Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pete & Repeat

I used to hate my name. Even as a five-year-old I thought it was really nerdy.
I wanted to be called something more normal and mainstream (years before the extrovert's desperate bid for attention kicked in). I wanted a name that was more American. I started writing 'John' on all of my kindergarten art work.

"Look what I made for you at school!" I'd proudly announce to my mom.

She thought I had taken the wrong Crayola masterpiece home with me.

"You'd better take this back to whoever John is," she told me.

"No, that's me," I tried to explain. "I'm John, now."

"No," my father said, "you're Peter and you'll always be Peter."


The name Peter is such an easy target for nicknames and teasing - Peter Pan, Peter Piper, Peter Rabbit, Peter Parker (although, being associated with Spiderman wasn't so bad) Peter-Peter Pumpkin Eater . . . Peter-eater.

Okay, that last one became a given. But back then, who knew?

Even in the suburbs of Tokyo, my Japanese classmates called me Peter Pan ("Pee-tah Pan"), which, in the Japanese language, naturally evolves into Peter Pan-tsu. The literal translation of that is 'Peter Underpants.'

I eventually learned to joke about it, myself:

"Peter-Peter, pumpkin eater
Had a wife and would not eat her
Put her in a pumpkin shell
'cause he did not like her smell"

There are worse things than being born a boy named Peter, however. My parents had names picked out before I was born. If I had been a girl, my name would be 'Arlette.'

Blech. No thanks!

(Thanks to Sunshine and her post on alternate names for inspiring today's entry!)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Former Band Geek

Before I became one of the Cool People in Life, thanks to my status and identity as a dancer, I was a Band Geek.

Starting in the fifth grade I played trumpet all the way through to my senior year in high school. I never played any sports, so Marching Band inadvertently - and thankfully - provided a built in social life in high school. I never would have attended a single football or basketball game, otherwise. Thanks to the other band geeks, I have good memories of going out to pizza, attending school dances, and toilet papering each other's houses.

It was a little harder playing trumpet when I got braces. There was a lasting imprint from the wire on my front teeth, on the inside of my upper lip, from the constant pressure of the metal mouth piece.

I would have rather been a cheerleader. Maybe it's better I didn't, though. One of my friends was the school mascot and got picked on, sometimes. At football games, dressed in the cougar costume, he would throw candy from a basket into the bleachers. Mean guys would grab the candy and pelt it back at him as hard as they could.

I might have gotten my ass kicked at that school if I had been a cheerleader.

When I did start getting work as a performer, I thanked my parents for making me play the trumpet. The years of musical training came in very handy for vocal auditions and singing rehearsals. Musical directors were always pleased with those of us who read music.

P.S. If you couldn't already tell, I just now finally learned to scan pictures, last week, so be prepared to see even more geeky photos from my past.

You've been fairly warned.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Curse you!"

The funniest thing was when, one Christmas, I had given my niece a Baby Furby.

When she unwrapped it, her father - my brother - looked at me and said, "Curse you!"

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Vermin in Da House

Our menagerie continues to grow. About a year ago, we rescued our then-feral kitten off of our roof. Now fully grown, that koo-koo kitty bestowed the gift of a dead mouse to us, this week. Or so we thought.

When I looked closer, I realized it was a tiny hamster at death's door, stretched out on its side and barely moving. Fur slamped down with kitty spit, it was still breathing and twitching a paw or two. My first instinct was to toss it in the outdoor garbage can. Instead, I gently wrapped it in a paper towel and put it in a shoe box to see if it might get better.

Less than an hour later, it was sitting up and bristling its whiskers, nose twitching this time - normal hamster behavior from what I could tell, as if it hadn't just been traumatized in the jaws of our merciless feline. I cut up half a grape and put in a couple pieces of cat kibble. I wasn't sure what else to feed it until I could get to the market for some Purina Hamster Chow.

I also wasn't sure if fresh grapes would provide our minuscule refugee with adequate hydration. An eye dropper seemed to be the first logical choice. I was too lazy to search the house for one, however, and I ended up soaking a cotton ball with water, which the teensy hamster took to right away.

I thought it might be a baby hamster. But as the cat saliva dried, making mini-Hamtaro look less like a drowned mini-rat, the fluffy light brown fur and white underbelly confirmed that it was probably a dwarf hamster. The poor thing's eyes were squinty at first, too, which also made me think that it might be a very young hamster, just opening its eyes. But maybe that's what happens to hamsters' eyes when they are traumatized and ready to give up the ghost. One eye had opened fully by the first evening, and the other by the next morning.

