Remember the kitten? His name is Boggart but we also call him Little, and Yellow, and Lello, and Beelzebub, who, as it turns out DOES have many names. This kitten has grown up, mostly, and I am sad to report that he is NOT A GOOD CAT.
At least once on a normal day, and SEVERAL times on a bad day, I say to him â€œDEVIL FROM HELLâ€™S BOWELS, do you not KNOW that I went online and found you withering away in an underfunded shelter on the state line between Alabama and Georgia, and they had MORE THAN THIRTY kittens there slated for death in MERE HOURS and I drove a hundred miles and change to get your yellow, sorry buttocks and I took you home and fed you and loved you kindly and allowed you to nurse frenetically on my ears when you were wee and frightened, even though it got my neck all CAT SUCKY, do you not KNOW THIS? Well? Well?â€
Boggart will look at me as if he does know, so I will say, â€œTHEN WHY ARE YOU SUCH AN UNREPENTENT BUTTHOLE?â€ Then he will do this little squirmy move that would be a shrug if he had shoulders to speak of and saunter away, tail held high to blatantly show me the very part I have just accused him of being.
PS. He is not the worldâ€™s best WASHER. Iâ€™m just sayinâ€™.
I was STRONGLY considering drowning him yesterday, and I made a pro/con list where the pros were reasons to allow his continued existence.
1) Boggart is pleasant to look at. His orange and yellow stripes are very rich in color, and his white bits are creamy and fine. He has a pleasing, symmetrical face with very large, very round pumpkin colored eyes, tidy ears, and a Roman nose. I have always enjoyed looking at cats with Roman noses.
2) Heâ€¦ might be soft?
That was all I could come up with.
1) He is not THAT pretty. In fact, just now, he is downright SLINKY looking. Adolescence made his BACK legs grow out longer than his front ones. Fisher Price little people could SKI down his back if they were half as inclined as his SPINE is. His WHOLE back end grew ahead of the front one, in fact, rendering him slim-shouldered and pinheaded, and his big belly and butt dandle from his pointed front like a bloaty droplet.
EDIT: Holly in comments says she cannot imagine the bloaty-droplet-like aspects of his physique and asked for a picture. I tried to get a picture of him from the side, standing up, but every time I approached, he sat down and gave me this AFFRONTED expression:
After Scott got home, I decided to try to capture his odd shape on film again, this time by by hanging him. He bore it with phlagmatism. SEE how he is pear or droplet shaped? Also...long.
2) He might NOT be soft. How could anyone know? He slithers away from all human touches with that exact AFFRONTED look you see above on his face. His body language perfectly mimics Alicia Silverstone in CLUELESS when she says, â€œAs if!â€
3) He VULTURES. By this I mean, he clambers and scrapes his way up to the highest point in the room (awarding himself extra points for damaging furniture on the way up) so he can LOOK DOWN on people in this superior manner. It is hard to tell if he is being SNOBBY or simply pragmatic, waiting for us all to die so he can eat us. We call it vulturing because in expression and posture, it looks like when SNOOPY would pretend to be a vulture:
4) He attacks babies.
Granted my babies are 11 and 6, but they BOTH now sleep with their bedroom doors shut because if they do not, Boggart trots back and forth between their rooms attacking them in their sleep. He says that if they didnâ€™t want to be attacked, they wouldnâ€™t put parts of themselves under the covers and then MOVE those parts as if they might be deadly cobras, and furthermore, whence comes the day that the moving thing under the covers IS a deadly cobra and not a child-foot, wonâ€™t we be glad he killed it and saved us all, and in this light, he is JUST LIKE Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and a total hero and we should shut up and feed him on cream. When I point out deadly cobras are not native to Georgia, he stalks off muttering about zoo escapes and the elitism of those who had a luxury of a college education, and if we had only sent him to STANFORD he would KNOW where cobras live, now wouldnâ€™t he.
5) He attacks grown ups. All our feet are equal opportunity cobra-be-ers.
6) He wants to kill the Mice Ladies. Really. It is his dream in life.
7) He sneaks up onto the kitchen counter and kidnaps whole, raw chicken breasts and drags them away and noms them to death on the carpet.
I am a cat person. I truly am. And if you want me to LIKE YOU, and you happen to be a cat, your path is easy. SO EASY. You do not have to do much at ALL.
---You COULD purr, you could look soft, you could play with string in an engaging fashion, but this is all BONUS activity and is not required.
--You have absolute license to attack people feet, truly you do.
--You may also rip up the furniture and torment the dog. GO AHEAD, I will say, you are CAT you DESERVE to destroy my new chair and eat my raw dinner and put salmonella on my rug.
-- I have opposable thumbs and gray matter, and so far my Mice Lady protection policy has kept them safe from his thumbless, smaller-brained predations, and I can FORGIVE the trying because I know they are in a safe house.
--Itâ€™s NICE if you are pretty, but Schubert is greasy, and one-eyed, and so clinically obese in his old age I fear his skin will split, and I ADORE him, so clearly beauty is not mandatory.
In fact, in this long list of cat cons, only ONE matters a whit.
Boggart doesnâ€™t like to be petted. He reacts with equal parts DISDAIN and MUTE HORROR when faced with ANY physical contact. Sometimes, if he is DEAD ASLEEP, I can sneak up and gently scritch under his chin and he will purr faintly until he wakes up enough to realize that a HUMAN HAND is perpetrating these pleasure, and then he will leap angrily away and stomp off as best he can on his pointed little end parts.
