Archive | May, 2012

I Know You’re There Because I Can Hear Your Little Brother Crying

31 May

School’s out for most kids. I know this because of the increase in posts about drinking from my Facebook friends who are mothers of school-aged children. I generally liked summer as a kid. My birthday’s in summer, I could sleep late, go to the beach. But come the end of July, my anxious brain would click into school mode and I would spend weeks obsessing over every detail of school life from where to sit in the cafeteria to being asked to explain covalent bonds in chemistry to whether or not jelly shoes were still the thing.

I don’t know if I was a popular kid or not. My schools were always so small that I never thought in terms of popularity because we all knew each other. Well, pretty much. My best friend senior year began dating this guy she seemed to have known since first grade, but I’d never seen until then. I was certainly aware there were The Kids For Whom Everything Was Easy and there was me. It’s just how you think until you’re, oh, 32. How WONDERFUL your life would be if you could turn perfect cartwheels like Judy, had the perfect amount of freckles like Monica, were still shopping in the children’s department in high school like Dana, and dated the cutest guy in the class like Molly. It’s not until you’re an adult you realize Judy threw up four times a day to stay small enough to be on the top of the pyramid, Monica spent five nights a week covered in lemon juice to fade her freckles, Dana was 40 before she got undressed with the lights on, and Molly spent most of junior year with a raging case of clap her asshole boyfriend gave her. Yes, there were some genuinely well-adjusted kids who were really smart, funny, cute, and had no anxiety about PE, but they are not the adults you want to hang out with now.

I have always been The Sarcastic One. At some point I became The Funny One, but I don’t think that happened until after high school. Actually, I can pinpoint when that happened. I became good friends with a girl I was not friends with in high school. The story she told about me was that I’d given her a ride home with another friend. She thanked me for the ride and I apparently said something like it wasn’t out of my way or somehow led her to believe if it had been a hardship on me to take her home, I wouldn’t have. She then thought I was a raving bitch until a few years later when we bonded over a case of Miller. That was when I realized the inflections I used in my head were not always articulated so clearly once I opened my mouth. Funny is a great way to mask sarcasm brought on by severe social anxiety. So I kept it.

There is an episode of 30 Rock in which Liz goes to her high school reunion thinking she was the one who was always picked on, but it turns out she was the total bitch. I have this fear. It’s not like I couldn’t have my moments. Sometime in junior high–this was when call waiting and three-way calling were becoming popular–I got a call from a guy friend. I believe he was “dating” (I use quotes because in 7th or 8th grade, what exactly does it mean to date?) a friend of mine. She and I were approaching critical mass. That is to say, she’d developed giant boobs. The only thing I’d developed was a unibrow, so clearly we weren’t going to be close much longer. He called and started asking all these questions about her. What did I think of her, really? What drove me crazy about her? After avoiding the questions as best I could, I heard the unmistakable sound of a small child wailing about something in the background. There were no small children in the guy’s house, but wait! My friend did have a significantly younger brother. The old Three Way Trap sprung by enterprising young sociopaths who are able to get boys to do their bidding. I mean, I was like 13 and saw through that one. So I did what anyone would do. I said, “You know, it’s so much easier to think of things we don’t like about people than things we do. I don’t really know how much longer we can be friends. She’s, well, you know how it is.” Obviously he didn’t. I was ready to throw something out about not being the kind of girl other girls like–totally untrue, by the way, but was fortunately saved from my own black heart when she finally spoke up with something about how she was glad she knew exactly how I felt about her. She smartly moved on from being friends with me, and I never said anything about making sure your little brother isn’t screaming about losing a G. I. Joe when trying to trap a friend into saying something nasty about you.

