Sunday, December 30, 2007


I don't hate flip-flops as much as I used to.

As a teenager, I got it into my head, somehow, that wearing flip-flops would only perpetuate the image of me as a rice paddy peasant. Flip-flops were for FOB's (fresh-off-the-boat immigrants), not for Asian Americans. I didn't want anyone to misinterpret that I wasn't "in the know," especially white people!

Let's just say that my adolescent distaste for flip-flops symbolized a mild self-hate for my Japanese heritage--in America--and predated my embrace of cultural pride.

So, it was almost a shock for me to see flip-flops become so common and acceptable (here in Southern California, at least), and even fashionable and trendy. I think it was six or seven years ago, around the turn of the millennium, that I noticed a young, Asian American sales rep at Abercrombie & Fitch wearing expensive jeans and flip-flops during his shift.

It marked one of the first signs of being past my prime.

I loved, however, going back to college and seeing that flip-flops and board shorts, and even plaid, flannel pajama bottoms, had become everyday-wear for coeds attending classes. I am all for comfort.

I am a bit incredulous that I am even seeing flip-flops on guys at the gym, on the weight floor. You just know they're going to end up dropping a thirty-pound barbell or twenty-five-pound plate on their toes.

Cinderella had a pair of flip-flops, according to Dawn S. at Disneyland. Dawn was one of the pretty, smart, and funny girls who played Alice in Wonderland. Often, I was her White Rabbit. Dawn had a dry sense of humor and I loved listening to her tell fairy tales to children:

"The Fairy Godmother waved her magic wand and Cinderella's rags changed into a beautiful ball gown. Cinderella worried about finding the right pair of shoes to go with her gown. She had some flip-flops in her room's closet, but that would never do."

I don't hate flip-flops as much as I used to, but Dawn was right--flip-flops never go with formal wear.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Flock of (actual) Seagulls

This one time (no, not at band camp), in the eighties, a dozen of us Disney employees, from California, went on an employee-discount-vacation to Walt Disney World and Epcot Center. Yes, people who work in theme parks go to other theme parks on their days off. It's part of the slight mental sickness that helps us to have job longevity when working for The Mouse.

The Orlando theme parks had much-over-much that the Anaheim park did not, even twenty years ago. Besides acres and acres of extra space and a five-star Cinderella Castle (which makes Sleeping Beauty's Castle on the west coast look like a cottage), the three-story buildings in the Floridian Town Square and Main Street, U.S.A. both impressed us and overwhelmed us a little, at first.

Something else that the Orlando parks have, in overabundance compared to Anaheim, are a myriad of seagulls. We had gotten the attention of an entire flock, it seemed, while snacking on some in-park french fries. I felt like the Pied Piper as I held a single fry aloft, while a smaller brood of gulls hovered behind in my wake.

On a dare, Robert lay down on the pavement with a fry sticking out of his mouth, as if it were a crispy, yellow cigarette. He waited to see if any of the seagulls would actually come and snatch it out of his mouth.

Once he was in place, all it took was a shared look among the rest of us. Without a single spoken word, four of us grabbed handfuls of fries and threw them directly at Robert's face. The reaction was immediate: at the motion of so many fries being thrown, practically the entire flock of gulls swooped in at Robert's head.

I had never seen anyone go from horizontal to vertical so quickly! Not even Tippi Hedren!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Peter's Embittered Rules for Grocery Shopping


1.) Keep your shopping cart and your big, fat ass to one side of each aisle. There will be other people and their carts coming from either end of the aisle, while you take ten more minutes to decide which flavored coffee you think you need for the upcoming week. Do not block any aisle with both your shopping cart and your big, fat ass.

2.) Imagine what it must be like to work on staff, at your local food market, and then kindly make the effort to push your shopping cart back to where it belongs, after loading your groceries into your car. Do not leave it in the parking lot, especially in an empty parking space. Besides, your fat ass could probably stand to burn the extra few calories.

3.) If you're going to use coupons, remember to check the expiration date of each one, and then double check to see if you are required to buy more than one of the same item in order to use the coupon.

4.) Please have coupons, club cards, and your-choice-of-payment-method out and ready to go once you have unloaded all of your groceries onto the checkout conveyor belt.

5.) If someone ahead of you is paying by check, be patient. Do not huff exaggerated sighs of impatience just because you pay with your lickety-split debit card and they don't. Remember: in a few short decades, the tables may turn, and while you are still paying with your old-fashioned debit card in your senior years, younger generations may look at you with disdain because you're not set up, yet, to just have your thumbprint scanned (or your Mark of the Beast!) in order to pay and go.

6.) If you feel the need to curse in public, or argue with someone, either in person or on your cell phone while shopping, shut the hell up! I, and the other shoppers, do not want to hear it!

7.) Be reasonable--see things my way.

