone with whom to communicate, they speak LOUDER and SLLLOOOOWWWER than normal. In fact, they speak so loudly they could wake the dead, and so slowly, I could repaint my living room before they finish their sentence.

The other day, and then again yesterday while at Taco Bell (Mike and I meet there for lunch on occassion), something happened to remind me of those experiences. There was a Mexican man, sitting off to the side, and an American woman sat down beside him, a manager at the restaurant, where, after listening to the conversation, I determined he will be working there.

Very slowly, she sat beside him, and using hand motions (which, by the way, made no sense at all), explained that she doesn't speak Spanish, but she is the manager (sounded like maaannnaajjjjjjeeeeehr) and is delighted (deeeeellliiiighTed) that he is joining her team. You could hear her across the room. And it was only through careful listening that Mike and I were able to determine what, exactly, she was trying to say.

I'm sure he appreciated the gesture. It was kind of her, and she was clearly trying. The thing is, it was probably also embarrassing, and he hadn't a chance of understanding.

When working with someone who doesn't speak the language it IS important to speak slower and enunciate. However, if you speak too slow or enunciate too much, it is impossible to understand.

Once, when my former roommate, Euridice and I were headed somewhere (who knows where - a play, a film, a museum, a restaurant, whatever) when a clearly-American (easy to pick out - jeans and a t-shirt, tennis shoes, fat and loud) tourist approached us and asked, "Doooooooo Youuuuuuu Speeeaaakkkk Eeeeeeengliiiiiissh."

We jumped because she was so loud, and I immediately turned... I don't respond to obnoxious Americans. Euridice, who speaks perfect English - even if she's Portuguese - answered, "Yes. Can I help you?"

The woman turned to her, and scrunched up her face, then said, "You have an accent!" And walked away.

In the defense of others, she was the only person I met who was that bad. But they all asked "Do you speak English" like it was painful. Slow and crawling. It's easier to understand it when it's too fast than too slow. And you look less stupid.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Mortgages Suck

I hate mortgage payments. Today, as I got ready to pay mine (now that I've been paid), I had the shock of my life when my payment was $93 higher than it should be. Not cool. My interest rate was also two percent higher. Also not cool. I have been on the phone - am still on the phone - for the last two hours trying to straighten this out.

Turns out, they sold my loan. I've figured things out, and my rate and everything is the same, but I'm still uber pissed.

I think I scared the guy I talked to from the place it was changed to because he started to ask me a question, but interrupted himself to answer mine.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Curse of Looking and Sounding Young

If you look younger than you are (especially if you also sound younger than you are), people are constantly telling you how grateful you should be, and that someday, you'll be glad of it. This has yet to happen to me. Today, in fact, provided two reasons that I should not be grateful. At all.

I met Mike at Taco Bell today so that he could give me my cell phone, which I accidentally left at his house yesterday. As we were leaving, he was in line behind his boss. As Mike got into his car, I overheard his boss say to Mike, "You're really robbing the cradle on that one. I'm surprised they let her out of the school for lunch. What is she - 17?"
Mike, "She's 24."
I don't know why, but I found that amusing. It did, however, make me wonder if that's why the car people constantly addressed me in a "You're Beneath Me" manner - because they think I'm young.

Then, just a few minutes ago, I got a 1-800 call on the home line. I answered it and asked how I could help the person on the other line.
"Hello, I'm calling from comcast. We received a call from this number about the service, and I'd like to conduct a short survey. Is that okay?"
Me: "I guess so."
"Great, can I speak to your mother?"
Me, after a moment's frustrated paused, "I'm the homeowner here."
"Oh, you just sound so young!" I didn't respond. There are only so many times you can be told that before you want to smack someone. He continued, "I just assumed that you were... I'm sorry, how about that survey?"
Me: "What would you like to know?"
"We had a call from this number, what was your complaint?"
"I don't know. When did you receive the call?" I asked, because it's been about a week and a half since I've had to call Comcast to complain - reliable internet is marvelous.
"It wasn't you? We'll call back at a later date when the caller is home. Probably after five tonight." Click.
Worse than when my brother calls me. At least he's not a "professional." Please grow ears. Or at least the ability to use them. I'm serious.
So, Melody, if someone calls after five... you know who it is.