Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Anyway, I can already tell I will definitely be the slapstick, goof-off, neurotic, writes about boogers and pubes, possibly alcoholic element of the friendship. She will be the lawyer for the homeless, well-traveled, lived in like eleven countries, glamorous, smoking part of the relationship. I have our roles all mapped out! Now the trick will be not scaring her off with my spastic buffoonery. Which will mean suppressing 90 percent of my personality, but isn’t that what friendship is really all about?
Then on Friday I’m meeting MORE new friends at a drinking binge I mean writer’s conference near Chicago, including blogging dynamo Steph and her pal Trish, who looks so cute in that picture that I want to adopt her. I tell you, I am smashing through my comfort zone left and right! Sure, it would be easy to continue molding that ass-shaped impression I’ve developed on the couch while scarfing Cheetos and watching a Golden Girls marathon of episodes I’ve already seen twelve times each … but that’s no way to live! Okay, maybe on rainy Saturdays, hungover Sundays, and after the loss of a loved one, but certainly not during the last weekend in April!
I’ll post some updates on Sunday night about how the whole venturing-beyond-my-comfort-zone thing goes. In the meantime, please enjoy this photo of Daisy. Who is so territorial about urinating on other animal droppings during our walks that today she actually urinated on a splotch of bird poop in the middle of the sidewalk.
Monday, April 24, 2006
So because J (home for lunch) snuck off to hide in the living room, I politely listened to and tactfully declined the pitch, although this young salesman could have really given last year’s huckster a stroll for the money in a suave-off. “Sorry,” I said as nicely as I could in my sing-song, please-believe-my-fake-regret-to-end-this-moment voice. Instantly, he snapped into snark-mode (with a whiff of K-Fed pseudo-tude): “Don’t be Sorry. That’s a board game.”
He really said that. Slightly baffled, I had to pause for about five full seconds to absorb what he meant by that strange comeback. And then I got it.
In response, I wish I would have said this: “I can see you haven’t got a MONOPOLY on magazine sales in this neighborhood, because I fell for this BUNCO last summer. So I’m afraid that today won’t be your PAYDAY. You’ll have to look into some less DICEy CAREERS. This OPERATION seems to be more TROUBLE than it’s worth, and hardly worth the AGGRAVATION. I don’t have a CLUE how you get people to fall for this RISK-y and TRIVIAL PURSUIT; it BOGGLES the CRANIUM.”
Instead I cowardly sicked him on the elderly women that live across the street from us. And yes, that’s how you spell “to sic” in the past tense. I looked it up, bitches.
Friday, April 21, 2006
Introducing Patty Pad and Paula Plug. Apparently, someone told them they were auditioning for supporting roles on The Real Gilligan’s Island. What’s worse, they both showed up completely wasted, as evidenced by their half-mast eyes and decorative tropical drinks. Nonetheless, they sure know how to party like it’s 1953. And I respect that in a tampon. I mean mascot. Moments after this photo was taken, Paula spilled her Mai Tai all over Patty; as luck would have it, not one red drop hit the table! Hmmmm.
Now presenting, Mr. Knock-Off Facial Scrub! He feels the way I do about public speaking, as you can see. Poor guy. Should have told him about the brown pants. But I do enjoy his red cowboy hat. ‘A’ for effort, Mr. Scrub. However, you do look a little slutty all sprawled out like that. You can get up now, and please clean up after yourself. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.
Everyone loves a wedding, and look who’ve shown up fresh from their own! Meet Mr. and Mrs. Tootskin. They’ve overcome long odds to get here, beginning with the backlash their families and friends dealt them against interspecies dog chew dating. After all, Billy Jean Bullystick was a cow tootyacker in a former life, and Reggie Rawhide is made from the skin of pigs. No one thought they’d get together, but here they are, making it work and happy as clams. I mean bull peni and pork flesh. Wishing you the best of luck as you settle into your new life of wedded bliss and evading Daisy’s digestive system.