My takeaway from high school was one thing and one thing only: Boys are assholes. Proof? My brother had been tutored briefly by the very intelligent son of a friend of my mother’s. We’ll call him Mark. He was a couple years older than me and also very easy on the eyes. Within a couple of weeks of starting as a freshman in high school I got a call from a friend of the guy’s. We’ll call him Dick–for several reasons. Dick called to tell me he knew I was totally hot for Mark. I was not. Not that I would have admitted it if I was, understand. Mark was really cute and seemed like he’d one day make an awesome accountant, and Rules very clearly state you NEVER date the child of a parent’s friend. Never. Nothing good can come from that in high school. One little false positive pregnancy test and it’s Awkward City at the country club, right? Anyway, Dick was certain that I rilly, rilly super liked Mark. Yes, I said. I like him fine. He’s a nice guy. Is there a point? Well, as a matter of fact, Dick says, there is. “He likes you.”

Okay, first? Do 16-year-old guys really do stuff like that? That seemed a little weird to me even then. Second? Really? Couldn’t your after-school time have been better used by trolling your dad’s closet for porn? I thought that’s what guys did after school if there wasn’t soccer practice. I said, “Mark does not know me. He doesn’t. How does he know if he likes me and WHY would he have said anything to you? YOU don’t know me. I don’t know YOU.” I have to say Adult Me still high-fives Teenage Me for that one. The experience of my sociopath friend on the phone also alerted me to the fact that Mark was very likely either on the phone or in the room. Because I was not a total bitch, I also did not say anything like EWWWW! Like him? He smells like cheese! 

Unfortunately, it set a precedent in my world that boys were only to be admired silently from afar. Except for that one friend you tell everything to and who would never betray you even if you didn’t still have the pictures from that time in Panama City. You know the time I mean. It didn’t matter that your entire interest in a guy was the fact that he could rock a pair of 501s and was smart enough to tutor algebra, say nussing. NUSSING! For you and your unibrow will be humiliated and you will assume everyone in school knows about it. Which in this case was probably true. Although I’m sure the story he told probably sounded more like the plotline from Heathers and I was Martha Dumptruck. Because I’m a highly evolved individual with an amazing amount of therapy behind me, I hope that Dick is no longer, you know, a dick. The great thing about growing up is you don’t have to be the person you were in high school. THANK. GOD.

My stepchildren are 21 and 17 and the advice I’ve given to them is simple: Anyone who tells you these are the best years of your life is full of shit. Your high school and college years serve only as an object lesson in how not to be a raving asshat as an adult and how to hold your liquor.  It is inconceivable for a teenager to understand that as an adult NO ONE CARES what you made on your ACT or if you only got into your safety school. It is nigh impossible to believe as a 16-year-old drama nerd that, yes, there is actually a guy or two who thinks you’re the bees knees. Does it suck you don’t find this out until you’re 45 and married up to your eyeballs? Yes. Yes, it does. But face it, he’s probably a really nice, funny guy and you had your eye on Dumbass. You know, the one who called you the wrong name most of the time and never had money for gas or the movie he invited you to? When you got to college you had your eye on Sensitive Ponytail Man who wept for baby seals and also had his eye on Dumbass. So at least you had that in common.

I know I started out talking about summer and ended up with a bummer.  See what I did there? I just really hate summer. Also, I figure I wasn’t the only one who dreaded summer just because it meant school would start all over again in a couple of months.

The Poetry of Comments

30 May

Here is a selection of random comments, and parts of comments, from my Facebook feed. Enjoy.