I donâ€™t know what to do with a pet I canâ€™t pet. Is this part of being TEENAGER cat? Will he grow out of it? Will one day, when his shoulders develop and his pin head expands and he stops being all awkward and PIMPLY=SPIRITED, will he be a nice cat? He was RAISED well, certainly.
As of now, he is DEPRESSING ME with his constant rejection. I tell him, Iâ€™m going to be buying kibble and paying your vet bills and scraping YOUR POO OUT OF A BOX for 12 â€“ 17 years THERE, BUDDY, so you need to man up and come across with a little snuggle. He says, I thinkâ€¦not, and prisses away, tail up, as if to say, Kiss this.
If you are running short on time, then skip to the end --- I NUTSHELL the whole blog for you.
If you want to be HAPPY, go see puppets.
We went last weekend to see the GHASTLY DREADFULS follies, and it was the most fun date night we have had in AGES. Itâ€™s technically innovative, with special effects that make you go, â€œHOW!â€ And the vignettes are spooky, funny, touching and rowdy by turns. The Dreadfuls are on again this weekend for Halloween, and if you live in Atlanta, you should GO.
WARNING: These puppets are for grown-up people --the center rates it 16+. There is a cash bar running (you can take your wine into the theatre with you!) and the show itself has a smattering of adult language, a soupcon of innuendo, and some boobies. Granted, they are PUPPET boobies, but still.
Before the show you can hang out with spooky tall dead people, LIKE THIS:
For the record, that puppet is not feeling me up. Itâ€™s an optical illusion.
If you want to NOT be happy, EVER, and eventually get a terrible ulcer that explodes and kills you, then hire Comcast to be your internet and cable TV service provider. Of course, if you live where *I* live, you have no choice, if you want high speed internet. AND THEY KNOW IT.
Our TV and phone service cut out 5 or 6 times EVERY DAY, and at LEAST three times a year, either the TV or the Internet r BOTH will cease to function for days and days and days, and no one will be available to come fix it. â€œWeâ€™re sorry,â€ They say cheerfully. And then we say, â€œWell what are you going to DO about it?â€ And they say, â€œWell it shouldnâ€™t be doing that! You connection looks fine now! Thanks for calling!â€ Because they KNOW we have no place else to go.
Come soon Beautiful WiMax. Come soon.
This LAST time, it was the internet that pooped out. We waited four days for a service guy to come. I sat at home through our 8 â€“ 11 am time slot. He finally came at 2:15. He stomped around for an hour, then said it was fixed. I booted up my computer and sure enough, we had internet! WHEEE!
All was forgiven. I saw the truck off with joyous wavings. Then I went inside, flopped down on the sofa, hit the button on the remoteâ€¦and realized he had somehow disconnected our Television service.
Hereâ€™s the punchline: When I called Comcast, they said they couldnâ€™t; get a service guy out for another 3 days. I am VERY GROMPY about it, and I need to go back and get felt up by kindly dead puppets until I feel soothed.
HAPPY = Puppets, Cash Bar, Cardboard Boobiess
MISERY (possible death by ulcer) = Comcast
The first year Scott and I were married, backing Chicago, we each had an hour + commute in opposite directions. First Scott drove me to catch a train. I rode that for an hour and then walked a mile to campus. Meanwhile our ancient Nissan wagon wheezed its way 90 minutes deep into the corn, taking Scott to his job so he could keep us in TP and Top Ramen. We had to get up every morning before five to make it.
This was our newlywed year, and we did not live together before we were married. That meant we were up late most nights, drinking jug wine and gazing at each other. As a consequence of THAT, we began sleeping through the alarm.
Within a week weâ€™d mastered sleeping through his clockâ€™s polite peepage. Hardly a challenge, the thing sounded like a fluffy baby chick politely clearing its throat. We upped to high volume beeping, and when we learned to sleep through that, I swapped out his peepy-beep thing for MY old clock, which made a horrid cranking buzz noise----sounded like a thousand angry robot bees coming to murder us in our bed. AND YET! We learned to sleep through it. My clock had the option of WAKE TO RADIO, so then we learned to sleep through talk radio and classical, and the mopey college station and hyper-chipped up sexy pop, and finally we were waking each morning to wailing guitar solos on the hair band heavy metal station.
NO ONE can sleep through POUR SOME SUGAR ON ME, no one, NO ONE, so we learned instead to POP the snooze button SO fast we never heard more than half a note. It was like ZOMBIE FAMILY FEUD, as whoever was sleeping by the bedside table lifted one arm and moaned â€œbraaaainsâ€ and whanged the button and bought us nine more minutes without ever Actually. Becoming. Conscious. We could pop that button 2 or 5 or 9 times. Nine snoozes = FIRING STYLE late and missed classes.
THEN we put the clock across the room, so one person had to ACTUALLY RISE and CROSS THE room to stop the hair bands, and yet within a month, Scott LITERALLY learned to SLEEP RUN. He would leap to his feet, bound to the clock, SLAP that snooze, and be back under the covers without ever opening his eyes.
So. We went out to Taregt. And we bought ourselves Smart Machine.
Smart Machine is the size of a shoebox. It has a BIG LOUD WOOFERY SPEAKER. It has two staggered alarms, and back in the day we set alarm 1 to make a hysterical shrill WHOOPWHOOP noise 5 am and then followed that with Hair Band Heavy Metal at 5:03. Scott would SLEEP LEAP to stop the 5 am hooting, and three minutes later, before he was properly back in REM, the HAIR BANDS started up, and on the second bound across the room his eyes cracked open and he would go push the coffee button and then then roll me out of bed like an angry log.
