I Love the Tacos

It’s Monday. I’ve been feeling pretty bleh again, so I dug deep and the closest thing I could find to a Dose of Happy was tacos. Not special tacos or gourmet tacos, just tacos.

Last night I was minding my own business, not wanting to make dinner because I had a headache, and Mister E suddenly said we should have tacos. I absolutely adore tacos, so it really wasn’t hard to convince me that we needed to have them.

I’m half Mexican, so when I was a kid we had tacos and enchiladas, tostadas and tamales, all kinds of lovely things at my grandmother’s house and – very rarely – at home. Even The Dad, who if you had to put his heritage on display is German/Native American (but he just says he’s a white guy), loves to have tacos whenever he can. He hates guacamole, though, for reasons I do not understand. For the longest time I thought everyone had tacos at their house with regularity. Imagine my surprise and dismay when I started hanging around real kids – not my imaginary friends or Thundercats figures – and found out that people ate ham and brisket on holidays.

Not these specific tacos, but similar.

Anyhow, he disappeared for about fifteen minutes and returned with a big bag containing two lovely tacos for me and a small order of the messiest bean and cheese nachos you will ever encounter. Since we don’t have the money to eat out much and I try to keep away from sodium, we don’t get these things often and I’m going to say that the grease-and-salt coma that overtook me later was actually worth it. Trust me, these were damn good tacos.

Do you have an equally gluttonous dose of happy? Or possibly one that is less Bacchanalian? Head over to Band Back Together and tell us all about it!

Don’t Ask About the Begonias

People ask stupid questions. Anyone who works retail knows this. This is why you have to know everything when you work at a store, or else know someone who does know everything so you can either ask them or pass the buck. Er, consult someone with more experience. That’s what I meant. Anyway, you get used to the questions and if you have to ask your manager enough times eventually you know the answer.

One summer in college, my aunt got me a job at the plant nursery where she worked. With only a rudimentary knowledge of the care of plants (you water them, but not too much, trim off the dead pieces, make sure they’re in a comfy pot and some fertilizers are supposed to be blue), I set forth on my three months in a warm little shack ringing up peoples’ seedlings and sod.

Not rimming salt.

It wasn’t a difficult job, and for the most part it was interesting. I learned a lot about plants and my cousin worked there too, which meant that when it rained we became two adults chasing tiny frogs around and throwing mud at each other under the guise of putting tarps over the sod. That summer I had a lot of migraines, which I never connected to the heat in the register shack, so I spent a lot of time with ice packs on the back of my neck.

I also spent a lot of time making signs about people stealing my pens, moving the one fan so it was blowing on me, and writing bad fan fiction behind the register when I was supposed to be working. Every now and then I would be sent outside to water the plants, which meant I effectively went into a steam bath to make it steamier and I wasn’t allowed to turn the hose on myself.

ALL OF THE PLANTS.

It was one of the hottest summers anyone could remember in Texas, so I can’t say I was surprised when they called me into the office and told me that they were cutting back on staff because we weren’t selling enough plants. They told me to finish my shift so I’d get paid for the full week and that would be that.

Just because I wasn’t shocked didn’t mean I wasn’t pissed. The whole reason I came back for the summer was because I needed money, not because I couldn’t wait to watch my family argue over my boyfriend choices and be chauffeured around in Big D’s Suburban (I still didn’t have a driver’s license). So when someone called and got shirty with me on the phone about begonias, I sort of snapped.

These are Begonias.

According to my boss, you shouldn’t water begonias in the middle of the day in hot climates because they’ll melt. Rot is probably a better way of putting it, but we pretty much always told customers to water them early in the morning before things got too steamy. On that particular day I had another migraine, the fan fiction was going poorly, and I’d just been laid off so when the woman with the whiny voice called I wasn’t in the best frame of mind.

She asked when we closed and I told her pleasantly. She asked about bulbs and I informed her. She asked when we stopped selling bulbs and I repeated myself, slightly less pleasantly. She asked our closing time again, then proceeded to tell me I was the rudest person she’d ever talked to and she wouldn’t be buying anything from us. I said I was sorry to hear it and asked if there was anything else she needed. She then asked me the question I’d heard about a thousand times since the mercury hit 100.

“Can I water my begonias around noon?”

“Sure,” I said with a grin in my voice, “You can water them all day long.” Then I hung up on her, untied my apron, told my boss to send my check to my dorm, and clocked out. She was a little surprised but said she’d love to hire me back if I wanted to work next summer. Sure, I thought. Right up until Whiny Lady becomes Dead Begonia Lady.

By the time I reached the edge of the property, I’d already forgotten the whole thing. After all, The Dad was picking me up and I had a Discman full of anime theme music to listen to on the way home. Ah, summertime.

Double Sweet

When I lived in Chicago, I used to read a lot more shoujo manga. There were two in particular that I loved that I never would have thought I’d go for. One of them was Beauty Pop, a manga about a high school hairstylist and a team of makeover artists, and the other was Love*Com.

It’s a seriously simple plot: tall girl and short guy swear they don’t like each other, argue, eventually get together, then have a zillion problems. It follows them from their first year at high school through their first year at college, and all the relationship-related trouble therein. Love*Com stands for “Lovely Complex,” because the Japanese love shortening things. It’s very endearing.