  • If I were a cigarette, I would scream when being smoked.
  • any one konw the sentence that has had 14 times within it that makes sense..i am sure it starts had he hadinplace of had had……
  • Not everyone knows about this trick. Yeah, it startled me, too. I’m glad that this article is out there teaching the folks who don’t know, honestly. Taco nights are important.
  • I’ve always wondered what the ceiling of the test kitchen looked like! Now I know.
  • I live in Washington. Our vampires do not sparkle, no matter what the author of Twilight may want you to believe. Sparkling tends to dramatically shorten the “life”span of a vampire.
  • I always thought that it would be funny if ‘astronaut food’ gave people gas. Wonder if they take that into account when concocting that stuff. It would be like flying transcon.
  • The Destruction of such a nation is Merited to Clense that nation of the Abominations of Immorality !! As it was in Sodom and Gomorra So Shall it be in the nation called the U.S.A. – United Supporters of Immorality !! Soon this nation shall be Utterly Destroyed by Fire from the Heavens !!
  • If you seriously don’t know what Game of Thrones is then you’ve already lost the game of Life
  • I would like to know how she allows Monsanto to control her Husband and poison our food supply with GMO’s. And why they are not considered Terrorist’s? How long do you think we will allow this before we demand accountability for the Rape and Poisoning of our food supply, and the unknown causes of these effects?? This is Treason against the American people. You and your Husband are our Hope. You cannot preach Change and expect to continue on living the same Life. First Lady, clean House.
  • I am living in New Zealand now, and it is obvious how high the American obesity rate is in general.
  • Lawnmowers are way too mainstream

Road Trip

23 May

My husband’s family has this cabin in the woods near Land Between The Lakes called Sunset Lodge. It’s less the horror movie set it sounds like and more of a magical nirvana where there is no internet or cellphone reception except at like two in the morning when the moon is full. I mean, yes, there was that one time the lake haints and woods zombies carried off a friend’s pomeranian, but we considered that more a stroke of good fortune than an actual haunting. It’s kind of a fancy place. The man who built it had high hopes his family would spend a lot of time out there. The wife went once, said she’d never go back, and the husband put it on the market. When my husband’s grandfather bought it there were still monogrammed linens in it. There’s also a bedroom with a private bath off the kitchen. We assumed since it had its own bath it was the master until we noticed the lock was on the outside of the door. Come to find out it was the maid’s quarters. Rich people! They’re just like us! Of course the question remains as to why he didn’t keep it and tell her she never had to go again, but BY GOD he was going to get out of that house for some goddamned quiet, and shoot animals, and drink cheap bourbon, and I don’t care one iota what fabric you want to use for dining room curtains, COULD YOU PLEASE SHUT UP, WOMAN?! But, you know, everyone’s family is different.

My family’s cabin in the woods is more like a tin can on stilts. With rats. There is indoor plumbing, and I don’t even mean the hose reaches into the house. So it’s got that working for it. The Men (and I really mean men because historically The Ladies have gone up there only when they ran out of things to harass The Men about, and the decor of the place–Early American Brothel Slash Mossy Oak Camo– is good for about a week of HOW CAN YOU STAND IT UP THERE??!! The answer, of course, is that no one asks that question at The Camp) use it in between freezing their butts off in a shooting house or a marsh. I believe the little store up the road accounts for approximately 70% of U.S. Vienna sausage sales because that’s the only thing I’ve ever known anyone to eat up there. It’s in the Mississippi Delta and I’m told there’s a serious wild hog problem this spring. I haven’t been in a long time and would like to go, but in summer the bugs up there ride their own four-wheelers and the snakes are Winnebago sized. I’ll wait until November, thanks. Also, WILD HOGS.

Despite the fact I was raised in the city and have always considered roughing it to mean no valet parking, I rather like Sunset Lodge. I like fishing and building giant fires. I also enjoy a game we’ve come to call How Old Is This Shit? Apparently the cabin is built on a vortex which ages pantry staples overnight. For example, you might clean out the pantry one weekend and throw away all items which expired before Colin Powell changed his mind about Iraq. But next weekend? BOOM. You reach for a can of soup only to find out that it is old enough to drive. My best find was a box of Jell-O last year with an expiration date of 1998. We recently found unopened bottles of salad dressing with use-by dates of 2009. This is AFTER we pulled everything out of the kitchen to remodel it. How it happens is a mystery. We’ve narrowed it down to an aunt who likes to shop bulk discount stores or aliens are just screwing with us.