Smart Machine cost what seemed to us a BUNDLE in those days. It WORKED but it was worth more than our hand me down television which had no remote and a DIAL channel selector. It may have been worth more than our CAR at that point. It was FANCY! And NEW! And SO SO SO smart. It was CUTTING EDGE WAKE TECHNOLOGY, so so clever that it KNEW when daylight savings time came, and it CHANGED ON ITS OWN at midnight AUTOMATICALLY. At the time, this was HUGELY impressive.
â€œHow does it KNOW!â€ I marveled. â€œSmart Machine is SMART.â€
Fats forward to NOW, when my cell phone flips times whenever I cross into a new zone and I donâ€™t even blink. Jaded am I about the once wondrous technology of smart machine. Smart machine is now like the backwards inbred cousin of my new Mr. Coffee, who kicks the butt of Smart Machine in the smart department. Mr. Coffee has STEAL A CUP TECHNOLOGY and the ability to PUSH HIS OWN BUTTON in the morning on a timer so Scott can roll me out of bed like a angry log BEFORE he ever goes down the stairs, and yetâ€¦COFFEE WILL ALREADY BE THERE. Magic!
SO I forgot that I ever had called him Smart Machine or thought well of him, until SUNDAY. Which was emphatically not daylight savings time. Because, remember they changed the weekend when the time rolls over? Well, no one gave Smart Machine the memo on that, and when we diligently rose at 6 AM on the most overbooked Sunday in the HISTORY of our fifteen year marriage, the whole REST of the world â€“ and indeed, every less self-motivated clock in our houseâ€”agreed that it was already SEVEN, and I have been LEAPING forward in a lathery panic EVER SINCE, trying to catch up to that lost hour.
I love technology.
When it works.
Right now, outside my office window, there is a little chipmunk standing on top of the low brick wall that borders my small flower bed. All four of his legs are stiff, his feet are VERY firmly planted, and his spine is rigid. He is PUFFFFFFFFFING out his cheeks and making a high SQUICK! SQUICK! SQUICK! SQUICK! SQUICK! noise.
Inside my office, I am NOT writing a book. I am supposed to be, mind you, but I am not. I wonder whyâ€¦
SQUICK! SQUICK! SQUICK! SQUICK! SQUICK!
INSTEAD of writing, I am RIGHTEOUSLY FIGHTING the almost overpowering urge to take Scottâ€™s dadâ€™s old pistol out of the gun safe and shoot me a chipmunk. We borrowed the gun as I have been learning how to shoot for this book. (I am shockingly great at it, although I have never tried to shoot an alive/moving target, and before this chipmunk, I never WANTED to. I was content to blow the EVERLIVING CRAP out of Pepsi 2 litres.) I am learning to shoot because my heroine, she likes, er, guns. *cough* And while sometimes, Dr. Freud, a cigar IS just a cigar, a gun is NEVER just gun. Rose knows her way around a pistol, is all I am saying.
Guns and love, in the South, they are as linked as salty peanuts and a coke. Even for me, today, indirectly, guns and love are linked; I am about to shoot a chipmunk for sitting outside my window and attempting, for HOURS ON END, to make a booty call. SQUICK! SQUICK! SQUICK! SQUICK! SQUICK! The noise and posture are meant to attract a lady-friend. SQUICK! is the chipmunkâ€™s go to move, the rodential equivalent of â€œCome live with me and be my love.â€
He has COMPLETELY failed to notice that it is AUTUMN.
No girl chipmunk is going to answer, because no girl to wants to interrupt a perfectly good hibernation with LABOR PAINS. He can stand out there and SQUICK! for all eternity, shading the squick to sound less like, â€œLetâ€™s get this party started,â€ and more like, â€œBaby, itâ€™s cold outside, we could just SNUGGLEâ€¦â€ No girl is going to buy it. We have ALL heard THAT line before. Sometimes a cigar IS just a cigar, but when a guy says, â€œWanna snuggle,â€ you can take it to the bank that he is perpetrating a euphemism.
UPDATE: Fat Ginger, a cat who belongs to Next Door, heard the love song. She hauled her mighty girth up onto her pointy feet and started across the yard. She seemed perfectly willing to kill the chipmunk and eat him, as long as she didnâ€™t have to, you know, RUN or BEND DOWN or SNEAK or anything tiring like THAT.
Ginger is getting old, and this must be what she does these days instead of good and proper stalking. This was more like an amble with murderous intent. The chipmunk saw her coming MILES off and stopped SQUICK!ing and went down his hole at a leisurely pace.
Ginger is now asleep on my porch, and I may actually get some work done, as long as she stays to put a damper on the chirrup-y wooing. Alas, when the kids Next Door get home, one of their chores is feeding Ginger. Any minute she will hear the sound of kibble hitting the bowl in their garage. She will heave herself up again and accelerate home at her top speed (a quasi-urgent joggling saunter). I best write while the writings goodâ€¦
SQUICK! SQUICK! SQUICK! SQUICK! SQUICK!
My brother and I were never Mother Goose kids. We believed in DO IT YOURSELF nursery rhyming, and I can recite the songs and poems we perpetrated together on long car trips more readily than I can recall the name of that PIE obsessed thumb-poking fellow, or summon up the end line of Wee Willie Winky---poem which seems to me, in retrospect, to be about an under-endowed flasher.
Case in point: I just got an email from my date to the senior prom. HEE! I havenâ€™t heard from him inâ€¦*cough* well, SEVERAL years, letâ€™s say. Not since high school. He recently moved back to our hometown after years in San Diego, and I suppose he was googling around to see who from the way back back might still be around. He ran across my website and dropped me a line, saying, among other things, how he remembered me reciting a poem called The Tiny Piny, and that he was glad I was clearly still writing, as he didnâ€™t remember the poem, but he remembered how much he liked it.