Possible blog mascots that showed up yet refused to be photographed: Arby’s “black forest” deli meat, two tubes of candy lipstick, a dried-out yellow highlighter, and a promotional pen embossed with the name of our credit union.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
On Easter my Dad asked if I’d come talk to his two back-to-back Freshman Comp classes later in the week. Because I was drunk, I agreed. Okay, I wasn’t drunk, but I was completely hopped-up on Ranch-flavored Wheat Thins, and there’s got to be some mind-altering, addictive substance in those puppies because truly, I flooded my colon with more Thins than are probably legal.
So fast forward to this morning, the day of the talk, about five a.m. I’d been awake almost all night tossing and turning because you know how I am about public speaking, and I start to hear this sound coming from right outside our bedroom window: CHEEP……...CHEEP………..CHEEP………..CHEEP.
Dawn had arrived, and with it, the birds. Our backyard is the size of a Polly Pocket quilt on a speck of dust under a microscope, but I go to great lengths to turn it into a critter-friendly environment for the various suburban wildlife that might stop by: rabbits, squirrels, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Robins, finches, hippies, Tara Reid.
Because entertainment is limited in my locale and I’m an octogenarian trapped in the body of a 31 year old (and I’ve outgrown old hobbies like binge drinking in public, for the most part), I actually find it amusing to watch their backyard antics. Also, I’m now able to identify bird songs by ear. I especially enjoy the Chickadee’s Nelsonesque “HAAAAA-Haaa!”
But I’d never heard a birdsong remotely like the one I was hearing at five this morning. Long, evenly spaced, regularly timed cheeps. After a few minutes listening to this with my bloodshot eyes staring bitterly at the ceiling, I grew agitated. And by “grew agitated” I mean I was almost crying in a kind of sleep-deprived, delirious, tantrummy haze in between kicking my husband for snoring and/or whining at him for putting his hot leg too close to mine. (Aren’t I charming in the middle of the night? It’s amazing he still talks to me, really.)
But thank God for shooting ranges and overprotective parents of preteens attending Fall Out Boy concerts, because they have facilitated the widespread distribution of foam earplugs. Which I happened to have a pair of right next to the bed because my husband’s snoring is so loud you can actually SEE it, and it is the exact size and shape of the bully that punched you in the ear and threw a softball at your butt in the second grade.
So I stuffed in the earplugs and basked in the relative silence. Somehow, I managed to drift off into a light, unsatisfactory sleep from which I was awakened again an hour later by: CHEEP……...CHEEP………..CHEEP………..CHEEP.
That fucking bird was back. I wanted to run outside and throw rocks at it until it was nothing but a raggedy chunk of bloody feathers. Now, I’m the kind of person who tears up at the sight of fluffy roadkill. I actually cried last year when I accidentally killed a spider on the porch and the ants carried it off to their lair (which was incredibly creepy to watch, but heartbreaking in a Charlotte's Web kind of way). So for me to say that I wanted to stone an innocent bird to death, well, you may as well keep an eye out for the four horsemen of the apocalypse at that point.
It was then that I realized something. That CHEEP……...CHEEP………..CHEEP………..CHEEP?
Was coming from my left nostril every time I exhaled.
It’s amazing I am capable of balancing a checkbook or eating breakfast without injuring myself, really.
Monday, April 17, 2006
1) Coordination. I am just coordinated enough to lift a fork to my lips and walk in a straight line. On occasion, I can corral my legs into a shuffling jog. Especially when the ice cream truck is leaving the neighborhood. I can’t hit a volleyball without cracking a nail or spraining a pinky, nor can I catch most objects thrown in my direction: a log of string cheese, car keys, a softball, a kitten. Other activities I can not do: run on a balance beam, touch my toes, hover for an extended period of time above a public toilet, or swim without leading a lifeguard to think I’m drowning.
2) Mothering. Abandoned baby animals I have tried to rescue and/or raise: four litters of kittens, three wild raccoons that I bottle-fed (and that thanked me with projectile yellow diarrhea), and a tiny, pink, hairless mouse I found on a bale of hay in our neighbor’s barn when I was seven. I tried stuffing a slice of cheddar cheese in its mouth, but seeing as how it didn’t have teeth and may have already been dead, that was a fairly futile effort. I think a cat scarfed it down about five minutes later. You know, in retrospect, I believe it may have been a rat. Because that sucker was way too big to be a newborn mouse.