Besides the fact that being there makes me feel like I’m in a cocoon which no one can penetrate mainly because they don’t have the phone number, I like reading trashy novels. At the cabin, you can read crap with impunity. Haven’t started the Porn Lite series Fifty Shades of Grey? Secretly wanting to gobble up a Nora Roberts trilogy? Don’t want your BFF to know you’re a Hunger Games fanatic? Soft spot for vampire romances? The cabin is the place. The same is true for trash TV. New Year’s weekend we got lucky with a Walking Dead marathon. How can a year be bad if it starts off sitting in a recliner for twelve straight hours stuffing your face with various cheese-based delicacies and Prosecco?

Growing up we had a place in Pensacola Beach. When we went down in the summer it was the only time my brother and I could get pre-sweetened cereals. He always got Fruit Loops and I got Sugar Pops, which I’m disappointed to know is now called Corn Pops. I now enjoy the adult version of vacation cereal. This is a chance for Twizzlers and Peach Nehi–the finest of the Nehi flavors. You know how you’ve been eyeing the cheese-stuffed-cheese in the deli? You know what I’m talking about: a layer of cheddar, a layer of Stilton, and up to three other layers of miscellaneous cheese goodness. Now’s the time. Take it to the cabin. Bagel Bites? It’s a bagel AND a pizza! A breakfast you and your mom can agree on! Were Planters Cheez Balls (the undisputed KING of ALL cheeze ball products) still in existence, I’d eat three cans on a short trip. Cream soda, PBR, potted meat, whatever your guilty food pleasure is, it should be indulged at Sunset Lodge. Especially if cheese is involved.

Not that you shouldn’t eat something real. At some point you’ll need a salad or an apple just to push the sludge through your system. Trust me. And you’ll also realize you’ve had so much beer that you are your own personal floatation device. When that realization comes, it’s time to go home and detox until the next trip. Or until you have an unholy craving for Hot Fries.

More Like Fashion Backward

23 May

I haven’t watched morning news shows in some several years mainly because if I wanted to see two middle aged women sitting around getting drunk, I’d invite a friend over. Also there doesn’t seem to be any news anymore. Yes, I love hearing about every step Wills and Kate take, but occasionally I like something with a little more substance. Call me a stick-in-the-mud, but I like my morning news to tell me if we went to war with North Korea overnight or if Greece still exists. KIDDING! Seriously, the only reason I don’t watch all 17 hours of the Today show is because the TV is inconveniently located. If there’s an important news story, SVU will do a storyline about it within a few weeks. Also I really like knowing the latest in alcohol-delivery technology.

Yesterday I watched a feature on what to wear poolside. Now, admittedly, I might not have been the target audience for the piece. I don’t dress to be seen poolside. I dress to be invisible. The surest way to do this is wear a swimsuit with a skirted bottom and have your coverup be something like a t-shirt from a 1991 SAE mixer. Or, in my case, any number of formerly-white peasant-style blouses covered in paint and live bait stains and a nylon fishing hat from Eddie Bauer. HAWT! I no longer have to time or energy to stage a fashion show to get in a pool, and certainly not a lake, but I was intrigued by the spot on Today because the Style Expert they had on was costumed, and the first outfit they showed involved a blazer.

Maybe “costumed” isn’t a fair term. She had on a little Pucci-inspired shift and giant white glasses on her head. She looked like what you’d want to look like poolside. She looked cool, pulled-together, color-coordinated. She looked like a woman who would not sweat while trying to haul four beach chairs, a cooler, and three toddlers down to the water’s edge. Obviously I hated her immediately and watched the rest of the segment strictly to mock her.