I didnâ€™t have the heart to tell him that Tiny Piny was my BROTHERâ€™s work. *grin* I may have had stuck in my thumb and pulled out a line or two for it, but I REALLY think that one was Bobbyâ€™s.
The weird thing is, I hadnâ€™t thought about it in YEARS ANDYEARS AND YEARS, but the whole poem came back to me almost immediately, and I think the way I remember it is no more than a few words off. Here it is:
The Tiny Piny
Once back in 1883
There lived a Tiny Piny Tree.
But all around large trees did stand.
The people said, â€œHow great! How grand!
This big one is a sight to see,
Let's take it for our Christmas tree.â€
But little Tiny Piny Tree
Got peed on by a dog.
And little Tiny Piny Tree
Got rooted by a hog.
The other trees all sold and sold
While Tiny Pinyâ€™s limbs grew cold.
â€œIâ€™ll never be a Christmas tree,â€
The Tiny Piny said.
And sure enough,
When Christmas rolled around,
The Tiny Piny Tree was dead.
HA! Thatâ€™s got to be 90% accurate, and if I have said that poem out loud or even thought it all the way through in the last 20 years, I will eat my hat. It simply stayed in my brain cells. All my brotherâ€™s work was JUST that macabre, and you can see his Barsoom and Bugs Bunny coated influence on ALL the things we wrote together. This includes The Clarence Song, which we wrote while our folks drove us to Alabama fro Christmas one year. It had a charming and upbeat tune, all bouncy and warbly, to go with it:
Clarence was a butterfly
Flew way up in the big blue sky
Gentle breezes furled his wings
Clarence listens while the BIRD! EE! SINGS!
Other butterflies sailed around
Clarence got too close to the ground
Clarence didnâ€™t get too far,
Now heâ€™s the SPLAT! On the FRONT! of our car.
You clap loudly when you sing the words Splat and Front, for the record, should you wish to make up a tune and sing this charming ditty with your own bloody-hearted and unsentimental wee ones.
Clarence was a collaboration, but Bobby the one who came up with the LOVE YER DOLLY song, though I certainly added my own verses over the years. It was sung to a rousing square dance tune, I believe the one that played on the cartoons when Bugs Bunny ended up dancing with Yosemite Sam. It had about a THOUSAND verses, all violent, some scatological, and most highly instructional in the ways of naughtiness and cruelty. This is my favorite verse, the one that traditionally kicked off a 50 verse improvised LOVE YER DOLLY SONG marathon:
Love yer dolly evermore
Nail her to the kitchen floor,
Drink yer milk in gulps not sips,
Kiss a puppy on the lips
AH J. M. Barrie got it so exactly right, when he wrote about the beautiful heartlessness of children. If you havenâ€™t read the REAL Peter Pan in years and years, you should. It is practically perfect in every way.
EDIT: For more, peep comment #2. That's my brother, who read this entry and immediately recalled ALL the words to the Jackson Kids classic hit, "Hoppy the Toad." And he posted them.
I am sorry.
OKAY, thank you for the sleep recs. I am going to start at the top with rescue remedy and work my way DOWN through everything non-prescription until I get to the suggestion to STOP DRINKING WINE, at which point I will go selectively BLIND and simply refuse to see that. You say wine, and my eyes will read â€œToastâ€ and I will think, AH! VERY WISE and eat my bread cold.
Since my children are selectively DEAF, I have a template for learning selective sensory stoppage. For example, I am now going to say to you with a straight face that I TRULY thought someone would tell me to stop horking down the Starbuckses and other caffeine laden things, but of course NO ONE DID. NOT ONE OF YOU. Do we understand each other? (Yes, in the same way that winter kitty is a VERB, a starbucks is a noun. It is ANY hella overpriced caloriffic beverage at Starbucks. So you say, â€œWant to go get a starbucks?â€ if you want a cocoa mojo double caramel sugar-death frozen delight, and â€œWant to go get a coffee?â€ of you want, you know, coffee. And yes, that is the correct plural form, as in, â€œOh HECKS-YA, letâ€™s go get Starbuckses!)
I have to say, the full moon went poof, and the sleeping HAS been better. Not perfect, but better. so all you Lunar-tics may be ON to something.
Last night I went to a VERRA VERRA posh library fundraiser at CALLENWALDE Center for fine arts. It was SO posh I got to de-bag my NEW YORK SHOES for occasion.
Ungortunately, the BALLET FLATS all summer have SPOILED me. I never got my feet all silky smooth for sandalsâ€¦SO. I had to create an emergency callous assault to ready my feet for their enconsement in the One True Slingbacks.
EVERYONE, including my husband and Karen Abbott MOCKED ME RELENTLESSLY as I extolled the virtues of UDDER CREAM in a quick fix foot regimen. Yes, that IS exactly what it sounds like: a VILE medicinal smelling solvent put on cow teats to prevent chafing during milking. ANYWAY, I did the usual soak, sugar scrub routine, and the pumice and lotion thing, but my feet were beyond these helps. I had to move to OPERARTION FARM PRODUCT to salvage them.
AFTER sugar scrubbing, I SLATHERED my feet in this stuff, wrapped them in Saran Wrap, and then put on thick spa socks to hold the wrap in place and let them marinate ALL DAY. I then repeated the entire thing beforte bed and slept like that. Karen mocked me RELENTLESSLY, calling me â€œBoobie-feet,â€ and such, BUT OH I had SUCH princess-like hydrated callous free LUMINOUS toes, I canâ€™t EVEN tell you. They WERE like boobie-feet, but in, erm, you know, the good way.