Feel free to add your own rules/suggestions. People need to learn.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Light and Dark

I feel fortunate to live in Southern California. We are spoiled by the weather, here. I'm wearing a down-filled ski jacket in our non-insulated playroom because the temperature has dipped below fifty degrees. This is after the day had already reached a high of almost seventy, in the greater Los Angeles area.


I am feeling especially lucky as we approach the winter solstice (December 22nd, this year) because the shorter days are not darkening my moods as I had thought they might.

Two years ago, we had to put a beloved pug down, right after Thanksgiving. He was fourteen years old, and it was time. The early evening darkness in December that year seemed only too appropriate for the acute grief I felt over the loss of Caesar.
I was approaching final exams and term papers at the end of a semester, then. I kept thinking to myself, I can't do this, I can't do this.

My heart was broken.

I wanted to give up. School--everything--seemed pointless without my little baby. The only reason I continued making an effort was that I was one semester away from a Bachelor's degree, finally (and my fortieth birthday). It would have been sheer stupidity to get so close to finishing, only to give up.

I cried a lot, at home, because Caesar wasn't there. I just couldn't believe that he wasn't around anymore. Denial is supposed to be one of the four stages of grieving a death, before reaching the fifth and final stage, acceptance (as I had learned from repeatedly viewing "All That Jazz").

I missed the bond. I realized that my little fawn-colored pug had been a tangible symbol of my own inner child, and that I was able to transfer on to him all of the love and nurturing that I had always craved for myself.

It may sound silly, but I really feel that Caesar was the closest I ever got to having my own son.

Domestic Partner and I waited seven months until we adopted new dogs. We knew we wanted two pugs, and Moxie and Prudence came as a pair that needed to be placed together. We also got one-eyed Oscar thrown in as a freebie. Oscar was twelve years old when we adopted him with the two girls, and all three ended up being ideal pets.

"Why did you get a dog so old?" a friend had asked. "You're just going to have to go through the same loss all over again, very soon."

We knew that. Oscar wasn't Caesar, but he bonded with me, and he truly helped to fill that empty space left behind by Caesar, both in my heart and in our bed at night.

Oscar lived with us for eleven months until it was his turn to be put down. I cried for him, too, and I miss him as much as I miss Caesar.

Every year, now, with the approach of winter solstice and the early darkness, I will think of Caesar, as well as other dogs I have bonded with and loved.

The tears of grief are finished, for the time being. When I think of Caesar and Oscar, I sing songs to myself, in their memory, while riding my scooter. "Hush-a-bye Mountain," from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday," from The Muppet Movie; "I'll Cover You," from Rent; and "I Will Remember You," by Amy Grant.

Something else I learned, from reading the Peanuts comic strip: "It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Purple Shoes (or I Should Be Nicer to Mom, part 2)

In my teen years, Mom had indulged my fetish for rainbows by buying a complete rainbow bed set, and sewing matching curtains for my bedroom. She also indulged my Purple Period by helping me order custom Van's and paying for them.

For twenty years, from 1981 to 2001, I wore something purple every day. Sometimes it was as subtle as a purple watch or purple socks. Other days I was balls-out blatant, such as the Halloween that I dressed up as "Captain Purple," one of Donny Osmond's characters on the "Donny & Marie" show. On what appeared to be non-purple days, I was sure to be wearing purple underwear.

It started out as a silly way to get attention, in junior high, but I was genuinely passionate about the hue. Plus, you know us 'artistic/performer types,' always desperate for attention (some of us, anyway!), and so adamant about expressing our individualism!

In the early 80's, there was not much ready-made purple clothing for young men, other than overpriced Ralph Lauren goods. Before I started dying my Levi's 501's with Rit, having purple sneakers made it easier to keep up my purple streak in its early stages.

We're talking practically last century, here (well, I guess the twentieth was the last . . . ), before the Van's company started supplying their own purple canvas material for shoes. No online shopping and customizing of shoes back then! No sir! Mom and I went to Woolworth's where I was able to buy my own purple fabric, which our local Van's shoe store shipped to the Van's factory to be made into Off the Wall's in my size.

I don't think I realized at the time that my shoes were purple polyester. We had just gotten out of the seventies, so I think it was still acceptable. Sorta.

The first, traditional Off the Walls were navy blue with a bright red saddle. I wanted the purple adaptation of that around my junior year. My little Japanese, Christian mom objected.

"No! Those are an evil woman's colors!"

I think she meant 'prostitute.' I ended up getting purple and chaste-white Van's slip-ons, that year.

I still wear purple, now and then, and I still have a pair of purple shoes.
"When I am an old lady, I shall wear purple." Why wait?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Skinny as a Spice Girl

You know I'm gay-gay-GAAAY, because I obsess about my weight, constantly. I'm not a get-on-the-scale-five-times-a-day obsessive (in fact, I can't remember when exactly I weighed myself last), but I do think about trying to gain back more muscle tone and a smaller waist line, on a daily basis.