So, shorts and a blazer poolside is a thing. Because you’ll be wearing a “pleat short” you won’t need jewelry, OBVIOUSLY. Jewelry with pleats? Sure, with pleated mom jeans! Okay, first? No. Second? A BLAZER? BY THE POOL? It’s the Poolside Collection by JP Morgan Chase! Admittedly her reasoning was sound. You have the shorts as a swim coverup and then you toss on the blazer for–get this– what she calls “après pool”. Just like après ski. You know this because she says, “just like après ski.” I don’t know what skiing has to do with being poolside in the Brooks Brothers Pool Bound Business Collection™, but I am out of the fashion loop.

Nowhere was this more evident than in showing a great poolside outfit for pregnant gals. The model had on a cute maxi dress with an incredibly unfortunate print that looked like an abstract crayon resist done by an unmedicated ax murderer. The model wore a fabulous wide-brimmed sun hat. You know why? If you guessed to keep the sun off her face, you are so wrong you’re probably still wearing high-waisted sailor jeans from last summer. No, when you’re pregnant–I’m sorry. When you, “have a nice, beautiful belly to celebrate,” you’ll want to “counterbalance proportionally” with a hat. WHO KNEW? Also the maxi keeps you cool because, “it’s very breezy. It almost creates an internal whirlwind inside.” DUH. Everyone knows maxis with wings keep you cooler and drier and also make your business feel like it’s being touched by the breath of a thousand chilly angels. WHEE!

They also showed a cute little strapless shift. I say “little” because it was from Banana Republic and their entrances are decorated with pressure-sensitive doormats so if you weigh something ridiculous like a triple digit, this giant spring shoots up and catapults you over to the food court. But they give you a BOGO coupon to Auntie Anne’s, so there’s that. The look was ruined by a hairstyle of a sort for which the only explanation could be they ran out of time before finishing and had to get her on set. There was a side ponytail–no problem. Then on the other side of her head was this, um, knot? The only look I can compare it to is that Rachel Dratch character who’s a Siamese twin and has a baby arm growing out of the top of her head. It was most unfortunate.

I’m sure if I had to sit on set and come up with three minutes worth of descriptions for swim coverups, I’d be a blithering idiot and come up with phrases like “sassy, sexy, and sun-ready” and not use the plural to describe any article of clothing. Seriously, what is it with fashion people? You don’t wear pants, but a pant. You eschew panties for a panty. It’s not a pair of shoes, it’s a statement shoe. And everything is set off by a smoky eye and a nude lip. This is why models are so thin. They’re trying to lose body parts so the descriptions are accurate. Damn you, fashionistas!

I was, however, inspired. I was at my favorite little boutique (i.e. Target) yesterday and I bought a maxi dress. I KNOW! Here’s the thing. I have to go to New Orleans the end of next month. If you’ve never been in New Orleans the end of June, you can recreate the feeling by standing in a bathroom with your shower on full blast hot. I’m looking to create an internal whirlwind to keep me cool. Also I think a maxi will cover my ankles up since they tend to stay the size of watermelons from April to October. I am undaunted by the fact that my arms have seen neither tone nor tan since before Bill met Monica. I’ll celebrate a large, pale upper arm by counterbalancing with a jewel-toned strappy wedge sandal and a gimlet eye.

Please Be A Wrong Number

20 May

Voice: Yes, hi. This is Karma calling for Susan.