I preened my feet around at the event and was QUITE disgusting and full of myâ€¦.well not self, exactly. But shoes. FULL OF MY SHOES. They are costume shoes in a way, not something I ever wear in my â€œrealâ€ life. They are strictly for when I dress up and pretend to be an author.
I have had a very NON DUAL life for a while as I have been holed up drafting, driving to Starbucks in fanstasy pants, and at home not bothering to get out of pajamas, but last night, sipping cosmos and teetering around on glamour-feet and yapping about the arts was definitely from the OTHER side of things. I realized how regular this has become, for me to go from one to the other without noticing when a rather posh lady asked me what I was doing this weekend.
Me: OH itâ€™s the powder springs fest!
Her: Oh. Um, Whatâ€¦what do you do there?
Me: You go in Bouncy castles. And eat CORN DOGS.
AFter that I told EVERYONE about Powder Springs fest, and I think a lot of them were like me in that they had REALLY put on the dog that night, and we'd all get the giggles because for most of us, corn dogs are real life.
SO anyway I better go: jeans with ballet flats and MAYBE EVEN PONY RIDES await me and my children, who are longing to get liquored up on grease and sugar.
PS! now Karen wants to know where to buy UDDER CREAM so she can have boobie-feet too. Any farm supply store I told her, and she said, OH RIGHT! I BET THEREâ€™S ONE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF CENTRAL PARK, in chilly tones.
And here she thought Manhattan had EVERYTHING.
The book is go, although granted, not QUITE as go this sleepless week as it was LAST week. But still. It is go. And yes! Yes! We shall call it T-Big. Thank you. You are all brilliant. I could not post this because our INTERNETS has been out for 4 days now, but you should know that I WROTE this at 7 PM on Monday night:
This morning, I woke up at about 3 am with my brain buzzing and zipping about like a bee on methamphetamines. I lay there flopping back and forth and making disgruntled Iâ€™d-Rather-Be-Sleeping noises for an hour.
For those of you who are fellow bedmates with insomnia, allow me to share some wisdom: Flopping and grunting angrily helped me sleep not all. (And it TRULY irked Schubert and Boggart, who were trying to Winter Kitty up in the warm crevice between me and Scott that is their rightful fiefdom as soon as the calendar ticks into October.) (If the parenthetical before THIS parenthetical is giving you a problem, you should know that â€œWinter Kittyâ€ is a verb at our house. You do not HAVE to be a kitty to Winter Kitty up---dogs, children, and the icy feet of oneâ€™s spouse are all completely viable subjects who can perform this action, although the very LAST of those subjects probably shouldnâ€™t if the icy feetâ€™s OWNER doesnâ€™t want to get smothered with a pillow as soon as he falls asleep. JUST SAYING.)
At last I rolled out of the bed. Both cats gave me POISONOUS looks and flopped indignantly onto Scott, who was graciously inert and radiating heat. I, meanwhile, struggled into jeans and headed north up 75 where I have a satellite office (read: Starbucks) that opens at 5 am.
This is a NEW satellite office, and I mean both that it is new to me and new to existing. They opened maybe 4 days ago? I have not been because it is much farther than both my regular offices. In fact I have to PASS my favorite office on the way, but they do not open until 6 am.
SO, I went in, got myself a skinny latte, and plunked myself down in a chair. I booted up Lappy 2000 and settled my brain in Fictional Amarillo. I was there ten minutes in when a VENT directly above me began SLOW-POURING icy air directly onto my hapless body. I say slow pouring because this air was SO COLD it was OOZEY and white with ice crystals. I could practically SEE it invading the regular air as it sludged out of the vents and sank down until it enveloped me.
It was RIDICULOUS cold. I was wearing jeans, boots and a sweater, but after five minutes, I was trembling. After ten, my teeth started having involuntary chatter-spasms. At 15, my hands started to hurt and the pads of my fingers were faintly blue. I know I am prone to hyperbole, but this is NOT that. It was really. Stinkinâ€™. Cold.
Me: Hey John? (John was my Barista) Itâ€™s a little chilly in here.
John: Wellâ€¦ you ARE sitting right under a vent.
Me: Yeah. Um. Show me a chair thatâ€™s NOT under a vent?
John looked up, and saw what I had already discovered: An arctic vent fairy had installed the ceiling. Every fourth tile was a HUGE, square, four sided vent that was oozing gaseous-tundra simultaneously north, south, east and west.
John: Umâ€¦.yeah. Let me go fuss with the thermostat.
Half an hour later, it was much. Much worse. It was actually a good 20 degrees warmer OUTSIDE, but a droozling rain was happening, and my Laptop, she is not specced to work while submerged.
I went up to talk to John again, and found him huddled up between the espresso machine and a knot of his fellow Baristas for warmth. He was blowing on his hands and then rubbing them together and stamping his feet. They looked like a herd of Nordic ice-sheep, backs to the wind, toughing out January. The manager said, â€œSee, the geniuses who built this new building put the thermostat next to the hot water heater. RIGHT next to it.â€ At that point, it below 50 degrees in there, and they couldnâ€™t get the air to shut off.
