D-Jay Linkmeister LinkyLink has struck again, sending me this hard hitting hard news story from the hard edged hardniks at the Chicago Sun-Times. THIS IS MY OLD NEIGHBORHOOD! The second year we were married, Scott and I LIVED in Oak Forest. Batman never came to any of MY parties. I’d be irked, but hey., when you think about it…more cake for me.
ADDENDUM or How to Correct Your Wife Correctly
I just got this e-mail from Scott, my husband, who knows I am geographically challenged to the point of mental deficiency and likes me anyway:
Actually, we lived in Oak Park. Prior to that we lived in Forest Park.
Oak Forest is well south of where we lived.
PS - You're hot.
So point the first is that we lived NOWHERE near the cake-hungry BatLoon, and point the second is that I am HOT! *PREEN!*
No no, wait, that's not point the second. Point the second is that I am NOT hot, but SCOTT thinks I am! *PREEN! PREEN!*
No, wait, dernit, that's not it either. It's this: His e-mail is like a TEXTBOOK PERFECT wife correction. He sent it to ME instead of publicly pointing out that I had no idea where in or around Chicago I lived for several years, and then he ends with a compliment that makes me think he is not of the opinion that I am a total doofus, or anyway at least he thinks I am a HOT doofus. So now I feel very cheerful and great and like macking on my husband instead of embarrassed and poopy and like smacking on my husband.
Go thou, husbands of the universe, and do likewise.
Thou art like unto a dampened poodle, whose humid curls amass themselves with extra zest and sproing.
Sing now Beautiful Poodle!
sing of boxes
sing of all my goods and services
sitting in laundry baskets, in piles, in disarray
sitting in the hallway, the garage, the basement.
My cabinets, pristine, await judicious filling.
And yet you, my good good dog, have left me
a maiden most forlorn
and gone to your stupid job and I am very tired of unpacking.
SO TIRED in fact, that I can not make it a metaphor.
I am just really yes indeed exactly that damn tired of unpacking.
PS But I do love this house. And you.
DIGRESSION THE FIRST: Supposedly show dogs can not be neutered, but I have this vague memory ofd reading somewhere that there was a relatively huge (in the show dog world) scandal where someone had their poodle neutered and had FAKE TESTICLES put in. From this I have gleaned two things.
1) There are people in the world with WAY too much free time.
2) Prosthetic Dog Balls would be a good band name, if it was the right sort of junk-punk hybrid garage band. Because there is a way for that not to be dirty if you aren't thinking about the poodle scandal thing. SEE?
DIGRESSION THE SECOND: I think this entry is a pretty good indicator of JUST HOW TIRED I AM. Three days of moving all my goods and services over, plus then today I spent all the day waxing and waning and sprucing and scrubbing my old house for the closing on Tuesday, the great passing of the keys. I was patting it down with bleach and ammonia but not together because of toxic fumes etc etc. If my friend Julie hadn't helped me with the PRE-spruce waxing yesterday I might very well be dead right now.
The bad news: Everythign I own (except this computer) is in a box
The good news: All the boxes are in MY NEW HOUSE.
SO I am being quiet because of moving, but hey, how about a movie review!
Why thanks, you say, Don't mind if I do so Cut me a small piece of movie review and do not stint on the frosting.
OKAY I say because as it happens I saw one. On nights when I am physically and mentally blown, I have to have TV to go to sleep…and last night I was SO blown. And there we were in a new house with NO CABLE YET, so I went out and rented a movie to rock myself to slumber land. WELL, it is a weekend so NO new releases were in… DIGRESSION: THIS IS WHY I HEART NETFLIX but oops with mail forwarding and all, I did not get my netflix today. SO. I rented an OLDY --- A movie called City of Angels, starring Nicholas Cage after he quit shaving his chest hair into the shape of an eagle and Meg Ryan before she had half her butt-fat injected into her lips.
You think you want to see this movie too? Missed it the first time around? Hmm. Okay then. Go take an IQ test. Then have your bowl of Cheerios take it. If you score significantly lower than your bowl of Cheerios, rush right out and buy the special edition DVD. You'll really, really like it. As for the rest of you, RENT SOMETHING ELSE.
If you STILL want to rent it, then quit reading this blog right now because I am about to spoil it, if it is possible to spoil a movie that is made entirely out of Velveeta cheese. (HINT: It is impossible to spoil Velveeta. After the third world war that wipes humanity from the place of the planet, Velveeta will rise up and compete with bees and roaches to become the next sentient life forms. PS I am rooting for bees.)
THE SPOILER: Meg Ryan dies. UGH UGH. She is too stinkin’ cute to die. She shouldn't even attempt it. This is SO HEAVILY FORESHADOWED that you ought to know this ten minutes into the film, but then you think to yourself, "Oh, surely not. Oh, surely they wouldn't telegraph her death so broadly if she was really, really, actually going to DIE. RIGHT??? RIGHT??"
Wrong. She dies. And it isn't even like I hated the movie because she died so tragically and I wept and OH THE HUMANITY. It's an irky stupid death that involves a LOGGING TRUCK. A LOGGING TRUCK? You say. SURELY NOT. But Alas, I sorrow to tell you, it is so.
In my head I kept hearing, "I'm a lumberjack and I'm ok, I kill Meg Ryan and I sleep all day." Clunky, terrible plot device. It's actually not a completely bad movie up until Meg Ryan bites it and Nicholas Cage starts spouting IMPOSSIBLY sentimental lines like, "I would rather have picked one booger from her nose and then watched a logging truck smash her than spend eternity with out her." UGH UGH.
THE GOOD PART: the angels are so placid. They stand around and perch on things and move v.e.r.y. s.l.o.w.l.y. We don't have to watch the tired, old oooooh they walk through walls sort of special effect that has been done to beyond-death ever since Ghost reared it's stupid "Demi-cries-on-cue" head 20 years ago. They simply are where they need to be next with no fanfare or popping around. This could have been 800% more fascinating though, if PEOPLE hadn't been so EQUALLY placid in this movie.
