excerpted from caro's journal: topic: surrealism

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2001_04_06:16: Personality Tests

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(See Meyers-Briggs scores in "metrics" entry!)

Questions to consider adding to the Meyers-Brigg test:

1. Have you ever bathed?
2. Do people yell at you a lot?
3. In the last 5 years, have you had an uncontrollable fit of laughter?
  • how about in the last 10 years?
  • last 20 years?
  • since birth?
  • at least once a week?
4. When you cry, would you rather be alone?
5. Do you have a hairstyle?
6. Do you do laundry at least once a week?
  • Does that figure include bedding?
7. Can you see objects when people point at them, even if it isn't an object you're used to looking at?
8. Do you consider yourself a great catch? (Reconsider answer to (1) above.)
9. Do you think that women are naturally less critical and intj-ish than men?
10. Do you think it is possible that the expression 'hot babe' could apply to males?
11. If a woman makes a critical remark about you, are you more offended than you would be by a man making the same remark? (use imagination)
12. Were you able to answer question (11) above (i.e., to use imagination)?
13. Can you name something that you have actually improved in the last week? (write in name___________________).
14. What is the best response to the request, "Please don't expel gas at the table."
  • laughter and/or increased emissions
  • "Sorry, you're right."
  • "Don't tell me what to do!"
  • silence
  • "You are so harsh!"
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2001_04_12:14: Quiet Man

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Just out of bed, in pajamas, watering the garden early this morning. Not exactly at my most restrained. The manager comes by, glances up at my flowers fluttering in the wind. I worry hazily that he's going to scold me for bougainvillea flowers falling on the pool deck, and I prepare an apology in advance. The owner of the complex is deeply hostile to vegetation and indeed to any externalities resulting from the residents' efforts at beautification. But, no, no flowers have fallen yet, so we should be safe:

manager: "Summer's comin'. All these flowers are gonna go."

caro: [that sounds like a maintenance threat!] "What?"

manager: "Summer's comin'. Gonna get hot. All these plants are gonna die and the flowers are gonna fall off and the plants are gonna look ugly."

[Oh. He's talking about the Earth's proximity to the sun, not about the day-laborers (a.k.a. "gardeners") with their scythes and machetes. But this is what he said to me in the fall, substituting the word 'winter' for the word 'summer'. I remember it distinctly.]

caro: "What are you talking about? My plants bloom all year!"

manager: "Everything dies in the summer! It's too hot and dry!"

caro: "Do you have amnesia?" [oops]

One of these days I'm going to get myself evicted. This time, he just looked startled for a moment, then laughed and disappeared.
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2001_09_09:23: Unnamed

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I was keeping a 7-foot-tall jade tree on my neighbor's patio for a while. She seemed to like it, and she didn't have much of anything else aside from the roses and impatiens and carissa I had planted in her little plot, and I didn't have room for it on my patio. I was going to bring it in the house, but decided I could probably sell it for about $100 at my yard sale. A few days after I made that decision, I got home from running and noticed one of our illegal immigrant laborers (who normally does the plumbing or the carpet installation for the complex) "trimming" on my neighbor's patio. She had hired this guy before, to do an astoundingly pathetic job, pointing out to me "It was only ten dollars!" Yeah. I bet it was.

Anyway, I listened to the snipping as I rinsed the sand off my feet, and I had visions of the rose bushes being formed into tattered balls--just in time for the winter nongrowth season! Oh, well. Yes, I took care of the roses and the other plants all year for free, but, after all, she's the one who will have to look out the window at it for the next 4 months, not me.

But later on, I happened to look over the wall, and spied the most obscene sight. He had cut the jade tree in HALF! My jade tree!

I had all along harbored a suspicion that the illegal immigrants didn't any of them have any horticultural training at all, and that the vast majority of the ones who ended up in the landscaping business were among the very stupidest of people. But the sight of that graceful, curvacious, elegant jade tree, CHOPPED IN HALF inserted a new suspicion into my brain: they are completely nuts.