What I love about it is that it’s filled with manzai jokes and Kansai references, but more than that because it’s one of the more realistic depictions of a relationship in shoujo. Even after Koizumi and Ootani get together, they have to deal with tons of issues. I’m not saying it’s a hundred percent realistic by any stretch of the imagination, but you do get to see how they both grow and progress, and how their lives change in the transition from high school to college. It also shows that relationships aren’t always perfect and sweet, and that sometimes what you want isn’t what you get but that things work out they way they’re supposed to.

Sometimes I get it into my head that I want to read an entire run of manga. It happened with HanaKimi, which is over 20 volumes long, and it happened with Fushigi Yuugi, my very first shoujo manga back in 1996. I decided to read it over again, but when I went into my manga library (yes, I have a separate manga library) to get some, I realized that I had forgotten it was 17 volumes long. Oops. There’s no denying the manga jones, though, so I brought them all out into my bedroom and hid them in the cabinet so Wasabi, Eater of Worlds wouldn’t chew on the corners.

There was a special ritual I’d go through whenever I read Love*Com. I’d go to Borders, buy the tankou, then go to Whole Foods and buy a slice of carrot cake. Then I’d go home, read the manga and eat my sweets. It was a wonderful memory and one of those self-care things that make life go smoother. I had a similar ritual for Higurashi, only it involved Garden of Eatin’ Chili Lime tortilla chips (yes, I have specific foods that trigger specific memories. Being bipolar is fun sometimes).

It looked a little like this.

Even now, when I’m reading it I think about how it felt to live in an apartment that I paid for on my own, reading manga and eating carrot cake, walking home from the train station, smelling the city’s air and knowing that I’d found my home. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t grieve that loss. I remember the smell of my apartment, the snow crunching under my boots, the taste of Sultan’s Market’s Jerusalem salad, picking up The Onion every week. If I’m ever able to go back, the first thing I’m going to do is buy an entire carrot cake and read Love*Comfrom beginning to end.

As for this read-through, I’m hoping to convince Mister E to take me to Whole Foods this weekend for a piece of carrot cake so I can enjoy my manga as nature intended. It shouldn’t be hard, he loves their carrot cake too.

Postcard Love

I had a happy accident a few months ago. One of my Postcrossing cards that was on its way to Germany got dropped on the way to the post office and though I looked everywhere in my car and in my apartment, I could never find it. Because I have had my opinion of humanity ground into the dirt, I immediately assumed that no one would put it in the box if they found it and decided that I would err on the side of caution and send another.

Then I got a private message from the person I sent them to, about three weeks after the second card I sent was registered. She said that he got both cards and was extremely pleased. I sent a message back saying that I thought the first card got lost on the way to the post office and that I was glad both cards arrived as planned. She wrote back again saying that he was going on a trip in July and asked if I would like a card from Legoland or Neuschwanstein. I said I would be delighted to have one from either place and I was looking forward to it.

I haven’t had the best track record with people keeping promises to me, so I had serious doubts about whether or not I was going to get a card and promptly forgot about it. So it was a really nice surprise yesterday when I opened my mailbox and found this:

It’s super-cute! She got me one from Schloss Neuschwanstein, the castle you see in the picture. Here is some stuff about Neuschwanstein for your pleasure, it’s gorgeous! It was actually the inspiration for Disney’s famous Sleeping Beauty castle, so it might look familiar to you.

I sent her a message thanking her for the card, of course. What I couldn’t write was how much it meant to me that she remembered me. Less happy is the fact that my desktop computer isn’t cooperating, which means I couldn’t scan the postcard and had to take a photo of it instead. Bleh.

On a related note, I got a message yesterday from another Postcrossing user from Japan! I wrote the postcard in Japanese and she said it was very good! I was so happy to hear that because apart from reading a little manga, I haven’t used my Japanese since college. Bolstered by her praise (I’ve always wanted to write that), I contacted a friend of mine in Japan to see if one of his students would be interested in a pen pal. My college roommate’s mother used to write to me and it was really helpful. We’ll see!

A Dose of Teddie

 

So Mister E and I are still watching the Persona 4 Endurance Run on Giant Bomb. This isn’t terribly strange, since there are 155 episodes (we’re currently on 97) and they each vary from 20 minutes to over an hour in length. What is strange(ish) is that even without playing it ourselves we’ve managed to bond with the characters. You know what I mean, right? How you watch a show (or in this case, a game) for a long time and you find yourself picking out a favorite character, looking for all kinds of information on the show, and start talking about the characters like they’re actual people in your life? Or is that just us?

In my case I’ve started watching the anime, looking for hilarious videos on Youtube, getting psyched for the P4 Arena game that’s coming out next month and crocheting things. Yup. Like every Japanese game, anime, and corporation, it has a cute mascot. His name is Teddie.

I was bored last week, so I decided to take the leftover yarn I had and make myself an amigurumi – a little crocheted stuffed doll. This was my very first one, so I chose a very simple bear pattern. Mister E thought it was adorable but that it could be even more adorable if I turned it into Teddie. It sort of snowballed from there.

His bum came out a little lopsided, but all in all I think he turned out pretty well. On the downside, I had to buy that zipper, the eyes and some red yarn. On the upside, I also got the black yarn I needed for BecominNeurotic‘s bag that I’ve been unable to make for the last month. Further downside – we’re flat broke again. But Teddie-chan is so dang cute that I can’t stay sad for long.

Have you got a Monday happy? Go over to Band Back Together and share it with everyone!