I wish the director had thought to himself, "Hmmm, chaos versus order....Hmmm What about THAT?" Instead it is just placid order versus MORE placid order. Not very exciting. Angels can hear people's thoughts in this film, and if people had been wildly chaotic, unorganized systems that babbled and sang and flip floppied all over themselves and wept and screamed and bubbled and foamed, AND IF MEG RYAN HADN'T SMASHED HERSELF UP UNDER A STUPID LOGGING TRUCK, this could have been a very nice film. Instead, the inside of humanity's collected heads is a nice but sleepy place where people think to themselves. “I think after supper, I shall kill myself, Or make tea, Whatever….” in the same ordered, polite language in which they ask someone to please pass the donuts.
As a final note, as a methodist – and not just ANY methodist, but one who was raised in the wilderness by untamed honey-and-locust eating fundamentalists (HI DAD!) I HATED how angels in the movies get to earth and IMMEDIATELY rush on out and break 3 or 4 commandments. It seems like they would know better, having been angels and all. It seems like EX-ANGELS wouldn’t so NONCHALANT about MORTAL SIN. At any rate, If you do rent this ancient problem-child- And you have been warned - but if you WANT IT and NO ONE CAN STOP YOU, then flip off the tv and go for Brusters Cones right after Meg Ryan says, "Mr. and Mrs. Plate." Up until that point, it's at least bearable.
I heard from Warner. gods in Alabama is going to be an audio book!!! They are going to produce the audio version to come out at the same time as the hardback. I. AM. SO. THRILLED. I am practically melting with thrill. I cannot wait to find out who will read it!!!
Now let’s play a fun game of WHY HAVE I SQUATTED ON THIS INFO FOR WEEKS. Yes, that’s right. I have known for weeks, and yet I took this info and rolled it up into a little packet and then I squatted on it. but before we talk about WHY, I jhave to tell you that the phrase "squatting on packets" reminds me of a conversation I had with Lily James about novel writing. I was telling her about the book I am writing now (The Refrigerator Border Wars) and the book I want to write next.
Lily: YOU ARE LIKE A HEN. You wander around and every now and again you lift up your trailing skirts and say, “Oops. A novel fell out.”
Me: It doesn’t feel that way from this side of it.
Lily: If Joyce Carol Oates and a HEN had a baby, that baby would be you.
Me: *wets self laughing*
Lily: What are the chances someone else on the planet said those exact same words I just said at the exact same time. I mean, under what circumstances could someone say them?
Me: Maybe if they had a PRIZE WINNING ROOSTER named Joyce Carol Oates, but he was sadly sterile, and then one day, long after his death, they got a chick that was VERY like him, and it was a dream come true, and maybe they lofted the chick to the skies and at the very moment you were speaking they were screaming ecstatically to the chick, “If Joyce Carol Oates and a HEN had a baby, that baby would be you.”
Lily: Okay, but other than that.
But back to the WHY of it. Remember, the squatting? The packets? We were going to analyze WHY I told no one but my mom about the audio book info for so long. Except the word “analyze” reminds me of a conversation I had with Mr. Husband last night, after he read my latest blog entry. (DIGRESSION: YES OKAY I should make “latest blog entry” a link but COME ON I have already linked TWICE and it is the entry RIGHT BEFORE THIS you can just SCROLL DOWN, and anyone who feels like I should pause here and HTML yet another LINK when the entry in question is RIGHT UNDER HERE on the SAME SCREEN is a lazy baby-eating dingo. SO THERE.)
Scott: I was analyzing your last blog entry. I think your mental illness number is lower than you claim. If it was truly over 70, you would have calculated how many pounds you could expect to lose if you DID let the fan shear off the top portion of your head, skull, and brain.
I have two responses to this.
1) This man knows me FAR TOO WELL. And the fact that he still loves me EVEN THOUGH he knows me this well…there’s no word in English for how amazing that is.
2) YES I KNOW I should have made Mental Illness Number a link to the entry that explains Mental Illness Numbers BUT if you DUTIFULLY SCROLLED DOWN like a NON-DINGO, you see there is a “mental illness number” link right there in the entry below this. Which I know you did. Because you would never eat a baby. NOW WOULD YOU. *beam*
I have avoided long enough. Here is why I think I squatted on the information packet. I think because it felt like it couldn’t possibly be true. My agent told me. I waited a week hoping it was true. I mean, my agent, he doesn’t just call me up and say things because he is feeling SPRIGHTLY. This is a conversation I have NEVER had with him:
Agent: YOUR BOOK SOLD!
Agent: NO! HAHAHAHHAHAHA *click*
If he says it, it means it has happened. It is set. It is GO. But I waited a week anyway and then I checked it with Emily, my editor’s assistant.
Emily: Yes, Mental Patient, and PS your agent said he told you last week that this was happening?
Me: *mumbles incoherently*
Okay that conversation is a lie. Emily is actually ADORABLE and VERY NICE TO ME. But I FELT like a mental patient for calling her to make her tell me what I already knew from a highly credible source. The only explanation is that I AM the Mutant Chicken Child of Joyce Carol Oates, and I always think the sky is falling, even when it is bright blue and cloudless.
I hereby resolve to become a better person. RIGHT NOW. For example? See my coffee cup? Sitting right here beside me on the desk? Well. I officially declare it to be half full.
WHY is my Mental Illness Number in a symbiotic relationship with the number on my scales? I swear those two are like Ducky and Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink. When Molly was up, Ducky shot sky high, and when Molly was down, oh the manifold sorrows of Ducky.