There is only the very slightest chance that my neighbor mistakenly thought that I not only was tending to her garden for free, but that I had also actually given the jade tree to her. There is a MUCH better chance that she had said to this man, "Here's ten dollars. Just give everything a trim," and then left him to his own devices, such as they were. And after he got done pulling out all of the mint and hacking the roses to bits, he turned to the only other vegetation on the patio: a perfectly-formed, naturally-shaped, POTTED PLANT.

So now, maybe I can get about twenty dollars or so for this monstrosity, and I don't want it in my house. Farsam was begging for plants when he got here. As he was leaving, I tried to make him take the jade tree, but our hands were full and he was too tired to deal with it. So there it sits, with that fat white cross-section glaring accusingly out at eye-level.
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2001-04-27:00: Churchill lives

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Gail stopped by to show me the skeleton of a small animal she found in her garden and to have a look at the fuchsias. She saw the rose tree, and remarked that that's what she wants to do with hers. Then she sidetracked us into Wonderland:
Gail: My poor rose is in the hospital.
Caro: Oh, because of the...
Gail: It has gout.
Caro: Gout. Your rose is in the hospital. Due to gout.
Gail: Yeah!
Caro: Gail, I have to say that this is the most surreal exchange I've had today, and I've had some real winners.
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Phone conversation with Farsam last night:

Caro: Farsam!? Hey! Glad you called, cuz I remembered what I called you about last night. I just really wanted to tell you that Brain Guy is just the funniest thing! He is a 'way better Crow than Dr. Forrester!

Fars: Whuh?! Caro! Why do you even want to go there?! That is so not true! Have you even seen one of the old ones recently?

Caro: Yes, I just saw an old one last week, and I'm telling you, Brain Guy is just out of Forrester's league. He is hilarious! His timing is better, his delivery is better. Look, he's even funnier than Tom Servo, I swear. He kills me.

Fars: OK, he's funny, yes. But I just think the whole Bobo thing, and Pearl, bring it all down....

Caro: Oh, no, I like Bobo and Pearl. I used to hate Bobo but I changed my mind. They're funny. I just watched a tape during dinner and I didn't stop laughing once during the entire last 45 minutes. My stomach hurts!

Fars: Hey, that's the litmus test, man, right there. It's just, I mean, I was...we were ALL raised on Joel and Frank and Forrester...

Caro: Nawp, this is better...

(Surreal note: I realized how valuable an addition Bobo was to the cast, when, decked out in ship captain's full dress uniform, he thrust his bowl under the stream of cereal being poured for someone else and then began eating it with his hands...)
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2001_07_17:17: Physical Things

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Hit-and-run meeting with a boy on the beach. The boy was about 10, maybe 12, certainly he had reached the age of reason. He was wearing a wet suit, and was paddling in the water on a boogie board. The water was about up to my waist. There were others in the water, but I was in a large clearing, hunting for sharks. The boy suddenly saw me walking through the waves, and he turned and paddled directly toward me with an eager look on his face. I stopped to see what he wanted; sometimes kids at the beach give me useful information, such as where they just saw a clump of sharks. Without introduction of any kind, in the lilting tones of a child bragging about an accomplishment:

"Those WAVES are 20 feet HIGH!"

I scanned the horizon. "What waves?"

"Those out THERE! They're 20 FEET!"

I looked out to the breakers, which were about 5 feet at the most, and back at the boy, who was about 5 feet at the most. The surf report had said they'd be as much as 6 feet today. The look on his face was unmistakable: it was hope.

"Really. Those waves right there?"


I was curious, and even I have a hard time crushing someone's fantasy when the someone is so young. So I decided to start a friendly conversation instead, and crushed him anyway.

"Really? How do you know?" I asked, fully expecting him to answer me, if only by deliriously describing some absurd measurement procedure.

The boy got that far-away look that kids in tv commercials always get when they are repeating clever quips that they don't understand. Then he glanced down into the water, his head falling a little. Much more quietly, lilt-free, slightly pouty, he said,

"They're 20 feet."

And he began paddling toward them as though the encounter hadn't happened. The waves are 20 feet high, and I never saw that woman in my life. What woman?