We all closed our eyes in tandem and called upon our ancestors to lay a curse upon the head of architect. Iâ€™m Irish, so my curse involved house sprites and the British. I finally gave up and went to a Starbucks that was more like a coffee house and less like a meat locker, but I felt for John and his fellow Bar-icicles. They had 6 more hours of shift ahead of them with their blood solidifying. As I packed up, they were deciding to go outside in shifts and stand under the portico to warm up. As for me, even at the new Starbucks, which was regulation cool, I never got warm enough to have my marrows completely thaw.
When I finished my days work, I headed home. I was SO sleepy and still chilled that I must have passed out at the wheel. When I came to, I was in Buffalo Wild Wings buying an ENORMOUS VAT of spicy fried bird fat with dip and celery. I went home and got in the bed with extra socks on and watched Joss Whedon DVDs and ate hot chicken and ate hot chicken and ate hot chicken and ATE HOT CHICKEN until I was SO FULL OF CHICKEN I felt PACKED with it. I was like a SUITCASE going on a LONG journey, where you have to ROLL UP YOUR SOCKS into airtight packets to make everything fit, except instead of rolled socks and toiletries and shoes, all I had packed in me was REALLY A LOT OF HOT CHICKEN.
I lolled, helpless and bloated, clogged with chicken from my ankles to the top of my skull. SCOTT! I said, WHY DID YOU LET ME EAT ALL THAT CHICKEN! I AM AS BLOATED AS A TICK! I AM! I AM LIKE Aâ€¦LIKE Aâ€¦. CHICKEN TICK.
He said, Donâ€™t go to sleep.
I said, The chicken is MAKING me go to sleep.
He said, DO NOT. You will sleep all afternoon and then be up all night and become nocturnal and be crabby.
I said, As the chicken wills. I am helpless before it.
Thatâ€™s the last thing I remember. I woke up JUST as the sun was setting, and I found my day had come full circle. Both my feline boys were Winter Kittied up with me, limp as deflated balloons after the worldâ€™s best birthday party, happy as a pair of fuzzy dice that get hung on the rearview of brand new Porsche. All was forgiven.
And I am never going to sleep again.
ADDENDUM: It is now Wednesday. I have never gone to sleep again, as threatened. Or, that is to say, I HAVE gone to sleep again, but EVERY NIGHT I wake up at 2 or 3 and canâ€™t sleep again until 5 or 6. I am BORKED. Melatonin has failed me, warm milk has failed me, turning on bad TV has failed me. HOW DO I FALL BACK ASLEEP?
OH HI! have no internet at my house. I have not had any since Sunday. I wonâ€™t have any until the tech comes out tomorrow. COMCASTIC! The first time we called to get them to fix it, a recorded voice told us, â€œWe have a tech working in your area,â€ and then the bot hung up on us.
This is not exactly a lieâ€¦Granted, it is a PRECORDED message that says â€œIf you are experiencing outages right now, donâ€™t worry, we have a tech in your area,â€ that plays to EVERYONE who calls in. I have heard this EXACT message about outages and not worrying and that a tech was in our area RIGHT NOW every time I have called Comcast in the last YEAR. But it is not a LIE, as long as you assume MY AREA means the planet earth. Then the message is TRUE, in that they have a tech working SOMEWHERE on earth. Probably just the one.
When we finally got a person on the line we TOLD him we had already rebooted both the modem and the comps, and he read a set of instructions from a printed card telling us to reboot the modem and the comps. We re-explained that we JUST did that before we bothered to call him, and he went back to the top of the card and started reading instructions on how to reboot the modem and the compsâ€¦so we gave in and RE-rebooted the modem, and then RE-rebooted the comps, and it RE-didnâ€™t work, and THEN at last he agreed to schedule a service call.
The first date and time he gave us was for October 12th between 8 am and noon. We gently pointed out that it was now the 13th , but if he COULD have a tech here yesterday, that would be great. Alas, time travel retrograde repair costs extra, SO, no tech until Wednesday.
DO I SOUND GRUMPY? Well, I am grumpy! I wrote you a nice thank you letter for your best beloved awesomelyness and a thing about my horrid cat that I canâ€™t post because, no internet. Iâ€™m writing this from my office (read: Starbucks) this time one in the middle of Atlanta as I have to meet a guy about a writer in residence gig in a few minutes.
I WAS trying to work on my book here, but a woman I have named Stentorina is treating me to her half of a conversation she is having with a man I have named The Blessed Mumbler. I hear the gentle susurrations of The Blessed Mumberâ€™s bee-buzz voice gently saying things at a volume that does not allow me to understand a SINGLE WORD. I think I love him.
Then Stentorina will take her turn talking. She is loud. She has opinions. â€œTHEY WILL NEVER OVERTURN THAT LAW, YOU KNOW,â€ she is opining now, â€œIT CANâ€™T BE DONE. IT IS PART OF HISTORY. AND ANYWAY, WE ARE TOO EVOLVED.â€
I have no idea what the law is we arenâ€™t going to overturn butâ€¦ too evolved? Who is WE? I think she means PEOPLE? I donâ€™t put ANYTHING past people. Human Beings are the species that invented war and cannibalism and made Milli Vanilli go platinum. No evil and no silliness is beneath us, and under our Decatur book fest T-shirts beat the hearts of beasts.
I want to say to her, â€œWe are too evolved? Have you MET any human beings recently?â€ I should say it. I feel if she did not want me to be PART of her conversation, she wouldnâ€™t make SO sure that I could hear EVERY LINE OF IT.
I went and asked my barista to turn on the music, and he did, and still I hear her very word. She is going home to make REAL oatmeal. That instant stuff here at Starbucks has no fiber, she says. The paper reading guy across from me has shot her UMPTY dirty looks, all of which she has deflected harmlessly with her volume-shield. He finally folded his paper up and stamped out past her, and she remained oblivious. He is currently sitting on a hard outside chair in the dark, and happier for it. I would join him if there was an outlet out there.