DIGRESSION: What was WRONG with her ANYWAY? Why on earth would she go running after the lipless and angst-filled drooping rich snot-bucket who was SOMETIMES MEAN TO HER when she could have had DUCKY. Ducky who was CUTE and ADORED HER. Okay, sure, there’s a little bit of geek factor going on there. But she should have gotten herself a GEEK IS CHIC T-shirt and gone with it. Ducky was THE GUY.
Someday when she is 35 and in therapy and in the middle of the UGIEST divorce in history, Molly will get on the internet and hit classmates trying to FIND Ducky, and you know what? By then some other girl will have gratefully and with mad adorative passion SNAPPED HIM UP and Molly? HONEY? Serves you right. And trust me, Ducky will not drop his family and fall back into your arms when you DO track him down. Ducky will remember you fondly, and feel sad that you are unhappy, and he’ll Take a Moment with you, maybe squeeze your arm, but then he’ll go home and be HAPPY THERE. Because he is nice that way, but more than that, Ducky is MAD for his wife and kids. DUCKY has Character! And Passion! And Virtue! And PS --- he has LIPS.
At any rate, I still have two pounds I gained from vacation, and I seem to have added another two just because the vacation ones seemed LONELY. As a result my mental illness number is upUpUP. I HEART eating, so my normal course of action would be to add more ankle weights and raise my aerobic step another couple of inches. But I just DID that to try and lose the original vacation pounds. I can’t raise my step any higher without putting my head into the path of the ceiling fan which will shear away the top of my skull and mercifully lobotomize me so I can not feel the pain as my heart bursts from shlepping all the freakin' ankle weights I'd have to add.
So. There is nothing for it but to combine the exercise with….ugh…a diet. BOO! I hate diets. I try to eat South Beachily and am all about good fats and lean protein and whole grains. I avoid white flour and sugar, unless it's in, like a really good COOKIE. So I could just get a little stricter with that and EAT sensibly. I could, for example, spend a day NOT hunting down and killing whole herds of chocolate droozled Bunndt cakes and dragging them back to my lair to devour them, snarling crumbily at any cake-hungry children who approach me asking me to please role-model SHARING.
BUT WHAT FUN IS THAT?
I think INSTEAD that I am going to make my OWN diet up. It will be very faddy and dreadful. I will call it the ANTI-OXIDANT DIET and I will only eat things that I suspect have a lot of anti-oxidants in them. I’m not really sure what an anti-oxidant is, but it is very good for you. Also Omega three somethings are very good. I may eat those too. I will base my knowledge on whether or not I have seen people look at the food in question, nod sagely and say “It has a lot of anti-oxidents.” Or “That is chock full of omega three somethings.”
So far using this method I can eat: Kale, Dark Chocolate, Fish Oil, Walnuts and Red Wine.
You have heard of the The Marshall Plan---or if you haven't, the phrase is a LINK so NOW you have, and if you are anti-link, all you need to know is, it's a method for writing a novel. There are all sorts of methods and plans and books explaining ways of writing a novel, but this chick I know named dej has her own plan.
It's called BITCH OK!
Actually she writes it as BITCHOK, but I can't pronounce that. BI-Chok? buh-CHOK? I prefer to call it BITCH OK! With an exclamation point. Because EVERYONE knows how to pronounce THAT. I also think that if you pronounce it MY way, it implies that it is OK! to bitch about the hideous and somewhat maso-sadi-chistic process of DRAFTING as long as you continue to work as you whine.
At any rate, however you spell or say it, it's an acronym for dej's method of novel writing, and it means this: Butt in the chair, hands on the keyboard.
Sadly, the BITCH OK method is no longer working for me. Did I mention I am packing everything I own because we MOVE on Friday? First of all, YAY. Because dreamhouse etc etc. BUT. I REALLY needed to get a complete draft before I MOVE. Not going to happen.
Unless! Unless I go with a NEW plan that I am going to call.... BITCH OK AT:
butt in the chair. hands on keyboard. actually typing.
Or even, BITCH OK AT YN NAE D
butt in the chair. hands on keyboard. actually typing. your novel, not another e-mail. dork.
I am supposed to have the COMPLETE draft by, um, wednesday. As I sit here actually typing THIS, I have 13 of 15 chapters, 73,000 out of what will probably end up being 80,000-85,000 words. WE WILL JUST SEE THEN WON'T WE. I cordially invite all the people I love to NOT HOLD THEIR BREATH. It would probably end in asphyxiation and doom.
VERY GOOD: We closed on the NEW HOUSE yesterday. I OWN it. IT IS MINE. It is silent and lovely and peaceful.
Bad: We do not CLOSE on our current house until the 31st. heh. So we own TWO houses. PLEASE LORD do not let any more trees fall or bad disasters happen at EITHER, at least until we are down to one...
Loud: I think my children are expecting to move into the silent lovely peaceful new house WITH me. SO IS THE CAT.
VERY VERY BAD: I am getting e-mail from people whose Bradford pears are infested by demons--- THESE ARE BAD TREES.
Here are the top three reasons to NEVER put a Bradford pear in your yard
1) They only live 15 to 25 years. Usually at about 20, they will suddenly start throwing whole thirds of themselves onto your cars and pets and unsuspecting lawn statuary.
2) Some people think the scent of their blossoms bear a marked resemblance to cat urine so old it was probably sprayed by un-neutered toms wandering through the cat-temples of Ancient Egypt.
3) They KILL ALL GRASS that is under the spread of their thick foliage, so that after your arborist has removed them and ground the stumps, your lawn looks like it has been ravaged by thousands upon thousands of mightily priapic but confused orangutans. Which is to say, barren, pitted with holes, covered in chips and dust and post-confused-monkey-love root detritus.
Bradford pears are genetically engineered. HMMM. VERY INTERESTING.
You know that famous poem?
Blah blah da da blah da blee,
Only God can make a tree?
Well, apparently it’s not true. I need to have a séance so I can inform Joyce Kilmer that he needs to edit. It should now read:
Blah blah da da blah da bluck,
Only God can make a tree that doesn’t suck.