I just want the dress slacks that I bought last year, for my First Real Job Ever, to stop feeling so annoyingly snug. Less than a month ago, I finally quit cold turkey the five-days-a-week-snacking of granola bars and mixed cocktail nuts at my desk.

And it's not even about good health, for me, mostly. People used to say to me, "Oh, you're so good about going to the gym and working out all of the time!" No, I'm not.
I'm vain. I'm narcissistic. I just want to look good, or at least, better than you.

I don't just want to be trim, I want to be 1%-body-fat-sickly-thin. Not that I am in any danger of actually becoming that, but I find myself constantly admiring women with the impossible size-zero figures, like a couple of the women on "Friends," the 'B' and 'C' members of Destiny's Child, and of course, the Spice Girls, even before Mrs. Beckham morphed into a popsicle stick with two inflatables attached.

As comedienne Paula Poundstone once said, it may be that I'm half-bulimic--I do plenty of binging, I just forget to purge.

I want to emulate these unrealistically thin celebrity women, anti-feminist as that may be. Sure, I have a handful of age-appropriate male role models: Benjamin Bratt, Dermot Mulroney, and Johnny Depp (yum, yum, and YUM--check-check-check!). But more frequently, it is celebrity women's waist lines that I envy, such as Gwen-frickin'-Stefani--YOU JUST HAD A BABY, GAIN SOME WEIGHT ALREADY!

I swear: These women who have borne progeny and then bounced back with nary a stretch mark on their publicly-bared midriffs must have sold their souls to the Dark Side!

But I can't lay off the white powdery stuff--I must have sugar on a daily basis, preferably in chocolate or cookie form. No, not 'or,' I meant 'and.' There is no happiness without a Daily Fix. Without it, no point to life.

So, I'm swimming, now, three days a week, for a half hour at a time. It's a good time of the year for me to start, too. The six month period from October to April has become the Danger Zone for me in recent years. There is no safe haven in sight from trick-or-treat candy to Easter chocolate. In between, you've got Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine's day. Holiday chocolate is on clearance, non-stop, in the supermarkets, and at Target, and everywhere else that I shop!

It's a good thing that I don't drink at all, because I would only be compounding my holiday/winter padding with New Year's Eve toasts and St. Patrick's Day beer.

I will never voluntarily sell my soul to the Dark Side, so I suppose I will never become Posh Spice thin. But I can still touch my toes.

Good enough.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Domestic Partner and I have a new pet.

About mid-October, we heard the tiny mews of a kitten, outside, when we both came home from work in the early evening. I looked around the bushes bordering the front yard, but then the mewing stopped. I thought I had scared the tiny kitty away.

Several hours later, at 5:00 in the morning, we heard the mewing again, loud and insistent. This cat had pipes and stamina! DP was sure that the poor thing was trapped in the attic somehow (once or twice, cats have had their newborn litters inside the sheltered part of our family room's roof).

After finding the kitten on the roof, outside, DP put the ladder up against the side of house, in the backyard. The poor thing had been out in the chill, October air all night! The young feline was so desperate to be rescued, it ran straight into DP's hands and allowed itself to be lowered to safety.

Once on the ground, though, much hissing and arching of the back prevented us from touching it, again. DP put on some gardening gloves and threw a towel over the frightened and starving baby. She stopped the hissing almost immediately, once she realized that DP was not going to hurt her.

She must have been completely exhausted. Before going to work, we shut the grey and white kitten into the garage with old towels for bedding and a small dishes of canned tuna and water. The tiny baby seemed about four weeks old, and we didn't trust our dogs enough to leave it in the house.

When we got home in the evening, the tuna was gone, and the kitten was affectionate and purring. The two dogs were not too jealous. DP and I are more 'dog people,' but we are also bleeding hearts for any animal in need. We quickly arrived at the mutual decision to keep the kitten permanently.

Neighbors have told us that they've seen the mama cat with kittens that look like ours. We're not sure why the mama never came back to get her baby trapped on our roof. Maybe she's deaf.

After a week of considering different names, we settled on Cleo--her full name is Cleocatra (we didn't realize until later that Cleo is a common name for a pet cat).
She's very hyper and plays hard, chasing whatever cat toys we are willing to animate for her, otherwise chewing on our fingers and ankles. She also tries to chew on the pugs' tails and legs. She teases them mercilessly and aggravates them every day. The pugs, highly irritated, bark aggressively, and trap the kitten under their muzzles, as if to chew out her intestines. She thinks they're playing. We think the dogs are playing . . . So far, there has been no blood drawn among the three animals.

DP and I, however, are all over scratches and bite marks on our hands and legs, for six weeks, now.

Last weekend, we finally took Cleo to the animal clinic for her first shot. We figured she was well over two months old. She cried a little bit, but was very well-behaved for the most part.

The veterinarian at the clinic informed us that Cleo is a boy.