I SWEAR this woman has swallowed the soul of a trumpeter swan and the dern thing floated up instead of down and lodged in her nostrils and it is BLARING everything she says through itâ€™s TRUMPETY LOUDNESS SWAN FILTER. â€œDonâ€™t do it, if it doesnâ€™t feel good!â€ Stentorina is saying nowâ€”Words to live by. Words that make me wonder how chucking this 3 dollar tall skinny late at her head would feel.
Iâ€™m thinking, pretty good. If I only I wasnâ€™t too evolved for thatâ€¦
AH she has finished her PROTEIN SMOOTHIE THING. She is packing up. She is leaving. HUZZAH! Okay. Iâ€™ll be in Fictional Amarillo if you need me, trying to be less CRABBY. I need to assume that she has an ear infection or was recently almost blown up (This seems credible. I myself am very close to trying to explode her.) and perhaps she has NO IDEA how loudly she was speaking. I need to stop being such a SOUR little pill just because COMCAST is POOPY. Itâ€™s going to give me FOREHEAD LINES.
I like the commercials where the animated car inflates up into a PUFFER FISH car and scares the BAD car with the fins away. THE FIT IS GO. I like to say things that have only one syllable are GO now. The meal is go, I trumpet, to call my family to the table. The Sam is go, I holler across the cul de sac, as my son heads out on his bike.
Best of allâ€¦The book is go. This is why I am quieter than normal. My head is way down deep in the book and it is hard to unsubmerge and take a breath and see what is actually happening around me here in the parts of the world that I am not making up. I only wish the book had a title. Remember when you and I used to fondly call THE GIRL WHO STOOPED SWIMMING by itâ€™s acro-name? Togwiss? And then we called it Tibbytakem? (TBTAKM---the book that almost killed me.) AH GOOD TIMES!
Well, I have nothing to call this book except the book. WTH can we call this book? I am SO open to suggestions. My original title was TEXAS ROSE RED, but thatâ€™s ANOTHER state name book and eventually I will feel obligated to do the other 47 if I keep on like this. WHAT CAN WE CALL IT HERE, oh best beloveds, just among ourselves?
My eyes have flipped around entirely backwards, so if you and I met for lunch (if our lunch was GO) you would be looking at eye whites and you would come away thinking I am a very bad listener. This is because my eyes are looking into my brain --- SO MUCH is happening in there my cerebral cortex is practically SEETHING. Itâ€™s a great, great feeling, but one does run the risk of walking straight out into traffic like a lemming who is too impatient to truck all the way down to Florida to experience a more traditional oceanic demise.
While Sam was eating with his youth group, Scott and Maisy and I grabbed a bite at one of those Italian restaurants where they cover the table with butcher paper and give kids crayons. Maisy was ENCHANTED with this whole concept that Scott and I had a gorgeous long lovely adult conversation. The girlchild was so pleased with the idea of DRAWING ON FURNITURE â€“ a shooting offense at home---that we had to keep swapping seats so she could have a fresh canvas.
At one point she asked me to flip my eyes around frontwards and peek at her drawings. I did so, and was ESPECIALLY enchanted by this family portrait:
That is SAM AND MAISY holding hands, and next to them, I am the 40 foot tall grinning loon with the beehive, standing next to my squatty husband, who in REAL life has a good 7 or 8 inches on me. Scott---my hair challenged beloved---looks a little bit like he has a giant spider for a head, but at least it is a HAPPY spider.
Everyone looks happy, donâ€™t they? I am glad Maisy sees us this way. I think this MUST be due in great part to the ministrations of Spiderhead Man, my personal superhero, who is keeping the homefires burning while I am living in a mostly made up version of Amarillo.
Viva la Mr. Husband.
See you there?
This weekend I was very nearly spoiled to death at the CROSSROADS WRITERS CONFERENCE. They made much of me, and fed me on grilled salmon, and did such a GREAT job with promo that more than 75 folks showed up a talk I gave on a FRIDAY NIGHT, which is both universal date night AND the day before the conference actually started. It was especially good because talk took place on a campus that HAS NO FRIDAY CLASSES. I was hoping for maybe 20 folks to show, and felt I was being overly ambitious. On top of the good crowd and the spoiling and the salmon, the bookstore sold so may of my books they ran out of one title and were down to a single copy of anotherâ€¦I came away feeling like the princess of Macon, and my head was puffy and so large it wobbled like a newbornâ€™s outsize melon.
BUT THEN, you know, my friend Nic decided to love the Wiki, and while she was gamboling about and browsing in the delightful meadows of the interwebâ€™s shared knowledge, she decided to do a â€˜pedia search on my name. She discovered there was no entry for any of my titles, nor was there an entry on â€œJoshilyn Jackson.â€
HOWEVER. The search term â€œJoshilyn Jacksonâ€ DID direct her to a completely different Wikipedia entry that references my name and my work. The entry? Syphilis. Of COURSE, Syphilis. Because Syphilis and me, we are practically SYNONYMS.
HEE! A clear message from the universe to get OVER myself and buckle back down into real life.
Meanwhile, at the conference I met Carlo Rotella, I REALLY took to him, though we have ZERO in common. He works in academia and I work in pajamas, he is a non-fic writer and a journalist who interprets facts whereas I am a professional liar who pretty much makes stuff up, he is Italian to my Irish, and VERY much a Yankee. Like, he folds pizza.