I am not a very MUSICAL person. Really. I don’t just mean that I can’t carry a tune (which I can’t) or that I am ignorant about the intricacies of composition (which I am). I mean that I have an emotional response to less than 1% of the music I hear. For the most part, it leaves me cold. It’s like I am spiritually tone deaf.
Once, while taking a survey, I came to the question, “What is your favorite song?” And I couldn’t think of one. I was completely stumped. Finally I wrote, “I don’t like songs,” and ploughed onwards.
When I say this in public, people tend to clutch their babies a little bit closer and ask me things like, “Dead inside much?” or “Are you a sociopath then? Or just an inhuman robot?” Apparently, people really like songs. *shrugs*
Right now, I listen to only two kinds of music and only under certain circumstances.
1) Christian Pop on the Fish 104.7 in the car
2) House/Dance Remixes when I work out
I used to listen to a lot of different radio stations, but then last year, I was driving around with Sam and I had the radio playing. I wasn’t really listening to it. It was just ON. The DJ was prattling about some wacky DJ hijink or ‘nother, but to me it sounded like the grown-ups in the Charlie Brown Cartoons talking: Wahhh Wahhh Wonk Wonk Wahhh. Suddenly, swimming up out of the white noise of the morning show patter, I hear the DJ say: “I’m going to make him my ass-bitch.”
My finger leapt up like a sentient being and hurled itself at the radio button, cutting off the power supply. Too late. From the back, clear as bell, my son piped up:
Sam: Mom, what’s an ass-bitch?
Me: It’s a very bad word that means “We are about to set every single one of our radio buttons to 104.7 The Fish.”
Sam: Oh. But isn’t ass a bad word for butt?
Me: In this case, ass is a bad word for DJ.
Sam: *puzzled silence*
Me: *brightly* LET’S SEE WHAT’S PLAYING OVER THERE ON OUR NEW BEST FRIEND, 104.7 THE FISH!
And we have been listening to The Fish ever since, and it’s all very cheerful and uplifting and great and no one ever under any circumstances tries to make anyone their ass-bitch. So we listen to it exclusively. Except when I work out.
There is a HUGE difference between the lyrics I hear in my child-free work out hour and the music I hear any other time I hear music. I am surprised I don’t become schizo, blipping back and forth between things like (and here I am choosing a VERY mild example) the boyz from N.E.R.D. explaining to me that, “her ass is a spaceship I want to ride,” and then not an hour later I am hearing that “there’s gotta be more to life, then chasing down every temporary high, like, for example, rides on the good ship spacebutt.”
Okay Stacy Orrico did not say that last part.
BUT… if she ever met the boys from N.E.R.D., she would probably THINK it at them.
DIGRESSION: Don’t even LISTEN to N.E.R.D.’s ‘She Wants to Move’ unless it’s the SMOKIN’ remix by Basement Jaxx, k thanx drive thru.
It’s like a big musical ARGUMENT. Battle of world-views. And world-view-wise? I am SO MUCH MORE the lyrics on Fish than I am the vast majority of lyrics I hear when I work out. But musically? I have to say – I have spent my life being left dead fish cold by every form of music I have met (except organ concertos….NOTHER STORY) until I accidentally met HOUSE and DANCE and ELECTRONICA DANCE HOUSE TRANCE REMIXES. It makes ME want to move. I LOVE it. I LOVE IT. There are days when I want to track down Frankie Knuckles and kiss him on the mouth and say THANKS! THANKS FRANKIE! THANKS!
And yet often times the LYRICS… let’s just say it makes “I’m going to make him my ass-bitch” sound so mild you would pick for your kindergartener’s new school motto. I mean…yikes.
In the new house we are having a here-to-fore UNHEARD OF LUXERY. A guest bedroom! No more will the hapless souls who visit our domicile be forced to flip and toss on the Back Pain Futon of Unkind Humpi-Lumps while listening to my youngest child snork her noisy way through toddler dreamland.
Guests will be greeted with their own room, complete with a ceiling fan and a lovely view of the driveway and in the center they shall find….an ACTUAL BED. Comforter, dust ruffle, four posts, head and foot boards, real feather pillows and a BRAND NEW firm Sealy pillow top mattress. Heck, SCOTT AND I don’t even have a bed. We just have a metal frame holding our mattress a few inches above the squalor. SO! It’s luxurious. And the guest bedroom furniture is ALL FREE, which is the main thing. THANKS MOM AND DAD! (They are gifting us with my bedroom set from when I was a munchkin)
The only thing we have to buy is the mattress, which we did, today. Found a GREAT deal on it too. Scott and I were taking turns lying down on it to test the firmness when my 7 year old son. Sam, came up to us.
Sam: MOM! Can we get a TEMPER PENIS?
Me: Um what?
Sam: A TEMPER PENIS. Let’s get that! It has a remote control!
The little saleslady with her flippy mod hair cut and I googled at him openmouthed, both of us envisioning enraged male genitalia. Enraged robotic genitalia. With a remote, no less.
Me: Maybe you better show me this thing, eh?
He did, and then we spent a moment on phonics and exactly how to say temperPEDIC. PEDDDDDDDDDDIC. PED D D D D IC. (Let me say, the irony of telling your seven year old, “Do not say Penis, say PEE – DIC, hon” is not lost on me. I am just trying to take the high road here, folks.)
We get that straightened out, and I explain, no, we can NOT get the temperPEDIC with space foam body melding technology and remote control level adjusters for easy TV watching and even easier direct pressure and elevation if you happen to be bleeding out. WHY? Because I am not spending more on a guest bedroom mattress than I spent on my CAR. SO. We head back across the store toward the mattress I actually want to buy, and on the way we pass some furniture for sale. Including a bed.