3) Compulsions. What meme is complete without an embarrassing OCD-related disclosure? Here’s mine! I am always mentally counting inanimate objects and trying to find spatial order among them. Telephone poles, edges of a bookcase, cupboard handles, that kind of thing. I blame a long high school stint working at KB Toys, where I was actually responsible for straightening products on shelves so everything neatly faced out and was easily accessible to the customers. At KB, the CW wasn’t, “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean.” It was, “Get your ass off the counter and go straighten the doll aisle.”
Ah, KB Toys. I still remember the crazy regulars: the young woman with a mustache who wanted to be one of the Power Rangers and silently purchased her PR-themed toys with hot, dirty pocket change … the robust red-haired man who walked the mall smoking a cigar and conducting an invisible and inaudible orchestra (this was before smoking was disallowed in the mall) … and who could forget the dead ringer for Sloth from The Goonies who came in about once a month and only bought Barbie dolls.
4) That damn can of Skoal. I recently lost a blog contest to a can of Skoal, which I’ll be blogging about later.
5) Cinematic memories. First movie I ever saw in a theater: Pete’s Dragon. First movies I saw at a drive-in theater: a double feature of Young Frankenstein and The Rose. First movie I saw on VHS: Sixteen Candles. First movie I saw on DVD: Night of the Living Dead. Brain power devoted to remembering mathematical equations I learned in high school, names of people I just met, or what I walked into a particular room to fetch: 0.0047%
6) Speak out. As an adolescent, I was so terrified of public speaking or making phone calls that I had to actually write a script for myself before I ever called to schedule a hair cut, order Chinese take-out, or find out if anyone had found my retainer on the floor at Rocky Rococo’s. Today, I’ve discovered that public speaking is a wonderful antidote to constipation. This is the "Speak 'n' Poop" remedy, and if I ever think of a way to bottle it, I'll make a fortune.
And there you have it. Just a few more tidbits from my pantheon of pathos. Also known as: "Disclosures that may lead my husband to wear a bag on his head when seen with me in public from now on."
Thursday, April 13, 2006
The recently consolidated parish has built a new church elsewhere, and I’ve even been there once with my family. I didn’t burst into flames when I walked in, but the priest tearfully announced he was leaving the priesthood at the end of that service, which I took as a sign that because bad things seem to happen when I go to church, maybe I should stay home instead.
The new church, while attractive in a modern sense, is just too canned for me. With a cutting-edge stereo system, sleek, vaulted ceilings and that "new McMansion" smell, it could have been right at home in any subdivision in America. And that is exactly why I miss the old church.
Built by German immigrants before the Civil War, the old church was a model of gothic kitsch, with its high ceilings painted with stars and gold crosses, gigantic swag lighting, tall stained glass windows, intricately hand-carved altar with a backlit diorama of Little Boy Jesus leading a sheep (done in a style reminiscent of the old Campbell’s Soup kids), 20 foot tall statues of beatific Mary and kind-eyed Joseph, and hand-carved three-dimensional Stations of the Cross flanking the pews and leading up to the focal point of it all above the altar:
Ultra-realistic Crucified Emaciated Jesus, with bloody gashes and nails in his hands and feet and clearly visible ribs and a sunken stomach with a tiny outtie belly button and nipples and wearing nothing but a crown of thorns, a pained expression, and a towel. This was no sanitized, easy-on-the-eyes Jesus. This was giant, bloody, beaten, half-naked, dying on a cross Jesus. With nipples.
I didn’t need to watch The Passion of the Christ because I’d seen it every Sunday at church.
But Ultra-realistic Jesus is gone now. As is the creepy doll someone dressed as Boy Jesus in a gold crown and robes and then clapped under a protective glass dome near the sacristy. Also gone is the nubby blue carpet and faint smell of incense. The stiff padded kneelers and holy water wells. I’ll never again watch dust motes float through blue sunlight filtered through the stained glass windows while my neighbors chant “The Apostle’s Creed.” I’ll never again daydream through another sermon in that church, counting the minutes until I could get home to zone out in front of The Jetsons with a bowl of Lucky Charms.