Thatâ€™s such a NORTHERN thing. My BFF, total Yankee Karen Abbott,
does that too â€“ takes a slice and folds it right down the middle to, as she says, â€œkeep the grease in.â€ Southern folks are more likely to make their hands into upside-down spiders and balance the hot pizza flat on the fingertips. Also, he is best known for writing about the intersection of urban life and boxing.
Last time I checked, boxing was a SPORT. Barring the Olympics and also games in which my own personal children compete, I donâ€™t think I have ever sat all the way through a sporting event of any sort. Not on TV, not in life.
I went to a few games in high school, but my secret purpose was ALWAYS to be allowed to roar away in a car with a boy and log a few dark hours in the parking lot, kissing and playing endless rounds of can-my-hand-go-here-no-how-about-HERE-no-well-how-about-HERE-no-and-you-already-tried-that.
I ONCE went to some big horrible hot-dog-smell infested arena in Chicago to watch a baseball game between the Chicago team and the Atlanta team. I went with Scott and his sister, who both cheered for Atlanta while the Chicago fans around us bristled and puffed and looked more mob-like and ready to rend us in twain with every inning.
I was very busy helping my son Sam grow LUNGS at that point, but I went, and I wedged my ENORMOUS 7+ months pregnant butt into that teeny seat up in the mountainous alps of the nosebleed section, and I TRIED to sit all the way through it. Alas! Long about inning 5 (which FELT like inning 793) I had to heave myself up and flollop and galumph my unwieldy way to the Universeâ€™s most HORRIFYING womenâ€™s room. I hollered I AM ABOUT TO PUKE!, and the long line of 30 ladies moved aside and let me go directly to the front and into a stall. I backed hurriedly OUT of the stall and chose instead to vomit endlessly into a trashcan which smelled like it contained several dead bodies, and yet it still was preferable to the HEPATITIS COATED REEKING SLAGPIT OF A TOILET .
I am truly ignorant about the sporting world. Only last week, I was talking to a fellow at church and he told a story about some guy who wrote a check for a millon dollars for a charity. Just sat down and pulled out his checkbook and wrote it. â€œBut he can afford it," the fellow said. â€œAfter all, he owns the Georgia Dome.â€
I said, â€œWhatâ€™s the Georgia Dome?â€
A hush fell over the room, and everyone looked at me like Iâ€™d asked what that strange and moderately phallic-looking yellow fruit with the slippery peel all the monkeys seemed to so enjoy was called. â€œIt has something to do with a SPORT doesnâ€™t it?â€ I intuited. â€œPeople must play a SPORT there.â€ And it is true. The fellow confirmed it. People DO play a sport there, so of course the thing has never once bleeped upon my radar.
But Carlo and I found common ground in our near fanatical love of classic pulp. Robert E Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber, these are the things my pernicious older brother pressed into my damp little hands when I was 8 or 9, and I still adore them. Conan rocks it. The Incomparable Dejah Thoris is...incomparable. So we spent all weekend ending our sentences with BY CROM and trying to out-obscure-reference each other. Great fun. He's so witty and smart that I may even end up reading about BOXING. If you like the sport, or just great writing, give his stuff a try.
1) Weâ€™ve been significantly short on gas for about a week and a half. THANKS MR. HURRICANE! As if you had not done enough for us already, what with all the mindless destruction...Most stations are out of gas, and as soon as one gets a delivery there are instant lines at that station until they are dry again. Tanker trucks coming into the area often have a trail of cars following them to see where they are going to deliver, hoping to get 10 gallons or whatever ration the station is passing out.
In theory things were sposed to be better this week, but now we are halfway through this week. And here is a picture of the Kroger this morning. Wheeee!
2) Did anyone notice the whole total enormous gallumphing financial crisis? That thing you just heard galloping south on panicky stampede feet? That may have been the economy.
Tucked among the cialis and enlargement ads, today I found this note in my in-box:
Subject: REQUEST FOR URGENT CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP
I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.
I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.
I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.
This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.
Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to email@example.com so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.
Minister of Treasury Paulson
3) I bring to your attention these enormous messes affecting thouands and millions respectively, before slipping in a TEENY word about a minor snafu that may slightly affect a few hundred. *cough*
SO. The mailing list launched. HEH. And here we understand the word â€œlaunchedâ€ to mean â€œnose dived, crashed, burned up in a fire, and then wolves ate the ashes, and the ashes made them sick, and now my office is full of metaphorical ash-yacking wolves.â€
First of all, it only went out to about a third of the mailing list. The other two thirds came back, with an error message that boiled down to â€œYou have too many recipients.â€ ALSO the third or so that DID get the mailing ALL got each otherâ€™s email addies. WHOOPS! That was SET to be blind. But not CORRECTLY set to be blind. Apparently.
Please do not sell each otherâ€™s addies to the Cialis people. Or Secretary Paulson.
BACK THE DRAWING BOARD. Meanwhile, here is the winner's list from the mailing list sign up drawing, and all winners have been contacted indiviually:
Signed SIN THE THE SECOND CITY by Karen Abbott: Luann M.
Signed WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, by Sara Gruen: Elena G.
Signed AWESOME by Jack Pendarvis: Ben N.
Signed ARC of THE LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY by Tiffany Baker: Kathy H.
Signed THE WAIT by Frank Turner Hollon: Thomas G.
Signed EVERY CROOKED POT by Renee Rosen: Jenifer M.
BETWEEN. GEORGIA, signed, with a FOX DOLL: ingmund, Deborah, Sheryl D.
THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING signed first eds (2): Mary Craig P, Amy F.