It was a SERIOUS bed. It had a canopy frame about nine feet high and all manner of mosquito netting and romantic sheer draperies swooping all over enveloping it in a misty haze, so it looked like it had a Stephanie Powers/Hart to Hart style close-up contract and could only legally be filmed through cheesecloth.
Sam: WOW! LOOKIT THAT BED!
Me; Yeah, that’s some bed.
Sam: Is that a privacy marriage bed?
Me: (to mod-hair saleslady) I swear we are not weirdo perverts. He just read pedic wrong and as for the bed, um. I dunno. Your guess is as good as mine. But we are not weirdo perverts. I swear.
Her: (very! overly! brightly!) Okay! Why don’t we just ring you up then!
Every week, my son shows up post Sunday School with a rag-tag assortment of...well... crap. There is usually some sort of object like a styrofoam coffee cup that's been chewed into four parts and then stapled back together, and it is attached to various bits of string and damp ribbon and paper that is attached to other glitter strewn trash bits via brads and tape and spittle.
There is never any way for me to decipher what this crap-wad is supposed to be, unless I look at the crafts in the hands of the other children. They will have the same materials assembled into a paper candle, or a pipe cleaner man in a tissue paper robe, or a fish...and then my son bounds out the door with his art project looking like it has been chewed by rabid squirrels, dripping leprous chunks of itself as he yells joyously LOOK LOOK THIS IS THE BOAT THEY WERE FISHING IN BUT THEN THEY DIDN'T GET ANY FISH TIL JESUS CAME AND SAID TO FISH ON THE OTHER SIDE.
Okay, so, he isn't very crafty, my son. He has no patience for glueing macaroni into the shape of the cross. BUT WHO CARES. As long as he can explain to us how the wad of crap relates to the lesson, that's the main thing. And up until this week, he absolutely could. EVery time.
But today's crap-wad was made out a clothespin, several mangled coffee filters, and an obscene amount of paste. He had used enough paste to service all of Guam's modest paste needs for a week. My husband questioned him about the object until it was firmly established that it was meant to be a dove.
Scott: Oh! Is that the dove of peace?
Sam: No. The other kids made the dove of peace. I made the Dove of the ARMY. He has MISSILES.
OKAY THEN! I can't wait for next week, when he makes the Vampiric Fanged Lamb of Merciless Carnage!
We have – we had, I should say – We HAD these 2 big bushy Bradford pear trees in our yard. One by the side of the house. One right out in front in the center of the yard by the driveway.
A few days ago, the side yard tree decided to drop about a third of itself right onto our house. HEH. One month before we are ‘sposed to SELL the house, with a buyer and a closing date and everything.
And so now the OTHER 2/3rds of the tree have to be taken out before closing by a man called an "arborist," which is Latin for “very expensive.” According to my arborist, once a Bradford pear begins to drop whole chunks of itself, it continues to do so until it is all gone. It’s how they die. Of old age. When they are about 20. Bradfords are apparently these youth culture trees that were genetically engineered on the set of the Logan’s Run miniseries.
SO then, today the OTHER Bradford pear decided to drop a third of itself. It was at least considerate. It did not drop onto the house. Instead, it chose to plummet its chunk onto my driveway. Where my van was parked.
So I would say it’s been a pretty good week, assuming you are my arborist.
ANOTHER THING just occurred to me: This is clearly my husband's fault. The first spring we lived in this house, he came in and said, DID SOMETHING DIE IN THE YARD?
Me: I haven't noticed any corpses.
Him: Seriously, Somethign Evil is dead out there. Long dead.
So we went outside and I sniffed around. Nothing. Nada. Smelled nice and clean and green and renewed and damp and lovely, like it does every spring.
Him: UGH UGH DO YOU SMELL THAT??? UGH!!!
Me: No...maybe you just have a brain tumor? Does it smell like burned popcorn?
Him: No. It smells like what you would smell if someone made a giant alive monster entirely out of cat pee, and then the cat pee monster died, and three weeks post mortum you came along and gave it a good sniffing.
He tracked it down, following his nose, and what he was smelling was.....the blooms on the Bradford pear. The smell of the little pretty springy fresh flowers was ABHORRENT to him. Every spring he would say, UGH THAT CAT PEE TREE HAS BLOOMED AGAIN, HASN'T IT.
And there I ssat like a dork, WONDERING why these trees were persecuting us! IT WAS HIM! IT WAS HIM! Man, trees are stupid. And they have dreadful aim -- I feel certain that second tree was going for his Honda.
My husband is fussing at me because I won't stop running his best girl down. And he's right.... I need to cut myself some slack before my brain explodes.
Remember Romper Room? No? I KINDA do -- a little. In my probably faulty memory it had this BEE on it, a BEE who was virtuous and kind, and he was DO BEE, and then there was an equal and opposing BEE OF EVIL (named DON'T BEE, natch). And there were several songs associated with DO BEE, but the one that I remember was a listing song that told kids things to BEE or not to BEE, and the song would have lines like....um.... DO BEE A TURN TAKER! DON'T BEE A ME FIRSTER! I wish there was a way to get the TUNE to you---it's very simple and cheerful.
I have been treating myself as if I am the living embodiment of DON'T BEE. I plough through August, hoping my heart will not burst from all the MOVING and DEADLINE stress, and I feel I can't do anything right...Anythign I DO do is not the thing I NEED to be doing. And if I pause for some sort of recreation, The DO BEE song starts going off in my head...
DO BEE A BOX PACKER!
DON'T BEE A YACK ON PHONER!
DO BEE A DAILY BLOGGER!
DON'T BEE A NAPPING PROCRASTINATOR!
DO BEE A NOVEL FINISHER!