Never again will I hear my agnostic father try to make us laugh during mass with a stage-whispered, “Hey, how come I can’t go up and get any crackers?” before communion and, “I want to wear a funny hat, too!” should the bishop happen to be present. My father, though not remotely religious, was probably one of the angriest people about the church’s demise. “In Europe,” he said, “they respect history. Here, we just tear it down and replace it with a strip mall. Everything for a price. Nothing is sacred.”
This was the church of my first communion, my first confession, and my first marriage (that’s a whole ‘nother post). This was the church in which I sang off-key in a youth choir and experienced a thousand cases of church giggles, including the time my 7th grade classmates and I overheard Joe Loehr loudly confessing to the priest the same laundry list of sins we were waiting our turns to confess: fighting with brothers and sisters, lying, disobeying our parents, failing to do our chores. (Like anyone would ever fess up to onanism or unpure thoughts about the hot new English teacher.)
Hundreds of people were baptized and married in this church and dozens were later buried next to it. I can still see the tearful and bewildered expressions on the older parishioners’ faces after the final mass at St. Michael’s last fall. “Well, I suppose we’ll have to get used to the new church,” some of them said. “This is just a building, we have to remember. It's just a place. This is progress.” But they sounded as if they weren’t convincing even themselves of the new reality. Then the bells pealed one last time and fell silent.
I may be a sometimes-godless heathen, but I’m sentimental about that place. Anyway, happy Easter or Passover, whatever your flavor. I’ll be back with a lighter post on Monday.
Monday, April 10, 2006
Yes, that does say "Parking for Poison fans only." And let it henceforth be known as the spark that started the Great Sidewalk Chalk War of 2006. As soon as we're through with the hours of therapy required to recover from this incident, we will strike back. Not today. Not tomorrow. But one day, when a new musical group with hair and spandex and melodramatic guitar solos the likes we've never seen has made the nation collectively cringe, the time will be right. And on that fateful day, we will unleash the chalk. And revenge will be ours.*
Graffiti courtesy of J's high school bud (Mr. 80s) who lives down the street. He knows J hates this music. It all began innocently enough with the covert delivery of CDs in our mailbox: Europe's Greatest Hits, Enuff Z Nuff, and The Best of Britny Fox ... and has since escalated into midnight drunken serenades on our voicemail and now, a full-blown chalking. A nearly middle-aged man did this in broad daylight. So much for neighborhood watch.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Because Daisy has to meet everyone. New sex offender moves in down the block and is outside filling the birdfeeder? Let’s go say hi! Drug dealers across the street having a barbeque with their raggedy clients? Such friendly people—let’s go ask for a belly rub! Frail, elderly women in PVC kerchiefs who want nothing to do with us during their daily dinos-become-oil-faster-than-their walks around the block? Let’s jump on their arthritic legs, tangle our leash around their fragile ankles, and drag them down the street!
But twice this week, there were conversations that couldn’t be avoided with people who were out and about.
First, there was the dynamic carpentry duo sprucing up the ghettified house one block over. A young woman and an old man were on the porch cutting 2 x 4's with a table saw and Daisy took off towards them on her extend-o-leash, whining, tail wagging, positively explosive in her desire to meet them. The man seemed amused and surprised at the extent of Daisy’s eagerness to throw herself onto their shoes for a scratch. Personally, I suspect she’s a meth addict. Or at the least, more manic than Christian Slater right before the party runs out of coke. “Whoa!” he said. “She must be a reincarnated carpenter!”
I started to panic at the possibility that he knew about her compulsion to craft wood cutting boards and decorative switchplate covers with the jigsaw in the shed late at night. Was this man peeping in our windows? I’ll have to ask Daisy to make us some wooden blinds.