I dropped the better part of fifty bucks on a cute Critter Trail habitat (wheel, food dish, and water bottle included), hamster chow, cotton bedding, and absorbent cage litter. Thank goodness the hamster was free, at least. I also dropped an empty toilet paper roll in the habitat so that Winky Winkles would have some place to hide (as well as chewing material).

I worried about her/him being all alone in its tiny kingdom. Luckily, that darn cat found another miniature hamster this morning, in our backyard. Domestic Partner held the cat back while I trapped the petrified creature under a drinking glass before adding it to the plastic vermin condo. Neither hamster attacked or threatened the other. They have been fascinating to watch, like a larger version of an ant farm, only better.

Where the heck are dwarf hamsters coming from in our suburban neighborhood? Were they part of a newborn litter in one of our neighbors' houses? I don't think hamsters can survive in "the wild," especially with all of the stray cats on our street.

Hopefully, there won't be anymore that need to be rescued. And hopefully the two that we have already are of the same sex.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Defined by Seven Spaces

My obsession over the anticipation of a new car continues. I asked Quin and Prince this weekend, after breakfast, what choices they might make if they ever got vanity plates

I have been contemplating personalized license plates for the smart fortwo. I haven't had vanity plates since my first car in the early 90's, a Geo Metro. I miss that car! It was white but the license plates said PTR PRPL. I was Purple Peter or Peter Purple for more than two decades. I wore something purple everyday from 1981 to 2001.

Then I stopped.

I still love the color, and I still have a lot of residual purple pieces in my wardrobe. I just don't wear it every single day like I used to.

But, back to the new plates. I've been thinking. Maybe:


As my car is going to be yellow, I've thought about getting plates that would play on the theme of my Asian background:


'Hapa' is the Hawaiian term for half-Japanese, or half-Asian. Plus, as I had mentioned in the previous post, the smart fortwo is pretty much just half of a car.

I had meant to look into getting a personalized plate for my scooter, such as:

KUL RYDR (an ode to 'Grease 2')
WCKD RYD (an ode to 'Wicked')
FYR LZRD (an ode to author Anne McCaffrey, because the scooters are like little fire lizards).

I've always wanted the plate PER4MER, but I think my dancing and singing days are behind me.

Hmmm, speaking of favorite authors, perhaps TESERCT?

What do you think of FRBY GUY or FRBY CAR? Then I could put a matching yellow Furby on the dashboard. Perhaps even FURBY <3, now that the choices for vanity plates include such symbols as a heart, a star, and a hand.

How about you? What would your personalized plates say?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

smart forme

Sorry, Plastic Bubble Playmates, nothing too profound to report on or reminisce about this week.

I have been too distracted by the email message I received, stating that I can expect delivery of my bright yellow smart fortwo car by Thanksgiving or before.

I love my scooter, but I am just way too excited about getting this car! I have been without a car for over a year, now, and I am looking forward to tooling around on the Los Angeles freeways, once again, in my little space bug.

"It's a glorified golf cart," was one opinion I read online of the smart fortwo.
Another one described it as "an all-weather motorcycle." Yes! That's a perfect description for it!

Really, it's basically just half of a car. That's probably why it feels so roomy inside because it's standard sized for the front half of an economy car.

Is it practical? No. Is it safe? Enough. A few people have expressed concern about the safety of such a tiny car, especially if I were to ever be in a collision. Deja vu. I've already survived similar naysayers when I first got a Geo Metro almost two decades ago. I'm giving the same answer today that I gave back then: any car, no matter how small, is going to be much safer than my freeway scooter.

Anyone want a ride? Now booking appointments. One at a time, please.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Part of the Process

Still slogging away at the First Novel, Scooter Boy (although I will admit that the slacker in me neglected to turn in the pages that were due to my writers' group, last week).

The story is based on my own youth. Thankfully, neither my childhood nor adolescence was very traumatic. I have been going back in time, once again, in order to exploit my own memories for more raw material. I have been deliberately getting back into the mind of the seventeen-year-old that I used to be. And I have been feeling very protective over him, latelty, un-traumatic as things may have been back then.