DON'T BEE A SIT UP TIL ELEVEN DRINKING WINE AND PLAYING THE NEVERWINTER NIGHTS EXPANSION PACK SO YOUR HALF-ELF RANGER CAN LEVEL UP TO BECOME A PRESTIGE CLASS SHADOW DANCER WITH DUAL WIELD ASTRAL BLADES ON A NIGHT WHEN YOU KNOW YOU HAVE A BABYSITTER LINED UP FOR THE NEXT MORNING SO YOU CAN REWORK YOUR CRAPULANT CHAPTER TEN AND GET FOURTEEN WRITTEN-ER!
Since I am congenitally UNABLE to stop flogging myself for my short-comings, at least I can do it via a cheerful little tune!
MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE.
TODAY I VANQUISH the recalcitrant chapter 13. I will update before 2 PM unless I do NOT make my goal in which case I will slink away in shame and not mention it and pretend I never publicly vowed a mighty vow.
MEANWHILE, I am back on South Beach Phase 2 recovering from my vacation, and while I am taking the last 2 pounds of my vacation weight off, I decided to try and lose another 5. In the deepest pink folds of my ridiculous heart I think that if I could ONLY get seven pounds off, I would suddenly become an incredibly valuable human being. I would be sort of like Gandhi, if his main contribution to humanity had been "wearing a size 8."
My mental illness number is apparently on the rise (THANKS, DEADLINE! THANKS! THANKS A LOT! LOVE YA, DEADLINE! JUST BE YOU! NEVER CHANGE!), so I INVENTED A GAME. It's based on YU-GI-OH. Anyone with boy children between 5 and 15 probably knows YU-GI-OH. It is a card game and you have monsters with levels and points and you play your cards, engaging your friends' monsters in battles etc etc.
Anyway, my son recently acquired a YU-GI-OH battle wrist card-dueler thing. It Velcros to your forearm and opens out into a big FAN and you can lay your YU-GI-OH cards out on the fan part and start a YUGI WAR with another 7 year old boy who has one strapped to HIS wrist. It SNAPS shut with a pinching clatter so it is a forbidden toy for babies named Maisy who are two and who are mine. It looks like the cruel device the Inquisition would have come up with if they had the technology to make plastic and wanted to torture little sisters.
Anyway. I want to get YU-GI-OH-style wrist battle-fans for all my friends, but ours would be PINK and we will make up our own cards. This is the titular CRA-ZI-OH! CRA-ZI-OH cards have your own personal quirks and weirdnesses on them and you battle it out to see who is most frighteningly bizarre in their brain parts.
My cards, for example, would include "having to be prescription level sedated before I can SIT in a dentists chair" and "Only cooking on the two back burners of the stove because I am afraid hot food on the front burners will LEAP down and scald the faces of my passing children. Or my children 2 rooms away in the den. Or my children visiting their grandmother in another state." Boiling food can apparently leap for HUNDREDS OF MILES if you are foolish enough to put it on a front burner. And of course I would have my "No matter what I weigh I want to weigh 7 pounds less" card. *sigh*
I KNOW rationally even if I became a walking bone with a scrap of fatless skin-flesh stretched tightly over it, I would still not be happy with my body because 1) I am an American Female and 2) I have a near terminal case of White Girl Butt. My butt is naturally about as wide and flat as Kansas. And of course White Girl Butt shaves a full two inches away from your soul, making you somewhat less than a worthy human being.
Oh wait! Look! Another card! BEAT THAT ONE!
Here is a list of things said out loud by actual people on my vacation. Sadly, almost ALL of these people are related to me by blood:
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BOYS AND GIRLS
Scene: Erin, a 10 year old girl who is playing a SIMs type Nintendo Game where she is a rock star, is talking to my 7 year old son. Sam
Erin: I am playing a CONCERT now Sam so DO NOT TALK TO ME! If you distract me, you KNOW what will happen.
Erin: Um no, HELLO! I won't get PAID?
OUR COLLECTIVE FAMILIAL MATURITY LEVEL
Scene: Entire family is sitting around the den talking when Erin walks through staring down at her Gameboy.
Erin: I have a monkey butler!
Everyone else: (not hearing the "ler" part) BA HAHAHAHHAHA
Scene: Anonymous relative is sprawled in post-feast abandon on the sofa
Anonymous Relative: I am so lazy I almost wish I had a colostomy bag.
I have no response to that.
Above is the world's most scattered blog entry. It should get a prize. The prize should be LITHIUM. I have terminal deadline horror.
Now--- Picture me standing on a hill with a hoop skirt on, the sun is setting behind me, and I have just finished yacking up a radish. I lift my fist to the heavens and say AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, I WILL COMPLETE THE DRAFT OF CHAPTER 13 BY TOMORROW AT 1:45 PM.
Tune in at 2:00 to see if I am a big fat hoop-skirted liar!
My friend Sara works in her closet. No, seriously. She goes in her closet and pushes aside her clothes and way back in the dankest corner she has a desk and a modem-free computer, and she squats in the semi-dark growling back at the feral dust camels and that's where she works. She is writing to deadline, and if she is OUT of her closet, there are all these CHILDREN she has, plus a husband and TV and internet connections and a horse and a telephone and eleventy hundred other pets and friends and obligations and temptations, and OUT THERE IN THE WORLD who can possibly write? Not Sara....and not me.
I told her we should rename her closet THE SUFFERING ROOM. This is WHY: My brother is a sculptor -- he sculpts the greens that are made into the molds used to make miniatures, gaming figurines and toys. He wears this THING on his head, a JEWELER'S thing, with big magnifying lenses so he can see to sculpt in amazing teeny detail. He looks like he is being assimilated by the BORG and the apparatus pinches his head, so he wears a do-rag as a pad. He calls the do-rag his "suffering hat" because putting it on means he has to WORK. SO therefore Sara's closet is...see?
I need her to make room for me. I am 12K words out from the end of the draft of this novel, and I am about 1K words away from pulling my eyes from their sockets. Chapter 13 is a trollop and the daughter of a trollop and the grandaughter of a pox-ridden, lice-infested, spraddle footed, addle pated TROLLOP.
