Wednesday, August 16, 2006

This Post is for the Birds

I hope mid-August finds everyone well. I myself, um, I haven’t been feeling the best. In fact, I suspect, based on my symptoms and the recent discovery of several dead and dying birds in my neighborhood, that I have West Nile Virus.

I hope I’m wrong, but you know me. Always suspect the worst. Especially after discovering four recent mosquito bites on my legs, waking up with a daily headache, and hearing my dentist say to me on Monday, “Oh, your tonsils are really red and swollen! Looks like a classic case of West Nile Virus.”

Which only confirmed my suspicions.

(Okay, she didn’t say that last sentence out loud. I added it in my mind.)

Plus, two of the dead & sick birds were chickadees and one was a nuthatch, which immediately sent me into a spiral of depression. Why can’t the fucking sparrows disappear? Why does it always have to be the cute birds?

Goddamn mosquitoes.

Despite my headache and overall feeling of shittiness (and did you know that another symptom of West Nile is excessive swearing on your blog?), I will attempt to lighten your day with a story about my parents. As I mentioned in my last post, it was my mother’s birthday this weekend. So of course we celebrated with the traditional telling of stories designed to embarrass their progeny.

Our family dog, Suka, is a fourteen year-old Springer Spaniel. She’s incontinent, deaf, arthritic, and apparently, very territorial. On occasion, my dad urinates in the backyard (they live in the country, thank god. You can do this if you live in the country). He claims this is for convenience and to lessen the burden on the septic system. (What you’re hearing now is the faint sound of me laughing.) He recently noticed that whenever he pees outside, Suka will immediately hobble over on her arthritic legs and pee over the spot where he just did, marking her territory.

So, of course my parents decided this was a prime opportunity to have a pissing contest. Literally. My mom bet my dad that Suka wouldn’t pee over her spot, opting to urinate only over my dad’s. My mom claimed that she was top dog, and Suka would respect that.

I’ll give you a moment to digest this.

And wouldn’t you know it, she lost the bet.

Moving on. Earlier in the day, I helped celebrate my friend Wendy’s birthday in Madison. (There was a twofer special on birthdays last Sunday.) A number of old friends joined us, one of whom had just attended a wedding the night before.

Do you know that in certain parts of Wisconsin, it is a great honor to be asked to “Drive Car” for a friend or family member’s wedding? To “Drive Car” means you wear a carnation boutonniere and chauffer two members of the wedding party (which can be as large as 15 couples in some parts of the state) from bar to bar between the ceremony and reception. Most of the time when you “Drive Car,” you get to drink, too.

I can’t tell what my favorite part of this concept is, but I do enjoy the dropped article.

It’s also common around here to “drive bus” or “drive truck” for a living. As in, “Doesn’t Henry Gellings drive bus?”

“No, you’re thinking of Jim Flood. Henry Gellings drove truck for Michel’s the thirty years.”

(Note the intentionally absent “last” between “the” and “thirty.” In Wisconsin, this is another word that is frequently implied but rarely used.)

Which reminds me. Is Barstool Racing common at taverns in your city? How about Pitcher Races, where the teams have names like “The Christ Punchers” or “Ueker’s Pukers” and first prize is … more beer?

Well, back to obsessing over my swollen tonsils. I’m going hiking tomorrow, so I do hope for a break in the malaise. If I get some good photos, they'll be on the blog shortly. I hope to be back to my regular blogging schedule in early September, after I have a good chunk of book numero dos under my belt. And after I get over my West Nile Virus.

Suka. She's a real pisser.


  1. I love your parents. I'm picturing this in my head and can't stop laughing. Suka looks so sweet and innocent.

  2. Thanks to the Christ Punchers, I now have to clean Diet Dr Pepper off my desk. And blow my nose.

  3. this post shoulda had a tour guide, it hit so many high spots.

    waaka waaka waaka. :>

  4. Your parents are hilarious!!

    I'll keep my fingers crossed on the West Nile thing ;)

  5. Don't worry Jess, you definitely don't have West Nile Virus.

    But I'm pretty sure you have the Bird Flu.

  6. Anonymous5:03 PM

    Tell your parent sthey can come pee in my garden any time they like: I don't see our cat putting up a fight.

  7. I love that your parents have both peed in their yard. Suka is really cute!

    Sidenote: My boyfriend's roommate/my co-worker (we met through him) is from WI and went to the University of WI/Stout. If we're ever up there for anything, I hope we can meet!

  8. Anonymous7:13 PM

    Good luck with numero dos. While everybody else yuks it up about the pissing, I am zeroing in on the most important tidbit: the next novel. Yay. I'm working on numero tres (or quatro if you don't count the unpublished first attempt). Do you have a title yet?