The next day we encountered a cute college-age girl who crossed our path on the sidewalk. Daisy was beside herself, because she’s a bit like Joe Francis in her enthusiastic affection for pretty young girls who smell of vanilla. Making urgent, high-pitched noises that Lindsey Lohan might make if trapped in a Krispy Kreme shop, Daisy threw herself onto her back in the girl’s path. “Oh, you’re so cute! You just want your tummy rubbed, don’t you?” she said, bending over to pet my furry maniac. Daisy whined in a pathetic, desperate bid for approval, tail a thumping blonde blur.
We managed to part ways and three steps later I heard the girl say behind me, “Ew! It peed on me!”
I wish I could have said something clever in response, maybe even an effusive apology, but my face flushed, I faked a cough to pretend I didn’t hear, and skedaddled. And this is probably just how I’ll deal with things when my future toddler bites another three year-old on the playground.
Oh yeah. How I did at my workshop. First, thank you all for being so awesome & wishing me luck! I think I did pretty well…for the six people in the audience. Including my parents. But I can now check one literary milestone off the list: the sparsely attended author event. Next time? There will be bribery with booze and cheese. Also, hopefully the book will be … you know … out. (Thanks to Mel at Limelite for such a nice set-up!)
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Compounding my anxiety is the fact that I’ve got four grants due the week after the speech. Apparently, I’m trying to induce a panic attack so I can celebrate Easter in the mental health wing of Mercy Medical Center. Because I harbor a secret love for hospital jello, the smell of industrial cleaning agents, and tie-back cotton gowns.
Ever since I saw Jennifer Weiner’s reading at the Harry W. Schwartz bookstore back in October I’ve been freaking out. Nobody told me that when you become an author, you’ve also got to become a stand-up comic. She set the bar so high even Yao Ming would need to take the elevator to clear it. Her audience was laughing and clapping and listening raptly and swooning. An elderly lady in front of me had an orgasm and then passed out. People raised their hands to say, “You should be a comedian! Ever think about being a comedian? Can I be your best friend? You’re the funniest person in the universe! If you and Dane Cook had a baby the baby would make people laugh so hard they actually died!”
When she finished, the first thought to pass through my head wasn’t, “Oh, I can’t wait to tell her how much I loved Good in Bed when she signs my copy!” It was, “Holy industrial shit. I need to join Toastmasters.” I was too shy to even ask her a question. Maybe because I knew that I’d be requesting a blurb for my book later and I didn’t want her to remember me as the stammering fool who asked if she liked rainbows in belch-speak.
I’m a little like Dwight Schrute from The Office when it comes to public speaking. You know. Frozen to my chair, wheezing into a paper bag, Fight or Flight instinct in full-on Barry Bonds steroid freak-out. Anyway, Dwight won the crowd over by giving his speech the Mussolini treatment, but something tells me that women who’ve just come from a workshop on aromatherapy may not be particularly receptive to fascism and pounding on the podium. So I’m going to try the Viktor Frankl method of diffusing the tension by imagining the worst that could happen and then making fun of it. Okay. Here we go.
I could forget everything I want to say and stand there sweating with 50 sets of eyes expectantly trained on me.
Remedy: Pretend I’m Andy Kaufman simply waiting for my lip-sync line on the Mighty Mouse theme song. Note to self: bring Mighty Mouse theme song for background music just in case.
I could faint.
Remedy: Actually, you know what? This could be a good exit strategy if I forget everything I want to talk about.
I could shit my pants.
Remedy: Eat nothing but cheese for two days prior to the event. Or, I could pull a Garrison Keillor ala Wobegon Boy and wear brown pants. This is also known as the “Redcoat” approach. (Why did the British wear red uniforms during the Revolutionary War? So the bloodstains didn’t show.)
I could get one of those saliva-bubbles in the back of my throat while I read an emotionally-charged section of my book and three women in the back row will giggle.
Remedy: Acknowledge the bubble. Embrace the bubble. Make the bubble my bitch.
People could throw rotten vegetables at me. Or tickets to a Kid Rock show.
Remedy: Make compost. Utilize over-stuffed shredder purchased in a fit of organization last year.
My knees could give out, making me collapse in a sweat-soaked heap of shame on the stage.
Remedy: Tape metal rods to legs.