I feel if i could just get 13 done, then 14 and 15 would be CHARMING, VIRTUOUS, LOVELY and WELL BRED young ladies who would show up ON TIME and bearing covered dishes. I can see them clearly, I know how they will go, but 13 is COY and HATEFUL and is MAKING ME PAY.
I kicked my husband and children OUT so I could work---it;s my version of the closet, SINCE MY FREAKIN' OFFICE HAS NO DOORS and 13 is being SO uncooperative that out of the house was not enough. I made them LEAVE THE STATE for two days. I MUST finish 13 before they return. I started at 8 am and worked til four. At four I had 900 words. I was averaging 114 words an hour. 13 probably needs to probably about 6K words to do all it needs to do. heh. SO.
It's 8 pm, I am just under 3K...so at least my average got better. I think I should go to bed NOW so I can creep back and begin suffering at five am or so.
Pass the good juju, please. I need it today.
All fetuses are girls. Then at some point, some cell or organ or brain-switch gets toggled, and either the baby stays a girl or it gets inundated with male sex hormones and grows itself some little male apparatuses and oh my friends, once your sweet and gentle fetus gets that testosterone bath, it’s all over. It may look like a brine shrimp, but what you have there, plotting world domination from inside your uterus, is a teeny tiny man.
On vacation, my seven year old son, Sam, chased a BEACH BUG out of the weeds. It was green and gold and SHINY. It had long bendy legs and was exceptionally pretty. Sam is, however, a seven year old manling. SO. His immediate response was to try and remove it from the earth via sand bomb. I said, NO NO, HE IS PRETTY, LEAVE HIM ALONE. GO PLAY IN THE WAVES. He scampered off, thwarted, and I watched this bug pant and hug the earth all flat and nervous.
The bug was just starting to toddle away, shaken but whole, when my 13 year old nephew came along. He followed my line of sight, saw the bug and ... sand bombed it. He had better aim than Sam and pegged it. I said NO NO, HE IS PRETTY, LEAVE HIM ALONE. GO PLAY IN THE WAVES. So he went down to join Sam and I dug the bug out. It seemed fine, but it was panting and hugging the earth all flat and nervous again.
It was just starting to toddle off AGAIN when I see another sand bomb land on top of it, a HUGE one, burying it deep enough to cause bug-smotheration, assuming it was not instantly crushed. QUIT IT! I shrieked, digging the bug out, and looked up to see my 63 year old FATHER readying another Bug Annihilator.
GODD GRIEF DO YOU PEOPLE NEVER CHANGE? I hollered, making my hands into a protective tent over the now eternally psychologically scarred buglet.
What people? Asked my father, mildly, packing sand into an efficient weapon.
MEN, YOU MEN PEOPLE, I said, keeping the bug in the tent. I JUST SAVED THAT BUG FROM SAM, THEN DANIEL, NOW YOU. DO YOU NEVER CHANGE???
Not really, said Daddy, and he kissed my head and went off to play in the waves.
While in New York, I went to this brunching spot called Norma’s to meet up with my friend Matt and blow my eldest child’s college fund on a one thousand dollar egg frittata. YES. They really have it on the menu.
NO. OF COURSE I did not really order it. If I had a thousand dollars lying around I would NOT spend it on BREAKFAST! Especially not in NEW YORK which has SO MANY WORTHY SHOE STORES. Anyway.
I went to meet Matt. Matt tops six feet and has dark hair and dark eyes. He’s a bit of a hottie, but not in a clothes-horse way. He’s your basic GUY, you know? A khaki pants and a Yankee’s hat kind of guy. You can’t IMAGINE him in a Pierre Cardin yachting jacket and a monocle.
So I haven’t seen him in a while and I head to Norma’s to meet him, and as I am walking up the stairs toward the front door, this man comes down the stairs toward me, grinning, clearly delighted to see me, already holding out one hand to clasp mine warmly and pump it solemnly up and down. The light is behind him, but I can see he is the right height, dark hair….similar facial features…but…but….
I am looking at a three hundred dollar hair-do on top. Below, I spy freakin’ VINTAGE RAT PACKER WINGTIPS. And…heaven help me! A TIE. In the months since last we met, my friend Matt has apparently been killed by the Queer Eye guys and replaced with a fashion conscious Matt-esque robot with a pointier nose. I pump his hand warmly and solemnly back and say, “Um hi. Hi.”
Wait a second. A MUCH pointier nose. And Matt has become NARROWER in his shoulders. He has clearly had shoulder reduction and is now shaped more like a cigarette than a carrot. And he has bleached out his skin a shade lighter and he has PIERCED A HOLE IN HIS FACE AND PUT A RING IN IT! IN HIS FACE!
“Where do we want to sit,” croons Matt to me, still warmly clasping my hand. “Are we dining alone?” I boggle for a second longer and then the switch that powers my brain apparently flips to the ON position and I realize that this is NOT Matt. It is Faux-Matt and he is the HOST. He is trying to SEAT me in a very personal, hand-clasping, warm-to-the-point-of-being-moist bizarro way. And I could have at that point carried it off but instead I got the giggles and laughed until I started snorking which made me giggle more until I had to let go of his hand and lean against the wall. “I am SO Sorry,” I said. “SO SO. SORRY. I thought you were my friend MATT. I just couldn’t figure out…*giggle* you looked different but…*snork* not…*giggle snork*”
He hovered near me, radiating concern and interest for the nice crack-smoker who was making pig snork giggle noises and choking for air in his entryway. Finally I got myself under control and crept back down the stairs to the lobby, mumbling, “I’ll wait for Actual Matt out here.”
SO Matt shows up, and I tell him all this as we hide out by the poufy chairs in the lobby until Faux Matt steps away from the podium and then we DASH up to get seated by the NON-Mattish Replacement Host. NMRP seats us in the normal brisk manner, with no clasping and without employing the nursely “we.” It’s a little disappointing.