  9. C'mon, Wisconsin girl, it's "wicked pissah". Geez.

    And, yes, Suka is a wicked pissah and a real pisser. And I think I love your parents.

  10. Anonymous9:39 PM

    With parents like yours, is it any wonder you make me piss my pants laughing?

    Wait, don't tell Suka. I don't need any more pee on the floor.

  11. For what's it's worth, a little tidbit: The vast majority of people who contract West Nile get over it.
    Feel better now?

  12. Jut wondering. If you pee out in the yard when you live in the country, do you have to get a permit?

    By the way, if you are a novelist, does that mean that you make book?

  13. Anonymous2:40 PM

    You know? I think I heard that about the whole "drive bus" phenomenon. So strange. A high school friend of mine moved here from Massachusetts when were were in the 9th grade. Her family is big time Italian, so I don't know if it's the East Coast thing or the Italian thing that's responsible for what they said, but...

    Instead of saying, "Remember when I was pregnant with Frankie?" They would say, "Remember when I was pregnant FOR Frankie?" As if you had done something in their place....or had done them a big favor. Strange.

  14. "(and did you know that another symptom of West Nile is excessive swearing on your blog?)"

    Good Lord, this must mean I've had West Nile Virus for almost a year now. It's amazing I'm alive. It's either West Nile or a case of pottymouth brought on by genetics.

    I'm actually trying to get my little one to pee on a tree (because he won't pee in the pot and I'm trying to get creative here) and he insists that only dogs pee on trees. Argh.

    Personally, I think that if you're old enough to recognize that only dogs pee on trees and you're able to verbalize that opinion, you should by God be able to pee in the pot!

    Happy Birthday, Jesse's Mom!

  15. omg, I've always wondered about 'drive truck'. I used to think people were just simply retarded until I realized that that IS the expression for someone who drives a truck for a living...lmao! my question is WHY???

  16. Anonymous2:27 PM

    She doesn't look old and arthritic. Fucking great story, god-damn it. (hmm perhaps I have West Nile too.)

  17. OMG, I love your parents.

  18. BWAAH HAAHH!!!

    *tears of laughter rolling down cheeks*

    I'm trying to imagine my cute little mom and dad, with their Yankee accents and Ivy League manners, getting into a pissing contest with their dog...can't imagine it...just can't even go there. Your parent's are awesome!

  19. Anonymous2:04 PM

    Sorry to hear about that whole West Nile thing. I was down with the bubonic plague the other day. Postules the whole thing. Summer colds.

  20. You need to tell them you Write Blog for a living.

    I love your stories. Please don't have West Nile. Even if it would give you more time to write for us.

  21. Anonymous10:52 PM

    awww I do hope you feel better soon and that your illness is unrelated to the dead birds!

    I so love that the dog is top dog!

  22. Yes, I hate to tell you but you do indeed have the WNV. I have just confirmed the diagnosis from the comfort of my office here in Los Angeles but I'm right. Go ahead and get a second opinion if you want, if you don't TRUST me but I assure you, it's the WNV. Or maybe you're just tired. Either or. How's the book?

  23. Anonymous9:09 PM

    Sorry to hear that you were feeling poorly. I'm hoping that you've recovered by now. That stinks about the birds.

  24. Or perhaps it's the Avian flu??? Oh, and when you hike with your dog? You should consider using flea treatment. And are you also aware of heartworm preventiong??? LOL Just kidding. I wanted to be like that fun gal you encountered on a previous hike with your dog. Feel better soon!

  25. always manage to make me diabolically homesick. I hadn't heard that West Nile is a problem in WI...but with all the mosquitos, it's no wonder. We often go to WI Thanksgiving week because the kids have off of school, so I forget about the mosquitos. They're truly awful up there. I sure hope you feel better soon.

    The story about your parents was hysterical!

  26. Anonymous3:02 PM

    I don't know what to say about your folks...otehr than it does explain YOU a little better. heh.

    pissing contest...awesome. I thought my dad making a homemade potato launcher was odd and shooting potatoes into Lake Ontario was weird.

  27. LOL I just realized I wrote "preventiong". I wonder if that's pronounced Pree-ven-shee-ong. Get well soon, and looking forward to the photos. :)

  28. Anonymous12:09 AM

    I got a completely different picture in my mind when you first mentioned that your parents were going to have a pissing contest.

    (How are you feeling? I once thought I had West Nile. Before that I was certain I had SARS and Hanta Virus. You get the picture.)

  29. Anonymous12:52 PM

    I think you need to write your memoir so that we can read more about your parents. (That's what I liked most about "A Girl Called Zippy.") Gee, I hope you don't have West Nile or any other disease that might interfere with blogging.