Me: Uh, yes? This is she.
Karma: Awesomesauce. Hey, I just wanted to check in and tell you that you need to go on and get the repair guy for your stove too.
Me: What?
Karma: Your dishwasher and refrigerator are down, right? I’ve got the right Susan?
Me: Yes, the refrigerator went out last night, but what’s this with the stove?
Karma: It’s going down this afternoon, but since you let that old lady cut in line at the grocery Thursday, I’m giving you a heads up on the stove.
Me: So you’re telling me my entire kitchen is about to be inoperable?
Karma: Well, you just got that new toaster oven. It’s got a few miles left on it. Oh, speaking of miles…
Me: STOP! Not the car. Not. The. Car.
Karma: You didn’t think you were just going to skate by, did you?
Me: I never think that, but what exactly are you talking about?
Karma: (Sighs audibly) You really want me to go through all this?
Me: Please.
Karma: You got the check for the insurance overpayment, you and Chuck got in a lake trip a couple of weeks ago, Friday you had a fabulous idea for a short story, you had three good hair days in a row, and you’re back in a regular workout routine. You didn’t think all that was going unpunished, did you?
Me: What? First? That check is going to get plowed back into the kitchen, we weren’t even alone at the lake, I’ve totally forgotten the idea because I didn’t write it down because I got distracted by this major allergic reaction to God knows what that’s made my chest look like an unabridged Braille dictionary, and I pulled a muscle in my shoulder. Also? None of this is actually karma. So why are YOU calling?
Karma: Oooooh, I see that liberal arts education wasn’t a total waste. It’s like that whole “black fly in your Chardonnay” thing. Very good.
Me: What?
Karma: That’s not actually irony, these things aren’t actually karma. BUT thing is, there are like four people in The Balance Department on vacation, so I’m helping out.
Me: Balance Department?
Karma: (Another sigh) The Universe and I go way back. He did me a solid a few years ago–long story, but let’s just say I ended up with a sweet back end deal on a Pāli Tipitaka translation. Anyhoo, The Balance Department is exactly what it sounds like. It makes sure you get bitch slapped…
Karma: Ooops! Kidding. I’m, uh, kidding. Right. It makes sure you, ah, don’t get the big head or have any consecutive 24 hour period without having to cancel something, fix something, or spend money you don’t have.
Me: How is that balance? That just sounds like being a dick.
Karma: Hey! Language! It’s rain on your wedding day! It’s ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife! Potato, potahto.
Me: Okay, but what you’re telling me is that I’m right. I’ve been right all along. I really do get punished for enjoying something.
Karma: It’s much more complicated than that. Don’t make it sound so, so Catholic.
Me: Nice.
Karma: This really isn’t my area, okay? But because I’m Karma and because you did that thing a couple of weeks ago where you left canned goods at your mailbox for the food drive the Post Office did–even though I totally know you put in those cans of salmon you bought two years ago thinking you would make croquettes…
Me: I thought I LIKED salmon croquettes!
Karma: …SO you weren’t so much giving to charity as cleaning out your pantry. Point being, you did a charitable act, so I’m giving you an explanation as best I can.
Me: You know this is why I’m not writing, right? See, it’s not worth it. I write, I publish here and there. I get an idea for a book. Book gets published…
Karma: Let’s not get ahead of…
Me: BOOK. GETS. PUBLISHED. And then? I get a flesh-eating virus, my fabulous hair stylist moves to Idaho, and whatever spell Chuck is under that made him marry me wears off and he realizes he would be less miserable eating at Golden Corral on Seniors’ And Kids’ Night every night of his life than he is being married to me, AND I finally get to the point where I realize I feel and look so bad that I’m willing to–feh–exercise every day, BUT instead of feeling and looking better, I get some weird rash on my chest that can only be hidden by a turtleneck sweater, and if you think for one minute I’m going to get undressed with the lights on…
Karma: I think you’re veering into TMI territory here.
Me: Fine. MY point is why should I ever think ANYTHING is going to work out EVER when you’re here, on my phone, telling me IT WON’T.
Karma: Your freezer still works, right?
Me: (Sighs) Yes.
Karma: And did you or did you not get ice cream the other day?
Me: Yes.
Karma: And is it not still there along with ice cream cones because you’re doing that thing where you eat like a five-year-old?
Me: Yes.
Me: Well played, sir.
Karma: I gotta dash. That band that does that song about dying young and getting laid out on a bed of roses is due for a serious bout of icy diarrhea.
Me: Good, I hate that song!
Karma: Who said it had anything to do with the song? That song happens to be humanity’s gift for coming up with a television show about coupon clipping.
Me: I’m hanging up now.

