Monday, February 4, 2013

State University of Middlemarch (Part I)

The first day of the fall semester has come. The State University of Middlemarch opens its doors to the hundreds of new freshmen, among them Dorothea Brooke. Dressed prudently for her age, she finds the room where her first class will take place, Introduction to Literary Studies -- unlike her fellow students, her face is not buried in her smartphone, because her old, trustworthy Nokia has no internet connection. She has no need for ostentatious gadgets: her phone must make and receive calls, and it does. Her younger sister is with her today (high school does not begin until next week, and as a Senior in Middlemarch High she wants to see what expects her next year); but Dodo and Celia share only their last name. Celia, though less pretty, shows more skin and is more interested in worldly possessions. While Dodo hopes to eventually graduate with an MBA, Celia aspires to get an MRS.

Meeting them at the entrance of the department of languages and literature is James Chettam, Junior in the school of business. He has been after Dorothea for years, and although she gives him her full attention, she does not give him at all affection. Celia would kill for James to look at her even. James inquires as to whether all of Dorothea's scholarship paperwork has gone through properly (although she comes from a wealthy family, her great intellect got her a full scholarship), trying to make conversation. Dodo is fascinated with her new university and does not listen -- Celia kindly replies that their uncle, Arthur Brooke, has signed all the required documents and that yes, in fact, everything is fine.

As Dorothea finds her lecture hall and enters without saying good-bye to her sister and James, Fred Vincy shows his sister Rosamond around campus. Fred is currently in his fifth sophomore year, not having yet declared an official major. He's gone through theology, philosophy, psychology, sociology and even physics, but has failed to find his vocation. This new semester he will try out with business administration. Rosamond, breathtakingly beautiful, has been accepted in the music department, where she will undertake voice and piano lessons. Although a very skilled artist (albeit a lack of intellectual knowledge), because her father, Walter Vincy, is the university president, she was not awarded a scholarship -- what would people think. Leaving Rosamond with the dean of the music department, he goes over to the Admissions department to say hi to Mary Garth, his love affair, his significant other. Mary, however playfully, dismisses him, but when she goes outside on her cigarette break, finds that Fred has been waiting for her all this time. They flirt, but when Fred starts getting serious and hinting that they should move in together, Mary frowns and earnestly tells him that she will never fall in a love with an eternal student; he must find his vocation, she says, before he can aspire to have a relationship with her. Mary has not had the privilege to study (some people are just not born in the right crib...), but was lucky enough to find a well-enough paying job on campus.

The grand clock strikes 9 am, and all classes begin. Fred comes in late and sits in the last row, with his earplugs on, listening to Phish on iTunes, while playing Fruit Ninja on his iPhone. Rosamond has volunteered to sing first, and now stands alone on the stage, all spotlights on her, performing her a cappella version of "I will always love you." James has left Celia in the cafeteria while he attends to his upper level administration course. And while the world has yet to have meaning for all of them in the State University of Middlemarch, Dorothea falls in love with her lecturer, Professor Doctor Casaubon, expert in English & American literature, who teaches -- nay, recites, as if it were all poetry, the fascinating world of Grand Narratives, literary canons, discourses, representations, otherness... He has read all the books ever published and can remember every single detail about them all. Prof. Dr. Casaubon has a masters in philosophy, specializations in history and anthropology, and doctoral and post doctoral degrees in literature. He knows everything that is worth knowing, and shares his wisdom with his students, but does not waste time with idle details or mundane issues. When his point has come across, he stops talking. And his point always comes across flawlessly, like the never-halting river feeding wanting pastures.

This, Dodo realizes, is the first day of the rest of her life.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I like German words because they sound powerful. There is one word that I have come to respect greatly. It sounds awesome (it kinda rolls on your tongue) and it is regal, majestic, and final: Verboten. It means "forbidden", but forbidden still sounds like something you can do when no one is watching. When something is verboten you better seriously NOT do it.

Since we signed the documents which make us legally married in Germany, my husband has a "Verboten" one-item-list to abide by. Upon reading said one-item-list, and the subsequent Sub-clauses, you might think that I am much too influenced by the media. If so, I say to you, Perhaps. Yes. But still, my husband is mine, and is verboten from doing the following things.

