duck-shaped pain


22 January 2001
Proof of Life on Earth

I will pay someone a million hillion dollars if they will drive over here and take these wasabi roasted green peas away from me. They're so good and so crunchy and so addictive and I cannot stop eating them. The good side of this, I suppose, is that they're not terribly unhealthy – I mean, they were actual vegetables at one time.

I hadn't had them in awhile, and when I saw them when I went to the tiny Asian food store in town to get some red curry paste (which I bought, along with two cans of coconut milk, some dried shiitake, sesame salt and some strawberry Pocky. If I had been going home right away, I would have also stocked up on frozen edamame, yakisoba noodles and miso. But I wasn't – I digress). I'm always surprised at the selection this grocery has – it's really tiny and located in a place not well known for its interest in Asian foods. Sure, it doesn't really compare to Uwajimaya or any other mega-sized Asian grocery I've ever been to, but to put it another way, I've never not found something I've been looking for in this tiny store.

Out of ideas. Therefore, I will list everything that is currently in my bag: [1]

  • Wallet containing the following items: Colorado driver's license, blank check from worthless Internet checking account (account balance: $8), Colorado Indigent Care Program enrollment card (almost expired) [2], credit card, Colorado AAA membership card (member since 1990), debit card from aforementioned useless account, video card, receipts for Xmas presents, post-it with last week’s office-wide bagel order written on it (2 cinna crunch 1 + crm chz, dc latte with hazelnut), $5.30 in cash

  • Navy blue sketchbook, 4 by 6 inches in size, 12 pages filled, titled Duck-shaped Pain, Vol. 7.5 [3]

  • Translucent light blue plastic roller ball pen with white cushioned grip

  • Translucent dark blue plastic mechanical pencil

  • Two ink refills for roller ball pen

  • White plastic eraser

  • Tube of 0.5 mm HB lead refills for mechanical pencil

  • Two 3.5" discs, one untitled, the other titled "Work Web Site" [4]

  • Coupon for 10 percent off any purchase at local natural food market, expired

  • Coupon for $4.95 haircut, not yet expired

  • Tampon

  • One pamphlet: Cotton and Cotton Cloth, Supplementary Pamphlet No. 2-5-1 by Nila B. Smith and Mildred A. Dawson, illustrated by Curtiss Sprague, part of the Unit Activity Reading Series: Round About You – Unit 5, Silver Burdett Company, 1938

  • Photocopied performance evaluation for Vann, Darrell L., Network Engineer. Found in shopping cart at SuperTarget, Broomfield, Colorado. Evaluation includes such phrases as "team-builder," "synergy" and "ownership of own goals." Shopping list scrawled on back:

    • X-mas stuff

    • bread – reg + Italian

    • tomatoes sauce

    • mushrooms – fresh and jar

    • zucchini

    • wine (only item not crossed out)

    • garlic

    • Hollywood Shuffle DVD

  • Stratigraphic intervals charts, not filled out

  • Photocopied short story: "The Available Data on the Worp Reaction," by Lion Miller, given to me by S.

  • Thunder and Lightning by Natalie Goldberg (not a useful book). Came from the library.

  • Post-it notepad of what appears to be two green Dachshunds, one laying atop the other, smiling. 49 cents at MacFrugals, the store devoted to products that failed

  • Hardcover edition of David Boring by Dan Clowes, without book jacket [5], purchased for $10 via, chopstick wrapper used for bookmark [6]

  • Envelopes

  • Receipt from weekend cheap-wine-buying fest, $12.95 (which got me a bottle of 1999 Plum Creek Palisade Red – have to support those local wineries somehow – and some decent inexpensive Riesling whose full name I cannot remember now)

[1] Essentially, lists like this are sort of a cop-out. But my secret here is that I love to read lists of things people have in their bag or glove compartment or similar things. It's like a moment in time captured or something like that. Also, I should mention that this is a fairly small bag, which makes this list more baffling.

[2] Program for people temporarily without health insurance who suffer certain serious injuries (such as breaking your leg) that require immediate attention. It allows hospitals to deduct the cost of your care from their taxes, and I somehow qualified for it, which pared down the hospital portion of my medical bills from $15,000 to $370.

[3] Vol. 7 was a blank notebook I bough back in December as an experiment. I don't like lined paper, so who knows why I bought it other than it was colored lined paper, but the lines were distracting. But since I didn't fill it all the way up, I thought naming the new book Vol. 8 would be dishonest somehow.

[4] The presentation of which did not go well, incidentally. But that's a story for another time.

[5] I usually find book jackets irritating and ditch them whenever possible, but only if the naked book is attractive all by itself.

[6] I wanted to buy this when it came out, but held out until I could find a cheaper copy, since I didn’t remember being terribly enamored with the story when I read it (or at least the first two parts) in the individual comics. However – reading it as one long continuous narrative improves it greatly. I mean, reading the first part, then reading the second part eight, nine (a year?) months later, after you’ve misplaced the issue containing the first part and cannot remember for the life of you exactly what happened in it and trying to remember who these characters and how they got there is not exactly conducive to maximum enjoyment, I must say.

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