Nala shenanigans and meal planning

For those who enjoy Nala’s shenanigans… She insisted on trying to steal my coffee. See her here: Coffee thief.

And we do still have the cats. Including big, dumb Oz.

Periodically I put her back in my room, but she kept calling me due to her fear of the budgies. So Nala watched me unload & reload the dishwasher, have breakfast and make extra parfaits, do two loads of wash, hang wash, let the roomba vacuum the kitchen and then I washed the kitchen floor.

As for meals this week, the menu includes:

  • A nice chunk of ham I got at the grocery outlet for $1. Probably with boxed Mac and cheese.
  • Veggie burgers or regular burgers
  • Spaghetti, either that black bean spaghetti I got at Marshall’s or Green Giant lentil rotini I got on sale at Target
  • A prepared salmon and vegetable salad I also got cheap at Grocery Outlet
  • And “Greek night” with a lentil salad and a white bean salad from Lidl and some mighty fine looking mixed olives I got at Grocery Outlet for 77 cents.

And this little naughty cockatoo refuses to vacate the drying rack, probably because it’s heated.

Now my daughter and I are off to bake cookies.

Magical minor steps toward Christmas

Yesterday the teenager and I got the paint for the next phase of our living room remodel: the chalkboard paint accent wall. We were surprised to learn the paint store could make any paint chalkboard paint.

I got some Opalhouse accents from my room and bought a white fluffy “husband” pillow from Marshall’s and now the little green loveseat couch is super cozy.

So in my featured photo, I am wearing my new sassy Santa skirt also from Marshall’s and taking my turn on our new couch.

I am getting my Christmas tree next weekend and hosting a trim-the-tree party.

We have a week to clean house and get the living room done.

Hope and light come in unexpected places

I chose my current employer based on the flexibility I wanted for school, travel and motherhood. And for the most part, I like my job. Sometimes, people frustrate me but many of my regulars can uplift my spirits. Especially the children.

I’m a good old reliable person. I tend to get assigned duties that the average peon might not do, and I don’t mind, it keeps my mind engaged. I like my immediate team and my supervisor is incredibly down-to-earth and full of common sense.

The last few weeks have been challenging. We’ve increased our production, changed routines, and even experienced equipment difficulties. But our team weathers it well.

Today, I took a turn cashiering, not my usual gig, but I don’t mind doing what needs to be done. For a while, as I covered breaks for the regular cashiers, the lines got pretty intense as I was the sole person ringing.

In the middle of one of those lines, a truly beautiful woman approached. She seemed a couple years older than me, in a white dress with a subtle pink pattern. I believe it was a classy princess seamed dress. She had short dark hair. She brought a several pieces of jewelry to the counter with her other purchases.

She was full of so much positive energy.

“May I ask your opinion?” she asked.

“Sure,” I replied.

She showed me item #1. A friendship necklace. “I am buying this for a friend.”

She showed me item #2. A necklace with family charms. “I have another friend who is really close, and I consider her family. Is that cheesy?”

“No,” I said. “I think it shows the depth of your feeling. I would do the same thing and I would be touched if I were your friend.”

“I’ll do it,” she said.

We continued to chit chat as I rang up her purchases and at the end I heard her say something about offering me a bracelet.

“Excuse me?” I said.

“May I give you a breast cancer awareness bracelet?”

She pulled this big bag of pink bracelets from her bag.

“Sure,” I said. “I know some survivors and some people fighting.”

“I’m fighting as hard as I can,” she said.

Then I realized. She had short hair. She was very thin. She had a band-aid over what was probably her medication port. We chatted some more and I wished her luck. I told her I would be thinking of her often and if she ever needed support I normally worked in the cafe and she should come see me.

“I might take you up on that,” she said.

“Please do,” I said.

She brought light into my life and made me humble. Good luck to you, wherever you are.

 

 

Indochic— Target’s New Home Line celebrates colonization or as they call it, “French-Vietnamese fusion.”

My husband and I started brainstorming our weekly household needs and while he worked on meal planning and a grocery list, I opened the Target app on my phone to see if they had any amazing deals on things we needed. We all know a trip to Target is dangerous and needs to be carefully and cautiously plotted.

Otherwise, the money can disappear.

I immediately found myself drawn to this luscious teal blue chair.

I mean, I seriously see this chair as part of the renovations to our master bedroom here.

But then I read the description: “Indochic: Think French-Vietnamese fusion, full of elegant shapes and sophisticated jewel tones.”

Now, this is my version of when people cry sexism when parents put little girls in clothes that focus on cuteness or certain traits our society sees as feminine. Like the t-shirts that say “I’m too pretty to do homework” or something like that.