(1) Die. My husband may not die. Ever.

- Sub-clause A: My husband shall not run, handle, manage, work in, above or at a crystal meth laboratory, stationary or otherwise. He may not consume, sell, distribute or handle crystal meth in any way. My husband shall also not be a DEA officer, especially not one going after crystal meth labs. Not because of moral principles, but because involvement in such laboratory, or in the chasing after such lab, may present an infringement of Rule No. 1 in the Verboten List.

- Sub-clause B: My husband shall not preside over or belong to a motorcycle club, regardless of whose Sons they are. He shall also not be a Sheriff in a town ran by a motorcycle club. He shall also not run a strip club, or an escort service, or a porn business in said town run by a motorcycle club. Not because of issues of faithfulness, but because said business may present an infringement of Rule No. 1 in the Verboten List.

- Sub-clause C: My husband shall not fight against zombies, in Atlanta or anywhere else in the world. My husband shall not try to be a hero and save women who are constantly placing themselves in harm's way. He shall not try to save the world, just me. Upon a close encounter with a zombie, such that requires him to fight, he must come out victorious. If the zombie wins and infects him, although he is not "technically" dead, that will still be considered a violation of Rule No. 1 in the Verboten List.

- Sub-clause D: My husband shall not be a lord knight trying to give the kingdom back to the rightful king. He shall take was is given to him, or not, and come back home to me, where he belongs. Should he ignore this Sub-clause and lead a rebellion, he must win. His being defeated and subsequently beheaded would break Rule No. 1 in the Verboten List.

- Sub-clause E: My husband shall not get caught being a mass murderer. It is preferred that he not be one, but should he find himself being unable to combat biological needs to murder guilty, bad people, he has no permission to get caught. If he gets caught, however, he must make sure to get caught in a country with no death penalty, as being placed on death row constitutes an imminent violation of Rule No. 1 in the Verboten List.

It is a simple list. Seems easy enough to follow.

But were he to break one of these sub-clauses and therefore die, I will kill him.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Weird Panty Stories

There is a Colombian tradition, law almost, which states that in order to welcome the new year properly, one must wear yellow underwear. Preferably new. Preferably blinding-sun-yellow (as opposed to pale yellows, or ochre tones). The more absurd and ridiculous, the better (granny panties, for instance), but that is more a matter of personal preference than it is part of the law (g-strings and thongs are allowed). I can't remember the last time I didn't wear yellow panties - that is, the last time before this NYE 2013. For the first time in a million years I failed to wear yellow drawers. I could blame it on the lack of supply of yellow knickers in Germany, but I honestly did not even look. I could say that both my yellow underpants were in the dirty laundry pile, but I'm afraid my nose would grow too big. I will thus only come out with the truth and say that I forgot. And for that, I am terribly sorry and ashamed. May this year be amazing, in spite of my not having welcomed it with yellow undergarments.

In trying to convince 2013 to be epic, I shall share two weird panty stories, in the hopes that the gods of the new year have some pity on me and forget my lack of keeping up with tradition. I might get extra karma points if I tell you that, albeit some artistic liberties, these are both true stories. And you probably know who they belong to.