So we sit down, we order, and Norma’s has that weird kind of brown coffee with the BLACK coffee that LURKS under the regular coffee so every time you set your cup down there is this SWIRL of evil darkness that catches your eye but by the time you flick your eyes down to LOOK at the coffee it has already subsided. It’s like drinking coffee that was directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
We are still at the amuse bouche smoothie stage when I notice that Faux-Matt is circling our table like a shark. Our eyes meet and Faux-Matt veers off and disappears into the kitchen. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Every time I look around I catch Faux Matt zooming away. I cannot figure out what in God’s green meadows he is doing, and then it clicks. He is trying to get close enough to get a GOOD LOOK at REAL Matt to see if Real Matt a) looks anything like him (he does) and b) Is cute enough so that this is not mortally insulting. (He is. Real Matt is SO cute, in fact, that Faux Matt keeps circling and scoping out Real Matt LONG after point a) has been reasonably established. Which is SOMEWHAT DISCONCERTING for Real Matt, who is straight, and who finds that being cruised by his doppelganger while trying to catch a glimpse of the Something Evil in his coffee before it subsides is a little bit too WACKY for 8 am. I mean, the psychological ramifications!)
Then our meals come and Matt’s Huevos Rancheros have a completely inexplicable SWAN SHAPED FRITTATA thing sticking up a good foot into the air. The Swantata is POINKY and BOLD and I am DYING for him to eat it, but he refused to oblige me. He insisted it was GARNISH. It wasn’t though. I mean who ever heard of 11 inch FRIED garnish. WITH A BEAK. But Alas, he wouldn’t even TASTE it. It was too frou-frou for a Yankees cap guy who reached his maximum weirdness capacity about one cruise-run-by-a-look-alike ago.
Other than the sadly untasted Swantata and the disconcerting coffee, I have to give the food at Norma’s a solid nine. I had some sort of variation on benedict that was worth the 9 zillion calories. If you go (and you should) try to time it so the tall, dark guy with the really good hair cut seats you. If he does, do a little double take and say “MATT? Is that YOU?” I dare you.
1) Osteria Stella is a fabulous Italian Restaurant in New York with the standard number of restrooms (two), divided by sex and neatly labeled. In Italian. Which I do not speak.
2) Two semesters of college Spanish and three years of high school Latin don’t really help a person decipher whether donne (which looks sort of like “dame”) or uomini (which looks sort of like “women”) means “Ladies’ Room.”
3) It isn’t Uomini.
4) Any architect worth his salt is going to put the urinals against the BACK WALL of the men’s room. Not the side wall. Certainly not the side wall right in front of the door.
5) The architect who designed the men’s room at Osteria Stella is NOT worth is salt.
6) The surprised man who was using the urinals at Osteria Stella was emphatically not Jewish.
7) Contrary to my previously held beliefs, it IS possible to leap four feet up and six feet backwards while wearing two hundred dollar shoes with three inch heels.
8) It is not possible to learn ten things from a toilet. Even a New York toilet.
9) You can only learn about seven or maybe eight things. Then you have to PAD to finish out your list.
10) I would have learned more things – apparently there was some fantastical art waterfall in the lobby men’s room at my hotel, but I forgot to sneak in and look. Bah. Or maybe I was afraid. I DID go in the women’s room in the hotel lobby and OH. MY. GOODNESS. This was soon after my misadventures in wiener-seeing at Osteria Stella, and I opened the door and there STOOD A MAN IN THERE. He mercifully had his pants zipped up. After a moment of panic, I realized he was cleaning the mirrors. SO. We stood there looking at each other for a second. Then we scootched past each other doing the face-to-face tippy-toe dance because the room was so narrow.
The hotel was mod and hip and funky. I took some pics of it (getting developed), but you can get an idea HERE..
The ladies’ room was about half the width of a standard hallway but twice as TALL. It was lined on one side by shallow bowl-like sinks and the opposite wall was made entirely out of a floor to ceiling mirror. It was starkly and dramatically lit. There were no visible toilets or stalls.
I stood staring blankly around the room, looking for a lever that would cause a hidden toilet to pop up out of the floor or for some structure that was actually a toilet cleverly disguised as artsy-fartsy-ness. There was a long narrow vase against the back wall, but it looked difficult to sit on and plus too it had reeds in it. Finally, in desperation, I pressed one finger on the floor-to-ceiling glass wall. It gave. Behind the nine-foot-tall, one-foot-wide mirror door was a TINY CUBICLE with just enough room for a toilet and my knees. I got in, the door closed behind me, and I stared up at the teeny square of distant ceiling as the walls pressed in around me and I thought, “I am going to die in here. This is a long vertical coffin and I will die here. DIE. HERE. ON THIS TOILET. HERE IS WHERE I DIE.”
Obviously I made it out alive, but the tenth thing I learned from the toilets of New York is actually this: No matter how hip and mod and funky or European and sophisticated you are, when it comes to the ladies’ bathroom, you should rein yourself in and commit to plain regular normal stalls and then stick a picture of a chick on the outer door. Really.
I have returned from my nine day beach vacation extravaganza. I spent most of the time eating. I think I ate Florida. It is very sad. Now everyone will have to pick and pick to remove one embroidered star from their American flags and then go and manually scritch the sunshine state off of their globes. Even sadder: I suspect Florida has settled onto my butt. I will have to manually scritch Florida from its new home by raising my step and adding two more little bars to my ankle weights. If you play, you pay. And if you eat most of a state, you pay in sweat. BOO!
TOMORROW I will tell you the ten things I learned from the toilets of New York. It will be a very touching blog entry, so you will need to bring a Kleenex, and yet it will also be filled with sage wisdom. Sort of like Tuesdays with Morrie, but with flushing.