Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect

This evening I made the startling discovery that Justin, after all this time, was not aware of my uncanny ability to balance things on my head. In some circles, I actually have quite a reputation for this aptitude. In any case it was revealed tonight, over spaghetti and meatballs, when I performed the gravity-defying feat of balancing a 4-litre water jug upright upon my head. (Some attribute this skill to the puffiness of my hair, but I pay no mind to these nay-sayers. As if my hair could hold a gigantic plastic water jug in its vice-like animal grip.)

The incident sparked a recollection of a similar one from my childhood, when I believe this special gift first took root.

Zoom in on the calendar; pages blowing off in the breeze.... Flash back to 1985...

... a 5-year old afro-ed Risa, in The Old Lambert Cottage. The dining chairs that left ridges on the backs of your legs on hot summer days. The chicken/rooster sugar bowl and creamer set. Booze from my dad's bar mitzvah in the 50s. My mom with a perm, but the same blue eye-shadow, sipping banana daquiris out back with my aunt, while us kids husked corn on the front porch, next to the day's swim suits hung up to dry on the trestle.

Endless games of Monopoly or Battleship or Checkers, that I was usually told I was too young to play, and that I never won anyways. Not to mention the games created specifically for the sake of taunting me: 52 Pick Up, for instance, which involves throwing an entire deck of cards on the floor and then ordering me to pick them up. ("What?! You said you wanted to play-ay!" was always the rock solid defense.) This is what happens when you're the youngest of a big gang of raucous siblings and cousins in close quarters: the easiest to trick, tease, or blame, and forever grasping for that zinger of a come-back. (Although, really, what can be said after, "I'm rubber and you're glue"?)

Actually I wasn't the youngest, strictly speaking. There was one cousin the same age as me, but scrappier than I was, and one  2 years younger, still too cute to really pick on. And then there was me. Helpless and afroed, the obvious target. Which is probably why I stuck to my guns that fateful morning at breakfast time...

Me: (reaching for a full box of Cheerios, and proceeding to place it gingerly atop my afro)

Brother: Risa, don't do that. It's going to fall.

Me: No, it's not.

Sister: Risa, put it down, you're going to drop it.

Me: No, I won't.

Cousin: Risa, stop it, it's going to spill. You're going to get in trouble.

Me: (increasingly confident) You're not the boss of me.

Brother: (growing panic) Take it off!

Me: (arrogant now, attempting to strut around with my headdress) No, look, I can do it! Look! It's...

Sister: (screeching like a communist school teacher) Risa!

Father: (serious stuff now) Put it down!

Me: (prancing) ... but, look!!! Its...

Blonk! psshhhhht-t-t-t-t-t--t---t----t------t.......t.

Box falls. 


Little Risa Gets In Big Trouble.

Well I certainly Learned My Lesson that day:

If you want to be good at balancing stuff on your head, you have to practice.

And just look at me now! A 4-litre water jug! Take that, nay-sayers!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Old Business

Update on some Very Important Ongoing Issues here at digressions:

1. This week I saw an old man getting totally clawed exiting the subway by this woman getting on. Yes, Chinese culture holds elders in the highest respect. But hey, all is fair in the cut throat game of public transportation.

2. I saw another person clipping their nails on the subway.

And, in related Subway Grossness News:

- Excuse me, China? There is a reason why toilets generally flush. This is the same reason that it is not acceptable to hold your child over a trash can (indoors) so that they can pee in it. (I thought the bum-less pants were cute until I realized what they were for.)

3. In the name of full disclosure, I feel the need to qualify my previous statement that my new batch of third graders are sweet and not, um, as Special as my last group (ie. dumber than a box o' hair). What I should have said is, "not including the two girls who have repeatedly told me that I look like a man." (It's true, I do look mannish  in my glasses, but I wouldn't dare wear them for that crowd.)

4. And of course, The Neti* Update.

(*If you're new here, the neti is a magical little pot used to pour salt water up your nose so that it comes out the other side, and in the process makes your whole life better, or at least smell like the beach. Practiced by yoga masters - not people who string spaghetti through their noses - so it's basically like I do yoga  now, only with the added bonus of no exercise. See Figure 1.)

I had a bit of a cold last week, for which the neti is fabulous of course. And since you're my friends now (and by friends, I mean parents) I can tell you - you would not believe what comes out of there sometimes:

Okay, I promise, this is the last neti post. Then I'll start talking about the interesting things you all came here for, like authentic fortune cookies and lemon chicken and how Chairman Mao is "really a good man who just made some mistakes."