Godwin’s Law And The Alien Theory

9 May

Here’s the problem with writing. I may have said this before. I tend to repeat myself. The problem with writing–in my case, anyway–is that I have a narrator in my head. She’s a sort of Meg Ryan-in-a-Rob Reiner romcom narrator, and there’s generally a soundtrack with lots of plucky strings and the occasional sad trombone. If I were to write a screenplay I’d have both a plucky narrator and plucky strings. And she would wear hats. But I digress.

Today, my narrator started up with a bit about internet disagreements, feuds, and general squabbling. It is said that internet disagreements are subject to Godwin’s LawGiven enough time, the law states, online discussion will eventually come to one party comparing the other’s beliefs to Hitler and/or Nazis. The feud that put me in mind of all this today went something like this:

Person A: WHOOHOO! Obama’s gonna support the gay marriage!!!

Person B: WHOOHOO!11!!

Person C: He was in favor of it in the state legislature but then he waffled when it came time to go national. And he accuses Mitt of Waffing?

Person A: At least he’s taking a stand on civil rights and doesn’t hate gay peple.

Person D: Who says Romney hates gays? Did he tell you tahat?

Person E: NObama is a socialist.

Person F: it’s not a stretch to say that if you don’t believe in civil rights for a particular group you hate em.

Person D: I don’t think toddlers should get married. Does that violate their civil rights? Do I hate toddlrz?

Person A: That’s different.

Person D: WHy? My baby wants to marry his mommy. Why shouldn’t he?

Person G: That’s right. All of you just fall right in line, sheeple. Just like the Brownshirts.

Aaaaaand scene.

In a previous life I was a sales and management trainer. I had a little speech before I started class. In addition to explaining the parking lot, telling them to turn off their cellphones (wasted breath), and promising to give regular “bio breaks” (a term I hated, but was encouraged to use), I brought up something I called the Alien Theory. The Alien Theory spiel went thusly: “In the course of this class you will, I hope, want to ask questions. I welcome them, but want to caution you about the Alien Theory. We will be discussing a scenario at some point and you will want to come up with the most outrageous, off-the-wall scenario you can think of. You might say, ‘Okay, let’s say I’ve got an alien from Mars who wants to return a dress from 1952 and has a receipt. What do I do?’ At that time, I will gently ask if you have had such a scenario. SHOULD THAT HAVE HAPPENED, I will tell you that you have an issue that is very specific to your own staff or customer base, and I will invite you to discuss your issue after class.”

Internet exchanges generally show off the Alien Theory to its best advantage. There’s always going to be that one person. You might be celebrating National Egg Month–May, by the way–and discussing all the wonderful ways to cook an egg, and BOOM! Eggs are just chicken abortions, you know. I don’t eat them anymore because I once found an actual chicken in mine. Perhaps you are expounding on the wonderful ice cream you served at your child’s birthday party. BAM! You know, I don’t eat ice cream anymore because one time I found a frozen cockroach trying to mate with a frozen cricket right in my cherry cheesecake swirl. Bragging about your new computer? My cousin’s girlfriend had to have a skin graft because her laptop burned the skin off her thighs. 

Yes, all those things might have happened, and they are devastating. No doubt. But they are the exceptions, the rarities, the deviations from the central dogma. And you, right there reading this piece might even tell me that I have not made good comparisons. That I’m talking about like three different things. To you I say WELCOME! It must be your first time here!  The thing about communication in this brave new world in which we life is that everyone has a voice in every discussion. Even when they are annoying voices. And those voices have weight. And sometime those one or two voices sound just as heavy as the roar of the crowd. Our job as citizens of this world is to separate the people who just like to sing the the Alien Theory solo from those who sing as part of the majority chorus.

No one does that for us. No newscaster, blogger, politician can separate all that for you. You have to do it for yourself. And, yeah, that sucks. But if you’re looking to someone like me to form your opinions, wow. Stop it. We can agree and disagree. You can find data that support your position, but it is YOUR position. Don’t give up that power.