Weird Panty Story No. 1
The Case of the Red Bloomers

Since she was a little girl, A- always received a special box filled with presents for Christmas from her grandparents. Every year for the past 24 years, A- received self-baked and self-bought cookies, a small token of love and affection, perhaps a book, an envelope with a Christmas card and some cash, a pretty, christmassy container, and a secret inside it. A- seldom opened her Christmas present from her grandparents in front of people, always preferring to relish in her happiness by herself, in the privacy of her room, and then always (methodically, religiously) proceeded to call her grandparents and thank them. It was, so to speak, her very own, personal Christmas tradition. A she grew to be a teenager, the amount of cash in the envelope increased, as did her parents' curiosity regarding the contents of the christmassy container. Faced with questions for so many years, A- had carefully prepared answers that would not raise further questions: empty, she said once; more cookies, she said another time; oh, nothing important, she said. When she was 16 she was forced to open her gift box in public, in front of her siblings, parents and grandparents, but was able to hide the secret gift before anyone knew there was one. When she was 17, the package arrived mislabeled, and her sister opened A-'s instead of hers, but A- was quick and clever and managed to get the right package before the secret was uncovered. When she was 18, during the thank-you call, she actually asked her grandmother (she knew it had to be her grandmother who sent that embarrassing present, not her grandfather) to stop it, to put an end to it, to just let it go because it was no longer funny. Her grandmother answered with a loud laugh, and next year sent the infamous secret gift outside of the secret vessel, in plain sight to anyone who were near A- upon opening the box. A- opened the box, saw the contents sprawled inside, and quickly blushed, closed it, and ran away to the bathroom. When she was 20 she could not celebrate Christmas with her family, so she opened the package in the perfect solitude of her own home, but was still ashamed of the secret gift. You would think, she thought when she opened the box the Christmas of her 21st year, that by now I'd be used to it... but no. Still blushing at 22, still keeping the secret at 23... But on her 24th Christmas, I was with her. And A-, knowing of my humble, non-judgemental, polite and respectful demeanor, showed me that secret which she had been hiding for so long. Every year, her granny sent her extravagant, red, sexy britches. Because that's what we all want for Christmas, right? The knowledge that our grandma wants us to get laid. And a friend who tells the world about it.

Weird Panty Story No. 2
The time she couldn't see what she was supposed to see

B- was never a normal girl, but was also far from being an excentric. She liked her men weird, but with a slight hint of normality to them. Weird, like musicians, but normal, like not foreign nationals involved in dubious extracurricular activities. Weird, like hipstery activists, but normal, like enrolled in a university as full-time students. Weird, like philosophers and stuff, but normal, like still choosing to wear western-style clothing. And one day she met Hans Peter von Deutschland, the germanest German ever, so normal, but with weird thoughts on the meaning of life, the universe and everything else (42), and also a superb bass player. He was the perfect normal weirdo for B-. And she fell in love. It is outside the matter whether he too fell in love or not, whether it was at first sight or not, whether it was meant to be or not - it was outside the matter because B- and Hans Peter von Deutschland, the germanest German ever, could not stand to be apart. However, in spite of the overflowing chemistry, which caused sparks that one could see even from Berlin, or Copenhagen, B- and the object of her affection had never "done it". They were always with other people, or in open, public spaces, or the mood was just not right for sex. Sometimes the music was too good to interrupt it with carnal acts; sometimes the conversation was too deep to deal with shallow bodily pleasures; sometimes the universe simply did not conspire. Until one day it did. One night, rather. B- was in a trance listening to her germanest German ever talk about talking, and the germanest German ever was in a trance talking to her and having her listening to him - and that trance led them to bed. Hans Peter von Deutschland, being the germanest German ever, took two steps back (for her to be able to get a full panoramic view of the deliciousness that was about to happen) and took off his shirt. No disappointment there, thought B-, as she made herself comfortable waiting for her one-to-one show. The germanest German ever approached her, kissed her, messed her hair, caressed her face, loved her almost - and B- let him come closer, kissed him back, messed his hair as well, and then undid his pants. One. Button. At. A. Time. The first one. The second one (no zippers - sexiest jeans ever). The third one. The fourth and last one. His one-eyed snake was about to be set free. Again, the germanest German ever took two steps back to allow B- the best possible view of his manhood trapped in briefs... only that they weren't briefs. With his pants on the ground, the germanest German ever turned around to have his two tiny, poorly-formed butt-cheeks face her, the thin thread of the back end of his camouflaged g-string lost in between the tiny flaps of muscle barely apt to be a derriere. Spiked by what he understood to be a gasp of pleasure and anxiety, Hans Peter von Deutschland, the germanest German ever, turned to face her again, this time scarcely showing the blurred silhouette of a wiener swimming in the camouflaged fabric of his banana-hamock thong. B- fell out of love, laughed and left. Or many she laughed, left and fell out of love. Or maybe she did all at the same time. That was again beyond the point: that was, and will forever remain to be, the time she saw a camouflaged banana-hamock. She hopes it will also be the last time she ever sees one. Or that, at least, the next time she is faced with a guy in camouflaged a thong, that he has the goods to fill in the stuff.