“Indochic” is the exploitation and the ignorant perpetuation of the stereotypes that allowed colonialism and the “civilizing mission” to destroy cultures. If you understand my outrage… Well, may the sun shine upon you. We are kindred spirits. If not, let me see if I can calm down and rationally explain the root of my indignation.

First, let me start with the term “Indochic.” It’s a play off of the term “Indochina,” a strongly European word describing the region between India and China. The term became prevalently used in the 19th century and eventually referred strictly to the French colony of what is now Vietnam.

The French called its colony in the region “Indochine” so already Target has managed to make a playful pun, and a French pun at that by combining the French term “chic” with the prefix “Indo.” It’s Indo-great! Indo-cool!

Now, let me rant about the idea of “French-Vietnamese fusion.” The mix of French and Asian style occurred when the French colonized this region. I am no expert on French colonization in Asia, so I can’t address this in depth. But let me offer a few ideas.

Any fusion between the French and the Vietnamese was not voluntary. So should we celebrate it?

Is a pun like “Indochic” okay because the reference dates to the late nineteenth through mid-twentieth century? Is it a forgotten pain? Can it be compared to referring as certain styles as “urban” as opposed to African-American? Would people feel differently about this type of style if the ad featured an Asian woman and a French man?

What I also find interesting about the concept of Indochic, French-Vietnamese fusion connects to my interest in miscegenation. The French developed strict plans for breeding between the civilized French man and the indigenous woman. In French Indochina, French men in the colony were encouraged to make local women their concubines specifically to purify and civilize by producing children with Frenchness.

But remember, the women in these unions would come from poverty by French standards and would be servants or laundresses to their colonial master before they caught his eye. Young native women and older French men, the women unable to say no because of the power exchange.

In colonialism, native cultures lose their land and their resources to the more powerful nation. Their men lose the chance to earn their own living. People who had independent lives become dependent on a foreign system. Tradesmen become servants. Women become housekeepers and sex objects. Native traditions and languages bend, twist and often break or are forced broken by the more powerful, dominant presence.

So when we advertise a sophisticated, elegant French-Vietnamese fusion and give it a cutesy name, we are perpetuating the idea that the cultures on the peninsula between India and China did not have anything to contribute to the world before the French came along and subjugated them.

It’s not Indochic. It’s not cool. It’s contemporary Orientalism.

If anything it’s Asian-influenced French design. Influenced. Because fusion implies an intentional attempt to blend two strong styles.

Passport Panic

Normally before vacation, I pack and unpack. I rehearse exotic languages. I google and read books. 

Not this time.

This time my 12-year-old daughter and I, with my traveling companion, will head to Paris for the day Saturday and then Russia for a week.

Today we had a lil “come to Jesus” meeting about her room. And she was told to clean it before we started packing. My plan was to get her packed (after seven years of summer camp, she got this) and take her for a one mile or so walk around the neighborhood as training for navigating airports and subway stations.

She organized her bags like a trooper. And then I asked her to pull our travel paperwork. Money, passports, notarized documents from her father saying she could travel with me, vaccination records…

“Mommy, your passport isn’t here.”

What?!?!

We checked my purse, the car, ripped the drawers out of furniture. I checked under the bed. I checked lunch boxes. 

I had it out to use it as identification when I needed fingerprints last week, for my position as a graduate assistant at West Chester University. I called the fingerprint office.

After an hour of ransacking my house, my friend reminds me that we stopped at the grocery store 15 miles from my house so she could buy sesame oil.

I call them. A nice young man named Jeff tells me they have a passport and he thinks it’s mine. 

I drive out.

It is.

Back-handed compliment

So… 

An older man came to the cafe today and bought a pizza from me. He wasn’t a particularly attractive older man but he obviously found himself witty.

He paid for a $5.61 lunch with $20.61. I automatically said, “$15 is your change.”

I typed it into the register and as I grabbed his bills, he said, 

“I’m proud of you.”

I ignored him.

“Don’t you want to know why I’m proud of you?” he asked.

“I believe I know.”

“You made change without using the register.”

Yeah, and I also count all the cash sales for the entire store. 

“I counted $22,000 this morning,” I said.

He left.

He meant it as a compliment. But it stung. It stung because he would have never said it to a person his age or to a man.

He said it to me because I look younger than my forty-plus years. I’m cute and I’m petite. And I work retail.

And I’m a woman.

So therefore it must be surprising that I can do math.

Never mind that I can speak more than one language. Or that I have two bachelors degrees and am working on a master’s in world history. Or that I used to run a newsroom. Or that I’ve traveled to (and fallen on) four of the seven continents.

Sigh.