The Idea of Order at Key West

by Wallace Stevens

She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice,
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.

The sea was not a mask. No more was she.
The song and water were not medleyed sound
Even if what she sang was what she heard,
Since what she sang was uttered word by word.
It may be that in all her phrases stirred
The grinding water and the gasping wind;
But it was she and not the sea we heard.

For she was the maker of the song she sang.
The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea
Was merely a place by which she walked to sing.
Whose spirit is this? we said, because we knew
It was the spirit that we sought and knew
That we should ask this often as she sang.
If it was only the dark voice of the sea
That rose, or even colored by many waves;
If it was only the outer voice of sky
And cloud, of the sunken coral water-walled,
However clear, it would have been deep air,
The heaving speech of air, a summer sound
Repeated in a summer without end
And sound alone. But it was more than that,
More even than her voice, and ours, among
The meaningless plungings of water and the wind,
Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped
On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres
Of sky and sea.

                   It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing.
She measured to the hour its solitude.
She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,
As we beheld her striding there alone,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and, singing, made.

Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,
Why, when the singing ended and we turned
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,
As the night descended, tilting in the air,
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.

Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,
The maker’s rage to order words of the sea,
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and of our origins,
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.



8 May

I painted the damn office.  After only six years in this house, I painted the bedroom that used to belong to The Boy Child, but now holds the computer and one metric ass ton of crap.  It was a Chinese lacquer red. You know how you always read in home magazines that painting a small room (this one is about 10×10) a deep color can actually open the space up or some such nonsense? Let me set you straight: MAGAZINES LIE.  Because it was semi-gloss, it was a little like trying to work inside a liver or possibly a spleen.  It is now a blue-green that was supposed to be more green than blue, but is actually more blue than green.  A fact which bothers me not at all because the room IS NOT RED.

I know.  You like a red room.  Your dining room is red.  It was a federal law from the years 1995 to 2007 that all dining rooms be painted red.  I like a red room too.  I like it in someone else’s home, not mine.  A person should not have to pay bills and print out coupons inside a spleen.  It’s too much of a reminder how much the phone bill is leaching from your person.  I should have painted the office the color of a turnip now that I think about it.  “You can’t get blood from a turnip,” is exactly what I say to the Bills as they gather.  They don’t seem to care.

Regardless, the room is now painted and the house is a full 20 degrees cooler and I have a new batch of paint splatters on my jeans which nicely compliment the deep, murky green ones from when I painted the bathroom vanity last summer.  And this brings me to my point.  I consider these my good jeans.

In 2007, about the time people were over their red dining rooms and started painting everything the color of a paper bag, I bought a pair of jeans at Target.  I liked them despite the fact that the zipper was apparently sewn in by a blind, three-toed sloth with no need of a zipper that actually met at the top.  The jeans were quickly repaired with a hair elastic threaded through the zipper pull and run a couple of times around the button.  It is a system that has worked like a charm for five years now.  I have gotten other jeans since then.  Some I picked up for $10 at a Rose’s in my hometown.  Some I spent a ridiculous amount of money for.  None could match the comfort and butt-flattering abilities of my Black Label (Black Label always means it’s fancy) Mossimo jeans.  They have patches in strategic places and I’ve sewn the pockets back on several times because I pull on back pockets of pants by sticking my thumbs in them. I don’t  know why I do this, and didn’t realize I did until I took an afternoon to sew up pockets on every pair of pants I owned with back pockets.

My good jeans are held together with hair elastics and paint. I don’t have to take paint chips with me when looking for fabric for the house.  All I need to do is wear my jeans.  I know these would not qualify as good to anyone else, but no one else has to wear them.  They have a sibling somewhere.  I blew out the back of them, put them somewhere I would remember to go back to them to fix them, and have lost them.  That’s okay.  They wouldn’t remind me what color I painted the guest room.