This weekend's writing session took me back to when an issue of Time magazine arrived in our mail and had the topic of homosexuality blazing across the cover. 'Homosexuality in America,' the cover blatantly stated, followed by 'How Gay is Gay?'

"Oh, Peter should read that," my younger brother had said at the dinner table as my father went through the day's mail.

I knew he was just being his usual jerky ten-year-old self, trying to get a rise out of me. It didn't bother me that much. It sure upset my dad, though.

"That's not funny," my dad had said, the anger very clear in his tone of voice.

But it wasn't as if he was defending me. I have gone over that moment several times in my mind. Why did he react in such a way to my brother's idiotic comment? Did my father suspect anything about my sexuality, even when I was a young teen?

Writing about this incident in fictional form was not upsetting, but the writing came more slowly than usual. I anticipate that the writing process may become more cathartic, more therapeutic, as I immerse myself deeper into the fictional world that is based upon my past reality.

Scooter Boy takes place in 1983 and opens with the protagonist, Eddie, riding on the back of a Vespa. While riding the scooter, Eddie experiences brief intimacy with the young, male driver, whom he has just met.

Now, in 2008, I ride a freeway scooter to work and back, five days a week. In my recent feeling of protectiveness over my Inner Teenager (as Alex Sanchez puts it), I've been envisioning my seventeen-year-old self as a spirit from the past, riding on the back of my current scooter, and holding on to me with trust and loving devotion.

And I pray to God to keep us all safe on the journey, past, present, and future.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


"You have no filter," a Young Coworker told me, today (one of the few that is left, anyway). "That's what I like about you. You just say whatever's on your mind, so I know I can do the same with you."

My Young Coworker had just expressed his discomfort over a clever but rather lurid drawing of an old woman on some one's dry erase board.

Because she had been drawn with over-inflated red lips, I did indeed say the first thing that came to mind, and I encouraged my Young Coworker to imagine what it would be like to make out with a lovely senior citizen as such.

"Ewww!" he said, which only goaded me, further.

"It's not gross," I insisted. "It can feel really good, especially when she takes out her false teeth and goes down town."

I have a "church button" I explained to him. I do find myself back in church, now and then, and since lightning does not strike when I enter, I make sure to flick that button on: "Censor Shields - UP!" Fortunately for me, most work places are not like being in church.

Having worked in entertainment and in restaurant jobs my whole life, I have been crass and inappropriate with coworkers for the majority of my varied career. In a friendly, camaraderie-like fashion, of course.

"I can't believe you just ate that old, leftover food," a coworker might say to me.

"Please," I'll protest, "I've had much worse in my mouth."

"You're not going to be able to adjust to appropriate speech patterns," Domestic Partner predicted, "when you start working full time at a regular job somewhere.
You'd better be careful," he had warned.

So far, so good. I survived the cuts at work last week. But I better not push it.

"Push it good!
P-p--push it real good
Yo-yo-yo-yo, baby, par-tee, you come here give me a kiss
Betta' make it fast or else I'm gonna give in
Can't you hear the music pumpin' hard like I wish you would?
Now push it

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My Life is a Constant Trial

Aaargh! I am blocked, once again, from reading blogs at work. I am also blocked from facebook, after becoming hopelessly addicted to that form of online socializing, as well as from other "social networking sites."

Now, what the hell am I going to do all day?

My life is a constant trial.

They have been cracking down at work, it seems. I shouldn't complain, though. Nohow, contrariwise. I should be humbly, humbly grateful. Last week, almost half of our team was "let go." Four people were told in a private meeting that if our workplace was American Idol, then "they were not going to Hollywood."

I wish I was kidding. That's seriously how they were told.

There are two staff members I am sorry to see go. I was shocked and disappointed. And feeling shaky - it could've been me, too.

I cannot take for granted that I am still employed, that I have employment at all. On top of that, I usually remember to be grateful, on a regular basis, for having a job that I actually enjoy.

Now that our team of Admissions Representatives is down to about half its former size, I anticipate that the workload will almost double. I am okay with that. Things have been slow, this year. With the problems of the economy and the increasing obstacles our students face when attempting to secure financial aid, numbers have been down all around.

But playtime is over, at least, during work hours. It's so inconvenient!

For those of you whose blogs I read regularly, I apologize to you if it seems that I am dwindling into the silent part of your reading audience. I will continue to lurk as much as I can, after the hours of 6:00 pm.

You just may not hear from me as much . . .