I’m sure I’ll think of more things that can go wrong and scar me for the remainder of my days. In the meantime, I’ve got more grant wrasslin’ to do.
Monday, April 03, 2006
- All references to “ayhole” and “aynus” (spelled semi-phonetically so as to not trigger the censors) will now be the more laborious but still accurate “Food Exit Portal.” Brown star is also acceptable. On occasion, I will employ rhyming techniques. Look for “nut roll” in these instances.
- The primary male reproductive organ will from now on be referred to as “tootyacker,” “man stem,” or “aarrrrghh, matey.” One-eyed snake is more disgusting than talking vomit, so it’s out. “Sack” and “bag” are also out because they are better served as paper or cloth totebags. That said, I might sneak a “taint” in from time to time as the case may be, if my subject matter requires it.
- Female “ahoy-hoys” will from now on be referred to as “delicate tulip” or “tough old clam,” depending on if I’m talking about me or Latoya Jackson. My darling husband campaigned for “trout flavored hatchet wound,” and although that would likely pass muster with the censors, it would leave him dangerously close to a lifetime of celibacy, so it’s out. I don’t think I even need to tell you that the words rhyming with “latch” and “punt” are barely in my vocabulary as it is, so they will not appear in pixilated form on this website. I feel that “box” would be acceptable, though I’m not fond of it, as box means “to punch” or “durable receptacle for goods.”
- Poo will be just that. I feel that dropping the second “p” at the end softens the word better than a jug of Dulcolax. If the mood strikes, I may employ “compacted crackers,” “corn car,” or “Deuce Bigalow movie.”
- All references to taking a dump will remain as such, or will be the more eloquent “dropping the kids off at the pool.” Past tenses of “sh*t” are acceptable, as in “shat.” Also acceptable are “Releasing the hostages,” “Painting the Throne,” and “Making a Deuce Bigalow movie.” (“Martin Lawrence” is an acceptable substitute for Deuce Bigalow.)
- F-bombs in adverb form will be variants of “effing.”
- Sadly, I can probably no longer say “phart.” And substituting “ph” for the “f” in words pisses me off, so I don’t even think I can bring myself to say “phart.” Thus, I may say “squeak,” “trumpet,” or “that’ll itch when it dries.”
- Most all references to “doing it” are out. For the time being, we’ll have to go with “to couple or engage in congress,” “to eat peaches,” and “to interview candidates for a rewarding position.” Soliciting this type of experience may be reduced to “Deal? Or no deal?” Deal-oriented directives may become, “Big money, no whammies!”
- A woman’s chest has more nicknames than anything in this galaxy, but I would rather eat a handful of thumbtacks and wax my head than use most of them. So I will use “yes, ma’ams,” as applicable.
Let’s take this new system for a test run, shall we? Great!
“That was so effed-up when we couldn’t find our car in the Disney World parking lot. Goofy parking area my food exit portal! That’s so effing lame. And it’s the last time we’ll be staying at a Ramada, those effwad aarrrrghh, mateys. Cheap-brown stars and their desiccated excuse for a continental breakfast. Little Timmy painted the throne all morning from that strip-your-lower-intestines-of-cilia buffet. He was so dehydrated we had to give him Gatorade Xtremo, which tastes like a liquid that will definitely itch when it dries. To make matters worse, you could totally hear the tourists in the next hotel room interviewing candidates for a rewarding position. We saw them later, and her yes ma’ams were obviously fake. What a coupla whammies. I don’t know. This whole vacation has been nothing but one giant Deuce Bigalow movie from start to finish. I can’t wait to get home.”
(Confession: I actually wrote this entry when the site-blocking event occurred a few weeks ago, but I didn’t like it, so I saved it for a day when my brain was the consistency of ripe compost and the best I could come up with would be supremely compacted crackers. See, I’m really a squirrel, storing away blog posts for days when my work schedule prohibits any thinking that doesn’t involve the words “positive outlets for high-risk energy.” But you know, this post is still a Martin Lawrence movie from start to finish. Sorry. Maybe Wednesday I’ll tell you about how I gleeked on someone by accident at a meeting today.)